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Carcassone and Castles of Burgundy

If you’re into storming castles, you’re going to love two of the activities we have planned for Princess Bride day this Saturday! We’ll be demoing two great games, Carcassone (12:30-1:30) and Castles of Burgundy (2:00-5:00).

Carcassone is a tile-based board game for 2-5 people. It’s named after a medieval fortified town in Southern France, and players must build out the territory surrounding the city’s famed walls. Connect tiles to build cities, cloisters, fields, and roads, and see who has the most points at the end! Carcassone is very family friendly and great for all ages.

Castles of Burgundy is a more challenging and intricate tile-based board game. You and your friends play as competing 15th century princes from the Loire Valley in central France. Through strategic trading, livestock farming, scientific research, and city building, each player aims to make their estate the most prosperous and prominent. The game has five phases of play, during which players collect victory points to win. Because of the many different ways there are to earn points, this game takes careful thought and planning. But because each game can be so different, it stays exciting and fun every time you play it!

 

Princess Bride Day full schedule and menu!

The day is almost here! This Saturday 8/12 is Princess Bride day at House Rules.

Come in casual garb or your best Princess Bride costume – we hear that masks are terribly comfortable, and that everyone will be wearing them in the near future.

We’ll begin at 11:00 AM with a nice game of pin Fezzik to the Cliff. Then from 12:30 -1:30 there’ll be a short game demo of Carcassone, where you can try your hand as a farm boy yourself (check out this blog post for a more detailed description). From 1:30-3:00 you can race your friends to the Cliffs of Insanity, and from 2-5 we’ll be demoing castles of Burgundy.

For the grand finale at 5:30, we’ll have a showing of the movie! We have limited space, so remember to call or email us ahead of time to reserve your seats.

The special menu for the day:

MLT ($8): Roast beef, lettuce, & tomato on a ciabatta.

MLT 2 ($6): Mozzerella, lettuce, & tomato on a ciabatta.

The Fezzik ($6): A massive pile of lettuce with cucumbers and tomatoes.

Anybody Want a Peanut (Butter)? ($5): Classic peanut butter and jelly sandwich.

The Six-Fingered Sandwich ($6): A half-dozen delicate cucumber sandwiches.

Iocane Powder ($4): A 16oz bubbly shrub cocktail (non-alcoholic).

Twu Wuv Frappe ($9): A 16oz frappe (flavor of your choice) with two straws.

Fire Swamp S’mores for 2 ($8): We’ll give you the makings, you toast and build ’em!

GLUTEN FREE BREAD has arrived!

We are proud to offer delicious, fresh, locally sourced GLUTEN freee bread for sandwiches from Our Daily Bread in Chatham, NY! Our celiac staff member Aviva has lamented that there is only one other place in Hudson where one can obtain a good GF sandwich and House Rules Cafe is stepping up to help meet the special diet needs of our community! This seedy wonder grills perfectly for our variety of pressed cheese sandwiches, roast beef, turkey, and as pictured here- tuna 🙂 Stop in and try it for yourself- unlike other more mass produced GF breads, this locally made one does not disappoint!

Morning routines

There’s something very comforting and important about morning rituals, and that’s definitely true at House Rules. I work several of the opening shifts throughout the week, which means that I’m rolling out of bed and into the cafe between 6:00 and 6:30 most mornings. When I mention this to people, I tend to get sympathetic cringes in response – but in the months since we opened I’ve come to prefer the early shifts. What inspired this blog post was actually the realization last night that I was looking forward to getting up and opening the cafe this morning.

Don’t get me wrong, I still have trouble getting myself out of bed some days, but the payoff is good. Going through the morning routine at House Rules is a soothing start to my day. I listen to my favorite morning news show while heating water for coffee and taking stock of the bagels. I turn on all the lights – the way the cafe looks against the backdrop of a gray morning is one of life’s small, inexplicable pleasures. And I’ve discovered that early morning baking is one of the most relaxing things this world has to offer. What better way to start your day than to the smell of coffee beans and brownie batter?

 

 

Rainbow Cream Cheese & PRIDE

We are a nerdery that celebrates diversity in the geek world. What better way than to make rainbow cream cheese for Hudson’s Pride weekend? I identify as queer (and have done for many years), so there was no question that we’d have rainbows all over the place for the celebration. With the Awesome Bagels that we carry, it was only natural to think about some way of Pride-ifying them! We first started with cupcakes – to test our methodology. And honestly, the cupcakes came out SO WELL that we’ll be continuing to carry them through the rest of June. They may make an appearance further down the line as well!

