Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Manory's Restaurant becoming a student landlord

Manory's is the city's oldest restaurant.

From The Record
The owners of a landmark downtown Troy restaurant will soon offer luxury off-campus student housing in the same building.

This spring, a three-floor, 15-unit complex called Ellsworth Student Suites will become available above the century-old Manory’s Restaurant on the corner of Congress and Fourth streets. The new project is locally owned and operated by Marchese Properties, the same entrepreneurial family that has operated Manory’s for the past 26 years. ...

The residential space, on the three upper floors of 126 Fourth St., has been unoccupied for the past quarter-century.
Go here for the full story.
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Saratoga prepping for Saturday's Chowderfest blowout

Schenectady just completed another successful "Soup Stroll" event, but those of you who like to wander about sampling soups need not worry. On Saturday, you can step up the pace by heading to the annual extravaganza that is Saratoga Chowderfest.

In addition to visiting more than 80 food vendors who will be  handing out samples of their chowder creations from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., visitors will be offered dozens of ancillary events such as an ice bar and ice sculpture, live music, face painting and so on. A schedule is available online.

No tickets are necessary. Visitors simply pay $1 per three-ounce sample for each chowder. That qualifies them to vote on their favorites in seven categories. An awards ceremony will be held at 6:30 p.m. at the Saratoga Springs Heritage Area Visitor Center.

Details on the whole shebang are available here.

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Well, goodbye Dali

Dali Mamma, a café that began in Cohoes then operated in Albany during its brief five-year run, has closed.

Owner Katrin Haldeman explained her decision to shutter the 41 State Street venue in a very lengthy "open letter and fond farewell" Facebook posting. Here is some of it:

 "Often when a business closes there is talk of failure, talk of defeat. However, when I look at the past five years, I look lovingly on all of the spectacular experiences I have had and that I have shared with thousands, literally thousands of people. I have had the great privilege of cooking for and knowing all of you and I would not change a thing.

" ... Ellie Markovitch is the most amazing person, let alone chef, that I know. Her commitment to all things good made our kitchen warm and wise. ... Not only had I been so fortunate to have had the most amazing people to work with over the last five years, but I have had the most exceptional family who have cheered me on for more than 40 years. So, to my family, with all my love and thanks,  please know that every single one of you inspired me every day to bring the best part of myself to the Mamma. You all were my driving force and I could not have even dreamed this dream if not for all of you."
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Druthers adding 3rd location, near Schenectady casino

Today's press conference making the announcement.
Druthers, which has brewpub locations in Saratoga Springs and Albany, is adding a third in Schenectady, according to an announcement made today.

The new spot will be in the Mohawk Harbor development adjacent to the Rivers Casino and Resort that is scheduled to open next Wednesday, February 8.

According to the joint announcement by Druthers and the Galesi Group that is building the Mohawk Harbor complex, the brewpub will open sometime this summer.

Druthers' original location, opened in 2012, is at 381 Broadway, Saratoga Springs, and its second is at 1053 Broadway, Albany. The company website has an entertaining page explaining its development over the years.
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Monday, January 30, 2017

Epicurean Cartoonery

A gallery of artwork honoring those who draw conclusions.

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Ryan Cusack back on the Troy dining scene

Ryan Cusack
Ryan Cusack, a familiar name in Troy dining circles, is running the kitchen at The Hill at Muza.

The owners of Muza had been advertising online for experienced chefs. In Cusack, they have found one. He developed an enthusiastic following on the other side of the city as executive chef first at Jose Malone's and then at Daisy Baker's, both now closed. Cusack, who studied at the New England Culinary Institute in Montpelier, VT, also cooked at McGuire's in Albany.

The Hill at Muza, a year-round beer garden and kitchen, and its parent restaurant Muza are located at Congress and 15th Street just off the RPI campus. They specialize in Eastern European cuisines and beers, although their food and drink menus stretch well beyond those boundaries.

The restaurant hours: Tuesday-Thursday 4 to 9 p.m., Friday-Saturday 4 to 10 p.m., closed Sunday-Monday. Phone: 271-6892. The  beer garden hours: Tuesday-Saturday 4 to 11 p.m. Phone:  662-4455.
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Teagan's closing, owner shifting to fulltime catering

The daily grind of running a restaurant can get to the best of people. Count Al Pollock among them. He is planning on shuttering his Teagan’s Steak & Seafood operation in Rensselaer after service on February 15.

According to a posting today on timesunion.com, "Pollock, who does about 50% of his business in catering and other private events, will be relocating to the Pearl Street Pub in downtown Albany, according to Pollock and PSP co-owner Chris Pratt. Starting March 1, Pollock will be offering off-site catering, based out of the Pearl Street Pub kitchen, as well as for banquets and other private events in the PSP spaces under the name Pearl Street Pub Catering." The story cited Pollock's desire to get away from the daily restaurant business to concentrate on catering.

Teagan's, originally located on Columbia Turnpike in East Greenbush, has operated on the Rensselaer waterfront at 1 Ferry Street for the past six years.
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Augie's To Go opening Wednesday in Saratoga Springs

Saratoga Springs' latest food vendor, Augie's To Go, is scheduled to open for business on Wednesday, February 1.

As I reported earlier this month in a a major news roundup of new-venue developments, it is an offshoot off the popular Ballston Spa restaurant Augie’s Family Style Restaurant.

