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Monday, December 26, 2011

New Year's Eve at the Rogues' Harbor Inn

The Rogues' Harbor Inn has celebrated 181 New Year's Eves and the tradition continues this year as always. It's awe inspiring to think how many folks have rung in the new year in this very spot. If these wall could talk, they would have many tales to tell. But, what happens at Rogues' stays at Rogues'- an excellent tradition to continue. The magical evening is just a day away and it's a celebration we look forward to every year. The Inn is all decked out for Christmas. Everyone is smiling and relaxed. The staff is all dressed up. Lots of folks have family visiting and the guests rooms are filled with friends and relatives from all over the globe. It's all warm and fuzzy, peace on earth, love and happiness.
The chefs go all out with celebratory specials. This year we are having Chef Luke's seafood chowder, thick rich New England style with clams, crab and fresh fish. For an appetizer, he's making shrimp and Parmesan stuffed artichoke hearts. They are definitely on my quality control list for sampling. Then for an entree special Luke is preparing a crab crusted sirloin steak: 10 oz Prime aged sirloin topped with an herb crumb and cheese imperial crab stuffing. Again, I will be sampling. Quality control is imperative. Finally for dessert we're having a peppermint and dark chocolate Napoleon with raspberry sauce. I know... Pete Panek will be playing in the pub from 8 pm till midnight. Nothing makes an evening out or a round of cocktails more special than someone strumming on a guitar and belting out a few sing-alongs. And last, but not least, a complimentary champagne toast at midnight- actually local Finger Lakes sparkling wine.
It's winter in the Finger Lakes, cold, a little snowy, but breath-takingly beautiful. The holidays are my favorite time of year to cozy up by the fire with friends and family, take our time with dinner. Maybe start with local cheeses, roasted chestnuts and wine. Enjoy a luscious steak, a sinful dessert, and a traditional toast,"Here's to a harbor of rogues'!"
Happy New Year to our fellow rogues' and many, many more.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Brewer's Choice Holiday Craft Brew at Rogues'

Several weeks ago we were in the brewery, working on our Scottish Winter ale. It was one of those brew sessions where a bunch of little thing conspired to make it a longer night than it needed to be. Then we looked outside to see the first snow of the season slowly coming down. Something seemed right about that and it lifted our spirits to continue brewing and get the beer in the fermenter. The brewhouse smelled of holiday spices by the time we were cleaning up and we were eagerly anticipating when the brew would be ready!
So now you may be wondering what exactly is a winter or holiday ale? While there are no hard and fast rules about what makes up this type of beer, they are generally of an amber color or darker, higher in alcohol, and with some variety of spice. They are a beer meant to flush the face and warm the spirit on the cold winter nights. Brewing with spices is certainly nothing new. Before hops became a standard part of beer many varieties of spices were used for flavor. Even after the common use of hops there were many styles of beer that employed other things to create the character to the beer. Prior to the days of refrigeration and cheap over night shipping people relied on what was at hand. Licorice, spruce tips, coriander, and many other spices were employed to give a pleasing flavor to the beer. In a way winter beers are a throwback to long forgotten styles of beer. Because of this the design and flavor of the beer is open to interpretation by the brewer leading to a great variety. They run the gamut from not using any spices, to being spice forward where it dominates the flavor.
For our beer we went with a good Scotch ale base recipe, keeping it nice and simple but with a full malt body. We used only a slight hint of hops to give a touch of bitterness to balance against the higher alcohol content of the beer. Then we added spices such as cinnamon, nutmeg, and clove. The spices come through strongly in the nose of the beer, but are somewhat mellowed by the character of the European malts that make up the recipe. It leans toward the sweet side of things and many who don't enjoy traditional beer flavors may find this brew to be right up their alley. It certainly is a holiday treat that can be enjoyed on its own, or paired with dessert to give a satisfying finish to a delicious meal.The scottish holiday ale is expected to pour next week, so stop in, take a break from Christmas shopping at the Ithaca Mall, sit by the fire and a have a pint.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Continued Cranberry Obsession- Cranberry Sangria Recipe

We love cranberries. It's a fact. There is no better time of year than the holidays to fully indulge our craving for cranberries.
The fall-winter dinner menu has a few cranberry inspired dishes. Our new Empire State Flat bread is glazed with an Empire apple & cranberry reduction then topped with melted NYS cheddar. The Herb Crusted Pork Tenderloin is served over the apple cranberry reduction as well. This very evening our Seasonal Wonton Ravioli is duck breast with caramelized onion & fresh cranberry. It's to die for.
Even our overnight guests in the Bed & Breakfast are enjoying the colorful native fruit with which we are so obsessed. We make a multi-grain French toast with a cranberry maple compote. The entire building smells like Christmas bread. Breakfast service ends at 10:30 am and I'm standing by promptly begging for leftovers. It's as beautiful as it is flavorful. The contrast of the bright red berries in the rich, dark maple compote reminds me of bright red Christmas decorations and dark mahogany.
Christmas Eve we will be offering specials featuring our favorite berry along with some cranberry mulled wine. I will again be begging to take home any leftovers...The week of Thanksgiving was no exception for cranberry inspired drinks and dishes (and begging...) either. Barkeep Michelle made this cranberry sangria. It's so wonderful; it's dangerous.

Cranberry Sangria:
a fruit-forward red wine like Beaujolais or Zinfandel is best, we used NYS's Hazlitt Red Cat

2 cups fresh or frozen cranberries
1 cup sugar
1 cup water
1 bottle of red wine (750 ml)
1/2 cup brandy
1 cup OJ
garnish with cranberries & orange slices

1. Bring cranberries, sugar & water to a boil in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 5 minutes or until cranberries pop. Pour mixture through a mesh strainer into a large pitcher, using the back of a spoon to squeeze out the juice. Discard solids.

2. Stir in wine, brandy and OJ. Chill at least 2 hours (overnight is best). Yield 6 cups

Happy Holidays from Everyone at the Rogues' Harbor Inn in the winter wonderland of the Finger Lakes.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Writing about Rogues'

We blog. We tweet. We facebook. It's big fun. However, when the on line writing began, I (that would be E, owner, operator, occasional writer) made a promise to self not to post anything negative, or any personal political or religious views. Writing is personal for me no matter the subject and sometimes this is not any easy promise to keep. Sarcastic thoughts creep in. I could have some fun with a Bourdainesque witty blog or espouse my views on the global economic plague, but no. No bitter rants here. The hardest to resist is writing about people. There's an abundance inappropriate material, yet I manage to keep my word.
The very best and the very worst aspect of operating a restaurant, microbrewery and inn is the people. Staff and customers alike are 99.9% wonderful and .01% ...well you know, difficult. Our staff is a tight knit group of hard working team players that generally love one another, but occasionally feel like killing each other, kind of like an actual family. They often provide way too much information. Late night stories from the drunken evening before, shopping expeditions, self loathing, dating nightmares, family's all shared for better or for worse. The male servers are especially horrified by the education they receive while prepping for the dinner rush. I think the female staffers are saving the male staffers from making some painful dating errors. One, "big" is a word never to be directed towards a woman you like, ever. Two, inviting a woman to your apartment to see your pet snake is a conversation that will never end well, even if you really do have a pet snake. All learned while filling salt and pepper shakers and setting tables. Those are extremely tame examples, but you get the idea. Then there's battles over covering shifts, who's making more money, who's hooking up with whom, who's taking the wrong order from the kitchen and serving it! and then the immediate colorful screaming, utensil throwing tirade from the chefs (which is entirely deserved by the way). It's all great fodder for twitter, but alas i must keep it clean and positive. It's a tall order, but i persevere. Customers too can really make or break our day. Most are wonderful- they enjoy the history, the food, the beer, the cushy rooms, the friendly staff... While a few have legitimate complaints, others are just plain nuts. We are left to sort it all out. Some drink a bit too much, and possibly shouldn't tell us about their about their recent cross dressing escapades. Others are just clearly under medicated and shouldn't be out in public. And the worst is a mid dinner break up. Really, you couldn't have held on 20 more minutes and let the poor guy cry it out in the car instead of in the middle of a crowded restaurant? Again, more fabulous facebook stories. But, not the right thing to do, so I refrain. I have an iron will.
Instead, we write about what we're cooking: fresh local foods, yummy specials, and new menu offerings. We write about what we are brewing, local hops, and future brewing ideas. We write about re-decorating rooms, what we are serving for breakfast and cool places our guests are visiting: Ithaca Farmer's Market, the Cayuga Wine Trail, Sapsucker Woods, the Finger Lakes Beer & Cheese Trails... It's rarely insightful, I know, but hopefully informative and sometimes funny, because that's us.
We cook. We brew. We welcome overnight guests. It's all about what we do and where we live. Someday, I'll write the hilarious tell-all. But for now, whether you work here, eat & drink here or you're visiting- what happens at Rogues', stays at Rogues'. But, one day some of you will have your own chapter. You know who you are. :)

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Oktoberfest Comes to Rogues Harbor!

