Category Archives: Wine

Three Days of Finger Lakes Wineries-Day One

AKA How to not to bruise your palate, get a DWI, and have enough energy for dinner.

Jake’s 40th was supposed to be grander than this. Afterall, my 40th was spent at Victoria and Albert’s eating and getting proposed to; how does one top that? Well, initially I’d planned a few days in Sonoma. We’d never been and in my typically self-serving fashion figured what was good for me was good for Jake! However, some health concerns for my parents meant that we couldn’t be sure Adam would have a place to stay. It seems the authorities and mommy bloggers frown on leaving your four year old alone for several days and get even more angry if you suggest taking them to wineries.

So I revised and decided to spend two nights in Hammondsport on Keuka Lake visiting wineries and restaurants we hadn’t been to before. This post is about the wineries, how I selected them and what we liked and did not like.  The full itinerary is on a weebly site I made for Jake’s birthday–this keeps the links to each destination and daily plan organized in a way that (in a perfect world) would allow me to add content, reviews and pictures. Let’s chuckle about the best laid plans…we both know I never bother with that nonsense!! You want pictures? Go to instagram!

We visit the wineries on the northwestern side of Seneca Lake often; Ravines, Billsboro, Fox Run, Red Tail Ridge and sometimes Hermann J. Wiemer. These are with 60-90 minutes of our house and can be done in day trip while Adam is at daycare or with a babysitter. But we never make it further, mostly because further requires over night or much longer day, and if we’re going to be gone past Adam’s bedtime, we might as well be gone all night, amirite? So my plans were to take us further south and east than we typically go, basing my choices on award winners, interesting stories, and Evan Dawson’s Summer in a Glass.

Our first day started with lunch at the New York State Wine and Culinary Center, where we were able to sit outside and enjoy a bottle of Boundary Breaks Riesling (more on that winery/vineyard later!), a pork belly app, and summer squash pizza. My brief review: I like the dedication to NYS wine, the interesting menu, the good food, and the building; I dislike the amateur service (it’s not bad, but it’s not up to the menu), the view of the parking lot/marina, and the regular ‘we’re out of X’ every time I order something.

The only two wineries on our list today were Dr. Konstantin Frank and Keuka Lake Vineyards. Dr. Frank has a long history in the Finger Lakes, has won many awards and has a breath-taking view. And yet I never really find myself in love with their wine. I’m sure it’s just me, as my palate pretty much stinks, I can’t ever tell you what I smell or taste, and all those somms can’t be wrong. In any case, I will tell you that Keuka Lake Vineyards is AMAZING. Tiny, no view, limited amount of wine but what we tasted we bought (in fact, I just ordered more). I’d recently read Lenn Thompson’s (of the New York Cork Report) brief instagram review of their Vignoles:

Fascinating take on vignoles… Chilled it was just too harshly structured and lacking fruit. At room temp it blossomed with dried pineapple and apricot… Not for everyone. And not going to impressed within 30 seconds. Take your time and tease out the layers and complexity.

Damned if he wasn’t right. We tasted this after it had been opened earlier in the day and at room temp and it was just as he described; we liked it so much we bought a bottle. But what really impressed us was the Leon Millot Fournier 2014, a red that had no business in the FLX, with its deep inky color (picture grape jelly, really) and incredible roundness. Just really impressive. We bought one and ordered two more the other day. Must be those 70-year-old vines…

And that was that for wineries that day. We made our way to our hotel (McCorn Winery Lodging-more later!) and a lakeside dinner (I’ll write about that another day too!) and shamelessly went to bed around 9:30.

Day two, coming up.

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Last Week in Wine

It was a hell of a week. In short, my mother is getting older and has many of the problems that go with that; these things cause me to spend inordinate amounts of time in hospitals and wine shops.

After the first 48 hours had gone by (including on night sleeping in a chair) and things were looking up, I headed home Wednesday to have a comfort meal with Jake. I’m not sure if I was exhausted or just feeling spendy, but instead of picking up a pizza like a normal person, I stopped at Wegmans for charcuterie and cheese, then the wine shop for what I decided was a night worth a “good” wine.

See that box of figs in the background. Insanity.

See that box of figs in the background? Insanity.

