Tag Archives: lunch

Little Pecks knows what you want

At a time of the year occupied with what one wants for Christmas, I’ve found myself twice in the past week in a position where it’s lunch time, but I’m lunchless without a clue as to what I want to eat. You know I’ve got some food issues and I’m kind of particular about what I eat, so these kind of situations stress me out. Often I know what I don’t want – food that’s expensive, unnecessarily heavy or too time consuming, but I’m at a loss as to what will satisfy.

On the first recent occasion, I selected a couple of items from the prepared case at the nearby deli which left me feeling less than satisfied. The tuna salad, with a side of pickled beets and onions, I bought was tasty but it just didn’t fill me up. I regretted my choices.

Monday afternoon I found myself between appointments in Troy, hungry. I made my way to Broadway, parked and considered my options. The Placid Baker was closed, the Whistling Kettle felt like too much of a commitment, and the Illium Cafe seemed like more than I was looking for in the 30 minutes I had available. Little Pecks for the win.

While the baked goods looked awesome, I knew that I wanted something more substantial and less carb-y. The chalkboard menu had a number of items that sounded delicious, but nothing really appealed until I read this:

CHICKPEA & SQUASH STEW
salsa verde, fried breadcrumb

Yes, this was exactly what I craved. I placed my order at the counter, took my table marker and made my way to the light-filled atrium where I found a seat. A few minutes later, I was spooning into a flavorful stew of firm chickpeas and tender squash, finished with buttery breadcrumbs, bright salsa verde and the unexpected brininess of capers. It was perfect.

Thanks, Little Pecks, for giving me my belief in an unplanned lunch back. Now, back to that holiday shopping list…

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Filed under Eating, Food, holidays, Local, Recommendations, Troy, Uncategorized, upstate New York

Lunch at Dancing Ewe Farm

Ever since I first heard from friends about Dancing Ewe Farm in Washington County, I’ve wanted to get there. I loved the romantic story about the owners meeting in Italy and coming together to create a life that includes family, sheep, cheese and authentic small production Italian products imported and sold from their barn and presumably online.

Yesterday was the day.

The trek north took approximately 90 minutes each way, a bit of a commitment for a midday meal but by no means a punishment on a glorious early July day. There was no traffic in our direction, but heading west into Lake George was definitely congested. Plan accordingly.

We arrived about noon, figured out parking and started checking the place out. Near the parking area, a canopied table was set up to offer guests a taste of the day’s wine selections. We sampled both the rosato and a bianco and found them both light and refreshing. Ultimately we selected a bottle (included in the price for lunch) of Sauvignon Blanc which was lovely with the three courses which we were soon to enjoy.

The aroma was intoxicating.

But, before the meal, there was first an informative history walking tour of the farm and some of the facilities. There were “Mexican” chickens,* herding dogs, sheep galore and milking, cheese making and storage areas. The tour was maybe 30 minutes or so and was interesting and totally casual.

When we arrived back at the barn, the long table was beautifully set with fresh flowers and a place setting which was substantial in both flatware (chintzy flatware is a pet peeve) and antipasti. Our plates were artfully arranged with 3 examples of bruschetta (roasted red pepper, sausage and mozzarella and, my favorite, roasted cauliflower which came with a wonderfully spicy little kick), 3 varieties of their cheese, one of which was drizzled with honey, presumably local to the farm or to the owners’ home in Tuscany. Also on the plate were a marinated artichoke heart, a sweet cipollini onion, some coins of dried sausage and a marvelous wedge of vegetable frittata. It was all killer and almost completely vegetarian friendly.

Next up was the main course, a gorgeous plate of four handmade ravioli served in a simple sage butter. The large pockets of pasta, filled with ricotta and spinach, were fantastically delicate, yet completely satisfying. Perfect.

We finished with a delightful panne cotta served with tender strawberries. Satiated, yet not stuffed we paid our check ($60pp +tax) and made our way slowly back to Albany with the remainder of our wine corked to enjoy later. Dancing Ewe is a lovely place and if you haven’t yet experienced it, I highly recommend it. $60 is bit indulgent for a midday meal, but it sure felt like a bargain ticket to Tuscany. Thanks, Mike & Leslie!

* a completely benign and inoffensive joke

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Filed under beauty, Brunch, Eating, Food, ideas, Italy, Observations, Recommendations, road trips, Summer, sunday, Uncategorized, upstate New York, Wine

Tortilla Flats aka as the place with a waiter who must have flatlined

The best part of the experience, aside from the company.

The best part of the experience, aside from the company.

We stopped in at a little joint Sunday afternoon down in the West Village, Tortilla Flats, hereafter referred to as the place with the worst service.  Ever.

Our party of three arrived at what I think of as the “shoulder season” of dining hours, around 3:30 or so.  There was a distinct lack of greeting after we entered, but the bartender finally acknowledged us and directed us to the lone waiter, Mr Frazzled and Angry.  Just like his hair.  He agreed to seat us and selected the only unoccupied dirty table.  Naturally, it needs to be bussed and wiped, which he did in between other tasks.  His sense of prioritizing was poor.

