Memorial Day Weekend: American Flags, cheap beer, BBQ’s. and truncated
weekends away with family and friends.  I journeyed to the vacation destination of my youth.  Nestled near the town of Catskill is The Baliwick Discovery Zoo, a place I highly recommend for animal lovers with a hankering to hand carrots to capuchins and camels.   I worked up an appetite feeding this big guy way too many of my farm fresh carrots.
Megan meets Camel, Megan feeds camel, carrot goooooood
Baliwick Ranch and Discovery Zoo
118 Castle Road
Catskill, NY 12414
(518) 678-5665
As you can see, I make the camels work for it.  Obviously, nothing spells stretching your arm repeatedly over a dirt moat like some good old fashioned greasy pizza.  Luckily, I didn’t have to drive very far to find the perfect place.  Just down the road a bit is Angela’s Pizzeria and Brewery.
The out-side of Angela’s
Angela’s Pizzeria & Brewery
4545 NY Route 32
Catskill, NY 12414
(518) 678-9275
I remember this destination as The Pioneer Pancake House back in the late eighties, early nineties.   After missing my annual jaunt a few years running I was pleasantly surprised to visit this restaurant and find the unique and interesting transition from pancake palace to Italian hot spot, to hybrid pizzeria brewery.  The menu is extensive and full of palatable choices.
To split we ordered a massive calzone and pizza with the full intention that leftovers would abound and we couldn’t have been more right.  With five different fillings, it was tight between The Godfather Calzone brimming with ricotta, ham, salami, pepperoni and mozzarella and The Calzone De La Casa with ricotta, roasted garlic, sausage, spinach and mozzarella. We ended up going with the latter. The large version of this dish was half the size of a small table top.
Calzone the size of half a pizza
Their specialty pizza featuring such fetching items as The Garlic Knot Pie and The Bambino, loaded with meatballs, extra cheese made it harder to choose than agreeing to the right finalist for the third season of American Idol.  We settled on The C.B.R. with grilled chicken, bacon ranch dressing and Mozzarella.  It. Was. Delicious.  If anything, the only thing wrong with Angela’s Pizzeria & Brewery is that it isn’t closer to NYC, so I can call them on Friday and have them deliver to me.  Actually, given my recent decision to train for a half marathon maybe I don’t want that.
 However, their Rip Van Winkle Brewing Company travels to beer festivals closer to home.  They had three of their beers available on tap which all had an excellent rich flavor
that paired nicely with the pizza.  I requested the most popular which was the Kiskatom Brown Ale.  Inspired by the local Native American Mohican word for hickory nut, or Kiskatom it’s a dark brown ale with a hint of nuttiness and chocolate malt.  I followed it with The Mamma Mia Maibock which suggests the name comes from the fact that after a
couple of these beverages you’ll coo “mama mia”……due to the high alcohol content after a couple of these you may cry “a cab, a cab, my kingdom for a cab”.  All joking aside, I think The Rip Van Winkle Brewing Company has a very bright future and if you happen upon a
local beer festival and see their name stop by and try it out.  You won’t be disappointed.  Better yet, if you’re looking for a quiet off road destination consider visiting The Catskill region and making a pit stop.  Their growlers of The Rip Van Winkle will leave you growling for more.
Take It To Go

 

On the second day, I traveled down to the land of peace, love, and floor length bohemian dresses.  Woodstock has become a destination for city folk and upstate locals alike.  I chose to sample two of their foodtractions.  For brunch we stopped at Oriole 9, a quaint packed little joint featuring farm to table entrees brimming with rich bold flavors.

 

The out-side of Oriole 9
Oriole 9
17 Tinker Street, Woodstock, NY
12498
(845) 679-5763
Upon entering, it features three massive chalkboards that give the diners the option to answer the question, before I die….  My favorite response was the person who wanted the iPhone 5C, they obviously didn’t place enough faith in their longevity.

 

I opted for The Italian Breakfast which was two eggs, any style, garlic toast, sofrito sauce served with a side salad.  It had a twinge of spice and obeyed the mission statement of the restaurant by all being very fresh.

Oriole 9’s Italian Breakfast
As a side, I couldn’t help myself from sampling the falafel.  I’m a sucker for Mediterranean cuisine.  A plate of olives and hummus will keep me happy for days.  The falafel was crisp with a nice dab of tziki.
falafel
The coffee mugs were like something out of a Friend’s episode.  Massive and inviting, there is an extensive selection of brews to choose from.  I was very tempted to delve into the Affogato, espresso and home made vanilla ice-cream but as I looked at my watch which was still very much before 12pm reason set in and instead ordered Cafe con Panna: espresso with homemade whip cream.
Cafe con Panna: delicioso!!
After peering up at the daily board of specials I noted they had a rhubarb pie, I asked after it and the waitress immediately suggested instead their homemade dutch apple.  When in Rome, I had to say yes. The dutch apple pie was served with a scoop of their fresh vanilla ice-cream so I guess I surrendered to early morning ice-cream temptation after all.
Dutch apple pie with homemade vanilla ice-cream
After letting my stomach rest for all of two hours.  I happened upon a Food Network celebrity right in the midst of my vacation paradise.  Could I ask for anything more?
A groovy cupcake establishment
Peace, Love, & Cupcakes
 54F Tinker Street
PO Box 594
Woodstock, NY 12498
(845) 247-3687
I decided to take some of her Food Network award winning old fashioned chocolate cake with yummy rich chocolate frosting and yet another award winning delicacy, The Hippie Chipper Sandwich Cookie.    Two cookies with a creamy peanut butter pretzel truffle filling.  It was rich and delightful.  It’s the kind of cookie that you split with a friend.  The next time you’re looking for a little peace, love, and flavor for days stop by this adorable bakery right off the man street in Woodstock.
One of my final food pit stops came at a diner right out of a Coca Cola ad.  Betty’s Place is as traditional as Sunday night dinner, and when you’re looking for cuisine slapped right off the griddle and onto your hot plate look no further.
So quaint, your grandma might come out that door any minute

 

Betty’s Place

1122 Main Street

Leeds, NY 12451

(518) 943-1266

 

Burger Challenge!!!
No off the road upstate eatery is complete without a drumroll please!  Eating challenge!!  After consuming fifteen chili taco’s in an hour at Taco King in West Hempstead, NY I have my eyes set on other ways to lovingly torture my tonsils.  Total disclosure, I have competed and indeed won myself a t-shirt and a place on the Betty’s Big Mouth Burger hall of fame.  However, they recently moved all the old Polaroids into a photo album and there’s always room for improvement.  If you’re looking for a food challenge and an afternoon of feeling like you have a burger baby in your belly try this.  You’ll have the t-shirt to prove your prowess and a place on their wall of fame.
Maple Walnut Pancakes
Betty’s specializes in their breakfasts and it’s nothing short of good down home diner cooking at it’s finest.  I suggest you try their delicious maple walnut pancakes.  The portions are big so if you stop here  plan to eat very little the rest of the day or have space for the to go bag in the backseat.
Traditional Hungry Man

This summer, whether you need a daycation or a few days of R&R take a break and visit The Catksills.  With a plethora of lazy activities as well as dishes to brag to your friends about it’s worth the two hour car ride.  Just don’t leave your growler of Rip Van Winkle brew behind, you’ll be wanting that when you get back to the chaos of home.

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