Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Wineries affected by Napa wildfires will be OK


From Food & Wine magaine
I swear, if I see one more nitwit headline that says 'California’s 2017 Vintage Is Doomed by Smoke,' I’m going to bonk someone over the head with a bottle of Napa Cabernet.

Here’s why. While there’s no question that the wildfires in northern California’s wine regions have filled the air with smoke, that does not mean the 2017 vintage is doomed. Or even particularly damaged. Far from it.

Smoke taint in wine occurs when grapes (or leaves, or vines) absorb smoky compounds and transmit them into the resulting wine. One such case was the 2008 vintage in Mendocino and northern Sonoma, where forest fires in Mendocino cast an eight-day pall of smoke over many vineyards in the area, and as a result many wines suffered from a bitter, ashtray-ish quality (most quality growers whose wines were affected refused to release them). But those fires happened early in the growing season, when grapes were still developing, which is a key difference.
Go here for the full story.

Chain Links

Your connections to the latest news items affecting chains operating in the Greater Capital Region or reported to be looking into locating in the area:

Lessons learned from Ruby Tuesday’s sale 

Pizza Hut: Breach impacted 'small percentage of customers'

Taco Bell, Forever 21 launch joint fashion line

Denny's launches seasonal menu

Blaze Pizza unveils new salad and Agua Fresca beverages

TGI Friday's introduces 30% bigger ribs tomorrow

Openings & Closings & Etc.


• The latest reports on restaurants and food vendor openings, closings and transitions from the Greater Capital Region, as well as occasional entries from the Catskills, Central New York, Southern Vermont and the Berkshires.

DEVELOPING

• Saratoga Springs will be getting a Mexican restaurant where a quintessentially American restaurant did business for decades. Dan and Jennifer Pickett, who purchased 408 Broadway last year, are planning to renovate the building and open a restaurant and banquet space called Cantina in what had been home to Lillian's. It was opened in 1974 by Ray Morris, and was a downtown favorite until its final night of service, New Year's Eve 2015. Lillian’s was named for Lillian Russell, a prominent opera singer who spent summers in Saratoga Springs in the late 1800s.

Marrakesh Moroccan Cuisine is being developed in Clifton Park's Town Plaza, 800 Route 146. Job applications are being accepted at the premises. Cuisine from the North African country has long been popular in many parts of the U.S., but only recently has come to the Capital Region. Most prominent is the independently-owned Tara Kitchen, for example, with locations in Schenectady and Troy.

• Patricia Pendergast Novo, former owner of the Crush & Cask wine shop in Saratoga Springs, is developing Taverna Novo, a casual wine bar at 62 Beekman St. in Saratoga, where the Beekman Bar & Eatery was located until it closed several months ago. She said in a Facebook announcement, "Renovations and my special touches will commence very soon and we won’t be open for a few months most likely, as permits need to be obtained ... wine and beer licenses issued ... the works."
.

Friday, October 13, 2017

Young Racquette River Brewing already in expansion mode

RRB's main entrance. (photo provided)

Mark Jessie and Joe Hockey are busy enclosing their three-year-old Raquette River Brewing facility in Tupper Lake because winter comes early to the Adirondacks.

They are turning their 3,000-square-foot pavilion into a year-round space, with solid walls on the bottom with windows stretching around the large patio area to maintain the expansive atmosphere. Eventually, there will be another bar area to take the pressure off the currently cramped tap station area, Adirondack furniture will replace the picnic tables, and a utility building will be constructed where the Donnie’s Barbecue food truck now sits. It will move across Balsam Street and may be joined by several other food trucks.

Beyond the structural upheaval, the brewing operation will ramp up as well. Beer production will be more than doubled via a new 10-barrel steam brewing system that will replace the current four-barrel electric brewing system. Overall quite a dramatic change in a young business that began as a modest two-barrel system.

“We knew we would have to expand, but we never thought that things would happen as quickly as they have,” Jessie told the Adirondack Enterprise. (Go here for a detailed story by the Enterprise.)
• Go here to visit the Capital Region Brew Trail
• Go here to visit Dowd's New York Wines Notebook

LongHorn Steakhouse chain coming to Capital Region

A typical LongHorn Steakhouse design. (photo provided)
The busy Wolf Road commercial strip in Colonie will be getting yet another restaurant as part of a development project that will include an adjacent four-story hotel.

The LongHorn Steakhouse chain that is part of the Darden group of eight casual-dining restaurants (including Olive Garden in this market; it sold off its Red Lobster line in 2014) will be located next to a Hyatt House extended-stay hotel at 144 Wolf Road. Like Longhorn, Hyatt will be a new brand to the region.

