- The delight of sitting at the kitchen bar (aka worshipping at the altar of Nick Ruscitto) next to my sweetie, perusing the menu.
- These insane, buttery, crisp crab fritters.
- The wonderful take on surf and turf we indulged in – beef short ribs and crab legs. That chimichurri is so beyond what any pesto could ever hope to be.
- The perfectly stimulating, yet satisfying dessert melange we enjoyed – so many flavors (chocolate, coconut, toffee, salted caramel) and textures (dense, chewy, airy)… What a treat to sample Greg’s talents!
- The unabashed enthusiasm of an owner who is able to indulge his inner DJ knowing that he (and his partner/wife) have assembled a professional staff who can keep the floor and kitchen consistently humming.
Category Archives: Wine
So…this Wednesday, 12/17, is the 7th anniversary of the Wine Bar & Bistro on Lark. Yes, that did go fast! I’ve been onboard for the last 4 years and consider myself fortunate to be able to continue having a presence in the local food scene in such a special spot, especially since my availability is generally limited to a single night of the week.
Lucky me, though, – I work Wednesday nights and will be on hand to celebrate our milestone. And you know what? You should be, too! We’ll be featuring a few items from the original menu, at the original prices, and selected bottles of 2007 vintage wines will be available at a 50% discount. See? You’re lucky, too!
That’s a date then, right?
Last night I attended my first Saratoga “event,” the 21st Annual Newton Plaza Siro’s Cup. I was thoughtfully included in a friend’s group and during a very busy week, it was the thing for which I was most excited. What to wear? Could I forsake peer comfort with foot comfort and wear flats? Accessories were key and I wanted to feel put together from head (day 2 hair, flat ironed and sprayed) to toes (freshly pedicured in a gorgeous shade of pastel sea foam). I knew I needed to feel confident in my appearance and went with a whole Goddess
of Reading look. I think it worked.
The showers through which I had driven in Albany had completely disappeared and the air in Saratoga was fresh and comfortable. The fancy cars, Maserartis, Rolls Royces and my dream car, a 2 door Porsche, were parked on display and the whole thing felt about as swanky as you can get when you’re essentially walking barefoot from your own wagon parked in a grassy field.
Inside the party there was an almost overwhelming sense of stimulation. People were ON. The multiple bars set up attracted what seemed to be the most outgoing cliques of friend – there was a definite (and deserved) sense of holding court. The clothes, the makeup, the hair…there was so much to absorb. Fashion-wise, it seemed that anything went. Naturally, there were Nantucket Reds, seersucker and linen adorning the guys and dresses in every length and color on the women. There was a lot of jewelry, along with a fair amount of serious suntan.
A constantly flowing river of attendees were carried on a current of cocktails. People seemed happy and there were many outbursts of laughter to be heard. The “first party of the season” feel to it made for an excellent vibe. It was fun. I loved seeing my favorite Pirate Girl and am so psyched the she has taken up residence for the season, like the ballet or the writers of Yaddo. There were other hospitality folks there – the generation II Purnomos, Matt Baumgartner, Michael Cocca. It was nice to see them being on the receiving end of hospitality for a change.
Many familiar faces were in the crowd. I mean, I’ve worked in local restaurants for long time and have probably served thousands of people. I had a couple of moments, though, of feeling mildly out of place amongst a crowd who have far more lucrative investments than merely budgeting carefully and buying consigned clothes. A couple of times I greeted attendees I knew from one restaurant or another and I wasn’t recognized without giving my name or context. Do I look that different? Am I invisible as a server? Have I gained weight?* Am I aging poorly? It was a little awkward to navigate.
The scene, though, was captivating. I could have walked, marveling under the star-filled sky, for even longer, but my belly demanded food and I don’t like eating standing up. I headed to 15 Church and got exactly what I was looking for – something delicious and indulgent to eat and sip and the welcome of friends I’ve worked with over the years. I wish Saratoga was closer.
*no charge for that peek inside my head.
