Tuesday, April 30, 2013

A Taste of Albany goes a long way to help the homless!

                 Picture beautiful views of the Capital Region, the  Capital standing tall behind the fountains of the Empire State Plaza. To your right scenes of the Hudson River and Rensselaer County. To your right the Albany City Scape and behind you a view of the neighborhood and quaint park. All of the views around highlight the beauty and diversity of the Capital Region, as the sound of laughter and good company is distracted only by the smells of delicious foods, the scent wafting in the air. Does it sound appealing? Then dream no more, for this event exists and will be taking place this Thursday night, May 2, at the New York State Museum.
                  The event, A Taste of Albany, offers a night filled with food, fun and the chance to help fight homelessness. Enjoy cuisine from more than 30 Capital Region restaurants and chefs, as well as entertainment, and live and silent auctions. Participating restaurants include The Albany Pump Station, New World Bistro Bar, Portofino's Italian Ristorante', Scrimshaw at the Desmond, the Century House, and Chocolate Gecko, among others.
                 Things kick off at 5 p.m. with the V.IP and Sponsor Reception. Here's how it's billed: "An exclusive reception with complimentary beer, wine, soda and special selections from extraordinary chefs representing local restaurants! Enjoy entertainment and a sneak peak at the exciting silent auction items." Tickets to the evening and V.I.P Reception are on sale online for $150. The doors open to the entire crowd at 5 p.m. with the Culinary Showcase, offering food from 30 top notch area restaurants. Tickets for this event range from $60-$70 a person.
                 Grab a raffle ticket for the chance to win one of two prizes, the Central Ave Delicious Dining Destination Package featuring more than $500 worth of dining certificates and prizes from Central Avenue restaurants including Honest Weight Food Co-op, Grappa '72, catered lunch for 20 from Pie in the Sky Bakery and more! As well as the Taste of Albany Dining Package with more than $250 worth of dining certificates to local Capital Region restaurants. The evening will also offer beer, wine, and spirits from local breweries and distillers including C.H. Evans Brewing Co. and the Albany Distillery. Come for a good time to help an amazing cause and enjoy delicious food along the away, and don't forget to ride the carousel while you're there! Tickets for this event are available online.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Spirit of Albany: The Lounge Kitten

Editor’s note: We asked Albany's best mixologists to create an original cocktail recipe that embodies the true Spirit of Albany. Today, we highlight The Lounge Kitten, created by Jennifer Cramer of 205 on Wolf at the Holiday Inn Albany on Wolf Road.

Don’t let the hotel bar stigma or the cocktail name scare you away from trying this delicious concoction. When I mentioned to my fellow staff members that I would be trying The Lounge Kitten, it invoked a few chuckles. Undeterred, I pressed forward knowing that I was in good hands with the drink’s creator, Jennifer.

Arriving at the hotel, I missed the clearly obvious signs for 205 on Wolf and walked in the main lobby doors.

I was directed down about a half mile of snaking hallways eventually arriving in a very impressive bar complete with a glowing fireplace, comfortable booths, stylish tables and chairs, and the well-stocked bar. It is my suggestion that you heed the directional signs, take a seat wherever you feel most comfortable, and order The Lounge Kitten.

A perfect summer drink
I took a seat at the bar next to a few older gentlemen as Jennifer began preparing my drink. When it was finished, she placed a martini glass filled with pink liquid in front of me. My face must’ve been just as blushed as I took the first sip to the audience of older gentlemen, sipping their whiskey, and obviously confused as to what was taking place before them.

To my surprise, the drink was not sticky, was just the right amount of sweet, and was actually quite delicious! Jennifer created the cocktail using X-Rated Liquer (a “superior product”), along with orange vodka, lime wedges, and cranberry juice. She was actually out of X-Rated when I visited so she substituted triple sec, which worked just as fine. (See the correction from Jennifer below!) The result is a light, citrusy, and exciting summertime cocktail that is sure to please. And I’m sure it would pair well with most items on their extensive menu.