Augie's To Go is located at 223 Lake Avenue, former home of Mario's Pizzeria. Owner Augie Vitiello conceived it as a spot for ready-to-heat-and-eat meals (the sort of thing onetime local "celeb" chef Carmine Sprio tried in Latham with no success some years ago), and he'll be accepting call-in orders. Phone: 580-8646.

Vitiello, a native of the Bronx, was a Westchester County restaurateur for 13 years before opening Augie's on Church Avenue in Ballston Spa in 2004. After a fire there in 2013, he reopened the business at its current venue, 17 Low Street.

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Sunday, January 29, 2017

Troy's Plumb Oyster Bar names an executive chef

Brandon Schatko
The fledgling Plumb Oyster Bar in Troy has just hired a new executive chef.

Brandon Schatko, formerly of the Whiteface Lodge in Lake Placid, will officially debut on Saturday, February 4. He succeeds startup chef Scott Baggott.

Schatko is a native of the Detroit area who became an executive chef at the tender age of 21 at the Top of the Pontch at the downtown Crowne Plaza Hotel there. He was named "Best Chef-2016" by Detroit Metro Times.

According to the announcement, Schatko grew up in a family of "excellent home cooks" and a grandfather was a popular butcher, and goes on to say, "He describes his cooking style as being 'a little bit country and a little bit rock and roll' and finds his passion from cooking everything from scratch with the best products available."

Plumb Oyster Bar is located at 15 Second Street downtown. Phone: 326-0194.

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Networking opportunity for food, farm business people

• From Hudson Valley News Network
Participants in the Hudson Valley AgriBusiness Development Corporation’s (HVADC) Food and Farm Business Accelerator (FFBA) had the opportunity to engage with other FFBA Peers and program facilitators at a recent industry networking event at the American Glory restaurant in  Hudson.

The six-month intensive FFBA program began in October 2016 and is designed to help farmers and food entrepreneurs develop the necessary skills and materials to scale their businesses, build sales and access capital sources.

Nathan Forster, the founder of Groundwork Companies, is FFBA project manager, and beyond industry networking the curriculum includes expert instruction, one-on-one mentoring, peer group sessions, and pitch instruction; and will conclude with an opportunity for FFBA Peers to meet New York City and Hudson Valley-based funders that are seeking to invest in ventures that support the local food system.

Janet Crawshaw, publisher of Valley Table Magazine and producer of Hudson Valley Restaurant Week, set the stage for the networking event, discussing what Hudson Valley visitors and consumers are looking for from local food and agriculture producers.
Go here for the full story.
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The Tilted Kilt slinks quietly out of Niskayuna

Didn't fly in Niskayuna
Well, that didn't take long. Last April 11, the boobs-and-brews chain called Twisted Kilt Pub & Eatery was all excited about opening a venue in Niskayuna. Now, that spot is out of business without public notice.

Its Facebook page lists it as "permanently closed," while the corporate website doesn't list it at all.

The chain, which began in the early 2000s and has about 100 locations nationwide, relied on waitresses clad in plaid miniskirts and bras showing a lot of cleavage. Oh yeah, and a lot of beer and stuff.

The fleeting local effort was located in the Mansion Square sales strip at Balltown Road and State Street.
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Friday, January 27, 2017

Rensselaer County about to get its first Chipotle

The Chipotle Mexican Grill restaurant chain will open its seventh Capital Region location -- and first in Rensselar County -- as part of a long dormant shopping complex project that has received new life.

Plans just approved by the North Greenbush Planning Board will result in creation of as many as 18 stores at Widewater Development's Van Rensselaer Square site at Routes 4 and 43 that has been on hold for more than a decade.

Cap Com Federal Credit Union was the first to sign a lease. Other business that eventually will locate on the 35-acre site include ShopRite, Party City, and Home Goods.

Chipotle currently has locations in Latham, Guilderland, Niskayuna, Saratoga Springs, Colonie and Clifton Park.

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Iconic Albany sandwich shop reopens after flood repairs

Sandwiches To Go no longer is gone.

The downtown Albany lunch mainstay reopened on Wednesday, about six weeks after a water main break caused flooding and extensive damage to major equipment and its elevator.

Sandwiches To Go, which has been in operation at 37 Maiden Lane since 1980, offers housecooked soups and meats and a sandwich lineup. You can get a look at its menu online.

Hours: 10:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. weekdays. Phone: 434-0614.
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Thursday, January 26, 2017

Beef Jerky Outlet enters Capital Region market

Ah, beef jerky. You salty, savory dried meat treat in a tough-to-open glossy paper wrapper, hanging on a display rack in a convenience store like some kind of suspended temptress. Just imagine if an entire store were devoted to your sinful wonderfulness.

Wait! There IS such a place? Yes, in fact a chain of them called Beef Jerky Outlet stretching over 31 states opened its first Capital Region today at 640 New Loudon Road in Latham, where Yoshi Sushi is located.

The chain, founded in 2011, is on a pace to double its number of locations to 200 or so, with unspecified locations projected for Saratoga Springs, Lake George and Lake Placid. The chain was ranked 72nd on the top 500 franchise list for 2017 compiled by Entrepreneur’s Franchise 500 List.

