Well the Travers was sure fun, but man Sunday's crowd on a sunny and hot (but not sweltering) day sure seemed very light. In any event I'll stay with the positive and compliment NYRA with a great Travers Day and a historic dead heat.
The biggest rip-off at the track is the "Freshly Squeezed" Lemonade. It's flavored sugar water with a big slice of lemon in it. I miss the old vendor who truly made freshly squeezed lemonade right in front of you.
Last weekend's Arlington Million sure had plenty of Saratoga Jockeys showing up. That was good to see, especially when Ramon Dominguez took the big prize. Damn he had a good eight days there - winning two million dollar races plus many more in between.
The peaches at the Farmers Market sure are delicious. I don't even remember what vendor I bought them off of, but they sure remind me of this Seinfeld seen: http://youtu.be/P-sfk3PGQDg (embedding was disabled but that will link it).
It's still sad to see the empty Borders, Beverly's, Grey Gelding - not to mention most of South Broadway (especially the diner). On the other hand, the Bonacios new cinema excites me.
I want to go to Saratoga Polo - but it's tough to go to the races all day and then want to go see polo in the evening. Too much of a good thing.
At one point when I wasn't looking the "Toga Tattlers" went from four to three. Did I miss some drama?
Again when I wasn't looking NYRA changed the 17-minute bell to the 16-minute bell. C'mon NYRA I can't take the volatility!
What happened to Alan Garcia? Just a couple of years ago he was winning NYRA meets and riding horses in Triple Crown Races - and winning the Belmont Stakes aboard Da' Tara in 2008. In this year's Saratoga meet he has nine wins on 69 mounts - which places him at 13th on the list.
I think NYRA is way off base charging $100 for the New Owners luncheon. Charge them $20, fill up the room and dare everybody to dream, and consider it a loss-leader for the good of not just NYRA but the whole industry. I think you'd get a lot more potential owners that way.
Can we come up with an ordinance that says there will be no Halloween items out for sale until after Labor Day?
Speaking of local laws, the 4am bar closing time issue seems to be quiet lately. But now that I said that there will be three articles on it this week.
OK folks that's it for now. I will be writing something later in the week - perhaps with some news about the future of this blog. Have a great week!
It's summertime, summertime, sum sum-summertime, summertime, summertime, sum sum...you get the idea. Here's one Saratogian's thoughts a third of the way through July:
Damn can you believe track season starts at the end of next week? I'm excited, albeit a bit concerned with how summer is flying by. I took this pic below off of NYRA's Facebook page.
I hate to see SPAC reduce the NYC Ballet's residency here to just one week. I enjoy going, and I enjoy the fact that our city is about more than just horses. The Saratogian had a good editorial on that important issue here.
Elizabeth's Table has its outdoor patio set up. I stopped in with my father-in-law on Saturday for a great lunch.
It seems like the Great American Grill restaurant at the Hilton Garden Inn is actually trying to be a....restaurant. I keep seeing signs out there advertising breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and I think I saw some advertising in the Saratogian. It just doesn't feel like a dining place that can get traction from much other than the hotel's guests.
I guess it was pretty obvious that the Post-Star had given up on reporting Saratoga Springs news when they let Tom Dimopoulos go. If there were any lingering doubts, they were erased when I noticed that the Saratoga Snippets blog is no more. It only made sense, since Dimopoulos left there was no one left to keep it updated.
The Firecracker 4 was certainly a success this year. Both Margarita and I, not to mention my sister-in-law and father-in-law, ran it. Looking forward to the Silks and Satins.
It's blueberry season at the Saratoga Farmers' Market. Don't forget the market is also open from 3-6pm on Wednesdays. Also don't forget you can take the Saratoga Springs Food Tour at 12:30 from the Saturday market - damn I keep forgetting about that.
