"The sea, once it casts its spell, holds one in
its net of wonder forever."—Jacques Cousteau

September 30, 2018

Ithaca Apple Harvest Festival

"I can smell autumn dancing in the breeze. The sweet chill of pumpkin, and crisp sunburnt leaves." -Ann Drake
Fall has officially arrived in Ithaca...the leaves are beginning to change color, the temperatures are falling, boats are beginning to leave the marina and fall festivals are everywhere. The little roadside vegetables stands that were full of fresh corn this summer are now full of pumpkins and gourds.
Ithaca Apple Harvest Festival was this weekend, it offered an introduction to the rich farm and artist community in the Finger Lakes region. It's a celebration that focuses on fresh local foods, craft cider tastings, handmade crafts, homemade baked goods, games, live performances and, of course, New York apples. 
The smells at the festival were amazing. The sweet aromas of fresh cider donuts, apple crips, caramel apples and hot apple cider were wonderful, but the savory smells were even more incising. The streets around the Commons had a diverse option of food trucks that included Thai, South African, Indian, mac & cheese, fried chicken, lobster rolls, chowders and much more. Add to the mix the normal carnival favorites like kettle corn, funnel cakes, cotton candy and blooming onions and our sense of smell was working over time.
I think this sign says it all...fall is fine, but winter is coming and it's almost time for us to get out of town. 
The Cellar D'Or offered a cider tasting Friday night that was very informative...and tasty.

September 27, 2018

Sept. 24 - Letchworth State Park

“We live in a wonderful world that is full of beauty, charm and adventure. There is no end to the adventures we can have if only we seek them with our eyes open.” – Jawaharial Nehru

We finally had a chance to drive over to Letchworth State Park, it's known as the "Grand Canyon of East". The park runs 17 miles along the Genesee River and is one of the most scenically magnificent areas in the eastern U.S. The river roars through the gorge over three major waterfalls between cliffs as high as 600' and is surrounded by lush forests. The Genesse River is one of only 33 north-flowing rivers in the world, others that we have been on are the Oswego River, the St. John's River in Florida and the Richelieu River in Quebec.

Most of the best sights can be seen by stopping along the park road at overlooks, but we got better views by hiking five miles of the Gorge Trail from the Lower Falls to the Upper Falls and back.

Views of the gorge for several of the over looks
Looking downstream from the Lower Falls
The Lower Falls are 70' high and are constantly changing because the softer shales that dominate in the lower canyon erode easily.
Foot path that crosses the river just north of the Lower Falls.
We found a little fairy house while we were hiking
A view of the Middle and Upper Falls from the Gorge Trail
The Middle Falls are the largest at 107' high and 285' wide. It has changed very little in Letchworth's time because of its many hard, resistant sandstones. The Senecas Indians believed that the great beauty of Ska-ga-dee, the Middle Falls, inspired the sun to stop at midday in admiration.
Looking down from the Middle Falls
The Upper Falls are 70' high and has a horseshoe shape. A train trestle runs over the falls.
A view from the top of the Upper Falls looking downstream. (North)
The top of the Upper Falls
Looking over the top of Middle Falls from lawn of The Glen Iris Inn.
The Glen Iris Inn is the former home of William Letchworth. It is now an inn and restaurant.
We drove the length of the park from the north entrance to Lower Falls and then hiked the rest. Most of the activities in the park are at the southern end. I'm glad we did the whole park, but if you are limited on time don't miss the south end.

September 26, 2018

Food in Québec

“I'm in love with cities I've never been to and people I've never met.” – John Green

Quebec City is known for their food scene and there is an endless amount of choices of places to eat. We didn't make it to any fancy "French" restaurant, but we did enjoy some wonderful, quaint, relaxing bistros. Here's a look at what we found.

