Category Archives: Recommendations

Tulips and kisses – Albany love

Unexpectedly, I found myself with the evening free last night. Since I had been mourning a lack of opportunity to visit the park on a sunny day and the evening was stellar, I grabbed Jeter and headed down with my Nikon for a walk. I parked on South Lake and meandered along the “lake,” making my way towards Moses and the tulip beds, passing folks fishing and families strolling and runners, feeling perfectly content with exactly what I was doing.

The air was wonderfully fresh and scented by blossoming trees. Jeter was better behaved than usual despite the unfamiliar surroundings and the dozens of people roaming around. I took pictures, reminding myself with each shutter snap how much I’ve missed taking photos with my camera, instead of my phone. As I glanced around, I was surprised by two things – how few people I recognized and how wonderfully diverse Albany was becoming.

Everywhere I looked I saw people with skin in a rainbow of shades. Folks were dressed uniquely and children, particularly little girls, were wearing their spring finest posing among the flowers for family photos. There were no harsh voices and everyone seemed to be enjoying time spent outdoors after a spring that was a long time coming. It was lovely and left me feeling so happy and proud of my adopted city.

I’ve got two recommendations for you – get there if you can.  The tulips should be blooming for at least another week, I imagine. My second suggestion? When you find yourself with some spare time, fill it doing something that gives you joy.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Advertisements

3 Comments

Filed under Albany, beauty, favorites, Flowers, Gardens, Local, Observations, Recommendations, Spring

Brad Mehldau Trio at The Egg, 4/22/18

I know about as much about jazz as I do about wine. I like some of it, I recognize a few names and I am usually willing to try something new when it comes to both of those topics. While my favorite wines are often bright and fruity, when it comes to jazz I’m more taken by dark and smoky sounds. I like jazz that sounds like you might have once heard it played in a candlelit bar in a city whose name you can’t quite remember.

Last night I took a chance on trying something new, jazz-wise. I had seen an ad for the Brad Mehldau Trio and the description “Thelonious Monk classics, American Songbook standards…” had grabbed me, so I got myself to The Egg on Sunday and bought a ticket. After a quick stop at Cafe Capriccio for a delicious Stoli gimlet, that is.

The trio consisted of Brad on piano, Larry Grenadier on bass and Jeff Ballard on drums and each of them were mesmerizing in their own way. At times, I felt as if I were a voyeur observing the relationship that seemed to exist between each of the musicians and their instruments. It was so intimate – the curve of Mehldau’s back as he curled over the keyboards, the drape of Grenadier’s arm around the neck of his bass, the varied tension that Ballard possessed in his hands..

Closing my eyes, I absorbed the music in the center of my body. The songs rolled into one another, with some alternating solos thrown in, and after about 85 minutes or so, it was over. I was home by 9:15 with a new favorite contemporary jazz trio and a promise to myself to buy  their upcoming album and enjoy it with some wine.

Leave a comment

Filed under Albany, concerts, Events, Local, Music, Recommendations

Girls’ Getaway – Manchester, VT

It isn’t always easy to find a couple of consecutive days that work for four busy and opinionated individuals. Sometimes, though, we need some recharging of the fun batteries and nothing works better than two days spent in an unfamiliar place with longtime friends. With that in mind, last week we headed to Manchester, a place I haven’t visited in probably close to 15 years, for a mini vaca.

When you’re dealing with four left handed women, organizing a getaway can be a challenge. Everyone has preferences and ideas about where to stay and what to do, but after close to 40 years of friendship, we have mastered group travel. I took charge of our accommodations and we did really well with Hotels.com landing a two night stay at the fairly new Hampton Inn for a total of $340. Divided by four, it was a real bargain at $70 each, including breakfast.

Speaking of bargains, the shops in Manchester were full of them! We did some fun and productive shopping at the outlets and each walked away with a few new items purchased at deeply discounted prices. Personally, I replaced my worn out Kate Spade wallet with a beautiful new aubergine clutch/wallet, picked up a navy blue down vest with a hood that I’m obsessed with at the Bass outlet and scored an adorable black and white print skirt from J.Crew. I also filled in a couple of gaps in my kitchen utensil collection with a new masher, sink sponge holder and some grips for opening jars, something with which I increasingly struggle. Not very exciting, admittedly, but I’m a practical girl at times and I really like buying everyday items when I’m away from home. Somehow it makes the daily seem a bit more exciting, you know?

For eating, we went with recommendations from folks who visit Manchester with more frequency than ourselves. Our first night we opted for a late afternoon drink or two which turned into an early dinner at Gringo Jack’s. Their chips had been described to me as “crack” and I’d have to agree that it was difficult to stop shoving them into my mouth eating them. My shrimp tacos were good and my margaritas were great and we left there completely satisfied.

img_4696For a light lunch we stopped in at Mystic, a wine bar cafe that was absolutely lovely. I went with the soup of the day, a flavorful broth with lamb meatballs and middle eastern spices, and it was perfect. Friday night, on a friend’s recommendation, we dined at Bistro Henry a cozy spot a couple of miles out of town. The menu presented a dilemma because we wanted pretty much everything! Ultimately we chose to share 3 appetizers, 2 salads (one large, one small) and two entrees, a decision that satiated all of us without leaving anyone too stuffed for an after dinner drink at a different spot. Particularly strong were the foie gras and the classic preparation of Steak au Poivre. A note about Bistro Henry – the wine list was filled with reasonably priced and thoughtfully selected options. We were driving  (and only two of us are winos) so we passed, but definitely consider a bottle with your meal if you go. Thanks, Dora!

