Fall’s Delicious Bounty

July 26, 2011


-The coming of fall is symbolized for each of us by different events and moments: the first turning of leaves, a bracing snap of cool air, rediscovering a favorite sweater, children returning to school, the palpable shortening of September and October days.

For me, one of the harbingers of autumn is the huge array of beautiful vegetables, such as winter squashes at my local farmer’s market. Squash, technically a fruit, comes in a dazzling array of sizes, shapes and flavors. Butternut is one of the most popular, flavorful and nutritious.

Winter squashes, particularly butternut, are far richer than the summer squashes and zucchini in terms of taste and nutrition because of their deeper color and higher carbohydrate and nutrient content. The most potent squashes are the more deeply colored varieties, especially pumpkin and butternut. Their color is provided by one of the most powerful nutrients: beta-carotene.

Characterized by a chubby bowling pin shape, a buff, beige color on the outside, and a deep orange on the inside, the butternut is an exceptional source of beta-carotene, an antioxidant which converts to vitamin A in your body. Beta-carotene is critical for your immune system, skin, vision, bones, reproductive systems and more. Studies show that people who eat foods high in beta-carotene and people with high blood levels of beta-carotene have a lower incidence of certain cancers. But you will not get the same results with a beta-carotene supplement. Study after study has shown disappointing
results with the supplements. So only the food will do! But that’s a good thing for us squash lovers.

Each squash is a bustling little factory of nutrients and phytochemicals the plant compounds
into potent, potentially healing properties. When acting synergistically in a food, these nutrients pack a more powerful health punch than the individual nutrients alone. Some of the most important nutrients in squash are antioxidants, such as beta-carotene, alpha-carotene, and vitamin C, which are substances believed to reduce inflammation, improve immune function, and help prevent heart disease and certain cancers.

But there are other good reasons to eat butternut squash and other similar winter squashes. They are a great source of fiber (good for your gastrointestinal system), potassium (important for your heart and lowers blood pressure), magnesium (important for improving muscle function, the heart and bones, while preventing blood clots and diabetes), manganese (important for metabolism and bone formation), and calcium (important for your heart and bones). Another big plus — they are low in calories, with only 82 calories per cup of baked squash cubes.

Speaking of low in calories: broccoli is especially delicious this time of year and can be found in abundance at farmers markets. Broccoli belongs to the family of food called “brassica,” which has extremely high nutritional values and contains high levels of antioxidants and nutrients such as vitamin C, selenium, calcium, potassium, folic acid, and choline, as well as soluble fiber, which reduces cholesterol and helps level blood sugar. Brassica, a huge category of foods including cabbages, mustard seeds and greens, also contains potent anti-cancer compounds which help detoxify carcinogens in the liver before they continue to circulate in your bloodstream. These compounds also aid your immune response with antiviral and antibacterial properties.

Broccoli Soup with Carrots, Potatoes and Thyme

Makes 6 – 8 servings
2 Tbsp Canola Oil
1 Cup Chopped Sweet Onion (about 1 medium)
1 Clove Garlic, crushed
½ tsp dried Thyme or 1-1/2 tsp fresh Thyme (or more)
5 Cups Chicken Broth (or Vegetable Broth)
6 Cups Fresh Broccoli, Chopped (about 1 medium head)
2 Cups Wax Potatoes, Sliced (about 2 medium)
1 Cup Carrots, Sliced (about 2 medium)
Salt (1/8 to ¼ tsp) and Freshly Ground Pepper to taste
Optional Garnish:
Top each bowl with a 1 Tbsp dollop of fat free, plain yogurt, salt, and pepper

Heat oil in large iron skillet or dutch oven (soup pot) on fairly high heat. Add onion, garlic, and thyme. Saute until golden. Add 4 cups broth and the rest of the vegetables. Cover, lower the temperature, and let simmer about thirty minutes, or until vegetables are tender. Let the mixture cool down a bit, add the rest of the broth (2 cups) – or milk – then puree in a blender or food processor.

NOTE: Instead of using the 2 cups of broth for the puree, you could use 1% milk or buttermilk for a “creamier” soup (this only adds 200 calories to the whole pot of soup, but adds protein and nine essential nutrients!).

The entire pot of soup makes about 8 cups and is about 650 calories (850 with the milk).

Butternut Squash Soup with Curry and Ginger

About 6 servings
1 Butternut Squash
4 Cups Water
2 Tbsp Canola Oil
1 Cup Chopped Sweet Onion (about 1 medium)
1 Clove Garlic, crushed (2 cloves, if you like it spicy)
1 tsp Curry Powder (2 tsp, if you like it spicy)
1 Tbsp fresh Ginger, about 2 inches, grated (2 Tbsp, if you like it spicy)
1 Cup Chicken or Vegetable Stock
Salt and Freshly Ground Pepper to taste

Cut Butternut Squash in half, lengthwise. Scoop out seeds. Place squash face down in baking pan with 4 cups water. Bake at 350 for 45 minutes or until soft when pierced by a fork.

While the squash is baking, prepare the aromatic vegetables and spices: Place the oil in a large iron skillet or soup pot on medium-high. Add onions and garlic, and fry until golden. Stir in curry powder, ginger, and a pinch of salt, and simmer on low for a few minutes.

When the squash has cooled to the touch, pour the water in which the squash was cooked into the skillet and stir to scrape up the bits of aromatic vegetables and spices. When squash has cooled, scoop out the butternut squash meat, leaving the skin, and stir into the mixture in the skillet. When room temperature or cool, puree the vegetable and spice mixture in a blender or food processor with the broth.
NOTE: Adjust seasonings by adding more salt, pepper, or spices if desired. Adjust consistency by adding more water or broth. Also, any similar winter squash will work well if Butternut is not available.

The entire pot of soup makes about 6 cups and is about 500 calorie.

Nutritionist, Katherine Tallmadge, M.A., R.D. Author, “Diet Simple: 192 Mental Tricks, Substitutions, Habits & Inspirations” www.KatherineTallmadge.com

Georgetown Garden Tour is Living History

Gardens are living tableaux that change with seasons and with owners. But for a few hours in May, the Georgetown Garden Tour permits visitors to peek at the constantly evolving private gardens of the neighborhood.

