Sunday, February 26, 2017

Wolff's Biergarten gets a surprise visitor at Troy location

Apparently a motorist was confused upon hearing a new drive-in restaurant had opened "just over the bridge" in Troy.

The problem is that the new restaurant is a Sonic Drive-In, and the location is in a shopping complex just east of the Collar City Bridge. What we see here is a Wolff's Biergarten, just east of the Green Island Bridge about six long blocks from Sonic. And, it does not offer drive-in service.

The impromptu "visit" occurred around 3:30 on Saturday afternoon. Luckily, no one was injured, despite how scary these photos by owner Matt Baumgartner appear.

Baumgartner at least had an upbeat take on the accident, commenting on Facebook, "Apparently our patio is so beautiful that people get distracted and drive right into it!"

Other, undamaged Wolff's locations are in Albany, Schenectady, and Syracuse.

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Saturday, February 25, 2017

Event to share the long and short -- and stout -- of tea

There is oh-so-much more to tea than simply dunking a bag in a mug of hot water. "Discover Tea and Tea Tasting," to be hosted by the Voorheesville Public Library, will expand on that.

The event, scheduled for 7 to 8 p.m. Wednesday, March 8, will feature a "tea ambassador" from the Short and Stout Tea Company for a discussion on what tea is, its history, and how it is brewed. And, of course, there will be tea tasting.

As the event organizers ask, "Did you know that white, green, oolong and black tea all come from the same tea plant? Find out what happens after the leaves are plucked that makes all the difference."

Reservations for the event are requested. The Voorheesville Public Library is located at 51 School Road. Phone: (518) 765-2791. The Short and Stout tea lounge and bubble tea bar is located at 1736 Western Avenue in Guilderland. Phone: (518) 456-8327.
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Finnbar's Pub 'punked' on Facebook, but still going strong

Finnbar's main entrance
A presently unknown person -- one hopes he or she will be found out -- apparently created a phony Facebook page that declared Finnbar's Pub in Troy was permanently closed.

Proprietor Sean Patrick Costello, who owns Finnbar's with wife Megan, explains that although the problem has been rectified by a Facebook staffer, "in the last few weeks [we] have had to countlessly correct customers that came in and were worried their favorite spot was closed. Not true. ... not true ... not true. The Pub is not going anywhere. All your favorite scratch cooked favorites, wings, burgers, and award winning fish and chips are here to stay."

Finnbar's, which opened in July 2012 as successor to the long-running Holmes & Watson pub, is located downtown at 452 Broadway, next to the main U.S. Post Office. Hours: Monday-Thursday noon to 11 p.m., Friday-Saturday noon to midnight. Phone: (518) 326-3994. You can access its real Facebook page here, or go to its website here.

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Hazlitt's ice wine wins 'best of show' in California test

The "Best in Show"
The Northeast's current warm spell may be conducive to thinking "ice wine." That certainly is the case at the Hazlitt 1852 Vineyards.

The Schuyler County company's, 2014 Vidal Ice Wine just took "Best of Show" honors at the International Eastern Wine Competition/East Meets West in Sonoma, CA.

En route to that accolade, the wine won Double Gold (unanimous vote of the tasting panel), "Best of Class," and "Best Dessert Wine" awards.

Earlier awards for the same wine, bottled in September 2014, include Double Gold in the New York State Fair Commercial Wine Competition; "Best of Show," "Best Late Harvest/Dessert Wine," "Best of Class" and Double Gold in the International Eastern test. It retails for $45 for the 375ml bottle.

In addition, Hazlitt's Schooner White earned Double Gold, and its 2014 Homestead Riesling, 2014 Sauvignon Blanc, White Cat, and Light Port. each won a Gold medal.
Other major New York State entries: winners: Black Willow 2015 Diamond (Gold and Best of Class) and 2015 Trilogy Red (Gold); plus, Golds for Chateau Lafayette Reneau's 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon Owner's Reserve; Torrey Ridge's 2015 Baco Noir; Glenora's 2015 Vidal Ice Wine, 2015 Pinot Blanc, and 2015 Chardonnay; Hosmer 's2015 Pinot Gris; Lamoreaux Landing's 2015 Estate Riesling Round Rock Vineyard (Double Gold and Best of Class); Liberty Vineyards' Fredonia; Penguin Bay's 2015 Dry Riesling, 2012 Cabernet Franc Reserve, and 2015 Riesling; Swedish Hill's 2015 Dry Riesling, and 2015 Riesling; Thirsty Owl's 2015 Pinot Noir, and 2015 Riesling; Wagner's 2014 Riesling Ice (Double Gold and Best of Class), and 2015 Semi-Dry Riesling; and Whitecliff 's 2013 Petit Verdot.

