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!

A Mother’s Love

It’s been a complicated year for me. It has caused me to reflect on a lot of the relationships in my life, perhaps none quite as complicated as the relationship between between a mother and child.

It starts during pregnancy. Everything the mother does has a direct impact on the child and everything the child does worries the Mom or brings her joy.

I spent much of my children’s childhood as a single mother, so there was no other adult to leave the kids home with. To me, that meant if I wasn’t working, I was with my children. I would get out of work, drive home, all three of my kids would grab their bags that I had packed, or made sure they packed, the night before, and they would pile into our mini-van. They all had different activities; ballet, jazz, football, baseball, cheerleading, basketball, all in different places at different times. If they didn’t have an activity, they would sit in the van with me and we would do homework or talk. When everyone was done for the night, we would head home, lift the lid off the crock pot and have dinner together every night. My friends were the parents of my kid’s friends. My social life consisted of volunteering with my kid’s activities, quick change mom at The Nutcracker, Cheerleading Coach, Football team medic. I loved every minute of it. It was easy to figure out how to be a good mother. Spend time with your kids, be involved in their lives, be their soft landing when the world is cruel and their advocate when the world is really cruel and give them freedom to make certain choices knowing they had a good foundation and be there when they made less than stellar choices to help them learn from them. I made my share of parenting mistakes, but through it all, love was my guide.

I remember when I was the Sales Manager at Longfellows and we had a team building exercise. We had to think of the best team we were ever part of. We had to write down the characteristics of what made our team great. The team that immediately came to mind for me was the team of my kids and I. We cared about each other, we respected each other, we supported each other, we celebrated each other’s successes and we consoled each other during the difficult times.

My children are all adults and it’s harder to know how to be a good mom now. I still want to protect them when the world is cruel, even though I know (and they tell me) they can do it themselves. They all have their own homes and jobs and friends. I love when we can spend time together and I especially love when we all can be together. I don’t know all of their friends anymore and I definitely don’t know all the parents! Sometimes I’ve had to give some tough love so my children could find their own way. This was the toughest part.

I’ve been reflecting on the way the word Mother is used in the English language. Step-mother, Godmother, Grandmother, Mother-in-law, Back-stage Mom, Team Mom, Mother Nature. All of these uses of the word mother are endearing or symbolize a protective or nurturing nature of the relationship when the word mother is added. I am or have been all of these things except Mother Nature (although some would say I was a bit of a nature mom!) and they all had real meaning to me.

Although being a mom to adult children can be worrisome and a challenge at times, it is also source of great joy. Some things are still the same. I still worry about them. When they are sick or when someone hurts them, I want to make it better. I still celebrate their success and am proud to be on their team. I still love sharing meals with them. When my son was home in February, I cooked dinner for everyone. We laughed and caught up on each other’s lives and poked fun at each other, just as we did when they were kids. It was probably the highlight of my year! I also was reminded this past year that the things I say and do still have an impact on my kids, and I also know that I still make parenting mistakes.

There’s no training manual for this role. Luckily, I had a great role model. My mom is amazing. It’s still a learning process for me, but through it all, I know that at the heart of it all is a Mother’s Love, my mom’s love for me, my love for my kids and my daughter’s love for her son. It’s come full circle.

I have a lot to be thankful for this Mother’s Day. And I wish you all a Happy Mother’s Day!

Mill Mates Care

For the past three and a half years I have lived in The Mill in Glens Falls. It’s not just a building. It’s a way of life. The residents in my building come in all shapes and sizes, ages, and walks of life. Living here is like living in a grown up version of a college dorm complete with parties on the roof top, borrowing pantry staples, (and bottles of wine!) and caring about each other like family. If one of us is ill or recovering from surgery, the others check in to see if items are needed from the grocery store or a ride is needed or even to drop off dinner. If one of us is celebrating something like a new job, retirement, the birth of a child or grandchild or a wedding, we all come together to celebrate. While this may be common behavior in suburban neighborhoods, it is rare in a condo or apartment building in an urban setting.

