Saturday, July 5, 2008

Firecracker Day Trip, Berries, Cider, and Wine

Morning stop at the garden
The zucchini is blooming this morning. As small as the plant is, I wonder if I should pluck the blooms and let the vine get a bit bigger.

I found mushrooms popping up all over the bed this morning. I got out a hand trowel and broke them up into the soil. Not sure what type of 'shrooms they are, but I figure they can compost and nourish the soil. And, while I was working the soil, I did see some red wrigglers so they did survive the rainy weather of the first night in their new home.

A berry pickin' we will go...
We checked the "Picking Report" and figured we better get to the Berry Patch early. The fields were picked out by 1:00 PM on Tuesday. The Berry Patch opened two weeks late because we have had a cool spring. I guess the berry picking crowds were trying to make up for lost time! Over 20,000 people visit the Berry Patch each season.

Here's a tip for you: if you plan on visiting the Berry Patch, you are going to encounter a fresh baked blueberry muffin that is warm, decadently fragrant and fresh from the Berry Patch store oven. They are in high demand. You might drop by the store before you head out to pick and put you name on the muffin list. They have a posted schedule of when they expect batches of muffins to be done. Plan well and you can beat the crowd. Also, they have a delicious blueberry lemonade that is definitely worth a try along with many other blueberry products. You can also pick up some great relishes and jams.

Everybody gets one bucket, but as many plastic bags as you think you can fill with berries. The process is run very efficiently.

The berries were a bit on the green side today. By tomorrow there may be more ripe berries. Next Tuesday will probably be a prime day. The patch is closed on Sunday and Monday.

Brian took the challenge to search out the best and the blue-ist berries.

We ended up with a little over five pounds of berries by the time we called it quits. We were hoping for some blackberries as well. The blackberry bushes were laden with berries but very few were ready to pick. They might be looking pretty good by next Tuesday. If only I had the day off! Maybe a vacation day is in order. The Berry Patch says they will have berries through July and into August.

Berries in tow, we headed back to pay-up and wait in line with many other hungry muffin shoppers. You can watch as they cook the muffins, but if your name is down a ways on the list it becomes a bit of torture as you wait for the muffins to get done. Just don't give up, the yummy muffins are worth the wait. You will want a muffin on the spot and more to take home. We purchased two muffins, some blueberry lemonade, a quart of blueberry syrup, and especially for Brian: a jar of blue cheese stuffed olives.

On the road again...
My husband loves apple cider. Why do I mention this? Because the Louisburg Cider Mill is just 8 miles away from the Berry Patch. With his new GPS in hand, he was ready for more day trip. Our next stop - the Louisburg Cider Mill where you can find wonderful unfiltered cider and awesome apple-cinnamon doughnuts.

They have a great variety of other sundries in their store as well. I came home with some raw, unfiltered apple cider vinegar and a new two-cup teapot which I will take to the office so I can properly brew my tea. Styrofoam cups do not make a real cup of steeped tea in my book. Brian also got a root beer float to go with his doughnut and a gallon of unfiltered apple cider to take home.

Wait, how did we get to Sonoma?
On the way to Louisburg Cider Mill we saw signs for Somerset Ridge Vineyard & Winery. This was a bonus adventure since we had never been there before. Just a few miles from the cider mill, it's a lovely place and the owners, Cindy and Dennis Reynolds are enthusiastic about introducing you to their wonderful wines. We did a wine tasting. I was very impressed. We brought home three bottles: their newest red - Flyboy Red, Buffalo Red, and a white wine, Traminette. They were also serving lunch for the Fourth - organic hot dogs with all the trimmings.

The vines are full of fruit waiting to become great Somerset Ridge wines!

You may not think of Kansas or Missouri when think about great wines, but did you know that Missouri is credited with saving French vineyards?

A bit of history - in the 1860's French vineyards were plagued with vine diseases most likely accidentally imported from America. Missouri grape vines were grafted to vines in France and credited for saving the French vineyards. Missouri exported 10 million root stocks to France. Somerset Ridge in just on the Kansas side of the state line between Kansas and Missouri. Next time you enjoy a French wine, remember that it has a heritage that extends back to the Missouri/Kansas wine country.

Buzz it up

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