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Three Days of Finger Lakes Wineries-Day Two

Day One

We started with an non-winery activity that was a bust (paddleboard rentals…the guy never showed…sent angry emails to me about being at the site 35 minutes after our agreed upon meeting time…told me I was unreasonable for only waiting 30 minutes) but I did manage to get a 4 mile run in around Hammondsport. While normally I wouldn’t run back and forth covering every block of a town, Hammondsport is a nice place, with nice homes and buildings, so I just ran every street!


After enjoying coffee downtown, reading the paper and visiting with the hotel owners, we headed toward Cayuga Lake, about an hour away (38 miles) and the Copper Oven at Cayuga Ridge Winery.  There was a time when getting something to eat while touring the wineries was actually pretty challenging. Most wineries did not have cafes and restaurants are still not very plentiful. Now, it’s more common to find a tasting room combined with a cafe and we planned our days based on their hours so as to ensure we ate a proper lunch. The Copper Oven primarily serves pizza, focusing on local and seasonal toppings. We arrived at 11:45 and found the cafe just getting ready for the day. In fact, they didn’t have any pizza dough yet and the servers weren’t sure how long it would take!! We opted to order a bottle of wine and cheese board while we waited. Not much later the dough arrived and we had two thin crust pizzas for lunch.


A common theme of travel in the FLX is forgiveness for service that we would not appreciate in other areas. There just isn’t a huge pool of customers or employees and sometimes this is reflected in lack luster service (or missing pizza dough). That said, Copper Oven is a lovely place, with friendly waitresses and an excellent porch that overlooks another winery and Cayuga Lake. I suspect there is better dining in Trumansburg (not to far south) or Ithaca (at the southern end of the lake) but this is RIGHT HERE, good, reasonably priced, and easy.


After lunch we visited the tasting room and picked up two bottles of riesling. In truth, I found the wine fine, drinkable, enjoyable, but just not that exciting. However, I appreciate their tasting room, family owned status, and enthusiastic staff. I’d stop here again, but probably for the pizza!!


Our next two stops were found wanting: Thirsty Owl and Hosmer. Thirsty Owl suffered from poor service; the person doing our tasting didn’t know anything about any of the wines and seemed not to even know the names of them. It’s tour group friendly, sells quite a bit of merchandise, and doesn’t seem to be too dedicated to producing the better wines we’ve had at Ravines, Fox Run, and Kueka Lake Vineyards. We moved on to Hosmer without buying anything. Hosmer was better, in the sense that the tasting room staff was helpful and engaging. But again, we left without purchasing anything.


But all was not lost!! We made an impromtu stop at Standing Stone our way back toward Hammondsport and ended up buying the Saperavi. I’ll admit by the time I got to the fourth winery, after the bottle we had at lunch and three tasting room rounds, my ability to taste the wine was pretty shot. But Jake was convinced that this was worth the high price point for FLX wine ($30) and we recently drank it with some weber-grilled strip steaks: he was right. A great wine for a well seared steak!


We decided to return to the hotel, sit on the sunporch with some wine and cheese and enjoy the rest of the rainy afternoon. After a quick stop at the Hammondsport grocery (more variety than you would expect in a small town store, but less than a wine region should support, especially in the summer) we were relaxing in the rocking chairs listening to the rain.


The true gem of the trip comes in Day Three and I can’t wait to tell you about it!


St. Patrick’s Day

This is all that’s left of the Irish Brown Bread Jake made last night…


Jake’s Irish Brown Bread remnants

He asked me not to give away his recipe, but I’m sure you can google just as easily as anyone else!!

Smash ‘Em Up Derby

Wayne County Fair (NY) Demolition Derby, 2014

As Radicchio calls its. Or called it. Yesterday he informed me that you could “actually, call it Demolition Derby, Mama, it has two names.”

We took him last year and he’s been talking about it ever since, a full year of smash ’em up questions and comments from a nearly three-year old! He won a car from the duck pond game that is defying its cheap construction and going strong after multiple demonstrations of how cars smash into things. (This car should be used to demonstrate how translating some things to English doesn’t really work:

Champion Noble Charisma Preeminent Car

Champion Noble Charisma Preeminent Car

Those are all words for awesome and powerful but in the context of race car stickers, not quite right either. In any case, one little boy was very excited to go the Demolition Derby. When he heard there would also be carnival rides I think his little head exploded. We’ve been to several carnivals this year, and contrary to popular stereotypes, both the rides and employees have been outstanding. Sure, they’re a little beat up, but the kids rides have been attended to by some very nice people who clearly like, or at least don’t mind, children. We’ve hit up the Williamson Apple Blossom Carnival, Fairville Firemen’s Carnival, Webster Fireman’s Carnival and now, the Wayne County Fair. Each time we’ve bought the all you can ride pass ($15) and Adam has ridden the Alligator train countless times.