So, what does Beef Jerky Outlet, owned by local franchise holder Mike Kinnally, offer? It lists 100 varieties of premium jerky including exotic meats like kangaroo, alligator, venison and elk, as well as specialty flavors such as Moonshine and Cajun, as well as other gourmet snacks, candy, jellies, jams, sauces, rubs and spices.

Hours: 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Saturday, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Sunday. Phone: 785-1869.
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Ginger Man organizing four-session whisky workshops

The Ginger Man wine bar and restaurant in Albany has just announced a monthly series to begin in February called "Around the World In Whisky Days."

It is a four-part event emphasizing different styles of whiskies at each session. The classes will be taught by Joseph Armstrong, and guests can expect two courses and five to seven samplings at each session. They will begin at 6:30 p.m. as follows:
• Wednesday, February 22, Whisky 101
• Tuesday, March 28, Scotch
• Tuesday, April 25, Rye
• Tuesday, May 23, Bourbon
Reservations are $60 per class, or $210 for all four, plus tax and tip and may be made by calling the restaurant.

The Ginger Man is located at 2324 Western Avenue, between Ontario and Quail. Phone: 427-5963.
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Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Epicurean Cartoonery

A gallery of artwork honoring those who draw conclusions.


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Carey Institute pairing dinner to star its own beers

Local beer fans who keep up with developments in the field may have heard of, or read about, the many undertakings of the Carey Institute for Global Good.

The Helderberg Mountains facility has hosted a variety of events related to hops, brewing and marketing. Now, it will make use of all its facilities by hosting a beer-pairing dinner at its Carriage House Restaurant in cooperation with its own Helderberg Brewery incubator operation.

The event is scheduled for Saturday, February 25. A cash bar will open at 5 p.m., with dinner at 6. Overnight lodging at the Institute's country estate is available, and a buffet breakfast will be served on Sunday morning. Ticket prices vary depending on the package selected, with details and reservation information available online.

The menu:

• Beer and cheese soup with crispy pancetta, Parmesan crisp in sourdough bread bowls (Helderberg Brewery Saison)
• Ember-cooked sweet potato with housemade straccieatella (Helderberg Brewery Porter)
• Housemade pappardelle with local ground beef Bolognese sauce (Helderberg Brewery Pilsner)
• Roulade of local chicken with kale, apples and walnuts, piped potatoes and roasted Brussel sprouts (Helderberg Brewery Fresh Hop Pale Ale)
• Chocolate tart with porter ganache and bourbon caramel (Our Kriek)

The Carey Institute is located at 100 Pond Hill Road, Rensselaerville, Albany County.
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Sperry's to reopen its doors on February 1

Staff and supporters of Sperry's give the effort a thumbs-up
Sperry's, a Saratoga Springs restaurant in operation since 1932 but closed since Thanksgiving Day 2016 by a fire in a neighboring establishment, will reopen next week.

According to an announcement on its website and Facebook page, the restaurant, located at  30½ Caroline Street, will reopen on Wednesday, February 1. Reservations may be made by calling 584-9618.

Sperry's was one of several establishments at a corner of Caroline and Putnam streets forced to close when fire gutted the neighboring Mio Posto, a business that subsequently was demolished because of the extensive damage. The cocktail venue Hamlet & Ghost was the first of the affected businesses to reopen.
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Sunday, January 22, 2017

Keuka Wine Trail plans 'Wine & Cheese Lovers Getaway'

The Finger Lakes are known for far more than wines. Cheese, for example. So, the members of the Keuka Wine Trail will be pairing up those products for a "Wine & Cheese Lovers Getaway."

The event is scheduled for 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday, February 18-19.

Visitors can start their tour at any of the wineries, where they'll be given an embossed souvenir tasting glass. Then at each winery, they will be able to taste up to four local wines and sample different cheese-inflected items. Overall, 28 wine samples and more than a dozen food samples are planned.

The current menu, with more items to be added closer to the event:
• McGregor Vineyard: tartiflette (a French potato and brie dish) and dark chocolate cheesecake

• Keuka Spring: tri-color cheese tortellini with vodka sauce and sun-dried tomato pesto, mixed green salad with balsamic vinaigrette, Valentine's Day chocolate

• Hunt Country: manicotti with red sauce, baguette, chocolate chip cookie cheesecake bars

• Vineyard View: antipasto skewer of Bel Ceillo cheese, olive, and artichoke and mini tomato soup with Red Buddy grilled cheese

• Point of the Bluff: roasted tomato and fennel soup with Parmesan cream 
Ravines  Wine Cellar and Heron Hill Winery also are Trail members.

Ticket prices vary according to package selected. Go here for details and to choose a starting winery.
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Celebri-Quotes: Why do you drink Champagne?

"I drink it when I'm happy and when I'm sad.

Sometimes I drink it when I'm alone. When I have company, I consider it obligatory.

I trifle with it if I'm not hungry, and drink it when I am.

Otherwise, I never touch it -- unless I'm thirsty."

-- Madam Lilly Bollinger,
of the famous Bollinger Champagne house 

Go here for my archive of Celebri-Quotes on Drinking.

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Saturday, January 21, 2017

Epicurean Cartoonery

A gallery of artwork honoring those who draw conclusions.

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Restaurateurs adjust to spiking labor costs

From RestaurantBusiness.com
The pain from minimum-wage hikes has been acute for restaurateurs in areas that recently raised the pay floor. Now they’re exploring ways of coping—providing models for colleagues who are facing similar increases in their areas.