But the caring doesn’t end with the people in our building. One day, one of our Mill Mates was heading out and spied an owl in a tree. The owl was in distress and some birds of prey were circling. Our group of neighbors called the proper authority, and stood guard under the owl until it could be rescued.

At Christmas and again just recently, our gang made it our priority to help the Open Door Mission with their Backpack Program. When kids are in school, those who need it, get a free or reduced price breakfast and lunch. When school is not in session, these kids still need to eat breakfast and lunch. The Open Door Mission ensures that these kids have food for school break. We just finished sorting 4 huge boxes of food. In addition, some residents gave checks to the Open Door Mission to cover any items that are in short supply. I am truly blessed to be surrounded by such a caring group of people.

Recently our building was purchased by Cass Hill Development for $6.95 million. There has been quite a bit of coverage on the sale. As a Realtor, I know logically that the new company bought an asset. I’m sure during their “due diligence” they inspected the physical assets of the building and evaluated the “cap rate”. I have to admit, this building has some wonderful amenities. In my humble opinion, the greatest assets of this building are the people who live here and call this building home and who care for the building, each other and the community we live in. I know, in time, our new landlords will come to understand that as well!

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.

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.


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

These Mountains, The Adirondacks

These Mountains

I fell in love with these mountains when I was seventeen on a college visit.
I reveled in young love as I hiked these mountains and watched the sunset on the shores of St. Regis Lake.
I let these mountains help heal my first broken heart.
I accepted my diploma with these mountains in the background with my whole life ahead of me.
I found strength in these mountains as my father battled for his life.
I sought comfort in these mountains as my heart broke in a million pieces as I accepted my father’s death.
I returned to these mountains to give back and share my knowledge with a new crop of students.
I enjoyed a labor of love in these mountains as I helped build a company.
I cultivated a project named for one of these mountains.
I learned of the loss of a dear friend in these mountains.
I tried to write a story in these mountains that should not have been written.
I had my entire paradigm shift in these mountains.
I now live at the foothills of these mountains and found the love I didn’t know I needed.
We dance on the roof to Sinatra as we look at these mountains.
We boat on the lake with these mountains all around us.
I am building my own business in these mountains.
I am living the life I love in these mountains and loving the life I live in these mountains.
The Adirondacks. These mountains.

LARAC Festival, Glens Falls, NY

One of my favorite things about Glens Falls, NY is the local Art Community. When people think of the arts in the area, they instantly think of Saratoga Springs. While Saratoga Springs does have a vibrant arts scene, I think Glens Falls, gives it a run for the money. We have the Charles R. Wood Theater that hosts, among other events, the Adirondack Theater Festival. We have The Shirt Factory, a converted factory that is the home to art galleries, shops, and heath and wellness practitioners.

One of my favorite events happens every year in June, outside, and then again in the fall, inside. It’s the LARAC Art Festival. LARAC, short for the Lower Adirondack Regional Arts Council, has been hosting a juried art and craft festival in Glens Falls, NY for forty-five years. I’ve attended the June festival whenever possible for the last 15 years, long before I moved to Glens Falls. The June Festival is, by far, the best one of it’s kind in the region. 80% of the artists that apply to be vendors are turned away. LARAC seeks to have the best of the best and to not over saturate any particular category.

When I first started attending, I traveled from my very traditional home in Ballston Spa. My decorating style was Shabby Chic and I found plenty of items that fit my style. Over the years I have bought many gift items for family and friends that fit their varied tastes. The last three years, I simply walk the block and half from my loft in a converted factory. My decorating style has morphed to “industrial” to fit my new place and there are plenty of items that fit my new style as well.

There’s plenty to see and do, with over 150 vendors, delicious food and live music both days. This year’s festival takes place June 18 and 19 in Downtown Glens Falls City Park. For more information, visit their website LARAC Arts Festival

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!!