THANKSGIVING!

Thanksgiving at the Ricig homestead this year was quite a success. Everyone pitched in and we enjoyed quite a lot of local fair. I’ll try and give you some of the highlights.

Mike and I arrived around 12:30 and we were just about the last ones to the party. Sissy and Jason had arrived the night before from Boston. My mom’s side of the family, the Meehan’s, my uncle John, Aunt Ida, and cousins Lauren and Kelsey, drove up from New Jersey as did my Uncle Vito on my Dad’s side. Mike, my brother, and his wife, Kari, live just a few miles away in the same town as my parents. They arrived with their dog bungee after all three finished running the local Turkey Trot. My other brother Jeff came from Clinton, though he had been by earlier in the week to help my dad bring up all extra needed chairs and tables from the basement. And my honorary third brother Sheil trickled in just after Mike and I. Fifteen in all!

Now that you know all the players, let’s get on to the local food and drink. I wasted no time recruiting Jason to help me start a wine tasting of a few local red wines from Priam Vineyards. The idea was to pick which red and which white to feature at my upcoming wedding. Spoiler alert: we never made it to the whites (but there’s always Christmas). We did, however, sample Priam’s St. Croix, Westchester Red, and Salmon River Red. The Salmon River Red turned out to be everyone’s favorite. Though Mike and I were leaning towards the Westchester, it was just a little too much on the sweet side and we had already settled on Priam Blackledge Rose for those who like a sweeter wine.

Jason setting up the wine tasting.

Jason setting up the wine tasting.

 

After that we moved on to tasting the homebrew Mike had prepared as a potential beer for our wedding. It was a variation on one of our favorite Dogfish Head beers, brewed with cherry concentrate, saffron, Irish moss and a hefty amount of Swords into Plowshares local honey. It was a hit all around and Mike will probably have to brew another batch because I’m not so sure it’s going to last until May!

In between tastings my brother Jeff was outside frying the local turkey from Gozzi’s Turkey farm. We feature two turkeys at the Ricig family thanksgiving, a large one that is deep fried and a small one that is cooked in a clay top pot, which produces delicious moist fall off the bone meat.

Jeff preparing the deep fried turkey.

Dad getting ready to carve the deliciously moist clay pot turkey.

My dad got to work carving the turkeys around 3 while the rest of us got to work preparing all the trimmings to be ready for the table. We spend a lot of the Holiday standing around the big center island in my parent’s house sneaking crisp delicious golden pieces of turkey from the carving board and fresh from the bird stuffing before it makes it to the table.

When we do finally make to long dining table that’s expanded along with our family we start off with a curried butternut squash soup. Mike and I had headed over to the parents’ house the weekend before to prepare it with some local squash from a friend’s garden. Once we finish the soup we get down to business. Not all the ingredients are local, but pretty much everyone pitches in and brings something so it’s quite a feast.

The table is set.

Besides the soup, at the main meal the local highlights were the Turkey from Gozzi’s. Apple sauce we canned ahead of time with a medley of local apples from Bishops Orchard, and fresh baked from scratch rolls accompanied with (local) honey butter provided by Kari.

After the meal we usually retire for some napping/football watching/dog walking before we bring out the pies.

This year Sissy provided a deliciously spiced pumpkin pie made with local Massachusetts pumpkins and various other local ingredients that she will hopefully tell you all about in a guest post. While not local, Kari made a mean peanut butter chocolate pie that I’m pretty sure was the only dessert to be completely killed that night. And I made my traditional huge deep dish apple pie made from a trio of local Bishops apples and some mini lemon tartlets, that while not local do involve the best lemon curd ever and provide endless amusement centered around the word tartlet. Seriously, we find the strangest things hilarious.

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Recipes to follow next week, hopefully in time for Christmas. For now enjoy the pics!

Priam Vineyards

OK, my first wine trail review, Priam Vineyards, is more of a story than anything else, but as I hope you can see from my pictures, and the even better ones featured on their website, it is a beautiful place and worth the trip.

Mike and I first stopped by the vineyard on a whim on our way home from visiting friends in Rhode Island and were delighted with what we found. One of the first things we noticed were the environmentally friendly solar panels that power a large part of the Vineyard. Priam offers three levels of tastings and Mike and I decided to split the highest level in order to satisfy my curious nature and sample as much as possible. Our pourer was enthusiastic, attentive and informative all of which win high points with me because as Mike can attest to I’m not the most patient person and can get a bit cranky during these tasting if the pourer is trying to do eight things at once and I have to wait a long time in between pours. One of biggest pet peeves is when the wine pourer takes off directly after serving a sample before I get a chance to ask any questions. No issues here, the service was great.

We enjoyed the wines enough to buy a few bottles; our favorites were the Blackledge Rose and the Westchester Red. Here are the tasting notes that can be found on Priam’s home page. We then toured the grounds and were enchanted by the rustic gazebo and the tree swing which overlooks the entire vineyard. On our way out, we discovered they hosted weddings, and since we had plans for an engagement in our near future we took down some information and scheduled an appointment with their resident wedding planner Michelle.

A couple of weeks later my parents accompanied Mike and I for a personal tour of the Vineyard. I was very excited and Michelle, the resident wedding planner and Gary, one of the owners and our tour guide for the day, did not disappoint. I knew I would like Gary as soon as I saw his mischievous grin and heard that distinctive New Orleans drawl that instantly brought me back to my more adventurous early twenties when I called the crescent city home.

He told story after story about his love of the land, the grapes, and the wine in that thick as black strap molasses speech that can’t help but charm. Gary is proud of his vineyard. Proud that all the grapes are estate grown, a rarity in Connecticut, proud of the solar power panels that allow the farm to maximize natural resources, and proud of the quality of the wines he produces that truly makes Priam a local gem.

The tour ended in a wine tasting poured personally by Gary, and I was delighted and surprised by how much my mom, who is not a big drinker enjoyed the unique tastes of most of the whites. She was happily mentally cataloguing her favorite of the numbers that marked the wines off of the informative sheet that served as a map to the potent potables we were enjoying.

We were excited by how much they try to make each wedding green and incorporate locally grown foods, flowers and other local products wherever possible. However it was not to be the place for us as rentals and sight fees quickly added up and put the vineyard out of range for our budget.

Still, Mike being the wonderful guy he is did take me back to the vineyard on the 4th of July for a picnic and a surprise visit to that infamous tree swing to make it official by getting down on one knee and placing a beautiful ring on my finger. We toasted with a bottle of the Blackledge Rose, which was very refreshing for that hot summer day.

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