Monday, October 5, 2015

Food-and-drink events calendar loading up

We're in for a very busy fall and early winter schedule.

It may sometimes seem overwhelming to keep up with all the possibilities, but there's a way out. Join the people who have been taking advantage of my Capital Region Food & Drink Events Calendar, arguably the most thorough and live-linked compilation of events involving, well, food and drink.

It even has a subsection dealing with cooking classes both for adults and for kids.

If you're not already checking out the calendar on a daily basis, it might be helpful to acquire the habit by bookmarking it 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

'Colonie Restaurant Week' lines up 19 participants

COLONIE -- The Colonie Restaurant Week has something different going for it. It actually will run for a week. In an era in which "weeks" in various communities run anywhere from five days to two weeks, this promotional event will begin on Monday, October 19, and end Sunday, October 25.

Each participating restaurant will prepare a special three-course meal for $20.15. The event website has details and menus.

For a town the size of Colonie, the field is quite small -- 19 venues at this point. The Chamber of Commerce, which sponsors the event, lists 46 restaurants as members, and there are dozens of others in the community that are not members, so the potential certainly is there for creating a major event. However, last fall's event, which was called "Taste of Colonie," had 18 participants. And, a spring event this year drew only 13. That, along with light participation in similar events, prompted me to ask the question "Have Capital Region restaurant weeks run their course?"

DeCrescente Distributing Company will award a randomly-selected Restaurant Week patron who participates in its "Text to Win" contest a tour plus lunch and dinner at the Adirondack Brewing Company. To participate: TEXT: tasteofcolonie TO 88500.

Participating restaurants:
  • Bangkok Bistro
  • Bellini's Italian Eatery 
  • Bonefish Grill 
  • Bull and Barrel Smokehouse Grill 
  • Century House Restaurant 
  • El Charro Mexican Grill 
  • Epicurean Bistro & Wine Bar 
  • Garden Bistro 24 
  • Grandma's Pies & Restaurant 
  • Grille Restaurant at the Radisson Hotel 
  • Innovo Kitchen 
  • Market Restaurant at the Marriott 
  • Martel's Grill 
  • Mercato's III 
  • Philly Bar & Grill 
  • Reel Seafood Co. 
  • Simpson's Restaurant at The Desmond 
  • Swifty's Restaurant & Pub 
  • Wolf's 1-11

Signs of the times: South End Tavern name gone

The historic signage.
The now-gone historic signage.

TROY -- Eighty-one years after they were installed, the signs at the now-defunct South End Tavern have come down.

The neon signs, one of which said "Ladies Entrance" in a nod to a very different time in our society, were installed in 1934. They have been acquired by the Rensselaer County Historical Society which still is raising funds to pay for cleaning and restoration of them to be displayed as part of the organization's bicentennial celebration next year.

Anyone who wants to contribute to the $8,500 fund drive can do so by contacting the Society, located at 57 2nd Street, Troy. Phone: 272-7232.

Photographer Will Waldron has a series of photos on his Twitter account of the sign removal process. 

Third-generation owner Marty (Butch) Burke closed the South End Tavern at the end of this June 2013. The building, and several adjacent properties, remain up for sale.

Upper Hudson wine tasting tour for cyclists

The first-ever "Tour de Vine" will take cyclists to a quartet of vineyards and wineries that are members of the Upper Hudson Valley Wine Trail.

The event, scheduled to begin at 10:30 a.m. Saturday, October 17, will cover a bike ride of approximately 20 miles, beginning and ending at Amorici Vineyards.

The ride will include wine tastings at each venue, plus a catered post-tour lunch at Amorici Vineyard. The lunch, ride leaders, course markings, mechanical and sag support all are included in the $65  online registration. The field will be limited to 50 cyclists.

Vineyards will include:

Amorici Vineyard, 637 Colonel Burch Road, Valley Falls, Rensselaer County

Natural Selection Farm Winery, 85 Darwin Road (between Routes 60 and 74), Center Cambridge, Washington County

Victory View Vineyards, 11975 Route 40, Schaghticoke, Rensselaer County

Northern Cross Vineyard, 1106 Beadle Hill Road, Easton, Washington County

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Epicurean cartoonery

New feature clears fog of interstate NYS wine sales

Shipping New York State wines to friends, family and business colleagues outside the state can sometimes be a pain in the neck, given the varying, sometimes conflicting, state-by-state regulations.

However, the New York Wine & Grape Foundation today announced the debut of a new feature on its website that might make the process simpler for consumers.

