Category Archives: pizza

NYC observations

It’s a weird February when the snow drops are in bloom and the daffodils are already 5″ high in Central Park.

Speaking of things that are a weird height, the cool guys were all wearing pants that we would have called “floods (short for floodwaters)” back in the day. Lots of exposed ankles.

In general, it seemed like people just didn’t know how to dress for the weather. I saw folks bundled up like they were visiting Antarctica and others wearing flip flops. Our technique – light layers with gloves, as necessary.

img_1049Thanks to Quinn we scored the best slices of pizza I’ve ever had in NYC in a dive-y spot across the street from the Garden. Crisp, hot, great toppings and excellent cheese. We went every day.

Although I only went once, Macy’s provided me with the ultimate score when I found a gorgeous pair of suede over the knee boots. The original price was far more than I’ve ever spent on footwear before (or any other garment, for that matter), but when Macy’s has a sale they do not mess around. My beautiful new Coach boots set me back $51, approximately 90% less than where they had started. img_1068

The Meatpacking District has changed more than any other neighborhood that I can think of in the last 20 years.  There’s so much good shopping and eating and hanging out to be had there!

I’m really interested to watch the Hudson Rail Yard area develop. Lots of construction going on there these days and I’m hopeful that there will be some new cool places to stay for overnight visits.

Running in NYC is always an adventure. No matter what neighborhood I’m staying in, I can always find my way to either water or Central Park, a fact that reminds me that Manhattan just isn’t really that big.

Since Manhattan is starting to feel small to me, maybe it’s time to start exploring Brooklyn and Queens? Suggestions for exploring those boroughs?

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Filed under Boys, family, Fashion, favorites, NYC, Observations, pizza, running, Uncategorized, winter

Bravo, Brava

img_0864On a mellow Sunday evening, I was fortunate enough to revisit Brava Wine Bar in Lenox. It’s hard to say exactly what made it the perfect evening, but the scenery, complete with a dusting of fresh snow, certainly contributed. Seriously, with the holiday lights still on display Lennox looked absolutely magical! What a beautiful little town that is…

We pulled up to Brava early, probably at about 6:00, and I wasn’t sure what to expect. The only other time I was there was Labor Day Weekend and the place was humming. This night, though, things were quiet. We selected a spot at the bar, as far from the door as possible on a cold evening, and joined two other parties in the small space.

After ordering a couple of red sangrias (they offer white as well) , we decided to make a meal from a kale salad, roasted Brussels sprouts with bacon, and a pizza with Italian sausage, onions and mushrooms. Noticing the charcuterie options, we quickly added two meats (a mousse/pate and prosciutto) and a Spanish goat’s milk cheese with a paprika rind to our order. Then we sat back and let the refreshingly professional and competent staff take care of us.  What a treat.

The food, like my last visit, was right on. The salad was adorned with a light, creamy dressing and was perfect for sharing. The Brussels sprout were cut in half prior to roasting and they were tender and coupled with crispy bacon. The add-on charcuterie plate was delightful with plenty of pâté for me and some of the most buttery prosciutto I’ve ever had, while the cheese had a not unpleasant funk to balance both of the meats. The accompaniments, including dried apricots reminiscent of my childhood, made for the perfect foil. And that pizza? Blistery on the bottom and topped with simple, but delicious flavors. I’d go back just for that again.img_0865

img_0867 img_0866The atmosphere was relaxed and cozy and the company was perfect. We extended our meal with a moist, delicious bread pudding, a tawny port and a fantastic “bowl” of coffee. Two leisurely hours after we arrived, we departed Brava and headed back to Albany. That, my friends, is how I do Sunday. How about you?

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Filed under Dinner, Eating, favorites, Food, friends, love, pizza, Recommendations, road trips, snow, sunday, Wine, winter

Adirondack Tubing Adventures

image: lakegeorgeguide.com

The other day, Quinn and I cashed in a Living Social offer I had purchased for Adirondack Tubing Adventures in Lake Luzerne. Summer seems unrelenting in its march towards Labor Day and the return to school and I knew that Monday’s forecast was the best one of the week. We made a reservation and up the Northway we went.

We arrived at the rustically modest shop after about 75 minutes on the road. We had been warned that we should print our voucher in advance because we wouldn’t have cell phone service. Good call. We checked in and at the appropriate time received our life vests and boarded the bus for a bouncy 15 minute ride to the “putting in” spot. Once we arrived, we were given our tubes (we went with the basic, un-upgraded model) and a few simple directions and then, as a group, we were off.