We sat and perused the menu, giving the margarita list the bulk of our attention.  We selected a path to tequila awareness (Sauza Hornitos) and waited for the server’s return.  We waited a long ass time, actually.  We waited so long that we finally sent a representative to the bar to place the order directly with the bartender.  In a remarkably rapid fashion, the server brought us our pitcher, with the correct number of glasses salted (2 out of 3) and garnished with limes.  Drinking commenced.

About midway through our first drinks we again flagged the server down to place an order for nachos with sides of guacamole and salsa.  A short time later we received our nachos, which were unlike any nachos I’ve ever been served.  They were flat, looking more like a quesadilla than a pile of crispy chips topped with cheese and beans and whatnot.  For clarification we inquired if we had been served the correct item and to remind the server that we had also ordered a couple of sides and that utensils, plates and napkins would be helpful.  With a remarkable level of surliness for a human being over the age of 16 or so, he retrieved our guacamole and salsa, but no plates or napkins.

At this point we were drinking our second drinks on fairly empty stomachs.  You see, we didn’t have plates or napkins or utensils with which to eat our food.  Even though those are all obviously, to most, considered essential items when consuming food.  Eventually, once the ray of sunshine who was our “server” had cleared a neighboring table (which was unoccupied) and stood at the bar for a few minutes, we received plates and napkins.  Silverware never was provided.  The (finger)food was tasty.

My commitment at that particular moment in time was weighted heavily in favor of the tequila, so I elected to not sit that kid down to painstakingly itemize all of the lapses in service which he had committed.  Our interlude ended on a high note when the waiter inquired how everything was – a question he posed for the first and only time as we paid the check.  We were able to exit the restaurant laughing, a state I don’t imagine he was able to replicate with the paltry, yet still generous, 15% tip we left for him.  At least there’s always tequila, buddy.

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Filed under drinking, Eating, NYC, Restaurants, Summer, sunday

History in Hyde Park

The window on Val-Kill's door.

The window on Val-Kill’s door.

A long delayed return to Hyde Park finally occurred last weekend as history buff, Liam and I spent the afternoon visiting the Hudson Valley.  The primary purpose of the trip was to see Val-Kill, Eleanor Roosevelt’s cottage retreat.  I wasn’t aware of this lovely property prior to Liam and I touring the FDR mansion a year or so ago.  Seems that Eleanor’s mother-in-law, Sara Delano, was a bit of a controlling influence in the FDR/ER marriage and Eleanor needed an escape hatch.  Thus, Val-Kill came to be.

Our visit took about 90 minutes and included a brief movie in a blessedly air conditioned outbuilding and an organized tour of the home.  We also checked out the cutting garden, but did not take the trek to Franklin’s Top Cottage up the hill.  Seems Liam was not feeling the 1 mile uphill trek.  We wouldn’t have been able to view FDR’s cottage, other than from the outside, due to budget cuts anyway. I’m not embarrassed to admit to being a bit awestruck to walk through the same modest threshold through which JFK and countless other politicians and dignitaries had passed. History can be so cool when there aren’t boring tests to complete or dates to memorize!  The cottage was cozy with lots of wood and walls covered haphazardly in family photos and framed holiday cards.  There was zero pretension or formality.

We made a quick stop over at the FDR library, but were one day premature for the reopening of what is our country’s first presidential  library.  There were a couple of rooms of photo exhibits which we both found really interesting and revealing and I know we’ll get back there (maybe in the fall?) to take in the renovated library in its entirety.

Our final stop was for lunch.  Since we’re both fans of tacos, we Yelped to locate a nearby joint.  Leave it to my son to pick the place that

  • A. Didn’t have margaritas
  • B. Only accepted cash and
  • C. Was really close to the train station and thus offered an opportunity for checking out trains
Fish tacos

Fish tacos

Taking all of this into account, he did good and we had a terrific lunch for cheap at El Azteca.  We went with two chicken quesadillas and the fish taco special with a side of guacamole.  Our order, along with a coke and a delicious lime Mexican soda set us back $17.  Yes, $17.  The food was delicious!  Everything was super fresh, tasty and served piping hot.  I know where I’m stopping next time I’m taking Metro-North to the city…

There are so many cool spots to visit in our beautiful Hudson Valley, don’t you think?  What are your favorites?  Tell me!!

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Filed under Boys, Food, Recommendations, road trips, Summer, upstate New York

Done with Mother’s Day

Yet another benefit of drinking - flower boxes!

Yet another benefit of drinking – flower boxes!

Screw Hallmark – as far as I’m concerned, May 5th was my ideal Mother’s Day. No matter what happens next Sunday, I will cherish the day I had, from the scandalously late start to the fortified-with-an-afternoon-nap late ending – perfect! Let me be a little more specific…

Saturday night, I shot a SEEN gallery down at Prime 677.  The occasion was a fundraiser for the Huntington’s Disease Society of America and it was a lovely event.  The food was spectacular and the folks at Empire Wines rallied the troops to put on an extraordinary wine tasting.  It’s been noted by some astute Times Union readers that whenever an event involves wine, I’m usually there.  Guilty as charged.

