Wednesday, September 26, 2018

NECCO wafers get reprieve from old-line candymaker

I never particularly liked NECCO wafers -- those powdery-sugar-coated, minimally-flavored candies of our youth, but they were popular with generations of Americans who weren't me.

They recently made the news by becoming endangered when it was announced the famous candy company would be closing its doors after 117 years in business. However, it has just been made known that the Spangler Candy Company, nearly as old as the NECCO maker, actually will be expanding, to include the acquisition of NECCO Wafers, Sweethearts, and Canada Mints.

The family-owned company, founded in 1906, also is known as one of the largest lollipop producers in the world most famously known for making Dum-Dums. Now, according to CEO Kirk Vashaw, they have added NECCO and the other lines to their portfolio.

Vashaw says Spangler is hoping to reintroduce the NECCO candies sometime in the new year or in 2020, which will give it time to gear up to necessary standards as it makes renovations to its 20-acre campus in Bryan, OH, to accommodate the expansion.


HV Garlic Festival to draw tens of thousands to Saugerties

SAUGERTIES -- The Hudson Valley Garlic Festival will go off this weekend in this Ulster County town, less than an hour's drive south of Albany via the Thruway.

The event, presented by the Kiwanis Club of Saugerties, is a rain-or-shine festival scheduled for 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday. Daily admission is available at the gate, $10 (cash only; ATM on site), with no discounts available after the gates open.

The event -- which includes chef demonstrations, tastings of garlic-centric items, live entertainment and music, lecturers -- annually draws literally tens of thousands of visitors.
< br/> While online sales have been sold out, daily admission at the gates is $10 (under 12 is free), and parking is free.

Among the lecturers, several names will be familiar to foodies in the Greater Capital Region. For example, chef Ric Orlando of the New World Bar and Bistro in Albany, and chef Noah Sheetz, executive chef at the Governor’s Mansion in Albany through the last four administrations, as well as several specialists in the cultivation and use of the many varieties of garlic.

Kingston bakery earns top NYS title honors

Dawn Foods, a supplier of products for the baking industry nationwide, just reported the results of its 2nd annual "Sweetest Bakery in America" contest.  While the Greater Capital Region didn't come out on top, one Upstate baker emerged a category winner.

Desing's Bakery of Ulster County took home the prize for "Sweetest Bakery in New York." As a result, it will receive a spread in Bake Magazine, an announcement in BakeNews, advertising money, a trip to Dawn Innovation Studio for a private one-day training session, a $500 for advertising, entry to a trip to the Dawn Innovation Studios, and an award plaque recognizing their win.

Desing's is located at 111 North Front Street in Kingston. It also has a branch at 584 Broadway. It is a bakery, restaurant, cafe, coffee shop, and catering company serving Ulster County and northern Dutchess County, with a full menu at North Front Street and limited menu options at the Broadway location.

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Countdown is on for Troy's 12th Chowderfest

TROY -- The countdown has begun to what is perhaps the city's biggest food-centric public event. That means there are just 12 days until the 12th annual Chowderfest takes over downtown.

The usual crowd of 15,000 or so is being anticipated to throng Monument Square and some adjacent areas for samples of  chowders of all styles from a variety of restaurants and other food purveyors, and to take advantage of special offers from many businesses, as well as a citywide sidewalk sale.

For the event, which will run from noon to 4 p.m., visitors purchase tickets, then walk around to the various booths and venues for sampling. As always, live music and family activities are included on the schedule.

According to the sponsoring Downtown Troy BID, "ChowderFest is excited to work with FoodScraps360 this year to provide composting stations throughout downtown. All competitors will be supplied with compostable cups and utensils, so keep an eye out for composting bins around downtown to properly dispose of your waste."

To help people navigate the area, the Chowder Trolley will be making stops at or near each of the participating restaurants. Tickets will not be sold on the shuttle; they must purchased in advance, as must $1 ickets for three-ounce chowder tasting samples, at one of the three locations -- in Monument Square, in Barker Park, or in the Green Island Bridge parking lot -- from noon through 3:30 p.m. Sales are cash only, with no refunds.

A panel of judges will evaluate the various chowders to select winners in several categories, and visitors who pick up ballots when they purchase tickets can vote for the people's choice award.

