This little lady built this nest in less than a day. The quality of workmanship is outstanding. And, such a treat to watch her make it. After bringing materials, she wiggles out the perfect nest with her breast and then her feet. Turning a quarter each time. This is the second year she has built this nest outside the Bristol Suite window where guests will soon be able to see her beautiful blue eggs. And, then to watch them throughout their growth from ugly, featherless chicks to sweet baby red-breasted Robins taking that first flight. I assume it’s a she but don’t know for sure. Nature is simply amazing.
Meet Tripod… my Mama deer. She’s mostly been around back in the woods but just a few weeks ago found her way into the gardens at the Inn. Every time I see her, I am moved to tears that she’s made it just that much longer. Today she got the apple cores and peels from our baked apples and the crust and heels from our French Toast. She consumed it all in a matter of minutes… and then she got more. What a great experience for our guests who don’t see deer in Rochester. I can’t promise she is around at every breakfast, but a lucky few have had the experience of watching her out the Dining Room window while enjoying our gourmet breakfast. She’s showing off.
On Feb. 8 come experience “Vintage Vines & Valentines”, an old-world celebration of love and friendship in the historic Finger Lakes Valley of Naples, NY. The event features several local businesses that are offering everything from free tastings to meal discounts! For more details and directions visit www.facebook.com/VintageVinesValentines
More than 200 artisans showcase their work at Artizanns in Naples. Stop by and pick out that special gift so you’ll always remember your visit to the Finger Lakes. Artizanns, 118 North Main Street, Naples. 585-374-6740.
Looking to find your next favorite beer? Stop by Ontario County’s newest nano-brewery. The Victor Brewery is now open and serving up some of the finest beverages around! For all you beer lovers out there, the Victor Brewery is located at 6606 State Route 96 in Victor, NY. For more info visit www.thevbbrewery.com or call at 585-902-8166. Cheers!
Shop for one-of-a-kind items at the Canandaigua Classic Antique Show and Sale where more than 40 quality antique dealers will be showing their wares. Feb. 9 from 9am – 4pm. Admission is $6. Finger Lakes Gaming and Race Track, 5857 Route 96, Farmington. 585-394-1472.
Celebrate wonderful Finger Lakes ice wines this winter. The New York Ice Wine Festival on Feb. 15 from 11am-6pm at Casa Larga Vineyards will be full of Finger Lakes wine, food and fun! Come enjoy, tastings, live entertainment and seminars! For more details visit www.casalarga.com.
Get out for a day of winter fun…and while you’re at it, learn about our area’s history! The Native American Winter Games features a snowsnake game, dogsled run demos, snowshoeing, Native American stories & refreshments. Saturday, Feb. 22, 10am – 4pm.Victor Municipal Park, 1278 Brace Rd, Victor. 585-924-5848. www.ganondagan.org
Step inside from the cold this winter at Finger Lakes Gifts and Lounge, offering the finest locally sourced gifts, edible treats and beverages from the area. Stop in on your next trip to historic downtown Geneva and check it out! 60 Seneca Street, Geneva, NY 14456 315-759-5247
Bring the whole family to cross-country ski on 15 miles of groomed trails, or snowshoe on a 3-mile loop at Cumming Nature Center. Nordic Hot Dog Days starts on Feb. 22 and 23 from 11:30am – 2:30pm. Visitors can also enjoy hot dogs, chili, cookies, brownies and hot cider! Cumming Nature Center, 6472 Gulick Road, Naples. 585-374-6160.
Festivals abound in Lake Country! From arts to music to Native American culture – there’s something for everyone! Fat Tire Mountain Bike Festival July 21, Native American Dance & Music Festival, July 27-28; Waterfront Arts Festival, July 27-28; Log onto our website, www.VisitFingerLakes.com, and click Events, or call the FLVC office for details. 585-394-3915.
Bristol Valley Theatre summer schedule is in full swing! Head down to Naples, NY and catch a show! For more on all of the great shows offered visit . If you are after that perfect Finger Lakes gift, slip into Artizanns right on Main St. just before the theatre! Artizanns and Bristol Valley Theatre are located in Naples, NY.
Looking to get out on the water and escape the heat? Head over to Canandaigua Sailboarding and rent your personal watercraft of choice! If you are the adventurous type be sure to try stand-up paddleboarding and take the waves head on! Canandaigua Sailboarding, 11 Lakeshore Dr., Canandaigua, NY 14424 585- 394-8150.
