This weekend the rapidly expanding pregnant wife, some friends (Tom and Robin...now you are famous), and I decided to go to Cooperstown. Besides from being the home of the Baseball Hall of Fame, Cooperstown is smack in the middle of upstate New York farm country and is actually a very scenically beautiful area. If you get past all the cheesy baseball themed ice cream/burger shacks it is a nice place to visit in the summer. Our original mission was to visit the Ommegang brewery, but we made a couple stops along the way.
Before leaving Guilderland we had to stop and get the wife a cheeseburger to prevent her from trying to eat my arm or the car upholstery or Robin. I did not partake, so after about an hour of driving I started to get a little hungry. We first stopped at a little cheese shop on the outskirts of Cooperstown that looked promising. I bought some Jersey Girl Raw Milk Colby made just up highway 88 in Worcester. At 3.99 for a giant hunk, this was the littlest I have paid for cheese of this quality in quite a while. This stuff was excellent and we devoured it in hunks whilst standing outside the store, probably to the horror of the nice old lady who ran the place who, incidentally, had just finished babbling out some story about her granddaughter making cheese curd sandwiches.
The cheese took the edge off my hunger but I was soon craving something more substantial. We drove by about 200 baseball themed restaurants serving items randomly assigned baseball references. You will get a coke, but instead of just coke it becomes Honus Wagner Coke or something else equally absurd. We ultimately decided on the Redneck Barbeque because I thought the name was funny.
I apologize for the generally poor quality of the following pictures, I was too busy dodging the hundreds of flies and wasps flying around the joint. Apparently, Cooperstown has a serious fly problem during this part of summer. Everywhere we went there were hordes of starving flies trying to enter our orifices. The guy who did the brewerey tour later in the day said this was becuase the local farmers were fertilizing their fields this week. This led me to decide the the flies were actually called turd flies.
The menu at the Redneck Barbeque, as well as the decor, were definitely weird.
We actually found an incident of "Engrish" that you would expect at a Chinese restaurant, not at a seemingly all-American barbeque shack in upstate New York. As close as I can figure the description of a sandwich called the "Elvis" is "Spotted banana lords sweetness honey and smucker all natural PB..." I still have no idea what any of this even means and no one ordered it.
For appetizers we started with some fries covered in melted cheese and jalapeno strips and some fried green tomatoes. Nothing impressive, but solid grub of the cheap and fried variety.
I had an interesting sandwich consisting of baked beans, fried egg, and cheddar. This was OK but kind of bland. The wife had a chicken sandwich and potato salad that she did not even finish, as she is pregant and not in the habit of leaving leftovers this does not speak well for the restaurant. Don't know that I will be stopping into this place again. I have a feeling that I might have consumed a few flies during this meal, I am not joking I have never seen that many flies in a restaurant in my life. I did see one of the younger waitresses pulling basil leafs off a plant growing in a pot outside which I liked. I like any evidence that a restaurant grows/produces and then serves something, even if it is just herbs.
After lunch we headed up to the Ommegang Brewery. I have been drinking this stuff for years starting in the late 90s during my days in New Paltz. Ommegang makes several varieties of very decent Belgian brew. The tour was a little underwhelming, I have worked in a brewery before so I kind of know the drill. I did not get much of a kick out of looking at brewing machinery, bottelers, etc... The tasting afterward was nice, considering the fact that it was gratis. They had some cheeses, chocolates, pickles, and pretzels to go with small samples of their beers. I was a little disappointed that there was not a bar or opportunity to consume beer in more substantial amounts. I had expected to leave the place thoroughly soused. I did pick up some of their Three Philosophers brew, an awesome church key, and a cool growler on my beautiful wife's dime. The Three Philosophers is a very tasty lambic style cherry deal. The cherry flavor is not overwhelming in the manner of many other fruit lambics that I have tried. It packs a wallop at 9.8% alcohol.
We finished the day with a nice dinner (which necessitates a further post). I always forget how much I like upstate New York. There is really decent farm country within an hours drive of where I live, but you don't have to deal with the strident, facist types you meet in similar areas down south or out west. I always get the urge to cut sling load and move out into the hills.