Saturday, August 29, 2009

Heavenly Day: Part II

Blueberry pancakes. Those two simple words conjure up a world of delight. Add two more words—Sweet Sue’s—and they instantly move into the “amaze” category.

Sweet Sue’s is an institution in the town of Phoenicia, NY. And not just because there is almost nothing else there (all apologies to Town Tinker Tube Rental and Tender Land Home.) The café has, by all accounts, a checkered past—one that prompts locals to talk and take sides. Since Jim and I have eaten there often enough to be considered regulars (at least in our minds), we have taken a position in the debate: we listen attentively to both sides of the discussion about who did what to whom—and then we chow down.

Breakfast is our meal of choice at Sue’s. From the inn in High Falls, Phoenicia was about half an hour’s drive—but most of the time we set out from northern New Jersey and travel close to two hours (each way) to indulge in what we consider the best breakfast on the planet. Maybe it’s because breakfast is the first meal we ever had there: it was a frigid Sunday morning in January and there was a line out the door. I convinced the impatient Jim that it must be worth it—but neither of us had a clue just how “worth it” it would turn out to be.

Then again, maybe it’s because breakfast is the ONLY meal we’ve eaten there. The owner may have expanded into the space next door (forcing out a beloved tenant and igniting a firestorm), and expanded the menu and the hours, but we haven’t expanded our horizons beyond the eggs and pancakes. And why should we? The pancakes have set a standard so high that I don’t even bother looking elsewhere—this from the woman who is shameless in her search for a better burger or the ultimate chocolate chip cookie. A cross between a crepe and—well—cake, they strike a magical balance between light and fluffy and moist and dense. Adding fruit isn’t necessary, but does enhance the experience. BTW, we’re talking actual berries and bananas here, not flavored syrup.

And then there is the size. On our first visit the waitress said, “You should probably start with just one. They’re really filling.” Ignoring her advice, I went for two: not only did I leave plenty on my plate—I was so full I didn’t eat a thing for the rest of the day. Picture a dinner plate about half an inch thick. Factor in the sides (a thick slab of the homemade turkey sausage is a must) and, well, you have the idea. In fact, serving sizes are generous—period. And prices are ridiculously reasonable.

So the truth is we stacked the "heavenly day" deck by starting at Sweet Sue’s. Everything that followed--gorgeous weather, a long trail walk in the Mohonk Preserve, and a beer and a Cuban sandwich in New Paltz afterwards, was just the proverbial icing on the—um—pancake.

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