It’s Time To Celebrate Cider!

“Will Garden For Cake” is a wonderful place to visit…this blog will take you on a fun frolic from garden to kitchen with fabulous stories and tons of delectable recipes. My fellow Virginian and  blogger friend Alisa Huntsman is the author of this spectacular blog:


Alisa is a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America who has been baking professionally for over 30 years She is the author of Sky High Irresistible Triple Layer Cakes and Desserts from the Famous Loveless Cafe. Photos of her lovely cookbooks are pictured above.  It would be worth taking up sky diving just to dive into her Sky High cakes! I urge you to delve into her Loveless Cafe cookbook to find treasures including blue-ribbon pies, country cakes, crisps, cobblers, short cakes and tea cakes…oh my!  Besides baking, Alisa is a Master Gardener, Beekeeper and a Chicken Herder and can be found at and @janeofmanytrades(Instagram).

Please visit and follow her blog…you’ll be glad you did!

Her cookbooks are available on and here’s their review of Desserts From The Famous Loveless Cafe:

Delicious Southern sweets and treats from a Nashville favorite. Renowned for its Southern charm and superb comfort food, the Loveless Cafe in Nashville, Tennessee, serves some of the best desserts below the Mason-Dixon line. Aficionados of country cooking travel from near and far to sample the restaurant s extraordinary sweets. In “Desserts from the Famous Loveless Cafe,” pastry chef Alisa Huntsman takes the most beloved Southern ingredients and flavors from sorghum to buttermilk, persimmons to pecans and masterfully combines them to create desserts with a modern appeal. Big Momma s Blackberry Jam Cake, Honey Chess Pie, Bourbon Peach Shortcake, Blueberry Skillet Cobbler, Coconut Chews, and Lady Lemon Bars are just a handful of the more than 100 irresistible recipes included in this ultimate guide to Southern desserts. Easy to make and even easier to eat, all of the favorite Loveless dessert recipes are included. With a foreword by bestselling author Lee Smith, essays extolling the virtues of the Southern palate, and full-color photos showing the delicious confections, this book will help anyone who can t travel to Nashville or wait two hours for a table at this popular restaurant enjoy a taste of the Loveless at home.”

This long-awaited cookbook offers recipes for all of the famous cakes, pies, puddings, and crisps that the Loveless Cafe serves daily to throngs of hungry diners. The recipes highlight traditional Southern flavors such as peaches, pecans, bourbon, buttermilk, and sorghum. Including fruit, nut, and custard pies, layer and pound cakes, cheesecakes, pudding, bars, and cookies, the recipes are easy to follow, but the updated flavor combinations make them suitable for even more experienced bakers. Derived from Southern traditions, the recipes come with interesting stories, which are conveyed in chapter introductions and recipe head notes. Essays extolling the virtues of Southern ingredients and food customs are scattered throughout the book. The down-to-earth charm of the Loveless Cafe is reflected in the full-color photos and the design of the book.

Now Let’s Celebrate Cider With Alisa Huntsman!


Celestial Merret is a locally produced sparkling apple cider

Fermented cider has a long history in Virginia that can be traced back to the colonial era and Thomas Jefferson is said to have favored a cider made from crabapples.  A quick search on cideries in Virginia will show that there are nearly a dozen around the state.  We happened upon Castle Hill Cider in Keswick, just outside of Charlottesville, and were hooked at the first sip.

Cider is made from apple juice and it is fermented, either in tanks or the bottles and depending on which variety of apple used, it can vary greatly in sweetness and flavor.  At Castle Hill, they use a variety of methods to ferment the cider and if you visit the tasting room, not only can you taste them, you will learn all about the methods and the apples used to make the cider.


Freshly picked apples sit in the event space waiting to be pressed.