At 5:45 PM we bought our ticket, rode four rides and then the deluge began. We waited, at a hotdog and popcorn (this is a food and travel blog, right?), then it stopped and we rode three more rides before it started again. This time we took shelter in the beer tent where Rad discovered a spinning neon sign that left him mesmerized and filled up the 30 minutes we waited for the rain to stop. So, we got seven rides out of our $15, still better than buying tickets (21-28 tickets would have come to just a bit more than $15) and went to get a good seat in for the Derby. Also, more popcorn. And a water. And Jake had bacon-wrapped-deep-fried-meatballs. And pierogies. He said the meatballs weren’t very good. I’m not sure how that’s possible.

8PM is mighty late for our little guy, and the drawn out lining up process for the first round put the start at 8:15. Rad watched intently, got to see one car flip over and another on fire (pro tip: RX7s and similarly shaped cars are bad for this sport; their hoods are like ramps for the other cars and you will likely be driven over and possibly smooshed, the driver was so shaken up by the car that launched itself up his hood that he actually left the derby).  There were firemen flipping cars, spraying hoses and generally being everything a three-year old would hope a fireman would be. That round was over by 8:35, Raddy thought the whole thing was over, declared it both fun and too loud and asked to go home. Who am I to argue?

All the way home: Why did that car flip over? Why did that car catch on fire? Why was there steam? and smoke? Why is it night? Why is it dark? Where is the moon? Where is the sun? Why do we not have the sun? Where does the sun go? Why did that car lose its wheel? Why was it loud? and so on. Then at home he recreated the demolition derby on his road rug on his bedroom floor, complete with fire truck, John Deer Gator, ambulance and tow trucks. And finally at 9:45, he went to sleep.

It’s not a cheap night. $5 admission for each adult to the fair, $15 for the rides, another $8 for each of us to the derby–$49 just in admission plus food and drink. But the happy little boy (and the epic people watching; I need to go back just to watch the people…) was totally worth it!

I miss my blog…

I do. I’ve recently started to plan a trip to Italy for our 5th anniversary next year and I realized how much I missed recording the plans and having those notes to look back on. After spending hours down the rabbit hole of my own blog (navel gazing much?) reading forgotten events, I decided its time.

We do stuff, you know, we didn’t just sit around for the last two years since I’ve posted. We’ve been to Disney with Raddy G and my parents twice, and two more times alone. We started an annual traditional a grown-ups only trip to Key West and continued our streak at the Disney Food and Wine Festival. And I spent the better part of the last year as a semi-road warrior, traveling to DC and Philadelphia for work regularly. Sadly most of what another flyertalk forum member refered to as the “death barge sewer pipe from hell.” No truer words have been spoken about the CRJ-200.

In the coming weeks we are headed to Detroit and Hell, MI for a weekend of trail running and beer drinking (attendance of the boy TBD); Disney for the Food and Wine Festival and our first time at the French Regional Lunch; and five nights in Key West coming up in January. I’ve already booked our DVC two-bedroom suite at Animal Kingdom Lodge for our family trip in May and we’ve begun planning a 5th Anniversary trip to Rome, for just the big people in our house. So, there is a ton to write about and record and I’m going to try to remember the billions of apartments/hotels/flights I’ve looked at, the management of rewards in two hotel systems and across two airlines, and how we’re managing childcare for these very indulgent adult trips.

A note on that before anyone gets worked up that we don’t include our son on all of our: We both feel strongly that grown-up-get-aways are as important as family time. We’ve taken our son to Disney as his introduction to airline travel and hotel stays and will expand his experiences as he is more able to enjoy and appreciate them (ie, I’m not taking him to Rome when he’s four, but will certainly do it when he’s a bit older). Our family is very lucky to be both financially able to take trips like these and have the local grandparents who look forward to their childcare opportunities. As Raddy G get older, his inclusion in the more ‘adult’ trips become more and more likely and we hope to instill a sense of adventure, wonder, and excitement in him when it comes to travel.