Saturday May 7th marks the 83rd annual Georgetown Garden Tour (10a.m. to 4p.m., sponsored by the Georgetown Garden Club). Large and small private gardens in both the East Village and the West Village will open their doors to visitors throughout the day, accompanied by garden accessories features by Bo and Alison Jia of Middle Kingdom porcelain arts, and the secrets to Persian cooking by local cookbook author Najmieh Batmanglij. Tea and light refreshments will be served from 2 pm to 4 pm at nearby Christ Church.

The Georgetown Garden Tour is a self-directed walking tour that leads visitors to nearby private gardens that are formal or eclectic, large and small, but which all reflect their owners and designers. Tour volunteers expect about one thousand curious gardeners on Saturday to participate, rain or shine.

Originally started by the matrons of Georgetown society, the garden tour was put in place to help fund a school for the neighborhood’s domestic staff—The Children’s House, which still stands on N Street. Local historian and co-chair of this year’s Garden Tour, Edie Schafer, explains that starting in the 1920’s, Georgetown society supported the school with activities that included the Georgetown Garden Day. After many years, The Children’s House closed, but the Georgetown Garden Tour soldiered on, supported by the efforts of a few committed volunteers, including Schafer. In the late 1990’s Schafer and the other tour organizers combined forces with the Georgetown Garden Club and the current incarnation was born.

This year about fifteen club members join Schafer and co-Chair Jane Matz in identifying nine homes for the 2011 garden tour. The homes selected as part of this year’s tour range from an old farmhouse on a hill, to a garden that embraces an unusual Georgetown home with a lap pool tucked into geometric pavings. East Village gardens include the former home of Abraham Lincoln’s son and the Evermay estate.

Garden Club members responsible for selecting gardens for the tour explain that prospects are identified by word of mouth. To be part of the annual garden tour, gardens may be large or small but should reflect a point of view and the personality of the owner. A garden with unusual plants or one that cleverly breaks up the omnipresent rectangles of Georgetown lots can be very attractive. Several years ago, the tour even included a “plastic garden” on Cambridge Place, which was carefully crafted to fool viewers into seeing a living space.

Helen DuBois has been a Georgetown Garden Club member for nineteen years, and her garden will be part of the 2011 Georgetown Garden Tour. DuBois does not want to give away too much, but she is delighted to open her garden on 35th street across from Visitation as a stop on the 2011 tour. She explains that her garden can be appreciated by both experienced and novice gardeners and that she hopes it will be an inspiration to visitors looking for ideas to enhance their own garden spaces.
Selecting the gardens begins about seven to eight months before the tour date. Some of the gardens invited to participate have been identified earlier, but owners ask to be included the following year because they want extra time to prepare their garden.

Past projects supported by proceeds from the Georgetown Garden Tour include Trees for Georgetown, Tudor Place, Montrose Park and Book Hill. In addition, local urban students have participated in outdoor activities in partnership with the Student Conservation Association and the Georgetown Garden Club.

The sixty-member Georgetown Garden Club is an active member of the Garden Clubs of America. This year the Georgetown Garden Club’s congratulatory “stakes project” has been suspended. In past years, these mysterious stakes appeared in visible plots, tree boxes and front yards signaling the garden club’s appreciation for the gardener’s efforts to beautify Georgetown. Because of the controversy around how to care for the trees in the tree boxes, the Garden Club has decided to take a hiatus on this tradition.

Tickets for the Georgetown Garden Tour are $35 and are available by calling 202-965-1950, or visit GeorgetownGardenTour.com. Tickets are also available at Christ Church on the day of the tour.

A Journey through the Piedmont

On a leisurely two-hour drive from Washington DC through Piedmont wine country, past farms and orchards, we stopped for lunch in the one-light historic town of Madison at Susie’s Madison Inn. Its cheery and charming restaurant, with country French decor, served us a delicious lunch of wild mushroom soup, mountain trout, calves liver and bacon, and a mozzarella salad with heirloom tomatoes from nearby Shady Grove Gardens.

Owner Susie Reilly is a former Georgetown grad who has augmented her cuisine with local chef Cheryl Goldsborough’s adorable cupcakes, hummingbird cake and rum-infused Jamaican coconut cake, sold from glass cases in the restaurant’s front bar area. Expect to find wines from nearby Sweely Estate Winery and Barboursville Vineyards to accompany your meal, which we topped off with their signature bread pudding and mixed berries before heading down the road to our destination.

If, like myself, you haven’t visited the Boar’s Head Inn in Charlottesville in a dog’s age, you will be stunned to see its transformation from an aging resort in the late 80’s to a luxury property. Shortly after my last visit, the University of Virginia took over ownership of the resort, establishing it as a foundation. It poured in over 14 million dollars in the past five years, making extensive renovations and redecoration with the addition of the state-of-the-art sports center, conference center and spa.

The Inn, which takes its name from Elizabethan England when it was a symbol of hospitality, is situated on 573 acres of natural beauty. A winding driveway takes you around the grounds past rolling lawns before delivering you to the porte-cochere and into the lobby and public rooms, which are exquisitely furnished in English antiques. Our room, like others in the 170-room resort, had a balcony overlooking a serene lake graced by a pair of resident swans. I strolled down to the water’s edge before dinner and sat on a swing beside a stand of native cardinal flowers, where I watched the sun’s sparkling reflection off the lake before it faded behind the Blue Ridge Mountains.

We met up in the cozy Tavern for drinks before our dinner in The Old Mill Restaurant. The warm and elegant dining room was originally reconstructed from an old water gristmill built on the Hardware River in 1834. Dismantled and transferred from Albemarle County to its present site, it was reassembled using fieldstones from the foundation for the Tavern’s fireplace and the archway in the Ordinary Room where guests sip cocktails and take tea in the afternoons. Original pine planks from the mill are incorporated throughout the Inn and the old millstones are imbedded in the courtyard. It is an enchanting setting for a restaurant that still maintains its 23-year running AAA Four-Diamond distinction.

In a room romantically lit by wrought iron chandeliers, a toasty fireplace and candlelight, we took our dinner. Executive Chef Bill Justus, suggested Vanilla Bean-infused Duck Breast and Charred Sea Scallops on Polenta with Virginia ham and grilled corn succotash. For our second courses we enjoyed Dover Sole stuffed with Lobster and Bok Choy and served with pea risotto and a very large bone-in Veal Chop finished with brandy cream. The elegant service (I particularly appreciated the offer to decant our bottle of 2007 Saintsbury Carneros Pinot Noir) and first-rate cuisine was exquisite. We gilded the lily with desserts of Cashew Banana Caramel with cinnamon ice cream and Chocolate Pave with a chocolate tuile. How perfectly they paired with our flutes of Blanc de Blanc from nearby Kluge Estate Winery!