Our food is very simple. Good ingredients with few or no additives, the freshest options possible, and a good dose of attention to detail. We tested a couple of different cream cheeses, including a highly rated and fairly expensive one, before coming back to the old favorite, Philadelphia. Only five ingredients, a perfectly creamy texture, and the traditional cream cheese flavors that we all expect. To lighten up the cheese a little, we whipped it with a dash of Stonyfield whipping cream (it’s the same one we use in our cupcake frosting). Throw four blocks of the cream cheese in a stand mixer, add 3-4T of cream, and beat it (beat it, beat it, beat it…).

Eventually it ends up with this amazingly fluffy texture which is absolutely perfect for tinting. We could have mixed up each of the seven colors of the rainbow, but we found an easier way: mix four colors, then blend them once they were on the bagels. It made for a quicker prep, and didn’t add any time or effort to our final product.

We used a gel/paste color – powder would be even better. Anything that doesn’t increase the moisture content will make for a better, brighter, more even color. Please don’t use liquid dye. It’s easy to find in supermarkets, yes, but it results in pale, barely-there color as well as changing the texture of the base. In the cafe, we use the AmeriColor gels, which give wonderfully deep colors. These are professional grade colorants, which are easier to use (and maybe a bit more expensive) than the classic Wilton – but they do require more blending of tints to achieve the goal colors. We found this pack on sale at the King Arthur Flour website.

Once the cream cheese is whipped, portion it evenly into bowls. Mix the color in until it’s smooth and even toned – go ahead and add an extra dollop of gel, if you feel the need. Sometimes it takes more than you originally thought, to get the right color. Heck, we kept some of the cream cheese as white, to have the option of diluting if the colors were too brash!

Once the colors are mixed, it’s time to bag them up.

For the original frosting, we used a classic method of creating multi-color icing. We spooned out each color in parallel lines on a piece of saran wrap, then wrapped it up and dropped it, point-first, into a bag. Clip the corner, and go to town. For the cream cheese, we decided to do it a little differently. We gave each color its own bag, piped them individually onto the bagels, then used a knife to spread and mix the colors to make the rainbow. It gave us quite a bit of control, and meant that we were able to create exactly the colors we needed while skipping a messy (and in this case spurious) step.

Our first test came out beautifully – but we knew we could do better. So we created a second bagel, which was a sight to behold! All day, we made rainbow bagels and celebrated an inclusive Pride here in Hudson. It was a bright and shiny weekend, with a colorful parade.

We know there’s still a lot of work to be done. Pride can be more inclusive, and the LGBT+ community can become more welcoming. But in the meantime, we can create new flags that are more representative of the various identities within our community, and we can eat rainbow bagels. Or pumpernickel bagels with rainbow cream cheese.

Enjoy!

 

Modern Gaming 101

Stay Tuned for details!

On the weekend of June 24th, A Friend of the Cafe will be in-house for a couple hours to teach one of our favorite gateway games: Splendor.

Stephen Chast will be on hand to instruct, demo, and otherwise teach the rules, strategies, and mechanics of one of the great modern classics. On the heels of the recent announcement that an expansion is to be released, Stephen will show off this simple strategy game in which players fight to build a precious gem collection.

This is the first in a series of weekend events, designed to introduce selections from the cafe library – especially those that are a great introduction or re-introduction to the world of gaming!

Carcassonne

Carcassonne! One of the modern classics. With straightforward rules and simple expansions, it becomes a gateway for nearly every new gamer. The wealth of strategies keeps most coming back for more.

Carcassonne, like last week’s focus, Qwirkle, is a tile-laying game. Unlike Qwirkle, there is more to the matching than just color or shape. You are literally building the cities, roads, monasteries, and farms surrounding medieval Carcassonne, in southern France, and then laying claim to them by placing meeples. By matching up specific elements on randomly-drawn tiles, you expand your area of influence and gain points: when the tiles run out, the game is over, and points are tallied. The version we have in the cafe also includes both the River and the Abbots & Gardens expansions, which adds an element of complexity to the base game. Both are optional expansions, and we usually recommend leaving them to the side until new gamers are comfortable with the core game.

We played it earlier this week with a group of four, but it plays just as well with two or three. It’s a core part of most game collections because it appeals to most gamers – the small amount of luck in drawing tiles and the moderate amount of strategy in placing the tiles makes for a versatile and ever-changing game.

