Friday, December 19, 2014

Former Hot Dog Heaven venue for sale

Inside the operation.
ALBANY -- Back on November 26, I posted an announcement from Facebook concerning the imminent closing of Hot Dog Heaven.

At the time, no mention was made of keeping the business alive. Now, as it turns out, there is that possibility, just with a different owner.

An online ad lists 216 Lark Street this way:

"Great turn key operation on busy Lark Street. Runs great breakfast lunch and dinner. Owner retiring due to health. Everything needed to run a restaurant already installed. ... Please contact me at 518-928-3737 for more information and viewing."

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Boxing Day dinner planned for The Wishing Well

In the main dining room.
GANSEVOORT -- In the old English holiday tradition, The Wishing Well is planning a Boxing Day dinner to mark the traditional day-after-Christmas festivities.

Reservations for the three-course dinner, scheduled for 4 to 9 p.m. at the 745 Saratoga Road location, are $25. They may be made at the restaurant, or by calling 584-764. Pianist Mike Purcell will be on hand to provide background music.

As so often the case with ancient traditions, the origins are a bit murky. According to Wikipedia,
"The exact etymology of the term 'boxing day' is unclear. There are several competing theories, none of which is definitive.

"The European tradition, which has long included giving money and other gifts to those who were needy and in service positions, has been dated to the Middle Ages, but the exact origin is unknown. It is believed to be in reference to the Alms Box placed in places of worship to collect donations to the poor. Also, it may come from a custom in the late Roman/early Christian era, wherein metal boxes placed outside churches were used to collect special offerings tied to the Feast of Saint Stephen, which in the Western Church falls on the same day as Boxing Day.

"In Britain, it was a custom for tradespeople to collect 'Christmas boxes' of money or presents on the first weekday after Christmas as thanks for good service throughout the year.This is mentioned in Samuel Pepys' diary entry for 19 December 1663. This custom is linked to an older English tradition: since they would have to wait on their masters on Christmas Day, the servants of the wealthy were allowed the next day to visit their families. The employers would give each servant a box to take home containing gifts and bonuses, and maybe sometimes leftover food."

The menu for the Saratoga County version of the celebration:

First Course
  • Pickled herring in cream
  • Smoked salmon spread, capers, rye toast
  • White onion and cider soup
  • Beet and cabbage cole slaw
Second Course
  • Roast sliced Angus sirloin, mushroom jus, horseradish sauce, Yorkshire pudding
  • Poached Scottish salmon, peas and mint
  • Slow braised lamb shank
  • Baked ham, dry mustard sauce, pickled onions
Third Course
  • Traditional English trifle
  • Mincemeat bread pudding
  • Hot toddy creme brulee

Checking my posts on multi-platform possibilities

It was six years ago this month that I joined the array of writers reporting for the Examiner.com, which then was in the process of becoming a national news service.

The company offers news and features on a wide variety of topics, from breaking news to food and drink to technology to travel to politics to entertainment ... and on and on.

When I became a contributor -- I am a charter writer for two main topics, Upstate New York Restaurants and New York State Wine -- it was just as the company was expanding from a San Francisco-centric one to a national platform in nearly 300 communities.

Much of what I publish on Examiner.com I concurrently publish on this blog and several others I write. But, it occurs to me you may want to read about my topics when they touch on communities elsewhere in New York State and are published only on Examiner.com or one of my numerous other sites.

Here are a few other sites you can access for my postings:

Upstate New York Restaurant Examiner
New York State Wine Examiner
Dowd On Drinks
Dowd's Tasting Notes
Capital Region Brew Trail
Capital Region Food & Drink Events

Peck's Arcade the latest revival for Downtown Troy couple

One of the vintage Peck's post cards.
TROY -- The Tavern is not coming back to town. However, Peck's Arcade is.

That is the name of the latest downtown commercial restoration project by the husband-wife team of Vic Christopher and Heather LaVine, the people behind the Lucas Confectionery & Wine Bar and The Grocery, a title just announced Wednesday.

The Tavern operated at the 217 Broadway site for about 60 years, until the 1990s. However, well before that a department store called Peck's Arcade did business there from 1883.  That title, and finding vintage post cards advertising the store, prompted the couple to revive that name for their veggie-heavy casual restaurant in the building they have fully restored.

Peck's Arcade, which is connected to hallways and a courtyard serving both their other businesses, will offer small plate dishes from Wednesday through Saturday, beginning next month. However, curious potential customers will be able to get a preview of the venue before the scheduled January 7 opening. That will be tonight, when Tavern Noodle, a pop-up noodle eatery that made its first appearance during the recent Victorian Stroll, will return at 5 p.m. and serve until food runs out. Nick Ruscitto is the head chef. You can see the pop-up menu here.

The latest look.
The building at 207-217 Broadway just off Monument Square, which Christopher and LaVine purchased in March 2013, extends for 10,900 square feet over four floors. The ground floor will be used for dining and bars in a rustic-industrial atmosphere. One of the adornments is the neon dining room sign that came from Spiak's, the recently-closed Watervliet restaurant icon.

The commercial history of the building actually predates Peck's Arcade.  It began as a boarding house, called Clark House, built in 1876. It had numerous small lodging rooms but only one bathroom. By 1894, it housed a collection of industrial, manufacturing and retail tenants, including Peck's Arcade on the ground floor.

Publicly, at least, opting for the Peck's Arcade name rather than reviving The Tavern name was a change of pace. There has been a Facebook page for The Tavern since the reconstruction project began, and that name has been the only public working title until this announcement. The Peck's Arcade page on Facebook was launched just two weeks ago. 


Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Have you checked our events calendar today?

