Life on the road, and the importance of hospitality

For my Hospitality Industry friends, stay with this post, I promise, it will be worth your while!

It’s been a year since I added this blog and I miss it. I have written 100 entries, at least, in my head as I drive and fly all over the “Great Northeast”. That’s how I always write, first in my head, then at the keyboard. Since my last post, I have accepted a promotion with my full time job with, I am still selling real estate and, of course, writing the Cravings column for HerLife Magazine.

With my new role at, I am back to traveling 3-4 nights a week. I will be the first to admit that the transition, while seamless to the outside world, has been personally a little challenging. A few things have changed since the last time I was a road warrior. The last time I was on the road I was in an unhappy relationship and home was not only an unpleasant place to be, but I was overwhelmed with the chores that I faced when I returned home. It’s tough to come home after 5 days on the road to a sink full of dishes, an overflowing clothes hamper and a pile of trash that needed to go out, especially when that’s not how I left it. Add to that snow and ice removal, lawn and pool care with little or no help from my significant other and you can see why I would rather be on the road.

Currently, I am in a three and a half year relationship with an amazing man. I miss him when I’m gone and I can’t wait to see him when I return. I now come home now to a home that is either exactly how I left it or sometimes better! I also now live in an apartment. I truly love where I live. I look around my 1600 square feet and I love everything I see, whether inside or on my patio (where I am right now!) I love to cook in my kitchen, sleep in my bed, sit on my sofa and shower in my bathroom. I also love walking to my favorite restaurants where everyone knows me, and listening to music from artists I know and who are familiar to me.

I am truly happy both professionally and personally for the first time in I can’t remember when. I am blessed. Here’s the twist, because I love my life, my guy and my home, it’s much tougher being on the road than before. Staying in “Hospitality Properties” 14-16 nights a month, the hospitality I experience really is crucial.

This past week, I spent 3 nights in the Residence Inn on Maple Road in Amherst (Buffalo) NY. I booked this hotel by accident. I thought I was booking another Residence Inn nearby. When I pulled into the parking lot, I noticed it was clearly an older property and it was in a residential area so no walking to restaurants or shops. The units all had outside entrances and some of them were up a flight of stairs (there is no way I am carrying my suitcase up those stairs!), I almost didn’t get out of my car! Eventually, I headed to the front desk and let the desk clerk know I booked this hotel by mistake, but told him if my room was on the bottom level, I would stay. The desk clerk was so welcoming. He confirmed I was on the lower level and assured me that they were happy I was staying with them.

I drove around to my suite and was delighted to find a parking spot right outside my door. I moved my things in, hung up my dresses and unpacked the rest. Within 10 minutes, I received a call from the Front Desk asking if my room was to my satisfaction. They also informed me of the social hour from 6- 7:30 that offered complimentary beer, wine and grilled burgers. Before I headed over, I discovered my ice machine was not working.

I arrived at the social hour and was greeted, not just by the food an beverage host, but also by a member of the management team who asked me if it was my first night staying with them. I said yes and she asked if things were as expected in my suite. I said yes, with the exception of the ice machine. She assured me she would send the maintenance team to my suite promptly. By the time I arrived back to my room, not only was the ice machine fixed, but he filled the bin in my refrigerator/freezer with ice while the machine got to work!

This level of hospitality continued throughout my stay. Every team member was genuinely focused on a wonderful guest experience. From the front office team, to the food and beverage team, to the maintenance team, each one greeted me. Each one asked what they could to do help. The most amazing part was that they all seemed genuinely happy to be there and to make their guest’s experience stellar. The best part was that their attitude was contagious. This carried over to the guest’s attitude, because a positive attitude is contagious. The Residence Inn concept hotels are geared to toward extended stays. Some guests are there for weeks or even months at a time. The staff at this hotel made each one feel like they were the most important guest in the hotel. I watched their interactions and every time they made someone smile, their smile widened.

The spirit of hospitality at this property was an example for the industry.

