Wednesday, October 29, 2014

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


• Amazon Local, which I've touted before as a way to get a wide variety of discounts, is offering a double-your-money offer for Maggie's Cafe, located at 1186 Central Avenue in Albany. Here's the deal: Pay $10, get $20 in credit to spend at Maggie's. Although the limit is one voucher per purchaser, it really is two since you can purchase a gift voucher as well. Alcohol is not discounted more than 50%. You can get all the details online.

• Two of Daniel Darves' restaurants have an interesting offering. His Provence restaurant in Guilderland's Stuyvesant Plaza and Milano at Newton Plaza on Route 9 in Latham have a 20% Halloween discount this Friday. Each is offering the discount on dine-in and takeout orders from 5 to 10:30 p.m. this Friday. Phones: 783-3334 for Milano, and 689-7777 for Provence.


• The iconic Oscar Mayer Weinermobile is in the area, helping the Meals on Wheels program of Senior Services of Albany deliver meals and collect personal care items. If you want to get a peek at the vehicle and do some good at the same time, you can bring new personal care items as a donation from noon to 4 p.m. at the ShopRite supermarket at 709 Central Avenue in Albany. While supplies last. donors will receive Glow-in-the Dark Wiener Whistles and honorary Hotdogger nametags.

Special Halloween+ menu at Carmen's Cafe

TROY -- Ross Tuskey, acting as guest chef at Carmen's Cafe, has a special menu planned for Halloween and the ensuing weekend.

Tuskey, who normally prepares food at Carmen's on music nights, has lined up these 9 p.m. Thursday specials:

• Braised oxtail with fontina grits, apple gastrique, fried leeks and cilantro.
• Butter-poached monk fish medallions with fried green tomatoes, pine nut couscous, pink lemon pearls and white wine syrup.
• Smoked baby pork loin with whipped plantains with coconut, butternut squash hay, pineapple rosemary demi.
• Grilled halibut with jicama slaw or yucca fries, pea puree, chorizo cream.

Carmen's Cafe is located at 198 1st Street. Phone: 326-2064.

New York named world's 'Wine Region of the Year'

Products from New York State's always-expanding wine industry get plenty of notice when it comes to competition judging, but now the state as a whole has been honored.

Wine Enthusiast, perhaps the most prestigious English-language wine magazine, on Tuesday announced that New York "Wine Region of the Year." The award that goes along with that decision will be presented at the Wine Star Awards gala on  January 26 in the New York Public Library's Celeste Ballroom.

The other nominees for the "Wine Region of the Year" title were Champagne, France; Chianti Classico, Italy; Sonoma Coast, California; and Red Mountain, Washington.

Adam Strum, the magazine's publisher and editor, said, "The New York wine industry has made a remarkable comeback in the past 30 years in terms of quality of wines, number of wineries, and economic impact ... making New York one of the most vibrant and promising wine regions of the world."

"We are delighted and honored that the New York wine industry is receiving this prestigious recognition, especially given the competition for such a coveted award," said Jim Trezise, president of the New York Wine & Grape Foundation (NYWGF) which represents grape growers and wineries statewide.  "This award literally belongs to hundreds of people who have worked together on many fronts to improve the quality of our grapes and wines, grow our industry, and market the products.  We're the 30-year overnight success."

By the NYWGF's count, the state now has more than 375 wineries spread throughout 56 of the state's 62 counties. The industry generates annual economic benefits to the state of more than $4.8 billion, and the various wine regions have become major tourist destinations, attracting more than 5.3 million tourist visits to predominantly rural regions and more than $400 million in wine-related tourism expenditures.

In the past four years, 28 new wineries, 100 new farm wineries, and 29 new farm winery branch offices have opened throughout the state.

"A major reason for that explosive growth is a newly business-friendly State Liquor Authority," says Trezise, "which under the leadership of chairman Dennis Rosen has significantly reduced the amount of time required to obtain a license," he added, going on to cite a number of other state agencies that have stepped up their efforts to support the industry.

In the magazine's "Winery of the Year" category, Long Island's Channing Daughters Winery was nominated, as was Hudson  Whiskey of the Hudson Valley in the spirits category.  The winners in those categories will be announced later.

Schneider Weisse beer tasting at The Ruck

swTROY -- Ever been involved in a Schneider Weisse guided tasting? You can be if you visit The Ruck at 7 p.m. Thursday, November 13.

Ruck Beer Director Nick Nuzzolilo and a representative of the high-profile German wheat brewer will lead the tasting through a lineup of specialty beers, including Hefeweisse, Hopfenweisse, Aventinus, Barrique, and the rare Distilled Aventinus.

The tasting will be held in the newly-renovated upstairs event room.

The Ruck beer bar, owned by Dave Gardell, is located at 104 Third Street, between Congress and Ferry streets. Phone: 273-1872.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Have you checked our calendar today?

The Capital Region Food & Drink Events Calendar is arguably the most thorough and linked compilation of events in the region 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.


