Category Archives: My First Time

The Black Dahlia Drink from Revenge

 

In the television show Revenge– Fauxmanda aka the “real” Emily Thorne makes a drink called The Black Dahlia. In it she puts 3 oz. Vodka, 1 oz. Creme de Cassis and a little Blackberry Liqueur. She then puts it in a martini shaker with ice, shakes it and strains it into a martini glass.

I figured- Since I was at a blogging conference…and could not check in until an hour later, I was bored and my bartender Vince was nice- what better time to try it?!?

Vince added some flair by garnishing the drink with some raspberries and voila! I had my Black Dahlia.

Verdict of this cocktail? Sooooo good! Somewhat sweet with a kick and very smooth. Would definitely order it again!!!

Have a drink you want me to try or a product you want me to review? 
Contact me HERE! I’m PR friendly 😉

This post may contain a link to an affiliate. See my disclosure policy for more information.

Chocolate Covered Strawberry Boozy Milkshake! 2017 #FWCon #makeitwithMILK Contest Entry

I’m attending the 2017 Food Wine Conference, and although I’ve always wanted to enter one of their recipe contests, I’ve been chicken every year. This year, that changes! I decided to enter the Make it With Milk Recipe contest!

The rules seemed simple enough – Develop an original recipe which must include at least 1 cup of real milk and at least 1 cup of one other dairy product (cheese, yogurt, ice cream, etc.) Be creative! It cannot be an adapted recipe.

So, I came up with a yummy drinkable food recipe that in my opinion is PERFECT! Here’s my entry. Let me know what you think in the comments below 😀

Chocolate Covered Strawberry Boozy Milkshake Featuring Wish Farms Berries!

Prep Time: 5 Minutes

Yields: 2 Boozy Milkshakes

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup Wish Farm Strawberries (freeze them the night before)
  • 1 cup of REAL milk
  • 1 cup of chocolate ice cream
  • 2-4 oz of vodka depending on how strong you like your drinks
  • Grand Marnier – just a splash as this will be a floater
  • Whipped Cream

Directions:

  1. In a Blender (I used a Ninja) add the 1/2 cup of frozen Wish Farm Strawberries
  2. Cover the berries with the cup of real milk
  3. Add the vodka
  4. Then add the cup of chocolate ice cream.
  5. Blend!
  6. Pour into a glass
  7. Pour a little Grand Marnier on the top of the boozy shake – not too much, just enough to act as a floater like I said
  8. Top with whipped cream, add a straw and slurp it down!

 

Ya’ll, this drink was sooooooooo good, and was so filling I almost didn’t eat my dinner. I loved every single sip of it. I can’t wait for the next excuse (read weekday) to make these yummy boozy milkshakes. I hope you make them and love them too.

To make them mocktails, simply remove the alcohol.

Want to enter this contest too?

You can enter the Food Wine Conference #makeitwithMILK Contest here. And, remember, you need to use at least 1 cup of real milk and at least 1 cup of one other dairy product for your recipe to be valid in the contest.

Interested in attending the 2017 Food Wine Conference?

The Food Wine Conference brings together bloggers, small business owners, winemakers, chefs, public relations professionals, traditional media, new media, authors and brands.

Bloggers gain knowledge and insight to:

– SEO – Search Engine Optimization
– Marketing and promotion on social media channels
– Effective writing
– Publishing a cookbook
– Working with PR agencies
– Food photography

Attend the conference and tap into information and resources that can lead to growth for both you and your blog. Connections are very important in today’s ever growing blogosphere. This conference puts you and those connections in one place. It is an opportunity not to miss!

Learn more about the conference right here!

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Chocolate Covered Strawberry Boozy Milkshake! 2017 #FWCon #BerryDelish Contest Entry

I’m attending the 2017 Food Wine Conference, and although I’ve always wanted to enter one of their recipe contests, I’ve been chicken every year. This year, that changes! I decided to enter the Wish Farms Berry Delish Recipe contest!

The rules seemed simple enough – Develop an original cocktail/mocktail recipe which must include at least 1/4 cup of fresh Wish Farms berries (blueberries, strawberries, raspberries and/or blackberries).  Be creative! It cannot be an adapted recipe.

