Birthday present: Uncommon Grounds

uncommon grounds giveaway basket


Update: Heather's the winner!

Update: The drawing's closed! Thanks for entering!

AOA's birthday party is coming up this Thursday -- but we though it would be more fun to celebrate our birthday all week. And what's a birthday without presents?

So all this week we're giving away birthday presents via a different drawing each day. Today's present is a gift basket from AOA's favorite satellite office -- Uncommon Grounds:

3lbs coffee
2 1/4lbs tea
UG mug
UG t-shirt (winner specifies size, style, color)
1/2 lb of dark chocolate covered espresso beans

UG being a purveyor of fine caffeinated products, we thought it would be fun to ask the question:

What's the most stimulating thing about the Capital Region?

Post your answer in the comments. We'll draw the winner at the random.

Important: All comments must be submitted by 10 pm Monday (Feb 22, 2010) to be entered in the drawing. One entry per person, please. You must enter a valid email address with your comment. The winners will be notified via email by 5 pm on Tuesday and must respond by 5 pm on Wednesday.


The most interesting thing about the Capital Region is the diversity.

The politics, definitely. Especially if you're like me and enjoy watching train wrecks.

Slipping on an icy sidewalk, falling comically on your butt, standing up and immediately slipping and falling again. You are definitely stimulated after this process. Then finally making it into the doorway of Uncommon in Saratoga.

The most stimulating part of the Capital Region is the business environment that supports new companies and further growth for existing small companies. I love walking up and down Broadway in Saratoga, Lark in Albany, and similar streets that are packed with companies, stores etc that are family-owned for generations or new to the biz.

The seemingly endless things to do. Even when you've exhausted all of the activities you've considered, you can still step outside of your comfort zone and find fun things to do. Not to mention the awesome festivals in the area.

In a region where there seems to be three seasons, winter, summer and mud, I am enamored and kept hopeful by the abundance of regional farms and farmer's markets with growers who are passionate and knowledgeable (and passionate!) about the food they produce. They give me something to rejoice in and make me feel very fortunate to live in the capital region.

To me, the most stimulating thing about the Capital Region is the fact that its not far from anything and everything you could want to do. Hiking, camping, NYC, great food, theater, bars, etc. Such a great place to live.

I echo the 'food' comment - the range of CSAs, markets, and local producers has been a real joy. Looking forward to the co-op having a better location, too!

Is it a cop-out to say the stimulants are the most stimulating? There are so many great coffeeshops! Uncommon is simply amazing but if you're not in the mood, there's still Muddy Cup, The Daily Grind, and Virgil's and Saratoga Coffee Traders in Saratoga. Even if you're a giant chain kind of person, there's plenty of Starbucks and Dunkin' to go around.

The wide array of cultural offerings and appreciation for nature.

I love the cultural arts scene in the Capital Region. While I don't live immediately in the tri-city area any more, it's just a short trip up I-88 to catch musicals and great 518 musicians among other cool things. And, the people in this area are pretty awesome to boot.

I would have to say that the most stimulating thing about Albany is the innovation that takes place there. Between the University at Albany and RPI, there is so much going on that you can't help but be caught up in the forward motion.

The best part about Albany is the architecture. There is so much going on if you just look up a little more. Sure there are the conventional spots to look, like State St. and Center Sq, but even the older homes of Pine Hills have some great houses to look at. Clinton Ave, despite it's currently sad state of affairs, along with other chunks of Northern Albany have some amazing buildings. And don't forget about Troy or the South End. It's literally a feast for the eyes. I'm just sad that I haven't got a car to drive out to the smaller towns and see what's what out that way. Nor have I had the opportunity to go to Schenectady.

I moved from San Francisco and my art project for Architecture has not at all suffered since moving back here.

I love all the variety of great local things (many of them free) that many people overlook. Some examples: Biking/rollerblading along the hudson river, great local hiking/skiing/snowboarding within an hour, first friday in albany (art), awesome libraries. This is not to mention all of the great hole in the wall restaurants and shops that you have to live here to know about.

Without question the most stimulating thing has to be the variety of events we have to choose from. Within a relatively small footprint, you have the opportunity to expand your mind through the arts...SPAC, State Museum at Albany,Museums of Dance and Racing in Saratoga Springs, to name just a few. If you want to enhance your physical well being, there are places to hike, bike, snowshoe, ski, skateboard, swim and the list goes on and on. If you need to be entertained there are comedy clubs, theatres, dance clubs, the Track, the Racino - something for everyone. Lastly, if you're hungry or thirsty, the list of places waiting to welcome you is practically endless. The capital region has it all!


The Night Moves billboard on 787. Stimulating.

I'm sorry..I started drooling after "3"...

what's the what now?

For me it's the diversity of environs within a short distance. I enjoy the city, the countryside, the mountains, historical sites, etc. but have lived in places where you had to choose between them all (for example, I once lived a 13 hour drive from the nearest mountain). Here, we've got it all within 20 minutes or less.

What I find most stimulating is the sheer audacity of the people we elect to (mis)represent us! It never fails to get my blood pressure jumpin!

