One of the hidden gems of our area is the Chautauqua Institution nestled solemnly against the pristine backdrop of Chautauqua Lake. For those who have never heard of the Chautauqua Institution it is a center for education, religion and entertainment. Originally, the Chautauqua Movement was a means for education that had traveling summer tent lectures all across the country in the late 19th and early 20th century. The success of the Chautauqua Movement allowed for roots to be placed where it all started in western New York.
The architecture of the Institution is a cross between late 19th century affluence and a quaint little cottage community. This is why once a year Betsy and I pack up the camera and go on an adventure to walk the grounds. If you are lucky enough to get there in early spring before the season opens it is both beautiful and quiet.
Our plan was to go the round about way (better known as the Back-Roads Bruce way) which takes us to The Cheese House in Dewittville for some Extra Sharp Cheddar, Aged Stilton, and maybe some Havarti with Dill. If we are lucky we can find some other adventurous cheese to try if it is not sold out.
Having acquired our cheese load we tend to then swing over to the Dart Field Flea Market (Sadly since closed) where we would find some hidden treasures. Usually, we would only take $40 in cash because it makes it a challenge and also because Betsy and I tend to get over zealous with our antique shopping. Our yearly trip will now have to include some antiquing at other locations on the round about route.
Once we get around that side of the lake we can stop at the local market (Farmer’s Market depending on the time of the season) to pick up some additional items for our cheese board. We are on the hunt for fresh fruit, cured meats, figs, kalamata olives, olive tapenade, fresh baked baguette (getting hungry yet?) and whatever else that sounds good in small bites with large flavor. A proper cheeseboard is a landscape of your favorite flavors. It may take some time to get your right combination but once you do you will never stray too far from your discovery.
After those purchases are complete we finally drive through the gates of the Institution and find a nice spot to park so we can walk around and take some photos of the architecture and just blooming gardens. Some days we will walk down to the lake and sit at a table and assemble a mini cheese board to enjoy. Other days we will finish our walk and come home and assemble a larger cheese board that we can pick at while we read and enjoy a fire outside.