• When the 14th of February falls on a Tuesday.
• Speaking of falling – no additional snow falling.
• A great menu created and executed by a professional kitchen – thanks, John & Zach & Ben.
• Competent and attentive front of the house staff – I’m talking about you, Jackie, Jammella & Trudy.
• A tightly mapped seating chart with 2 hour turns for every table.
• Appreciative walk ins who are grateful and work with what you can offer them.
• Solo diners who are comfortable enough to dine with you on the biggest couple night of the year.
• Guests who span the spectrum – white, black, brown, straight and gay. I’m really proud of the diverse clientele we have at Lark + Lily.
• Music that set the mood beautifully – thanks, Trudy!
• Friends stopping in for dessert.
• Mild weather and cozy fireplaces.
• A sense of relaxed pleasure wafting through the dining rooms.
• Finding the perfect card for your honey at Elissa Halloran’s.
• A steady stream of pleasant people populating our bar.
• Guests thanking you for providing them with a place they love to visit.
• Having the prettiest Valentine’s menus ever! Thanks, Lori Hansen & Laura Glazer.
• Finishing the night with something bubbly and pink.
And one thing not to love – please, please, please have the decency to call and cancel your reservation if your plans change. Having an empty table that might have been filled by someone looking to celebrate is really frustrating. On a related note, if you are going to be more than 20 minutes late for your reservation, I’d suggest calling to let the restaurant know. After 20 minutes (without a phone call), your table becomes mine again.
Filed under Dinner, drinking, Eating, Food, holidays, Local, love, Observations, Restaurants, Uncategorized, Wine, winter
February 9th will mark the day that twelve years ago Quinn Padraig arrived and completed my family. Of all my babies, my pregnancy with him was the most challenging – there was an amnio, second trimester spotting, and enough ultrasounds to make a flip book of his growth. Gestating that guy was an intense combination of joy and stress and I couldn’t decide if I wanted it to last longer (since I knew it was my final pregnancy) or just to be over (because I was so worried something could go wrong).
That conflict between wanting it to last longer versus wanting it to be over was the perfect precursor to my general attitude towards my youngest son’s childhood. As time marches on, I have moments when I wish I could stop the clock and keep this awfully tall little one of mine young for a bit longer. His generosity when it comes to hugs and I love yous will be sorely missed if they fall by the wayside as he becomes a teen. There are times, however, when I can almost begin to imagine having an empty nest and it doesn’t necessarily seem to be such a bad thing. To everything a season and all that, right?
What 12 looks like at my house.
Until that day arrives, though, I’ll continue to appreciate the time I get to share with my “baby.” The kitchen dance parties, his knowledge of geography, history and politics and his remarkable vocabulary will never fail to impress me. I know he’ll make me laugh more often than he frustrates me and I’m hopeful that he’ll always insist upon kissing me goodbye when I leave for a run.
How about we all wear our jammies inside out tonight and get Quinn what he really wants for his birthday – a snow day. He’ll sleep in at his dad’s, and then I’ll make him pancakes and bacon and we’ll watch as many movies as he wants. I promise to make the day last as long as I can.
On 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.
The 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?
Filed under Dinner, Eating, favorites, Food, friends, love, pizza, Recommendations, road trips, snow, sunday, Wine, winter
Somehow 10 days have flown by and it’s back to school time. It’s been a quietly busy vacation and I’m pleased that I resisted over scheduling myself, something I’m inclined to be guilty of doing. So – what did I do? Let me tell you!
I went to the movies, twice. Bonus – neither film was rated G, produced by Disney or animated. La La Land was lovely and pretty much charmed me from beginning to end. The cast, dancing, singing and costumes all combined to give me a simple, happy movie experience. Almost equally enjoyable from a performance perspective was Jackie. Natalie Portman was really remarkable in the role and I’m certain I’ll spend some time reflecting on the story that was told, wondering how close to reality the script may have been.
As you might imagine, I ran. There were miles with the Lunar B*tches, with Jeter, solo, and as part of two different organized group runs. I also checked out an aerial class at Good Karma yoga studio. I enjoyed the class and was surprised by how comfortable and well supported I felt in the swing. Accustomed to a hot yoga studio I was a little underdressed and found myself chilly at times. Next time I’ll wear another layer.
Jeter and I got to the golf course quite a few times. Romping around in the sunshine with a bunch of buddies makes Jeter happy and tired. We always love our time there, especially when there’s snow on the ground rather than mud. A nearly white dog and mud are not a great combination, because our time outside needs to be immediately followed by a bath and then, of course, a bathroom cleaning.