So how does The Lounge Kitten relate to Albany? Head over to www.albany.org/spiritofalbany to read the story and get the full recipe. Don’t forget to vote for your favorite drink, which may earn the title of the 2013 Spirit of Albany.

Remember to have fun, but be smart: designate a driver!

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Spirit of Albany: The Fort Orange

Editor’s note: We asked Albany's best mixologists to create an original cocktail recipe that embodies the true Spirit of Albany. Today, we highlight the Fort Orange, created by Joe Westervelt of the Century House Hotel, Restaurant, and Conference Center.

In 1624, Dutch settlers established a permanent trading and military outpost called Fort Orange. The fort went through a number of changes over the years, but eventually the establishment became present day Albany. To honor our ancestors, The Century House Restaurant created "The Fort Orange" cocktail.

The drink is comprised of local Core Vodka (Valatie, NY) infused with fresh oranges and mixed with Grand Marnier, fresh lemon juice, ginger ale, and an orange wedge garnish. Though the recipe is simple enough for a novice bartender, the final product is an outstanding tribute to the men and women who originally settled the area. Surely, they would have enjoyed relaxing with a nice Fort Orange after a long day of blacksmithing, carpentry, hunting and fishing, trading, cooking, and the many other tasks that were common back in the 1600s.

Today, guests to the Century House can feel as if they are back in time while dining next to the fireplace in the historic restaurant, which serves up some of the best food around. (I highly suggest the Lobster Mac and Cheese!) I recently invited a number of friends to the Century House to sample the drink and enjoy some food. When I mentioned that we were going to try a new cocktail, some were wary. However, all trepidation was immediately relieved with the first sip.

The blend of fresh ingredients creates a satisfying and refreshing drink that is pleasant on its own or when paired with food. (Did I mention the Lobster Mac and Cheese?) “The Fort Orange” is now vernacular in my circle of friends, and we are soon planning another trip to the Century House to enjoy this wonderful creation. You should, too.

Get the complete recipe and more at www.albany.org/spiritofalbany. Don’t forget to vote for your favorite recipe, which may earn the title of the 2013 Spirit of Albany.

Remember to have fun, but be smart. Designate a driver!

Thursday, April 11, 2013

18th Century Beer Brewing Workshop at Schuyler Mansion

Did you know that beer was central to 18th century life? It was considered a nourishing staple of one’s diet and consumed at almost every meal. Consequently, brewing beer was an important skill and brewers were known to travel circuits to keep colonial communities supplied. In this workshop, the art of these itinerant craftsmen will be examined, as well as what ingredients, tools, and processes were necessary in transforming grain and water into this important beverage.
Schuyler Mansion

The workshop will be held Saturday, April 27, 2013 from 11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. at Schuyler Mansion (Rain date: Sat., May, 4th). Free to the public. Reservations required - please call (518) 434 – 0834 by April 23rd to reserve your place. Participants should bring lunch and dress for outdoors.

Schuyler Mansion, located at 32 Catherine Street in Albany’s historic South End, was the eighteenth-century home of Revolutionary War Major-General Philip Schuyler (1733-1804) and his family. Beginning May 15, 2013, the site will open for guided tours, Wednesday – Sunday, 11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

For further information, please call (518) 434-0834, visit www.nysparks.com, www.schuylerfriends.org or find them on Facebook.

Friday, April 5, 2013

One bite at a time

I was raised in a town where going out to eat meant choosing one of the many Italian restaurants in town. Ironically enough, they were all owned by one of two Italian families so the menus were quite similar no matter which place you decided to eat. There is nothing bad about Italian food- it’s quite delicious- but there really wasn't much else to choose from, and my family wasn't accustomed to trying something new. So when I moved to Albany, I was ready to expand my palette! I was shocked at how many food choices there were, and grateful that I could choose something from a menu that didn't include red sauce.

Now that I've lived here for a number of years, I have picked some of my favorite restaurants, but I also love to try a new place with friends. One friend even started a blog on eating local this year, using the City Dining Cards as his road map  if you will. I’ll warn you, though: If you eat out with him, be prepared to hear him describe the food like one of the chefs on Food Network. Oh, and he likes to impersonate Julia Child. (Who doesn't, though, right??)

