Category Archives: Delaware Avenue

Sunday dinner out in the DelSo

One of the first images to enter my brain last Sunday morning came to me courtesy of an email from Living Social.  They were offering a deal for Yanni’s Too, a place known for its fried calamari, and the picture accompanying the sales pitch became my obsession and inspiration for the day.  Crispy looking golden brown rings and tentacles… I needed some, but had no desire to drive south and dine riverside.  I explored my options, beginning, and happily ending, in my own neighborhood – Nicole’s Restaurant.  All I had was a 5 mile run to get through first.

Run finished, I quickly called Nicole’s to make sure they still had tables seated at 8:00 on a Sunday.  I never want to be that person who comes in on a quiet night and keeps staff hanging around.  I was assured that they still were doing business and invited to please stop by.  On my arrival I was offered a nice deuce in the front and settled in with the menu and a basket of warm bread accompanied with good quality olive oil and an olive tapenade.
oliveoil
I was hungry and went a little crazy ordering the fried calamari, the eggplant rollatini and an intriguing sounding Brussels sprouts Caesar salad.  After considering a bottle of wine, with the option to bring home what I didn’t finish, I talked myself down and went with a glass of chianti which satisfied me perfectly.

squid

The calamari was terrific. It was piping hot, crispy and not oily in the slightest.  The accompanying sauce was different and enjoyable, but I’m pretty simple and would have been equally pleased with a marinara sauce on the side.

eggplantThe eggplant was tender, completely devoid of bitterness and wonderfully smoky from the oozing cheese.  Again, the presentation is a little different with only some roasted red peppers topping the eggplant, rather than the more typical bath of red sauce.  Tasty.

ceasarThe salad was a unique spin on Caesar – a feat that is not easily accomplished, but I didn’t really taste the classic Caesar notes of garlic, cheese and anchovy as I had expected.  The anchovies were white which, in my opinion, gives a sharper, more vinegary taste.  I liked the salad more when I finished it up the next day as part of my lunch.  It seemed to have mellowed out a bit.

cheesecakeI wrapped things up with an indulgent slice of chocolate cheesecake – 5 miles, people.  I had just run 5 miles.  Belly full, $50 + tip lighter, I slept like a well fed baby.  Although I don’t get to Nicole’s often enough, it’s nice to know they continue to offer a consistently creative menu that never fails to provide comfort and quality.

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Filed under Albany, Delaware Avenue, DelSo, Dinner, Eating, Food, Local, Recommendations, Restaurants, running, sunday

A pass and a fail

I had my car inspected this week.  It passed without any issues.  I was a couple of weeks late on taking care of things, but my reasons were understandable.  At least that’s what I hoped the police officer would think should I have been pulled over.

I initially delayed the process because I wanted to wait until the calendar turned to March. That way I would have gotten 13 months from my previous year’s inspection, a real “stick it to the man” move, right?  Of course, I screwed myself because days before the end of February (such a short little month!), a bulb went in my headlight necessitating a trip to the auto parts store and the efforts of three well-intentioned adults to successfully remove and replace the little halogen beauty.

A few days later, I left my car at the place around the block, Delaware Tire and Service,  for them to take care of the annual requirement.  I was a bit surprised to learn when I returned 90 minutes later that my car had a “few bulbs out” and also needed a new rear windshield wiper blade.  “Bulbs?” I asked, thinking how odd that I should have nonfunctioning bulbs, yet not have received a dashboard message light informing me of this deficit.   I mean, the reason I knew my headlight was out a couple of weeks ago was because my dashboard told me.  Were we now in a fight, my dashboard and I, and no longer talking?  I didn’t think so.  I thanked him for his time and drove home still without a valid inspection.

I next scheduled an appointment with my regular mechanic, the folks I’ve bought 4 cars from and relied upon for more than 15 years to maintain my vehicles.  Naturally, the day before my scheduled appointment, my Check Engine light randomly appeared.  I canceled the appointment and waited for the light to go off, as it reliably does.

I noticed Tuesday that the light was off and yesterday took advantage of an early dismissal to stop at Hoffman’s on my way home for an inspection.  Obviously, I didn’t mention or suggest any issues with my bulbs until after the new inspection sticker had been affixed to my windshield.  At that point, I questioned the technician to see if he had seen anything wrong with bulbs or wiper.  Not surprisingly, all was fine – nothing needed to be addressed or replaced.

