Brandywined and Dined
The key to any good relationship, I discovered recently, is learning to rub each other in just the right way. At least, that's what I took away from the couples' massage lesson my fiancé and I had at Delaware's Massage Center (4001 Miller Road, Wilmington; 302-761-9095) one wintry Saturday at the end of a particularly stressful week. Cranky and tired of city life, we'd headed 45 minutes south for our all-day date, to the romantic land of Wyeths and du Ponts and magic-fingered masseurs who followed their relaxing side-by-side treatments ($150 per couple) with a two-hour tutorial on how to give a good rub ($135 per couple). By the time we left, work and home were distant memories, and we were ready to explore the Brandywine Valley.
Over lunch at Wilmington's Restaurant 821 — a quiet, romantic spot with a Mediterranean sharing menu (821 North Market Street; 302-652-8821) — we considered our afternoon options: horseback-riding at Cloverleaf Stables near Brandywine Creek State Park (212 Woodlawn Road, Wilmington; 302-478-0423); strolling through the Orchid House at nearby Longwood Gardens (Route 1, Kennett Square; 610-388-1000); wandering among the antiques stores along Route 1. We opted instead to spend a couple hours with the Wyeths. Just walking into the Brandywine River Museum (Route 1 and Creek Road, Chadds Ford; 610-388-2700) gave us chills. It's a picturesque old mill holding three generations of Wyeth paintings, from N.C.'s illustrations of Robert Louis Stevenson's Kidnapped to Jamie's oddly captivating pig portraits. But it was the pastoral landscapes that best captured our day so far, quiet and serene and sensual.
From pictures, we headed to the real thing at the Chaddsford Winery (632 Baltimore Pike, Chadds Ford; 610-388-6221), which produces some of the region's most celebrated wines. After a tour of the cellars, we tasted different vintages, such as the delicious pinot noir our waiter recommended. Finally famished, we headed a few miles down the road to Krazy Kats, a quiet, woodsy eatery with a bizarre decor — Colonial-themed paintings of cat generals and cat landowners — and a fabulous French menu, particularly the foie gras and scallops appetizer. By the time we were done, we could barely move — so it was convenient that there was room at the adjoining Inn at Montchanin Village (off Route 100, Montchanin; 302-888-2133), several separate historic cottages surrounded by four acres of ever-changing gardens. Exhausted — but this time in a good way — we sprawled out on our suite's luxurious four-poster bed, in front of our fireplace, and practiced what we'd learned in the morning. b