Here’s how the sharp rise in costs has affected several operators and what they’re doing in response.
Ark Restaurants, the New York City-based multi-concept operator of about 42 restaurants up and down the East Coast, said its labor costs soared by $2 million in 2016 specifically because of the increase in some areas’ minimum wage.

“We did not think we had that much elasticity to raise prices,” CEO Michael Weinstein told Wall Street. Instead, the company is passing along the costs to customers in a more subtle way.

The bars inside Ark’s restaurants had not been charging sales tax, preferring to eat Uncle Sam’s fees rather than take the time to compute the tax and then count out the coins customers were due in change. Now the establishments are starting to add on the tax, a task made easier because 90% of the bar tabs are now paid with credit card, so no cash is handled.
Go here for the full story.
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Craft brewers festival has 50 breweries lined up so far

The 4th annual New York State Brewers Association's (NYSBA) New York Craft Brewers Festival, set for Saturday March 25, 2017 at The Desmond in Colonie, already has more than 50 brewers lined up.

And, organizers are promising more than 100 "hard-to-find and award-winning beers." The event, a sellout last year, is planned as a four-hour (4 to 8 p.m.) tasting event with "specially selected beer not available to the general public." Tickets, including an early-admission VIP component, have a variety of price points, and are available both in advance and at the door.

Tickets are available at The Desmond, the Albany Pump Station, Rare Form Brewing in Troy, and Mad Jack Brewing at The Van Dyck in Schenectady.

Admission covers a seven-ounce souvenir tasting glass, unlimited three-ounce beer samples, food samples from a variety of local restaurants and food trucks, and the opportunity to meet the brewers. Beers and ales from 56 different breweries are listed by the organizers. Go here to see the full lineup.

Food sampling designed pairing will be provided by The Desmond Hotel, Brown's Brewing Taproom, Adirondack Pub, Albany Pump Station, Davidson Brothers Brewpub, Druthers, The Ruck, The American Bounty at CIA, Knot of This World Pretzels, Catskill Food Company, Crossroads Brewing, Chef’s Consortium, The Mohawk Taproom, Honest Weight, The Hollow Bar + Kitchen, 20 North Broadway, Elegant Touch Catering & Events, Pasta Pane, and That’s Different Chocolates.

The festival will include select New York State hops and malt section with owners and growers. It is a 21+ event. All attendees must show valid photo ID at the door. All attendees, including designated drivers, must be 21 or over to attend.
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Friday, January 20, 2017

At Amorici Vineyards, love is in the air -- and on the menu

Owner/winemaker Joe Messina enjoying the non-winter months.
I usually have an aversion to using news releases verbatim. Undoubtedly a throwback to my many decades of journalism during which I was encouraged to nourish a desire to remove hype and adjectives from such communications unless I had personal knowledge of their accuracy.

But, that was then and this is now. So, I can bend the rules a bit. And, sometimes I like to do that for people who send me their hype if it's clever and well written. Take this seasonal item from owner/winemaker/romantic Joe Messina at Amorici Vineyards, located at 637 Colonel Burch Road in Valley Falls, on the border of Washington and Rensselaer counties.

I included his overwrought exclamation points and all, but with a tiny bit of editing for form. Pay attention to the final sentence. I wonder if the author isn't responsible, who is? Nevertheless, you gotta love his rhetoric.

Amorici Valentines Romantic Food and Wine Creations
Select menu available 2/10/17 – 2/14/17
Reservation with Entrée and Soup choice required
 
In the beginning there was sun, then moon then day then night! ... .Then,  Amorici Romance!

Amorici research has shown the following offerings enhance romantic encounters and opportunity!


Welcome enticement: Amorici Love Potion to share
An Amorici original created especially for your pleasure with Hibiscus Flowers and Prosecco. The color of love! We accept no responsibility for personal enhancement that will result!
 
Appetizer
A variety of tastes to tempt your palate,  Smoked Salmon Crostini, Clam Casino, Olive Tapenade and Sun Dried Tomato Crostini, Stuffed Mushroom.

Soup (choice of one)
Oyster Aphrodisiac Stew or Passionate Traditional Onion (Vegetarian)

Salad
Mixed Field Greens with House Yuzu dressing

Entrees

Love me Tenderloin - $ 50  
  • Prime beef tenderloin medallions grilled with organic oyster mushrooms, winter truffles, and Cabernet Franc wine reduction. (PS:  Truffles have long been considered aphrodisiac. the essence will take you there!)
Turf loves Surf -  $ 50 
  • Turf joins Surf in this passionate dish. Love me Tenderloin Medallion with Cabernet Franc wine reduction paired with butter poached Maine lobster Tail           
Maine Lobster Tails - $ 50 
  • Prepared with love as you like - Broiled, Poached, or Scampi.
                                         
North Atlantic Cod - $ 40  
  • Baked a la Neapolitan, boneless skinless cod filet with lots of omega 3. (Did you wonder why Neapolitans had large families? Grandma made them take cod liver oil! 

Chicken Fricassee  - $ 40  
  • Natural Chicken Thigh with garlic, leaks, carrots, mushrooms simmered in Amorici Cayuga wine with added heavy cream.  