The summer feeling is in the air! That means it’s the perfect time to throw on those hiking boots and get out on the trails. Visit the Finger Lakes Visitors Connection for your free hiking and biking kit. Be sure to check out the waterfalls at Grimes Glen located in Naples, NY – Warning: you will get wet! To pick up a kit, visit our office at 25 Gorham St in Canandaigua NY or call 585-394-3915.
Come experience what the locals are buzzing about at Canandaigua’s newest addition to its restaurant lineup – the Beehive Brew Pub! Featuring over 32 different micro beers and serving up the finest pub fare! So whether it’s lunch or dinner, buzz over and check it out! Open daily. 20 Pleasant Street, Canandaigua 585-919-2471.
On July 26 Geneva’s Cruisin’ Night and Block Party is an event you won’t want to miss if you like “travel- ing down Memory Lane”. The day features classic cars, trucks and motorcycles. Adding to the excitement of the day is live music, food and activities for children. Downtown, Geneva NY.
If you are visiting the north shores of Seneca Lake swing by Geneva’s newest restaurant, the Seneca Brew and Smokehouse. Serving up a diverse menu ranging from wood fired pizzas, specialty sandwiches and full-on entrees! If you’re thirsty, be sure to catch a Finger Lakes made speciality! Open 7 days a week, 5-9pm 4516 West Lake Road, Geneva, NY.
Get to the Ontario County Fairgrounds between July 23-27 for some fun. There’s plenty to do at the Ontario County Fair. Visit the animal barns, attend one of the 4-H competitions, and see the 4-H project exhibits. Tractor pulls, demolition derby and shows on the stage. If you like amusement rides, spend some time on the midway. It’s old-fashioned family fun. County Road 10, Canandaigua, NY.
Putting a finger on the Finger Lakes
Summer is in full swing, which is a good excuse to get out of the city. Head south on Route 64, down toward Canandaigua Lake, through Bloomfield, past Bristol Mountain Ski Resort (marvel at the green summer slopes), and stop before you reach Monica’s Pies and downtown Naples. Near the “Y” where Route 64 meets Route 21, sits the Brown Hound Bistro. If you haven’t yet dined there, you’re in for a treat. Simply put, it is one of the best restaurants in the region.
Availing itself of locally grown produce and meats, Brown Hound takes its cues from the season and consistently turns out delicious food. In some restaurants, that might lead to an air of superiority or pretentiousness — not here. The staff is friendly, knowledgeable, and there to make you happy and comfortable. The interior of the space is warm: Tuscan yellow walls, natural woods, braided rugs, paintings from local artists on the wall. The restroom, tucked under the stairs leading up to the kitchen, is an homage to the restaurant’s namesake, owner Trish Asher’s departed hound, Henry.
Don’t let the occasional pompous patron scare you off. (Guy who groused that his favorite out-of-state microbrew wasn’t on the menu: understand where you are and order the local beer.) If you do, you’ll remove the possibility of having a meal with tastes, scents, and colors so memorable that dishes might bubble into your thoughts at unexpected times. For instance, driving on 490 last week, I found myself longing for a slice or floral-scented apple, deep rose in color, light rose in flavor, gently sweet and slightly firm to the teeth that I’d enjoyed at Brown Hound two weeks earlier.
The rose petal-apple conserve in question is paired with a customer favorite: pan-seared yellowfin tuna with a scoop of risotto and a scattering of micro greens ($30). Like the majority of dishes on the menu, it’s both familiar and unexpected. Each meal’s star attraction is a well-prepared and satisfying rendition of a classic dish. But it’s in the sides where you’ll find the surprises: lovely shocks of color, texture, and flavor that, together, make eating at the Brown Hound both reliable and delightful.
Take the spring house salad ($7). It’s not a plate where you’d expect novelty. In some restaurants, it’s thoughtless: iceberg lettuce, shaved carrots, limp tomatoes, and maybe some corrugated cardboard posing as croutons. Here, however, the house salad plays with sweet (apple, maple) and sharp notes (red onion, shallots, vinegar), making you eager for the next bite. The lively and fresh greens are sourced just miles down the road from Ambrosia Acres Family Farm. And then there’s the scattering of diced and candied bacon. Food writing is oversaturated with declarations of love for bacon, but when it’s good, it’s very, very good. And when its smokiness is enhanced with a touch of sweetness and a bite of pepper, it’s wonderful.
