Tag Archives: Recommendations

Tara Kitchen

olive tapenade with artichoke hearts and sundried tomatoes

olive tapenade with artichoke hearts and sundried tomatoes

Sunday, more than ever, has become my “Me” day. Yesterday I had hours to myself to do whatever I felt like – once the waffles and bacon had been cooked, served and cleaned up and payroll had been done and the sheets had been changed and I had met with Linda Kindlon at Bake for You about adding her cookies to Lark + Lily’s dessert options…hours, I tell you.

Following an afternoon run (down one lunar b*tch, missed you, Chrissy!), I decided to follow through on my intention to eat at Tara Kitchen. I’ve been wanting to get to this spot in Schenectady forever and this post  in All Over Albany’s weekly roundup of what’s going on in the neighborhood, forced my hand.

I’m not very familiar with Schenectady, but I have spent some time in the area where Tara Kitchen is. Parking was readily available in the lot directly across the street from the restaurant. I arrived at about 5:30 and the place was hopping with nearly all the tables seated. Bar seating was plentiful. I sat at a table in front of the window and was completely comfortable even with the door opening and closing. The upstairs seating was definitely toasty warm due to, I imagine, the heat rising off of the big range in the open kitchen.

spinach with potatoes and poached eggs

spinach with potatoes and poached eggs

As I browsed the menu, I sipped a delightful tea from a small glass.  It was a magical elixir, I swear, stimulating my taste buds and giving me a boost.  I eventually ordered three courses – opening with the olive tapenade served with warm triangles of pita. It was delicious, wonderfully salty and earthy with a hint of heat. For my entrée, which was served blazingly hot, I had the spinach, potatoes and eggs, the kind of meal which would be perfect at any time of the day. There was more pita and rice served along side the tagine, I imagine just to give a diner something to pick on while they’re waiting not so patiently for their main course to cool off. The flavors were fantastic – I especially loved the cardamom, and the vegetables were beautifully cooked retaining just a touch of firmness.  I  requested some harissa to add a little zip, since I felt a cold threatening and I loved the smoky quality it lent to the dish.

warm delicious baklava

warm delicious baklava

I finished with the baklava, because, why not? Unlike some renditions of this dish, it was not overly sweet or buttery and it actually was perfect with my remaining half glass of Moroccan Pinot Grigio  (Ouled Thaleb White).  Service throughout was comfortably casual and I wouldn’t hesitate to return to this terrific little spot.  Total for my meal including tip: $43.  Pretty reasonable for a trip to Morocco, don’t you think?

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Filed under Dinner, Food, Local, Recommendations, Restaurants, Schenectady, sunday, Uncategorized

Man Crush Monday – 11/16/15

It’s been awhile since I’ve admitted who I’m crushing on, but today seems like a good day to acknowledge a guy who I think is pretty awesome. The man I’m thinking about today is someone I find attractive for his commitment to the environment, international humanitarian causes and my candidate of choice for President, Bernie Sanders. Even though he’s not quite as tall as I would like at only 5’8”, Mark Ruffalo stands head and shoulders over men of far greater stature for his unfailing devotion to important domestic and world issues.  His wife is a lucky woman.

A few recent Tweets which illustrate why I’m crushing on Mark:

Don’t allow this horrific act allow you to be drawn into the loss of your humanity or tolerance. That is the intended outcome. #ParisAttacks

I donated this Veterans Day to support #BernieSanders and everything he has done for our vets! #FeelTheBern http://thndr.me/e9QjTy

When it comes to women’s rights, we still have a lot to do. #hopeforourdaughters #suffragette https://youtu.be/XFu-pvdYsvs

You’ve got to love a guy who wants peace, supports Bernie Sanders and believes in women’s rights.  Factor in sex appeal and great personal style and you’ve got my pick for Man Crush Monday.  Who are you crushing on?

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Filed under favorites, Observations, politics

Let’s make every day Cider Sunday!

DSC_0004Wouldn’t it be cool if you could close your eyes and read at the same time? Since that isn’t possible, read the next few sentences and then close your eyes for a moment and imagine the picture I’m trying to paint for you…

A gorgeously sunny afternoon in early autumn. Blue skies with the occasional fluffy white cloud. Leaves colored in vivid shades of orange and red and yellow. The fragrance of ripe apples permeating the air along with the buzzing of yellow jackets seeking their own share of the harvest. Cold, delicious cider and smoky pork. The warmth of the sun on that spot on your lower back where your shirt and shorts don’t meet.


That was how I spent a glorious couple of hours yesterday down in Samascott Orchards in Kinderhook. The crowd, impressive in both size and mellowness, was friendly and fun, happy to sip Nine-Pin and toss beanbags as they played cornhole. It was truly the epitome of an upstate October Sunday.DSC_0002

I saw some familiar faces and made some new acquaintances who I’ll be working with to get Nine-Pin on draft for Lark + Lily.

I can’t make the perfection of an autumn day last forever, but I can arrange for the taste of the day to be made available all year long. We’ll have Cider Tuesday through Saturday instead.

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Filed under beauty, drinking, Local, Recommendations, road trips, upstate New York

I Am Princess X

The fiction collection in the library where I work is organized by genre, a situation which sometimes vexes me. I mean, it can be really challenging to decide where a book should be shelved from merely reading the subject tags or the inside of the jacket. Sometimes, a title seems as if it could be assigned to more than a single genre and I’m forced to just make a choice, hoping the book lands on a shelf where it will be discovered and appreciated.

The new young adult book, I Am Princess X by Cherie Priestly, provided me with a dilemma when it came to slapping a genre sticker on its spine. Was it a graphic novel? Realistic fiction? Mystery? Truthfully, it’s all of the above – a contemporary story complete with suspense and graphic novel components.

