I have had the most amazing Halloween weekend and I’m so excited to tell you all about it!
I was once again invited to meet up with four other awesome bloggers to experience history and chocolate for the American Heritage Chocolate (remember the first one?). Only this time, I got to explore one of our family’s favorite places to visit in Virginia: Colonial Williamsburg! 🙂
I drove myself to Colonial Williamsburg which is only about a 2.5 hour drive from our house. My family and I have been there numerous times before, but I was still really thrilled to participate in this trip! I love Colonial Williamsburg and I welcome every chance to explore this beautiful, historic place anytime!
I checked in at the Williamsburg Lodge on the day I got there. If you ever want to immerse yourself in the colonial Virginia period, start your experience by staying at this cozy, comfortable hotel decorated beautifully in colonial-style fashion but without sacrificing modern amenities! It’s got an on-site restaurant, a bar and lounge, fitness center, pool, spa, gift shop and is conveniently located walking distance to all the popular restaurants, shopping and outdoor entertainment in Colonial Williamsburg. I enjoyed my stay at this hotel and will stay here again in a heartbeat! Note: the goody basket and chocolates were courtesy of American Heritage Chocolate exclusive for this trip. 🙂
I met up with my blogger group, our trip coordinator, Kelly L., and two representatives from the Colonial Williamsburg team and from our hotel, we walked to the King’s Arms Tavern for dinner. Dining at this rustic, colonial-themed restaurant was truly a one-of-a-kind experience! The servers here are dressed in 18th century fashion and the menu offers a good selection of traditional southern fare, desserts, and fine wine. I ordered the Beef Tenderloin which consisted of hand-cut beef tenderloin with herb rub, grilled served with molasses-butter, potato-leek patty and asparagus. It was a good size meal and I enjoyed it very much! I also had the Mrs. Vobe’s Peanut Soupe (named after Jane Vobe, the business woman who opened this tavern in 1772) which was a rich soup garnished with roasted peanuts and sippets. A glass of Pinot Noir completed my fine dining experience.. yumm!
Overall, the food and service was excellent and I totally loved the 18th century-style dining experience we had here!
For breakfast the next day, we ate at Traditions – the on-site restaurant at the Williamsburg Lodge. I’m not a big breakfast person but for the sake of this experience, I made a plate of bacon, sausage, spinach quiche, hash browns, a slice of French toast, a small bowl of fruit and of course, a cup of coffee and orange juice! It was a great breakfast that got me through an activity-filled morning!
Our first stop after breakfast was at the Great Hopes Plantation, a living history site and is a must-visit when in Colonial Williamsburg!
The Great Hopes Plantation is a re-creation of one of the family farms that existed in Williamsburg at the time of the American Revolution in the 18th century. Here, we saw first hand how people in a farm in Colonial Williamsburg would have lived during that time. Our interpreter was very eager to show us around the farm and talked to us about the daily life of African American slaves, carpenters, and working farmers living rurally.
We saw how oxen were pulling logs and how people gathered firewood using an old fashioned saw.
I wanted to see how I would do with the manual wood sawing (that’s me on the right pulling the saw) and I’ll tell you, it was quite hard on my arms and I probably only did it for a minute! In moments like these, you appreciate the modern times, for sure! 🙂
We were also invited to watch a live cooking demonstration and learned about how women made their food. The women made venison stew and I admired the women’s dresses and how simple they lived their lives at that time. Part of me was imagining myself preparing my family’s food in this rustic kitchen, cooking our food over the hot fire and beaming with pride as I served the food on our family table. I have always been fascinated about how people lived in the 18th century and with this whole experience, I felt like I was actually being transported into that period of time. So awesome!
I admired the gardens where produce are grown. We were told that some of the local restaurants in Williamsburg get their produce here.
It was a remarkable experience witnessing how Virginians lived in a farm in the 18th century through the Great Hopes Plantation!
After the farm experience, our next stop was the Governor’s Palace Kitchen where we watched how meals were being prepared for the governor and for the elite…
… and learned how chocolate was only for adults and were kept in a tin kettle like this…
… and that a cacao pod like this gets split in half and the contents are dried, fermented and then turned into chocolate. For a chocolate lover like me, learning about this chocolate-making process was so cool!