The hotel I booked by mistake, that was, on the outside, a less glamorous hotel from others I have stayed at, won my heart and I will certainly stay there on my return visits. And yes, I made sure to find the GM of the property to let him know of my experience. This type of hospitality comes from the top down. When I told him of my experience, he welled up with tears. That’s when I knew. His team, wanted my stay to perfect because he wanted it to be perfect. They wanted to make me happy, but they wanted to make him proud!

In my professional bio, I proudly say that I am Disney born and Marriott raised. These two hospitality industry giants taught me a lot. I can say with certainty that this hotel embodies hospitality and Bill Marriott would be proud! If you are traveling to Buffalo, stay here Residence Inn Amhurst I know I will!

The “Fruits” of My Labor, Raspberry Picking

It seems like another lifetime ago that a friend and I, armed with our “free labor”, also known as our children, would go raspberry picking. Now I don’t mean we picked a few pints, no, we picked for days. A lot of folks don’t realize that raspberries get picked twice in a season, once in July and then again in September. We would pick 40-50 pounds a year. We would make regular jam and Captain Morgan- Raspberry Jam. We would also make a Raspberry Honey Mustard Dip for pretzels and a Godiva Liquor and Raspberry Sundae Topping. We would also freeze the fresh berries for use throughout the year. At the holidays, we would give Raspberry Baskets filled with the jams and sauces as gifts for our family and friends.

Life got busy and we stopped picking raspberries, but I never forgot how amazing it was to pick those succulent berries. It wasn’t just about the tasty treats we made. It was also about the time we shared with each other and our children. The kids loved it. I think they ate more than they saved, but the young ones were great for gathering the berries on the lower vines. They learned a lot of important lessons picking berries. They learned to respect the bees and not pick the ones the bees were interested in. They learned the importance of team work. And they learned that you could make things from the gifts that nature provided.

We adults learned a lot too. We learned how therapeutic it was to pick berries. When you pick raspberries, you only think about one thing, picking the biggest and ripest berries you could find. All the troubles of the day melted away as we forged on with our mission. I can’t explain how gratifying it was to have those berries fall into your hand and to watch the bottom of the pail disappear. There was a sense of purpose and accomplishment as we weighed the berries and discovered just how productive we were. We enjoyed the accolades from our family and friends as we shared the fruits of our labor with them. They would ask with anticipation each year if we would be gifting them with our Raspberry Baskets again. One of my fondest memories was of my father. He had Pancreatic Cancer and was undergoing some aggressive treatments. At times, he didn’t have much of an appetite, but he loved our raspberry jam. When nothing else sounded appetizing, he would ask for jars of jam and he would eat it with a spoon, right out of the jar.

It’s been 18 years since I picked raspberries. I woke up this morning and asked my boyfriend if he had any plans for the day. He said no. I suggested we go raspberry picking. At first, he scoffed at the idea, but his love for raspberries got the best of him. We headed to Garden Works in Salem, NY. It was his first time picking raspberries and I wasn’t sure how long he would last. He rose to the task and together, we picked over six pounds of berries in just over an hour. Truth be told, he out picked me! We dropped some off to his parents who love raspberries and we made their day!. We are freezing some, eating some and I have plans for Raspberry Mojitos. We didn’t quite get enough to make jam, but, I am contemplating going back later this week to pick some more to make jam. Once I was out there picking, I remembered why I loved picking raspberries so much, that feel of them dropping into my hand, the way all my cares melted away and all the fond memories of the times we spent picking the berries and the reaction of family and friends to the fruits of my labor. There is a new generation I can show this to, my grandson. I’m hoping he will enjoy picking berries as much as his mom did. I think maybe I’ll do some Raspberry Baskets for Christmas.

