Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Creating Easter Dessert: Lemon Praline Torte

 Sometimes I just want to try and make something difficult...just to see if I can.  Last summer, while visiting the King Arthur store

(It's in Vermont and has a WONDERFUL bakery) I bought this book "Extraordinary Cakes" by Karen Krasne.  It has the most beautiful cakes in it.  I attempted one at Christmas.  It tasted fine, but I hadn't budgeted enough time, so it was still a bit frozen when we were ready to eat it.

So I was determined to get it right, and selected the Lemon Praline Torte.  This torte is no joke..when I was making up the store list..I totalled 2 dozen eggs, 4 1/2 C sugar and 3 1/4 C of butter...yowzah!  This time I read ALL the instructions carefully, and plotted out my time over a 3 day period.  Because this torte has the following layers:

Genoise Cake
Lemon Curd
Lemon Butter Cream
French Meringue
Crushed Hazelnut/Almond Praline

So, Day 1 I made the lemon curd and lemon simple syrup.
Day 2 I made the genoise...see below beating the 10 eggs!
Then, the meringue...which is the middle layer of the torte and gives it a crunchy chewy texture:
Then the lemon buttercream, which has an Italian meringue in it...and LOTS of butter:
And you put it all together to make this:

It is spectacular..all kinds of textures, sweet, tart, crunchy, chewy...worth all the work!

Innkeeper Grape Arbor Bed & Breakfast

Friday, April 10, 2015

Lake Erie Ale Trail

Not everyone is a wine lover.  There are some people who prefer beer to wine.  The Erie Visitor's Bureau has put together the Lake Erie Ale Trail--so in the interest of providing more information for our guests, Assistant Innkeeper Paul and I ventured out to visit some of the breweries on the trail.

Brewerie at Union Station
Because we are wimps, we only made it to two in the afternoon that we had. (I should say...I am the wimp, and I was driving).  First we stopped at The Brewerie at Union Station.  I have to admit, I have never been to Union Station in the 13 years of living in this area...and it is beautiful.

It is a train station, and there are many well-appointed tables and areas to sit and enjoy.  There were 8 beers to sample when we were there, and we tasted all 8, which ranged from some lighter ales to stouts.  My favorites were the Big Easy (a seasonal, so it might not be there when you visit) and the Amber, while Paul absolutely loved the Girl Stout Thin Mint!   There is a pub menu..we ordered the pulled pork tacos...yum!
Selection of Beers at Brewerie.

Our second stop couldn't have been any more different!  As elegant and impressive as the Union Station venue is, Lavery Brewing Company is cozy and neighborly.  They are a bit hard to find, and you walk through the outside maze of the bottling area to arrive at the tasting area.  The staff is extremely knowledgeable and passionate about their beer.

Lavery gift shop

Here we tried six beers (now you know why only two breweries).  My favorite was the Space Monkey, while Paul liked the Liopard Oir (hmm, they say it is made for ladies, crazies and connoisseurs). 

We ordered the charcuterie plate to go with, that had some very tasty smoked cheeses, venison sausage and chorizo.

Our host at Lavery Brewery

 If you are a beer lover...mark your calendar for Saturday, April 18, the 9th Annual MicroBrew Festival with 30 craft brewers and 20 home brewers....two sittings, at the Brewerie.

Until next time.....

Innkeeper Grape Arbor Bed & Breakfast

Thursday, April 9, 2015

A Fireplace in Isabella

One of our Winter projects was in our first floor, private garden room named Isabella. This project was inspired by the need for a new fireplace and it is a beauty. It is a jet black cast iron gas fireplace that has become the focal point in the room. Of course the fireplace demanded a fresh coat of paint as warm as a smoky red wine.

Once the new fireplace was installed (thank you Matt Hanby and Vince from Matters of the Hearth in Findley Lake, NY).

Peggy and Tajana began removing the old decorative wall paper and all the lights and hardware. Then Peggy gave the sconce lights a lovely shiny hammered steel finish. That really connected the new fireplace to the room. Then it was trim painting, trim painting, and more trim painting.

Isabella is graced with huge and beautiful windows that reflect the era in which 51 E Main was built (1832). In fact, one of our feline residents (Pirelli the cat) tried to leave his signature on the window sill...but fortunately we caught it and he did not leave a trail of kitty prints throughout the house.

It took about two weeks to complete the project, and it was worth it! Isabella is ready for our many guests that will enjoy this room with the private garden.


Until next time.....

Cheers from
the Innkeeper
Grape Arbor Bed & Breakfast

Monday, April 6, 2015

Lake Erie Beer and Ale Trail--along the Wine Trail!

Here in Pennsylvania Wine Country, we have been eagerly waiting for the openings of two local breweries that are to be attached to our wineries.  Finally...a date!  Arundel Cellars and Brewing Company is having their grand opening of their brewery on April 10th!  We stopped by after hearing from some of our guests that they were getting tastes of beer along with the wine tasting.

The day that we were beer...they were installing the lines..but the building is really neat, and promises to be a wonderful addition to the winery.  We also grabbed a schedule of their concert series for this summer..starting Saturday, June 13th..then every Friday in July!

Five and 20 Spirits and Brewery is just across the border in New York..and they are promising to open their brewery by this summer!

Innkeeper Grape Arbor Bed & Breakfast

Friday, April 3, 2015

Easter Traditions

Like everyone, we have our own traditions here at the Grape Arbor!

Of course we decorate!  There are bunnies, chick, and eggs all around.  And we bake...Hot Cross Buns (recipe given earlier), specialty Easter breads galore!

But our family tradition is for baskets...with our favorite chocolates and one small special gift.  I come from a large family, so we didn't hunt for our baskets, but had designated places/colors where each person's basket would be.

Enjoy your holiday!

Innkeeper Grape Arbor Bed & Breakfast