Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Staycation With Liz and Pat

Our friend Liz suggested we join her for a "stay-cation" trip down to Skaneateles, NY. Skaneateles, about an hour and a half from Rochester, is a resort town on a really beautiful lake. Most of the little towns in western New York State have had quite a hard time of it -- there just isn't any industry to keep them going. But because Skaneateles is on what must be the most beautiful of the finger lakes, it is actually doing quite well.

Our first stop was at Doug's Fish Fry for lunch. We all had the fried haddock -- which was very lightly battered and fried crisp and delish. (My stomach is actually growling as I write this. It was that good! I might just hop back in the car and have it for dinner!) We are fussy about our fish fries here in in Rochester, and Doug's definitely measured up. It was served with hand cut french fries. I liked them, but this wasn't the universal opinion. They just weren't crispy enough for 3 of the 4 of us. The cole slaw was a big hit, however. Cole slaw is one of those things that you tend to just ignore. It's never the star of the show, for sure. But this was cole slaw like no other, with enough onion and celery and a very light dressing.

After lunch, we strolled around and poked our noses into the shops. Nothing was really irresitable, but we did find a chocolate shop. The heath bar-esque thing I had was good.

After our stroll, we ambled over to the dock and boarded the good ship Judge Ben Wiles for a sightseeing cruise. Skaneateles has some pretty spectacular "camps" as they call lakeside mansions here. There was one place that they told us cost $20 million. And, oh by the way, they were adding on to it. It looked like there was going to be quite the sizable addition, based on the construction we saw.

 There wasn't a lot of boat traffic, which was nice. The lake had a very serene feel to it. This is definitely a place I would recommend to you, if you are in the area. I hope we will get back there again soon.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Maybe My Next New Dishes? Sophie Conran for Porteirion

I love my everyday dishes, and it was love at first sight about 15 years ago when I first spotted them at Williams Sonoma. They are creamy white with a broad border of maroon on the rim and a tiny edge of dark blue. But they are stoneware, and that means that they have developed a lot of little chips, especially after they became my everyday china.

So I know I need to replace them sometime soon, but I am not looking forward to that angst producing effort. Not one bit. So imagine my surprise when, while window shopping in Niagara-on-the-Lake, I saw these dishes! They are Sophie Conran for Porteirion in Celadon blue. And they are porcelain, much sturdier than stoneware. And the internet tells me that they are on sale right now for about 50% off! That makes things very doable for me!

Early in my life I decided that I didn't need serving pieces that matched. I just needed serving pieces that "go with". So my large collection of platters, bowls and other serving pieces will go very nicely. Now, if only J will feel the same way about these!

Quick Trip to Niagara-on-the-Lake

Niagara-on-the-Lake, located on Lake Ontario, is the home to the Shaw Festival. I've wanted to go for a long time, so this year we were able to find a date when we were a)both available and b)the plays were running were ones we wanted to see. So Friday, Miss J and I tossed a few things in a bad and drove up.

Zee's Restaurant The porch was the nicest part.
We had dinner at a place that I had heard good things from from our friends Laurie and Pat. Zee's is located across the street from the Shaw Festival Theatre, but in our opinion, that was about all it had going for it. I would say the food was only "meh" and the service was really poor.

We started off with Caesar Salads. I don't really go for a Caesar salad very often, but there wasn't anything else on the starters  that looked interesting. The salads were ok, although a little odd. the lettuce was cut into thin ribbons, and there were two rounds of fried pancetta. As far as I could taste, no cheese.

When we turned our attention to the main course,  J didn't see anything on the main menu that appealed to her -- a very rare thing, as she is easy to please. She asked if they could turn an appetizer into a main dish. They said yes -- and then gave her a pile of shrimp on a dinner plate. No garnish, no side dish.

My choice was diver scallops on creamy polenta with puree of fresh peas. I got four, slightly over-cooked scallops on a very tasty polenta. The pea puree was the narrowest sripe of green around the polenta.

Throughout our service was very lackluster. The waiter would zip by our table from time to time to check on us, but wouldn't actually stop to hear what we needed. We decided to skip the desert and get an ice cream cone somewhere else. We stopped at the first place we came to: Cows. And oh baby, was it worth the points! I had something called Ooey gooey I think -- it was wonderful homemade tasting vanilla ice cream with maybe peanut butter cups or something like them in them. Really wonderful ice cream.

That evening we saw One Touch of Venus at the Royal George. The Royal George is described as being plain on the outside, but an Edwardian Jewel box on the inside. If Edwardian Jewel box is code for "tiny little seats intended for tiny Edwardian butts," it was. The play was light and amusing, with music by Kurt Weill, lyrics by Ogden Nash Book by Ogden Nash and S.J. Perelman.

Saturday we had breakfast at our hotel -- the Hilton Garden Inn, about 10 minutes from the center of Niagara-on-the-lake. The night before I had had a nice glass of Cabernet, and I was keen to buy a couple of bottles. We drove out to Inniskillen Winery. When I saw that the bottle was about $40, a couple of bottles became one. Actually, I realized when I got home that I bought something different than what I had enjoyed the previous night. I bought Legacy Cabernet Franc, not Cabernet Savingnon.  Here's what they say bout the Carbernet Franc:
The 2007 vintage in Niagara is one of the best in recent years. The long dry hot summer helped the grapes develop the required flavours. The abundant sunshine provided flexibility to allow extended hang time to achieve optimal fruit ripeness. Look for 2007 wines from Niagara to show more body, structure and flavour.
Black currant and floral aromas combine with cedar, tobacco and vanilla on the expressive nose. Black currant, ripe raspberry and tobacco flavours are dominant on the approachable palate that displays silky tannins leading into a long finish of blackberry, spice and tobacco. 
I'm looking foward to trying it!

This was one of the best plays I have seen in a very long time. First of all, the play itself was hilarious -- Wilde is famous for his wit, of course. But there is such a lack of wittiness in the present time -- what passes for humor is just pale compared to what Wilde turns out. The costumes were scrumptious. I trolled about on the internet to see if I could find a picture to share with you, but unfortunately there was nothing. I highly recommend the play to you so you can see for yourself! The drive home was more or less uneventful. I think it took us about an hour to cross at the Lewiston Bridge. It wasn't as backup up as the last time we crossed there. (That had been on Canadian Thanksgiving and I think we were 2 hours getting accross.) But we didn't get home until 8 pm. But what a great time! I'm looking forward to doing it again next year!