The first LongHorn was opened in Atlanta in 1981 as LongHorn Steaks. It became LongHorn Steakhouse in 1996, by which time it had more than 100 locations. Today, it has grown to more than 480 locations.

The Colonie location will have plenty competition in its niche. On or near Wolf Road there already are the Barnsider, one of the oldest steakhouses in the area, Delmonico's Italian Steakhouse,  Outback, Texas Roadhouse, and others.
• Go here to visit the Capital Region Brew Trail
• Go here to visit Dowd's New York Wines Notebook

Odgen's Martini Menu, a pleasant blast from the past

The original Ogden's at Howard and Lodge streets in Albany.
Restaurants that last more than a decade increasingly are a rarity in the Capital Region. True, we still have the obvious long-term icons such as Jack's Oyster House in downtown Albany and Manory's in downtown Troy, for example, both established in 1913, but others of that ilk are rare.

One of the already-established Albany restaurants I began frequenting in the 1970s and regularly patronized until it closed in 2002 was Ogden's. Housed in a onetime electric company office building, it was a very popular spot for intense business lunches, luscious upscale dinners, and had a great little bar just steps inside the entrance located at the top of a set of steps on a corner of Lodge and Howard streets, now home to the decidedly downscale City Beer Hall.

(The venue reopened under different ownership as Daniel's at Ogden's about a year after the original Ogden's closed, but that was a short-lived effort that paled in comparison to the original).

I was reminded of the old Ogden's the other day when my better half was thumbing through a cookbook and found a copy of "Ogden's Martini Menu" tucked between some pages. It was an eye-opener because the 16 possibilities it contains were imaginative without being too gimmicky like so many modern cocktail menus. Many of the drinks utilized various brands of gin, the original base of the martini compared to today's American preference for vodka.

It also brought back memories of dropping in early for a pre-dinner martini and finding several waitstaff members helping the bartender stuff olives with bleu cheese. They were for an elegant but simple martini called the Parisian made with Belvedere or Beefeaters gin. Substituting a black olive stuffed with a pearl onion turned it into a Black Pearl.

There were a number of what then were considered modern or exotic drinks. Among them:
• The Chocolatini -- Grey Goose vodka or Bombay Sapphire gin with a dash of Godiva Liqueur and Creme DeCacao and a sugar rim.

• Skyy Blue -- Skyy vodka or Bombay Sapphire, Blue Curacao, dash of fresh orange juice, garnished with an orange slice.

• Cosmopolitan -- Absolut Citron, Absolut Kurant, Cointreau, fresh lime juice, cranberry juice, orange twist.
Scroll down for the recipes for all 16 of the martinis on the menu.


• Go here to visit the Capital Region Brew Trail
• Go here to visit Dowd's New York Wines Notebook

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Iconic Saranac Lake restaurant being renovated, expanded

Workers making way for new addition. (photos provided)
Dr. Calli Shelton and Randy Coles, partners in a company called Chicota Inc., are in the process of renovating and expanding a downtown Saranac Lake landmark.

They have applied for a $198,972 grant from the state's economic development arm to help with their $2.2 million project, now in progress, that would bring back the former Dew Drop Inn building at 27 Broadway, on the Saranac River.

Their plans include a restaurant and bar, a cooking school, and an event space as well as a pair of short-stay upstairs apartments in the project. To add to the ambiance, the village has plans to reroute its River Walk alongside the new restaurant’s dining patio.

The state is expected to make public in December a list of projects it will assist from among 17 requests submitted from a variety of business entities in Clinton, Essex, Hamilton, St. Lawrence, Lewis, and Jefferson counties. The Dew Drop Inn revitalization is one of four from that list named a “priority project” by the North Country Regional Economic Council, a step seen as improving its chances for state assistance.

The rear of the building along the river.

• Go here to visit the Capital Region Brew Trail
• Go here to visit Dowd's New York Wines Notebook

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Arby's introducing venison sandwich -- to everyone, this time

It's baaack!
The Arby's brand last year became the first national quick-service chain to offer game meat, but it was an extremely limited experiment at just 17 of the company's 3,200 locations.

Now, it has announced it will bring back the New Zealand venison sandwich for a limited time on Saturday, October 21, but this time at all its domestic locations.

The sandwich is comprised of marinated deer meat, juniper-infused Cabernet steak sauce, and fried onions on a toasted specialty roll, priced at $7, which is $2 higher than last year.