Enter Bacio Divino 2006 Red Blend for $50. We often have conversations about the price of wine, mostly wondering if we go upwards from $30 do we gain as much as we spend. Is a $50 red doubly as good as a $25 red? After this bottle, I’d say sometimes, maybe. How’s that for clarity?! We’d recently had the 337 Cab Sav were pretty happy considering the price tag. These two wines tasted side by side really demonstrated what time and cost might get you in terms of wine. The Divino was rich and delicate at once, with a sort of ‘nothing’ start, then the fruit comes but not too fruity (I lack wine words…) with a long finish. That my first thought, actually. A very long finish that I liked a lot (see, poor wine vocab on my part). Overall, it was subtle and I wasn’t entirely sure it was worth it as we were eating the platter of cheese, meat, fruit and bread.

But then. THEN. The dark chocolate covered figs. Mother of God. I’m weak in the knees just thinking about it. It was one of those pairings that makes you remember how wine makes food better and food makes wine better. Just ridiculous. Perfect pairing.

There was more dietary and alcoholic insanity as the week went on. Thursday was a beautiful 65 degree spring day, so again, on my way home from the hospital, I made the decision to get some Rose so I could sit on the porch and enjoy the weather. A wine friend at the shop recommended the Roger Et Didier Raimbault (note: I paid about 25% more than this link suggests) and the L’oliveto. I’d initially ignored the L’oliveto because it was $8 (note: it appears to be retailing at other shops for $14). Live and learn. She raved. I drank. It was solid, especially for wine you plan to drink a bunch of while sitting on your porch. I went back and bought a case. I also told her that we were having oxtail ragu over gnocchi for dinner (Jake is soooooooo good to me….) and she picked a Malbec that was a great match.

Saturday night was Jake’s first attempt at duck confit and it was RIDICULOUS. I picked a young pinot noir, Acrobat, I think (it’s all fuzzy by then) and promised a myself a solid detox this week.

This coming week will likely be devoid of wine (she says on Monday…we’ll see when Friday comes) and devoted to veggies and hopefully movement from the hospital into rehabilitation (fingers crossed). Because my richness and stress quotas have been met via charcuteris, oxtail, duck and old age.

Char

We go to Char entirely too often. Need a quick bite before RBTL? Char. Nightcap after RMSC event? Char. New Years Eve? Char. Date night? Char. Happy Hour before Play Ball at Strong Museum? Char.

See, a long time ago, we had a pork belly app here that still calls out to me. We return in the hope of getting that pork belly again. Unfortunately, it’s not on the menu anymore. But now they have a spicy sausage stuffed calamari and this oxtail gnocchi thing that are easily two of the best things I’ve ever eaten. Please keep in mind there are always many glasses of wine and a baby sitter associated with Char, so I might be biased.

I posted about RMSC Uncorked the other day and how it wasn’t really as, um, good/informative/not crowded as we’d hoped. We arrived there right at 6, after stopping at Hedges (always, it’s just down the road from our house and has a great view, dated everything else, but a great view) AND Char, for a glass of Girard Chardonay and some potato wedges. We knew there would be food at RMSC, but wanted a bit beforehand just in case there wasn’t enough. Well, there wasn’t enough.

Just after 8 we headed back to Char and were seated right away. Our table was one of the less desirable, but no wait is no wait. Overall, excellent again, both service and food.

1. Girard Chard–we like it, it’s not too expensive and pairs nicely with the oysters and calamari we ordered.

2. Oysters–$3 a pop, the special, and I can’t remember what variety they were. Four of the six we ordered were great, but two of them (two of mine) were bad–one had lots of broken shell and the other one tasted like cat litter. We told the server, assuming he’d take the $6 off the bill but instead he took the whole dish off. Great job, Char!

3. The aforementioned calamari stuffed with spicy Italian sausage and bread crumbs, grilled and served over cannellini beans and cherry peppers. This is the full squid, stuffed with the fattiest spicy pork sausage ever. Amazing. In some ways it reduces the calamari to a sausage casing, but I don’t care, it’s delicious and we get it every time.

4. The red wine-braised oxtail ragù with ricotta gnocchi. Do I even need to say anything else?! Tender, fatty, rich, amazing. Surely needs a good red to work with all that fattiness, but we didn’t order one to compliment this. (Are you counting; I’m up to a glass at Hedges, a glass at Char, tastings at RMSC, splitting  bottle back at Char…)

And we were home by 11!

What happened to our last wine shipment? Uh, we drank it.

wine shipment

March Shipment-Ravines Wine Club

So the March shipment was pretty good, all wines we really like from Ravines Wine Cellars. On the left, almost invisible (thanks, stupid daylight!) is the 2013 Gewurztraminer, then 2011 Artgetsinger Dry Reisling, followed by 2013 Kueka Village Red and 2012 Pinot Noir.

