Category Archives: winter

Current favorite cocktail – Fall Spritz!

I’m more a wine or cider girl, but I’m smitten with Amaro, an Italian liqueur. There’s something about this herbaceous, syrupy elixir that I really enjoy when I’m looking for a nightcap of just few sips of something alcoholic. I picked up a bottle of it last winter when I was coming home from Rome and every so often it’s exactly what I’m looking for at the end of a night.

Flipping through the November issue of Bon Appetit last week, I came across a super simple (2 ingredients and a citrus garnish) cocktail using Amaro and just knew it would be the perfect cocktail to offer my guests at our family Thanksgiving dinner – the Fall Spritz. It’s four parts of dry, hard cider to one part Amaro. Talk about two of my favorite things! As I finished the food preparations, I handed the magazine and the task to my trusty neighbor and he mixed us up a batch.

It was a delicious way to start a festive night – fairly low in alcohol, not overly sweet and with a bit of effervescence from the cider. Yummy! It was a unanimous verdict and that round of drinks, I expect, will not be the last time we enjoy that particular libation together.

I stopped downtown the other night at dp’s, intending to indulge in one of their well crafted cocktails from the current list, however, I stopped in my tracks when I read the ingredients of an appealing cocktail. There was one made with Amaro! I cheekily asked the bartender if he would go off menu and make me a fall spritz. As ever, he accommodated my request and made two versions using different styles of Amaro. It seems there are many varieties and they range in color (and taste, I imagine) from light to dark amber.

My preference is the darker version and that was the cocktail I selected – and thoroughly enjoyed. I may need more Amaro.

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Filed under Albany, drinking, favorites, friends, Local, Recommendations, Uncategorized, winter

Pride

3071A35B-1508-45DC-ADC8-171657F43FBDFifty years ago this very evening, Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated in Memphis, Tennessee. I can’t help but wonder what he would think about the current state of race relations in our country. Would he have found his efforts to end racial discrimination and segregation to have been a worthy investment?

When Barack Obama was elected President I was filled with pride and optimism about our country’s future. He led the United States with an intelligence and dignity that made me believe that we had indeed made gains in reaching the Promised Land. Maybe our country had truly healed and was prepared and committed to move forward in a unified fashion. I was thrilled by the thought that black children in our country would at last see a reflection of themselves in our country’s highest office and with our first family. It was about time, don’t you think?

Today, though, I am ashamed of our country in its current state – and it isn’t because I’m a libtard snowflake sore loser either. Our elected officials are failing us and seem to be more motivated by their own personal gain than in improving the lives of their constituents. The president of our country damages our international reputation and imperils our national security daily with his unfiltered Tweets, juvenile bickering and outrageous lies and seems intent upon eliminating independent media outlets and environmental protection.

Martin Luther King, Jr., and all of the civil rights activists in our country’s history, worked so hard and sacrificed so much – and for what gain? Black men still lose their lives at a rate the defies any explanation other than inherent and persistent racism. The discrepancies in rates of incarceration when it comes to blacks and whites continue to be outrageously out of balance. Opportunities continue to not be offered equally. We live in a time when differences hold more weight than similarities when it comes to measuring importance and it doesn’t feel like its changing.

The few with genuine power are calling too many of the shots and we, as a citizenship, need to begin expressing our opinions and becoming more involved in the process. More participation, I think, builds pride. Working together often results in change. Let’s do it in the name of love.

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Filed under Events, Music, musings, Observations, politics, Uncategorized, Wine, winter, zaftig

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.

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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?

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

International Women’s Day wheels

AAA188F6-02EF-4256-8952-923203547D9DYesterday turned out to be the perfect day to pick up my “new”car – a day designated to demonstrate honor and respect for women. What do my new car and this day of recognition have in common? Let me tell you.

I’ve done some things recently that have prompted people to remark that I’m some kind of exception because of my independence. Often, I travel alone. I’m not afraid to experience new things or attempt a new challenge. I’m not waiting for some sort of perfect situation to happen before I take a chance or make a leap. Life is too short.

While there have been men in my life who have provided incredible support to me, most of what I have has come from my own hard work and ability to live fairly simply. I have shoes that are older than my children and most of my furniture was purchased secondhand. I cut coupons and shop sales. And – perhaps most importantly, I pay my bills on time and don’t carry balances on credit cards. Because of all of these things, I have excellent credit and I’m really proud of that.

It seems that we live in a time in which many people are absolutely burdened by debt. Maintaining lifestyles beyond their means has almost become the American way. Brand new cars, fancy vacations and 3,000 square foot homes are the goal of many, it seems. I don’t think that’s ever been my bag. I mean, speaking of bags, sure, I like good quality handbags and boots, however, I have made it a habit to not overextend myself without the confidence that I could meet my financial obligations. My home is modest and it comes with an income built in, it’s a two-family house. My last car was purchased almost a decade ago and I haven’t had a car payment in years. I hope to pay this new car off on an accelerated basis, but if I don’t it won’t be tragic because my positive credit history provided me with an excellent interest rate of a loan from my credit union.

Here’s where the shout out to the women comes in – females, you need to work to be able to take care of yourself financially. It is no man in the universe’s responsibility to support an able woman. Of course, of course, there are exceptions. Maybe there are health considerations or some other reason for a man to be truly obligated financially to a woman, but generally? Women, we need to support ourselves. If you’re not savvy about your finances, get help. Figure out how to live on your income and stop letting money be a burden. That’s not what it’s for!