Dawn broke on our first full day to a myriad of options. The Charlottesville area alone has 23 of some of the finest vineyards in Virginia and is part of the Monticello Wine Trail. We could visit the wineries, spend a leisurely day antiquing in town, drop in at James Monroe’s historic manor Ashlawn-Highland, or tour James Madison’s recently restored Montpelier. We could always dodge the heat and hoist a tankard at the 1784 Mitchie Tavern or travel through time at Thomas Jefferson’s magnificent home, Monticello. It is worth noting that Monticello and the University of Virginia campus are architectural treasures included on the UNESCO World Heritage List and worth a visit.

My husband pressed for a tour of his alma mater, and we were delighted to discover the streets filled
with hundreds of the cutest, preppiest, fresh-faced students laughing and chatting their way to the university’s auditorium for UVA’s orientation day. We trotted off to the downtown pedestrian mall with its over 120 shops and 30-some restaurants to have a bite at Orzo, a lively Mediterranean bistro filled with an international clientele of exchange students.

Back at the hotel there was bicycling, swimming or lounging beside one of three pools, fly fishing clinics, tennis (12 indoor and 14 outdoor world-class courts), golf on the 300-acre Birdwood championship course, a rock climbing wall to scamper up, or perhaps a trip to the sports center to join one of over 50 weekly classes, from Power Yoga and Zumba to High Intensity Training sessions or Boot Camp with a personal trainer. All offered to guests of the hotel during their stay.

After a lavish breakfast featuring a smoked salmon bar, eggs of every variety, Virginia ham and sausage, and an array of baked goods (we loved the pecan cinnamon rolls), I took the opportunity
to relax and rejuvenate at the Spa. Housed in a darling cottage, the serene full-service spa offers nine different types of therapeutic massages, including Thai Bodywork and the Raindrop Treatment that uses key essential oils dropped like rain along the spine and massaged into the tissue. There are also a number of detoxifying wraps. Try the Mud Wrap or Body Glow using sea salt, herbs and essential oils, or just enjoy the beauty services. They use Astara, Dermalogica and Get Fresh products. My facial was one of the best I have ever had, anywhere.

If you’re planning now for the holidays, the Boar’s Head Inn has a great array of family activities
and gently priced packages. Horse and carriage rides, breakfast with Santa, Christmas dinner in the Old Mill and gingerbread workshops. Go online to get the latest details and enjoy making your own beautiful memories in Virginia’s beautiful Piedmont. www.boarsheadinn.com [gallery ids="99251,104256,104249,104253" nav="thumbs"]

B&B Highlights: Maryland and Virginia

A distinct briskness has crept into the air of late, and with a subtle turning of the leaves, fall casually makes itself known. For some, this is a signal to retreat indoors, to find a refuge from untimely nightfall and the evening chill. For others, now is the perfect time to revel in the seasonal metamorphosis. Fall represents a change of pace and a chance to experience Mother Nature’s milder mood.

Fortunately, a myriad of bed and breakfasts within reasonable driving distance of the District serve as perfect destinations for an autumnal excursion. Maryland and Virginia are home to some of the country’s most historic inns and the most beautiful backdrops from which to admire the fall foliage. Given that this year’s seasonal transformation promises to be fleeting, these locations offer a golden opportunity to take in what autumn has to offer.

Annapolis, Central Maryland

A mere 28 miles east of D.C., Annapolis offers a picturesque portrait of fall, and the colonial charm of its historic district is the number one reason to visit. The William Paca House and Garden provide a glimpse of 18th-century elegance. Additionally, the Hammond-Harwood House will hold its annual Children’s Pumpkin Walk on October 29. Tickets are available for a candlelight tour of Annapolis’ premier private residences on November 5 and 6, and while the weather is still warm enough, 74-foot schooners can be privately chartered. Around Church Circle, shopping and fine dining opportunities abound.

Church Circle is also home to Annapolis’ oldest tavern, Reynolds Tavern. Erected in 1737, the restored building is a stunning example of Georgian-style architecture. Reynolds Tavern features three luxurious suites, al fresco dining, English afternoon tea, and the Sly Fox Pub in its cellar. In the pub, formed of the original kitchen and foundation of the tavern, you can take your pick from 20-ounce beers and specialty drinks at Happy Hour. Reynolds holds its place at the top of many wonderful, quaint bed and breakfasts from which to enjoy fall in Annapolis.

Middleburg Northern Virginia

Middleburg is burrowed in the heart of horse, antique, and wine country. Local stables like Quanbeck Lane will take interested parties pleasure riding out on trails that wind their way through the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains. For the history buff, the Manassas National Battlefield and Bull Run Parks are close by, and antique-lovers will enjoy perusing shops in Middleburg, Leesburg, Purcellville, and Waterford. And of course, some of Virginia’s best wineries can be found in Middleburg, including Boxwood Winery, Chrysalis Vineyards, and Swedenburg Estate Vinyard.

Briar Patch Bed & Breakfast Inn serves as the ideal base of operations for an autumn exploration
of Middleburg. Constructed in 1805, the historic farm rests on an expanse of 47 acres. The inn itself has eight bedrooms available in the main house and a private cottage out back. Visitors will find horses grazing in Briar Patch’s fields and a porch overlooking the majestic Bull Run Mountain. Culinary options are also bountiful in Middleburg—you can take a weekend cooking class or head out to one of the area’s fabulous restaurants.

Front Royal, Shenendoah Valley

From strolling and shopping along downtown Main Street to hiking the Appalachian Trail, Front Royal offers an array of activities to appreciate the fall. The awe-inspiring Skyline Caverns are a scenic drive away, and you’ll find history everywhere, from the Belle Grove Plantation to the Confederate Museum. Much like Middleburg, wineries and antique shops abound.

Dorastus Cone built his home in 1869 and called it Lackawanna, which means “meeting of the waters” in the language of the Delaware Indians. Aptly named, the Italian-style residence lies between the north and south forks of the Shenandoah River. Today, Lackawanna is a stately, spacious bed and breakfast, with waterfront views and three rooms to choose from. Guests have access to local fishing and canoeing sites, as well as a plethora of hiking and cycling paths to explore. Several nearby golf courses allow visitors to appreciate the coming of fall while getting in a round or two. For the full, fall outdoor experience, bed and breakfasts in the valley can’t be beat.

