Cooking with Boyfriend: The Redemption of the BLT, Humankind's Most Worthless Sandwich



What up, tasteful Internet broads! I'm the boyfriend.

Did you guys read Jennifer's recounting of the trip to Charlottesville that we made last weekend? Cute, right? Well, as you may recall, Saturday afternoon we serendipitously landed at Trump Winery, waaaaay-hay-hay-hay out in rural Albemarle County. (Certainly not in Charlottesville, as its sign laughably asserts.) You may also recall that we only ended up there because we were too cheap to walk around Monticello. Twenty-four bucks to wander around a UNESCO World Heritage site slash home of the architect of our national identity? The hell with that – time to go get faded!

Anyway, we end up at Trump Winery, and we start tasting wines and gabbing with the staff. When their menu comes up in conversation, the girl who's pouring our tastes mentions the BLT. … You know what, scratch that. To say that she “mentioned” the BLT suggests a casualness in her countenance that betrays the super glassy look of barely contained ecstasy that smeared across her face while she talked. It was weird, ladies. The more surprising thing, though? That girl's enthusiasm was roundly seconded by the other employees whom we asked to corroborate their coworker's apparent sandwich fetish. Before long the trend was impossible to ignore: The employees at Trump Winery were more enthused by their workplace's BLT than they were about their workplace's wine. And don't get me wrong, they were deservedly hype about their wine.

Now, look. Two shits is three more shits than I give about the BLT, generally speaking. It's a sandwich made of toppings. To appropriate my favorite line from Thug Kitchen, ain't nobody got time for that. Well if that's so, then what about the grilled cheese as a sandwich, you not-unreasonably ask? Stick with me on this one, here: the BLT lacks the elegant cohesive simplicity of the grilled cheese. A grilled cheese does this incredible thing in which bread and cheese become a single inseparable entity, not a flimsy stack of components like the BLT, a sandwich that, incidentally, you can't even reliably hold together with a single toothpick like you can with all the reasonable sandwiches. You can throw a grilled cheese at somebody. A BLT would break apart mid-air like a flung stack of notecards. No structural integrity, to borrow Bourdain's parlance.

And hey, if you added, oh, some flame-broiled ground beef to the space between the bread occupied by bacon, lettuce, and tomato, you would have... a hamburger! Ever think about that? A BLT would cease to be itself at the intrusion of many ingredients more substantial than a depressing swipe of mayo. Structural integrity is one thing, but hell, even the essential integrity of the BLT is a house of straw.

“That's a good-looking burger you've got there.”
“Thanks, but it's actually a BLT with beef.”
“...I just really hate that I go to the same college as you.”

All right, digression over. Listen to me when I talk about fat deliciousness, though, ladies. I know that of which I speak.

But still! Still! Despite all my knuckleheaded obstinate bluster, we ended up trying that BLT at Trump Winery. We couldn't not, if only to know for sure if the winery staff had been Stepfordized in the service of inferior sandwiches. And let me tell you, it was one of those times – you know the times – when you take the first bite of something toe-curlingly delicious, and then you become spontaneously overwhelmed with dread at the thought of living without it beyond the thirty seconds you're about to spend desperately shoving it into your chew hole.

So naturally, Jennifer and I decided to try to remake this bad boy at home.

This recipe makes two sandwiches, because I am a gentleman.

First, bread. Don't half-ass this component! If you're going to go to the trouble to make your own aioli (which you are! you are!), then you're not going to jam some Wonder Bread into your toaster and pat yourself on the back. At best, pluck a recipe off of the Interwebs or out of your nana's recipe box and make your own bread. At worst, buy yourself something simple and nourishing and tasty, like this action right here:


Jennifer has being eating sourdough toast these last few weeks like someone will kill her whole family if she dares to stop. It's been hilarious, yet totally understandable, because sourdough is the man. But yes, anyway, choose your bread and set four slices aside until you're about to combine the rest of your finished ingredients.

Preheat your oven to 375.

Get out two baking sheets. On the first one, drop a sheet of parchment paper, if you have it, and put your bacon on that sheet.


Doesn't parchment paper sound like the fanciest thing your could possibly have in your kitchen? I watch way too much Barefoot Contessa.