The lineup and locations of competitors usually are posted on the event website, but as of today it still shows last year's information, and still has no details on the entertainment.

Last year's winners:

• Judges' Choice: 
1st, Rivers Casino & Resort Schenectady, chowder de Rabiosa (smoked chicken and green chili chowder)
2nd, The Shop, smoked haddock chowder
3rd, Hooked Seafood Company, coconut curry chowder with halibut and scallops
• Best Vegetarian:  The Ruck, roasted brussells sprouts and cheddar chowder
• Most Original: Hooked Seafood Company, coconut curry chowder with halibut and scallops
• Best Seafood:  The Shop, smoked haddock chowder
• Best Booth: Bootleggers On Broadway
• The People’s Choice: McGreivey's, Buffalo Chicken Chowder

Opening & Closing & Developing

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


Spa Mirbeau and its in-house restaurant Le Bistro & Wine Bar, forced to close earlier this month by a "small fire" that started in the laundry area of the Crossgates Mall complex, reopened all facilities today. on Monday, According to the announcement, "Reservations is now scheduling services and day passes. Thank you again for your support and understanding during this time!" Phone: 844-647-2328.

Moliendo Cafe, a restaurant specializing in Colombian cuisine, has opened at 791 Madison Avenue, Albany. The owners are Luis and Diana Uzhca, natives of Colombia and former owners of Salsa Latina in Albany. The restaurant occupies space that used to be home to the Saigon Pearl restaurant, and seats about 40. The owners have applied for a beer-and-wine license. The menu is available online. Hours: 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and 4 to 9 p.m. Monday, Wednesday and Thursday, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and 4 to 10 p.m. Friday noon to 10 p.m. Saturday and noon to 8 p.m. Sunday. Phone: 518-898-9081.

• A nonprofit, year-round grocery store called Rolling Grocer 19 is scheduled to begin making stops around the city of Hudson four days each week, beginning this Wednesday from 3 to 7 p.m. in the Columbia Street parking lot of Bliss Towers. It is housed in a 16-foot trailer and offers fresh produce, dairy, bread, meat, seafood, canned and dry goods, toiletries, and other products. The store will move to a different site each Thursday, with the schedule posted on its Facebook page.

• The Mount Snow Market Place, located in the Route 100 shopping center in West Dover, VT, 20+ miles northeast of Bennington, has opened a tasting room for products from Honora Winery and its sister company J'Ville Craft Brewery. "I think this is going to be a really great location," Janice Stuart, head brewer and vineyard manager, told the Brattleboro Reformer newspaper. "I think we're going to end up with a lot more people coming from Mount Snow." The market place tasting room, about two miles from the ski resort, is offering beer, wine, and cheese from noon to 8 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday. Honora has a 10-acre vineyard in West Halifax. J'Ville Brewery houses its operations and a tasting room for both brands in Jacksonville.


• An early morning fire on Monday forced Mo's Food Market at 1575 Becker Street, Schenectady, to close temporarily. The fire was reported about 3:30 a.m., and firefighters extinguished the blaze in less than an hour. No injuries were reported. Deputy Fire Chief Don Mareno told local media said the building sustained fire, smoke, and water damage, but deemed the structure was repairable. The cause of the fire remained under investigation today.

• A reminder: The Rusty Anchor, the floating barge restaurant in Watervliet's Hudson Shores Park, will holds its annual "Pulling Up the Anchor Party" on Thursday to close out its dining season. The event will run from 7 to 10 p.m., with a variety of food and drink specials as well as live music from Whiskey Highway and the Back 40 Band. The venue is located at 1 Selke Drive, just south of the Troy-Green Island Bridge. Phone: 518-273-2920

Update: City demolishes part of South End Tavern row

UPDATE 9/25/18: The collapsed end unit of a row of buildings that contains the former South End Tavern in Troy was demolished by a crew of city workers on Monday. The city is working to determine whether the two remaining buildings in the row at 757 Burden Avenue will have to be taken down, according to John Salka, spokesman for Mayor Pat Madden.

(Original story, below, published 9/22/18 under the headline 
"Wall collapses at Troy's former South End Tavern row")

A closeup view of the rear-wall collapse. (Rachael Marie photo)
TROY -- A rear piece of what once was an attached row of buildings that included a longtime iconic tavern has given way.

