There is a lot of open country in the North Country.
Wife L, Daughter B, and I drove to Canton on Monday to tour another institution of higher learning. We took Route 26 through West Leyden and past the Milk Plant Tavern, up into Constableville, and then to Turin and its Snow Ridge ski area, before making a quick pit stop in Croghan.
I had to stop in Croghan because, as you know, that is where the famous Croghan Bologna is produced. The Croghan Meat Market, circa 1888, is easily found on the main drag. The woman behind the counter was helpful and friendly, telling me that if I wanted to wait 15 minutes I could get warm bologna that was just prepared.
My traveling companions were not interested in bologna, so I had to take a pre-packaged sample and get back in the car. Not before, though, learning about the three generations that have successfully run the market and enjoying a description of the historic photos on the shop wall.
I haven’t yet sampled said bologna, but I will share what I learn when I do.
Before our road trip to the North Country, I checked the recommendations a reader had sent to me. Denis mentioned his place, Mulligans at the Partridge Run Golf Course, the Blackbird Cafe, Sergis, and The Club, all in Canton.
Once we got to Canton we did indeed try Mulligans but were left in the bunker, as we got no answer to our phone call. So we ventured into the Blackbird Cafe, which serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner and where you can get a specialty coffee and a growler of beer. The cafe is long and fairly narrow, with one wall of coffee mugs and teas and other small items for sale, and artwork adorning the walls.
A big blackboard listed the variety of panini sandwiches and a couple of soups available for lunch. We all had The Toboggan, which was served on wonderful bread that enveloped turkey, bacon, guacamole, mozzarella, and tomato. A small cup of a zesty pasta salad accompanied our sandwiches, which we all devoured. The soup of the day, chicken with wild rice, was rich and creamy though a touch salty for my taste.
There were some interesting desserts on display, including buckeyes and blondies, but a Stewart’s Cream Soda was my sugar for the meal, and we passed on the treats.
Canton has a village green surrounded by impressive churches, a movie theater offering first-run films, a natural foods shop and a sporting goods store, along with a few more restaurants and shops. A great little park along the Grasse River has a nice walk and interpretive signs spelling out the history of the former mills that were built on tiny islands that split the river into sections and the dams that supplied the raw power.
We toured St. Lawrence University for several hours after lunch, starting at its beautiful bookstore that has a ton of smaller home furnishings, gifts, books, and SLU gear. The university’s original building still stands and is still used, a stone church with unique stained glass windows is now used as a concert space, and there is a mix of architectural styles on the pretty campus.
There is a tree growing in the library and students can climb up into “tree houses,” which are elevated one-person cubicles. It seems that the more oxygen you breathe and the higher up you are, the better you learn. Hmmmm…
Later that evening we drove to Potsdam, which is only about 10 miles away, and had dinner at The Lobster House in Norwood. Now you think North Country and maybe you don’t think lobster. But you should.
This place has lots and lots of offerings, all very reasonably priced. Not fine dining, but solid and presented with care. I had a daily special that included a lobster split in half, so that I had a portion of the tail and a claw, four butterfly shrimp, and five shrimp scampi. The $20 dinner included a wonderful Caesar salad and a baked potato that was the best I’ve had in forever. Now the lobster wasn’t the sweetest I ever had, but it was pretty darn good.
Wife L had a combination of stuffed flounder and baby back ribs. Weird, but she knows what she likes. The stuffed flounder was average, but the ribs were tender and the homemade barbecue sauce was robust with just the right amount of heat. Daughter B went with the lobster alfredo, which was a massive dish featuring a nice sampling of lobster in the appropriately rich, creamy sauce. We all fell madly in love with the cheese biscuits that started our meals. God, they were good.
A car ride through Clarkson University and SUNY Canton completed our evening, and we headed back home Tuesday. This time we took Route 11 toward Watertown. Again, lots of open spaces, not a lot of prosperity in most places, but an interesting ride nonetheless.