Tag Archives: drinking

New York City, just like I’m picturing it

I’m getting kind of excited about spending some untethered time in NYC.  I feel like circumstances are aligning.  The sun is expected to shine in mild blue skies.  The moon will be nearly full and, I predict, spectacular.  I have a good idea about what I’m going to wear (cutoff shorts with footless tights, flat shoes for walking) and what I’ll need to pack (running gear, a cute dress for cocktails).

My plans are fluid but include a couple of stops on my way downtown – Macy’s, perhaps, Porto Rico Importers, definitely, Rocco’s more than likely.  I’ll be dressed casually so I’m going with a backpack instead of an overnight bag.  I like to have my hands free and travel light.

I’ll have a quality late lunch with at least one glass of wine, maybe my first rose of the season.  My plans include a nap followed by a run.  I want to head south down the lower west side to Battery Park through the Seaport and over the Brooklyn Bridge.  The “blood moon” will be rising and whatever music I choose I know will be perfect.

A quick shower off, a little makeup and then there will be cocktails at a swanky place down on lower Hudson where, I believe, Sundays are “pants optional.”  Fun will be had.  I know how to do this.   It’s going to be epic.

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Filed under favorites, NYC, running, Spring

Reflections after 2 days of being Wined and Dined

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Me and “my” Sis

I was lucky enough to shoot photos at two related events this past weekend in downtown Albany.  In case you are one of the few residents of the Capital District who I didn’t run into (and have been living under a rock), this weekend was the 5th annual Albany Wine and Dine for the Arts, an outstanding culinary event which is rapidly growing into the highlight of what can often be a grey month in upstate New York.

I began the weekend with Friday evening’s Grand Tasting.  This event is truly a terrific way to start a three-day weekend and people really seemed to be enjoying themselves.  The sizable crowd was wonderfully diverse with couples, both young and old, as well as groups of friends, meandering around the ballroom carefully balancing tasting plates of food and adult beverages.  If you’re someone who is intimidated by “haute cuisine,” this would be a perfect opportunity to expand your culinary horizons in a completely low-key fashion.

As I roamed, snapping photos for a Seen gallery, I was able to make connections with old friends and new faces.  In all honesty, I didn’t eat or drink because I was working planning to take an evening run and didn’t want the excess ballast.  If I had been indulging, the offerings from Cafe Capriccio, Bake for You and Javier’s all would have attracted my fork and, while I didn’t transition to the Slider Slam, held at 90 State, it looked like quite a party!  Next year, for sure.

Saturday, though, was my night to indulge and I do believe I did justice to the fabulous offerings.  I had originally planned to attend an old friend’s party in Troy, but the sloppy weather prevented me from making the trek.  I like to ski on snow, not drive.  I consoled myself by finagling a spot at one of the Gala’s tables and tucked into pretty much every course which came my way.  Oh, and there was wine, too!  Lots of tastes of lots of wines, including an ’81 Chateau Margaux and a ’66 Talbot.  What an evening…

Vintage '66 for both me and the wine!

Vintage ’66 for both me and the wine!

I wish I had been more disciplined about taking notes about the individual courses along with the wine pairings, but Friday had been the time for discipline.  Saturday was all about dining with friends and filling my mouth with tastiness.  And taking pictures, of course.

There was one aspect of the event which left me a bit disgruntled… This event would be impossible to pull off without the tireless efforts of the committee, the chefs and all of the professional hospitality industry employees.  Prior to the start of meal service, there were a number of honors, awards and recognitions which needed to be presented.  Unfortunately, there were quite a few tables which lacked appropriate decorum during this time and it was often difficult to hear the individual presenters and recipients.  There was no lack of food or beverage served during the one-hour cocktail reception prior to the commencement of the sit down portion of the meal and it would have been nice if the attendees could have closed their mouths for just a short while.

Mark your calendars for mid-January 2015  – this event is going to continue to be the premier food and wine event in the Capital Region and you’ll want to be there.