Neapolitan Vegetarian Lasagna  - $ 40  
  • A holiday tradition with layers of colorful vegetables Lasagna to warm your heart

Vegetarian Medley - $ 40  
  • Vegetarian Medley plus spicy meatless meatballs, Spices keep the love alive!
Paella - $60  
  • Traditional Spanish Seafood medley with chicken, sausage and olives simmered in seafood broth.(Truly a dish of love ... )
**All entrees served with a ratatouille flare, winter truffled mash potatoes, Asian sautéed Kale, Red Rice Pilaf

Dessert Medley - Passion fruit enhanced Fruit Compote, Tiramisu, Chocolate Mousse, and Ricotta Cheesecake

Coffee, tea, Grappa an Amorici Digestif to keep the passion blazing.
  • Not Responsible for any typographical errors


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Valentine's Day dinner in a historic mansion

Inside Ten Broeck Mansion
If you have an old-fashioned streak and are a romantic as well, the Ten Broeck Mansion has something that should be of interest.

The annual Valentine's Dinner at the headquarters of the Albany County Historical Association (ACHA) will be held at 6 p.m. Tuesday, February 14, in the parlors of them historic structure.

A six-course menu will be prepared by chef Josh Coletto. Reservations are priced at $130 per couple for ACHA members, $150 for others. Prices are all inclusive (meal, sparkling aperitif, two glasses of wine/beer, tax, and tip). Seating is limited.

Reservations may be made online or by calling 436-9826. Ten Broeck Mansion is located at 9 Ten Broeck Place in Albany.
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Thursday, January 19, 2017

'Alpine Night' set for Friday at The Cheese Traveler

The Cheese Traveler, the Albany specialty cheese shop that seems to endlessly come up with twists on its craft, will present an "Alpine Night" on Friday from 5 to 9 p.m.

The event will spotlight raclette, a smooth and melted Alpine cheese whose namesake comes from the French verb racler, meaning to scrape. It is melted under a heat lamp and scraped onto savory foods, such as mixed vegetables, meats, and other accompaniments.

The Cheese Traveler's take on a raclette menu will incude such items as "Swiss Nachos" (melted raclette over pickle-brined potato chips, local ham, and cornichons) and a build-your-own raclette plate with charcuterie choices ranging from whey-fed Prosciutto di Parma and Pâté to Sopressata. A selection of wines by the glass and craft beers will round out the night.

The Cheese Traveler is located at 540 Delaware Avenue. Phone: 703-0092.
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Epicurean Cartoonery

A gallery of artwork honoring those who draw conclusions.


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New Oneonta restaurateur wants a statewide presence

Could a restaurateur from Egypt who recently sold off his operation in Belgium and opened one in Oneonta have an eye on an eventual Capital Region presence?

Convoluted as that may sound, Tamer Morsey opened the Star Mix Grill at 381 Chestnut Street in Oneonta's West End two weeks ago, and isn't done yet.

 “I had the same restaurant in Egypt and in Belgium," he told the Oneonta Star. He said he recently sold the Belgian venue, but that his original remains in business in Egypt. He explored a variety of regions around the U.S. before selecting Oneonta, which he said reminded him of the smaller European cities he prefers to major metro areas.

“I was looking to open a restaurant and I found Oneonta," he said. "I find it almost exactly like Europe. Oneonta is very good.” Next, he'll be looking to open other venues Upstate once he's on a solid footing with his new spot.

Star Mix Grill, a casual spot that will add outdoor seating in the spring, certainly is well named, at least the "mix" part of the name. Given his Egyptian heritage, it leans heavily on such Mediterranean fare as gyros, falafel, kafta, hummus and shwarmas. But, it includes the sorts of U.S. pub food he hopes will resonate with students when they return from holiday break to SUNY Oneonta and Hartwick College -- wings, pastas, onion rings, fries, and the like.

From Oneonta, Morsy said, he hopes in time to expand at least statewide. “I have to always keep growing up,” he said in the interview, adding that it is his goal to open “more branches -- everywhere.”

You can get a look at the Star Mix Grill menu here.
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Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Saw Mill Tavern 'biker bar' owner, philanthropist dies

Don Birch
Donald F. Birch, owner of The Saw Mill Tavern in Schenectady, died Tuesday at the age of 79.

Birch was well known for being an avid motorcyclist whose tavern, located at 501 South Avenue at North Jay Street. was popular with the biker community for nearly 40 years. 
 
For 31 years, Birch hosted free Sunday buffets there for those in need. He also organized annual Toys for Tots fundraisers that were known for the long line of bikes leaving The Saw Mill, and organized bike runs to raise money for homeless veterans and for the City Mission of Schenectady.

Calling hours will be from 1 to 5 p.m. on Sunday at the Glenville Funeral Home, 9 Glenridge Road. The funeral will be held there at 9 a.m. Monday home, and it is expected that motorcycles will be a prominent part of the procession to Parkview Cemetery on Monday for Birch's burial.
 
Go here for Birch's official obituary.

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OK, now we know the new name of Bradley's Tavern

A well-lit venue
No huge public announcement, but new owner Vic Christopher this evening posted this interior photo of the former Bradley's Tavern in downtown Troy, and referred to the venue as "The Bradley."

The spruced-up former dive bar (earlier look at the work here) that he and wife-business partner Heather LaVine purchased late last year has been open for only one day since then -- during the city's annual "Victorian Stroll" festival.

Christopher said after that several names were under consideration, including keeping Bradley's Tavern, perhaps resurrecting its original name -- Dempsey's Bar & Grill, or something entirely different.

