I am copying the latest newsletter from Healthy Living New York:
It's once again that all-too-magical time of year... Thanksgiving at Healthy Living! Our staff will be here with bells on to lead you where you need to go and help make sure your Thanksgiving table shines.
THANKSGIVING: SENSATIONAL SIDES Friday, November 15th · 5:30–8:00pm · $45
Put away the boxed stuffing, ditch the canned cranberry, and chuck the frozen veggies; this class is all about from-scratch Thanksgiving goodness! Chef-Instructor Shannon Beckwith has tips-and-tricks galore to cut down on your time in the kitchen. These recipes are so easy, you'll think you were still cooking from a package! We'll be making simple stuffing, zesty cranberry sauce, a warm farro salad, and caramelized brussels sprouts. The dishes are as delicious as they are easy to prepare! Reserve your spot now.
PRE-ORDER YOUR LOCAL TURKEYS—$3.19 /lb THROUGH NOVEMBER 22nd
Think local this Thanksgiving and discover just how juicy and delicious your bird can be! We're offering fantastic local birds from three fabulous local farms — Buckley, Stonewood, and Misty Knoll — at an unbeatable pre-order price of $3.19 a pound ($4.49 a pound after November 22nd). Click to pre-order.
PIE PERFECTION: PRE-ORDER THANKSGIVING PIES
If it's ease and elegance you want this Thanksgiving, our bake shop has you covered. Order your perfect pie today and rest assured that your guests—from vegans to the gluten-free and, of course, omnivores—will love the dessert you serve. Click to pre-order.
MAPLE-ROASTED DELICATA SQUASH WITH GARAM MASALA
This wonderfully warming, spectacularly simple side will have your Thanksgiving guests wanting more. The best part? It's vegan AND gluten-free, so all your guests can easily enjoy the delicata deliciousness.
3 lbs. delicata squash
1 TB + 2 tsp. Olive Oil
1/2 tsp. coarse salt
1/4 c. maple syrup
1 (or more) tsp. garam masala
1 TB apple cider vinegar
Pre-heat the oven to 425.
Cut each squash in half lengthwise, scoop out seeds and strings, then slice into 1/2 inch thick half moons.
Toss with about 1 TB olive oil and salt. Spread in a single layer on the baking sheet and place in oven.
Roast for about 20 minutes, turning once, until easily pierced with a fork.
While squash is roasting, whisk together the maple syrup, vinegar, the garam masala and 2 tsp of olive oil in a small pot and heat until bubbly. Don't overheat, or your syrup will start to caramelize and get too thick.
Brush or drizzle maple glaze over squash and return to oven for about 10 minutes to caramelize.
Season with salt and pepper if desired; serve.
PRODUCER SPOTLIGHT: BUCKLEY FARM Ballston Spa, NY The William H. Buckley farm in Ballston Lake is proud to offer organically fed, free-range Broad Breasted Bronze turkeys for your Thanksgiving meal! No hormones or antibiotics are given to these beautiful birds—just food, water, and a whole lotta love. You can really taste the difference!
NEW PRODUCT: OMMEGANG'S GAME OF THRONES "TAKE THE BLACK STOUT" This one's for beer lovers AND Game of Thrones aficionados! This deep, dark stout tastes of chocolate and caramel with an earthy, woody character and just a hint of spice. Winter is coming, so it's the perfect time to buy a big, warming stout like this one! Hurry in, it won't last long.
Tired of doing all the cooking? You're in luck—our creative catering team specializes in custom holiday meals you and your family will LOVE! We have a long list of spectacular sides that can be custom-ordered for your big family fete. Most everything's available gluten-free, vegan, or both. For mashed potatoes, roasted yams, sage stuffing, and anything else your heart might desire, give our catering coordinators a call and let them take care of holiday meal planning. Stress-free and full of flavor... what's not to love?
HOLIDAY PIE TASTING Friday, November 22nd · 12:00am–3:00pm · FREE!
