He's the smartest person I know, and a man of simple pleasures. He's happiest with a cold beer and a nice day to navigate his tractor around his land, puttering on house projects and reverse engineering the myriad issues that come along with home ownership. It's difficult for me to lure him away from our property.
But a couple weekends ago, it was my birthday, and everyone knows the birthday girl gets to call the shots. I happen to be very good at shot calling, and the day I wanted was wine oriented and Finger Lakes bound. So my Shawn charted a course for Cayuga, and would you know what? There were tasty treats afoot.
Since we access Ithaca by first surmounting Owego, we stopped off at Iron Kettle Farms on Rt. 96, said hello to some little friends, and picked up a peck of local apples.
Then it was off to wine country. We hit Americana for my favorite taste of the Finger Lakes - their Apparition white table wine. It's good stuff, you guys. It has a crisp sweetness that doesn't linger in the back of the throat like almost all other sweet wines, and pairs well with chicken and ethnic dishes.
After Americana comes Sheldrake Point, my favorite winery to visit. This is where you buy Riesling, take in the gorgeous water view, and joke around with the pourers. Oh, you also take selfies:
Feeding goats and drinking wine works up a mean hunger! For years, I've tasted wine at Cayuga Ridge and wished it was mealtime so that I could grab a pizza from their Copper Oven. Finally! My wish came thrue, and we beelined there for a delicious and lovely lunch al fresco. I ordered wine, while Shawn was relieved to get a beer:
And we perused this fun menu:
I feel like I should reassure you that the graphic is of the Finger Lakes in their entirety, not some horrifically scarred internal organ from an animal. It's ok. Don't be scared.
We split the fun-guy pie for lunch, and it was the perfect few bites for which we were looking. The pizzas at Copper Oven are small and thin crusted, not the traditional pepperoni and cheese gooey behemoths you might be used to from delivery pies. The fun-guy had a base of Creme fraiche, which is like sour cream but French and therefor better (ok, ok, it's actually just a bit creamier, with a hair less tang than American sour cream). On top of that were minced mushrooms, cheddar cheese, fresh chives, and truffle oil to round out the flavor and give each slice an earthy personality that would have been absent without it. The toppings were scant so as not to trump the flavor of the crust itself, which was subtle, but had fantastic crunch and chew.
See those gorgeous charred bits of cheese? You can thank the super-hot oven, made of (yes) copper, for them. I know I did. The Copper Oven is a great stop for lunch on your Cayuga Lake wine tour. The wait staff was pleasant, the drinks were great (there were local crafts beers on special, plus Cayuga Ridge Estates wines available by the glass), and the deck on which you sit feels like a little private enclave, just enough removed from the winery, overlooking the lake and a pretty red barn, and charming as all get out.
Also? Pizza soaks up all the booze, man!
We hit a few more wineries, then headed back into Ithaca, where I took Shawn to Ithaca Ale House, just off the Commons, for a pre-dinner drink. Because what you need following an afternoon of wine tasting is a Bloody Mary or a beer! As ever, my most favorite bar in Upstate NY was bustling, friendly, and a good place to pause and catch our breath. The food cranking out of the kitchen looked almost good enough to make me rethink our dinner destination, but no, I was not to be deterred.
We rolled up the other side of the lake to Booker's Backyard, which I first told you about last summer, declaring it the spot for your next date night. I don't know if you've tried it out yet, but I can tell you that MY birthday date night there was splendid, and we both already can't wait to go back.
We sat in that idyllic backyard, and rather than down on the patio, Shawna and I were seated up on the deck, with a bit of an elevated view of the sunset, a private feel, and of course, all the yummies Booker's entails.
I've already reviewed Booker's, so I'm not about to give you a full run down, but our meals were wonderful. My scallop and bacon mac and cheese and exemplary lobster roll were fabulous - I groaned and made Shawn taste them and the whole nine. You should go here.
He would probably never admit it, but I think Shawn enjoyed getting out and about and exploring this gorgeous little section of our state quite a bit. We revisited places we already know we like and hit up some new spots, didn't plan too much, and let our moods, our stomachs, and the road take us where they liked. It was a golden, romantic, and very happy birthday for me. Could a girl ask for anything more? My personality is big; my hunger is bigger!
PS - I have big, BIG news to share next week, so check in Wednesday for a review from Hamilton and Utica, and again on Thursday for a special announcement!
PPS - My Little One is crowning her successor this Saturday at the culmination of the 2015 Miss Thousand Islands Outstanding Teen Pageant. It's at 2 p.m. in the LaFargeville Central School Auditorium. If you have a free afternoon and you're in NNY, swing by and support six young ladies working hard to join the nation's largest achievement program for women: the Miss America Organization! There will be entertainment in the form of dancing and singing, plus, you get to see Joelle on her way to the next fabulous chapter of her young life. You won't regret the investment of your time into supporting our community's young people!