Friday, April 10, 2015

Cocktail du jour: The Chilly Parisian

It's chilly out and I wish I was in Paris. Instead I've been spending way too much time on Instagram admiring the perfectly pink cherry blossoms and chic spring wardrobes of the world's most stylish city. Not a single puffy coat to be found and I'm afraid I might be wearing mine well into June.

The Chilly Parisian
2 1/2 oz Armagnac
1/2 oz Chambord
Add ingredients into a mixing glass filled with ice
Stir and strain into a brandy glass

Monday, April 6, 2015

It's Opening Day, Go Red Sox!

The three baseball fans in my house are very excited that it's finally opening day for the 2015 baseball season. Big C&G sprinted past me as he got off the bus this afternoon to go turn on the Red Sox v. Phillies game and call dibs on the comfy corner spot on the couch. In honor of America's favorite pastime I'm re-running this post from last August about our visit to Cooperstown. The boys loved it, and I was more than happy to sit lakeside with a cup of coffee at the nearby Otesaga Resort. As they say, play ball!

If you have baseball fans in your house then chances are you will find yourself making a pilgrimage to Cooperstown at some point on your summer vacation. Families come from all over the country (as evidenced by the license plates up and down Main Street) to play on the Field of Dreams and visit the Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.

Baseball is not my thing, unless it's a local Sea Dogs game and then I'm only there for the Sea Dog biscuits. But all three of my C&G boys are huge Red Sox fans so we made a second visit to Cooperstown a few weeks ago at the start of our summer road trip. They were beyond excited to see the new exhibit for the 2013 World Series champion Red Sox and I was more than happy to drop them off at the front door because I had a plan B thanks to my friend J.W.

Inside the museum be sure to pick up a scavenger hunt for the kiddos from the ticket desk. They have to follow the exhibits carefully (not a worry if they love baseball) and answer all the questions to win a prize from the gift shop. The boys loved the replica locker rooms and checking out all the old uniforms and memorabilia. The Babe's original Red Sox contract is there and "the curse" had to be explained to the little C&Gs who have seen three World Series titles in their lifetimes.

If, like me, you aren't so interested in obscure baseball trivia, stats, and old muddy cleats then leave the fans at the museum entrance (no worries about finding a parking spot) and drive over to the grand Otesaga Resort just a few streets away (plenty of free parking).

My friend and former local resident J.W. told me about the beautiful hotel and grounds and said it was the perfect place to spend a few baseball-free hours. Pull up a rocking chair on the Otesaga Resort's sweeping porch overlooking Lake Otsego and you'll quickly forget you are in the baseball capital of America. I sat there with my coffee (free and self serve in the lobby) for a few hours catching up on my vacation reading and watching sailboats drift by on the lake.

The Hawkeye Bar & Grill serves breakfast and lunch out on the porch and I'm going to keep this in mind for our next visit. I met the boys back in town for lunch on Main Street and it's always crowded with masses of hungry baseball players and their families in between games on Dreams Field.

Squeeze into a table at the Doubleday Cafe, their menu has something for everyone. Or if you're in a rush or on a budget walk over to Sal's Pizzeria and grab a few New York style slices to go. They have more seating out back on their covered patio and don't be afraid of the line, it moves very quickly.

The Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum is open every day (except Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year's) from 9:00 to 5:00 (open until 9:00 in the summer). Admission is $19.50 for adults and kids 13 and up, ages 7-12 are $7, and under 6 are free. We've never stayed in Cooperstown but I do know many hotels offer packages that include museum admission. The cozy fire pit and outdoor bar put the Otesaga Resort at the top of my list, if the boys can ever convince me to return for a third visit to Cooperstown.

Monday, March 30, 2015

Maui Monday

I can't bring myself to post anything about Maine today. It's snowing. Again. Our heat is not working. Again. And I'm recovering from a stomach bug that I caught from Little C&G. So overall not a great weekend. There were no cocktails and I missed out on the trip to Gelato Fiasco for their special tasting weekend.

My C&Gs went without me yesterday and I hear Lemon Oreo and Chocolate Sea Salt donut (from our friends at Holy Donut) were the favorites. Mr. C&G loved the peanut butter Sriracha (um, no thanks) and I asked for my vote (in absentia) to go to the Michigan cherry truffle gelato. We'll have to wait and see what makes it into the freezer case. Until then I'm eagerly awaiting the Easter candy flavors this weekend and dreaming of opening a branch of Gelato Fiasco in Hawaii.

Friday, March 27, 2015

Cocktail du jour: Scarlet Manhattan

A friend asked me a few days ago when I would be posting some fun and fruity springtime cocktails and I had to tell her it's been nothing but hot toddys and dark and brooding Manhattans as we wait for the snow to melt. It's been so un-springlike that I spent five hours the other day making French onion soup from scratch. My trusted recipe calls for one cup of Port, which leaves two cups available for cocktails and après soup digestifs. I'm hoping by the time the bottle of Port is empty it will be safe to break out the Cirôc coconut. Wishful thinking!  

