Christmas always makes me feel melancholy. I don’t think it is a lack of presents or cookies or family or traditions – I have as much of those things as I desire. Each year when this emotional deflation occurs, it surprises me. The unanticipated sobering, despite festive bubbles imbibed, seems to sneak up on me when I finally have met, to the best of my abilities, my holiday obligations. The shopping, cleaning, prepping, wrapping, cooking flurry has come to an end and what’s left? A sense of … not quite disappointment or dissatisfaction, just a slightly disconcerting hollowness. There’s something missing.
In years gone by, I’ve been able to look to physical and mental tiredness as likely culprits for my reflective mood. Lack of sleep and overindulgence certainly could be held responsible for my feelings. For many years, we hosted a decadent dinner party on Christmas Eve, which, naturally, was followed by a too brief night’s sleep and a midmorning drive east to join family. That’s not the case, though, now. My house is quiet and a nap beckons. The boys are gone – they even took the dog. They’ll continue to make the drive East for the foreseeable future, a realization that makes me smile.
Last year, I flew to the desert on Christmas Day. I spent 5 days running and doing yoga and absorbing sunshine and love from a dear friend. It may have been my favorite Christmas ever. Self-indulgent without being an orgy of commercialism or consumption, it was stimulating and relaxing in equal measure. I came back to New York renewed and satiated.
Thinking about that trip makes me feel happy. So, today, I’ll snuggle back into my flannels, close my eyes and hopefully dream about the magical desert mountains where the sand flies when my sneakered feet pass through. When I wake up, I’ll pull on my running clothes and make the dusting of snow outside do something similar. As I count off the miles, I will remember Christmases gone by and imagine Christmases future, but mostly I will try my best to enjoy the present of today. Merry Christmas.
The 9th day of Christmas would be the ideal time to visit the big sister on the block – Nicole’s Restaurant. This family run spot is most definitely an established business in the DelSo, really, it’s practically an institution. Established in 1986 (!), Nicole’s has long been a consistently great spot for a romantic dinner for two, a family meal or festive group dinner. The political types that litter Albany during session even make the trip down Delaware to enjoy items such as Eggplant Roulade and Hazelnut Chicken – you’ll recognize them when you them, trust me. I really appreciate that meals are available in full and small portions and they also do a terrific “to-go” meal deal during the week that I plan to check out after the holidays. And don’t forget them when you’re looking for a caterer for your next event – there were rave reviews for the food they provided in November for the Historic Albany Foundation’s BUILT show. Check back in January for a post about their to-go meal specials – something for us both to look forward to in the New Year!
On the 8th day it was time to check out the bar(tenders) at a favorite neighborhood joint – New World Bistro Bar. This place has been such a huge asset to the DelSo area. Seriously, it probably single-handedly started the resurgence of Delaware Avenue when it opened a few years back. I think the appeal of NWBB is its ability to be everything to everyone. Need a quick bite pre or post movie? Check! Looking for a place for a meal to impress a date or group of friends? Yep, they do that. How about a spot for a well mixed drink and a nosh at the bar? Yeah, they’ve got that covered, too. The space is funky, the servers familiar veterans and the food creative and consistently well-timed to the season. And speaking of Christmas – this place is in fact open and ready to give you the gift of a stellar meal. Here’s their new winter menu. – a present to each and every one of us.
Filed under Albany, Brunch, Christmas, Delaware Avenue, DelSo, Dinner, drinking, Eating, favorites, Local, Recommendations, Restaurants
On the seventh day, God rested, right? Well, on the 7th day of Christmas, so did I – at Mingle, that is. Here’s how it went down… Following a fun run and a delicious cocktail, I knew I needed to get back to the DelSo, park my car for the night and walk somewhere to continue
drinking the evening’s repast. Mingle was the perfect spot for so many reasons – proximity, menu options, and comfort level, just for openers. Lisa and I found our way to the bar (amazing how adept at that we are!) and settled in with bartender, Dave (David?), taking good care of us. After a perusal of the menu, we made our choices: small Caesar salad for me, followed by the Tuna Un-Hui and dumplings and the bibimbap for Lisa. I went with a glass (eventually 2) of Gruner-Veltliner, which was the perfect accompaniment to both of my courses. To finish, I did my best to consume an amazing orange-scented tiramisu, with a lovely glass of tawny port on the side. God, I love port! Without exception, our meal was terrific. I loved my tuna and Lisa’s beef dish, (the leftovers which, much to her regret, she forgot in my fridge!) was wonderful. The seasonings were perfectly balanced in terms of their aggressiveness and the portions were generous without being silly big. Dave was knowledgeable without being overbearing, Jose checked in on us for a chat and the dining room looked to be running like a fine-tuned machine. As an aside, I absolutely love the relationships that have grown between the neighboring businesses on this little strip of Delaware Avenue and think it is a true community model.
