Lake Placid Part 2: Time to Talk Food

BH_SideMnt_weddingsWise Women Charlotte appropriately called me out on my former Lake Placid blog, as the very important category of where to eat was missing.  While we didn’t hit any primo romantic gourmet restaurant spots (not tolerable with a 5 and 7 year old along) we did have some nice meals.  The town is full of a range of eating options – many casual burger, pizza, Italian, steakhouse type venues.  The many groups of teen guys (including my son) who were in town for lacrosse were in heaven wandering the town on their own, deciding which burger haven to hit.

For those of you who may be visiting the area, here are some dining considerations for you:

Big Mountain Deli & Creperie: This is an excellent place to pick up some sandwiches for a hike or a picnic by the lake.  They have close to 50 gourmet sandwich combinations, and what puts this restaurant over the top is a great selection of breads.  In addition to the standard fare of wheat, hearth, or seeded rye, you can choose from Asiago Peppercorn, Caramelized Onion, Rosemary Garlic, or Basil Pesto.  I had a roasted vegetable, fresh mozzarella and olive tapenade sandwich on Rosemary Garlic bread, and it more than hit the spot.  In addition to the sandwiches, they do have a nice menu for dinner – many styles of crepes.  They have a small dine-in area, and while I did not get there, my friends did and recommended it.  Also for the late evening strollers along the main street, Big Mountain Deli & Creperie has an amazing list of dessert coffees to choose from.  Unfortunately I did not make it in, but I’ve never seen such a long list of unusual combinations for coffee.

The Boat House: This was where we had our nicest dinner (pictured above).  The Boat House is operated by the hotel where we stayed, the Crown Plaza, but sits on the opposite side of the lake.  You can walk from the hotel, drive, or take the hotel shuttle.  It sits right on Mirror Lake, and has a large deck that sits right on the lake for outdoor dining.  The setting was lovely, and we were able to watch the sun set over the lake as we dined.  My meal was delicious, and the food served around me also looked delicious.  I had diver sea scallops, prosciutto ham, sauteed artichokes, roasted tomato and kalamata olive served with jasmine rise.  Everyone left very satisfied.  The added bonus was that the four children left us there, walked into town to visit Ben and Jerry’s, while we stayed for coffee and a piece of indulgent flourless chocolate cake.

The Mirror Lake Inn and Spa:  If you’re traveling to Lake Placid as just a couple, this may be a place to consider for lodging.  It has a beautiful facility that sits right on the lake, and many appealing dining options.  One of their restaurants called The Cottage, has dining on a deck which extends over the lake (similar to The Boat House).  While we didn’t dine here, it was recommended and looked lovely.

Desperados:  If you have a craving for Southwestern/Mexican, this is the spot to hit.  We also did not make it here, but this was recommended by my friend who lives there.  It doesn’t sit in a prime location (but still very convenient to town), and its decor isn’t anything to rave about, but apparently their margaritas and food is excellent.

So hopefully that is enough to get you started on your journey.  To review Things to Do in Lake  Placid, click here to read the Destination Lake Placid blog.

Destination Lake Placid

DSC_0634Lake Placid is a great college town…without a college.  We happened to make our way to this great place to attend a lacrosse tournament with our oldest son David.  It is a breathtakingly beautiful destination, and part of its beauty stems from the fact that it is a four season sports and recreation mecca.  In addition to the more traditional recreational activities of kayaking, sailing, swimming, water skiing, snow skiing and fishing this place offers, the amount of high end athlete training that is going on simultaneously is unbelievable.  The lacrosse tournament followed on the heels of a rugby tournament, which followed on the heels of the Horse Show; the Ironman triathlon had just finished up the week before (Lake Placid is host to this grueling Ironman event annually, one of sixteen world-wide races); girls in their ice skating outfits could be seen walking down Main Street and disappearing into the Olympic Center (famous for the US Olympic 1980 “Miracle On Ice” Hockey win over Russia).  We slipped in to the center to watch some pairs performing.  Ice hockey games were going on daily, and skiers were  at the training center, practicing their aerial free form moves, landing in a 750,000 gallon pool, while others practiced ski jumping.

