Fall Festival and Wine

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Two weeks ago we decided to use our Groupon to check out a local winery: Inspire Moore Winery in Naples. We drove by the bright purple winery building back in August when we joined the Springwater hiking group for a hike in Naples. We thought it may be worth returning to. So we found a groupon for wine tasting and cheese board and came back to check out our local grapes.

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As we drove through Naples we saw covered stands set up from the past week’s grape festival (we sadly had missed) with people trying to sell of their grape pies and grapes (a local treat we are hoping to try soon).

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Even though it was raining the tasting room and restaurant at Inspire Moore were both crowded. Fortunately we did not have to wait long. The sommelier who served us and explained the wines was very helpful. We found we enjoy their drier red wines.

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After some tasting we went upstairs to enjoy the cheese board filled with cheeses from Fancy Yancey  a cheese company we have encountered when we went to the Cuba cheese factory. (for more on this see Wine and cheese tasting Ellicottville)

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Our favorite was the cheddar with candied maple bacon in it, perfect with red wine. We left with a few bottles and souvenir wine glasses then prepared to be out in the rain.

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I love the fall, but one thing that is hard is to say goodbye to is the wonderful summer season of festivals. One festival left is the fall foliage festival in Cohocton. We stumbled upon this event last year. New to the area we were driving around to get acquainted and saw a sign for the festival.

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For where we live it always has a great turn out of food vendors, craftsmen, local maple syrup and honey, and produce. This year sadly it was very rainy so my pictures do not aptly reflect how busy this festival usually is.

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We were hungry so we decided to stop and get a roast beef sundae, sold by the historical society. With a mountain of mash potatoes and beef gravy with a cherry tomatoes on top it was a great warm snack to share in the cold.

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After we walked around in the mud and rain, bought a few winter scarves, and went off to find our fall treat: cider doughnuts, cider, and apples. Just like last year we found a stand selling pies, apples, cider and baked goods. We got a half bushel of fall crisp apples for 8 bucks!

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Now we are overflowing with apples. Fortunately we can dry some, use some for apple pie and we have discovered Kira enjoys them too. They have become a great healthy training snack.

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What are some of your favorite fall activities or treats?

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

Wine tasting in Ellicottville

This past Sunday we decided to use one of our saved-up groupons and drive out to Ellicottville for wine tasting. If you remember last August we explored Ellicottville for the first time with one of Luke’s co-workers and his wife. What drew us to this ski-town two hours West of us was their annual taste of Ellicottville (for more on this see Taste of Ellicottville). While there we got a chance to check out their local brewery as well as taste some wine at their Winery of Ellicottville’s (EVL for short) store front. So when we saw a groupon for a wine tasting, tour, and cheese plate from two at EVL we thought it’d be an amazing date.

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The drive to Ellicottville is beautiful, especially this time of year as everything has finally turned bright green. We arrived in town and headed straight to the Winery of Ellicottville storefront just on time for our reservation. EVL  is ran by Dominic Spicola and his family. For the past four years they have been experimenting and creating unique and popular wines which of course sell well in the ski-town.

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The EVL storefront’s main wall serves as a long wood bar. It is here that we started our tour tasting more than 6 different EVL wines between the two of us. Dominic’s wife guided us through their options; we began with their light whites then moved to reds, ending with dessert wines. Our favorite picks? their Vidal was good; bright and citrusy; Luke also enjoyed their Noriet; a peppery dry red. We also tried their dessert berry wines Luke found the blueberry  to be too sweet but I enjoyed the red raspberry which was sweet with a good tart kick at the end.

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After trying their variety we were taken to view their wine-making process done in a second separate room attached to their main storefront. We were told that they buy a variety of grapes from neighboring wineries,  rent a local wineries’ grape press to turn their grapes into juice, then drive the juice back to their storefront where they pump it into their processing vats straight from the street.

