Category Archives: Brunch

Getting bent at Fort Orange Brewing

September, with its temperatures that can swing 40 degrees in 48 hours, is flying by. If I look at my calendar too far ahead, I get palpitations, so I’m trying to be in the moment as much as possible. I don’t want to miss anything in my haste to get through a month that is chock full of events and activities. Yoga helps.

When it comes to my practice, I’m happy to take a variety of classes. Fortunately, The Hot Yoga Spot is always upping their game and offering classes in cool new locations – like June Farms or, as I experienced Sunday, the Warehouse District’s Fort Orange Brewing.

Class (approximately 60 minutes) was a total bargain at $12, including a beer. I arrived about 10 minutes early and grabbed a spot in the rear, away from the open garage door that faced the street. Our instructor was terrific – her voice projected well and despite a lack of mirrors, her vocal cues kept us all engaged and focused.

Although I’ve probably been guided through chaturanga to upward dog dozens and dozens of times, something clicked for me during yesterday’s practice. I finally, while in plank, shifted my body forward before bending my arms and the flow was completely different. It felt awesome. Today, my arms and shoulders feel tender, a sensation that I welcome as evidence of my need to use those particular muscles more frequently.  The cool evening also provides me with the ideal excuse to take an indulgent bath. Win-win.

I’ll be stretching those traps and triceps again this Saturday at the 2nd annual Yogapalooza. See you there?

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Filed under Albany, beer, Brunch, drinking, Events, Exercise, favorites, Local, Recommendations, sunday, yoga

Lunch at Dancing Ewe Farm

Ever since I first heard from friends about Dancing Ewe Farm in Washington County, I’ve wanted to get there. I loved the romantic story about the owners meeting in Italy and coming together to create a life that includes family, sheep, cheese and authentic small production Italian products imported and sold from their barn and presumably online.

Yesterday was the day.

The trek north took approximately 90 minutes each way, a bit of a commitment for a midday meal but by no means a punishment on a glorious early July day. There was no traffic in our direction, but heading west into Lake George was definitely congested. Plan accordingly.

We arrived about noon, figured out parking and started checking the place out. Near the parking area, a canopied table was set up to offer guests a taste of the day’s wine selections. We sampled both the rosato and a bianco and found them both light and refreshing. Ultimately we selected a bottle (included in the price for lunch) of Sauvignon Blanc which was lovely with the three courses which we were soon to enjoy.

The aroma was intoxicating.

But, before the meal, there was first an informative history walking tour of the farm and some of the facilities. There were “Mexican” chickens,* herding dogs, sheep galore and milking, cheese making and storage areas. The tour was maybe 30 minutes or so and was interesting and totally casual.

When we arrived back at the barn, the long table was beautifully set with fresh flowers and a place setting which was substantial in both flatware (chintzy flatware is a pet peeve) and antipasti. Our plates were artfully arranged with 3 examples of bruschetta (roasted red pepper, sausage and mozzarella and, my favorite, roasted cauliflower which came with a wonderfully spicy little kick), 3 varieties of their cheese, one of which was drizzled with honey, presumably local to the farm or to the owners’ home in Tuscany. Also on the plate were a marinated artichoke heart, a sweet cipollini onion, some coins of dried sausage and a marvelous wedge of vegetable frittata. It was all killer and almost completely vegetarian friendly.

Next up was the main course, a gorgeous plate of four handmade ravioli served in a simple sage butter. The large pockets of pasta, filled with ricotta and spinach, were fantastically delicate, yet completely satisfying. Perfect.

We finished with a delightful panne cotta served with tender strawberries. Satiated, yet not stuffed we paid our check ($60pp +tax) and made our way slowly back to Albany with the remainder of our wine corked to enjoy later. Dancing Ewe is a lovely place and if you haven’t yet experienced it, I highly recommend it. $60 is bit indulgent for a midday meal, but it sure felt like a bargain ticket to Tuscany. Thanks, Mike & Leslie!

* a completely benign and inoffensive joke

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Filed under beauty, Brunch, Eating, Food, ideas, Italy, Observations, Recommendations, road trips, Summer, sunday, Uncategorized, upstate New York, Wine

Lost and Found: Sunday yoga

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Photo from Lost and Found

The first outdoor yoga class I took left me unimpressed with the experience. I recall it being a little annoying – there were all kinds of bugs, my mat wasn’t even on the bumpy and lumpy ground and grass got all over everything. Instead of the setting enhancing the experience, for me, it was a distraction. No bueno.

I didn’t unroll my mat again outdoors for a long time. When I finally felt ready again to take my practice outdoors, I went in a different direction – on my own deck, on a paddle board, on the streets of downtown Albany. Each of those opportunities provided more satisfaction than that initial foray into the great outdoors, so when I saw that Lost and Found in Albany’s Warehouse District was offering a free Sunday morning class, I decided to give it a shot.

While I had originally intended to ride my bike downtown, my Sunday morning speed nixed that plan. I was able to assuage my guilt at being a slacker by offering to pick up a friend on my way and we arrived at our destination a few minutes before the scheduled 10:00 start time. Parking was plentiful and we made our way to the end of the second row of yogis.

The morning sun felt wonderful and I quickly shed my long-sleeved shirt in favor of just a tank. The grassy lot was fairly flat and whenever I found myself face down on my mat, I couldn’t help but inhale deeply. The clover sprinkled grass just smelled great. The two instructors co-taught the class effectively, helping participants adjust poses, modifying and offering options and clearly communicating throughout the practice. It was a wonderful way to spend an hour outdoors and I’ll definitely keep an eye on Lost and Found’s Facebook page for future classes. 

Note – class participants are given a 20% discount on any brunch entree following class and, while the class is free, donations were accepted to benefit Out of the Pits, a pit bull rescue organization. Cool, right?

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Filed under Albany, Brunch, Events, friends, Local, Recommendations, Restaurants, Spring, yoga

How to spend 24 hours in the Adirondacks

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.  CDD230E6-BB97-4242-9155-D47B5F54FAE0
• 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. E67CFFCF-3FF2-418F-B634-D38079160BBE
• 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.

 

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Filed under beauty, Brunch, Exercise, friends, Recommendations, road trips, running, upstate New York

A Saratoga Trifecta – Track, Farmers Hardware & Violet’s

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!

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Filed under beauty, breakfast, Brunch, Eating, friends, Local, Recipes, Restaurants, road trips, Saratoga, Summer, upstate New York

Yoga Brunch

imageOne 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.

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Filed under Albany, Brunch, Eating, Events, Exercise, Local, Recommendations, Restaurants, Summer, sunday, Uncategorized

For breakfast, I ate pork belly – Pinewoo0d Social

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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.

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Filed under breakfast, Brunch, Eating, Food, Nashville, Recommendations, travel