Rochester Lilac Festival

It is finally and truly spring here. Once spring comes so do the festival, one or two every weekend.

This past weekend Luke and I celebrated another semester of teaching over by going to the Rochester Lilac Festival.


This is the largest Rochester city festival lasting two full weeks and weekends. It takes place at Highland Park with food tents, many concerts from various local bands, a home and garden show, children’s shows and more. During the week they also have a Lilac run, wine and chocolate and craft beer tasting events.


Fortunately Luke and I had heard that MCC provides parking for 2$ and a round trip shuttle back and forth to the festival. We were happy to not have to struggle to find a parking spot or fight the crowd.


Once we were dropped off at the festival sight we briefly walked around the most crowded area where the food vendors and concerts were. Crossing the street into the larger park area we enjoyed strolling through the lilac trees which are in full bloom with purple and pink flowers and a strong fragrance.


We passed many acoustic musicians in the park and families taking pictures or resting under the trees and shade. We came down the hill from the lilac bushes to the annual pansy bed and found several food trucks.


We decided to try a dish from Brick N Motor, a local seasonal menu food truck. We shared a small plate of bim bap: rice, korean beef,  and kimchi topped with carrots, thai basil, sesame seeds and a poached egg. It was delicious.


After our rest we continued back up the hill toward the reservoir through the azaleas. Past the reservoir at the top of the park hill art vendors were selling their pottery, wood vases, lilac oils and candles, clothes, photography etc. alongside with a few other food vendors.


Passing the conservatory we decided to make our way back down the hill and finish off our tour of the festival looking at larger food tents and vendors while listening to a little music.


It was a warm day and crowded but it was a fun festival, with free entertainment and great food.

To find out more about the festival click: Lilac Festival

Playing tourist with the Grandparents

It’s always fun when family come in from out of town; we love to play tourists and being hosts.  The season they come during and their personal interests determine which types of activities and locations we get to share with them.

This past week my grandparents (dad’s parents) came into town for a visit on their month long travels. They started from their home in California in their camper-van and are on their way up to Maine and back again. The last time I’d seen them was at my brother’s wedding last August (see:

So I was thrilled to get some time with them.


My husband took off work on Friday so we were ready for them when they rolled into town that afternoon. We took them downtown Market street on a walk after some much needed catching up. While downtown, we stopped in the Crystal City olive oil store. My grandpa took samples of everything and enjoyed talking to the store workers since we had the place to ourselves. Luke and I bought a bottle of lemon basil white vinaigrette we thought would go well on both salads and for marinades and my grandmother picked up some very early christmas gifts for a few friends.

For more on Corning’s Market Street see:


We came back to our little rented house and made them our traditional Greene pizza with a twist. Instead of the usual ingredients we used artichoke hearts, olives, crushed fresh garlic, grape tomatoes, onions, and spinach with an Alfredo base instead of tomato. And for meat? Chicken breast pan fried in olive oil and oregano. It was extremely delicious and a great experimental sucess.

For more on our homemade pizza see:


The next day we took the grandparents on a hiking/nature tour. We stopped by their beautiful campsite with my homemade quiche and fruit for a picnic lunch (see:

Then we took off in our car to Walkins Glen to hike the Gorge Trail. Although the parking lot was crowded the trail was not too busy and my grandparents had not problems keeping up on the incline of stairs (which is pretty great since my grandfather turned 80 this year!) It is just as beautiful as last year when we first discovered this amazingly breathtaking view.

For more on Walkins Glen state park see:


Next we drove up to Ithaca passing by one of the finger lakes (Seneca) on our way to the base of the other (Cayuga) through beautiful country. We stopped by the Ithaca Farmer’s Market where we split off: grandpa and Luke sampling cheese and other foods and Grandma and I tasting local ciders and wines.


We left with some local maple syrup and hard cider and headed to another state park: Buttermilk Falls. We chose not to conquer two gorge trails in one day but instead enjoyed the view from the picnic tables at the base of the falls.