Epicurean cartoonery

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


• Taco Bell today launched mobile ordering nationwide. The new service will allow customers to customize their orders, pay in advance and skip the pickup line. The fast-food chain had begun testing the service in February at several California locations. Company President Brian described it as “the biggest innovation since the drive-thru.” Following its successful national introduction of breakfast earlier this year, mobile ordering is expected to be a significant catalyst for growth in the chain’s efforts to double its revenue to $14 billion and add 2,000 locations in the next eight years, Niccol said. The app is available for download online.


•  There's a seafood restaurant/market in development in Albany that apparently is an offshoot of a North Carolina business named NY Supreme Steamers. This one, located at 212 Central Avenue, will be called NY Supreme Steamers II, according to the Times Union. (I suppose that, just for balance, it could have been called North Carolina Supreme Steamers.) In North Carolina, the restaurant/market sells steamed or fried seafood dinners as well as a large variety of fresh fish by the pound. No details yet on an opening date.

• I reported some time ago that the Panda Express chain was coming to the Capital Region. Now, there is concrete proof of that. And wooden proof, plumbing proof, etc. In other words, construction is under way at 545 Troy-Schenectady Road, just west of the Latham Circle. That site once housed a Legacy bank branch, but had been vacant for about 18 months. The California chain has about 1,700 U.S. locations. This one will include a drive-through window. Incidentally, the chain's only Upstate New York location is on the University of Rochester campus. Go here to take a look at the PE menu.


• Its new owners promised to reopen Morrette's King Steak House after Labor Day. Well, here it is, four days before the beginning of November, but better late than never -- as one could see by the line of customers waiting to get in when Morrette's swung open its doors today. The restaurant landmark, located at 1126 Erie Boulevard in Schenectady. closed in May after a 67-year run, but quickly was purchased by Frank and Kathleen Martin of Scotia from Micah Pasquariello. Since then, they have freshened the interior and slightly reworked the menu.


• The final day for the NOSH NY is drawing near. The two-year-old Westmere deli's lease was bought out when the 1645 Western Avenue parcel near Crossgates Mall in Guilderland was purchased by Pyramid Cos., which owns Crossgates. Thus, NOSH will close after business hours this Thursday. Too bad, considering it received uniformly good reviews and there is a dearth of good Jewish-style delis in the Capital Region.

Grand opening set for second Uncle Sam's candy shop

LATHAM -- Uncle Sam’s All American Chocolate Factory will hold a grand opening ceremony at its new Newton Plaza location this Thursday.

The event, set for 2 to 4 p.m., will include a ribbon cutting, and guests will receive free treats and access to a chocolate dipping exhibit.

Uncle Sam's was founded in Schenectady in 1930 by Samuel Ashley, and reopened, after a short closure, at 2571 Albany Street in 1993 by Joe Suhrada.

Uncle Sam’s offers more than 2,000 chocolate molded items, more than 200 types of hand-dipped chocolates, each flavor of Jelly Belly jelly beans and Peanut Principal products. Recently, Suhrada acquired the recipes and rights to the Chocolate Gecko (formerly of Colvin Avenue in Albany) and will be featuring those products in the new Newton Plaza shop.

Newton Plaza is located on Route 9. Store hours: 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday-Saturday, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday.

'Wreath Fineries at the Wineries' set for 3-weekend run

Screen shot 2014-10-28 at 5.16.11 PMThe Shawangunk Wine Trail, the largest of its kind in the Hudson Valley, again will hold a promotional event called "Wreath Fineries at the Wineries."

The self-guided tour is set for the weekends of November 22-23, December 6-7 and 13-14 at the 14 member wineries. All the wineries will be decked out in seasonal trimmings.

At whichever winery visitors select as their starting point, a souvenir wine tasting glass and a handmade grapevine wreath will be given to each paying person. An ornament to add to the wreath will be given out at each successive winery. Tickets are now available online at a variety of prices, and a 15% discount is in force for tickets purchased before this Friday.

The Shawangunk Wine Trail member wineries are:

• Adair Vineyards
• Applewood Winery
• Baldwin Vineyards
• Benmarl Winery
• Brimstone Hill Vineyard
• Brotherhood
• Clearview Vineyard
• Demarest Hill Winery & Distillery
• Glorie Farm Winery
• Palaia Vineyards & Winery
• Robibero Winery
• Stoutridge Vineyard
• Warwick Valley Winery & Distillery
• Whitecliff Vineyard

Quaker Steak & Lube suing franchise holders

You may have read my earlier post on the possibility of the Quaker Steak & Lube restaurant chain coming to the Capital Region.

Well, here's the latest news on how things are going with the Pennsylvania-based chain.

QS&L is suing a number of its franchisees claiming, among other things, unpaid royalties and failure to grow their businesses as fast as they had promised. The defendants are due to file answers by November 12. Given the legal circumstances, it is doubtful any plans for a QS&L here will be advancing anytime soon.

The motor-sports themed chain also is claiming trademark infringement, unjust enrichment, breach of contract, and misappropriation of trade secrets.

Among the franchisees it is suing are QSL-Northeast of Syracuse, which has the rights to operate restaurants in Upstate New York and New England, and Blue Sky Development of Syracuse, an affiliate of QSL-Northeast which has franchise rights in the five western states.