By the way, don't be sitting there thinking that you're just going to toss your bacon into a frying pan like you do every time you wake up and totter into the kitchen to nurse your monster hangover, you unbelievable tramp, you. This is sandwich bacon, and throwing it in the oven all but guarantees zero curling on the ends and equal cooking over the full surface area of each strip. It will lay flatly and handsomely on your sandwich when it's done. Plus, you get to leave it the hell alone while you're busying yourself with other BLT demands, namely the T and the aioli. No babysitting the pan or nudging or flipping or fussing or angst. Isn't it great when the work does itself?

Oh, – and again, because this is sandwich bacon – get thick-cut bacon if you're able. I got those four little beauties up there in the deli instead of the lame old refrigerated section at Kroger, and then I zoomed home in my solid gold rocket car and dove Scrooge McDuck-style into my vault of treasure.

Okay, roasted tomato time. Yeah, you read that right.


George Carlin had an exceptional bit about the appalling difference between the outside of a tomato and the inside. Isn't that tomato up there lovely? Doesn't it look like something that a masseuse would rub onto your bare back at some idiotically expensive spa out in the Arizona desert? Look at how it's naturally generating those little moisture beads! Don't you want to be at that spa right now, reflecting on the fairness and goodness of life while sipping your complimentary glass of champagne with a raspberry floating in it? Can't you just hear water trickling over rocks? That's how generous and fulfilling and right that tomato looks.

SO WHY GOD WHY WHY WHY WHY WHY:


Oh god I can't even look at it without running around in circles and flailing my arms in the most foppish and limp-wristed manner conceivable. All that gory, jelly-like whatsit. Those seeds. Those weird gooey holes nononononoaghaghaghaghagh PUKE-O-RAMA.

All the more justification to do what you're going to do next:

Slice that unholy thing into quarter-inch slices. Next, line a second baking sheet with foil and drop those slices onto that sheet, and hit each slice with:

* a good drizzle of olive oil

* a good drizzle of balsamic vinegar
* some kosher salt

* some freshly ground pepper
* some sugar

* some minced garlic (two cloves should be sufficient)




Hey, not looking as bad! After burning your cutting board and salting the ashes, it's time to toss both the bacon sheet and the tomatoes sheet into the oven, side by side, for about fifteen or so minutes.

WARNING: A few minutes after you close the oven door, two things will happen: you will hear a gentle sizzling, and your house will begin to fill with an aroma so frightfully tantalizing that if it happens to float out your kitchen window and up into your neighborhood, dogs will break free of their leashes and gather outside your house, old ladies will writhe with hot flashes, and clergymen will fall to their knees and gnash their teeth and renounce their faiths.

Also, your oven might smoke, so keep an eye out for that. Pop those pans out and turn down your oven to no less than 350 and then pop 'em back in if you have to.

While the tomatoes and the bacon are roasting away, make aioli. Yes, make it. Make it beforehand, if you like. It keeps! I'm certainly not one of those anti-mayo ninnies, but you're not hurrying your way through this sandwich (yet!), so set the mayo aside.

Pour yourself a bourbon, though, first. You've earned it. Besides, the world needs more aesthetically adept women who drink bourbon. (It's science, look it up.)



All right, aioli. First, retrieve the mortar and pestle from its home in the darkest corner of your cabinet, way back near the bottle of Galliano next to the Magic Bullet. Alternately, order a mortar and pestle. I improvised a bit this time, seeing as our pestle is broken. This is an Andy Hobin original tip, ladies, and feel free to Pinterest the hell out of it or whatever it is you do: use a wine cork.


A cork doesn't have the broadest surface area, which means your hand will get tired more easily, but a cork – a real one, not a sponge cork – has teeny little grooves that do a not-so-bad job of latching onto whatever it is you're grinding and then drawing it over the coarse surface of the mortar.

(Hey, side note: are you checking your oven to make sure its present inhabitants are doing okay? At least after the first ten minutes of roasting? Of course you are.)

Now, what are you putting in this mortar? You're putting one big clove (or two small cloves) of garlic in that mortar with a pinch of salt and grinding them down to a pasty-ish consistency.

Pro-tip: This is not a paste:


Hey, good hustle, though! That arm starting to get tired? Your pinky aching for some reason? Don't lose heart! Power through! It's a little coarse still, that garlic, but you're getting there. Just a little longer, and you'll have this:


That's more like it. It's not a paste so much as it is pasty. Gelatinous-y. It needs to be like this, or smoother, because you need to be able to whisk it into the emulsified stuff you're going to be making momentarily. And because if you serve an aioli with stray bits of whole garlic lurking inside of it, some unsuspecting victim is going to bite into one and then punch you directly in the ta-tas. So unless you're into that sort of thing (hey, I'm not here to judge!), don't wimp out on this step.