I'm going to have to go with the sports fans. With no major league team for any sport in Albany, it leads to a whole mess of people supporting various teams... which makes watching games in the area so much more intense and filled with debate. (especially when it comes to red sox/yankees or afc east rivalries in football - jets, pats, and bills fans all live here)

that fact that it is not overstimulating? You have enough to do here, can easily get to places that satisfy the urge to be overstimulated when it arises, and can leave your house 45 min. before your plane takes off and be totally fine!

It seems like Albany only comes up in the major media with a reference to our state's broken political process. It's refreshing to know that despite all of the crap you read, this city is alive with wonderful people and incredible creativity.

Location Location Location. All within a day's drive: North-Montreal, East-Boston, South-NYC, West-Finger Lakes/Niagara Falls. Plus everything in between! We live in a great place for short holidays!

The most stimulating thing about the Capital Region, for me, is the seemingly endless list of things to do in this area. My family is from eastern MA (all of them) and they always ask me when I'm moving "home". I tell them I already did.

Shopping and food! Lark Street alone has such a wide variety of food options.

My sister lives in Stamford and loves visiting because of the shopping in Albany and the surrounding areas.

Numerous outdoor opportunities -- especially germane as we consider the fate of our state parks. I was at Thacher over the weekend and caught one of the historical markers which said that the park was a donation from Emma Thacher to be forever dedicated to the people of New York. We're very fortunate to be living in the shadow of such "regional wonders" and in the midst of citizenry who will fight like hell to save them.

That it's a tiny microcosm with everything you need. Everyone's already mentioned teh great stuff we have here - food, architecture, history, location, etc. We're relatively small, which gives it a nice feel. And, compared to the horrible years I've spent on Long Island, the Capital Region is a much friendlier and nicer place to live.

There's a really vibrant community of young professionals throughout the Capital Region. It's refreshing to see so many people involved and active in bettering the place they've chosen to call home.

The most stimulating thing about the Capital Region is the arts and culture. So many great venues and great avenues for arts exhibition.

I def. agree with previous comments that the location and proximity to such a diversity of places is fabulous. I also love the rich history and beautiful architecture!

The most stimulating part of the Capital Region is the ability to have a city experience with our museums and fantastic restaurants and then drive 20 minutes and be in the country enjoying the small roadside farm stands and the fantastic vistas of our natural and wild places.

The most interesting thing about the capital region is Lark Street and downtown Troy. They both have some amazing restaurants/bars and give me a feeling of a larger city.

i love how there is so much to do!

The weather! We are so lucky to have all four seasons here... some years it actually snows, too!

The amazing chefs - Rick Weber, Dale Miller, Yono Purnomo, Andrew Plummer, Kevin Everlath, Jaime Ortiz, Jim & Franco Rua, Mark Graham, Michael Cunningham, Brian Bowden, Kevin Conway...

It's the location. A few hours to Canada, Boston, NYC. Being able todrive 10 minutes and be at State Park (until the accidental governor closes them). SPAC in the summer month. Vermont in the fall. The PBA light show in Washington park in Winter.

It's curious and stimulating to think how many people live in Albany but simultaneously trash on Albany, hard. Why do we stay? How can we make it better? It's like a circle of Limbo around here 6 months out of the year, but then the trees flower and everything's alright.

Without a doubt, the most stilmulating thing about the Capital region is the AllOverAlbany Blog. I swear this thing is like crack-cocain and i can only be saited by I checking in multiple times daily.

I'm going to go with the food and the location! There are so many hidden gems in the Capital Region, from coffee shops to delis to being able to drive almost anywhere to fill in the gaps. I love that accessibility to all of the great places around here :)

The most stimulating thing about the Capital Region is DIVERSITY: in food, recreation, higher education, cultural arts, ethnicity, neighborhoods, geology and environs, politics, cuisine, socio-econonics, day travel ops, EVERYTHING.

I like how close (relatively) we are to everything else. If you need to get out of town, anything you could possibly want to go see is within a 3 hours drive away.

The mentality of the city: there's a lot going on, but we Albanian's have small-town pride.

What I find most stimulating is how anything worth seeing/doing/eating, etc you have to really look for. I have found the capital region to be like a treasure or scavenger hunt of awesome things. there are amazing things out there, you just have to keep looking for them and keep your ear to the ground...or internet.

I would have to second the comment about the coffee houses. When I moved here I was amazed by all the different coffee and tea houses. I am slowly making my way to all of them.

Everybody looks, sounds, acts and lives differently. Going away to college made the diverse lifestyle I grew up around seem even more essential. Not to sound pompous, but I felt much more well-rounded than the 7 other girls I lived with who had never spent time with someone of a different race before.