Saratoga Springs Supervisor Matt Veitch was quoted in yesterday's Times Union about his appreciation for the Louden Trail, in Wilton, just outside the city limits. It was a nice article that asked "three long-time Saratogians about their favorite Summertime Pursuits", but I can't find a link. The piece also included answers to that question from City Center President Mark Baker and Hatties Owner Beth Alexander (who incidentally did not list the Race Course Carousel as one of her favorite Spa City places). In any event the article prodded Margarita and I to trek out to the country, strap on the high-end hiking gear (old running shoes and cotton shorts), spray on liberal doses of bug spray, and go on a long journey to find the Louden Trail. The reality is that it was about 10 minutes away off the BJ's parking lot, but what a great little trail it was. We enjoyed our 1 mile hike through the woods - where it was hard to believe that there was a shopping mall just hundreds of yards away. It's a nice little gem and Matt Veitch should be proud of his accomplishment in getting that trail built. If you haven't checked it out it's worth going to.
Margarita and I also made hopped on the Congress Park Carousel. No matter how old you are you should take a few rides per summer on the historic carousel, which is so perfectly situated in the park off of Springs Street.
Margarita and I also stopped out to the Ice House Saturday night and danced a little to Garland Nelson and Soul Session. That's a great band and! The Ice House used to seem so obnoxious to me (read: crowded) but that place is starting to grow on me.
Saratoga Arts has announced their 2012 workshop series. They are all free and open to the public, and include topics like making slide presentations, copywrite and intellectual property, grantwriting workshop, and gallery submission process. Click here to learn more.
The Saratoga Farmers Market has a new Saturday vendor - Slyboro Cider House. This isn't Hannaford mass produced cider, these people take it to a new old level: Still ciders, sparkling ciders, ice ciders...Slyboro Cider House reintroduces the lost craft of American Ciders." Cool! I hope they have samples - I would like to try the ice ciders. They sound sweet.
Click here for the May newsletter for Longfellow's and the Olde Bryan Inn.
It would appear that Chianti is going after the Vegetarian/Vegan dollar - at least on Tuesdays:
Chianti's sister restaurant, Forno Bistro, is continuing it's Tuesday night takeout special:
Every Tuesday get two wood-fired pizzas or stuffed focaccie breads to-go for just $12. Add a 1/2 Tray of Forno’s Classic Mista Insalata for just $6 more. Join our email list or Facebook page to find out the featured pizza or focaccie ahead of time.
Margarita and I ran the Peppertree Rescue 5K yesterday at the Saratoga Spa State Park. Great cause, great weather, and a great run (OK, a slow, great run). I probably spent $80 on our race registrations and other items and raffles, but all for a good cause. It was an unusual 5K b/c probably about half the runners ran with their dogs. If you are thinking of getting a dog, I would suggest looking at Peppertree because they seem like a well-run organization that really cares about matching the right dog with the right person/family. Click here for Peppertree's Facebook page and you can like them.
It looks like Elizabeth's Table may open this Tuesday. I am glad it's that close - Mike and Liz Phillips worked their butts off to get the place ready and if their food is half as good as it was at the Cupcake Lab, the place will be a hit. Give them some support and check it out later this week.
I've written on here more than once that I felt (now former) Saratogian sports editor Nicole Russo was an extremely talented writer, and it looks like the Thoroughbred Times has agreed with me because she was hired by the Lexington, Kentucky based company as their internet editor. Congratulations Nicole! Her recent departure as sports editor and subsequent replacement by Matthew Donato means the Saratogian has had five different sports editors in just over two years.
I wrote a post last week about Siro's either not completing its web sites or letting the URL's expire for its main restaurant on Lincoln as well as Siro's Trattoria web site, the latter of which incidentally closed quietly for the season. Then I mentioned how I thought the New York City location apparently wasn't opening. Steve Barnes of the T-U's Table Hopping Blog linked my entry, and then a Siro's manager quickly replied on Table Hopping. I was apparently wrong about the NYC location, which apparently is opening within a month, but the other facts were hard to argue with. Siro's PR people (probably an outside PR firm) contacted the Business Review to do some damage control, and this article was printed Friday. Well I'm glad The Trattoria at the Lodge is opening back up soon, and I'm really glad the NYC location is opening as well. Siro's has to pay some more attention to the details, namely completing their web sites and not letting the URL's expire, but I'm glad they're otherwise on track.