Ranging from dry to sweet, each one is unique.  Personally, I preferred the dry varieties, specifically Terrestrial, but Levity, another dry variety, is a bit more unique.  While both are made with Albermarle apples, Levity is 100% Albermarle while Terrestrial is a blend that also uses Winesap, Levity is the only commercially produced cider in the world that is fermented in a clay amphorae known as a kvevri.

Levity is actually a sparkling cider and is one of two sparkling varieties available, the other being Celestial Merret.  These two ciders are considered dry but are probably a little sweeter than you might expect and while they are “hard,” neither has the alcohol content that a more formal sparkling wine and both come in around 8.5% ABV.  This lower alcohol content still packs a bit of a punch, so drink responsibly.


The large event space with its stunning view is a popular wedding venue.

Visit the tasting room and ask to sample the ciders, they do charge for the tasting but if you sign up for the cider club, you will get the tasting for free and a generous discount on every bottle you purchase.  Be sure to try the Black Twig and the 1764;   Black Twig gets its name from the variety of apples used and is aged in whiskey barrels from Tennessee, while 1764 is made from a blend of apples and crabapples and is aged in French oak barrels to give it a flavor and alcohol content that is similar to a fine Port.

Whichever you prefer, do go and visit, sit and sip a glass indoors by the fireplace or outdoors, either way, the view is beautiful.  Be sure to grab a couple bottles to take with you!  To learn more about cider in Virginia, visit the Cider Week Festival website.


Celestial Cranberry Kir Royale

Kir Royales are traditionally made layering cassis and sparkling wine in a fluted glass.  Since cider is made from apples, using cranberries seemed like the obvious choice for this drink.

1 bottle Celestial Merret or Levity cider, chilled

Cranberry coulis, recipe follows

Frozen whole cranberries, for garnish

Place 1 tablespoon at the bottom of a fluted glass.  Carefully pour in 5 ounces of cider taking care to pour it slowly down the side of the glass so that the coulis does not get stirred up.  Drop 2-3 frozen cranberries into the drink to float on top.


Cranberry Coulis

makes ¾ cup and is also wonderful over ice cream.

6 ounces, half of a bag, fresh cranberries-can be frozen

½ cup ruby port (water or juice may be substituted)

1/3 cup sugar

¼ of a vanilla bean, split and scraped-seeds added to the mixture along with the pod

1 cinnamon stick

1 star anise pod

1 green cardamom pod

Place all of the ingredients in a pot and place over medium high heat.  Bring to a boil, stirring to prevent the sugar from scorching, reduce heat to medium-low and allow it to simmer for 5-8 minutes.  Dump the contents of the pot into a mesh strainer which is set over a heat proof bowl.  Using a spoon, scrape as much of the mixture through the mesh as possible.  You are doing this to remove as many of the seeds ,as well as the skin, as possible so be sure to leave them in the strainer!  Whisk the mixture to combine it and allow it to cool to room temperature.


10 Reasons To Fall In Love With Baylee’s Best Chocolates!


Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night will keep me from enjoying chocolate. When it is very hot outside I’ve been known to turn on the air-conditioned seats in my car and put my box of chocolates in the passenger seat so my chocolates won’t melt on the way home.

 At least once a week I find myself at Baylee’s Best Chocolate shop.  My car just seems to automatically drive itself there. I adore her chocolates and have to have at least a bite of it every day.  I’ve eaten chocolate in many places including the places you would think represent the best chocolate has to offer and Baylee’s lives up to it’s name…it is the BEST!  On Friday, I found myself sequestered in Baylee’s Best Chocolate shop without an umbrella in a sudden torrential rain storm. I was a happy girl. I took this opportunity to sit with Bayla,  the owner of Baylee’s Chocolates and ask her 10 questions that I have been longing to ask her since the shop opened several years ago:



3549 Electric Road, Roanoke, Virginia 24018  Located in West Village close to Fink’s Jewelers.

  1.  Why chocolate? Most people like it. It is an affordable luxury, like lipstick. Bayla told me the “lipstick story” ~ used to be that in hard economic times lipstick sales would increase.  These sales would go up because people needed something to make them feel good even though the economic climate was dim.
  2. What’s the origin of the name Baylee’s Best Chocolate?  Bayla is my first name, but people don’t always know how to pronounce it. Baylee’s is easy to pronounce and Baylee’s Best has a nice ring to it, so Baylee’s Best it is!


