Naples Grape Festival

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Around this time last year we drove through Naples and noticed several grape pie and grape sellers along the main street. I looked up Naples to find they host a very large fall grape festival and pie contest. If you have never heard of grape pies it’s ok, neither did we, this area is actually where it all started.

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We decided to go to the Naples Grape Fest on Sunday afternoon, hoping this popular festival would be less busy at that time; I was wrong. We parked almost a mile from the vendors and walked in. Unlike other festivals  the main route through town stayed open (although moving at a snails pace). This made traveling along the sidewalks slow.

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There were vendors with everything from clothes, to wood carvings, glass work, candles, produce, and fair food including all things grape flavored. Along the way we picked up local cheese, maple syrup, and grape jam.

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Behind town hall was a fenced-in wine tasting area, with a large selection of wineries and a few breweries present. Next to this was a music tent where we listened to a  folk country/bluegrass group called Ruddy Well. We enjoyed them so much we ended up buying their CD’s.

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About half way through town, we found the main food court. I choose to eat at Effortlessly Healthy a Rochester based food truck that serves dairy and gluten free meals with vegan options. I had a bowl with cole slaw sweet potatoes, ground beef, chicken, and avocado it was perfect. They also have their own store in Rochester where they serve healthy lunch options and provide delivery meal services.

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On our way back  we stopped at grape pie stands. Luke got a slice to-go from one. Fortunately I was able to eat a mini open tart’s filling from another, it tasted like concord grapes (the most popular grape in the Naples area). Some vendors sold pie filling. Too bad they didn’t offering tastings  or I would have bought one to make my own barley-free pie.

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On our way out of town we stopped for dessert at Lynnie Lou’s a homemade ice cream and custard shop . We were happily surprised to see them open; most ice cream stands  close after Labor Day. Luke got a grape and vanilla swirl custard and I chose vanilla custard with warm apple pie filling.

It was another great date day.

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?

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.

Niagara Falls Anniversary Part 2: Wine tours and Italian dinner

In review, Friday night at the The Keg in Embassy Suites  we had a partial view of the Canadian side of Niagara Falls. Afterwards we walked around the  tourist area filled with haunted houses, wax and world record museums, children amusement parks and arcades, and much more! Although we are not into these tourist traps they are pretty fun to walk by lit up at night. Here are some pictures:

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Saturday (our actual anniversary)  we packed up our things at the Best Western and checked out. The Best Western had given us a 15$ off card to use at IHOP and although we do not often go there we thought we’d save the money where we could. So we ordered one meal to split of whole wheat blueberry pancakes and an omelet.  The waitress came back and said the fine print on our coupon said we had to order two entrees to get the 15 off. We understand having to follow the rules of the coupon but it was a little frustrating and disappointing to find this out after we’d already eaten.

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We then chose to walk off the carbs (and our annoyance) down the hill to the Canadian view of the falls along the Niagara River Recreation Trail. It was another beautiful sunny day and there were plenty of pedestrians and tour buses alike taking in the view. We followed along from the American Falls down to Horseshoe falls. As we got closer to Horseshoe falls we needed to put our sunglasses on the mist reflecting light from the sun was creating quite a glare. At the end of the falls trail it felt like we were back on the Maid of the Mist standing in a thin rain cloud as we listened and watched gallons of water flow over the edge is seconds.

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After our walk, we got back to our car, found directions, and drove to Niagara-on-the-Lake to local wineries. We first went to Pellar Estates Winery. This large vineyard/winery is probably one of the oldest in this area known for it’s fertile ground and good weather. We brought our groupon vouchers to the front desk after wandering the tasting room and got set up for the winery tour. At 1:30pm we went with a large group to learn about the Pellar winery. The tour was extremely educational, out in the vineyard we got a change to hear about how the soil is conditioned differently for each type of grape, how the grape vines are kept and pruned, when the grapes are picked based on the varieties and how they use a eco-friendly pest control prevention system.

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Next we were  taken into their wine cellar were the wine barrels are kept. Our tour guide informed us about the different barrel types used, the varieties in woods/materials the wine is fermented in, and changes in fermenting times.  Last of all we were taken to a table to taste their wine. The tour guide explained the wine connoisseurs process of three tastings for each wine: one to clean the palate, one to taste the oxygen in the wine, and last to get the full flavor. We tried three varieties, a pinot noir, a chardonnay , and one of their regionally famous very sweet ice wines.