It says here that Stewart's Crumbs Along the Mohawk Ice Cream is fantastic.
Below is a picture of a race horse I used to own, now a guide pony, Minister's Appeal, working with his rider at the Oklahoma Track. I was thrilled when the training track opened last week, but when is the Chamber of Commerce, Downtown Business Association, or Convention and Tourism Bureau, or better yet all three, going to encourage NYRA to open it to the public, at least on the weekends? With mimimal effort, you could limit public access to an area near the timer's shed and attract numerous people up here on the weekends from April to November. That's numerous people, and families, who will eat in our restaurants, shop in our stores, and, by the way, get all that much more excited to attend the track in the summer which can only help attendance. Seems like a no-brainer to me.
Who is Amy Sutton, and why does she have so many prominent listings at Roohan Realty? I seem to see her names on signs everywhere.
Finally, Margarita and I met some friends last night at Lake Ridge Restaurant in Round Lake (exit 11). I was never there before but had the feeling for some reason it was a rustic, basic place, but it was very nice inside and had great food and service. If you're ever looking for a restaurant down that way I do recommend it.
OK folks that's it for now. It will be nice today (Sunday) and up to 80 tomorrow on Monday. Have a great week!
Well it's not my intention to make this the "Saratoga Thoughts" blog, but lately my schedule has limited my efforts, at least somewhat, to these types of postings. OK, with that half apology out of the way, here we go:
Well I went to the Beer Week events, sort of. I stopped out for some food and beer with the Funsaratoga field agent and an out-of-town guest. I'm glad to have any event that brings visitors (and their wallets) to Saratoga Springs in late winter, but as someone who was in several of the venues, it didn't seem so well organized. Perhaps if I actually bought tickets and went as an attendee, it would have been better, but as an accidental attendee, I was underwhelmed
I saw the Maestro's porch was getting some use in Thursday's and Friday's nice weather. Who ever thought that porch would get nearly year-round use in 2011-2012?
Well it sure seems like there are several Saratoga restaurants that are hiring. A perusal of Craig's list shows that Ravenous, Forno Bistro, Jacob & Anthony's, Sabina's, The Parting Glass, and Angelo Mazzone's several restaurants and catering establishments are looking for employees. That doesn't count the several unnamed Saratoga restaurants that were advertising jobs as well, including one "new restaurant opening in late March" that I assume is Russo's, which is opening in the former Brindisi's location.
Speaking of Craig's list, you'll never know what you'll find on there - here's an ad from someone looking to have a partner in opening a bar in downtown Saratoga. Yea, bars and business partnerships always work out well - especially when they start out from Craig's list.
Continuing with the Saratoga bar/restaurant scene, I reported way back when that Mine would have a full menu and I noticed them promoting it along the sidewalk on Broadway this past Friday night, as evidenced by the picture below.
I give Mine credit for trying, and their menu looks like it has reasonable prices, but I'm not sure if I can take a dining establishment seriously that is offering a full dinner menu, and also a "Pisces night" (it was last night - "Pisces get in free all night"), a teen night (tonight - for all of you under-21 kids that fanatically read this blog), and has a web site that is not working (at least when I checked). My casual walk by and internet look gives me the feeling they are all over the board. Just my thoughts.
When I was a kid, there was just one free newspaper, and that was of course the Pennysaver. Saratoga Springs has Saratoga Today, The Spotlight, and the Spa City Moneysaver - and there seem to be many other free specialty publications as well. It's almost overwhelming - and all this in the internet era. Go figure.
