No Bad Choice at Ellicottville’s Steelbound Brewing

After a weekend of camping at Allegany State Park with Cody’s family, we stopped at the new Steelbound Brewery on our way through Ellicottville. Camping with the Jones clan means almost constant eating, so we were not hungry for a meal, although everything coming from the kitchen looked great.

Steelbound Brewery, Ellicottville, NY

Taps at Steelbound Brewery, Ellicottville, NY

We ordered two flights, mixing and matching Steelbound’s huge draft list. Cody went with 8 IPAs (which wasn’t even all the IPAs on the list) and I went for a more eclectic combination. I enjoyed everything, from the Blueballs (their much, much juicier answer to ECB’s Blueberry Wheat with 600 pounds of blueberry in every batch) to the Fat Porter.

Flight at Steelbound Brewery, Ellicottville, NY

Flight at Steelbound Brewery, Ellicottville, NY

For a new brewery (they opened in May of 2018), these guys have very impressive beer and a huge distribution network. They’re really embracing their tagline (“Where Buffalo meets Ellicottville”) with lots of Bills references and a big presence at this year’s Buffalo Beer Week.

If you’re heading to Ellicottville for Fall Fest, doing some last minute camping or hitting the slopes this winter, it’s definitely worth stopping at Steelbound!

A Three Day Weekend on the North Shore

Since visiting Paige in the literal dead of winter, I was dying to explore her new corner of the world in warmer weather. Earlier this summer, we spent a three-day weekend taking in all the best parts of eastern Mass, from Boston’s city lights to Rockport’s coastal charm – and a lot of places in between.

I spent most of Friday driving, arriving in the eastern part of Massachusetts just as the entire state headed toward Cape Cod. When I did arrive in Salem, Paige had an amazing dinner filled with fresh produce from the farmers’ market ready for me, which we enjoyed on her breezy second story porch.

After dinner, we caught the train into Boston for good beer, neon lights and a long walk through the city on a beautiful summer night. We met Tom, one of Paige’s friends from high school who now lives outside Boston as well, at Trillium Brewing Company’s Garden on the Greenway. I sipped on Peach Fated Farmer with Peach Juice, a sweet beer that went perfectly with the view of The Greenway and just a touch of a salty ocean breeze.

Beet at Trillium Garden on the Greenway

Taps at Trillium Garden on the Greenway

GLOW Art Exhibit on the Rose Kennedy Greenway

We wandered through the city, around the harbor and on and off the Freedom Trail before catching the train. We headed back to Paige’s apartment for a good night of sleep before a day on the North Shore.

Because it was 5° last time I visited, I was looking forward to enjoying the wind coming in off the ocean, rather than dreading it. We started the morning in Swampscott, walking along King’s Beach, Red Rock Park and Nahant Beach. The sun was shining, the water was the perfect temperature for dipping our feet in, and we worked up enough an appetite to really, really enjoy our pizza from Volo Craft Pizza.

The restaurant was small but bright, with sun streaming in through the windows and reflecting off the stainless steel tabletops. Everyone behind the counter was incredibly sweet and our food (the House Pizza and a Panino Sandwich) was ready in just a few minutes.

Red Rock Park, Swampscott, Massachusetts

Skyline View of Boston from Red Rock Park, Swampscott, Massachusetts

Red Rock Park, Swampscott, Massachusetts

Volo Craft Pizza, Swampscott, Massachusetts

north-shore-ma-long-weekend-13-min

We headed back to Salem for a few hours out of the sun before driving up to Rockport. Our first stop was for coffee at Bean & Leaf, which has an amazing view of Rockport Harbor. We popped into a dozen shops before visiting the iconic Motif #1. Among our favorites along Bearskin Neck were Queen of Sorts, Wicked Peacock and Rusty + Ingrid Creative Company.

Bean & Leaf Cafe, Rockport, Massachusetts

Bear Skin Neck, Rockport, Massachusetts

Cottages in Rockport, Massachusetts

Rockport Harbor, Rockport, Massachusetts

Motif #1, Rockport, Massachusetts

Fishing Shack in Rockport, Massachusetts

At this point, all we wanted were fish tacos, which are surprisingly hard to come by in this lobster-obsessed town, so we stopped for a quick dinner in Gloucester.