I digress. (It’s Friday afternoon.)

To assist a hungry person with deciding on the perfect dining location, the Central Avenue Business Improvement District recently released its Central Avenue Dining Guide. This 23-page magazine contains listings of all restaurants within its boundaries by either nationality, type of cuisine, or alphabetically. It also includes special feature articles that describe some of the 74 restaurants that represent 19 different countries along Central Ave. You can pick up your guide at many locations throughout Albany, including the Albany Heritage Area Visitors Center.

I think it’s safe to say that it’s unrealistic to try each of the 74 restaurants along Central. Go ahead and try if you’d like, but there is a much more efficient way to do so! Many of the restaurants along Central will be participating in two great community events centered around food:

  • On April 25th, you can take part in the AIDS Council of Northeastern New York’s Dining Out for Life event throughout the city;
  • And on May 2nd, you can sample the food from over 30 Capital Region restaurants and chefs at the Interfaith Partnership’s A Taste of Albany at the New York State Museum.

If you can’t wait to start your new culinary adventure, you can also take part in Angelo’s Restaurant Week from April 15 – 19, or the Downtown Albany Restaurant Week from April 20 – 26!

So instead of going out to your standby restaurant, give yourself the opportunity to try something new. Who knows, it may just have you impersonating Julia Child!

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Albany Institute will offer Hudson Valley Hops!

The Albany Institute of History and Art will play host to Hudson Valley Hops on April 20. The venue will offer beer tasting with seven local breweries. Amongst the list of participants is C.H. Evans Brewing (Albany Pump Station) and Brewery Ommegang. Browns Brew Pub, Adirondack Brewery, Chatham Brewing LLC, Crossroads Brewery, and Keegan Ales will also provide tastings.

The Institutes event will offer the history of beer and brewing in the Capital Region, while you enjoy samples from local breweries. The evening will also feature three speakers: Kathy Quinn, who will speak about the history of the Quinn and Nolan Brewery, Craig Gravina will speak about the history of Brewing in Albany, and Dietrich Gehring on heritage hops

The evening will kick off at 4 p.m. Tickets for this event are on sale now for $25 and can be purchased online or by phone at 463-4478 ext. 408. This is the second year that Times Union.com/Table Hoping and the Albany Institute of History & Art will present this fundraising event.

Desmond to Host Wine Dinner!

Scrimshaw the award winning restaurant located within the Desmond play will host a dinner on Tuesday, April 9 featuring Winemaker Joseph Carr of California Wines of the Capital Region. The evening will feature a five course meal paired with wines.

Festivities kick off at 7 p.m. for the event which costs $80 a seat. Reservations are required, and early reservations are strongly recommended.

Mazzone's to hold Angelo's Restaurant Week!

Leading up to the Downtown Albany Restaurant Week which kicks off April 20, Mazzones will offer their own spin with Angelo's Restaurant Week, April 15 through 19.

The week long event will be held at Mazzone Restaurants throughout the Capital region including Prime at Saratoga National, Angelo's Tavolo in Soctia, Angelo's Prime Bar & Grill in Clifton Park and Apertivo Bistro in Schenectady.

Angelo's 677 Prime in Downtown Albany will also take part offering three courses from limited meuns for $45 a person. The menus can be seen online and reservations are strongly recommended.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Oliva to Open in Stuyvesant Plaza!

Self proclaimed chef's have a new store to rejoice over. Oliva will heading into Stuyvesant Plaza later this spring. The store specializing in olive oils and gourmet cooking products will move into the space formerly housed by Londonderry Cafe according to Table Hopping with Steve Barnes.

 Oliva already has one store at the Clifton Park Center Mall. The oil based products are brought to the area from countries around the world including Australia, Italy, Greece, Portugal, and Spain, among others. You can read more about Stuyvesant Plazas newest tenant here.

Treats and Sweets at Hudson-Chatham Winery!