Today is the 70th anniversary of D-Day. Other than September 11, 2001, there is no other date in history which can bring me to tears faster. If I spend even a moment considering the bravery of the Allied soldiers in the face of every obstacle imaginable, my eyes immediately well up. I imagine the fear in the hearts of those ever so young soldiers and their commitment to their countries and my heart swells with pride to be a citizen of the country which played the most critical role on that day.
Next spring Liam and I will be again traveling to Europe on “his” special trip. Our itinerary is in the early stages but we’re probably looking at about 9 days divided between Paris, London and Normandy. I’ve explained to Liam that staying in large cities can be expensive, so we’ll probably limit ourselves to 2 days in London, 2 or 3 days in Paris and the remainder of the time in Normandy and the countryside. He’ll be 18 and I am hoping for some time spent tasting wine with him, also. When in France…
When it comes to traveling with Liam, he’s all about the transportation so we’ll be taking that high-speed train between Paris and London. You know, through the chunnel? Not really looking forward to that part, but I’ll save a Valium for that ride.
As we start hammering out details and making concrete plans, do any of you have any recommendations? My plan is to fly into London or Paris and then fly out of the other city. I’d prefer to not rent a car and rely upon public transportation instead. I’ve been to London a half-dozen times, but have only minimal experience in Paris – and that was a long time ago. I’m hoping to create a trove of memories during what may be my last mother-son trip with my eldest child. Any suggestions would be welcomed!
I’ll be taking using this sentiment (minus the “secrecy” part) as my inspiration:
“The invasion of France on June 6, 1944 was a triumph of intelligence, coordination, secrecy, and planning. “ Quote source: PBS.org
I was lucky enough to shoot photos at two related events this past weekend in downtown Albany. In case you are one of the few residents of the Capital District who I didn’t run into (and have been living under a rock), this weekend was the 5th annual Albany Wine and Dine for the Arts, an outstanding culinary event which is rapidly growing into the highlight of what can often be a grey month in upstate New York.
I began the weekend with Friday evening’s Grand Tasting. This event is truly a terrific way to start a three-day weekend and people really seemed to be enjoying themselves. The sizable crowd was wonderfully diverse with couples, both young and old, as well as groups of friends, meandering around the ballroom carefully balancing tasting plates of food and adult beverages. If you’re someone who is intimidated by “haute cuisine,” this would be a perfect opportunity to expand your culinary horizons in a completely low-key fashion.
As I roamed, snapping photos for a Seen gallery, I was able to make connections with old friends and new faces. In all honesty, I didn’t eat or drink because I was
working planning to take an evening run and didn’t want the excess ballast. If I had been indulging, the offerings from Cafe Capriccio, Bake for You and Javier’s all would have attracted my fork and, while I didn’t transition to the Slider Slam, held at 90 State, it looked like quite a party! Next year, for sure.
Saturday, though, was my night to indulge and I do believe I did justice to the fabulous offerings. I had originally planned to attend an old friend’s party in Troy, but the sloppy weather prevented me from making the trek. I like to ski on snow, not drive. I consoled myself by finagling a spot at one of the Gala’s tables and tucked into pretty much every course which came my way. Oh, and there was wine, too! Lots of tastes of lots of wines, including an ’81 Chateau Margaux and a ’66 Talbot. What an evening…
I wish I had been more disciplined about taking notes about the individual courses along with the wine pairings, but Friday had been the time for discipline. Saturday was all about dining with friends and filling my mouth with tastiness. And taking pictures, of course.
There was one aspect of the event which left me a bit disgruntled… This event would be impossible to pull off without the tireless efforts of the committee, the chefs and all of the professional hospitality industry employees. Prior to the start of meal service, there were a number of honors, awards and recognitions which needed to be presented. Unfortunately, there were quite a few tables which lacked appropriate decorum during this time and it was often difficult to hear the individual presenters and recipients. There was no lack of food or beverage served during the one-hour cocktail reception prior to the commencement of the sit down portion of the meal and it would have been nice if the attendees could have closed their mouths for just a short while.
Mark your calendars for mid-January 2015 – this event is going to continue to be the premier food and wine event in the Capital Region and you’ll want to be there.
I think I finally caught my breath…
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.
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?
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.