I got home from the party working at about 10:30 only to find my little guy desperately upset that he had been denied a ‘s’more from the neighbor’s party, a situation I was able to correct with a soothing shower and some ice cream.  Tucking him in at such a late hour gave me the first gift of Sunday – he slept until 10:00, which gave me an incredibly quiet morning.  Soft music, strong coffee and the paper comprise my personal morning bliss trifecta.  So far, so good.

After the boys departed at noon for their Dad’s, I got busy in the front yard with mulch and some annuals.  The sun was glorious, birds were chirping and the simple joy of getting a little dirty made my heart sing.  I had a mid afternoon visit from the person I most love spending time with and the day moved along at a pace that was completely enjoyable.  I accomplished some other chores, including eating a fantastic lunch salad, and punctuated the afternoon with an indulgent nap on clean sheets. But, wait – there’s more.

Caesar salad with shaved Romano and grilled asparagus

Caesar salad with shaved Romano and grilled asparagus

As the day cooled down a bit, I tied on my running shoes and hit the streets for a 5-mile lap through the neighborhood.  I had intended to go a bit further, but contented myself with not pushing myself too hard and tried to just enjoy myself.  Done.  A shower, a quick visit with the neighbors for a glass of wine and then home again for finale of the only reality show I would ever want to be on, The Amazing Race, and I was in bed by 10:15, thoroughly relaxed and satisfied with my day.

There weren’t any tulips or handmade crafts, but nonetheless it was a lovely day with a wonderful mix of boys, friends, productivity, relaxation and good food and wine.  Mother’s Day 2013 is a done deal, as far as I am concerned.  Any additional gifts are truly unnecessary, although I do have a fondness for the imperfectly made card along with a hankering for a French lilac bush.  Just saying.

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Filed under Albany, beauty, Boys, Coffee, DelSo, Eating, Events, family, favorites, Flowers, friends, Gardens, ideas, Local, love, running, SEEN, Spring, sunday, Wine

What makes a perfect snow day?

photo(102)Yesterday was the first snow day my district has had this academic year – and it was well worth the wait.  I understand that we don’t all have the luxury of a delayed start or the cancellation of our work day due to the weather and think you should know I am very appreciative of this career perk.  I was so very thankful for yesterday’s surprise (2″-4″ was the forecast, I’d say 6″ or 7″ was the reality) snow day that I just might send my superintendent a thank you note.  You know how I like to do that.  Or, as my snow day, cross-country skiing partner in crime suggested, perhaps I should send that note of gratitude to the superintendent of my children’s district for not giving them the day off.  I certainly have enough appreciation to spread it out, trust me.

As I spent my found day doing fun things, I realized that I had experienced a perfect snow day.  Here are the factors which led me to that ultimate conclusion:

  • The day off was completely unexpected.  I would have been more than contented with a mere delay.
  • Speaking of delays, the fact that the boys were delayed and I was off was an incredible gift.  We had an easy morning and then there was quiet.
  • Coffee with my favorite fellow was another unexpected treat.
  • Skiing with one of my best hardcore exercise girls at Capital Hills on a day with incredible light and eventual warm temperatures.  Spring skiing rocks!
  • A terrific lunch at the golf course’s Club House.  Seriously, the food was really good!
  • Getting my Saturday chores done a day early.  It almost feels like I was given 2 days!
  • Afternoon coffee with my favorite fellow
  • Making pizza with my boys
  • A hot bath
  • A reasonable bed time

    photo(103)

    The secret to homemade pizza? A HOT oven.

I hope you were able to enjoy the recent (bonus) snowfall but, if you didn’t, I think I had enough fun for both of us.  You’re welcome!

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Filed under Albany, beauty, Eating, Exercise, favorites, friends, Local, pizza, Recommendations, skiing, snow, Uncategorized, winter, x-country skiing

12 days of Christmas ~ Dining DelSo

DSC_0023 On the second day of Christmas my second born was thrilled to receive two freshly filled cannoli from Cardona’s Market.  This child, who doesn’t even like cheese, could not consume the lovely Italian pastries fast enough.  I mean, the powdered sugar was flying as he gobbled them down, no joke.  In addition to their delicious baked goods, Cardona’s offers everything necessary to make a slamming meal. Antipasti, high quality meats (Murray’s chickens!) and cheeses, soups, canned and packaged goods and a full spread of prepared items are all available.  And the smell of the place!  My goodness, you could practically satisfy a minor hunger with a lungful of Cardona’s succulent aroma!  Whether it’s the ingredients for a fantastic lasagna recipe, some speciality items for a favorite hostess, (hint, hint) or a thoughtfully prepared lunch or dinner, Cardona’s is the perfect place any day of the year.

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Filed under Albany, Christmas, Delaware Avenue, DelSo, Eating, Food, holidays, ideas, Recipes, Recommendations, Uncategorized