Lunch – Puerto Rican Style

So the day started super early. Yes that alarm is set for AM. Vacation is the only reason I will ever willing get up at that hour.

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The view from the plane mid morning made the getting up at 3:15 just bearable. The hubby unfortunately was stuck in the middle seat next to Mr Flatulence, for 4 hours. We couldn’t get off the plane fast enough when we finally landed.

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The Hubby and I were surprised at how quickly we were able to retrieve our baggage and then get a taxi to the hotel.

This was the first trip we have had to find accommodations other than an Employee Rate Room at a Marriott Family hotel. Since Mom is no longer working we lost that little perk. So to the internet I went stumbled upon Booking.com. This is in no way a sales pitch for them but I must say so far I am impressed.

My biggest fear was getting to The At Wind Chimes Boutique Hotel and the front desk telling me there was no reservation. That fear was quickly waylaid and the lovely gentleman that checked us in even allowed us to go to our room 3 hours prior to standard check in. The room I booked was billed as a deluxe room and either a City view or a balcony. We ended up with a Balcony which was fine for us. It is an out of the way corner of the “resort” with a Bar at the bottom of the stairs. Perfect for us for one night.

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This is the room with the King Size bed.

Once we were all checked in and settled, the mission before us was to find lunch. We had a couple places in mind from Yelp! but when we actually found them we weren’t impressed. So we walked some more and came across

La Tasca De Yiyo

What a gem and literally around the corner from the hotel, which worked out good cause once we finished lunch and headed out a storm was moving in, thunder and all, so we headed back to the room to wait it out. And Nap.

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We started our vacation off right with a drink and cheers to our 15th Anniversary (8 months late), and the start of what will be our 15th cruise. The hubby had a local beer and I had a Rum Punch.

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Based on the reccomendation of our waiter (who happened to live in the Bronx until he was 17) we ordered the Fried Plantains appetizer. WOW were these delicious, crispy, and super garlicky.

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For the main course we decided to order 2 very different things and share. The restaurant touts itself as Cuban/Puerto Rican so we ordered what they call the Cuban Dish. It was delicious Fried Pork, a Tamale, Sweet Onions, Rice, and the only thing on the plate we didn’t care for Cassava.

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Of course you can’t come to Puerto Rico and NOT have Mofongo, a smashed plantain dish served with a multitude of meat choices. Again based off the waiters suggestion, and again he didn’t disappoint us, we opted for the Shredded Beef.

All in all it’s been a good start to our vacation. We are here for the night so Dinner will be the next adventure. Then tomorrow we will grab breakfast, a taxi, and head over to the cruise terminal to begin that leg of our journey.

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Bon Voyage

This is my “I’m off work for the next 11 Days” and “I’m leaving for vacation tomorrow” Face.

Don’t miss me too much. I’ll have a full report when I get back.

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Happy Birthday TMI Questions

1. Do you enjoy celebrating your birthday (forgetting about the getting older part)? Yes, whether it is a few friends for dinner, or just the hubby and I, big or small, celebrations are always in order.

2. What’s your sign and is it accurate? Taurus – Practical, artistic, stable and trustworthy, the Taurus are loyal and dedicated in their work and relationships alike. They also are generous, humane and loyal individuals, and love to maintain and nurture their friendships and relationships with a genuine tender care. On the flip side, though, the Bulls can be indecisive, possessive, prejudiced and stubborn.
Most of this does describe me, especially the maintaining and nurturing friendships, unless you cross me or do something to warrant the opposite.
3. What’s your Chinese zodiac sign and is it accurate? Dragon – Dragons symbolize such character traits as dominance and ambition. Dragons prefer to live by their own rules and if left on their own, are usually successful. They’re driven, unafraid of challenges, and willing to take risks. They’re passionate in all they do and they do things in grand fashion. Unfortunately, this passion and enthusiasm can leave Dragons feeling exhausted and interestingly, unfulfilled.
Yup, especially the my own rules part.
4. What was your best birthday? 2007 – Transatlantic cruise from Galveston Texas to Barcelona Spain. A small group of guys we met on the cruise got together and we played Mini Golf in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean somewhere.
5. What was your worst birthday? Can’t really think of a worst birthday.
6. What has been your best age so far? 21. The age I was when I met my hubby.
7. Birthday cake? Chocolate. Chocolate. Chocolate.
Bonus – Is birthday sex expected, a present or a rarity? Do you get spanked? Expected No, but all the better if it does happen. Really depends on what day of the week it falls and the plans we have. No spankings.

