Sunday, September 27, 2009

October Apple Fest In Virginia

Monday Morning Blog

It's apple time in Virginia. Crisp, juicy, sweet - tart apples.

Apples are loaded with everything healthy so tuck them into lunch boxes, mix them into salads and serve them in desserts. You just can't get too many apples this time of year!

Celebrate October with an apple fest. Invite the neighbors and gather the clan. Dish up some delightfully, apple-licious treats to tempt your guests and tickle their palates.

October Virginia Apple Fest Menu

Mulled Cider Toddies (for the adults)
Steaming Spiced Cider (for the children)
Baked Virginia Ham with Hunt Country Apple Chutney
Roasted Butternut Squash
Garlic Green Beans
Whole Wheat Biscuits
Creamery Butter
Local Harvest Virginia Red Wine
Rustic Apple Tart with Lemon Ginger Ice Cream
French Roast Coffee
Orange Spice Tea

Hunt Country Apple Chutney
Serve hot or cold with ham, pork and game.

Makes about 3 cups

4 cups apples (peeled, cored and cut into random 3/8 inch pieces)
1 cup raisins
2 tablespoons grated fresh orange rind (no white pith)
2 ¼ cups sugar
¼ cup apple cider vinegar (5% acid strength)
¼ teaspoon pumpkin pie spice blend

Combine all ingredients in a large skillet (not cast iron). Cover. Bring to boil on high. Boil 1 minute. Remove cover. Reduce heat to simmer and cook, stirring frequently, until apples are translucent and mixture is syrupy - 10-15 minutes for soft apples, longer for firm apples.

Cook's tip: Firm apples like Granny Smith will hold their shape after cooking yielding chunky chutney. Soft apples like Macintosh or yellow delicious will yield a more mashed consistency.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

New Home ECO-nomics Round Table To Meet at Cheesecake Farms

Monday Morning Blog

Love to putter around home and garden?
Join our new discussion group called the Home ECO-nomics Round Table.

It's an opportunity to get together with people who share your interests. It's a break from your hectic day and an opportunity to pick up a new life skill or tweak an old one. Or - you can just come for the food.

The first round table will meet Saturday, October 3.
The topic is "How To Open a Bed and Breakfast".
You'll get the inside scoop and tour our new guest rooms.

The topic will repeat on Monday, October 5.

Questions and cameras are encouraged.

To receive information on future round table events, sign up for our free newsletter by emailing


The Home ECO-nomics Round Table at Cheesecake Farms
First Monday and first Saturday of each month beginning Saturday October 3, 2009.
Same topic at each session so pick the day that suits you best.

Both sessions meet in the Garden Room.
Fee for each session attended

Directions to Cheesecake Farms at

The Monday Morning Coffee Hour
First Monday of each month beginning October 5, 2009
Coffee and a Topic

10:30 AM till Noon
Drop in - Reservations not required
$6.00 per person

The Saturday Afternoon Luncheon Club
First Saturday of each month beginning October 3, 2009
Farm Made Lunch and a Topic

Noon till 2 PM
Limited seating

Reservations required by noon the lst Friday
$16.50 per person
Call 540-439-2188 or email

Need more info?
Want to make a reservation?
Bringing a group?


Monday, September 14, 2009

Chocolate Wine Pops Its Cork at Virginia's Cooper Vineyards

Monday Morning Blog

There's a little sleeper wine called "Noche" (pronounced no-chay) from Cooper Vineyards in Louisa, VA. It's extraordinary.

Noche is chocolate wine. Yes, chocolate wine. Not wine to drink with chocolate but chocolate tasting wine.

Noche means night in Italian and this gorgeously purple wine is as dark as a starless night. It's rich and fragrant but without that uber sweet taste and syrup-y texture that many dessert wines unfortunately possess.

Noche is smooth as silk, mildly reminiscent of a well aged port although you wouldn't call it a port. Noche could, I suppose, stand in nicely for port when there's none in the house and you're in the midst of a recipe that calls for port.

Noche's taste is haunting, richly decadent and oh, so sip-able. It's chic and sophisticated without being pretentious.

Robert Culley, marketing director of Cooper Vineyards, gave me the scoop. "Owner Jeff Cooper got the idea for our chocolate wine after a trip to California where he first tasted chocolate port," he said.

