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Trip to Cooperstown, NY – March 21 – 24, 2013

Between March 21st and 24th we found ourselves spending some down time in Cooperstown, NY.  Alex was looking at graduate schools so Cheri and I kicked back and toured the area.  We had a very nice trip.  I’m not sure I would spend a week here, but there was a lot to do that didn’t necessarily have to involve baseball.  Of course, if you wanted to see everything there is to know about baseball, you would be in the right place.  The funny thing is we were there for the better part of four days and never set foot in the baseball hall of fame.  Maybe next time.0324131005b

We stayed at the Cooper Inn, which was wonderful.  The off-season rates are incredible, the rooms are very nice and the breakfast is great.  You can’t beat the location either, right off Main Street.  Here is the inn.

The Cooper Inn

The Cooper Inn

The first afternoon and night we wandered a bit, ending up at Council Rock Brewery for a beer tasting and a snack.   Council Rock is right on Rt 28 and is just getting going.  They opened in 2012 in a small store and are currently expanding the dining room.  The beer was very good.  I had the Vienna Lager (which was my least favorite – very heavy and not a lot of nuance), the All American IPA (which was very hoppy but still enjoyable with a citrus taste at the end) and the Sunken Ireland Scotch Ale (this was great, very smooth with a fruity quality – and 9% alcohol).  They’ve got a little way to go here, but they’re on the right track.

Back in town we wandered looking for a good place for a cocktail and sort of struck out (pun intended!) as there are not a lot of up scale bars on main street.  We ended up at the Doubleday Cafe for0321132019 a drink.  Adequate and probably good food here judging by the locals pouring in.  We wanted something a little more relaxing, and ended up crossing the street (literally) to Nicoletta’s for dinner.  Nicoletta’s is right on Main Street about  two blocks from both the Hall of Fame and our inn, in different directions.  This was perfect for what we wanted, which was a quiet and cozy restaurant with good food.  I would imagine this is far less quiet in the warmer months, but for us it was great.

 

Friday, March 22nd: 

We got out early and had breakfast at the Cooperstown Diner, which is classic and a must stop for at least one meal.  It is tiny, but the food is good.  This is really a throwback.  After breakfast we ended up at Bear Pond Winery and the Ommegang Brewery. Both were very good. The winery was surprising, producing some very good wines with grapes sourced from all over NY. Wilma, the 15 year old jack Russell terrier and chihuahua mix was also very cute.  The bathroom was themed like a forest, with tree limbs from the ceiling. That may seem a bit random but it really is worth a look when you’re there, ev0322131255en if you don’t have to use it.  We tried 12 wines with mixed results. The two most expensive were our least favorite. The fruit wines and the sweeter, late harvest Riesling were good. The sparkler was also excellent.

What we liked: Riesling- nice with a smooth off dry finish. Bought this.
Carpe Diem: a sparkling moscato which reminded us of Asti Spumante. We bought this.
Rrrr Riesling: sweet, but not over the top. We bought this as well to use as a dessert wine. It really had a nice level of sweetness and still finished clean.

 

What we didn’t like: the Doubleday Red DeChaunae: this was dominated by heavy, charred oak. Kind of like chewing on smoldering firewood for me.
Cab franc (05):the same overpowering oak dominating the grape. Just not a fan of this style.

They also sell all sorts of beer and wine making supplies as well as local foot products.

19 wines made on premises. Others produced for them

Meghan was a very good host. They are making some good wines. Definitely worth a stop in. Say hi to Wilma.

At Ommegang we tried some Belgian style beer and had lunch. This is a big place, with locally produced beer and a bunch of Belgian imports. The Belgian Pale Ale was exceptionally good. So was my croque Madame sandwich.  We had lunch at the brewery and the restaurant is quite good.

Ommegang Brewery

Ommegang Brewery

Bob Graham Antiques

Bob Graham Antiques

We also found two nice shops in town. One was Bob Graham Antiques, a small, eclectic shop selling lamps and antiques. I bought some original die halves from the Australian gold kangaroo bullion coins produced in 1991.

Very cool and very unusual. Across the street is an excellent bookshop, Willis Monie, where I got a 7 volume historical series from the late 1800s, a French work bound in 1756, a work on the roman invasion of Britain from the 1800’s, and an early (1860), 2 volume set of Trollope’s Castle Richmond.  This price was a steal and this is a bookshop I’d like to spend a lot more time in.

Dinner was at the Otesaga Resorts Hawkeye Tavern.  The Otesaga is an old fashioned, extremely elegant lakefront resort.  Think of the resort in the movie Dirty Dancing and you’re in the ballpark (pun intended!).  While the resort proper didn’t open until April, the tavern was open and we stopped there for dinner.  In season the main dining room is a jacket required place, but the tavern is a bit more casual.  Some sort of conference was going on and the Tavern became busy during our meal, but it was still a nice, relaxing restaurant.  Our table was in the window looking back up Otsego Lake, which was snow covered and really made for a nice, romantic view.  We both had the Red Snapper special, which came with an appetizer and dessert.  For $19.99 this was an incredible value.  We would highly recommend this.  More details on our Food Page coming soon.

Saturday, March 23:

Started with a nice breakfast at the inn. Then we went to Fly Creek Cider Mill country store and had a nice time. We fed the ducks some corn.  The place is an old but still functioning apple cider mill, and this was their opening day. There is an abundance of different preserves, dry 0323131130amix dips, meat seasoning rubs, salsas, sauces and cheeses for sale. Almost everything was also out for sampling, which was nice. They also have quite a selection of wines,most of which are bottled for them. Tasting notes follow:

Mill Pond Riesling: from finger lakes grapes, this was a very nice off dry Riesling. Smooth with a pleasant finish it is the first year they have made it. They should keep it going, as it is quite good.