With Saratoga diners dropping left and right (namely Beverly's, Friendly's, and the Saratoga Family Restaurant), I thought it would be a good time to check out Shirley's, on West Avenue. You may recall it was purchased last year by someone who was going to add some Montreal, Quebec cuisine to the menu. Well the chowder was excellent but the grilled haddock I ordered came out cold - I think it was prebaked and never heated for me. Oh well, if I ever get my fat blogging butt to the YMCA anytime soon perhaps I'll get rid of enough guilt to try Shirley's rather fattening sounding Poutine - which is a French-Canadian specialty consisting of french fries, gravy and cheese curds. I'm half intrigued and half disgusted, but my gluttonous curiosity will get the better of me eventually and I'll report on here how it was - and what my cholesterol was before and after.
Speaking of eating things I shouldn't - the wings at the Stadium pass my four-part test - and I'm from Buffalo, which makes me an expert. The four part test is as follows: (1) Wings should be big with plenty of meat - not those wimpy tiny ones you get in some restaurants. (2) The sauce should have the right balanced flavor and have enough substance to cling to the wings. (3) They should never be undercooked, and in fact should be cooked extra crispy, and (4) the blue cheese should be of high quality. The Stadium passes all four of those tests, with an extra star for their chunky blue cheese.
And finally, Saratogian editor Barbara Lombardo had a great idea when she proposed that the Skidmore bookstore move into the empty former Borders location. She asked "I can dream, can't I?" Yes you can, and I like your thinking Barbara.
I don't know if this post is last week's thoughts or this week's, but here we go anyway:
Well Chowderfest sure had some decent weather - no snow, a little sun, and some cold air to enjoy the chowder in. My top pick: The Inn at Saratoga - which had a robust and thick chowder that I would definitely go back for. The lines were sure long, but I guess that simply means a successful event. Hopefully next year the city will put out some more garbage cans, so we don't have a repeat of this sight on Broadway shown in the picture below.
While walking downtown during Chowderfest, I noticed a few things - the papered over windows at the old Pizza on Broadway and Raina's, the sign announcing Russo's Restaurant coming at the old Brindisi's location, another sign announcing something related to Saratoga National Golf coming into the old Shoe Depot building (Tom Newkirk of Saratoga National bought that building), and finally the shocking view of the empty Beverly's - I knew it was closed but it was nonetheless still a shock to see it empty.
Speaking of closed diners, it was sure a shocker to see the Saratoga Restaurant suddenly lock the doors for good. Didn't see that one coming.
I'm probably one of the few people in town that is familiar with Spot Coffee, the Canadian coffee chain store coming to Bonacio's new Price Chopper building. Spot Coffee has been in my hometown Buffalo since the 1990s and I have been to
two of their locations on a several occasions. Here's my take: Spot Coffee is a great Coffee place and the newcomer won't drive out Uncommon Grounds, but it will take a significant portion of their business. Let's hope the local consumers (me & you) benefit from the new competition. The Rochester location is pictured to the right.
Don't forget the Dance Flurry is coming. Feb 17-19th. Even if you're not a dancer it's a shot for the local economy so that's a good thing.
Wish I had a pick for tonight's game. I hate both teams, but I'll be leaning the Giants way, just because they are the underdog and I love to see Belichick lose.
Speaking of Sunday TV events, I had some comments on HBO's new horse racing themed show "Luck" last week, and I finally saw the first episode. I felt it was very, very good, and I will keep watching. I'm just not sure if it can capture enough of an audience to make it past the first season. HBO audiences can generally handle intelligent and complicated plots and stories, but this show has separate stories that so far barely overlap. Think the movie Pulp Fiction. I hope it lasts, because I do like it. I just hope it's not another "The Comeback". OK Guy, there's your answer.
Happy New Year! Here are a few thoughts to start the year right.
