Have you been to Rhinebeck? Long before Hudson got cool, Rhinebeck was the destination for a Hudson Valley afternoon of fine eating and interesting shopping. The drive is lovely with many different roads which all lead there in a most scenic fashion, as I’ve experienced it, be it from the north, south or west and generally parking is available and free. It’s worth the slightly over an hour trip from Albany for sure and I recommend it as a terrific day trip for any season.
Yesterday, after an aborted attempt to partake in the offerings at Terrapin Restaurant, Mary Lynn and I decided to try somewhere new and found the specials board at Le Petit Bistro to be quite enticing. At just about 5:00 we made our way inside the cozy dining room and were offered a table in the front window near the door. Although it was a less than warm afternoon, we were very comfortable with the temperature of the restaurant and never felt cold despite our proximity to the door. It was a lovely table.
A chalkboard with the extensive list of specials was presented to us and a short while later a server came to provide details and descriptions of each of the items. We ordered drinks – a cocktail for Mary Lynn and a glass of sparkling rose for me, and made decisions about food opting for a bowl of asparagus soup, a fish taco starter and the sea scallop entrée accompanied by ramp risotto and hericot vert and the Cuban pork plate with black beans and plantains. Then we settled in to catch up with one another and enjoy our meal.
The fish tacos, two to a serving, were delicious with fresh flavors (cilantro!) and an assertively spicy kick. Paired with the soup, they were a perfect starter and very shareable.
Scallops with ramp risotto
Our midcourse salad, served with all entrees, was a traditional French green salad with a simple and tasty vinaigrette clinging to the leaves. I thoroughly enjoyed my entrée. The scallops were beautifully prepared and the accompaniments heralded spring beautifully. Unlike many risottos, cheese wasn’t a component and the result was a far lighter rendition of the dish than typical. I swapped a bite with Mary Lynn for a taste of plantain. I’m not a fan of bananas or plantains unless they’re cooked and my bite was exactly what I was hoping for – caramelized sweetness with a remaining firmness – delicious! We finished with a butterscotch crème brulee and a couple of coffees before walking back to our cars and heading off in opposite directions, satiated with hearts and bellies full.
Terrapin restaurant in Rhinebeck has been around for a long time, maybe 15 years at their current location inside a beautiful old church right on Route 9. Many years ago, I had dinner there with three other people and was completely put off by the service. I don’t remember anything about the food because the experience was so overshadowed by the snippy bartender and the inexperienced server. I vowed never to go back, a promise easy to keep since A. I don’t go to Rhinebeck frequently and B. There are so many other options in that area.
Today, though, I met one of my besties in Rhinebeck for a bite to eat and some catching up. I offered her two options – Gigi Trattoria, where we’ve been happy before, and Terrapin for a fresh chance at making us happy. She checked out their menus and decided on Terrapin and we agreed to meet at about 4:00.
I arrived first and found a seat at the bar, not a challenge with at least half of the bar stools open. Within a minute or two I was given a cocktail menu on my request. I started reading, pleased with the beer and wine selections. I wondered about their carafes and if they were filling them from draft lines and planned to ask whoever took my drink order about the set up. The man two seats away from me finished his drink and ordered another, as I was told by the bartender that she would be “right with me.” She wasn’t.
I changed my mind about the beer I had been thinking of ordering and selected a glass of wine instead. Unfortunately, I couldn’t share my decision with anyone because the bartender had yet to come over to take my order. The man near me began drinking his fresh Patron margarita, inspiring me to look at the cocktail list. I reconsidered my wine choice and began perusing the “available” cocktails. The sour cherry Manhattan caught my eye…
My friend arrived and I shared my menu with her. The bartender told us she’d be right over. She wasn’t.
The man next to us finished his drink and asked for a check. The bartender took care of that. We sat there, me with probably 15+ minutes invested without even the reward of a glass of water, another moment and then picked up our bags and left. I will never, ever, step foot in that restaurant again and this time I mean it.
It wasn’t so long ago that I imagined 5 miles to be farther than I would ever run – it just didn’t seem like a distance that I would ever be able to run. My, how life changes…
On the snowy morning that was Sunday, the Lunar B*tches united and ran one of the most pleasant, even in gusty winds, early spring races in the area. The course weaves in and out of lovely residential neighborhoods on flat roads and starts and finishes at the school where I work.
I’m not a fan of morning running, but with the sun shining and a commitment to taking my time and enjoying the ride, it wasn’t a bad time at all. The snow added a sense of adventure to an already chill day. Dash done – next up: Dodge the Deer.
The first week of spring, arguably the finest season of the year in upstate New York, was the worst week Lark + Lily has ever experienced. When I say “crappy,” I’m being literal, by the way. I arrived at the restaurant Tuesday afternoon and encountered the plumbers who were working industriously to unclog one of our two toilets.* Despite their best efforts, we were unable to open for service until 7:30 which means we lost 2.5 hours of service. Not a great way to begin the week.
That lack of business seemed to set the tone for the week and our numbers were dramatically down each subsequent night from previous weeks. I’ve said before that I didn’t buy a restaurant to make a ton of money, but
obsessively looking at my diminishing online checking account was, said the wine bar owner, sobering.
In addition to the poor week at the restaurant, a fierce early spring cold made for a rough week at home. Quinn, who recently was treated for a mean case of strep throat, came down with a dreadful cough complete with a headache and body soreness. The poor guy was just down for the count. Naturally, he required a lot of coddling and cuddling and he generously returned the favor of my attention by sharing his germs with me. Thanks for the cold, Quinn.
