Oscar's Hickory House
Gore Mountain skiers making their way home on New York's I-87 Northway can't help but be lured off at Exit 23/Warrensburg. A Black Angus statue is the landmark to watch, but it's the pungent aroma of the hickory smoke that signals your arrival at Oscar's Hickory House.
For more than 50 years, Oscar's has produced smoked meats out of what used to be the garage of its founders, the late Oscar and Edith Quintal, immigrants from Quebec.
Their son, Jerry Quintal, and grandsons, Joel and Joq, have continued the business that produces its famous bratwurst, knockwurst, nine types of bacon and 12 styles of ham. The trio has also added Andouille and chorizo sausage, and a variety of smoked cheese, turkey and salmon to its menu. Most of the meats are smoked using only honey and salt.
The shop looks much the same as when it first opened, with the original showcases and brick smokehouse still in use. Five modern smokehouses have been added over the years. They're computerized, made of stainless steel and burn sawdust instead of the green hickory or maple chunks used in the original smokehouses.
Don't come prepared to sit down because the only cooking done here is in the smokehouses. You'll have to take your purchases home to feast. All products are also available by mail order.
Information Oscar's Hickory House, 22 Raymond Lane, Warrensburg, N.Y. 12885; (800) 627-3431. Open daily 8 am-6 pm.
Last Chance Antiques and Cheese Cafe
Loren Kashman moved from New York City in the Sixties to open an antique store in Tannersville. The store soon became a restaurant as the complimentary cheese and crackers he offered browsers evolved into a menu as eclectic as the rusty farm implements, faded advertisements, Victorian bric-a-brac and old trumpets that hang from the rafters and walls. All the treasures that adorn this cozy restaurant and gourmet food shop are still for sale.
Decisions are plenty. Should you have the chocolate fondue dessert when the path out the front door is paved with homemade fudge and ribbons of kid-pleasing licorice? Do you forego one of the best onion soups on the planet to leave room for the homemade lasagna?
Choosing a beer is no easier. The menu is certainly the largest in the Catskills and includes brews from Thailand and Korea, fruity Belgian Chimay ale, even Saku porter from Estonia. A couple of years ago, Kashman took hundreds of bottle caps and embedded them into a slab of acrylic. It's now a countertop and as much a conversation-piece as a place to put the cash register (antique, of course). He is the kind of store owner who remembers you from the last time you visited, and makes you feel welcome.
Information Last Chance Antiques and Cheese Cafe, 602 Main St., Tannersville, N.Y. 12485; (518) 589-6424. Open daily for lunch and dinner. Sandwiches and entrées start at $6.95.
Visiting Maine without having a seafood dinner is like going to Chicago and not ordering beef. The seafood standout at Sugarloaf/USA is Shuck's, which last season replaced the popular Truffle Hound in the resort's base village and quickly became a favorite among Sugarloaf regulars.
Oysters aren't the only reason to try Shuck's, but they're one of the best ones. Choose from oysters on the half shell to oyster stew. The casual bar and restaurant also offers other seafood in portions to suit any appetite. Appetizers ($7.95¿$14.95) such as peel-and-eat shrimp, clam fritters and Cajun blackened scallops are popular with the après-ski crowd.
The Lite Menu is light on price but heavy on the plate ($5.95¿$8.95). Favorites include a flavorful smoked seafood quesadilla¿a flour tortilla stuffed with smoked shrimp, scallops, mussels and salmon accompanied by chopped egg, red onions, capers and salsa.
Entr#233;es ($13.95¿$17.95) are more substantial. Choose from items such as a thick grilled tuna steak with Thai peanut sauce, a seafood-packed bouillabaisse and macadamia-encrusted swordfish. Landlubbers can opt for hefty burgers as well as steak, lamb and duckling.
Information Shuck's Restaurant, Sugarloaf/USA, Carrabassett Valley, Maine 04947; (207) 237-2040. Reservations recommended weekends and holidays.