Planning on pre-ordering one of our Thanksgiving pies but don't know which one fits your fancy? Join us as we sample our phenomenal pies and get a good idea of what you like. Demo Coordinator Chris Davis will be there to answer questions and help guide you through the pre-order process.
BELL'S BREWERY DEMO Friday, November 15th · 3:30–6:30pm · FREE!
Kalamazoo, Michigan's Bell's Brewery is known far and wide for its fabulous beer. Join us and see what all the fuss is about! We'll be pouring Bell's Two Hearted Ale and Kalamazoo Stout. You MUST be 21+ and bring a valid photo ID to participate.
We know you have holiday shopping in mind, so we've made it easy to save big on Thanksgiving necessities.
Farmers Market Organic Pumpkin $1.59 /15 oz regular price $3.39 ends December 3
Farmers Market Organic Pumpkin Pie Mix $1.99 /15 oz regular price $3.79 ends December 3
Glutino Gluten-free Cornbread Stuffing $4.79 /8 oz regular price $6.79 ends December 3
Arrowhead Mills Organic Savory Stuffing Mix $2.00 /10 oz regular price $4.29 ends December 3
I am copying an email below from Northshire Bookstore:
We are getting ready to launch eight reading groups in the new year! Register now!
"Northshire Cookbook Reading Group"
We will meet on the third Tuesday of every month beginning on January 16th at 6pm in the evening at Spring Street Gallery, 110 Spring Street. If you love to cook, collect cookbooks, nosh on home prepared foods and talk of food and the kitchen, don't miss out on this irresistible group! Email Maureen Sager, firstname.lastname@example.org for more details.
"Truth and Tales Reading Group"
Approaching each topic from a factual and then fictional perspective, the group will explore a myriad of topics from art, history, mythology, women's studies and religion by reading one book from an historical/biographical account, followed the next month by a fictional version of the same or similar topic. Email Maeve Noonan, email@example.com if you are interested in joining this group.
"Northshire Poetry Reading Group"
Whether an anthology or work by an individual poet, each month, our poetry reading group will enjoy a new volume of poetry from which group members will choose a poem to be read aloud and then discuss. Contact Carol Graser at firstname.lastname@example.org to join.
"The Armchair Explorer's Reading Group"
Travel the world with a selection of novels set throughout time and around the globe. Each month we'll explore a new country and discuss the characters and themes that make up the culture, giving each novel its unique atmosphere.Please contact Amelia Stymacks, email@example.com, for more information.
"The End of the World Reading Group"
Is the end really near? Explore a genre that may be predicting the future without even knowing it. Prepare for post-apocalyptic worlds, the thrill of hostile takeovers, dangerous dystopias, and more. Consider the end of the world with Tara and Jess E as your knowledgeable guides! To register, contact Jess at firstname.lastname@example.org or Tara at email@example.com.
"'WeAreNotTooOldForThis' Reading Group"
Are "adult" books just not cutting it for you? Do you love reading about early life struggles, first loves, angst and dreams? Whether it be contemporary fiction, paranormal romance, or sci-fi adventure, booksellers Tara and Paige invite you to join like minded adult readers of YA fiction. Contact Tara at firstname.lastname@example.org or Paige at email@example.com for more info.
"Knit Wits Reading Group"
Knit Wits, Northshire's new reading group for knitters is here to save you from cold lonely winter nights - or at least one of them every month! Designed for knitters of every level, we will try new patterns and read new books! We will explore books of all different genres, and new knitting projects each month. Leah suggests listening to the audio-book while working on your yarn project - improve your mind and your wardrobe at the same time! Please contact Leah, firstname.lastname@example.org for more information about this fun monthly group.