A day devoted to celebrating women is lovely. Being able to make a satisfying deal  for a new car* and obtaining the financing to purchase it within minutes, elated me even more. But, maybe that’s just me.

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I kept the Volvo .

*I purchased the car from Keeler and I couldn’t have been happier with the process. Direct, zero haggle, a couple of changes initiated only on my part and graciously accommodated…Anthony was the perfect salesman, or, as they dubbed him, motoring advisor.

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Filed under aging, moms, musings, Observations, Recommendations, Uncategorized, Williamstown, winter

The lively Dead Rabbit

CAA4E970-6891-4F2F-8F5A-3FE5A16745FFEarlier this month, my oldest son and I went to the city and got us some culture. It began with a cheap (less than $120 for the night) hotel way downtown, which became an afternoon performance at the Met, a Downton Abbey exhibit and visit to the super cool oculus. Our time in NYC coincided with some of the coldest weather of the year (decade?) and we were lucky enough to have some surprisingly good options for dinner nearby in an area that has not always been known for evening dining options. On a friend’s recommendation we decided to give the just-around-the-corner Dead Rabbit try. Here’s how it went…

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First of all, I had no idea that this place was so highly regarded. How highly regarded is it? Well, it was dubbed the Best Bar in the WORLD in 2016!

Reading the various reviews on Yelp and Tripadvisor also informed me that the space is divided into 3 floors with the middle and upstairs floors requiring entry from a staff member. While the first floor Taproom would have sufficed had I been on a date (as it seemed that many of the pairs surrounding us were), the second floor Parlor was where I set my sights. I had gotten the impression that it might have a bit more elbow room than was available downstairs. I requested seating on the second floor and within 15 minutes, and about midway through my delicious warm Clontarf punch, we were ushered to two seats at the cocktail bar in the Parlor.

My immediate impression? There was so much to check out! Interesting looking people, walls covered in memorabilia, along with an impressive array of small bottles containing various cocktail ingredients provided a visual feast. We were presented with the current cocktail list – a graphic novel telling the story of original Irish gangsters with drinks inspired by their exploits, and adorable little teacups of a special punch. I drank them both since my son is 20 for another 6 weeks and I’m not one to waste good alcohol. The small food menu provided options that were well matched with the frigid weather and overall classic vibe and we selected the fish & chips for my son and the chicken pot pie for me and settled in at the bar. The lighting, music and warmth of the space combined to make a very comfortable spot to spend a couple of hours – at least for me. Liam’s stay was a bit more brief.

Our meals were served piping hot and appropriately portioned for the price. My son polished off his plate completely, while I couldn’t quite manage my entire meal opting instead to sample another concoction created by the friendly and professional bar staff. Not finding exactly what I wanted on their list, I requested a bourbon cocktail with a Manhattan-esque flair and was rewarded with a beautifully balanced drink that was precisely what I was seeking. This is a terrific spot despite all the hype that surrounds it. Check it out!

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Filed under art, Boys, Dinner, drinking, Irish, Music, NYC, Observations, Recommendations, Restaurants, road trips, winter

But, Daddy, I want to cross country ski TODAY!

Christmas Day was pretty stunning this year with that gorgeous fresh snow. Once the boys were on their way, I grabbed the dog and my skis and headed to Muni for my first ski of the season. Conditions were decent and I went straight out past the driving range towards a wooded trail I like. After a few hundred yards something weird starting happening with my left ski. My foot kept coming loose and the binding just wasn’t cooperating. I ended up taking both skis off, tossing them over my shoulder and simply enjoying the walk.

After I got home I looked closely at the skis and realized that one of the bindings was missing a piece. No worries, until I could it repaired I could use skis that belonged to the Lilly boys. Jeter and I got back out to the golf course the next day. Imagine my annoyance surprise when I realized that these skis also had a malfunctioning binding. The good news that day was that I discovered the problem before I attempted to ski. I put the skis back in the car and, again, we took a walk.

A local ski shop suggested I check out LL Bean for replacement bindings and I headed there bright and early the 27th. I got lucky and was assisted by a super knowledgeable salesperson. I didn’t catch his name but he really knew his stuff and he was more helpful than any other ski salesperson I’ve worked with in the past. The replacement bindings he had available were clearly not great quality and he offered to mount bindings that I might buy somewhere else. Unfortunately, the nearest locations to purchase the NNN bindings I needed was more than a 30 minute drive and I wanted to ski NOW.

The salesman and I talked about the life expectancy of a pair of cross country skis and the cost of new boots, which I needed. My boots had been splitting at the seams for the past three years and I had tossed them at the end of last year’s season. The boys’ boots were about a size and a half too big, but I had planned to make them work until I had a chance to replace my own. Impulsively, I asked how much it would cost to put me in a completely new set of skis…

Twenty-five minutes (and $360) later I walked out of LL Bean with a completely new ski package. The shopping experience was great and I love my skis. This equipment is exactly what I’ve been looking for in terms of ski length and width for the kind of skiing I do on mostly ungroomed trails and Jeter and I have been tearing up the golf course every chance we’ve had since. Maybe we’ll see you there!

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Filed under Albany, Christmas, Exercise, favorites, Local, Recommendations, snow, Uncategorized, winter, x-country skiing