This Story Begins at the Brown Hound Bistro

“Good things come in small packages”.

This story begins at the Brown Hound Bistro, a small, yet cozy and tastefully decorated restaurant that is situated in  the hamlet of Bristol Springs, NY.  For those of you not familiar with the area, the restaurant is in close proximity to Naples and Canandaigua, NY. 

Last night, a  group of bloggers, travel writers, and some of the Finger Lakes tourism folks met at the Brown Hound to sample  an  array of  deliciousness that the Finger Lakes  has to offer; along with gearing up for this evenings Finger Lakes Foodie Awards, all part of this years Finger Lakes Food Revolution Slice, Dice and Spice IV event

The dinner menu was prepared using local meats, cheeses,  fruits, and vegetables.  And yes, plenty of  Finger Lakes wine flowed throughout the evening.

When we weren’t eating, drinking, and chatting till our hearts content, we did what bloggers and writers do best – we took pictures. 

The Brown Hound is one of several restaurants in the Finger Lakes Region that focuses on local resources.  As Trish Aser, owner of the restaurant explained, her goal is to make her guests dining experience as local as possible.  She does this by displaying local artists work in the restaurant, by inviting local musicians to perform there, and by preparing meals using fresh and local ingredients whenever possible.  And I’d say that Trish does it well.

If you’re looking for a  great place to dine, celebrate a special occasion, or simply want to  support the local food movement,  then the Brown Hound Bistro is must.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The Finger Lakes Foodie Award Winners to be Announced

So, the nominations and voting in the Finger Lakes Food Revolution Slice, Dice & Spice IV have ended.  The votes have been tallied, and all of  us who enjoy gastronomy are anxiously waiting to learn the winners of this years Finger Lakes Foodie Awards.

And just in case you missed it, here are the top two contenders in each category that are vying for this years awards.

A celebratory evening honoring the top nominees, the entire culinary  movement in the Finger Lakes, and the presentation of  winners of this years Finger Lakes Foodie Awards will take place from 6PM-9PM at Finger Lakes Community College on Monday, March 18th, 2013.

The evening will feature a cocktail hour highlighting wines from the Canandaigua Wine Trail  and tastes of Native American cuisine.   Leading revolutionary voices from the local movement, including Susan Noble of the Food Technology Farm in Geneva, Peter Jemison of Ganondagan State Historic Site, and Jamie Rotter of FLCC’s Culinary Arts Program will make short presentations during the evening, and the  John Nyerges Trio will  entertain guests with their live jazz music.

If you’re a foodie interested in the Finger Lakes Food Revolution then you are welcome to attend this celebration.  There is no charge to participate.  To make your reservation, please call or e-mail AJ Shear at Revolution headquarters with your intentions by March 11, 877-386-4669, aj@visitfingerlakes.com.

Before I close this post, let me just say this.  To me, the Finger Lakes agriculture, food, and beverage scene is about a group of people who have created a local culture that emphasizes on the delicious regional cuisine and extraordinary wines, brews, juices, and spirits that makes this area a very attractive and unique place to live and visit.  Their products are a reflection of dedication and hard work, which in my eyes, makes them all deserving of a Finger Lakes Foodie Award.

 

 

 

 

Roll Out the Barrel, or Two!

I was pleasantly surprised when I opened my email last week to find an invitation to a special barrel tasting event at Standing Stone Vineyard

I’ve done a lot of wine tastings where you belly up to the bar, but I’ve never tasted wine straight out of the barrel (with the exception of the glass carboy we use for making wine at home).  Since this sounded like a unique opportunity, and a great learning experience, I  eagerly accepted the invite.  

Now, please keep in mind that I am a regular Josephine where wine is concerned.  I am not a wine snob, nor will I ever be one.  I’m just a non-biased taster.

Standing Stone Vineyards is located on St. Route 414 on the East side of Seneca Lake in the Town of Hector, NY.  The winery is perched just high enough on the hill to give folks that visit there a beautiful birds eye view of the lake.

Upon arriving at Standing Stone, hubby and I, along with four others, met up with  Marti Macinski.   Marti and her husband Tom are the owners of this 21 year old winery.

Just prior to starting our tour Marti armed each of us with a rather large piece of baguette (from Tribeca Oven), an empty wine glass, and a clip board that held the list of wines that we would be tasting.  She then lead us off to the “Old Steel Barn” to get down to some serious tasting.

The brisk, unheated barn was indicative of a great wine making environment.  And it’s there that we found rows of oak barrels marked with the type and year of deliciousness that each one contained. 