So, I came up with a cocktail recipe that in my opinion is PERFECT! Here’s my entry. Let me know what you think in the comments below 😀

Chocolate Covered Strawberry Boozy Milkshake Featuring Wish Farms Berries!

Prep Time: 5 Minutes

Yields: 2 Boozy Milkshakes

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup Wish Farm Strawberries (freeze them the night before)
  • 1 cup of real milk
  • 1 cup of chocolate ice cream
  • 2-4 oz of vodka depending on how strong you like your drinks
  • Grand Marnier – just a splash as this will be a floater
  • Whipped Cream

Directions:

  1. In a Blender (I used a Ninja) add the 1/2 cup of frozen Wish Farm Strawberries
  2. Cover the berries with the cup of real milk
  3. Add the vodka
  4. Then add the cup of chocolate ice cream.
  5. Blend!
  6. Pour into a glass
  7. Pour a little Grand Marnier on the top of the boozy shake – not too much, just enough to act as a floater like I said
  8. Top with whipped cream, add a straw and slurp it down!

Ya’ll, this drink was sooooooooo good. I loved every single sip of it. I can’t wait for the next excuse (read weekday) to make these yummy boozy milkshakes. I hope you make them and love them too.

To make them mocktails, simply remove the alcohol.

Want to enter this contest too?

You can enter the Food Wine Conference #BerryDelish Contest here. And, remember, you need to use at least 1/4 cup of fresh Wish Farm berries for your recipe to be valid in the contest.

Interested in attending the 2017 Food Wine Conference?

The Food Wine Conference brings together bloggers, small business owners, winemakers, chefs, public relations professionals, traditional media, new media, authors and brands.

Bloggers gain knowledge and insight to:

– SEO – Search Engine Optimization
– Marketing and promotion on social media channels
– Effective writing
– Publishing a cookbook
– Working with PR agencies
– Food photography

Attend the conference and tap into information and resources that can lead to growth for both you and your blog. Connections are very important in today’s ever growing blogosphere. This conference puts you and those connections in one place. It is an opportunity not to miss!

Learn more about the conference right here!

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My First Time – Getting a Chocolate Pedicure

This article first appeared in the Tampa Bay Times. It has been slightly updated and I’m posting it here for my blog readers to enjoy.

I have gotten pedicures before, but after hearing about a process known as a chocolate pedicure I had to skip my traditional one and try it. It had been a rough week so being pampered sounded good to me.

It turns out there are several benefits to using chocolate for pampering. First, there are antioxidants in chocolate. Second, cocoa butter, a key ingredient in several types of chocolate, is a great skin moisturizer. Lastly, and in my opinion most importantly, just the smell of chocolate has been proven to release endorphins which are a mood booster.

I had mine done at a Spa in New Tampa that has since closed it’s doors. However, I did learn the Spa Evangeline offers a similar pedicure! Theirs is called the Dulce Delight

Here are the details on Spa Evangeline’s Dulce Delight:

Inspired by Chocolate Pi’s Salted Caramel signature dessert. A coffee salt exfoliant of Arabica bean extract energizes, exfoliates, and soothes dry skin. A full body dark chocolate mask is applied, and wrapped in a cocoon for better absorption & detoxification. Shower off, and a Sweet Cream body milk massage seals the deal. A sampling of salted caramel to conclude.
Also available as a hand and foot treatment.
120 minutes

I would strongly recommend doing a massage and a pedicure. By the end of the day you will smell like a dessert, and feel like a million bucks!

How my pedicure went down:

My pedicure began with a warm chocolate foot bath.  The aroma of the chocolate and the bubbles of the jets in the foot bath melted all of my leftover stress away within minutes. Just as I was beginning to feel the calm come over me I was presented with a chocolate martini. Delicious. Its smooth texture went down like chocolate milk, and in the bottom of the glass was a piece of chocolate for me to munch on while my pedicurist scrubbed my feet. (I highly recommend grabbing a chocolate martini at Edge if you get your treatment at Spa Evangeline. Their drinks are delicious!!!)

