Innkeeper’s Blog

Always Striving to be the Best Little B&B in Ligonier

The “Food Vigilante” visits Campbell House B&B for A Valentine’s Getaway

Filed under: News — condensedkid at 4:00 pm on Thursday, February 19, 2009

Well, for all you guys who planned poorly for Valentine’s Day and ended up with a 10:30pm dinner reservation and a box of chocolates from the local grocery candy aisle, shame, shame. If this is you, read no further, you’ll only end up feeling awful.

I hope your still here because, truth be told, I got very luck with some last minute plans. I had volunteered my girlfriend and I to bar tend for an event hosted by my Aunt who owns Stage Right in Greensburg. (very romantic, huh?) Well, the universe took care of me and it turned out that the bar tending need was dissolved. This, fortunately left us with a free weekend, but put me in a position to make short notice plans. I called around and found out quickly that most every place of worth was booked solid. It was time to pull some strings. I called and old friend in Ligonier, PA who owns a quaint Bed & Breakfast. The Campbell House B&B. Her name is Patti Campbell and she could not have been more accommodating. Not only did she have a room for us, she made dinner reservations, offered some complimentary wine and champagne, snacks and a homemade breakfast out of a storybook.

Patti was a great customer of mine when I had the adventure of owning a restaurant and she has always remembered me and though it has been years since my last stay, she welcomed us like we had just seen each other yesterday. Our room was beautiful. Warm, spotless, comfortable, leaving nothing to be desired. We had a private bath, large claw foot tub, electric blankets, TV, movies, stocked pantry with snacks and beverages, all just perfect.

Our breakfast started with rich coffee and granola cereal with bananas and sweet Chantilly cream. Main course was cherry french toast, seasoned redskin potatoes and Amish sausage. Fresh squeezed juice and filtered water were served as well. Delectable!

Patti has an old fashioned demeanor (no hats at the breakfast table, no sitting on made beds) and an attention to detail that is a lost art. I highly recommend the Campbell House B&B to any one looking for an escape. Patti entertains folks from all across the country and globe and I’m sure she’ll impress you. Ligonier is also full of interesting little shoppes and sights, not far from Lynn Run State Park, Frank Lloyd Wright’s Fallingwater and Seven Springs Resort. Alright, enough, I sound like a commercial. Enjoy!

Remember, I’m not easily impressed…

FV

One Response to “Campbells…mmm mmm good!”

  1. Patti Campbell Says:
    I laughed and cried when I read your review.
    The large chocolate “Kiss” I left on your bed is small in comparison to the “Kiss” I plan to bestow upon you when I see you next. I am humbled by your sentiments.

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The “Food Vigilante” visits The Ivy Cafe for Valentine’s Getaway

Filed under: News — condensedkid at 3:24 pm on Thursday, February 19, 2009

Where did Patti Campbell make reservations for us for Valentine’s Day you ask? The Ivy Cafe. In fact, she didn’t even give me an option, just told me where we were going…thank goodness!

The Ivy Cafe ivycafeis owned by Chef Anthony Hruska and his wife Lisa. He offered a Pre Fixe menu that evening which at first worried me. See, a lot of restaurants in preparation for “amateurs” dining out on holiday’s will ‘dumb down’ the menu to accommodate people and palates who don’t dine out often. Chef Anthony threw caution to the wind and brought out the big culinary guns, no holds barred.

We ordered drinks and explained to the server that we would like to take our time, enjoy a drink and paruse the menu a bit. Our drinks arrived, an amaretto sours and vodka martini. The sours was sweet and plentiful, but the martini was but a drop in the bottom of a large martini glass. Now, my date and I our both from the food biz, and know our way around a cocktail. I don’t even think the glass contained a full ounce of liquid. It may have been spilled on the way or mistakenly under-filled. A start like this can be troublesome. I caught the server and asked about the scant serving. She thought it may be shy because I had asked for it dry, but offered to top it off. The manager/hostess (a lovely woman with a calming english accent) brought the drink back full to just below the rim, problem solved. Very promptly and efficiently.

We started with appetisers of Baked Brie en Croute and the Duck Crepe. The Brie was just warm enough wrapped in a pastry and topped with a berry sauce and served with crackers. The duck crepe was filled with rich sweet meat and drizzled with a garlic cream sauce. Both appetizers were well portioned and absolutely delicious.

We were given the requested time to enjoy our starters and were having some difficulty deciding on an entree. The selection ranged from Chateaubriand to Sea Bass to Four Cheese Ravioli. There was also Swordfish, Red Perch, Salmon and a Cherry stuffed Black Forest Filet. Chef Anthony had set the bar very high. We settled on Chateaubriand and Crab Crusted Sea Bass. I, for one, had an inner battle over sharing my entree with my date. It was only my desire to taste her meal won me over. Both meals were perfectly prepared and presented beautifully. Compliments to the Chef!