Arby's also is introducing an elk sandwich on the same day, but at just three locations, one each in the Denver suburb of Thornton, in Casper, WY, and Billings, MT.

"The positive response to our limited offering of venison last year was so widespread and passionate that we knew we had to find a way to offer it nationwide,” Jim Taylor, Arby's chief marketing officer, said in a press release.
• Go here to visit the Capital Region Brew Trail
• Go here to visit Dowd's New York Wines Notebook

Openings & Closings & Etc.


• The latest reports on restaurants and food vendor openings, closings and transitions from the Greater Capital Region, as well as occasional entries from the Catskills, Central New York, Southern Vermont and the Berkshires.

OPENING

• What once was Table 19 has been succeeded by Neal's Restaurant on Route 106 in Proctorsville, VT, located roughly midway between Brattleboro and Killington. It currently is in soft opening mode, according to owners Neal Baron and Elizabeth Leninski. Neal's serves American pub fare such as pulledm pork, mac and cheese, frfied chicken, slow-cooked brisket -- with New England touches such as lobster rolls and buttermilk sea scallops. Many of the ingredients are locally sourced. The executive chef is Christopher Vincent.

DEVELOPING

• Aneesa Waheed and Muntasim Shoaib, who own Tara Kitchen locations in Schenectady and Troy, are expanding again, but this time with something a little different. Waheed today announced the development of a Moroccan spa called Tara Hammam that will offer a tapas and champagne bar called Lotus in its lobby. The venue is in the renovated Foster Building complex at State and Lafayette in Schenectady. An opening is projected for the second quarter of 2018.

• Go here to visit the Capital Region Brew Trail
• Go here to visit Dowd's New York Wines Notebook

Chain Links

Your connections to the latest news items affecting chains operating in the Greater Capital Region or reported to be looking into locating in the area:

Pizza Hut's new 'Oven Hot Delivery System' is Space Age

Pizza Hut is now using the same material as space blankets, winter jackets, and home insulation to keep pizzas up to 15 degrees hotter than existing boxes during the delivery process.
The brand’s new delivery system contains a pouch made with 3M Thinsulate Insulation thermal technology and a pizza box with crisp sheet inserts.Pizza Hut spent more than two years looking at the entire delivery ecosystem, from the box to the pouch to delivery dispatch at the restaurant. (Click here for more.)

16 Handles partners with Duff Goldman on new flavor

16 Handles has partnered with Food Network personality Duff Goldman to create a limited edition frozen yogurt flavor, Duff’s Chocolate Chip Cake. For a limited time, the frozen yogurt chain also is bringing back its “17th handle,” allowing visitors to twist together Duff’s Chocolate Chip Cake Fro-Yo with a customer favorite called Oh My, Pumpkin Pie. (Click here for more.)

TCBY unveils 3 new flavors for Fall
TCBY (The Country’s Best Yogurt), the world’s first and largest frozen yogurt brand, has introduced three autumn-inspired flavors including pumpkin, graham cracker and apple pie for the season at locations nationwide. (Click here for more.)


Burger King heats up spicy nuggets battle with Wendy’s

Burger King now is offering spicy chicken nuggets as a move to fill a perceived customer void left by competing chain Wendy’s after it scaled back the product. The brand will offer the nuggets as a limited time offer in 10-piece packs for $1.49 and original chicken nuggets will remain a permanent menu item. Wendy’s has yet to weigh in on the promotion, but sent fans an online post in March explaining their decision to discontinue spicy nuggets in most markets. (Click here for more,)


• Go here to visit the Capital Region Brew Trail
• Go here to visit Dowd's New York Wines Notebook

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Raging fires devastating wine country in California

A typical disaster in California wine country. (AP Photo)
From The New York Times

Fatal wildfires scorching eight Northern California counties this week have dealt a devastating blow to the important wine and tourism industries, destroying more than 1,500 buildings, including historic wineries.

Although the seasonal harvest is nearly complete, the conflagration threatens to disrupt tens of thousands of jobs and destroy valuable stores of grapes waiting in bins, barrels and bottles to be fermented or aged. The extent of the damage will be unclear for days because the fires are blocking many winery owners from reaching their facilities.

Tourism in the region — a multibillion-dollar economic machine that includes high-end hotels, wine-tasting tours and upscale cuisine — is suffering as the flames claimed many establishments and forced many others to shutter for the rest of the week.

“It has been a devastating fire,” the Sonoma County Winegrowers group said in a Facebook post. “Reports of fire damage to wineries, businesses and homes continues to grow.”
The blazes — which have left at least 11 people dead — continued to rage on Tuesday. Seventeen separate fires, across 94,000 acres, have forced more than 20,000 people to evacuate.
Go here for the full story.

