Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Charlottesville : Act Two

Act Two : Saturday

A beam of sunlight persevered through the wooden blinds, as a feathered local heralded in daybreak. A hushed kitchen clamor crept along the floorboards bringing with it a waft of brewing coffee. Breakfast would be served between nine and ten; there could be no delay.

As we exited our room, we met the acquaintance of yet another affable hostess, Virginia, DeLoach’s 14-year old black Labrador Retriever. In the dining quarters, a momentary lapse of grace hastily pursued by a perilous quiver of the coffee cup proved no menace for Ms. DeLoach. In mere seconds, our fireside table was stripped and furnished with a clean cloth as if my breech of elegance had never occurred. We began with an apple bran muffin fresh from the oven (for me) and local yogurt with homemade muesli (for BTG) and concluded with Virginia Ham quiches. A flirtation with the croissant bread pudding made me dubious of my standing in BTG’s life; he assuredly abstained.

As the sun held court in the sky, we embarked for Mr. Jefferson’s University, the University of Virginia. The air was brisk but not frigid, our noses comfortably red from the mile ramble. We stopped for a spot of caffeine at that Seattle coffee company and carried on with our stroll.

My narration would undoubtedly betray the genius of the campus, the only University in the US designated as a World Heritage Site.

“We wish to establish in the upper country of Virginia, and more centrally for the State, a University on a plan so broad and liberal and modern, as to be worth patronizing with the public support, and be a temptation to the youth of other States to come and drink of the cup of knowledge and fraternize with us.”

Thomas Jefferson to Joseph Preistley.

After an adequate tour, we boarded the free trolley for the downtown Mall. We took our midday meal at Miller’s, best known for their hamburgers (scandalously delicious) and former employee, Dave Matthews.

Soon after, Gizmo the Corgi received us at Blue Whale Books with aplomb.

Here I would happen upon my most cherished acquisitions:

1955 Edition of Emily Post’s Etiquette – the last edition she edited before she died

Ager’s Way To Easy Elegance - an obscure encyclopedia of tips written by butler Stanley Ager.

A print of Andrea Palladio’s Loggia del Capitaniato.

BTG and I were transfixed with an architectural mystery as the day advanced. Perched high atop a petite peak, a gargoyle domicile kept a watchful eye on the University below. Our curiosity whetted, we employed our wireless devices to guide our discovery of the cloistered colonnade. After a false start which sent us the way of the University’s observatory, we were on the scent ascending an emaciated, anfractuous drive. Our eyes simultaneously registered the NO TRESSPASSING sign as a diminutive white car revealed itself around a bend (the owner!). We were offered no alternative but to descend in reverse (This is where I’m to commend BTG on his adept and lissome maneuvering down a veritable glacier). A few authentic words of apology to the owner (we’re lost!) and a genial laugh led us to dinner.

We fêted the day’s exploits with a feast at the Inn. An amuse-bouche of a savory apple tartlet was followed by Carolina shrimp and Andouille sausage over stone-ground grits, rockfish with Yukon gold and chive mashed potatoes (for me) and a mushroom “Perlau” (for BTG). A slice of red velvet cheesecake and fresh apple crisp blanketed our stomachs and hastened an ineluctable slumber.


  1. The perfect day? I am given pause to think of something comparable, and find myself struggling.

  2. There is a theme here, ending the day with food, warrants serious attention and consideration in my book.
    When is breakfast and what is on the agenda for part III?

  3. vb and Tina - It was a true delight. I find myself reflecting on our time in Charlottesville often. I wonder if taking residence there would provide as much amusement?

    pve - It is a theme with me, no? I attribute this to the fact that most of my meals are taken at an office desk and therefore I must wax on about those which occur in respectable establishments. Part III includes Valentine's Day and Mr. Jefferson's Monticello. Stay tuned!


  4. I'm convinced you're the next Jane Austen! We visited Charlottesville this summer and I fell in love. My best friend from California grew up there and my former roommate in Manhattan did as well---so many connections, yet I'd never seen the place! It's just as lovely as you describe. Reading about your trip has me longing to return... Can't wait for Part III... XO

  5. Thanks for the head's up about Stanely Ager. Just popped over to Amazon to pick up a copy for my collection.

    Don't you love C'ville? Mrs. E. is a graduate of the University and we enjoy the odd day strolling the mall, grounds and dropping into Daedelus Books.

  6. Neo-Traditionalist: Your appraisal has cast a rose glow upon my cheek!

    Easy and Elegant: I hope you enjoy Mr. Ager's book! I could pack up, with Mr. Ager's guidance of course, and move to Charlottesville immediately.



Inspire me! Go on, I dare you.