Similarly, the artisan cheese plate ($11) features a mild chevre, muscular blue, and sharp cheddar cheeses — solidly appetizing choices for a Finger Lakes restaurant. Baguette crostinis, crunchy and flavored with olive oil, are eager to be piled with the cheese and — more importantly — the house-made onion marmalade. The marmalade has the texture of chutney: onion slices stand firm against the jam-like background. Cooked for a long time to develop a deep caramelization, the onions are sweetened with brown sugar and perked with ginger and (apple cider?) vinegar. Brown Hound is looking into to bottling the marmalade for sale; home cooks — myself included — will be lucky if it happens.
A few words about chicken. The menu’s chicken breast ($24), locally sourced from Sweet Grass Farm, is plump and juicy, but it’s still a chicken breast. What interests is its pairing: carrot sambal. Unlike South African or Asian carrot sambals, this is pureed smooth but retains a sambal’s spicy, warm heat. It’s the star of the entree, elevating the entire dish in the way a bold necklace can enliven a simple black shift dress.
A few more words about chicken: the chicken Moroccan ($38) is a shared plate, with two robust thighs and drums, a heap of couscous studded with dried fruits, and romesco sauce. The chicken’s skin is a deep tawny and crisp, almost as if fried, and the meat is succulent. Here, again, the sides shine: fat, sweet dates recall the dish’s namesake, while the romesco sauce reflects the piquancy of red peppers.
Lest I’ve made you think that there’s only poultry on the menu, pay attention to the Incredible Wellington ($32), a fillet of beef topped with Lively Run Cayuga bleu cheese and wrapped in puff pastry, served with bordelaise sauce, mashed potatoes, and mushroom duxelles; and the spring risotto ($21), showcasing seasonal vegetables and parmesan cheese.
If you go for brunch, make an effort to sit out on the wrap-around porch, shaded by a brick-red-and-white-striped awning. (Don’t worry if it’s chilly; the bistro has fleece blankets on hand to keep you warm.) Among my favorites are the French onion soup ($5), a hearty crock that gets the balance of salty and savory with crunchy and cheesy just right; the Sweet Grass lamb burrito ($11), featuring grass-fed lamb topped with tomato, red onion, and Lively Run feta; or the French Hill Toast ($7), made with homemade cinnamon-swirl bread and served with local Sugarbush Hollow maple syrup. (Go early if you want to order that last dish; I’ve often found that the restaurant runs out of cinnamon bread if I get there after 11:30 a.m.)
And last, but not least, if pastry chef Emmy Wilk’s toffee blondie sundae ($6) is available, order it. A blondie is a soft and chewy bar cookie flavored with vanilla and brown sugar. The blondie here is studded with toffee and the sundae is drizzled with salted caramel sauce for a sweet, salty, buttery, chewy treat. Even if you have to eat dessert after breakfast — even if you ate the Omega pancakes ($5 for a short stack) made with buttermilk, Birkett Mills’ buckwheat, ground flaxseed, and blueberries — who cares? It’s worth it
Sometimes it truly is the little things that make me happy…
For the nearly nine years that I have been the Innkeeper at the 1795 Acorn Inn, guests have gotten two keys upon arrival; one for the front door and the Dining Room door and one for their respective rooms. Since the Inn is locked at all times, these keys made it possible for guests to come and go as they please. Always in the back of my mind though was the thought that although these keys say do not duplicate, they (name not to be mentioned) duplicate them for me as needed. So, why couldn’t guests get them duplicated and come back at any time? I’m not thinking of the kind, respectful, wonderful guests that I usually have the pleasure of meeting…
So, years ago I decided to make the investment and purchase Schlage locks with keypads. This year, when my fabulous brother Roger was visiting, he installed them for me. And, now that I have gotten adept at programming and deprogramming, my vision is complete.
Upon arrival, guests are asked to provide a four-digit code that would be easy for them to remember. Their code is programmed into the locks and voila… they can come and go as they please. Upon their departure, their code is removed from the system. Simple.
For those guests that cannot make our regular check in hours of 3:00 to 5:00 pm and have made arrangements in advance of their stay for a late check in, we can input their code of choice on the day of their arrival. Once inside the Inn, they are able to follow our simple self-check process and use their personal code for their entire stay..
So far, so good. And, I am happy to say, another improvement completed.