Le Pape Georges is located on Rue du Cul de Sac in Québec's Petit-Champlain district. It's in an old house built in 1668. They serve fine Quebec’s cheeses, Nachos, home made chili con carne, soups, sandwiches and a wide selection of wines and beers.
Rabbit Sauté is like a rustic, cozy, old country inn from a century ago. It's located on Petit-Champlain Street. They offer creative dishes with duck, lamb, rabbit and salmon, sandwiches, local cheese and wonderful desserts. We enjoyed a great dinner here for Stan's birthday.
Q de Sac Pub is located in the heart of the Petit Champlain district on Rue du Cul de Sac. They offer Québec specialities and wood oven pizzas.  
Garcons is located on the busy Rue Saint Jean, we enjoyed dinner on the terrace watching people go by.
BE Club Bistro is near the Saint-Jean Gate and is located in a stone house that dates back to 1827. They use local ingredients and everything is made onsite, including their bread, pastries and smoked meat and fish. We had lunch here and it was very good.   
Aux Ancien Canadiens is located in the oldest house in Québec (Upper Town) built in 1675. They serve authentic Québec cuisine, which is made of hearty dishes that could sustain settlers during the long cold winters. They offer dishes made with wild game that is found in Québec and dishes like poutine, tourtières (meat pies), pâté chinois, pea soup, dumplings, baked beans, ham dishes and maple desserts. We enjoyed a set four course dinner that was very good, although not our favorite. Traditional Québec cuisine doesn't use a lot of spices, so it lacked the flavor we both enjoy.
Our meal included wild caribou and bison pate, pea soup, beef Wellington, Salmon fillet (seasoned with fine herbs, slowly vacuum cooked), chocolate pie with raspberry sauce, and apple cheese cake with maple caramel sauce. 
Stan and I love to find unique markets and grocery stores...we think it's fun looking at the different things they offer. J.A. Moisan, in Québec City, is the oldest grocery store in North America founded in 1871. Truly a one-of-a-kind market renowned for its selection of fine food, products made in Québec and food selections from around the world. 
The French love chocolate, and Québec is French, so there are a lot of chocolatiers in Québec City. Érico is a creative chocolate shop that make their chocolate by hand, in an artisanal fashion, in small quantities to ensure freshness and the authenticity of the chocolate flavors. Attached to the shop, is a small chocolate museum that illustrates the history of chocolate from the Mayan civilization to the present day. 

September 25, 2018

Sept. 19 - (Part II) Île d'Orléans, QC

“Wandering re-establishes the original harmony which once existed between man and the universe.” – Anatole France

Our second stop on Wednesday was Île d'Orléans, it's located in the Saint Lawrence River about 3 miles east of Québec City. The island represents the tidal divide of the St. Lawrence, where fresh water begins to mix with the sea. Île d'Orléans was one of the first settlements for New France in the sixteenth century, and a large percentage of French Canadians can trace ancestry to early residents of the island. One road circles the perimeter of the island offering visitors a look back in time with historic homes and churches, vineyards, sugar shacks (maple syrup), delicious bakeries, fruit stands and drop-dead-gorgeous scenery.

Île d'Orléans is a National Historic Site of Canada and has six individual villages: Saint-Pierre, Sainte-Famille, Saint-François, Saint-Jean, Saint-Laurent and Sainte-Pétronille. They all have their own special things to offer. The village of Sainte-Pétronille on the western end of the island overlooks the impressive Montmorency Falls, as well as a view of the St. Lawrence River and Québec City. 
A view across the St. Lawrence from Saint-Pierre
Maison Drouin, located in Sainte-Famille, is the oldest house on Île d’Orléans and has changed little since 1730. It belonged to the Drouin family until 1984 and is now open for tours. 
Les Fromages are artisan cheese makers. They produce cheeses in the traditional methods that date back to the early 1600s.  
Saint-François Observation Tower gave us a 360º view of the north-eastern point of the island, looking out towards the St Lawrence. More stairs...this vacation has been all about climbing stairs. 
Looking north from the tower 
Looking east toward the Saint Lawrence River 
We stopped in  Saint-Jean at La Boulange for lunch. Stan had vegetable soup with homemade bread and I had a pesto/three cheese pizza. The crust was light and amazing. We also bought pastries for breakfast...they were very good.
Eglise de Saint-Jean-de-l'Île-d'Orléans built in 1737
There's a great religious heritage on Île d’Orléans. There are eight churches on the island and six procession chapels. Procession chapels are signs of popular devotion, were generally built at equal distances form the parish churches and were gathering places during processions and religious celebrations. 
Chocolaterie de l’Île d’Orléans...we just can't pass up a good chocolate shop.