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Getting back in the car, we followed the wine trail to Trius Winery, another winery owned by the Pellar family. This tour was less formal or informative but we did get a chance to learn a little about Trius’ specialty which was sparkling wines and see where these wines are fermented in the bottle. We were then taken to a garden to taste another one of their ice wines, and their traditional white and red. This was my first day doing a wine tasting at an actual winery but I was grateful for having experienced tasting wine where we live in the Finger Lakes area (for more on this see 2300 degreeslocal food and winecabin fever ). We decided that the Niagara area wine was not for us, they were either too light and acidic or too sweet. It may be that we are becoming partial to our local region.

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We decided to not drive another half hour into the country to check out the last winery and instead headed back to the Falls area. We checked into the Sheraton hotel around 5:00pm; in time to relax a little before getting ready for dinner. In contrast from our previous hotel, this place was large, spacious, and connected to a casino, a Starbucks in the lobby,  several stores, restaurants, and even a water park! Dressing up for a wonderful dinner out we took the walk way to the Crowne Plaza Hotel and up to the 10th floor to Massimo’s Rainbow Room, a more formal Italian dinning room.

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We made reservations months ago when we got the groupon for $40 towards a dinner there to celebrate our anniversary night. We were ushered in low lighting to a white table clothed table for two right up against a glass window over looking the falls at sunset. It was beyond beautiful. Sadly we did not bring a phone or camera with us to dinner so we will just have to keep that dinner and moment in our memory. When the sunset we enjoyed watching the falls light up with varying colors as we ate a delicious dinner. Luke ordered the steak I ordered a rack of lamb but we shared. (for a more detailed description of the menu click here ).

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What the restaurant looks like in the daylight

After our wonderful dinner, we headed back down the elevator and on to see what our other vouchers for the evening would get us. We started at the Hard Rock Cafe  where we had two free cocktails at the bar. After enjoying our rum and cokes by lava lamp (seriously they had mini lava lamps all across the bar) we headed over to Hershey’s for a sweet finish.

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After standing in line at their candy store we turned in our voucher and out came a box that the cashier said contained two cupcakes. We walked back to our hotel room and opened our dessert to find one chocolate and one white cupcake with vanilla frosting topped each with a Hershey’s kiss. After dessert we cuddled up on our king size bed to watch our wedding video for the first time. It was great to look back and laugh at the small details or reactions from family and friends we were too nervous or preoccupied to notice the day-of.

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I didn’t get a picture of our actual goodies but here’s what they had in the store

Sunday we slept-in, Luke tried his luck at the casino for a brief hour  and then we checked out of the hotel. We hit the road back home in the middle of surprising noon traffic back over the bridge to America. After a long wait at the border we were on the road to Buffalo and eventually back home. It was one wonderful weekend to celebrate a crazy busy and challenging first year of marriage!

Vacation Highlights Part 2: Date Days

As I said on my Wednesday post (see Vacation Highlights Part 1) Monday, Thursday, and Friday of last week’s vacation we took time to explore Oregon on our own.

Outdoor Day

Monday May 6th we drove to the science museum in Portland only to find an empty  parking lot and a sign reading: “Museum closed on Mondays”. So recalculating our day, we took a scenic drive to Multnomah falls.  On the drive I had flash backs to my last visit: on my way to meet Luke’s parents for the first time. Fortunately this time absent from all nervousness we decided to hike to the top. A little uncertain how far we would go (considering neither of us were dressed for a hike) we made it to the top along with the early summer tourists. Here’s some proof:

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After our hike we drove into Hood River arriving just in time for the last daily tour for the Full Sail Brewery .

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Receiving free beer glasses at the end of our tour we headed to the taproom where Luke enjoyed some beer samples (myself a rootbeer) as we watched a few weekday windsurfers on the river.

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Then I drove us to get something we dearly miss living on the East Coast, my home state comfort food: authentic Mexican. And boy were we happy to get some great grub!

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Walking off our delicious dinner, we stopped in a hobby store and picked up a new board game (which I wondered how we were going to get it into our carry-on baggage). We finally ended the day with a long scenic drive back to Luke’s parent’s home.

Portland Day

Thursday May 9th double checking the museum’s hours, we headed to the Portland Science Museum OMSI. After getting tickets we bought some coffee,  tried out a few brain teasers (which I realized I was not caffeinated enough to solve), then headed to the OMNIMAX theatre. Now I have been to IMAX theaters before but none like this. Your theatre chair naturally swings back so you can comfortably stare at a screen which wraps around the dome ceiling!!  We watched a film called Deep Sea narrated by Johnny Depp and Kate Winslet with music by Danny Elfman (this was no boring Jr. high science video).