3.  What is the most chocolate you’ve used in one day?  It’s not unusual to use up to 50 or 100 pounds of chocolate for a large order to dip and enrobe the chocolates and make the center ganaches.

4.  Which is your favorite chocolate in your shop?  Our customers love the Fleur de Sel. I love the Fig and Cognac, Fleur de Sel and the Dixie Doodle (chocolate with caramel and a pecan on top, like a “turtle”).


In Baylee’s Best Chocolate shop you can look back into the kitchen where they prepare the yummy chocolates, dipping them in this yummy melted chocolate paradise…

5.  The secret behind the honeycomb. “Honeycomb” candy dipped in chocolate can only be made when the it’s not too humid.  We have two air conditioning systems ~ one for the retail store that hovers around 68 – 70 degrees Fahrenheit and one for the kitchen that keeps it at 60 degrees Fahrenheit.  We monitor the humidity in the kitchen carefully.  

I started making the honeycomb or seafoam candy when a former tax client (Bayla previously worked at H and R Block) from Buffalo, New York, wanted sponge candy because it was popular in her home town. We call it “AKA”… which means “Also Known As” because it is known by so many different names…

In Wisconsin it is known as “Fairy Food”

In England it is known as “Cinder Toffee”

In Australia it is known as “Crackle or Crunchy Bar”


 6.  What gives you inspiration to make a new flavor for your chocolates?  I am always open to all sorts of ideas.  I love improvisation and I have enjoyed teaching improv which shows us how to say “yes” to whatever you are given because as soon as you say “no” you cut off possibility.  I try to do things that are a skosh different while try to cater to local tastes and please my customers. My inspiration for a new flavor for my chocolates may come from a customer’s suggestion, trade or specialty food magazine, or when I walk through an ethnic or gourmet food store.


Holiday Selection pictured right to left above:

Pumpkin Spice, Apple Cider Caramel, Fleur de Sel and tray of Apple Cider Caramel

7.  What was your largest order?  A holiday corporate order for 460 boxes of chocolates. 

8. Tell me about when you opened your shop.  We had a soft opening on January 6, 2009 and on January 7, 2009 just 24 hours later a car crashed into the front of the store (fortunately no injuries) and we had to close briefly. We reopened the following week and on February 6, 2009 we had our formal ribbon cutting.


9.  Any fun little amusing snippets from your days running a chocolate shop?  On Valentine’s Day a fellow said that his wife keeps her chocolate in the safe because she does not want her children to get into it.  Another regular customer asked for “Liquid of the Gods” (the liquid caramel chocolate) and now many customers call it that. (Bubblybee keeps her chocolate in her wine cooler with her champagne!)

10. I saved the last question for me. What is your favorite Baylee’s Chocolate Bubblybee? I have a “left chocolate case” favorite and a “right chocolate case” favorite in Baylee’s Best Chocolates shop.  When you walk in the shop, in the left case is a “Lemonade” which we call “Lemon Drop”. It is a lemon buttercream enrobed in milk chocolate. Honestly, this chocolate tastes like a fresh lemon dipped in the most decadent milk chocolate. Turn to your right and you’ll see pieces of Mediterranean sea salt chocolate made with Oliveto olive oil. (Oliveto is the Artisan olive oil shop that is also located in West Village near Baylee’s Best.)




Please visit my Facebook page: Bubblybee

Gloria Ferrer Glorious Bites ~ Enjoy My Recipe!

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Gloria Ferrer Glorious Bites ~ The Challenge Begins In Washington, D.C.