Are you looking for information on holiday fetes, cooking classes, wine dinners, beer dinners, restaurant weeks, specialty food events, grand opening festivities, tasting events ... in fact, anything going on with the local food and beverage scene?

The Capital Region Food & Drink Events Calendar is arguably the most thorough and linked compilation of events involving, well, food and drink.

If you're not already in the habit of checking it out on a daily basis, it might be helpful to acquire the habit so you're always fully informed on upcoming events of all sorts.

And, if you're part of a business or organization putting together an event, don't forget to let us know well in advance so we can publicize it.

Cheers!

Today's ride on the Capital Region foodie-go-round


EXPANDING

Starbucks is telling industry analysts it plans to install a major focus on food. The company has pledged to double its domestic revenue from food to more than $4 billion over the next five years. Tactics will include the use of its acquired La Boulange brand to support more breakfast offerings, and a Starbucks Evening platform, with beer, wine and snacks for a later crowd.

• The Umana Restaurant & Wine Bar is adding Ethiopian dishes to its eclectic menu that already features Afro-Caribbean and international fare (Thai-style calamari, Indian corn fritters, samosa trio, goat satay, southern fried chicken, etc.). Owner Dale Davidson says the expansion will debut in January. The restaurant is located at 236 Washington Avenue, Albany. Hours:5:30 to 10:30 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday. 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday brunch. Phone: 915-1699.

CELEBRATING

• The annual celebration of Hanukkah (or Chanuka, or however you like to spell it) began yesterday. On Saturday, as part of its celebration, the Schmaltz Brewery will hold a special Hanukkah night at its facility at 6 Fairchild Square in Clifton Park  (phone: 495-0772) which opened in May. You can check for the details on the brewery's website.


Tip board meeting in Albany today

ALBANY -- The ultra-controversial matter of wages for tipped workers may be resolved here today. Then again, it may not.

After holding hearings in four different locations around the state, the governmental board tasked with making recommendations on increasing or not increasing New York's base wage for tipped employees is meeting this afternoon to further discuss the matter.

The state-appointed board will meet at 2:30 p.m. at the Harriman State Office Campus. The three board members are Heather Briccetti, president and CEO of the Business Council of New York State; Peter Ward, president of the New York Hotel Trade Council, and, Timothy Grippen, retired Broome County Executive.

Both ad hoc and organized labor groups have been demonstrating and lobbying to raise the $5 hourly rate for tipped workers to $8 or more.

Many in hospitality and restaurant industry, where the majority of such workers are employed, oppose any increase because, they say, it would lead to layoffs or reduced hours, or to price increases to consumers, or some of both.

Many people opposed to an increase point out that tipped workers have the luxury of voluntarily reporting the level of their tips on state and federal income tax forms, a situation with obvious potential for underreporting, and that many of the jobs are so low-skilled they do not warrant higher base pay typically paid to workers with more training, experience and skills for more difficult jobs.

Employees who earn tips last received an increase in 2011, when the base pay was raised from $4.65 to $5 an hour.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Study: Underage binge drinking lowest since 1975

Screen shot 2014-12-16 at 6.18.13 PMWASHINGTON — The major federal study of youth behavior released today reported that underage drinking and binge drinking are at their lowest levels since the study’s inception in 1975, according to the Distilled Spirits Council of the U.S. (DISCUS).

The "2014 Monitoring the Future Survey," jointly released by the National Institute on Drug Abuse and the University of Michigan, noted that alcohol consumption rates among 8th, 10th and 12th graders have continued their long-term decline, once again hitting record lows in 2014.

In announcing the results, the University of Michigan press release stated: “Of perhaps greater importance, the proportion of teens who report ‘binge drinking’ ... fell significantly again this year to 12% for the three grades combined.”

The press release also highlighted the fact that “Peer disapproval of binge drinking has been rising since 2000 among teens. Declines in availability may be another contributing factor to the drops in teen drinking. In recent years, there has been a fair decline in all three grades in the proportion saying that alcohol is easy for them to get.”

“This is excellent news and underscores the effectiveness of public-private partnerships in producing real programs that have produced significant, tangible and historic results. This is a societal problem that is trending in the right direction and it should be recognized,” said former college president Peter Cressy, president of the Distilled Spirits Council. “Key to this success is educating parents and other adults about the seriousness of providing alcohol to teens.”

According to the 2014 survey results, eighth, tenth and twelfth graders reported past month alcohol consumption rates of 9, 23.5 and 37.4%, respectively, compared to 10.2, 25.7 and 39.2% last year. The survey also showed that eighth, tenth and twelfth graders reported binge drinking rates (five or more drinks in a row in the last two weeks) of 4.1, 12.6 and 19.4%, respectively, compared to 5.1, 13.7 and 22.1% in 2013.

Cressy noted that the spirits industry has been a part of this progress through the programs of the Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility and its support of other educational programs, including the Federal Trade Commission’s “We Don’t Serve Teens” program, which provides parents with tools to talk to their children about alcohol.

Conducted by the University of Michigan and funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, Monitoring the Future has tracked substance abuse among American high school students since 1975. In 2014, the study surveyed more than 41,000 students from 377 public and private schools throughout the United States.

Epicurean cartoonery


Have you checked our calendar today?

Are you looking for information on holiday fetes, cooking classes, wine dinners, beer dinners, restaurant weeks, specialty food events, grand opening festivities, tasting events ... in fact, anything going on with the local food and beverage scene?

The Capital Region Food & Drink Events Calendar is arguably the most thorough and linked compilation of events involving, well, food and drink.

If you're not already in the habit of checking it out on a daily basis, it might be helpful to acquire the habit so you're always fully informed on upcoming events of all sorts.

And, if you're part of a business or organization putting together an event, don't forget to let us know well in advance so we can publicize it.

Cheers!