For more on the Farmer’s Market and Buttermilk falls see:


We drove back towards Corning a different route to show more of the country-side then ended up in Horseheads for dinner and dessert. We took my grandparents to our favorite little mom-and-pop sushi place where we enjoyed our delicious sashimi, miso soup, and traditional rolls while my grandparents enjoyed yakisoba  (although they did try a shrimp, avocado, and egg roll). And for dessert? We went to sweetfrog; the local frozen yogurt joint where we could all get a variety of topping and flavors for our unique personalities.


On Sunday after church we went to lunch at one of my favorite spots: Walker Cake Co.: Barn Owl Cafe where we got breakfast for lunch: breakfast burritos, gluten-free breakfast sandwiches, and traditional two egg breakfasts all with coffee.


After a hearty brunch we took our grandparents to the Corning glass museum (how could we not?). They were concerned that we would be bored since this was our fourth or fifth time in the museum. We assured them that we weren’t; the contemporary art exhibit had completely been changed out; the demos were being done by new people which always means different information, each live glassblowing creates new and unique items, and the main art display always has a changing/rotating exhibit.


So although we had taken my parents  at christmas we were far from bored. We also did a very early christmas gift ; the grandparents made a sculpture at the art-glass studio. Much like what we did from my parents; grandma chose the colors and grandpa made the sculpture. Since they are traveling they chose to have it shipped to my parents place where they will end their travels.

For more on the glass museum see:


After a long tour day at the museum we headed back to our house for another Greene dinner: fish tacos. My grandfather tries every fish taco place in California when he has the chance and gave ours a thumbs up for approval

For more on our fish tacos see:

We finished our last night together enjoying the thundering rain storm on our porch while eating some of my homemade popsicles.

See some of them at:

As a parting gift as we took my grandparents back to their campsite I gave grandma one of my swedish rye loafs (will be my bread of the month post) and little horseradish cheese from our trip to Ellicottville.

For more on Cuba cheese see:

It was a great weekend playing tourists and hosts. It was also a fun overview for us of what we have explored, learned, and discovered in the past year living in the Corning area. Can’t wait to see what we will explore and discover the rest of this summer and into next year as we transition into a new location (but more on that later).

Do you enjoy hosting friends and family?

What are some of your favorite meals to cook for them?

What local restaurants/tourist spots do insist showing them?



In the summer time here in the Finger Lakes there is at least one ( if not many) festivals every weekend. So there is no way to check everything you want to out all in one year. Last year we stayed local and went to Glassfest for the weekend of Memorial Day.

For more on this see:


This year instead we decided to go to Ithaca-fest; another town-festival this one always held the weekend after Memorial Day. Over the past year and a half we have explored several Ithaca based festivals and always enjoyed them for the people watching (college students), local musicians, and of course the best varied and international festival food in the area. For more on some of the Ithaca festivals we have enjoyed see:

Apple Fest:

Chili Fest:

So we left around 1pm on Saturday and took the scenic route through Walkins Glen toward Ithaca enjoying watching the sail boats on Seneca and Cayuga lake on the drive up. When we got to town it was clear the whole city was buzzing with activity. This 4-day long festival kicked-off with a parade on Thursday, and festivities around the commons are held Friday-Sunday.



Each day of the festival multiple stages placed throughout the closed roads hosted local musicians representing all ages and styles of music. In addition to this, the park and church stages included smaller local cultural activities such as youth dance, Hawaiian dancers, belly-dancers, youth orchestra etc.


Several city blocks were taken up with local crafts: photographers, painters, jewelry makers, woodworkers, food goods and more. Speaking of food this past week was also Ithaca restaurant week featuring special offers from some of the best local restaurants as well as several local ingredients/sourced three course meals. One full block of the festival was devoted to the many wonderful varied food vendors everything from Tibetan, Thai, and Indian to Tacos, BBQ and potato pancakes. We enjoyed walking the winding streets even though it was very busy.