After dinner we went to Mulligan’s, the only place in town that was purported to have any nightlife. Well…I suppose if you consider a bar that is open after 8:00 p.m. to be the definition of “nightlife” you might have been impressed, but we really weren’t. And that lack of evening entertainment is, to me, the only real drawback to a couple of nights in Manchester. It’s not as if we’re hardcore, late night women, but it would have been fun to go out to hear some live music or to get silly and dance and we couldn’t find an option for either of those activities. Would I hesitate to go back? No, probably not. It’s a pleasant enough drive, and a cute spot for shopping and dining, but if you’re looking for a place to cut loose and hear music, this is not the right village for you. Go to Manchester for a wholesome and reasonably priced good time.

Leave a comment

Filed under Dinner, drinking, Eating, friends, Recommendations, road trips, Spring, vacation, Vermont

Soaking it in

How do you follow a terrific meal in Saratoga’s finest restaurant? The answer (for me) was an overnight stay followed by a few hours enjoying some of Saratoga’s other assets. First stop – Mrs. London’s for my usual almond croissant and glorious bowl of latte.

Carbed and caffeined, I made my way to Saratoga National Park determined to either ski or run a few miles. Conditions were better than I had originally thought and skiing won out. After parking near the warming hut, I stepped into my skis and spent the next hour exploring the golf course. It wasn’t the most challenging ski I’ve ever had, but it certainly was a great way to spend some time outdoors in the fresh air.

12FD5032-D25B-471B-AE4D-43A08306264AI wrapped things up and drove over to the Roosevelt Bathhouse for my scheduled appointment, allowing for a little extra time to enjoy the steam room. I’ve only ever been to the baths once before, and it was a long time ago, so the experience felt new. The facility is a positive blend of old school classic and new age modern with a comfortable lounge area to enjoy while waiting for one’s bath attendant. After taking about 20 minutes to enjoy the steam room, I relaxed on a chaise with my book until Colleen came to escort me to my personal bath room.

Ok, maybe a bit “The Shining,” but lovely nonetheless.

The room was fairly spacious with an original and deep cast iron tub, a massage table, chair and a curtained window which I was invited to adjust to my preference for natural light. The bath was already drawn and I was given instructions as to how to moderate the water, but Colleen had nailed the temperature perfectly and all I needed to do was relax. The folded towel beneath my head and the plastic step stool placed in the tub for my feet to rest against showed a welcome attention to my comfort.

For 40 minutes I soaked the waters in and allowed them to extract stress, tension and negativity from my body and brain. Thoroughly refreshed, I stepped out of the tub and into a warm towel, got myself dressed and departed feeling like a million bucks. For $45 + tip, that is a far better way of getting soaked than playing the ponies. If you haven’t been – go!

Leave a comment

Filed under breakfast, Exercise, favorites, Local, Recommendations, road trips, Saratoga, stress, upstate New York, x-country skiing

Jeter got jumped

582BC57D-9289-4129-B88B-68AF147A49A0

My good boy looking a bit traumatized

After what felt like an extended time, I finally went for a run last evening. Knowing that the golf course is going to be lost to the golfers again soon, I planned a loop that would include the front 9 and brought Jeter along. He and I plodded up Whitehall Rd and turned left onto New Scotland. As we approached the course, Jeter’s pace picked up in anticipation of getting off leash for a romp. Muni is his favorite place.

We worked our way around the holes counterclockwise encountering dogs and mercifully pausing for play time. At about the half way point, there were 3 or 4 dogs with 2 or 3 people and Jeter greeted everyone with a tail wag. A beautiful silvery gray dog came towards Jeter and I noticed his presumed owner jogging, leash in hand, in her dog’s direction. The gray dog started herding Jeter and Jeter just submissively permitted it. The dog became more aggressive and started nipping at Jeter. Things escalated and quickly became out of hand.

The owner of the other dog did not have control over her dog. He snapped repeatedly at Jeter as I tried to separate the two dogs. I felt really scared and yelled at the woman to make her dog stop and she attempted to grab her dog. Finally, she got a grip on her dog’s collar and was able to restrain him. Jeter came to my side and I got his leash on him without delay. He seemed ok, tail wagging and ready to move on.

I spoke to the woman briefly as she apologized. I explained that animals are animals and that I didn’t blame her for her dog’s aggression, but that if her dog has a history of reacting aggressively, she simply needed to keep him on a leash. Always. She didn’t disagree.