Bacon Makes Everything Better

Bacon really does make everything better. It’s the perfect food, really. It’s great as a stand alone or add it to any dish and it contributes saltiness, smokiness, crunch and savory to just about anything. I know most of you are thinking the usual stuff, omelets, quiche and salads. Some of you may be thinking a little outside the usual realm like mac and cheese, quesadillas, or the broth for mussels. I’m talking about things most folks wouldn’t think of. Here are a few I’ve either made or someone has made for me.

Maple syrup glazed bacon as a topping/garnish for ice cream. I’m not big on sweet desserts, but I’ll give into the maple syrup to get the salty, crunchy bacon to add texture to the creaminess of ice cream any day! Cook the bacon on parchment lined cookie sheets. During the last few minutes of cooking, brush the bacon with maple syrup. Yum. Yum.

Brussel Sprouts cooked in bacon fat with bacon lardons. This dish can make even a veggie hater love Brussel Sprouts when they are prepared thinly sliced, sautéed in the bacon fat and shallots until tender, then topped with bacon lardons, shaved parmesan and a poached egg. Pure perfection. I am taking this one to a new level this year, I am growing my own Brussel Sprouts on my balcony!

Bacon wrapped peaches. Yes, you heard that right! I saw it on the food network, but they provided no guidance as to how to make them. Well, I figured it out. Slice one ripe peach into 12 slices. Par cook the bacon in the micro wave to where it is pliable, not crunchy. Cut the slices in half. Wrap each peach slice in a half piece of bacon. Place it with the end of the bacon side down on a cookie sheet lined with parchment and cook it in the oven at 350′ for 30 mins. That’s it. When I tell people about it, they make a confused face for about two seconds and then their face turns into a smile that says “oh yeah” and they dive in. I’m sure it would work for other stone fruits as well, but I’m so hooked on the peaches!

I should note that, for health reasons, I always use uncured bacon. I either buy slab bacon at the meat counter or excellent quality packaged bacon at the grocery. With bacon, it’s about the quality, not the quantity for me.

I would love to hear what you have made or eaten!

Don’t Miss These Tips for Track Season in Saratoga

The thoroughbred racetrack in Saratoga Springs is said to be one of the most beautiful racetracks in the country, if not the world. For some of us, it’s a quick drive, but others come to the area just for the racing season. If you are visiting Saratoga this season, here are some local insights.

If you are like me, you want to enjoy a nice cigar. The best place to buy cigars in Saratoga Springs is the The Adirondack Cigar Shoppe. They have a great selection of cigars and a friendly, knowledgeable staff. You can enjoy a cigar in their comfortable lounge or take your cigar with you to the racetrack or next door to Gaffney’s outdoor patio to enjoy a cocktail and some music.

Staying at a hotel or renting a house and you need to stock your own bar? You need to visit Purdy’s Discount Wine and Liquor. There is an abundance of choices and the prices are the best in Saratoga Springs.

While at the track, I have two favorite places to eat. The first is Pies on Wheels. The Chef/Owner is David Britton. For many years, he was the Chef/Owner of Springwater Bistro on Union Avenue in Saratoga Springs. If you like thin, crispy artisan pizza, you will love Pies on Wheels. In the mood for the best burger at the track? Look no further than Shake Shack. The only Shake Shack in New York, north of Woodbury is open at the racetrack, only during racing season. I’m hoping they will open a year round location soon, but in the meantime, this is a must during racing season.

Ladies, if you are gearing up for a night on the town and you need a blow-out or an updo, my favorite is Simplicity, A Salon. There are lots of reasons to love this salon. The stylists all stay current on products, trends and techniques. The salon is conveniently located in the bottom floor of the Embassy Suites, so there is plenty of parking and you can even book your appointment on line!

Saratoga Polo is the second oldest polo field in the United States. The matches are on Fridays and Sundays at 5:30 p.m. so it’s the perfect place to continue the equine experience. There are two ways to enjoy polo. The General Admission side is laid back and casual. You park your car right on the side of the field and host your own tailgate party. The VIP side is more of the “Pretty Woman” experience. Spectators dress to impress, there are box seats and tables, complete with food and beverage service. After the third chucker (think of it like half-time), no matter what side you sit on, be sure to help repair the field, by stomping the divots. At the end of the match, there is a ceremony for the winners and the runners up, (there are no losers in polo!). You can watch the The Noble Art of Sabrage as they open a bottle of champagne with a sword!