The pristine waters of the upper Hudson were fantastic. The water temperature was reported to be about 68 degrees, but when the sun was shining, it felt even warmer. The water was soft and without clouds, never getting deeper than about 5 feet, from what I could tell. The fresh smell of the air, faintly cedarish with an occasional whiff of campfire wood smoke, was lovely.

We floated, Quinn and I tied together once again by a cord, doing our best to stay in the middle of the river for the best currents. Along the shore we observed 3 ducks whose remarkable camouflage kept them hidden until one moved ever so slightly revealing their presence. There were pretty wild flowers punctuating the scenery, including some tall, vivid red ones* which I don’t recall ever seeing before. I wished I could have gone closer for a better look, but going with the flow was the day’s agenda so that’s what I did.

A little more than an hour into the trip, we paused on a sandbar for a little beach time. The kids on the trip really enjoyed being out of their tubes and feeling the sensation of the river pulling them along as if it were indeed the ultimate lazy river. I appreciated the chance to stretch a bit, but as our time on land passed, I felt myself growing cold and was happy to get moving again. We reached the “taking out” spot after about another 50 minutes, I think. The times are all approximate since I didn’t wear a watch, and the old Timex one I pulled from the river’s bottom, unfortunately, took too much of a licking to still be ticking.

We were met by our bus and, after a 5 minute bus ride, returned to the shop and our vehicles. Quinn and I changed and drove over to outlets area of Lake George and grabbed a few quick slices from a place called Frank’s on Route 9. I’ve got to say I was pleasantly surprised with the pizza. The crust was crisp, the toppings generous and the sauce flavorful. I’ve had way worse pizza and I wouldn’t hesitate to stop there again. It was a good day.

*When I checked out All Over Albany’s weekly neighborhood roundup I learned exactly what they were, cardinal flowers!

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Filed under Boys, family, pizza, Recommendations, road trips, Summer, upstate New York

I have no words.

Words?  Who needs words?  Behold…

DSC_0005
Ok, here are a few words in case the picture doesn’t tell the complete story.  Pizza Carbonara: Caramelized onion, housemade pancetta, smoked mozzarella, (perfectly cooked) egg, Cafe Capriccio.  Everything you could ever want from a pizza.

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Filed under Albany, Dinner, Eating, favorites, Local, pizza, Recommendations, Restaurants, upstate New York

Everything I know about Troy, I learned from Mary Panza

A flower grows in South Troy

A flower grows in South Troy

Ok, maybe that isn’t 100% true, but she really did get me started on my Troy education.  When I first moved to Albany almost 25 years ago, I received some advice from a childhood friend regarding Troy.  He said, and I quote, “Troy is the armpit of the Universe.” I was uncertain exactly what that meant, but seeing as how I didn’t have a car, Troy wasn’t an area that I planned to explore with any haste anyway.  No problem.

But, then I met Mary Panza, South Troy denizen extraordinaire, and began venturing across the river.  We generally ended up at her sister’s house, where we consumed fantastic quantities of eggplant and pasta, all bathed in the senior Mary Panza’s fabulous red sauce.  My personal opinion began to form about the collar city – Troy was ok with me.

Since that time, I’ve been pulled to Troy for their superior Farmer’s Market, beer and music venues, restaurants and unique shops.  I learned to never move a folding chair left in the street and to maintain a sense of the river’s location to navigate the grid of one-way streets.  I like Troy – there, I said it.

Last night I intensified my like of Troy to a level of affectionate love.  Granted, the company I was in was a definite factor, but the charm of Troy is strong and it has never looked better. Speaking of looking, our evening began at the beautiful and historic St. Agnes Cemetery in Menands. Photographer and TU blogger, Chuck Miller, had an event to celebrate the opening of his stellar photo exhibit.  The images he captures are primarily local and demonstrate a keen eye for both lighthearted humor and thoughtful observation.  Cool venue, great show, get there before it’s all gone.

Plenty for two - with leftovers for lunch!

Plenty for two – with leftovers for lunch!

Our next stop was DeFazio’s in Troy for some real pizza.  Everything about this joint charms me – the almost magical way the simple ingredients combine for a pizza that is the best I’ve ever had outside of NYC, the politeness of every person who helped to take care of us, the black and white tiled floor, and the red convertible the delivery guy drives.  Everything!  We went with an antipasto and a small pizza with olives and prosciutto.  The antipasto is substantial (served with crunchy garlic bread) and the small pizza was the perfect size for 2.  I think we may need to try the pasta next time because we witnessed a plate of it being served and were practically in need of restraints.  Have any of you ever had their pasta?

The pizza is all that.

The pizza is all that.

