October 16 -18
Hungry but not starving after our visit to the Hall of Fame, we walked two blocks to a very busy Doubleday Café. It was the lunchtime rush and we were fortunate to get a table for two near the entrance and as crowded as the place was, were promptly served by a charming waitress. Wanting just a snack in order to leave room for a bigger meal later in the day, we opted for a coffee apiece and a freshly baked apple crisp topped with a large scoop of vanilla ice cream.
It was the perfect mid-day treat, one that left us full of caffeine and a sugar rush but wouldn’t get in the way of our later intentions. Settling up the tab $13 including a tip, we thought of the many “snacks” we’ve shared in the past and agreed that this one was right up there in the top ten.
To kill some time, we then went next door to Willis Monie Books, which you entered through an alley like storefront. Inside we discovered a large space so crammed with books one had to exercise care to not trip over stacks of books on the floor lining the bottoms of the bookshelves.
I browsed around looking to fill some holes in our own collection but coming up empty, I went to exit the store and in doing so, as described in a Trip Advisor review, found “the proprietor partially hidden behind more stacks” and could have asked him for specific books as he apparently “knows where everything is”.
Midafternoon now approaching, we’d put off long enough our visit to a brewery whose products we’ve long enjoyed and look forward to visiting, Brewery Ommegang. Founded in 1997 by Don Feinberg and Wendy Littlefield, owners of beer import company Vanberg & DeWulf, Ommegang started up in a purpose-built building based on a traditional Belgian farmhouse, set on a former 136-acre hop farm four miles south of Cooperstown. Feinberg and Littlefield sold their share of Ommegang in 2003 to Belgian brewer Duvel Moortgat Brewery, brewers of the Duvel Golden Ale. Duvel Moortgat brewed limited amounts of beer for Brewery Ommegang in 2006 to help meet demand but has not brewed any since then.
It was cold and rainy when we arrived and entering the lobby, were informed it would be about a forty-minute wait to get a table. We hit the gift shop to pick up a couple of souvenirs (including a four pack of Three Philosophers) and then, stopped at the bar to order a Rosetta (Sour Ale aged on Cherries) for Joanna and Abbey Ale (Dubbel with Licorice Root, Orange Peel, and spices) for me which we carried outside to the covered patio. With rain coming down and the wind blowing, it was chillier than desired, but we toughed it out and had just about finished with the beers, when we got called to our table.
While Joanna went to the table I stopped back at the bar to order a Double Barrel Dubbel (Abbey Ale aged for six months in a mix of bourbon and brandy casks at 9%) and was seated to order a Chicken and Waffles (crispy buttermilk chicken breast on a Three Philosophers Liege-style waffle topped with maple bechamel, berry coulis, bacon and scallions) for her and a Chicken Sandwich (Fried chicken breast, garlic aioli, sliced pickles, on a brioche bun) for me.
For dessert, we split a glass of the Rye Barrel Vanilla Stout (10.7%) and discussed our plans for the next day. Rain would keep us grounded, no bike riding here which would be difficult anyway with narrow roads and lots of traffic, so we settled the tab, not terribly expensive considering the quantity and quality of the food and beer at $74 including a tip.
The next morning, we took off for Norwich to visit the Northeast Classic Car Museum, which opened in 1997. This is a not-for-profit educational facility that collects, preserves, interprets, and exhibits vehicles related to the evolution of transportation, with particular emphasis on the role of the automobile and its impact on American culture.
Most of what is on display is from the private collection of George Staley as he was running out of room for his personal holdings when he was approached by the planners from Norwich wanting to build a museum. With over 160 vehicles from 1899 through the early 1970s on display in five connected buildings, it took us quite a while to walk through all the exhibits, some of which feature Franklin automobiles (a personal focus of the Staley collection), luxury vehicles, post-war vehicles, and cars made in New York State.
What was most impressive about the cars here, particularly the Staley vehicles, was how immaculate they were, how faithfully restored, and how they represented a bygone era of automaking. We also enjoyed spending time in the room that held a bunch of muscle cars as I still fondly recall the 1966 Chevrolet Chevelle coupe I bought at the beginning of my senior year in High School. Equipped with a 327 cubic inch V8, 4-speed manual transmission, bucket seats and some other performance goodies, it was my 60’s dream machine, and one I would get rid of a couple of years later when its 8-miles to the gallon of gas performance threatened to bankrupt me.
We finished up at the Museum and then drove to nearby Oneonta to look for a bookstore and a small bite to eat. We found the main street of its quaint downtown and parked a few store fronts down from the Green Toad Bookstore and its neighbor, the Latte Lounge. Our goal was to find a few postcards that spoke of the area as we would soon be visiting my former boss Margaret and she asked to find some to assist her in helping one of her fellow borders at their independent living facility to regain some of her memory.
Unfortunately, the bookstore didn’t carry cards like that, but it did provide us with an avenue to stop next door for a spot of caffeine and one of the best turkey club sandwiches we’ve had since that memorable one we enjoyed at Ballast Point in North San Diego County (https://3jmann.com/2020/12/20/arizona-sojourn-part-eight/).
Done being tourists for the day, we returned to the Best Western to spend a relaxing remainder of the afternoon in preparation for our drive to New Hampshire the next day. At some point later in the afternoon I walked across the parking lot to a nearby supermarket to pick up some supplies and in doing so noted China Wok, a busy Chinese take-out joint and it planted a bug in my head. After many nights of eating out and after a long day of driving around, the thought of eating relatively healthy food in the room gained a foothold.
Joanna agreed with me, so we called in our order for a Hunan Chicken combo dinner (with pork fried rice and pork egg roll) and one of the Shrimp and Chinese Vegetables. Soon thereafter she went to fetch our order, we opened a couple of cold beers and ate some very good food, leaving for the first time in a while, no leftovers. Our visit to Cooperstown was drawing to a close and we could see why many people come to visit this area, full of good restaurants and beautiful countryside. Oh, and the Hall of Fame.
Doubleday Café: https://doubledaycafe.com/
Willis Monie Books: https://www.wilmonie.com/
Brewery Ommegang: https://www.ommegang.com/
Northeast Classic Car Museum: https://classiccarmuseum.org/
Green Toad Bookstore: https://greentoadbookstore.com/
Latte Lounge: https://www.latteloungeoneonta.com/