If you are looking to stock up on provisions or some great “grab and go” meals to bring back to your hotel or rental home, I recommend The Fresh Market or Healthy Living Market. Both have a great selection of cheeses, meats, seafood, produce, snacks and beers. They also both have complete meals already prepared that you can take with you. Healthy Living also has a wine and liquor store and a big gluten free section.

There are so many great restaurants in Saratoga Springs, too many to mention, something for everyone. If you need a recommendation in Saratoga Springs, message me I will help you chose one to fit what you are looking for. They are all hopping during racing season, so here are a few places to visit if you want to avoid the crowds.

Just a short ride, in neighboring Ballston Spa is Sunset Cafe. This Southwest fusion restaurant is known for smoked chicken and salmon, pulled pork, brisket, corn chowder and killer Margaritas.

Slightly farther South in the Village of Round Lake is Lake Ridge Restaurant. Stop on the way to the track for lunch or after the track for dinner. The menu has something for everyone and everything is delicious! Their wine, beer and cocktail menu is reason enough to visit, but my favorite thing is the Artichoke Souffle.

If you are in the mood for classically prepared French cuisine, head just a few minutes north to Chez Pierre. This hidden gem has a neon replica of the Eiffel Tower out front and food is decadent. Be sure to save room for the Crepes Suzette, prepared table side, for dessert. If you are lucky, you may even get to hear Pierrette, one of the owners sing for you in her native tongue.

Venture a little farther North and you will be in my neck of the woods, Glens Falls. There a several great restaurants to chose from but one of my favorites is Morgan and Company. The setting is an old mansion, converted into a restaurant. They have the most incredible outdoor dining porch, complete with an outdoor bar. The entrees change seasonally and I’ve never had anything I didn’t love, but my favorite thing to do is sit at the bar and enjoy a glass of wine or a cocktail and share some appetizers. I love the glazed spare ribs, the sea salt fries and the hummus platter.

If you would like more of my secret spots or recommendations, message me, and I will be happy to help. If you would like to rent a house for a weekend, a week or the season in Saratoga Springs, I can help with that as well.


Seriously? You’re Gluten Free?

Mary's Hand Gathered EggsSome of my friends have been gluten free for years. Some have an allergy to gluten, a few have Celiac’s Disease. Many of my friends, over the years have experimented with the concept of not eating gluten for a few days, weeks or months for various reasons. Some have actually stuck with it long term.

Since I am a big fan of bread and pasta, albeit the whole grain variety, I could not imagine going gluten free unless I absolutely had to! I, along with a good friend of mine, have raised over $200,000 for local charities by offering to cook dinner for 6 or 8 in people’s homes, as a live auction item. The minute someone said one of the group was gluten free, I asked them to please invite someone else. Frankly, I didn’t understand the whole gluten thing and it scared me. I’ll be honest, other than Celiac’s Disease, I thought the whole thing was a crock, but I wasn’t sure.

A little over a year and half ago, I started to have problems with my back and my hip. A lot of it was due to my age and the fact I spent so many years in a physically demanding career in the hospitality industry. As a result, I have a lot of inflammation in my back and hips. My pain is sometimes unbearable. I can not take NSAIDs like Advil, Motrin or Aleve, they upset my stomach. The only other pharmaceutical option to reduce inflammation is steroids. I tried a few rounds of that and I hated the side effects. I turned to the internet for alternative solutions and kept coming back to the two things, add turmeric to my diet and remove gluten from my diet. So, I went to my favorite natural foods store and bought turmeric. I added it to everything I could think of; dressings, marinades, sauces and dips. You name it, I added turmeric to it. It did help some. So then there was this gluten thing…….