The German Oktoberfest may have officially ended October 3rd, but at Rogues we're just gearing up for some Fest spirit of our own. Sometime this week we will begin pouring our next Brewers Choice beer, an Oktoberfest inspired ale! While a traditional German Oktoberfest beer is of the lager variety and spend a good deal of time lagering before being served we're making use of an ale yeast that was more comfortable fermenting in our current climate. We've used much the same malt and hops that you'll find in a German beer, and we think you're going to really like the result.

So what exactly is Oktoberfest all about? The festival began as a wedding celebration for Crown Prince Ludwig and Princess Therese of Saxony-Hildburghausen(say that one three times fast.. Or try saying it even just once!). A few years later they moved the date from the middle of October to the beginning of September to have a chance at better weather for the festival. They also incorporated a celebration of the harvest in to the festival; the Munich citizens would celebrate their fortunes of harvest prior to the coming of winter. Overtime Oktoberfest has spread from Munich and the rest of Germany to a world wide celebration of beer, especially German lagers. A true Oktoberfest beer is one that has been brewed in the city limits of Munich and then designated as an Oktoberfest beer. Many breweries throughout the world brew their own Fest beers at this time, often calling them Oktoberfest beers as an homage to the Munich brewing tradition.

At Rogues we will celebrate the tradition of giving thanks to bountiful harvests, good friendships, and tasty beer with our Fest beer brewed right here in the heart of the Finger Lakes. I've been told to be on the lookout for some menu items fittingly designed to go with our newest beer and to help everyone celebrate a piece of German tradition and history in a Centeal New  York style!


Friday, September 30, 2011

Rogues' Autumn Finger Lakes Dinner Menu

Nights are getting cooler, the days are getting shorter, school is back in session & the leaves are beginning to change. It must be time for our fall menu. The end of summer is a bit sad, and I dread taking some summery offerings off the menu. Summer will be back and so will some of those warm weather dinners. Until then, I do love fall, rich savory flavors, hearty stews & comfort foods. I have to admit I've missed my sweaters. It's time to bundle up, wrap your hands around a steaming cup of hot cider and try a few new Finger Lakes offerings at Rogues'. We, E & Chef Luke, have discovered a few more local ingredients recently which inspired us this fall.
When we offered food pairings with our last Brewer's Choice, Farmhouse Ale, we tried a free range, organic Cornish game hen from Shannon Brook Farm in Watkins Glen, NY. Chef Luke roasted it with fresh rosemary & sea salt, maybe a touch of butter, too. It was a little gamey, as the name suggests, sort like a cross between chicken & duck. It was soooo... good. We decided that very night it was a keeper for the fall line up. Our suggested pairing is Goosewatch Pinot Grigio or Victory Prima Pils.
We also tried some elk  Italian style sausage from Mariah Farm in Virgil, NY. Chef Luke will be preparing the elk sausage with local butternut squash risotto. Did I mention that he makes really good risotto. Not too crunchy, not too mushy, in the words of Goldy Locks, " This one's just right." We are suggesting Palmer Merlot or our own Route 34 Red Ale with my new favorite menu item.
Next up, is the new Three Cheese Tofu Parmesan. Fresh local Ithaca tofu breaded and baked with a trio of local cheeses and our own marinara. I am not a big tofu fan, but i have to say it's pretty good. I'll still have the chicken Parmesan, but this is Ithaca and there are lots of folks who aren't carnivorous.  We make a mean back burger for them as well. It's spicy like a meatless bean burger should be.
Just like it's OK to wear white after labor day, it's OK to have a salad for dinner after labor day. So, we have added the Maple Butternut Salad. It has mixed baby greens, roasted butternut squash, red onion, Finger Lakes Farmstead Bier Meck cheese, toasted pumpkin seeds & a maple vinaigrette dressing. Lots of fresh local components complimenting one another.Uber Finger Lakes fresh.
We are proud to announce the triumphant return of our Finger Lakes Beef Stew. It was on the menu last fall & winter and I've missed it. It's country inn comfort food at it's finest. The beef is from the organic Black Angus Will-Sho farm in King Ferry, NY. So flavorful, and we stew it in a traditional red wine & fresh herb broth along with potatoes, onions & carrots- simple, but good. I always save a crust of bread to soak up any extra sauce.
As you know we love New York State apples, too. Crisp & refreshing, they make a nice counterpoint to savory flavors. Our roasted pork tenderloin is now being served with a chunky apple cranberry sauce. Our flat bread appetizer is as well, topped with melted cheddar. It's another traditional pairing, but in the words of many a country folk, "Don't fix it, if it ain't broke." We agree. Who doesn't love apples with pork or cheddar cheese? As always we have our Finger Lakes Harvest appetizer and the Big Apple Salad which feature local apples fresh cut 30 seconds before the dish leaves the kitchen.
Apples, squash, elk, Angus beef, Cornish game hen, Bier Meck cheese... fall harvest is here in the Finger Lakes and we're feeling pretty happy about it.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Locavore Drink Specials in the Heart of the Finger Lakes

Rogues' Harbor Inn has always been a devotee of all things local: NY wines, NY craft brews, Cortland apples, Finger Lakes cheeses, Finger Lakes beef, fresh corn, tomatoes, herbs, berries, squash... all from right down the road. We love it all. What's not to love about fresh produce grown nearby by folks in your own community who care about what they're growing & selling to their neighbors. A fresh locally sourced meal complimented by a local beverage is the epitome of just being where you are, and the Finger Lakes is a lush & delicious place to be.
Beverages are important here at Rogues', aka the Harbor. We've always been proud of serving only New York State wines, expanding into New York State craft brews, then our own brews, and now we've found a number of local distillers. Jack pot. Finger Lakes Distilling in Watkins Glen distills all their spirits from Finger Lakes grapes. Seneca Drums gin is very junipery & cucumbery, uber refreshing. I also love the Maple Jack, especially in a cup of freshly brewed Gimme coffee (from Ithaca). Finger Lakes Distilling's Mckenzie Rye (named for the owner & the distiller, not related- some things are just meant to be) is my husband's favorite. It's oh so smooth, even Martha Stewart thinks so. One lake over to the East is Hidden Marsh Distillery at the Montezuma Winery on Cayuga. They distill their Bee vodka from honey. It's really good.
Our drink special lists always vary with the season. Nothing surprising about frozen drinks in the summer and hot, spiced drinks in the winter. But, this fall we've begun the addition & from this day forward tradition of making sure that every seasonal featured drink on the list contains at least one local component. Here's this season's line up.

