7.29.2010

A Delectable Celebratory Dinner and a Late Night Ghost Hunt

This year we celebrated our 5th Wedding Anniversary in Chattanooga as a little family of three. We always treat ourselves to a nice dinner on our special day, and this anniversary was no different. Will chose Porter's Steakhouse, a Chicago-Style fine dining establishment, conveniently located next to our accommodations at the Read House on Broad Street. So after an action-packed day spent exploring downtown and the Tennessee Aquarium, the three of us spiffed up for a night out. Hudson was as happy as always, perched between the two of us in a highchair, at the table where we would spend the next few hours enjoying a memorable meal. We started our culinary adventure with a Balsamic Goat Cheese Tart, made with fresh Artisan Goat Cheese and aged balsamic vinegar; if those first creamy bites of our appetizer were any indication of how the rest of our meal would taste, we were in for a real treat. The tart was probably one of the best things I've ever tasted, and Will loved it, too. Next up were delicious salads, made fresh with locally grown produce. I enjoyed a salad of vine ripe tomatoes, organic greens, aged Maytag Bleu Cheese, and a house blended Port Wine Vinaigrette, while Will chose the house special, a melange of Romaine, Iceberg, and Mesclun greens topped with the House Dressing. We traded a couple bites of each, and each were equally delicious. On to the main course, we listened to our knowledgeable waiter who carefully explained each of their signature steaks, made Chicago-Style, meaning simply made meats lacking fancy sauces, but prepared with the finest ingredients. I decided on Porter's specialty, the 8 oz. Peppercorn cut, marinated in garlic and peppercorn for 72 hours before preparation. Will chose a slightly larger cut of beef, the 28 oz. Porterhouse, which he polished off without leaving behind a crumb....someday I'll tell you the infamous story of Will's Porterhouse at Broadway Joe's on W. 46th Street in New York City's Theater District. That's a doozy of a story, so we'll save it for another day. As for our meal at Porter's, our main course was delightful, especially when paired with fresh asparagus and garlic mashed potatoes a la carte. We finished with exquisite desserts, Rhubarb and Strawberry Crisp for me, and Creme Brulee for Will. Needless to say, we were quite full after our celebratory dinner, but after a mandatory rest in our suite we got a second wind, and prepared for an adventure.

I mentioned earlier that we were staying at the historic Read House Hotel....but I neglected to mention that the Hotel is supposedly haunted. Before we left for our trip, Will and I had run across some information on the all-knowing internet that documented some spooky happenings at the Read House. Legend says that the hotel is haunted by a female ghost, who has apparently been hanging around since 1867. Steeped in rich history, the hotel has been frequented by many famous people, including Ronald Reagan, Winston Churchill and Elvis Presley. During the Civil War the hotel was occupied by the Union Army, and many soldiers came and went. It is rumoured that one such soldier visited and murdered his female companion while staying in Room 311. For over one hundred years, visitors have complained of seeing bizarre apparitions in the hotel. Visitors to Room 311 complain of strange unexplained sounds, and many have been known to flee from the room in the middle of  the night, to frightened to stay there any longer. The hotel supposedly avoids renting this room to visitors, as it is hotel policy that they only use the room if no others are available. Having rested after our filling dinner, we decided to take a peek around our hotel....and we were definitely on the lookout for spooks. As you could probably guess, we didn't see anything. But we did see an abundance of lovely antebellum architecture, and reminders of times gone by. As a last resort, we couldn't help but take the elevator to the third floor, for a stroll past Room 311. Maybe we didn't see the ghost for a reason....it appeared as though she had company. There was a room service menu hanging on the doorknob of the haunted room....hopefully they wouldn't be too scared to stay until their eggs arrived in the morning.