Go here for the full list of award-winners in all categories.
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Friday, February 24, 2017

Glens Falls plans year-round indoor farmers market site

Conceptual design of market (not for final use)
Glens Falls conceivably could get a permanent spot for a year-round indoor farmers market.

A project called "Market on South Street” that would be constructed at the city's South Street parking lot, also would include space for retail shops, with storefront entrances accessible from the sidewalk. It is part of the city’s $10 million Downtown Revitalization Initiative (DRI) plan that will be submitted Tuesday for state approval.

The single-story building also would have a commercial production kitchen behind the storefronts, and space for an outdoor farmers market component during warmer months, according to Simon Kates, a consultant with BFJ Planning who spoke at a final public hearing Thursday on the overall revitalization project. A parking garage would be built behind the complex.

The city would own the complex and manage it in cooperation with participating organizations, accoring to EDC Warren County President Edward Bartholomew, administrator of the DRI grant. 

The farmers market idea is among a dozen or so projects the committee has recommended for funding from the DRI grant. Approval must be received by a state review committee and by Governor Andrew Cuomo.
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Washington Tavern's 46th corned beef dinner coming up

Weekly specials, limited-time prix fixe menus, restaurant weeks and the like come and go, but not many local dining traditions last nearly a half-century. That's what makes an upcoming event at The Washington Tavern in Albany noteworthy.

On Saturday, March 4, it will host its 46th annual "Customer Appreciation Corned Beef and Cabbage Day." Michael and Patricia Byron opened The Washington Tavern in 1971 and began this tradition with Pat’s father, Carl Kelley.

As Julie Byron explained today, "Many long hours of hard work and preparation begin with the peeling of carrots and potatoes, the buttering of fresh rye loafs, and the cooking of many pounds of corned beef and cabbage. It is a day of reflection, good food, live music and most of all, gratitude."

On this day, it is custom that Mike works behind while Pat prepares the dinner. Their three daughters and grandchildren working alongside Pat and chef Shawn Favaro in the kitchen for the day.

Irish music will be provided by Marty Brandon. Lunch service will begin at noon, but the regular menu will not be available until dinner at 6 p.m.

The Washingtion Tavern is located at 250 Western Avenue, Albany. Reservations: 427-0091.
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Tonico, an offbeat endeavor, popping up tonight in Troy

The first public look at a new Troy food and drink vendor is here. A pop-up version of Tonico will debut from 6 to 9 tonight at the Superior Merchandise Co. coffee shop, 147 4th Street, during the "Troy Night Out" event.

Tonico is described as an an in-development "cafe and tonic bar" offering "New Folk food prepared using local and wild ingredients, natural materials and the slow, traditional techniques of our foremothers and grandpappys."

The cafe will offer such drinks as kombucha, fizzy elixirs, bitters and soda and reishi oat milk. The explanation  of the latter item will, I think, go a long way to explaining the vibe of the new business: "Reishi + Oat Mylk made with activated organic oats, NY maple syrup, vanilla and wild reishi double extract. Topped with mesquite powder and your very own maple cloud spun locally from pure maple sugar."

Tonico, targeted for a spring opening, will be located at 40 River Street, the former location of Capital Roots. Its Facebook page has a lot of additional information on its edibles, drinkables, self-care items, and so on.

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Thursday, February 23, 2017

Troy Farmers Market returning to River Street venue

The Troy Waterfront Farmers Market is moving its outdoor home again -- back to its River Street location after a one-year stand at the city's downtown Riverfront Park.

The market currently is operating in its indoor season home at the Troy Atrium on Third Street, where it will remain until the start of the outdoor season on Saturday, May 6. It then will operate on River Street from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. every Saturday throughout the more hospitable months.