No opening date has yet been announced for The Bradley, located at 28 Fourth Street.

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Here's an advance look at Trump's inaugural lunch

Trump often is a casual eater
What will Donald Trump and other guests be eating at the traditional luncheon to be hosted on Friday by the Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies?

The menu calls for Maine lobster and Gulf shrimp with saffron sauce and peanut crumble, grilled Black Angus beef in dark chocolate and juniper jus with potato gratin, and chocolate soufflé and cherry vanilla ice cream. Plus, several inexpensive California wines. (Trump does not drink.)

Notes the website Grub Street, "The menu -- which Trump likely had nothing to do with -- is actually not so different from [President Barack] Obama’s inaugural meals, which included seafood stew, pheasant and duck, and apple-cinnamon sponge cake in 2009, and steamed lobster, grilled bison, and Hudson Valley apple pie in 2013."

The first such luncheon was held in 1953, when President Dwight D. Eisenhower was served creamed chicken, baked ham and potato puffs in the Capitol's Old Senate Chamber. After a lifetime of eating military mess hall food, he probably didn't mind.

Organizers for this week's meal say they expect about 200 guests to join the new president in Statuary Hall for the event, including members of the Supreme Court and Cabinet nominees. No word on whether any of the petulant Democrats who say they will boycott the swearing-in will belly up to the taxpayer-funded trough for the free meal in true congressional tradition.

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Monday, January 16, 2017

Burned-out venue's chef moves to Century House kitchen

Danny Urschel
Anyone who misses the dishes they had enjoyed at the former Mio Posto restaurant in Saratoga Springs no longer will have to go without. Some will be offered as weekly specials at The Century House, according to an announcement today by the Latham restaurant.

The unusual arrangement has come about because Mio Posto chef-owner Danny Urschel, whose business was destroyed in a Thanksgiving Day fire after barely two years of ownership, has signed on at the Latham venue as the a la carte chef. He has several times said he wants to resurrect Mio Posto somewhere. Meanwhile, he'll be in the Century House kitchen for dinner service Tuesday through Saturday as well as for private parties dining on his specialties.

The Century House, located at 997 New Loudon Road (Route 9), has been in a bit of a flux since chef Mike Niccoli left in 2015 to open Restaurant Navona in Albany with wife Kim Baker who had been the Century's general manager. The most prominent successor has been the highly-regarded Dominique Brialy who briefly went there shortly after leaving The Epicurean Bistro & Wine  Bar in Latham Farms before it closed. He has been working as a private chef.

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Epicurean Cartoonery

A gallery of artwork honoring those who draw conclusions.

 

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11 Berkshires venues in 'North County EATS' event

Eleven independent restaurants are gearing up for the 4th annual "North County EATS" promotional week in Williamstown, North Adams and Adams, MA.

The eight-day Berkshire County "week" will run from Saturday, January 28, through Sunday, February 5.

The 11 participating venues will offer a variety of fixed price meals, five of them for dinner only, the remainder for both lunch and dinner. You can get a rundown on the deals here. The participants:

North Adams
Grazie, 26 Marshall Street
Desperados, 23 Eagle Street
Village, 51 Eagle Street
Freight Yard Pub, 1 Furnace Street
Richmond Grille, 40 Main Street
Boston Sea Foods, 160 American Legion Drive

Williamstown
Mezze Bistro and Bar, 777 Cold Spring Road
Gala Steakhouse and Bistro, 222 Adams Road
The 6'House Pub, 866 Cold Spring Road
Water Street Grille, 123 Water Street

Adams
Haflinger House, 17 Commercial Street
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Boca Bistro, Druthers team up for beer pairing dinner

Boca Bistro and Druthers Brewing Company are putting together an all-Saratoga Springs pairing dinner.

The event, set for the start of Saratoga Beer Week, will be held at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, February 21.

Five beers from the downtown brewer will be paired with the Boca chefs' foods. They are: 

All In IPA, an American-style IPA made with Amarillo and Citra hops; Fist of Karma Brown Ale, an American brown ale; The Dare, Gose, a little-known German-style ale brewed with coriander and a small amount of salt; Scottish-Style 80, a  copper-colored ale; Against the Grain Hefeweizen, a Bavarian–style wheat beer made with beech wood-smoked malt.

Druthers' master brewer is George de Piro, winner of three gold medals at the Great American Beer Festival and gold, silver and bronze awards at the World Beer Cup.

Reservations, which are required, are available online at $65 plus tax and tip.

The original brewery, which also has an Albany facility, is located at 381 Broadway, adjacent to Boca Bistro which at 384 Broadway.
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Sunday, January 15, 2017

Schenectady Restaurant Week lines up 26 venues

Twenty-six restaurants are signed up so far to participate in the annual Schenectady Restaurant Week, scheduled for February 22-28.

Each will be offering a special three-course fixed meal for $25.

