Tara Kitchen

olive tapenade with artichoke hearts and sundried tomatoes

olive tapenade with artichoke hearts and sundried tomatoes

Sunday, more than ever, has become my “Me” day. Yesterday I had hours to myself to do whatever I felt like – once the waffles and bacon had been cooked, served and cleaned up and payroll had been done and the sheets had been changed and I had met with Linda Kindlon at Bake for You about adding her cookies to Lark + Lily’s dessert options…hours, I tell you.

Following an afternoon run (down one lunar b*tch, missed you, Chrissy!), I decided to follow through on my intention to eat at Tara Kitchen. I’ve been wanting to get to this spot in Schenectady forever and this post  in All Over Albany’s weekly roundup of what’s going on in the neighborhood, forced my hand.

I’m not very familiar with Schenectady, but I have spent some time in the area where Tara Kitchen is. Parking was readily available in the lot directly across the street from the restaurant. I arrived at about 5:30 and the place was hopping with nearly all the tables seated. Bar seating was plentiful. I sat at a table in front of the window and was completely comfortable even with the door opening and closing. The upstairs seating was definitely toasty warm due to, I imagine, the heat rising off of the big range in the open kitchen.

spinach with potatoes and poached eggs

spinach with potatoes and poached eggs

As I browsed the menu, I sipped a delightful tea from a small glass.  It was a magical elixir, I swear, stimulating my taste buds and giving me a boost.  I eventually ordered three courses – opening with the olive tapenade served with warm triangles of pita. It was delicious, wonderfully salty and earthy with a hint of heat. For my entrée, which was served blazingly hot, I had the spinach, potatoes and eggs, the kind of meal which would be perfect at any time of the day. There was more pita and rice served along side the tagine, I imagine just to give a diner something to pick on while they’re waiting not so patiently for their main course to cool off. The flavors were fantastic – I especially loved the cardamom, and the vegetables were beautifully cooked retaining just a touch of firmness.  I  requested some harissa to add a little zip, since I felt a cold threatening and I loved the smoky quality it lent to the dish.

warm delicious baklava

warm delicious baklava

I finished with the baklava, because, why not? Unlike some renditions of this dish, it was not overly sweet or buttery and it actually was perfect with my remaining half glass of Moroccan Pinot Grigio  (Ouled Thaleb White).  Service throughout was comfortably casual and I wouldn’t hesitate to return to this terrific little spot.  Total for my meal including tip: $43.  Pretty reasonable for a trip to Morocco, don’t you think?

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Filed under Dinner, Food, Local, Recommendations, Restaurants, Schenectady, sunday, Uncategorized

Worst mother, best neighbors

Now I need to get some new pillows!

Now I need to get some new pillows!

Last Monday, my oldest son and I took a walk with Jeter around the neighborhood. We were about a mile away from our house when we came across some curbside treasure – a leather couch in remarkably good condition. Hmmm.

I should tell you about our history with couches. In the last 20 years there have been at least 6, 3 of which were bought on Craigslist. You see, we (and by “we” I mean the male Lillys, Jeter included) destroy couches and I refuse to spend more than a couple of hundred dollars on a replacement, particularly in light of the fact that I spend very little time actually sitting on one. So….

Liam and I gave the couch a quick once over and decided it was worth my walking home to get the car. I left he and the dog and returned with my wagon within 15 minutes. That’s when the real fun started.

The couch is a small sectional in two pieces. The small piece and the cushions easily fit into the back of my car, but the larger part? It was not happening. At this point, I was committed to getting the couch and came up with my best option – drop the smaller section at home and pick up my middle son. We were going to have to carry the couch.

I wish someone I knew had been able to witness the ridiculousness of us carrying that piece of furniture approximately a mile. The laughter (mine alone), the bitching (Griffin owned that part), the cursing (all of us)…it was a classic moment in mothering which, I hope, will one day be passed down to future generations of Lillys as an example of how crazy I was.

We made it, with uncountable pauses along the way, to about a block from our house when I caved to the complaints and called my always helpful and strong neighbor, Emily, to literally lend a hand. As we hauled the couch down the street, two more neighbors came to our assistance – big, strong guys who completely saved our asses, not to mention backs, by muscling the couch up the stairs and into my living room.

I look forward to sitting on it soon.


Filed under Boys, DelSo, family, friends, house, Local, moms, Uncategorized

W(h)ine List

How I've been feeling.

How I had been feeling.

There have been a few moments in the past week or two when I’ve felt reasonably competent when it comes to keeping all of the necessary balls in the air when it involves Lark + Lily. I’ve moved forward from the preliminary weeks of being a business owner when I felt nearly overwhelmed by the responsibilities I had taken on. It seemed as if nearly every hour of the day was consumed by school followed by errands, meetings and tasks related to the restaurant, capped by evenings on premise. It was mentally, and on a lesser scale, physically exhausting.

I was struggling with balance – and you know how I thrive on cultivating balance. Eating, sleeping and running were becoming distant memories and I wondered when I would achieve some control over my life again. Well, I’m happy to report that I feel as if I’ve moved on from the daily-putting-out-fires stage of entrepreneurship to a more even state of composure. I’m breathing (and sleeping and eating) better.

The Lilly guys and I are creating a new normal with shared dinners each of the nights they spend at my house, even if one of those meals is takeout and another is leftovers. I’m pretty much getting my miles in each week which really helps with my energy level and mental well-being and I’m eating more consistently. It’s all working and I’m beginning to feel as if my life is merely pleasantly full rather than completely drowned by demands. It’s even starting to get kind of fun.

