We’ve mentioned before here and here how much we love visiting the Finger Lakes Wine Country in New York. The lakes, the wineries, the local food scene, the people, the community and well, everything.
It’s always been a special place for us, but when Mike and I visited for our anniversary in May, things went to a whole new level. Have you ever had a travel experience where stars align and opportunities present themselves almost as though they had been planned all along?
We’ve certainly had our share of adventures. Random, like the time we stood up in a wedding in the Dominican Republic for two Canadians we had just met only days before. Awe inspiring, like the time we got lost on a scary, one-way dirt road in my rear wheel drive sports car in the mountains of Arizona, only to emerge at a summit for a stunning sunset. And even wild, like the time a black bear came to the door of our cabin in the woods of Colorado. But this trip…well, it was magical and downright unbelievable.
You might remember we stayed at this adorable Airbnb house where we met Tina. Tina and her husband Eric run Sawmill Creek Vineyards and are the creators of Verjooz. They are both the kindest, most fun and friendliest people. Frankly, we consider them our New York family now.
Well, while Mike and I were out to dinner at the Stonecat on Seneca Lake (one of my favorite all-time restaurants), Tina walked in with Eric and her friend, Laury. Quick introductions were made and it was instantly as though we had always known one another. Bottles of wine were ordered and time seemed to stop as we laughed, talked and did I mention, laugh!
So in our conversations, we learned that vines needed tying. We learned that winter sounds equally as fun as summer in FLX. We learned that Laury was the president of the Finger Lakes Wine Country travel and tourism organization (a job similar to one I had applied for a few years back in another location…and we share a similar PR background!). Needless to say I was thrilled to get to pick her brain. And we also learned that Tina’s cherry trees had blossomed.
Well, you already know that these conversations led to this…
But, they also led to this…which likely requires a little explanation.
So it turns out that Laury had been hoping to capture Tina’s cherry blossoms in a photo shoot to promote the region’s spring beauty. As we tossed back a delightful Cab Franc, Laury suggested that Mike and I take part in the shoot. We could be the authentic tourists in the photos! Well, we all got a good laugh at that. An hour or so later, after more laughing and stories, we retired for the night.
Fast forward to early the next morning and we’re tying vines. Somewhere in the middle of a row, Tina asks if I checked my email. Intrigued, I quickly grabbed my phone and found a message from Laury and her marketing team. If we were game, they lined up a photographer for the evening and would love to take shots of us at sunset not only in the cherry blossoms, but the vineyards and on a picnic as well! So this happened….
But it didn’t end there. It turns out they had also read our blog and loved it. They wanted to bring us back, kids and all, in June for a photo shoot of us touring the region and all it has to offer. I read and re-read the email. Was this for real? And what was probably the most exciting thing, Laury offered to bring me back in August for the wine bloggers conference in Corning, NY. She said not only would it be fun, it would be a great opportunity for me to make some new connections toward finding my new path! I’m telling you, it was surreal. I kept asking Mike if this was all really happening. It was all too good to be true, and while I was beyond excited to return the next month (made going home a little easier), I was still in disbelief when we returned home. Did this all really happen? Yes, yes it did…
We’ll get more into the kids’ visit in our next post, as it certainly deserves a post. It was incredible! What an adventure and what an opportunity. Before we leave you though, we’ll share one last thing. Remember those cherry blossoms? Well on our trip in June, the fruit was ready for picking. We met Tina on the Sunday morning of our return and she graciously let us pick cherries. It was a very special treat as the orchard didn’t open to the public for another few days. She had three varieties, black, white (or sweet) and sour. Of course we sampled them all! Tina even taught the kids how to properly pit a cherry – by biting into the cherry and spitting the pit at a hand made target on the wall! You can imagine their excitement! Someone telling them they get to spit at a target!
We of course came home with several bags of cherries and set straight to work! We’re working on Tina’s cherry liquor recipe (which we’ll share when it’s complete around the holidays!). We’ve made a sweet cherry pie, a sour cherry pie (both to come), and this – Seared Scallops with a Cherry Sauce.
This is an easy meal to prepare, and elegant to serve. It’s especially easy to prepare if you have cherry pitters on hand to assist.
While Mr. N and Miss A weren’t allowed to spit at the wall inside, they were still full of giggles. Note Miss A’s safety goggles!
Just a warning, if you do have little pitters, your kitchen may appear as though it’s a crime scene once they’re done. Still, watching these two make each other laugh and spit into a bowl they designated as a target when they thought I wasn’t watching was a trade off I’d make again!
For this recipe we used the black cherries, but have also used white. (The cutting board is a map of the Finger Lakes.)
Hand made. Gorgeous.
Once the cherries are pitted they are chopped for the sauce, which combines shallots, garlic, cherries, tarragon, crushed red pepper and thyme.
We also used a dry Chardonnay from FLX. Any dry white will work, but keep in mind if it’s not drinking quality, it’s not cooking quality. A better wine will make a difference. Not to mention cooking wine has more added salt. Rule of thumb – if you wouldn’t serve it, don’t cook with it.
We finished the sauce with a little butter and it was ready to go. The scallops were simply patted dry with a paper towel to help promote a good sear, and seasoned with salt and pepper.
Keep a close eye on the scallops as they cook. They only require a minute or two per side depending on thickness, and turn rubbery if over cooked.
We served the scallops immediately garnished with the sauce. We also served a little extra sauce on the side for dipping (it’s too tasty not to!).
This was a 4 spoon meal for Mr. N and I, a 3 spoon dish for Mike and a mixed review of 2 and 4 for Miss A. She loved the scallops, but not the sauce. She prefers her cherries straight up and raw.
The sweetness of the scallops paired nicely with the slightly tart and spicy cherry sauce. It’s easy to prepare and pretty to serve.
The leftover sauce also went well with white fish for Mr. N the next day at lunch. He said I could make this for him anytime.
Print this recipe: Seared Scallops with Cherry Sauce
I have a feeling this recipe will stick around in our house for some time. If only cherry season lasted a little longer! Many thanks to our dear friends Tina and Eric for the cherries and to Laury and team at Finger Lakes Wine Country for this experience.
We’ll be back next week, actually posting from a special trip with my parents in Colorado, with the sweet cherry pie and the rest of our crazy FLX adventure. And in two weeks, I’ll post from the Wine Bloggers conference! Stay tuned.