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Archive for November, 2015

November 30th, 2015

Destination? WeihnachtsZauber Christmas Market, Berlin, Germany, Gendarmentmarkt Square, Traditional Christmas Market, Travel Berlin during Christmas

Not that long ago a friend said to me that we should all be traveling while we can.  To discover the world that is getting much smaller and definitely more dangerous.  But, you have to do it, otherwise, they win.  So, the State Department has just issued in the past few days a Worldwide Travel Alert which will expire in mid February, 2016.  I believe that not since 9/11 such an alert has been issued, worldwide.  If you are traveling abroad you can enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP).  This is a free service to allow U.S. citizens and nationals traveling abroad to enroll their trip with the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate.  It is a way of staying connected through these uncertain times.  They will send you travel alerts, weather surprises, uprisings in any particular country….so please visit https://step.state.gov/step.

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The whole week in Berlin was grey and cold.  We did manage to do everything including 4 and 5 hour walking tours.  We arrived at WeihnachtsZauber Christmas market late afternoon.  This is a classic market in one of the most beautiful settings in Berlin; the opulent architecture is breathtaking.

The Christmas Markets are the perfect place to escape the noisy city streets.  This market lends a magical air to the event because of where it is located.  Music floats from the stage where many other events take place throughout the month.

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The organizers of the WeihnachtsZauber Christmas Market will be presenting a check to Berlin to support people in need and to promote cultural projects based in Berlin.

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The market opened on November 23rd and you can visit from 11 a.m. until 10 p.m.  The 1 Euro entry free is for the charity collection which I mentioned above.

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Visitors like us walked from booth to booth, discovering glass blowers, jewelry designers, painters and wood carvers.  Did not buy anything just for the fact that I did not want to carry anything else on the plane.

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There are heated tents with seating where you can have something to drink or eat…..kale and potatoes!!

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I chose Currywurst and Beer.  It might not look as good to you but believe me it was.  The wurst is so crispy on the outside and perfectly moist inside.  The sauce is a mixture of Ketchup, Worcestershire Sauce, and Curry.  It is sold everywhere with the best one being Currywurst #36.

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Apparently this square lights up on New Years Eve with a spectacular firework display that will set off from the roof of the Konzerthaus.

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Stay tuned, I have one more Christmas Market post in the making.  Now that Thanksgiving is over we can say Merry Christmas!!

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November 29th, 2015

Destination? Christmas Markets, Berlin, Germany, Open Air Markets, Handcrafted Gifts, Food, Drinks…Berlin’s Cheer is not for its markets; the streets light up too!

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A week in Berlin, Germany, just as the Christmas Markets were ready to open.  It is a German tradition called Weihaachtsmarkt or Christmas Market.  Not only there are about 60 markets around the City, but Berlin itself has an obssession with Christmas decorations throughout.  Buildings, shops, restaurants….all are decorated and for the most part all Christmas trees are real.

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A main shopping street in West Berlin is Tauentzienstrasse…Shops are upscale and plenty of them are not shy about saying Merry Christmas!!  One of such store, Hugo Boss.

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This avenue will be completely lit up at night and they were still placing lights as we left on Thanksgiving Day.

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With everything happening in this world, it was great to see all the decorations and hear Christmas music all throughout the city.

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But nothing will get you more in the spirit of Christmas than Berlin’s Christmas Markets.  All the markets are laden with traditional food, drinks, and crafts.

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The market just opened this past week and will be opening throughout December.  It is a lot of work as I watched some of the merchants putting the last minute details on their stalls.

One market in West Berlin, near my hotel, was called City Weihaachtsmarkt.

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The markets open around 11 a.m. and continue until about 10 p.m. depending on the market.  Also, some of them have rides for kids and others have heated restaurants within the market.

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Plenty of food and no need to be on a diet in Berlin….you can’t.

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I love roasted chestnuts so twice I went to this stall….the chestnuts were from Italy.  I had them in the a.m. and then in the p.m.  They told me that late in the day they were better….they tasted great to me both times.