So – my while my well maintained vehicle passed inspection with flying colors, Delaware Tire and Service gets a huge fail.  Wonder how many other innocent drivers have been victimized by this unscrupulous business?  You’ll want to give that garage a big pass.

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Filed under Albany, Delaware Avenue, DelSo, Local, Observations, Recommendations

Schooled in cheese.

DSC_0006Over the years, I’ve learned a lot about cheese.  My earliest cheese memories center around my regular lunch order – Muenster on white with mayo.  Simple, a bit tangy and the perfect balance to my other standard sandwich option, liverwurst.  What can I say?  I was raised by a German mother.

As I aged, I expanded my cheese horizons…there was cheddar and provolone, an array of blue-veined beauties, soft delights like Brie, preferably served warm and oozing.  Cheese would most certainly prevent me from being a vegan.  Ever.

While most of my cheesy memories are positive ones, there is one incident which will forever stand out in my memory for both the icky taste and the laughter it ultimately inspired. Many years ago, while visiting Alsace, we lost track of time and missed our opportunity to catch lunch service in the small French town we found ourselves in.  Using my best parlez vous Francais, I asked if perhaps we might have some fruit, cheese and bread to tide us over until dinner could be had.

We were graciously indulged with a lovely plate of local specialties, including a couple of new to us cheeses.  As we dug in, we shared our impressions of the fromage.  One sample stumped my husband and as he struggled to find the words to describe it, I impatiently grabbed a (blessedly) small piece and shoved it into my mouth.  What followed next was a comical series of sputtering, spitting and cursing as I exclaimed “You couldn’t simply say it tastes the way I imagine dog shit might taste?!?”  Bad cheese, but great story.
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Locally, the cheese universe has evolved tremendously over the years.  From Cowen and Lobel to Old Chatham to the Honest Weight, cheese has grown into a specialized niche with plenty of devotees.  When The Cheese Traveler moved into the DelSo bringing his enthusiasm and knowledge with him, I knew I would never again inadvertently place a crappy tasting cheese in my mouth again.

I have to confess, that I find myself gravitating to creamiest of Gorgonzola more often than not, but it is so good to know that I can surrender myself to Eric’s wisdom and explore other cheesy delights.  Last week’s Soup and Grilled Cheese Tasting party was a fun way to sample some flavors which were new to me, including the killer combination of Flying Pigs ham, Fourme d’Ambert and Mingle’s kimchi – an explosion of tastes that I’m still thinking about days later.  Here are a couple of terrific write ups from the event (or shop, in general) which go into far more detail about the grilled cheese offerings.  There are a few upcoming Cheese Traveler events which look both delicious and educational, including Cheese School which begins in April and the fundraiser advertised below which is tonight.  Follow him on Twitter to keep up with how to be your cheesiest best.

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TONIGHT!!!

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Filed under Albany, Delaware Avenue, DelSo, Eating, Events, favorites, Food, Local, soup

14 for 2014

It’s a new year and we in Albany have a new mayor. I’ve been thinking about some changes which I would welcome in 2014 and here’s what I’ve come up with…

1. It would be awesome if Albany drivers would recognize that a yellow light means slow down, not speed up. Maybe we could collectively work on this, fellow Albanians?

2. Running around the neighborhood in the throes of winter is an exercise in navigation as I contend with unshoveled sidewalks. Could we maybe pair high school students in need of  community service credit with seniors who might welcome a hand with this chore?

3. Imagine if Washington Park had a gas line to power up all those vendor trucks during festivals? Would you miss the drone and exhaust of those diesel generators they currently use?

4. Albany has lots of cool historic sites and museums. I would love to see some sort of discount card for residents to encourage their attendance at some of these places. Maybe even  a reward (a cup of coffee or discounted baked good from a local business?) if individuals visited a certain number of sites would be possible.

5. The Lakehouse in Washington Park is underused. Let’s get a café in there or a series of open mics/poetry readings to get people inside that beautiful building.

6. Albany seems to be the double parking capital of the northeast. How about channeling Guiliani and his quality of life campaign? Ticket them! Post a police officer by a frequently run red lights and attempt to correct the behavior of those who fail to acknowledge that red means STOP.

