One of the most exciting parts of owning a restaurant, for me, is conceiving and hosting events. The Ladies First party last fall and our New Year’s Day Open House, were two of my favorite afternoons spent at Lark + Lily in the near year (!) since we opened. Last Sunday I was fortunate enough to add a third such afternoon event to my chain of satisfying and happy hospitality experiences, yoga brunch.
Originally planned for August, but rescheduled for after Labor Day, our introductory yoga brunch had a reasonable attendance on a morning that threatened rain. I definitely went big in terms of food, but I’m pretty certain the menu was well received and enjoyed. It was challenging to know how much to prepare since Albany is such a last-minute town and people don’t necessarily honor commitments made without prepayment. I get that, but next time a deposit might be necessary to better help me have the appropriate amount of food available. Believe me, there was no hardship in taking a dozen bagels home for the Lilly boys and it seemed more than acceptable to stop at the St. James Firehouse on September 11th to drop off an extra dozen donuts.
Because I didn’t want to interfere with the kitchen’s well deserved weekend, I made myself responsible for the prep and kept things fairly simple by creating a spread of bagels, veggie cream cheese (thanks, John!), Cider Belly donuts, hard-boiled eggs, lots of fresh fruit, homemade granola and R&G’s fantastic yogurt and ricotta cheese. I think I’ll keep the format similar, maybe mixing up the carbs a little and keeping the fruit as seasonal as possible. It’s a fun little project for me that I really enjoy.
I didn’t get to take the class, unfortunately, but everyone came back from the park a bit flushed and more than a little livelier than they were before class. There are some great photos taken by Trudy that really capture the bliss of being outdoors on a late summer morning. Be sure to check them out and mark your calendars for our next class led by the wonderful Jammella – October 23rd. Keep an eye on the Lark + Lily Facebook page for more details.
Filed under Albany, Brunch, Eating, Events, Exercise, Local, Recommendations, Restaurants, Summer, sunday, Uncategorized
Tuesday night we had a number of diners who were decompressing after Day 1 of the NYS Bar exam. It’s always interesting to meet and talk with young attorneys from literally around the world who are seeking credentials to practice in my home state. A table of six the other night really stood out in my mind. The group consisted of Brazilians and Argentinians and they were full of life and appreciative of the hospitality we bestowed upon them. They loved our patio and enjoyed the cocktail of the month and our pasta special and it was great to witness their relaxation.
As they were departing Lark + Lily, they were talking about football. You know, soccer. I mentioned that Albany has a terrific soccer bar, Wolff’s Biergarten, and suggested that they might enjoy visiting there after the second day of the exam. One of the men quickly responded that he planned to come back to my place the next night – and he did, bringing four different test takers with him.
After their meal, we were talking together and they related some stories about their experiences taking cabs in Albany. If you’ve ever taken a cab around here, you know what’s coming next… They were completely shocked by the condition of the cab (“the car looked like it had been in a bad accident”), the rudeness of the drivers (“this is how we do it here. I don’t know what it’s like in your country”) and the practice of picking up passengers all around town (“I used my map app to confirm that we were going around in circles rather than directly to my hotel”). Yes, indeed, welcome to Albany, the Capital of New York State.
I agreed with their assessment and apologized for the wretched cab service available in my city. I noted that it is on par with what I would imagine would be present in a third world country. Laughing, they said that they represented 3 third world countries and that their service is far superior to ours. Wow.
When they were getting ready to leave, they asked if the Biergarten was nearby. Could they walk there? I explained that it was some distance from the restaurant and that the walk might be a little ambitious. Seeing the disappointment on their faces, I immediately made the sincere offer to give them a ride. Their disappointment changed to astonishment. “Really?,” they asked. Absolutely.
My friend, who had just arrived, and I piled them into the car and gave them the 10 minute tour of our city. We drove down Washington Avenue to State Street and then across Broadway, filling them on the architecture and history of what is a lovely, lovely city with shitty, shitty cab service. While I completely enjoyed giving them a ride (I’ve been the recipient of many kindnesses myself while traveling and was happy to return the favor), it sure would be nice if visitors and residents of Albany had available quality transportation. Until then, I’m just glad I have a station wagon.