A fun side note: the term “meeple,” used to describe the vaguely human figures seen in many modern games, was first coined to describe the pieces used in Carcassonne. The story is now a bit of gamer lore, but meeples have become a common representation of gaming – we even have one in our logo!

 

(P.S. Did you notice the shake shots in that top photo? They’re live, and have been described as “addictive,” amongst other words. Come try one and let us know what you think!)

Meet the Staff! Aviva

Aviva is a plant nerd, herb farmer and musician.  She is also a huge fan of Hygge– if you haven’t heard of the term yet, it is Danish/Norwegian for “a form of everyday togetherness”, but also loosely translated to ‘Cozy’.  Board games are Hygge. Coffee is Hygge.  Therefore Aviva likes these things, and likes helping other people access these things, thereby helping the world heal with COZINESS. You can ask her questions about plants too.

Qwirkle – A Gateway Game

Qwirkle has been written up numerous times for how easy a game it can be. And it is one of my favorite gateways – it tends to be one of my primary go-tos when someone asks “what should I try?”

Part of that is because it has easy, familiar mechanics, such as those found in Scrabble and Dominos. It’s a tile-laying game, where each tile has only two variables: color and shape. By creating a row of one matching variable on each turn, you create a colorful, textured game board that grows as you play.

The rules: Each player draws six tiles from an opaque bag, and sets them up in such a way so as to hide them from the rest of the table. From those six tiles, the player is trying to build a line of either all the same color (different shapes) or all the same shape (different colors). Within a line, only one of the variables is repeated – the other must be all different. Scoring is done after each line is placed, and is the sum of the tiles aggregated in ALL rows. If a line of six is either placed or completed, the player doing so scores an extra six points. This is called a Qwirkle.

Example: Sarah draws six tiles. She can make a row of four blue, but two of those blue tiles are diamonds. So she can only make a row of three. Sarah scores three points. Jacob has five diamond tiles, in four colors – none of which are blue! So he can lay down the four distinct tiles perpendicular to Sarah’s row, meeting at the blue diamond that she laid down on her turn. Jacob scores five points. Mariam has the last available color for the row of diamonds, and can create a new, perpendicular row of three, expanding down from the end of the row of diamonds – she has finished the row of six, which scores her a Qwirkle (an extra six points) as well as creating a new row of three, for a total of fifteen points. After placing tiles, each player draws tiles from the bag until they have six, and play continues. The game ends when the bag is empty and one player has placed all their tiles. The first to do so gains an extra six points.

That row of six, finished by Mariam, is now complete. Rows can be built perpendicular to it, but no tiles can be added on the end. This provides a chance for some interesting strategies in blocking your opponents and setting up future Qwirkles. On Tuesday night, we pulled it out and played a not-so-quick game. With two experienced players and one new player, it became an exercise in pointing out possible strategies and looking at the board in a different way. The photo above was our final layout: this is why we have oversized tables!

The replayability on this game is very high. It’s absolutely a modern classic, and great for families as well as small groups. Happy gaming!

Grand Opening!

 Welcome to House Rules! After months of hard work we had our grand opening on Saturday May 13th, and we’re so excited to finally be welcoming the community into our space.

Over the past year, many folks have asked us “what the heck is a board game cafe?” We believe that at its heart, it’s a place for the community to come together, eat delicious food, and play a game or two from our adventurously curated library.

Although this may be your first time hearing the term, board game cafes have been popular throughout Asia since the 90s and have been growing in popularity in North America for the past five years or so. After the founding of Toronto’s Snakes & Lattes in 2010, board game cafes started to pop up in major cities across the U.S. Lately there’s been a visible increase in public interest in tabletop and board games, and this has driven the rise of free-standing cafes dedicated wholly to providing a space for the community to play games.

At House Rules, we have created an inclusive, welcoming community where there’s something to interest everyone. Our library has all the classics as well as some exciting modern games you may have never played before, and to help you get a handle on our collection we’ll be featuring a different game in each of our bi-monthly newsletters.

We have a varied menu with sandwiches, homemade baked goods, coffee, frappes, and all sorts of other great stuff. We also offer bagels in the morning and take-out all day, and in the coming months we’ll be serving beer and wine as well.

At House Rules you can sit, play, and eat for as long as you like. There’s a per-person fee of $5 for access to the games collection, which is included in your bill, and we also offer weekly and monthly memberships for those who just can’t get enough of our games. So we hope that everyone stops in, grabs a table, orders some great food, and plays some fun games!