September 22, 2016 ~ the day of the Gloria Ferrer Glorious Bites Challenge ~ I started the day with a mimosa at Jackson 20 restaurant, downtown Alexandria, Virginia, just to make sure I got plenty of vitamin C for energy.  The mimosa was made with Segura Viudas, Brut Reserva, nv, from Spain and was quite tasty with lots of fizz.

Next it was off down the street to brunch at la Madeleine, Country French Café…



We could not resist this breakfast crêpe…eggs scrambled with your choice of ingredients (we chose bacon, mushroom and Swiss cheese), open faced, house-made herb crêpe topped with Gruyère cheese sauce and fresh parsley. The Gruyère cheese sauce made this dish taste like a cross between crêpe and fondue…delicious! The café offered lots of delicate French pastries, Linzer tart cookies, Sachertort and lovely freshly baked quiche.


We finally stopped eating, at least for a minute, arriving at the location of the challenge ~ Union Kitchen in Washington, D.C.


becky-with-gloriaI had a bit of a “deer in the headlights” look on my face as I picked up this magnum of Gloria Ferrer, but quickly relaxed as I met the folks from Gloria who made me feel right at home and my fellow contestants who were as fun and nice as could be.

We noshed on some delicious cheese provided by Point Reyes Farmstead Cheese Company.


Our judges for the evening were introduced to us at the beginning of the challenge (pictured below right to left)

Dee Dee Kennedy ~ Breakthru Beverage

Chef Jennifer Luttrell ~ Point Reyes Farmstead Cheese Company

Daniel Lobsenz ~ The Riggsby, DC


Nycci Nellis was our celebrity judge of the evening:

Nycci Nellis is a mother of five; a foodie born and bred; founder and publisher of (The List), referred to by the Washington Post as “one of the DC area’s premier resources for information about all things food and wine in DC and beyond” for more than 36,000 subscribers. Nycci is also the co-host of Foodie and the Beast (along with her husband, David), DC’s only food and wine variety radio show featuring the who’s who of today’s culinary landscape. Additionally, you can hear Nycci regularly weekly on WTOP radio (103.5 FM), America’s top revenue grossing FM station, among many other regular, TV guest spot appearances during the year. Nycci previously spent more than a year as the local, “Fox 5 Foodie” and has appeared on the Gourmet’s Diary of a Foodie with James Beard Award-winning chef Michel Richard.

I’ll publish more details about this fabulous adventure soon… including the recipe for my Glorious Bites entry:  “Gloriafied Crab Appetizer”.


Pictured above: the photo of my “Gloriafied Crab Appetizer” that I submitted to the Glorious Bites Challenge.



Please visit my Facebook Page: Bubblybee




Guinness Black Lager Corned Beef Hash

In honor of National Corned Beef Hash Day (Tuesday, September 27, 2016) here’s my favorite recipe for Guinness Black Lager Corned Beef Hash…Enjoy!

Yummy breakfast on a snowy winter day…Corned Beef Hash made with Guinness Black Lager…happily reminiscing about sitting in my favorite pub with my favorite guy enjoying our hearty breakfast!

corned beef hash

Makes 6 hearty servings

Place raw corned beef brisket (approximately 2 pounds) in a slow cooker. Cover with Guinness Black Lager (2 – 3 bottles) and sprinkle with spice packet that is included in the corned beef package. Cook on high for 4 hours or until corned beef can be cut easily with a knife.  Turn off heat and allow to cool. Cut corned beef into small cubes (cut off any fat) and set aside.

