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?


A Taste of Home

During the past almost year of living New York,  there have been several missed elements from my home state of California (for some see I miss my old life). One of the items in short supply (or quality) is Mexican food. I was spoiled in SoCal.  Mexican restaurants are more plentiful than Mcdonalds’. Each restaurant or fast food joint had their best specialties and all were authentically delicious. Mexican has always been my comfort food so it was hard to leave behind the tamales, enchiladas, chile rellenos, and good guacamole rice, and beans.

Luke enjoying west coast Mexican food on our May vacation to Oregon


Luke and I have kept an open mind and while trying the few Mexican restaurants here. We’ve been to chains and hole in the wall places  we have been everywhere from Rochester, to Ithaca, to Buffalo, to Oswego and everywhere in-between. Each time we were disappointed. The meat was not marinated and bland. Tomato sauces tasted more like Italian pasta sauce. And the beans and rice? Rice had not kick and the beans no flavor. We kept hoping for one half decent place to get that taste of home.

enjoying some famous Olvera st. taquitos in LA


On our way back from our anniversary trip (see Niagara Falls Anniversary ) we stopped for a late lunch and gas in Batavia. Here we decided to brave once again a little mexican restaurant called Ranchero Viejo. We ordered our typical taste-tester foods and were surprised, it wasn’t half bad. The rice had flavor, the beans had a little too, the salsa had kick, but the meat was still a little bland. Overall we were grateful even if it wasn’t on par with what we are accustomed to.


When we first moved to Corning there was a small mexican restaurant called Toto’s on Market Street. It was never open  and before winter was over it had closed completely. The store front sat empty for months. On a drive last week through downtown we were shocked to see a new mexican restaurant had moved in and opened! Fiesta Brava! We were skeptic but willing once again to try.

Where my family is used to getting Mexican food in SoCal


On Sunday we met some of our friends at Fiesta Brava for lunch after church. I was nervous the food would be bland. But as we waited for our friends to arrive we started with the salsa-best we’d had in the state. Then we looked at the menu: it was the same menu listing as the restaurant in Batavia! We soon realized that they must be connected. This gave us a little hope.

the-hole-in-the-wall mexican place across the street from Luke’s old apartment in SoCal


When it came time to order I chose a risker lunch combo of chili relleno, taco, beans, rice and guacamole. Luke ordered the same fajita burrito he had eaten in Batavia but ordered chicken instead of beef. When talking to the waiter he asked if the chicken was marinated in the same seasoning as their carne asada like he had had in Batavia. The waiter-in a very proud confident voice stated very clearly their food was  better than Batavia. And he was right. It was the best Mexican food we have had on the East Coast so far.

not my actual plate of food but close enough

My Chile Relleno was delicious lightly battered in egg, the pepper had a kick to it and the beans tasted like actual mexican refried beans. I never thoughts I’d judge mexican food based on such a simple dish. The rice had the spicy tangy flavor I’m used to and the taco dripped with juicy ground beef. I was beyond happy. Then Luke offered me a taste of his fajita chicken-the marinade they used was excellent far from the boiled shredded flavorless protein we’d had so far.

I am grateful for this little new Mexican place full of flavor and life.  It is a small blessing to once again get a taste of home thousands of miles from it.