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After a few other basic questions about the process; we came back out to the storefront and were given our cheese plate featuring local cheeses . We enjoyed the cheeses and garlic stuffed olives with glasses of white wine; a Riesling and a white blend called Franseco’s Reserve . We both were surprised to enjoy the Riesling even more than the Vidal from earlier. Once we were done snacking we were given our groupon goodies: two wine glasses with their wine label on them, and one wine from their selection valued up to $20; we picked up their red raspberry dessert wine and in addition bought a bottle of Riesling.

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We looked at the time and decided to drive to the cheese shop in Cuba. Again if you remember last summer on our way back from the taste of Ellicottville event we stopped in a little town we would have never noticed on our own called Cuba specifically for their cheese shop. About an hour East from Ellicottville this cheese shop provides their own cheeses, other local NY and PA creameries goods, and specialty international cheeses. In addition to the large array of cheeses they also sell local maple goods, pickled vegetables, jams, butters, and jellies and curried meats.

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After sampling a few cheeses we ended up leaving with some of Luke’s favorites: a local smoked gouda, a brie blue cheese, and one we had last time and loved; extra hot horseradish. On our way to the cashier we also found a creamy strong cheese in the discounted section we thought we’d try.

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Overall it was a great Sunday date. We left with full stomachs and came home with plenty of local cheeses and wine. In fact, on Tuesday Luke had a rare lunch hour at home. We enjoyed apples, crackers, and local cheeses together; the perfect light summer lunch and a great option for some upcoming picnics.

Have you explored any local goods or foods recently?

Drink It In: 2300 revisited

For those of you who are newer to my blog my first “real” post of A. Greene’s Adventures was last year at this time about a local event at the Corning Glass Museum called 2300 (see 2300 degrees ).

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2300 degrees is a free event sponsored by the Corning Glass museum every third Thursday night from November to May. Each month the museum chooses one night to close the galleries and transform this tourist attraction into a site for a night on the town.

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Corning Glass Co.  launched 2013’s 2300 degrees with a “Finger Lakes Finest” themed event which meant free wine tasting.  The Finger Lakes Region, as our area of upstate New York is called, is home to many local wineries and wine trails nestled in the hills surrounding the local lakes.

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To start off 2014 the museum hosted a similar 2300 night called “Drink It In” which like last year featured free wine tasting. This year there were three less local lake wineries than last year and a little change-up in the variety of the wineries present. But this did not change the enthusiasm and crowd drawn to this event. There were still 26 wineries present offering their seasonal best reds to whites,  drys to sweets, and everything in between. And a local artist Jeff Mack made amazing goblets in the Hot Glass Show.

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This year we met up with two other couples and took our time wandering. Now that we are familiar with the museum and some of the local wineries we felt there was no rush in trying them all. We caught up with good friends after the holiday-craze, enjoyed snacks, and tried a few wineries. Near the end of the night we enjoyed the big band sound of: Big Mean Sound Machine from Ithaca in the Auditorium.

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One feature of these 2300 events I did not mention last year is the glass museum sale. Although I am not one for modern art or large expensive (and also breakable) glass pieces, the museum does offer great sales deals on this once a month event night. Those items not already on sale are all 23% off and that includes the non- or less- breakable items like toys, ornaments, jewelry, books, lamps, glassware, chess sets etc.

January’s 2300 launch was just as fun and entertaining and the previous years. Maybe this year we will make and effort to attend another month’s 2300 events.

An Ithaca birthday adventure

As I mentioned on my birthday, this past weekend we took a trip to the college town Ithaca for some summer b-day  fun. We got moving slowly in the morning because we went to the local drive-in theatre Friday night and didn’t get to sleep until 2:30am.

Fortunately Luke made us some irish cream lattes for the road. By noon we were traveling through the green tree covered hills with the windows down passing small villages and lake side towns.

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We arrived in Ithaca around 1pm and drove straight to the steamboat dock. Here at the base of Cayuga lake is Ithaca’s famous Saturday Farmer’s Market.

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We entered the wood covering strung with lights and began to look around. Like a true farmers market there were many stalls of fresh local herbs, vegetables and fruits, garden plants, dairy products, and meats. But much like the more permanent Pike’s Place Market there were also vendors selling local maple syrup, honey, cheese, wine and hard cider all up for tasting and sampling.