Scarlet Manhattan
2 oz Rye
1 oz Port
1/2 oz Dry Vermouth

Add all ingredients into a mixing glass filled with ice
Stir and serve in a coupe or martini glass

Monday, March 23, 2015

Maine Monday: Coffee & Gelato

There were no visits to Gelato Fiasco in Portland this past winter, which is absolutely unheard of here at C&G. Nobody could be coaxed out of the house unless it was for soccer, school, or groceries (in that order) when the thermometer barely registered in the double digits for most of January and February. But a winter without gelato is almost as depressing as a January without alcohol (and we know I'm not very good at that) so I was very happy to find the elegantly designed Gelato Fiasco pints in the freezer case at my nearest grocery store.

Just because the snowbanks have taken all the good parking spots in town doesn't mean you have to wait until May (or June, or July. . . ) to get your caramel sea salt fix. Or a dose of some much needed cookie therapy. Maine favorites like "Maple Sap Tap" and "Maine Wild Blueberry Crisp" (beloved by the editors of Bon Appetit magazine) can be found up and down the East Coast, and even as far away as the "other" Portland. I adore the packaging and the plastic tubs have all been recycled corralling the Little C&G Lego collections.

A few of the gelato containers have made it onto my countertop (a daily reminder to swing by Hannfords and get another pint!) to store the other necessary C in my C&G, coffee. The flagship store of Coffee By Design on Diamond Street is one of my favorite spots on the rare occasions I've left my couch to get some writing done. The industrial East Bayside neighborhood does a great job of clearing the snow and a cup of Alonzo's Double Dark can cure any writers block.

But no matter what Mother Nature has in store for us next week (clearly the calendar means nothing to her because it was 16 degrees this morning) nothing can stop us from returning to Gelato Fiasco. It's that time of year where the Peeps come out and get turned into gelato. Peeps. Gelato. Cheers to spring indeed!

Friday, March 20, 2015

Cheers To Spring!

Clearly this is not a view out my front door.
The calendar may say "First Day of Spring" but we are months away from seeing anything green peek through all that snow. Oh well, a girl can dream. And drink, because it's Friday. It's time to dust off the bottle of Aperol and toast to warmer and more colorful days ahead. Tonight at exactly 6:45pm EDT I will be raising my Aperol Spritz (3 parts prosecco, 2 parts Aperol, splash of club soda) to the end of 13 miserable weeks of winter. Happy weekend & happy spring!

Monday, March 16, 2015

Maine Monday Returns With Tiqa

It's hard to believe Memorial Day is just ten weeks away! We've had a cold, miserable winter and most of us haven't been motivated to leave the house. But now is the time to take advantage of longer days and (slightly) warmer temps and get to some of your favorite local restaurants before the tourists descend. In a little over three months those parking spots will disappear and we'll all be stuck wandering the Old Port in search of an empty table and a wait list that isn't two hours long.

Guaranteed to be hotter than a July afternoon in the Moroccan desert is the latest restaurant to open with the small plate and great cocktails concept, Tiqa. This pan-Mediterranean restaurant on Commercial Street has been open since February and is getting plenty of media and foodie buzz. Focusing on locally sourced foods flavored with exotic spices, Tiqa offers Portland a taste of distant lands where the thermometer never dips below freezing.

Pull up a cozy leather couch in the low lit lounge and order some cocktails and small plates while the kiddos are entertained by the view out the floor to ceiling windows. The mezze plate is perfect for sharing and comes with an assortment of Middle Eastern snacks like warmed pitted olives, cucumber slaw, hummus, baba ghanoush (eggplant) and plenty of pita bread.

For a real dinner treat ask for the seats in front of the kitchen bar, it's where all the action is. On the left (as you're facing the kitchen) it's nonstop movement and the kids will be mesmerized by the sizzling pans and dashes of colorful spices and sauces. We sat on the quieter side, the right side, opting to watch the breads and desserts being made by two talented and chatty ladies.

There might be a children's menu (it is in a Marriott hotel after all) but we didn't ask, both little C&Gs ordered kabobs (I think just so they could play with the skewers) and were very happy with their choices. They split the fattoush salad, mixed greens with torn pieces of pita bread, and ordered the chicken and beef kabobs. Neither dish was overly spicy and the boys liked the unusual flavors. Little C&G raved that the chicken was better than anything I've made him and I resisted challenging him to a skewered veggie dual.

After watching countless desserts make their way out of the kitchen we had to order the pistachio olive oil cake and the flourless chocolate cake. Dense, moist, and not overly sweet they were a tasty ending to our night out. We had a deliciously fun and unusual dinner at one of the most talked about places in town and we can definitely recommend Tiqa as a place to bring your adventurous kiddos. Grab a table soon (they're on OpenTable for reservations) and order some creative cocktails and exotic dishes to chase away this horrible winter.