Downton Abbey: Oh the places we have been


Rules Restaurant in Covent Garden.
Credit: Rules

John and I have visited England three times:  for our honeymoon, for a spring break with Gran, and for a very English Christmas in London and Northumberland to visit relatives with our young son.

We love it when we watch Downton Abbey and recognize something off the typical tourist track.  In Episode 3, Bertie and Edith make a date for drinks at Rules which is known as the oldest restaurant in London and we almost fell off our chairs.  We once had a wonderful dinner at Rules with friends from the States who had moved to London for work.  Very English and clubby with loads of ancient oil paintings and etchings on the walls and rich, red woven carpets, velvet banquettes, and fabulously flattering (read: dim) lighting. The food was excellent as I recall.


Credit: wikipedia

Alnwick Castle
Credit: wikipedia

We have also visited Alnwick Castle and Gardens in Northumberland which was the location for Cousin Shrimpie’s Brancaster Castle in Season 5. Home of the Percy Family (the Duke of Northumberland) the historic castle was also a filming location for Hogwarts in the Harry Potter movies.

Joe in the Alnwick Gardens with the 2nd grade mascot, Spike.  Credit:  John Penovich

Joe in the Alnwick Gardens with the 2nd grade class mascot, Spike.
Credit: John Penovich

The lovely home decor site Wayfair UK sent me a fabulous map they created called “The Ultimate Downton Abbey Locations Map” which marks over 71 Downton Abbey filming locations, with information about where they are, what scenes they feature in and how you can visit them.  Click anywhere on the map and see the real English castles, villages, London spots, and great houses that you love in the series.  If you are planning a trip to England and love Downton Abbey, here is your roadmap.

The Ultimate Map of Downton Abbey Locations

Map courtesy of Wayfair UK.

Disclosure:  I’ve shopped at Wayfair U.S. online and like their products very much (reasonably priced; good selection) but this is not a sponsored post, nor do I have an affiliate relationship with them.

Old village church not a location in Downton Abbey, but could have been. Minus the power lines. Credit:  John Penovich

Old village church not a location in Downton Abbey, but could have been. Minus the power lines.
Credit: John Penovich

Enjoy tonight’s (February 14th, 2016) episode of Downton Abbey on your local PBS station, 9pm EST.  Only a few more to go.



Vintage Kitchen: Colonial Chicken Pie with Cornbread Crust

I wanted to share my guest post for OKRA magazine, the online magazine for the SoFAB Institute, umbrella organization of the Southern Food & Beverage Museum and the Museum of the American Cocktail, among other scholarly and culinary pursuits.

Now that we are fully fledged into winter (yes I’m talking about you, snow days), Corks & Cake is all about the pot pie.


Pulled chicken casserole with corn bread topping.

Colonial Corn Pie: pulled chicken casserole with corn bread topping.

I tested this recipe from The Kids in the Kitchen Cookbook from 1968 and it was fun to take a look backward and see what 1968 had to say.

By Lois Levine, published in 1968.

By Lois Levine, published in 1968.


Illustration by:

Illustration by Rosalie Petrash Schmidt


Illustration by:

Illustration by Rosalie Petrash Schmidt


Despite a whole chapter devoted to Gelatin and Puddings (hello mid-century potlucks and/or my Minnesota childhood), there were some recipes in here worth trying.

Go to my Vintage Kitchen column at OKRA for the whole review and vintage recipe.


Corn on the cob

Colonial corn pie.

I think the recipe could be tweaked and brought into the modern kitchen.  In my next iteration I’ll add some chopped green chiles, a light bechamel sauce or veloute to the shredded chicken, chopped shallots and maybe a handful of sauteed carrots, peas, or mushrooms, too.  

The corn bread topping was delicious.

I think Colonial-era cooks and certainly 1968-era cooks knew that pot pie was a great and tasty way to revive leftovers and I agree!  It is also because I love my cute Staub cocottes:

Staub cocottes

Spoon yesterday’s stew or shredded meat and roasted vegetables in those babies.  Moisten with a combination of chicken stock, leftover gravy, a dash of heavy cream.  Cover with pre-made pie crust and bake according to directions or just use those adorable lids and bake at 350° for 30 minutes.  I gave some leftover beef brisket and braised onions a new life last night by giving it the pot pie treatment.

The inventive cook circa 1760 or 1960!

Don't worry too much about the results; it's good to get kids in the kitchen for some hands-on experience.

Throw it in the pot with glee!


Around the World in Six Bottles of Ros&#233

Lovely ros&#233s from France, Spain, and Italy (left to right.)

Lovely rosés from France, Spain, and Italy (left to right.)