Hot NYS Cider & Rum
Local cider served hot with Capt. Morgan’s spiced rum  

I NY Coffee
Maple Jack liqueur by Finger Lakes Distilling & fresh brewed coffee by Gimme of Ithaca   

Love Potion #9
Red Cat wine by Hazlitt with vodka, served up

Niagara Falls
Apple vodka with maple jack liqueur by Finger Lakes Distilling, lemon juice,
triple sec & ginger ale    

Blueberry Cobbler 
Blueberry Port by Duck Walk Vineyard, triple sec, club soda  

Bleu Stuffed Martini
Seneca Drums gin by Finger Lakes Distilling with Bleu cheese stuffed olive & dry vermouth 

Garlic Stuffed Martini
Seneca Drums Gin by Finger Lakes Distilling with  a garlic stuffed olive & dry vermouth  

Honey Gingertini
Honey distilled vodka by Montezuma Distilling with dry vermouth, a splash of
ginger ale & candied ginger

McKenzie Rye
McKenzie Rye from Finger Lakes Distilling served on the rocks, unpolluted 

At the risk of sounding preachy, how you choose to spend your hard earned money really matters. You can have a great time and support your local economy at the same time by eating and drinking local Finger Lake's food & drink. It's a win win. Bottoms up!

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Cranberry Obsession at the Rogues' Harbor Inn

The anticipation of crisp mornings and fall colors make me crave cranberries. I love cranberries- cranberry sauce, cranberry juice, cranberry bread, cranberry relish.... The list goes on and apparently the cranberry has been beloved in North America since long before the circa 1830's National Historic Landmark, Rogues' Harbor Inn was even an idea. Native Americans have been using cranberries in cooking and for dyeing fabric since at least the 1550's. Today there are over a million barrels of cranberries harvested each autumn.
The Cape Cod Cranberry Growers' Association, founded in 1888, is oldest farming association in the U.S. They have a great web site,, and the following brief history is theirs.

"The cranberry, along with the blueberry and Concord grape, is one of North America's three native fruits that are commercially grown. Cranberries were first used by Native Americans, who discovered the wild berry's versatility as a food, fabric dye and healing agent.
The name "cranberry" derives from the Pilgrim name for the fruit, "craneberry", so called because the small, pink blossoms that appear in the spring resemble the head and bill of a Sandhill crane. European settlers adopted the Native American uses for the fruit and found the berry a valuable bartering tool. American whalers and mariners carried cranberries on their voyages to prevent scurvy.
In 1816, Captain Henry Hall became the first to successfully cultivate cranberries.
He noticed that the wild cranberries in his bogs grew better when sand blew over them. Captain Hall began transplanting his cranberry vines, fencing them in, and spreading sand on them himself. When others heard of Hall's technique, it was quickly copied. Continuing throughout the 19th century, the number of growers increased steadily.
Normally, growers do not have to replant since an undamaged cranberry vine will survive indefinitely. Some vines in Massachusetts are more than 150 years old.
In addition to Massachusetts, the major growing areas for cranberries are New Jersey, Oregon, Washington, Wisconsin, and in the Canadian provinces of British Columbia and Quebec. Additional regions with cranberry production include Delaware, Maine, Michigan, New York, Rhode Island, as well as the Canadian provinces of New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Ontario and Prince Edward Island. "

Growing up in and around New England I have had the privilege of sampling lots of cranberry recipes.
Our fall & winter dinner menu always boasts several cranberry inspired offerings and this fall is no different. Here's one of my favorites that we serve at the Inn for over night guests in the Bed & Breakfast for a little old fashioned New England flavor brought to the heart of the Finger Lakes.

Cranberry Orange Bread
makes one 9" or 10" loaf

3 cups flour
3 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup dried cranberries
1 egg
1 cup milk
1/3 cup orange juice
2 tablespoons orange zest
1/2 cup vegetable oil

In a large bowl mix the dry ingredients. Toss in the cranberries and stir them around till they are coated (keeps them from sinking in batter while baking)
In another bowl beat the egg, then add remaining ingredients. Combine this liquid mixture with the dry mixture, stirring just enough to moisten all ingredients.
Turn into a well greased 9" or 10" bread pan and bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 1 hour and 20 minutes. Cool in the pan for 5 minutes, then turn out onto a cooling rack. Cool completely before slicing.

Post Script- I've made some pretty amazing french toast with this bread....

Happy Fall from everyone at the Rogues' Harbor Inn, Ithaca, NY, Heart of the Finger Lakes

Monday, August 29, 2011

Farmhouse Ales

Those astute readers who recently noticed our list of upcoming Brewer's Choice beer styles knows that the next one up is a Saison (French for "season"), also known as a Farmhouse Ale. Your first reaction might have been, "Cool!" shortly followed by "What's a saison?" Saison's originated in France and Belgium, and were made popular in the Flemmish region. They were the origianl working class beer - made on farms so that the workers would have beer to drink after long days of toiling in the fields. Every farm brewed it's own and it was made from seasonally available ingredients (hence the name). While saisons were originated in Europe, their popularity there has waned over the years as stronger Abbey style ales have become the popular drink of the region. It's the American craft brewer that has been instrumental in reviving the styles. It's becoming more common, especially on the East Coast, to have a couple of these beers in your lineup, whether seasonal or year round.

So how is the style best described? This is one of the hardest styles to nail down. Perhaps you've had one before, but just because you've had a couple doesn't mean you're close to having a grasp of what to expect. When Farmhouse ales were small batch brewed with what was on hand at the farm the beer itself would run a gamut of flavors with each batch being different than ones before it based on what was available. Typically they were lower alcohol beer as they were meant as a good thirst quencher after a hard day of labor in the fields. The beer tends towards a dry crispness that gives a palate cleansing finish. The flavor can sometimes have a peppery, or coriander spiciness to it. A lot of that character comes from the yeasts that are used to ferment the saison. Since the original style was brewed before there was an understanding of yeast, the yeast was a wild strain that would be fermented at the ambient temperature which would go fairly high in the summer, much higher than one would traditionally ferment even most style of ales. These higher fermentation tempatures led to the production of lots of phenols which is where the spicy character comes from. Some modern brewery will add their own blend of spices to compliment the dryness of the beer. Some Saisons tend towards a golden straw color while others might be an amber or light brown. It will depend on the malts that the brewer used. Some of the darker malts can add a subtle sweetness, or very light caramel flavor to give a balance to the dryness. Some of paler styles of this beer will finish out bone dry and can give a bitter perception that some describe as crisp, or tart.

Here at Rogues Harbor we've been inspired by a Belgian-esque style of Saison. We selected Belgian malts and European hops along with a Belgian strain of yeast to makes ours. The fermentation will be uncontrolled; unlike with our other beers we're just fermenting this one at whatever the natural temperature of the brewhouse. These elevated temperatures along with a bit of fluctuation will help create the unique spicy character. The yeast will ferment out nearly all the sugars in the beer leaving it very dry, and lighter body. This beer will be very easy drinking, but have a depth of complexity to it that will keep you examining each and every sip. Look for this beer to arrive early in September.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Eat Dessert First!

I drove past Purity ice cream not too long ago and their sign read, "Eat dessert first, life is short." I couldn't agree with them more. Many folks, including myself, plan ahead and have half of their dinner boxed to take home in order to save room for dessert. Planning ahead a little is wise, especially here at Rogues' Harbor where the portions are generous and the desserts are made right here.
One of the hall marks of Finger Lakes cooking is fresh, local, gardeny ingredients like herbs, greens, berries, apples... We love it all and a couple of our country inn desserts feature wild berries, apples and local ice cream. Our wild berry cobbler is a big summer seller. It has strawberries, black berries & blueberries with a shortbread biscuit. In the fall, our apple crisp takes over as the most popular dessert. It has a touch of maple and a brown sugar crumbled topping. A scoop of vanilla bean ice cream melting over the top is too wonderful to resist. Our richer desserts are crowd pleasers too, chocolate peanut butter pie and triple chocolate cheesecake. They're perfect to share.
Every good dessert menu, especially in the Ithaca area, should offer a sundae.  Of course, Rogues' does. Ithaca is the birth place & home of the old fashioned favorite ice cream Sundae. It's true. We make ours in an edible waffle bowl with hot fudge or caramel, whipped cream & a cherry. We call it the Ithaca Sundae...
There are several cities claiming to have invented the sundae, but Ithaca actually has written documentation from 1892 discovered by Ithaca High School students, Meredith Buchberg and Laura Willemsen. They spent 6 months working as Corson Fellow interns at The History Center in Tompkins County in 2007, researching online data bases and physical archives to discover the "Sundae Truth." They researched and uncovered the below information to back up Ithaca's claim as "The Birthplace of the Sundae."
Michael Turback, Ithaca resident, restaurant guru & gifted writer, published a book, "A Month of Sundaes, Ithaca's Gift to the World." Sundaes truly are a gift to the world & there are few desserts that could not be improved by adding a big scoop of ice cream. We even serve a Blond Bombshell which is a pint of our own Cayuga Cream Ale with a big scoop of vanilla bean ice cream!
So, Live it up, life is short- Eat Dessert First.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Finger Lakes Fresh Breakfasts at the Rogues' Harbor Inn

