Like The Queen
Whatever happens to strike my fancy, but surely some sort of fiber content.


You paint a very attractive picture of Culpepper. I've never been, but now I'm dying to go -- for cheese and chocolate alone! :-)

By Blogger Mary, at 1:17 PM  

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Saturday, August 18, 2007  

Stuff’s going on and I haven’t had much time to write, nor much inspiration either. I thought I’d have that sock pattern written by now but I haven’t. It was a bit of a draggy week and it was coupled with a few unplanned and most unwanted chores. Frost this all over with abysmal dial-up access and it’s no surprise that TheQueen’s Blog has remained static.

I did manage to slip away to Culpepper VA, yesterday. When I was a girl, one of my friends had grandparents who lived in Culpepper. She was always visiting up there and to my 11 year old ears it sounded so sweet and somewhat aristocratic, since I knew there had once been a Lord Culpepper. It was really a sleepy farm center, one of the little county seats strung like beads along Rt. 29, on the way to Mr. Jefferson’s Village. I’d never been to Culpepper till the librarians, and later the KRRetreat, started meeting at Graves Mt. Lodge. To get there from here, though, I have to go through Culpepper and since I’m usually with a colleague, we often stop there for lunch. The first time we did that we were enchanted with the town, which has managed to retain its grid and its charm and even its real old time hardware store where you can still buy nails by the pound or seeds wrapped in brown paper or Aladdin Oil Lamps for $250. Those were the last oil lamps developed and can give out 100 watts of bright light onto the oilcloth covered kitchen table, ‘round which little boys in knickerbockers and girls - in what my mama used to call hind-end dresses - could do their homework.

R and I are usually on our way to a meeting so we never have time to really stay and meander through the shops, but a visit to the library, in high summer, gave us a bit of an opportunity to look around. Though we always intend to eat somewhere new whenever we’re there, we failed, again, to be venturesome and instead had a magnificent lunch at It’s About Thyme, one of those rare gourmet restaurants that serves manly portions. The citizens of Culpepper may be slipping into the NoVa tastes and income bracket, but they still have farm-fed appetites. I’ve been slipping a bit this summer, sipping in way too many calories that is - comfort eating, I am sure - so I stuck to a lunch salad, but oh what a salad! Big enough and delicious enough to make it possible to pass on the luxurious desert tray, especially since we knew that there was both a fine bakery and a chocolatier waiting for us as we strolled down the streets.

Of course, we stopped at Clarke’s hardware store and poked through every bin and box, shelf and stand. The store has that old wooden store smell and it also caries every Radio Flyer toy made, including a wonderful rocking horse. They also had a display of sleds in one of the front windows. I like that sense of humor. We wended our way down Davis street, peeking into some shops, but not stopping at them all - there are too many of them. We did pop into Designers Choice where a combination antiques, accessories, floral and Christmas items charmed and tempted and won my heart - at least the wee tiny music box, hardly bigger than a matchbox, with a minuscule nutcracker scene that twirled to Tchaikovsky’s holiday theme, did. And little advent calendars to mail to god daughters. They won my heart too.

We skipped the very tempting Janal Leather shop - the owner had gone out for some reason - and that was probably a good thing. The beautiful pink leather jacket with the zippered front was awfully tempting. Across the street was Pepperberries which had the most delicious perfume - a rose perfume, but with some sort of buttery note to it that lingered softly. A bit pricey so I didn’t purchase - but R and I have scheduled a day tp play up there, come October, and really - it was more of a winter perfume. Very light and very subtle, but tenacious.
We zigzagged back and forth across Davis Street for some reason, probably just for the silliness of it - but we did have to stop by Tea, Lace and Roses - a Victorian Tea House (Tue-Sat 11-4:30) where, had we not been stuffed to the gills, we would have stopped for a cup. We poked among the tea accessories a while and then strolled back down to The Cameleer, where we ogled the international fare and tried on beautiful clothes in the fanciest dressing room I’ve ever seen! I was reeeeeeealy tempted by that white duck skirt with the flouncing handkerchief hem trimmed with gathered lace and beads. It was very reasonably priced. I may regret not buying it, but I just don’t see any place where I will be going for the rest of the white skirt season that would support a lace and bead trimmed skirt. Sigh. It really was darling, though.

We slipped in and out of several other charming little shops but the highlight was The Frenchman’s Corner - to quote their blurb "A European style gourmet shop, chocolatier and bakery." Well. What it really has is cheese - luscious, creamy, tangy, haunting cheese. Cheese that sits on your tongue and tickles it, that blossoms in your mouth and perfumes your head. Cheese whose flavor ripens as you savor it, surprising you with tastes and aftertastes and after-aftertastes. The young girl helping us was very friendly and willing but as I chattered on and on (and on and on and on) the manager edged up and we began cheese talk in earnest. I told her about the doccumentary film The Cheese Nun and she told me about her line of cheeses. They had a raw milk cheddar cheese that had the taste of grass in it, giving you the sensation of walking across a rolling meadow while you savored it’s creamy texture. Peggy, the manager, introduced me to another cheese - alas I forget its name and somehow the label fell off or perhaps, was never put on the block I brought home. But it is a twin cheese separated by a layer of ash. The bottom layer is made from the evening’s milkings, after the cows have been on grass all day, and it has that same recognizable grassy taste, but the top layer is made from the morning’s milking and it is much sharper and yet mellower - with a rich butter content and minus the verdant undertone. Chewed together the cheese was a symphony of Frenchy cheesiness in your mouth that went on and on and on reminding you of how much fun you just had. BD doesn't know about the secret hidden in our refrigerator. On Monday I am going to get a bottle of something white and crisp - maybe Rhine - and cold - and surprise him with a frenchy dinner. Something on the porch, with fruit and crusty bread and a dish of olives. Oh. And greens. Salad greens. He's going to be so tickled!

We had been lured into this shop by the Belgian Chocolates we could see through the shop window. We hadn’t known about the fromagerie in the back, so of course, Peggy had to introduce us to her select and true Belgian Chocolates. Stuffed with lunch and reluctant to let go of my dairy memory, she laughed and offered us a single sample of perfect chocolate, one she assured me would not war with the lingering cheese flavors still caressing my tongue - and she was right. These are chocolates to be savored - to be given all the time they need to share their subtle offerings to a discerning sweet lover. R and I could still taste that magical chocolate, 15 minutes later. This is the first time I’ve ever really been, not just satisfied, but entertained, with a single piece of chocolate.

And no. I didn’t buy any, but I will be going back. I will get some - maybe for my birthday. Yes. I think that might be a fun trip to take with BD in September. He can play all day at Clarke’s Hardware and I can do the cheese thing - and the chocolate thing - and maybe, the lace skirt thing - and definitely the rose perfume thing. Yup. Yup. That is a real birthday possibility.

Our last stop was at Rathuil - all things Irish ... and Italian, since that is where I picked up 2 skeins of light green tweedy merino/silk/cashmere - Kathmandu Aran from Queensland Collection but made in Italy. Talk about an international product. In my designer’s eye I saw a cabled hat but it may be they will become wrist warmers.

So there. I managed to make this into a Knitting Post after all. Of course we were at the library up there, which is very nice, but this is just how we spent the late afternoon.

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posted by Bess | 8:19 AM