Monthly Archives: June 2013

New Hartford Wineries 2 of 2: Connecticut Valley Winery


The Connecticut Valley Winery was the third stop on our 3 stop wine tour a few weeks ago. The tasting station was pretty busy, and we had already done a couple earlier in the day, so we decided to just get a bottle of wine and enjoy it with our snacks.

Address: 1480 Litchfield Turnpike New Hartford, CT 06057

Cost For Tasting: $8, however we just purchased a bottle for about $14.

Ranking: 6 – wine was good, however the tasting room was small and there was limited seating outside. It also seemed that there was a large banquet area. So, it may be a nice place for a wedding reception or large party, but for a small intimate setting..ehh…

Tastings are offered on Saturday and Sunday from 12–5 pm. During Wine Trail Season (May–November), tastings are offered Thursday–Sunday from 12–5 pm. We chose one of their red wines: Black Tie Cabernet Francm which as stated on their website, is “an elegant and sophisticated red table wine, robust with a dry, silky finish”.

CT Valley Winery

winning wines

Kate

the spread

the vineyard

Unexpected Cheering Section


Last night at work I had a conversation with one of my co-workers about my morning run the next day.  The conversation went a little like this:

Me:  So I’ll be running by your house tomorrow.

Co-worker:  Oh yea? What time?

Me:  Early…I’ll probably pass your place around 5:25AM

Co-worker: …hmm…

Me:  What, are you going to come out and cheer for me? haha I would die if you were standing out there with a sign or something.

End of story.  Now this particular co-worker is a bit on the unpredictable side.  Nothing that he does, or doesn’t do, really surprises me.  He’s a rolling stone of sorts.  So this morning I was running with one of my girlfriends and as we were coming close to my coworker’s house I was telling her the story.  We rounded the corner, and to my surprise, a small sign low to the ground caught my eye.

This was surprising, even to me!  But it absolutely put some pep in my step!  I have a great appreciation for thoughtful little surprises like this – it will not be forgotten!

cheering

New Hartford Wineries 1 of 2: Jerram


On the same day that we went to Arrigoni Winery, my sister and I made our way over to Jerram Winery.

Address: 535 Town Hill Rd  New Hartford, CT 06057 – (860) 379-8749

Cost For Tasting:  $6, which includes 6 different samples, along with your choice of a stemmed or stemless wine glass.  I chose the stemless because this is actually the first winery in CT I’ve been to where they offer stemless!

Ranking:  7 – good wine, but very little seating, and strange smell.

The setting of this winery was much better than our first stop!  At least you couldn’t see the road from the tasting room!  I thought the wine here was pretty good, and the gentleman doing the tasting, Jim Jerram, seemed like he really knew what he was talking about.  Jerram Winery was only established about 15 years ago in 1998, but even at that they grow several varieties of grapes including Marechal Foch, Seyval Blanc and Vignoles.

Personally, I thought it was pretty cool that you could choose between a stemmed wine glass or a more trendy/modern stemless.  Though the wineglasses are very small, they are still really nice.  The one thing I found kind of funny/entertaining about this vineyard was that the bathroom in the tasting room was a FULL bathroom, including a shower.  That’s something I have not encountered at another vineyard thus far.

There was only room for about 4 people to sit inside, but on a nice day, there was a full deck and lots of grass that people could sit on.  If it were nicer out, and if we didn’t have plans to get to the next vineyard, I would have been happy to hang out there for a while!  I probably wouldn’t go out of my way to suggest a trip back out to Jerram, but if invited I wouldn’t decline.  🙂

Sign

winery

stemless glass

telling us about wine

vineyard

Fathers Day Fun Day!


This Father’s Day I decided to ask my dad if he wanted to do something with me.  Every year for Fathers Day, Christmas, and his birthday I get him the same thing – a gift certificate to the bike shop he frequents.  This year I decided to mix it up.  My dad chose the route:  the Nipmunk Trail, which is 34.5 meandering miles of blue-blazed trails throughout Connecticut.  We picked up the trail right down the road from UConn and started on our hike.  Since we got about 9 inches (literally) of rain last week, there were some really muddy parts and lots of small streams that we had to find ways to cross.  I, of course, would find the most narrow part of the stream with a big rock in the middle to make a safe crossing.  My dad, on the other hand, would tightrope walk across a thin (and seemingly unreliable) fallen tree or branch.  Luckily he made it every time, but I was completely fine taking the “safe route”.

map

dad and taz on the trail

We walked about 3 miles out, seeing a bunch of cool things:  We crossed over a little bridge with a HUGE crayfish on it.  It was dead, but it was still cool…taz thought so too.  There was also a lot of huge trees that were uprooted and had fallen over.  Taz had a great time swimming in the river next to the trail, but at times seemed a bit stressed because of the currant.

Taz on the nipmunk

taz swimming

taz and dad

sign

upturned trees

chair

erin and taz

snake

Finally we made it to the Gurleyville Gristmill.  I’ve never heard of this gristmill before, my pops discovered it on one of his long bike rides around the state, so that is where we hiked to.  Come to find out the Gurleyville Gristmill is the state’s only remaining stone grist mill and was built back in the 1720’s – that’s almost 300 years ago!!  I guess my gram is right – they just don’t make things to last like they did “back then”.  Another interesting fact:  the mill was operated for years by the family of Wilbur Cross, a former Connecticut governor.  We were able to go inside and check it out.

grist mill home

grist mill sign

grist mill

dad at mill

me and dad

After we made it back to the car, we ended our afternoon with a trip over to the UConn Dairy Bar.  The UConn Dairy Bar sells ice cream, and other dairy products, produced by the UConn Creamery, and has been doing so since the early 1900’s.  As to “not spoil our dinner” we each only had one scoop, but man-o-man was that enough.  I couldn’t have eaten two scoops if I tried!!  I got Cake Batter ice cream, and my dad got Toasted Almond Amaretto and both were delicious.

