A Taste of Americana

March 5, 2012 § 1 Comment

Recently, some friends and I visited Americana Vineyards along the edge Cayuga Lake for a wine tasting and dinner. While I don’t know much more about wine than the basics, I’ll never turn down the opportunity to try some local vintages, especially at a place as charming as Americana. We got to choose eight of the many wines they sell, ranging from sweeter Rieslings and a killer semi-dry white called Apparition that had hints of grapefruit and honey, to the drier reds like their Cabernet Franc. Though I won’t get into too much detail, I will say that one of my favorites was a wine called Sweet Rosie, described as “strawberry-like dessert wine” that melded beautifully with their homemade chocolate fudge.

Right across the patio from the Tasting Room is a homey bistro-like restaurant called Crystal Lake Cafe, and even though it didn’t look like much from the outside, the food was truly impeccable. We started with their spinach and artichoke dip served with grilled foccacia, and it was possibly one of the lightest and tastiest versions I’ve had, with almost a whipped texture. Serving it with foccacia, a doughier bread than the usual choice of ciabatta or baguette, was a nice albeit very filling touch.

For our main courses, I ordered one of their many specials, the ropa vieja, a generous bowlful of juicy and well-spiced shredded flank steak served with a picante salsa and warm flour tortillas. Other dishes were another special, the Cornish game hen served with rice and mushrooms, their famous lamb burger, and their Cuban panini with ham, mustard, pickle, and Swiss cheese. All of this was paired with our hands-down favorite of the tasting, Apparition, and the wine’s acidity served as a perfect match for our food.

But we couldn’t end our amazing meal without a little something sweet. Our desserts were the warm spiced apple cake, very moist and dolloped with freshly whipped cream, and an out-of-this-world, totally luscious salted caramel custard, covered with a layer of gooey caramel and paired with some crumbly pecan sandies. It was a really lovely time away from campus – good wine, excellent food, and great company. Needless to say, after we got back, I didn’t get much work done aside from dozing off in between readings due to major food coma and wine-induced warm fuzziness. And, after looking after their brunch menu, I’m definitely going to have to go back very soon.


Americana Vineyards & Crystal Lake Cafe
4367 East Covert Road
Interlaken, NY 14847


Stuff yer face and Clydz

January 11, 2011 § Leave a comment

I’ve been hanging out in the New Brunswick area a lot the past couple of days. First was a trip to Stuff Yer Face with Tonia, Cathy, Murphy (who got the fishbowl), and Jiawen, and even though I ended up not going one of their famous strombolis, I was perfectly happy with their chipotle pork sandwich which had a nice kick to it.

Then today, a group of us enjoyed happy hour at Clydz, a restaurant/bar hidden on a side just street off Route 27. The inside was very cozy, complete with an actual fireplace, and we all ordered “girly” drinks with names like “Girl Scout Cookie” and “Watermelon,” which tasted exactly like a Jolly Rancher. One of the major favorites was a concoction called “The Destroyer” and contrary to what its name might imply about its nature, it was one of the sweetest, smoothest drinks of the bunch, made with sweet tea vodka, elderflower, and lemonade.

We also ordered some appetizers: roasted garlic hummus, pierogies, and fried calamari, but I didn’t really think of any of our dishes as really impressive. I’m still in love with the pierogies at Veselka in New York, which have your choice of filling (including sweet potato, cheeses, etc) and then fried, compared to the Clydz’s boiled version. My fried calamari were all right, but the accompanying marinara sauce was watery and I would’ve preferred something with a little more heat.

All in all, I think Clydz is probably worth it only for happy hour. Drinks are half-off and come to around $5 or $6 each and select appetizers are $5 and most of them are decently-sized portions.

Stuff Yer Face
49 Easton Ave.
New Brunswick, NJ 08901

55 Paterson St.
New Brunswick, NJ 08901

Straightforward sangria and crispy patatas bravas

August 5, 2009 § 2 Comments

As promised, two of the many recipes from tapas at Phil’s.


1/2 cup sugar syrup (half part sugar, half part water, heated until sugar dissolves)
two bottles of fruit red wine or red Zinfandel (we used one of each and doubled the recipe)
juice of 2 lemons
2 oranges, sliced
2 lemons, sliced
2 apples, sliced
2 peaches, sliced
1 large bottle of sparkling water

Combine all ingredients in a pitcher or large punch bowl and refrigerate for at least 2 hours, preferably overnight. Serve with ice.

Patatas bravas

These are a classic tapas dish in Spain, and as with anything involving potatoes and extra virgin olive oil, they are so delicious without the heaviness of something deep-fried. Really easy to make too. They’re traditionally served with a spicy tomato sauce and/or allioli, the garlic mayonnaise.

16 small red potatoes, quartered. Leave skins on.
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil, or enough to coat all the potatoes
coarse salt

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Put the potatoes in large pot and cover by 2 inches of water. Bring to a boil, and then turn heat to medium. Leave for about 20 minutes, until potatoes are fork tender.

Transfer potatoes to a baking sheet, toss with the olive oil and salt, and spread into one even layer. Bake for about 45 minutes, or until golden brown. Serve with tomato sauce.

Tomato Sauce

2 cups plain marinara sauce
cumin, cayenne pepper, paprika to taste

Combine to personal taste and heat.

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