The temporary switch to the park in 2016 was necessitated by a city construction project on River Street, which had been the market’s primary outdoor home since 2009. The market was founded in 2000 in the parking lot next to the Hedley Park Place building on River Street, and the winter market was added two years later.

“We are thrilled to return to River Street for the Troy Waterfront Farmers’ Market’s outdoor season this year,” said Liz Hammond, market manager. “This unique location offers our patrons the opportunity to not only enjoy the weekly Farmers’ Market, but also experience the diverse offerings of one of the Capital Region’s most historic and beautiful downtown settings.”
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Dizzy Chicken joining Saratoga Springs dining rotation

Why is the Dizzy Chicken crossing the county line? To get to Saratoga Springs, obviously.

The Glens Falls restaurant that specializes in wood-fired rotisserie chicken -- thus the business name -- has announced it is opening a Saratoga Springs venue, at the 102 Congress Street location that formerly was home to Legends Cafe. A spring debut is planned.

Justin Bartlett
Co-founder Justin Bartlett studied at the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, then earned an MBA from Union Graduate College. While at the CIA, he was running the front of the house at an upscale Mediterranean restaurant in Rhinebeck, where he met executive chef Wilson Costa. They eventually became friends and teamed up to create Dizzy Chicken.

In addition to the expected chicken dishes plus panini and salads,  the menu at the current restaurant -- 72 South Street in Glens Falls -- also offers such items as pulled pork croquettes (pork shoulder, russet potato, garlic, parmesan, smoked paprika, and panko bread crumbs, with a horseradish dipping sauce); a house-smoked pastrami Reuben; dry-rubbed St. Louis ribs, and smoked meat loaf  (pork, beef, parmesan, herbs, and tomato reduction).

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Albany beer shop rebranding, adding Saratoga bar

New Pint Sized location with logo superimposed
Beer lovers in the Capital Region may not be familiar with the name Pint Sized, but that is about to change.

August Rosa today announced he is rebranding Brew, his original 209 Lark Street, Albany, business  with that name even as he prepares to open a second location of Pint Sized, a small craft beer bar and bottle shop, at 489 Broadway in Saratoga Springs.

Rosa is taking advantage of the current Saratoga Craft Beer Week to announced his new venue, targeted for an early spring opening, and he selected the new name to effectively describe the size of the bar.

"Pint Sized is probably going to be the smallest bar in the area presenting guests with a unique and cozy craft beer experience. It’s got to be one of, if not THE, smallest bars in the Capital Region," Rosa says.

It will have 12 beers on tap, available by the glass or growler. There also will be a wide selection of brews to purchase for off-premise consumption. Product will be sold broken up as single units, packaged, or as mix-six packs with a $3 discount. There also will be a small wine list and a rotating menu of light fare foods.

“It’s going to be tight,” Rosa said, “but patrons will experience something truly unique here. The small nature of the space lends itself to creativity. An additional benefit is a constantly rotating fresh inventory and a requirement to make every square foot count. There is no room for sub-par product.”

Rosa also said th original Albany location will add a bar for on-site consumption "down the road."

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Save the date: Wine dinner fundraiser for students of French

Amorici Vineyard, located in the countryside on the border of Washington and Rensselaer counties, is reaching far beyond that region to assist students studying French.

Owner-winemaker Joe Messina will host a wine pairing event for 6:30 p.m. Saturday, April 29. Reservations are $60 per person, limited to 28 seats. Proceeds will go to help support area students studying French as part of an annual program from La Fédération Franco-Américaine du New York.

The buffet dinner menu: a glass of wine, French bread, salad, coq au vin, beef Bourguignon, quiche with seasonal vegetables, haricots verts, scalloped potatoes, fresh fruit for dessert, coffee and tea. Additional wine will be available for purchase.

Reservations may be made by calling Yvette at (518) 272-5061. Checks, payable to FeFANY, should be sent to FeFANY, P.O. Box 354, Cohoes, NY, 12047.
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Soda bread contest adds demonstration of a very Irish sport

Examples of Irish soda breads
Anyone who has seen travel documentaries on Irish village life no doubt has seen examples of a pastime called "road bowling." If you are not among them, you'll be able to see a display of the activity during the 5th annual "Maureen Farrell McCarthy Irish Soda Bread Competition" on Saturday, March 4, at the Irish American Heritage Museum in Albany.