• Go here to visit the Capital Region Brew Trail
• Go here to visit Dowd's New York Wines Notebook

City Market adds top chef in advance of opening 2nd venue


Tighe's Bistro Americain in progress in rural Rensselaer Co.

The in-development restaurant when it was a country inn. (photos provided)

Salvaged doors that will be part of the decor.
When Kevin Tighe announced his intent last fall to develop Tighe's Bistro Americain, he said it would be on Albany's Hamilton Street. But, several months later he he ran into a snag in reaching agreement with the owners of that building and said he would be looking elsewhere.

Then alternative Tighe found is anything but a city downtown  spot. Instead, it is about 15 miles east of the city, in rural Rensselaer County. The venue, on Glass Lake Road just off Route 43 in Averill Park, is a historic one that Tighe has been renovating with an eye toward maintaining its classic look.

It is the former 1850s-era Weeler Hotel, whch also at one time operated under the name Glass Lake Hotel, that has been closed for more than a decade. Tighe, who gained a reputation as a barman working at a variety of Albany venues such as McGuire's, Justin's, and the New World Bistro Bar, for example, earlier said his new restaurant -- which he refers to as TBA -- will serve regional French country food.

No opening date has yet been announced. "It will take a while to renovate and I'm reluctant to even guess on a completion date," Tighe says. "The more I look, the more I find to do, but we'll keep you posted on the progress."

Tighe has been steadily teasing us with Facebook postings showing how deeply the renovation bug has bitten him. Here's what he wrote about the doors shown above:

"At my age I shouldn't get so stoked about a couple of old doors ... but I am. Picked these babies up at the Historic Albany Foundation's warehouse yesterday. It's not what they are, it's what they will be that has me so jazzed. The main part of the future TBA building was built in 1850, I just couldn't put a home center composite door on the building (that would disrespect the history). It will take a lot of elbow grease and some fresh paint but it will be all worth it."

• Go here to visit the Capital Region Brew Trail
• Go here to visit Dowd's New York Wines Notebook

Monday, October 9, 2017

Chain Links

Your connections to the latest news items affecting chains operating in the Greater Capital Region or reported to be looking into locating in the area:

Dunkin' Donuts to test smaller doughnut menu

• Wendy's adds new chicken tenders, sauce at all locations

Arby’s adds chicken pepperoni parm for limited time

•  CoreLife Eatery uses data to enhance customer experience

•  McDonald’s Szechuan Sauce promotion backfires 

• Go here to visit the Capital Region Brew Trail
• Go here to visit Dowd's New York Wines Notebook

Openings & Closings & Etc.


• The latest reports on restaurants and food vendor openings, closings and transitions from the Greater Capital Region, as well as occasional entries from the Catskills, Central New York, Southern Vermont and the Berkshires.

OPENING

• Paul Park has graduated from a stall in the Troy Kitchen incubator space to a place of his own. His Bespoki Bowl restaurant now is doing a standalone business at 122 4th Street, former home of The Flying Chicken,  in downtown Troy. His stock in trade is the raw-fish dish known as poké, a Hawaiian-influenced item. Although poké can be found on some menus in the Capital Region, Bespoki Bowl is the only one I know of that specializes in it. Park's new menu, however, includes a number of other types of dishes. Hours: is 11:30 a.m. to 9: 30 p.m. Monday through Saturday. Phone: 518-244-5347.

• The Hudson River Coffee House, which was shut down last month by state authorities because of nonpayment of taxes, has reopened. Although at the time of the forced closing owner Anton Pasquill was quoted as saying he planned to move the business to another location, it has reopened at its original venue, 227 Quali Street, Albany.

• A new Panera Bread location I first reported on back in February is nearing completion for a  mid-month opening near Hudson Valley Community College. It will be the first tenant in the new 16 North muilti-use building being built on the former site of the Country Grove Inn, which was demolished last December to allow construction of the 36,000-square-foot project.The developer is Dave Mulinio, who also was behind the nearby North Greenbush Commons Plaza at 50 North Greenbush Road (Route 4).

CLOSING

Mac’s Drive-In, located at 648 Third Avenue in Watervliet, will close for the season after service today. The occasion will be marked with a slew of giveaways, specials, and discounts, all listed on the business's Facebook page. This was the eighth season for Mac's.


• Go here to visit the Capital Region Brew Trail
• Go here to visit Dowd's New York Wines Notebook