Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Spa tasting event to aid Ainsley's Angels

Screen shot 2015-05-26 at 2.15.01 PMSARATOGA SPRINGS -- The "New York Corks" wine and food tasting event is set for Sunday, June 7, at Boca Bistro

Admission to the event, scheduled for 1 to 3 p.m., is $10 per person. All proceeds will aid the “Power to Push” run across the country for the benefit of Ainsley's Angels of America. The wine will be from a variety of New York State wineries, and the food from DZ Restaurants, owner of Boca Bistro.

Shaun Evans is an ultra-marathon runner whose 8-year-old son Shamus was born with cerebral palsy. Shamus uses a wheelchair. In 2013, with the help of the Ainsley’s Angels organization, Shamus was able to obtain a new, larger running chariot that enabled him and Shaun to compete together in races. The Evanses will make a 3,186-mile journey from Seattle  to New York City with Shaun on foot and Shamus on his wheels.

Their mission is to raise awareness and provide fundraising support for nonprofit organizations such as Ainsley’s Angels that promote involvement and active lifestyles for children with disabilities.

Boca Bistro is located at 384 Broadway. Phone: 682-2800.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Errant car makes Snowman a drive-in

Pre-accident Snowman
TROY -- The iconic Snowman ice cream shop became a drive-in for a brief, frightening time on Saturday.

A two-car accident sent one vehicle careening onto the grounds of the business, located at 531 5th Avenue in the Lansingburgh section, striking an 80-pound concrete planter and a section of the exterior awning.

No one was reported injured in the mishap, which occurred just before 11:340 a.m. Service began at about 1 p.m. after some hasty cleaning up.

2nd Druthers brewery/restaurant to open Tuesday

The new Druthers in Albany.
The new Albany location.
ALBANY -- The Druthers Brewing Company will open its second location, in the city's Warehouse District, at 11:30 a.m. Tuesday. 

The new facility is approximately six times the size of the original Druthers, located at 381 Broadway in Saratoga Springs. This one, located at 1053 Broadway, includes brewery space, a production line for canning beer, and a restaurant.

The restaurant, overseen by chef Mike Spain, will be open for lunch and dinner daily, offering some of the most popular dishes from the Saratoga location, as well as others. One of the concentrations will be on pizzas baked in an Italian-manufactured, wood-fired revolving oven. Among the more interesting offerings on the initial menu are crispy short rib dumplings (eight-hour braised beef, red onion jam, mushrooms, horseradish cream sauce), loaded waffled hash browns (smoked chicken, Cheddar, crumbled bacon country gravy, five-onion aioli, local maple syrup), pan fried barramundi (corn flake crust, herbed barley risotto, Parmesan cheese, tomato coulis, arugula, balsamic vinegar) and a qwide range of burgers and sandwiches along with numerous pizza topping combinations.

Druthers is owned by Chris Martell, George di Piro and Brian Martell. For Di Piro, the head brewer, the Albany opening is a homecoming of sorts. Before the original Druthers project he was head brewer at the nearby C.H. Evans Brewing Co. (Albany Pump Station).

In another project, Druthers this week began offering a weekly brunch service at McGregor Links Country Club in Wilton, Saratoga County. That is part of a revitalization of the property being undertaken by new owners Blake Crocitto and William Ahl. Although the club is semi-private, the dining room, operated by Druthers, is open to the public year-round.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Epicurean cartoonery

Farm Viability Institute unveils wide-ranging projects

It's nice to know where some of our tax dollars are going. Here's a rather interesting recipient -- the New York Farm Viability Institute (NYFVI).

It was created years ago as a central organization to assess potential research projects in various areas, and to fund those showing the most promise for benefiting New York State agriculture.  The latest round includes 21 projects totaling $1,539,324 in taxpayer funds, and specific projects grouped under (1) improving operational practices, (2) fostering industry-wide innovation, (3) incubating new ideas, (4) marketing, and (5) developing human capital.

If that seems too abstract to be interesting, how about this: In addition to a project involving grapes, other areas range from honey bees to cows and Chinese medicinal herbs. The following chart describes the projects:

The NYFVI is located at 159 Dwight Park Circle No. 104, Syracuse. Phone: (315) 453-3823.

7 ‘Best of Class’ awards for NYS wines in LA test

And, the New York State medal horde continues to grow. The 74 latest additions to the haul came in the prestigious 76th annual Los Angeles International Wine Competition, held in Pomona, CA.