First to go was the Pinot. We had some charcuterie and bread for dinner (pretty typical Friday night fare around here) and opend this. And then the the Village Red went too.  Viviane at Foodandstyle.com does a much better job than I at describing what there is to love about Ravines Pinot, and although this was a differenct vintage her description of a light-in-color, delicate-in-taste wine is spot on and we too, paired some cherry tomatoes tossed with oil and arugala with this. When that was gone we opened the Village Red.

Village Red is my dirty secret wine. It’s very easy to drink and pair, light, a tiny bit sweet and…mixed with some Orange Sunkist and fruit is awesome Sangria. I know. Whatever, it’s good stuff.

So half the bottle was gone. Just a few nights later we were having a cheese board for dinner (I know…but bread and cheese are delicious) with some gouda, young cheddar, asiago and mozzarella. Perhaps not the best mix, but all of them need a sweeter wine, so we drank the Gewurztraminer. Here’s what I like about Ravines Gewurzt–it doesn’t taste like I’m eating flowers. I really have always hated Gewurztraminer for the intense florals in the ones I’ve tasted. This is not like that at all. Again, someone else has described it better than I (thanks, Joe!).

The last bottle, the Argetsinger Reisling will have to wait. We met Sam Argetsinger last summer at Ravines and loved him right away. A man who believed in a full pour, drank his own wine, loved what he did, and learned viticulture at a late age. He died  in December and the Finger Lakes lost someone special; Jake and I have been so lucky to have been able to meet and talk with him. Evan Dawson wrote a lovely post on the New York Cork Report, that like all things, is much better than I could have done.

So, we went to Key West, again.

And we did nothing. Really, nothing. There was some booze and lots of long walks, a nap or two, more food than is advised but that’s pretty much it. So instead of a play-by-play I’ll give some summary thoughts.

1. Lodging: We really like Almond Tree Inn but might be ready to stay elsewhere. The rooms are large and very well kept, the service is excellent, the pool and hot tub relaxing, but…We go out for these meandering walks and find ourselves intrigued by other inns, B&Bs, and rental properties. So maybe the Gardens next year. Or not.

2. Things we won’t do again: Roof Top Cafe has lost us. I wonder if we just happened to have a great meal last year and mediocre is their standard. We went for a bar snack/light meal around 8:30 on a Sunday and had both poor service and food. The place was empty and still the bartender took FOREVER to serve us, recommended a wine that was really not very good, and then served us cold food. That also didn’t taste that great. Very disappointed. We had a similar experience at the bar last year, but figured since our dinner was so good it was an anomaly. I think the good dinner was the anomaly. We also are over Hog’s Breath Saloon. I like the music but it smells like college in there. And the bathrooms are icky. There is a shit ton of live music in Key West and I’m not sure why we stayed attached to this place. Anyway, next time, these two are out. And why, oh why, do people like Half Shell Raw Bar or Turtle Kraals? Cheap food, that tastes like cheap food, the most poorly schucked oysters of all time, conch fritters that had no discernable conch in them, and drunken tourists (I resemble that remark) but not the good kind. I’m being judgy, I don’t care, I didn’t like either of these places at all. Maybe I missed something by going during happy hour.

3. New (to us) places we loved: Square One is really good. We ate there twice, partly out of convenience, partly because Devils on Horseback are amazing!! I would only eat there once next time and stick to tapas rather than entrees. Nothing wrong with the entrees, just we enjoyed the tapas more. Off the Hook was great too; they had me at duck bacon. We both had fish tacos and loved them and will return for more. The service was great, the food was great, they deserve some love. The place is really really small though, like I can’t believe they run a full kitchen out of that building small. And how did we not go to Santiago’s Bodega before? I don’t know, but we’ll go back. I liked the happy hour sangria, Jake was not as enthused, but the wine list is big, the tapas delicious and it’s off the beaten path a bit meaning everyone is there because they made the effort to go there. We stopped by 2 Cents for happy hour and free bacon, left to go to Half Shell Raw Bar (see above) and ended up going back later that night for sliders, met a guy who put Jake to shame in both height and liver, had a billion moscow mules and then gin and tonics and regretted it only a little the next day.  The food I had (apps) was good, the drinks were great, the bacon a bonus.

4. Old faithfuls: Grand Vin is still great. Love the porch, the people, Donna and Greg. Mainstay for us. Think daily. La Creperie also nails it again. We ate three of four breakfasts there. Mmmm, brie.

