Monday, August 25, 2014

Trumansburg: Crystal Lake Cafe

I recently was visiting my lake house on Cayuga Lake and made a stop at one of my new favorite places to eat while up there - Crystal Lake Cafe, one of the few restaurants at a winery on the Cayuga Lake Wine Trail. 

I have never been disappointed in their food, it has always been spectacular. My only complaint is that the overall restaurant experience is pretty slow so expect to wait. The food makes it worth it, plus it's a drink wine while you wait! They also offer beer , sparkling wine and a variety of non-alcoholic drinks. 

This past trip I decided to try something new, one of their specials for the night - Steak Tacos with Chipotle Slaw. Words can not describe how perfect this dish was - I am now on a mission to recreate it's greatness. The flank steak was seasoned and cooked perfectly - absolutely no chewy bits. What pushed this dish from good to great was the chipotle slaw, the sweet smokiness of it paired perfectly with the steak. 

My moms got her favorite dish here - Grilled Cheese. This isn't any old grilled cheese, it's the grilled cheese of your dreams (exciting and flavorful, but still a grilled cheese) - stuffed with cheddar, gruyere, goat cheese, smoked gouda and a tomato on sourdough bread. The bread was perfectly crispy and buttery on the outside and the cheeses were gooey in the middle. Adding the tomato helps add a little freshness to the sandwich so you are not too overwhelmed by all the cheese (is there such a thing?). The sandwich is a little rich so you might want to split this dish with someone else (my mom and Jeff split the burger and the grilled cheese).

Jeff and my cousin both ordered burgers. I stole a bite of my cousins and it was juicy and flavorful - able to stand alone and not need any toppings to make it taste good. Jeff got his fully loaded with mushrooms, caramelized onions and bacon - which added to the overall taste of the burger (instead of masking a bland patty).
Past Trips here
Lunch: Summer 2013
Brunch: Summer 2014 - get the biscuits and gravy!

4367 East Covert Road
Trumansburg, NY
The Crystal Lake Cafe on Urbanspoon
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Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Washington DC: Brookland Pint

One of my favorite ways to catch up with friends is over a cold drink and something delicious to eat. I was recently invited to Brookland Pint to try out their craft beers and appetizers. I'm happy to report that it fills all requirements for a good place to hang out with friends. Never fear, although boasting an impressive menu of craft beers (24 on tap! plus additional bottles), they also offer wines and craft cocktails to appease the non-beer drinkers. 
One of the coolest things about the interior, and something that will please most of today's society is the ability to charge your phone at every table and at the bar. Each table comes with an outlet and a USB port - you no longer have to fear that your phone will die while you are out. My family would also be thrilled with this restaurant as owner John made sure to get as many pieces and materials that were made in America as possible including the same marble that has been used for the monuments and wood from trees that have been uprooted from storms!
Now the bar area and my favorite part, the bar/table along the outside where the windows can be open and there are chairs on each side. I LOVE this concept and promptly seated myself here for the night. 
The bartender and servers were very knowledgeable. Letting us taste the beers and able to provide sufficient recommendations for each of our personal tastes which is great because I love beer but I am still unsure of what I like. I had the Port City OPTIMAL WIT and the Great Lakes OKTOBERFEST (great beer for the fall with no hops). Rosie had a fruity saison beer which was delicious and the Brookland beer which she enjoyed but I thought was too hoppy. I also tried one of their craft cocktails, a Brookland Old Fashioned and my friend got a rose - both amazingly delicious. 
Now, I can't vouch for their actual entrees…but for their appetizer's and sharable bites, deeelicious. My favorite of the night was the pimento cheese on bread. I could definitely see myself eating a bunch of these while sipping on a few beers (I may have had 2….or 3 - maybe even 4 of these - hey it was dinner time). Other tasty bites were quesadillas (appropriately cheesy and loaded with tasty ingredients), chicken pate (not my thing - but a classy bite for those classy people), scallops with some a fruit salsa (sweet acidic salad pairs great with the scallops) and another favorite - lamb with tzaztki on zucchini fritters (perfection).

Would I come back? Yes, this is the perfect place to hang out with friends while snacking on delicious food and drinking good drinks. 

716 Monroe Street NE
Washington, DC
Nearest Metro: Brookland-Cua 
Brookland Pint on Urbanspoon

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Monday, August 18, 2014

Washington DC: &Pizza

Assembly line restaurants are popping up everywhere. I was recently invited to try Brookland Pint (post coming soon) in what I like to consider an up and coming area - Brookland and wanted a more substantial meal afterwards (they only served apps, but it turns out my eyes are bigger then my stomach and I had plenty of food to keep me satisfied)

Anyways, right around the block from where I was was &Pizza. Being a sucker for anything pizza related I dragged along my friend so we could get some pizza to go. 

