A Confession

This post is more of a confession than anything else really. Because I’ve been feeling so damn anxious about not having time to post every day with some lovely new recipe from my CSA , or a review of the incredible vineyards I’ve been visiting over the weekends. And I have gone to some truly amazing farms and vineyards and met some really spectacular passionate people who love what they do and the products they are making. And I have a lot of stories to tell, that will eventually come out, just not as fast as I would like probably because life gets in the way. But I do want to thank all the people that have made my summer such an exploratory and flavorful experience.

I kind of got overwhelmed with things and started to feel sad for myself that the tens of people who are reading my blog are not really giving the wonderful people and products I’ve been writing about the exposure they deserve.

This week I am going to be doing a few posts about Bishop’s Orchard winery. And while I was thinking about how to describe the Bishop’s experience, it got me thinking about why I really like the Connecticut wine trail. The truth is, I don’t know much about wine. I’m really just starting to learn. To be perfectly honest, I don’t go on the tastings because I am really all that interested in the wine per say. It’s more about the experience for me. Visiting vineyards in Connecticut is a fun way to get the agro-tourism experience. You get to be outside, you get to see things growing, you get to try a little of this and a little of that. Usually the wineries will have a few other local products for sale from other farms, vineyards, dairies, etc., around the state. So you learn about this cheese from this dairy and this jam made with fruit from this other farm that spreads nicely on this fresh bread from this local bakery. And maybe you go and visit the sugar house that made the maple syrup that was next to the honey from a local apiary. All of a sudden there are a million places to visit a million local products to try and all this fresh produce to take home and experiment with. And you go nuts and decide to try and catalogue it all in blog. And then you go nuts again about not being able to keep up with it all!

McLaughlin Vineyard

What I like most about McLaughlin Vineyard is that it feels like it’s nestled away in the middle of the woods, which I suppose it somewhat actually is. The 15 acres of vineyard hosts two miles of an eleven mile trail system, which offers scenic hiking and is also a bald eagle sanctuary. Mid-December through Mid-March is eagle watching season. I did my tasting with Deedee, the tasting room manager, and she excitedly talked about having viewed a rare golden eagle, the first anyone can remember in the past 20 years.

The vineyard offers a selection of four white, and three red ones. The highlights for me were the Blue Coyote, one of their estate wines which I found to be a very drinkable nice crisp and tangy, light and refreshing white wine. I also enjoyed their Red Fox Rose, I found it to have an enjoyable subtle sweetness too it, falling somewhere between what I would describe as sweet and dry. Dee called it a very versatile wine that paired well with grilled meats, as well as raw veggies and salad.

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I was pleasantly surprised to discover that McLaughlin also produces maple syrup from February to March, and recently expanded to being an apiary as well, producing fresh honey, the key ingredient in the meads they were to launch a couple of weeks after my visit.

I’ve always been intrigued by mead, I mean the idea of fermented honey can’t help but cause me to want to make references to the nectar of the gods. Awesomely, they launched their mead along with  a traveling Shakespearean company production of one of my favorite Shakespeare faursts, Much Ado About Nothing, which also gave name to one of the two new meads they’ve created –  much ado about mead – and also a more traditional braggart mead, common to the era of the bard himself. Unfortunately, I had family visiting that weekend and missed out on the play and the mead. Hopefully, they will do it again sometime. I’m not sure if the meads are available for purchase yet, or even if they will be to buy on a regular basis.

 

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All in all I would suggest taking a whole day to visit McLaughlin Vineyards. Start off with a hike and maybe do a little bird watching if it’s the correct season. Move on to the tasting room for a very attentive and informative pouring; and whether you pack a picnic lunch to enjoy on their beautiful grounds along with your new favorite wine, or pick up some local foodie delights they offer in their country store you are sure to enjoy.

Dee was nice enough to share a recipe for a cold shrimp dish that pairs well with both of my favorites, the Cayuga White and the Red fox rose. I prepared it for Mike who thoroughly enjoyed and requested it become a regular dinner rotation. Which was fine with me since it was super easy to make. The recipe can be found in the websites food pairing link at the bottom of the page: http://www.mclaughlinvineyards.com/recipes.htm

I adopted it a bit, substituting my own spice mix in place of the Good season’s mix. Instead I added 3 cloves minced garlic, a Tbs. of onion powder, a pinch of both cumin and paprika, and salt and pepper to taste. For veggies, I used summer squash and zucchini that I had on hand from a friend’s garden, and a red onion. I also marinated the shrimp and veggies separately for a few hours. Then I sautéed the shrimp and entire marinating mixture in a frying pan. While in a separate pan I sautéed the vegetables until they were slightly tender, and tossed everything together in a bowl to serve. As I mentioned in the previous post, Mike and I enjoyed it with a side dish of the cranberry bean dip, some pita chips, and of course, the Red Fox Rose.