This week I added 8 new labels to my wine list, bringing my total selection to almost 70 labels. I’ve also tweaked some of the wines by the glass and spirits we offer. The list is growing to reflect my palate, while also representing varietals that guests expect to be present on a wine bar’s menu, things which I don’t necessarily gravitate to like Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon. A couple of my favorite recent picks are a lovely Alsatian Riesling from Rolly Gossman and a bold Zinfandel, Valravn from Sonoma County. Maybe you’ll stop in sometime soon for a taste.

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Filed under Boys, family, Lark Street, Restaurants, stress, Uncategorized, Wine

Man Crush Monday – 11/16/15

It’s been awhile since I’ve admitted who I’m crushing on, but today seems like a good day to acknowledge a guy who I think is pretty awesome. The man I’m thinking about today is someone I find attractive for his commitment to the environment, international humanitarian causes and my candidate of choice for President, Bernie Sanders. Even though he’s not quite as tall as I would like at only 5’8”, Mark Ruffalo stands head and shoulders over men of far greater stature for his unfailing devotion to important domestic and world issues.  His wife is a lucky woman.

A few recent Tweets which illustrate why I’m crushing on Mark:

Don’t allow this horrific act allow you to be drawn into the loss of your humanity or tolerance. That is the intended outcome. #ParisAttacks

I donated this Veterans Day to support #BernieSanders and everything he has done for our vets! #FeelTheBern http://thndr.me/e9QjTy

When it comes to women’s rights, we still have a lot to do. #hopeforourdaughters #suffragette https://youtu.be/XFu-pvdYsvs

You’ve got to love a guy who wants peace, supports Bernie Sanders and believes in women’s rights.  Factor in sex appeal and great personal style and you’ve got my pick for Man Crush Monday.  Who are you crushing on?

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Filed under favorites, Observations, politics

Accepting death by living

imageHow many moments have you had in your life when you thought to yourself, “If I die right now, I’m ok with it.” One? A dozen? Somewhere in between? I hope you’ve had at least one because it is one of life’s most liberating and unforgettable moments.

I’ve been lucky enough to have had quite few, it seems, as I sit here gathering the memories. Those times I’ve had a complete sense of contentment generally involved being outdoors, probably divided equally between being alone and being with someone I loved. They’re sweet memories I cherish.

The recent events in Paris, a city I visited this past spring, have me thinking about life and living it. There’s no denying it, we exist in a world in which we could lose our life in an unexpected, never imagined, instant. Poof. Boom. Crash.

When I think about the human beings who died Friday night, my ultimate consolation is the thought that at least the now dead were living when they were killed by terrorists. They were dancing and nodding their heads to music, they were eating a meal and, perhaps, having a cocktail, they were cheering from the stands at soccer match on a Friday evening . They were living.

That’s all we can do.

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Filed under Europe, France, News, Observations

The leaves fell, I didn’t

imageMany months ago, I stated my intentions to run After the Leaves Have Fallen, my first half marathon. Now I know there are some people who don’t follow through on intentions, but, that’s not my way. I said it, I meant it and I was committed to doing it, despite the fact that I recently bought a wine bar and was now working 60+ hours week, a situation which really impeded my ability to run (or sleep) with any frequency.

Last Sunday, at the reasonable hour of 11:00 a.m., I found myself at the starting line in Minnewaska State Park, along with presumably 349 other runners. Yes, it’s a small race with only 350 entrants accepted. My personal preference is for small races and this one certainly met that criteria. I also don’t like spending a lot on entry fees, and, again this race was on point with a more than reasonable $15 price, which included a really cool pint glass.

While I’ve never officially run this race before, I have spent a little time on the trails and I kind of knew it was going to be a challenging run. There are some intense hills with significant elevation, and I was feeling undernourished and fatigued, even though I did remember to bring my handheld water bottle and a stash of jelly beans. Ultimately, though, I’m kind of stubborn, so I muscled through knowing the pain, which primarily radiated from the ball of my left foot, would definitely be offset by the incredible beauty of the course – which it absolutely was. If you’ve never been down that way, be it to walk, ride, run or ski, you really need to make it a goal destination. It’s spectacular.

So, I ended up walking a little along the way, but eventually finished in about 2:25, a decent enough time. The afternoon was enhanced by the presence of my friend, James, who always seems to bolster me through arduous events with his assertion that “this isn’t an easy race.” Next year we’re doing it together.

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Filed under beauty, Exercise, road trips, running, sunday, Uncategorized, upstate New York

I voted “Yes” on the AHS project and now I’m sorry

image: pbs.twimg.com

Specifically, I’m sorry that I didn’t participate in getting the vote out. How sad is it that a decision as vital as whether to renovate and replace parts of the current high school could be decided by such a small percentage of the city’s population? Can’t we do better than that?

I’m also sorry that our city refused to grasp the opportunity to construct a single campus where all secondary programs could be administered. We could have provided a level playing field, one which would demonstrate our belief as a society that all areas of study, be they college or direct-to-career preparatory, are equally valid and important.

I’m sorry that the additional $5-10 a month in increased property taxes was a genuine consideration for so many home owners. I understand that taxes are a hardship for an awful lot of people and it is distressing. I, too, carefully weigh how to spend my income and am dismayed that such a disproportionate amount of the federal taxes I pay go to support military activities around the world which result in people dying. Of course, I don’t get to actually vote on that, though, right?

And lastly, I’m especially sorry that a city which has already demonstrated its desire to appeal to families by improving each of the elementary and middle schools, as well as expanding and updating the public library facilities, couldn’t find a way to finish the investment by correcting deficiencies in our one high school.

(For those of you who may not be aware of last week’s vote, read more about it here.)


Filed under Albany, Education, Local, News, Observations, Schools