Whilst visiting with the family I came to discover that they are all winos and drinkers. Not much of a surprise, considering there’s not a ton to do. But the fact that they enjoyed wine DID make me smile.
And luckily enough there is a Brewery and Winery tour, AKA a “Beverage Tour,” within an hour’s drive of my grandparents!
Cue family road trip! I went with my dad and his two younger brothers. It was just me and the boys. And I was not able to keep up with them. Haha.
I started strong but by the middle of the third tasting I was feeling it and we had a LOT more driving to do.
This was at the Ommegang Brewery which is the only one that you can buy outside of the county. Check your local Costplus or beer stores to see if they stock it! The really fun part about this brewery is that they have a Game of Thrones inspired selection of draughts.
The tasting was lots of fun and offered a bowl of pretzel sticks and dips and cheeses to sample through the flight of beers. It was entertaining and the girl was very enthusiastic, but I got real full and sick of beer real quick on this one. Though I asked for half samples of the beer, our beer host kept on forgetting and giving me more. So I was more often than not passing it on to my non designated driver companions, aka Dad and Uncle Mike.
Overall, my favorites of the tour were the first winery, Bear Pond Winery, that had the MOST delicious mulled wine (kept warm on a candle warmer, no less.) We ended up going there twice while visiting because the WHOLE family loves it! And also the Fly Creek Cider Mill. Because cider is amazing and doesn’t taste like alcohol. Also because it had so many SAMPLES. It was better than Costco! There were samples of sweet dips, spicy dips, cheese dips, soups, crackers, honeys, fudge, ciders (free tasting there!!), and even samples of apples.
Honestly, after that I kind of zoned out and focused on taking pictures while the boys had their fun. In the last winery there was this group of women who were just absolutely having a blast. Trying all sorts of extra wines, buying all the accoutrements and plastic travel wine cups, they had literal arms-ful of souvenirs and wine products. And my uncles and dad are the exact type to join in on their fun. They were all joking around and it was joyously (and inebriatedly loud) all the while a daughter in law sat looking sophisticated and too-good-for-this in the corner, sipping wine talking about how her husband was off ‘coon hunting. She said ‘coon so many times it was obvious she was simply enjoying the hilarity that was her life.
They make this “Cooperstown Beverage Tour” real fun by offering a free souvenir cup when you go to each of the 6 locations on the official list.
We almost didn’t make all 6 though. At the last stop on our route we got to Butternuts Ale and Beer right after they closed. My Uncle Steve got out and started circling the place looking for any signs of life (or viable entrances). We weren’t having any luck, but as it happens my dad woke from his nap and decided to go join the fun. Right at that moment someone opened up the rickity garage door in front of us to officially say they were closed. Buuut my dad and uncles made sure to ask if they could at least have a stamp.
The brewery lady was more than happy to oblige and even gave us all our souvenir cups (no tastings though) and a pile of 20 coasters EACH. I don’t know why we had to have that many cardboard coasters, but they made for great frisbees to toss at my once-again-sleeping father on the way back home. ;P
I know, I know. You can’t get much more middle of the country-farmland-upstate New York than eating at a place called Red Neck BBQ. But it was surprisingly varied with it’s food choices.
But I was driving around the county with my uncles and dad for a wine and beer tour. You can only get so much sophistication from three farm-bred boys. XD And it turned out to be a pleasant time.
To start with, that hamburger you see above is a KIMCHI BURGER WITH PONZU SAUCE. Granted, ponzu sauce is Japanese and the kimchi was mostly cabbage soaked in vinegar. BUT. Nowhere else have I seen an attempt at Korean food outside of an Asian restaurant. Much less on a burger. Much less in upstate New York.
And all in all, it was a pretty good burger. I’m betting not many people have eaten much Asian food in those parts, much less Korean food. So I give this burger an A for effort!
But having had some rather delicious (and fairly authentic) Korean and Japanese food, here is my honest opinon. The Ponzu sauce was too sweet and overpowered the burger. The kimchi, as I said before, was just VINEGARY, no hint of chili or other subtle flavors. But the meat was good and tasty, cooked well and the bun was actually really good. Probably my favorite part. It was more of a homemade bun, not the stuff bought from the store and held up very well with all the sauces and juices.
The fries I got with my burger were alright. Homecut fries, thick, potatoey. A bit cold and not very crispy. So they made do.
My uncles both got different burgers and my dad got the chicken buffalo sandwich. The end opinion was the same. Decent food for a decent price. Not outstanding, not terrible. Their sweet potato fries were actually pretty good though. And I don’t normally care for sweet potato fries.
The Red Neck BBQ is a quirky place with interesting menu items. Since it is in Cooperstown there are slightly more options than in Oneonta. But it was an experience that made the eating worth it.
Look at that delicious cheesy goodness. Makes your mouth start watering just at the sight.
This delicious bowl of French Onion soup can be found in the teensy city of Oneonta, New York. If you want more of an exact location but are too lazy to Google it, it is about an hour west of Albany (the capital of New York.)
It is out in the middle of rolling hills, trees, farms and sleepy little villages. Yes, there still exist locations officially labeled “village.” And these little towns have just as many varieties of restaurants as you might think.
Sloan’s is a relatively new addition to Oneonta, run by the owner of several other restaurants in the area. It is, as the name suggests, a grill focusing on steak, chicken and, surprisingly, fish. The menu is relatively short, but there is a little for everyone – red meat, white meat, poultry, seafood and even vegetarians!
As is generally done in these kinds of restaurants, a basket of bread and butter was brought to our table. Nothing to really write home about. And though the butter was supposed to taste like apple, it didn’t seem much different or sweeter than normal sweet cream.
But then there was the Baked French Onion Soup. This magnificently cheesy and rich soup was the highlight of the dinner for me.
It was full flavoured, definitely had a heavy beef broth base, the onions were caramalized to perfection – they were sweet, buttery, soft and had an ever so slight bite so as not to be mush – the bread was chewy and mild flavoured, and the swiss and provolone cheese melted on top nicely balanced the rest of the soup. It was not overwhelming though it seemed like a lot of cheese at the time, but it added a nice nutty and tangy contrasting flavour palette.
Finally we have the main dish: New England Cod in a lemon butter wine sauce and crumb topping. It was actually surprisingly SWEET. I am not that familiar with cod, but this one seemed to be cooked nicely – very flaky, not dry at all, and mild flavoured. The crumb topping and the sauce came out extremely sweet. This fish seemed more like a dessert to me than a savoury dish. Normally I wouldn’t complain, but coupled with the rich onion soup, and the nutty fall vegetables of acorn squash and carrots, it was just all too much.
Each component was well executed on its own but combined it was simply an overwhelming and imbalanced dish.
It was an interesting experience. And the service here in the countryside has repeatedly been slow as molasses with sub-par to decent results. Luckily, I don’t have to worry about eating at these limited restaurants for another year or so!