March, Eat, Play

This week had them all and in that particular order.

Last Wednesdays was what usually ends up being the shortest parade of the season. This little town called South Salem, NY has the distinction of that honor. Just under 3/4 of a mile (I tracked it). Below is some video my Girlfriend was able to get of us at the end of the parade. So now you can see what I do when I say March and Play.

Saturday night was Gayme Night, but this was a special one because it was the 4th Anniversary of Gayme Night. The our friends decided back in June when we were talking about it that this year they wanted to do a Pot Luck again. The Hubby slaved away at the smoker and brought his delicious Pulled Pork, while I went the dessert route and made

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Maple Bourbon Ice Cream, one version with Candied Bacon and one version with Dulce De Leche.

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I got these cute cupcake papers from a friend of mine and they worked perfectly for transport and presentation of the Ice Cream.

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Aren’t they cute!

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Since it was Gayme Night I of course had to wear a fun T-Shirt.

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We played everyone’s favorite game Cards Against Humanity.

The winning answer to this was “The Boners of the Elderly”

Sunday was chores day, I started with the Breakfast and Lunch food prep for the week then moved out to mow the lawn. Although I still used the bagger it wasn’t as bad as it has been a few other times this summer. I will most likely end up doing it again once more before we leave on vacation. After chores we ran out and did a bit of shopping for some groceries and some clothes for our trip.

 Monday night we ended up meeting some friends for an impromptu night out of dinner and drinks.

And now the best part of the week we have finally hit the Single Digits in the “days” part of the countdown until the cruise. I. CAN’T. WAIT!

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Coming up Short

Honestly, it’s a combination of short on words and short on time. The muses must have taken a trip without me, although we had a fun weekend wine touring 2 weeks ago, the words just haven’t been able to be put out there to recap it.

So here goes nothing.

Grapehounds 2013 was another successful trip. The doggies had just as good a time as we did, well maybe we enjoyed it more because of the wine. Guess I will do my best to sum up what we did, besides eat and drink, and drink, and drink.

Thursday was the travel day to start the trip and then the following Monday was the travel day to end the the trip. Both days we stopped in this cute town in NY called Owego for lunch. Last year we found this fancy little Mexican Restaurant called Las Chicas Taqueria, and when planning this years trip I knew a stop was in order.

On the way up we both had Tacos as we only wanted a light lunch, and on the way home The Hubby opted for the Burrito and I went with the Enchiladas. Both were just as good as the tacos.

Thursday night the Host Winery for the Welcome Reception was Hazlitt 1852 Vineyards. We have grown to enjoy this vineyard and every year I look forward to getting a Brambleberry Slush. They take 2 of their red Wines, Red Cat and Brambleberry Wine and turn them into the most delicious frozen wine drinks imaginable. I was good and only had 2 and even reused my cup. After we checked in, got our goodie bag, and visited with some people, we headed back to drop the pups off at the hotel and grab some dinner.  We finally decided to try a new BBQ place that opened up in an old Firehouse in downtown Watkins Glen. We sat outside and filled up on some pretty good food.

Friday was the first full day of Winery hopping and tastings. We started at the Host Winery for the weekend Atwater Estates. They are one of our favorites and this year as always this didn’t disappoint. We did some shopping at the vendors, then headed into the tasting room for the first round. From here on out we had already decided that our game plan was to start at the furthest winery up the lake and work our way back towards home base (which we considered the hotel room), and we would go as long Sandy would allow us to keep her out.

