Items tagged with 'food'

Favorite local apple ciders?

apples in bin in orchard at SamascottSean emails:

I've had the pleasure of visiting a handful of different apple orchards already this season and have noticed that the taste / quality of the cider has varied significantly thus far.
Now I know there's been a lot of documentation done on the region's different cider donut offerings, but I haven't seen much of anything done on the cider itself. I was wondering if some of your readers could weigh-in with where their favorite local apple cider comes from.
Bonus points if anyone has knowledge on how much the flavor changes from month-to-month or year-to-year based on what kinds of apples go into the mix.

Sean's question makes us want to go out a buy a bunch of ciders from local orchards and have a taste comparison. (Hmm...)

We've heard that the flavor of an orchard's cider can change over the course of the apple season as the different varieties of apples are harvested and added to the mix. But we can't say we've had a "Hey, wow, this cider is so much more (something) than it was last month" experience. Maybe you have.

So, got thoughts on your favorite local cider? Or any insight on how the flavor of cider changes over the course of the season? Please share!

Cider donuts at Indian Ladder Farms

Indian Ladder Farms cider donut and beer cup

By Deanna Fox

There is something about September that feels like such a fresh start. More than a birthday, more than New Year's Day, September for me has always been a time of intentional goal setting and beginning again with a clean slate. Maybe it's because for most of us, our year operated around the school calendar in our most formidable years. The start came just after Labor Day, with fresh clothes, new notebooks and pencils, and the promise that this year, anything was possible.

Like most other beginnings, something sweet it required to mark the occasion. If you get a cake on your birthday, why not have a cider donut to welcome fall?

That question is rhetorical, of course: Cider donuts are as much a harbinger for fall -- and that fresh start that rolls in with autumn's crisp air -- as a new backpack.

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Tech Valley Taste Makers

Tech Valley Center of Gravity exterior 2016-JulyHere's a new cooking class series: Tech Valley Taste Makers at the Tech Valley Center of Gravity in Troy.

The lineup:

+ September 29: Bring the Gastro-Pub Home with executive chef Rachel Mabb of The Ruck (Troy)

+ October 19: Fall Foliage Picnic Feast with Lucas Karasavidis, owner of Honeybee Farms (Cobleskill) and From Our Farm to Your Table (Troy)

+ November 16: Sides to be Thankful For with chef Ric Orlando, owner of New World Bistro Bar, Albany and New World Home Cooking, Saugerties.

+ December 7: Holiday Cookies: Tradition with a Twist with chef/Baker Leah Stein of Leah's Cakery (Round Lake)

Series blurbage:

Monthly classes (fall/winter and spring/summer) are taught by masterful chefs and artisanal food makers. Each teacher demonstrates the techniques for making delicious specialties at home, educates about culinary art & science and offers tastings with beverage pairings, both alcoholic* and non-. Proceeds, after expenses, are shared equally between the teacher and TVCOG's fund to fully equip its teaching/making kitchen.

Class prices range from $37.50-$57. There's also a season pass for $170. Pre-registration is required.

TVCOG advertises on AOA.

Next up for Death Wish Coffee: NASCAR

Death Wish Coffee NASCAR

Check it out: Death Wish Coffee is following up its Super Bowl ad with sponsorship of a NASCAR race car.

Death Wish will be the primary sponsor on the #95 car driven by Ty Dillon in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at the Dover International Speedway on October 2. (The track is nicknamed "The Monster Mile," thus "slay the monster" mention in Richard Childress Racing announcement image at the first link in this paragraph.)

Death Wish Coffee -- the hyper-caffeinated coffee brand ("the world's strongest coffee") that grew out of Saratoga Coffee Traders -- is based in Round Lake. As you probably saw, it won a Super Bowl TV spot this year via a Quickbooks contest.

(Thanks, Andrew!)

image: Richard Childress Racing

The earlier-booze-at-brunch bill is now law

a brunch bloody mary

The Cuomo admin announced Wednesday that Andrew Cuomo has signed the legislation passed earlier this year that allows restaurants to serve alcohol two hours earlier on Sundays, moving the start time from noon to 10 am.