The promotional event is presented by the Downtown Schenectady Improvement Corp. and The Chamber of Schenectady County, an affiliate of the Capital Region Chamber. Here is a list of confirmed participants. Go here for links to their special menus in advance.
  • Ambition
  • Angelo’s Tavolo
  • Aperitivo Bistro
  • Bel Cibo
  • The Bier Abbey
  • Cafe NOLA
  • Cella Bistro
  • Centre Street Pub
  • Cornell’s
  • EK’s
  • Cibo
  • Jade Bistro
  • Johnny’s
  • John Riccitello’s Restaurant
  • Katie O’Byrne’s
  • Mad Jack Brewery
  • Manhattan Exchange
  • Mexican Radio
  • More Perreca’s
  • Sammy’s Burger & Bistro
  • Thai Thai Bistro
  • Tops American Grill
  • Turf Tavern
  • The Villa Tuscan Grille 
  • The Water’s Edge Lighthouse 
  • Zen

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Saturday, January 14, 2017

Epicurean Cartoonery


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Friday, January 13, 2017

Renovations under way at former Bradley's Tavern in Troy

The old floor's gotta go.
Anyone wondering how things are going with the closed-until-further-notice work at the former Bradley's Tavern in Troy will get an idea from these Keith Sweeney photos, posted today on Facebook by Vic Christopher.

Christopher and wife/business partner Heather LaVine purchased the 28 Fourth Street business, which had been closed for about six months, late last year.

No word on their renovation schedule, or whether they will retain the  Bradley's name, go back to its original Dempsey's Bar & Grill name, or something else all together.

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Owner's illness forces Slingerlands icon Toll Gate to close

A Slingerlands restaurant icon has closed indefinitely due to a serious medical problem the owner is battling.

The situation was explained in a Go Fund Me account created on Thursday by Mary Zautner Smart, sister of Rob Zautner, 55, the third-generation owner of Toll Gate, a casual spot perhaps best known for its extensive ice cream menu but a crowd-pleaser for for all sorts of homey food since its opening in 1949.

Smart is seeking contributions to help pay for her brother's medical expenses that began when he was treated for an intestinal infection that has been escalating since it was diagnosed and necessitated emergency surgery. He is unable to work, and the future of the Toll Gate is uncertain at this point.

As Smart explained in her funding message, "Those of you who know us will understand how difficult this is for my brother and I. At this point I don't know what else to do. The restaurant wasn't doing well and will have to remain closed for the duration of Rob's illness, assuming he recovers. I fear that his hospital bills will be close to six figures. It is with great sadness and humility that I ask the Toll Gate community for help now. Anything at this point will help. I thank you, and I know, if he could my brother would as well."
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Epicurean Cartoonery


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Cuomo asks sweeping changes to aid craft drinks industry

Governor Cuomo
New York Craft Beverage Week.

It has a nice ring to it and, if our adult-beverage-friendly governor has his way, it will become a reality. And, so will numerous other expansions of the state's drinks industries that have been the darlings of his administration. 

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo's sweeping proposals outlined in his "State of the State" speeches around the state this week are subject to approval by the State Legislature. Many of them will be included in his Executive Budget proposal, which is due next week.

One of the items submitted in his "State of the State" book is the creation of the craft beverage week to "highlight local beer, wine, cider and distilled spirits on restaurant menus across the state and in advertising," according to the governor's office.

His proposal would have the New York State Restaurant Association and the New York City Hospitality Alliance team up to promote the state's craft beverage industry, and the state government's Taste NY initiative that promotes New York-made beverages and food products partner with the New York State Liquor Store Association to market the week and hold craft beverage tastings.

In addition, there is a financial component to the initiative.

Cuomo is asking for a new grant for craft beverage producers to participate in joint marketing campaigns, and wants to offer stipends to breweries, cideries, distilleries and wineries to enter national and international competitions that  could help broaden recognition of the state's beverage products.

Cuomo also wants to establish the "Taste NY Culinary Trail System" that would provide support to the various beverage and food trails. That goes beyond the numerous wine trails that began the consumer-centric effort to encourage consumer involvement by adding regional beer, spirits and cider trails in recent years.

That trail system would assist with statewide promotion of current trails and serve as a one-stop shop within the state's "Taste NY" program. It would coordinate with the state Office of General Services and the Department of Transportation.
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Thursday, January 12, 2017

Save-the-date: Mac-n-Cheese Bowl's 8th round

Here's a February save-the-date item:

The 8th annual "Mac-n-Cheese Bowl" is scheduled for 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Saturday, February 18, at Siena College's Marcelle Athletic Complex, 515 Loudon Road (Route 9) in Loudonville.

Tickets, which often sell out in advance, are $20 for adults and $5 for children ages 5-12, with under-5s admitted free. Tickets cover tastings of every participating restaurant's dish.

The event is split into two separate admission sessions, one beginning at 11 a.m., the other at 12:30 p.m. Proceeds will benefiting the Regional Food Bank of Northeastern New York.
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Latest Slidin' Dirty restaurant project under way

Architect's drawing of the Foster redevelopment complex (Sequence Development)
Tim and Brooke Taney have come a long way in a short span of time.

In 2012, they created Slidin’ Dirty, a food truck that quickly became popular throughout the Capital Region.

In 2013, their signature Dirty Asian slider won the judges' choice award at the Albany Wine & Dine for the Arts Festival.

In 2014, they opened their first Slidin' Dirty bricks-and-mortar location, at 9 First Street in downtown Troy. It has been a hit with customers since Day 1.

Today, construction officially began on their second restaurant, at 512 State Street in Schenectady, part of Sequence Development’s rehabilitation of the former Foster Hotel complex. A late March-early April opening is projected. Sequence also was involved in building out the Troy venue.

