Tag Archives: DelSo

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.

Leave a comment

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.

6 Comments

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.
DSC_0008
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.

DSC_0010

TONIGHT!!!

2 Comments

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?

3 Comments

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

Thanks were given

I’ve given away a lot of things on the eve of Thanksgiving, (including my virginity) but what I got yesterday was an amazing present.  Yesterday, Thanksgiving Eve 2013, I was given something remarkable – a thank you, a sincere and appreciative thank you.  Let me tell you the story.

A package was delivered to my house by one of the postal carriers who work “my” route.  I heard the delivery truck pull up in front of my house and correctly predicted that my new boots were being delivered.  I was at the bottom of the stairs before the bell had even rung.

As I accepted the package, the carrier looked at me and asked “Are you the person who gave me a cold drink on that hot day a few months ago?  I’ve been looking for you.”

She was referring to an afternoon in early September.  I had pulled on to my block, in the middle of the afternoon on an unseasonably hot day.  I noticed the mail carrier. She looked uncomfortable from the heat.  I went into my house, grabbed a cold Gatorade from the fridge and caught up with her on my neighbor’s porch.  I held the bottle, already slippery from condensation, out to her.

She looked at me with confusion.  I spoke, telling her that I thought she might like something to drink on such a hot day.  I won’t forget what she said: “Are you serious?  That’s for me?” I assured it was and walked away as she placed the frosty bottle on the back of her neck.

When she appeared at my door yesterday, I recognized her and smiled, thanking her for bringing my boots.  She remembered that other day and the small gesture of kindness which I had shown to her.  She thanked me and explained that she had been truly suffering that day.  On the verge of heat stroke, she had phoned her supervisor informing him that she wasn’t certain she could continue her deliveries. She considered phoning 911 because she felt so very close to fainting.

When I gave her that drink, she said, it revived her.  It changed her day completely.  She told me I had saved her life and that she thought of me as her angel.  Me?  Can you imagine?  The same girl who had given up her innocence on a long ago Thanksgiving eve, was being sanctified on the very same day all these years later.

So?  What’s the point of this story?   I guess this – sometimes we give a priceless part of ourselves away and realize minimal gain.  On other occasions, we give away something which is infinitely less precious, yet reap rewards which will be everlasting.  There’s giving and there are thanks.

Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours.

4 Comments

Filed under Albany, beauty, DelSo, holidays, Observations

What I missed

IMG_2475After being back and settled in the DelSo for a week, I thought I’d share what I missed this summer while away. Some of the items on the list, I may take for granted when I’m home, while others are always appreciated. The list is not in any order, although alphabetical would naturally be my first impulse. I’m a librarian, remember?

  • My pillows. I wish I could bring them along on the vacation, but there just isn’t enough room in the car – and there are only two.
  • My coffee bean grinder. What do you mean not everyone grinds their beans freshly each morning?
  • My griddle pan. Traditionally, I bring my waffle iron along on the trip, but next year I may need to find some space for my go-to pancake/grilled cheese making surface. Making either of these items individually makes no sense when you can make three at a time.
  • Our sweet old lab, Cassidy Bono Lilly, especially when I read stories like this gem from Paul Grondahl.
  • Him. Because I like having him around.

What do you find yourself missing the most when away from home?

2 Comments

Filed under Albany, breakfast, Cape Cod, Cooking, DelSo, family, favorites, friends, Martha's Vineyard, Summer, travel, vacation

So-so to DelSo

DSC_0043My 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.

Leave a comment

Filed under Albany, art, DelSo, Events, Local, SEEN, Summer