To start off, you pick your base: whole wheat, multigrain or white. You can either pick one of their signature pizzas or create your own. I decided to go with a signature pizza as there were far too many choices for create your own, giving me anxiety if I had to choose. 

I went with Kiss and Fire Spicy Tomato, Quattro Formaggi Blend, Ricotta Spread, Meatballs, Local Mushroom Blend, Strawberry BalsamicI had it without the mushrooms or strawberry balsamic, instead adding on a garlic sauce and some jalapenos. My friend chose to make her own creation with a variety of ingredients. 
I was impressed with the pizza although I ended up being to full to eat it and gave it away to a friend. For what it is and how quickly you get it, it's pretty darn good. I would pick it over any of the chain pizzas. There are a ton of ingredients to pick from - something for everyone. They move just as quickly as a Chipotle and the employees were all really nice. 
Would I come back? Yes, I would - the combos are endless and the convenience is awesome. 

664-666 Monroe St NE
Washington, DC
Closest Metro: Brookland-Cua Metro
&Pizza on Urbanspoon

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Friday, August 1, 2014

Cayuga Wine Trail: Part 1 (top of the lake)

This could be a day of wine tasting or split into two days depending on how much time you have! Keep in mind this day was marathon wine tasting for us - we didn't stop and enjoy a bottle anywhere (besides lunch, but we both drank water). If you want to stop and enjoy a bottle or glass, I would suggest just picking a few.

Wineries in order starting from the top of the lake. 
1. Montezuma Winery (we actually didn't go here, we meant to, but while driving I thought we had reached the top of the lake with Varick...whoops, next visit)
2. Varick Winery
3. Swedish Hill Winery (we didn't go here, but I have heard some good things so definitely stop by if you have time!)
4. Lake Shore Winery
5. Knapp Winery
6. Goosewatch Winery
7. Buttonwood Grove Winery

Varick Winery & Vineyard
Probably one of my favorite wineries on this trip/ever. The second we walked in I immediately spotted on the olive oils, sauces and other delicious treats to try. We lucked out by being one of the only tasters in the winery at that moment and had the full attention of our pourer. Each tasting came with the option of pairing with food, which of course, we were all for. I love it when tastings including food pairings - it makes me much more inclined to buy the wine when I know I can successfully pair it with food. They even paired their Varick Blush with peanut butter. Who would have thought you could pair peanut butter with wine? Crazy and delicious. 
I picked up the 2013 Dry Vignoles (pairs well with fruit salad, salsa, chips & herbs dips - including a Thai curry dip) and the Varick Red (pairs well with spaghetti, ravioli or pizza...uhh yes!) along with an Avocado Tomatillo Salsa and a few Maple Habenero dip mixes. Carrie got an olive tapenade spread and a fig jam. I also really enjoyed the 2012 Cabernet Franc. When in season, you can walk the cherry orchards and pick some cherries! After this winery, I would have been content to go home. That's a sign of a job well done...we were here for almost an hour just tasting and talking. 

Lakeshore Winery
Although I was not a huge fan of their wines, the ambiance and person conducing this tasting make this winery more then worth the stop. Only $2, it's definitely worth your stop on the way down (or up) the lake for the experience alone. Once you get into the tasting room they tell you to take a seat. How awesome is that?

Knapp Winery and Restaurant
This is where you will stop for lunch today (review here). Knapp Winery has a ton of wines and spirits to choose from (around 20-30), the tasting includes 6...and with all the variety, it makes it a little hard to choose which ones to try. We were big fans of the Rose Cabernet Franc (I bought 2 bottles! I think it was my favorite wine of the trip) and the Pasta Red (easy red to drink). 

Goose Watch Winery
Nice winery with great views. The actually tasting experience wasn't as personable but we ended up picking up a bottle to drink on the dock later that day. This winery has great views of the lake and would be a nice place to get a glass/bottle and sit out with some friends.  

Buttonwood Grove Winery
This was the last stop for this day but definitely a very fun one. Another great tasting experience, our wine pourer was friendly, personable and hilarious. If there is one think I love, its the combo of alcohol and slushees and Buttonwood Grove just happens to have a Blackberry Wine Slushee which we got togo. Don't worry, there was no drinking and driving, my lakehouse was a short drive from here so I didn't have to worry about it melting. 

This wraps up Part 1 (Day 1 for Carrie and I). It is definitely doable in a couple of hours, leaving you some dock or other outdoor activity time. My favorites from this day were Varick and Buttonwood Grove - for the experience (which is really important to me) and the wine. Knapp had one of my favorite wines of the trip so I would recommend them too...but let's be real - can you really go wrong wine tasting? 

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