Friday, April 13, 2012

Day Trip to Cooperstown, NY

Taking advantage of a beautiful Spring day and an empty inn, Mark and I finally had the opportunity to find out what a number of our past guests have been raving about!

Cooperstown, an active town in the northern foothills of the Catskill Mountains, is home to the Baseball Hall of Fame, art, history, opera, state parks, and premier restaurants. It is about an hour and 20 minutes from the Greenville Arms, but it is a beautiful drive through rural upstate NY. It was lovely on our trip, but I can just image how stunning it is in the Fall or Summer.

The first stop on our jaunt was the Fenimore Art Museum. The Fenimore is the showcase of the New York State Historical Association, housed in the historic Fenimore House, an impressive neo-Georgian house built in the 1930s on the site of James Fenimore Cooper's early 19th century farmhouse on the shore of Otsego Lake.

They had a number exhibits. The current exhibits included Between the State: Photographs from the American Civil War; Homecoming of the Thaw Collection of American Indian Art; and Spellbound: The Metropolitan Opera's Armide (costumes of the opera).

To prime ourselves for the tour, our first stop was the charming cafe right next to the gift shop. We enjoyed some delicious soup, with olive bread, and Starbuck Lattes.

The exhibits were wonderful and the grounds delightful. We kept commenting to each other that we could easily see ourselves spending more time in Cooperstown to soak in the experiences more thoroughly.

I especially enjoyed the American Indian art. As a fiber artist myself, I could really appreciate the tremendous skill and dedication it took to create the works of art, such as the beaded and embellished clothing and ceremonial items.

This is a gazebo outside the museum with a fabulous view of the lake.


A historic log cabin of the type built by the native peoples in the Ostego area.


Right across the street from the Fenimore is The Farmers' Museum. (You can get a two museum entrance pass at a discount from either museum.) The Farmers' Museum is one of the oldest rural life museums in the country. It gives you the chance to experience 19th-century rural and village life through demonstrations and interpretive exhibits.



While all of the buildings were not staffed this early in the season, we enjoyed talking to an apothecary, innkeeper, farmer, and the farmer's wife. At the apothecary we learned how pills were created, watched leeches wiggle around in the glass bowl, and learned that the 19th-century apothecaries were the same multi-purpose shop that the modern drug store is. Beside being the source of medications, villagers would also come to the apothecary for herbs for teas, pigments for printing, dying of fibers, and house paints.

The life of the innkeeper sounded quite familiar to us!

An interesting historical note was that inns were often taverns as well, and the designation "Bar & Grill" actually came about because the bars in these inns were often inclosed in a small section of the tavern that could be closed for business by lowering a wooden grill over the bar. Hence the designation that this inn had a "bar and grill" It had nothing to do with what was on the BBQ!

This is a maze made from hedges.


The next stop on our day trip was the Ommegang brewery. We carry these superb beers at our inn, so we were certainly familiar with them, but it was fun to take part in the beer tasting at the source!


When we stepped out of the tasting/shop building after the tasting, the air was filled with the scent of brewing wort (barley sugars and/or hops - part of the process of brewing beer). Definitely worth just standing there and taking deep breaths!


After smelling the barley, we were reminded that we were getting hungry! So we headed into downtown Cooperstown to Alex and Ika, a restaurant recommended to us by the guys at Ommegang. Excellent choice!

Alex and Ika is a quaint bistro located in the back of one of the Main Street buildings. Mark got the Thai-style duck dish and I got the Tipsy Barbecued Potted Pig: Crimini Mushrooms & Brandied Chipotle Roast Pulled Pork with Creamy Truffled Mac & Cheese. Yum!


I'm a fool for anything with truffles and/or truffle oil and this dish did not disappoint. It was an appetizer, but I was saving room for the dessert - Chocolate Chocolate Port Thing. The dessert was pure chocolate decadence resting in a lovely light vanilla creme anglaise.

We'll definitely have to try this restaurant again in the future. According to Rachel Ray, they have "one of the best lunches in town and don't miss the fingerling fries."

All-in-all it was a fabulous day trip. We had departed the inn at around 10:00am and even after all our adventures, we still got home by 8:30pm. We'll definitely be going back.

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