We ended the evening with a visit to the Charles F. Lucas Confectionary around the corner from Monument Square, in downtown Troy.  I would feel guilty about not getting to this place sooner, but I believe last night was the first time I’ve been in Troy since this fantastic place opened.  I have to say, it isn’t as if I’ve been missed, because the joint was positively jumping!  The waves of guests entering and departing during our 90 minutes there, was impressive.  We had a tour of the space by the owner, Vic Christopher, and I can’t say enough about the vision he and his wife, Heather, made into a dreamy reality for us all to share.  Wow.  Our bellies were full of pizza and cappicola, but the beautiful glass of Cote du Rhone rose’ Vic brought my way was exactly the crowning touch to a memorable May evening.  I am incredibly enthusiastic about this project. the additional related grocery store business in the preliminary works and the new-to-me term “reclamation construction.”  Troy is a lucky city to have landed such super smart and cool entrepreneurs and I imagine myself finding my way to the Collar City with previously unimagined frequency.

Armpit of the universe?  Au contraire – more like the heart of the Capital District.  Let’s hope our next Albany mayor fosters the kind of growth Troy is now experiencing – and that Mary invites me over for eggplant really soon.

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Filed under art, Eating, Events, favorites, Food, friends, Local, pizza, Recommendations, Restaurants, Spring, Troy, Uncategorized, upstate New York, Wine

What makes a perfect snow day?

photo(102)Yesterday was the first snow day my district has had this academic year – and it was well worth the wait.  I understand that we don’t all have the luxury of a delayed start or the cancellation of our work day due to the weather and think you should know I am very appreciative of this career perk.  I was so very thankful for yesterday’s surprise (2″-4″ was the forecast, I’d say 6″ or 7″ was the reality) snow day that I just might send my superintendent a thank you note.  You know how I like to do that.  Or, as my snow day, cross-country skiing partner in crime suggested, perhaps I should send that note of gratitude to the superintendent of my children’s district for not giving them the day off.  I certainly have enough appreciation to spread it out, trust me.

As I spent my found day doing fun things, I realized that I had experienced a perfect snow day.  Here are the factors which led me to that ultimate conclusion:

  • The day off was completely unexpected.  I would have been more than contented with a mere delay.
  • Speaking of delays, the fact that the boys were delayed and I was off was an incredible gift.  We had an easy morning and then there was quiet.
  • Coffee with my favorite fellow was another unexpected treat.
  • Skiing with one of my best hardcore exercise girls at Capital Hills on a day with incredible light and eventual warm temperatures.  Spring skiing rocks!
  • A terrific lunch at the golf course’s Club House.  Seriously, the food was really good!
  • Getting my Saturday chores done a day early.  It almost feels like I was given 2 days!
  • Afternoon coffee with my favorite fellow
  • Making pizza with my boys
  • A hot bath
  • A reasonable bed time

    photo(103)

    The secret to homemade pizza? A HOT oven.

I hope you were able to enjoy the recent (bonus) snowfall but, if you didn’t, I think I had enough fun for both of us.  You’re welcome!

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Filed under Albany, beauty, Eating, Exercise, favorites, friends, Local, pizza, Recommendations, skiing, snow, Uncategorized, winter, x-country skiing

12 Days of Christmas ~ Dining Delso

DSC_0013Let’s talk about pizza, shall we?  I mean, I know my boys would happily eat pizza on the 6th day of Christmas.  Truth be told, they’d be content eating pizza six days a week, probably.  Good thing we have some options in the DelSo.  First up – Gourmella’s!  I’ll begin by saying I’m not all that crazy about the name,or about the fact that the sign outside still says Pizzalo, another name I’m unimpressed by.  But, the folks inside have been nothing less than nice to deal with and the pizza has met the boys’ expectations, so I’ve moved past the unfortunate signage and naming confusion.  You should too, because the pizza, particularly when ordered “well-done,” is pretty good and the menu definitely has something for everyone.

My most recent visit there  proved, to me, that they’re good people to do business with – at least according to my standards.  Here’s what happened – I placed an order for pickup and arrived just as my pizza was coming out of the oven.  In addition to a pie, I ordered some wings and somehow that translated into a special combination, with special reduced pricing.  It also came with a 2-liter bottle of soda, an item that never comes into my house unless there’s a party and a bottle of dark rum or bourbon – which of the two depends upon the season,  of course.  When I declined the soda and asked if I could have one of those ridiculous cans of high fructose corn syrup-laden “tea” drinks, the guy behind the counter didn’t hesitate to say “Of course.”  Wow – that was an easy, quick and reasonably priced meal – something we can all agree is necessary during these busy holidays.  Give ’em a shot, why don’t you?

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Filed under Albany, Boys, Christmas, Delaware Avenue, DelSo, Dinner, Eating, family, Food, holidays, pizza, Recommendations