"Reading Salinger Reading Group"
Starting with the new biography, Salinger, by David Shields, this reading group will then move on to explore the remainder of Salinger's fiction. The initial meeting will take place on Monday, February 3rd, at 7pm in "the Library" of the Crown Grill in downtown Saratoga Springs, with future meetings on the first Monday of every month thereafter. Registration will be limited to 15. Please email Pat Friesen, email@example.com to enroll or receive additional information
Tickets are on sale now for three great upcoming events!
The best in digital reading, here at your independent bookstore: Kobo
The Kobo Glo or the Kobo Mini are a great gift to give to the digital reader, while supporting your local indie bookstore.
Kobo offers over 3 million eBook titles - including best sellers, hidden gems, Indie Next List great reads, and other recommendations - that can be downloaded instantly over Wi Fi, making it the ultimate in convenience.
How to get started? Easy - one, two, three:
Set up your Kobo account at kobobooks.com through a link on our website, or via your Kobo Mini or Glo eReader bought from our store.
Login to kobobooks.com with your new account to browse, search for, and buy eBooks.
Start reading! Download a free Kobo reading App here to read on your smartphone, computer, or tablet. (You can also purchase eBooks through the app. Sign into the app with your new Kobo account and continue to support this store. We sure do appreciate it!)
20% off Indiebound Hardcover Bestsellers!
Don't forget to check out the latest books on the Indiebound Bestseller List. Each of the top ten hardcover books on the Indiebound bestseller list is discounted 20% at the Northshire Bookstore. To see the latest bestsellers, visit us online or stop by the store.
I stopped out to the small strip mall on Rt 50 in Wilton Sunday night only to see this sign below on the door of the former Bon Ton Fish Market.
Employees at neighboring establishments advised me that the Greenwich, CT based Bon Ton, which opened in August of 2012, closed about a week and a half ago. They further advised that an Albany-based person, whom they didn't know but apparently already sold seafood in some capacity, will reopen a fish market in another name at the same location within about a week. Meanwhile, Moby Rick's seafood on Lake Avenue seems to be going well, at least based on my recent visit over the weekend.
This restaurant, which has been in the works since earlier this year, will make great use of a historic building behind the post office. The owners and the chef have a great following and I believe this place is going to be special and am in eager anticipation. You can link 15 Church's web site here and its Facebook page here.
Well life, fatherhood, and a huge amount of back pain has gotten in the way of my blogging. But that's OK, because I'm very happy being a Dad! In the meantime, here's a few thoughts - most of which I've been meaning to write about for a few weeks now:
It seems like quality sports writers from The Saratogian tend to leave our hometown daily soon enough. That was the case with Nicole Russo, and is now the same thing with Andrew Champagne. He not only put out good articles with commentary, but a lot of them. His hard work paid off, and he is moving on to a Horse Racing TV network out in California. Good luck Andrew!
Sometime when I wasn't looking, The movie "Ass Backwards", which was partly filmed in Saratoga Springs and Albany, was released direct to video in September. It reportedly will be released in theaters on November 8th. If the facts that (1) the movie was filmed back in 2010, (2) had major financial difficulties and was shelved for a while along the way, and (3) went to video on demand before being released in theaters doesn't make you as uninspired as I am on this movie's prospects, perhaps the trailer below will seal the deal for you. I always want anything associated with Saratoga to succeed, but this flick seems like a dog to me. We'll know soon enough. In the meantime, you can watch the film on demand via Amazon.com.
Speaking of movies filmed in Saratoga, how is it that I never heard of the movie "Aftermath" being filmed here in the Spa City? Perhaps because it was filmed in 2006 and apparently has been mothballed until early this year, when it looks like it was shown at the Cinequest Film Festival. The thriller, starring Anthony Michael Hall and Tony Danza, was also the last film for the late actor Chris Penn. Penn died in 2006, which is a clear indicator of how long this film has been languishing. That's a heck of a delay, much worse than Ass Backwards. Netflix lists the movie, but has a notation "DVD availability date unkown". I guess there were scenes filmed at Clancy's Tavern on Caroline Street, but I don't know much else about the filming locations. Please comment if you can add some knowledge on this. You can watch the Trailer below:
And continuing with movies, I am nothing less than thrilled about the new downtown theater. Margarita and I are looking forward to walking downtown for some nice entertainment - and to have a clue what the Oscar-nominated movies are all about during the awards ceremony. Of course, with a newborn baby in the house, I don't know how often we will get out, but it's exciting to know the movie theater is here.