Sunday morning was gloomy, but that didn’t stop us from walking to Front Street Coffee House and peaking into Oak + Moss. We walked home through The Point to admire the gorgeous murals, all part of the mission of Punto Urban Art Museum to “break down the invisible, but undeniable socio-economic barrier between the Point Neighborhood and the rest of Salem and the North Shore… through stunning, world class art.”

Because of the rain, I left my camera at home during this outing. I’ve been kicking myself since, because this neighborhood’s art, from the full-scale murals to the small reminders that what goes down the storm drains will end up in the ocean, is stunning.

After our morning walk, I started the drive home, Volo leftovers in hand and ready to face the traffic waiting for me along the Mass Turnpike.

We managed to see a lot in just a couple of days, but I also put a big dent in a new book and got a few much needed good nights of sleep, making this the perfect weekend with my sister.

Root & Bloom: Vegan Comfort Food in the Comfiest Space

I am by no means vegan or even vegetarian, especially when cooking for myself. I do love my Oh She Glows cookbook, but most of the time, I find vegan recipes more complicated and intimidating than their conventional counterparts.

However, if someone else is going to cook without animal products for me, I’m all in. While Paige was home last month I recruited her to go check out Root & Bloom, one of Buffalo’s newest restaurants and its first vegan-only eatery.

Good Vibes Only

Any business that uses “Gazebo” as part of their address probably knows a thing or two about creating a unique atmosphere. Walking off of Elmwood and into the hidden, tree-lined courtyard Root & Bloom calls home feels like stepping into a secret garden. I’m not sure there’s any way to truly capture the airy space in photographs, but I sure tried.

Root & Bloom | Gazebo in Elmwood Village | Vegan Restaurant

Root & Bloom | Gazebo in Elmwood Village | Vegan Restaurant

I just couldn’t get over the layers of the space: macrame, linen and copper on wood, lace against bark, wrought iron over pavers and brick peaking through leaves. I have a feeling that each year will lead to a cozier feel. It just seems like the kind of place where beautiful knick knacks are accepted with open arms.

The staff was friendly and when we stopped in on a Thursday night, the dinner crowd was lingering, continuing to chat over their empty plates. There was absolutely no pressure to move along or order dessert, just conversation and an itty bitty kombucha-fueled buzz.

Root & Bloom | Gazebo in Elmwood Village | Vegan Restaurant

Root & Bloom | Gazebo in Elmwood Village | Vegan Restaurant

The Dinner Menu

Root & Bloom serves both brunch and dinner. We thought about squeezing in Sunday brunch as a family, but a weeknight dinner gave Paige and me an opportunity to wander down Elmwood before and after dinner.

The dinner menu features vegan staples (cashew cheese, tofu and jackfruit) blended into dishes even the most committed carnivore would recognize: tacos, BBQ sliders, and mac and cheese. While everything looked delicious, we both chose the Ricardo: corn tortilla tacos filled with fried avocado, pico de gallo, cabbage, pickled red onions, mango rice and a habanero lime cream drizzle. Paige chose to wash her tacos down with chia citrus water, while I went for Bootleg Bucha’s blueberry lavender variety.

Root & Bloom | Vegan Restaurant | Fried Avocado Tacos

Everything was absolutely delicious, and the serving size made us glad we had parked a few blocks away!

The restaurant’s indoor space will open this fall, so Buffalo can continue to enjoy the creative vegan menu during Buffalo’s colder months. I’ll definitely be going back for more for three reasons:

  1. Brunch (no further explanation needed).
  2. A robust weekend specials menu and the Saturday night Uprooted series.
  3. The gazebo’s Instagramable aesthetic means both 1 and 2 are constantly popping up in my social media feeds!

A Day on the Lake with Brookdog Fishing Co.

I used to love fishing with my dad and sister from the dock on Keuka Lake or sitting on the bank of the Erie Canal waiting patiently to catch little sunfish. We never caught more than a couple of little guys; it didn’t matter, I liked being outside, hanging out with Paige and Dad waiting for a nibble. There was one time that I caught a (slightly) bigger fish, but in our battle over the bait, the fish won and my pole went sailing into the Canal.