“Tim and Brooke and the whole Slidin' Dirty team are the best tenants imaginable,” Sequence president Jeffrey Buell said at the time the Schenectady project was revealed. “They work hard, put out an awesome and consistent product, and make sure that everyone has a great time. We believe they will be hugely successful in Schenectady and add something new to a very dynamic restaurant scene. “

And, said Taney, "When Brooke and I opened our first restaurant our instincts told us that Troy was the right fit. Troy was experiencing a renaissance that we wanted to be part of, it was becoming a top destination in the area and we felt Slidin’ Dirty was a perfect match. Now, our instincts tell us the exact same thing about Schenectady.”
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Wednesday, January 11, 2017

B. Good 'healthy food' chain opens first Vermont location

Vermont does not have many fast-food chain restaurants, but as of the beginning of 2017 it has at least one more.

B. Good opened its first Vermont venue over the New Year's weekend in Burlington. Its twist: it calls its fare "healthy food," compared to the "unhealthy food" label most chains labor under.

The new location is at 92 Church Street, formerly home to the burrito joint Boloco. Although B. Good is a chain offering a variety of organic and other such ingredients, its offerings vary somewhat from location to location.

"We change seasonally depending on what's available from local farms. So one thing that is different about B.Good is we celebrate the fact that our food will taste different depending on where you go because we'll use different creameries, we'll use different beef, we'll use different bakeries and stuff like that," co-owner Bill Zolper told MyChamplainValley.com.

B. Good now has 44 U.S. locations -- 31 in New England, 11 in New York State, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and North Carolina, and one each in Canada and Switzerland.
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Schenectady gearing up for 2nd annual 'Soup Stroll'

Winter means soup to many people, but in downtown Schenectady they want you to work up an appetite for it.

The 2nd annual "Schenectady Soup Stroll" is the event, set for noon to 5 p.m. on Saturday, January 28. Visitors set their own  pace, stopping in at a participating restaurant to start there and pick up a map, then strolling to other locations all the while sampling a variety of soups at $1 per three-oun ce serving.

Here's the list of participating venues so far, although more may join. You can double-check closer to the event by going here.
  • Firestone 151 Bar & Restaurant
  • Ambition Coffee & Eatery
  • Aperitivo Bistro 
  • Apostrophe Cafe and Lounge
  • Backstage Pub
  • Cibo Fine Gourmet Foods and Spices'
  • Capoccia Wine Lounge
  • Centre Street Pub
  • Civitello's Italian Pastry Shoppe
  • Cornell's in Little Italy
  • Hunter's on Jay
  • Johnny's Schenectady
  • Katie O'Byrne's Restaurant & Bar
  • ]Mad Jack Brewing Company
  • Manhattan Exchange
  • Marotta's Bar-Risto & Tunnel Lounge
  • Mexican Radio
  • More Perecca's Italian Kitchen
  • Nico's Rooftop Tavern
  • Pho Queen
  • Pinhead Susan's
  • Puzzles Bakery & Café
  • Taj Mahal Restaurant

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Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Epicurean Cartoonery


Fire-damaged Hamlet & Ghost reopening on Thursday

Hamlet & Ghost main entrance
The first of four Saratoga Springs businesses closed by a Thanksgiving Day fire will reopen this Thursday.

The cocktail bar Hamlet & Ghost will open its doors at 5 p.m. with a full bar and light food menu available while fire restoration work continues.

An intense fire that started in the adjoining restaurant Mio Posto, which was destroyed and the building subsequently razed, forced the closing of Hamlet & Ghost at 24 Caroline Street as well as Sperry's and The Ice House, all clustered into the same area of Caroline and Putnam streets.

"After the fire we found some of the rafters in our kitchen and a wall needed to be rebuilt," said Brendan Dillon, co-owner and lead bartender of Hamlet & Ghost. "That area still is under repair, so our usual kitchen is closed. In the meantime, chef Colin Murphy has created some delicious pairings of cheese and meat, drawing on traditional tavern fare that customers will enjoy."

No word has yet been publicly announced about reopening of the other businesses.

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5 chefs ready for 'Chili Bowl' breast cancer fundraiser

Local artisans are working to create 1,000 (!) bowls for the 6th annual "Chili Bowl Fundraiser" benefitting To Life!, an organization that seeks to educate our community about breast cancer detection, treatments and related health matters and to provide support services.

The event will be held from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, January 28, at the Saratoga Clay Arts Center.

Attendees will be able to vote for their favorite chili -- and keep the bowl -- from among recipes created by five chefs -- Pat Brown from The Brook Tavern, Brian Bowden from Sperry's Restaurant, Tom Clark from Mama Mia's, Jason Saunders from Prime at Saratoga National, and Ben Albright from Mortons The Steakhouse.

To keep the lines short and the wait to a minimum, the public may pre-purchase tickets and bowls online for a specific time slot. Because the event is five hours long, only 200 chili bowls will be sold for each time period. After 200 bowls are sold, the time slot will be closed. Tickets will be issued with the time period chosen. Online registrations will be given preference over walk-ins. If all the bowls are sold online, there will be no walk-ins. The time slots: 11 a.m. to noon, noon  to 1 p.m., 1 to 2 p.m., 2 to 3 p.m., 3 to 4 p.m.

The Saratoga Clay Arts Center is located at 167 Hayes Road in Schuylerville.
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