Charlottesville, Central Virginia

Charlottesville remains a hotspot for those who frequent bed and breakfasts, no matter what the season. When it comes to getting a taste of the 18th century, few places can immerse visitors more than Prospect Hill Plantation Inn & Restaurant. The 1732 manor house remains intact, as do its seven original dependencies and slave quarters. Inn offerings include thirteen fireplace rooms, two candlelit dining rooms, 50 acres of sprawling fields and woodlands, and quick access to historic sites like Monticello, which is just down the road. Most importantly, the bed and breakfast features a 5-acre arboretum that holds the rarest magnolia in the United States. Prospect Hill affords guests a one-of-a-kind front row seat to the changing of the season, and it does so in style.

For those who prefer downtown Charlottesville, The Dinsmore House Bed & Breakfast is conveniently situated on “The Corner”. The Dinsmore has the distinction of being built by Thomas Jefferson’s master builder in 1817. Furthermore, the bed and breakfast has seven bedrooms with private bath and offers homemade breakfasts and afternoon social hours. Being centrally located on the University of Virginia campus, many restaurants and shops are within easy walking distance. Only a short drive from Skyline Drive, The Dinsmore still grants visitors the liberty to throw themselves headlong into fall.

Williamsburg, Tidewater

Few cities take advantage of fall like Williamsburg. By day, horse-drawn carriages saunter up and down Duke of Gloucester Street, showing off spectacular views of fall in Colonial Williamsburg. At night, lantern-lit ghost tours draw screams from nervous participants, and witch trial reenactments are held in the Capital Building. Aside from these curiosities, Williamsburg Marketplace provides a complete shopping experience, and taverns serving authentic colonial cuisine line the streets. Christiana Campbell’s and King’s Arms Tavern are tourists’ favorites, but more traditional restaurants of choice include the Fat Canary and The Trellis.

While there are a number of bed and breakfasts in the area, the 1904 A Williamsburg White House Inn is the oldest. Offering an Autumn Getaway package, the White House features decadent suites, lush lawns, and a serene garden. Conveniently located within walking distance of Williamsburg’s highlight attractions, the Inn is a romantic setting in which to welcome autumn.

Washington residents have a variety of options when it comes to fall travel. From the colonial environment of Williamsburg to the bucolic feel of Middleburg, each place has a character all its own. Bed and breakfasts have a way of bottling their locale’s essence. All it takes is finding the one that piques your interests and heading out on the tree-lined road to get there. A visit to any of these remarkable destinations will make this autumn unforgettable. [gallery ids="99252,104254,104265,104261,104259" nav="thumbs"]

A Beginner’s Guide to Loudoun’s Wine Country

Loudoun, VA is home to the wineries nearest the District. The wine culture is not as old as those further west in Middleburg and the Plains, but Loudon’s vineyards are surprisingly plentiful and diverse, with over twenty wineries that produce different varieties of grapes and wines. The wineries in the area are organized by five regions or ‘clusters,’ Here we will look at the Loudon Heights Cluster and the Waterford Cluster.

Whether craving some award-winning wine or a weekend getaway to wine country, here’s a first look at the wineries of Loudon.


These wineries surround Hillsboro, one of the smallest historic towns in Virginia. With only around 100 residents, Hillsboro is fittingly named after the hills that surround it. The wineries in this area share in common the breathtaking scenery of the Hillsboro countryside.

The wineries:

Doukénie Winery, nestled on 500 acres at the base of Short Hill Mountain. Their 2009 Chardonnay was awarded the Bronze Medal in the 2011 San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition.

The estate of Hillsborough Vineyards was once owned by George William Fairfax, a childhood friend of George Washington. Their gardens are framed by the nearby Blue Ridge Mountains.

Breaux Vineyards can be described as a tranquil “Mediterranean-meets-Napa” style estate. It has placed an emphasis in Bordeaux varieties such as Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, as well as unique varieties made into Nebbiolo, Syrah and Viognier.

Notaviva Vineyards’ name combines the Italian nota meaning “music note,” and viva meaning “with life,” and their wines are named using musical terminology, such as their award-winning “Cantabile” Cabernet Franc.

Bluemont Vineyards is an extension of the 200-acre Great Country Farms, a popular family attraction and CSA farm outside the village of Bluemont. They grow Norton grapes, the only grape native to the region.


The wineries here lie just outside the historic village of Waterford, which was founded by the Quakers in 1733 and is now a National Historic Landmark.

Loudon Valley Vineyards is led by Bree Ann, a native to Sonoma County, CA. Bree handcrafts her award-winning wines and evolves her winemaking style to best highlight the results of each year’s growing condition.

Sunset Hills Vineyard is positioned on the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains just north of Purcellville. The property’s 140-year-old barn and springhouse have been restored, with its charmed, rustic elegance maintained. Great for visiting.

Hiddencroft Vineyards is committed to showcasing the best of what is local, having cultivated six acres of grape varietals that excel in Virginia’s climate and soil. They also handcraft small quantities of award-winning artisan wine.

Corcoran Vineyards is run by Lori and Jim Corcoran, engaging conversationalists who invite guests into their quaint restored log cabin tasting room, offering sensory classes to learn how to decipher what you smell and taste in a wine.

Village Winery and Vineyards is where you want to go for truly handmade wines. Owner Kent Marrs does all the winemaking himself, crafting each wine entirely by hand to preserver the true character and flavor of the variety.

Taking Flight from the Strip

LAS VEGAS — Las Vegas, Nevada, is a blessing and a bet. Once a simple railroad stop with its underground springs and “meadows,” as its name means, the city sits at the intersection of America’s great deserts and west of one of this nation’s greatest natural wonders: the Grand Canyon. During the Great Depression and the construction of the Hoover Dam, Las Vegas decided to allow and profit from gambling and other sins. And it has not looked back much since . . . until now.

Amid today’s economic downturn (Nevada has the highest state unemployment rate), I arrived a few weeks ago at Planet Hollywood Hotel and Casino for the Society of Professional Journalists’ convention. Somehow, that seemed apropos for a profession facing its own awkward challenges.

It was my first business trip to Las Vegas, but I was no stranger. I first visited at the age of six during a family trip—we drove from New York City to Los Angeles in our new station wagon. My aunt and uncle, who last worked at Caesar’s Palace, had moved there in the early days. My brother would later work at the Las Vegas Hilton.