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They were perfectly roasted, easy to peel and best was eating them while walking around checking other stalls out…..did I tell you that Berlin does not have open container laws?

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The Christmas Markets are a place to meet for drinks and dinner.  Grab something up or just have a drink and enjoy.  It was cold so make sure you bundle up.

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Stay tuned….a few more posts from the markets in Berlin.

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November 27th, 2015

Destination? Berlin, Germany, Exploring Berlin, Traveling, Brandenburg Gate, 7 Days in Berlin

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Arriving at the Brandenburg Tor (Gate) in the evening it is so impressive.  It was quiet too.  But still there were a few like us, new in the city, checking the most important sites to see.  It is Berlin’s landmark and it represents important turning points  within German history.  At the end of WWII it remained the only gate to the city still intact.

This is East Berlin.  After the construction of the Berlin Wall, Branderburg Tor was right within the restricted area and because of that it was not accessible neither from the West nor from the East.  And when the Berlin Wall came down, it actually became a symbol for a reunited Germany and Europe.

As you cross the gate, then look up….

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Brandenburg Gate’s most prominent statue is the Quadriga.  This is the statue of the goddess of peace, Eirene.  Also known as the goddess of victory..riding into the city on a chariot drawn by four horses. This is a copy of the original, which was destroyed in WWII.

During the day Brandenburg Gate’s is full of people.  Also, this is a very important place for peaceful demonstrations.  Many tours originate at the Gate.

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The American Embassy is located here.  During our visit it was heavily protected.

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Across the street from the American Embassy you will find the French Embassy.  Due to the recent tragic developments a memorial could be also found in front of it.

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Right on this square is also the Adlon Hotel.  Believe it or not this is the hotel where Michael Jackson dangled his baby.  I kid you not, they mentioned that on the tour.  You can have tea in the afternoons at the hotel.

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Living statues…

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On week-ends just like in any other city, the visitors come out to explore and catch tours.  We took a great free tour by New Europe Tours.  Our tour guide, Sam, was so well informed, entertaining and so friendly.  These tour guides are self employed.  More info?  Please visit http://www.neweuropetours.eu.

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Sam took us on the Free Tour from Brandenburg Gate to Site of Hitler’s bunker, Holocaust Memorial, Checkpoint Charlie, SS Headquarters, The Berlin Wall, TV Towr, Pariser Platz…it was cold but we made it.

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And, Georgia took us on an Alternative City Tour…12 Euros.  We explored Berlin’s underground in all its grit and graffiti.

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Was it cold in Berlin this time of the year?  Yest it was.

The week went fast and now I can show you some of the things we did…..stayed tuned.

November 17th, 2015

Destination? Chelsea Tavern, Dinner & Drinks, The Grand Lady of Market Street, Entertainment at the Grand Opera House, Wilmington, Delaware

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My friend Debbie and I were spending the night at the Hotel du Pont in Wilmington, Delaware.  You can see my post right before this current one.  Hungry we were so off to the Chelsea Tavern we went.  Arriving at the tavern so early…they told us they did not have tables available.  All booked.  But, they gave us a great table at the bar.  One of those tall tables.  We had a clear vision of the dining room.  You see how that photo looks so empty, soon enough the whole restaurant was packed.  At the bar…standing room only.

The Chelsea Tavern is located at 821 Market Street.  Tel. 302-482-3333.  Website?  http://www.chelseatavern.com.

This tavern is another dining option if you are attending a play at The Playhouse or a concert at The Grand Opera House which is literally across the street.

Debbie and I were taking our time at grazing.  The football games were going on the t.v.s and the beer was flowing.  If you would like to see their beer menu, please visit http://www.beermenus.com/places/5089-chelsea-tavern.

The first thing we ordered was their Loaded Brussels.  These were crispy brussels sprouts, with applewood bacon, scallions, topped with a beer and cheddar cheese sauce.