Next, you're going to pour a quarter cup of olive oil and three tablespoons of vegetable oil into a measuring cup, preferably one with a spout.

The spout's there, I promise. Next, whisk together:

* an egg yolk
* two teaspoons of lemon juice
* half a teaspoon of Dijon mustard
* half a teaspoon of stoneground mustard
(which, I'm fairly certain, is the special ingredient in Trump Winery's aioli).


Then, slooooo-ho-ho-ho-ho-ly drizzle the oil mixture into the yolk mixture while whisking the yolk mixture constantly. You thought your arm had the ouchies back with the mortar and pestle? Oh, sister, how innocent you are. How unspoiled.

When all the oil's been incorporated, triumphantly fling that godforsaken whisk across the room with a big ol' WOO! Then, sheepishly remember the garlic in the mortar, retrieve and rinse off the whisk, and whisk the garlic paste into the yolk / oil mixture. Season said mixture with salt and pepper if you feel so inclined.

You're pretty much done! Transfer the mixture – which you may now refer to as aioli with your hau-hau-haughtiest laugh – to a container of your choice. Cover it and stick it in the fridge for about ten minutes to allow it to firm up a touch. This is what it should look like:



Resist the urge to smear it all over your face and run screaming into the night. This stuff is terrific, people. In any situation where mustard or mayo is your go-to, you can tag in aioli. You can spread a bit on an omelette, it's baller with french fries and home fries, it will elevate most any breaded and fried grub to new heights...

Hey, whoa, bacon's done! But yes, aioli, man, oh baby oh baby.


How about that evenly cooked surface area I went on and on about before, right? Yeah? Yeah, you want to reach through your screen right now and get you some a that, I know.

Because I'll never be a good lady-blogger, I neglected to snap a picture of the finished roasted tomatoes, but they should appear not unlike the bacon, actually. Lightly caramelized, slightly reduced, a luscious amalgam of pink and brown and points in between. Your nose will nudge you toward agreeing with what your eyes are suggesting. You don't want your tomatoes ending up too reduced, otherwise they'll get, well, “lost in the sandwich,” which is something I say because I know I'd make a great judge and/or contestant on Chopped. You'll want your tomatoes to retain a little of their otherwise repulsive raw tomato tang, too, because it just works. (Did I mention that I think raw tomatoes taste not especially great in addition to being generally disgusting? No? Well, fuck raw tomatoes, is what I'm getting at.)

Lettuce! Tough to mess this up: Rip up a few leaves of romaine lettuce for your sandwich. (You already got a picture of lettuce. You're not getting another one. How about we just let that picture of the measuring cup be the most extraneous image on this post, okay?) And do rip 'em up. Ever been eating a sandwich with lettuce and you take a bite which somehow ends with an entire goddamn mayo-plastered lettuce leaf rent clean from the sandwich and dangling from your face? Horrible. I have a beard, so whenever that happens to me I want to murder the world.

Hey, look at all that romaine you've got leftover! You're not going to let that go to waste, are you? No you're not, you swans of frugality. You're gonna rip up some more of that romaine and set it aside, and then you're going to get out a mixing bowl and whisk together the following super-basic vinaigrette:

* half a teaspoon of Dijon mustard
* the juice of half a lemon
* a good tablespoon of olive oil (or more, if you feel like you need it)
* Kosher salt and pepper, to taste


That's it. Salad in a flash. Speaking of flash, I didn't take a picture of the vinaigrette because it would have taken longer to photograph it than it would have to mix it, and I just wouldn't have been able to live with myself. Here's the finished salad though, set-aside leaves and dressing tossed together and lovingly deposited into a wee dish:


It's terrific on its own, that vinaigrette, in addition to being gratifyingly simple, but you could absolutely gussy it up with some fresh thyme leaves or some red pepper flakes or some grated parm. Whatever blows your hair back. Toss the salads (you're making two of them, right?) with the vinaigrette right before you serve them, though, because soggy salads are just heartbreaking.