I was still skeptical, but I did my research. Many of my close family members have auto immune issues and I have them, to a lessor degree. Inflammation is a big factor. My close family members also have a lot of bone and joint issues. Again, inflammation. And a few family members have depression issues. Inflammation was listed as a contributing factor. I couldn’t ignore it anymore, inflammation was a contributing factor to so much of my family medical history issues. Reluctantly, I decided I needed to give gluten free a try.

I researched gluten free diets. Everything I read said I needed to give it three weeks to really rid my body of gluten to see if it had an impact. I’ll admit, I took short cuts. I just eliminated it from my diet without really finding acceptable substitutes like finding gluten free free restaurants, GF products etc. After all, I was only doing it for three weeks. I started to feel better. Now, let’s be real, eliminating gluten did not undue years of wear an tear on my body, but it did significantly lessen the pain. At the end of the three weeks, I thought, maybe it was all in my head. So, for one week, I went back to eating gluten. If I had any doubt the impact of gluten on my pain, that week told me all I needed to know. I’ve been gluten free ever since.

I’m a foodie. I write about food for a magazine, I blog here about food, I love to cook everything from scratch, I love dining out and, don’t forget, I love breads and pasta. So, this is where things got real. I needed to find alternatives for cooking and baking at home. I bought a few books, experimented with some good gluten free items in the grocery stores and on line. The reality is, the toughest part is when I don’t eat at home. I eat out in restaurants, sometimes in my hometown, but often on the road. I would be attending my family reunion. I am often invited to parties or friend’s homes. How do I manage all that? I didn’t want to be “that girl” that announces to everyone that I’m gluten free and expect others to accommodate me.

Today, I started a Facebook page, Upstate NY Gluten Free. I am hoping others will share pictures and recipes and restaurants, so people who travel to the area (and I!) can benefit from others and they can benefit from me. If you go to a concert or festival, tell us where you found gluten free options for food and beverages. Don’t worry, not all of my posts to this blog will be about my gluten free journey, but expect that some of them will! I hope you will follow my journey.

You Can’t Grow That On The Patio

The most certain way to ensure that I will do something is to tell me it can’t be done. This is the first year since I moved into my downtown loft that I haven’t had to do extensive overnight travel, so I decided to expand my patio garden.

Last year I grew basil, tomatoes, red peppers and rosemary. The basil and rosemary worked out well, but the tomatoes had all sorts of issues. They would flower but never set. I read that they needed vibrations to set, (usually bees make this happen), so I would drag my chairs around the patio a few times a day. It worked, the tomatoes set. They would grow beautifully, then for some unknown reason half of the tomato would turn brown before they would ripen. One site said they were over-watered, so I tried watering them less, but more often. Nope. Another said it was some sort of fungus and I bought the recommended fungicide. Nope. So all season, I think I got 8 tomatoes. I made the best bruschetta with those 8 tomatoes and my basil, but it wasn’t really all I imagined it would be. The peppers produced a decent yield, but they were miniatures!

This year, thanks to some friends and family, I was gifted for Mother’s Day two floral planters and a lavender plant. I bought a few flats of pansies for the railing planters on my side patio. That did it for the flowers. Being the practical woman I am, I wanted useful plants, herbs and vegetables. Thanks to my boyfriend’s mom, I have a hanging basket with hundreds of cherry tomatoes that have seemed to set all by themselves and have none of the mysterious brown stuff, and a continuous producing lettuce planter with red leaf and romaine.

I filled two long planters with oregano, thyme, dill, rosemary, basil and sage. They are all thriving and now I am pinteresting ways to preserve them so I will have fresh herbs all winter! I planted red, yellow and green peppers and they seem to be coming in just fine. I also have three kinds of mint. Sweet mint, Chocolate mint and Lemon mint. No brainer, they thrive, no matter what! Great for my infuser pitcher, and a host of adult beverages.

