image: Flicker by ph4nn1 Chicago Skyline Panorama
Last summer I made plans to go to Niagara Falls and Toronto with my kids for a few days. We’d never been and it seemed like a cool and economical getaway. I made hotel reservations and enthusiastically crowd sourced for some tourist recommendations. Then my two older sons got jobs. Plural. Not one to complain about employed children, I cancelled the trip and instead took my youngest down to NYC for a couple of days. That slacker doesn’t have a job, but I suppose he is only 11. Soon enough, little man.
A few weeks after the change in plans, I ended with both a Southwest voucher and a credit on my credit card, a situation which I immediately interpreted as a sign from the universe to buy a plane ticket. I reached out to my posse of friends, a number of whom were also celebrating a milestone birthday this year, to gauge interest in taking a weekend trip somewhere. While there was interest, it didn’t translate into action, so I decided it was time for me to take my first ever multiple night solo – Chicago, here I come!
So, I’ve got three nights in Chicago coming up in a few weeks and I’m a bit overwhelmed by all of the things there are to do! The luxury of traveling alone means I can do whatever I want, whenever I want to, which is pretty amazing. Knowing myself, I see my days being structured kind of like this:
- Wake up, get out and do something.
- Go back to the hotel for a nap.
- Take a run.
- Take a shower.
- Go out and eat something tasty.
I imagine there will be alcohol involved, at times, too.
The two things I definitely want to do are the architectural boat tour and an art museum or two. I know there are a million places to eat, but I’m most interested in places where I can eat at the bar.
What can you tell me about Chicago?
- Troy has some really nice homes (while running a 5K).
- Apparently when he isn’t playing golf, Donald Trump plays”pussy grabbing.” It’s a sport that only gets discussed in locker rooms, but is played where ever famous men find vulnerable women. Sounds fun, right?
- It is possible to check out events in three different counties in a single day without completely exhausting one’s self.
- The more often I drive to Kinderhook the shorter the ride feels.
- Fall foliage season seemed to take a long time to start this year, but is moving very quickly.
- Samascott Orchard is very welcoming upon arrival but feels kind of militant when you depart.
- I haven’t met a Nine-Pin cider that I don’t like.
- Coming across an abandoned hair weave on the sidewalk when I’m running always makes me uncomfortable.
- The Half Moon Market is a terrific gathering of artisans in a beautiful space that should be used more frequently.
- My goal of running a 1,000 miles this year is within my sights.
Filed under Albany, drinking, Events, Exercise, friends, holidays, Local, News, Random, road trips, running, sunday, Troy, upstate New York
I sent out some invitations to a party I’m throwing to celebrate my 50th. The guest list was challenging – there are so many people I want to raise a glass with, but space is limited and I want to relax and enjoy the event rather than feel pressured to entertain. I ultimately decided to not give in to the reflex of obligatory invitations and instead only invited people who bring joy. I’m lucky enough to have many such friends in my life. Speaking of bringing, I didn’t specify “no gifts,” as I’ve seen on some recent invites I’ve received. I like presents, but hope no one feels that gifts are necessary.
Speaking of presents, I bought something for myself. I’ve had an idea for a piece of jewelry for many years but hadn’t been able to squirrel away the funds to bring my vision to fruition. Not going away for our usual two weeks this summer, resulted in a surplus in summer funds and thanks to Elissa Halloran (for the referral) and Siobhan Byron (for the artistic skill), I now have a fantastic piece of jewelry created from a few pieces which had been occupying space in my dresser rather than on my body. Behold my new necklace forged from a single diamond stud (remember, I lost the other one? Twice.), a pendant that had once hung from a gold herringbone necklace and a pair of vintage earrings. Isn’t it stunning?! Go see Siobhan at Nahbois in Troy and get yourself something. You deserve it.