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Filed under Albany, Dinner, drinking, Eating, Events, favorites, Food, Local, Recommendations, Restaurants, SEEN, upstate New York, Wine, winter

The evolution of the girlfriend getaway

DSC_0036It started with a couple of stolen hours.  We’d pick a date that worked for all of us, crossing our fingers for no last-minute work emergencies, sick children or childcare cop outs.  Our rendezvous destination was generally somewhere in the middle – north for them, south for me.

On the given day, as I put miles between myself and the responsibilities and demands of home, I recall becoming aware of my breath. It was almost as if I had been holding my breath, neither inhaling or exhaling with any depth, for what seemed like days.  Those couple of hours shared with my girlfriends reset my heart, my lungs and my mind.

As our lives have progressed, our opportunities to get together have also grown.  A quick shared meal evolved into an occasional overnight in NYC, complete with dinner and drinks. On one occasion, as I packed to leave Albany for 2 nights in the city, I realized that I was borderline sick and in desperate need of a nap.  I also knew that my chances of actually getting a nap (and being taken care of) were better in the city with the girls than at home with the guys.  I went.

We’ve explored new neighborhoods as we allowed Hotwire and Priceline to determine where we stayed, economizing on accommodations to allow for some shopping as we attempted to bring some of our peace of mind home.  We’ve got restaurants and cocktail bars which we consider to be “ours” and have had some wonderful trips making memories to last a lifetime.

We’ve just returned from our most ambitious girls’ trip ever – 5 nights in New Orleans.  I can’t tell you how many times I said “Can you believe how fortunate we are that we are able to do this?” during the trip.  The fact that we have come to a place where we have the resources and time to pull off a get away like this impresses me to no end.  I don’t know when we got to be such grown up women, but I like it.  A lot.

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Filed under aging, drinking, Eating, Events, friends, NYC, Observations, relationships, travel, vacation

It’s all about the presence…

photo(155)…not the gifts. Although, they’re lovely and thoughtful and it can be so fun to unwrap surprise packages. Most of the time, that is. But, when all is said and done, it is truly all about the people with whom we are lucky enough to spend time.

For countless years, I feel as if I have had the best birthday ever, each year. How incredible is that? I’ve said it before, and I’m not ashamed to admit that it remains true – I am a simple person. I do appreciate daily luxuries like great soap and delicious coffee or a pair of Frye boots that I can wear for 20 years. But, truly, stuff isn’t all that important to me however, people…well, now you’re talking.

Friday night my favorite running friends spent the evening easing me into my birthday weekend. We laughed and ran under a big moon, and talked.  Then we cleaned up, went out and toasted our strength, our good health, our years of life.

We were joined by one of my oldest friends, a woman who I have been fortunate enough to grow up with for the last 30+ years. She had driven nearly two hours to be with me as I made the joyful leap into a new year. We shared memories and hugs and laughter.

Our designated driver took us to Wolff’s Biergarten and even indulged my whim to go to a second spot, not because I needed another drink, but because I just didn’t want the night to end. The contribution he made to my perfect night should not be minimized. There was thoughtfulness, care and love, none of which can be presented in a package, no matter the size. Me, the reputed “difficult to take care of,” had been thoroughly taken care of.

The merging of three different areas of my life, the active, the established and the emotional was the perfect way to close out my 46th year and herald a new year of living.  No bow  or wrapping required.
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Filed under aging, Albany, beer, birthdays, drinking, friends, love, running

Tortilla Flats aka as the place with a waiter who must have flatlined

The best part of the experience, aside from the company.

The best part of the experience, aside from the company.

We stopped in at a little joint Sunday afternoon down in the West Village, Tortilla Flats, hereafter referred to as the place with the worst service.  Ever.

Our party of three arrived at what I think of as the “shoulder season” of dining hours, around 3:30 or so.  There was a distinct lack of greeting after we entered, but the bartender finally acknowledged us and directed us to the lone waiter, Mr Frazzled and Angry.  Just like his hair.  He agreed to seat us and selected the only unoccupied dirty table.  Naturally, it needs to be bussed and wiped, which he did in between other tasks.  His sense of prioritizing was poor.