So here’s where the challenge comes in. I love Sweet Onions, Brussel sprouts, Zucchini and Cucumbers. Everyone I asked said those wouldn’t work in a patio garden. So, I knew I had to find a way to make those work. Onions grown under ground, so I put the onions in a really tall, deep, planter and they are coming along nicely, although I think they might be a little crowded and I may have to sacrifice a few for the common good.

Cucumber from my patio garden
Cucumber from my patio garden
As for the cucumbers, first, I bought the plants that produce the mini cucumbers. I like them better anyway. The next challenge is cucumbers need to climb and they don’t seem to like metal at all, so I bought a wooden planter bench with a back and I put it next to a wooden shelf. I am pleased to report, my cucumbers are happily climbing and flowering and several flowers have sprouted cucumbers at the base already! After extended research, I found out that, like the onions, Brussel Sprouts, as long as they are in a deep planter, they will grow well in a planter because they have strong stalks and grow straight up. They are growing well so far, but no stalks yet, I think it’s too early for that.

The biggest challenge is the zucchini. They are also on the planter bench. They are growing like crazy, they have lots of blossoms that this week have begun to form the long squash. Problem is they are getting heavy and are starting to drop. Problem is, I can’t let them touch the ground. The cement will fry my poor little zucchini. So, I am now in search of a mat I can put on the patio that won’t get too hot. I know I will find a way! Just tell me it can’t be done, and I will be grilling those zucchini in no time.

Zucchini from my patio garden
Zucchini from my patio garden

Foodies’ Paradise, Driscoll Foods Show

Van-Lang Foods, Bacon wrapped Water Chestnut
Van-Lang Foods, Bacon wrapped Water Chestnut
Two weeks ago I had the pleasure of being invited to a Food Show produced by Driscoll Foods. Until the last year or so, Driscoll primarily provided food and other hospitality related items to the restaurants in the downstate market. Driscoll Foods has entered the upstate market and is giving Sysco and US Foodservice a run for their money.

I’ve been to many food shows over the years in my previous life in the hospitality industry. This show was particularly enjoyable because of the quality of the vendors. Rule number one is to not eat before you go to one of these shows because there are so many things to sample, you will need lots of room. Driscoll is unique because they have their own butcher shop. Not only do they age their own beef, but they custom cut their meat. This ensures quality and also lets restaurants pick the size of the steak and the quantity of each cut to eliminate spoilage or the need for frozen meat. The beef I sampled was superb! I’m pretty picky as my grandfather and his brothers owned a butcher shop in the city. From the time I could eat solid food, my grandfather would hand select my dinner and drop it off to my mom to cook each night.

There was more than just beef there. There was an abundance of fresh seafood, desserts, side items, dressings, sauces and condiments. My favorite vendor was Van-Lang Foods. They had an array of appetizers that come frozen, but you would never know it. I’m all for making everything on site, but in some restaurants, this isn’t an option. Van-Lang makes them for you from fresh ingredients, and then freezes them. What a great option. I sampled the Vegetable Spring Rolls and couldn’t have detected they were frozen, a rarity for frozen spring rolls. My favorite was the Water Chestnut Wrapped in Bacon. Another favorite vendor was Zina’s Salads for the same reason. They make composed cold side dishes from fresh ingredients. They had an incredible variety, each one better than the next. My favorites salads were the Carrot and Raisin and the Black Bean with Corn and Roasted Red Peppers. If pickles are you thing, then Patriot Pickle had something for everyone. I liked the sour ones best, they had a great garlic note.

One of the best things about this show is that similar products were grouped together so you could compare them side by side. There also were strategically places beverage vendors throughout the show to satisfy your thirst during this grand tasting. I can only hope I am invited back next time!