As with any week, there were good things, too. The guests we did have at Lark + Lily, including one who I had only previously “met” online (Hi, Bill!), were great and I believe they all left satisfied with their experience. I went to an awesome wine dinner, ran 20+ miles, including once with both of the lunar b*tches, and hiked a peak (more about that experience soon) in the Catskills. We had some beautiful weather with temperatures that invited bare legs and arms to meet the sun and I got in some quality time at the golf course in advance of the takeover on 4/1 by the golfers. Saturday’s family dinner, an early Easter meal, was an effortlessly delicious treat and provided me with the perfect starter for a killer split pea soup. There was even a brief dining room dance party with Quinn inspired by his favorite Ray Charles song, Mess Around.
I guess it wasn’t really that bad of a week after all, was it?
*Ladies – let’s make a deal, ok? You refrain from tossing personal items in the toilet and I’ll remain open during hours of service. Thanks!
Filed under Albany, Boys, Exercise, family, friends, musings, Normanskill, Observations, Restaurants, running, sick, Spring, stress, Uncategorized
photo credit: Zara Ahmad
Monday night I did something I never imagined I’d be asked to do…I was part of a panel of women entrepreneurs at Albany’s University Club discussing the importance of peer support. How in the world did that happen? I’m still not certain, but what I can tell you is this – it was a remarkable evening in many surprising ways.
Here are the tangibles about the evening; the invitation for me to participate came from Colleen Ryan, the dynamo behind so many initiatives around town. The idea for the Leap Day event had actually been conceived at my own Ladies First Event back in November, an act of serendipity that I absolutely love. The panel consisted of three women, each of us in different and interesting fields. Joining me were Katie O’Malley Mallon, owner of Katie O Weddings and Events and Dr. Tobi Saulnier, founder of First Playable Productions. Coincidently (?) the entire panel rocked red hair – titian power at its finest.
photo credit: Zara Ahmad
Prior to the “formal” part of the evening, wine and tidbits were served, including a tasting table provided by Capital Wine & Spirits, my Lark Street neighbor. As I
chugged sipped courage in the form of thimbles of wine (I think I had 2), I looked around the room and was struck by how many women there were familiar to me. I felt the presence of my posse. My comfort level with the thought of speaking in front of this crowd of 60+ increased – and not from the wine, either, it was the realization that the women present were there to share – thoughts, experiences, advice and laughter. It was going to be fine.
The Times Union’s Tracey Ormsbee was the moderator and she posed questions that were general enough to give each of us an opportunity to respond. Katie and Tobi were so impressive with their insightful and intelligent answers and they were positively inspirational. Humor was also very present and the audience was wonderfully receptive, asking questions which were indicative of the degree of engagement which was present. It was a wonderful evening.
Bookending the panel were two encounters which were the perfect prelude and coda to my night. As I got out of my car, which I had parked on Washington Avenue near my very first apartment, I encountered one of my customers from the first Albany restaurant where I had worked. It just felt like such a sign from my past, almost as if it was evidence that the encounters one has over the years remain permanently with us. Incredibly enough, he was on his way to my event – can you imagine?!
As the event came to a close, I was reluctant to end the night. Knowing that my very first Albany friend, Mary Panza, was hosting an open mic poetry reading down at McGeary’s, I got in my car and headed downtown. Spending a little time with my oldest local peep seemed like the perfect way to bring the night, and my Albany life, full circle.
I know I’m a day late on this Valentine’s stuff, but when a holiday translates into working 7 consecutive days, sometimes things don’t get done. Fortunately, all that I most appreciate has nothing whatsoever to do with candy filled hearts or a single day on the calendar circled with red ink. These are my every day gifts.
- My boys who have heated debates over who’s version of La Vie en Rose is superior – Edith Piaf’s or Louis Armstrong’s.
- My guy who challenges me in more ways than I ever could have imagined.
- My running girls the Lunar B*tches who are willing to run anytime, anywhere.
- My Jeter who is everything a dog is supposed to be.
I love them all.
I’m a little ashamed for thinking, much less saying, this but … I really kind of detest the science fair. It isn’t because science isn’t really my thing, or that I’m opposed to exploring a topic of interest, it’s just that it turns into so much work without much reward. It’s hard to be excited about a process that comes with as many demands as a science experiment. Eh, maybe it’s just me.
Part of the science fair process involves observations which must be documented. In the spirit of research, I’ve got a few observations to share from my weekend. They’re in no particular order.
- I’m not a bad feminist because I like Bernie more than I like Hillary.
- The same is true when it comes the fact that I think it’s ok for a woman to want to look pretty when she leaves the house.
- A winter walk with a friend and the dogs at the golf course makes for a perfect afternoon.
- On a related note, lipstick has become my friend in a way it wasn’t until I was in my 40s.
- Wearing a hat can be a real act of bravery. I’m not talking about a baseball cap, I mean a more bold chapeaux – something in a vivid colored felt or a generously proportioned straw number.
- I don’t completely understand why folks get so uptight about getting older. I kind of think of adding years like putting another notch in my lipstick* case. It’s an accomplishment.
- Recently, Delaware Avenue has been interesting to walk on, but scary to drive on. People really need to slow the hell down and stop being so aggressive behind the wheel.
- In theory, I love brunch. What’s not to like about day drinking and someone other than me cooking and serving a meal? In reality, though, I just don’t have time for day drinking and a big meal midday. Maybe on vacation?
- I thought the ribs I made on Saturday were pretty banging until I ate ribs at Jay and Karen’s. Never mind.
- I’ve got an idea for this year’s science fair which just might be fun. I’d say more but don’t want anyone co-opting our experiment. Hint: it involves soda.
*what’s my obsession with lipstick?
Filed under aging, Albany, Boys, Delaware Avenue, DelSo, Exercise, Local, moms, Observations, Random, Schools, Uncategorized, winter