Here's press release blurbage on the brunch booze provision of the legislation:

Expand Sunday Sales: The law expands Sunday sales at restaurants and bars by changing the statewide opening hours from noon to 10 am. In addition, the agreement enables these licensees to apply for a permit, limited to twelve per year, to sell alcoholic beverages for consumption on the premises on Sundays between 8 a.m. and the new 10 a.m. opening hour in areas outside New York City.

The shift from noon to 10 am on Sundays takes effect immediately. Those provision allowing the dozen special 8 am permits (apparently prompted in part by NFL games in Europe and European soccer matches) will take effect in 60 days. (Those 8 am permits will cost restaurants and bars $25 plus a $10 filing fee. They also will require a notice filed with the local municipality.)

The legislation signed today includes a bunch of other updates to the state's complicated alcohol laws. Among the changes: Wineries will be allowed to sell wine in growlers and liquor stores will be allowed to sell gift wrapping and gift bags (yep, that was prohibited).

photo: Lauren Hittinger Hodgson

Toast menu at Superior Merchandise Co.

Superior Merchandise three toasts

By Deanna Fox

The first time I heard of a "toast menu" in a restaurant, my eyes rolled so hard I'm pretty sure I sprained something in my head. (My brain?) It was in an issue of Bon Appetit magazine in 2014, regarding a restaurant in San Francisco that did toast so well, it could rightly charge $4 a slice.

'Tis a fad, I thought, but then BA kept on publishing about toast. Later that year, "Toast is still happening. Get on the train." Months later, "27 ideas for toast." And my favorite, published this year, "Life before avocado toast: The 16 ways dining has changed since 2000."

Should it come as a surprise that "specialty toast" has made its way to the Capital Region? Scoff if you want to, but toast isn't going anywhere, so we might as well play with it. That's what Superior Merchandise Company, in Troy, is doing.

But don't take it as child's play. This toast is serious business.

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Upcoming lunch options at the ESP: Bombers, Kuma Ani, The Dutch Pot

Empire State Plaza concourse with artComing to the Empire State Plaza main cafeteria in September: Bombers, Kuma Ani, and The Dutch Pot.

The state's Office of General Services, which manages the plaza, officially announced the upcoming additions Tuesday. Press release blurbage:

Bombers Burrito Bar Hours: Monday - Friday 10:30 a.m. - 2:30 p.m. Locally owned since 1997, Bombers will serve its signature burritos, bowls, tacos and salads.  Favorites including ancho chili chicken, southern fried catfish, "Red Stripe" jerk pork, quinoa bowls, buffalo chicken salad and more.
Kuma Ani Express  Hours: Monday - Friday 10:30 a.m. - 2:30 p.m. Kuma Ani burst on to the Albany sushi scene in 2015 and has earned a stellar reputation infusing authentic Japanese dishes with Western culinary techniques. Tuna, salmon, yellowtail, seaweed co‐mingle with, Spanish mackerel, king salmon, madai, rice paper, lobster, soy paper and more for sushi, salads, Shumai, miso soup and more.
The Dutch Pot  Hours: Monday - Friday 10:30 a.m. - 2:30p.m.     A favorite of Lark Street area residents, customers will enjoy fresh Jamaican delights including coconut shrimp salad, jerk chicken wraps, curried goat, rice & beans, plantains and homemade pastry

Kuma Ani is at 287 New Scotland Avenue in Albany's Helderberg neighborhood. The Dutch Pot is at 418 Madison Ave, just east of Delaware/Lark, in Albany. And Bombers, well, you know where the Bombers locations are.

Earlier on AOA: Eat This: Oxtail at the Dutch Pot (2013)

Restaurants with good gluten-free options?

alleycarte chocolate chip cookie

One of the things that's remarkable to us is that many places seem to have at least some gluten-free options now, and many spots work GF items into their menus as a matter of course. This cookie was part of the lunch from the from the Peck's Arcade Alleycarte pop-up in Troy -- it was gluten free. And as Peck's pastry chef Greg Kern notes in the comments, their entire dessert menu has been gluten free for the past year and a half. / photo: Steve Noisseau

Kara emails:

I was diagnosed with Celiac Disease a few months ago, and was wondering if you can solicit recommendations from your readers on area restaurants that are good for someone who has to follow a gluten free diet. I know you did this in 2011, but I'm hoping there are more places to add to the list at this point!
I have been to the New World Bistro Bar and El Loco so far and had great experiences at both. I'm especially interested in places that understand Celiac Disease and how to avoid cross contamination- that is really important but isn't always obvious from seeing a menu or website that has gluten free items listed (and may not be a concern for people who are following a gf diet for reasons other than Celiac). Thank you!!

