Rochester, Rochester*

*So sweet, they named it twice.

Last weekend Bob and I made a trek up to Rochester (and surrounding areas) for the weekend. We drove up on Friday night, and checked into our hotel. We hemmed and hawed about where to eat, checking Trip Advisor and Yelp. Finally, we settled on JoJo’s Bistro and Wine Bar. It had a modern atmosphere. I am very reluctant to say “trendy”* so I won’t, and I also think “young” isn’t quite accurate. All the girls were tall as trees in their heels and minis, and all the boys were various shades of unshaved. Bob had some sort of burger and I had these amazing butternut squash raviolis topped with shitake mushroom and spinach. The ravs were sweet and delicate with a touch of cinnamon (a spice that is too often used with too heavy a hand), and I swore the shitake were bacon – and asked the waitress to double check. They were melt-in-your-mouth creamy and crunchy. I paired it with a nice (but not especially memorable) malbec. Bob had a Guinness.

The purpose of the trip was for me to attend a wood type workshop at Dock 2 Letterpress on Saturday. I have never tried my hand at actual typesetting before, so the whole adventure was new to me. I’d taken print making in college, but this was not that. It was amazing. The class was small, because it was only open to AIGA members, so even though I was a little shy of everyone, they were so nice and friendly I felt right at home. Although I had thought I might like to typeset a poem (specifically, Wordsworth’s A Slumber Did My Spirit Seal, a short poem – by W.W.’s standards), it was clearly way too long for wood type and the size plates we were working with. So after playing around with different letters and typefaces and pulling out as many “love”s and “family”s from as many of the appealing-est faces, I suddenly decided to go with a Beatles quote (All you need is love). Of course I wanted to use every single style and shape I could lay hands on. There were 8 drawers of type available, plus one smaller drawer of borders and embellishments. I started out with a stockpile of letters that I eventually whittled down (for simplicity’s sake) then ballooned again when I filled almost the entire bottom of the sheet with different treatments of the word “love” (all those “v”s and “e”s!) Of course as hard as it had been deciding on types and quotes and all that, it was harder to fill in all the empty spaces with wood and lead. But it eventually came together and we all got to print! Oh it was so much fun. I am absolutely looking forward to going to more classes there!

After the workshop, I went to pick up Bob. He had checked out of our hotel earlier that day, and was literally just wandering around Pittsford in the freezing cold and snow. I ended up meeting him at a little fresh food cafe, called something like Fruit and Salad, which was next door to a small natural shop that he’d been to and where he had made friends with the proprietor. So after I got a quick coffee at the cafe, we walked next door to Be Inspired, where he got me some amazing bath salts (which are now, sadly, almost all gone) and a pretty necklace.

Then we drove out to Canandaigua, where we had booked ourselves into the Log Cabin Bed and Breakfast. The proprietor, Jo Anne, and her dog, Cooper, met us at the door, and it was like coming home. We had, essentially, half the house to ourselves, complete with living room and working gas fireplace. Out the living room sliding glass doors was the deck and the year-round hot tub. Upstairs was our master bedroom with bathroom. We vegged out for awhile once we got there, had a glass of wine while we watched some TV and picked a place to eat dinner. Jo Anne suggested a local Mexican restaurant and a local sushi place. We settled on the Mexican place, Rio Tomatlan, which absolutely hit the spot. We started with quesadillas de hongos, then for our main courses I had tacos de tilapia and Bob had mole enchiladas. My tacos were served in a soft, floury shell, the fish was delicate (obviously, being tilapia), and the rest of the filling was satisfying. Bob’s enchiladas disappeared so fast I was shocked. He loved the mole sauce, and I think would recommend it.

After dinner we went home and enjoyed the hot tub in 10 degree weather! The weather has done nothing but snow for the last two weeks, and that night was no exception. But the water was warm enough, so we took some of Jo Anne’s hot tub wine glasses (not kidding) out and had a small glass while enjoying the crazy sensation of an open air hot spring. I think we lasted 10 minutes. It was cold.

The next morning we got up for our pre-scheduled 9:30 AM breakfast. Jo Anne had asked us the night before when we’d like to eat, and when I booked the room she gave us a menu to choose from (I chose right then and there). Breakfast started with hot coffee and pomegranate juice, and a pear that had marinated in a honey reduction sauce, served with pecans and yogurt. Then I got my french toast, made with Wegman’s marathon bread!, and Bob had his three-cheese omelet with bacon. It was a delicious spread, and the best possible way to start off our morning. We lounged for another half hour or so, then packed up to leave. We wanted to explore Canandaigua a little.

By trial and error, we found The New York Wine and Culinary Center. I had no idea that somewhere so wonderful could ever exist, but it was real. It had a tasting room featuring wines, beers, and spirits from all over New York State. There were flights available, or tastings could be a la carte. There was a wine education studio, where (on the day we were there) a class was being held on pairing desserts and wines. Next door to that was a hands-on kitchen, where a class was being held teaching how to cook with wine. There was a NYS agriculture room, that showed all the things that NY grows and produces (with lots of interesting tidbits about gallons milked and eggs laid!). And just as importantly, there was a restaurant on the second floor. We ended up tasting and then staying for lunch. We started lunch with a New York State artisan cheese plate, featuring (that day) New York State bleu cheese, New York State goat cheese (my absolute favorite) and New York State Cheddar. The cheeses were served with little toasts and an orange marmalade. By the end of the plate, I was just forking goat cheese and marmalade into my mouth. A concerned young waiter (not even OUR young waiter) came over and asked if I wanted more toasts, but I just waved him away, as my mouth was too full of soft cheese to speak.

I followed that up with a chick pea / white bean burger served on whole wheat bread with tabouleh salad on the side. The burger had a very pleasing taste and a good mouth feel (something that, I think, really is only used to describe wine in the mouth – but I like the connotation), and the tabouleh was the best I’ve ever had. Bob had the turkey burger with fries, and seemed to enjoy that. Especially when they brought him out an incredibly hot sauce for his fries. I think he cried a little.

The whole weekend was a food carnival. Part of what made it so much fun is that every single meal was completely unexpected. We hadn’t gone up there for the food, but I’m sure we’ll go back for it. Of course, if I truly were to keep eating that way, pretty soon I’d be north of two large, and I’m pretty sure I don’t want that. Besides, some of the joy comes from the rarity – it was a weekend to be savored and enjoyed, but not too often.

PS, I’m fairly certain that we were not in the city of Rochester at any point during the trip.

*I have hated the word “trendy” since about 1994 when I heard my sister say it one-too-many times. I had a very real limit for that particular word, and I reached it then.

One thought on “Rochester, Rochester*

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