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Continuing enjoying ourselves and then talking to people from Chicago that were in Delaware because their children were playing lacrosse…..we ordered an entree salad called the Quinoa & Beet Salad.  It had mixed greens, toasted almond, portobello mushrooms, pickled beets, cherry tomatoes, goat cheese, and a sage-balsamic vinegar dressing.  After the Brussels Sprouts it was a great cleansing palate salad.

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Our server was spot on.  His suggestions were all perfect.  So, he suggested the Mediterranean Pizza.  It had roasted tomatoes, goat cheese, baby spinach, artichokes, Kalamata olives, and a garlic oil and balsamic reduction.  This pizza was outstanding.  We ordered it well done. No guilt eating this whole pizza.  The combination of toppings was delicious.  The crust thin and crispy. Yum!

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No dessert for us.  It was time to cross the street and take our seats at The Grand Opera House where we met one of our other usual suspects, Paula…..she is my entertainment director.  In concert Delbert McClinton.  He is best know for his hit “Giving It Up For Your Love”.  He is a Grammy Award winning recording artist and songwriter.  His sax player was amazing.

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The Grand Opera House is also known as The Grand Lady of Market Street.  It opened in 1871 as a home for the Grand Lodge of the Masons.  The Grand was designed by architect Thomas Dixon in the Second Empire style.  Its facade is of cast iron adorned with Masonic images.  In 1909, The Grand was for a short time converted into a regular stop on the vaudeville circuit, and then into a movie theater.  In 1967 it closed its doors.  In 1971 plans were unveiled to renovate the theatre to its former splendor. Today The Grand presents more than 75 shows each season.  For more information, please visit http://www.thegrandwilmington.org.

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That’s all folks!!

Have a Happy Thanksgiving!!

November 17th, 2015

Destination? Hotel du Pont, Wilmington, Delaware, Elegant, Classic, Iconic, Sunday Brunch, Great Get-A-Way!!

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One of my usual suspects, Debbie, and I took off for Wilmington, Delaware…just a quick, ovenight, get-a-way trip.  Tickets to see Delbert McClinton in concert were ordered by another suspect, Paula…who is my entertainment director.  I have always loved this hotel.  It encompasses timeless elegance and beauty.  It is located at 11th and Market Sts., Wilmington, DE 19801  Tels. 302-594-3100, 800-441-9019.  You can find it on Facebook, as well.  Website?  http://www.hoteldupont.com

The hotel is an Italian Renaissance building.  It was commissioned by Pierre S. du Pont in 1913.  It took 2 1/2 years to build.  It has 12 stories with 217 rooms and suites.  Almost all rooms have king size beds but if you would like a room with 2 beds, please give them a call.  They do have some rooms with 2 beds.  They are very large and comfortable rooms.

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One of the most favorite ball rooms is the Gold Room.  During weddings a signature from the hotel is when they bring their baked alaskas for each table all lit.  It is something to see.  The Gold Room was built in 1918 in the French Neoclassic & Louis XVI style.  It can accommodate up to 500 guests.  The chandeliers are gorgeous.

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Another smaller room, more intimate is The du Barry Room.  The chandelier was imported from Yugoslavia.  It can accommodate up to 125 guests.

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Every Sunday brunch is served in the Green Room.  It is an iconic room with families coming here for this amazing brunch on a regular Sunday or just to celebrate a special holiday year after year.  It serves as their main dining room, as well.  The oak paneling is impressive and so is their impeccable service.   There is live music from the gallery above the restaurant on Friday, Saturday, and during Brunch on Sundays.   On Sunday, Crystal took care of us.  She was great.

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The brunch starts at 10 a.m. and reservations are a must.  We were just having a regular breakfast but that did not keep us from staring at all the food that was being set up.

We started with a few baked goods…Crystal staged my plate.

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My French Omelette had asparagus, Brie, and white truffle oil.  I chose very well done scrapple and I have to say it did come out perfectly crispy on the outside, just like I like it.  The fancy cut was something new since at Crystal in Rehoboth Beach…they do not go that far.

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These are a few of the Brunch offerings that caught my attention.

The desserts looked well so incredibly delish.

