Last night we greatly enjoyed a wine tasting with Lourdes of the Vine at lil dove cafe in the Jersey City Heights. I had it planned as a special date night and it didn’t disappoint with its special-ness.
Full disclosure, every time I go to a wine tasting I’m drunk beforehand or I get too drunk during and forget everything. I’ve even gone on a wine-tasting only vacation and didn’t learn a single thing.
But this one I remember some things from!
We were seated in the backyard kind of class-room style facing the front FOR INSTRUCTION and I made us sit in the front row because we sit in the front row in this family. Because I’m deaf and can’t hear in the back…but I also like being in the front and raising my hand and volunteering for things. I’m basically an ideal audience member.
lil dove cafe’s backyard is so peaceful and lovely and there were lights and trees and art and a water dispenser to the side to promote hydration. And wine!
There was a cute little wine and pairing items menu and a cool placemat thing that I didn’t fully understand and still don’t but respect it as a system.
After we sat down they immediately brought out the BIGGEST AND MOST ALLURING CHARCUTERIE BOARD OF ALL TIME. I mean, it was MIND BLOWING. LIKE WOW.
We started to ravenously gobble it right away but then were embarrased to realize we were probably supposed to save it for the pairing/tasting. So we stopped eating it but by the end of the night we hadn’t eaten it all but we couldn’t eat anymore and I still feel guilty about that.
But the wine! It was “natural” wine, which seems to be defined in some capacity by “farming that doesn’t f**k over everything else on the planet.” And it was good! The first one we tasted was Lambrusco and of course that’s a fav because it’s the perfect pizza wine.
For the second wine Lourdes really broke down the tasting process and I learned a TON I am NOT JOKING. She spoke a lot about “sensory memory,” like using senses and things you’ve sensed before and apply that to the new current thing you are sensing. And I loved that!
It turns out that accessing old sensory experiences to interpret new sensory experiences in your brain is a great and mind blowing idea. I never thought of it that way and it makes me understand wine tasting better as an an activity.
When people smell wine and swirl it around and look at the color and have opinions and conversations about it based on their senses…I pretty much have thought that was bullshit for a long time. Maybe not bullshit but like, “I don’t understand how it works so it’s not for me.” But last night I felt like i found some understanding! Like something just finally clicked, between wine and I. The smells and tastes made sense. I was killin it.
The sensory memory thing really got me, you guys.
Lourdes also reminded us that when the wine is first poured – don’t drink it right away! “Take a moment with the wine. Namaste with the wine.” In the past I have always gulped all of mine before we even talk about it and then I have nothing to test out. So I believe this is probably a good thing for me to remember and I’ll be a better wine taster in the future.
We can eat food and drink drinks AND hear live music! The folks playing the music walk around and play the music! We can be inside this really cool historic building that I actually really, REALLY missed and have a great night!
Last night we really had a great night.
I had a TON of La vie en rose cocktails. Definitely lost count but it was a ton.
The La vie en rose cocktail has lychee and vodka and some other stuff but I was mostly in it for the lychee. And the lychee was in it for ME.
We had a charcuterie board as an appetizer. Because we do what we must.
For my entree I chose the salmon. IT WAS INCRED. GET THE SALMON YOU GUYS.
They were kind enough to allow us to outsource dessert because it was my friend’s bday. Like they let her bring in a tray of banana pudding from baonanas and a delicious cake. The birthday desserts were EXCEPTIONAL and I was glad we got to have them.
All night the band played jazzy music on stage and it set a wonderful mood.
It was a great choice of birthday venue for my pal and I’d love to go back.
I love a casserole, is that wrong? If it’s wrong I don’t wanna be right. I love it. Just throw all that shit in there together and bake it up. Boom. Food for days. You wanna talk about “meal prep”? This is meal prep INCARNATE. Midwestern grandmas have been meal prepping since at least 1907.
Tuna casserole, green bean casserole, and egg/breakfast casserole (I recently made one WITH GRITS) have obviously always been my favorites. But the appeal of a casserole goes beyond the shine of the MVPs in its category. The beauty of a casserole comes from its simplicity, the ease with which it can be prepared, the fact that you bake it inside the oven where the heat is safely kept away from you instead of cooking it over an open flame, and its ability to last as multiple delicious meals for at least a week.
The ingredients are simple! Just a couple of things! Most of them you don’t even have to prepare, YOU JUST THROW THEM IN. “Just throwing things in” is incredibly appealing to me. I hate cooking. It’s not fun or relaxing and by the time it’s ready I want to take a nap and I’m not in the right state of mind to even enjoy eating what I’ve just slaved over and gone out of my way to prepare. But casseroles help ease that feeling of disgust and aversion toward cooking. They’re like, “Hello friend! I am simple! JUST THROW THAT SHIT IN AND I WILL DO THE REST.”
