Our first stop was lunch at Origins Cafe, a restaurant inside a greenhouse at a nursery.
When I can share a day with a gardening friend shopping for plants and antiques, stopping to eat at a restaurant inside
a greenhouse and then enjoying an exhibit at the Fenimore Art Museum of one of my favorite painters, that’s a very good day.
When I can add taking in great country views of rolling hills, lakes and streams from the passenger seat of a shiny convertible with the top down that’s an over-the-top, life-is-good, curls dancing in the wind, fun-filled day.
Cooperstown, New York is always a great destination. There’s so much to do there. If you don’t know the area, visit the Cooperstown website: http://www.thisiscooperstown.com You’ll likely have more on your wish list than you can do on a day trip.
So plan on going back. I will be. There’s a giant pumpkin festival in the fall and a pumpkin regatta! And yesterday an antique dealer told us about two antique shops which “carry just what you are looking for” that were just too far away given the time we had. Thus, another trip.
Once we rolled into the town known for the Baseball Hall of Fame we headed straight to Carefree Gardens, 558 Beaver Meadow Road, for lunch at a Origins Cafe, a restaurant inside a greenhouse. What gardener wouldn’t love that.
The nursery and greenhouse are run by mother, Mary, and her daughters Kristin and Dana, respectively. The daughters created a restaurant in what was once a hoop house and the tables and chairs are nestled in and around pots of colorful and fragrant plants, babbling fountains and flowering trees.
While we were waiting to be served, a light, fresh floral scent got our attention. We tried to determine what it could be. Mary finally helped us out by leading us to the thigh-high lemon tree in bloom. Such a clean, delicate fragrance . . . something I will remember if I ever have a house with a bright sunroom.
The daughters have created an inspired lunch menu using fresh local and organic ingredients. Some produce like the Swiss chard, lettuces and herbs are right from a neighboring greenhouse. Cheeses, breads and fruits and vegetable are sourced from local farmers.
We had lavender lemonade made by steeping lavender with lemon slices and adding lemon juice and evaporated cane sugar. It was more refreshing and less sweet than regular lemonade. The drink was served over ice with a few lavender blossoms sprinkled on top of the sliced lemons and ice. They do other botanical drinks such as lavender and elderberry spritzers and strawberry mint lemonade.
The menu is vegetarian. We ordered black bean burgers but some patrons at other tables ordered salads and paninis. Everything was prettily presented with an edible flower as garnish. The restaurant has a relaxed feel, the family is friendly and welcoming and though you just arrived, you feel comfortable . . . as though you are returning for the umpteenth time.
The daughters don’t have culinary training but certainly do have a knack for flavors and are adventurous in their use of herbs.
I had a lemon verbena pound cake for dessert, there were mint rosemary cookies on the menu and my friend had a rhubarb cake with a creamy texture that was pudding-like and very, very good.
This is a great restaurant to come to with friends and sit among the flowers. After your meal, you can shop the greenhouses which were well-stock with herbs, vegetables and flowering plants. There is also a small shop with a selection of Peruvian hand-made goods from the sisters’ travels. Kristin told us that she and her sister travel to farms around the world working and also gathering sources for the restaurant. Last winter they worked on a Mediterranean olive farm and now use that farm’s olive oil in their recipes. Talk about knowing who you are buying from!
One guest confided in me that Origins’ smoothies are delicious, fresh and low in sugar. And that they sometimes have homemade ice cream on the menu which she said was reason alone to come again. Lucky local!
After lunch we took in the Wyeth exhibit at the Fenimore Art Museum and then made our way home through back roads enjoying long views of rolling hills, farmers working in their fields, picturesque barns and cows grazing leisurely.
On the drive we talked about future adventures and agreed that Carefree Garden’s little gem of a restaurant will be included. After all, there were so many enticing offerings. Here’s a link to the menu so you can see for yourself. http://www.celebrateorigins.com/#!menu-&-farms
And there are those two antique stores we didn’t get to.
Happy Gardening and Happy Garden Road Trips.