5. Prana Spa. Its a good massage, priced like resorts are. I recommend it, but in the end it was similar to every massage I’ve ever had. It’s a nice perk on vacation, but I can get them at home pretty easily, just as enjoyably, and for less money. I’m biased as I have Eve Buckley as a SIL and she has magic hands.

So, we shall return and maybe we’ll even go on a boat, or swim, or something other than sleep, eat and drink.

2014 Disney Food and Wine, Wine, and Wine Festival-PreTrip

I don’t think I started (let alone finished) blogging our family trip to Disney in May. I’m sorry. Really, I am, but honestly, I can’t even remember what we did, other than the room was great and Adam loved the slide at the pool. But I’ve got one piece of advice from that trip that I’m going to try to follow on this one: don’t drink so much wine!

Now that you’ve stopped laughing and have wiped the tears away, I’ll remind you (did I tell you this then?) that we went to the Jiko Wine Tasting at 3PM one day, left Rad with my parents, then had two before we left for dinner at CG and so instead of going to our room went to the Bay Lake Towers Top of the World bar…where I’m pretty sure I was over served. Then we went to dinner and we asked for the waiter to choose wine pairings for our apps and entrees, which he did. And then it gets very fuzzy and much money was spent and food may have been enjoyed and my kid wakes up at 6AM. So, you know, suckage.

This is a kid-free trip for FWF, so I feel less bad about Mommy’s overindulging on this trip (really, don’t do that thing I did above, it’s not cool). Some great stuff is on the agenda including Party For The Senses and French Regional Lunch-Champagne!! And we are using up three days on old tickets because we’ll get new annual passes for our family trip for all three of us in April, so this feels like we can relax and not try to get the most bang for the buck out of our park days.

It’s been said that Epcot is the world’s greatest bar with the world’s largest cover charge and I’m about to find out if that’s true. We have to use a day of our tickets just to get into Epcot for PFTS which is also bunch of money for the separate ticket and another day to get to the FRUNCH plus paying for that meal. You can do math, you can figure out what’s invested. I swear if I didn’t have DVC or a boatload of Disney Rewards I’d gag on the amounts.

We’ve typically done Epcot’s Food and Wine Festival on weekdays and have never done the events other than the booths and one or two cooking demos, so this will be very different: the weekend crowd, the party and meal, the FP+ that I’m booking but probably not using.

We leave Saturday, 1PM, Southwest direct flight. Rad goes to Baca and Mimi’s house. Quicksilver is picking us up. I considered Magical Express but for a short trip it seems like a waste of time;  we land at 3:40 and PFTS is at 7. I know ME can be as little as 2 hours or as much as 3 from airport to resort, but this level of good-looking takes more maintenance time pre-party then ME could provide for me.

So far some very good things have happened for us regarding this trip. The first was a resort change. I booked Animal Kingdom Villas (its my home resort–you book where you own at 11 months, and others are allowed at 7 months) at 11 months out but then decided to waitlist for Boardwalk Villas at 7 months. Then I forgot completely. I logged in one day in July to see how many points we had left and if it was worth renting them to someone or banking them and found that we had gotten BWV! The next day a letter came in the mail confirming.

I also took advantage of being a Disney Visa card holder and booked my FWF experiences (or wallet emptiers, you be the judge) before the general public. I was concerned as there was confusion last year with CMs who didn’t know that Visa card holders could book, a closed reservation system, and people saying they didn’t get either their perk or their desired ressie. But no problems; Disney Food Blog is certainly the most comprehesive resource on FWF, booking, perks and the like. 

Plans as they stand:
SAT-Fly, QS to BWV, get fancy, go to PFTS (yes, I’m dressing like I paid as much as I paid to go to this thing; dressing well is about politeness to the other guests, the chefs, and my wallet. And honestly, I like dressing up), possible hit MK for late night after (yes, still dressed for the evening…) but maybe just BLT bar to see 11PM Wishes…We’ll see.

SUN-Lazy morning, maybe the pool, certainly coffee. FRUNCH at noon, til 3:30!! Then leave Epcot (gasp) because I’ve heard about you drinkers on the weekends and the bad behavior (read the DIS thread on this, I’ve never seen what people are describing, but then maybe I’m too busy enjoying myself to notice middle aged drunks at Epcot) and head to HS for some thrill rides. I’ve got FP+s for the biggies, but again, I’m not married to any of this, perhaps we’ll sit by the pool and relax. Take a nap. Oh, sleep, I miss you so.

