Just in time for your weekend!
• Drive north late in the afternoon just as the sun begins to commit to its trip to the west.
• Settle in with a bowl of chili and more cheese and crackers than you typically consume in one sitting. Rationalize that it’s the mountain air.
• Gather around a bonfire with friends and a big bottle of rioja.
• Stare at the sky filled with magical stars.
• Walk in the deep dark to your accommodations for the night – a hilltop yurt.
• Snuggle with someone you love.
• Wake in the early morning, step outside and breathe.
• Take in the view and marvel at the beauty that meets your eyes in every direction.
• Meet your friends for a trail run.
• Eat a bountiful brunch in a quaint town and appreciate all the gifts you’re fortunate enough to have received.
Going to the track has never been my thing. Gambling doesn’t appeal to me, I don’t like big crowds and I’m really distressed by the number of horses which have died this season. It’s all just too much. But, I do enjoy early mornings in Saratoga. There’s a simple beauty to the horses trotting around in the often misty morning and the general vibe is relaxed and quiet. It’s really lovely and I can’t imagine a prettier racetrack. Yesterday, there was an undercurrent of excitement as Traver’s Weekend approached and things were looking particularly spiffy as the track prepared to welcome an expected 50,000 spectators for Saturday’s biggest race of the season.
We spent a very enjoyable hour or so trackside before our appetites got the better of us and we headed to a fairly new spot downtown for breakfast. Farmers Hardware, reviewed just last week by Susie Davidson Powell who had some very positive things to say, is conveniently located right next a public parking lot which allows for 2 hours of free parking. We rolled in at about 9:00 or so and found our way, with encouragement from a very enthusiastic server, to the upstairs counter where we placed our order.
I had hoped to have the Eggs Shorty, but alas they were out of short ribs. There was an offer to substitute bacon for the beef, but I opted for the Staple instead – scrambled eggs, bacon, maple sriricha and cheddar on a brioche roll. For my side, I selected a toasted coconut yogurt parfait and threw in a large coffee for good measure. My total was about $15 with a couple of dollars tossed into the counter jar. Fair enough. I gathered plastic flatware (recyclable according to Susie, but still a bit unsatisfying to me) and napkins and headed downstairs and outside to await delivery of our orders, happily sipping a mimosa purchased by a friend.
Food arrived quickly and was uniformly well received. My eggs were hot, as we were Will’s salt and pepper fries, which he shared, and the bacon was nicely cooked. The coffee was flavorful, my yogurt parfait delicious and the additional sides I sampled, a bean and corn salad and roasted beets, were all simple and well prepared. A very solid breakfast that I would happily order again.
Our last stop was at Violet’s, a boutique where I had done well earlier this summer with a couple of great items on sale. My luck held yesterday and I picked up an adorable ruched skirt and asymmetrical pull over, again on sale, that will find their way into my wardrobe rotation with little effort. That store is definitely on my radar for funky, slightly off the beaten path clothing and accessories and I suggest you check it out.
No gambling, all winning, makes for a perfect Saratoga morning. I love New York!
Filed under beauty, breakfast, Brunch, Eating, friends, Local, Recipes, Restaurants, road trips, Saratoga, Summer, upstate New York
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
Eating breakfast out is generally not my thing. It’s usually just too much for me – time, money and calories. An exception is made, though, when I travel and more than one person had strongly recommended the same spot. So, on our first morning in town, I made a reservation and we took the short walk over to the very cool space that is home to Pinewood Social. On approach, it wasn’t immediately obvious to me if the brick building was a new build or a reclaimed industrial space. Once we were inside, though, it was clear that a well-executed renovation had taken place in what I’ve come to learn had been a series of trolley barns. The facility was beautiful inside with areas which were well defined, yet open. All of the attributes of the original building remained intact – exposed brick, gorgeous windows and original woodwork.
We were given a spacious booth with an excellent view (through a series of windows) of the bowling alley. Yes, bowling alley. This place is designed to have a little something for everyone! We looked over the menus and made our selections. I’m a good eater and
overordered starting with the yogurt with fresh fruit and house made granola. This was a generous and delicious portion of berries, Greek (?) yogurt and an outstanding granola whose only failure was a lack of availability for purchase to go. It was an excellent primer for my less virtuous next course – 2 eggs over easy, biscuits and pork belly.
I’d have to say the biscuits and the yogurt were my favorite things, not that any of the food I ate wasn’t really good. I’m just picking favorites here! Coffee was rich and strong, accompanied by liquid versions of sugar, and the orange juice was freshly squeezed. Music was exceptional – a great playlist, and service was competent and friendly. It was definitely a terrific way to begin our first day exploring Nashville, despite what the oddly less than glowing Yelp reviews might say. And, while I’m not a convert to breakfast out, I kind of regret not going back for a second morning meal. If you’re in Nashville, I suggest this place for sure, y’all.
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 overwhelmingly delicious!
Challah bread French toast – yum!
Spinach & tomato omelete with home fries
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…
On the 8th day it was time to check out the bar(tenders) at a favorite neighborhood joint – New World Bistro Bar. This place has been such a huge asset to the DelSo area. Seriously, it probably single-handedly started the resurgence of Delaware Avenue when it opened a few years back. I think the appeal of NWBB is its ability to be everything to everyone. Need a quick bite pre or post movie? Check! Looking for a place for a meal to impress a date or group of friends? Yep, they do that. How about a spot for a well mixed drink and a nosh at the bar? Yeah, they’ve got that covered, too. The space is funky, the servers familiar veterans and the food creative and consistently well-timed to the season. And speaking of Christmas – this place is in fact open and ready to give you the gift of a stellar meal. Here’s their new winter menu. – a present to each and every one of us.
Filed under Albany, Brunch, Christmas, Delaware Avenue, DelSo, Dinner, drinking, Eating, favorites, Local, Recommendations, Restaurants
On the first day of Christmas my true love gave to me…a kick ass bialy from All Good Bakers. Ok, people, you must know about our DelSo Farm to Bakery restaurant, right? Britin does a great job promoting their efforts and if there is a discussion about locally sourced produce or dairy, you can be sure she’ll chime in. She and Nick happily brought their business to the neighborhood where they also reside and have inspired others to follow them, be it literally, as in the case of their former Farmer’s Market neighbors who have taken the space to their right, or more philosophically, as evidenced by some thoughtful changes to the menu at their neighbors on the other side. Make no mistake about AGB being exclusively a spot for baked goods – their menu is much more comprehensive than mere carbs! So, go for breakfast or lunch and take some of Nick’s baked goods home for later. And seriously, if one of Nick’s bialys inspires words of love, wouldn’t a holiday gift of a share of All Good Baker’s Community Supported Bakery Program prompt something along the lines of flat out adoration? Yep, that’s what I’m talking about.
Filed under Albany, baking, breakfast, Brunch, Christmas, Delaware Avenue, DelSo, Eating, favorites, ideas, Local, Recommendations, soup