This time around I walked along Las Vegas Boulevard—the strip—for an evening with the lights, sights and crowds. I crossed the street to the Bellagio, as its elegantly choreographed water show held everyone’s attention. Next door was Caesar’s Palace, which boasts its own Serendipity3 restaurant at the sidewalk front. With the Georgetown location opening soon, it seemed time to sample a pricey, great hamburger at the bar. Vegas, mind you, is full of fancy burgers: from KGB, Kerry’s Gourmet Burgers, to the $777 burger at Paris Hotel’s Brasserie.

Early the next morning, before our business sessions, I wandered through the new City Center with its top-end stores, which looks like a Beverly Hills transplant. One local musician, walking home from his night’s gig, told me it did not belong in Las Vegas, which made me wonder what really does.

During the convention, we met with clients for steaks at Mon Ami Gabi at Paris. During breaks, I visited the Miracle Mile Shops, part of the Planet Hollywood complex. There were lots of shops, but Bettie Page, with its retro clothes and lingerie, is unique. The Sugar Factory, offering $25 lollypops, is also pretty sweet. I got to play a little roulette at the casino’s Pleasure Pit (yes, dancing girls!) and relax at the Pleasure Pool for two hours. Alas, I did not see Holly Madison’s Peep Show at PH, nor have I yet experienced Cirque du Soleil’s “The Beatles’ Love” at the Mirage.

My extra time in Vegas was saved for one, singular sensation: a helicopter ride to the Grand Canyon. I had saved the best for last. There are several aviation companies operating out of McCarran Airport. I chose Maverick Helicopters with its slick, new Eco-Star copters. Admittedly, I was reminded of John McCain. We arrived at the airport for our morning flight, as each pilot lined up the mostly European tourists. It is an expensive roundtrip—$400 plus—with the landing just above the Colorado River in the Western Rim of the Grand Canyon. From the hotel and back, the entire journey takes four hours. An important tour tip: reserve a mid-day flight for the best illumination of the canyon, as the canyon is overtaken by shadows if the sun is not high enough.

Our pilot went over safety requirements with his seven passengers. We strapped ourselves in, put on headsets and felt the copter gently hover in line with its team of four others above the airport tarmac. “Ready?” asked the pilot.

We popped into the sky above Las Vegas, seeing the four-mile strip with its glimmering hotels, and veered east toward the Grand Canyon. We looked down at Lake Las Vegas—hard to believe that it’s man-made—and then Lake Mead and the mighty Hoover Dam came in sight. Just downstream stands the new bypass bridge, officially The Mike O’Callaghan-Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge, named for a Las Vegas Sun editor and Nevada governor, as well as Arizona’s football player turned soldier who was killed in Afghanistan. Completed 75 years after the Hoover Dam, the bridge takes traffic off the dam’s packed two-lane road and is seen as an economic and psychological advantage for the region.

The etches of Lake Mead’s waters and curves of smaller canyons still caught our gaze as the pilot flew over the extinct volcano Fortification Hill and announced where the military had an airfield for practicing aircraft carrier take-offs and landings during World War II. With desert light whizzing by, we flew near an edge and spied the new skywalk ahead.

“Here we go,” said the pilot, as he took us into Grand Canyon, turning, softly tilting and descending 3,500 feet.

We landed at a spot 300 feet above the Colorado River, part of the Hualapai Indian Nation, with picnic tables for our champagne toasts. We were by—and beside—ourselves in the stately rock of the Western Rim. The cool morning air and absolute quiet were stunning. Parts of the canyon have rocks more than one billion years old. I put a few pebbles in my pocket. You had to look up far and wide to take it all in.

All too soon, it was time to climb back into the helicopters and ascend the Grand Canyon, weaving along the light and shadows of the rock faces and up and over the wide desert, where our aircrafts stopped for re-fueling. We got out again in what felt like the actual middle of nowhere. Aloft, we approached the other end of Las Vegas, as the pilot pointed out Nellis Air Force Base and reminded us that legendary Area 51 was up north several miles. We eased above downtown and flew over the strip, landing back at McCarran. All too quick, but a trip of a lifetime.

Las Vegas also provides air and ground trips to the Southern Rim of the Grand Canyon—the more famous and more breath-taking section, if you can believe it. Farther away to the east lies Grand Canyon National Park lies (I once flew over it in a helicopter, but it didn’t land).

America’s adult playground continues to struggle with lower gambling revenues, while it has so much else to offer. The cirques keep running, the singers still perform, the hotels get shinier and the restaurants more upscale. One new hotel, the Cosmopolitan, sitting between City Center and the Bellagio, opens Dec. 15.

Yet, down the road, beyond the wastelands, reclines an old friend, the mother of ancient attractions: the Grand Canyon. Its playground has been open for millions of years and still can give Vegas visitors a real rush. [gallery ids="99255,104290,104286,104264,104282,104269,104278,104274" nav="thumbs"]

How to Choose a Therapist


-The decision to see a therapist can be a hard one to make, as I discussed in my last column, “It’s All In Your Head” (georgetowner.com/living). Once you’ve made that decision, the next challenge is finding the right therapist. How do you go about that?

Most people begin by soliciting referrals. You ask your friends, your doctor, you troll online, search directories such as Psychology Today or American Psychological Association, etc. Pretty
soon it becomes apparent that there is a wide range of varying choices. How do you select among them a therapist that’s right for you?

Here’s one way to think about it that might help simplify the process:

There are essentially three basic criteria to examine before you choose a therapist. Meeting the criteria won’t guarantee success, of course (if anyone EVER gives you a guarantee in this business, run, don’t walk, in the opposite direction!), but it does provide a solid basis from which to work. The three criteria to look for in a therapist are: competence, integrity, and “chemistry.””

Professional licensure is designed to assure a level of competence through qualifying exams and the requirement of continuing education, so make sure the person you’re considering for your therapist is licensed as a psychologist, social worker or psychiatrist. Checking out their schooling and number of years in practice might give you some more comfort on this dimension.

This is hard to ascertain in advance, but it is a vital component in allowing you to feel safe and secure in the therapeutic relationship.

