Just a quick blog to note some highlights from my weekend trip to Rochester. First, it was great to hang out with my friend Jeff again. Well worth 8 hours of driving, even through the rain and hail!
Aside from geeking out to Rock Band and Burnout Paradise (which was mainly reserved for late night debauchery), we were pretty much out and about all weekend. First, he lives right in downtown Fairport, which is a small village along the Erie Canal. There’s no surprise that it’s been listed several times in the Top 100 Places to Live in America. This village reminds me of some of the small coastal communities along the East Coast, with many thriving local shops and pubs. I enjoyed being able to walk everywhere in the village rather than take a car. Along the canal there is a bike path and a park, with many boat launches and private piers and boat ties.
We spent a solid afternoon driving around the Rochester area. Our first stop was to Beers of the World, a modest looking beverage store with a very impressive selection. I had to really fight off my impulses and stick to a mixed 6-pack (though it was a really good mixed six, weighing in at $38). Aside from the huge beer selection from around the world, they also sell homebrew supplies, glassware, and cigars.
After the beer store we drove around a bit and made our way to a very sketchy looking shopping plaza with lots of teenage kids loitering around. Go figure, there was a huge gaming store there. I can’t remember the name of the place, but it was geek heaven. I used to play RPGs as a kid, but I was amazed at the amount of games, miniatures, and other accessories for these games there are now. Kids must drop a fortune on this stuff. I made my way over to the board and card game area, and resisted the urge to buy several games. Yes, I left empty-handed. But, I have a list! Yes, I’m a geek, but honestly the games are far more complex and hold my attention better than the standard Monopoly/Life/Clue genres do. On my list are more booster packs for Killer Bunnies, many variations of Chez Geek, and some Settlers of Catan and Carcassonne expansions.
After our drive around town, we chilled at his house with a few beers and then walked down to a great pub called Donnelley’s. I’d been there the last time I visited Jeff, and that last trek had us searching for nearly an hour on icy sidewalks and biting wind. We finally found it after deciding to walk away from two sketchy looking guys who we ran into in a dark side street (and upon leaving, saw that we’d have found the place had we walked 50 more feet when we first got there). Anyhoo… So this time we both knew where we were going. The food at Donnelley’s is very good and they feed you well. I had the pulled pork sandwich with a smoked bourbon sauce… I was stuffed! Donnelley’s also has a great selection of beer on tap, and I was very pleased with seeing Arrogant Bastard on the tap list. I think we ended up hanging around there for about 3 hours, until I was simply stuffed.
After Donnelley’s it was back to Jeff’s for (you guessed it) more good beer and Rock Band. We had a few amazing storms roll through as well. One thunder clap sounded like a cannon going off right outside, and the lightning was blinding. But that also seems to be par for the course all over the Northeast this summer. (I can’t remember a 100% dry day.)
Sunday morning we went out to Highland Park Diner for breakfast. Jeff warned me ahead of time that a breakfast there pretty much carries you through to dinner, and he was right, but I was not prepared for the quality of the food. One word: Amazing! I had a hard time deciding what to order, and settled on a style of dish I haven’t had in years. I ordered the Italian Benedict, which was grilled Italian bread with Italian sausage, poached eggs, fresh Roma tomatoes, fresh whole basil leaves and Hollandaise sauce, served with a side of home fries and fresh fruit. A huge plate, amazing flavor, and $8. And yes, I was full until dinner. I highly recommend this diner to anyone in or visiting the Rochester area!