The meal ended with Ivy’s Trio of Desserts; a chocolate covered ivy-dining-roomstrawberry, a chocolate cake with a chocolate covered cherry and tiramisu. All very tasty enough to force down even though we were stuffed from our meals. But the tiramisu… this was off the charts. My date initially commented on her general aversion to this often ill-prepared Italian staple. Admittedly, this dessert is over-done and often a pale comparison to the original intent. My lovely acquaintance had only liked this dessert while visiting Italy and trying it homemade in her family’s hometown. Until now. Chef Anthony has captured the essence of the old world and impressed a most biased Italian palate.

Cost. If your reading this Pia, know that this was a splurge, but considering the entire dining experience and my affection for your Niece, a mere $40 per person seemed a fantastically economical dinner.

Ivy’s serves lunch and dinner and is a must if your visiting historic Ligonier!

Bravo Anthony and Lisa!

FV

It’s 2009! The New Year Baby brings Winter Weather & Hopes for the Steelers to go to the Super Bowl!

Filed under: News — condensedkid at 7:24 pm on Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Here it is a new year one of changes and challenges…  Here in Ligonier we are experiencing an Arctic Blast while anticipating the Steelers playing the Ravens in the conference game…practicing that famous chant, “Here We Go Steelers”  while contemplating a win at the Super Bowl game in warm Florida.

Sadly, I missed the Steelers win over San Diego!   Oh, I was in Pittsburgh during the game, grumbling about my poor planning.  Long before I knew the Steelers would be in the playoffs, I ordered tickets for “The Jersey Boys” performance…I had the choice of either the 1 PM or 6:30 PM performance, so I choose the later performance.   Why, you wonder would I choose to take a chance on driving at night in possible bad weather over an afternoon performance. (I could have watched the game)  I made a business decision…Yep, that’s what I did!   Since check-out is 11:30, I didn’t want to take a chance of being late for the performance.  I am an avid Steeler fan, so you can not imagine the feeling of loss and disappointment I had while walking among those lucky enough to attend the game…but “Big Girls Don’t Cry”. Such Steeler ferver there was…wait, here I am walking while freezing…”Walk Like A Man” it’s to cold to sit in Heinz Field…but a nice, cozy restaurant/bar would work for me.  I walked in to McCormicks & Schmicks, like a  windblown “Ragdoll” ordered a glass of chardonnay while watching the Eagles game and waited for my friends to arrive for dinner.   I am not an Eagles fan, even if Donovan McNab who thinks he is a “Big Man In Town” promotes Campbell Soup (which is supposed to increase business and my stocks) so I cheered for the Giants, after all I was a former New York employee.

Dinner was delicious, I highly recommend McCormicks & Schmicks to you.  I finished off my dinner with a Italian Coffee to warm me before the short walk to the Benedum.  What!  San Diego is winning already and I am “Walking My Way Back To You” to enjoy The Jersey Boys!  Hey Steelers, “Let’s Hang On” and win this game. Don’t let those Chargers “Stay”.
“Oh What A Night!” The life and story of Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons!   There were 22 songs from the 60’s, bringing back memories from days so long ago when “Breaking Up Is Hard To Do”  The time flew by, soon it was intermission, time to get the football results.  Many audience members gave a blow by blow of the last 2 minutes of the game…with the announcement of the final score…all you heard for minutes was, “Here We Go Steelers!”   Can you imagine what the cast was thinking while listening to the audience chanting.

Well it was “Bye, Bye, Baby” to the Chargers, who would spend the “Dawn” in San Diego contemplating their loss to the Steelers.

Hey Steelers, “My Eyes Adore You” and I will “Stay” in front of the television for the Conference game.  “Who Loves You”  The Steeler Nation

A Steeler win certainly led the fan filled theater to enjoy the second half of The Jersey Boys…

Merry Christmas to All! Christmas time is here!

Filed under: News — condensedkid at 10:51 am on Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Here it is just a few days until Christmas followed by bidding 2008 good-bye and welcoming in the new year of 2009!  The Christmas decorations are up, the lights are twinkling, the breakfast tables are festively set.  Ligonier is dressed for the holidays, there is snow on the ground…what a beautiful sight…

I had the pleasure of attending the opening night of the Festival of Lights held at the Ligonier Town Hall…  What a wonderful event attended by so many invited guests…the trees and wreaths were unique and traditional…so I just had to place a bid on a wreath titled “Pheastive Pheasants”.   I am happy to say I won the wreath (and for those of you who know I have a phobia of birds and wondering why I would bid on a pheasant wreath, here’s the scoop) which is a Christmas gift for my friend Roger who works for the PA Game Commission.  What a fitting gift for him and his home.   The food was tasty, the wine was flowing with everyone in a festive mood while bidding and chatting…the money goes to the Historical Society.   I forgot what a nice event this opening night was as I haven’t attended in several years…now I look forward to opening night in 2009.

Colonial Inn, hosted the annual Ligonier Chamber of Commerce Christmas Mixer…  I attended with April Rob (Owner of Rustic Country Treasurers) and her son, Christopher.   We had a pleasant evening, meeting, greeting and chatting with other Chamber members.            The hors’d oeuvres, soup and presentation were outstanding.   Teria & Bruce Auman, owners of the Colonial Inn offered an outstanding spread in a beautiful setting.   So much Christmas Spirit at this successful Chamber event.