By the time we stepped out of the Governor’s Palace Kitchen, we were already hungry for lunch and Kelly took us to The Cheese Shop on Merchants Square (my husband and I love this place!) and everyone ordered sandwiches. I had their Corned Beef sandwich which I thoroughly enjoyed.
We also shared this yummy cheese plate and tried a few of their sweet dessert bars as well. It was definitely a great lunch and a much-needed break from all the walking and exploring we did all morning!
After lunch, we continued walking along Duke of Gloucester St. and headed for the Market House – a new shopping spot in Colonial Williamsburg where you can buy fresh fruits, vegetables, gifts and souvenirs and an assortment of handmade items, and of course, American Heritage Chocolate goods!
Our next stop was the Anderson’s Blacksmith Shop & Public Armoury, named after the Williamsburg blacksmith James Anderson. We watched as a blacksmith take red-hot iron from the fire of his forge, then hammered and beat it to make into a tool, hardware, and/or a weapon.
Next door to the blacksmith shop was the tin shop where they make metal items such as kitchen tools and utensils, kettles, and other home items. They make these metal items and sell them to local gift shops in Williamsburg.From there, we walked a short distance to R. Charlton’s Coffeehouse located just a few steps from the colonial Capitol. We learned that this was a popular stop for Williamsburg’s elite.. where gentlemen and politicians met to discuss about their business ventures, politics, etcetera.. over steaming cups of coffee and chocolate. Speaking of chocolate, we got to enjoy a cup of rich, decadent hot chocolate using American Heritage Chocolate as the main ingredient. It tasted soooo good I promised myself I’ll make it for me and dear hubby at home one of these days. 🙂
From there, we went to the Taste Studio where we got to see a live cooking and baking demonstration from two of the most notable names in the food and restaurant business in Colonial Williamsburg: Executive Chef Anthony Frank and Pastry Chef Rodney Diehl. I love watching the Food Network on tv (like literally everyday), so I was really thrilled about this experience! These two gentlemen are top experts in their field and I was so excited to taste the food they made right in front of us!
Pumpernickel bread topped with roasted pork, American Heritage Chocolate aioli and a cherry merlot compote. Yummm!
Double Fudge Chocolate Cake – a decadent chocolate cake layered with chocolate Icing.
And mind you, another cup of hot chocolate using American Heritage Chocolate! I actually favored the taste of this hot chocolate more than the one we had at the R. Charlton’s Coffeehouse earlier that afternoon. I found this recipe to have just the right richness to the chocolate and tasted a bit sweeter .. which is how I like my hot chocolate!
After that, we had a bit of time to shop for lovely Colonial Williamsburg goods… omg, I could shop all day here!
The weather outside was cool, bright and beautiful that afternoon I just had to pose for this pic 😉
Later that evening while preparing to go out for dinner and for our Halloween night out, we hang out for a bit at The Lodge Lounge at Williamsburg Lodge and I had this Witch’s Brew with bourbon, cider and pumpkin pie spice complete with a spooky-looking lychee eyeball! What a sweet Halloween treat! 🙂
We wore our Halloween costumes and went to Chowning’s Tavern for dinner, then walked down Duke of Gloucester Street to join in all the spooky fun Halloween festivities! It was a lot of fun!
This year, Colonial Williamsburg offered Halloween events and activities with many fun options for all ages!
5:00 -7:30pm Trick of Treating (ages 3 -12) – The first-ever Haunting on DoG Street. Blackbeard and his crew joined thousands of men, women, and children registered for this free trick-or-treating and ticketed family events! You have to get a wristband from the Visitor Center Face the day before and/or on Halloween Day (Friday and Saturday, October 30 & 31) in order to participate in the Halloween festivities. Face painting was also available from 2:30-5:00 (both nights) at the Visitor Center for $5, but was offered free if you rented one of their colonial costumes. Also, this year, Colonial Williamsburg teamed up with Food Allergy Research Education (FARE) and participated in the Teal Pumpkin Project. This was to address concerns from parents with children who have allergies. Parents check in at the Visitor Center and their child receives a special bag with a teal logo. Eight of the 16 trick-or-treat sites had teal pumpkins where interpreters and staff handed out Skittles and Starburst in addition to non-food treats like spider rings, plastic fingers, stickers, etc.