Coming from NYC and only attending school here for these past four years I came here with an attitude that this city was nothing in comparison from my home. I spent the first year complaining about how much better NYC is than Albany. This is my fourth year here now and its amazing how much my opinion has changed since then. Perhaps the most stimulating thing about Albany is the environment. Albany may not be as grand as NYC but without a doubt it is a city. Living here however, you begin to feel that its not JUST a city. It is a community. A community connected by events like the Tulip Festival and Larkfest. A community connected by blogs like All Over Albany, where everyone is interested in the happenings of the Capital Region. Its a big city with the small town charm. Everyone knows of coffee shops like Uncommon grounds or the Muddy cup. Classic theaters everyone visits like the Spectrum or Proctors still stand and are well supported. Hole in the wall restaurants that everyone goes to like the Cheescake Machismo. And so the most stimulating thing about Albany, is living here!

No matter how long I've been gone from the area, it feels like I've never left it.

How do I choose? Would it be our rich history and beautiful architecture, to the snarky politics, passionate advocates and bars? The beautiful nearby mountains and her lakes, rivers and waterfalls, or the cultural diversity and bars? Art, theater, shopping, academia or bars? Don't even get me started on the free entertainment from May - September...and the bars.

the most stimulating thing about albany... one of my favorite things is the lark street community. i really am happy that i live near lark street and can walk to events like larkfest and tulipfest, and just the restaurants and bars in general. great food and people that seem like they like albany and they like the people around them.

Steve Ammerman!

Stimulating in a good way...the natural beauty.
Stimulating in a bad way...state politics

The most stimulating thing about the Capital Region is the Waterfalls. I love the feeling that I get listening to the water and seeing them.

Thank you for the opportunity.

Having spent most of my life in a drained swamp (Florida), I find the area's fall colors quite stimulating.

The most stimulating thing about Albany is the presence of programs like the Capital District Community Gardens. I can't stress enough how important I think this program is for city residents.

Some of the best memories I have from childhood are growing flowers or vegetables in the backyard with my dad and I think giving city-dwelllers this opportunity is essential to healthy and happy living in densely packed cities.

It's exactly the reason Albany is such a great place, small enough to devote the acreage to the gardens, but big enough to have every garden plot filled every year with people improving their lives through hard work and healthy eating.

Lark Street! Restaurants, bars, and culture.

The most stimulating thing in the Capital District is the Spectrum 8 theater. Great movies that stimulate my mind and emotions each week!

The big city yet small town feel

you mean besides all of the awesome outdoor activities that are so close like skiing, hiking, and boating? well, AOA for one... with all of its great tid bits about the area and what's going on in the community!

everyone in Albany/Capital District likes to talk/blog/comment/twitter about politics

A tie between the New York State Archives & Library. I would not be able to finish my dissertation without them.

The best of all worlds. Well, most anyway. You want an urban lifestyle? Check. Suburban? Check. Rural? We've got that too.

The best of both summer and winter (usually).

Close to major metro areas like New York and Boston.

And of course, its proximity to the majestic Adirondacks.

i love the skyline from 787. i commute to school in troy every day from 90 minutes away, and it is the one thing on my commute that i look forward to every day. it's gorgeous, especially when the sky is moody.

The wind; it's refreshing and keeps you moving through the winter months

The connections between people. You find out people know each other in all sorts of random ways. It keeps you on your toes!

The mystery and intrigue of politics!

All Over Albany!

Smallbany. But in a good way. I love the fact that wherever I go I meet new people, who are somehow connected to me through other people. It makes it feel like a pretty tight-knit community for a region of this size.

Say Something!

We'd really like you to take part in the conversation here at All Over Albany. But we do have a few rules here. Don't worry, they're easy. The first: be kind. The second: treat everyone else with the same respect you'd like to see in return. Cool? Great, post away. Comments are moderated so it might take a little while for your comment to show up. Thanks for being patient.

What's All Over Albany?

All Over Albany is for interested and interesting people in New York's Capital Region. In other words, it's for you. It's kind of like having a smart, savvy friend who can help you find out what's up. Oh, and our friends call us AOA.


Recently on All Over Albany

Thank you!

When we started AOA a decade ago we had no idea what was going to happen. And it turned out better than we could have... (more)

Let's stay in touch

This all feels like the last day of camp or something. And we're going to miss you all so much. But we'd like to stay... (more)

A few things I think about this place

Working on AOA over the past decade has been a life-changing experience for me and it's shaped the way I think about so many things.... (more)

Albany tightened its rules for shoveling snowy sidewalks last winter -- so how'd that work out?

If winter ever gets its act together and drops more snow on us, there will be sidewalks to shovel. And shortly after that, Albany will... (more)

Tea with Jack McEneny

Last week we were fortunate enough to spend a few minutes with Jack McEneny -- former state Assemblyman, unofficial Albany historian, and genuinely nice guy.... (more)

Recent Comments

My three year old son absolutely loving riding the train around Huck Finn's (Hoffman's) Playland this summer.

Thank you!

...has 27 comments, most recently from Ashley

Let's stay in touch

...has 4 comments, most recently from mg

A look inside 2 Judson Street

...has 3 comments, most recently from Diane (Agans) Boyle

Everything changes: Alicia Lea

...has 2 comments, most recently from Chaz Boyark

A few things I think about this place

...has 13 comments, most recently from Katherine