Bed and Breakfasts have two components, beds and breakfasts. It seems obvious, but not everyone gets it. It's a simple concept, and simple is good. Inns, B&Bs and smaller lodging establishments specialize in unique decor, cushy beds, personal service and yummy hot breakfasts.
We place comment cards in all our rooms to be sure our guests love everything, see if they have ideas, concerns or God forbid complaints. We read them all. We get high marks generally, especially for decor, room size, comfy beds, nice flat screen TVs, Wifi,... A few comment cards have yielded some needed amenities like: room darkening shades, bath salts, full length mirrors, more hooks in the bathrooms,... We appreciate the ideas. Breakfast, however, doesn't always receive high marks- just good or OK. We aim much higher than that.
So, this week our historic ballroom where we serve breakfast to our B&B guests got a make over. We put in smaller individual tables instead large family style tables (a comment card suggestion- thank you) and decorated them with checked clothes and McKenzie Child's place mats. Each table will be served their own French press Gimme coffee & fresh fruit plate while we prepare the main course breakfast offering. We'll offer a buffet style display or cereals, homemade scones & cinnamon rolls, and juices as well. Then the main course.
Today, Chef Luke and I conjured up a whole new set of breakfast offerings for the lodging guests at the inn. We still love quiche, but we will also be preparing roast beef hash with thinly sliced beef browned with potatoes, peppers, onions, fresh rosemary... and topped with a fried egg. Oh and, Flat breads topped with scrambled eggs, fresh herbs, bacon, & melted cheddar cheese. My personal favorite, French Toast made with whole grain bread, fresh berries & yogurt, not overly sweet and quite good.
Lots of fresh, local Finger Lakes ingredients prepared in new ways. We buy free range, organic eggs from an Amish family, their homemade breads & jams are a must as well, cheeses from Lively Run, Keeley's & Finger Lakes Farmstead, yogurt from Chobani, fresh herbs and vegetables from the Ithaca Farmer's Market.
We're pleased to be offering some fresh & different breakfasts for our guests. It's a great way to start a glorious Finger Lakes day.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Beer 101: Yeast

The third post in our look at the brewing ingredients takes a look at yeast. I saved yeast for last as it is the most important ingredient in the brewing process. It is said as brewers our chief job is making a happy and comfortable environment for the yeast, and that it is the yeast that does all the hard work. That's not all that far off. The process of fermentation does more than just convert sugars in to alcohols. Yeast can contribute to the flavor of the beer, it can make a beer light and dry, or heavy, or even a touch of sweetness. If the environment isn't right for the beer it can cause bad flavors, or even halt the fermentation entirely.

There are many different types of yeast. The yeast used in beer, Saccharomyces cerevisiae, isn't simply the bread yeast that you grab on the shelf of your local grocery store. It's a yeast that is well suited to tolerate continued fermentation in the presence of alcohol, and provides a range of complimentary flavors for the beer. Could you ferment with some other yeast like a cheap bread yeast? Well technically some fermentation will occur, but the yeast will likely halt the fermentation process early on, and one can only imagine the types of flavors this yeast might end up producing while metabolizing the sugars.

Speaking of metabolizing, the main function of the yeast is to consume the sugars in the wort (the proto beer, the liquid we have after extracting the sugars from our grains) and produce the by products of alcohol and CO2. That sounds pretty straight forward, but it's not quite as easy that. If the temperature is too high your yeast can start producing "off flavors", creating types of alcohol with very unpleasant tastes. If your temperatures are too cold your yeast could fall out of the beer before it's finished fermenting leaving you with very little alcohol and a sweet malty flavor. The ideal temperature can very based on the strain of Saccharomyces cerevisiae used. That's right, there's more than just one single strain of beer yeasts. There are hundreds that are employed commercially today. Each of these strains has their own ideal fermentation ranges so its important to know about your yeast.

Yeast also does more than just simple fermentation. The types of byproducts  that it creates can contribute favorable flavors to your beer. Some yeasts are known as "clean" which simply means that they don't lend characteristics to the flavor of the beer; they let the malt and hops shine through completely. Some yeasts can add a slight fruit like after taste to the beer, some a peppery taste, some a big bready taste. The point is yeast is more than simply the conduit through which beer gets its alcohol. It's the biggest and most important piece of the beer puzzle even though it is the least publicized of beer ingredients.

So that's a look at the third major ingredient in beer, and wraps up nicely a little primer about how the different attributes all work together to make a tasty beverage. Come to Rogues' Harbor Inn in the heart of NY's Finger Lake regions and try our brews for yourself and see if you can pick out all the various flavors and aspects of the beer!

Monday, August 1, 2011

TOP TEN Things I Love about the East Shore of Cayuga

Sunset on the eastern shore of Cayuga Lake, Lansing, NY (on my  iPhone)

 I don't think my Top Ten is in any special order. In fact, the order could change nearly everyday depending on my outlook.

1. Wildly Colorful Sunsets every night

You can drive Route 13/34 North up from Ithaca towards Aurora; East Shore Drive offers some spectacular views or you can stop at Meyers Park or Long Point Park to view the stunning exit of the sun's last rays.

2. The Lake, Cayuga that is

Swim, boat, walk the shore, soak up some sun, go fishing, hunt for fossils... It's all good.

3. Wine

We are right ON the Cayuga Wine Trail. Just 10- 15 minutes from the Rogues' Harbor Inn: King Ferry (Treleaven) Winery, Long Point Winery, Bet the Farm, Heart & Hands Winery... There is never a shortage of Finger Lakes Riesling or any other wine in these parts.

4. Good Food

But not just good food, interesting places to kick back and soak up some atmosphere. From formal to swim trunks casual Cayuga's east shore has some don't miss stops. The restaurant at the Rogues' Harbor Inn is on list, but we send guests out into the wilderness armed with a compass & a credit card (and good directions) to places like The Fargo, Pumpkin Hill Bistro & The Aurora Inn. All different, but really good- and pretty easy to find.

5. Microbreweries & Brew Pubs

We have 3 so far and I feel like a trend has emerged. There will be more, probably soon. So, the three close by right now are: Ithaca Beer Company, Band Wagon Brew Pub, & our own Rogues' Harbor Brewing Company.

6. Proximity to Cornell University, Ithaca College & Wells College

Not all locals would agree, the Universities bring a lot of traffic to the area, but all the good far outweighs the traffic. I love having the world at my finger tips and having them close by really offers a lot. World class art exhibits at the Johnson Museum, well tended gardens at Cornell Plantations, concerts at Bailey Hall, lectures all over the three campuses, dance & theatre...I love it all.

7. Farms & Local Producers

We buy a lot of local wine, beer, cheese, apples, eggs, jams, beef, sauces, all kinds of wonderful ingredients. But my favorite by far is butter and sugar corn from Fedorka Farms just 5 minutes from the inn. Ed just started picking and we'll be serving the best corn on earth until late August or early September. We've been waiting all year for this.

8. Diversity

There are people living here from all over the world. They come because of the Universities, the Temple, the wine, the beauty, the art community, the lack of traffic and big city head aches, or they simply grew up here and were smart enough to stay...whatever the reason, it creates a good vibe.