Thank you, casseroles.
In addition to hating cooking overall, I am terrified of fire and extreme heat in any form. Fire KILLS people, destroys property, and is an ever-present danger that has been lurking around every corner waiting to claim us and everything we love since the beginning of time. I live in constant fear of the perils of fire and I’m not sorry.
Baking is okay, because the heat is contained in the oven. I still get scared and often do get small burns when I have to take things in and out, but the cumulative exposure to fire during a baking sesh is way less.
AND CASSEROLES ARE BAKED.
Most importantly, when you make a casserole it contains many servings! Like usually at least 6 or 8, if I have any idea of the math of it. Which like, don’t quote me on that. But it’s great that you just have to cook ONE TIME and you get enough food for MULTIPLE TIMES so later in your week or month or life when you really, REALLY don’t feel like cooking anything you can whip out the casserole to save the day.
Last year I made “Amy’s Hot Dish” when Amy Klobuchar was in the presidential race because I saw it on some website and I wanted to try it. I had never eaten or even heard of “hot dish” before so it was an exciting anthropological moment for me. There is some debate about “hot dish” vs “casserole” and what each one means but in the end they’re essentially the same in that they are both AMAZING. It’s worth noting that the sacred ancestral food of my forebears and the great and powerful Garfield, lasagna, is also a casserole.
Yes, it’s a casserole, calm down.
It’s some delicious shit all mixed together and congealed into a rectangular shape that yields multiple servings.
Doing any kind of “baking” that involves melting and molding chocolate is like REALLY HARD YOU GUYS. I’m not really sure why I signed myself up for this but I did and once I started I had to finish.
There were enough ingredients in my house to make 6 but only 3 survived. The second half of chocolate chips I tried to melt got messed up and melted wrong and could not be recovered. It was actually really disgusting and made me feel sad about chocolate overall which is something I’ve never felt but I’m not sure how to avoid it next time. So who knows.
The bombs themselves are very fragile and didn’t seal together very well and I propped them up in a ziploc bag and nestled them in a plastic container and then wrapped that in plastic wrap to get them home.
Making hot chocolate bombs is a project for people with more concern and consideration when it comes to attention to detail and also more precise fine motor skills.
Because I do not have any fine motor skills. OR care and consideration for attention to detail.
Tomorrow I will feed these bombs to my family and we’ll see what happens.
I spent a big chunk of the last two days making Xmas cookies and I’m going to take a moment to reflect on that.
Making Xmas cookies is pretty hard and I’m very tired and also my back hurts. It’s enjoyable but it’s also very, very hard, you guys. I need to express how hard it is and how tired I am.
It is so hard.
This year I made an actual plan, too. Which should have made it easier. And it did! In years past I was like, “I have ingredients, I will make cookies.” And that was it. I just went for it without much thought.
And I never had enough time. I was always rushing around before my dad came to pick me up like, “HOW ARE THESE COOKIES NOT DONE YET?’ WTF?! WHY IS THIS MY LIFE. I AM A FAILURE.”
But this year…NO! I was a NON-failure.
Yesterday morning I went for a run because I do that now and while I ran I developed the cookie plan/mantra of “sugar cookies-peanut butter cookie dough-banana pudding-take a break and drink coquito-and watch Prom on Netflix-bake peanut butter cookies-then double chocolate peanut butter cup-then fudge and fudge is so hard-then Russian tea cookies-then sleep.”
So it was laid out. And it was time to begin.
Sugar cookies are the only baking thing I’ve mastered so far.
I call the ones I make “Shan’s Sugar” and I think that’s quite nice. I used a star, ornament, and Xmas tree cookie cutter. I got some GOOOOOLD sprinkles at Target and I was pumped AF to sprinkle them.
These cookies are an Xmas tradition in my extended family and I think probably in the extended world.
You make the dough first and then put it in the fridge and wait two hours so in the interim I made banana pudding.
They’re like…pretty simple? But did not turn out. And I was pissed.
So pissed that I woke up early again today and made MORE dough and put it in the fridge for TWO MORE HOURS OF MY LIFE. This second batch came out better so I threw out most of the shitty burned first batch.
Banana pudding is not an Xmas cookie but I did make it. I made this Paula Deen version of banana pudding for a Friendsgiving in November. IT WAS A HIT. Even though Paula Deen sux.
My boyfriend commanded that I make the banana pudding for him since I wouldn’t be home at our apartment for Xmas so I was forced into it.
JK I loved every minute.
JK I didn’t but I did add Oreos also at his command.
