Top 5 Most Memorable Al Fresco Moments of 2016

Ah, yes, the first Monday of the month. How awesome is it though that we have a more pleasant, easy start to the week!? One less “Monday blues” for the year.

It’s been a little quiet around these parts. With my parents back in VA after a week-long visit with us, there’s a lot less buzz in our home to keep it warm and cozy. I’d keep the holiday spirit going forever if I could, but the peace and normalcy that follows a lovely time with the family, and the craze from the end of the year, can offer a sense of comfort too.

As I look back, I see how hectic yet somehow more organized, trying but oftentimes enlightening 2016 has been for me. I can easily come up with a wishlist, a bucket list, AND a “conquered” list to enumerate all my desires as I look on with hope every new year. I find myself, however,  enjoying a nice night-in for NYE this time around, and most inspired by the places and the memories that truly stayed with me. They’ve been my ‘happy pill’ and they’re mine to keep forever shared with people that, in those moments and beyond, touched my life.

What’s been the most rewarding and exciting about my little passion project here is the story behind every photo I get the share with you all. A wise friend once told me that the journey is the destination. On top of the wonderful food and places I’ve been fortunate enough to experience, I can’t forget about everything and everyone that have led me there. So inevitably, I’m sharing with you Al Fresco moments that brought me a lot of joy, usually in the form of happy-dancing tastebuds, a full belly to carry me through the next week, and sore cheeks from smiling ear to ear and laughing (never) too much.

With that, I give you my most memorable Al Fresco moments of 2016:

1. The Black Pearl, Newport, RI (see my post here, or their website here)img_3167

The hubby and I found the Black Pearl by chance, on a stroll around Bannister’s Wharf while in Newport over Christmas, and it was love at first sight. It’s hard to beat a view like this, a “Magic Elixir” concoction, and award-winning clam chowder. A source tells me that they’re not only closing for winter break but also demolishing the 40-year-old outdoor bar for renovations. Now we have this photo for keeps and are eager for a chance to go back!

2. Old Angler’s Inn, Potomac, MD (see my post here, or their website here)img_2722

Old Angler’s Inn in October was a scenic drive and would be a worthwhile post-hike reward through Great Falls Park which just happens to be its friendly neighbor. We could catch a glimpse of their outdoor garden from our patio seating, though it was closed that day. Everything from the butter, the salad, the seafood and the desserts were tastefully and thoughtfully done. They also have an excellent service team that moved our table inside as smoothly as they could when it started pouring on us mid-meal. It turned out to be the perfect opportunity to enjoy the outdoors and the charming, historic interior at Old Angler’s Inn.

3. The Ruby Slipper Cafe, New Orleans, LA (see my post here, or their website here)dsc00505

I don’t think I gave the Ruby Slipper Cafe enough credit in my original post for the mouth-watering food my girlfriends and I were able to enjoy. Because of its popularity, it is common to wait in line for seating at the restaurant, at either location, but our experience with their Magazine St. location was excellent. We were able to easily access their “no wait” feature and keep track of our place on their list in real time and be notified once our table was ready. I’m a sucker for chicken brunch dishes, and their Chicken St. Charles did not disappoint (wish that was the picture I could show you!). Instead, this is a glimpse of my mimosa that I was sipping with the girls as we were getting ready for our table. New Orleans is awesome. The Ruby Slipper Cafe (and the mimosas/bloodys) is certainly worth the wait .

4. Buz and Ned’s Real Barbecue, Richmond, VA (see my post here, or their website here)img_2710

As part of our trip back to VA, the hubs and I made it a point to have as much good barbecue as we could get our hands on. Our friends who grew up in the Richmond area highly recommended Buz and Ned’s – for good reason. Richmond’s Best BBQ has been put to the test by ‘Throwdown with Bobby Flay’ and ‘Man V. Food,’ and local foodies. The best part is the deliciousness and serving side that you get for the price. It was so get a real taste of home.

5. Boston Winter, Boston, MA (see my post here, or their website here)img_3263

Some of my favorite forms of eating “al fresco” are street style. There is no lack of that at Boston Winter, with a variety of ‘themed’ food and all the enticing smells to reel you in. It’s the perfect, and surprisingly delicious, way to get your belly warmed up as you pick your poison: mulled wine, or other varieties of wine, or your choice of beer. It should keep you warm as you stroll around, drink in hand (yes, sip and stroll within the premises), right in the heart of Boston.

 

And because I feel like it deserves it’s own category in my book, my favorite almost Al Fresco moment of 2016 is:

Pickety Place, Mason, NH (see my post here, or the website here)

img_3231

Hard to compare this sweet setting with anything else I’ve experienced before. And if not for a friend’s invitation, Pickety Place would still be completely off my radar. It’s kind of what I like about it. I felt as stuffed as the big bad wolf by the end of my meal, but also totally in heaven. Now I’m up for the challenge of maintaining VIP Lunch Club status for a free lunch after 6 visits within 12 months. Sounds like a good 2017 resolution to me 😉

 

What are you looking forward to in 2017? I hope that this new year brings you lots of adventures and memorable moments to last you a lifetime!

 

Valerie

 

 

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