The holiday season is a time for making wish lists, and shopping lists. In an effort to help you with both, we're asking a handful of people what's on their local holiday wish list this year.
Today's list comes from the Capital Region's favorite Speedo-clad Santa, the Albany Society for the Advancement of Philanthropy's Jim Larson.
Whoa! I am wicked excited to be able to share this list with you! When AOA asked me to do this, my first thought was, "All I know is food." Basically I'm not the type of dude that you seek out to find the best running shoes, the most stylish watches (though, for the record, Chris Manley or Hardeep Singh are the masters), or the most beautiful women's jewelry.
But then I decided to throw any reservations to the wind.
And speaking of reservations:
Restaurant gift certificates
First of all, you would be placed extremely high on my list of favorite people if you were to give me a gift certificate to one of my three favorite Capital Region restaurants:
The American Hotel in Sharon Springs
The food, service, and staff are always amazing, and the owners, Doug and Garth, make every time you go a special night. Make sure you get one of the garden martini made with Two Bears Provisions dilly beans. Or a few.
The Bears' Steakhouse in Duanesburg
The Paynes put on a fantastic meal and dining experience, from the extra hot horseradish to the incredible beef and grilled meats to the raspberry pie. This is a place Ron Swanson would be very happy with, very happy indeed.
Ferrari's in Schenectady
Forget about it (OK, I can't say fuggetaboutit and make it sound real.) The food at Ferrari's just sings. Get the fried calamari with the sauce they put on the potatoes (so perfectly cooked) and the Chicken Antonio. You will only be sorry it took you this long to find this place. And the wine dinners? Oh, man.
I got to thinking: My friends fall in two very different categories: friends who want me to cook them dinner at my place for a cozy evening in and friends who want a night out on the town eating at great restaurants. If I'm making you dinner and you're looking for something to bring as a gift for your humble host, go here for the best foods and ingredients:
+ Compiling the above list I was enjoying some Meadow Brook eggnog that was delivered to the house.
+ Rolf's is Upstate's oldest pork store and a fantastic German market.Some Landjägers to snack on while we cook a delicious ham. Get a dozen pretzel rolls while you are there.
+ Sweets and breads from All Good Bakers
or some strawberry dream at the venerable Schuyler Bakery in Watervliet (also my go-to place for mini hotdog and slider rolls). Who doesn't crave a cake with whipped cream frosting and strawberry filling once every two weeks? No one, that's who!
+ Chicken, eggs, and the pork raised at Jus-Lin farms in Sprout Brook is outstanding.
+ The hours may be challenging at the Old Polish Deli in Watervliet, but a gift certificate there would be great. The golumpki are
perfect and my favorite.
+ The gift of cheese from The Cheese Traveler -- also great for all the Spanish pantry items available there. Get the Jamon, you will be
happy, very happy.
+ Cedar picnic table that seats 12 from Long Lumber in New Scotland. Receipt of this gift might get you a marriage proposal.
A night out on the town
If we are headed out for a night of awesomeness, these are among the places we would be going:
If we are on the prowl in Schenectady, we can go for a great dinner at Tara Kitchen for some outstanding Moroccan or to
I'd love a Sunday brunch at Illium Café with Jay as the waiter -- he's always a hoot.
A night out in Albany, my home turf, might consist of:
Or, if we're feeling more continental, a night at Café Capriccio.
We should talk about all of this some more over fish n' chips at the Olde English Pub. When do you want to go? I need a pickle back.
Jim Larson is a wordsmith, urban farmer, and culinary demonstrator in the
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