Lightly toast your bread, then add the bacon, roasted tomatoes, romaine leaves, and a generous smear of aioli to the bread, and sandwich gods be pacified, there it is:



These sandwiches were delicious. They really and truly were.

There's something gratifying about putting a relatively extensive amount of effort into preparing food that seems inherently simple, like you totally gamed the system, you know? It's also a surefire way to surprise yourself, and – real talk, ladies – one can never get enough of surprising oneself.

But seriously though, did you notice how much more effort went into the aioli than into the actual sandwich itself during this whole process? Fucking BLTs.

Yours truly, Andy

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The BLT and Simple Salad

 

Ingredients


BLT
4 slices of bread (we used sourdough)
4 strips of thick bacon
romaine lettuce
1 large tomato
olive oil
kosher salt
pepper
balsamic vinegar
sugar
2 cloves of garlic, minced

aioli
1 large clove or 2 small cloves of garlic
1 egg yolk
2 teaspoons of lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon of Dijon mustard
12 teaspoon of stoneground mustard
1/4 cup of olive oil
3 tablespoons of vegetable oil
salt
pepper

salad
romaine lettuce
1/2 teaspoon of Dijon mustard
juice of half a lemon
1 tablespoon of olive oil
Kosher salt 
pepper


Directions


BLT
1. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees.
2. Place bacon on a parchment paper-lined baking pan.
3. Slice tomato into quarter-inch rounds. Place the rounds on a foil-lined baking sheet and top each round with olive oil, balsamic vinegar, minced garlic, sugar, salt, and pepper
4. Roast tomatoes and bacon in oven for at least 15 minutes. Remove tomatoes or bacon from the oven if blackening around the edges.
5. Lightly toast bread.
6. Rip romaine leaves to desired size.
7. Assemble sandwiches with aioli (see directions below) and serve immediately with salad.

aioli
1. With a pinch of salt, grind garlic into a paste in a mortar.
2. Combine olive oil and vegetable oil in a measuring cup.
3. Whisk together egg yolk, both mustards, and lemon juice.
4. Add oil mixture to yolk mixture slowly while constantly whisking yolk mixture until smooth and emulsified.
5. Whisk in garlic paste.
6. Season with salt and pepper as desired.
7. Cover and chill for at least ten minutes.

salad
1. Whisk together olive oil, lemon juice, mustard, salt and pepper. Add more of any ingredient to taste.
2. Toss with romaine lettuce and serve immediately.

Super Easy Gnat Trap



Last year around this time, we were having a serious gnat/drainfly problem. They were in the bathrooms, they were in the kitchen, they were everywhere. With a couple of rounds of traps, we got rid of them. Now we're starting to notice a few around the house again. One or two in the kitchen isn't unexpected if you keep fresh produce in the house, but once they become noticeable, that's when you need to do something before there's a full on infestation. This morning I rigged up a couple of these super easy gnat traps and I thought I'd share them in case you guys are having the same problem!


I didn't take step by step photos of this because honestly it's so easy. You need a cup, a piece of fruit (I always use banana because it works well, but you can use whatever you have), a piece of scrap paper, and some regular tape.

To make the paper cone: hold your piece of paper horizontally. Fold each corner toward the center. This will make a point at one end and a round cone shape on the other. You want the pointed end to be really small. Gnats are teeny tiny, and the goal of this is to let the gnat in but for them not to be able to get back out. Make the hole smaller than you think it should be. The cone end should be large enough to fit inside the glass and touch the sides. You may have to play around with it to get it right. Once you've got the right shape, tape the overlapping part to hold it together.

To assemble: Drop the bit of fruit in the bottom of the glass. Put the paper cone in the glass, making sure there's a good bit of space between the cone bottom and the piece of fruit. Tape all around the glass where the glass and paper cone meet (I have totally seen gnats fly out of the seemingly no space that exists there before, so you want to tape it up to prevent that from happening). You're done! Place wherever you've seen the most gnat activity. I have one in my kitchen and one in my bathroom right now.

Troubleshooting: If you're still seeing gnats around but they aren't getting into your trap, your hole might actually be a little too small. take a pair of scissors and snip off the end to make it a little bigger. If you have seen gnats in there and then later they're gone, your hole is too big and/or your tape on the sides isn't done properly. Go back and try again!

Emptying the cup: Unlike some other gnat removal methods like wine or vinegar, this method will not kill the gnats. Once you have a good number of them caught in the cup, go outside, close your door, and let them out. Reset the trap if you still have gnats remaining in the house and you're good to go.