Perhaps a bottle of Rose instead

A crisp, dry Rose
A crisp, dry Rose
I know a lot of people who are true wine experts. I know a lot people who claim to be. Let’s face it, lots of people can pick a really good $60+ bottle of wine from a wine list that they read about in a magazine. There’s a whole series of apps for that as well. But for me, what’s really impressive is when someone knows enough to pick a really good wine off the shelf in a liquor store for under $20 a bottle, even more impressive if it’s under $15!! My dear friends, Jon and Jesse Seguin own a great wine and liquor store in Lake Placid, NY. It’s right on the main drag in the Alpine Mall. It’s called The Smoking Cork They have an amazing gift for picking those wines, the ones under $20 or even $15 that will blow your socks off.

About 3 years ago I was up in Lake Placid for 4th of July. The real estate company that I work for, Select Sotheby’s InternationalRealty was sponsoring the fireworks on Mirror Lake. The local radio station, WSLP, was broadcasting the 4th of July parade outside our Lake Placid office. The day was a real scorcher so we decided to hand out cups, with our logo, filled with ice cold water. Jon Seguin, one of the owners of Smoking Cork and also a fellow agent with the company was out there with me. He said he was going to run to the store and grab a bottle of wine he wanted us to taste. I pictured a nice crisp, chilled Sauvignon Blanc. What he came back with was an oddly shaped bottle of Rose!

My previous experience with Rose consisted of the sticky sweet Boone’s Farm, Tickle Pink, during my teenage years and the “gateway wine”, the almost as sweet white zinfandel that I drank in my twenties when an open bar was only beer and wine. To say I was skeptical, was an understatement. Jon expertly opened the bottle and poured a few glasses and handed me one. One sip of the dry Rose and I was hooked. It was the perfect treat on this unbearably hot day. The wine was Mirval and at the time, although hard to get, it was still under $20. I promptly split a case with a co-worker. We drank it all summer. Then, the following spring, it appeared on the cover of Wine Spectator magazine and the man holding the bottle looked suspiciously familiar. It was Brad Pitt. Turns out he and wife Angolina Jolie own the vineyard! Of course, the price immediately spiked to $25 a bottle. But my taste for dry Rose remained and I learned as much as I could about Dry Rose wine so I could pick the good ones. They have been my summer favorite ever since.

Today, as I begin an uncharacteristic long weekend, I am headed to my niece, Mia’s, First Communion Party on Long Island, I went to the liquor store and picked out a delightful dry Rose that I am enjoying with a cigar (yes, it holds up well to a cigar) as I write this post. I won’t tell you the name, I’m afraid the price will go up, but I can tell you it was under $15. If you send me a comment, I will tell you which one. As boating season approaches, it’s perfect to bring along and it won’t stain the carpet when the waters get rough! Cheers!!

Health, History, Horses and a Hot Restuarant Scene

The restaurant scene in Saratoga Springs, NY has been on the upswing for the last 15 or so years. I give the credit to a group of chefs that called themselves the 4 X 4. At the time they represented the best in Saratoga. David Britton from Springwater Bistro, Larry Schepici from Sargos at Saratoga National, Paul Parker from Chez Sophie and Mark Graham from the Wine Bar. Chef Larry is now in Albany, Chef Paul and Chef David are in Glens Falls and I heard Chef Mark, has recently returned home to the Wine Bar. These chefs banded together and executed dinners monthly as a team. They were promoting Farm to Fork long before it was cool to do so. They really put the Saratoga culinary scene on the map.

Many more great restaurants have since entered the scene. Restauranteur David Zecchini has three restaurants in Saratoga Springs, Chianti, Forno Bistro and Boca Bistro. David has taken Farm to Fork to a whole new level when he actually bought a farm that was listed by Select Sotheby’s International Realty. The DZ farm is used to grow some of the ingredients used in the restaurants and also to host events.

Restauranteurs Christel and Colin MacLean started in Saratoga Springs with Hattie’s Chicken Shack, and then added Sperry’s, Circus Cafe, Crown Grill and Saratoga Juice Bar to their list of successful restaurants in Saratoga Springs. They sold Hatties to Chef Jasper Alexander and his wife Beth and Sperry’s to their former partner.