As Kara mentions, this question has come up before -- and we even turned the suggestions into a map/listing. But that was five years ago, and things change. (Looking at that old listing, some of those places are no longer in business.)

So, got suggestions for Kara? Please share! And a sentence or two about why you're suggesting a place can be very helpful.

An 18th century Albany wedding cake (maybe)

schuyler wedding cake documentThe Albany Muskrat pointed this out today, and given the interest in the early 19th century "Albany Cake" recipe last fall, we figured you might be curious: This is said to be the recipe for the cake served at the 1780 wedding of Alexander Hamilton and Elizabeth Schuyler at the Schuyler Mansion in Albany.

The recipe is from a document dated 1941 from the NYS Archives, and posted online by the What America Ate project. The document -- which, somewhat oddly has the title "Schuyler Wedding Cake 1690" -- attributes the recipe to a Mrs. Richard Schuyler of Ballson Spa, "for many years mistress of the ancestral home, The Flatts." (The Schuyler Flatts property is in what's now Menands.)

Anyway, check out the recipe:

12 pounds brown sugar
12 pounds butter
12 pounds of browned flour
12 dozen eggs
46 pounds raisins
24 pounds citron
Molasses [handwritten] - 1 gallon
3 quarts Brandy
1 quart Jamaica Rum
12 ounces each of cloves, allspice, cinnamon, and nutmeg, pounded fine in a mortar.
10 teaspoons salt
12 teaspoons pearl ash
mix in large oaken tub. and bake 16 hours.

This is obviously for a very large batch, but... yeah, three quarts of brandy and one quart of rum.

Pearl ash? As historian Sarah Evenson explained to us last year, "Pearl ash is potassium carbonate, a leavening agent used before baking powder or baking soda. You don't see much mention of this until the late 18th/early 19th century. Prior to that, yeast and whipped egg whites were the chief leavening agents."

The recipe documented appears to be from some sort of almanac, and is attributed to J.A. DeHollander. We mostly came up empty of a few quick searches today, though. Maybe you know more about this person? Update: Pamela provides the backstory in the comments.

Update: Pastry chef Greg Kern tried out the recipe and the cake was... not good.

Earlier on AOA:
+ Baking that Albany Cake
+ What did Albany eat in the 18th century?
+ "You maintain your empire in spite of all my efforts..."

image via What America Ate / NYS Archives

Tacos at Oaxaquena Triqui

Oaxaquena Triqui tacos

By Deanna Fox

Jerry Garcia was right: "Once in a while you get shown the light in the strangest of places if you look at it right."

Sometimes it does take looking in an unlikely spot to find the best things... like tacos.

I think we can all agree on the culinary superiority of tacos. Combining major food groups into a portable, satisfying, wholly-delicious meal makes tacos the perfect food. Find me one person who doesn't like some version of a taco and I will find you 100 more to counter argue that point.

And then let me take that one person to Oaxaquena Triqui, a tiny tacqueria sandwiched between a Mexican bodega and a can redemption center in Albany. The tacos there are cheap and made from scratch, freshly flavored, and served up quickly with a smile.

Honestly, how can you do better than that?

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Chicken spiedies at Excelsior Pub

excelsior pub chicken spiedies

By Deanna Fox

I recently had a conversation with two chefs transplanted to this area from Manhattan. When I asked them what they thought of the Upstate food scene, they answered exactly how you think they might: "There is no good food scene outside of New York City."

I'm pretty sure my immediate reaction was an audible "pfffft" and an eyeroll so strong it shook leaves from trees.

Of course they would say that, stuck inside a tony restaurant for hours upon hours, without any chance to scope out what's unique about the food landscape here.

