a ‘French’ picnic…

…is a ‘PicNique.’

Andrew and I don’t go to wineries often, but when I heard one of our favorites was hosting a ‘PicNique,’ I thought it would be a great excuse to get up there for another visit.  Chateau Niagara has been owned by another Moog employee for about 12 years, and he and his wife have big plans for the vineyard after he retires in a couple years.  We’ve been to tastings and even helped pick grapes one year!

Around this same time, we were also trying to arrange a get together with some of our college friends, the Bairs, who have been living here for the past few years.  We don’t see each other nearly enough, and I’m beyond thrilled that they are coming to our 3rd of July party (today–East Aurora celebrates a day early).  The event was kid-friendly (their boys are very well behaved) and it was the perfect way to spend a hot Saturday.

After a lunch of grilled chicken, veggies, pork with gorgonzola mustard and–of course–wine, we did a quick tasting and bought a few bottles to take home.  Their Kagor is a deep red wine designed to be eaten with chocolate and it’s out-of-this-world good.  Definitely a show-stopper.  The owner, Jim, does a fabulous job with tastings and I think his background as an engineer really adds to the wine-making.  The winery is up in Newfane–quite a hike for us East Aurorians–but the perfect destination for a stop to pick up our friends in Kenmore on the way.

Buffalo didn’t escape the nationwide heat wave this past weekend, so we decided an ice cream stop was in order.  But first, we couldn’t pass up Bye’s Popcorn, a tiny road-side stand that’s been serving caramel corn for 95 years!  The Andrews jumped out of the cool van and grabbed two small bags for munching in the car.  I’m not a huge caramel corn fan, but this was pretty good.  Deep brown and well-coated, each bite was crunchy and sweet.

Next stop: Lake Effect Ice Cream in Lockport, located right on the Erie Canal.  If it had been cooler, it would have been fun to walk around a little.

I’m familiar with the ice cream (it’s local to Western New York and sold in stores, including our co-op), but had never actually had it before.  They have flavors like Paula’s Glazed Donut (one of local popular donut joints) and Frozen Hot Chocolate. It was packed.

Andrew and Liza’s boys were in heaven.  Sawyer went to town on his chocolate, and Jack enjoyed his cone relatively mess-free.

When we returned to the Bairs’ house, Andrew and I played a few rounds of Super Mario on the old-school Super Nintendo with Jack.  It brought back so many memories!  I played Super Mario and Donkey Kong with my sister (and my grandmother!) growing up.

We said our goodbyes and headed home after Andrew lost all his turns.  I capped off my night with some laps at our local pool.  It took a heat wave to get Andrew and me out of project mode and actually ENJOY friends and exploring more of WNY, but we won’t let this be our last fun weekend of the summer.

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