You’re looking for a therapist who can help you. In other words, you’re trying to hire a therapist,
and all those names you’ve gathered are applicants for the job. But the “job” of a therapist is unique in some respects. While in most situations, job applicants can supply a potential employer with references, it’s not possible for the therapist you have under consideration to suggest that you contact a former patient to learn about her work. However, one thing you can do is call and ask for some time on the phone to talk with the therapist about what you’re looking for. If he or she won’t give you ten minutes on the phone to help you make this important decision, then move on. (They may not be free to talk the moment you call, of course, but the therapist with integrity will suggest another convenient time). That phone conversation is where “chemistry” comes in.

Talk to several therapists. See how the conversations go. Ask yourself: Do they ask good questions? Do you like their answers? How about their tone and attitude? Do you feel comfortable? Do you relate to their outlook on psychotherapy? Do you think they might be able to “get” you? Do you feel you can be honest with them? Do you think the two of you can work together? Your answers to these questions are all aspects of “chemistry.”

Psychotherapy is a cooperative project. You and your therapist are a team working on your behalf, engaged in a process that takes commitment and hard work, but can also be joyful and liberating. Once therapy has begun, it’s important to stop from time to time and evaluate—together—the progress you’re making. That way therapy can keep pace with your growth, and the team can continue to be effective.

Therapy is hard work, but when you’re working with the right partner, important, meaningful change can take place. Good luck!

Renee Garfinkel, Ph.D. is a clinical psychologist practicing short-term, solution-oriented psychotherapy in downtown D.C. She is affiliated with the Institute for Crisis, Disaster and Risk Management at The George Washington University. For more information, check out therapists.psychologytoday.com/rms/69148 or www.sleep-dc.com.


Once called Trinacria, which roughly means the Triangle, Sicil is a three-cornered island at the edge of western Europe that tips towards North Africa and points at Greece, connecting East to West. Six thousand years and eleven periods of foreign domination have enriched the island’s architectural
history along with its folklore and gastronomical traditions to create a social and cultural patrimony of great distinction. Over centuries, Phoenician, Greek, Carthaginian, Roman, Byzantine, Moorish, Norman, Swabian, Angevin and Aragonese all arrived to enjoy Sicily, and all left their own mark on the island’s art, food, and culture.

Visit Sicily and you step back into mythology and history, as alive today among the Sicilians as their ties to the electronic age; the unfamiliar human kindness, the astounding architecture, otherworldly landscape, alluring sea and, of course, the food and wine.

You will hear the lore: Cyclops constructing Zeus’s lightning bolts on the slopes of the Etna; Arethusa, fleeing from the avid attentions of the river god Alpheus in Greece, transformed by Artemis into a stream which traveled to the island of Ortygia; a handsome shepherd catching the eye of Galatea, to be killed by the jealous Polifemo under a rock, creating the Aci river.

Two-weeks in Sicily by car would afford you time to visit all the important sites circling the coast, where all the main cities lie: Palermo, Catania, Agrigento, Trapani, and historic Syracuse. An additional week for the seven islands of the Aeolian volcanic archipelago is most enjoyable, especially in June, for unforgettable landscape and water sports.

Start your trip by flying into Palermo, the remarkable city of tree-lined boulevards and jasmine-scented gardens, a Phoenician settlement which the Romans failed to develop but flourished under the Arabs. To this day, many streets by the fish market bare their names in Arabic. Not to be missed is Monreale’s 12th century cathedral displaying the Arab-Norman art and architecture with remarkable mosaics and bronze doors.

If you are in search of the ancient Roman Empire, Naples and Rome understandably offer the strongest glimpse. However, the Romans depended on Sicily’s wheat fields and its strategic military location, leaving behind their huge estates built to control the harvesting and the Roman navy. The town of Piazza Armerina is a prime example. Now converted into hotels and resorts, these estates take you back the luxuries of the ancient world (not actually true—the ancient world remains in ruins).

Long nurturing intellectual cultivation and scientific progress, Sicily has a rich culture all its own. At the court of Frederick II the arts flourished, judicial laws established, and poets, scientists, philosophers, astrologists, and historians explored their world. Long before Tuscany reached its golden age, the Kingdom of Two Sicilies was recognized for its great accomplishments to Western Civilization.

The food on the island has a similarly dizzying effect as the architecture and landscape. One list citing the twenty-five best restaurants in Italy includes six in Sicily, and of these, Syracuse has four. This isn’t too surprising, since Syracuse cooking schools were established as early as the 5th century B.C. where Greeks often sent their young to study.

The sea is not too far from any vantage point in Syracuse, as you stroll down the wide avenues with high fashion boutiques, myriad antique stores and cafes. Palatial hotels lined with blossoming lemon trees offer among the best views. Two restaurants hold court each night to international guests and their own compatriots: Don Camillio and La Terrazza both have worldwide recognition. The tiny seaside trattorie grill fish and produce good Pasta alla Norma, named after Bellini’s opera, under the flapping canopies and sounds of seagulls.

Remember the goddess Arethusa? The stream of her namesake still gurgles on in Ortygia, just meters away from the site where in 735 B.C. the Corinthians established themselves in Syracuse, and where in 415 B.C. they fought valiantly against the invading Athenians. As the story goes, the Gods appeared as an eclipse, which the Athenians interpreted as a sign that the battle displeased the Gods. However, the Syracusians believed the Gods desired them to win, and as the Athenians retreated, their vessels were set ablaze.

Allow a budget of 60 euros a head at dinner for at least four meals during your two-week adventure. You won’t regret it. Imagine cold almond soup, sea urchin risotto, pastas with hourly fresh seafood, pistachio cakes, jasmine ice cream, watermelon gelatin with chocolate bits, all consumed along the Mediterranean seaside. Your palette will be overwhelmed as your eyes devour the landscape, trying to hold the memory of this first visit to Trincaria, island of the Greek temples to the Gods.

Dr. Angela Iovino is founder and principal of Cultural Study Abroad, offering educational tours of historic locations around the world. She has taught at Georgetown University and The George Washington University for over 25 years. Get in touch with her at info@culturalstudyabroad.
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Sweets Strategies: the Science Behind Cravings and What to do About Them

Halloween can trip up even the most conscientious dieter. Last year, this happened to a client who had lost and kept off 20 pounds successfully. The Halloween trap caught her by surprise. She bought several bags of Snickers, her favorite candy bar, and began a binge that didn’t end until the candy was gone – long before Trick or Treating even began! That brought her up a couple of pounds. The holidays came and before she knew it, she had gained almost ten pounds before winter was out.

