Keen's Chop House - NYC

The Lambs Room at Keens
I've recently reconnected with an old friend of mine via the web (wonderful thing, the web.) He is, and always has been an artist, a painter (more about that later). But for a period of time, quite a few years ago, in New York City, we were both begrudgingly employed as server and bartender, pushing Mutton Chops and Single Malt Scotch at Keen's Chop House on West 36th Street & Sixth Avenue.

ANDREW WYETH (1917-2009)

Known today as the Master of American Realism, Andrew Wyeth was one of the most popular artist's of our time. Already a celebrity in the 1920s, with the likes of novelist F. Scott Fitzgerald and silent film star Mary Pickford among his admirers, he created art and controversy for most of the 20th century.

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Being an Irish-woman with an unfortunate two beer sanity limit, I had to go looking for alternative fun this past St. Patrick's Day weekend. (It is a week-long celebration, right?) I didn't have to look far. Me and the husband and the teenager daughter (who doesn't yet hate me) headed into Hartford for the annual Max O'Hartford 5k Road Race. Everyone was decked out in green - well almost every one - and at 60 something degrees, it finally felt like spring!

There was a "Wee Mile" race for the kids...

And winners were everywhere!

Particularly challenging was the Restaurant Relay, where area restaurant employees deftly tested their skills...

It would be a shame to spill any of that Thomas Hooker Lager!

With over 2,000 runners, the streets of Hartford were a sea of green...

filled with young and old alike... well as the...uh...imaginative!

Yet there were some serious contenders...

And sponsors Steve Abrams & Rich Rosenthal of Max Downtown & Trumbull Kitchen presided over the finish line.

Waving in the victor, Sean Livingston of Barrington, Rhode Island.

Duncan, Steve & Richard of Max Restaurant Group

The After Party! Max Downtown server, Lauren Holden.

Bed and Breakfast for Brunch! a.k.a. Drinking in the Afternoon

The Inn at Woodstock Hill, Woodstock, Connecticut
It's a winter weekend in Connecticut. And it's January. It's absolutely bone chilling outside, despite the bright sun, and I'm already longing for spring. Not ones to spend the entire weekend hanging around the house in our sweatpants, my husband and I decide to take a little road trip. We head out to the "Quiet Corner" of Connecticut, which is in the Northeastern part of the state for those of you who have never ventured. It's a gorgeous drive, with rolling hills, farms, antique homes (my favorite!) and historic Inns. We decide to head to The Inn at Woodstock Hill for brunch. I've been there before, at a glorious summer wedding. For a moment I remember a warm night - champagne in my glass, relaxing after an afternoon ceremony while the sun sets over the surrounding hills...sigh! A mimosa and a warm fire will have to do. As we pull up to the Inn I remember how beautiful it is here. The Inn sits high on a hilltop and the countryside just falls away around it. The sky is incredibly blue and the snow, white. I guess January isn't so bad. After all, I'm about to have a leisurely breakfast, not drive a dog sled.

As we step into the Inn, I realize I've never really seen much of the inside. We spent much of that summer wedding on the patio and well, after that third glass of champagne...let's just say it's all a little fuzzy. I do love old houses, and this is a beautiful one. Big heavy front door, that opens up to a large foyer with a sweeping staircase.

The staff is very friendly and before you know it, we're seated at a cozy table with the sun streaming in a nearby window. Yeah, this suits me just fine. We decide to forgo the buffet, despite the fact that it looks yummy and I LOVE smoked salmon. The Chef/Owner is German, and being the snobby former ex-pat that I am, I know Europeans know good food and am looking forward to my meal. I decide on the Eggs Benedict - the hollandaise sauce is too much for me to pass up. And my husband goes with the featured dish of the day - a Seafood Stir Fry, with lobster, shrimp and scallops - I'll have to steal some of that. I do a mimosa - he a Bloody Mary. Yes, this is the life. I never do brunch anymore. I'm not sure why. I must be crazy because there is nothing like good food and alcohol in the afternoon.

Finally, while awaiting dessert, I mention to the staff that I'm writing a little piece about my excursion and would it be possible to shoot some photos of their lovely rooms. A sweet girl, who's name I forget (sorry, I'm terrible that way) hands me a fistful of room keys and with husband in tow - off we go!

There are beautiful details everywhere. All the fireplaces have hand painted ceramic tiles - just gorgeous.

The house has many rooms downstairs but I can resist that spiral staircase...

Upstairs it is bright and cheery, I think that the bride from my summer wedding must have been up here getting ready with all her friends and family. I remember her looking down on us on the patio right before the ceremony. I wonder which room she was in. There are so many of them!

Each one is so different...

And so many colors and textures - I love it!

A big, sun filled Suite.

Oriental Carpets everywhere.

And marble sinks...

Here's a coral red room with cathedral ceiling.

I think all these rooms have fireplaces!

And I LOVE the spring green with the white. Almost makes me forget the snow outside!

Private bathrooms in every room!

Heading back downstairs I meet the owner, Richard Naumann. As I mentioned before, he is from Germany, a place I've been many times - and he turns out to be an interesting guy to talk to. AND he can cook! Not sure if he's available ladies (the good one's rarely are). But I must pull myself away. Stacey (did I get it right?!) has served my Dessert Crepes with Chocolate, Banana and Walnuts.

I am so glad I got myself out of the house today. Our little trip to the Inn at Woodstock Hill was just the thing to get me out of my winter doldrums.

Next stop... another beautiful historic estate, now a museum - Roseland Cottage - just up the road!
"It's never too late to be who you might have been." --George Eliot