Even though we did not have one of those perfect crystal clear days, we could still see the majestic outline of the Adirondack mountains surrounding us.  Water and mountains – there’s not much that is better than that.  The town is full of  cute  shops and great restaurants sitting on Mirror Lake (not Lake Placid).   Turns out that Lake Placid is mostly a residential lake, with very little public access.   Mirror Lake is a recreational lake about a mile across, allowing no motor boats.  This makes it an extremely safe and pleasant place to swim across, and has a rope with bouys going across the middle of the entire lake to guide swimmers.   You can look out at anytime and see a handful of swimmers making their way across.  It almost serves as one gigantic pool for the town.

We stayed at the Crown Plaza, which sits up on a hill overlooking the town of Lake Placid and Mirror Lake.  Given it’s quick access to town, its indoor pool, and beach on Mirror Lake, including complementary use of peddle boats and row boats, this hotel was a very easy and kid friendly place to stay.  It has a beautiful lobby which overlooks the lake and surrounding mountains. Each room also has a fridge/freezer combo and microwave, making it easy to at least have breakfast in the room in the morning – if you’d rather skip the $12.95 breakfast buffet (which by the way is very good, but not in the daily plan of a family of six!).

Given a fairly intense lacrosse schedule over three days, we were not able to exhaust the top ten list of things to do in Lake Placid, but we made significant progress.  Here are the things that I was able to conquer on that list over the course of three days (all of which I recommend), navigating amongst nine lacrosse games:

1.  A walk around Mirror Lake: Just as you see so many folks swimming across Mirror Lake, there are many walking around the lake on its 2.7 mile loop.

2.  A swim in Mirror Lake:  I’m a salt water gal, but there’s not much that is more refreshing than jumping into a fresh water lake.  The temperature was just right, and there were a number of swim docks to swim out to and jump from.

3.  A Bobsled ride: The four kids went on a bobsled ride down the winter track on a bobsled outfitted with wheels.  The kids had to be at least 48 inches, and Sam just squeaked by.  The bobsled is driven by a professional driver and brakeman, then the four kids were between the two professionals.  Forty-two mph, 48 seconds, and $250 later, the kids had a lot to talk about.  It was quite a thrill.

4.  Wet and Wild Wednesdays:  Every Wednesday during the summer, the national aerial ski jumpers (who are in Lake Placid for the summer training) put on a show where they come down a ramp and fly 50 feet into the air doing amazing flips, twists and turns, landing in a pool, skis, ski boots and all.  It was an amazing show.

5.  Standing at the top of the Ski Jump: If you get vertigo, this is not an activity for you.   A chair lift ride up the mountain, and then an elevator ride up to the top of the ski jump, you stand gazing at an amazing view.  You are allowed to stand at the top of the ski jump itself, which is insanely high and steep.  How anyone can first attempt to even try to jump is beyond my comprehension.

6.  A tour of Lake Placid:  This is where I lucked out BIG TIME!  During my 7AM solo walk around Mirror Lake, I coincidently ran into an old school friend who summers at Lake Placid, resulting in an invitation over to her house for the afternoon on the lake. A beautiful house, with a large beautiful dock and boat house, my family was in high heaven.  My kids were treated to water tubing on Lake Placid and then we took a tour around the lake – only 50% which is accessible by road.  Many beautiful boat houses and wooden Chris Craft boats journeyed up the lake, setting a quintessential summer scene.

7.  A visit to the Olympic Center and “Miracle on Ice”:  It’s inspiring to see the huge ice arena where the US Men’s Hockey team was victorious in the Winter Olympics.  We are all anxious to watch this movie again when we return home.

So there you have it.  A quick three days in Lake Placid – but a very fun and activity filled three days which gave us all a real taste for this town.  Hopefully lacrosse will bring us here again next summer, so I can complete the top ten list!

Travelogue Port Jefferson: Sometimes the Best Places are in your own “Backyard”

P7230056I’ve been meaning to start a new “category” titled Travel Destinations, so herein comes my first entry.  Most of us spend quite a bit of time researching a new destination before we travel, and given the time and planning that goes in to it  - why not share what we learn, observe and experience along the way?  First hand recommendations are always the best. So if any of you have been to a destination lately, and want to write a blog or just share a special place to visit or stay or eat, comment here!

