A young adult novel I read recently was a heart-wrenching and heart-warming story of a young, black pre-teen boy. “Joseph” by Shelia P Moses, was a quick read, and, although with repetitious narrative from time to time, the story moved forward at a good clip. As you read, you’re with Joseph every step of the way, wishing he’d do this, willing him to do that. He’s a bright boy, though, and you’ll be glad you stuck with him through the novel.

The most recent adult novel I read was James Patterson’s “Cross”. Alex Cross is a widower detective who walks a thin line between safety and mortal danger, but manages to land on solid ground. Through his own genius, of course! You can always depend on James Patterson to keep you glued to the turning pages.


Eating Out

Ever been to Cuba, NY? I’ts a small dot on the map near Olean (St. Bonaventure University), right off the NY86 Expressway (Exit 28). And there are two great reasons you should go there.
Thursday, we went to The Bistro, an intimate restaurant, artistically decorated, clean and pristine, and right on Cuba’s West Main Street (#17). The BEST part of the restaurant, though, is the food.
There were four of us and we were there for lunch. After we ordered, Brian Page, the server and assistant chef, brought us a tray of their superb homemade bread, with plates of olive oil/balsamic vinegar/grated fresh cheese dip. You haven’t had homemade bread until you’ve had Ruben’s! (Ruben Santiago, a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America, is the Owner/Chef of the Bistro.)

Although we were there for lunch, Scott, who is the proud owner of a bottomless pit for a stomach, ordered the Chicken Marsala dinner. Flawlessly cooked (by Brian) with a flurry of pasta over it and topped with sprigs of fresh cilantro, the meal was the perfect answer to Scott’s carnivorous appetite.
Brittany’s vegan requirements were accommodated knowledgeably and cheerfully with homemade vegetable pizza, the vegies being portabello mushrooms, zucchini, tomatoes and more. The pizza dough had the same ingredients as the to-die-for bread.
Todd had a blackened chicken sandwich and I had a chicken barbecue sandwich. The sandwiches were served on soft heated rolls, with lettuce and tomato and a side of Bistro’s homemade taco chips. I felt celebrated, the sandwich was that good.

The presentation was elegant and the food was incomparable. Even though we were all “stuffed”, we couldn’t resist the array of desserts. (We tried the Carrot Cake and White Cake with Raspberry filling. Brittany, who couldn’t have the desserts, all made with milk products, was served a gorgeous plate of fresh fruits.)
The Bistro in Cuba, NY is well worth a drive to the area. The route is very scenic, surrounded by mountains, and pastoral. The restaurant is open Tuesdays through Saturdays for lunch, 11-2, and for dinner 5-9. Sundays and Mondays are reserved for private functions. And after a delectable meal, just walk around the corner to Cuba Cheese Company. There you’ll find a wonderful gift shop of their own cheeses–more variety than you’ll ever want–plus more varieties of special foods, from pickled garlic to chocolate candies.
Maybe I’ll see you in Cuba?


Oboy! Have I got a book for you! I’m sure you’ve heard about it. Room. That’s the book. THE book. Emma Donoghue, transplanted from Ireland to Canada, proves once again that the Irish truly do have a silver tongue.

Room, the book, shows us microcosms and macrocosms as very separate worlds.  You read about Room’s world, Outside’s world, and the world of language from a life-long isolated five-year-old’s perspective. Donoghue very cleverly interprets words, and situations described in words, as that child would. She speaks in the child-talk of a boy without even once having it sound as contrived “baby talk”. It’s real.

This is a serious study of captivity, treated in a manner by which the reader recognizes the violence and depravity of it while admiring “Ma’s” bravery and creativity in keeping Jack safe. Even though the subject at hand is very disturbing, the story is an enjoyable read and a page-turner to the very end.

Donoghue exhibits her creativity on so many levels in this book:  the treatment of the subject matter, the language, the solution and the resolution. This is a must-read. Don’t walk–RUN–to your nearest library and put your name on the Hold list.

Writing – and Maple Tree Inn

Sunday (April 3rd) was a lovely Spring day in Upstate New York–just perfect for a day trip to the Maple Tree Inn in Angelica, NY.  I went with a friend and his group of 12 relatives.  We were seated together with only a few minutes’ wait and served in just a very few more minutes.

This service was rather amazing because there were large crowds of people there. (They process about 2000 hungry people on a Sunday and approximately 600 on a weekday.) But we felt as if we were treated special and from the camaraderie and cheerful faces and conversations of everyone else, they all felt the same way.  It is mind-boggling to watch the family of servers and chefs take care of everyone in record time with the cheeriest of attitudes.

After a fantastic down-home breakfast of their famous pancakes–with their signature maple syrup on the side, sausage and ham (plus two eggs for the truly cholesterol-loyal), I toured the facilities.

The Cartwright family established the pancake and syrup business in 1963, but Ronald Cartwright’s great-great grandfather began producing the maple syrup in 1850, according to the brochure available to restaurant customers.  The current syrup production relies on state-of-the-art equipment (evaporator), hard work and dedicated preparation.

Just like writing! You cannot produce a finished work of writing art if you don’t do your homework first. Research into the subject matter of your story, research into the markets, into the editors and agents…the preparation for a story is essential to the credibility factor of the story.  It demands creativity often, persistence, and dedication. And that’s just the preparation! The actual writing is a whole other adventure.

But, back to pancakes, if you want a fantastic and delicious pancake breakfast, you have just until April 10th this year (Sunday!!) to savor the delights at the Maple Tree Inn.  After that, you’ll have to wait until next Spring again.

Below, you see family members–they begin at an early age!–cleaning the maple syrup-making equipment.