We were a little surprised with how extensive of a hype this festival gets that the commons, which has been under construction for more than the past 6 months, was still torn up and unfinished. Also, for the many stages and performers there were no places to sit and watch the musicians, performers, (or just people watch). There were some tables set up for the food vendor area but it was far from enough to accommodate this large crowd.


We did noticed that this was much more  family festival then previous Ithaca festivals. There was only one winery represented, a very small beer/wine area at one performance stage, and few college students around. Instead the festival crowd was mostly made up of  families enjoying the sunshine,  children’s activities and rides, and some local ice cream.


Overall it was a great day to be out and about but we were done exploring after an hour and a half and left the crowd behind to explore on our own. In our explorations we found a new Korean grocery store and the best Chinese food we’ve had on the East coast we drove home happy (and a little sunburnt).

Have you done any local exploring? What summer activities are you looking forward to?

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.


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.

images-1 Unknown-1

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.


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.


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.


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.

Unknown-2 images-5

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.


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.


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.

Taste of Ellicottville

After a week back home re-seettling into our normal routine, we realized we had an long standing plan to go with a co-worker of Luke’s and his wife to a tasting festival Saturday in Ellicottville.

We had high hopes for this tasting event, enough to make it worth getting up early on our day to sleep-in. After an hour drive during which we fueled up on to-go cups of coffee, we met Jon and Cathy and carpooled with them for another hour before reaching Ellicottville.


We arrived around noon and stood in line to buy 20 dollars worth of tickets. Ellicottville is  located between two large ski resorts and boasts several well known festivals year round. With it’s own brewery and winery and unique stores it is obvious it is used to tourism year round.


After getting our tickets we took a look at our menu map indicating where each local restaurant had set up their booth, what was being offered, and how many tickets each tasting would be. The variety and options were amazing. There is no way that even if Luke and I got different things to eat the we could have sampled everything.


We decided to start with Centerplate mahi mahi fish taco with a mango salsa and habenero cream sauce.  It had a great sweet, tangy start with a kick. We realized quickly that at each booth there was plenty of time to  socialize, we would need to got accustomed to waiting in lines today.


Next we crossed the down town block to Balloons where we sampled some of their buffalo and sweet thai chicken wings.  In heighn sight I think we got too many of the tangy vinegar wings (6 for 4 tickets) the name of the game here is to take tiny portions so you can sample more before getting full.


After a hearty snack (the portion of my normal lunch) we headed to the Ellicottville Brewing Co. Stepping onto their crowded back patio we found some benches around the fire pit lit to keep the bugs away in spite of the warm weather. Luke ordered a sampler and Jon and Cathy enjoyed some light brews.


Then we moved on in search or more delicious treats. Heading up the main street we got bacon jalepeno slices from Katy’s Cafe  that definitely had the expected warm after-burn. Crossing the street we then got in line for Dinas who had both a dessert and food table. Luke and I decided to share a sample of their spinach ravioli. Their red sauce was fresh, simple, and very authentic Italian.  (Let’s just say Luke and I both had planned to scrape the remaining sauce from it’s container.)


We walked a little further down the street and came across Watson’s Chocolates. For 3 tickets I bought a chocolate covered salted carmel pack of two dark chocolate and two milk so Luke and I got one of each. They were chewy, creamy, and just the right combo of sweet and salty.


By now I was getting beyond full and I could tell so was everyone else. So we decided to walk around and explore what other restaurants we hadn’t tasted from. We spotted a kebab and curry place, a place selling mexican and smoothies, another selling shepherds pie and Guinness mac ‘n cheese . They all sounded wonderful but we were full and decided to save our last few dollars for some take-away dinner.


But we weren’t quite ready to leave. After picking up a few more tickets for dinner food, we decided to check out a few of the stores including a three story narrow storefront devoted only to selling socks. We then crossed the street and did a wine tasting at the Winery of Ellicottville.


After this we decided we were done exploring and ready to pick up our dinner from Riley’s : two servings of large portioned ribs and blueberry cheesecake.