If your local wine seller doesn't carry the wines you want, you can order them directly from the wineries. The website features a downloadable listing of the various wineries that ship and what states they ship to. The new feature covers all 50 states, plus Washington, DC.  However, not all New York wineries ship outside the state because getting authorization to do so can be a complicated process.

"It's not simple," says Jim Trezise, president of the Wine & Grape Foundation. "These predominantly small family wineries have to register with the regulatory authority in each state and pay the appropriate fees to have the right to ship, and then keep detailed records that are subject to audit at any time. But, now at least they have the right to determine if the time, effort and expense are worth it."

This year marks the 10th anniversary of direct interstate shipment of wine.

"The powerful wholesaler lobby fought [approval] tooth and nail for years in order to preserve their monopoly and deny consumer choice," says Trezise, whose organization lobbies for and educates businesses, government and consumers about New York wines. "The Supreme Court's 2005 'Granholm  decision' basically forced New York State's government to do something, and after a pitched battle they finally allowed [direct interstate shipping by wineries], with certain limitations."

Watkins Glen winery scores big in Tasters Guild test

A Watkins Glen winery led all New York State entries in the recent Tasters Guild International Consumers' Wine Judging.

Lakewood Vineyards took home Double Gold medals (unanimous choice of the tasting panel) for its 2014 Vignoles and its 2014 Valvin Muscat, as well as Gold medals (majority choice of the tasting panel) for its 2014 Long Stem White, its 2014 Niagara, and its 2014 Riesling. The winery is located at 4024 State Route 14. Phones: 607-535-9252 and 877-535-9252 (toll free).

It was founded in 1951 by Frank Stamp, who had left his Maryland dentistry practice to take over a rundown peach and apple orchard on the west side of Seneca Lake. The next spring, the Stamp family began planting grapes. Their commercial grape production continued for 36 years, until 1988 when Frank's son, the late Monty Stamp, Monty's wife Beverly, and their children pressed grapes for their first vintage.

Tasters Guild is a food and wine society based in Grand Rapids, Michigan, with an office in Washington, D.C. "By sponsoring this wine judging event, it is the objective of Tasters Guild to give the consumer a reference point in choosing quality wine values," explains Guild president Joe Borrello. "Tasters Guild recommends any wine judging results or tasting evaluations be used only as an informational guide for consumers in establishing personal preferences. However, with our reevaluation procedure, we take extra precaution to appraise the wines as accurately as possible."

Other major medals awarded to New York State wines:

• Belhurst Winery of Geneva, Double Gold for its Ice Princess and its 2014 Dry Riesling, Gold for its 2013 Traditions Merlot

• Black Willow Winery of Burt, Niagara County, Golds for its 2009 Flight 6.1.37, its 2014 Classic Diamond and its 2014 Chardonnay

• Dr, Frank of Hammondsport, Double Gold for its 2014 Gruner Veltliner and Gold for its 2014 Riesling Reserve

• Victorianbourg Wine Estate of Wilson, Niagara County, Gold for its Victorianbourg Pechette.

The 2015 Gold Medal Champion trophy went to The Winery at Holy Cross Abbey in Canon City, Colorado. That label earned more Double Gold and Gold medal points than any winery in the competition. The E.& J. Gallo Winery Portfolio of Brands was named winery of the year, singled out by the guild for its “ongoing support of consumer education and promotion of wine and food appreciation.”

The full list of judging results, released Monday after auditing, is available online.

Friday, October 2, 2015

Epicurean cartoonery

Noodles & Co. debuts build-your-own kids' menu

Noodles & Company, which is developing a location in Albany's Crossgates Commons, has just introduced a new kids’ meal for what it terms “future foodies,” giving customers age 10 and under a build-your-own option.

The new meals, priced at $5, allows young diners to choose from among four entrées, along with a drink and such sides as broccoli, carrots, fruit, applesauce and a "Kids Crispy," a housemade version of a Rice Krispies treat. Entrée choices include spaghetti and meatballs, Wisconsin macaroni and cheese, buttered noodles or grilled chicken breast with marinara dipping sauce.

In designing the new menu for its 470-unit chain, Noodles & Company partnered with the National Restaurant Association’s "Kids LiveWell" program and nutrition experts. The dishes range from 150 calories for the grilled chicken breast to 540 calories for the spaghetti and meatballs.

Through Sept. 29 next year, the chain will donate five cents for every kids’ meal ordered, up to $100,000, to feed children in need through the nonprofit organization No Kid Hungry.