{ready for a night out}


{all dressed up with somewhere to go}


{"I'll be good during this fancy dinner, I promise!"}


{happy to be celebrating}


{the best part of dinner, our divine Balsamic Goat Cheese Tart. delish!}


{"....and all I get is this stinkin' cracker!?"}


{well-rested and ready to explore}


{a lovely late night stroll}


{"I love exploring!"}


{"I ain't afraid of no ghosts!"}


{enjoying a little family fun}


{I'm reflecting on the hotel's antebellum charm....}


{....while they reflect on the view from the balcony.}


{ornately beautiful}


{Good Luck to the Inhabitants of 311!}


{Anybody want to play a tune?}


{"Operator? Hello?"}


{Our Ghost-Free Lobby}


{outside our suite}


{the adventurers are getting sleepy.}


{"Like my new t-shirt from the aquarium? Sometimes crabby always cute...."}


{....ha ha ha! That's funny!"}


7.27.2010

A Whale of a Time


Penguins. Jellyfish. Stingrays. Sharks. Turtles. Parrots. Butterflies. Piranhas.

These are just a few of the 10,000 wondrous creatures Hudson saw at the Tennessee Aquarium. We began our visit with the Ocean Journey. Despite hoards of people, we were pleasantly surprised with the interactions Hudson was able to make with the animals. He got up close and personal with some Southern Stingrays, as Daddy dipped his own hand into the tank to feel the soft back of the slick fish, and he was happily surrounded by beautiful butterflies in the aquarium's butterfly garden. We got multiple views of the shark habitat, and Hudson watched intently as the scary shark passed closely by the glass. When we entered into the jellyfish exhibit, Hudson seemed mystified by their striking colors and the entrancing movements they made in the water. But his favorite part of the Ocean Journey seemed to be the penguins. He watched them waddle and swim for quite a long time.

After we had adequately explored the Ocean, we walked over to the River Journey. We were not quite as impressed with this older portion of the Aquarium, as the layout wasn't very favorable for large groups of people. We were unable to see the scuba diver interact with the Blue Catfish because the crowd was so thick they blocked the viewing glass. We had a hard time pushing the stroller through the narrow walkways packed with people, and we were especially unhappy that the River Otters were not present in the Otter Habitat. But, Hudson did enjoy seeing the alligators and turtles that call the river their home. We ended our visit to the Aquarium with a IMAX movie about the ocean, which Hudson slept through despite the looming six-story screen and booming state of the art sound system.

Of course the best part of any vacation is the sojourn through the souvenir shop. After browsing through the many fishy gifts, Will and I held up a few varieties of stuffed animals so that Hudson could choose the one he liked most. He passed up the big shark and the soft turtle in favorite of a precious knit penguin....solidifying the fact that his favorite part of the day at the aquarium was his encounter with the little short guys in tuxedos.


{Words of Wisdom on the way to the Aquarium}


{Stopping by the Moon Pie General Store}


{Eat Mo' Pie}


{"Can I have a Moon Pie?"}


{delicious Sunkist in a glass bottle}


{Will's lemon moon pie and glass bottle RC Cola were soo good he couldn't even open his eyes.}


{Hello Aquarium!}


{"Oooh Stingrays!"}


{swimming Stingray}


{"I want to touch it!"}


{"I like fish!"}


{"Ok, what's next?"}


{Checking out the Butterfly Garden}


{Fish are Fun}


{Penguin Encounter}


{Hudson's favorite}


{watching the action in the penguin habitat}


{looking for sharks...}


{....found one!}


{stuck in the shark cage!}


{feeling the coral}


{pretty colors}


{jellyfish}


{hanging out by the fish tank}


{fish up high...fish all around.}


{who needs fish when there are mirrors to look into?}


{too many people. waiting for the boys outside the alligator exhibit}


{"Hey! Let me in there! I like to swim, too!"}


{funny little turtle}


{loving his new penguin friend}


{Will thought it would be funny for me to push Hudson up this crazy sloping sidewalk. Look at those sweet little legs popping out of the stroller.}


{time to leave....}


{....Hudson & penguin are tired.}


{It's been a long day....}


{....and our feet need a rest.}