We slipped on our gringa hats for this month’s TALKGreenville cocktailin’ experience…stopping in at Gringo’s Cantina in downtown Greenville. Just a few steps out of Falls Park, this delightful space has been transformed into an authentic Baja-like oasis!
The décor (Robert Graves artwork and Kate Larch murals), the libations, and the nibbles make it easy to forget you’re in the heart of the south, so be ready for a true South-of-the-Border experience!
Gringo’s isn’t just your run of the mill cantina. With over 150 labels of tequila on the shelves, it pretty much blows the sombreros off the competition! And they don’t stop there. Jeremy likes to keep things interesting with house-infused tequilas…like the watermelon-rosemary-honey-lemon we had the chance to sip-n-savor. Excelente!!
Like a salad in a glass with super-refreshing cucumber and cilantro, this generous pour of upscale tequila added to house-made sour mix is a muy bien libation. This potion balances sharp, tangy, vibrant and refreshing with a hint of sweetness…and the salted rim is the perfect finish. If you are not a salt fan, at least try it on half…you will be happy you did. And your tastebuds will be crying gracias!
The Strawberry-lemon Margarita
This little lovely seems fruity and mild…but don’t be fooled. Tequila is tequila, folks…no matter how sweet and innocent she might seem! As with their food, nothing is canned, packaged or premade – so this concoction boasts fresh strawberries and freshly squeezed lemon for a smooth, summery, light and breezy elixir. It’s perfect for an afternoon beverage which may or may not lead to an afternoon siesta.
Ya can’t say a gringo doesn’t take care of his own. Twice each year, Gringo’s spearheads the Greenville version of the “running of the bulls”…a charity event with loads of laughter and libations. Essentially a bar crawl with a “bull” bringing up the rear, the real focus is on giving back. Each participating bar donates $1 per drink to a chosen charity. (registration is $10…link on the website or on instagram @gringosgreenville)
Of course, one needs more than just “aperitivos” to remain upright around all that tequila! Although we could eat our weight in their “guacam-olé” one of the best we have ever had…and we are judgy) and super-fresh salsa (so fresh-n-frisky it’ll make ya want to salsa with your neighbor), we highly suggest digging a bit deeper into Gringos’ fresh fare. The Baja fish tacos are pretty much what started the whole shebang…why not start there?!
Last summer, one belle had her delicate little arm twisted to go on a fly-fishing trip with her “reason for living” (aka…husband…who thinks fly fishin’ is fun). Now, a belle will pack her bags in a heartbeat for a good shoppin’ trip, but this one took some thought.
The fella did some talking about the great food, wine, scenery, and overall hospitality of the ranch he has visited many times…and finally got a yes. This belle was not disappointed!
The accommodations…Madison Valley Ranch in Ennis, Montana. Named the 2015 Orvis Fly-Fishing Ranch of the Year, this place just can’t be beat! From the friendly greeting (thanks to hospitality guru, Elizabeth) to the cozy cabins to the gourmet meals…this is the place to “escape the hectic pace of everyday life and indulge in a luxury adventure.”
Serene doesn’t even come close to describing the vibe
…and we weren’t the only ones enjoying the peace & quiet
Days start early, but the view – and the bacon – are worth the crack-of-dawn wake-up
On the day that this belle agreed to fish, a friendly, professional, local guide whisked the two of us away to the river and did practically everything but catch the fish for us. Their daily float or wade trips with experienced, Orvis-endorsed guides, mean that you are just a “cast away” from the finest fly-fishing experience ever!
…and did we catch ’em!! (This was a bit of beginner’s luck, but a belle will take what she gets…and will always be a good sport when she is forced to actually hold the “prize”)
And the fish kept biting!
After a full day on the river, cocktails on the porch with lively conversation, and a gourmet dinner prepared at the ranch and served family-style, it was nice to take a little sunset stroll.
Each day can be more of the same…eat, fish, sleep…or you can do some exploring on your own…some suggestions:
Quake Lake…just a bit south of the ranch…
Willie’s Distillery was an excellent way to while away an afternoon. As a side-note…because this belle is all about her bourbon…we introduced the guests at the ranch to the “Madison Mule” one evening during the cocktail hour. Using the local Willie’s bourbon with a sharp ginger beer and a twist of lime, we had a real belle-ringer. Word is they are still serving up the Madison Mule with regularity!
’nuff said. Book it, belles. The fella will love ya for it!!
Right about now, we’re thinkin’ some warm sunshine would feel good…how ’bout you, belles??
Well, we have a suggestion for a little winter getaway…and it just might be the perfect Christmas gift for that hard-to-buy-for significant other. A win-win in our book!
About this time last year, we were planning this little girls jaunt to the Riviera Maya…the Banyan Tree Mayakoba to be exact. This place was just what the doctor ordered! The food was incredible, the grounds well-kept and safe, the spa extra-memorable, the service impeccable, and the sunshine plentiful. Ahhhhh!!
