Friday, August 30, 2013

Tripping around the Finger Lakes Region of NY

I just got back from a two week trip to the Greater Rochester area in New York State, which is situated near 11 Finger Lakes plus one of the Great Lakes, Lake Ontario.  My brother's daughter, Emily came out to see me for 10 days and I accompanied her back to Rochester.  Bob picked us up at the Monroe County airport and spirited us back to his beautiful home in Penfield.
The warm slightly humid air felt great!  Pierre the cat greeted me like the long lost aunt that I am. The guest room that I usually stay in was ready, having been transformed from my nephew's hideaway office back into a comfortable bedroom.
My brother filled me in on that project!  Dinner was waiting for us from "Joey's Pasta House" a neighborhood Italian restaurant. Good pastas, garlicky scampi and four cheese ravioli with that rich tomato sauce that is sooo Rochester Italian.

The next day I woke up to clear blue skies and warm temperatures. Bob suggested that we take his boat out on Lake Ontario. His girlfriend had the day off and was all for it.  We packed up a cooler, I slathered on the sunscreen and filled the beach bag that I had the good sense to pack. All of a sudden these big black clouds moved in and I mean big and black. The temperatures dropped about 10 degrees and rain started coming down.  We all looked at each other, knowing this wasn't going to pass and said let's go out for cocktails!!  Clothes were changed and we piled into my brother's mint BMW 750 or some such number and headed for the mall in a driving rain-thunder and lightening storm.

They shopped and ran some errands while I wandered around. We met at a sports bar and proceeded to sip some cocktails and catch up on the latest happenings in Bob's world.  By the time we left the skies had cleared and it was blue, blue again. Too late for the boat though.  We headed home for a few hours to get our dinner plans together. 

There is a cool place called " Dinosaur Bar-B-Que".  Their original place was a biker bar in Syracuse, NY.  Very cool with super good food.  This was our decision for dinner. Take out is the easiest way for Bob to feed everyone he has living in his household. The kids are coming and going and they all eat at different times.  Everyone put in their orders and off we went to pick up the "Bar-B-Que". I bought a "Saddlebag" of  Dinosaur Bar B Que sauces to take home.

 My nephew Jacob showed up for dinner with a friend. OMG! He is a 6'2" teddy bear. Bob has his hands full feeding this crowd. We feasted on Pork and Brisket Plates, Bar b Que Pork Ribs, Big House Special plate, Pork BBQ sandwiches along with sides of Mac n Cheese, BBQ beans, corn, coleslaw and Honey Hush cornbread. There were plenty of leftovers for Jacob to take home.

Saturday was my first day to actually drive into Rochester in the Trailblazer, my ride for the duration. I went to the Park Avenue Art Festival in my old neighborhood.  My first apartment was the top half of a house at 199 Meigs St. that I shared with 3 or 4 girls and whoever was sleeping on the couch when we woke up.   Fun, fun times were had there. I walked the fair not seeing anything that I felt I could pack up to take home.  There were alot of food vendors but not one beer or wine vendor.  The cafes were packed. I was looking for an old watering hole we used to go to "Miller's" but couldn't find it. It turns out that I didn't walk far enough and it most likely had changed names.  I spotted the words "Garbage Plate" on one of the food trucks at the fair and there it was, Nick Tahou's! My buds and I would haunt the original restaurant on Main St. after rockin out all night at Tiny's Bengel Inn.  The last Garbage Plate I had was in the early 70's while I was visiting from California. I think it was the hamburger plate which was two thin hamburger patties, home fries, macaroni salad smothered with "Rochester hot sauce" .  My girlfriend, Nasher and I had been out drinking up a storm.  When I got back to my parents' house my visiting cousins were sleeping in my bedroom and one of them was on the floor next to my bed. Well up came the garbage plate in the middle of the night. Not good. Thankfully she still talks to me.

Just to be nostalgic I strolled down Meigs street. There was the house still standing with a big party going on!  I stopped to talk to a couple of the girls and told them my story of living there 40+ years ago. They loved it. It made me so happy to see the party house still rocking but it was time to find a beer.

I walked up to Monroe Ave and found a pub " The Park Bench".  About 4 people and a little dog were in there plus the bartender, Jill, who was totally hung over from celebrating her birthday the night before with shots of Jack Daniels.  For $2. I got a bottle of my old fav beer " Genesee  (Genny) Cream Ale".  How did this bar make any money?  I left a generous tip.

Sunday was family picnic time!  The weather cooperated as showers were forecast but didn't materialize.  I raided Bob's garden for tomatoes, peppers, beauty white onions and lots of herbs.  These were supplemented with summer squash, potatoes and salad greens.  Wegmans is the super grocery store in the area.  Bob gets his meat ground to order combining brisket and I think sirloin for hamburgers. We had to serve Zwiegle's hot dogs that Rochester is famous for. The "White Hots" are like bockwurst. You can get them with skin ( pop opens) or without.
Bob manning the grill

 Two years ago, when I was visiting, I picked up a bag of "salt" potatoes which were small white potatoes with coarse salt. The instructions said to roast them tossed with all of the salt to which I added chopped rosemary.  They were crunchy with salt and creamy centers. This time I bought a bag and the potatoes had grown into medium size and the salt was table salt with instructions to add 2 Tbsp. saving the rest for another use. What?? Who needs a cup of table salt leftover. Also you were to rub the potatoes with olive oil and chopped rosemary. I could have bought creamer potatoes and done the same thing which is how I usually roast them at home.  Maybe the salt police decided they would be healthier this way. Everyone seemed to like them at any rate.
My Cousins Nora and Gary brought a tomato and cucumber salad from her garden bounty. My grandniece, Alexandria, bought some unbelievably good biscuits for berry shortcakes.
Salads, Potatoes and more
Jacob's version of berry shortcake

I cut the veges and tossed them onto the grill early to free it up for the chicken my nephew, Robert was planning on cooking.  Robert's chicken is a family favorite. He buys the birds from an Italian butcher. I don't know what the heritage of these birds is but they were juicy and flavorful from the rub he used on them.

After the veges were grilled I cut them into bite sized pieces and tossed them with plenty of basil and parsley, balsamic vinegar and some ciliegine (cherry size mozzarella balls). I also set out a platter of proscuitto wrapped melon bites. The green beans were blanched and tossed with olive oil, slivered red peppers and coarse sea salt.

 We did typical family things like take mils of pictures and tell stories. Good time!.
Robert Jr., MaryJo, Brother Bob and me
Backyard fun.

Time to do some "lake-hopping". First stop will be Keuka, one of the Finger Lakes and a visit with my girlfriend Anne Leach.