Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Seriously, what's with the price of Vanilla!!!

If you’re a baker like I am, or even just a simple maker of desserts, vanilla is always at the top of the ingredients list. I used to buy vanilla at Costco or Sam’s club, not too awfully long ago, large bottles for  less than $9.00, so imagine my horror when on my last trip to Sam’s Club I was aghast!!  $23.00—yikes!  I decided I needed to get to the bottom of this outrage.  Little did I realize that the largest grower of vanilla beans is Madagascar-who knew?  What I also learned is that the US is one of the largest buyers of vanilla.  In 2015, there was a huge shortage of vanilla beans harvested in Madagascar, so like everything else, it’s all about supply and demand. Since 2005, there had been an over supply of the delicious crop and farmers in Madagascar weren’t making much money so they burned their vanilla vines and switched to a more profitable crop—hence, not much vanilla and UP go the prices. Madagascar is back in the vanilla growing business but in an effort to reach the higher prices, the beans are picked while they’re still green rather than drying naturally on the vine, resulting in a less than quality product.  Futures tend to be looking to Mexico and Papau New Guinea for vanilla, only time will tell.  I will definitely be watching the market for trending prices. Happy, or not so happy, baking. 

Sources:  The Vanilla Company, http://vanillaqueen.com/expensive-vanilla/

Thursday, March 2, 2017

......but I've Never Stayed at a B & B

Many guests tell us they've never stayed at a B & B before and do not know what to expect.  So b & b newbies, this blog is for you!  It's important to tell you that most of the time, innkeepers live in the b & b.  We typically have our own designated areas, usually including the kitchen.  This is extremely important for the safety & welfare of our guests and depending upon the number of guest rooms rented, is usually required by the state or county code enforcement division.  So no need to worry about unlocked doors or strangers coming on to the property who don't belong. As our guests, you may come and go as you please and use any of the common areas that are available to you.  You're not confined to your room in the least! At The Fox and Grapes, we want you to enjoy the outdoor space or the wood burning stove, have a glass of wine with other guests or a cup of tea while enjoying the peace and quiet. We don't hover, stalk you, or watch your every move.  Many times, you won't even know we are here. Innkeepers cook you a lovely breakfast each morning often using products grown/made locally or grown on our own property that is typically served at a set time, some b & bs provide cookies or other snacks in the evening as well as coffee/tea, your rooms are cleaned daily (usually included in your room rate), and provide you with useful information about the area. We may also engage in an evening glass of wine and conversation, if invited. Sometimes we may open a bottle of wine to share with our guests.  If being left alone is your thing, we're okay with that too.   So what things can you NOT do while staying at a B & B?  Well, typically you can't have your own party or entertain your own guests, (unless you have a written contract between the b & b allowing such activities), and you are not allowed to use the private spaces as designated by the owners.  There may be a restriction as to the age of the guest or number of guests per room, there may be resident pets--keep this in mind if you have pet allergies, and it may or may not be pet friendly (always ask if you're traveling with a pet). Some b & bs have TVs, some do not. Most have free wi-fi.  Some rooms are 1st floor, some are on the 2nd. Most have private baths, but some do not--ask if you are not sure. If you have a dietary restriction or severe food allergy, PLEASE, let the innkeepers know before you arrive.  It's a common misconception that we have a large stocked pantry.  For a small b & b (fewer than 7 rooms), specialty food items are only purchased when necessary as we avoid unnecessary costs whenever possible.  It is important to point out that most b & bs have been inspected by a county agency and are legitimately doing business, unlike many properties you see on Air B & B, VRBO, etc. We carry special liability insurance and have the required licenses set forth by our county or state departments.  A b & b, however, is usually someone's home and is not like a vacation rental.  If you're part of a large group staying at the b & b, remember that often times, the amenities available to you are the same as if you were an individual booking a room (this may vary with each b & b, so always ask).  One final & very important note, always, always, always check the b & b's cancellation policy before making a reservation. If you don't understand it, call for an explanation.  Small b & bs often do much of their business over a short season and cancellations can be very costly for them.  Understand that the policy is in place to protect the b & b.  It's up to the consumer to understand that policy and how it may effect them should they need to cancel.  You're going to find that most B & Bs are a relaxing place to stay while traveling and offer the many comforts of home. Don't be afraid to give us a try.  You may decide to never stay in a hotel again! 

Friday, February 17, 2017

Rosé-- The Forgotten Wine

When I ask our guests if they like Rosé, the most common response is "never really cared for it".  That's what I thought too until I came to the Finger Lakes. We have some of the most delicious Rosés anywhere--some are made from Cab Franc and others from Pinot Noir--both are superb.  I'm certainly not a wine expert by any means, but I do know what I like. Some of the Rosé wines I've tried from CA seem to have a high acidic aftertaste, I call them"vinegary" but I know that's not the correct wine tasting description but I'll bet some of you know what I mean. It's that lingering sourness that stays on your palate. Many of the Rosés in our area are somewhat fruity, dry and delicious!  So if you haven't had a good experience with a Rosé, make sure when visiting our area, you give them a try.  Some of my top favorites in the Seneca Lake area, Wagner, Lamoreaux, and Silver Thread. On Keuka Lake, stop by Point of the Bluff and give theirs a try. Don't put off tasting and buying the Rosé wines. Many wineries sell out by late spring.  Happy Tasting!      

Kim Wagner