1 small onion, diced

24  fingerling potatoes sliced into thin slices

4 ounces butter (+ more butter if needed)

freshly ground black pepper

12 eggs

Rye, whole wheat or French bread toast

Melt butter in a large skillet. Add onion and sauté until onions are transparent and…

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Gloria Ferrer Glorious Bites Challenge ~ Fun Times In Washington, D.C.

in 1982, José Ferrer purchased 250 acres in Sonoma-Craneros countryside in California and opened a vineyard that he named after his wife Gloria. Gloria Ferrer is the first sparkling wine house in Sonoma-Carneros. This lovely bubbly has been my “house sparkling wine” for years, so I was very interested in creating a “glorious bite” to pair with Gloria Ferrer Brut when I noticed this challenge…

Gloria Ferrer received 1,800 entries in their Glorious Bites Challenge and 18 of those entries were selected to compete in their regional cook-offs in Los Angeles, California, Washington, D.C. and Austin, Texas.  I was honored to be among the 6 semi-finalists that competed in Washington, D. C.

My wonderfully supportive husband and I had a bubbly fun time and I look forward to sharing my experience with you in the next few posts. Spoiler alert! I did not win the regional contest but I met some fabulous new friends, dined on delicious food and enjoyed lots and LOTS of bubbly!



Many thanks to my fabulous neighbors for tasting my “Gloriafied Crab Appetizer” prior to the Washington, D.C. event.


The evening before we left for D.C. we decided to relax, get me out of the kitchen and enjoy some grilled spareribs with a nice  Châteauneuf-du-Pape. The smokey black cherry notes of the wine pair perfectly with the charcoal grilled flavor of the ribs.


On Wednesday morning, on our way to D.C., we stopped by the Scratch Biscuit Company, Memorial Avenue (Grandin Village) Roanoke, Virginia, for a breakfast biscuit…yum! These are “cat’s heads biscuits”…flaky, good size and very delicious down home southern flavor! (Traditionally cat’s heads biscuits are called thus because they are as big as a cat’s head!)



We arrived at our hotel in Alexandria, Virginia and decided to enjoy a “before dinner toast” with Yann Alexandre Champagne. Well balanced with a fine bead, notes of toast and delicate pear. Fabulous way to begin the evening…


We stayed in Alexandria, Virginia and enjoyed noshing on charcuterie ~ house-made duck prosciutto, chutney, figs and house-made crackers at the La Fromagerie restaurant.


Domaine Terre de Mistra Rosé.  35% Syrah, 50% Grenanche, 15% Rolle grapes in this French Provence Rosé was a refreshing pairing with the  charcuterie.


I was looking forward to the Gloria Ferrer Glorious Bites cook-off event and decided no matter what the outcome, I would…


I’ll publish more details about this fabulous adventure soon… including the recipe for my Glorious Bites entry:  “Gloriafied Crab Appetizer”.

Please visit my Facebook Page:  Bubblybee



Patrick Henry High School Band To Preform At Carnegie Hall

Dear Friends,

This blog post is different from my usual champagne and recipe posts. However, it is about something to celebrate and as I always say, “Don’t wait to celebrate!”.  On Saturday we attended a Food Festival at Dr. Pepper Park in Roanoke, Virginia, sponsored by the Patrick Henry High School Band Boosters, raising funds to help the band members achieve the dream of performing at Carnegie Hall, New York City, NY.  (Now that is something to celebrate!) As a former high school band member I was impressed by the parents and students that worked so hard to put this event together to support what will surely be a life-changing event for some of the band members. And since I recently saw the movie Florence Foster Jenkins starring Meryl Streep, Carnegie Hall was fresh on my mind! (Loved the movie by the way!)



The Food Festival featured local food vendors and trucks.  We enjoyed delicious pork barbecue (the chef pulled the pork at 4 a.m. that morning!) from Bent Mountain Bistro, Bent Mountain, Virginia.   This farm-to-table bistro serves delicious wood-fire pizza too!

My husband enjoyed a refreshing Deschutes Beer while I enjoyed Viva La Cupcake!  Lots of yummy flavors…they even have a Dr. Pepper cupcake (second from the left in the photo below).


If you find an opportunity to support the Patrick Henry High School Band in their endeavor to perform at Carnegie Hall, please do…thank you!

Bravo Patrick Henry High School Band!


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