Going to the track has never been my thing. Gambling doesn’t appeal to me, I don’t like big crowds and I’m really distressed by the number of horses which have died this season. It’s all just too much. But, I do enjoy early mornings in Saratoga. There’s a simple beauty to the horses trotting around in the often misty morning and the general vibe is relaxed and quiet. It’s really lovely and I can’t imagine a prettier racetrack. Yesterday, there was an undercurrent of excitement as Traver’s Weekend approached and things were looking particularly spiffy as the track prepared to welcome an expected 50,000 spectators for Saturday’s biggest race of the season.
We spent a very enjoyable hour or so trackside before our appetites got the better of us and we headed to a fairly new spot downtown for breakfast. Farmers Hardware, reviewed just last week by Susie Davidson Powell who had some very positive things to say, is conveniently located right next a public parking lot which allows for 2 hours of free parking. We rolled in at about 9:00 or so and found our way, with encouragement from a very enthusiastic server, to the upstairs counter where we placed our order.
I had hoped to have the Eggs Shorty, but alas they were out of short ribs. There was an offer to substitute bacon for the beef, but I opted for the Staple instead – scrambled eggs, bacon, maple sriricha and cheddar on a brioche roll. For my side, I selected a toasted coconut yogurt parfait and threw in a large coffee for good measure. My total was about $15 with a couple of dollars tossed into the counter jar. Fair enough. I gathered plastic flatware (recyclable according to Susie, but still a bit unsatisfying to me) and napkins and headed downstairs and outside to await delivery of our orders, happily sipping a mimosa purchased by a friend.
Food arrived quickly and was uniformly well received. My eggs were hot, as we were Will’s salt and pepper fries, which he shared, and the bacon was nicely cooked. The coffee was flavorful, my yogurt parfait delicious and the additional sides I sampled, a bean and corn salad and roasted beets, were all simple and well prepared. A very solid breakfast that I would happily order again.
Our last stop was at Violet’s, a boutique where I had done well earlier this summer with a couple of great items on sale. My luck held yesterday and I picked up an adorable ruched skirt and asymmetrical pull over, again on sale, that will find their way into my wardrobe rotation with little effort. That store is definitely on my radar for funky, slightly off the beaten path clothing and accessories and I suggest you check it out.
No gambling, all winning, makes for a perfect Saratoga morning. I love New York!
Filed under beauty, breakfast, Brunch, Eating, friends, Local, Recipes, Restaurants, road trips, Saratoga, Summer, upstate New York
Following what may have been the best June ever and a July that was fantastic, August has started with a bang! Last night I had a primo Albany evening – drinks with friends, a concert that was beyond all expectations and a late night walk around the Empire State Plaza. Plus, there was the bonus of leaving my car at home and relying on Lyft for transportation, a new and welcome option in our area.
Let’s start with my getting a Lyft. I got an email this week offering me up to $100 off of my next 20 rides within a specific time period. Knowing that I’ll be traveling for some of this time, I decided to initiate the offer last night and start saving $. I requested a ride from my home in the DelSo to McGeary’s, where I was meeting friends to pregame before the Alabama Shakes show. My driver arrived in less than 5 minutes and for a discounted total of $4.50 (plus a $3 tip) I was dropped off downtown at my requested destination. Hours later, I paid a similar amount to get from Lark St. back home. Again, the wait for my ride was mere minutes, unlike any time I’ve ever taken a cab in Albany. Total and complete game changer.
The concert was phenomenal. Thanks to the power of Facebook, I scored tickets after appealing to my friends that I needed to see this show. My seats were in the balcony, I had lots of friends in the venue and Albany welcomed the Alabama Shakes with great enthusiasm. I was lucky enough to have seen the band a couple of years ago down at Mountain Jam and their performance last night again demonstrated what a great band they really are. Lead singer and guitarist, Brittany Howard, is a force to witness and her modest, low key personality is a rare thing in the music industry. I absolutely loved the show. Put them on your list to go see next time they come around.
In between Lyfts and the show were a couple of tasty beverages with a group of people who I was happy to mix together. There was a lot of laughter, good conversation, a few tall tales and a stroll around the Capitol on a gorgeous summer night. Oh, August, you’re killing it! Summer, 2017 is turning out to be epic.
Filed under Albany, Aloysius, beauty, concerts, drinking, Events, favorites, friends, Local, Music, Recommendations, Summer
Just back from a quick trip to the Cape and feeling a bit overwhelmed by the speed of life. It was a three-day trip and we packed in a lot of time outdoors, a couple of beaches and bike rides and a few margaritas. There were friends in Provincetown to drink with and the weather was just what I needed – 2 days of sunshine followed by a day of on and off showers mixed with sunshine. There was a tremendous moonrise and hours spent working on a 1000 piece puzzle that I’m still obsessing over from more than 250 miles away. It was delightful.