Birthday & Other Important Date Reminders

I'm not sure what made me think of it earlier, but one of my goals on my 24 Before 24 list is to send things through snail mail. Since I'm now living across the country from my family and most of my friends, I sometimes think about sending them something in the mail for birthdays or other special events, but I'm so unaccustomed to sending things via mail that I usually think of it too late for it to actually get there in time. Then I get all disheartened and scrap the idea altogether. Well that's changing this year people!

Since I knew that not thinking ahead enough of time was my primary issue to sending special events mail/gifts (I also want to send regular correspondence via mail as well), I decided to go in and tweak some settings and fix some things in my calendar to get the most out of my notifications. I'm pretty terrible at remembering dates, so I need some help from good old technology.

To change your phone's birthday reminder settings, go into Settings on your iPhone.


Scroll down until you see Mail, Contacts, Calendars. Click on this option.
 

Scroll down to the Calendars section, and click on Default Alert Times.


On this screen, you'll have a couple of options. For the purpose of this tutorial, click on Birthdays (though you may want to go in and see what you have set for the other two options as well for posterity).


Since I'm wanting to get the alert in time to send mail, I've selected 1 week before. You can choose the alert preference of your choosing.


Now you will automatically get alerts for all of the birthdays on your calendar, and since your Facebook calendar syncs up with your Apple calendar, that's all you need to do!

The tutorial above only applies to birthdays, and I wanted to have other reminders for other special occasions as well, so I took it one step further. To do this, go into your Calendar app and select a date you would like to remember.



Click the plus sign in the upper right hand corner to add an event. When I updated my iOS to 7 a lot of the stuff disappeared off of my calendar, so for this I decided to go back in and add my anniversary. You can add any significant event, though reoccurring events are particularly useful for this. Add the event details with title, location if applicable, and time or switch on All-day. Then click on the Repeat option.

 

Click Every Year in order to have this reminder automatically added to your calendar each year. This way, you never have to remember to update your calendar again!



To see all birthdays on your calendar at a glance, simply type Birthday into your search bar.


To see all other important dates at a glance, put a note in each calendar entry saying Important Date. When you put Important Date into your calendar search bar, every entry with this note will come up.

If you don't have an iPhone, do not despair! There are also sites like this one that will email or text you a set reminder, which is another great option.

What steps do you take to remember important dates? What do you send through snail mail? I'd love to know!

Yours Truly, Jen

The Best Way to Find a Place to Stay



Have you guys heard of Airbnb? Andy and I have been hosting in our place for the last year and we stayed with some Airbnb hosts during our overnight trip to Charlottesville. This service is still somewhat under the radar, so I thought it may be of interest to some of you! Here's how it works:

Hosting

So you have a spare room or a couch or a pull out couch or an air mattress. You want to make a little extra money and meet new people. You take nice pictures of your place, create a profile, write up a description of your place, list the amenities, decide on a nightly price, and put your place up on the website (it's free to list). Your place will be added to the list of other places available in your area. When someone wants to stay with you, you get a notification that they've decided to book and you have the opportunity to look over their profile before confirming their reservation. You get contact info for each other through the website, so you are able to message them and they are able to message you, so you're able to get in touch with one another before they arrive. They show up, you show them around, you socialize and hang out if you both want or go on your merry ways if you want and a couple of days later the money (minus a small cut taken out by Airbnb) shows up in your bank account. You review your guests; if they're awesome you let people know that, and if they weren't friendly or neat or whatever, you let people know that so they don't get to stay with other people through Airbnb.

Staying

You are preparing to travel. All of the hotels are booked/all of the hotels are wildly overpriced/you would like to stay in a home/you need access to a yard/you want to rent a whole house/there aren't hotels nearby/you want the opportunity to socialize and meet new people/you want to stay somewhere really cheap, so you decide to check out Airbnb. You put in the location and the dates you want to stay and the number of guests and search through the listings that meet those parameters. You find a place you like and book or you find a place you're interested in and send the host a message with specific questions for more information. You get to check in and out at flexible times. You meet some new people who have knowledge of the area and who can give you advice on places to eat or go for entertainment. Maybe your host makes you breakfast in the morning, or brews a steep pot of coffee. You go home and review the place so other people can know how good/bad the hosts and accommodations are.