In the last few years, we haven’t fished nearly as often as we used to, so Paige and I thought a fishing charter might be an awesome way to spend an afternoon together with Dad. Brookdog Fishing Co. graciously hosted our novice group (well, Dad knows what he’s doing but Paige and I were a little rusty) for an afternoon on Lake Erie with guide Ryan.

We had low expectations, primed by our years on the Canal, but even if we had way higher expectations, Ryan would have beat them. I was excited about being in the water in the middle of a rare string of 90° days in Buffalo; catching a fish or two would have been icing on the cake.

That, simply, is not Ryan’s style. He’s all about putting his clients where the fish are and making sure we have everything necessary to catch them. We launched into the Niagara River, but crowded waters made the River un-fishable. Instead, we took a quick ride into Lake Erie and fished a few different spots, starting further out in the water and then moving towards the harbor as boaters headed in for the evening.

Brookdog Fishing Co. | Lake Erie Fishing Charter

Brookdog Fishing Co. | Lake Erie Fishing Charter

Brookdog takes care of everything: poles, bait, baiting, unhooking, photos and bottles of water on ice. While we opted for a half-day trip on Lake Erie, Brookdog offers a ton of options, from year-round walk and wade fly fishing to multi-day charters in the region’s bigger bodies of water. Ryan’s boat is gorgeous and a really comfortable place to spend the day.

As we headed out towards the Lake, Ryan let us know what the game plan was. First, we’d find a good spot, and then we’d start fishing and shooting the shit (his words, not mine). This made me a little nervous, because he was talking to three people who are very good at sitting in silence with each other. Mom takes care of all our family’s small talk.

It turns out I was worried for nothing, because Ryan can talk about anything with anyone and he knows so much about fishing, running a small business, doing what you love and the Buffalo Niagara region that he’s willing to share. He’s fished in Buffalo forever, traveled around the world catching fish and is currently on a mission to fly fish every state in the US before turning 50.

Brookdog’s guides (Ryan, as well as his friend and business partner Nate) focus on native species, and the fish we caught in Lake Erie (smallmouth bass and freshwater drum or sheepshead) have been here for thousands of years. We caught a pretty even mix of the two using live bait, and Paige got a gorgeous white bass as well.

We didn’t look as cool as Ryan and Nate do summer fly fishing in the Niagara River and Lake Erie, but we can pretend. Also, what’s a girl gotta do to get one of those Brookdog shirts?

In our five or so hours on the water, Dad won the prize for the most fish, as well as the smallest fish. I took home the prize of the biggest fish. Paige may have only gotten two, but her patience paid off, because they were the two prettiest fish of the day.

Brookdog Fishing Co. | Lake Erie Fishing Charter

Brookdog Fishing Co. | Lake Erie Fishing Charter

I went to bed feeling like I was still bobbing up and down with the lake, and woke up the next morning a little sunburned and sore (those fish are serious fighters), but that’s just the sign of a really good day on the water.

If you’re feeling like booking a trip of your own with Brookdog Fishing Co., and you should, you can do that here: https://www.brookdogfishing.com/book-fishing-trip/.

Ryan guides Buffalonians and tourists of all fishing abilities year-round, so don’t worry if your summer is already packed. He assured us that catching salmon in the fall is also pretty cool.

I received a complimentary trip with Brookdog Fishing Co. in exchange for writing a review on this blog. All opinions are my own.

Visit UB’s Anderson Gallery for Cool Collections and Interesting Spaces

I don’t take advantage of Buffalo’s amazing art and architecture nearly as often as I should. When the Buffalo Bloggers met at UB’s Anderson Gallery last month, it seemed like a good way to add a little culture to my week. It was, in fact, the perfect mix of unique art and interesting space for a Tuesday after work.

The gallery is on the smaller size and you won’t find the same well-known artists that call the Burchfield Penney Art Center and Albright–Knox Art Gallery home, but this is a cool collection of lesser-known, but no less interesting, artists’ works. Plus, it’s completely free to visit!

BRACHA: Pietà – Eurydice – Medus

UB Anderson Gallery | Bracha

UB Anderson Gallery | Bracha

I loved how this collection looked as a whole. The groupings of pieces within the gallery’s curved walls were lovely. These works of art represent “themes of loss, love and trauma within the context of the atrocities of war and traces of memory of the tragedy of the Holocaust.” You can feel the darkness of this exhibit, which is a stark contrast to the much lighter, brighter spaces on the second floor of the gallery.

