I think I finally caught my breath…
Category Archives: Wine
Ok, maybe that isn’t 100% true, but she really did get me started on my Troy education. When I first moved to Albany almost 25 years ago, I received some advice from a childhood friend regarding Troy. He said, and I quote, “Troy is the armpit of the Universe.” I was uncertain exactly what that meant, but seeing as how I didn’t have a car, Troy wasn’t an area that I planned to explore with any haste anyway. No problem.
But, then I met Mary Panza, South Troy denizen extraordinaire, and began venturing across the river. We generally ended up at her sister’s house, where we consumed fantastic quantities of eggplant and pasta, all bathed in the senior Mary Panza’s fabulous red sauce. My personal opinion began to form about the collar city – Troy was ok with me.
Since that time, I’ve been pulled to Troy for their superior Farmer’s Market, beer and music venues, restaurants and unique shops. I learned to never move a folding chair left in the street and to maintain a sense of the river’s location to navigate the grid of one-way streets. I like Troy – there, I said it.
Last night I intensified my like of Troy to a level of affectionate love. Granted, the company I was in was a definite factor, but the charm of Troy is strong and it has never looked better. Speaking of looking, our evening began at the beautiful and historic St. Agnes Cemetery in Menands. Photographer and TU blogger, Chuck Miller, had an event to celebrate the opening of his stellar photo exhibit. The images he captures are primarily local and demonstrate a keen eye for both lighthearted humor and thoughtful observation. Cool venue, great show, get there before it’s all gone.
Our next stop was DeFazio’s in Troy for some real pizza. Everything about this joint charms me – the almost magical way the simple ingredients combine for a pizza that is the best I’ve ever had outside of NYC, the politeness of every person who helped to take care of us, the black and white tiled floor, and the red convertible the delivery guy drives. Everything! We went with an antipasto and a small pizza with olives and prosciutto. The antipasto is substantial (served with crunchy garlic bread) and the small pizza was the perfect size for 2. I think we may need to try the pasta next time because we witnessed a plate of it being served and were practically in need of restraints. Have any of you ever had their pasta?
We ended the evening with a visit to the Charles F. Lucas Confectionary around the corner from Monument Square, in downtown Troy. I would feel guilty about not getting to this place sooner, but I believe last night was the first time I’ve been in Troy since this fantastic place opened. I have to say, it isn’t as if I’ve been missed, because the joint was positively jumping! The waves of guests entering and departing during our 90 minutes there, was impressive. We had a tour of the space by the owner, Vic Christopher, and I can’t say enough about the vision he and his wife, Heather, made into a dreamy reality for us all to share. Wow. Our bellies were full of pizza and cappicola, but the beautiful glass of Cote du Rhone rose’ Vic brought my way was exactly the crowning touch to a memorable May evening. I am incredibly enthusiastic about this project. the additional related grocery store business in the preliminary works and the new-to-me term “reclamation construction.” Troy is a lucky city to have landed such super smart and cool entrepreneurs and I imagine myself finding my way to the Collar City with previously unimagined frequency.
Armpit of the universe? Au contraire – more like the heart of the Capital District. Let’s hope our next Albany mayor fosters the kind of growth Troy is now experiencing – and that Mary invites me over for eggplant really soon.
Screw Hallmark – as far as I’m concerned, May 5th was my ideal Mother’s Day. No matter what happens next Sunday, I will cherish the day I had, from the scandalously late start to the fortified-with-an-afternoon-nap late ending – perfect! Let me be a little more specific…
Saturday night, I shot a SEEN gallery down at Prime 677. The occasion was a fundraiser for the Huntington’s Disease Society of America and it was a lovely event. The food was spectacular and the folks at Empire Wines rallied the troops to put on an extraordinary wine tasting. It’s been noted by some astute Times Union readers that whenever an event involves wine, I’m usually there. Guilty as charged.
I got home from the party working at about 10:30 only to find my little guy desperately upset that he had been denied a ‘s’more from the neighbor’s party, a situation I was able to correct with a soothing shower and some ice cream. Tucking him in at such a late hour gave me the first gift of Sunday – he slept until 10:00, which gave me an incredibly quiet morning. Soft music, strong coffee and the paper comprise my personal morning bliss trifecta. So far, so good.
After the boys departed at noon for their Dad’s, I got busy in the front yard with mulch and some annuals. The sun was glorious, birds were chirping and the simple joy of getting a little dirty made my heart sing. I had a mid afternoon visit from the person I most love spending time with and the day moved along at a pace that was completely enjoyable. I accomplished some other chores, including eating a fantastic lunch salad, and punctuated the afternoon with an indulgent nap on clean sheets. But, wait – there’s more.
