At first, I thought it was a scam. Around Christmas, my mother had sent me a sweepstakes link on Facebook, and on a whim, I entered it. A few weeks later, an email arrived, informing me that I had won. The prize was a 3-night stay at the country-inn-turned-writer's-retreat When Words Count Retreat in Rochester, Vermont. The stay would be my prize; I had to pay for the "gourmet meal service." If you're reading this, you know I don't mind paying for good food, so after I poked around the Internet looking for proof that this was a real thing, I called and booked my reservation. I figured it was a small price to pay for food when I'd have a long, quiet weekend to myself to work on my writing.
To say I was right would be an understatement. I could write a whole post about what an incredibly positive, possibly life-changing experience this one weekend retreat was for me. I arrived as a blog writer with a few articles published in some local magazines. By the end of my second day in Vermont, I had written almost 3,000 words of what I'm hoping will be my first book. The environment was ideal. The setting was inspiring. The schedule was accommodating. The discussion was stimulating. I really do want to go on.
However, when I first started this blog, I was determined to keep it focused on food, and so I will. The food at WWCR is, in a word, sublime. First, let's define what comprises their "gourmet meal service," and I take this from their website:
- A sit-down, two-course country-style breakfast
- A buffet farm lunch (fresh salad, protein portion, cheese board, crackers, soup, etc.)
- Cocktail-hour hors d’oeuvres
- Daily Coffee and tea service and
- A four-course Gourmet dinner, prepared, each evening by our celebrated Chef
This costs $60 per day plus a 17% service charge which covers both gratuity and VT sales tax. I think I should say a mere $60 per day, because I found this to be an outstanding value for what I received, considering at most upscale restaurants where I live, I could easily spend that on a four-course dinner alone.
Here is one of my breakfasts, and yes, I mean both pictures constituted one breakfast: a bowl of creamy, tangy vanilla yogurt topped with crunchy granola and fresh berries, accompanied by scrambled eggs, thick country-style bacon, and strawberry-rhubarb-stuffed French toast.
For lunch the first day, this beautiful salad plate:
The next day's lunch, smoked salmon chowder and a flatbread topped with goat cheese, sun-dried tomatoes and arugula:
Are you drooling yet? Because recalling these meals is making my mouth water all over again.
Coffee and tea service was available all day, and we had a cocktail hour before dinner during which we were offered cheese and crackers, crudites, and the like. Needless to say, none of us went hungry that weekend. And I haven't even gotten to the dinner course.
So here's the teaser - my next post will focus on dinner alone, and will include at least one recipe. So check back soon! And writers? Check out When Words Count Retreat. You won't regret it.