What a great First Night Saratoga Springs hosted yet again. I ran the 5K (I was the chubby slow guy at the back of the pack) and caught a few performers at the City Center which even got me dancing with my wife Margarita (I was the chubby no-rhythm guy with the beautiful out-of-his-league wife on the corner of the dance floor). The band Funk Evolution initially looked like a bunch of dorky guys who were not the right group to cover the likes of Kool & the Gang, Stevie Wonder, and Michael Jackson, but they quickly won me over with their talent and mostly their energy and enthusiasm - they looked like they really had fun up there. They certainly delivered an eclectic mix of music too - they rounded out songs from the aforementioned African-American performers with the likes of songs from The Who, Chicago, Maroon 5, and even Stevie Ray Vaughn. Long story short - I'm a fan. Congratulations to all the First Night organizers and volunteers (especially the 5K volunteers who I really appreciated). And the weather and fireworks were great as well!
What a shame to wake up on January 1st after such a great night with news of the stabbing at Metro Nightclub. The best way to address this is to control the bars - not with earlier closing times - that's a red herring - but with the Police Department and City Council working closely with the New York State Liquor Authority and putting pressure on these establishments to not attract the types of people who would carry and use a weapon in a bar. Hit 'em in the pocket book. This is an early challenge for new Public Safety Commissioner Chris Mathieson. Here's my view as a resident and taxpayer: Not in my town! The city PD needs to make a quick arrest on this and then let Jim Murphy take it from there. The city must simultaneously work with the state to ensure the bars are complying with all applicable laws and hit them hard if they aren't.
Back to the mundane, Sperry's has a new winter menu - which you can find more about on the Times Union's Table Hopping Blog here.
Speaking of the T-U, I see they finally dumped the dormant Saratoga Springs residents blog that I ultimately was the only contributing blogger of. The T-U lost interest in supporting it over the past year or two, and, even when I recruited potential bloggers and passed their contact info along to the paper they wouldn't respond to them. After I realized they weren't going to support my recruiting efforts I stopped posting on there and focused more on this blog. I'm surprised it took this long to drop it, and presumably other ones on there.
The PJ's Barbecue construction is picking up steam. The Saratogian wrote an article about it last week, which can be found here, and I took a quick picture below.
I was walking through Congress Park this weekend noticed the nice brickwork the city did in front of the Canfield Casino over the summer. I took a quick picture of it below.
Well, that's about if for now. As I am finishing this up Sunday night I just noticed on the Saratogian's web site that there was a fatal pedestrian accident on Rt 9 just South of PJ's. I don't know the details, but I wrote back in 2010, after an elderly man was hit and killed on that same stretch of highway, that DOT was dropping the ball on the issue of ensuring a safe Route 9. I really feel they should lower the speed limit there to at least 45MPH because there have simply been too many pedestrian and bicycle accidents on that stretch of roadway over the years.
Well, I'm just not blogging as much as I used to, but I'm happy that I am posting at least once or twice a week. Here we go for this week's "thoughts" post:
I've viewed the Saratoga Lip Dub video twice now, and it put me in a great mood both times I saw it. I realize it wasn't necessarily an original idea, and I don't have an opinion on the money the Chamber spent on it, nor do I have any thoughts on whether it will bring any visitors here to the Spa City, but it was fun anyway. Hell, anything that gets Mayor Scott Johnson to loosen up a bit (which can be seen about 45 seconds into the video) can't be all bad, right?
So did we find out yet whether The Boss' kid is going to Skidmore???
I hate to see any Saratoga business close, and the Zola Kids closing is no exception. I am truly concerned for Saratoga businesses this winter, and will do my best to do as much of my Christmas shopping downtown as I can.
I'll also try to support Saratoga Springs as much as my budget and health and fitness concerns allow by dining in our city's many great restaurants when I can. I have yet to get to Maestro's since their move earlier this year, except for a recent fundraiser at the bar. Their large and beautiful porch is still going strong, with the addition of several heat sources, so perhaps my wife and I can get there for some late autumn alfresco dining.