And that was a pretty good idea.
After not really doing much I had to take a break.
I sipped on some coquito that my boyfriend got off of Instagram and watched The Prom on Netflix.
It was fine. Any musical will charm me as long as there is dancing and fun costumes.
Any coquito will also charm me.
doublechocolatepudding peanut Reese’s cookies.
After the break I did bake the peanut butter cookies but as I said they pissed me off so moving right along.
This was my first time making these double chocolate pudding Reese’s cookies and by the time they were done I felt sick from taste testing and also eating raw batter I licked from empty bowls so I haven’t gotten to taste them yet.
It seems like they’ll be delicious! I also had some fun cutting up the special seasonal nutcracker Reese’s because why wouldn’t I?
These cookies were made with dough that was already put together so that was interesting and stuff.
Fudge is hard as hell to make and super labor intensive. As a kid I was OBSESSED with Xmas fudge that my Grammie made but I was always thinking, “Why does she ONLY make this at Xmas?!”
BECAUSE MAKING FUDGE SUCKS.
My first attempt at making fudge the regular way was a huge failure, but last year a kind and benevolent client of mine emailed me this recipe. It’s a bit simpler and therefore probably idiot-proof.
So it’s how I make fudge now. And my dad likes it and he is the Fudge Judge for all the world. Believe it.
russian tea cakes.
After I made the fudge I was exhausted and pretty much died so I had to save the Russian tea cakes for this morning.
As a kid the Russian tea cakes were a fav for me. I don’t really know why but I do think that I went through a phase where I was into anything vaguely “Russian” because I was trying to connect with my Eastern European roots. Like I got really excited learning about tzars and shit. Czars?
Anyway, I made these a few years ago and I felt “meh” about how they turned out, but this year I think I did okay!
Well…after the first batch when I didn’t have enough flour in them. I even followed the recipe. I swear I did. But the dough looked suspect and I was right.
After that, i added more flour and I did okay.
So that’s my cookie story and I’m sticking to it. I would ask like, “What Xmas cookies do you like to make?” but no one ever answers so I give up.
Last year we attended a Friendsgiving and our favorite thing there was this banana pudding one of our friends made.
IT WAS INCREDIBLE.
So this year we asked her for the recipe and then I made it.
AND IT WAS EVERY BIT AS INCREDIBLE.
It’s a Paula Deen recipe and I realize that’s problematic and I’m sorry. But it’s also a very good recipe so we can just pretend my friend actually made it up and forget about Paula altogether.
This recipe starts with a foundation of Chessmen cookies. These are holiday Chessmen and I didn’t realize it until I got them home and I feel really silly about it but they taste the same.
Then you make a layer of bananas. Because this is banana pudding.
Then you mix up vanilla pudding mix and milk and condensed milk and maybe something else I forgot.
CURVEBALLS – I used one packet of French vanilla and one packet of banana cream pudding and I was pleased with the results. Also, I used vanilla almond milk as the milk and it tasted great. According to me.
Once that stuff is mixed you have to “fold” in some Cool Whip.
First of all, I had no idea how to thaw Cool Whip in a reasonable amount of time and I felt all was lost and I wasn’t going to be able to make this recipe and I totally panicked. But I googled it and you can thaw Cool Whip in a bowl of room temperature water and it only takes like 30mins.
Second, I had to figure out how to “fold” the Cool Whip into the rest of the mixture. After some reading and searching I came to the answer that “folding” is “gently mixing” and I think they could have just said that. Either way I learned a new baking skill!
You put that pudding on top of the bananas, then more chessmen on the top, then refrigerate for at least 4 hours.
This stuff turned out so good and it was so easy. That sounds obnoxious but I feel it’s necessary to tell the truth here. And the truth is, it was life changing.
This past weekend I went home to visit my parents and we then drove two hours to visit my brother and his family. During this long and arduous journey we passed by a cute little spot called The Salt Box on 611 in Plumstead, PA.
Where is Plumstead, PA? It’s in Bucks County (don’t worry, as far as PA goes, they voted for the good of the US and the world). It’s also right across the Delaware River from NJ and close to my parents’ house SO I’M GOING BACK FOR MORE.
Is it actually in Doylestown? Maybe. I don’t know. They’re next to each other.
The Salt Box was a combo establishment, of hot pretzels and homemade ice cream. A sweet and salty snacking paradise, if you ask me. I really, REALLY want to try the ice cream so I’ll say it again, I’m going back for more.
But this time we only tried the pretzels.
We got a ton of regular pretzels but we also got an EVERYTHING pretzel. I enjoyed the everything pretzel but I do think the basic bitch pretzel kind are best. And they were still warm!