We sat and perused the menu, giving the margarita list the bulk of our attention.  We selected a path to tequila awareness (Sauza Hornitos) and waited for the server’s return.  We waited a long ass time, actually.  We waited so long that we finally sent a representative to the bar to place the order directly with the bartender.  In a remarkably rapid fashion, the server brought us our pitcher, with the correct number of glasses salted (2 out of 3) and garnished with limes.  Drinking commenced.

About midway through our first drinks we again flagged the server down to place an order for nachos with sides of guacamole and salsa.  A short time later we received our nachos, which were unlike any nachos I’ve ever been served.  They were flat, looking more like a quesadilla than a pile of crispy chips topped with cheese and beans and whatnot.  For clarification we inquired if we had been served the correct item and to remind the server that we had also ordered a couple of sides and that utensils, plates and napkins would be helpful.  With a remarkable level of surliness for a human being over the age of 16 or so, he retrieved our guacamole and salsa, but no plates or napkins.

At this point we were drinking our second drinks on fairly empty stomachs.  You see, we didn’t have plates or napkins or utensils with which to eat our food.  Even though those are all obviously, to most, considered essential items when consuming food.  Eventually, once the ray of sunshine who was our “server” had cleared a neighboring table (which was unoccupied) and stood at the bar for a few minutes, we received plates and napkins.  Silverware never was provided.  The (finger)food was tasty.

My commitment at that particular moment in time was weighted heavily in favor of the tequila, so I elected to not sit that kid down to painstakingly itemize all of the lapses in service which he had committed.  Our interlude ended on a high note when the waiter inquired how everything was – a question he posed for the first and only time as we paid the check.  We were able to exit the restaurant laughing, a state I don’t imagine he was able to replicate with the paltry, yet still generous, 15% tip we left for him.  At least there’s always tequila, buddy.

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Filed under drinking, Eating, NYC, Restaurants, Summer, sunday

Feasting my way around Freiburg

My flammkuchen

My flammkuchen

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.

If the broom is out, they're open!

If the broom is out, they’re open!

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.

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Filed under beer, Eating, Europe, family, Food, Germany, Recommendations, travel, vacation, Wine

Brunch and a bull ride

A couple of Sundays ago, I made it to the City Beer Hall for brunch.  I had no expectations going in other than to use my Living Social voucher and catch up with some friends.  I certainly did not expect the place to be so jammed with other wannabee brunch eaters and I most definitely did not expect to have a meal that was so completely satisfying.  Let me tell you everything…

Our group arrived piecemeal.  I was the first in and I got our name on the list for a table for 5 + a child.  The wait was approximately 25 minutes, a length of time which did not feel overly long.  Drinks were enjoyed by the bar and appetites were whetted by the passing plates of food.  When we sat down at one of the picnic style tables we were ready to sample a variety of the menu’s offerings. Here’s what we ended up with:

Gastro salad - it may look a bit chaotic but it was really satisfying.

Gastro Salad – it may look a bit chaotic but it was really overwhelmingly delicious!

Challah bread French toast - yum!

Challah bread French toast – yum!

Spinach & tomato omelette with home fries

Spinach & tomato omelete with home fries

Truffled mac n cheese

Truffled mac n cheese

I failed to get photos of the Sliced Cajun Seasoned Hangar Steak  sandwich on grilled sourdough with stellar hand-cut fries and the adorably dubbed “Spit in the Eye,” but I assure you, they were pleasing to the eye and the belly.  Good stuff all around!  The only ever so slight misstep was the mac and cheese.  When it was initially delivered to our party the temperature was a bit lacking.  We brought the problem to a server’s attention (that’s what you do when there’s an issue with your food – you let them fix it) and it was returned to us a few minutes later piping hot and delicious.

At the risk of damning myself to an even longer wait next time I’m feeling brunch-ish, I’ll tell you this: from service to atmosphere to food and value, this place knocked it out of the park.  I’ll be back there in a couple of weeks (2/16) to photograph the Albany Boys and Girls’ Club Ride to Raise: Mechanical Bull Riding Competition.  Maybe I need to get there a little early to try the pulled pork sandwich.  Or the kale salad…

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Filed under Albany, Brunch, Eating, Events, Food, Local, Recommendations, Restaurants, sunday