Apple Fest

Last Saturday Luke and I drove up to Ithaca for their annual Apple Fest ! As you may know from past posts (cinnamon oatmeal apple muffins) I love apples, really I do.

IMG_1688

I know that it is typical to think of pumpkins come autumn, but first in my mind is apple season. Growing up my family  each year would escape from LA’s heat and drive up to Oak Glenn to get apples at a local orchard. We would sample the year’s variety and pick a bagful of apples and other treats then head to one of the several area restaurants serving  apple pie. Last Fall before our wedding, we took my Dad up to Serendipity to see where we would be getting married. Then we drove minutes down the road to the Oak Glenn apple orchards to pick out local apples to decorate our wedding venue, and afterward as is tradition, we went to get apple pie.

IMG_1657IMG_1658

With that background, let me share about this years apple experience. We arrived downtown Ithaca around 2pm and paid an event parking fee of $5 then set out to find a map and explore the festival. The first we notice was how crowded it was!! This was obviously a very popular event,, especially with the local college scene.

IMG_1660IMG_1666

IMG_1684

We started this multi-street venture with exploring apple vendors, bakers, and ciderys on Aurora st. It was difficult to maneuver through the crowd of people, some standing in front of vendor booths, other waiting in lines for hard cider tastings or to buy carmel apples or  kettle corn.

IMG_1667IMG_1664

When we came to the end of the row we noticed a long tent so packed with people you couldn’t tell what was being sold.  As we got closer we saw table after tables overflowing with local amish baked goods including pies, cakes, fudge, brownies, crisps, and cobblers. Rounding the booths we priced some of the apples per their pecks and shared a hot spiced cider for $1.50.

IMG_1670IMG_1671

We then took a break from the crowd and turned onto E. State street where a parking lot had been reserved for more vendors. In this lot were several more orchard/apple vendors, wineries, breweries, baked goods, and a live music stage.

IMG_1677IMG_1668

A line the length of the parking lot had formed at the end of Little Tree Orchards s waiting for a new batch of their apple cider doughnuts. Considering their popularity, we decided to buy a large bag of Northern Spy apples. We tried several of the wines and beers and Luke discovered one of the companies’ coffee stout was eerily similar to his own first brewed beer (for more on this see The home-brewing has begun).

IMG_1678IMG_1682

IMG_1673IMG_1676

Taking turns carrying the bag of apples, we walked through the commons and to cayuga street to check out the craft vendors. We saw much of the same vendors or goods that were available at other festival throughout the summer/spring the usual: clothes, jewelry, photography, paintings, and custom wood or metal work.

IMG_1681IMG_1683

We also toured a smaller simultaneous festival occurring in Dewitt park called “The First People’s Festival.” The highlight of this seemed to be for children who were given the opportunity to make native crafts or hear traditional tribal stories. There were not many distinctive cultural crafts being sold that I could see and I was disappointed to walk away not feeling like I learned much about the four to five local tribes in the area.

IMG_1697IMG_1696

Last but not least we explored the food vendors on W. State st. which were all the cheap and unhealthy fair foods we’ve seen at every fest or carnival. But on the south side of Cayuga street was the international food market. From vietnam,  to India, to Cuba or good old American with a twist they had it all! Although it all looked and smelled delicious, we decided to just grab an iced chai tea and head back to the car. We had a beautiful sunny drive home and enjoyed watching the hills filled with fall foliage color, it was the perfect ending to a great fall festival day.

IMG_1689IMG_1686

So what did we do with all of those apples? Stay tuned to find out later this week. . .

Wait-barley free means no beer . . . Right? aka A Chemistry lesson for a Birthday present

So let me first answer the question:

Wait-barley free means no beer . . . Right?      

IMG_2801    

 This is the first thing people ask me when they find out about my allergy. It was hard news for my ex-bartender boyfriend (now husband) from the micro-brewing region of Oregon. Suddenly I could no longer enjoy a dark cold brew with him at a local pub.

When we go out to pubs now I am lucky if they serve hard cider. (My favorite by the way is Woodchuck) because sometimes wine just doesn’t pair as well with pub food.  Fortunately the gluten-free fad has grown like a wildfire.

Unfortunately many gluten-free beers taste like the cheap light stuff you might encounter at a college party.

One of the only gluten-free beers I have liked was at the Deschutes Brewery and Public House in Portland. We went there on our honeymoon and they have an amazing gluten-free menu (trust me and check it out!)

images

Inside the Portland Public House
Inside the Portland Public House

But getting that beer across the country is a little tough. The only other options widely available are Redbridge (Budwieser and I don’t like there regular beer so . ..  yea) or Omission.

images 2

On our honeymoon we also went to the Windmer Bros. Gasthaus Pub  because they listed two gluten-free beers (called Omission) and a gluten-free menu (the buffalo wings were pretty good). When they brought my beer to the table I read the label-it had barley in it! See they played with the chemicals and came up  a low gluten beer so it will not upset the stomach of someone with celliac’s disease.

images 1

So now what? Well I do have some half decent gluten-free beers at our local grocery store (all ambers) or  . . . someone can start a new hobby (now I’m getting to the birthday part)

My allergy is actually a good excuse for Luke to start a hobby one of his best friends had been doing for years: home brewing. So two Christmas’ ago Luke got a beer-making kit with plans to make homemade barley-free porters and stouts. But with a wedding, new job, and moving Luke hasn’t started up home brewing. . . yet.

Here we are: A chemistry lesson for a Birthday present:

So I took Luke for his birthday to Rohrbachs brewery and taproom in Rochester NY hoping it might help jumpstart his creativity.  We started our tour watching a video explaning the history of the brewery meanwhile Luke enjoying a few samples on tap (5 bucks for tour and 6 samples 🙂 ).

images 7

The taproom
The taproom

Then we were taken back to the brewery.  The tour was a full on chemistry lesson! I followed along as they explained the steps for making different beers the best I could, after the 5th step my mind began to drift-but not Luke. He was fully engaged-raising his hand as if back in chemistry class to ask specific questions. It was informal, informative, and best of all Luke loved it.

The tour
The tour

We then took some time to drive (I drove) around finding where the science museum,  parks, auditoriums, observatory etc. were since it was our first time downtown.

After we went to Rohrbach’s brewpub across town for dinner.

rorh2 image.cgi

We ordered off their traditional German Menu : Luke ate the sample plate of juicy sausages and sauerkraut while I had crispy potato pancakes with applesauce (can you say yum!). To drink I ordered their homemade root-beer. It was dark delicious dessert in a cup and amazingly I could taste the sasporilla!

And Luke, well he got another sampler of beer, this time of their speciality dark brews only on tap at their microbrewery.

And boy was he one happy birthday boy can you tell?
And boy was he one happy birthday boy can you tell?

Hopefully now that Luke has been inspired, the home-brewing will start soon . Don’t worry I’ll fill you as we go along.