Marti was a great tour guide. She explained the varieties of grapes, the conditions in which they strive, and in some cases, the conditions that they don’t. She talked wine, and shared personal experiences as a grape grower and wine maker, and she filled the tasting with interesting facts. For example, did you know it costs about $20,000.00 to plant one acre of grapes. I had no clue! 

For this specific event we  tasted a total of five wines.  A 2010 Reserve Chardonnay (available this summer), a 2011 Reserve Chardonnay (available this summer), a 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon, a 2010 Merlot, and a 2011 Petit Verdot which may be Standing Stones one and only.  The three later wines are currently available for purchase and will be ready to pick up in May of 2013.   My favorite wine in this selection?  The 2010 Reserve Chardonnay.  So good!

Also as a bonus, we got six additional tastes of  Standing Stone’s 2012 Pinot Noir and Saperavi in a yeast trial.

Once we finished tasting the five wines in the “Old Steel Barn” we headed to the basement of another barn.  This is where we got to be part of the yeast trial.  It sounds kind of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde-ish doesn’t it?

A yeast trial  is the winemakers way of searching for  unique and individual tastes in their wines.  Each  yeast  offers different characteristics and works differently from one another. 

Yeast (natural or otherwise) plays a very important role in the fermentation process of winemaking.  When added to grape juice (must) it converts the sugars to alcohol.

I recognized that some yeasts gave the wine a smooth finish, while others gave the wine a much more acidic finish.  And while I liked the flavor and finish from the first barrel  of the Pinot Noir, my husband’s favorite came from the second barrel.  All of the tasters were all able to identify subtle flavors and characteristics in each of the wines that we tasted.  

Following the barrel tastings we were  offered some tasty snacks including Muranda Cheeses before heading back to the tasting room for yet, more wine.  It couldn’t have gotten any better than this.  Great wine, great bread,  great cheese, and great company.

I couldn’t help but notice that while everyone was busy tasting till their little hearts content, the ducks just outside of the tasting room were having a little fun all of their own.

Before leaving Standing Stone Vineyards we found a few more things to sample – a  great  variety of delicious local dipping and barbecue  sauces, and salad dressings. 

This was a super fun event.  It’s not your typical wine tasting.  If you’re looking for something completely out of the ordinary in wine tasting – this is definitely a must do! 

My suggestions for barrel tasting.  Dress warm and comfortable, go in small groups, listen up because there is a lot to learn,  and as always, have a designated driver with you.

Information on Standing Stone Vineyards can be found at this link, or by calling (607)582-6051.

Please note that while I did receive a complimentary barrel tasting, I was not compensated to write this post, and the opinions expressed here are my all my own.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Holiday Wine Tasting at Americana

If  Santa were to fill my stocking with Finger Lakes wine this year I’d be a very happy girl.   Of course, I’d need a much bigger stocking than the one I  already have.   The choices of wines here in the Finger Lakes are endless. 

I recently took a very short drive (like almost in my backyard kind of drive) to Americana Vineyards.  Their winery is one of my favorites, and I love to stop in there from time to time.  I thought I’d  share my visit with you.

Americana’s tasting room is situated in a tastefully decorated old barn that has a neat story behind it.   On my visit, I was greeted at the door by  one of  their two chocolate labs  – Max or Rubie.   Aside from the dogs, the winery also has a huge friendly cat that roams around the place and manages to look more like the wineries watch dog than the dogs do – go figure.

Aside from the tasting room at Americana, you will also find the Crystal Lake Café which serves (so I’m told) delicious food that is made in-house daily with the freshest local ingredients;  a gift shop with a great selection of specialty food items, among other unique treasures; the biggest variety, and some of the most delicious homemade fudge that you’ve ever seen or tasted in one place.  I had intentions of trying their red velvet fudge and forgot to once  the wine started flowing.  Oh well, I guess that gives me an excuse to go back soon.

Behind the winery is a  large pavilion that plays host to concerts and other events when weather permits.  And when weather doesn’t permit, the upstairs of the barn does the job.  Americana has concerts scheduled every Friday from 6PM-8PM, and every Sunday from 4PM-6PM.

As for wines, Americana’s got them all.  Dry, semi-dry, semi-sweet, and sweet –  in red, white, and blueberry.   If my calculations are correct, I counted 27 different wines in all.  For $3.00 you can taste 6 wines of your choice, and for $1.00 more you can taste their 2 of their limited edition wines, or 3 of their blueberry wines.  My favorite Americana wine?  Their Semi-Dry Riesling – amazing!

And to think that I almost forgot to mention the hot mulled wine that I  sampled.  It was delicious and would certainly add a little cheer to any holiday party.  I’m adding their mulling spices to the list that I’m getting ready for Santa.