9. Gorges & Waterfalls

There is something ethereal & soothing about waterfalls. The cool fresh air, the constant sound of the water pounding the rocks below, the lush canopy of trees lazily drooping over the bank...We have so many that some don't even have names. But, Ithaca Falls and Ludlowville Falls are my two close by favorites.

10. Sublime Beauty

Every single day I have a scenic drive to work or wherever I happen to be going. Rolling hills, lake views, lush vegetation, ever changing with the seasons yet somehow remaining the same. Spectacular fall foliage, stark winters with pristine white snow, jubilant flowering fruit trees come spring and glorious summer- green, leafy, fresh smelling sunshine reflecting off the water, they're all gentle reminders to work a little less and enjoy life a little more.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Finger Lakes Summer Recipe

Some dishes just say summer. A group of us (managers, chef & owner) from the Rogues' Harbor Inn took a summer wine tour by boat last week. We had an entire day of sun, wine, and creative food pairings all around Cayuga Lake. It was the perfect summer day for a pack of foodies.
First stop was Long Point Winery in Aurora. They served us outside over looking the water. It was like sipping wine at a hilltop chateau- they have one of the best winery lake views on Cayuga. We had 6 or 7 courses with wine pairings. All were just amazing, but three stood out for me. We sampled aged cheddar with their Reserve Chardonnay, BBQ beef with their Syrah and my personal favorite blueberry cheesecake with their Vidal Blanc. It was paradise.
Second stop was Sheldrake Point in Ovid. We've all been there many times, but couldn't pass by without stopping. I tried their Late Harvest Riesling and the staff tried a few of their reserves. As always, we were not disappointed.
Last stop was Buttonwood Grove Winery in Romulus. None of us had been there before and we were pleasantly surprised by what we found. It was a picturesque farmstead winery with vineyards, fields, pond, Scottish Shetland cow & goats, and a cabin like tasting room. The owner was funny and friendly and more than happy to continuously fill our glasses. We tried  local cheddar curds with an Estate Chardonnay, spinach salad with fresh raspberries paired with Cayuga Lake Mist ( a 100% Cayuga White wine) and the very best, truly, was their Cabernet Franc with wine marinated watermelon. It just epitomized the day. It was refreshing, summery happy food. They were kind enough to share their chef's recipe. So, we're passing it along with high marks and offering it as evidence that really good food doesn't have to be complicated. Simple is good. So soak up some sun, put your toes in the water and have some watermelon. It's that simple. That's summer in the Finger Lakes.

Cabernet Franc Fruit Marinade:

1  cup Buttonwood Cabernet Franc
1/2  cup sugar
1  3" cinnamon stick
1  tablespoon distilled white vinegar
1  tablespoon Balsamic vinegar
8  whole cloves
Mix all ingredients in saucepan & bring to a boil. Turn down to a simmer for 10 minutes. Strain dressing & refrigerate till cold. Serve over melon (or berries).

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Brewing 101: Malt

In what seems like forever now (apologies for the long absence) we took a look at what role hops played in the brewing process. This time around we're going to take a good look at what malt brings to the concoction that is beer.

The majority of malt used in brewing is a malted barley. The short form of how it's created is that the barley is wetted and allowed to germinate before being dried. The drying process used, and varying degrees of heat will help to create malt ranging from light, grainy malt, to deeply roasted bitter malts. While barley isn't the only malted grain used in brewing (malted wheat and rye are also used in some brews), it is the most prominent one.

Malt is the backbone of beer, it contributes to flavor, color, and the body of the beer. The base malt, that is the malt that makes up the bulk of the malt used in your beer, is going to help you get the bulk of your fermentables. Most base malts are lighter in color as the more deeply you roast your grain the more you burn off the starches (these are what get converted to sugars during the brewing process). There are, however, several processes used in the malting of these lighter malts, not to mention where the grain was grown, that give different characteristics to every type of base malt. This is the malt upon which the beer is being built, so like every other ingredient a lot goes into selecting the particular malt as it will also be the malt nearly all your beers will be built upon.

The specialty malts are the ones which are used to fine tune your beers. A beer with a single malt can be good, but it will be rather one dimensional. Specialty malts will add character to your beer. Many of the lighter speciality malts will give nice toasty or biscuity characteristics to the beer. There are also malts known as caramel (sometimes also referred to as crystal) malts which range from fairly light, to darker red in color. They are created by a special stewing process that creates a sugar inside the hull of the grain. The darker caramel ones are then dried at great temperatures which creates the stronger caramel flavors that this type of grain is named for. Some of them can contribute flavors ranging from raisin like to plum like flavors. Most of the sugars they give off are fairly unfermentable so they can give a slight sweetness to the beer. They also will give the beer red colors that can range from just a slight tint, to a dark ruby hue depending on how dark and how much of the malt is used. The darkest malts are the roasted ones. These malts, even in fairly small amounts can contribute very dark colors to the beer. They also give flavors that range from chocolate like flavoring, to a strong coffee character, and some of the heaviest roasted malts give a very astringent bitter taste. These ones are used sparingly as you want them to primarily contribute to the color of your beer.

There are many different malters who have their own techniques, special roasts, and all sorts of tricks up their sleeves for bringing some unique characteristic to the beer. It's easy to become greatly overwhelmed by the varieties and can take a lot of research and experimentation to find just the right combination to obtain the flavor and color profiles that you are looking for in your beer. For me, however, the best part of brewing is how the processs of using the malt fills the brewery with those sweet grain aromas. It's one of my favorite smells in the world.

Next time we'll take a look at yeast and what it brings to the brewing process.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Fun, Fun, Fun

We had a boisterous crowd at the Rogues' Harbor Inn restaurant tonight and we liked it. It always makes us happy to know for certain that everyone is enjoying themselves- smiling faces, uproarious laughter, plates licked clean, more drinks for everyone...In the Bed & Breakfast we had a big family here for a reunion, a few other guests here for high school reunions and some wedding revelers. Really nice folks enjoying each other's company, a generous dinner, a few drinks and some well told stories.
The stories are a bonus for us. We love meeting everyone, making sure they're well fed and watered, and catching a few tales of big fun. Over the years, listening to deeds of misadventure, a scale has evolved in my mind. The "fun" scale reveals the level of planning required for the Rogues' happy hour, dinner, Finger Lakes wine tour, microbrewery visit, pub crawl, concert weekend, canoe trip... and the craziness of the antics anticipated. There are always those that choose to fly by the seat of their pants, but there are some real planners among us this evening and they have some tales to tell.

Level One: Shut off the cell phone
Level Two: Designate a driver- always prudent
Level Three: Ladies bring second pair of comfy  shoes for late night, Men always ready
Level Four: Stock up on Tylenol or alka seltzer
Level Five: Ladies shave legs, wear matching bra & undies, Men always ready
Level Six: Bring an entire extra set of clothes & a tooth brush
Level Seven: Create an elaborate alias: name, hometown, profession, family
Level Eight:  Hide your wallet and valuables
Level Nine: Book a room, no really book room
Level Ten: Bring enough cash to post bail
Level Ten Plus (from @brewcuse on twitter): Have the DA's or your lawyer's number on speed dial
I promise that we have heard each of these pre-celebratory preparations in a story. Level Ten I was just made aware of this evening and I think that it is totally over the top. My husband was in the Merchant Marine for 20 plus years and when i told him about Level Ten he was not surprised in the slightest. In fact, when he worked as a Chief Mate on several ships it was on his check list of pre-departure duties to account for all crew. If any were missing he was to take some cash (set aside just for this eventuality) and go post bail for the missing revellers stuck on shore.
The Inn was named for a harbor of rogues and we love a good time. So if you want to head to Ithaca, the Heart of the Finger Lakes for some fun, sun, Cayuga wineries & microbreweries, hiking, maybe live music in a pub or at Grass Roots festival, this is the place for you. But if your preparations exceed Level Six, maybe you'd better head to Vegas. Bring some friends and family and live it up- and bring your best stories. We love a good bed time story.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Independence Day in the Heart of the Finger Lakes