Shifting gears, it seems like the groundwork is being laid to develop the St. John Neumann residence next to St. Clements Church on Lake Avenue. The parcel is apparently going to be split up so the vacant residence building is on its own parcel. What else could that mean other than an effort to sell it? It's a picturesque site with many large beautiful trees giving nice shade and serenity to that area. I hope any development there keeps those trees, the beauty of the building, and the residential nature of that neighborhood. I feel another condo development coming on.
If you haven't been to Congress Plaza lately, the portion of the building slated for demolition is completely gone. It really looks a lot different there.
Speaking of Congress Plaza, I really appreciate the CVS plaza being open 24 hours.
So when's Papa Johns opening? Inquiring (and hungry) minds want to know.
I wonder how Jacobs and Anthony's is doing? I was walking by there the other day and I want to go there in theory, but when I'm in the mood to go out to dinner it just doesn't excite me. I was there for dinner once when it first opened and it was just OK. The dining room is comfortable, but to me there are just better choices in that price point.
I don't like the new Saratogian's print edition; the appearance has the appeal of USA Today. It looks too much like the Times Union as well. The extra-early deadline, imposed because the T-U is now printing the paper, is only going to make our hometown paper that much less relevant. On the plus side, the new web site looked sharp and clean at my first glance.
Has Breuggers reopened yet? Will it ever reopen?
Continuing on restaurants, I wonder which ones will close this winter.
There are usually at least a few that don't make it through the winter.
NYRA finally has what I call the floating horse numbers on the bottom of the screen for simulcasts. You know, those computer generated colored and numbered bubbles that show you where your horse is on the track. Other tracks have had them for years, but now NYRA tracks finally have them. I can sleep well now.
OK folks, that's it for now. Enjoy the rest of the week.
The Saratoga Fasig-Tipton auctions in August are big events, but the fall sale, in just its second year, sort of falls below the radar. It is more officially known as the Saratoga Mixed and Horses of Racing Age sale, and it will be held tomorrow, Monday October 7th starting at 11am and going well into the afternoon.
It's not as high-end (and therefore not as dressy) as the August affairs; in fact it's downright laid back, but still interesting and fun. For more information, including an on-line catalog, click here.
Margarita and I recently had dinner at Jack Dillon's Farm To Fork Cuisine, the relatively new restaurant on South Boadway where the Big Apple restaurant previously was. The long and short of it is it's worth getting off the beaten path of downtown's Broadway and going to Jack Dillon's.
First of all, let's give former Siro's chef-owner Tom Dillon credit for having the confidence to go out and open a restaurant in a large building on Saratoga's restaurant skid row. In addition to the Big Apple, that location was the site of the brief stay of Morrissey’s and before that, the Joe Collins Restaurant for many years. It says here that Dillon still has what it takes to run a first-rate restaurant and it is so satifsying to patronize an establishment where the owner, and consequently the staff in both the front and back of the house, both have a cool confidence and know what they are doing.
It's great to have restaurants offer locally produced food, and I should note there are many Saratoga area restaurants that have been doing just that quite well for years. Jack Dillon's does it while offering a unique and pleasing overall experience with great service, presentation, and taste. This is a minor point but something I appreciated: even the bread service had a level of proficiency and thought to it.
Margarita ordered the fluke, which was breaded and pan fried with a tropical theme - it was served with a cooked banana still in the skin, and a mango, onion, and parsley salad. I ordered the wood fired salmon, which came with polenta and a remoulade. As you can see from the pictures above and below, they were presented beautifully and tasted as good as they look.