My pedicurist used a cocoa scrub to wash and exfoliate my tootsies, and then it was time for my mask. I never had a mask on my feet before, but it was extremely moisturizing and felt so nice. The mask was, of course, infused with chocolate.

Following the mask my feet were massaged with chocolate oil. After that my toes were dried and nail polish was applied.  My feet have never felt so good. My treatment delighted my senses to say the least.

When I got home my husband asked me if I had baked brownies. The scent was strong, and made us both hungry, but I was more interested in continuing my tranquil state than cooking. I felt so good from a day of chocolaty indulgence that I already wanted to book another one.
Chocolate Pedicure
Where to get it: Get a similar one at Spa Evangeline
Located at The Epicurean Hotel across from Bern’s Steakhouse

1203 South Howard Avenue
Tampa, FL 33606

Cost: $85 for the 60-minute experience as of February 2017.

Three things I learned
1. Chocolate contains 300 different compounds, some of which can have a significant impact on one’s health and beauty.
2. Chocolate re-mineralizes and energizes the skin.
3. For some people the scent of chocolate has a psychological effect of relaxing your mind and therefore relaxing your body.

Would I do it again? Yes! It was so relaxing and luxurious. I look forward to the day when I can afford one every week!

The My First Time was a column about me trying new things in Tampa Bay. I’m reviving it here on my blog! Got a suggestion for something I can try? E-mail me at famousashleygrant@gmail.com.

Get Stuffed Like a Turkey at Piquant and Love Every Minute!

piquant_1003 So, recently I had the AHHHHHMAZING opportunity to have dinner at Piquant. For those of you who don’t know, this is a restaurant located in Hyde Park Village. They are an American spin on French cuisine, and although I was treated to a meal here for their preview of a new menu thanks to my affiliation with the Tampa Bay Bloggers, all opinions below are my own.

When we first arrived, we were treated to the cocktail you see above. It’s a blend of equal parts Deep Eddy Peach Vodka and Rumchata, a squeeze of lime and a pinch of cinnamon. They said it tastes like Peach Cobbler. For me, it was a little too sweet, but the other bloggers seemed to enjoy it. For some reason, the older I get the less I like sweet drinks. Anywho…moving on…

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Our first course was Octopus Provencal featuring chorizo-rubbed seared Octopus, Spanish evoo, potatoes, Provencal sauce. I keep it real on this blog, so I’m not going to lie to you and tell you I loved this dish. It was my first time having octopus and I’m NOT a fan. Bleh! The potatoes though- those were delicious!!! Love me some potatoes ya’ll!!!

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Next we had the Pork Belly Benedict featuring crispy pork belly, lemon-thyme scone, beefsteak tomato, poached egg, avocado Hollandaise. Ya’ll!!! This dish was pretty darn tasty. I love me some porkt belly, and the scone was surprisingly moist. Most scones I’ve eaten are far too dry. This? This was good! I would eat this again if given the chance for sure.

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For our first salad sampling we tried the Vertical (Uriah’s Farm) Salad featuring a mix of Bibb, Frisee & Arugula, roasted Red & Golden beets, toasted almonds, goat cheese and passion fruit vinaigrette. The cool thing about this salad is that it’s as farm-to-table as you can get at a restaurant. They grow the stuff vertically nearby, and then Piquant gets the goods at the peak of freshness. I didn’t like the beets so much, but the greens, almonds and dressing – YUM!

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We were supposed to have another salad sample after the beets, but to our surprise the chef had other plans. EXCITING ones! He created this delicious croissant loaf. Yep, bread that is just as fluffy and flaky as a croissant, but in loaf form to make a sammich!!! So, naturally chef sliced the bread, toasted it and made the best turkey club sandwich I think I’ve ever had. It was so delicious I wasn’t even mad they cut the turkey sandwich from our scheduled samplings!

