February in Southwest Ohio is not exactly a winter wonderland. November through March is typified by permanent gray skies, short days, and due to our world’s tendency toward warming temperatures (let’s not get into a political-eco discussion here…my muddy lawn says it is happening), an overabundance of rain instead of snow. These are not typically the ideal conditions for a weekend getaway to the country, but some time away was in order.
After two years since we were originally given a gift certificate to the Murphin Ridge Inn in south-central Ohio, we finally got around to scheduling the trip. This may tell you something about our life or our ability to practice advanced planning. Well, last weekend it was on, and two years were far too long to wait to visit this quiet getaway. Luckily for us, the last Saturday of the month they feature a special chef’s dinner where Chef Jackson gets to cut loose a little.
Set in the Amish region of Adams County, the Murphin Ridge is made up of a main house, ten cabins, and the dining house where dinner is served seven nights a week. We reserved a cabin, and were not disappointed. Beautifully crafted by Amish artisans, the light wood cabins feature no televisions, soaking tubs and lots of cause to relax.
Saturday morning we had the chance to explore the Amish markets of the region. The bounty of craft products, bulk foods, baked goods, pickled everything, and jams and preserves was truly impressive. These markets are completely “off the grid”, producing all of their own electricity. A chat with a proprietor resulted in a trip to the kitchen (a common result when you mention you work for Hobart). He wanted to show off his vintage dough mixers that had been retrofitted to operate off hydraulics and powered by a diesel generator, as opposed to the standard electric motor (you can see it in the pictures). Very ingenious and industrious.
Dinner on Saturday night was excellent. The food at the Inn is not trendy or gimmicky. However, it is based on top-quality seasonal ingredients perfectly and simply prepared. The first course of oxtail soup shined with a richness that was cut by the ideal amount of red wine reduced in the broth. The entrée of confit of duck was presented with crackling-crisp skin and tender meat. The accompanying cider-braised brussel sprouts had a balance of sweetness that had me thinking about how I could make them at home. The truffled potatoes that accompanied Stephanie’s lamb racks were luscious and tasted of fresh butter. Desserts of poached pear with pistachio sabayon and a textbook chocolate soufflé with a coffee sauce drizzle were ideal conclusions to a fine meal.
We are looking forward to returning. I want to see the fields green with corn and soybean. I want to sit outside by the fire pit. I want to take a drier hike in the woods. I want to have that oxtail soup again.