Jeter and I jogged off. A few minutes later, I noticed blood on my hand and jacket cuff. I stopped and looked Jeter over more thoroughly and realized he was bleeding. The other dog had drawn blood along the side of Jeter’s mouth. He really had been roughed up.

31FC4B14-1165-4A25-B467-724535A42EEDDog season at the golf course is nearly over and, generally, it’s been a good one. Lots of skiing, running and walking has taken place during our terrific winter. It’s too bad that this incident has left a bit of a bitter taste in my mouth, as well as a bloody taste in my canine buddy’s mouth.

Folks – if your dog can’t play nice, do us all a favor and keep them limited to leash time. My dog doesn’t deserve to be injured because your dog doesn’t interact with other dogs in a positive way.

4 Comments

Filed under Albany, Exercise, favorites, Local, Observations, Rants, Recommendations, running, x-country skiing

Deliver this love letter to 15 Church

I’m almost embarrassed to admit this, but I had dinner last week for the first time ever at 15 Church. I’ve been there a number of times for drinks or something to eat on the patio, but as for sitting down and getting the full 15 Church soup to nuts treatment, well, this was my maiden voyage. It was so worth the wait.

We arrived at about 8:30, a little late for most places on a weeknight but 15 Church was still jumping. We were welcomed, ushered to a comfortable booth and given menus as well as a verbal recitation of the evening’s specials. So many delicious sounding options!

As we considered the offerings, the fella sipped his Paper Plane cocktail, adorably garnished with a tiny paper plane. A well-made bourbon cocktail really is a wonderful way to start a meal.

After a few minutes we came up with a plan – 2 appetizers, a salad of sorts and a single entrée to share. The fantastic warm bread service and amuse bouche of beef tartare provided a lovely start prior to our first official course, the fried oysters and an evening special of gorgeous tuna. I’ve had fried oysters, even really, really good fried oysters before, but these were on a whole other level. I would consider them to be a PhD dissertation in texture, flavor and presentation. Fantastic. The tuna was remarkably fresh with interesting accompaniments including charred pineapple. Personally, I would have preferred the tuna to be sliced thinner, but that’s just my preference, not a flaw by any means.

We were graciously served an unexpected midcourse of pasta with a flavorful ragu of rabbit and mushrooms. Surprisingly, this was the third time in a month that I’ve had a similar dish, the other occasions being while I was in Rome and more recently at MezzeNotte in Guilderland. All three renditions were perfectly seasonal and delicious, this particular plate contained the largest pieces of rabbit loin and, Easter bunny be damned – I’d eat this dish all year long.

The burrata was beautifully presented and a wonderful combination of a salad and cheese course to prep us for our final plate – the pork shank evening special. My fella hadn’t ever experienced a pork shank before and I’m so glad that his first was prepared as masterfully as the one we enjoyed together.  It was a marvel of rich flavor, tender yet with a barely discernible crunch to the exterior, and perfectly accompanied by a marsala reduction and whipped potatoes laced with more butter than I ever want to know about. An absolute revelation.

Our meal was accompanied by a wallet friendly Rioja and punctuated at its conclusion with an order of their famous fried to order donuts with a tiny chocolate mousse on the side. Because – why not? If you’ve made the excellent decision to indulge yourself, you’ve most definitely come to the right place.

3 Comments

Filed under Dinner, drinking, Food, Local, Recommendations, Restaurants, Saratoga, upstate New York, winter

G.W.T.F. and Celebrate Life

Sunday morning, at an hour far too early, I drove to meet the chartered bus which would be taking a bunch of runners to a race in Rock Hill, N.Y. I had the radio on to a Rick Steve’s broadcast. The topic was women and solo travel, a subject that felt really timely in light of last month’s trip to Rome and a recent DelSo post. The female guests shared their experiences and advice and it was pretty interesting. I especially loved the new abbreviation I picked up – Go With The Flow. It was a good way to start the day.

This was my second time doing this particular race and the fact that I opted to run it again, after the subzero temperatures from last year, is a real testament to how beautiful the course is. The hills are mostly rolling, the homes are beautiful, and there seem to be lakes in every direction. The scenery compelled us to pause repeatedly for photos, while the challenge of running 13.1 miles forced us to stay hydrated with frequent water stops. We weren’t in a rush. Lunar B*tches are all about the journey, friends!

This race is a fundraiser to help support people battling cancer, a fact which made my own state of exhaustion from lack of sleep and adequate fueling seem pretty damn minor. Signs line the course, honoring the people who have lost their battles with cancer and naming runners participating on their behalf. I remembered this from last year, but there was something about it on Sunday that just wrecked me. One sign in particular hit me hard. It listed a woman’s name and a simple sentence: She lived every second.

I’m so not ready to depart this life yet, but if I did, I would want to be remembered just like that. Until my time comes I’ll continue to go with the flow and celebrate life every second. How about you?

1 Comment

Filed under beauty, cancer, Events, Exercise, favorites, friends, musings, Recommendations, road trips, running, sunday, Uncategorized, upstate New York, winter