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Afterwards we played connect four with robotic arms ( I won!) and other fun hands-on mechanics until it was time for our submarine tour. There were only four of us on the tour of this sub used to film scenes from Hunt for Red October. Luke’s grandfather served on sub for more than 14 years-this was my first glimpse of what those years might have been like.

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We then explored the permanent interactive exhibits-this place was so hands on I don’t know how anyone could consider it boring! When the closing announcement came we hungrily found our way to the car.

Fortunately we knew just what we wanted for dinner: Deschutes Brewery’s Public House. They have a great gluten-friendly menu and micro-brewed gluten-free beer. I went with what I knew to be good: their gluten-free grilled cheese sandwich. Made with four types of cheese they  lather the bread in a garlic parmesan butter before grilling it (talk about melt in your mouth amazing!)

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After our delicious meal, we walked the warm streets of Portland to Mcmenamin’s Mission Theatre. This movie theatre is not your standard bubble gum stained multi-move multi screened venue.  We walked in and up a few carpeted stairs into the one screened pub and theatre house. We sat in balcony on cushioned chairs ready to watch Silver Lining Playbook. As we laughed along the bar tender brought up ordered burgers and drinks for the movie watchers. Greatly satisfied with our choice of entertainment we walked back to our car watching restaurants close and uptown bars fill with couples and friends for late night drinks.

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Friday Friend Day

Friday morning May 10th we visited with Luke’s grandmother, catching up on life, sharing our vacation, and listening to the retelling of old stories. After our visit we got some Dutch Bros. Kickers and drove to Salem to meet up with Tom and Fawnia.

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Tom’s (Luke’s best friend since High School and the best man in our wedding) hobby is beer making. So the boys took over the kitchen so Luke could learn from his best friend what he was getting himself into with this new hobby.

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Meanwhile Fawnia and I caught up and buy groceries for our BBQ dinner. Sitting outdoors enjoying the summer sun, we had BBQed pork ribs and homemade pasta salad along with sampleings of Tom’s hard cider and home-brewed beers. Once the last morsels of the sweet tangy ribs were devoured we started a fire and sat down to a game of Ticket to Ride.

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As the sun set the board got hard to read by only fire light so we moved on to smore’s making. Then Tom brought out another of his creations: homemade wine made with tons and tons of fresh blueberries. After our sugar fix of chocolate, gooey marshmallows, and blueberry wine was over it was time to clean things up and say goodnight.

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Next day we played a strategic game to pack up original belongings as well as new clothes, games, and books into carry on luggage. We drove to Luke’s grandmother’s house to return the truck she had graciously let us borrow for the week and to have a last homemade dinner with family before being driven to the airport.

As you can see, we had a full and adventurous vacation. We loved every moment with our family and friends in the northwest. Although we are back to our routine  we are looking forward to a wonderful summer full of new changes, challenges, and even more celebrations.

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?

Sorge’s: local food and wine

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This past holiday weekend (federal=holiday for us) we went to an Italian restaurant in the Gaffer District  called Sorge’s. We were given a gift card to this local family-run business by close friends of Luke. Open for 62 years, Sorge’s is known for their homemade pasta. In fact in the summer of 2011 they made it into Guinness World Records book for the world’s longest egg noodle!

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We took advantage of their weekend special: pasta and salad bar buffet with a complimentary glass of wine (hard to turn down). You never know what you are getting with a buffet, but the food was great! Since my trip to Italy I can tell when pasta or noodles come from a box or are homemade. With Sorges there was no question, I could tell they make their own pasta noodles.

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The buffet included three Italian cheese ravioli, stuffed cheese manicotti, veal and spinach cantaloni, cavatelli (similar to gnocchi), cheese and vegetable lasagna, and meatballs in meat sauce (am I making you hungry?) We were also given the option of white or burgundy house wine and served warm bread at the table with olive oil and seasoning .

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Sorges also offers a Gluten-free Menu  including an alternative pasta made with corn and several yummy gluten-free desserts.

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Their service was great, in-spite of how busy they were. And as I looked around I  saw large families enjoying a meal out, couples on dates, and friends catching up. You could tell this is a family-oriented comfortable place where people can be themselves and enjoy some great pasta.

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When we left we decided (in a belated Valentine’s day celebration) to pick up some wine to enjoy with our homemade pie. When we went into the liquor store  (wine isn’t sold in grocery stores here) we were surprised to find a large selection from local wineries. We found one of the wineries we’d given an score of 8 at the wine tasting at 2300 degrees: Bully Hill Vineyards. So we took home a bottle of their goat white and a bottle of love my goat their red wine which we had tasted before.IMG_2725IMG_2724

(The white rose was from Luke for Valentines day.)

Cheers to a more than successful local date-night out!