In addition to the ice cream I also didn’t get to try these BREAKFAST SANDWICHES ON A PRETZEL. HOLY &*$% I CAN’T BELIEVE IT YOU GUYS. They looked incredible. They were making all the fried egg parts on a little griddle. I need to go back for one of those too.
Overall the place was adorbs and had a cute little milk truck outside. A for show milk truck. A TO TAKE PICS OF MILK TRUCK.
They also did a good job keeping things socially distant, everyone was wearing masks and they had cute little pretzel illustrations on the floor.
All of the foods were protected by glass or plastic or whatever those clear divider surfaces are made of.
The Salt House was a delicious and fantastic Pennsylvania detour and I’m really happy about it.
Times are tough, anxiety is at a record high overall for everyone according to science, and everything pretty much sucks. So, I’d like to write about something that brings me joy and that is Baonanas.
Baonanas is Jersey City born and raised banana pudding and frankly it’s everything that’s right with the world.
I personally love banana pudding and would put it in my top 3 favorite desserts, right next to vanilla cupcakes with vanilla frosting and coconut sprinkled on top, and any chocolate based ice cream. It is that good.
The combo of incredibly sweet bananas, made so sweet by nature alone, combined with ‘nilla wafers and some kinda pudding stuff, is truly bliss in a cup. And Baonanas serves it with a fun little wooden spoon! So you can eat it slower! So you can feel like there is MORE.
Baonanas first came into my life when I got it at the sadly defunct Jersey City WORD bookstore cafe. I was just there for my usual black Stumptown cold brew, I SWEAR, and I spotted banana pudding in their cooler. And I was like <screams maniacally and disturbs the whole store> “IS THAT BANANA PUDDING?!”
Yes, yes it was.
For a long time I just got it there! It was right by where I lived! It was great!
Eventually I ended up at the famed weekend feast know as Smorgasburg (orgasburg, orgasburg) in Brooklyn and Baonanas was there!
I was so excited to tell my Brooklyn and NYC pals they were from JC!
SUCK IT, BROOKLYN.
JKJK I like Brooklyn but this banana pudding is fully JERSEY’S, thank you.
They have a spot in Harborside Financial Center and I’m not really ever over there so I haven’t gone. But I HAVE gotten delivery from there. Yes they deliver! It’s magical.
But the best news OF ALL is that they now have a full-on brick and mortar flagship store on Monticello Ave.
I moved up to “The Hill” from downtown a couple of years ago and it’s different, as far as food and drink options are concerned. You have to work a little harder to find them but they’re there. And I’m so glad Baonanas is one of them!
I think where they’re located is considered McGinley Sq, but it’s a short 10min walk from my home in The Hill and I’m very glad about it. I went over there a couple of weekends ago, on my way to drop off my ballot, to sit outside and enjoy a special fruity drink and some OG Baonanas.
The OG Baonanas is the best! They have a ton of different fun flavors, but I always go back to the OG. As I said above, a traditional banana pudding rounds out my top 3 most favorite desserts and I’m obsessed with dessert so that is REALLY saying something.
Their shop on Monticello is super adorable and very yellow. Like sunshine! And bananas…I guess. There is a sign hanging outside that is painted over yellow that I believe is an old Breyer’s Ice Cream sign maybe? I’m not sure but I love that they kept the old sign. I love an old sign I’m not kidding.
It was incredibly nice to sit outside on Monticello as well. I believe they also have music out there on the weekends. I didn’t see any when I was there and it may be done now because the impending doom of winter is upon us. But I know they did it most weekends when it was warm out.
As of this posting we still don’t have the President we want so you may be in need of a treat…I know I am. So go check out Baonanas! It’s delish! As I said they’re in Harborside Financial Center, and their McGinley Sq locaish/HQ is at 181 Monticello Ave. GO. GO NOW. GO BAONANASSSSS.
This past weekend I went “upstate” to West Kill, NY to peep leaves and do other upstate shit and it was everything I’ve ever wanted from a fall weekend upstate.
“Upstate” is kind of like a “scene” and it’s fine because I’m totally into a “scene.” But I would say it seems like more of a “scene” now that everyone has escaped from Manhattan/Brooklyn and turned it into Manhattan/Brooklyn 2.0. But that’s okay! It’s Manhattan/Brooklyn with leaf peeping! And hiking! And the possibility that you might see a bear! The possibility is really real, I swear!
And who knows, maybe it’s been like that forever. I only went upstate for the first time 2 years ago.
I’m no expert. But they did go there in Dirty Dancing (there are a ton of books I now need to read at that link) and in Marvelous Mrs. Maisel. So I guess it’s been a scene for a while.
