Sunday, September 27, 2015

Exploring Erie



Exploring Erie

Writers file into the tasting room at South Shore Wine Company

I thoroughly enjoyed spending a few days in Erie this past week as part of the MATPRA2015 conference and the weather couldn’t have been better, with bright, sunny days in the mid-70s.

 

The Sheraton Erie Bayfront is THE place to stay while in the area. It’s comfortable and convenient to area attractions.  Staff at the hotel welcomed our group with delicious pumpkin Russians and wine in the lobby upon our arrival. They had me at “pumpkin.”


After lunch aboard the Victorian Princess, our party of 40 broke up into smaller groups to pursue their own interests. Kayaking around Presque Isle State Park was big with some members of the group who paddled their way along lagoons, Graveyard Pond and Misery Bay.
US Brig Niagara at the Erie Maritime Museum
 
View from the Sheraton Hotel room

I chose an activity that was a bit more sedate—a wine and chocolates tour, which is probably no surprise to those who know me. Our group boarded a bus and was whisked off to Parade Street to tour Palakos, a small, family owned chocolate business that has been operating since 1889. We donned our hairnets and were led through the factory to observe employees making an array of chocolate specialties. At the conclusion of the tour, we were gifted with a bag of their sponge taffy, a chocolate covered treat with a nougat-like spongy interior. Now I know why; it’s surprisingly addicting and I’ll likely have to have it shipped to my house now. Thanks Palakos.


Having our fill of chocolates, we hopped back on the bus and proceeded to Erie’s wine region, rolling past acres of vineyards before arriving at the beautiful South Shore Wine Company.  The original stone wine cavern, one of just a few fashioned after French wine caverns, dates back to the 1860s. Of all the wines I tasted, I enjoyed the dry Lemberger best. With its pepper and cherry aromas, it was distinctively different from the rest.  I ended up taking home a port, however, which is surprising since I’m not usually a fan.  The Forte of Chambourcin paired wonderfully with the chocolate truffle provided. I have great plans for the port, which include pairing it with my decadent nine-egg cheesecake for my friend Jeannie’s birthday celebration.


Fans of craft beer opted to tour the area’s four breweries and others took the “Erie Arts and Culture Tour,” to visit the Erie Art Museum, the expERIEnce Children’s Museum and the ornate historic Warner Theater, which dates back to 1929.


Later that evening, the group reconvened at Presque Isle Downs to enjoy a little horse racing and a wonderful buffet and no, I didn’t get lucky.


On day two, I opted to tour Presque Isle via Segway and it turns out the weather was perfect for the excursion. We glided along park trails, watched fishermen attempt to reel in their catches and took in the serene scene of seagulls perched on rocks surrounded by the blue water of the beach.
 
Beach view on Presque Isle Park

All in all it was a great trip and I wish I had the time to see more, but I am sure I will be reading about what I missed in the upcoming articles of my fellow writers.

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