I took advantage of my daughter’s last day of summer vacation to treat her to a day in Lake George. It was not a food shopping trip in disguise — there was abundant mini golf and outlet shopping — but you’d be forgiven for thinking that.
Some of my favorite upstate shops and eateries are on this route, along with some new ones we were happy to discover, and neither of us wanted to miss them.
The first stop, among the many T-shirt and souvenir shops on Canada Street, was Sweet Tooth in the Village Mall. It has a huge fudge display and loads of prepackaged candy, but I was impressed with the breadth of novelties and jotted down some notes for what we should offer in the camp Snack Barn next year. Erika left with a Chick O Stick, a peanut butter-coconut concoction; I brought Julie a package of Boyer smoothie cups — think Reese’s peanut butter cups, but butterscotch, not chocolate.
Next stop: Ali Baba Express, a 3-year-old Turkish restaurant on Canada Street that’s one of our favorites. It a very unpretentious storefront spot, but the food is loftier. Lavash — a sesame-crusted, puffed flatbread — is rolled and baked when you step inside. It’s served with labneh, a savory yogurt sauce that soothes some of the fire that can come later in your meal. Erika’s “spicy, please” falafel was a sandwich of little fireballs, the chickpea fritters doused in a hot, creamy sauce and covered in pickled onions and strips of cucumber and other veggies. My chicken curry — spicy, tender, creamy — was everything it should be, accompanied by cold green beans, white rice and pickled onions. In past visits, red onions were served, but traditional yellow onions were still fine, though not as sweet. We’ve been there four or five times now, and have never been disappointed by a dish, whether ordering kebabs, salads or dips, like a killer hummus.
After rooting through $2 T-shirt bins, embarrassing myself at mini golf (we tied, five over par) and shopping at the nearby outlets, we stopped at Martha’s Dandee Creme, a 50-year-old soft ice cream joint across from the Six Flags Great Escape amusement park in Queensbury. While we’ve seen prices creek up at ice cream parlors, Martha’s seems to still be a good value, with an enormous peanut butter shake and a butterscotch sundae with a softball-sized mound of whipped cream running us about $7. The soft ice cream selection is impressive, with about a dozen flavors of soft ice cream churning in their enormous machines.
The last stop before heading home was Oscar’s Smoke House in Warrensburg, about 5 miles north of Lake George Village. What used to be a small business has ballooned since it got some national publicity (thank you, Rachael Ray) and a new rather sizable shop and production area after a fire destroyed the original structure a few years ago. We always pick up beef jerky and kielbasa links, but for about $50, we came home loaded today: Duck-applejack sausage, chicken-apple sausage, beef bacon, cheese-stuffed brats, andouille links, cheddar-blue cheese spread and a lovely pork tenderloin that became our dinner tonight.
Two other places I need to note:
Between home and Saratoga Springs, Lake George or anywhere east, we pass Waterwheel Village, a country store on Route 29 in the hamlet of Mosherville that specializes in cheese, specialty foods and vintage candy. We stopped a week ago for their homemade cheese bread, goat cheese and a few cans of Vernor’s ginger ale, so we didn’t need to stop today, but that’s an aberration. Its cheese selection is impressive; we always have a brick of sharp cheddar “store cheese” in our fridge.
And while we were having lunch, I found a Facebook message from my pal Tony Casale, who was suggesting a stop at Capri Pizzeria on Canada Street. “One of my top five pizza places in the USA,” Tony wrote, and since he grew up in an Italian restaurant family, I trust his judgment. Next time.