Check it out…
We rented bikes for getting around the property
juice and tea at breakfast
Our favorite perch
A little respite from the sun
A much-welcomed refreshing beverage…there was something different (and amazing) every day!
The Popsicle cart made its rounds every day as well
A healthy lunch
And a cocktail at the end of the day
We highly recommend…for your own sanity…that you give a little sunshine a try!
Book it, belles!
On a recent jaunt to the Big Easy, one belle took time out for a memorable lunch at Domenica in the Roosevelt Hotel. Now, any belle knows that a visit to Nola must include at least a couple of “slips” on the usually-calculatedly-healthy diet (po-boy, anyone?)…but this bustling eatery makes everything so amazingly and creatively delicious, even an über-healthy menu item keeps patrons comin’ back for more…
This item happens to be their acclaimed Whole Roasted Cauliflower with sea salt and whipped goat cheese for dippin’. Belleicious!! A belle can devour as much as she wants, guilt-free!
Now, while we highly recommend stopping in at this worthy establishment next time you find yourself anywhere near the delta, we do realize that not everyone gets down there on a regular basis. So…you will be happy to know that the folks at Domenica are quite belle-like…they love to share! Yes, we have the recipe for you…as published in the May 2013 Bon Appétit:
Acadia National Park, Bar Harbour, belles on the go, Camden, Cape Cod, Captain Rick, Cimarron, Coonamessett Inn, Lincolnville Beach, lobster rolls, Maine, McLaughlin's Lobster Shack, Millie's, Nantucket, North Country Rivers, Samoset Resort, Vena's Fizz House
Being from (or at least living in) the South, we belles know a thing or two about summer heat and humidity. While we have actually learned to embrace the sauna-like conditions…dewey skin, always…it’s often nice to escape it for a mid-summer break. Last year, that break came in the form of a relaxing (and cool) trip to the Northeast (mostly Maine) for petite belle and family.
What a delightful experience! Cool days, crisp nights, clams, lobster, clams, lobster…and did we mention the clams and lobster?? We feel compelled to share the highlights…just in case you belles need a cool break yourselves!
and we had a delicious lunch at Millie’s out on Madeket Road. The younger set among us decided that they would eat clams in some variation at every restaurant we visited…and Millie’s Bridge Po Boy did not disappoint!! Fried whole-belly clams with slaw on a buttered and toasted roll…to…die…for!!!
First…a quick visit to the Cape and Nantucket. Is there a better place to spend a day, week, month?? Cute shops, delicious, classic Atlantic fare, and home after home in that classic Cape Cod style…it’s a dreamland for belles of all sorts! We stayed in Falmouth at the charming Coonamessett Inn and ferried over to Nantucket from Hyannis. We walked, we shopped, we rented mopeds (a big DON’T…more on this later) …
Now, a quick note on those mopeds. DO NOT rent these little monsters! We learned the hard way and ended up here…
Locals see horrific accidents involving mopeds with shocking regularity…often ending with a frightening air-lift trip to an off-island hosipital. We were lucky to have our road-rash victim treated at this cute little establishment, but we recommend that you not risk it!!
Our little mishap didn’t dampen our spirits too much. Those among us who were “of-age” turned to spirits of another sort and suddenly, things were just peachy!! We will need a Nantucket re-do soon, however!!
Moving along, our primary destination for this summer adventure was still ahead…so we loaded up, set the GPS, and headed for Maine…first stop – Portland to enjoy the Old Port area…and it didn’t disappoint! They have cool shops and cafes galore! One of our favorite finds…Vena’s Fizz House!
After our short stay in Portland, it was time to get to our “home away from home”…a rental on the shore, just north of charming Camden…
photos from camdenmainevacation.com
This dreamy little town is exactly what every belle imagines it should be! The food is wonderful…the shopping ranges from tasteful souvenirs to chic boutiques…and the scenery can’t be beat!
Drinks and dinner around the fire at Samoset Resort in Rockport.A hike out to Rockland’s Breakwater Lighthouse
A sail aboard the Cimarron with Captain Rick (he spends most of his year in Cruz Bay, St. John – another favorite place of ours – but contact him to see when he plans to return to Camden…it’s totally worth it!!)
On our sail, we had a quiet lunch in the tiny village of North Haven…
White water rafting the Kennebec River with North Country Rivers…the cookout on the riverbank was to die for!
And judging lobster roll after lobster roll! Our favorite, hands-down, was at the tiny McLaughlin’s Lobster Shack at the end of our little lane right there in Lincolnville Beach!! (more on the lobster roll in a later post…we just might be able to recreate the magic!)
A memorable adventure for the young and the not-as-old-as-the-young-think-we-are! We recommend you start planning your own adventure “down east” (which doesn’t make sense to those of us who are really from down and east…but we will go with it!)
