Thursday, February 23, 2012

Surprise Weekend in Richmond

As I mentioned in the post last week for Courtney's Virtual Shower, a few of us surprised her with an actual-real-life-in-person visit.  To put it succinctly, it was pretty much the most awesome weekend ever. 

Courtney from Cook Like a Champion, Annie of Annie's Eats, Tara of Smells Like Home, Elly from Elly Says Opa, and I have an email chain, and we've been emailing pretty much daily for almost a year now.  These ladies are truly some of my best friends.  We have seen each other through some pretty awesome times and events, and unfortunately some devastating events as well.  Through it all, these girls make me so happy, and I feel so so fortunate and blessed to have them as friends.

At the end of 2011, we got the idea to fly to Richmond, Virginia and surprise Courtney with a visit before she welcomes her sweet baby girl into the world.  I contacted her husband, Eric, and he was all for it.  The hardest part was most definitely keeping it a secret from her.  She knew he was planning a surprise for her, so it was really funny to hear her speculate and guess what was going on.   But we pulled it off!  Sadly, Elly wasn't able to join us for the weekend, and we missed her terribly.  

Annie connected through Atlanta, and we were able to take the same flight to Richmond.  We both absolutely hate flying, but being able to chat the whole time definitely made it much easier.   Basically from the time I met Annie at the gate until we said good-bye on Sunday afternoon, it was a nonstop gab-fest.  I'm pretty sure the only silence the entire trip was when we were all eating! 

So Eric made dinner reservations at one of Courtney's favorite restaurants for Friday night, and Tara, Annie, and I were waiting at the restaurant when they showed up.  She actually walked right past us, and it wasn't until the hostess was showing them to the table that she noticed us.  We expected her to go nuts and scream, cry, laugh, etc, but I think she was just in shock.  It was still pretty hilarious though.  She was pretty much just like "Hiiiii guys..."  Sadly we didn't take any pictures at dinner - we were too busy running our mouths and stuffing our faces!

So after an amazing dinner, we headed to the hotel.  And then proceeded to stay up way too late talking and laughing.  The next morning, we threw Courtney a mini-shower at a local restaurant, LuLu's.  The brunch was absolutely incredible.  Tara, Annie, and I all ordered the shrimp and grits, which was pimiento cheese grits, shrimp, a spicy tomato-etouffe-style sauce, two poached eggs, and hollandaise.  Seriously so delicious.  And pimento cheese grits:  what a revelation!

After showering Courtney with adorable baby girl gifts and chatting for way too long (notice a pattern here?), Courtney took us out to explore Richmond a little bit.   I had my first Penzey's experience, and it was all I had hoped it would be and more.  We walked around the store, sniffing spices, talking about food and cooking... and I managed not to completely buy out the entire store ;-)

We then meandered over to a chocolate store that Courtney had been wanting to visit.  And Oh.  My.  Goodness.  It was quite literally, chocolate heaven.  Every kind of chocolate, candy, truffle, or fudge that you can imagine was there.  I have no idea how long we stayed there, but it wasn't long enough.  Again, I somehow managed not to buy one of everything, but I definitely did some damage with truffles, chocolate covered espresso beans (I bought raspberry-chocolate, vanilla latte, and Irish cream varieties), peanut butter cups the size of my hand, some caramels, and a cute little Valentine's Day box of chocolates for Caroline.

And then came the part we'd all been looking forward to:  cooking together!  We actually didn't even discuss what we'd like to make beforehand, or even at all up until that point.  So we headed to Courtney's to peruse our iPads, magazines, and Courtney's cookbooks.  It was really cold, and actually started snowing, so we decided on comfort food.  We eventually decided on my Baked Tex-Mex Pimento Cheese Dip, Chicken Pot Pie with a Savory Crumble Topping, and a fancy pound cake for dessert.

After a quick trip to Starbuck's and Whole Foods, the fun really started, and we got to work!  Joey had jokingly asked that if we all cooked together would there be "too many cooks in the kitchen?"  But that wasn't the case at all!  We just all took turns chopping, sauteeing, cooking, etc.  One of two of us would work while the rest of us chatted and took pictures, and before we knew it we were chowing down!

So how ironic is it that when four food bloggers get together, we'd have a massive kitchen fail?  The aforementioned pound cake was exactly that.  As we dissected the situation afterward, we realized that the recipe was pretty flawed, and I'm pretty sure we are all making it our mission to recreate it with success sometime in the very near future.  But we all had a good laugh at the irony of the situation, and luckily Courtney had some Triple Chocolate Mousse Cake on hand so we didn't have to go without dessert.  What a travesty that would have been!  Courtney to the rescue!

After dinner we just sat around for a few more hours talking.  We all knew the weekend was coming to an end, but none of us wanted to acknowledge it.  We stayed up so late, that at one point I wondered if we were going to even go to bed at all.  But finally, we made our way back to the hotel, where Annie and I ended up staying up even later chatting.

The next morning we said our teary good-byes and headed home.  I have been thinking of a way I could describe the awesomeness of the weekend, but I just can't seem to put it into words.  I keep thinking of things to mention, and there's so much more that I want to tell you about this weekend, but I feel like this post is already way too long.  So I'll just say this.  You know how when you hang out with a good friend who you haven't seen in a while, and it feels like no time has passed?  That's kind of how it was.  We literally talked and laughed the entire weekend.  These girls just "get" me.  And I love them all so so much.  We decided that this WILL be a yearly occurrence, and that Elly WILL be joining us next time.  Now to just pick the time and place....

Thanks again to Courtney and Eric for their hospitality.  Congratulations again on Baby C, and we can't wait to see you guys again!!


Jessica Arnoldy said...

What a fun weekend! Oh and pimento cheese grits can be found at West Egg in midtown...if you've never been for brunch, go!

And they just opened a Penzey's in Sandy Springs:
Sandy Springs Plaza
6235-A Roswell Rd NE
Sandy Springs, GA

Katrina @ Warm Vanilla Sugar said...

So fun! You girls look like you had an awesome time.

Josie said...

Jessica, I love you so much right now!!!

Kelsey said...

I am so, so jealous of your time together, but also so glad you got to have it. It seems like a wonderful weekend!

Rebecca said...

Catching up on my fav blogs!! I just read the recap of your fun weekend on Annie's blog :)Then saw your recap! Sounds like you gals had a fab time!!

Anonymous said...

Sounds like so much fun, and I HAVE to make that Chocolate Mousse cake!

elly said...

Yes, Elly definitely WILL be joining you next time. :) I love reading these posts and seeing how much fun you guys had!

Brianna said...

How fun! Sounds like you guys had a blast and fit in a lot of celebrating!

Courtney said...

Thank you so, so, so much for the best surprise ever! I truly have the best friends in the world, and I'm so glad we got to spend the weekend together. Also, I got a few varieties of espresso beans when I went back to the chocolate shop last week. :) Love and miss you!

vantastic said...

wow! that's fun..

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