The overall event will run from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the museum's Hogarty Family Exhibit Hall at 370 Broadway. Competitors are required to pay an advance $5 entry fee online.

The competition is the creation of Harold Quarters, a retired chef of Irish-American heritage, and is named in honor of the late Maureen Farrell McCarthy originally of Crookhaven, Ireland, who was a museum trustee and a judge at the inaugural competition. The amateur baking competition involves two categories: traditional white flour Irish soda bread and family, not strictly traditional Irish soda bread.

At noon, the museum will be featuring a demonstration on traditional Irish road bowling, at 1 p.m. Qualters will lead a presentation on the history of Irish soda bread as well as a demonstration on how to make the traditional version, at 1:30 the competitors' breads will be available for tasting, and at 2 o'clock the awards will be presented.

Road bowling -- as shown in the photo below -- dates back to at least the 1600s. Competitors attempt to take the fewest throws to propel a metal ball along a predetermined course of country roads. Wikipedia has information on the rules, equipment and history of the sport.

A road bowler leaves his feet in an effort to propel the ball as far as possible.

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New Capital Center to host latest mac-and-cheese event

Map shows location of the new Capital Center facility.

If last Saturday's Mac & Cheese Bowl that drew about 2,000 people to Siena College wasn't enough, the "Hannaford MAAC-n-Cheese Fest" might fill that craving.

The 2nd annual event that celebrates the return of the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC) men's and women's college basketball championship tournament to the Times Union Center, will be held nearby from 4 to 6:30 p.m. at the new Capital Center in downtown Albany on Friday, March 3.

Tickets, priced from $8 to $10 and covering 10 tastings of any combination of mac-'n'-cheese or craft beer, may be purchased online.

Among food purveyors supplying the samples:
  • Allie B’s Cozy Kitchen
  • Ama Cocina
  • Angelo’s 677 Prime
  • Capitol Melts Grilled Cheese Café
  • Cider Belly Doughnuts
  • The City Beer Hall
  • Dave & Buster’s
  • Druthers Brewing Company
  • The Hollow Bar & Kitchen
  • Parish Public House
  • Public House 42
  • Wellington’s
And, among the craft beer suppliers:
  • Brewery Ommegang
  • Brown’s Brewing Company
  • Ithaca Beer Company
  • Saranac Brewery
A portion of proceeds will benefit the Times Union Hope Fund which serves children in need throughout the Capital Region.

The Albany Capital Center is located at 55 Eagle Street, Parking options include 67 Howard Street, the Renaissance parking garage, or on-street parking.

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Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Queensbury will be latest local venue to get a Chipotle

The Greater Capital Region is getting yet another link in the Chipotle Mexican Grill chain.

A Chipotle will be opened next to the post office in the Northway Plaza on Route 9, according to paperwork filed with the Town of Queensbury. It is expected to be open for business this summer. The news comes close on the heels of last month's announcement that a Chipotle is in the works in North Greenbush.

This is part of a slight expansion by the chain after riding out a health scare in 2015 caused by outbreaks of E.coli at restaurants in some of its markets. In addition to changing some of its suppliers and expanding its advertising to focus on its use of fresh ingredients, the Denver-based company this week announced the introduction of a new digital ordering system it says cut pickup times by 50% in tests.

The Queensbury shopping complex currently is home to two others chains, a Panera Bread cafe and a Texas Roadhouse restaurant. Other Chipotles in the region are located on Western Avenue in Guilderland; on Wolf Road in Colonie; on Wade Road in Latham; on Balltown Road in Niskayun; in the Clifton Park Center, and on Route 509 next to the Wilton Mall.

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Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Gramercy Bistro chowder tops in North Adams Winterfest

Nine restaurants vied for honors in the weekend's North Adams (MA) Winterfest chowder competition, with Gramercy Bistro emerging top-rated by a panel of judges.

Boston Seafood was the favorite in the people's choice voting.

More than 4,000 samples were ladled out by the winners as well as by Bounti-Fare, Grazie, The Hub, Mingos, MCLA Dining Services, North Adams Commons, and Williamstown Commons.

Judges selected Gramercy Bistro for its curry chowder. Grazie and the Hub tied for second place. Gramercy is located at 87 Marshall Street in North Adams. Phone: (413) 663-5300.

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