You may or may not have noticed my absence this summer. I’ve started to draft an explanation and gone back and forth about how much I want to share. But in the meantime, the reviews are piling up. The topics I want to cover keep growing, and the desire to write is returning. Suffice to say, more will come. But for now, let’s talk wine, food and travel.
We flew Austin to Portland, Maine. We drove up the coast to Port Clyde, west to Waitsfield, Vermont, across the lake to Plattsburgh, NY.
We flew Burlington to Denver. Drove to Breckenridge, Buena Vista, Turquoise Lake, Carbondale, Ridgeway, Santa Fe, Lubbock and back to Austin.
We stayed in dreamy (and one not so dreamy) spots. Shivered in sleeping bags. Played in the waves and cast our lines. We rode the rapids and found treasures in the sand. We made wishes on rainbows and fairy homes in the forest. We disconnected and reconnected.
We dined on the waters edge and the edge of the mountains, near bustling kitchens and bubbling streams. And just like in the kitchen at home, we had some great successes and not so great gambles. Here are some takeaways from the trip.
- We have it pretty good in Texas as far as buying wine. On average, the wines were $4-5 more per bottle in NY and there is no wine in the grocery stores. Liquor stores only. One improvement is that they are open on Sundays now. I had a mild panic when I realized I hadn’t gotten any wine for the 4th of July and it was a Sunday. My fears were unwarranted.
- Having shellfish issues in Maine is painful but you can survive.
- Tucker Hill Inn in Waitsfield, Vermont. On premise bar, pool, and amazing breakfast.
- Dames in Plattsburgh is the best place to buy wine. One liquor store had me grudgingly buying two bottle I didn’t really want, but needed after a long drive. One store I left with nothing. NOTHING! For shame.
- If you’re ever in Plattsburgh for the 4th of July, grab a table at The Champlain Wine Company and have a glass. Front row for the parade and it makes the never-ending candy toss fun for adults too.
- Poutine at McSweeneys and Michigans at Clare and Carls.
- Valcour Brewing Company– where you can fulfill childhood dare/dreams and have a beer while you watch for ghosts. If I had a dollar for every time we dared one another to go on the porch of the boarded barracks on the Old Base, I could’ve picked up everyone’s tabs. Built in 1838, it is rumored to have constant “guests” even though it hasn’t been open for decades. Now you can even sleep there.
- When the wine list at a restaurant has nothing you’re excited to buy, go for the cocktail. The only thing more disappointing than drinking bad wine is drinking bad wine at a triple mark up.
- Use caution when flying into Denver. Our first night, we drove straight to Breckenridge and shared a beautiful bottle of McPherson. I was a mess after two glasses. Altitude + wine= bedtime.
- The dusty bottle on the shelf of the 2010 Charles Krug might be a fun gamble at home but not such a good idea when you’re camping. When the only big red you have with the beautiful grass-fed, oak-fired ribeye tastes like turpentine, it is heart-breaking. At home, you open another. Camping, you’re outta luck.
- Double up on the campfire. When you grill extra chicken, your dinner the following night is a piece of cake. Comes in very handy when it is pouring rain.
- The Buena Vista Roastery has some of the best pastries I’ve ever had. Fortunately there are many ways to burn them off.House Rock Kitchen has one of the best casual meals I’ve had out. Split the Indian bowl.
- High Mountain Pies in Leadville.
- Bonfire Coffee and Marble Distilling (more to come) in Carbondale.
- Nothing makes you appreciate your great grocery stores like a bad grocery store.
- Running water is important. Running water when you’re cooking is very important. But it amazing what you can do without it.
- Breakfast at Café Fina in South Santa Fe.
- When driving Colorado to Austin, or vice versa, stop in Lubbock and stock up. McPherson Cellars makes some of the best wine in Texas and at reasonable price points. Their Piquepoul just got Best in Show for whites at San Francisco.
And when you’ve gotten home, back to running water and a dishwasher, back to all of your spices and pans, everything old is new again. Doing dishes in a sink seems decadent. A gas stove, easy breezy. A stocked wine fridge, even better. Time away makes the mundane more bearable; it renews and inspires. You come home with a sense of how little you need and how much you already have. And a ton of laundry that doesn’t look so bad.