Waking up at the Mill
was about as magical as it gets. Embers in the stove, the sound of water rushing through the foundations, a slight chill that keeps the covers tucked tightly. Breakfasts got off to a slow start, so the strawberry rosemary and black pepper focaccia Liz smartly made the night prior tided us over with coffee until Sunday brunch hit the table.
Ksenya and I were up next to cook, and we decided to make molettes - Mexican breakfast sandwiches - and a bloody maria bar. My scratch mary mix benefitted from freshly grated horseradish and smoky chipotle in place of Worcestershire. We used cucumber, radish and cilantro to garnish.
Our molettes stacked fried eggs, epazote-spiced black beans, avocados, fresh salsa, cheddar and cotija atop grilled brioche. A mighty satisfying way to start the day.
After brunch we caravanned through the neighboring Dutchess Wine Trail
Our first stop was at Clinton Vineyards
, who specialize in Champagne-style sparkling wine and fortified dessert wines. A sweet earthy Cassis is their award winner.
Our next stop was at Millbrook Vineyards & Winery
, started by the guy who trademarked "I ♥
NY" of all things. Luckily he's multi-talented - We had a lovely time at his tasting room, the entertaining pourer offering samples of many selections beyond the list.
Back at the house we joined forces for pizza night.
We used fresh dough from Adam's Fairacre Farms
and Buffalo mozzarella. Ksenya masterminded the menu, with delightful premeditated combos like proscuitto Bing cherry rosemary ricotta, gorgonzola fried sage pear, honey glazed root vegetable, and lemon bitter chicory green shaved parmesan. We cranked 8 pizzas out of two small consumer ovens!
The reason we were all together, after all, was our dear Ksenya's 30th. Brooke made her a gorgeous chocolate stout cake with the last drops of our last growler of beer. The fire crackled and we sat in our food comas and watched it smolder. The way every night should end.
Most of the gang took off Monday, but a few of us remained. We had something important to do.
One of Ksenya's ideas that sank the trip for me was a trip out to Orvis Sandanona
shooting grounds, a classy sportsman lodge wingshooting school in nearby Millbrook.
Here we were instructed on handling and shooting shotguns on a world class sporting clays shooting ground, then go off on the course (reminiscent of the Sleepy Hollow set) with our guide who would send the clays flying for us, two at a time.
I actually wasn't half bad!
A pond of fallen clays on the course.
Getting the hang of it!
Sore and exhausted from our full day adventure gun toting in the woods, we opened some wine and relaxed, choosing s'mores over organized dinner. It was our last night at the Mill, and we huddled about the fire like it might go out if we looked away.
I woke in my pleasantly chilly stone room for the last time and said goodbye to my curtain of trees and cute woolen blanket. We tidied the house forlornly and packed up the car. I felt my veil slightly reappear merely contemplating the return to real life, happy to continue to play lumberjack duck hunter river swimmer cast iron chef up in the country. With wet bittersweet eyes we waved goodbye, the falls gargling their own farewell as the dark eyes of the stone mill watched us disappear quietly back down the country road from which we came.