I've always been a big fan of the 4th of July. What's not to like about celebrating our nation's independence with beer, BBQ  and fire works. It's hard to come to the Finger Lakes and the Rogues' Harbor Inn and not reflect on history and maybe what or who makes us the most proud. Independence- the individuals right to the pursuit of life, liberty and happiness is worth celebrating. I think part of that celebration should acknowledge the free thinkers and brave souls who risked all to allow us the freedom we enjoy everyday.
There are so many important historic figures and sites in the Finger Lakes that it's hard to choose which make the top of my list. The Rogues' Harbor Inn and the Finger Lakes region have much to celebrate and many to acknowledge, but here are my top picks. General Daniel D. Minier built the inn and I owe him much for that. It took him 12 years to complete and was his greatest achievement. But greater to me was his willingness to risk it as well as his own freedom in order to take part in the underground railroad's efforts to aid escaped slaves in their journey to freedom. It is rumoured that at one time there was a tunnel leading from the Rogues' Harbor Inn (then known as the Central Exchange Hotel) down to Cayuga Lake. We don't know if that's true, but what we do know is that General Minier was President of the Free Soil Party in Lansing and that he associated with many well documented Underground Railroad activists in the area. Furthermore, the inn was an ideal underground railroad station in that an extra delivery, carriage, servant, meal...would probably go unnoticed. It was a busy stage coach stop ideally located between Ithaca & Auburn. The entire Finger Lakes region was a hot bed of Underground Railroad activity with many documented routes. The Rogues' Harbor Inn lies precisely on one which ran from Lancaster, Pa. North to Elmira, Ithaca, Lansing, Sherwood, Auburn and onto the shores of Lake Ontario. Three well known abolitionists have their residences commemorated as museums and are well worth a visit: the Howland Museum in Sherwood, the William Henry Seward House in Auburn and my personal hero, legend, and ultimate woman of unfathomable strength, Harriet Tubman. Her homestead is in Auburn, NY just down the road from the Seward House and is open to the public for tours Seward actually sold Harriet her home & held the mortgage which was not legal at that time; yet another reason why he's on the top of my list. Another list topper is Elizabeth Cady Stanton, suffragette, free thinker, writer & gifted public speaker. Many women fought for the freedom of African Americans only to realize later that their own cause was not as clearly linked the the 13th amendment as it seemed. She and many other remarkable women are commemorated at the Women's Rights Museum in Seneca Falls
So, that's my short list of shoulders upon which I am proud to stand. Come celebrate our collective & individual independence this weekend with us in the heart of the Finger Lakes -and raise a glass to your personal hero.
Some Special  Beer & BBQ Offerings to celebrate will be served in addition to our dinner menu on Saturday, Sunday & Monday, July 2, 3 & 4:
Our first Brewer's Choice Brew! East Shore Pale Ale
Bang Bang Shrimp: deep fried with a spicy red Thai curry
BBQ Baby Back Ribs with Fries & slaw
Red, White & Blue homemade ice: strawberry, lemon & blueberry (like a grown up astropop)
Don't forget-Town of Lansing fireworks, Saturday, July 2, 2011 at Myer's Park. We will be open every night as always. Cheers to life, liberty & happiness!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Beer 101: The Hops

Hops growing
Hops just before harvest

While most people have enjoyed a beer or two in their lives, there is still some mystery as to the various ingredients in beer and how exactly they make up the different flavors. Some seem fairly straight forward, a hoppy beer, one can deduce, uses a larger quantity of hops to achieve its flavor. Though darker beers, or chocolaty beers, or some of the dry Belgian style of beer have characteristics which might not be as obvious to someone who hasn't spent a good deal of time learning about beer. I thought that maybe a little beer education 101 was in ordering and that over a few posts we'd look at some of the various ingredients of beer and take a look at exactly how they influence the shaping of the final product. First up, the hops!

I'd like to start with hops because not only are they a key component of many styles of beer, but they are also a part of New York State history. Right up until the start of the 1900's there was a thriving hop farming business throughout many parts of upstate New York (with the largest growing area being Madison county). European settlers brought hop plants with them and found the region to have a climate that was conducive to the growing of the hop vines. Since beer was a large part of both European history and culture, it seemed only natural that they should bring their brewing ways, and ingredients with them to the New World. While farmers did have to deal with a blight in the soil that damaged large portions of some hop crops it was the US government that destroyed the fledgling hop industry in New York. Prior to the enactment of Prohibition New York grew upwards of 90% of the hops used in making beer in the country. Since outside of brewing the hop plant had limited applications many farmers switched their fields to other crops in order to continue earning a living. A lot of the hop growing moved out West, primarily to Oregon and Washington and after the repeal of Prohibition that area took off as the new hop growing region for the country. While taking trips through New York back roads one can still find wild hops growing where once they flourished as a cash crop.

But what exactly is a hop? The hop is the flowering part of the humulus lupulus plant, a vine like perennial. The flowering portion, sometimes called a seed cone, is a green cone like flower that produces a sticky yellow substance known as lupulin oil. It was discovered early on that hops help in the stabilization of beers, allowing them to be transported and stored for longer periods of time without spoilage. While there is still speculation about when and where hops were first used in beer making, it was the English who most famously used them to allow the long transport of their beer by ship to their colony in India, hence the formation of the style known as India Pale Ale.

The oils in hops can contribute both to the bittering quality of the beer, as well as many different flavors and aromas. As such hop types generally break down in to two categories, bittering hops and aroma/flavoring hops. The hops added during the initial portion of the boil are used for bittering. During the long boil of the beer the essential oils in the hops break down creating a bittering flavor in the beer. Most beers, even those with very low to no perceptible bitterness will contain some amount of bittering hops. Our Cayuga Cream ale uses the bitterness from the hop to take edge of the sweetness of the malt and lend to it's crisp, relaxed finish. Aroma hops are added towards the very end of the boil. While you want to draw the oils out of the hop and in to the beer, you want to minimize how much of that oil gets broken down as it is the oils that contribute both flavors and aromas to the beer. These characteristics can range from very floral or herbal characteristics to having very earthy overtones. Some of the more popular North American hop varieties are known for their citrusy or tropical fruit like flavors and aromas.

Hop harvest drying

There have been many studies showing potential medicinal properties of hops, and in fact have been used for centuries for a range of medicinal applications such as anti-inflammatory or as an analgesic. There are even studies showing the use of hops in moderation can reduce the chance of prostate cancer. While none of these studies are conclusive they all lend to the mystique and wonder of the hop. Though for us, it's most celebrated quality is how it helps to make our Rogues' Harbor Brewing Company's beer taste so wonderful!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Father's Day Dinner at the Rogues' Harbor Inn

Father's Day is a bitter sweet holiday for me. I lost my Dad several years before I rescued the Inn, or before it rescued me. The Rogues' Harbor Inn was in rough shape, but I liked the old place and the location- Ithaca, the Heart of the Finger Lakes, Cornell University, Cayuga Wine Trail, gorges & water falls,...and over the past 15 years with much love and many renovations the Inn has come back to life. But, my father was on my mind when I opened the Inn, especially the pub. The pub encompasses his three favorite things in life.
1. wine (beer in his case), women & song, 2. steak, and 3. history.
Rogues' is really my Dad's kind of place. He loved American history; he taught it for 30 years. He would have thought that the Rogues' Harbor Inn receiving National Landmark status was best thing to happen since my birth. He would still be researching the Inn's involvement in the Underground Railroad if he were here- while drinking a pint. On second thought, maybe the opening of our own micro brewery, the Rogues' Harbor Brewing Company would have been the best thing to come along since Daddy's little girl... I think our own Cayuga Cream Ale would have been his favorite.
We will be serving up some dinner specials with Dad & a pint of beer in mind this coming Sunday, June 19 from 3 till 9 pm, rain or shine, inside or outside. It's Dad's Day.

