Welcome to our list of favorite dining destinations in New York's Hudson Valley and Adirondack regions. We visit restaurants, wineries, barbecues, and a smattering of off the beaten path culinary destinations like maple sugar shacks and fromageries. My friends and I have been dining out together weekly for over twenty years. The locations we write about are our favorite destinations. We are not claiming they are the best, just our favorites. The posts are not "reviews" in the classic sense. - we offer only our picks, not pans. We will leave the criticism to others. We are a happy blog. We much prefer a good bistro to "haute cuisine", especially if they also have a nice bar. We prefer a crock of cassoulet and a bottle of Beaujolais to just about anything else. If you enjoy simple home style rustic cooking with a decent (but not too expensive) bottle of wine, then pull up a chair and join us.

This Month's "Well Said!"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."

Ferran Andria

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Fire and Ice at the Schroon Lake Fishing Derby

Next weekend - on March 3rd and 4th, the Schroon Lake Fish & Game Club will host their annual Ice Fishing Derby. In years past as many as 700 anglers have participated.  It is quite the party, with groups of friends congregating around holes in the ice, hoping to reel in a prize winning lake trout or salmon, or perch, or pickerel or pike.  Hundreds of dollars are awarded to winners in each category, but most people show up for the camaraderie, and a good time out on the ice.

The local bars and restaurants look forward to the event each year, because ice fisherman (and the very rare, but extremely popular  ice-fisher-ladies) seem to be better than average drinkers. Go figure. Participants start to show up in town on Friday evening, and by 7 PM the bar stools at Flanagan's and the Timberwolf Pub are in very short supply.

The Bullet Pond Boyz
 At the Fish and Game Club, my Bullet Pond Crew mans the kitchen, and the club hosts a pasta dinner on Saturday night. For a whopping $10 diners get a bowl of penne pasta tossed with my home made bolognese sauce, fresh baked bread and a tossed salad.

We also cook up a pot of chili for sale on Sunday. I would tell you this is the only reason to come to town next weekend, but I would be fibbing. We are of course very proud of what we do (and the pasta dinner is a fund raiser for the club), but when the boys and I are done cooking, we whip off our aprons and rush down to Witherbee's Carriage House.

Witherbee's Annual Bayou Bob Crawfish Boil
Each year, on the weekend of the Ice Fishing Derby, Witherbee's cooks up a hundred pounds or better of Louisiana crawfish boil.  The real deal - fiery, Cajun style, lip burning, esophagus scorching, mud bugs. The dish comes as a heaping mound of pincers and tails, taters and corn on the cob, and anduille sausage, in a bubbly cayenne and Old Bay infused tomato broth that tips the Scoville scale somewhere between scotch bonnets and Hades. Beer helps.  But not much.

The origins of this dish are credited to one Bayou Bob, one (obviously) transplanted local who passed away a few years back.  He was noted for a prodigious appetite in all things, a penchant for playing chess, and his crawfish boil. In years past Witherbee's owners, Patty and Bill Christian, would serve it out on the lake during the tournament, and  local lore is that they did not bring an auger to drill their fishing holes. They just dropped a cayenne infused mudbug on the ice and it scorched a six inch wide hole, twenty four inches deep.  I do not doubt this story for a moment.

The good news is that you can have it all. You can try Witherbee's "Bayou Bob" Crawfish Boil on Friday night, and stop by for our pasta dinner at the Fish & Game Club on Saturday. If you do, poke you head in the kitchen and say hi.

Witherbee's Carriage House can be found at 581 US Route 9, Schroon Lake, NY 12870.
Phone 518 532 9595  

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