Ah…the perfect Saturday came to a lovely conclusion and the seventh day of
Christmas dining DelSo brought gifts to be enjoyed all year long.
As I captioned this on instagram – “This is why I run!”
Filed under Albany, Christmas, Delaware Avenue, DelSo, Dinner, Eating, favorites, Food, friends, Local, Recommendations, Restaurants
Let’s talk about pizza, shall we? I mean, I know my boys would happily eat pizza on the 6th day of Christmas. Truth be told, they’d be content eating pizza six days a week, probably. Good thing we have some options in the DelSo. First up – Gourmella’s! I’ll begin by saying I’m not all that crazy about the name,or about the fact that the sign outside still says Pizzalo, another name I’m unimpressed by. But, the folks inside have been nothing less than nice to deal with and the pizza has met the boys’ expectations, so I’ve moved past the unfortunate signage and naming confusion. You should too, because the pizza, particularly when ordered “well-done,” is pretty good and the menu definitely has something for everyone.
My most recent visit there proved, to me, that they’re good people to do business with – at least according to my standards. Here’s what happened – I placed an order for pickup and arrived just as my pizza was coming out of the oven. In addition to a pie, I ordered some wings and somehow that translated into a special combination, with special reduced pricing. It also came with a 2-liter bottle of soda, an item that never comes into my house unless there’s a party and a bottle of dark rum or bourbon – which of the two depends upon the season, of course. When I declined the soda and asked if I could have one of those ridiculous cans of high fructose corn syrup-laden “tea” drinks, the guy behind the counter didn’t hesitate to say “Of course.” Wow – that was an easy, quick and reasonably priced meal – something we can all agree is necessary during these busy holidays. Give ‘em a shot, why don’t you?
Filed under Albany, Boys, Christmas, Delaware Avenue, DelSo, Dinner, Eating, family, Food, holidays, pizza, Recommendations
There were fireworks!
Saturday night was the 16th annual Last Run in Albany. This is absolutely one of my favorite races of the year – festive, fun and filled with friends. This year, my friend Lisa got herself together and registered before the race reached its 1500 runner capacity and we had a blast! The course for this run is fantastic – up State Street, across Willett and into and around the park. It is such a treat to run through the holiday lights display and if the spirit of the season doesn’t touch you, well, it’s time for you to slow down a bit then. The mayor was there to get things started and I was really pleased by the moment of silence he requested for the Newtown, Connecticut victims. Well done.
As far as the race went I took 14 seconds off my time from last year, which is fine considering it is impossible to really run until nearly 3/4 of mile into the race. That being said, I have to admit, I don’t run well with others. I like to run my own pace, whatever that is, but Lisa and I found each other easily after the run and got up to some of our usual antics. Trust me, enough said. Can’t wait until next year!
Fab bourbon sour made by Jonathan at the Wine Bar & Bistro on Lark. Yum, yum!
Filed under Albany, Christmas, drinking, Events, Exercise, favorites, friends, Lark Street, Local, Recommendations, running, SEEN
The 5th day of Christmas just might be the perfect time for you to get down with a lovely Italian Christmas tradition. You know, the Christmas Eve feast of Seven Fishes? I mean, a girl has to start somewhere and the Fish Fry zone on Delaware is a fine place to begin satisfying the need for some of those good for you fish nutrients. Admittedly, when it comes to the Fish Fry I’m an infrequent indulger, but don’t let my insanity sway you. I just don’t eat a lot of fried food ever since I successfully
brainwashed convinced myself that I just don’t enjoy foods which have been prepared by being submerged in bubbling oil. Once in a while, though, the appeal of fish and chips is undeniable. Let’s blame it on my Irish heritage, shall we? When the lure (ha!) of crispy fish is overwhelming, my favorite spot to indulge is at Ted’s on Wolf Road – so deliciously perfect, but now there is a spot in the DelSo which will satisfy in a pinch – The Fish Fry Zone.
My oldest son has Irish sensibilities when it comes to food. Give that boy some potatoes and fried fish and he’s a happy lad. It was his request that we order fish fries for dinner recently, and we gave our local place some love by getting takeout to be enjoyed at home. (Disclaimer: I personally did not order a meal for myself – see above for reasons for self-denial.) Liam had the standard fish and fries combo and, judging from the speed of consumption, thoroughly enjoyed his dinner. The breading appeared to be the ideal ratio of crunch to tender, the fish was white and mildly aromatic and the portion was appropriate. My non-fish eaters went with chicken wings which were equally well-received. The woman who took our order was incredibly pleasant and the shop was tidy and clean.
Ted’s might be my ultimate favorite, but it’s nice to know that a well prepared fish fry can be had right in the neighborhood. We’ll definitely be back.