Fish Chowder
2.50 & 3.50

Bacon Cheddar Stuffed Shrimp Appetizer
3 large shrimp cheddar stuffed & bacon wrapped 7.00

Fried Gator Tail:
lightly battered alligator tail, deep fried and served
with a Cajun remoulade sauce, French fries & coleslaw 21.00

Mushroom Smothered Delmonico:
12 oz steak grilled and smothered with sautéed wild mushrooms,
bacon & onions 22.00

Guinness Pudding:
homemade pudding with bittersweet chocolate and Guinness Stout beer
topped with whipped cream (looks just like a little pint of draught) 4.95

I think my Dad would have had the bacon & Cheddar shrimp appetizer with the Delmonico steak and a pint of Cayuga Cream Ale. So whether you'll be spending the day with your Dad in person or in spirit, remember this Sunday is his day.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Rogues' Harbor Inn at Taste of the Nation, Tuesday, June 14

We love Taste of the Nation. We look forward to participating every year and even more so this year. This year we will be pouring our own craft brew at the event as well as serving some restaurant favorites. It's always a win win to serve some dishes (and now beer) to folks that have maybe never been to our national historic landmark inn before and to raise money to fight childhood hunger.
Our Brew Guru, Chris, has decided to pour our first brew, Cayuga Cream Ale, at the event. We like food friendly brews and Cayuga Cream Ale is a good summer time, nicely hopped, straw colored ale which compliments the dishes we will be serving beautifully, if we do say so ourselves. We launched our new venture, the Rogues' Harbor Brewing Company, this past March and we've been very pleased to see lots of smiling faces enjoying our craft brews since then. Our Head Chef, Luke, will be preparing our Beer Steamed Mussels as our first course. They're Prince Edward Island mussels steamed in the shell with our Cayuga Cream Ale, a touch of Thai red curry and fire roasted corn salsa. It's a truly summer time dish, fresh and light with lots of flavor. Our second course will be a Vanilla & Apple Panna cotta. Asst. Chef Ariel will be serving the panna cotta on a fresh apple slice with a sprinkle of candied apple on top. Italians really know how to serve up a dessert that's not too sweet, but full of flavor that compliments a glass of wine, or in our case our own beer. Panna cotta is a cooked cream dessert that is served chilled usually with some sort of fruit component. Local New York State apples, crisp and delicious, fit the bill.
There will be many area restaurants and Finger Lakes wineries & breweries offering tastings at the event. Everyone brings their best and it's wonderful to wander around and try delicious local foods and sample some wine and beer to go along with it. Our staff takes turns heading out into the crowd to forage for scrumptious offerings complimented by wine & beer tastings. Everyone looks forward to serving and tasting, a little work, a little fun. It's an enjoyable evening.
Ithaca's Taste of the Nation is always held at the Emerson Suites on the Ithaca College Campus. There's lots of parking, and tickets are available at the door or also in advance on line. Here's the link We hope to see you Tuesday. Bring your appetite and help us raise some money- no child should be hungry.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

We Love New York State Apples, Applesauce Cake Recipe

Cornell Orchards
I was just out enjoying the well deserved sunshine and looking over my apple trees. I noticed that it looks like a good year for apples so far. The trees are covered with hundreds of gumball sized apples. It's a sure sign of good things to come. In an area known for apples, inspiration and good apples are pretty easy to come by.
The Rogues' Harbor Inn loves apples. It's obvious when you look at our menu offerings. We have the Big Apple Salad which has fresh greens topped with Empire Apples, Bleu cheese, celery, walnuts & our own house soy ginger dressing. There's the popular Finger Lakes Harvest appetizer which offers a sampling of local fare: NY Natural Chevon summer sausage, Finger Lakes Farmstead Bier Meck cheese, homemade crostini & fresh Empire apple slices. I like both of those with Bellwether Hard Cider on draught or Treleaven Chardonnay. In the fall we offer Apple Onion Chicken with pan seared chicken tossed in a ginger brandied apple, onion, walnut & raisin dressing with homemade smashed potatoes. We even sometimes make apple soups- usually in the fall... For dessert we love to serve our homemade apple crisp with a big scoop of vanilla ice cream. We are thinking about making cider ice for dessert, too this week for the hot days ahead.
Day dreaming about the apple harvest made me hunt for a recipe I haven't baked in a long time. It's too hot today to bake, but file this one away for later. It's best served at breakfast with apple butter, or for dessert with a big scoop of Purity French Vanilla ice cream.

Apple Sauce Cake:
1/2 cup butter
1 cup sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup chopped raisins
1 cup chopped walnuts
1 1/2 cups applesauce
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon cloves
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt

Cream butter & sugar. Add well beaten egg & vanilla. Then add nuts, raisins, applesauce & well mixed and sifted dry ingredients. Turn into buttered loaf pan and bake at 350 for 1 hour.

This is a good one, old fashioned Finger Lakes flavor. We serve it in our bed and breakfast with Amish apple butter & Gimme coffee. It's a great way to start the day. It's the best when made with homemade NYS apple sauce. I'll post our recipe for that another time and a few other apple recipes. In the meantime, enjoy summer in the Finger Lakes and have a glass of wine. Days like today remind why I love to live here.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

A Reminder

Poetry is important. That's all there is to it. Sometimes we just need to be reminded. I was reminded yesterday by a book I'm reading by Stephanie Saldana, "The Bread of Angels."
"Now I take my seat beside him and he offers me a cigarette. After he lights it, we begin to speak about poetry.
"Do you know what I have decided Stephanie? There are two kinds of poets. The good poet is able to put beautiful words on paper. But the great poet doesn't need words, and he doesn't need paper. The great poet sees that there is poetry in everything."
He steps out of the store and begins pacing back and forth in the alley.
"I've decided that poetry is best considered as a science. So, just as hydrogen and oxygen are bound together to create water, the force that binds them can be compared to poetry. Poetry is an invisible energy that exists between everything, holding it together, giving it meaning. The job of every human being is to search for the poetry hidden within the midst of things."
Something about him seems desperate. He keeps pacing.
"So, this brings us back to the role of poets in society. Some people write poetry, and some people live poetry. The man who lives poetry is the greater of the two."

Monday, May 30, 2011

Ithaca College & Cornell University Graduation Dinners

The month of May is a busy one for all the restaurants in the Ithaca area. It is a month that is looked forward to with high expectations and some trepidation. It's a profitable time, but not without stress. The transition from a sleepy Ithaca winter slow season to the busiest month of year is more than a little challenging. Hiring & training new staff, ordering extra dishes and silverware, developing new spring menu offerings, servicing equipment, email confirming hundreds of reservations, ordering enough produce & beef...not that we are complaining. We love to be busy. Busy is good. Busy, busy, busy. Staff wise, the seasoned veterans help out the newbies and management plugs away at their endless list of tasks to be completed before kick off.
Mother's Day is the kick off for the month of May restaurant super bowl. Hundreds of friends & neighbors bring Mom out for dinner. Everyone in the restaurant seems to know each other; it feels like home. Then the last two weekends of May are dedicated to our college graduations. The locals seem to get squeezed out by thousands of families from all over world visiting the heart of the Finger Lakes, Ithaca, NY, to see their loved ones graduate from Ithaca College or Cornell University.
The scale of a graduation weekend is awe inspiring- we reserve all of our overnight guests rooms at the Inn two years in advance (guaranteed by a deposit). The dinners are reserved from January of that year until a week or two prior when there isn't a single seat left to be had (again all seats guaranteed by a deposit). This past weekend we served over 620 dinners- that's 120 pounds of prime rib, 40 pounds of Filet Mignon, 120 pounds of haddock, 50 pounds of carrots, 40 pounds of mushrooms, 600 desserts... you get the idea. That's a lot of business for a little place like Rogues' Harbor Inn with 9 overnight guest rooms in the bed and breakfast and a 90 seat restaurant with 30 staff members.
The entire staff  is working; no rest for the weary till the weekends are behind us. Every chef is on duty- ordering, prepping, chopping, roasting, organizing, plating from mid morning till late in the evening. Every server and bartender is scheduled to set up, greet, seat, serve and repeat... We answer the phone in shifts because it rings endlessly. I even had to head out Sunday morning to Maine's Source for more provisions. I noticed several other restaurateurs there loading up as well. Competition was stiff, but a man is no match for a woman with a cart in a shopping survival scenario. I prevailed and returned safely to the Inn with cases of strawberries, all the mushrooms that existed in Ithaca and 100 pounds of potatoes.
Busy is good, but it takes it's toll. We are grateful for the business and we are now ready for a rest. Towards the end of dinner service Sunday night Jerry, a veteran server, and I were standing side by side quietly observing the well ordered chaos surrounding us. He said, "Well, it's almost over for this year,"  I replied, "It's not over till the fat lady sings." Jerry whispered back without the slightest smirk, "She doesn't need all that make up, just get her out there."
Well said Jerry, well said...till next year.