With Halloween passed and holidays looming, it’s important to determine your strategy for dealing
with the temptation of sweets: what you eat, what you bring in your home, and what you serve others. My philosophy is that all foods can be enjoyed in moderation. But there are special challenges
posed with some foods, particularly sweets, which have been confirmed by solid science – it’s not just in our heads! Understanding the science behind sweet craving and overeating can help us eat in a more moderate and healthy way.

People have an inborn attraction to sweets. If you don’t believe it, simply watch an infant’s response to something sweet versus, say, a vegetable. There’s an automatic acceptance, even joy, after eating something sweet. On the other hand, vegetables are an acquired taste, which may take 10 to 20 tries before acceptance. This is partly explained by evolution. We’ve been eating naturally sweet foods such as breast milk and fruit for millions of years. They contain life-sustaining nutrients, and a love for those foods helped keep us alive. Also, during evolution, an attraction to scarce calorie-dense foods, such as sweets and fats, improved our chances for survival.

But there are other explanations. The research surrounding our attraction to sweets has stepped up in recent decades. Scientists are grappling with understanding the calorie imbalances causing the obesity epidemic, which is partly fueled by eating too many sweets.

Our brain chemistry holds an important clue. Research shows that sweets, like many antidepressants,
increase the brain chemical, serotonin, which helps regulate mood and appetite.

“Without carbohydrates, your brain stops regulating serotonin,” says Judith Wurtman, the director
of the women’s health research program at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Clinical Research Center in Boston. “Eating carbohydrates profoundly improves mood; which is why a handful
of candy corn will make you feel better.”

When we are stressed, anxious or depressed, serotonin levels can drop, and one way people modify their moods is by eating carbohydrates. But Halloween and holiday sweet cravings may be uniquely influenced by seasonal changes, too. Studies show that as days get shorter and we are exposed to less sunshine, serotonin levels drop and this leads to increased carbohydrate cravings in susceptible people.

“It’s seasonal. If they sold Halloween and Holiday candy in July, people wouldn’t be as interested,”
says Wurtman.

Women are particularly vulnerable to sweet cravings because their brains have less serotonin than men, according to Wurtman.

There have been other explanations for women’s reported increased sweet craving and indulging. Some researchers attribute the difference to the female hormone, estrogen. It’s been reported that sweet cravings change according to where a woman is in her menstrual cycle—circumstantial evidence that estrogen may play a role. But the findings are inconsistent, as some report increased cravings during menstruation, while others report higher cravings as a premenstrual symptom, a time when serotonin levels may be low.

But the bottom line is clear: “Females overeat sweets compared to males,” says Lisa Eckel, assistant professor of psychology at Florida State University in Tallahassee. Eckel completed a study on rats, published in the American Journal of Physiology, which found that female rats ate more rat chow when it was sweetened, compared with males.

“In animals, having high levels of estrogen is associated with eating more sweets,” says Eckel. Yet this theory has yet to be proven in humans.

Cravings and overeating are difficult to study because they can be so subjective and multifactorial.
Other researchers stipulate sweet cravings are mainly determined by culture, or by psychological and behavioral factors, rather than physiology.

In some cultures, people don’t crave sweets because they haven’t been exposed to them as regularly as Americans. A study of chocolate, for instance, found that American women crave chocolate significantly more than Spanish women. And while a large percentage of American women reported increased chocolate cravings surrounding their menstrual period, Spanish women did not.

Other studies confirm that exposure during childhood is the major determinant of what we crave and are susceptible to overeating.

I copied my mother’s love for sweets and baking; it was a fun activity we did together. In college, to combat loneliness—and just for fun—I over-indulged my love for sweets (as the pounds went up and up). I would regularly bake my favorite chocolate chip bars and caramel popcorn, both of which I made in childhood. Study after study shows the importance of parental modeling on a child’s preferences.

Availability and proximity are two of the most important factors science has found that influence what we crave and overeat, and they probably trump all of the other reasons combined. When tasty foods, such as sweets, are around, we simply eat more of them.

Chances are, a combination of factors is responsible for cravings and overeating sweets at Halloween and the holidays.

“Holiday sweets are novel, they only comes around once a year. It comes in small pieces so you fool yourself into thinking you’re not eating as much,” says Wurtman. “You put it in bowls around the house and eat it mindlessly!”

Wurtman says if you have a strong desire for sweets, it may be a sign that you’re depressed, anxious or stressed. But she insists you don’t have to indulge in sweets to raise your serotonin levels or to feel good. Exercising, stress management and spending time with loved ones are activities which will also help reduce depression, anxiety and stress (My client discovered a psychological basis for her binges, which she is successfully averting these days).

Using candy to feel better is not a great solution for your waist line. It is so high calorie, it doesn’t take much to overeat and forget your weight loss plans. For the same calories in a candy bar, you could eat four apples—or maybe you couldn’t. And that’s the point!

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not urging you to be a Halloween Scrooge. I believe it’s possible to have fun with Halloween, and even eat Halloween candy, but still avoid some of the excesses that many of us have fallen victim to in the past. Here are a few suggestions.

• To reduce the possibility of seasonal cravings, make sure you’re getting 30 minutes to one hour of sunlight each day by taking a walk in the mornings or at lunch. You may be able to “catch up” on the weekend if you didn’t get enough rays during the week.

• Eat plenty of healthy carbohydrates, such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains and legumes, to keep serotonin at optimum levels and reduce cravings of less healthy carbohydrates, such as refined sugar.

• If you feel “driven” to eat sweets, it may be a signal that you’re depressed, anxious or stressed. Reduce tension and anxiety by exercising, meditating or talking with loved ones. It’s important
to understand the core of the problem, and for that you may need to seek help from a professional.

• If you want to lose weight, keep your candy – or other “extra” calories – to no more than 10% of your daily calories (that’s 200 calories for the average 2,000 calorie intake, or 150 for 1,500 calories). You may even get away with one big splurge on Halloween. But if you splurge for two or more days, it will probably effect your waist line negatively.

• If you can’t resist eating too much candy, wait to buy it on the day of the party or event (or, don’t buy it). This way, the candy won’t be sitting around as a constant temptation

• Buy only what you need for the event and buy your least favorite candy. Give away the remaining candy at the end of the evening so that there’s nothing left.

• Try fun and healthier alternatives to sweets to have around your home and serve to family and guests, such as popcorn, roasted pumpkin seeds, sliced apples and fruit with nice dips

• Most importantly, if you do find you overeat, lighten up, don’t dwell on the negative and get over it! Analyze objectively what you can do differently next time. With awareness and good planning, you can have your sweets and eat them, too!