I have the Christmas spirit but I was remiss in ordering my personalized Christmas cards.  Truth be told, I ordered them yesterday, Monday December 15th…they should arrive this Thursday or Friday.   So I will have to hustle to get them mailed.   My gifts are purchased, one delivered, five mailed to my daughters’ family in Chesapeake, VA. (hoped to deliver in person but I can’t leave the B&B), the balance I will deliver personally.   I am enjoying tasty grapefruit and oranges, a gift from my friend Mildred, who is waiting for her annual gift of a Shi Tsu calendar.

I may have been late ordering my Christmas cards…but I am up to date on creating and mailing all the gift cards ordered both by phone and online.  I am ready for an elopement I am hosting this week… So, when I finish writing this blog I will be on my way to Pittsburgh to enjoy my Christmas gift to myself…A ticket to a Mannheim Steamroller Christmas performance.

Merry Christmas to All!

Time has “Fall In” Away-Now Memories of Arrival in the Land of the Midnight Sun!

Filed under: News — condensedkid at 2:24 pm on Monday, September 29, 2008

Fall is a beautiful time in the Laurel Highlands!  Warm days follow crisp mornings…soon the leaves will be colorful and inviting nature lovers to enjoy the golds, reds and oranges.   I look forward to Fall, while sharing some warm memories of Spring and Summer of 2008.

May was a busy with many guests coming to visit for weddings, to visit relatives, class reunions, tours of Fallingwater & Kentuck Knob, special occasions or a getaway!  While it was an exciting time for guests it was a time of preparation for this Innkeeper, who was preparing for a trip of a life time to Scandinavia.    My trip was a Christmas gift from my Swedish friend who retired as President of a Swedish Co. and returned to his home land of Sweden.   I was sad to see him leave Ligonier, but I looked forward to visiting Sweden which lessened the sadness.

The difficult part of this adventure was leaving my business, my guests, my livlihood, my 15 years of hard work and dedication in the hands of an unknown for three weeks.    Yes, I worried and with reason.   Let’s just say that if I had to do it over again…I would make the trip but I would be more careful to select a “true professional interim innkeeper”.   I am still licking my wounds.   Having said that, I had a fantastic time.

I couldn’t wait to get all the countries stamped into my new passport was my thought that day of May as I flew from Altoona, PA to Dulles, Washington,DC.  I got a leg and foot massage at Dulles…I was told this would help to keep swelling down. (It worked)  I flew Luththansa Airlines on an overnight flight to Frankfurt, Germany.  I felt refreshed (I had slept 5 hours on the flight) as I presented my passport to an unsmiling officer who looked at my passport, at me and my flight ticket.  Stamp! Stamp!  Ok, Germany on my passport, next Denmark, Sweden and maybe Norway!  It was about 11 PM in PA and my body time, while it was 5 AM in Frankfurt…

In order, I wanted the ladies room (not rest room) and coffee (after all it was morning).   I found the ladies room, got in line, then I along with several other females was shoved out of the way by a large German woman who moved to the front…I had a few words for her rudeness but since I can’t speak German and she was much larger…I just breathed some Italian American fire.   Now for the coffee! Oops!  I have no Euro’s, and the few kiosk’s with coffee didn’t seem to take Dollars$$$ (worthless in Europe and Scandinavia)…  So, no German coffee for me but there will be coffee on the flight to Copenhagen, Denmark.  Wrong!  Well, not exactly!  I looked forward to Swedish (maybe Gevalia) coffee on my SAS (Scandinavian Airlines) flight to Denmark…   Not to be!   I was sitting in the cheap section-three rows behind where the FREE coffee was served.  This time I didn’t have Swedish Crowns and I wasn’t going to use my debit card for a cup of coffee which may show up on my statement as $8.00.   So no coffee for me.   Ok, I am a B&B Innkeeper, who grew up with coffee and yes I am addicted to java.

Next, on to Denmark where the sun was shining brightly for my arrival.  I had been given instructions by Sten as to what to do…so I went for my luggage (known as big red) then to Passport Control…and to my disappointment I was waved through…NO STAMP!  I was confused!  I want a Demark Stamp!  I want my bragging rights!   If you could see my old passport it is a country brag book, from Austrailia, Japan, China, Thailand, Brazil, Greece to name a few…now I have a German stamp and no Denmark.   What’s the deal?  Ok, disappointed as I am I continue on with my directions to go through the double doors and there I will see a “tall Swede”.   Ok, I am short, but when I went through the double doors there were hundreds of “tall Swedes”, but none that I knew.   Big Red and I take a seat, hear some American, so I start up a conversation with some folks from Boston…trust me that would be the last American I would hear for a long time.   Finally, I see a familiar “tall Swede” who I hugged with these words, “I need coffee”.    I got coffee…but no other country stamps on my passport during the entire trip through four countries.

Was the land of the midnight sun ready for Patti-or was Patti ready for the land of the midnight sun?  My First Coffee

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