Thursday, November 20, 2008

Road Trip! Elk Creek Cafe

Recently Leah and I took a road trip to Elk Creek Cafe in Millheim, Pennsylvania for a music festival. "Where is Millheim?" Leah asked. "Must be in the middle of nowhere," I answered. And it was. Twenty-or-so miles from Penn State, Millheim is in the heart of farming country. We awoke Sunday morning to the sound of pigs squealing and the clop-clop of Amish buggies heading to church. Our breakfast at a friend's farm house consisted of sausage, eggs and veggies from their own pigs, chicken and fields. And smack in the middle of Millheim, where all you would hope for is a general store, we found the Elk Creek Cafe and Aleworks.

The Elk Creek Cafe is a bustling, high energy cafe and brewery with locavore bistro-style food and a whole lot of amazing brews on tap. On both Saturday night and Sunday afternoon, the cafe was packed with people who appreciated good music, good food and damn good beer. I sampled every one of the beers from my friends' glasses, and I settled on the Double Rainbow IPA which had a generous amount of hops and a tantalizing fruity aroma (IPA has been my beer of choice these days). Leah, not one to be tied down, danced from beer to beer and enjoyed the Great Blue Heron Pale Ale, Elk Creek Copper Ale and Brookie Brown.

Yes, it is in the middle of nowhere, about a three hour drive from Ithaca. But the Elk Creek Cafe is good enough to be a destination by itself. The cafe has music most weekends, with Ithaca favorites the Horseflies, Hank Roberts and Wingnut all making appearances there in November and December. Local band The Jive Bombers are also a must-see. Need a place to stay? Check out The Three Porches bed and breakfast. And when you go, be sure to bring me back a growler of that IPA.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Alpha Cook

A few months ago, I mentioned Nat in one of my blog posts. Nat bartended at Felicia's for a year, i mean, two years, maybe three; it's a bit of a drunken blur. Upon her hire, at least once she started speaking to people and making eye contact with her co-workers (which only took a few short months), Nat quickly made the successful transition from coffee wench - ahem - barista - to become a real-deal bartender at Felicia's. While she was shy about creating new drinks, Nat was a true connesseiur of classic cocktails as well as high-end scotches and bourbons.

Which is why I was shocked at the crap she gave us when she abandoned us for a "better life" in San Francisco. First, let me explain to you that Nat may have loved all of us, but she hated Ithaca. She could never clearly explain why, other than the usual complaints about the cold, snow and lack of sunshine. Maybe that was enough. C'mon, Nat, three inches of ice encrusting the windshield, gray skies every day and little frostbite never hurt anyone, did it? Nat's going away present from us was an "Ithaca is Stupid" t-shirt. Our good-bye gift from her was a box of useless crap.

You can see some of it in the photo above. This stuff was in Box of Crap #1. Nat had asked earlier that day, "Would you like a French press?" and we received an entire box of crap with the French press. The box's contents boasted florescent red Creme de Almond, a virtually empty bottle of Creme de Cacao, a little Carolans Irish Creme, an evil bag of ready-to-bake muffin mix, some Blackberry Brandy, a small bottle of sake, a container of ground cinnamon, and a handful of miniature Three Musketeers. We graciously accepted the whole box, mainly because of the Three Musketeers. When I asked Nat why she had all of these cheap bottles of Creme de Crap she answered that she and Kelly had bought them during their "creamy dessert drink phase," which would have caused me severe indigestion had she divulged any more details.

The next day when I arrived at the Lounge, I found Box of Crap #2 waiting for me. In addition to a bottle of limoncello, its contents included half-used condiments, like olive paste with truffle oil, horseradish mustard, Hershey's Syrup, Thai chili paste and butter. This was my reward for being gracious the day before. I do know this: we gave her a damn good bottle of scotch that certainly did NOT get left behind, at least not in one of the Boxes that was left for us. Dang.

Do I sound bitter? Maybe I am. We lost a great bartender and two of our good friends moved far, far away to the West coast. But I should not complain about the Boxes of Crap. We got a solid French press out of the deal, and I enjoyed the sake. I re-gifted a few things: Mum got the Blackberry Brandy. Michelle took the ready-to-bake muffin mix (which Nat likes to refer to as "the gift that keeps on sitting," perhaps better called "the gift that keeps re-gifting.") Nat also redeemed herself by leaving a few cigars on the office desk, which disappeared quickly, probably into the pocket of Guy. We miss Nat, and we can forgive her for leaving us with her excess crap. Why would one bother to haul a half-empty bottle of Hershey's Syrup from New York to San Francisco? And yet one feels guilty throwing away something that someone else could eat. Or drink.

So Nat, we will not hold it over your head that you dumped Boxes of Crap #1 and #2 on our laps. However, the demise of the beloved coffee maker at the Lounge is another story altogether, that shall be told on another day, over a bottle of expensive scotch, and held over your head with much weeping and moaning and gnashing of teeth until you beg for mercy. Then we will all hug.

You can read all about Nat's warm and sunny adventures in San Francisco on her blog, Alpha Cook. Nat has promised us that she will never visit Ithaca, which means Road Trip! San Francisco is in our future.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

The Baracktail

The Baracktail

1 1/2 ounces of Bombay Dry gin
1/4 ounce sweetened lime juice
two dashes of Angostura Bitters
pineapple juice
lime wheel

Fill a double rocks glass with ice. Add gin, sweet lime and bitters. Top with half tonic, half pineapple juice. Garnish with lime wheel. Celebrate. Yes you can.

Halloween at Felicia's

Felicia's Haunted Cocktail Party was a blast! Fresh out of rehab, Amy Winehouse won best costume.

Barbara Bush won scariest (see how real she looks?), and Elvis (not pictured) got an honorable mention.
Special kudos go to one of Felicia's dearest friends, Bacchus, for his handmade alcohol-themed costume. You can see more Halloween photos here.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Yes We Can

Felicia would like to personally congratulate our next president, Senator Barack Obama! Come celebrate with us on Wednesday, November 5th and drink the newest Felicia creation, the Baracktail. Yes we can!