Referring to the former South End Tavern row, Jeff Belschwinder of Sidewinder Photography reports, "The west wall has collapsed. No one is injured at this time."

The tavern, which operated for nearly 80 years at 757 Burden Avenue near another local icon -- the outdoor mural of the historic Burden Iron Works waterwheel, was run by three generations of men named Marty Burke from 1934 until June 2013 when it closed for good. Business had slowed down to some extent in its latter years, but a citywide property reassessment that nearly quadrupled the tax on the business was the final straw.

The exterior of the tavern was known for two signs (see below) -- one proclaiming its name, and a second saying "Ladies Entrance," a remnant of the day when such things were commonplace. Both signs eventually wound up in the possession of the Rensselaer County Historical Society.

The tavern exterior before the signs came down.

Sunday, September 23, 2018

Surprise! Magazine lists some locals among HV 'best of'

For those of you in the Greater Capital Region who think you reside in the Hudson Valley, you may want to reconsider if you value the opinion of Hudson Valley magazine.

Although I find the magazine a nice read, and have for many years, by its own definition it covers a Hudson Valley universe consisting only of seven counties (Dutchess, Greene, Orange, Putnam, Rockland, Sullivan, Ulster) with very occasional brief nods to something in Columbia, Rensselaer, and Albany counties -- usually accompanied by a paid advertisement by the venue which, I am sure, is entirely coincidental.

Many of the residents of that trio of counties regard themselves as being at least Hudson Valley-ish. There even is Hudson Valley Community College in Troy, for heaven's sake. So, although I wasn't anticipating much of any recognition for anything from the Greater Capital Region in the magazine's "Best of Hudson Valley" issue that arrived in the mail yesterday, I was pleasantly surprised. More categories -- some rather iffy as if simply to squeeze in a name, others obviously legitimate -- resulted in more Greater CR mentions.

In the "vegan deli" category, the magazine listed Berben & Wolff's of Albany: "The Capital Region's first and only vegan deli opened in 2016 and prides itself on creativity, quality, and ethical consumption. The evolving menu features a selection of classics, along with daily and weekly specials that are sure to expand your idea of the cuisine that vegan dining spans."

And, in the "focaccia" category, it lists Talbott & Arding Cheese and Provisions of Hudson: "It takes highly specialized skills to create the perfect focaccia, butTalbott & Arding succeeds at making this light, springy, and slightly sour bread with a perfectly golden crust. Have it with hunks of cheese folded in the dough, or enjoy it simply with freshly cracked sea salt. Eat it on the go, or take it to the next level with the various deli meats, cheeses, and mustards that the shop has to offer."

Under best restaurants by county, we see New World Bistro Bar, Albany, under "Albany County"; Ca'Mea Restaurant, Hudson, under "Columbia County"; Peck's Arcade, Troy (a regular advertiser), under "Rensselaer County"; Gracie's Luncheonette, Leeds, under "Greene County."

The magazine also has about a bazillion other categories great and small --a total of 345 winneras, a few of which are topped by Greater Capital Region entities. The "best of" October edition is available now at newsstands.

Saturday, September 22, 2018

Epicurean Humor

A gallery of artwork honoring those who draw conclusions. 

Opening & Closing & Developing

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


Lake Local, the Saratoga Lake restaurant and bar that has been closed since an April fire caused extensive damage, has changed directions on its path to getting back in business. The ownership presented plans to the Saratoga Springs Planning Board this week that called for a 298-seat year-round restaurant, and a 146-seat capacity outdoor dining component that would utilize picnic tables and Adirondack chairs lining the beach area. The project also would include 31 restaurant parking slips and 108 rental boat slips, and a new, three-sided band shelter with sound deadening walls. Those plans replace an earlier proposal for a multi-phase project that included an added convenience shop, a 10-room bed and breakfast, and a 25-room inn on the 3.2 acre location. That plan had met with significant objections from neighbors who expressed concern about increased traffic and noise. The new project requires no special-use permits or area variances. Lake Local is located at 550 Union Avenue.