Filed under Albany, Lark Street, Local, Observations, politics, Rant, Restaurants, soccer, travel, Uncategorized, upstate New York
Back in the day, taking a beer run involved driving into town and picking up a few sixes of something cheap. My, how that has changed! The other day I decided to mix up my run a little bit by running down on the Corning Trail. It was a gorgeous day and the breeze off the river felt fantastic on my bare shoulders. I ended up running about 6 miles in an up and back route and felt really happy with the experience. So happy that I started imagining running the trail all the way to Troy…
Sunday was my first entire day off since the school year wrapped and I decided it was the perfect opportunity to get some solid miles in. I asked a friend to meet me in Troy and decided to start my run from home rather than driving my car to the parking lot by the trail. It added a few miles, but really it was all downhill from the DelSo to the river, making for an easy warmup. Other than the blazing sun, of course.
I ran for about an hour and 40 minutes and covered close to 11 miles, great training for the half marathons I’ve decided upon for later in the summer and through the fall. The Corning Trail is super flat and fairly lightly traveled. There were just enough cyclists, walkers and runners to prevent me from feeling isolated, with most of them on the southern part of the path. Surprisingly, there is no evidence of all the heavy equipment traffic that was present during the recent construction and maintenance of the I90 bridge. It’s a wonderful place to get in some scenic miles and we’re lucky to have it available.
When I reached the parking lot in Menands where the trail kind of dead ends, I followed the bike path route on Route 32, as I would if I were cycling. I’m not sure if the path continues beyond that lot along the river. Do any of you know? This part of the run is the least scenic since you’re basically running alongside 787, but there are some interesting homes and I now know where Sadudee is for future reference. I made my way below 787 to the Green Island Bridge urged on by the thought of a cold beer, having depleted both water bottles I had brought along.
I had remembered Wolff’s Biergarten as being a bit up the hill in Troy but, as I crested the bridge, I was thrilled to see that beer was even closer than I had imagined. With one final push, I ran the remainder of the bridge knowing that a cold beer and a warm friend waited. I think I want to run this again. Who’s in?
“Cycling has encountered more enemies than any other form of exercise.” 19th-century author Louis Baudry de Sagnier
Now that summer has arrived, I’ve been riding my bicycle to the restaurant a couple of nights a week. I love so much about my less-than-two-mile commute – the fresh air, the exercise, the view, the sense of being more closely connected to the street I live off of and work on…it’s pretty great. Except, of course for the cars. That part kind of sucks.
I’m most afraid of the parked cars I ride past. Does that surprise you? The way I see it, the cars coming from behind me are looking ahead and should be able to see (and avoid) me, but the folks who might be opening their car doors aren’t necessarily checking behind them before they throw their doors open. That’s why they scare me.
A couple of weeks ago I left Lark + Lily, helmet on and rear of my bike red light flashing, and headed home. A few blocks from the restaurant, a woman slowed down as she drove past me and shouted, “You’d better get that bike off the road.” Two blocks later, as we both waited for the red light to change, I retorted, “You’d better get familiar with the law.” My ride didn’t improve.
As we each rode down Delaware Avenue, the “conversation” was ongoing. She continued to yell at me in an attempt to convince me that I wasn’t entitled to ride on the road and I persisted in trying to educate her about traffic laws. Hey, what can I say? I’m a teacher. She finally drove away and I mulled over the wisdom of engaging an ignorant driver. I concluded that it probably wasn’t my finest moment.
Yesterday evening I got some news that confirmed that I should probably refrain from responding to drivers who either do not know or simply refuse to abide by the existing motor vehicle laws. It isn’t my story to tell, but essentially, someone I know was hit by a car while he was commuting home. Intentionally. The driver of the car initiated the interaction by cutting off the cyclist, who astutely snapped a photo of the car and its license plate, and then followed up three blocks later by directly and purposefully hitting him. No joke. Yes, the driver of the car deliberately drove his vehicle and hit a man who was just riding home.
I think there needs to be some serious intervention and education about cycling in this city before anymore riders get injured or worse.
I know, I know, I’m late to the game on this place. What can I say? I’ve been busy and since they’re closed Monday nights, I haven’t been able to take advantage of this spot as an easy and quick dinner spot with my guys at the start of a week. Last Saturday, though, the day got away from me with a hair appointment and errands and I found myself approaching hangry and limited on time. I grabbed 2 of my kids and headed over to the corner of Western and Quail for my first Crave experience.
The space is simple and clean with a menu that is equally focused. I needed a burger so I directed my attention to that part of the menu and was quickly taken in by the Black & Blue burger – Gorgonzola, caramelized onions and arugula. I wasn’t feeling blue cheese, so I requested that my burger come medium rare and topped with cheddar. My son went with a bacon cheeseburger and we added a basket of fries to round things off for a total under $25.