Off we go!!

Driving to Burlington, VT

By some miracle I qualified for USAT Age Group Nationals at a race last month and was able to get registered to race. Basically you need to be in the top 10% at a sanctioned race, so I guess its not a miracle, but considering my training time is not what it used to be I’m pleased.

Baca and Grammie agreed to watch Raddy G for two nights while Jake and I go to Burlington. Jake’s birthday is this weekend and a race doesn’t thrill him but an opportunity to drive his Jaguar XJR convertible does. My bike, when completely disassembled, fits in the trunk.

We took the scenic route through Adirondack Park on Route 8, top down, Rolling Stones on the iPod, and an overcast sky. A stop at Suzy Q’s for lunch (a Brie, apple, and bacon panini in the middle of nowhere!) and a six hour leisurely drive found us in Burlington.

Great drive but a frantic scene at the race expo and bike check in—not relaxing!!

Wednesday dinner

Well, Kim is in the basement riding her bike on the trainer. I get to cook dinner. She gives me some key ingredients then says “Make me dinner farm boy”. I reply “As you wish” (ala the princess bride) and go on my merry way to undo any good she did on that bike.

She really likes this red and yellow pepper gratin recipe and has made it quite a few times. She bought a pork loin and we always have some sort of salad fixings around.

This pepper gratin calls for 1 1/2 oz sourdough bread to make crumbs with, bah I say, and use… Oh a buttload. Better put a rub on the pork. Also, what would you wrap your pork in? I would wrap mine in more pork. (bacon) Also if I had my druthers I would sear it in pork fat! Hmm. I had 4 pieces of bacon so I decided to wrap the pork loins like a filet, in bacon but,what to sear them in?
Hey! I have two more pieces of bacon that can be used to lubricate a cast iron pan. Sweet! But what to do with the two pieces of bacon I cook to lube up the pan for searing? Aha! I will put them in the food processor with the bread and double the Parmesan cheese called for to top the gratin. That’s American efficiency for you!
I better make this all look somewhat good for you so I focus on the salad. Baby lettuce leaves are a staple here. Good so we’ve got that. A few basil leaves off of the plant in the window… Hmm, there are some cherry tomatoes, a few carrots, and some fresh grated Parmesan cheese. (hey it was out). Now half a slice of Wegmans rosemary and olive oil bread (also out on the counter), a few twists of the pepper grinder, two glasses of heart healthy Fox Run pinot noir and I have what appears to be a healthy meal.

But we know better. And the result?


An ode to Genesee


Dear Genesee Brewing Company,

Recently, you rereleased your legendary 12 Horse Ale, as if that weren’t enough, you released it in the stubby brown bottles of my childhood. Throw in the Cream Ale and Genesee and I forgive your assault on my liver.

You see, growing up in the shadow of Genesee brewing and Rochester, every male family member drank their Genny from a stubby brown bottle. I wanted to be just like my Daddy…and my Paw-Paw too. Your short brown bottles represent all that it meant to be a man in the 1970s, at least to this grade schooler’s eyes. Every time I drain one of your glass cans I am transported to Aunt Lavonne’s on a hot August day watching the fireman’s parade with promises of fried dough and tilt-a-whirls at the carnival to follow.

Genesee was a working man’s beer. I see my Grandpa and Dad, I smell the cigarettes, I feel excited about the candy the firemen will throw, and I hear the carnival in the distance.

Growing up I remember people disparaging Cream
Ale and as a 20 something beer snob I turned my nose up. Then I started making beer and discovered the refreshing heaven that is Cream Ale. Kim even hoisted a Cream
Ale in here post Ironman picture!

12 Horse takes me back to Connelly’s Cove restaurant on Sodus Bay. I grew up in a family that didn’t frequent restaurants but when we did go out to dinner, my father would order a 12 Horse. It was his special occasion beer. When 12 Horse disappeared in 2003 I hoarded my remaining cases and lamented its retirement.

As for Genny, I drink buckets of it. It’s the fuel of summertime labor. My lawn mower and hammer are both Genny powered.

So thanks Genesee for the memories, as for the glass cans, you had me at 12 Horse.

Your Happiest (and Drunkest) Customer

PS I would be remiss if I failed to mention in my food blog that your neighbor makes my number one grilling accessory…