• The aptly-named Next Chapter Cafe is under development at the popular Northshire Bookstore in Manchester Center, VT. The woman-owned eatery is projected to open in November in the space that had been home for 15 years to the Spiral Press until closing in August. It will offer coffees, pastries, and Latin-influenced foods with local roots for breakfast and lunch. The trio behind the project consists of Sandra Kraehling, executive chef and cafe manager; Daniela Stewart, business and marketing manager, and Susan Howard, facilities manager. All live locally, although Kraehling had been a caterer and owner of the Pan Latin Cafe in New York City. Stewart and her husband own Pillar to Post Home Inspectors, and Howard is an interior decorator. The Northshire Bookstore, which also has a Saratoga Springs venue, is located at 4869 Main Street. Phone: 802-362-2200.

Thursday, September 20, 2018

Opening & Closing & Developing

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


• Stuyvesant Plaza in Guilderland will have a new tenant opening in October. It's called Bare and will offer 100% plant-based bowls, smoothies and juices. It explains itself this way: "To restore, refresh and revive the community by encouraging a return to our roots: by celebrating local produce, plant-based products and one another." Hours: 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday-Friday, 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday-Sunday. Phone:


• What once was the Voorheesville Diner is being revamped to become Gracie’s Kitchen at 39 Voorheesville Avenue in the Albany County village. Slingerlands resident Eric Johnson, pitmaster for Mr. Bobo’s Traveling Barbecue Allstars, is behind the venture. He mentions a potential October 15 opening on his Facebook page, adding, "Countdown starts tomorrow." Mr. Bob teams headed up have won BBQ competition championships in eight states. The Voorheesville Diner went out of business last December, leaving the village without a sitdown eatery.

• Business may be picking up for Anthony Gjergji, owner of Anthony’s Banquet Hall, in the Greene County hamlet of Leeds. He says he used to host about 20 wedding receptions a year, but that number has dwindled to five to eight because no hotel has replaced the former Quality Inn on Route 23B, which has sat vacant for more than eight years. Now, a county effort to redevelop the area seems to be moving ahead. Demolition of the hotel is expected to begin within the next 30 days, and the county's industrial development agency plans to market the land, which is near the Thruway, to developers with an eye toward luring one or more hotels. "Why come here when there’s no hotel?” Gjergji said to HV360. “I hope this [project] will put Catskill on the map.”

Craft Brewfest and music event nears at Stratton Mountain

The gondola at Stratton Mountain. (image provided)
STRATTON, VT -- October may be a touch too early to get in some skiing at Stratton Mountain, but it's just the right time of year for its Craft Brewfest, the cornerstone of Stratton's Harvest Fest weekend over Columbus Day, October 6-7.

The 15th annual Brewfest will feature more than 100 craft beers, ales, and cider from the region, to go along with a chili cookoff competition. The weekend also will offer keg toss and stein hoisting competitions open for all to test their beer-related strength. Family-friendly events will include a "spooktacular" scavenger hunt, hayrides, and food at Stratton BaseCamp.

Free live music from Washington County Line will begin at noon Saturday in the Base Area, followed by Binea Kwame Shakedown and Dr. K's Motown Review at 3 p.m. and 5 p.m., respectivelty. Greensky Bluegrass will be performing on Sunday.

In addition, gondola rides will be available to the top of southern Vermont's highest peak. (For peak foliage viewing, the gondola will be running seven days a week from September 24 through October 8.) Tickets are $12 in advance for adults, or $15 at the gondola.

Brewfest tickets, priced at $39, and Greensky Bluegrass tickets, at $25, can be purchased online. Additional information on lodging and events is available on the website as well.

Pop-up chef/restaurateur to host ... pop-up chef

TROY -- Chef Josh Coletto made most of his reputation by creating pop-up dinners in the Capital Region before opening his own restaurant, Nighthawks, earlier this year.

In a kharmactic moment in November, he'll be the host for a pop-up dinner to be created by chef Krista Noelle Espinal.

Espinal was the founding executive chef of Malcolm's in Schenectady, but lost that position after four months after a disagreement with ownership. She then moved into the private chef sector -- where she still is active -- before also joining the staff of Innovo Kitchen in Latham.

Nighthawks, which Coletto bills as a farm-to-table restaurant, is located at 461 Broadway. Phone: 518-272-1000.