Anyway, here’s my fall weekend upstate.
I’d like to start with the outfits. I didn’t get a lot of pics but many people I saw had some really great outfits. They ranged from like a “hiking chic” look to a “unnecessary hat” look to a “canoes on my boyfriend cardigan” look and everything in between. I greatly enjoyed outfit-watching.
I did my best to not be a creep so I didn’t get many pictures. But as you may know it’s very hard for me to NOT be a creep so I did get some.
Look at this couple! They were perfect! I mean it’s mostly the guy with his cloud sweater and matching pants and sunglasses, but the gal also gave it her all. They looked awesome when they were standing and walking together. Just reigning over the outdoor dining area at Phoenicia Diner.
Another fun spotting at Phoenicia Diner was this gal in the canoes on her boyfriend cardigan. You may have thought that was a joke when I said it up there but it was REAL. AND IT WAS AMAZING.
I didn’t get pics of any other outfits except my own, but just know that there was plaid and army green and hats and beanies and boots and sweaters and it was all a very cozy fall catalog vibe.
Here I am in my own unnecessary hat.
And again in the unnecessary hat but WITH PLAID.
I think it’s fair to say that the proper outfits are COMPULSORY for a fall weekend upstate.
My pal married into owning a cabin in West Kill and it’s freakin badass.
The cabin is in the middle of nowhere, kind of up a mountain, and that’s exactly where I wanted to be. It is quiet, quiet, QUIET and you don’t have to listen to anyone’s shit. You can’t even hear a car. At this point in the year the bugs are even quiet. And because it takes so long for the sun to come out the birds seem lazy and therefore quieter in the morning. It was peaceful AF.
I JUST WANTED SOME PEACE AND I GOT IT.
Their cabin is really super adorable and cozy. They decorated it like real experts and the record collection is off the chain. When my other friend and I pulled up on Friday night it was around 8pm and all of the lights were on outside and it just looked so perfect and welcoming. I couldn’t get over it.
It was really, REALLY nice to wake up in the morning and sit outside in an Adirondack chair and drink coffee and think about nothing. I really wanted to see a bear but I only saw a bluejay. But it was a lovely bluejay!
The bed I slept in was very comfortable and the house was warm but not TOO warm and I slept with the window open for fresh air. It was really the perfect scenario. I think “fresh air” was my number one wish for this fall weekend upstate.
That’s my airbnb review, you heard it here first.
So the food was a big part of this trip. It always is, for me. Food is very important. Especially recently because there is nothing else to live for and I’ve gained 20lbs. I don’t really know what else to tell you about that. It sucks that none of my favorite clothes fit but it’s also been delicious.
When we first arrived my friend had made us a CHEESE PLATE. It’s like, SHE ALLOWED US TO STAY AT HER HOUSE, and she ALSO made us a cheese plate! Can you believe our luck?!
Ugh it was so good.
After the cheese plate we did some grilling! By “we” I mean “she” did the grilling and I ate it. I don’t know how to grill, are you nuts?
The next morning, my other pal made us eggs for breakfast. Best eggs I ever had. I felt a little bad because she’s a mom and she kinda went all-in on mom mode and was like, “I’ll make us all eggs!” And I was like, “Well I’ll def eat them…and I probably can’t help much because I’d get in the way, so I’ll just sit in this Adirondack chair and drink coffee.” And I felt like a child or a dad, not doing shit. But the eggs were edible and incredible and I don’t regret a thing.
Next up we went to a farm market which will be explored in another section. But when we got there a lady at one of the stands was like, “Free Bread Alone bread!” And since it was free I took some. It ended up being really good! We had it with a cheese plate later that day.
As far as food goes our next stop was Mama’s Boy Burgers in Tannersville. I got a grilled cheese and butternut squash fries. I had never had butternut squash fries but it seems like such a great and obvious idea! Especially for the fall. They had a bit of a sweet seasoning on them, like cinnamon, that paired well with the chipotle mayo dipping sauce I got.
Mama’s Boy ALSO had a TON of ice cream and I was obviously into it.
I got chocolate peanut butter soft serve, their special of the day, with Reese’s Puffs on top. I haven’t had Reese’s Puffs since middle school and it was a happy reunion.
On Saturday night we went to Urban Cowboy, which is a “scene” all its own, and we had Roberta’s pizza. Roberta’s is 200% worth the trip to Bushwick and it was also worth the trip to Big Indian, NY because that shit is INCREDIBLE. We got a Bee Sting, my personal fav because you can never go wrong with sopressata and hot honey, and a White Guy to mix it up a little.
The free Bread Alone bread returned to our collective consciousness back at the cabin when we put together ANOTHER cheese plate with some cheese from the Farmer’s Market. Cheese plates are so important, you guys.
