Sunday, November 8, 2015

Wine Country Getaway & Oyster Mushroom Fettuccine

Last night we arrived home from a mini getaway to the Finger Lakes in upstate New York. Our friends Chris & Karla have been going to Seneca Lake every November for years, which is known for its huge array of wineries, beautiful scenery, farms, and local cheeses, chocolates and organic produce. All the wineries and restaurants pride themselves on serving locally grown and produced foods. Totally my kind of place. We've never been able to join them, but this year Matt's family offered to watch our babies for 2 nights so we could head off for a couples-only weekend away, and it was amazing. Matt and a few other of the others in our group are teachers and had off on Thursday/Friday, so we left early Thursday  morning and spent the better part of two days eating, drinking, hiking, playing card games, laughing and relaxing. It was so nice to spend some time just the two of us as well as quality time with good friends.

Some of my favorite stops included Silver Springs Winery (incredibly enthusiastic and knowledgeable wine maker, amazing malbec, and everything is organic), Magnus Ridge Winery (nice reds, they pair all their wines with cheese, and the service is great), and Glenora Wine Cellars (amazing lunch with a nice view). Grist Iron Brewing also had good craft beers, even better pizzas, and a view that can't be beat, and Two Goats Brewing was a good spot for a very casual night cap with the locals.

We stayed at The Fox and the Grapes Bed & Breakfast, and I would highly recommend it. Their view of the lake was gorgeous, and there were plenty of gathering areas both in and outdoors, so in the morning before breakfast you could sit and read quietly drinking coffee while gazing at the lake (one of my favorite vacation things to do), or chat with other visitors while drinking coffee and eating banana bread in the sitting room; and at night you could either drink wine and play games loudly in one area (clearly our preference), while others watched movies without being bothered in another area. The homemade breakfasts and snacks were also fantastic.

On our way home we stopped at the Ithaca Farmers Market, which my mom had told me was a must-do before leaving the area. She was right. The market was beautiful, filled with all kinds of local organic fruits and veggies, cheese, meat, popcorn (yes, local popcorn!), honey and bread vendors, as well as artisans selling pottery, wools, wooden kitchen tools and more. Not to mention there were about a million delicious things to eat onsite, and live music to top it off. I am so jealous we don't have a market like this by us; I would be there every Saturday.

We picked up a few things for the week, and when we saw the locally grown oyster mushrooms we had to have them too. I used them to cook dinner last night, and when you have mushrooms this delicate and beautiful, there is really only one thing to do. Pasta. I mean, what's one more day of carbs and butter after a weekend wine & cheese bender?

We scarfed down the pasta bowls before I remembered to snap a picture, but here is the basic recipe I threw together - and trust me, it was fantastic.

Oyster Mushroom Fettuccini

Serves 4

3/4 pound fettuccini (about 3/4 of a box)
1/2 cup butter
1 tsp. olive oil
1 pound fresh oyster mushrooms, roughly chopped
1 tsp. sea salt
1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
3 Tbsp. fresh herbs, chopped (use woodsy herbs - I used what I had in my garden: an assortment of sage, rosemary, oregano, and thyme)
1 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese, plus extra for garnish
Extra herbs for garnish
Truffled sea salt, to taste

Cook pasta according to package directions, leaving it slightly al dente.

In the meantime, melt the butter and olive oil over medium heat in a large saucepan. Add the mushrooms and cook gently for about 10 minutes, until softened but not browned. Add the salt, pepper and herbs, and cook for another 2-3 minutes.

Drain the pasta and add to the saucepan of butter. Toss to coat. Turn off the heat and add the parmesan cheese, then toss again. Pile the fettuccini into bowls, and top with a sprinkling of extra parmesan, herbs, pepper and truffled sea salt. Serve immediately.

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