Finger Lakes Cheese Festival

So I know that recently it has looked like all we have been doing is house (and car) hunting/shopping but July did hold a few other treats for us- I’m just behind in posting about them.

July 26th we were more than ready for a real date-break from the stress of all of the transitions we are in the middle of. So we went to the Finger Lakes Cheese Festival in Odessa NY. We wanted to attend the year before but were in the Washington for my brother’s wedding. We drove out to this little town right outside of Walkins Glen on a sunny and humid Saturday getting there around one.

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We parked in the field of Sunset View Creamery and paid our $2 each to get into the festival. For only it’s 3rd Annual year it was obvious word had gotten out of about this farmer’s festival and the place was busy. The festival started around 10 with several children’s activities including a dunking booth, petting zoo, guided farm tours, hay rides, and chances to milk a goat.

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But we chose to come later in the afternoon for the grown-up activities; cheese tastings. We just barely missed out on the free wine and cheese paring; the tent was overflowing and they only had 50 samples to go around; but we did snag a brochure. Every pairing was local cheese being sold at the festival by the smaller artisan creameries with wines from Seneca lake wineries.

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We listened in for a while then decided to explore the booths. In order to check out the more then twelve creameries at this festival we had to get in line after line to sample their cheeses and get brochures on where/how to buy their products. There was everything; soft fresh, hard aged, stinky, mild, jack, cheddar, mozzarella, feta, spicy, blue , herb, sharp and more. There was also goat cheese and every place offered slices, wheels, or curds of their most famous flavors. But the cheese booths were also partnered with other local goods such as honey, maple products, soaps, and veggies and fruit.

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As we traveled around the booths sampling cheeses we enjoyed listening to one of three bands playing in the entertainment tent throughout the day. In the entertainment tent also was plenty of shaded seating for people to sit and enjoy their food and the music as well as two local wineries and breweries offering tasting for the adults.

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Other than sample,s there were plenty of non-snacking food options including roasted corn, bbq, popcorn, ice cream, hand pies, and more. As it got to the warmest part of the day we decided to get ourselves a treat: a scoop of local ice cream-and it was good; creamy and flavorful and not too sweet: Luke had mint chip and I had a raspberry chocolate chip cheesecake and it was very good.

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After wandering the farm grounds and festival booths we picked up some iced coffee and staked out our seats under the event tent for the beer and cheese pairing at 3:30pm. We enjoyed watching the people as we waited for this free pairing using local beers and cheeses. Once again this pairing was of only cheeses available to buy at the festival from the local creameries paired with beers from local microbreweries. The cheese were good the beer was decent also. Although the beer trail along the finger lakes area is still relatively new they are definitely growing with more than 60 microbreweries now in the area (or getting started).

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After the pairing presentations and discussion we went up to talk to the presenters and ask about their suggestions for local porters and stouts as well as picked up filers for additional food/cheese pairings with different types of beers.

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Believe it or not we didn’t pick up any cheese; we got out of the beer and cheese pairing around 4:30 and the festial ended around 5pm. Because the festival was so popular this year many of the local creameries had actually run out of supplies and left early. So we have learned our lesson;  next year we come earlier and buy the cheeses we discovered we like.

When we got home we looked up also where we can get the cheeses at local stores for future reference. All in all it was a perfect foodie day-date.

For more on the finger lakes wine trail check out at: http://flcheesetrail.com

or visit them on facebook: https://www.facebook.com/FLXCheeseTrail

Do you like cheese? What is your favorite kind?

Belated Birthday Outings

As I mentioned on Saturday Luke was out of town for his birthday so we put off birthday celebrations until he got home on Friday. On Friday I made him one of his favorite desserts: cinnamon rolls (see Bread of the month: Irish Cinnamon Rolls). Then to continue the celebration had him open b-day cards and presents.

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Then on Saturday we enjoyed a morning/afternoon of lazy sleeping in (and cinnamon rolls) at home then drove up to Dryden NY. Why Dryden? It is the home of a new hop farm and microbrewery: Hopshire.

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Outside of it’s awesome name, Hopshire serves high quality brews made with local honey, grains, and their own home-grown hops. We discovered them at the Ithaca Chili fest (see Ithaca chili Cook Off) where they were giving away samples of two of their brews: a light honey beer called :Beehave and a spicy brown ale called: Round Yon Virgil.

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We pulled up to the brewery and stepped into their taproom:s a cozy room  with a bar and a spare room with a large dinging table. Each door way was framed with  ornately decorated wood framing  carved with leaves and hops and the taproom walls were decorated with vintage beer advertisements.

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Luke decided to try a flight of what was on tap starting with the lightest beer and ending with their IPA’s. His thoughts: they revile the northwest’s beers  (which if you know anything about beer that is saying something). The favorite picks included: Fiddler’s Grain a red ale and their best seller the Shire a darker scottish ale. Even though I am allergic to barley there were one or two tasters I couldn’t resist doing more than smelling. For more on this see (Wait Barley-Free means no beer right?). After signing the guest log Luke decided to use some b-day money and take home a growler of the Fiddler’s Grain and a new hat.

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To finish of our birthday outing we drove into Ithaca for dinner at Maxie’s Supper Club a cajun/southern inspired restaurant serving: blackened fish, gumbo, jambalaya, BBQ,  grits, and more. They offer their full menu every-night until 11pm and in addition to their 4-6pm happy hour they are also an oyster bar.

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As we were brought to our seats I could see that even though it was early on a Saturday night the place was getting busy.  Decorated with new orleans style color themes and decor it wasn’t long before our water glasses were filled and cornbread with honey butter was brought to our table. After glancing at the menus Luke ordered the shrimp and cheese grits with their tasso gravy sauce and I got the house jambalaya.

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As we tried not to fill up on cornbread we watched other people receive delicious looking dishes of ribs, shrimp skewers, green fried tomatoes, and crabcakes.

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And our dinner? Amazing, Luke’s shrimp ‘n grits came with an open face andouille sausage on top and had an awesome  texture, and kick and so did my jambalaya filled with chicken, andouille sausage, and shrimp. We quickly filled up and never had to wait for service; our water glasses were always full as were the multiple baskets of sweet corn bread.

It was a perfect birthday dinner out.

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?      

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 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!)

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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.

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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.

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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 🙂 ).

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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.

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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.