I’ve been doing this Cape Cod thing for 20 years now and it never gets old. There’s always a new beach or restaurant or shop to visit and a different house to make home. Despite all the new spots to explore, there are traditions to be honored, favorite running routes and swimming spots, dinner joints and ice cream flavors. It’s a wonderful place and, even when things don’t go perfectly, I’m always appreciative of the time spent in this special place.
On this trip, though, I was struck by a thought I couldn’t shake – it seems that I have as many memories of time spent on the Cape as there are grains of sand on the beach. When I revisit places, eat particular foods, smell distinct aromas, hear certain sounds, I feel as if I’m sometimes doing those things with company. Over the years, in addition to my own family, I’ve spent Cape time with dozens of friends and when I see or taste or smell or hear something that reminds me of a previous, similar experience it’s almost like those folks are once again joining me. I hear their voices and laughter over the roar of the ocean and see their smiles through early morning fog and feel so incredibly fortunate to have the memories of so many times spent with people I love, in a place I love. I simply can’t wait to get back there next month with my guys!
On Sunday, it was time to head north of Albany with two vintage friends for a little time in Saratoga Springs. We were at our hotel by noon, parked the car and took off on foot to explore Broadway and all it offers. The Holiday Inn where we stayed was super convenient to Congress Park and we again had dreamy weather. We allowed ourselves to be entertained by the ducklings for a bit as we strolled into town, feeling zero urgency to do anything. Saratoga was hopping and filled with tourists and we thoroughly enjoyed window shopping, sussing out a place for dinner and picking places to stop in on Monday, not wanting to deal with shopping bags and dressing rooms on such a blazingly beautiful day.
Lunch was takeout from Putnam Market, a variety of salads and a lemon bar to share, which we took to a shady bench in the park. At that point I was totally ready for a siesta, but we reinterpreted that as some chill time by the hotel pool. We lucked out and achieved bliss with a quick dip or two alternated with stretching out on a chaise in the sun. Refreshed, we took a long walk into and around Saratoga State Park and I realized how well I’ve come to know that piece of land in my time upstate. It was fun to show it off.
Dinner was at Forno Bistro, coincidentally this week’s restaurant review in the Times Union. Before dinner, though, we were compelled to have a cocktail on the veranda at Salt & Char. I completely enjoyed my very first Moscow Mule, essentially dubbing this my official cocktail of Summer, 2017. After our drinks and a lot of giggles, we went to Forno and had a positive dinner experience, made even more exceptional by my being greeted by a former student, who was dining, with an enthusiastic “Hi, Silvia!” We shared a couple of antipasti, a pasta and a pizza and left satiated. It was too nice to go directly “home,” so we took a walk around Caroline Street and found ourselves at Ben & Jerry’s where I stepped out of my comfort zone of Cherry Garcia and Coffee Buzz Buzz and tried Coconut Seven Layer Bar instead. It was a great way to end the night.
Our first stop Monday morning was Mrs. London’s where my friends experienced their first almond croissants. These are no joke and since we were early (9:00), we had the place nearly to ourselves and were able to enjoy our cafe au laits in a most leisurely fashion. We timed things perfectly and, fully caffeinated, we got some quality shopping in. At our first stop, Violet, we were presented with the opportunity to purchase a coupon book filled with special offers from local businesses. From an initial $15 investment, I saved more than $40 which made this a really good buy. The shopping was pretty epic and I cleaned up with 4 dresses, a skirt and a super cute pair of cropped Hudson jeans. After what feels like months and months of exclusively online shopping because of my schedule, boutique shopping felt like a real luxury.
Who am I kidding? It’s all such a luxury. To have the friends, time and money to make quick getaways like these possible is an indulgence that I’ll never take for granted. That’s why I’m one lucky lady.
Filed under drinking, Eating, favorites, friends, Local, Recommendations, road trips, Saratoga, SPAC, Summer, upstate New York
This first week of summer vacation has been nonstop fun and shenanigans. I’m not sure I could maintain the pace for 9 more weeks, but I’ve really enjoyed starting my summer in gangbuster fashion.
A little bit of everything!
The U2 show gave me the perfect opportunity to spend some time in my most favorite city, NYC. I swapped some Amex points for Amtrak credit and indulged myself with a round trip ticket to Penn, arriving early enough in the city to leisurely walk to my hotel on 8th and 52nd. Once I dumped my overnight bag, the day was mine until Chrissy’s arrival in the later afternoon. The weather was ideal – sunny, blue skies, low humidity, truly the dream. I treated myself to a pedicure and manicure and then hit up a deli salad bar for a cheap and tasty lunch, which I enjoyed al fresco in Central Park.
The remainder of Wednesday was totally U2-centric. It ended up being a late night, but by 10:00 Thursday morning, we were on our sneakered feet running in Central Park. Again, the temperature was a dream and we wove our way around the park for nearly 7 miles including a lap around the reservoir and a quick stop at the castle.