Our original plan involved making ‘smores outside but it was very cold and also a lot of effort to build a fire. So we (by “we” I mean my two pals because I’m terrified of fire) made a nice fire in the woodstove. I think that’s what it’s called. A stove-like box made of metal and you put wood in it.
I was fully committed to the ‘smores because I have a serious problem with sugar addiction so then I made ‘smores in the stove thing.
THEY WERE DELICOUS.
The next morning my mom pal was back with more eggs to serve me again and I am forever grateful.
On the way home we went to Phoenicia Diner and since it’s a diner I had to get a tuna melt and fries. Like come on.
I liked the way this place was set up, you ordered from an Airstream trailer and then sat down and a lady called your name when the food was ready.
I think that maybe pre-COVID there wasn’t any outdoor dining and you probably had to wait in line for a while at this place to get a table at that time of day, 11:30am on a Sunday when everyone is heading home the same way.
But it’s not the case now because people eat their food pretty quick and leave because they’re cold.
SILVER LININGS OR WHATEVER.
It’s fall. It’s the weekend. It’s a fall weekend upstate and you should probably have a few drinks. Okay well, I drank a ton, as I considered this to be a vacation weekend in addition to a fall weekend.
First drink was in the Bronx. I was in the Bronx because I was meeting my friend up there to get on the road as she was coming from Long Island and I was coming from Jersey City. I took the green train (4,5,6) to Mt. Eden station. I have no idea what part of the Bronx that is and still have no idea. My Bronx knowledge is limited.
I exited the subway platform and found the first bar/lounge/whatever I could find. I sat down. I ordered a mango mojito. OMG I could not wait for this mango mojito.
The waiter brought the mojito. I sipped it. IT WAS VERY SALTY. In my mind I thought it was SUPPOSED to be salty for some reason? Sometimes on the street in NYC I see ladies selling mangoes with like, chili powder on them? I think that’s what it is. So I tried my best to think that the mojito was along those lines. I took a few more sips and then the waiter came out and was like, “LOLOL sorry I used salt instead of sugar!” and took it inside.
I was fully ready to drink an entire salty mojito and not even complain because I wanted to be respectful and I need you to know that.
That evening with the cheese plate we had rose and also this delicious beer I only just discovered there in their fridge, Zero Gravity Green State Lager.
The next morning as we prepared for a hike we packed another of these beers at my host pal’s suggestion. “It’s fun to crush a beer after a hike!” (I’m paraphrasing but I did indeed “crush” said beer after the hike).
Saturday afternoon we went to West Kill Brewery and that’s getting its own section so please read on.
Saturday evening at Urban Cowboy, scene of a scene, I of course had a cocktail but I forget what was in it. The bar it was served from was very intricate and beautitful and I felt not worthy of it.
Last memorable drink was the adult milkshake I got a Phoenicia Diner. OMG it was so incredibly good. It was called Sugar Shake Shack and I don’t know what was in it so you’ll have to go there to find out.
the farm market.
Saturday morning was rainy but we still felt drawn to the Lexington Farmers’ Market. It was the last one of the season! It couldn’t be missed! I’m not even being sarcastic, my friend did have to stock their freezer for the winter with $100 worth of meat. It was an impressive undertaking.
As I mentioned we got the free bread here.
I also got some Xmas gifts DO NOT TELL. But I may have gotten them from Arc Ceramics and all of their stuff was really beautiful so it was hard to choose! They also had a sale on a bunch of stuff so that made it easier. To choose.
There were a number of farms there and I got some cheese and chapstick from Heather Ridge Farm.
Mushrooms are proven freaks and creep me out but if you DO like mushrooms they had many different kinds available as seen below. I think if you like them this is a pretty cool situation so I’ll let you have that for now.
We got some coffee cake here too but it wasn’t our favorite. We’re sorry.
Great farmers’ market overall. Keep up the good work. I guess not until next year when you open again. Keep it up either way.
We hiked to Kaaterskill Falls and holy hell this hike was insane. “A hike” is a defining component of a fall weekend upstate and of upstate life in general. Everyone be hiking.
At first we tried to park right by the top of the falls and there was a line of cars waiting for other cars to leave the lot and a guy down the street charging $20 to park at his house. This really rubbed me the wrong way, the $20 guy.
Either way there was no way in hell we wanted any part of waiting for hours or paying $20 so we found a different (free) parking lot and entrance at the Kaaterskill Rail Trail.
The hike started tame enough as it was simply along on old rail trail. Hence the name, the Kaaterskill Rail Trail. It was flat and simple but there were a lot of roots/old railroad woods and I kept tripping. Eventually I got my shit together and luckily I did because WTF THIS TRAIL GOES TO THE TOP OF A WATERFALL THAT IS HUGE.