Back in Virginia, Cooper let his winemaker experiment with various chocolate essences until a final selection resulted in a perfect pairing with their 100% Virginia Norton grapes.

"The chocolate essence," Culley continued, "is added after fermentation and just before bottling."
It's great when the bottle is first opened but like most reds, it's much better and much smoother after it's been allowed to breathe. I like Noche best after it's been opened, recorked and refrigerated for a couple of days.

Noche, by the way, took the top prize of a gold medal at the Virginia Governor's Cup wine competition this year.


Want more info?
Out of the area?
Need a virtual road trip?

Cooper Vineyards
13372 Shannon Hill Rd
Lousia, Virginia 23093

Winery open daily for tasting 11AM-5PM
Noche is available by mail order, at Wegmans
and by special order through your favorite wine shop

Noche Recipes

Noche Coffee
Pour a shot of Noche into black coffee. Serve with cream and sugar or whipped cream, if desired.

Noche Shooters
Pour Noche into chocolate shooter cups. Sip the Noche from the chocolate cup then eat the cup.

Noche Hot Chocolate
Pour a shot of Noche into your favorite hot chocolate. Sit by the fire and watch the world go by. Definitely not for the kiddies.

Noche Peaches
Peel and stone some fresh peaches. Toss with a little lemon juice and arrange in serving dishes. Drizzle with Noche to taste. (Great on fresh, pitted cherries, too.)

Noche Pepsi
Mix half and half over ice in a tall glass. Add a sprig of mint.

Starry, Starry Night
Put a scoop of vanilla or cherry vanilla ice cream into a serving dish. Drizzle with Noche to taste. Sprinkle crushed almond macaroons over the top.

Cherries Noche
Put some dried cherries into a glass jar with a well fitting lid. Don't fill jar more than half full with cherries to allow for expansion. Cover cherries with Noche filling jar. Refrigerate at least a week to let the cherries absorb the liquid. Longer is better. Serve over plain cake, ice cream, rice pudding or custard. Keeps indefinitely in the refrigerator.

Noche Trifle
Alternately layer pound cake cubes, Cherries Noche and vanilla pudding in a trifle dish. Refrigerate several hours, covered, to blend flavors.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Celebrate Harvest Week In Hunt Country September 25 – October 4

Monday Morning Blog

It's harvest time in Hunt Country.

The last week of September is Harvest Week. Restaurants in Middleburg, Upperville and The Plains will mark the occasion with a culinary celebration of our finest fare. Local produce, meats, cheeses, wines and artisan edibles will grace the tables of the best dining spots throughout the region.

The week long celebration will bring local farmers, vintners and food artisans together with chefs and diners.

The idea is simple - enjoy a meal at one of the participating restaurants and discover how really delicious fresh, local foods are.

According to The Virginia Farm Bureau Federation, agriculture in Virginia generates $2.69 billion in sales annually. The Virginia Cooperative Extension says that we can increase that number to $4.34 billion (and keep more of our hard earned dollars in Virginia) by spending just $10 of our weekly household food budget on local produce instead of foreign produce or produce that's been transported cross country.

Using local provisions has to come as a grass roots ground swell. By working together, restaurateurs and producers can promote the Piedmont region’s excellent foods and create more of a market for the "farm-to-table" concept. It's hoped that an understanding of the importance of knowing where food come from will develop.

The goal of Harvest Week is to see a time when buying and eating locally is the norm.


Want more info?

Alyson Browett
Co-ordinator of Harvest Week


Harvest Week In Hunt Country
September 25 – October 4, 2009
Participating Restaurants - Middleburg, Upperville and The Plains

Call your favorite area restaurant to find out what their plans are for Harvest Week.
Each will be showcasing local bounty in their own special way.

Annie's 540-687-4754
Back Street Cafe 540-687-3122
Blackthorne Inn & Restaurant 540-592-3848
Coach Stop 540-687-5515
Forlano’s Market 540-253-5456
The French Hound 540-687-3018
Girasole 540-253-5501
The Goodstone Inn 877-219-4663
Hidden Horse Tavern 540-687-3828
Home Farm 540-687-8882
Hunter’s Head Tavern 540-592-9020
Market Salamander 540-687-8011
Mello Out 540-687-8635
The Rail Stop 540-253-5644
Red Fox Inn 540-687-6301