Katherine Tallmadge, M.A., R.D. custom-designs nutrition, diet and wellness programs. You see her interviewed regularly in the media, on CNN, CBS Evening News, Good Morning America, NPR, POLITICO, Newsweek and others. Katherine@KatherineTallmadge.com (202)833-0353

Autumn in the Eastern shore

With November upon us, many living in the District will participate in the annual fall exodus. On the weekends, Washington residents retreat to their preferred autumnal sanctuaries. Resorts and B&Bs throughout Maryland and Virginia play host to those reveling in the year’s most mild and fleeting
weather. Such traditional draws are a staple of the autumn spell.

When formulating your plans, it’s a good idea to explore less conventional avenues and find retreats not bogged down by throngs of tourists. The Eastern Shore is less than a two-hour drive from DC and promises some of the season’s best autumn activities. Spending the weekend on the Eastern Shore is an unconventional yet unparalleled experience, sure to liven your month.

Talbot County, Maryland is a hidden gem. The splendorous setting is rich with history and offers
some of the best biking, fishing, and kayaking to be found. What’s more, Talbot County presents visitors with several distinctive towns to choose from, each with a personality all its own. Guests to the area may choose to intimately explore one or town-hop for a taste of the entire area.


Easton is celebrating its 300-year anniversary this year, which only adds to the vibrant atmosphere
found there. Nestled away in the outskirts of town are family-owned farms, such as Chapel’s Country Creamery. Dairy cows graze its sprawling fields, attesting to Easton’s pastoral grandeur. The farm itself sells its all-natural produce on site. Additionally, many of the Shore’s best chefs use local creamers and farmers as their purveyors, strengthening Easton’s communal bonds.

One such chef is Jordan Lloyd, whose Bartlett Pear Inn recently received the second highest
Zagat rating in all categories for the East Coast. Lloyd owns the inn with his wife Alice, his fourth grade sweetheart reunited by fate 10 years later. The two embarked on a journey that led from Mason’s, another local favorite, to Michel Richard’s Citronelle here in DC, New York, Atlanta, Miami, and back again. Along the way, Lloyd apprenticed with four-star chefs at five-diamond and five-star enterprises, including DC’s Four Seasons Hotel. The end result is his upscale American bistro, where classic French techniques meet contemporary plate design, in an impressive 220-year-old establishment.

From November 12 to 14, Easton will host its 40th Annual Waterfowl Festival. Sportsmen and art connoisseurs alike should find something that intrigues them. Wildlife paintings, photos, sculptures, and carvings, including collectible decoys, will be available at multiple venues about town. Moreover, the World Championship Calling Contests and fly-fishing and stunt dog demonstrations are sure to draw a crowd. Easton’s colonial streets will close, and historic buildings will be decorated in celebration of its small-town heritage and support of wildlife conservation.

Also in Easton is the iconic Inn at 202 Dover. Restored by Shelby and Ron Mitchell, the 1874 mansion is an incredible sight. With its spacious rooms and Jacuzzis, you’d be hard pressed to find a more inviting inn in which to spend a few nights. Then again, the Tidewater Inn traces its roots back to 1712. Within walking distance of historic downtown Easton’s many boutiques, galleries and restaurants, the charming hideaway is sure to inspire romance. You won’t go wrong either way.


Located southwest of Easton on the Tred Avon River, Oxford was founded in 1683 and is now listed in the National Register of Historic Places. Few towns have endured the marked phases of change that Oxford has. The landscape, once dominated by tobacco plantations and home to famous figures of the Revolution, later gave rise to oyster harvesting and packing industries. Despite the increase in tourism to the area, Oxford retained its small-town feel.

Those looking to dine in town would do right to give Pope’s Tavern, or else the Robert Morris Inn, a try. Both restaurants provide impeccable service and dining ambiance while affording incredible
views of the water. Robert Morris Inn deserves special note, as it recently reopened under new co-owner and executive chef Mark Salter. Salter was the former chef of the Inn at Perry Cabin, and his signature dishes go well with the wide array of vintages the inn has stocked. Dine in Salter’s Tap Room & Tavern or one of two 1710 dining rooms, a few feet from Oxford’s ferry dock.

St. Michaels

St. Michaels rests along the “Bay Hundred” stretch that runs to Tilghman Island. In its heyday,
St. Michaels was a major shipbuilding center that produced such models as the Baltimore Clipper, which served as privateers during the Revolutionary War and War of 1812. Thus, it should come as no surprise that the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum is one of its premier attractions.

Founded in 1965, the Maritime Museum occupies 35 buildings across 18 waterfront acres and features 10 exhibits that explore the geological, social, and economic history of the Chesapeake Bay. The museum also houses the largest collection of indigenous Chesapeake Bay watercraft in existence. Although the museum currently allows visitors to tong for oysters, on November 6 it will host OysterFest & Members Day from 10 am to 4 pm.

OysterFest celebrates the Bay oyster with live music, food and family activities. Skipjack and buy-boat rides will be available. Furthermore, oyster aquaculture, restoration, and cooking demonstrations will be ongoing. The oyster stew competition may very well be the highlight of the festival, which is included with museum admission.

If oysters aren’t your thing, Ava’s Pizzeria & Wine Bar and The Crab Claw Restaurant are two popular local eateries. Ava’s wood-fired pizza is complemented by its diverse selection of beer and wine. The Crab Claw has served steamed Maryland blue crabs since 1965. Also worth a look is Bistro St. Michael’s, which rounds out St. Michael’s wide range of restaurants.

Not far off is the Inn at Perry Cabin. An elite escape, the inn’s waterfront property offers a gorgeous panorama of the Shore at its finest. Though the inn has lost some of its exclusivity with an expansion to 78 rooms, the lavish accommodations and amenities make this less noticeable. In addition, the inn’s convenient location makes it the perfect place to stay if you plan on seeing the sights around “The Town that Fooled the British.”

In the interval between those dog days of summer and the sluggish winter months, autumn is the ideal occasion for a weekend getaway—one that will both relax and reenergize. If you haven’t made plans yet, do not fret. The Eastern Shore is an often overlooked and underutilized travel alternative. Add to this its breathtaking vistas and insulated townships, and the Shore might just be among the most well-guarded vacation secret in the country. [gallery ids="99421,99422,99423,99424,99425,99426,99427" nav="thumbs"]