Pros/Cons

Things that are great about it:
-As a host your place is insured through Airbnb, so if anything gets broken or stolen it will be taken care of, so you don't have to worry (as much) about letting strangers into your home.
-You have to create an account to book/list, so you can count on real people on both ends. As a host you can also ask for a scanned copy of ID before confirming bookings if you want to be extra cautious/have super nice stuff.
-It's still somewhat under the radar, so the assholes haven't found it yet.
-As a host you have the option to list your place as always available or only make it available for certain times, so if you only want to do holidays or weekends or whatever that's something you can do. You can also black out times you know you have family coming or won't want to host for whatever reason.
-You can vary the rate as you please, so if you want to have a really low rate for unpopular times of year and a higher rate for busy seasons, you can! You can negotiate a one-time offer with people as well.
-Often, you can bring a pet with you without an additional charge. Depending on the place, you may have to pay a small pet deposit, but deposits are promptly returned (assuming your pet doesn't cause any damage).
-We have pretty much only ever had pleasant experiences, and find that people who stay through Airbnb tend to be nice, at least somewhat social people, probably because that's the type of person who would be interested in that kind of service.
-You get to see what amenities are available very clearly, and it's easy to get answers to questions.
-Guests and hosts can be reviewed, so good or bad experience, you get to tell people.
-Hosts are generally a pro. They treat Airbnb like a business, have other competition, their customer service affects their listing order (for example: how quickly they respond to guest messages or confirm bookings), and they tend to be gregarious, friendly people who will go out of their way to make sure you have a comfortable, pleasant experience.
-The customer service is great. Andy sent them a message letting them know how much we've enjoyed our experiences and they sent us a 20 dollar credit for a future stay through Airbnb. We used that for our trip and only had to pay and additional 38 dollars for the place we stayed.

Things you may not like about it:
-Depending on the place, the amenities may not be as good as a hotel. Some places you'll have to share a bathroom with your hosts, or may not have AC (for example). These are clearly labeled, so you'll have decided what compromises you're comfortable making for the price.
-There's no maid service. Personally I like this, but if you prefer to be cleaned up after, this could be a problem for you.
-While there are some vacation homes and the like listed, these are mostly lived in spaces, so they won't be as sterile or pristinely clean as a hotel. Again, this will depend on your preferences.
-There can be some nickel and diming. Some hosts will charge an extra fee for extra people (for example, an extra ten dollars for a second person), bringing pets can be an extra charge or involve a deposit, breakfast can be an extra charge, some people will charge a cleaning fee, etc. As a host this can be a pro for you if you want to offer additional services or have extra insurance for your home and your time, but as a guest this can definitely be a con. Again though, these costs are all listed in the description on the place's page so you will never be suckerpunched with them.

Andy and I have had wonderful experiences hosting and staying through Airbnb. We've met some really lovely people and are even starting to have return guests. Hosting also helps encourage us to keep our house clean and neat and gives us some extra spending money. We really enjoy have the opportunity to chat with new people coming from all over and getting to play with their pets when they bring them. Here's a link to our page in case you want to check it out and see what a listing looks like.

Have you ever used Airbnb? Would you? I'd love to hear your thoughts!

Yours Truly, Jen

Charlottesville Weekend Trip

On Friday I told you that Andy and I were going on a little weekend trip to Charlottesville to celebrate our anniversary and see a free show. Here are the details of the trip!

On Friday Andy and I drove up to Charlottseville, which is about a two and a half hour drive. We had planned to stop and drop our stuff at the place we were staying before going to dinner, but we ended up leaving half an hour later than we wanted to so we skipped that and went straight to dinner at this place called The Local, which a friend of Andy's had recommended to us. Unfortunately we got there and they were like oh, our kitchen doesn't open for another 30 minutes, so that was a bit of a bummer. We stretched our legs and ordered cocktails at the bar and read the menu. After agonizing over the menu, we both ordered steak frites. I wish I had taken a picture of the steak plates, because they steaks we got were absolutely enormous! I did get a picture of my fry cone, which was amply sized as well. This place had really legit serving sizes for a nicer place.


After dinner we headed downtown to the concert venue. Has anyone else had trouble with their Apple Maps since updating to iOS 7? Mine was acting wacko. We got there right at 7 when the show was set to start, and were surprised to see tons of seats still available. We grabbed some great seats and Andy bought a cup of wine.