As the day cooled down a bit, I tied on my running shoes and hit the streets for a 5-mile lap through the neighborhood. I had intended to go a bit further, but contented myself with not pushing myself too hard and tried to just enjoy myself. Done. A shower, a quick visit with the neighbors for a glass of wine and then home again for finale of the only reality show I would ever want to be on, The Amazing Race, and I was in bed by 10:15, thoroughly relaxed and satisfied with my day.
There weren’t any tulips or handmade crafts, but nonetheless it was a lovely day with a wonderful mix of boys, friends, productivity, relaxation and good food and wine. Mother’s Day 2013 is a done deal, as far as I am concerned. Any additional gifts are truly unnecessary, although I do have a fondness for the imperfectly made card along with a hankering for a French lilac bush. Just saying.
A big part of traveling, for me at least, is the food. I’ve seen some stuff written recently about Michelin starred restaurants in Germany, but that wasn’t what this trip was about. No, this time with family was more focused on home-style cooking a la Deutschland.
Wandering around Freiburg’s Munsterplatz earned us a delicious sausage sandwich from Meister’s food truck. Topped with beautifully browned onions and a dab of mustard, it was the perfect snack to tide us over until dinner. Next time I’m in Germany I hope to schedule an entire day in Freiburg eating, beginning with strong coffee and pretzel rolls smeared with unsalted butter. I hope to make lunch a leisurely enough event that it will effortlessly flow into the evening’s repast. I think the best way to accomplish this lofty goal would be to begin at the Munsterplatz’s food trucks with some version of wurst, washed down, naturally, with a fine hefeweizen or two.
For dinner, I plan to wander down to the Markthalle (food court) and sample as many different offerings as humanly possible. ”Food court” is a bit of a misnomer because this place is nothing like what you might find at Crossgates.
It’s more like a German version of the restaurants at Eataly except the individual kiosks are each independent and devoted to an eclectic array of international cuisines. There are tables and central gathering spots where one can enjoy a bite to eat and/or a drink and there is a bustling sense of activity akin to that of a bee hive. That’s where I want to be.
Unless, of course, I’ve got wheels and get a little outside of the city and find a Straussen or Broom restaurant. We hit one of these last month in the Markgrafler wine region and thoroughly enjoyed the meal, the local wine and the cozy makeshift dining room in the winery’s tasting room. I had the Flammkuchen and it was delicious – and perfect with the local wine! Flammkuchen, or fire cake, is sort of like a pizza, but instead of tomato sauce, the top is spread with some sort of creamy yumminess. I had mine with diced veggies and it was a satisfying yet not too heavy dinner.
All this food talk and I still haven’t shared any images of our traditional Black Forest breakfasts…until I get to it, imagine plates holding meats and cheeses accompanied by a basket of freshly baked breads and rolls. Yes, save that thought and trust me, morning was definitely not anything to dread.
Check out Joe Keegan’s blog over at the TU for some tips on cleaning glass shower doors and his impressions of the Wine Bar & Bistro on Lark. I had a blast taking care of his party and was tickled to be included in his post. I’ve been reading his blog, which deals with the painstaking, but not annoyingly so, restoration of the home he shares with his family, for a couple of years and I’m always happy when he posts a new entry.
PS. I’m not the soap scum of which he speaks.
A close second, I might add. Just for the record, my most favorite is “fete,” but enough of language. Here are the pictures which tell a thousand words! Seeing as how everyone at the
fete event looked like a million bucks, let me add a few additional words of the text variety:
- This was a really fun crowd with many familiar faces. Not one person declined to pose for a picture and I didn’t hear a single complaint while I worked the crowd.
- The staff at the
Hilton Crowne PlazaAlbany Hotel were all professional and pleasant.
- It was fun shooting pictures of some of the same people from Thursday’s event. It didn’t feel indulgent or redundant – the faces you see in both photo sets are the faces of the folks who make the restaurant industry happen.
- The Times Union merged my two galleries with another set of photos taken during Friday’s Grand Tasting event – you’ll know mine by the credit in the caption.
- Personal shout out to a former student and his lovely fiancee* ~ It made my night to see you! And I told you that you weren’t a Republican – thanks for listening.
*two French words in one post – Mon dieu! That’s 3…
I’m never prouder to be even an infinitesimal part of the Capital Region dining scene than I am during this (4th) annual event. Such a terrific group of generous and hardworking – and really fun, folks that we are all lucky to have in our community. Speaking of scene – check out my SEEN gallery over at the Times Union. If I caught a good shot of you and you’d like the jpeg, let me know. I’m happy to send it your way. Maybe I’ll see you Saturday at the Gala?