We busy Bitches love any excuse to escape to the countryside of Virginia for some well-deserved rest and relaxation. So when Salamander Resort and Spa extended an invite, we gladly accepted. Once we emerged from the gridlock of D.C. traffic on a Friday evening, we were giddy with anticipation for all the wine, horses, and spa treatments that awaited us just an hour west of the city.
Salamander has all the makings of a five star resort–the service is impeccable, the suites and grounds are plush and extravagant, the activities are loads of fun, and the spa is top notch. Our rooms were just lovely. I squealed in delight at the little television in my bathroom and giant bathtub complete with lush soaps and bath salts. The little balconies overlooked the grounds and reminded us that we were far from the hustle and bustle of the city. The room darkening curtains and comfy beds were just what we needed after a stressful week.
We started off with dinner at Harriman’s Grill on Friday night which was supposed to be a wine dinner from Greenhill Winery. However, the traffic was so bad that we missed the beginning of the evening and quietly took our seats ashamed at our lack of punctuality.
We began ordering the grilled artichokes and roasted cauliflower and, of course, wine from Greenhill. Is there a more overlooked veggie than the cauliflower? I think not! This underrated plant has always been my favorite and I’ve made it my mission to elevate it to that of the Brussels sprouts level. It has been a slow process. These vegetables were very tasty and plated artfully.
Our main courses at dinner were memorable and delicious. I indulged in the fried chicken with homemade buttermilk biscuits and Salamander honey on top a pillow of mashed potatoes. This was one of the best fried chickens we’d ever tasted. Cori Sue ordered on the lighter side and opted for a salmon tataki, which was fresh and delightful.
Our dessert was the clear winner of the night. We ambitiously ordered the Black Forest cake, which was absolutely gigantic! Quality was not compromised for quantity with this monstrosity–it was utterly scrumptious. This is the perfect dessert to share with a larger group.
The next day, we woke up bright eyed and bushy tailed thanks to the pitch black rooms and ten thousand pillows in the stunning, well-appointed suites at Salamander. We met up for manicures in the salon which had a great selection of colors. Our nail technician was very skilled and did a great job on both of our paws. We loved how all of the polishes were toxin-free and luxurious.
The rest of the morning was spent lounging in the glorious living room of the Salamander, sipping spiked hot chocolate (for a pretty penny!) and catching up on our reading. We took a walk down to the stables to visit the award winning ponies who were less skilled at posing for pictures than at jumping and cantering.
We parted ways in the afternoon when I went to a doughnut making class which Cori Sue opted out of per her gluten intolerance. The class was taught in Salamander’s cooking studio by their head pastry chef. He was an amazing teacher. He answered everyone’s questions and made sure to go slow, so people could follow along. The whole point was to be able to make doughnuts yourself at home. I would love to meet the people who have personal deep fryers in their homes–can we be friends? The class was very educational. The fun part was at the end when we could all plop, roll, and coat the freshly prepared doughnuts. Being a nurse’s daughter, I greatly appreciated the attention and care given to washing hands and hygiene. The class was two and half hours long, making it somewhat tortuous to stand in front of the treats for so long without being able to eat them. However, it did make eating them that much sweeter. The class was topped off with spiked coffee or hot chocolate and was the best hot cocoa I’ve ever tasted. It was quite literally liquid hot chocolate. I would recommend these classes to anyone looking to actually learn the process behind the art of cooking. This is not for the foodie who just wants to eat doughnuts.
After I had fully engorged myself on doughnuts, I met back up with Cori Sue in the spa for our Hydrafacials. Our esthetician was wonderful! She was informative and helpful without making me feel bad for not using eye cream yet. She told us that most celebrities get Hydrafacials before awards ceremonies because they make you glow. This facial was done mostly by machine as it treated and sucked out the bad stuff. It lasted an hour and I honestly thought twenty minutes had gone by it was so relaxing. Cori Sue and I reconvened in the hot tub area and gabbed about work while we lounged in the very fashionable “swimsuits” the spa provided. Pro tip: don’t forget your bathing suit. You will definitely want to visit the saunas and rainforest simulator. Or, you can just don your birthday suit if you’re comfortable.
We went back to Harriman’s for the second night and dined on more seasonal vegetables, prepared inventively, and two of the best steaks we’ve had in our lives. The food at Harriman’s is truly incredible—we were impressed with every bite at all three meals. Tonight, we chose the roasted sunchokes, steaks topped with foie gras, crab cakes, and concluded with a smoked apple crisp. The steak and foie gras were decadent and rich–a perfect treat. The crab cake was fresh and loaded with big pieces of crab meat. We were intrigued by the rosemary ice cream that came with the crisp, but we couldn’t taste much of the rosemary. The chocolate cake from the night before was our favorite.
We spent the night lounging in the living room again and met nice people and all of their dogs, including one pup who was far bigger than us. This is a very dog friendly resort, which Cori Sue loved.
We brunched at Harriman’s Sunday morning before exploring the adorable town of Middleburg. Note that they serve a brunch buffet after 11 a.m. so be sure to get there early if you want to order a la carte. We both started the day with freshly pressed juice after drinking copious amounts of wine all weekend. I loved my beet-based juice while Cori Sue enjoyed her frothy, refreshing and healthy kale drink.
For the main event, we both ordered Benedicts, and opted to share the bacon and brioche French toast. My classic Benedict was served just as it should be—with just the right amount of Hollandaise and a crunchy English muffin. The Parma ham was perfect, and the eggs perfectly poached.
Meanwhile, Cori Sue’s Chesapeake Benny was utter heaven, with fresh, enormous jumbo lump crab cakes topped with poached eggs and Hollandaise. The heaping helpings of hash browns on each plate was delicious: roasted, oily, warm and flavorful.
The bacon was crisp and not greasy—a rarity for bacon. We polished it off quite quickly.
You can’t beat a classic French toast executed well, and this one was just that. The French toast was packed with flavors of cinnamon, sugar, and egg, and toasted perfectly so as to be moist on the inside and crispy on the outside. It was topped with powdered sugar, Maple syrup, and slices of strawberries.
We sadly headed out after brunch and strolled through the antique shops and local stores. We made our way to Greenhill Winery–a frequent locale for Michelle Obama. If it’s good enough for Michelle, it’s good enough for Bitches!
The adorable tasting room is rustic without trying too hard. We loved the eclectic outdoor seating and pretty views of Virginia. The employees at Greenhill are knowledgeable and friendly. We loved the cheese board and rich reds we sampled. This is a great vineyard to visit if you’re looking for great quality within close proximity to D.C.
We had an amazing trip thanks to Salamander and Greenhill’s hospitality. Salamander is perfect for a romantic weekend getaway or a girls only spa trip. Just make sure to ask what is included in your stay and what is not complimentary if you’re on a budget. Great service can be misleading and you don’t want to be unhappy when you go to check out.