Thursday, October 21, 2010

Fall Delights at the Lakeside Cider Mill

     What would fall be without the inevitable search for cider doughnuts? As we motored north on highway 87 we called our usual place and found they were sold out. Disappointed but not surprised, I quickly developed a plan B which involved a computer search for Saratoga Springs and cider doughnuts. I drove while John manned the iphone. 
      The first call found a farm only open on weekends. The second call resulted in an open shop and farm stand just a few miles up the road in a town located just a bit south of Saratoga called Ballston Springs. “Yes”, came the answer “we have plenty of cider doughnuts” as I pressed my foot slightly harder on the accelerator I realized I was smiling from ear to ear.
   If I could have described my ideal vision of a New England farm stand where shopping for the doughnuts would be as much of a thrill as eating the doughnuts, I could not have conceived of a place as charming and befitting of the event as the Lakeside Cider Mill. We entered the parking lot and I could hardly wait to park the car. Had I not been driving I am pretty sure I would have asked John to slow down just long enough to have me safely jump out of the car.

     I began snapping pictures as I approached the building like some Autumnal paparazzi, torn between my desire for the perfect shot and the perfect doughnut. I was even more charmed as we entered the store. It was obviously a working convenience store serving the local community year round. It seemed to me that the place came alive in the fall. I marveled at the pumpkins, gourds and apples that were everywhere as the smell of baked goods filled the air. “Hot apple cider and a dozen cider doughnuts” I gushed as I approached the bakery staff wide eyed and grinning like a fool.

     Turns out the Lakeside Cider Mill had been a farm since the late 1800’s and was purchased by the Pearce family in the late 1940’s. Their literature says it has been in the same family for three generations. Perhaps that is why we found everyone working there so helpful and friendly.

     The Lakeside Cider Mill along with leaf peeping, whoopee pie hunting, maple syrup searching and friend visiting will now become one of my fall in New England rituals. As many times as you visit an area there are always new wonders to be discovered and delighted by. Thank You Lakeside Cider Mill for providing one of these seasons delights 

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Loving the Loveless Cafe

      While on the trip home from our wedding in 2009 I was to pick up a tourist magazine that would effect all future visits to the area. This magazine listed ten things I needed to do before I left town. The entry that caught my eye was for a place called the Loveless café. It was nearing dinnertime and we decided to seek it out and see for ourselves if it would make our own cut of top ten things to do in Nashville. It more than qualified. It became a highlight of our trip home and we knew we would always include a stop there on any future trip through Nashville
The Loveless Cafe
      We arrived at the café and I was immediately intrigued and charmed. I could tell right away this was not just any restaurant. It was a village of sorts, a compound really, including shops full of trinkets, works of art and a large line of Loveless café brand food products and souvenirs. I was told that prior to fifteen years ago these buildings were the Loveless café’s hotel rooms and I thought it looked like a place I would have enjoyed staying, had I only known. The building that housed the café was an old home and each room has been transformed into a comfortable cheery dining area. The lobby walls are covered with photos of celebrity patrons who just like us had visited the Loveless café and fallen in love. 
No visit is complete without a stop at the store
The staff is gracious & helpful no matter how busy they are
      On this trip we returned to visit, enjoy brunch and stock up on some of the famous loveless café preserves. We arrived about twenty minutes after every church service in the area ended. The hungry congregations had flocked to the Loveless as well and swarmed the hostess podium like bees around a hive. We opted to take out our breakfast and enjoy it, and the beautiful day on one of the picnic tables scattered throughout the property. 
       The omelets and home made biscuits were as good as we remembered served with three kinds of preserves and hot coffee. Sadly, the creator of the iconic Loveless biscuit Ms. Carol Fay Ellison has passed away but, she has left a legacy that will be shared by generations to come. 
       When we visit the Loveless Cafe we feel as if we are visiting the home of a good friend. I was especially impressed with the staff who made us feel welcome despite the Sunday crowds. I can’t wait to stop there again on our return trip.
The cafes famous biscuits and preserves
  Here is a link to the Loveless cafe website


Sunday, October 10, 2010

La Grande Maison d'Arthenay

    We left Paris for the first leg of my 50th birthday road trip with a basic outline of our route. We generally let the road and our curiosities dictate the finer points, preparing for the unexpected, and reveling in all that we encounter.
 A vineyard we passed as we drove through the Loire Valley
     For the most part we find our lodging as we go. There are times we swallow hard, times we shrug our shoulders and have a good laugh.

The welcoming entrance of the Grand Maison
      Then there are times through serendipity, good karma or sheer divine intervention we find ourselves at a place like La Grande Maison d'Arthenay. 
Stone walls surround the property

the view across from the main house
     As the Loire valley unfolded before us we were relieved we had uncharacteristically booked our Loire accommodations based on the friendly and helpful correspondence with Michaela via the Internet. She seemed warm, informative and welcoming and we looked forward to meeting her and staying at the Grand Maison. Nothing could have prepared us for the feelings we experienced pulling up to the property that evening. 
Our room was elegant yet cozy
The night we arrived
 It’s the slow excited feeling you get when you know you have stumbled upon a treasure and stand on the threshold of a memory you will cherish forever. We parked Surrounded by vineyards and entered the gate where the warm glow of the house beckoned. Michaela and Sue welcomed us and we shared a glass of wine. I was immediately amazed at how perfectly our hosts had taken this centuries old building infusing it with a level of warmth and comfort that is rare to find anywhere while maintaining the integrity and history of the structure. 
The main house
     Our room was representative of the entire home, beautiful in its upscale simplicity. Each piece of furniture and décor seemed to be one that had been carefully collected and selected with an eye toward comfort to make a guest feel at home. I slept like a baby and woke to a delightful and delicious breakfast of hot coffee, freshly squeezed juice, croissant, muesli and yogurt. We were very pampered and very grateful. 

Breakfast was lovely & made with care
To the right of the main house are more accommodations
Every corner has a beauty and a peacefulness  about it
After breakfast Michaela very kindly gave us a tour of the property including the various buildings and explained their use in times past. We especially like learning about the pigeonnier ( here is a link to learn more ) and touring the wine caves where for hundreds of years both wine and history were made. 
A Fascinating tour of the wine caves
     I will return La Grande Maison d'Arthenay as it now has a special place in my heart. Thanks to our gracious hosts who made my 50th birthday trip so memorable and perfect. 
The pigeonnier

inside the pigeonnier

The pigeonnier from below

 Here is a link To  La Grande Maison