Fortunately they wouldn't have to travel far to sample the best parts of Upstate cuisine. Excelsior Pub, which reopened a year ago in Albany after a lengthy hiatus, serves up only New York State-produced wine, beer, and spirits -- with a food menu that hits the hallmarks of Upstate eats: Beef on weck. Hoffman's hot dogs, Buffalo wings, garbage plates.

Not to be left off the list is chicken spiedies. Not quite a sandwich and yet not something completely different from a sandwich -- sort of like a hot dog, or maybe a gyro, wherever that falls on the sandwich spectrum -- chicken spiedies are a true taste of Southern Tier food.

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Nine Pin + Ommegang = The Lion's Share

Nine Pin Ommegang yeast cider can mockupOne of the interesting angles to the craft beverage boom around this area has been the collaborations that have popped up. Special brews for a shop and a coffee/vodka collaboration are among the examples.

The latest one: Nine Pin Cider Works in Albany has teamed up with Brewery Ommegang in Cooperstown to produce a cider with Ommegang's proprietary Belgian yeast. Blurbage for "The Lion's Share":

This collaborative cider comes in 12 oz cans and is made from a farmhouse blend of apples from Samascott Orchards fermented with Ommegang's proprietary house belgian yeast. The result is a belgian style cider with a smooth mouth feel and complex fruit and spiced notes. The Lion's Share was made in the spirit of the craft beverage revolution happening in New York!

There's a Ciders and Sliders even this Thursday evening (August 4) from 4-9 pm to celebrate the release of 12-oz cans. The Slidin' Dirty truck will be at the cidery on Broadway serving food, and the Dutch Udder Craft Ice Cream will be there serving ice cream.

Earlier on AOA: Follow up: Nine Pin Cider Works

Nine Pin advertises on AOA.

image: Joe Klockowski/Nine Pin Cider Works

Blackened Fish Po'Boy at Hooked Seafood Co.

hooked seafood co blackened fish poboy

By Deanna Fox

Some people say the Capital Region food scene is behind the times, a decade behind the trends in major metropolitan areas like New York City and San Francisco.

That might be true. I think the decade span is waning, though, as social media keeps us connected to the food of elsewhere with unprecedented speed. Nevertheless, I don't mind if we are behind the curve a bit, for it keeps us from going through the same growing pains and trial-and-error slip-ups that more risk-tolerant, innovative cities experience.

Take food courts, for instance. Why not let people like Corey Nelson (of Troy Kitchen) or Richard Rosetti (of Galleria 7 Market) go and suss out what does and doesn't work other places so we can benefit and keep our bellies full of good food here?

A recent lunch at Galleria 7 Market, in Latham, cemented that thought for me. Just gazing into the oyster case at Hooked Seafood Co., which operates from the market, delivered me the option to try a fresh St. Simon oyster -- a perfect amuse bouche and gentle enticement to a lunch of blackened fish on a fresh roll.

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The first group of Park South redevelopment apartments are renting -- and there's a Chipotle going in there

park south redevelopment apartments morris street

Apartments in the Park South redevelopment area along Morris Street (looking west).

A milestone in the ongoing $110 million redevelopment project in Albany's Park South neighborhood: Apartments in the development are now for rent and some are already occupied.

The first group of residential units became available July 1, according to Julie Knox, the sales and marketing manager for Tri City Rentals. She said that as of August 1, a total of 60 units will be in operation and a majority of them are already rented.

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Artisanal Brew Works

artisanal brew works logoIt seems like there's a new craft brewery/distillery/cidery popping up (almost) every month lately. The newest: Artisanal Brew Works in Saratoga Springs. The brewery has an opening party this Saturday (July 23) starting at 1 pm, with food from Nine Miles East.

Artisal Brew Works is in the former Serotta bike factory space on Geyser Road southwest of downtown near SPAC (map). Also located there: Upstate Distilling Co.

The two people behind ABW are both high school teachers. Over at the Saratogian, Lauren Halligan recently talked with them about how they got into the brewery business, and the types of beers they're making (there's an emphasis on Belgian styles).

Pick-your-own blueberry season 2016

box of blueberries at samascott

Blueberry season recently started around the greater Capital Region. And it is an Official Summer Thing To Do.