Overall for about 30 dollars, Luke and I got lunch, dinner and dessert for both meals. Any of these foods would have costed much more in the restaurant, even if ordered a la carte. As we headed back to the car, we decided this was one festival we would be more than willing to explore again next year.


Jon had mentioned the Cuba Cheese Shoppe on the trip to Ellicottville earlier in the day to which Luke (the cheese lover) perked up. So on the way back we took a country route that led us through Cuba.


Once inside we started of course at the sampling table which included local sharp chedders, amish swiss, and surprisingly Tillamook cheese (a cheese factory located on the Oregon coast Luke and I went to on our honeymoon -told you Luke was a cheese guy).


We wandered their store full of sauces, candies, dried fruits and nuts, and of course plenty of cheese wedges, slices, curds, and spreads. Luke and I picked up a few goods and we were once again on the road.


By 5pm we were back from our all-day outing.  An hour or two later Luke was ready and excited for our dinner. We split the juicy ribs and made a spinach salad topped off with some sharp cheddar cheese  balsamic vinaigrette. We ended it all with our blueberry cheesecake.


What did you do last weekend?

Racefever and local BBQ


Last Thursday Luke and I decided instead of hitting the treadmill at the Y we would go on a walk downtown  to check out Racefever. We weren’t completely sure what Racefever was exactly celebrating.   But we know we live very close to Wakins Glen, a city on the waterfront of Seneca lake that is know for it’s racetrack. As we  walked downtown we found the source for celebration: a poster in a local storefront advertised NASCAR races being held at The Glen August 8-11.  Friday was the NASCAR Nationwide Series Qualifying and NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Final Practice, Saturday was the Qualifying and Zippo 200 then Sunday was the main event: NASCAR Sprint Cup Series 355.


Luke and I are not huge race-fans but in the spirit of celebrating our local community events we joined the locals crowding on the closed off Bridge St.


Starting down the street you could hear live rock music from a stage next to a rock climbing wall.  Several NASCAR cars were on display drivers sitting at booths next to them signing posters and selling t-shirts.


Alongside these racecars were vendors selling license plates, t-shirts and memorbillia from this year’s NASCAR races, as well as hot wheels and other car themed goods. At the old fashion gas station and car wash by the bridge a small classic car show was also on display. IMG_1105IMG_1111

All the usual food trucks were boasting fried everything, hamburgers, hot dogs, and sausages. Making a Racefever debut was the new BBQ joint Luke and I have been meaning to check out: Slammin’ Jammin’ Southern Smoked BBQ.


Luke and I stopped at their BBQ booth and got a sample of their meat and sauces.  Luke was satisfied with the sauce so we decided to walk a block or two over to their main storefront to get dinner.


The front windows advertise a Friday Catfish dinner, Brisket, and Ribs. We walk into the small store front and try to pick out what we want for dinner. They have all the standard sides: baked beans, coleslaw, mac n’ cheese, potato salad, pasta salad, fried, sweet potato fries and more. I ended up ordering a chop dinner ( beef brisket) with a side of coleslaw and baked beans. Luke got ribs with mac n’ cheese and potato salad.


As we waited for our food we took the chance to look around. This small restaurant boasts a simple country, casual,  but clean environment the indicates they are proud of their food and their new establishment. Newspaper articles announcing the opening of their BBQ joint are framed on both main walls. Next to the pick up window they keep piles of local business cards and a small gum-ball jar.


When our food arrived we were happily surprised the sides are portioned to indicate they are sides-not compensations for a lack of meat.  And trust me the meat portions were generous and tender. The meat  fell right off the rib bones and the spicy BBQ sauce was tangy and had a perfect kick. And I don’t want to  down play the sides: they were great on their own and definitely not a side note when prepared in the kitchen.