Apple: very nice pleasant taste. Off dry. The apple is enjoyable and not over the top.

Apple Cranberry: a splash of cranberry in this, the apple still dominates. It is off dry and has a bit of tartness from the cranberry. Also quite good.

Cranberry: pretty traditional cranberry wine.

Apple with black currant: this was the winner here. This wine has a lot of complexity. If you didn’t.know it you might think it was a grape wine. There was a finish of what they termed ‘whiskey barrel’. Not sure I would have picked that term but I don’t disagree. Unusual in a good way. We bought one to bring home and stump the guests some night.

Some wines at Fly Creek

Some wines at Fly Creek

Fat Frog Red: sangria like with the Concord grape dominating. Sweet and tasty in a fruit punch on the deck in summer kind of way.

Cider Mill Rose: this wine from NY grapes is quite nice. Crisp and off dry it finishes with nice flavors. Would make a good sipping wine.

Apple Frost: the apple version of an ice wine. While it is good it wasn’t my favorite.

Wines ranges from $12.99 to $19.99 for the ice wine.

 

Next stop: Rustic Ridge Winery in Burlington Flats NY

This is a very nice, small winery which works with producers from the Finger Lakes region. They really make some nice wines here, and we were kind of blown away by the overall quality. Here are the wines:

Cheri at Rustic Ridge

Cheri at Rustic Ridge

Chardonnay: this is their unoaked version. And it is nice and crisp with some citrus. It also has some good length and finishes clean and smooth. Very nice. $11.99 and good value.

Semi dry Riesling: this had a tiny bit of spice at the end of a really nice, off dry flavor profile. Classic Riesling. Really good and we bought some of this to take home. $11.99 and a really good value.

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The tasting counter at Rustic Ridge

Sweet Blueberry Wine: very nice dessert wine which had very pure blueberry flavors but was not overly sweet. Some of these are cloyingly sweet. This is not.

Native Port: made from native Concord grapes, this was the only miss of the tasting for me. I didn’t like it. The concord doesn’t work well with the brandy fortification.

Untamed Red: wow, this was really good,especially for the money. Nice nose and palate of good fruit. Medium bodied and quite long. It would be good with a steak. $11.99 and a good value, which we took advantage of.

Pinot Noir (08): lighter with a lot of spice, this could have passed for a Syrah. Would pare great with anything beef.

Lemberger (09): the owner’s wife thought this was a blend of Cab. Sauvignon and something else. Whatever it is it works. This is medium bodied with a very expressive flavor profile featuring red and black fruit and oak. There is also a little tannin at the end. Very, very long. Actually really, really nice and we bought a few. This would be a winner on any wineries list, no matter where you were. $17.99 and worth it.

Cabernet Sauvignon: also really nice, although a small step behind the Lemberger. Very similar flavor profile but the oak tends to dominate a little too much. Still impressive.

Merlot: see above. Almost identical to the cab for me, although the finish was not quite as long and there were some smoother merlot fruit flavors. It was also a little lighter than the Lemberger.

This was a great tasting and they are really doing some great things. Go here if you’re in the area.

On the way back to town we stopped at Man Cave Antiques, which had a great selection of collectibles.  Lots of old signs and some unusual items were for sale.  We bought an inexpensive English Ale sign for Alex.  There was a rather beat up Orange Crush vintage thermometer sign there as well, and I kind of regret not getting that.

Lunch at Bocca Osteria:

We arrived kind of in the middle of the afternoon, so it was almost empty. We sat at the bar, which was a very nice carrera marble topped small bar, but well stocked. The menu was classic Italian, with pasta, pizza and paninis. I had a glass of red wine and we ordered the crab and crawfish cakes, a Cesar salad and the Margherita pizza. Everything was excellent. The sauce for the crab cakes especially so. The pizza also stood out, with crushed tomato sauce and dollops of mozzarella.  The restaurant has a modern decor that really works. We’ll try it for dinner sometime when we’re in the area again. Definitely recommended.

Coffee at Stagecoach Coffee:

Just off the main drag in Cooperstown is Stagecoach,a very nice coffee shop with a good assortment of baked goods and excellent coffee. The only drawback was that the wifi wasn’t working. The seating area is nice and comfy though, so bring a book (for those that remember what those are). A good place to kill an hour or two.

Dinner at Alex and Ika’s:

Alex and Ika's

Alex and Ika’s

Right on Main Street at the opposite end from the Hall of Fame is Alex and Ika’s.  It had received good reviews and was recommended by the Inn, so we tried it.  It was also right across from the walking path to our Inn, so it couldn’t be more convenient.  This has a bistro kind of feel, with food and drink moving quickly and lots of people.

It was crowded in March, so it must be very crowded in summer.  We managed to snag the last to seats at the bar and had an excellent time.  The food was very good, with some unusual items.  I had the fish tacos and Cheri went with a cesar salad with chicken.  Someone next to us had the lamb rib chops, and they looked heavenly.  Next time for sure.  We also recommend Alex and Ika’s, but you might have to wait.

Summary: Cooperstown is a nice, quiet town in the winter with some excellent dining options and a number of places to visit.  We enjoyed ourselves very much, and if Alex goes to school there we will be back fairly regularly over the next couple of years.  It might be a completely different experience in the summer, and based on some conversations with friends it is, but there is also a lot more to do in the warmer months as many of the museums and historical sites open for the season.  The main drag is quaint (see below) and there are some interesting shops.  Oneonta is about a half hour away, Albany about 1 hour 15 minutes, and Saratoga Springs about an hour and a half.

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A nice place to visit, even if you are not a baseball fan.

They’ll be more details on the Travel and Food pages soon.

 

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