June 18, 2022

We rented out the beach house last week and headed up to Claverack. From there we set out Saturday morning, driving out along beautiful Route 20. Around noon we stopped off in Cazenovia for lunch, where we waited for traffic to move while a gay pride parade went through, for about 15 minutes.

Lunch was in the tavern room at Lincklaen House, a historic hotel in the center of town.

I had beef on weck, a regional specialty consisting of grilled beef tenderloin, sliced and served on a bun, with a peppered gravy for dipping. This was the first time I’ve had it, and it was delicious, cooked to a proper medium rare, and served with Saratoga chips. Stanley had a very good Reuben.


Continuing on Route 20 we arrived in Skaneateles at 2:30, where we checked into the charming Sherwood Inn, which was recommended to me by my cousin Karen, who lives in nearby Marcellus where we would be visiting the next day. She also provided lots of advice on restaurants and sightseeing. The inn is on the main street facing the lake.

We got settled in our room before heading to Auburn, a few miles away, to visit a couple of historic sites. First, we drove through Fort Hill Cemetery, where many prominent people are buried, including William Seward, who was Secretary of State under Lincoln. Then we visited the Seward house museum. Here are some photos:

Back in Skanateles, we had cocktails at Mirbeau, a spa and restaurant, where we sat at a table overlooking a tranquil pond.
The food there is not known to be anything special, so we continued on to dinner at The Krebs 1899, which is known for its food.

We started with a shared appetizer of duck croquettes, which were delicious. Stanley had steak, which was fine, but my porchetta was exceptional. The sauces and accompaniments were excellent. For dessert we shared a chocolate tart. Perfect. The wine I wanted, a Bandol for $50, was out of stock, so the sommelier proposed a 2016 Haut Medoc which was impressive. The markups on wine are very reasonable here, and though most on the list are in the hundreds of dollars, there are enough at the lower end that are worthwhile and priced very well.

Service was excellent. The only problem was an error on the bill, so if you come here be sure to check it carefully (as I always recommend everywhere; mistakes happen).


Sunday began with a boat tour on Skaneateles Lake. The landscape and the grand houses along the shore are worth your time. The captain tells all about the lake and the histories and owners, past and present.


We then drove through Auburn and Seneca Falls to two vineyards, both along Seneca Lake. The first was Wagner, whose ice wine we have had in the past, and I was hoping to buy some. Alas, they didn’t have any due to a shortage of bottles, but we did a tasting, which was an education in Finger Lakes wines. The tasting is $10 per person and you get to keep your glass. Some were pretty good, some less interesting, all reasonably priced. We bought a couple of bottles of a sweet Riesling and one of rose.

Determined to find ice wine to buy, we tried another vineyard up the road, Boundary Breaks, which is a smaller and less-known operation that I thought might be more likely to have some. Sure enough, they did, and after taking a taste we bought a couple of bottles. At around $70 for a half-bottle, it’s probably the most expensive wine in the region. Ice wine is so expensive because it is labor-intensive and in limited production.



Next on our trip was a visit to my cousin Karen, whom I hadn’t seen in many years, at her wonderful house in Marcellus. It was really nice to get reacquainted. We had some wine and snacks and then she treated us to dinner at Rosalie’s Cucina in Skaneateles, where I had the best carpaccio ever. The veal Marsala and bracciole were great too.

It was a lovely night on the patio, chilly but heated by a fireplace and gas heaters, which made it completely comfortable.


On Monday morning, we left to go back to Claverack, stopping in Cooperstown for lunch at the Otesaga, overlooking Otsego Lake. The buffet was pretty good and the view idyllic.



Looking for a place to celebrate our anniversary, I did a lot of research, to find something worthy of a special occasion without being ridiculously expensive. The options are surprisingly few. We also wanted something that was elegant without being stuffy. Le Coucou fit perfectly.

The atmosphere is beautiful, the staff very welcoming and attentive. The chef, Daniel Rose, is an American who has had several restaurants in Paris, and opened Le Coucou in 2016. The food is classic but not heavy. The flavors are vibrant and the quality of the ingredients is top-notch.

We started with sweetbreads and a quenelle, and for main courses Stanley had tout le lapin, which was rabbit prepared three ways, while I had roast veal with morels. All of these were superb. For dessert we chose baba au rhum and a chocolate ganache cake. They were very good but not as creative as they might have been if there were a pastry chef. Nonetheless the mignardises and madeleines served after were on the level of a good Parisian restaurant.

Wine prices are of course high but the markups are not extreme. I found a 2011 Saint-Chinian for $98 that retails for $39. It was an excellent choice.

Total with tip was about $430.