Category Archives: Eating

Sunday supper – Husk, Nashville

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When the girls and I go away we each have a role to play – Mary Lynn does research on music and shows to attend, Lisa is in charge of outdoor activities and places to visit and I arrange dinner reservations for an indulgent meal out. The Times Union’s Steve Barnes had mentioned Husk to me a couple of months ago and, after doing a bit of research, I was convinced that this was our spot for Nashville. I did my thing and made a reservation.

We arrived about 20 minutes before our 7:15 reservation to enjoy a cocktail at the bar. Husk is a very pretty restaurant, located in a historic house on a hill up above the Cumberland River. The hostess station is anchored by an enormous chalkboard listing the menu’s ingredients and their origin. Not being from the area, we were unfamiliar with most of the farms and producers, but hat in no way diminished how impressed we were with extensive list.

The bar was downstairs and the walk there took us past the open kitchen, an area populated by both kitchen and service staff. It was a cool opportunity to witness the controlled chaos that is the kitchen of a busy restaurant and I struggled against my wish to tuck myself into a corner and just observe the professionals at work. There were cocktails to be had, though, so we moved on.

My initial impression of the bar was mixed. It was attractive and cozy with low ceilings and windows peeking out to a patio, but the bar itself was a little unapproachable. After a couple of minutes of awkwardness we were presented with a lovely cocktail list and placed our orders. As expected, the drinks were meticulously mixed and beautifully presented – and tasty. The single high top table in the bar area became available and was offered to us prompting a change in our plans. We decided to eat in the bar instead of relocating to our table, a pretty remarkable choice since 20 minutes earlier we were feeling less than welcomed.

With some assistance from our bartender, Kenneth, we ordered opening with the available-only-in-the-bar, cut to order cured ham. This perfect starter was accompanied by the definitive version of freshly baked Parker rolls and a lard-butter spread. It was a wonderful introduction of what was to come – best quality ingredients respectfully prepared and presented. Delicious.

We followed with 3 items from the First course menu – Shrimp and Grits ($16), Gourds Roasted Over the Fire, Benne, Arugula, Aged Gouda ($12) and a Seafood Johnny Cake with Kimchi Purée and Benne ($15).  The Johnny Cake was the only one we didn’t enthusiastically finish, it was very good, not that I’m an expert on johnny cakes, but kind of heavy.  The other two were eaten with gusto.

For entrees we went with the Bear Creek Farm Pork with Barefoot Farmer’s Sweet Potatoes, Sassafras and Pecans ($34) and the Field of Dreams Duck with a Chestnut, Pear and Cornbread Dressing with Giblet Gravy ($37).  Just as you might intuit by the titles, these meals celebrated the ingredients and cuisine of the south. The pork was tender and flavorful and was accompanied by classic whipped (mashed?) sweet potatoes presented in a fresh, untraditional manner as thick squiggles painted on the plate, topped with a modern riff on marshmallows.  Very visually appealing.  The duck was hyper-rare and a bit chewy, but very tasty.  I wonder if my palate is so accustomed to large production meats, that maybe that chewiness, accompanied by rich flavor, is the hallmark of more consciously raised meat.  I do think another 60 seconds of cooking time would have elevated the duck even more.

My favorite item was an item which appears on many menus, yet was lifted to a previously unexperienced level – the shrimp and grits.  The grits were creamy and a little toothsome and the shrimp was firm and fresh.  What really pulled it all together was the lightly cooked egg which topped the dish, inviting the serving spoon to mix it all together in a blend of textures and flavor which was outstanding. In a restaurant which seeks to honor and present the local cuisine, their interpretation of a southern staple really scored perfectly.

We didn’t eat dessert but we did get a sweet tip about where to go for a good time on Monday nights.  More on that later. Dinner total for 3: Approximately $200 with a generous tip, including three cocktails, one glass of wine, four smaller plates and two entrees.

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Filed under Dinner, Eating, Food, friends, Nashville, Restaurants, travel, Uncategorized, vacation

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

5 Things that got me hot in December

• A visit to the Hot Yoga Spot. After months of not managing to get to a Bikram class, I finally made it to the newest HYS location in East Greenbush this week. It was truly 75 minutes of blissful hard work and I am so happy that there is yet another location and schedule of classes of which I can avail myself.
• The thought of Donald Trump representing my country.
• Sunshine and 57 degrees in Albany, N.Y.
• The Soba noodle dish we’re offering as part of our Tuesday & Wednesday Pasta Special – so good! I know it is going to be exactly what I’ll crave when I get my first winter cold.
• New flannel sheets from Macy’s Martha Stewart Collection. They are legit like velvet.

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Filed under Eating, favorites, Food, Lark Street, Local, politics, Random, Recommendations, Uncategorized, yoga

How Asheville became Nashville

If you said “by adding an N,” you’d be on the right track. An N as is No way, Not possible, Never happening and Not since you bought that wine bar. You see, the girls and I decided months ago that a road trip between Christmas and New Year’s Eve to Asheville seemed like the kind of adventure with which we could be down. I had read an article or two about Asheville and it sounded like a cool destination with plenty to do and lots of good food and drink to be had, aka our kind of place.

But then, I bought a restaurant and the idea of 12+ hours in a car began to feel not so fun, even with my best girlfriends riding shotgun. I needed to be home for New Year’s Eve – and not after 12 hours of driving, either. I explored some options for flying home, but abandoned that idea after determining that it was just getting too complicated, exactly what a quick getaway is not supposed to be.