Blueberries are just about our favorite pick-your-own crop because they're easy to pick (on bushes about waist high), relatively cheap (usually about $3 per pound), and they freeze beautifully, so you can stock up for later in the year.

There are a handful of farms around the Capital Region that offer pick-your-own blueberries. Here's a list with some info. And, of course, if you know of a place that should be on the list, please share.

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School of beer

sccc craft beer course info posterAmong the things we learned this week: There is a US Open College Beer Championship. For making beer -- not drinking it.

And, as it happens, a beer made by students from Schenectady County Community College's craft beer program -- Question Mark IPA -- won a silver medal in the open category of this year's competition.

SCCC piloted a brewer training program earlier this year. And it's planning to offer a craft beer brewing certificate program and a craft brewing associate's degree program starting this fall.

The college has an info session about its intro to craft brewing course lined up for Monday, July 25 at 6 pm at its campus in downtown Schenectady. The course is scheduled to start this October.

Burgers at Crave

Crave burger on tray with fry

By Deanna Fox

There's something about summer that begs for red meat to accompany all those light salads and that fresh produce. An aged steak, seasoned with salt and pepper and grilled to medium-rare perfection, topped with chimichurri, served with a corn salad. Yep, that's my idea of a great summer dinner.

But that is my ideal at home dinner. The thing with a steak is that restaurants mess it up often, and consumers usually end up paying a premium for branding and advertising, and not really for a superb cut of meat.

So when I'm craving beef and I'm dining out, I'm going for a burger. I can never get burgers to turn out quite as good at home as I can at my favorite burger joints. I'm a thin-patty kind of lass, but my attempts at home are thwarted by dry meat and crumbly burgers.

I've heard only good things about Crave Albany, the burger and frozen yogurt place on the corner of Western and Quail in Albany's Pine Hill neighborhood. And my hopes to find a great burger came to fruition there -- once I could decide on which burger to order.

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Follow up: The Dutch Udder Craft Ice Cream

Dutch Udder Jeff McCauley and Kehmally Karl

Jeff McCauley and Kem Karl, make ice cream with beer, wine, cider and other local ingredients. / photo courtesy of Rare Form Brewing

AOA is on summer break this week. So we'll have new follow-ups this week with people we've covered during the last few years.

Today, we're checking in on the progress of the newly-opened ice cream business The Dutch Udder.

We first met Kehmally Karl and Jeff McCauley they were finalists in last year's AOA Startup Grant contest. The Dutch Udder makes some delicious ice creams and sorbets out of interesting ingredients -- including local beer, wine, and cider.

Kem, a nurse, and Jeff, who works in HVAC, started out by making ice cream for friends, who loved it. It's been a long road from that point to running a business, but The Dutch Udder has been officially open for two months. Now they bring their cart to places like Slidin' Dirty and Nine Pin Cider Works and to local events like Rockin' on the River, the Adirondack Wine Festival ,and the Sunday night concert series at Powers Park in Lansingburgh.

We talked with Jeff about the road to opening up, and how things are going so far.

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Follow up: Nine Pin Cider Works

Nine Pin founder Alejandro del Peral

Alejandro del Peral

AOA is on summer break this week. So we'll have new follow-ups with people we've covered during the last few years.

Next up: Nine Pin Cider Works in Albany.

The first time we met Alejandro de Peral, the startup cidery's founder, it was in the summer of 2013 as they were just getting set up in a space in the Warehouse District. He told us then how meeting a group of cider makers at a tasting in a Burlington, Vermont liquor store set him on the path to starting the business:

"I'm having these conversations with these guys and lightbulbs are just going off in my head. Oh my god, I have all these apples down by where I grew up. This incredible product. These guys are cool, their whole philosophy on cider making and apple growing and the relationship between the two" -- sourcing locally from small orchards -- "is exactly what I believe and feel."

Over the course of the past three years, Nine Pin has grown a lot -- its ciders are available on tap at bars and restaurants around the Capital Region, and its bottles and cans are sold in retail outlets -- all while continuing to source its apples from the greater Capital Region.

And the company recently made a significant expansion to its production facility on Broadway, with more plans for the future.