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Our other salad sampling was a Salmon Salad featuring seared fresh salmon, golden lentils, heirloom Spring, beefsteak tomatoes, crispy Brussels sprouts and passion fruit vinaigrette. I REALLY didn’t like the Brussels sprouts, but the rest of the salad was pretty tasty. This could totes be a lunch I would eat one day! I’d just ask for mine sprout free. Ha!

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As we waited for our first signature entree sampling, we were treated to a swig of Impatience wine. This was delicious! Paired perfectly with the salmon too.

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Our first signature entree sampling was Duck Confit featuring leg of house-made crispy Duck Confit, golden lentil ragu and duck Demi glace. The duck was good, the rest? Not so much! I’m very finicky I guess. But, I did enjoy the duck leg quite a bit.

piquant_1073

Our other signature entree sampling was Salmon Napoleon with layers of pate brisee, ratatouille, seared salmon, hollandaise and fresh dill. This is TOTALLY a dish my husband would have liked. I ate it and enjoyed it for the most part, but I wish my hubby could have been there because I suspect he would have been begging for more.

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Taking a slight break from ALL. THE. FOOD. we were treated to another cocktail that rocked my world. Equal parts Pumpkin Spice Baileys and Crown Royal Vanilla shaken and poured over ice. What’s not to love? This drink was so frikkin good I considered asking for another. Going to have to nab me some of those bottles before they sell out since the Pumpkin Spice is limited edition!!!!

Finally, it was dessert time. And holy crap did Piquant go all out. I’ll share them in order from my least favorite to my most favorite because after all, you should save the best for last. Am I right?

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This dessert was the JBF Passian Fruit Ganache Gateau which consists of chocolate cake, passion fruit ganache, almond croquantine, passion fruit curd and milk chocolate buttercream. I had one bite and quickly moved on. FAR too sweet for me!

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This is the Chocolate Cherry Croissant Bread Pudding which consists of warm croissant bread pudding with European Chocolate wafers and cherries. Served with vanilla gelato and caramel sauce. The gelato and the caramel sauce – I was all over the deliciousness!!! But, I sadly was not a fan of the bread pudding itself.

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Now, my favorite!!!! Oh my GAWD you guys!!! These are the Croissant Donut Beignets. Yep – I said CROISSANT DONUT!!! Omg! These warm, crunchy Croissant Donut Beignets accompanied with signature dipping sauces makes for an interactive dessert that will tickle your taste buds and have you foodgasming something fierce. I loved these little suckers so much I wished I had saved more room for them, because DAYUM, they were good! HIGHLY RECOMMEND!!!

Well folks, there you have it. Your sneak peek at the new items on the Piquant menu, and how I felt about them. Overall I had a VERY pleasant experience, and would love to munch on a few of the items again and again and again. If nothing else I’ll take more beignets and Pumpkin Baileys with Vanilla Crown please! So good!

Now, I want to hear from you!!! Have you eaten at Piquant? What did you think of the place?

Join me at the On Point Book Fair on 9/17/16!!! #onpointbookfair

blogger and author ashley grant will be at the on point book fair 91716

You guys, I can’t even believe how close the On Point Book Fair is getting!!!! It’s less than a month a way and I’m crazy excited. I seriously can’t wait to meet all the attendees and my fellow authors and bloggers at the event at Westshore Plaza.

If you’re an author/blogger and you want to participate they still have a few tables available. Author tables start at just $125 and additional sponsorship opportunities are also available. Learn more HERE!

My First Time – in A Book Fair! (Coming 9/17/16)

On Point Book Fair

For the first time this fall, I’ll be an author in a book fair. Most people don’t know this, but I’ve now written three books under my own name. Slowly, but surely my plan is to start promoting these books and future books that I plan to write. Anywho, the book fair I’m participating in is the On Point Executive Center Book Fair, and this year’s exciting event will be held at none other than Westshore Plaza in Tampa!  It’s going down on Saturday, September, 17, 2016! Want to join me as a featured author? Read more about this literary event and sign up HERE!

My First Time – Aqua Fit Class

via LA Fitness Facebook Page
via LA Fitness Facebook Page

Today, for the first time, I took an aqua fit class. I joined a gym this week with the full intention of getting healthier and taking better care of my body. After three attempts at Zumba in one week, however, it hit me that I might have been trying to over do things. So, I decided to try what I was told would be an intense workout that wouldn’t hurt my joints as much – Aqua Fit.