When we realized I had been given texas toast  Luke offered to walk to the front and asked for a corn muffin, fully prepared to pay for it. Instead he was given two warm ones right from the oven free of charge.  As we left feeling full and very happy with money well spent we said thank you to our host, who obviously is one of the owners. She asked us if it was our first time and after we said yes she voiced her disappointment that we hadn’t tried her peach cobbler.


We love to support local family-run restaurants especially when it is obvious they are passionate and proud about their food and its quality. So if you are a Corning local or just passing through and craving a great BBQ joint: please support a local business and go  or order-in from Slammin’ Jammin’ Southern Smoked BBQ joint on Pultney St.

Have you check out any local events or restaurants recently?

Two festivals and Korean BBQ

Every three months or so we find ourselves driving the hour and forty five minutes north to Rochester. Whether it is to get some grocery goods, or eat a meal out we can’t get locally, or to go to a big event it’s worth the drive. Although we drove up to go kayaking (see kayaking and bbq the perfect summer combo) this was our first summer time trip into town since Luke b-day (see a chemistry lesson for a birthday present). So what drew us this time?   Two festivals and some good BBQ.



After a humid drive up, we decided to start our adventure at the Corn Hill Arts Festival. A neighborhood event we figured it would be much like the other art fest. this summer: small with local artists. But as we struggled to find parking we realized this was a much bigger event then we thought. For forty-five years this historical district of Rochester has been hosting this local artist competition and street fair. Homeowners opened up their front porches to local musicians and hosted parties and bbqs with their neighbors all along the eight or more streets lined with a large variety of creative wares.



Through the winding beautifully tree lined streets filled with gorgeous old homes were booths with high quality paintings, photographs, refurbished furniture, handcrafted quilts, clothes, jewelry, pottery, toys, carving boards and so much more. Among the vendors were also fresh lemonade, roasted nuts, and popcorn stands. All streets lead to a local community college parking lot with a court of food trucks, a kids bounce house play area, and main stage for the more well known musicians.




Passing through the parking lot, you come to the central square of the Corn Hill neighborhood where the churches have set up hot food booths around the park. in the center of the park is a gazebo where even more musicians are playing in a fenced in beer and wine garden open to the public.



This festival exceeded expectations; a great surprise with plenty of high quality shopping options and food. No wonder it has been running for 45 years. After a long walk around the neighborhood we decided to get a sweet cold snack before moving on and found a local ice cream place selling black raspberry sorbet;  it was amazing!!



We then drove to our next stop: highland park where the city was putting on what we thought would be an epic BBQ and Blues fest. Again struggling to find parking, we payed our 5 bucks and took over a piece of park lawn and walked towards the spicy smokey smell and wailing guitars. After paying our 5 bucks each to enter we explored the options.



Displaying trophies and banners of their winning sauces and flavors, from NY to Texas there were BBqed ribs, chicken, brisket and all the classic fixin’s: potatoes, beans, mac n’ cheese, slaw and more. Luke picked up a overpriced IPA  and I tried to get some hard cider had to settle for an equally overpriced slushy sangria. Listening to the only blues stage (thinking from the long music list there would be more stages) slotted fro 30 minute sessions each we tried to find the best bang for our buck.



Tasting the different sauces, we decided to get in the Florida Gator BBQ line. We only grabbed a 1/3 rack of ribs and a side of potatoes to share because that snack cost us 11.00. The fest’s meat dishes were expensive without a lot of cheap sampler options. In the end we decided we’d much rather get some amazing food at Sticky Lips BBQ with better meat offerings, sides, and combos. for the right price.


After a meaty snack we moved on to our only errand of the day, a long awaited trip to Trader Joes. We stocked up on coffee, crackers, (samples), and tuna steaks at a cheap price.


Last but certainly not least was a dinner Luke had been looking forward to all day and craving for weeks before that, the spicy salty taste of Korean BBQ. Luke loves the kimichi but also the price. Thirty bucks gets us a big bowl of kimichi soup, rice, the typical fixings, and all the beef we both could need. Satisfied we headed back home at sunset.



How was your weekend? Find any fun summer activities to do?