My modified black and blue burger
Service was prompt and our food was delivered quickly and piping hot. My burger was served on a roll so delicious that I broke my “no bun” rule and ate every last carb-y crumb. The beef was cooked perfectly and was remarkably juicy and the onions had obviously been cooked low and slow creating a sweet and succulent layer of deliciousness. It was a fantastic burger. Period. The accompanying fries were equally perfect – fried a little beyond golden, piping hot and salted with a deft hand. I’ve never had better.
Liam seemed equally pleased with his burger, but to be honest, there wasn’t a lot of conversation. I was too busy eating.
Monday night I attended a vigil at the NYS Capitol sponsored by the Capital Pride Center. The event, to honor the victims of Saturday night’s massacre in Orlando (not to be confused with previous massacres we’ve witnessed) was organized in the afterglow of Albany’s Pride celebration. How’s that for tragic irony, people?
I gathered with a rainbow of diverse human beings – gay, straight, trans, bi, black, white, brown and yellow, all brought together to acknowledge a tragedy and take a stand. I can’t speak to what may have compelled the hundreds of other attendees to be present, but for me, it was a means of demonstrating that love and unity can triumph over fear and hate, even in dark days filled with uncertainty and sorrow. There were flags and banners and candles that struggled to remain lit on a cool and windy evening and speakers who addressed the crowd to share their thoughts and feelings, each raw with grief and frustration. Aren’t we all at this point?
It seems that many people are interpreting this horrible event as an act of terrorism, but I’m not buying it. The more we learn about the perpetrator, the more it seems that he maybe was a self loathing, repressed homosexual who decided to kill the part of himself that he hated – and take as many others with him. Is that too much psychobabble? I don’t know, honestly, but I do find it more plausible than his having been radicalized by Isis since there doesn’t appear to be any true evidence that he was involved with what is currently the Earth’s most hate filled organization.
While I won’t name the shooter in Saturday’s massacre, preferring to remember those who were gunned down, I have learned a new name that I won’t soon forget – Deborah Glick. When this NYS Assemblymember spoke she didn’t point fingers at Muslims or Isis or even homophobes. No, she railed against the NRA and the culture of guns in our society. Glick matter of factly stated that if the deaths of 20 six and seven year-old elementary students didn’t change the gun possession laws in our country, the deaths of nearly 50 adults in a dance club wouldn’t either. It was a heart-wrenching statement that brought me to tears and has committed me anew to speaking out about the civilian purchase and possession of assault weapons. She’s a new hero to me.
I’ve allowed my personal Facebook wall to become a battleground between friends and former friends about the topic of gun control. I say former friends because I’ve come to realize that there are people I have previously allowed in my life who are no longer welcome – not because our opinions differ, but because we are unable to have a civil conversation about topics upon which we disagree. I just can’t invest my energy or time in debating with people who will not acknowledge that legally purchased weapons are indeed a problem in our country. I’d rather devote my efforts to working for political candidates who favor stricter gun laws and maintaining a distance from the NRA and the influence they wield in our government. How about you? What is the impact of our country’s most recent and deadliest on you?
- Presenting, in no particular order, the 5 best things I ate in the 5th month of the year…
- Softshell crabs at New World Bistro Bar. It might be the fleeting availability of this spring delicacy that makes them so damn special, but the capable hands of the kitchen at NWBB elevated them to a new level of awesomeness. The Asian noodle pancake, viet slaw and tamarind peanut sauce accompanying the crabs provided the perfect foil for the sweetness of the meat. I housed the entire plate.
- Gnocchi with a gorgonzola cream at Lark + Lily. What can I say? Chef John Futia used the ultimate light hand with both the pasta and the sauce to create a dish that was delicate and satisfying without being weighty or overly rich. A heavenly pillow of deliciousness.
- Ceviche at Rosa Mexicano, NYC. Firm shrimp and pungent onions joined together with tomatoes, cucumbers and avocado served appropriately chilled made for a wonderful light lunch course. The pomegranate margarita wasn’t bad either.
- French Onion soup at La Bonne Soupe, NYC. This crock of goodness provided the ultimate example of French Onion soup – a strong beef stock, tender and sweet onions, gooey strings of cheese… Not my usual pick on a hot late May evening, but I am so happy to have not missed this wonderful representation of a classic dish. C’est bon!
- Kurver Kreme Sundae – Soft serve vanilla ice cream, chunks of toffee, hot fudge and butterscotch sauce with whipped cream and a cherry made for the perfect treat on a cool Sunday afternoon following a run. Dessert before dinner may be the ultimate perk of adulthood.
Filed under Albany, Dinner, Eating, favorites, Food, Local, NYC, Recommendations, Restaurants, soup, Uncategorized