Friday, October 10, 2014

BACO-NALIA at the Hudson-Chatham Winery

Did you know that the Hudson Valley is the oldest wine making and grape growing regions in America? More than 100 years before the first vines were planted in present-day California, the French Huguenots had planted vines in the Hudson Valley near New Paltz, starting a wine-making legacy that still continues today.

Today, the friendly folks at the Hudson Chatham Winery continue that tradition on their rolling acres in Ghent, just a quick drive from Albany. Voted best local winery in the Capital Region by Capital Region Living Magazine, and recipient of many accolades and awards for their wines, Hudson-Chatham Winery is truly a destination for those seeking an authentic Hudson Valley wine experience.

Next weekend, on Saturday, October 18, the winery will be hosting a special BACO-NALIA event, in which all five Baco varieties will be released including: 2013 Estate Baco Noir (from their very own vineyard); 2013 Reserve Baco Noir, Casscles Vineyard; 2013 Middlehope Baco Noir (from their winemaker's vines he planted as a teenager); 2013 Baco Noir Old Vines; and 2013 Field Stone Baco Noir Old Vines (made by aging the wine with stones from the vineyard).

The release will be kicked off with a vertical tasting of all five wines in their tasting room from 1-3 pm. Lite fare will be served with the sit-down tasting. $40 per person.

Following, at 6:30 p.m., a Private Dinner will be served where each course, catered by  Blima's, is paired with one of the Bacos. That's a five-course meal with foods as varied as savory cakes to short ribs of beef and much more! $75 per person.

Space is limited and reservations are required for these special events. Email or call 518-392-9463.

Of course, the tasting room is open from 12 noon - 5 pm where visitors may sample all of the Baco varieties or choose from their regular list of delectable wines.

Hudson-Chatham Winery is part of the Hudson Berkshire Beverage Trail.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Popular Albany Brewpub Hires New Executive Chef

The Albany Business Review reported today that a pioneer in the Albany brewpub scene, C.H. Evans Brewing Company at the Albany Pump Station, has a new executive chef. Hailing from the Sagamore Restaurant in Bolton Landing, NY, on Lake George, Todd Cutler hopes to bring more local food and beer and food pairings to the Pump Station menu.

The Pump Station is housed in a former water pumping station for the Albany Water Works in downtown Albany. They brew about 50 different varieties of beer annually and serve about 250 customers each day.

To read the full article, click here.

For more history on the C.H. Evans Brewing Company and the Albany Pump Station Building, click here.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Spirit of Albany: Jack's Oyster House

Jack’s Retains its Relevance, Over a Hundred Years Later

Some may call into question the future of a restaurant that has witnessed over a hundred years of American history. Could this place still impress the diners who aren’t easily wowed?  And if so, how? Few may think that such a restaurant can exist -- and if it does -- it’s a likely shell of its old self; one that’s been politely grandfathered into the now uber hip dinning landscape.   But on State Street, the horn of New York State political machine, sits Jack’s Oyster House, an old-line seafood and chop house that still reigns as that quintessential American icon.

Opened in 1913, Jack’s continues to be helmed by members of original owners -- the Rosenstein’s –and the restaurant has been dubbed “Albany’s Greatest Restaurant Legend” as well as, “The Best Restaurant of the Century.” The establishment consistently courts the interest of politicians and professions during its thriving lunch and maintains the pace during the evening hours as well. And through the changing frontier in the landscape of American restaurants, Jack’s look and feel exudes the understated opulence akin to a high-brow roadhouse restaurant of the 1930’s. In 2010 the restaurant received a facelift, modernizing some elements – like seating – but still staying true to its chop-house concept.

In terms of its food and fare, Jack’s – once again – maintains its culinary relevance by simultaneously embracing change, and also, at times, strategically bucking it. The menu is classic but not outdated.  At its core, the menu is a three dimensional aggregate, representative of American food past, present and future.  As expected, there’s a robust raw-bar – arguably the best in the city. And the menu, as a whole, is dominated by updated, generously portioned,  stand-out classics of a by-gone era, like Steak Diane and Chicken Lemonardo.

For the Spirit of Albany Campaign, Bill Crabill of Jack’s created a celebratory libation honoring the space Jack’s has occupied in Albany’s history and aptly named The Centennial Tini. On first sip, the presence of the extra dry champagne and echoes of citrus reminded me of a traditional French 75. But as the flavors coalesced, I began to taste how truly special this cocktail is, and why it is the most fitting representation of the restaurant.  With the Centennial Tini, every component was palpable and none of the elements competed against the other. The result was a beautifully balanced, near flawless cocktail served in a chilled vintage martini glass.  

The reason why this drink deserves such acclaim is partly due to the ingredients employed, but moreover, it is largely a result of precise craftsmanship and use of exacting ratios.  Far too many bar-keeps make a fundamental attribution error assuming that the ingredients trump the composition.  And that isn't the case, as the Centennial Tini proves. For instance, the flavors of the black raspberry liqueur in this drink detonate on one’s mid palate, right before the effervescence of the champagne is perceivable. Achieving such balance takes skill but it also takes great attention to detail; an attribute the staff of Jack’s just happen to be masters of.

There are many restaurants that will continue to be part of region’s strong unbroken wave in Capital City dining, but there is no disputing that Jack’s Oyster House will persist as its leading edge.

Editor's note: We asked some of Albany’s best mixologists to create original cocktail recipes that embody the spirit of Albany, and we compiled those recipes into our 2014 Spirit of Albany Recipe Guide. In this exciting blog series local foodie Brigid Washington, a Culinary Institute of America grad and local restaurant consultant, explores each restaurant – it’s menu, it’s atmosphere, and of course, it’s custom cocktail – and provides her perspective on how it all comes together to create part of Albany’s creative culinary scene! (The ACCVB does not, in any way, condone drinking and driving so please designate a driver as we did for this series.)