So venture out of downtown every now and again and try a restaurant or two in the outlying stretches. You might just like what you find.
For Steve Barnes' comments about Jack Dillon's on his Table Hopping blog, click here.
I want every new business in Saratoga to succeed. I go into Saratoga's new places with such high hopes and sometimes I'm encouraged, and sometimes I'm discouraged.
With that in mind, I hate to say it, but I'm not exactly feeling it with Alpha Dogs, the new hot dog place in that tiny little cave at 6 Phila Street that formerly housed among other things a bank vault, a laundromat, and most recently, a store selling high-end backpacks. My experience there wasn't awful, but if an entrepeneur is going to try to stake out a limited food niche then he/she better do it right and you better create future cravings so I keep coming back. Alpha Dogs did neither.
Don't get me wrong, it wasn't an awful experience. And they were only open about eight days when my wife Margarita decided she was in the mood for something quick for dinner, so maybe they will improve to the point that they do get it right and therefore create cravings in their customers. Time will tell I guess.
Part of the problem is that there is a stellar local hot dog chain called Ted's Hot Dogs in my home town of Buffalo. They broil their Sahlen's brand dogs over charcoal, and becuase Sahlens dogs are so delicious, they only need offer traditional toppings like relish, mustard, ketchup, sauerkraut, onions etc. It's the hot dog that's the center of attention, not a bunch of exotic ingredients. They handbread their onion rings and make real milk shakes. Suffice to say Ted's sets the bar high for other hot dog stands; my mouth is watering just thinking about a Ted's charbroiled hot dog.
Above: A Ted's in suburban Buffalo. Below: Some of Ted's hot dogs
Saratoga's Alpha Dogs offers a lot of creative ingredients for their dogs, which are cooked on an electric skillet. I had the “LA Street Dog,” a hot dog wrapped in bacon, deep-fried and topped with hot sauce, jalapenos and grilled onions, and Margarita got the “Tsunami Dog” with is a dog with teriyaki, grilled pineapple and green onions. The fries we ordered were undercooked and there was a pool of grease on the bottom - a result of not draining the grease properly and failing to briefly place and shake the fries on a paper transfer plate prior to serving. Like I said, I want it to succeed and they have been only open 8 days, but when a restaurant has a limited menu then they'd better get it right the first time or there may not be a second time.
The owners, Shelly and Mark Taber, are real nice and seem eager to please their customers. Perhaps the late night bar crowd won't be as discriminating, and along the way they'll improve to the point where they have a following. Or perhaps there is a niche to be filled for hot dogs with a lot of interesting ingredients. Because the place is so small, there is no seating available there so you have to take your food somewhere else to consume.
I haven't done one of these in a long while, so here we go:
Did you catch Ramon Dominguez's tribute and award ceremony at the track today? He is really a class act. Read here to find more information about a fitting tribute to the great jockey who was forced into retirement due to an injury.
Well it's good to see great weather, a good crowd, and record handle for the Travers. It was certainly an exciting race as well. So much for the big three horses in that race, huh? This should make the Breeders Cup all that more interesting. Here's hoping NYRA has a strong final week to cap off a good season.
I read a rumor on Twitter, and at this point that's all I could classify that as, a rumor. The tweet said something about NYRA is considering going to 8 weeks next year. I hope it was just simply BS, or a dumb joke. If they do expand the season, we should all rebel and not show up until August 1st. That had to be a joke.
Overheard between NYRA staff this morning ... 8 weeks of racing next year being considered. #thanksforthenametags
I'm not necessarily so offended, but does the Saratogian have any standards in their pink sheet advertising? Is it worth the money are they getting for that strip club ad that's there everyday on the front page? It's just awkward.