The idea of the class seemed simple enough. Get into a pool, workout for 50 minutes, have less impact, but get a full body workout and never be able to feel whether or not I was sweating.

I arrived about 15 minutes early and there were already people in the pool. One of the gals in the pool, Diane, is an avid fan of Aqua Fit, but she was there early to complete her workout before the class would begin because she had to be somewhere. Still, Diane took a few minutes to school me in what to expect from the class. She ran me through the exercises that the instructor would be calling out. Thank goodness she did because it helped me know how to do each of the moves in advance without looking so much like a bumbling newbie. Don’t get me wrong, it was still VERY clear I was a newbie, but it wasn’t “as clear” as it would have been.

The class began just a few minutes after 9 a.m. The instructor got everyone’s attention and we began. Simple movements at first for about 20 minutes. We ran through jumping jacks, scissor kicks, frog leaps, etc… Then, the part that got my attention – water weights. Now, out of water these things barely weigh a pound together, but under water they felt like 5-10 pound dumbbells, and the faster we moved them, the heavier they felt. Nonetheless, I was bound and determined to get through the entire 50 minute class.

The thing that shocked me the most is how warm I was getting in the frigid water. I was moving my body more than I anticipated and doing my best to keep up with these Aqua Fit Class regulars. Ultimately, I made it the entire 50 minutes, but when as I stepped out of the water I was shocked out how heavy I felt. I’ve been in pools before, but somehow working out in one made me feel more weightless than just swimming and splashing around. Stepping out made me fully aware of my body’s mass.

I walked into the locker room, changed into my clothes for the day and headed home with the full intention of getting some serious writing work done. My adrenaline was pumping. I felt high energy. I grabbed breakfast for my husband and me and then drove the 10 minutes home to eat and start my day. Suddenly after eating though, the exhaustion came over me. This was another result I hadn’t expected. How hard I had worked without even realizing it in the pool hit me hard. Before I knew it I could feel it was nap time. I barely made it to the bed and promptly passed the hell out.

Planning to only sleep two hours and then get to work proved troublesome. Amazingly, when my alarm went off I simply did NOT want to move. Yep, my whole body could feel all the work I had put it through. I managed to get out of bed and fix lunch and now I’m sitting at my computer writing this. My arms and legs are sore. I’m still pretty tired. But, I feel good. I am happy knowing that I made it through the 50 minutes and honestly can’t wait to try this workout again.

Perhaps after a few more of these classes I can start doing Zumba again. But, for now I can at least rest assured that in the water, though I’m not hurting my joints that have been in pain, I’m getting a thorough and intense workout.

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My First Time Lunching at Del Frisco’s Tampa!

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Thanks to being a part of the Tampa Bay Bloggers and the awesomeness of the PR team at Del Frisco’s Grille I had the immense pleasure of getting to dine for lunch at their brand spankin new Tampa location on Wednesday, October 7, 2015! Although they did provide me with loads of free foods to sample and compensated me with a $25 gift card this did not impact my review. All opinions are my own. For my full disclosure policy, please click HERE. Now, onto the review!

Del Friscos Tampa

Although this was in fact my first time eating lunch at Del Frisco’s Grille Tampa I did visit in August to grab a drink. What struck me then as it did again during lunch was the various lighting structures. I’m a sucker for funky lighting fixtures ya’ll. I want the red ribbon looking one in my dream bedroom, the ice cube like chandelier in my dream foyer and the other two fixtures somewhere in my future dream home! I loved all of them. Still, I know you aren’t here to talk about the lights. You want the scoop on the food. Boy oh boy did we EVER try the food. First, they brought us a bunch of appetizers:

Del Friscos tampa 3

In the top left corner is the Heirloom Tomato & Burrata. I personally didn’t wet my pants over this one, although I must say the tomatoes in it were pretty good. The Balsamic Vinegar and Basil Oil were yummy, but the texture of the cheese on top just didn’t appeal to me.  The top right corner is the Kale & Brussels Sprouts salad featuring Roasted Almonds, Dried Cranberries, Orange Segments, Shaved Manchego and Creole Mustard Vinaigrette- in full disclosure I’m not a big Kale or Brussels Sprouts fan, but I LOVED this salad. Something about the combo of the ingredients left me not wanting it to end. Bottom left corner is their guacamole. This I did enjoy, but the bowl just didn’t make it down to my end of the table quite enough for me to give a thorough enough of a review of it. The bite of it I did have I liked very much. Then, there is the bottom right corner and my favorite appetizer of the meal – the Lollipop Chicken Wings. These buffalo style wings are “mess free” because they are Frenched (i.e. bone sticking out so you have something to hang on to as you dip it in sauce). These yummy nuggets were served with an equally yummy Avocado Ranch Dressing.

Have a drink you want me to try or a product/event/service/place you want me to review?

Contact me HERE! I’m PR friendly!!

We also tried these:

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Ah, the Asian Street Tacos featuring BBQ Pork, Pickled Daikon & Carrot, Cucumber, Cilantro and Chiles. I was crazy excited about them, but only somewhat liked them once they were in my mouth. I was so sad that they didn’t excite me as much as I had hoped they would. Oh well… onto the main course…or should I say courses…

BOOM:

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Top left corner is the Chicken Avocado Wrap featuring Smoked Bacon, Crisp Lettuce, Tomato and Chipotle Aioli. This was good, but not my favorite of the four.  To right corner is the Lamb Burger with Roasted Tomato, Arugula and Tzatziki Sauce – Alas, I got too full to even try this bad boy, but some of my dining mates were drooling buckets over it. My favorite was the Grille Prime Cheeseburger pictured in the bottom left corner with its Double Patties, Lettuce, Red Onion, Tomato, Pickle and Sloppy Sauce – I know… all these choices and my favorite was the most simple of them all. Finally, was the BBQ Pork Bahn Mi featuring Pickled Daikon & Carrot, Cucumber, Cilantro, Chiles and like its similar little brother of an appetizer I wasn’t too fond of this.

Then, because our belts needed to be loosened just one more notch, out came dessert. They brought us both a lemon cake and butterscotch pudding topped with salted caramel. I felt mine had too much salt on top, but it was nonetheless quite delicious and I LOVED the presentation in the cute little mason jar. Look at it:

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Over all the entire meal left me fully loaded. The staff was friendly and the location was awesome! I would definitely recommend Del Frisco’s Grille Tampa for lunch! Can’t wait to come back for dinner some time soon too.

 

Have a drink you want me to try or a product/event/service/place you want me to review?

Contact me HERE! I’m PR friendly!!

My First Time – Brunch at Birchwood

Birchwood1001

Today I got to have brunch at The Birchwood! I’ve been wanting to check out the hotel, but had not yet had the chance to. Luckily, today I had an event to go to at the hotel and got to finally try some of their food. The options were limited because it was an event, but I settled on the Eggs Benedict. I’m not much for champagne, but since the mimosas were free flowing I figured, hey! When in Rome, right? Oh, and I got to sample the monkey bread. I confess it was much sweeter than the monkey bread I make at home. Still, it was tasty enough to enjoy a couple of bites. (p.s. normally the bread is served with the nuts on it, but a member of the group I was with had a nut allergy so the restaurant served them in a bowl on the side. And, the big bowl of white cream you see in the image below is yogurt. I didn’t try that because I wasn’t in the mood, but several people said it was pretty good with the fruit platter.)

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The Eggs Benedict was good, but not great. I must say the bread in the dish was quite rough. It was almost stale and then toasted making it extra rock like. Or so it seemed. Over all though the meal was pretty decent. I would like to try something else the next time I visit and I hope that when I do visit again I get to stay long enough to walk around and see the various parts of the hotel. Today it was pretty rainy and I rode with people so sadly, walking around wasn’t possible.  Next time!

Here are a few other images from the brunch event…drooling yet?

Birchwood Collage