The plot tells the story of best friends Libby and May. Together they created Princess X, a cartoon heroine who befriends ghosts and fights monster while wearing red Chuck Taylor’s and a golden crown. Their adventures together seem limitless until tragedy strikes and Libby and her mother are both killed in a horrible accident…

But, perhaps it wasn’t really an accident and maybe Libby isn’t really dead. May and a new acquaintance, Trick, use technology, smarts and bravery to get to the bottom of the mysterious reappearance of Princess X and learn what really happened to Libby.

Set in Seattle, this novel crosses genres and genders to provide a compelling story which will appeal to a wide range of readers. In a plot rife with modern technologies, this may be my very favorite line:

“Sometimes the easiest answer was the analog one.”

Two thumbs up for a fast, fun read.

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Filed under Books, Librarians, Recommendations, Schools, Uncategorized

SUP yoga – Take 2

imageDespite not having been impressed with the class I took last month in P’town, I decided to give stand up paddle boarding yoga a second try recently. Although I’m still not completely hooked on the concept, I had a much more positive experience this time around and that’s saying a lot considering I was the only person to fall in the lake and there was a giggly Girl Scout troop attending the class.

Taught by Rhiana out of the Kayak Shack, with numerous classes at various times available, the class is approximately 90 minutes long and costs a reasonable $35. Chrissy and I headed up early and were able to get on our boards for a bonus bit of a paddle around prior to class, eventually meeting up with the group and paddling into an area thick with lily pads in an attempt to keep our boards stationary. It seemed to work for everyone but me, but, it wasn’t a real problem to paddle back into place periodically.

No, the real problem was the strap on my bathing suit which nearly turned SUP yoga into topless SUP yoga. Repeatedly fixing that was far more distracting than a gaggle of girls. The other distraction was the sky – it was just beautiful, streaked with pink and yellow as the sun slowly returned to the horizon. This was what I had always hoped for when doing yoga outdoors, yet consistently found elusive.

The scenery alone made the experience gratifying, but the workout was also satisfying. Rhiana took into account the different levels of experience and athleticism and led our group through a class which was differentiated and challenging. I’d definitely take this class again – Scout’s honor.

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Filed under beauty, Exercise, friends, ideas, Local, Recommendations, Saratoga, Summer, upstate New York, yoga

PB Boulangerie

When you think of beach food, French pastry probably doesn’t usually come to mind. While I certainly love fried scallops, chowder and s’mores, sometimes I want something a little more refined. For those instances, PB Boulangerie fits the bill perfectly.

Croissant and pain au chocolate

Croissant and pain au chocolate

I’ve been interested in getting to this spot for a good number of years, however, the queue has always put me off. This year, though, the gods conspired (Quinn got up early, we needed to take a quick run out to Provincetown and there was a severe weather warning which limited traffic) and we found ourselves there before 8:00 a.m., meaning the line was manageable. While Quinn and Jeter rode the storm out in the car, windows open natch, I took in the selection and settled on 4 croissants, 2 almond croissants, 2 pain au chocolate and 2 jars of apricot jam. Total price: $46.00.

Without exception, everything I tasted was outstanding. The almond croissant (my favorite!) was terrific – flaky, buttery and deliciously almond-y. It was big and I struggled to eat the entire thing, but, you know me, I’m a trooper and managed it just fine. The pain au chocolate was beautifully punctuated with small chunks of chocolate and the traditional croissant was everything a croissant should be.

The jam has been a revelation. Apparently the chef/owner’s mother, Pascaline, visits periodically to make and jar her special preserves and she has a deft hand with the 4 ingredients included – apricots, lavender, vanilla and sugar. So simple, so delectable.

I’m already thinking about sampling the Croque Monsieur I saw on display, as well as expanding my jam collection. PB Boulangerie is the real deal.

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Filed under breakfast, Cape Cod, Eating, Food, Recommendations, Summer, vacation

Whassup, Cape Cod!

Since I first became infatuated with Stand Up Paddleboarding (SUP) last year, I’ve sought out opportunities to indulge my urge to be on the water paddling to my heart’s content. In July I had a great time in my hometown with friends tooling around the lake on a windy afternoon in kayaks and on board. This month I got on board in Cape Cod and experienced entirely new conditions and scenery. Let me tell you about it…

imageOn Friday I picked up two paddle boards (along with leashes, paddles and a life vest) from Jack’s. Although they originally couldn’t commit to renting them to me for three days due to scheduling conflicts, ultimately they extended my one-day rental into a three-day at a cost of $127 per board total. We spent two days paddling around at the beach at the end of our road on Lieutenant’s Island. At high tide the tidal marsh fills in and it was quite an adventure to paddle through the tall grasses spying on birds and taking random turns going deeper into the marsh.

On the third day, we put in at the bridge down the road a bit. Again, the tide was high and we actually launched from the side of the road a few hundred yards before the bridge. As Quinn and a gang of other kids jumped from the bridge, we paddled to join him. Going under the bridge took some attention, but the allure of the bay made it a worthwhile effort and we enjoyed the peace of the open water. We headed towards “our” beach but turned around as I had a moment of feeling the need to check in with my jumper.

Assured that all was fine, we again went under the bridge (easier the second time around) and explored the salt marsh taking advantage of the unique view of the island. Aloysius and I then went our separate ways, he heading back towards the car and me ducking under that bridge one last time to take the long paddle to the beach.

imageI love the independence of being out on the water, pacing myself and feeling the sun on my shoulders and the salt air in my face. If you haven’t already, try it. Stand up paddle boarding – it is what’s up!

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Filed under Aloysius, Cape Cod, Exercise, Recommendations, Summer, vacation