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Interspersed between the food goods were vendor stalls with homemade crafts, pottery, jewelry, paintings, photographs, incense and essential oils, woodworking and even hammocks. This was a great place to people watch or listen to a street musician playing an acoustic guitar.

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There were also many food vendors from around the world: Cuban, Tibetan, Cambodian, Thai, French, and Mediterranean to name a few. Luke and I chose to order buckwheat gluten-free crepes stuffed with ricotta and spinach and topped with a mozzarella herb sauce. We took our food and sat down on the dock watching the ducks, boats, and kayakers on the lake as we ate.

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Satisfied with our market experience, we left with a local bottle of hard cider and stomachs full ready for the next stage of the adventure.

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Driving up the hills we stopped at Buttermilk State Park. This park hosts trails and bridges spanning from the top of lake Treman, to waterfalls through the gorge, all the way down to Buttermilk Falls base where there is a swimming hole. We took the gorge trail down to Buttermilk Falls named for the foamy white water which falls over the grated slate.

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It was a very hot and humid day but it cooled off considerably once we took a few flights of stairs down onto the gorge trail and stood under the cover of the trees lining the gorge’s rim. The gorge trail follows the river as it passes over slabs of slate creating several unique mini-falls along the way.

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Everyone and their dogs, were taking breaks from the humid trail to splash barefoot in the shallow waterways between the waterfalls.

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After our hike, I was ready to cool down my cherry red skin. So we headed to yogurtland.  After sampling a few flavors I chose a bowl of tart blackberry passionfruit swirled with original and a small amount of vanilla topped with cheesecake bits, strawberries, and yogurt chips.

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After our sugary cold treat, we checked out the campsite at the base of Buttermilk state Park then drove up to the commons, the central college area for Ithaca College and Cornell.

After a walk around we drove back down the hill and ended up at A Taste of Thai. I ordered my favorite norm: red curry with chicken and Luke tried their Rad Nah drunken spicy noodles. I was happy to get red curry as good as they come with plenty of fresh chicken, basil, peppers, and bamboo shoots.

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When we arrived back home Luke commented that he saw a firefly. Excited I got out and watched, sure enough I saw that yellow flashing light moving along the grass in our backyard! I guess that is one benefit of living in some humidity.

That was my Ithaca birthday adventure.

Do you have a favorite Farmer’s Market?

How do you like your frozen yogurt?

Cabin Fever

Every year during the dead of winter the Gaffer District hosts Cabin Fever: a wine/beer tasting event hosted  in the storefronts along Main Street.

This year Cabin Fever was postponed because of a snow storm, leaving us stuck inside for the month of February (ironic ? yes). So we anxiously waited for the chance to get out this past Friday. We arrived around 6:30pm to the information center, when we showed our IDs we received our purple wrist-bands and souvenir miniature beer/wine  glasses. Taking the program list, we briskly walked in the cold passing parties of college students, old friends, and couples laughed as they strolled down the street.

Some of the wineries at this event were also at the Corning Glass event we attended in January (2300 degrees). Thinking ahead, we brought along our list from the previous wine tasting so we knew which wineries to try something new from, give a second chance, or skip all together.

Going with a Mardi Gras theme, each location gave a string of beads to guest so that by the end of the night people were decorated in green, yellow, and purple. Many of local businesses also provided food/chocolate samples, live entertainment, or coupons/ give-aways for their stores.

Still this will probably not be an annual event for us. We knew that rescheduling would changed a few elements such as which wineries/breweries would participate. Yet there was no effort to make changes based on the new date. For example, it was a little odd to celebrate with a Mardi Gras theme so close to St. Patty’s day. As well as, the brochures were not updated; so which stores were open or which wineries/breweries were present at the event was inaccurate.

The tickets were 15 bucks a person but the number of winiers/breweries participating was substantially less than the free event we went to in January. A downside to using local storefronts was the line out the door; you felt rushed at the one-at-a-time-line for each tasting. This is why I didn’t take a single picture! The samples were also communion-size, far less than the free samples at 2300 degrees. Because Luke works late we didn’t arrive at 5pm when the event started, so by the time we had arrived to some stores the brewery/winery they hosted had already left (apparently out of samples).