On a whim, I took a quick look at the Southwest website and came across a sweet deal – to Nashville. It really doesn’t take much to persuade my friends to go anywhere, so changing the destination and getting them to fly rather than drive didn’t take much effort at all. So, Nashville it is!

None of us have ever been to Tennessee before and we’re getting pretty excited. Our plan is our usual modus operandus – eat, drink, shop and hang, but we’re open to suggestions.  We’re booked into a swanky hotel and  Steve Barnes recommended a restaurant, Husk, where we’ve already made a reservation. I imagine we’ll drink some bourbon and eat some bar-b-q, and I’m sure we’ll get to some music venues, too. I know that we’ll have a fantastic time because we always do.

Any recommendations from y’all? (That’s how I say it, right?) Have any of you visited Nashville?

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Filed under Christmas, drinking, Eating, friends, holidays, travel, vacation

PB Boulangerie

When you think of beach food, French pastry probably doesn’t usually come to mind. While I certainly love fried scallops, chowder and s’mores, sometimes I want something a little more refined. For those instances, PB Boulangerie fits the bill perfectly.

Croissant and pain au chocolate

Croissant and pain au chocolate

I’ve been interested in getting to this spot for a good number of years, however, the queue has always put me off. This year, though, the gods conspired (Quinn got up early, we needed to take a quick run out to Provincetown and there was a severe weather warning which limited traffic) and we found ourselves there before 8:00 a.m., meaning the line was manageable. While Quinn and Jeter rode the storm out in the car, windows open natch, I took in the selection and settled on 4 croissants, 2 almond croissants, 2 pain au chocolate and 2 jars of apricot jam. Total price: $46.00.

Without exception, everything I tasted was outstanding. The almond croissant (my favorite!) was terrific – flaky, buttery and deliciously almond-y. It was big and I struggled to eat the entire thing, but, you know me, I’m a trooper and managed it just fine. The pain au chocolate was beautifully punctuated with small chunks of chocolate and the traditional croissant was everything a croissant should be.

The jam has been a revelation. Apparently the chef/owner’s mother, Pascaline, visits periodically to make and jar her special preserves and she has a deft hand with the 4 ingredients included – apricots, lavender, vanilla and sugar. So simple, so delectable.

I’m already thinking about sampling the Croque Monsieur I saw on display, as well as expanding my jam collection. PB Boulangerie is the real deal.

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Filed under breakfast, Cape Cod, Eating, Food, Recommendations, Summer, vacation

Colin Hay at The Egg

Back in May, I chaperoned a middle school field trip to Montreal. It was an exceedingly long day and somewhere around hour number 16 the acoustic Colin Hay version of Men at Work’s song “Overkill” got stuck in my brain. It seemed appropriate.image

When I finally got home that night, close to midnight, the guy and I spent some time You-Tubing Colin Hay while sipping bourbons sours. As Saturday became Sunday, things began to improve and I finally felt removed from the smell of pre-teen feet, and the sound of pre-pubescent voices. I credit the guy, the music and the bourbon in fairly equal measures.

The very next week I saw that Colin Hay was coming to play in my very own pretty city. Unable to find anyone else willing or able to attend the show, I hesitated about buying a ticket solo until 97.7 WEXT offered some up with a pledge. I made a contribution  and scored a single ticket – done.

In my heart, I was going with the express hope of hearing Colin sing “Overkill,”  however I was a bit delayed in arriving at the show due to a different sort of overkill, namely of the wining and dining sort.  You see, some friends and I met prior to the show to take advantage of both the pasta and wine specials offered at The Wine Bar and Bistro on Lark.  And, we don’t like to do things halfway when it comes to terrific food and delicious wine…

So, I was about 15 minutes late in arriving at the show and, according to the ladies I spoke with later in the bathroom, Colin did “Overkill” prior to my arrival.  Despite missing my one “must hear” song, I absolutely loved the show.  Colin Hay is a very, very funny man and I spent as much time laughing at his banter as I did applauding his music.  I was completely unfamiliar with every song he played but enjoyed each of them.  I hadn’t been in the Swyer Theatre (the smaller of the two venues in The Egg) in a long time and had forgotten how good the sound is, so different from larger or outdoor venues.image

Hay signed merch (there was a good assortment of cds, vinyl and such) and shook hands post-show and the line was impressively long.  Maybe I’ll catch that song next time.  It certainly wouldn’t be overkill to see Colin Hay again.

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Filed under Albany, drinking, Eating, Lark Street, Restaurants, Wine

Fifteen ideas for Summer 2015

1. Eat and drink at Nine-Pin Cider’s Dine’n
2. Dinner at 15 Church Street.
3. Paddleboarding on Saratoga Lake
4. A day hike in the Catskills with my camera.
5. Host a party on my new and improved deck
6. Get to a Soul Cafe dinnerimage
7. Volunteer to prepare a meal at the Ronald McDonald House
8. Check out local Farmer’s Markets more often.
9. Get away for at least one night with the girls
10. Take the train to Hudson for an afternoon
11. Figure out what to do with my weedy, unappealing backyard
12. Watch one of those series that everyone talks about but, I’ve never seen.
13. Make it to at least ½ of ARE’s Summer Trail Runs.
14. Repurpose my spare bedroom into something more useful.
15. Enjoy these last couple of months of having all 3 of my boys home.

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Filed under Eating, ideas, musings, road trips, running, Summer, upstate New York