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Throughout the room there were other stations offering eggs, tenderloin, pastas, vegetables, breads, cheeses, and seafood.

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I have to tell you that Debbie and I behaved well….we did not touch one dessert!!

If you would like to learn more about the history of this iconic hotel, please visit http://www.hoteldupont.com/about-en/html.

Inside the hotel you can find the The Playhouse.  This theatre has been entertaining guests since 1913.  Comming up is Annie, Chicago, Mamma Mia!, Blue Man Group, 42nd Street, and Jersey Boys.  Please visit http://www.duponttheatre.com.

And last but not least, you have to get them for you or for a friend….Dick Bryan their Famous Pecan Macaroons.  As you check in or out they are right their behind their counters.  I am sure they are addictive!!

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November 15th, 2015

Destination? Delaware Auctioneers Association, Oyster & Dumpling Dinner, Felton Fire House, Station #48, Felton, Kent County, Delaware

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This was new to me.  Thanks to my friend, Dick Bryan, I went to the Oyster & Dumpling Dinner and annual event at the Felton Fire House, Station #48 in Felton, Delaware.  This is Kent County and the heart of agrigulture in Southern Delaware.  Deer season opened on Friday, but there were plenty attending this event….I could not wait to have the dumplings.

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You can find the Delaware Auctioneers Association on Facebook.

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There was a live auction, and also a silent auction.  And, a gun raffle for a Benelli shotgun and a 357 Mag pistol.  The Delaware Auctioneers Association focuses in preserving the auction industry.

Every auctioneer has its own technique…not so.  Almost all auctioneers learn to end their bid calling in exactly the same way.  The chant repeats numbers and filler words as the auctioneer conducts an auction.

The Chant denotes both the “have” and the “want”.  The “have” is the amount that is a bid.  The “want” is the amount the auctioneer wishes someone to bid.  When the auctioneer is about to sell the item, he slightly inflects his or her voice, and say the “want”,  almost as a question, “want?”.  Then, if no bid comes in, the next word is “sold” and then the “have” and then the “buyer” which is usually a bid number.

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There was a silent auction.  You were to use your bid number to place your bids.  Lots of interesting things from gadgets to wine.

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In the Live auction there were larger items such as the following.

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The dinner was going to be family style.  Our table was so excited with the anticipation of oysters and dumplings.  And the kitchen was ready for us, as well.

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These ladies were fast….serving, green beans, chicken salad, cole slaw, mashed potatoes and gravy, fried oysters and dumplings….OMG so delish!!

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Here is my plate….so good.  Seconds and Thirds.

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Money was raised, the bid calling competition took place…customers were happy and our table was so much fun!!

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And until next year when the 6th Annual Delaware Auctioneers Association will take place.  Stay tuned.

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November 10th, 2015

Lewes Eats! Agave, Mexican Cuisine, Restaurant, Bar, Lewes, Delaware, Southern Delaware, Delaware Beaches…Buen Provecho!

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One of my pet peeves is that I hate to wait.  More so, at restaurants.  With so many popular restaurants not taking reservations at the Delaware Beaches, well, let’s say that at times it is a bit annoying.  Not such a great way to start a post.   But, keep reading because I am posting about one of my favorite restaurants in Lewes…Agave.  It is located at 137 2nd St.  Tel. 302-645-1232.  You can find it on Facebook.

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There are times that the wait at Agave is a couple of hours in the evening.  If you do not mind, please then head to the bar and start having some of the delicious Margaritas and Martinis that they do offer.  Otherwise, you can put your name down and come back later.  Or, if you do not want to wait, then you know what else you can do.  Maybe lunch might be a better idea for you.

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If you arrive right at Noon you might find the restaurant looking like some of these photos.  But soon enough it will be crowded.  Originally, Agave was pretty small then an addition has given them more seating which is great.

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So the other night when Sharon and I arrived for a little Mexican fare, we were surprised that our wait was only like 20 minutes.  We sat looking at the gorgeous desserts…wondering if their famous Coconut Cake would be our choice for dessert.  Or, Pot de Creme or Flan.