We’ve been drinking a lot of rosé this summer.  It has been so hot and humid, with 90° plus days.  Stifling.  That can put a damper on your outdoor enjoyment and definitely a damper on outdoor entertaining.  But rosé can help.  So can sitting by a pool.

With Joe and most of our neighbors’ children participating on the same swim team, we’ve had many swim meet nights battling the heat (and sudden thunderstorms), sharing our potluck food offerings under an umbrella table and tasting many different rosé wines from around the world.

Rosé is finally overcoming its bad rap in the States (a rap deserved because of the ‘pink’ and ‘white’ zinfandels marketed here).  Americans have discovered what the French, Italians, and Spaniards already knew:  rosé made with great grapes, served well-chilled with some light food on a sweltering evening is a great way to spend time with friends (even while sweating!)

Not all rosés are going to be loved by everyone.  They can range from super-fruity, raspberry Kool-Aid to peppery, suck-the-saliva-right-out-of-your-mouth bone dry.  And price is not an issue:  3 of our favorites came from Trader Joe’s in Virginia and were less than $8 a bottle.  Here are our favorites from the summer that struck the right note and made us happy.  (Not included: the one that I ended up pouring out on the ground at a casual picnic it was so undrinkable.  And yes, it was one that I purchased for $12.99. Ouch.)

Picnic, empty rose bottles

Since I am not a wine writer, I’ve taken the tasting notes from the winemakers’ own web sites.  There are 3 here that are private label Trader Joe’s (under $7!) so the winemakers are unknown to us.  For those I quote the descriptions from Trader Joe’s Fearless Flyer.

Château Pey La Tour 2011



Translated from the French: “Château Pey La Tour rosé is pale pink in appearance. The blend combines the aromatic freshness and structure of Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc (red currants, black currants and blueberries) with typical Merlot finesse. Fruity and well-balanced, the wine is wonderfully refreshing on the finish.”

Frédéric Bonnaffous, Estates Director

Borsao 2011



“Red luminescent colour with warm glows. Has a strong aroma of berries and sweets. Very young and fresh in the mouth, well balanced with its acidity, rich in floral nuances and spices.”

Rebecca’s Note:  I really loved this one from Spain.


Bricco Dei Tati 2012



“This is a young, fresh, lively Barbera with a persistent and attractive bouquet of black cherries and a bit of spice on the palate. It has few tannins which is typical of the Barbera varietal, and a medium finish. Delightfully approachable, it is great with medium to strong cheeses, barbecue and game.”

Light and airy horseradish spread on water crackers.  Perfect with rose.

Light and airy cream cheese-horseradish spread on water crackers. Perfect with rosé.


Three more lovelies from Italy, Napa Valley, and France (left to right.)

Three more lovelies from Italy, Napa Valley, and France (left to right.)

Incanto Rose Vino Frizzante


$7.99 (Trader Joe’s)

Raboso is a grape variety typically produced in Veneto, the growing area surrounding Venice.  Our winemakers produce this Raboso in a modern, pleasant style, vinifying it as a Rosato and refermenting it to a Frizzante effervescence that greatly enhances the appreciation of its fruity aromas.  Serve well-chilled as an apertif or as a refreshing summer drink.

 Rebecca’s Note:  This one has a little fizz which is fun.  The bottle did not list a vintage but I’m sure it must have been young (2012.)


Trader Joe’s Petit Reserve Rosé 2012

Napa Valley 2012

$5.99 (Trader Joe’s)

Trader Joe’s Petit Reserve Napa Valley Rosé comes to us from a very famous Napa Valley winery – they make super wines that tend to be quite expensive. Yet Trader Joe’s Petit Reserve Rosé is a mere $5.99* a bottle. Part of the arrangement is that we’re not allowed to tell you who they are. We’re okay with that kind of anonymity when it comes with a value like this and a wine that’s refreshing, crisp and dry, with fresh berry flavors and a hint of spice.


Quinson Côtes de Provence 2012


$5.99 (Trader Joe’s)

The Provençal know their rosé, and we know a good value in Côtes de Provencal Rosé when we taste one. Quinson Côtes de Provence Rosé is just that. Hailing from the area of southern France from Marseilles to Nice, Quinson Côtes de Provence Rosé is a fetchingly dry rosé with a characteristically light pink hue. Its nose of ripe red berries and spices leads to amply fruity flavors on the palate.


Cheers!  Stay cool outside with friends and a well-chilled rose.

Cheers! Stay cool outside with friends and a well-chilled ros&#233.


Special cheers go out to Cork & Cakers, Chris and Adrienne Harrington, for introducing us to our new three favorite rosés!