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Follow up: Lark + Lily

lark and lily exterior silvia lilly 2016-July

Lark + Lily. And Lilly.

AOA is on summer break this week. So, like last summer, we'll have new follow-ups this week with people we've covered during the last few years.

Just about this time last year we talked with Silvia Lilly as she was preparing to take over ownership of the popular Wine Bar and Bistro on Lark from Kevin Everleth. As she told us back then:

I understand that I have a lot to learn about the back-of-the-house, day-to-day, running of a restaurant, but I also feel as if I have a lot of front of the house knowledge to share.
I don't define success by making tons of money. Never have. I want to be successful in terms of giving our guests a memorable and positive experience from the moment they walk in the door.

Lilly -- a teacher by day, who has also worked in restaurants for most of her adult life -- has now owned the business for about eight months. She's renamed it Lark + Lily and revamped the menu to include some more casual dining options -- but kept the beautiful courtyard and the knowledgable staff.

So how's it going? We checked in with her to find out.

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Follow up: Nibble Inc

Nibble Inc 2016-June Jesse Cramer

By Lauren Hittinger Hodgson

AOA is on summer break this week. So, like last summer, we'll have new follow-ups this week with people we've covered during the last few years.

Today we're checking back in with Jessie Cramer of Nibble Inc, a donut shop in downtown Troy. Nibble is known for its gourmet donuts that are made out of a potato-based dough.

When we first met Nibble, Cramer told us that this inspiration for her shop came from eating an amazingly delicious donut in Maine:

"The best doughnut I've ever had," Cramer adds. "And I thought 'How can I make this donut so I can have it whenever I want?'"

After almost two years in business, Cramer has refined her recipe, grown her business, and is planning for an upcoming move.

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A quick look around Little Pecks

Little Peck's interior

The latest addition to the collection of downtown Troy businesses created by Heather LaVine and Vic Christopher -- Little Pecks -- is set to start serving coffee this Friday. And a soft opening with a menu of food items is lined up for the end of next week.

The concept: A cafe open morning through the evening that serves drinks, pastries, lunch-type dishes, and grab-and-go items.

Here's a quick look around the space, along with a few bits about what's planned, and a few bonus tracks...

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Another record year for New York State maple syrup production

mountain winds maple syrup amber

Sweet.

New York State set a new modern record for maple syrup production this year, the Cuomo admin announced Friday. The Empire State produced 707,000 gallons of syrup, according to numbers from the from the US Department of Agriculture.

That's up from 601,000 gallons last year. And it keeps New York at the #2 spot nationally, holding off a surging Maine with 675,000. Better luck next time, Pine (Not Maple) Tree State.

New York's increased production this year was in part a result of a longer season -- 36 days on average this year, compared to 26 last year. But the state continues to add taps, too. Its tap count was above 2,500 this year -- the Cuomo admin says that's the highest number since 1946 -- and the count has been rising by a couple of hundred each year for the past few years. (The state's yield per tap has also been rising.)

Of course, Vermont continues to dominate the field, where they're just playing a different game.

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Taste of Troy food tours

troy monument squareA business called Taste of Troy, started by Amy Koren-Roth, is offering food walking tours (Or should be that walking food tours?) of downtown Troy. Blurbage for its "Central Troy Historic District Food Tour":

Put on your walking shoes for an entertaining and delicious way to learn about Troy, its ups and downs, and the role food is playing in bringing this architectural gem back to life. You'll sip and sample some New York classic flavors (often with a new twist). Of course, we will sprinkle in history, architecture, and culture to round out your perfect Saturday in the Collar City. Our Central Troy Historic District Food Tour is a leisurely 3 hour, 1.5 mile walk with plenty of refreshing and informative stops along the way, so it's suited for most ages and fitness levels.

The tours are offered on Saturday mornings. Tickets are $49 and must be purchased in advance.

Daniel went one of the tours recently -- here's his recap.

The Scoop

Ever wish you had a smart, savvy friend with the inside line on what's happening around the Capital Region? You know, the kind of stuff that makes your life just a little bit better? Yeah, we do, too. That's why we created All Over Albany. Find out more.

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