UConn Dairy Bar

UConn

We had such a great day, I’m thinking we should not wait until next Father’s Day to do it again!!

Arrigoni Winery: A small wine bar within a HUGE gift shop


My sister got a groupon for Arrigoni Winery in Portland, CT and asked me to go along with her to check it out.  Now there’s two things I’m not going to turn down:  Wine and Free Stuff, so I guess you can say this was the perfect storm for me…or so I thought.

Address: 1297 Portland-Cobalt Rd, Portland, CT 06480

Cost For Tasting:  I think my sister paid $10 for the groupon, but a regular tasting is $7, which includes 5 wines.  You can add on additional wines for $1 each.

Ranking:  2.  This was definitely my least favorite by far.

So you arrive, and its totally cheesy outside the winery including a bigger than life Santa Clause that stands outside all year round…hmm ok.  Then you walk into the winery, but are a bit confused because you basically are in a gift shop and the tasting bar is tucked in the back, not even visible from the front door.  On top of that, the location of the winery is less than ideal.  Its right on the road of Route 66, which is a very busy road.  Usually you go to a winery for some relaxation and the  peace…if that’s what you’re looking for, don’t go to Arrigoni.

OK, so we’ve covered the atmosphere…on to the wine.  I suppose if the wine was good we’d be able to forget the atmosphere (after a glass or two).  But unfortunately the wine was also no bueno.  My sister decided it would be best if we made our way to another winery in the area…the only problem was that there are no other wineries in the area!  So, we made an hour trek to New Hartford where we did find a few others.

The thing I found most off-putting about Arrigoni is that they don’t have any wine that they make from their own grapes.  None.  Not even one.  Ok, I get it, we don’t live in Napa Valley, and I know that most wineries in Connecticut only make a select few wines from their own grapes, whereas most others are made from grapes (or other fruit) that is imported.  But come on, if you’re a winery on the CT wine trail, you should have at least one wine to offer that is made from your own home-grown grapes!  Am I right?  In their defense, apparently they are so new that their grapes are just not ready yet.  That’s fine, but maybe you consider that and stay off “the trail” until you’re ready!

The Vineyard

The Vineyard – with the premature grapes

The wine that we eventually poured back into the bottle and moved on...

The wine that we eventually poured back into the bottle and moved on…

This is how Katie felt about Arrigoni

This is how Katie felt about Arrigoni

Sisters

Sisters

I forced Kate to get in this picture with me, but I think secretly she's happy she did. :)

I forced Kate to get in this picture with me, but I think secretly she’s happy she did. 🙂

I also forced Kate to get in this picture.  She refused to hold the wine bottle as well, but I put it in front of the barrel.  Who's laughing now??

I also forced Kate to get in this picture. She refused to hold the wine bottle as well, but I put it in front of the barrel.
Who’s laughing now??

 

 

 

 

Delicious and (mostly) Nutritious Baked Pene with Meat Sauce!


I found this recipe on pinterest and thought it was a good way to get some delicious pasta without going too overboard on my “diet”…yes I used it in quotes because it’s almost a joke at this point.  I actually cut the recipe in half, so if you want to try it out and have enough for more than 2 people, make sure you double all portions!

  • 1/2 pound ground turkey
  • 1 cup diced onion
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/2  (24 ounce) jar pasta sauce (I used vodka sauce, but you can choose whatever is your favorite!)
  • 2 cups cooked penne (about 2-1/2 cups dry shells)
  • 1/4 cup fat free cottage cheese
  • 1/4 cup low fat ricotta cheese
  • 1 cups low fat shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp dried parsley

ingredients

Ok, now to the fun part – putting it all together!  Here’s what I did:

STEP 1:  In a large skillet over medium-high heat, cook ground turkey, diced onion, and minced garlic until turkey has lost its pink color.  Once it’s done, you can drain any excess fat from the turkey and set aside.  Don’t worry about it getting cold because you’re going to bake it anyways.

meat and onions

STEP 2:  Add the entire jar of pasta sauce, stir.

STEP 3:  Cook penne according the package instructions, al dente preferred.

STEP 4:  After draining, add the pasta to the cooked turkey and sauce

meat and onions with pasta

STEP 5:  In a large mixing bowl combine cottage cheese, 1.5 cups mozzarella, ricotta, and herbs.

cheese mix

STEP 6:  In a 8″ x 8″  pan, add 1/2 turkey mixture (cooked turkey, marinara and cooked penne) and top with the cheese mixture.  You may need to use your fingers to distribute it because its pretty sticky.

pasta first layer

STEP 7: Top with remaining turkey/penne/sauce mixture and 1/2 cup shredded mozzarella

 

pasta second la yer

STEP 8:  Bake at 375 degreesF for 30 minutes

STEP 9:  Enjoy!  I’m an idiot so I didnt take a picture of the final product…probably because by that time I was foaming at the mouth and ready to eat…but it was delicious!    This meal actually only has about 300 calories per serving and close to 20g of protein!  Not bad for a good, and filling, dinner!  Of course I added garlic bread and a glass (or 2) of wine with my meal, so my meal wasn’t healthy at all, but all I’m trying to say is that it could be healthy if you wanted it to be! Enjoy! 🙂

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