My day started unbalanced. There was a fantastic series of wind storms that interrupted my sleep with clanking blinds and papers flying. I had a dream I would have preferred to forget and a slippery bottle of milk left my sneakers in a puddle of white. The clean up of that dairy disaster, stole my YMCA mojo and left me feeling slightly…sour.
But, then… a coffee moment with someone special, a thorough bathroom scrubbing, and a somewhat cooler afternoon, started to swing the pendulum in the opposite direction. I watched a little Wimbledon, read a couple of chapters and had a five-minute power nap. Yes, there is such a thing.
Slightly after 5 pm, I made my way, accompanied by my favorite globe-trotting 30-something, to the Albany Barn fundraising event, Build Up. I wasn’t familiar with the location, but it was easy enough to find and we found convenient parking before the skies opened up for real. There was a meaty smokiness to the air which did nothing to diminish the bright airy quality of the well-lit room.
The attendees were upbeat and overwhelmingly familiar. There were more burger toppings than you could dream of, including locally sourced chanterelles, cheeses from R&G in Cohoes, sesame seed sprinkled buns from All Good Bakers and an overwhelming array of pickled, chopped and shredded veggies. Libations, exclusively from the Empire State were served.
I met the couple who own the house I most admire in the DelSo and had a Carrie Bradshaw moment despite my flat sandals. I shot photos and made introductions and assembled my own slider with chipotle chèvre, chimichurri, bacon and purple leaf lettuce. I drove home, noticing that Delaware Avenue was parked nearly full on both sides. My neighborhood was busy. It was a good day.
On the weeks when I work two double shifts, I struggle to get my miles in. In addition to being somewhat obsessive about exercise, I am also mistress of the rationalization so, I console myself on these alternating weeks with the fact that I get some physical activity running up and down the stairs at the Wine Bar. Guilt assuaged.
I had planned to take a run yesterday, but between a super late Friday night, an array of errands and a soccer game (we won), I just knew I didn’t have it in me. Sunday was essentially looking wide-open and I decided I’d experience that long run which had become almost mythical in my mind – my house to Delaware to Whitehall to New Scotland to Slingerlands and the bypass, to Kenwood and back to Delaware and then home. I finally had the time and today seemed the ideal day to give it a go.
After a relaxing morning, I put myself in the mindset that my run was a St. Patrick’s Day treat akin to soda bread and a pot of tea from Bewley’s. I particularly appreciated that any residual March 18 discomfort would be the result of muscle exertion rather than beer
over indulgence. My weather app kept promising clouds, but luckily they never materialized. I think the somewhat aggressive wind may have kept those moving right along in the blue sky.
What kept me moving over the 9.5+ miles? Good music, thoughts of my late Uncle John McMenamin, a man who loved a good brisk walk along the Irish Sea, and my sense that the sun was in complete approval of my efforts. I allowed myself to move at a pace that I could keep moving at and I am absolutely content with my outing. If Uncle John and I were able to sit down together with a couple of bowls of his wife Bridie’s creamy vegetable soup, I’d say today was just about an ideal St. Patrick’s Day. I hope yours was equally enjoyable.
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
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.