We managed to make it to 4 more wineries, King’s Vineyard, Standing Stone, Bagley’s Poplar Ridge, and Sheldrake Point, which was the first of 2 new wineries this year, before we called it a day and headed back to the room to freshen up for dinner. Dinner was extra special because not only were we going to a fabulous place, Dano’s Heuriger on Seneca, but we were meeting the famous Podcaster Toppie Smellie from the Smellcast. He lives in the area where we were spending the weekend so I naturally reached out and planned a dinner date for the 3 of us. He is funny, charming, and just an all around nice guy. After dinner we parted ways and headed back to the hotel for a good nights sleep so we could do it all over again on Saturday.

The biggest challenge to where we stay for our winery weekend is finding places to eat breakfast. This year we found a new Diner to try to start our Saturday called The Crossing Diner. The place is right out of Small Town USA. It seems like everyone knew everyone and the the train motif was kinda cute. The food was delicious which just added to the small town feel.

Saturday along with the wineries we were to visit we also made a trip a few towns over to Sunset Creamery to the 2nd Annual Finger Lakes Cheese Festival. Last year it was close to the hotel, and a good effort for the first year. This year the size nearly tripled for those with booths. We picked up some cheese, checked out the booths, then headed on out for more wine.

From the Cheese festival we headed back over to pick up where we left off on the side of the lake we were on Friday and hit the last 3 that were on our list, Hector Wine Company, JR Dill, and the only non winery on the list Finger Lakes Distilling. The first year we went on this trip we made the mistake of starting at the Distillery, and learned very quickly not to do that again. Shots Anyone?! So with the right side of the lake finished we headed over to the left side of the lake (which is the side our hotel is on) and started up at the top and hit 2 more Wineries Earle Estates Meadery and Seneca Shores. At this point a rain storm had moved in so it was back to the hotel for a nap before dinner.

Dinner Saturday was on the beach patio of Seneca Harbor Station, I made the reservation for those of us from our local Greyhound group to just get together and have dinner and catch up. All was well there with the dogs and the beach and food, until the rain started. Thankfully we were just about done so we proceeded to get the bill paid and the dogs to the cars before the downpour hit. The hubby and I headed over for some ice cream before heading back to the hotel.

Sunday we decided would be our Fancy Breakfast day. There is a winery that also has an Inn with a restaurant on the property called Veraisons. We had a wonderful breakfast there last year and wanted to go back again this year. The Hubby splurged for the French Toast and I ordered an omelet with Andouille Sausage. Once breakfast on the patio overlooking the vineyards, watching it rain, was complete it was onward and upward to start the final day of winery hopping.

The first stop was the 2nd of the 2 new wineries for this year Bella Angelo. They are a new winery in that they just renovated and opened the tasting rooms a few months ago. After we finished there we hit 7 more wineries, some with the dogs and some without as the others were not participants in the Grapehounds weekend. We hit Lakewood Vineyards (which is one of our absolute favorites), Fulkerson Winery (Sunday host winery for Grapehounds), Fruit Yard winery, Miles Wine Cellars, Magnus Ridge, Rock Stream Vineyards, and finally Hickory Hollow.

Our final dinner was at Seneca Lodge, we have heard of this place, it’s a rustic Motel with A Frame and Cabin rooms and a restaurant on the grounds. Honestly we would definitely go back there as the food was pretty damn good. I had meatloaf, which was on special for the night, and it came wrapped in surprise Bacon! The hubby liked the place as well but would not order the Duck again. He just didn’t expect a plate to arrive with Half a Duck on it. We again stopped for Ice Cream before heading back to the hotel to relax.

All in all it was a great weekend away, no stress, good food, friendly people, great wines. I wish we could do it every weekend. It seems the words came easier than I thought they would.

There wasn’t much else happening since that weekend. We had a surprise Birthday party Saturday afternoon, which I left early from to go march in a parade, then we spent Sunday afternoon at my youngest brothers house for a small birthday gathering he was throwing for himself. Now it’s back to work, another parade on Weds, Gayme Night (4th Anniversary) on Saturday, oh and the 17 day Countdown to the Cruise!