Speaking of cleaning, I vacuumed almost every day. What can I say? I love my Dyson vacuum and Jeter is the most sheddingest dog I’ve ever known. I wish I could say I did some other major cleaning tasks or maintenance projects, but, I didn’t. There’s always February break for that. I’m already looking forward to it.
As 2016 draws to an end, I’m keeping an extra close eye on my Runmeter App and watching as my total miles for the year draws closer to a previously unimagined milestone – 1,000 miles! It’s funny. I never think of myself as really goal oriented or competitive, but there’s something about running that inspires a little bit of both of those in me.
The idea of challenging myself to attain a certain number of miles first came to me in February, a distinct disadvantage since I was already 25 miles off pace. Cognizant of the fact that my schedule is pretty packed with 3 kids, a full-time job, a business, a personal life and a dog, I decided to just plug away and do my best. I honestly didn’t truly start obsessing about my goal until the end of July, when I had approximately 560 miles under my belt. Things were not looking promising.
I shifted focus and began working towards another, more achievable running mini-goal – 3 consecutive month half marathons. Training for the Chingachgook Challenge, Palio and Hairy Gorilla both took my attention from my 1,000 mile goal and made it more accessible since I had to up my mileage. By the time I completed my trifecta, I realized my challenge was actually looking possible and I’ve been busting my ass ever since to meet the mark. With 2+ weeks left in the year, I have 961 miles completed and I do believe I’ve got this – and a new challenge in mind…
My winter goal is to run the complete HMRRC Winter Series. There are 5 races with distances varying from 3.5 miles to a complete marathon. A couple of weeks ago, I ran the first of the series (a 15K) and I’ve got my eye on the New Year’s Day half. Maybe I’ll see you there? I’ll be the one wearing the 1,000 mile medal.
I don’t know if you’ve ever been able to sit with the owner of a winery or a winemaker and listen to them speak about their product, but it will forever change your perspective about that stuff in the bottle. I’ve been fortunate enough to meet a number of winemakers/winery owners and those encounters have forever changed the way I view a bottle of wine. After walking through a vineyard, tasting from a barrel or simply talking with a winery owner, viewing a product becomes a much more personal experience.
Tuesday night I had a rare opportunity to attend a wine dinner, hosted by one of my sales reps, downtown at dp’s. I say rare opportunity because most of these events are either during a time when I’m not available or are held out of town. The timing for this, though, was perfect and I was thrilled to sit down with Andrew Tow of the Withers Winery, along with a handful of other industry professionals, to learn about some wines of which I had no prior knowledge.
Here’s what I learned –
- Andrew Tow is an articulate, passionate man who helps to craft wines that are elegant yet accessible.
- Although the Withers Winery has only been in existence for a few short years, it has achieved remarkable success and earned accolades from numerous national publications.
- Their wines sell out – especially the rose and the chardonnay. I’ve got my hand out hoping to land some of the rose at the moment. My luck will be your luck, friends.
- Everything we tasted was enjoyable and seemed to be equally adept at being paired with foods or sipped sans food.
- The project has some rock star investors – like Derek Trucks and Susan Tedeschi. Cool, right?
- The wines are affordably priced, in fact, part of the impetus for Tow to produce his rose was a desire to drink something delicious without breaking the bank. If I can land any I’ll probably price it between $30-35 a bottle which makes it on the higher end of my roses, but within reach of most diners.
- The Pinot Noirs are dynamite. I don’t have room on my list right now, but when I sell a couple of my higher end Pinots out, I hope there are still a few bottles of the English Hill for me to buy. When I tasted this the other night, the nose was so damn heady it almost satiated my desire to consume it without even taking a sip. Wow.
If you were to look at my wine list at Lark + Lily you’d see approximately 100 different labels. I’ve selected probably 65% of those labels with the others coming as an inventory purchase when I originally opened last fall. The bottles that I find myself reaching for when a guest asks for a recommendation are the ones that I can share story about – the Hendry, the Biale, the Bonny Doon. These are wines which were introduced to me by their producers – I walked the vineyard with George Hendry, ate lunch and tasted wine with Robert Biale, barrel sampled at Bonny Doon. Hopefully, one day, the Withers will have a similar presence on my list.
You know with a last name like “Lilly,” I love me some flowers. If you share a similar appreciation for things which bloom, this is your lucky weekend. get yourself down to the New York State Museum and inhale some of the gorgeousness that is currently on display. $5 gets you in and helps to support the museum’s after school programs benefiting children across our fair city. Here are a few images to help your interest blossom!