Friday, May 20, 2011

The Typical Brew Day

We've loved the warm reception that both Cayuga Cream Ale and Rt. 34 Red hace received. We appreciate all the wonderful feedback that has been given, and of course it brings a big smile to our faces to see you coming back to enjoy more. Many people have asked about the process of making the beer, and exactly what goes in to it. It seems for all the beer that people enjoy they actually don't have much of an idea what goes on behind the scenes. Well today we're going to lay it out for you, dispel any myths about the brewing process, and give you a glimpse in to what the typical brew day looks like at Rogue's Harbor.

First off there is the plan. The plan covers the setup, the brewing, and the clean up at the end of the brew. Before we get underway the first thing we need to do is get hot water ready as it's used not only for brewing, but for cleaning as well so we like to make sure that we have plenty on hand. We fill up our hot liquor tank (simply a large vessel where the water is heated and stored in preparation for the brewing) and set the temperature so that it can start heating up. Bringing that much water up to temperature can take awhile so that gives us plenty of time to start getting everything else ready. During this time we start by setting up the pumps and various hoses. We also use this time to weigh out and measure the grain that we're going to use for the particular style of beer that we happen to be making that day. The major portion of the grain bill (which types, and how much of each type of grain we'll be using) is made up of a base malt. The base malt provides the major portion of fermentable that the yeast will eventually consume and create alcohol from. Speciality malts help to provide coloring, body, and contribute to the flavor of the beer. Once all the grain needed is measured out we mill it on site, cracking open the husks to expose the inner part of the grain kernel. By the time all of this is done and the water is up to temperature we're ready to move on to the next step.

A portion of the grain is added to a vessel known as the mash tun. The mash tun is where grain sits on top of a false bottom and hot water is added to the grain to bring it to a specific temperature to begin activating enzymes that convert the starches in the grain in to sugars that can be used for fermentation. We continually stir the grain as it is added to the mash tun to make sure that it is throughly saturated and that no doughy grain balls develop. Once the grain is added along with the desired amount of water, we hold it at the proper temperature (depending on style of beer this can range from about 148 to 155 degrees F) for an hour to allow the the starches to fully convert to sugars. This process is also where the grain contributes both color and flavor to the beer, which at this point is known as wort.

During this hour we begin setting up for the transfer from the mash tun to our boiling kettle. We also take this time to do other odd jobs around the brewhouse such as cleaning up, fixing anything that needs tending to, and making sure any beers in the fermenters are chugging along like they are supposed to. Once the hour has passed we begin to transfer the wort from the mash tun to the boil kettle. We do this through a process known as sparging.  This is where as water is going from one vessel to the next we continually add hot water to not only rinse the grains of all the sugars, but to bring our boil kettle to its full volume. During the mashing process a large portion of the water is absorbed by the grain and lost, so there is a need to run more water through the grain in order to reach the desired amount. Once the boil kettle has reached the desired volume we crank up the heat on it in order to bring it to, yup, you guessed it, a boil.

We boil the wort for sixty minutes, during which time hops are added to the wort. Hops, a cone like flower of the humulus lupus plant, are used in the bittering of the beer. They also can contribute aroma, and flavors to the beer as well. Many popular varieties of American hop tend to have distinct citrusy characteristics. Other hop flavors can be described as fruity, earthy, or herbal. Hops can contribute a wide variety of characteristics to the beer, much like grapes do for wine. Hops that are added at the beginning stages of the boil have much of the flavor and aroma oils boiled off and end up contributing primarily to the bittering of the beer. Hops added near the very end of the boil add little to the bittering, but contribute flavoring and aromatics to the beer. While the beer boils we set up the equipment to cool the hot wort down as well as transfer it to the fermentation tank. We also have to make sure that both the equipment and the fermentation take are not only cleaned, but sanitized as well. The boiling wort will kill off any potential contaminants in the beer, so we have to make sure that anything touching it after it has cooled down has been sterilized.

Once the boil has finished we begin pumping the hot wort through two chillers (hot wort circulates one way, cold water flows the other way creating a heat exchange by which the hot wort is rapidly cooled) and in to the fermentation tank. Once the wort has been transfered the yeast is added to the fermentation tank and it is then sealed up so that no outside elements can get in and infect the fermenting beer. When that is accomplished we then have to begin cleaning the mash tun as well as the boiling kettle. The used grain is scooped out of the mash tun and composted, everything is hosed down, and then soaked with a cleanser that breaks down the organic matter in the stainless steel tanks, and then is rinsed out. Floors are scrubbed, hoses and pumps are flushed out, and things are put away.

That's the plan. However a typical brew day for a small brewer is rarely ever that neat and tidy. There's always something that attempts to throw a monkey wrench in your brew day and as brewers you have to learn to problem solve on the fly. Once the brew begins there is no turning back. Fortunately most problems simply make the day a little longer, but are easily addressed with a little bit of MacGuyver like finess. The process takes about 7 or 8 hours, and once the day is done, everything is put away, and the lights are turned out, it's time to have a cold one and enjoy the fruits of our labor.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Beer to Go at the Rogues' Harbor Inn, Ithaca NY

It's true. Beer to go is legal, and alive & well at the 'Harbor. You can take fresh draught beer home with you. A growler is a beautiful thing. In case you don't know about about growlers, here's the Reader's Digest version of their being.
Apparently, drinking on the job preceded the 2 martini business lunch. Long before a can that could withstand the carbonated pressure of beer, beer was transported in covered pails. Prior to WWII kids used to lug these covered pails to their parents at work to have with their lunch. There are a few theories as to how they came to be known as growlers. One, is that their parents growled at them for spillage of their liquid lunch nourishment. Another is that the lid made a growling noise as CO2 escaped from the pail. My favorite is that the awaiting consumer's bellies growled because they were hungry at lunch time.
No matter how the glorious glass container got it's name, it's utility remains the same. In the 1980's a new brew pub in Wyoming re-ignited the growler's popularity by producing custom imprinted, resealable glass cider jugs for their beer. It was a good idea that caught on fast. Today, nearly every micro brewery has their own growler for sale which can be re- used to carry out beer from any micro brewery or brew pub. In fact, the growler is green. The re-use of the growler is estimated to keep over 1 billion cans and bottles out of land fills every year!
The Rogues' Harbor Inn likes being green and keeping tipsy patrons off the road. We sell our own one liter (aka 2 pint) growlers that have the easy seal ceramic flip top. Take some to a friend to try or take your last beers of the night home with you. Anything we sell on draught can be sold to go: Ours, Rogues' Harbor Brewing Company's Cayuga Cream Ale & Route 34 Red Ale, Victory Prima Pils, Harpoon IPA, Ithaca's Apricot Wheat, Sam Adam's Cherry Wheat, Harp, Bass, ... anything. This week is American Craft Brew Week and to celebrate we are going to offer our growlers at half price for one day only, this Wednesday, May 18. So get a growler of your very own and celebrate the diversity of the craft brew revolution- at Rogues' or at home.