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I do have my favorites.  I started with their Mexican Chili.  I truly love it.  I don’t know if it is because it is made with beef tenderloin or not, but the flavor is so good.  A rich broth, topped with queso fresco and a side of warm tortillas.  On chilly night, it is perfect and pretty filling, as well.

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Their Mango and Avocado Salad is also a must have if you like something a littler lighter.  The mango and avocado is in a bed of bib lettuce, topped with bacon, queso fresco, pine nuts and a creamy pine nut lime dressing.  Queso Fresco is a crumbled goat cheese.

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Agave has a signature dish called Chiles en Nogada.  It is always on their menu.  I told my friend, Sharon, that she should have it.  This is meat stuffed poblano chiles with cumin, cinnamon and azafran.  A drizzle of a nut sauce with an addition of rice and beans.

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These Chiles en Nogada is a sophisticaded dish most popular during Mexican Independence festivities.  It incorporates the green, white, and red ingredients just like the colors of the Mexican flag.

A poblano pepper is a mild chile pepper from the State of Puebla in Mexico.  When it is dried out is is called Ancho Chile.  It is a most popular pepper grown in Mexico.  The dish above has a light sweetness to it, perhaps the outcome of the combination of ingredients.  Very good indeed.

We decided on the Coconut Cake for dessert but I had a reason for ordering it.  First of all I have always heard that it is so good.  I am not too much of a coconut cake fan but I wanted to compare it to another coconut cake that people raved about served at the Peninsula Grill in Charleston, South Carolina.

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Last February while in Charleston everyone said we needed to try the cake at the Peninsula Grill. They said it so much that we made reservations.  Great entrees, I posted on this website, and then came dessert time.  This cake has 12 layers and they have been making it since 1997.  There is even a trademark as Peninsula Grill Ultimate Coconut Cake.  It weighs 12 lbs., and you can order it and be sent to you FedEx.  Every night you take a glimpse at tables and for dessert you will find the customers do order it a lot.  Here is a photo of my piece of cake.  It reminded me of a Smith Island Cake.

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Agave’s Coconut Cake came to the table and it was huge.  And we, actually, ate it all.

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Having had those two magnificent cakes I can tell you that I do prefer to have the individual layers on a cake, but the Agave’s version was definitely, more moist.  I am probably not the best person to review a Coconut Cake, since I do like more tarts than cakes, but all I can tell you is that they were dense and full of flavor.  Next time at Agave’s try it and if by chance you are visiting Historic Charleston, check it out there, as well.  You decide.

Now, a lemon tart….love it!!  The photo of the lemon tart is from the second dessert we had at the Peninsula Grill in Charleston.

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Buen Provecho….Hasta Luego!!

November 9th, 2015

Farm Markets, No Farms, No Food, Grow Local, Buy Local, Eat Local, Sussex County, Delaware Beaches, Southern Delaware…Getting Colder, It’s Fall Season

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All summer long the road stand markets keep us well nourished.  Full of local vegetables and fruits.  It does not get any better.  Now we are into November and it is getting a bit chilly.  So, yesterday I went by Brittingham’ Produce, located at Route 5 in Milton, Delaware.  Tel. 302-684-4232

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Unfotunately, this past week-end was the last one.  Next year around June they will open once again.  The vegetables looked gorgeous and it is a season for turnips.  They are wonderful when roasted.

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Their apples were from T.S. Farms in Bridgeville.  Brittingham’s Produce is picked daily.

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Please visit dda.delaware.gov.

In this website you can find over 80 farm stands and markets in Delaware; Christmas Tree Farms, Creameries, U-Pick Farms, On-Farm Markets, Garden Centers and even Horse Racing.  Or, there is a free APP for your smart phone.  To get it visit http://www.apps.delaware.gov

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For a great recipe for Roasted Butternut Squash with Corn, Red Onions & Cranberries please click on May 15, 2015 on this website, AboutMyBeaches.  Just first click on May of 2015 and scroll down to the 15th.  It is great.

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Have a good one!!

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