Tuesday, April 30, 2013

(Gourmet) Weekend in the Woods

Murphin Ridge Inn Main House
If you live in the city or suburbs -- as most of us do -- you're probably well aware of the benefits and costs of urban/suburban life. On the downside, my husband and I notice a profound disconnect from the natural world. Don't get me wrong; we prefer the diversity, convenience and fun-factor of city life. But we also treasure our occasional forays into quieter places.

Last weekend we drove out to Adams County, just 70 miles east of our Cincinnati home, for another visit to our favorite rural retreat, Murphin Ridge Inn. This particular weekend attracted us thanks to the first "Spring into Spring in Adams County Arts and Crafts Day" held on Saturday 4/27. It also happened to be the end of the 2012-13 academic year and the start of my summer vacation.
The fair (or arts & crafts day) took place on a gorgeous farm just a few miles from the inn. On the same property and owned by the farm family is As It Was Antiques, which sits atop a hill overlooking miles of farmland greening up into the growing season.

Top highlight of the fair for us was participating in a cooking class with Murphin Ridge Inn sous-chef Josh Catone. Here he is with my husband, and a close-up of the asparagus-and-fresh-ricotta crepes that he/we made.
Cooking with Josh Catone (right)

Crepes for lunch
As for the Inn itself, I can't recommend it too highly. There are 10 rooms in the guest house, one of which has a fireplace and another has a whirlpool; but we always stay in one of the cabins dotted around the property. Each A-frame cabin (there are 9) has a porch with rocking chairs, king or queen bed, fireplace and whirlpool, along with a little fridge where you can store supplies.
The highlights for me out there, though, are the wooded trails on the property and the nightly bonfire. Along the trails, you often can stop and listen, and hear no human-made sounds. I just love that.
The bonfire provides the evening's entertainment (believe it or not). The place is so isolated you can't possibly go out in the evenings, so you eat at the inn and then sit by the bonfire for an hour or two afterward, chatting with other guests.
People love the meals, too -- in fact, it was as a foodie destination that I first made a point of getting out there. Here's a photo of one of our meals -- salmon and a vegetarian potato-dumpling kind of dish -- but my favorite munch out there usually is breakfast.
Entrees at Murphin Ridge Inn
We had two breakfasts this time, and the best was Sunday morning's multi-grain pancakes, which departing owner Sherry McKenney calls Foggy Bottom Pancakes (long story about how she came up with the name). They were the best thing I ate all weekend -- well, those crepes were awfully good, too -- and in such a lovely setting. Here's a photo of one of the inn's gardens as seen from the breakfast room.
Springtime at MR
Also right next to the main house -- which is where meals are served but it's separate from the building that has the guest rooms -- is a grove of trees with countless bird feeders and many comfy chairs and benches where you can hang out and check out the dozens of birds of many species sure to be chowing down.
The Inn has many loyal repeat guests, and there's no reason why if you live in metro Cincinnati (or Dayton, Columbus, or Lexington) you can't become one, too.

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