Tree at the castle in Central Park
Following our run we cleaned up, checked out and enjoyed a terrific Indian lunch on 9th Avenue. I wanted something fairly light and they cobbled together a samosa chat dish for me that wasn’t on the menu. Following lunch and some walking around, Chrissy headed north on her train and, since I was on a later train, I headed south on foot. I hit up my favorite haunts, picked up the necessary tariff to get back home (cookies from Rocco’s for the boys), and took in the vibe in Washington Square Park, before catching my own train to Albany. Great getaway.
Note the vintage baseball jersey.
I’ve seen U2 a half dozen times, but I don’t think I’ve ever been as excited for a show as I was last Wednesday. Every single thing aligned to make for a perfect night – the weather was phenomenal, the company was sublime and our seats exceeded my expectations. The foundation was all in place and Bono and the boys stepped up and provided yet another musical experience to treasure. Unbelievable.
The last U2 show I attended was in Montreal. My middle son and I drove up and had a great night. As had been my previous experiences, the show was fantastic and I was so happy that I had made the effort to get there. While I didn’t imagine it as my last U2 show, it seemed that that was what it would be. After that tour, Bono had a cycling accident that did some damage and then the Edge fell off the stage at the beginning of their next tour. Having no interest in seeing a broken down band, I figured I was done. Until they announced the 30th anniversary tour of the Joshua Tree, that is. Game on.
The Joshua Tree is my favorite all-time album. I fell in love with it during my very first heartbreak. I had gone to the desert to escape and my jet-lagged body walked the streets of Palm Springs with my headphones in place and Walkman in hand. It was magical. I’ve never heard that record without feeling a tide of emotion and the opportunity to see it performed was undeniable. I re-upped my fan club membership and dropped a bunch of money for tickets.
The Lumineers opened and were just fantastic. Our seats were directly across from the stage and the sound was incredible. The temperature was ideal and the tequila buzz was delicious. All systems were go. The message of the night began with a huge display of rolling poems, sobering and inspirational all at once. The huge speakers started to crank out the Waterboy’s The Whole of the Moon and a piece of my mind was blown away. Unimaginable joy.
When the band came out is was, as always for me, like church with the Pope officiating. I feel their music in every part of my physical body. Without question, I am Irish and flawed and optimistic and sad and filled with compassion and hope. There’s no other way to describe it. My favorite songs of the night were the ones I’ve never heard live before – Red Hill Mining Town and One Tree Hill with another nugget, Running to Stand Still, that is my ultimate favorite U2 song. So tasty, so mind blowing.
I don’t know if I’ll ever see them again, but I’ll never forget the times that I have. I hope everyone reading this has been fortunate enough to connect and be moved by music or art or some other undeniable external force. It’s magic. It’s what makes life glorious.
I’ve lost count of a number of things in my life. For instance, I can’t remember if Jeter is 2 ½ or 3 ½ years old. I no longer remember how many times I’ve flown across the Atlantic and while I can count the number of U2 shows I’ve been to (5, soon to be 6!), I can’t for the life of me recall how many times I’ve gone to see the Dave Matthews Band. We’ll leave it at quite a few.
I’ve got memories from some DMB shows that I’d prefer to forget. There was the year a man seated below our balcony seats got urinated on – that was gross. On another occasion rabid fans rushed the back gate at the end of the grassy area behind the vending and out ran the outnumbered security force to gain access to the show. That situation was pretty entertaining to watch, unlike the year the crowd actually pushed through the gates at the back of the amphitheater in an obnoxious show of entitlement and rushed the stage. That was just kind of scary.
Friday night, though? That was all new. First – it was “just” Dave Matthews and Tim Reynolds, not the entire band. I’d never seen Dave without the band before and I’ve got to say I loved it. Sometimes things get a little too jammy for me when each player takes an extended solo and I really enjoyed the stripped down experience. The setlist was pretty damn phenomenal and we got lucky with the weather with barely a misty drizzle over the course of the entire evening.
We parked in a different area than usual and the tailgating was absolutely on point. We didn’t see anyone getting out of hand or vomiting, two things I’ve seen far too frequently at DMB shows in the past and everyone was just completely chill. We spent a couple of hours hanging out and achieved the ideal state of…zen, let’s call it zen, before taking the short walk to the gate. We staked out some lawn space, but I know I was never even tempted to sit. It was all about dancing.
Speaking of dancing – we had a fantastic vantage point to take in the writhing mass of humanity that was the lawn. One guy in particular kept us all entertained with his enthusiasm and sense of rhythm. There were no obnoxious frat boys or bros to be seen and it was almost as if the entire audience had been dosed with something that resulted in pleasant politeness. It’s too bad whatever that was isn’t in the water universally because we could all use more nights like that. It was a perfect Dave show – whether you were a newbie or a veteran of the scene. So. Much. Fun.