Tag Archives: favorites

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

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.
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.




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

I have no words.

Words?  Who needs words?  Behold…

Ok, here are a few words in case the picture doesn’t tell the complete story.  Pizza Carbonara: Caramelized onion, housemade pancetta, smoked mozzarella, (perfectly cooked) egg, Cafe Capriccio.  Everything you could ever want from a pizza.

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Filed under Albany, Dinner, Eating, favorites, Local, pizza, Recommendations, Restaurants, upstate New York

Book review – “The Diviners” – Libba Bray

It’s seem appropriate that I wrote about the most recent book I read, The Diviners by Libba Bray,  on the anniversary of the repeal of Prohibition. Why? Because this suspenseful novel is set during the roaring twenties and illicit gin and hidden speakeasies both make appearances.

This book was originally brought to my attention by a student, an occurrence which is incredibly gratifying. I avoided the book initially because it is 578 pages and seemed like a big commitment. The first 100 pages or so did nothing to hasten the speed of which I read, but, things quickly changed for me as the various characters began to both make an impression as individuals and reveal the manner in which they were interconnected within the story.

I won’t divulge too many details, but here’s the gist: seventeen-year-old Evie gets sent to live with her bachelor uncle in New York City after she scandalizes her hometown by accusing a well-regarded peer of getting someone in “a family way.” Her uncle is the proprietor of a museum dedicated to American folklore, superstition and the occult and Evie becomes involved in solving a mystery involving a serial killer who has seemingly returned from the dead.

There are all sorts of plot twists and the novel is filled with elements relating to WW I, various social movements of the time and historical figures. The last two hundred pages were a struggle for me – I could not put the book down! Here are a couple of quotes which caught my eye:

Spoken by flapper girl, Evie: “There is a hideous invention called the Dewey decimal System. And you have to look up your topic in books and newspapers. Pages upon pages…I though research would be more glamorous, somehow. I’d give the librarian a secret code word and he’d give me the one book I needed and whisper the necessary page numbers. Like a speakeasy. With books.”

Wouldn’t it be lovely if that were true!

And this from Evie’s Uncle will: “People think boundaries and borders build nations. Nonsense – words do. Beliefs, declarations, constitutions – words. Stories. Myths. Lies. Promises. History.”

Pretty deep, right?

This was the 65th  book I’ve read this year (!) and is definitely one of the most memorable. Loved it!

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Filed under Books, favorites, Recommendations

Getting myself into hot water

There’s something about a hot shower after a run on a fall night…Stripping off the layers of second skin UnderArmour and stepping into a steamy shower is one of my favorite parts of an evening run.  There is really only one thing that beats it, though, a hot bath!

Seriously, nothing compels me to get out the Ajax and scrub the tub more than my desire for a good soak.  As I prep the bathtub, my anticipation for 20 minutes of pure relaxation is almost as tangible as the ring around the tub from my last bath. A few minutes of cleaning and the way is paved for me to immerse myself up to my chin in bubbles – bliss.

Speaking of bubbles – do you have a favorite bath salt or brand of bubbles you like to use?  I haven’t really found one to settle on and instead tend to try new ones all the time.  My most recent purchase, Kneipp’s eucalyptus herbal bath, has proven to be a worthy contender for best smelling bubbles ever.  It only takes the smallest of capfuls (which is good because this stuff isn’t cheap) and the bathroom fills with a scent guaranteed to alleviate any sniffles or tightness in your chest. Amazing!

I’m in the market for an equally satisfying body scrub.  Any recommendations to share?  I’d even be open to making my own if someone could point me in the direction of a “recipe” that isn’t overly complicated.  I love fragrances like eucalyptus, rosemary and lavender, if that helps.  Thanks!


Filed under favorites, running, winter

My two favorite childhood books

I grew up in a house surrounded by books. Holidays and birthdays always came with books and I have vivid memories about my favorites. Two titles which greatly impacted me are Miss Suzy by Miriam Young and Virginia Lee Burton’s The Little House. Now, these are two seemingly different books, but, I’ve recently realized they have a consistent message about the importance of home.

The story of Miss Suzy is a sad one. Poor Miss Suzy, a grey squirrel, is forced from her home (complete with acorn lamps!) because of a rough group of red squirrels. She is able to find a new place to live, a home she realizes she shares with an army of wooden soldiers.

Miss Suzy befriends the soldiers and, in appreciation for the kindnesses she shows the soldiers, they reclaim her home from the red squirrel gang. They lived happily ever after, but I still harbor negative feelings about red squirrels.

The Little House is a completely different tale. In this book, a lovely home is built in the country. As times passes, development occurs and the house transitions from rural to suburban to urban. Eventually, the little house is surrounded by skyscrapers and busy roads, in a fashion which is similar to a recurring nightmare I had with frequency during my twenties. Change is scary. Finally, the little house is purchased and loaded onto a truck and taken to a new country setting and everyone is happy again.

DSC_0040I hope there is a similar outcome with this house on New Scotland, near the intersection with Whitehall Road. What once must have been a beautifully located home is now sadly wedged between an Amedore built condo development. I know nothing about the circumstances which caused this to happen, but the property has been on the market for quite some time and I would hope that it will ultimately have a conclusion similar to that of the Little House.


Filed under Albany, Books, favorites

Breasts and beers

image: rlv.zcache.com

What are you doing October 5th? Nothing?  Well, I’ve got a couple of ideas for you to consider. First – there’s the Komen Race for the Cure. This annual event is a fundraiser for breast cancer research and, although I haven’t participated, I’ve always heard the vibe is incredibly positive and empowering.  Maybe get some friends together and do the run or the walk?

20130920-112012.jpgI would have loved to have accepted the invitation I received this year to join a team, but I already had made a commitment to volunteering to help out at Wolff’s Biergarten’s 4th annual Oktoberfest downtown. And, you know what? So can you! Email beervolunteer2013@gmail.com for your chance to lend a hand (the one which isn’t holding a stein) at one of the best parties of the year. There will be music, food, dachshund races and a selection of beers which would make my Opa weep.

Last year’s weather left a little something to be desired, but Matt promised that if I wear an authentic, low-cut dirndl the sun will shine! (Actually, he never said that at all. It is a conversation which occurred completely in my own head.). Whatever – put a sweater on, if necessary and get yourself there. It’s going to be wunderbar!

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Filed under Albany, beer, cancer, Events, Exercise, ideas, Recommendations, running, upstate New York