Cabin Fever gave us an excuse to step into some of the local businesses we haven’t  visited yet.  It also gave us the opportunity to try samples from several new wineries and confirm what we liked/did not like from before. In addition, Luke was able to sample local beers and check out some of Corning’s pubs/bars.

Our souvenir wine and beer glasses, wrist bands, and Mardi Gras beads

Our souvenir wine and beer glasses, wrist bands, and Mardi Gras beads

Still, there is no limit to the year-round wine/beer tasting events in our area and next year we will check out a different February/March event.  

How about you? Are you out of the winter slump yet?

What post/Christmas winter activities are in your town?

2300 degrees

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Since we didn’t get much of a vacation over the holidays, Luke decided to take a few days off of Martin Luther King Jr. weekend. For our first day off, Thursday January 17th, we decided to go to 2300 degrees.

2300 degrees is a free event sponsored by the Corning Glass museum every third Thursday night from November to May. Each month the museum chooses one night to close the galleries and transform this tourist attraction into a site for a night on the town.

Corning Glass Co.  launched 2013’s 2300 degrees with a “Finger Lakes Finest” themed event which meant free wine tasting. You heard right: free!  The Finger Lakes Region, as our area of upstate New York is called, is home to many local wineries and wine trails nestled in the hills surrounding the local lakes.

Luke and I arrived around 5:40pm to find the Glass Museum parking lot, and all adjacent parking lots full. It was disappointing to have to walk several blocks in the snow, but it was promising to know that this event was well attended. Grateful to get into the warmth, we were greeted and given a program listing the 30 wineries and their booth locations.

We walked through the entrance and wandered toward the auditorium. Low-lit black dinning tables lined the back wall. On the stage was an Indie Rock band from California called The Blind Spots. A lead singer with a  Zooey Deschanel hair cut swayed as she sang and rocked to her decked-out microphone stand. On the adjacent stage screens flashed images from the Hot Glass innovation stage as lights danced on the open stage floor.

The Blind Spots

The Blind Spots

After listening to a few songs, Luke and I decided to check out the wineries. This was my first time wine tasting and although I know generally what I prefer, I was not as familiar with wines such as Caberet Franc, Riesling, or Gewurztraminer. Fortunately  being married to an ex-bartender, Luke has had plenty of wine-tasting experiences, so I let him take lead.

Each winery brought three to five wines  from crisp whites to full-bodied reds, some even brought fruit or dessert wines. We decided to focus on red wines. We wound through the corners, ramps, landings, and stairways of this modern museum reading each booth’s wine descriptions and taking brochures from the ones we liked best. (It didn’t take long for Luke to start a 0-10 rating system on the side of our program.) I was pleasantly surprised to discover we both liked the same wineries and the similar qualities in a red wine.  Just as I began to remember we had not had dinner yet, we rounded the corner to find a table of free snacks: cubed cheese, crackers, vegetables, dip, and cold cuts were piled high on round black tables getting quickly picked over.

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We took a short break from the crowds to watch the glass blowing in the Hot Glass Innovation studio.  A tiered open auditorium hosts a large screen showing the busy hands of the glass artists on the stage directly below. With the aid of state-of-the art video equipment observers can even watch the glass be turned and heated via a video camera inside the kiln.  Many people sat sipping their drinks while watching the artists make a large wine colored vase decorated with clusters of glass grapes.

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 In spite of the tight space, everyone was warm and friendly, milling around the booths discussing their taste and preferences with each other. Everyone stood in clusters holding comfortable easy conversation. If they bumped into someone it was only to  recognize their face and ask how their holidays were.

This was one local event we were lucky to attend. We now can support local wineries without any guesswork.

Curious what 2300 degrees really looks like?  Here is the event list and photo gallery: Click Here

Want more details on the wineries? Here is a link with information on “2300: Finger Lakes Finest”: Click Here

Looking for new up-and-coming music artists? Find out more about The Blind Spots: Click Here

P.S. I’d love to know: What do you do for date-night or a night-on-the-town with your friends where you live?