Unlike the remarkable beauty of a special piece of jewelry, sometimes stunning has negative connotations. It seems that our world is filled with surprising and devastating tragedies, such as the recent earthquake in Italy. While I had originally intended to feature three of my personal favorite not for profit organizations as potential recipients for September’s Cocktail of the Month at Lark + Lily, I’ve decided instead to focus exclusively on Amatrice. We’ll be offering a classic negroni cocktail, as well as an Amatriciana pasta special, with a portion of the proceeds earmarked for earthquake relief. I’ll continue my birthday celebration through October when we’ll return to our usual format of three organizations from which to choose. We all do what we can and I hope you’re able to help support causes which are meaningful to you. Stop in and help us to help those in need.
How many articles have you read over the years describing all the wonderful and fun things to do with your children while visiting Cape Cod? Since there seem to be countless opportunities to learn about family time adventures to be had when visiting Cape Cod, please allow me to share some ideas for what to do when you’re without children.
- Ride your bike everywhere. Load your saddlebags or a backpack with a towel, a sheet or lightweight blanket, reading material, sunscreen, a snack and cold drink and you’re ready to hit the road. Don’t forget your helmet!
- Come and go on your own schedule. If you feel like leaving the beach after an hour or two, hop on your bike and go for it. Want to stop for a quick dip at a pond on the way home? Go for it! There’s no one to complain.
- Speaking of the beach – why not bring a book for a change? Without children to supervise you might actually read a few pages before you indulge in a nap.
- Eat ice cream for lunch and whatever you feel like for dinner. There will be no chicken fingers or grilled cheeses consumed in your company for the duration of your getaway.
- Do minimal laundry (because you know how to hang wet towels up and refrain from getting filthy) and sleep in almost sand free sheets.
- Run without the worry of wondering when your phone will ring with a crisis (“Can I have ice cream?” or “Where is my whatever?”).
- Watch as many sunsets and sunrises as you like.
- Go to Provincetown and do adult things like drink tasty cocktails and eat Brussels sprouts and fried oysters.
- Wander in and out of shops filled with fragile and delicate items without fear.
- Enjoy your relative freedom knowing that it is for only a few days and that your children are just fine hanging with their dad.
Filed under Boys, Cape Cod, drinking, Eating, Exercise, favorites, ideas, Observations, Recommendations, road trips, running, Summer, travel, Uncategorized, vacation
Terrapin restaurant in Rhinebeck has been around for a long time, maybe 15 years at their current location inside a beautiful old church right on Route 9. Many years ago, I had dinner there with three other people and was completely put off by the service. I don’t remember anything about the food because the experience was so overshadowed by the snippy bartender and the inexperienced server. I vowed never to go back, a promise easy to keep since A. I don’t go to Rhinebeck frequently and B. There are so many other options in that area.
Today, though, I met one of my besties in Rhinebeck for a bite to eat and some catching up. I offered her two options – Gigi Trattoria, where we’ve been happy before, and Terrapin for a fresh chance at making us happy. She checked out their menus and decided on Terrapin and we agreed to meet at about 4:00.
I arrived first and found a seat at the bar, not a challenge with at least half of the bar stools open. Within a minute or two I was given a cocktail menu on my request. I started reading, pleased with the beer and wine selections. I wondered about their carafes and if they were filling them from draft lines and planned to ask whoever took my drink order about the set up. The man two seats away from me finished his drink and ordered another, as I was told by the bartender that she would be “right with me.” She wasn’t.
I changed my mind about the beer I had been thinking of ordering and selected a glass of wine instead. Unfortunately, I couldn’t share my decision with anyone because the bartender had yet to come over to take my order. The man near me began drinking his fresh Patron margarita, inspiring me to look at the cocktail list. I reconsidered my wine choice and began perusing the “available” cocktails. The sour cherry Manhattan caught my eye…
My friend arrived and I shared my menu with her. The bartender told us she’d be right over. She wasn’t.
The man next to us finished his drink and asked for a check. The bartender took care of that. We sat there, me with probably 15+ minutes invested without even the reward of a glass of water, another moment and then picked up our bags and left. I will never, ever, step foot in that restaurant again and this time I mean it.