As with most waterfalls you can hear Kaaterskill Falls before you see it.
Once you can kind of see it through the trees, there appears before you a viewing platform that at this point in history you must wait in line to stand on. We joined the line and waited.
During this wait I left the line to walk on the edge under the platform and get a look at the falls from there. I easily could have fallen to my death. This place is terrifying.
During the wait we came across an informational sign and it said there used to be a hotel at the top of the waterfall. WHAT KIND OF INSANE IDEA IS THAT?! It’s not there anymore but allegedly some of the foundation remains. The idea that there was a hotel here chills me to the bone.
What was even MORE chilling was the fact that once we got our chance for a photo op on the platform, and timed ourselves for the 45 seconds that we thought were acceptable according to an unspoken social contract, we headed up a small hill where you could JUST WALK OUT TO THE TOP OF THE WATERFALL. You could walk down some rocks, and you could STAND RIGHT ON THE EDGE.
WHY WAS THIS ALLOWED?!
The whole time I was feeling weird and like I was tempting fate but I was also really enjoying the leaf peeping from this height so I went along with it. There were a TON of people, most of them the youth, inching ever closer to the edge for the perfect photo. I attempted to talk myself out of feeling weird and tell myself that it had to be fine, since we were allowed to be here and it wasn’t restricted in any way.
Turns out we were NOT allowed to be there and on the way out we climbed over a little part of a fence surrounding the area that had been knocked down. OMG ILLEGAL AND DANGEROUS TOP OF WATERFALL ACTIVITY. Before the hike we had discussed how people have died there (omg watch the drone vids at that link, terrifying). And I was like, “Psh how do people even die there?” BUT I GUESS THIS IS HOW PEOPLE EVEN DIE THERE.
Also I just realized I can embed Instagram posts and I may have overdosed on it. For example look at this brewery cat! I saw him there but he was working so I didn’t want to bother him. But he’s truly a beautiful beast.
Omg wait, HE has an Instagram I MUST follow him.
West Kill Brewery is seemingly in the middle of the woods, like everything upstate. The brewery building is up on a hill and in front of it is a clearing. People park in the clearing BUT ALSO since it is COVID time everyone was kind of hanging out outside lounging around on the hill/clearing. It was great! They had a food tent too but we already ate.
Additionally they had some really fun merch that was IRRESISTIBLE. We all got beer coozies and two of us got a really cute long sleeve shirt that I wore constantly for the following 2 days.
As far as the beer, it was good! I’m going to go ahead and admit that for me beer is beer. Like, it’s fine. I got this Buck Fever lager pictured above and below. I’ve been a strictly Pilsner drinker lately but the Pilsner ran out. WERE THEY MESSING WITH ME?! Maybe. But the lager was fine and I really liked the art on the can. All of the cans had good art!
It was a super cool place to hang out. There were a ton of dogs and even some small children on the run. We couldn’t figure out who they belonged to but also we didn’t really care. Let ’em run, I guess. Some were even climbing trees! I don’t know, it was kind of weird. Not the brewery’s fault though.
They had an outdoor fire pit that was VERY NICE to sit next to and we all really enjoyed smelling like fire the rest of the day. Not sarcasm, WE LOVED IT. You could also see into a kind of valley and PEEP THEM LEAVES.
I wanted to stay longer but we had things to do.
the night time.
After the brewery we headed back to the cabin to change into night time outfits.
I was probably the only one concerned about a “night time outfit” but my friends kindly indulged me and that’s why they’re my friends.
After a glass or two of rose at home, we headed over to Urban Cowboy.
Urban Cowboy is the kind of place that I’m surprised they even let me in. It’s just so lovely and beautifully decorated and perfect. How does a place look this great?! I don’t know how they do it.
But like, look at this bar. WITH TREES GROWING NEXT TO IT. THE BEAUTY IS MIND BLOWING. I CANNOT.
We got some delish cocktails and went out and sat by the fire. My one pal is pregnant though and asked about a mocktail and was met with some…I don’t want to say disdain but it wasn’t the most encouraging response. Maybe I’m just used to the mocktail scene in Jersey City because they love making some mocktails, even with CBD! I don’t know if pregnant people can consume CBD but it’d be a lot cooler if they did. I was momentarily annoyed by the bartender’s seeming mocktail aversion/disregard but now I forget what even happened. I hope she got the mocktail. Maybe she got a lemonade or something? Unfortunately I forget because I was too busy looking at this taxidermy bear with a hat on that I really regret not getting a picture of.
