Monthly Archives: February 2011

Bucket List Update – Wine Trail, Long Trout Winery kicks ass!

Back in January I put together a list of things in or around the Lehigh Valley that I’ve always wanted to do but never got around to doing. My goal is to get as many of these crossed off the list as possible in 2011.

I crossed number 10 off of my list this past Valentine’s weekend. I went on the Berks Wine Trail Chocolate and Wine tour and not only visited one local winery but six! Although at one of them, Calvaresi, we  didn’t get a chance to actually taste anything, because everyone was hogging the tasting area and we left, but it was all good.

What a great day! Friends, Wine, Chocolate, and I didn’t have to drive. How could it not have been?

We started off at Pinnacle Ridge, which to me was most like a traditional winery. It’s in an old stone barn and the wines were closest to what I would normally drink at home. I brought home a bottle of Veritas which they describe as “A unique blend of our Merlot, Cabernet Franc, and Cabernet Sauvignon — only produced in finest vintages. This is filled with aromas of toasty oak, vanilla, & black fruits; aged 16 months in American Oak.”

Next we went to Blair. My favorite part about this place was that you drive through the vineyard to get to the winery. I think this was the only place where I actually noticed the vines, you couldn’t miss them if you tried. Their wines weren’t my taste, but I did pick up a bottle of  Pinot Gris and this freezer bag contraption to make frozen Peach Bellini’s. I can’t wait for summer!

Then we were off to Long Trout Winery. I could have stayed here all day. They have a combination of grape wines and fruit wines, and surprisingly, as more of a dry red person, I kept trying mostly the fruit wines-they were soooo delicious. The place is a hippie haven and the tasting room looks like a cross between someone’s basement bar and a college bar like Shorty’s in Kutztown before they remodeled. The place is covered floor to ceiling in 60’s memorabilia, about 75% of it Beatles. I was in heaven! The people are friendly and it’s a really laid back atmosphere, even when the place was so packed you couldn’t move. The visitors even helped each other find the bottles of wine they were looking for and passed them across the crowd to the requester. They had three chocolate wines for the wine and chocolate pairing, countless berry wines, including a Bell Bottom Blueberry that was rather dry for a berry wine. The wine names are cute and creative (ie. Instant “O”, Forever Strawberry Fields, Yellow Snow) and the bottlenecks are tye dyed. They even have a disc golf field! They are also working on an addition that is more modern that the basement bar room, yet it should still match the vibe with its double doors that form a peace sign when closed and the wooden loft area. Hopefully people like the spaciousness of the new room and that will leave me more elbow room in the hippie bar! I left this place with 7 bottles, and I’m not even a sweet wine person!

Next was Bashore & Stoudt. They specialize in fruit wines as the fruit comes from Stoudt Orchards. This place was pretty crowded and there was a long wait in  line before you could taste anything. I’m not a fan of sweet fruit wines, and they were all very typical sweet fruit wines. I actually had to turn away samples because I was getting queasy from the sweetness. I saw other people enjoying them so if sweet is your thing, give it a try.

Next was Calvaresi, the inside was kind of cool because you could see the stainless tanks. I’m more of an oak wine person so I was not disappointed when we left before tasting anything because the visitors were hogging the wine tasting area.

The final stop was Clover Hill. They had a really nice gift shop and tasting area and a wider range of wine styles, which was welcome after all the sweet wines. They were having a big sale on their wine racks as well, up to 70% off. I believe it is still going on.

The only winery I was compelled to take pictures of was Long Trout. And most of them were of the memorabilia rather than the wine. The John Lennon picture is actually the wall paper…on the entire ceiling! If you want to check out more pictures click on the pictures posted here to go to my Flickr page.

I would absolutely go back to both Long Trout and Pinnacle Ridge. I’d also like to try some of the wineries on the Lehigh Valley Wine Trail (Pinnacle and Clover Hill are on both the Lehigh Valley and Berks Wine Trails).

First Friday tonight, Bethlehem restaurant week extended, sales

Quick update…

First Friday is tonight on the southside. Be sure to check out singer-song writer Dina Hall at Cleo’s and the big sale at Home & Planet (they are also raffling off a skateboard stool with skate decks provided by Homebase – proceeds go to the Bethlehem Skate Plaza). I can’t make it tonight so let me know how it went in the comments. I’ll be at Emeril’s and the Sands, my first time there since opening weekend in 2008. (Well…except that one time I went at 2AM hoping to get a sandwich from Carnegie and it was closed so we left…what’s up with that? It’s a casino…everything should be 24/7).

In case you haven’t heard, Bethlehem’s restaurant week was extended due to the bad weather. Check out the details here.

Groupon has a great deal on now for a $20 Barnes and Noble gift card for $10. I usually try to support local when I buy books, but I’ve been guilty of buying a book or two there…or maybe I’ll just use it on a DVD. Hurry the deal won’t last long it expires in 3 days or when they run out.

Also, if you are a Steel Fitness member you can get 15% off of services at Apotheca in the month of February. Check out my recommendation here.

Happy Friday!

Bucket List Update: Artsquest Souper Bowl

Wow, it’s been a while. Lot’s of little things to update everyone on.

First, I crossed another thing off of my 2011 bucket list: The Souper Bowl at the Banana Factory. This was the second annual event to run on Saturday, the weekend before the Super Bowl. If they continue on their sell out streak the only way to go next year is to pre-order your tickets. The event benefits Artsquest B. Smart after school enrichment program.

The event was very well attended (read: shoulder to shoulder packed) and I left completely stuffed with soup. I didn’t realize how full you can get from tiny cups of soup…granted a lot of tiny cups of soup. Two of my favorites were voted by ticket holders as the best soups: Cathy’s Creative Catering of Catasauqua had an amazing coconut shrimp bisque and Bethlehem’s Blue Sky Cafe‘s chilled blueberry soup. The coconut shrimp bisque was the only soup that made me say “wow!” its unique flavor really hit me on the first sip. The chilled blueberry was the only soup for which I went back for seconds. I somehow missed the Hampton Winds chicken paprikash, which was also voted into the top three. I’m sure it was amazing, there was some buzz about this one on Twitter.

I was so full after about an hour or so that I just had to quit, I didn’t make it through all of the soups. There was only one soup that I really disliked, all of the others were very good, but the two winners I mentioned really stood out and I was hard pressed to come up with a third one to vote for (ticket holders could vote for up to three soups).

It was a nice event but it could have used some entertainment and maybe could have been laid out a little better. For example all of the soup stations lined the walls, which is the expected arrangement, but it would have been more creative to have the soup stations in the middle so that the guests could admire the art on the walls of the two galleries.  As for entertainment, once I was full I left because there really was nothing else to do other than eat soup.

All in all, it is for a great cause, it’s a nice event and I’d do it again.

So that’s 2 out of 12 things checked off the bucket list in January, I have another one planned in February and two more already planned for June. I’m on a roll! I’m finding that actually putting the list in writing and out there for others to see has really helped me make progress. It gets people talking and people who already love something on my list have invited me to experience it with them and someone else who also always wanted to do something on the list has reached out and we made plans to get it done. It’s been great! Feel free to share your bucket list progress in the comments!