To celebrate my mother in law Carol’s very special 75th birthday, we planned a brief but full jaunt over to Port Jefferson, Long Island this past weekend.  This entailed a 35/40 minute drive north to take a ferry across Long Island Sound from Bridgeport, CT, a ride that took a little more than an hour.  Our hotel, the Danford, was 45 steps from the ferry dock, and once we got settled there, we took a walk through town and popped in and out of a few quaint shops.  The day was gray and showering on and off, but not a deterrent to our plans.  After our lunch (a decent fried food fish shack) we got into the car, and drove to Long Island’s wine country, about 25 minutes away.

I had no idea that Long Island had so many vineyards – probably at least fifty or so.  Our first stop was the Baiting Hollow Farm Vineyard.  The vineyard was quaint and pretty, and the fields of vineyards themselves quite beautiful.  With a bit of a stretch, you could almost envision yourself in the midst of Napa Valley. We adults shared a tasting flight, were not overly impressed, and took off to the next vineyard, Roanoke.  Here we tried a flight of white (four wines, including an ice dessert wine that tasted of apricots) and a flight of red.  I really enjoyed most of these wines, and we decided to buy a couple of bottles along with a bottle of garlic infused grapeseed oil.  Given that we had up to this point four very patient children in tow, we decided not to push our luck and therein ended our winery tour, and headed back to the hotel.

After formally settling into our rooms, the boys and their Aunt Robbie took off to a wading beach next to the hotel, while Mark and I set off into town to sniff out some cheese for a little pre-dinner cocktail hour.  Our guest of honor had a room on the third floor of the hotel with a large porch off of it, and between the four adirondack chairs that were there, and a few beach chairs we brought up, we had a nice relaxing cocktail hour (and the weather cooperated) enjoying a Roanoke Vineyard Chardonnay, and the best block of Cabot Vermont cheddar we could find (and by the way, the only block of cheese this fine town had to offer).  Port Jeff, take note: you could use a cheese shop.

The Danford Hotel was a series of rambling buildings, and we made our way over to the main building to have dinner at the Wave restaurant.  The restaurant was bustling and a bit too noisy, but the service was excellent and the food was delicious.  While some of us enjoyed a delicious looking steak and rack of lamb – the rest of us had fish – starting with some excellent sushi rolls.  One of these rolls was the Angry Crab and Mango Roll, with lump crab, mango, nori and tobiko.  Another, called the Wave Roll, contained lobster, av0cado, crab, sesame, cucumbers, tobiko and ponzu – both delicious.  Carol and I had the Gorgonzola and Pine Nut crusted Chilean Sea Bass (yummy), which came with parmesan mashed potatoes with rosemary aioli, truffled creamed spinach and oven roasted grape tomatoes.  Mark had the Pan Seared Cod fillet with artichoke hearts, roasted peppers and eggplant, tomatoes, spinach, feta, kalamata olives, lemon, tomato broth, yogurt sauce and purple potatoes.  By description, his entry seemed overly complicated, with too many tastes competing, but it was also a winner.  Conveniently on one side of our table was a long couch, and before Sam’s grilled cheese arrived he was zonked out; Jack shortly followed.

Saturday we awoke to a brilliantly sunny day – but were prepared for a scorcher with a predicted 97 degrees forecasted.  After breakfast, we went to Cedar Beach, about 10 minutes from the hotel.  It was a very pretty beach, a combination of white sand and stone, with high bluffs visible at either end – not too dissimilar from Block Island.  The water was refreshing, and the kids had a ball swimming, although they were on the lookout for rather ominous plate-like red jellyfish that washed in from time to time.  We then went back to the hotel, had quick showers, and checked out, throwing all our stuff into the car.  A short walk from the hotel and across from the bustling harbor, we popped into The Catch.  If you ever happen upon this restaurant, the Lobster Roll and the Cod Sandwich with cheddar, avocado and tomato were excellent.

It was then time to make our 3:00 departure on the ferry, so we walked across the street, Mark drove the car aboard as we waited to walk on board, and then had a quite enjoyable crossing back to Connecticut.  Forty minutes later we were home.

For being away for a mere 32 hours, we all agreed that it had felt like we were away for at least 3 or 4 days.  It was fun, relaxing, and special family time – and one of the best things, it was a destination in our own backyard – something that we had talked about doing but had never done.  Especially for you Fairfield/Westchester County residents, it’s an easy destination that should be on your list.  The travel is worry free and short, and bringing our car along also made everything very easy.  So the next time you’re looking for an adventure – try Port Jeff, or just look in your own backyard for those special places that are easily overlooked.

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