5:00 – 7:30pm “A Pirate’s Life For Me” activities (all ages) – This is the full Haunting experience where individuals, parents and children can participate in many other fun Halloween-themed events (in addition to trick-or-treating), which included pirate games, pumpkin decorating, sing-alongs, and much more! All events happened on both Friday and Saturday night, October 30 and 31, 2015.
8:00 – 10pm “Under Blackbeard’s Flag” (Ages 13+) – This is a PG13 event where participants can tour haunted Gaol cells, explore the legend of Blackbeard’s missing head, and learn all about the myths and superstitions from the Seven Seas. At the end of the evening, you can join Blackbeard and his zombie crew in a march down Duke of Gloucester Street, from the Capitol to Chowning’s Tavern, for an evening of merriment where adults can enjoy spirits of a different kind!
Overall, I can say that Colonial Williamsburg delivered a fantastic roundup of Halloween fun and entertainment for everyone this year! I also noticed that they are very organized and they even have a dedicated page for each of these events so that people who wanted to participate are well-informed about the do’s and dont’s and what they can expect at each event. The free activities and events are really cool too, but even the paid ones are priced fairly well for individuals and families to enjoy. I’m sure with the success of these Halloween-themed festivities this year, they’ll come up with something similar (or maybe even better) next year! We’ll see…
In the words of Mitchell Reiss, CEO and President of Colonial Williamsburg Foundation:
“If there is one “selling point” that truly sets our event apart from the rest, this is it: While most other venues will revert to business-as-usual on Nov. 1, the tale of Blackbeard and his crew will live on here, as one among the many narratives that our actor/interpreters weave from the pages of history. Every day, these individuals find new ways to draw people into the story of early America. And in so doing, make the experience all the more relevant, and all the more real.”
I feel fortunate to have been able to experience Colonial Williamsburg for Halloween this year, as well as explore history and chocolate once again with American Heritage Chocolate!
With me on this trip are four other awesome bloggers. From left: myself, Kath from Kath Eats Real Food, Emily from Clever Housewife, Darci from Everything Mommyhood and Aubrey from Homegrown and Healthy. Barbara Brown (standing on the right) is our media contact for Colonial Williamsburg. Be sure to check out their cool blogs … when you get a chance!
I’ll be back with a yummy new recipe later next week using American Heritage Chocolate goods but in the meantime, here are some facts to get you thinking about this awesome chocolate brand!
- American Heritage Chocolate is an authentic historic line of products—developed from chocolate recipes from the 1750’s—that celebrates chocolate’s important role in the lives of Americans during the 18th century and is reminiscent of what Thomas Jefferson, George Washington, and Ben Franklin would have enjoyed, combining all natural ingredients and exotic spices.
- American Heritage Chocolate can be used in recipes replacing semi-sweet chocolate at a one-to-one ratio.
- American Heritage Chocolate is made with all-natural ingredients and no preservatives.
- American Heritage Chocolate is an artisanal dark chocolate containing 63% cacao.
- Mildly spicy, and slightly sweet, American Heritage Chocolate is flavored with a blend of spices and ingredients available during colonial times, including cinnamon, nutmeg, chili pepper, orange, anise and vanilla.
- American Heritage Chocolate is Kosher-certified, made without dairy, wheat, peanuts, or tree nuts, and is made in a facility that does not contain peanuts and tree nuts.
For more information about American Heritage Chocolate, go to their website at: AmericanHeritageChocolate.com
You can also find them on these social media pages:
This post is written by me for American Heritage Chocolate and Colonial Williamsburg. I was compensated and provided an all-expenses paid trip to experience #ChocolateHistory and #ColonialWilliamsburg. As always, all views and opinions are 100% mine.