This DJ came on for the opening act and we weren't really into it. Not the right kind of music to just sit and watch, though I'm sure it would've worked great in a dance club. He didn't say who he was and when he was done he exited the stage without ceremony. We then sat and waited over an hour for the XX to take the stage. That was awesome.



I was pretty peeved by the ludicrous wait time (2X the length of the actual show, including the time the DJ was on), especially since it made me really tired and lethargic. The show was really awesome though. The lights were beautiful, the performances were great, the DJ/percussionist guy was interesting to watch, and the vocals were better live than recorded. After the show we popped into a trendy rooftop bar and Andy had a couple of cocktails and I sucked down a glass of water. I was mega dehydrated.


 After that we went home and chatted with our hosts (more about that tomorrow) and pooped out and went to bed.

Saturday morning we got up and went to breakfast at this place both Andy's friend and our hosts recommended to us. By the time we got there it was a bit of a wait, so we put our names in and walked around the farmer's market for a piece, which was really nice. I bought this Hungarian pastry that I ate for breakfast Sunday morning. It was awesome.

I don't know how well you can read the menu on the left, but their specials were insane. So many creative, innovative combinations. We wanted to try everything.  I ended up being a little disappointed with what I ordered, but Andy's dish was amazing.


After breakfast we tried to drive around the UVA campus, but it was a game day and the traffic wasn't worth it. We decided to head out to Monticello. Upon reaching the visitor's center, we realized you had to buy a ticket to walk around the grounds or go inside the buildings. That ticket costs 24 dollars. Say what?! We were really not expecting that. It was super drizzly and grey and dreary, so we decided it was not the day to pay 24 dollars for a scenic tour. We will definitely be going back for it, even though that price is outrageous.

Heading away from Monticello, we stopped at the Mitchie Tavern, which is this cool little collection of ye old style looking shops and a restaurant.


 

We were considering leaving Charlottesville at that point. It was 1 or so in the afternoon and I thought, maybe we'll stop on the way home and do some shopping. Then something awesome happened. We stumbled across some vineyards.



The first one we stopped at was Trump Winery, which is owned by Donald Trump's son. They offered 8 wine tastings for I think 8 dollars. The staff there was so friendly and they were all super interested and asking all of these questions when Andy and I said we are writers. The guy who take care of us most of the time chatted with us the whole time offered to let us re-taste things as we pleased. All of the staff kept telling us how good the BLT is but we weren't really hungry. We actually went to the second winery, suddenly got super hungry, and came back for lunch. Andy and I split a BLT and a Margherita Pizza and they were both delicious and light and came with a simple little salad. That was definitely the best BLT I've ever had. Soft bread! Broiled tomato! Aioli! Thick cut bacon! Andy and I are going to do our darndest to replicate it at home.


I don't know why, but I just loved these little plants on the table. I really want one.



This is the gorgeous view from the back of the Trump Winery. Doesn't it look like this could have been taken in Ireland?





Blenheim Winery (owned by Dave Matthews) was 5 tastings for 5 dollars. The guy who poured for us told us all about the wine making process. He was super knowledgeable. The tasting room was actually above the production room, so we got to look down at it and he pointed a couple of things out to us.


The last vineyard we went to was Jefferson, where you got 11 tastings and the woman taking care of us gave us enormous pours in enormous glasses and it was just unreal how much wine we consumed. All three places were very friendly and very generous. We also brought home six new wine glasses because each place let us take our tasting glasses home afterward (this is pretty standard). Seriously, if you don't already have a set of wineglasses, go do a few tastings and you'll be good to go.


I had to check us in on Facebook and comment on the size of the pours. We actually hung out a bit looking at the gorgeous views out back so Andy could digest a little before driving us home. 


Andy looks so Irish in all of these pictures. It's because the background is so freakin green.


We came home and lounged and went to bed early. We loved Charlottesville and will definitely be going back soon. Next time I think we'll have a somewhat tighter itinerary, so we can get in stuff like the observatory and Monticello and other restaurants on our list. Though we did spend a fair amount of money on tastings and food, the concert was free, gas was about 50 bucks and my tank isn't empty, and the place we stayed was really cheap. Overall, it was a totally reasonable mini trip. What a great way to cross a goal off the 24 Before 24 list.

What did you do this weekend?

Yours Truly, Jen