While traveling recently, a belle-friend remarked that her dear, late mother was convinced that rolling luggage had ruined our society. “Hmmm…how so?”, we inquired. She reminded us of the times when porters whisked our baggage from carousel to curb…or vice-versa…with speed and authority. They would hail our taxi, help load us up, and make sure the driver had us safely from there. We needed these masters of the service industry…and they needed us. Our tips were their livelihood, and we traveled well-prepared with coins and small bills at the ready.
Photo from http://www.travelforboomers.com
These days, we find ourselves rolling our bags to the taxi line, rolling into hotels, into elevators…rolling, rolling, rolling. Efficient, yes…but in this do-it-yourself world of 2015, have we forgotten the value of those who make our lives a bit easier and provide a little human touch? We might not be tipping the porter quite as often these days, but tipping is still a very belle-thing to do. We must show those who provide a service that we value their efforts!
Check out this CNN Money article which outlines most tipping situations. Their source: The Emily Post Institute (a belle always trusts Emily Post!)
And here are some of our own rules-of-thumb:
Take-out from our favorite full-service dining establishment…we do 10%
The pet groomer…we do 10% plus a nice little Christmas bonus
The mani/pedi tech…we do 20%…especially if they give us a little extra rubbin’ time
Pizza delivery…consider him your waiter…15-20%
The hairdresser…20% unless she’s the salon owner…and a couple of dollars for the shampoo-er
The movers…full house…$100 per macho man (less for whiners…just sayin’)
Let us know some of your own…and if you think we are way off on any of our standards. A belle is always open for suggestions…
These belles love to travel! As much as we may love home with our own comfy beds, friends and family…and, of course, the precious canine babies…it can be so hectic with the phones ringing, emails piling up, and daily drudgery zapping our energy. A belle needs the chance to relax and re-charge every now and then! Just in case you are in need of the same, we have a suggestion for you…
We recently jetted off with friends to the islands…Parrot Cay, Turks and Caicos to be exact. After a quick flight, and a quick boat ride across the crystal-clear waters, we arrived at this beautiful island paradise. (Had we flown straight in, we would have been looking for Tatoo from Fantasy Island calling “the plane, the plane”). We were warmly greeted and welcomed aboard Parrot Cay’s version of a “bus”…a stretch golf cart…and were quietly whisked away to rest and relaxation.
The view upon arrival…powdery white sand, turquoise waters, a warm breeze, and spa-like interiors, we had to pinch ourselves to be sure we hadn’t died and gone to heaven!
Our group was delivered to the main house and escorted into the welcome lounge where we were handed a refreshing (and potent) rum punch…these people know what they are doing! The friendly staff greeted us individually as we sat and sipped the afore-mentioned cocktails…painlessly taking note of our credit card numbers and giving us a quick lay of the land. In no time at all (well…maybe we lost track of time just a wee bit as the rum worked its magic) we were escorted to our humble abode for the week.
The Lotus restaurant and lounge are adjacent to the pool, making it ever so easy to veg out for the day…delicious lunches and refreshing cocktails delivered to your chair by the always friendly staff. (Side note…how can they NOT be friendly and happy in a place like this…just sayin’). This was an excellent dinner spot as well…by the pool with the surf nearby.
Each morning in the Terrace restaurant at the main house, there was the most beautiful breakfast display…along with the option to order from their extensive menu (all included). One of our favorite items…these delightful juices…
Love the use of the jars…and the green one is out of this world! Called “Kryptonite”, it’s made with the powerful combo of apple, celery, cucumber, fennel, spinach and spirulina. These were served every day at breakfast (along with other varieties such as apple/ginger and mango). What a way to start the day!
Our days were spent lounging by our private villa pool…
and our evenings were spent casually dining at either Lotus or the Terrace restaurant al fresco with the warm breeze keeping us perfectly comfortable. (Quite a contrast from our recent frigid temps here in the latitudes farther north!)
This just might be the ultimate Valentine’s surprise! Get online, book it all up, wrap a swimsuit, sunglasses and sunscreen, and give it to your sweetie on Saturday. Then get ready for the hugs-n-kisses!
Well…we have made no secret of the fact that we like a glass of bubbly…an interesting cocktail…a refreshing beverage here and there. So when we were approached with a belle-worthy new gig which would allow us to do a monthly search of the greatest cocktails at our local establishments, we (very gracefully in heels) jumped at the chance!
Our new assignment is with Talk magazine…a monthly go-to publication featuring the happenings in and around our dear Greenville.
The January issue is out and we are excited to share…
Two Drink Minimum is our first article…we feature the Moscow Mule and the St. Germaine cocktail from Breakwater Restaurant & Bar on Main Street in Greenville. We encourage you to give them a try yourselves…and be ready for something new every month.