Outside by the fire we lounged and drank drinks and it was lovely and quiet. Until some random guy started talking to us. I think he had also been drinking some drinks, likely a considerable amount of drinks as he was also on vacation so like why not. I don’t remember what he said but I do remember that we were like <eye roll>. Eventually he and his gf headed off to dinner and we were left with another odd couple. I actually think they were probably fine I just don’t like strangers.
We headed inside to get some Roberta’s pizza before it closed for the night and it was INCREDIBLE. I haven’t had Roberta’s for a while! It hasn’t really been feasible to travel to Bushwick, and the Mad Sq Eats food event outside my work where I usually get it has also not been happening this year. BECAUSE COVID. So it was great to really relish and enjoy a Bee Sting. Because it is everything I love about the world of pizza.
They also had a ton of merch at this place and I lost my mind and got this bracelet.
So that’s it! That’s the trip! Although the trip was the time of my life it took me days to write this blog post so good riddance. I don’t know why my brain doesn’t work anymore. I blame COVID for that too.
Do you ever enjoy a fall weekend upstate? Do you even like to go upstate? Where do you go? Where do you stay? What do you like most about it? What do you like least about it?
Last night I got to thinking and I was thinking about Lambrusco, the perfect pizza wine.
I was basically thinking about how I can’t really drink wine anymore because it gives me an AWFUL headache, and tomorrow I’m going for pizza with some of my pals and I had to plan ahead what I’m going to drink. Because I’m insane. But during this planning process as I fell asleep my thoughts turned to Lambrusco.
THE PERFECT PIZZA WINE.
Lambrusco was discovered BY ME at Motorino in the East Village and subsequently skyrocketed in popularity in Jersey City. I mean correlation doesn’t imply causation but I think I had a hand in it. Also that’s an unofficial claim and zero research has been done on it, so believe what you will.
We went to Motorino for pizza (duh) and on the little board on the wall it was written, “Lambrusco – the perfect pizza wine!” I had never heard of it and had no idea what it was, but assumed I probably wouldn’t like it because I’m not that big on wine, especially red wine. Instead of taking out my phone and googling it I asked the waiter what it was. This was very out of character for me.
When he replied with, “it’s a sparkling red” my head exploded and they had to scrape my brains off the walls. A sparkling RED?! I had never considered such a thing!
Okay actually I HAD considered a sparkling red in the sense that I used to add Diet Sprite to red wine in college in order to make it more palatable. I really dislike red wine, even now. It’s thick and oppressive and it makes your mouth all purple. It creeps me out.
The issue is that red wine is supposed to go with pizza and pasta and all that shit. But I hate red wine so I was always drinking Sauvignon Blanc or Prosecco or something. But that ALSO creeped me out because it felt very against the social convention. Eating and enjoying foods is important to me and I love it and it’s all I have and I want to enjoy it in the best way possible so I was like I need to heed this red wine with pizza reccomendaish at some point. Just for science or whatever.
After I was informed of its characteristics I ordered Lambrusco IMMEDIATELY and my life has never been the same. It really IS the perfect pizza wine! It’s red so it checks that box, but it’s also light and sparkling and a little sweet so I don’t feel the normal red wine aversion.
On a regular Friday pizza night I used to drink a full bottle of Lambrusco. The first few times I drank it I got it by the glass and by the end of dinner I had had like 6 glasses and that cost a lot. I don’t remember how much because math. But then I started just getting a bottle. It was better for everyone.
Lambrusco became so beloved in my life that I would drink it and yell, “Lambrusco!” Or “‘Brusco!” Or “It’s the perfect pizza wine!” Or, more commonly, all three. The servers at Porta, my main source for pizza, eventually started to know that a bottle of Lambrusco was what I most wanted. They would bring it without even asking at one point. They were wise.
At some point, as with everything, my consumption of Lambrusco went down and then tapered off almost completely. I did a sober January for the first time a couple of years ago and was never the same again. My drinking endurance was irrevocably compromised. Now I can only drink like…a Pilsner or a light lager. Or a White Claw. Oooo or a rose cider! I mean I “can” drink anything but there are certain things I try to avoid because I’ll feel like total crap and won’t get anything done the next day. Wine is one of those things.
So I miss Lambrusco, I do. Pilsners and White Claws do not pair with pizza quite as well. I can’t yell, “White Claw!” in joyful fashion as I order it. That would be sociopath behavior. I can’t proclaim “It’s the perfect pizza Pilsner!” It just doesn’t have the same ring to it.
Actually, “pizza Pilsner” could work because ALLITERATION!
Brb searching for a pizza Pilsner. Wait do you know any pizza Pilsners?! Plz advise.