Claire Falkenstein: Time Elements

UB Anderson Gallery | Claire Falkenstein

I enjoyed this exhibit most, not only for the interesting shapes within the art, but for how well it fit the sun-soaked second floor space it filled. The “work fundamentally expresses movement in space through a specific vocabulary,” which made this exhibit the perfect place for casual conversation and snacks.

Also on display are Cravens Collection, Team Razor Wire’s Electric Avenue [In Blue] and virocode: No Plan for the Future. I highly recommend spending a blissfully cultured (and air conditioned) hour at the Gallery this summer. Its North Buffalo location is close to Delaware Park and Hertel Ave., so you can easily make a stop on your way to dinner or drinks from the Northtowns!

Amity Coffee Co.: Coffee and Community on Main Street

Spending Mother’s Day in Penn Yan meant being there for Amity Coffee Co.’s opening weekend in the beautiful Main Street space that used to be home to Publick Coffee Bar.

Amity Coffee Co. | Penn Yan, NY

Paige and I loved walking down to Publick when we were visiting, so we were pretty disappointed when it closed earlier this year. Amity taking over the beautiful shop makes for a great way to start weekends in Penn Yan.

From the gorgeous windows facing the street and exposed light bulbs to the marble-topped table and comfy leather chairs, every element of this space has been perfectly crafted. And the coffee is great too.

Amity_Coffee_Co_Penn_Yan_2-min

Amity Coffee Co. | Penn Yan, NY

We ordered a cappuccino and a latte, our usual coffee shop fare. They were delicious, as expected, and paired with friendly service. We enjoyed our drinks tucked into the back corner in deep leather chairs while we chatted about our summer plans and took about a million pictures of the store

On the cloudy Sunday morning we stopped by, families were celebrating Mother’s Day with coffee and pastries, and grabbing drinks to go.

I truly hope visitors keep supporting Amity, because I love having somewhere besides Dunkin’ for my weekend caffeine fix. I know I’ll be back next time I’m in town.

Amity Coffee Co. | Main Street | Penn Yan, NY

LyonSmith Brewing Co. is an English-Style Hidden Gem

Walk in to any number of upstate New York breweries and you’ll be greeted by exposed brick and unfiltered IPAs in chic industrial spaces. When Paige and I wandered into LyonSmith Brewing Co. while walking down Penn Yan’s Water Street on an overcast May day, it felt different.

There’s still exposed brick and the beer is tasty, but LyonSmith really feels like the small, family-owned business it is. The bartender’s dog greeted us as we walked in the door and toys for the kids were within arms reach.

Water Street | Penn Yan, NY

LyonSmith Brewing Co. | Penn Yan, NY

Paige and I split a tasting (8 tastes for $10), which was more than enough considering we were on our way to the grocery store. If you’re spending an afternoon between LyonSmith and Water Street Wine Bar next door, have one all to yourself.

All the beer is English-style here, which I didn’t (and still don’t, despite the bartender’s best efforts) know a lot about, and is named after people, places and events from England’s history.

I loved the absence of really bitter, hoppy pale ales. There was not a single beer that I wouldn’t drink a pint of. My personal favorites were the Harvest Apple Graff, which tasted like apple juice, and the very cinnamon-y Stingy Jack’s Puimcin Ale.

LyonSmith Brewing Co. | Penn Yan, NY

LyonSmith Brewing Co. | Penn Yan, NY

I’m not the only one impressed by the beers here. LyonSmith took home a gold medal in the strong ales category for their Rylie Pale Ale at the 2016 Tap-NY festival.

The decor reflected the English-style beer, with US vs UK darts, foosball and a map that invited visitors to let everyone know how far they had traveled for a taste of LyonSmith’s brews. I probably won’t be in Penn Yan on a Thursday any time soon, but there’s a board game night every Thursday and outside food is welcome, which I think sounds pretty fun!

LyonSmith Brewing Co. | Penn Yan, NY

LyonSmith Brewing Co. | Penn Yan, NY

If you’re looking for Instagramable spaces with trendy beers, skip this stop on your Finger Lakes brewery tour. But if you want to spend your time drinking something a little different, I recommend trying LyonSmith Brewing Co. I know I’ll be heading back this summer for a taste of their warm-weather seasonals!