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Looking for something fun to do this month?  I suggest fitting in a wine tasting,  meal, concert, or a little shopping at American Vineyards. If you’re not from the Finger Lakes; add this trip to your “bucket list” and visit a fun winery in your area.

If  you’re a fan of  Finger Lakes foods and beverages don’t forget to nominate them for the Finger Lakes Foodie award in the Finger Lakes Food Revolution – time is running out!

* I have not been compensated for this post.  It’s simply me sharing one of my great Finger Lakes adventures with you.  If you are a Finger Lakes business and happen to be looking for a freelance writer or photographer – let’s talk!

Rustic Oat Bread

Rustic Oat Bread

It’s that time of the year here in the Northeast. Our ovens become our winter friends.  They heat our kitchens,  fill our homes with wonderful aromas, and help us produce delicious comfort foods that warm our souls.

I love making homemade bread, and a chilly day with snow in the air gives me just the reason to do it.

What could be better than a warm slice of bread without any preservatives, and topped with fresh butter?  Hmmm… maybe a piece of toast  slathered with homemade strawberry jam that was made with plump berries from Silver Queen Farm in Trumansburg, NY.

Homemade Strawberry Jam

Rustic Oat Bread

3/4 c. milk

3/4 c. water

2 tbsp. butternut squash seed oil

3 tbsp. brown sugar

1 c. oatmeal, plus extra for topping

1/4 tsp. cinnamon

2 1/2 tsp. yeast

1 tsp. salt

2 c. all-purpose flour, plus 1 cup for kneading

2 tbsp. honey

In a small saucepan, add milk, water, oil, and brown sugar.  Bring to boil; stirring constantly.  Once boiling, remove from heat.

In a large bowl, add oatmeal, salt, and cinnamon.  Pour milk mixture over oatmeal; mix ingredients.  Let stand until lukewarm.

Add yeast and flour; mix completely.  On lightly floured surface knead dough by hand for approximately 7 minutes.   Place in a large bowl greased lightly with squash seed oil.  Cover with plastic wrap.  Set in a warm place and let rise until doubled.

Turn dough onto lightly floured surface.  Cut in half,  briefly knead each half into a ball.  Place each ball a distance apart from each other on a floured cookie.  Cover with a clean dish towel and let it rise until doubled.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Brush each ball of dough with honey, and sprinkle lightly with oatmeal.  Bake for approximately 25-30 minutes until bread is golden brown, and sounds hollow when tapped.  Transfer to wire baking rack to cool.

*Baker’s note – I made this hearty bread with Stony Brook WholeHearted Foods Butternut Squash Seed Oil that’s produced in Geneva, NY. I like using squash seed oil because it gives food a deliciously light nutty flavor.  If you don’t have squash seed oil you can always substitute it with olive oil.

Homemade Rustic Oat Bread & Strawberry Jam

Here is a question for you local foodies.  Will Stony Brook WholeHearted Foods  and Silver Queen Farm be nominated for a Finger Lakes Foodie award this year?

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Finger Lakes Food Revolution 2012

If someone were to ask me to explain to them what makes the Finger Lakes food and beverage scene so unique, I’d have say it’s the fact that we are fortunate enough to have it all.

We are literally sitting in the midst of four specific wine trails – Keuka, Seneca, Cayuga, and Canandaigua Lake. There are dozens of craft or microbreweries scattered throughout the region, and yes, there is even a handful of spirit producing distilleries here as well.

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But don’t let me steer you into believing that the Finger Lakes is just about booze; it’s not.

We have a considerable number of local Finger Lakes dairies producing some of the most delicious farmstead cheeses you’ve ever tasted. We have access to pasture raised meats, farm fresh ingredients, u-pick farms, along with deliciously unique products produced right here in this region.

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Also on the food scene, there are community supported agriculture programs, local farmers markets to explore, along with and farm to table dining experiences at an array of local eateries.  Not to mention,  agriculture food festivals galore; maple, grapes, potato, garlic, tomato, sauerkraut – take your pick.

And it only gets better.  This year the Finger Lakes Visitors Connection which promotes tourism in Ontario County, is hosting the Finger Lakes Food Revolution, all part of the annual Slice, Dice and Spice IV.  This event gives locavores like myself, and tourists who love Finger Lakes, the opportunity to nominate, vote, and support our favorite Finger Lakes foods, beverages, restaurants, food events, and locally made ingredients.

Do you have a something you favor from the Finger Lakes? You are welcome to participate in this event too.  Just visit the Finger Lakes Food Revolution website and get in on the nomination process which is currently underway.  Nominations are expected to wrap up in early December – so don’t miss your chance to join in on the fun, and let your voice be heard!