Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Wine Tasting and Food Pairing at Fabbioli Cellars

October is Virginia Wine Month (it now has an "official" title in the event that you needed the extra push to head out to wineries and enjoy some local, Virginia wine).  That, coupled with this government shutdown, means that if you are like me, you might find yourself with some time on your hands. 

Now, you could go ahead and clean that storage room in your basement (throat clearing here towards my husband) or you could enjoy your time off  sampling some tasty wine.  Might I suggest the latter? 

One winery I would definitely suggest visiting is Fabbioli Cellars out in Leesburg, VA.  It's only about an hour away from DC (and conveniently located next to outlet shops, so you can get some discount shopping in as well).  Fabbioli Cellars is open everyday from 11am-5pm.  Are you not in your car yet?  Okay, well read on to see what you are missing.

Fabbioli Cellars is situated off of a quiet back road in Leesburg.  The wine tasting area is located in the bottom level of a small farm house with outdoor patio seating and picnic tables overlooking the vineyard.  Very relaxing and picturesque.

Inside the tasting area, they sell bottles or glasses of wine, and food accompaniments (think dips, cheese, cured meat, and some chocolate) to enjoy on the patio.  It's a fantastic selection and much more robust than most wineries (see how easy! you don't even need to pack a lunch!).   

In a fun change from the "wine tasting" norm, Fabbioli Cellars offers a food pairing with their tasting menu (a great deal at $15).  If you opt for the tasting, you are led back to their tasting room, which is super cute and cozy, featuring about 5 separate seating areas for sampling the wine and food pairings.

They change their pairings every month and all the staff members can contribute to the food pairings (for example, when I was there, the cucumber dip was a recipe provided by one of the staff).  The pairing also features an item from a local chef (this past month it was from a local food truck, The Roving Italian).  I was really impressed by the creativity and local sourcing involved in the tasting menu.  I think I see my new "retirement" job in my future... 

The wine was delicious and the pairings were a tasty and relaxed way to enjoy the wine, similiar to how you would at home.  The staff was friendly, informative and down-to-earth, overall a really enjoyable tasting experience.  I don't normally favor white wines, but the Someting White wine was fanastic.  And the pairing of the desert wine, Rosa Nera, with the chocolate truffle was out of this world.

We definitely had a great afternoon out at Fabbioli Cellars and of course, had to bring a few momentos home with us.  So, take the time this month to enjoy some Viriginia wines and celebrate the fall season.  It's a great time to relax, unwind and appreciate life with a fine glass of wine.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Pumpkin Lasagna

Today is the first day of October, the month celebrating the great pumpkin!  Here's a recipe that uses pumpkin in a big way -- as the base for a vegetarian lasagna dish.  This recipe calls for canned pumpkin, but if you're feeling particularly daring (and have extra time on your hands), you can roast a pie pumpkin and puree it for the base.   

2 tablespoons of olive oil
1 onion, diced
1 pound of Swiss chard, stems removed, leaves washed well and chopped
1 cup of spinach (fresh or frozen)
2 teaspoons of salt
2 teaspoons of pepper
3 tablespoons of sage, finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon of nutmeg
3 15-oz cans of pumpkin puree
1 1/2 cup of shredded parmesan cheese
1 1/2 cup of heavy cream
1/2 cup of milk
12 lasagna noodles

1.  Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Boil water, cook lasagna noodles until al dente (about 8 minutes). 

2.  Heat a large pan over medium-high heat, add oil and onions, cooking onions until tender and translucent (about 8 minutes).

3.  Add Swiss chard, spinach, 1 teaspoon of salt, 1 teaspoon of pepper, 2 tablespoons of sage, and 1/4 teaspoon of nutmeg to the pan.  Cook, and stir regularly until greens wilt (about 8 minutes).  Remove from heat.

4.  In a medium bowl, mix two cans of pumpkin, 3/4 cup of heavy cream, 1/2 cup of shredded parmesan cheese, 1 teaspoon of salt, 1 teaspoon of pepper, 1 tablespoon of sage, and 1/4 teaspoon of nutmeg. 

5.  Pour milk into a 9 x 13 pan. 

6.  Layer 4 noodles on top of the milk. 

7.  Spread half of the pumpkin mixture on top of the noodles.

8.  Then layer half of the "greens" on top of pumpkin mix.  Cover with another layer of noodles and repeat with pumpkin and greens.  Layer a final set of noodles on top.

9.  Combine 1 cup of pumpkin and 3/4 cup of cream. 

10.  Spread over top of lasagne noodles and sprinkle with remaining cup of parmesan cheese. 

11.  Cover pan with aluminium foil and cook for 20 minutes.  Remove foil, and bake until cheese is melted and bubbly, about 15 minutes longer.