MON-Soaring at 10AM FP+, then FWF around the world. That’s it.

TUE-sleep some more, pack, go home at 1PM. Pick up Weeman and love on him a ton. How can you not love all over this?

Making “Daddy Bread” (and very excited about flour…)


See you when I get back!!!! 
I’ll be instagramming and tweeting tons too: @onafullstomach

Jake’s Birthday and the Bragdon House Bed and Breakfast

While eating breakfast with six other guests of the Bragdon House B&B following our day and night of celebrating Jake’s birthday, this conversation happened:

Other Guest: where did you have dinner?

Jake: We didn’t.

Kim: We just went to Halsey’s and had drinks.

Jake: Well, we ordered a pizza there.

Kim: So, I guess that was dinner.

Jake: And then we went to Parker’s for a drink.

Kim: We did?

Jake: Yeah, you had a White Russian.

Kim: I did? Why did I do that?

Jake: They didn’t have any coffee for an Irish Coffee, so you ordered a White Russian. I don’t know, you did that thing where you want more drinks when you shouldn’t have any. 

 

It’s a good thing the owner followed up with her own story of spending too much time at Parker’s getting “shitfaced” when she first opened the B&B. I felt much less like an ass after that. Still hungover, but not an ass. It’s a win. And, who do I think I am? The Dude? White Russian? Good lord…

We started our day last tuesday with a backroads drive to Heron Hill Winery to have lunch at their Blue Heron Cafe. The wine is good, the food is middling, the view is spectacular and it’s one of the few places in the Finger Lakes where you can sit outside AND have a waiter AND have a view. We ordered a cheese/meat board, a salad and a sandwich along with a bottle of semi-dry reisling. Nothing to complain about, but I’d argue that Fox Run’s cheese/meat board is a far better value (but no waiter, and the view is good, but not as good). We did the same last year for Jake’s birthday, so I suppose it’s becoming something of a tradition now. I remember the food being better last year, but we also went on a Friday; perhaps the busier days result in better food?

View from Blue Heron Cafe, Heron Hill Winery, Hammondsport, NY

We continued on from there into the village of Hammondsport, to have another glass of wine at The Village Tavern. We sat outside at a sidewalk table and enjoyed the view of the town square. We typically only have a drink here, or a bar snack (and by bar snack I mean oysters…so good!) and then head off elsewhere. Today was the same. Hammondsport is a quaint little village that we continually wish we could live in, but can’t figure out how we would support ourselves in the middle of nowhere. Note, my work from home thing is quite a bit more from home than it is work right now. We decided to head back north along the eastern side of Keuka Lake then cut over to the western side of Seneca Lake to stop at Fox Run for another cheese/meat platter and wine to go. Our B&B was advertised as having a great back porch and we wanted to take advantage of that. 

Back porch view at Bragdon House Bed and Breakfast, Geneva, NY

The Bragdon House did not disapppoint!! The back porch has both an screened and an open area with lots of very comfortable seating. Many B&Bs have porches but I don’t always feel at home on them. Either they aren’t comfy, or they are too tiny, too sparse, or too hard in terms of seating. For example, last year we stayed at the Magnolia House, on the other side of Senece Lake for Jake’s birthday and while they had a huge porch, it wasn’t very inviting. Perhaps it was the size of the B&B (more like an Inn) or the banquet like feel of the dining room, or the uncushioned adirondack chairs, but I just felt like I was imposing the whole time. But this place, the Bragdon House, was like being on your own porch. Much more casual, much more relaxed. We sat at the high table, put our feet up, opened our wine and enjoyed the view of the lake through the trees. 

The Bragdon House is small, four rooms, and right on Main St in Geneva. You can walk downtown to the restaurants or a little further to the lake front or Hobart College. They serve a great breakfast and have a mini-fridge on the porch for your wine and leftovers. Note that one review on tripadvisor was miffed at the lack of theme (?) and that he didn’t get a complimentary glass of wine. To even give away wine, a B&B has to have a liquor license and this place can’t get one because they are within 200 feet of a church. Seems silly, but its BYOW. Fine with me. My only complaint is that I needed a glass of water in the middle of the night and found we didn’t have any in our room. Hardly a deal breaker, and most people wouldn’t have noticed but, as you now know, I had a wee bit too much to drink and was parched.  Really, the owner couldn’t have been nicer and more our type! She recently had a baby and totally had her act together despite being up at 3AM to feed an 11 week old. We’ll be going back!