Tag Archives: Visit Chautauqua

Grapes and Alton Brown

We love Alton Brown. Me more for taste, Jim more for the science of cooking as he wonders about this, my strange preponderance with food. Mr. Brown has a Welch’s ad on television that is filmed in Erie County, NY. A preponderance of Concord grapes can be found in Chautauqua County, home of the WCTU (Women’s Christian Temperance Union), more grapes than anywhere and they are grafting vinifera and don’t have phylloxera because of the strength of the vines.

The home of the WCTU is a small Victorian house in Chautauqua Institution, and Chautauqua is a place where our family shares a history. Butternut Hollow in Portland, Chautauqua NY may help you do a show on the story of grapes in Chautauqua County. My blog’s biggest hits come from my home-town Concord grape post, one of my first posts. Yes, and Manischewitz was right down the street from my childhood home.

Your show should come from Chautauqua County and include grape pies, schiattiata con al’uva and other delights. The Italian “pizza” is a dough that is risen once and rolled out, grapes are added (with seeds) and left to rise again, sugar is added and it is baked. Yum! I’ve only had that in Tuscany. Perhaps there’s a book in the mail that will bring us further on the grape trail… ‘Til then, cheers, Dee


Concord Grape Season

By the number of hits I see on my blog every day about how to eat a Concord grape, I know there is interest in the product, which is good for grape growers and everyone else employed in making most of these gorgeous clusters into juice.

For those who get to eat one bunch (legally) off the vine it is a treasure and one I appreciated as a kid but not to the extent I do now. I’m thrilled that you want to know this stuff, how to eat a Concord grape is my most-read blog entry. We had a private tour of a Portland NY farm and Jim’s Dad, a rancher and former dairy farmer for 30 years, enjoyed seeing the operation first-hand.

Growers are invited to write in with recipes for people driving through Chautauqua County who can’t possibly eat all the grapes they bought at the farmers’ market. As for me, I miss it. Watching the grapes grow and going to pick blueberries at the farm up the hill was fantastic. Part of it is being a kid and taking off my shoes after the snow was gone and going barefoot for the summer, climbing cliffs, catching crayfish and playing with the local kids along the creek where I want my ashes to be buried, if the then-current owners consent.

The other part is what living next door to a farm we learned a bit about the land and all our neighbors were in FFA (Future Farmers of America) and we were Girl Scouts. No, we never had a heifer, only a dog that we had to give to a farmer when we moved. My dad tried to tame the land, to no avail. I’d love to buy it back to retire on but that’s years away.

As for taste memories, grapes, cherries, blueberries and baby strawberries come to mind. It was a short growing season but farmers made good use of the time they had and grew mainly apples and grapes. Grape season back home now means snow season here. I just looked out the window and the snow is coming down, and sticking, hopefully not to the roads yet. Jim may forget that when I grew up back east I shoveled regularly but never had to deal with snow tires or chains as I was too young to drive. Our weekends were full of chores, nonetheless. Hope you’re having a quiet evening before settling in for another week. Cheers, Dee.