Seven of those 74 were "Best of Class" honors. They include:

• Chateau Frank 2009 Blanc de Blancs
• Chateau Frank 02009 Blanc de Noirs
• Chateau Lafayette Reneau 2013 Barrel Fermented Chardonnay
• Dr. Frank's 2013 Riesling Reserve
• Penguin Bay 2013 Vidal Ice Wine
• Swedish Hill 2014 Cayuga White
• Swedish Hill 2014 Blue Waters Rosé

New York entries also took 31 single-Gold, 30 Silver and 13 Bronze medals. Overall, the competition drew 3,003 entries from 987 wineries.

Other New York Gold medals (a majority vote of the tasting panel) were awarded to: Black Willow's 2013 Bare Cat Blush; Chateau LaFayette Reneau's 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon and 2014 Late Harvest Riesling; Dr. Frank's 2013 Semi-Dry Riesling; Goose Watch's 2013 Cabernet Franc Rosé; Keuka Spring's 2014 Gewurztraminer (Dynamite Vineyard), 2014 Gewurztraminer, 2014 Dry Riesling, 2014 Riesling (Humphrey's Vineyard), 2014 Semi-Sweet Riesling, and 2014 Vignoles;

Also, Lamoreaux Landing's 2013 Riesling (Round Rock Vineyard) and 2014 Dry Rose; Mazza Chautauqua Cellars' 2013 Riesling (Faulkenhauser Block); Penguin Bay's 2014 Dry Riesling, and Percussion; Silver Springs' Don Giovanni Wines Cabernet Sauvignon; Thirsty Owl's 2008 Vinte, 2013 Diamond, and 2014 Pinot Noir Rose; Wagner Vineyards' 2013 Dry Riesling, 2012 Semi-Dry Riesling, and 2013 Riesling Select.

The competition also has divisions for spirits, beers, sakes and olive oils. A compilation of winners in all categories is available by clicking here.

Colonel, Hamburglar making marketing comebacks

The new version
The original Colonel
The Colonel is back. Sort of.

Although the original KFC icon, Harlan Sanders, passed away in 1980 at the age of 90, the restaurant chain has resurrected his image in the person of celebrity impersonator Darrell Hammond.

For most of his career as official corporate huckster, Sanders promoted something called Kentucky Fried Chicken, the original name of his company. But, as "fried" became a bad word in the food industry, the company's marketing people began calling it KFC. So, the new Colonel, a former star of "Saturday Night Live," may have a career script that never uses the word "fried."

The newbie.
On a much less iconic note, but nostalgic nevertheless, the McDonald's chain has brought back the Hamburglar, no longer in cartoon format.

The initial video -- starring a human actor with the requisite grubby whiskers most American males under the age of 50 seem to be required to have -- has met with less than warm response, with the social media erupting with such labels as "creepy," "weird" and "awkward."

The original.
Nevertheless, McDonald's VP for domestic marketing, is upbeat. Says he, "We knew the Hamburglar would obviously create some buzz. When we saw it trending on Twitter, we knew we had connected in a way that helped the relevance of the brand."

McDonald's is in the throes of a global decline in sales, particularly in the U.S. where competition in the burger-centric fast-food segment has grown markedly in recent years.

Friday, May 22, 2015

NFL star joins chain's expansion to Albany

If you're a National Football League aficionado, you're probably aware of Julio Jones. Now, the Atlanta Falcons wide receiver is becoming aware of the Capital Region as a business interest.

Jones has increased his minority share of the restaurant chain Latitude 360 for an expansion program that targets several states, including New York where it is creating a venue in Guilderland's Crossgates Mall.

In a statement released by the company today, the two-time Pro Bowl selection said, "This is an exciting investment and partnership. ... I’m pleased to be part of a quality organization that provides entertainment for a wide variety of consumers and corporate clients, including amazing food, sports theater, grill, bar, dancing, luxury bowling, games, live entertainment and more.”

Jones in uniform.
A Latitude 360 financial report issued several weeks ago said gross sales for the first quarter of 2015 were $6.4 million, compared to $5.4 million in the first quarter of 2014, a 19% increase. Net sales for the first quarter of 2015 were up 4.4% compared to the same quarter a year earlier.Group sales increased 45% on a year over year basis, from $1.1 million in first-quarter 2014 to $1.6 million in the first quarter of this year.

A company spokesman declined to give a specific target date for the Guilderland opening, although a summer opening is anticipated.

Have you checked our 'Food-and-Drink Events' calendar?

Are you tired of having to go from site to site and publication to publication to find out the latest information on cooking classes, wine dinners, beer dinners, restaurant weeks, specialty food events, grand opening festivities, tasting events ... and then only finding bits and pieces?

We long ago solved that problem. Join the people who have been taking advantage of our Capital Region Food & Drink Events Calendar, arguably the most thorough and linked compilation of events involving, well, food and drink.

If you're not already regularly 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