Speaking of the Saratogian, did you see that it is now being printed by the Times Union and will go to press even hours earlier than it previously went? Several employees who worked the press in Troy lost their jobs. I hated the Saratogian's 10pm or so press time, but 8pm (or earlier?) is ridiculous. There won't be a single sports score from night games. I realize the directive, which also affects the Troy Record and other sister publications, came from well above, but that news was disconcerting.
I see Kings Tavern, across from the track next to where Sabinas used to be, opened back up this year. It was closed last year and perhaps the year before. I have to think that a bar steps from the two Union Avenue entrances would do a killing during track season.
I am really enjoying reading the Saratoga Special - it's a newpaper that just puts me in a great mood. I think I read on somewhere on its web site that they are going year-round next year. Interesting. Here is what I wrote about them a few weeks ago, in case you missed it.
I tried ordering pizza from Marino's Sunday night, and was annoyed when I found out they were closed on Sundays. I was surprised that was the case even during track season. Despite my annoyance at Marino's unavailability, I have to respect a restaurant that is good enough to not have to eek every last dime out of track season, and had the confidence to take one day off a week, even in August. We settled for a sweet crust pizza from D'Andreas, which I now realize only tastes good when you're drunk.
Congress Plaza to the north of Citizens Bank is kaput. As part of the plan for a new hotel and retail, they demolished a large portion of the once forlorn strip mall. I'm looking forward to seeing the new building start taking shape.
I have been looking forward to dining at Istanblue Mediterranean Cuisine ever since I heard about its planned opening. I like Lebanese and Greek food, and understand that Turkish food, which Istanblue specializes in, is similar.
Margarita and I dined at the relatively new restaurant, located in the former Friendly's location at Congress Plaza, Wednesday night. Our experience was disappointing, and I don't know if the place will last until January.
There's a certain cluelessness about the operation there. We were in our seats for several minutes and given water and bread without a word from the young staff members working in what are apparently support roles, but no one came back to take a drink order. That became somewhat understandable when our waiter, who eventually arrived on the scene, informed us that they didn't have a liquor license yet. That's not so unique to new restaurants, but Istanblue initially opened without even a web site, so I'm not sure if the lack of liquor (during track season!) was the owner's inexcusable lack of planning or the New York State Alcohol Control Board not being efficient. In any event I don't know when the liquor license will arrive but the lack of one seems to be affecting business; there were only five tables occupied when we arrived at 7:20PM on the Wednesday before the Travers. I should acknowledge the server was friendly and relatively knowledgeable about the menu.
It started off all right, and Margarita's lentil soup was good and a the smoothness of the pureed beans created a different taste and texture. She also ordered the chicken kabobs $16), and I ordered the Iskender ($18), which the menu described as Lamb and beef gyro, zesty red sauce, yogurt and hot butter sauce over seasoned seared pita.
Our waiter said there was a mistake in the kitchen with my entree, which caused Margarita's meal to be served minutes before mine. OK, stuff happens. And the kabobs were moist and very good, but the Iskender had a pungency and flavor that didn't agree with me. That may be understandable - after all I was trying a new cuisine - but I didn't enjoy the meat or the red sauce. In all fairness, I nearly got sick the first time I tried Indian food, and I eventually acquired a taste for it. Nonetheless, the iksender was supposed to come with pita, but instead it was served over the exact same type of bread that was served before the dinner. That made me wonder. I didn't realize this bread was a diversion off the menu until I got home and reviewed the menu and started writing this mini-review. I get annoyed when the menu says one thing and you end up getting something different.
So maybe Istanblue will get a clue (that rhyme was unintended) and hit their stride and perhaps find a niche this fall amongst returning Skidmore students, who tend to be more open-minded about trying new cuisines, pungency and poor service or not. The uniqueness and potential of the food, especially in Saratoga Springs which has a limited variety of ethnic restaurants (lots of Asian, Italian, and Mexican but little else), gives me some hope. Otherwise, Istanblue has a long long way to go if it is to survive the challenging and competitive Saratoga restaurant scene