Friday, August 29, 2014

Cocktail du jour: Aperol Negroni

Cheers to an amazing summer! We have been out and about as much as possible these past few weeks, enjoying the beach, the lake, and eating way too much ice cream. Maine summers are short (I posted a photo of a red and orange leaf to Facebook on August 7th, yikes!) and we've been very lucky with some absolutely glorious weather. The little C&Gs haven't had any camps so it's been up to Mama C&G to keep everyone busy. Which means no time for blogging but all those past Maine posts have certainly come in handy!

I'm sad to report that there hasn't been a lot of cocktailing going on Chez C&G since we got back from our vacation. I'm training for a fall marathon, and if there's one thing I've learned from past experience (this will be my fourth) it's that drinking and running don't mix. It's too easy to hit the snooze button when the alarm goes off for my early morning run after a glass or two the night before. Of course I can't give it up totally (it is prime rosé season after all) so I've been sticking to just a cocktail or two on Saturday as a reward for completing my long, double-digit runs.    

With all week to think about what to order I'm uncharacteristically decisive when Mr. C&G poses the question around 4:00 on a Saturday. Aperol, and at that point I'd be happy with the orange flavored aperitif in a glass with a straw. Mr. C&G certainly wouldn't stand for that (and honestly it's not very good on its own), instead he's made me an Aperol version of the Negroni he's been drinking all summer long. It's light, tasty, and "Aperol Negroni" makes an excellent mantra when the running gets tough. Cheers!

Aperol Negroni
1 oz Aperol
1 oz vermouth (Cocchi)
1 oz Hendrick's Gin

Add all ingredients into a mixing glass filled with ice
Stir and serve in a cocktail glass, either straight up or on the rocks

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Play Ball Or Drink Coffee In Cooperstown

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.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Cocktail du jour: Pink Pineapple Martini

We came across this drink on one of the many cocktail menus we saw on our recent travels and Mr. C&G and I both had a Homer Simpson "D'oh!" moment. How have we not made one of these at home? Usually I'm on a big pineapple and coconut kick (my new favorite is my last post, the St. Tropez Spritzer)  and it never occurred to me to add (or ask Mr. C&G to add) the raspberry flavor of Chambord. So you get one guess as to what I ordered on our first night back at home. Cheers!

Pink Pineapple Martini
2 oz vodka
1/2 oz Chambord
2 oz pineapple juice

Add all ingredients into a shaker filled with ice
Shake will and strain into a martini glass

Friday, August 8, 2014

Our 1,320 Mile Roadtrip

With the last few weeks of summer ahead of us I have a bunch of friends trying to squeeze in some quick and easy road trips before the madness of sports and school takes over our lives again. Cooperstown and Canada are at the top of their lists so I thought I'd do a short post on our recent itinerary and how we worked it all in. 

Next week I'll get the important stuff up on the blog, like where to eat and drink with your kiddos on all those stops. But right now I would totally jump in the car and head back to Montreal for the dreamy, flaky, perfect croissants at Maison Christian Fauer in Old Montreal. Monsieur Chef Fauer holds the prestigious title of M.O.F. (Meilleur Ouvrier de France) from the French government for his pastry skills and you can't get more authentic than that. So there's just a taste (sorry, pun intended) of what I have for you in the weeks to come.

Ithaca and Toronto were our big destinations for this trip, all of the other stops were convenient and scenic ways to break up some long drives. We started out visiting family in Albany and made a stop in Cooperstown on our way to Ithaca. A few families are trying to fit a visit in to the Baseball Hall of Fame before September so I'll get that post up early next week.

Ithaca is gorges, as they say, and we spent a week doing family adventure camp with Cornell University. You don't have to be an alumni, we found it because Mr. C&G wanted to take their famed wine course. It was sold out by the time I tried to register in early spring and somehow convinced him to do the "Thrills and Skills" Outward Bound style course instead. I did conquer my fear of heights by climbing out a window and rappelling down the Cornell football stadium, but that's a post for another time.

Once you're in that part of New York State you might as well continue driving three hours north to see the natural wonder of Niagara Falls. We stopped halfway to spend the weekend with my BFF in Rochester for some post adventure camp chilling out and to do laundry. Niagara Falls is like the Vegas of the north and I've got some great sight seeing tips to share that will help you avoid the crowds and the chain restaurants. 

Another hour and a half in the car and you can be in the bustling steel and glass metropolis of Toronto. We were there for a week with the C&G grandparents so you know there was a lot of cocktailing going on. Grandma C&G tracked down a sleek rooftop bar in the shadows of all those tall bank headquarters, perfect for people watching and very kid friendly. Toronto is a great city for families and we did a lot of very thorough research to keep everyone happy and well-fed.

You could do the five hour drive from Toronto to Montreal in a day but we stopped halfway in Kingston, Ontario for two nights. It's the gateway to the Thousand Islands region and the waterfront town was very reminiscent of our own Portland, Maine. Sailing on Lake Ontario is a big thing in Kingston, our hotel was filled with Canadian teens competing in sailboat races. 

Montreal was the big finale to our road trip and it's always one of my favorite places to visit. I didn't do much planning ahead (big mistake on my part) so I learned a lot from our random wanderings. My best discovery (other than the croissants of Maison Christian Fauer) was a chic sandwich shop that served wine and was housed in a Métro stop a short walk from four of Montreal's biggest attractions. Cocktails & Gelato will be sharing it all with you in the weeks to come, so grab a cocktail (new recipe tomorrow) and stay tuned!

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Best Boozy Gift Or Maine Souvenir

If you don't have a beach or a lake house it's not too late to find a friend with one and invite yourself over in these last few weeks of summer. Just don't arrive empty handed. You know if we're coming (KC, I'm looking at you girl!) we'll bring the booze and the bar tending skills, but I also like to wrap up a few nice gifts for the host and hostess.

As the writer of a cocktail and travel blog I always feel a bit of pressure to up my gifting game, and thanks to our local Vina's Fizz House I've got the perfect present. Vena's Moonshine in a Mason Jar, prepped with dried fruits and spices and just waiting for you to add vodka, gin, rum, or tequila. Include a bottle of local booze (something from Cold River Vodka or Maine Craft Distilling) in your little gift bag and you're practically guaranteed a return invite for a weekend (or a week) next summer.

There are lots of flavors to choose from and at $12.50 a jar you can include more than one. Pirate's Punch would be a great gift for a rum lover (PW, all for you!) and the Blueberry Smash brings a taste of Maine to your host's bar. Chile peppers, cocoa powder, and habanero sugar heat up the South of the Border blend for awesome margaritas and if you can get past the arctic chill of the water you just might think you're on a beach in Mexico.

If you're here on vacation in our beautiful state or picking up your kiddos at summer camp be sure to stop in at Vena's Fizz House on Fore Street (read about our past visit here). Their do-it-yourself infusions make the perfect Maine souvenir, and with no liquids involved they're easy to pack in your carry-on and won't slow you down in the airport security line. Vena's also has their own Etsy shop where you can order online, just in case you need to restock when you get home. Cheers!

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Home Sweet Home

Best seats in the house for Blue Jays vs Red Sox in Toronto
We are just back from almost four weeks of travel, and while we didn't cross any time zones I'm still exhausted and could use a few days to recover from our whirlwind road trip. We worked our way from Maine through Western New York, and up to Canada and had lots of adventures, cocktails, and gelato along the way. As soon as I tackle the laundry, the mail, the grocery store, and ship the boys off to their sports camps this week I'll be settling in to blog all about it. Cheers!