7. When I take my regular 5 mile run I often think how cool it would be if Albany had a dirt track or path between the sidewalk and the curb for runners. Is that possible?

8. Speaking of outdoor exercise, in the warmer months the Corning Preserve of Washington Park parade grounds would lend themselves to al fresco yoga classes, don’t you think?

9. As long as I’m indulging my own personal pipe dreams, wouldn’t it be amazing if residents could earn credit on their property tax bill by “adopting” a beautification project in the city? You know, maintain a public garden or median green patch or be responsible to dig out all the fire hydrants in an area of town.

10. On a related note, for those of us who like to pay their property tax bill in person, on the 31st of January, of course, would it be possible to have some recycling bins available in City Hall for residents who may need another one? I’d rather not have to go to DGS to replace one of mine which recently went missing.

11. I’d love to see a winter carnival in this fine city. Capital Hills or Lincoln Park would be perfect locations – sledding, cross-country skiing, snowman building and snowshoeing activities would be a blast. Maybe some local sports stores could bring rental equipment and run clinics and we could get a couple of food trucks for warm up refreshments. Sounds
fun, yes?

12. The former Friendly’s on Delaware Avenue has been vacant for years. Can we either renovate and lease it or tear it down? It’s an ugly eyesore in my neighborhood!

13. Can we agree to retire the phrase Smalbany? Perhaps banish it to an island along with the Kardashians and Miley Cyrus?

14. We’ve got some exciting political energy going on locally. Let’s work with our elected leaders to encourage smart growth and positive attitudes in this New Year. I know we can make it a good one, friends.

How about you?  What can you add to this list?

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Filed under Albany, Delaware Avenue, DelSo, ideas, Local, Recommendations, winter

Metaphors for life and random confessions

image: timesunion.com

aka – thoughts from a run

  • The sidewalks were slick tonight with ice and nuisance snow.  Not quite enough to shovel, but too much to ignore.
  • Life can be a slippery path at times, but like the ice, it was just a caution – not a discouragement. Forge ahead.  It’s the right direction.
  • I love my body! It is fit and strong and healthy.  It indulges me when I sandwich a 60 minute hot barre yoga class between two days and a combined 11+ miles of running.
  • I don’t always want to run, but I am always glad that I did.
  • I can’t be the only one who pushes those I love away at times, right? I think it’s only to feel the sensation of having them reach for you again.
  • You love who you love.
  • If I didn’t run, I would never have time to think.

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Filed under Albany, beauty, Delaware Avenue, DelSo, Exercise, love, musings, Observations, Random, running, snow, winter

Putting my money where my mouth is

I spent a little time Sunday afternoon at an event at Mingle.  It was a fundraiser for Kathy Sheehan’s campaign for mayor and there were familiar faces present as well as some local food items from our DelSo peeps, All Good Bakers, The Cheese Traveler, Tilldale Farms and, of course, Mingle.

I have no personal aspirations to be mayor of the city of Albany (although Duchess of DelSo has a nice ring to it), but I think Kathy Sheehan has the right experience for the job.  I didn’t have a chance to talk directly with Kathy, but I’d like to believe that she is interested in making Albany a city where the residents come before partiers and suburbanites who make their money here but spend it elsewhere.  The focus needs to shift and I’m willing to take a chance on someone new after 20 years.  It’s time.

Speaking of time, my neighbors and I finally found some to share.  Perhaps with a bottle of wine or two.  When it came time to adding a little food to the mix we were in complete accord that Sweet Basil was the answer.  It was my first time trying this fairly new spot and we ordered a mess of food.  It was pretty much all delicious – FRESH, tasty, and with a lovely creeper spiciness.  We ordered our food as take-out, but the Yelp reviews pretty consistently note that the service is gracious and the dining room pleasant.   I’ll definitely be putting this place into my rotation.  Trying something new, be it politics or dinner, can taste pretty damn good.

Siam Duck

Siam Duck

Drunken Noodles

Drunken Noodles

Lard Gai

Larb Gai

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Filed under Albany, Delaware Avenue, DelSo, Dinner, Eating, Food, friends, Local, politics, Recommendations, Restaurants, Uncategorized

12 Days of Christmas – Dining Delso

DSC_0001The 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!

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Filed under Albany, Christmas, Delaware Avenue, DelSo, Dinner, favorites, Food, Recommendations, Restaurants