Recently Saratoga Springs has been getting national recognition and some significant players in the restaurant industry are preparing to open restaurants in Saratoga Springs. The first Morton’s Steakhouse north of Westchester County will open in the new hotel at the Racino in Saratoga Springs. Chef Grey Kunz has partnered with the developers of the Adelphi Hotel to open three restaurant concepts in Saratoga Springs as part of the revival of the hotel. The first one, Salt and Char is scheduled to open this spring. Kunz, a James Beard nominee for Best Chef, is known for his culinary talents in both the Manhattan and Hong Kong food scene. He has been heralded by both the New York Times and New York Magazine as one of the best chefs in New York City. Salt and Char is certain to garner the attention of foodies from Manhattan and beyond.

Restauranteurs, Colin and Christel MacLean, have seen a tremendous surge in their Saratoga Juice Bar business as they bring their juice to market in major retailers throughout the country. In order to focus on the juice business, the McCleans have decided to sell the Crown Grill. This incredible “turn key” opportunity to join the vibrant Saratoga restaurant is unparalleled. The dining room, bar and event space are tastefully decorated and the spacious kitchen is fully equipped and ready to go. The location has the highest level of foot traffic of any block in Saratoga Springs. For more information visit Crown Grill or call Joanne DiMarco at 518.210.3649 or John Burke at 518.928.2233.

Renee’s….when a mistake becomes the Next Great Thing

Prosciutto wrapped Pork Tenderloin served over fresh spaetzle with a chablis apple glaze
Prosciutto wrapped Pork Tenderloin served over fresh spaetzle with a chablis apple glaze
I recently watched the Netflix documentary, “Cooked”. In one of the episodes, they talked about the history of bread. The story goes that someone accidentally left a bowl of porridge out overnight. The mixture fermented and rose and they decided to bake it. Bread was born.

In Saratoga Springs, NY, in the 1800’s at Moon’s Lake house a cranky customer ordered the hand cut french fries. When the fries arrived the customer sent them back because they were not cut thin enough. The cook, George Crum, cut a new order of fries, thinner this time. The customer sent them back again. This time, an angry George, cut the potatoes paper thin and dropped them in the oil and left them there until they were hard, then, covered them in salt. He planned for and presumed them to be inedible. Instead the cranky guest loved them and the “Saratoga Chip” was born.

Last Friday night my guy and I went out for dinner at Rene’s on Elm Street in Glens Falls. We love Rene’s, it’s off the beaten path. The restaurant is only open five nights a week, three hours a night and they only have 7 tables. They also don’t have a liquor license so we can bring our own beer and wine.

We have our routine. We pack the cooler bag with a bottle of wine for me and few bottles of beer for Jeff walk over to Sandy’s Clam Bar for a pre-dinner cocktail. Hey, it’s on the way. After we chat with our favorite bartenders, we walk the rest of the way to Rene’s.

The food there is always amazing and the menu changes seasonally, although the favorites like the Weiner Schnitzel and the Ahi Tuna consistently appear. We know we always have to save room to at least share a dessert. The desserts at Renee’s are not to be missed. Friday night we decided to split a dessert. We were torn between the Coconut Creme Brûlée and the Chocolate Pots de Creme. I asked Jeff to choose and he picked the Creme Brûlée. When the dessert arrived, together we cracked at the Brûléed top and dug in. We were talking and enjoying each other’s company, as well as this delicious creamy dessert. Well, a few bites in we realized we weren’t eating Creme Brûlée. The kitchen had accidentally Brûléed the the Pots de Creme!!! We couldn’t believe how delicious it was! We are regulars in the restaurant, so we called our server over to let her know, in case the next people didn’t find it as amazing as we did. She went into the kitchen and let them know. One of the other servers was helping in the kitchen and she came out to apologize. We told her there was no need, it was our new favorite dessert. We all had a good laugh. Check out Rene’s You will be glad you did. It’s one of the best kept secrets in Glens Falls.