I don’t know if you’ve ever been able to sit with the owner of a winery or a winemaker and listen to them speak about their product, but it will forever change your perspective about that stuff in the bottle. I’ve been fortunate enough to meet a number of winemakers/winery owners and those encounters have forever changed the way I view a bottle of wine. After walking through a vineyard, tasting from a barrel or simply talking with a winery owner, viewing a product becomes a much more personal experience.
Tuesday night I had a rare opportunity to attend a wine dinner, hosted by one of my sales reps, downtown at dp’s. I say rare opportunity because most of these events are either during a time when I’m not available or are held out of town. The timing for this, though, was perfect and I was thrilled to sit down with Andrew Tow of the Withers Winery, along with a handful of other industry professionals, to learn about some wines of which I had no prior knowledge.
Here’s what I learned –
- Andrew Tow is an articulate, passionate man who helps to craft wines that are elegant yet accessible.
- Although the Withers Winery has only been in existence for a few short years, it has achieved remarkable success and earned accolades from numerous national publications.
- Their wines sell out – especially the rose and the chardonnay. I’ve got my hand out hoping to land some of the rose at the moment. My luck will be your luck, friends.
- Everything we tasted was enjoyable and seemed to be equally adept at being paired with foods or sipped sans food.
- The project has some rock star investors – like Derek Trucks and Susan Tedeschi. Cool, right?
- The wines are affordably priced, in fact, part of the impetus for Tow to produce his rose was a desire to drink something delicious without breaking the bank. If I can land any I’ll probably price it between $30-35 a bottle which makes it on the higher end of my roses, but within reach of most diners.
- The Pinot Noirs are dynamite. I don’t have room on my list right now, but when I sell a couple of my higher end Pinots out, I hope there are still a few bottles of the English Hill for me to buy. When I tasted this the other night, the nose was so damn heady it almost satiated my desire to consume it without even taking a sip. Wow.
If you were to look at my wine list at Lark + Lily you’d see approximately 100 different labels. I’ve selected probably 65% of those labels with the others coming as an inventory purchase when I originally opened last fall. The bottles that I find myself reaching for when a guest asks for a recommendation are the ones that I can share story about – the Hendry, the Biale, the Bonny Doon. These are wines which were introduced to me by their producers – I walked the vineyard with George Hendry, ate lunch and tasted wine with Robert Biale, barrel sampled at Bonny Doon. Hopefully, one day, the Withers will have a similar presence on my list.
Although I was charmed by the myth that Barcelona is pronounced with a th sound rather than a soft c as an accommodation for a long since dead member of the Spanish royal family, I’m going to probably pronounce it with a c sound. At least until I’ve had a few glasses of Rioja, that is. After that, bets are off.
My long awaited trip with middle son is finally approaching so it’s time to start gathering ideas about what to do and see and taste in Barcelona. It’s our first visit to Spain and I think we’re both getting pretty excited. To be perfectly honest, I’m anticipating the time away from
all of my work responsibilities almost as much as I am the time I’ll be spending on the beach sipping Albarino. Despite the lack of snow, it’s been a long winter, folks.
Yesterday I advised my son that it was time to begin considering activities for our trip, what sort of things might you like to do?, I asked. His answer: hangout and eat. Actually, it might have been “eat and hangout.” Well, sounds like this is going to be just the sort of vacation I’m looking for!
Now, obviously we’re going to check out some of the sights like the nearly completed Cathedral of the Holy Cross and Saint Eulalia and the Picasso Museum. We’ve also got tickets for a soccer match which should be a blast. Beyond that, though? We’ve got nothing. I came across a cool website recently called Vayable which looks like it might be just the ticket for G and me if we feel like we want to add a little structure to a day or an evening. A gourmet tapas tour or a bicycle ride to some wineries would be an enjoyable to experience a new city and its cuisine.
Tell me – What would you do if you had a few days in Barcelona? Keep in mind that I don’t like being indoors, unless it is pissing rain, and I like staying active so some physical activity needs to be part of the itinerary. Ok – go!
Filed under Boys, drinking, Eating, Europe, Events, family, Food, Spain, Spring, travel, Uncategorized, vacation, Wine