These Mountains, The Adirondacks

These Mountains
J.DiMarco

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

Not Your Daughter’s Chicken Fingers

Out of this world chicken tenders.
Out of this world chicken tenders.
There is a line of Jeans called Not Your Daughters Jeans. They recognize the need for jeans for women, not girls, because what women need in a pair of jeans changes as we get older. Well so does our taste in food. Like most kids, my kids loved chicken fingers when they were little. I remember when we went to Disney for a week, I think my younger two ate Mickey shaped chicken fingers exclusively for a week straight for lunch and dinner! I’ve never had much use for chicken fingers, I found them bland and boring, the very reason kids love them. I also was unimpressed with the lackluster sauce options for dipping, again that’s another thing kids love.

About two or three months ago, my “go to” restaurant, Downtown City Tavern, in Glens Falls, conveniently located steps from my loft, started a new menu. One of the additions was Boneless Chicken Tenders. I thought, if anyone can make chicken tenders that would appeal to me, it would be Chef Paul Parker, so I ordered a small order of three tenders just to see. First of all they were so generously sized, I could only eat two. They were really juicy chicken with this thick, perfectly seasoned crunchy exterior that could only be described as crater-like. That was perfect since the choice of sauces they offer are grown up versions of the kid friendly favorites (along with some new ones) and the craters help hold the delicious sauces. I had the honey mustard, the barbecue mayo and the Thai peanut. All of them are made in house and you can’t have just one!

It’s amazing what happens when food tastes like it should. These chicken tenders have the most incredible flavor. Pair them with the pesto fries and Chicken Fingers and Fries will never be the same again. For me it’s a 30 second walk to Downtown City Tavern, but honestly, I would drive quite a distance to get them!

Liquids and Solids, a truly unique Lake Placid gastropub

I love the Lake Placid area. I think it goes back to my days at Paul Smith’s college. I travel there for work and I usually stay at the Courtyard by Marriott so there is no kitchen in the room. That means I have to explore the many restaurants the area has to offer. Among my favorites is Liquids and Solids at the The Handlebar.

I first learned about this restaurant when I participated in a panel discussion at my alma mater, Paul Smith’s College. I learned the Chef is a Paul Smith grad, so I knew I had to give it a try. A true Gastropub, Liquids and Solids has an ever changing menu for food as well as drinks, wines by the glass and beer. The choices change so often that the menu is printed on computer paper and presented on a clipboard to each diner.

My companions and I set forth on this culinary adventure with a completely open mind. We chose three “liquids”. My choice the Balsamic Fizz Vodka (Strawberry Juice, basil, balsamic vinegar, soda water and pineapple juice) was refreshing and surprisingly not too sweet, garnished with a peppered lemon slice. One of my companions ordered the Sweet Manhattan (Blantons, stout jam, apple syrup, sweet vermouth and cherry bitters), a little too sweet for his taste, but still wonderfully blended and delicious with a pear peel garnish. My other companion opted for a non-alcoholic beverage, Lavender Soda (Lavender syrup, apple cider, pineapple mango juice and soda water). It was wonderfully fragrant and flavorful.

We ordered a tableful of food to share and our server brought it out in stages so we could savor each dish. First we had the Fried Brussel Sprouts, crispy, perfectly season and topped with a fried egg. The Potatoes with Smoked Ham, Honey Mustard, Shallots and Cheddar was the only disappointment. It lacked the smokiness I was hoping for and the potatoes were too large. The 5 Oysters with Duck Confit and Kimchi however, was a dynamic flavor explosion of sweet oysters and crispy confit.

The next round started with Chicken Liver Creme Brûlée served with root vegetable chips, red onion and cran-orange jam. An odd combination, but it all worked together. The sweetness from the brûlée with the savory chicken liver and the salty root chips made this my favorite dish of the night. We found it was important to have a little of everything in each bite. Then there was the Pork and Pumpkin Chili Apple Cheddar Pie with sour cream and pickled jalapeños. I know this may look like a typo, but I can assure you that this crazy combination worked. It’s like all your favorite Thanksgiving side dishes mixed with pork instead of turkey and all in one dish.

Oh, and then there was the Grits, broccoli rabe, shrimp, bread crumbs, crispy kale and romesco sauce. Creamy grits with succulent shrimp with the added depth of the crispy kale. So many different textures keep you going back for more. The last dish was a pasta dish. Wild mushrooms, bacon, salmon, peashoots, and egg yolk served over ribbon like fettucine. It was an interesting take on Fettucine Carbonara. The wood plank smokiness of the salmon was a exceptional addition to the this dish.

We couldn’t possibly end the meal with out dessert, but we had so much food that we decided to split two desserts between the three of us. I thought for sure the Chocolate Stout Cake with hopped frosting and and stout syrup would be my favorite. It was certainly rich and decadent, but a little bitter. On the other hand, the Almost Milk Bar and the PBJ Pannacotta was that kind of knock you socks off, have to have it again dessert. The peanut butter flavor was in the oats of the milk bar and the jelly flavor was part of the panna cotta. I, of course enjoyed my dessert with a nice single malt. The perfect ending to an incredible meal.

There are plenty of restaurants in Lake Placid that have typical fare. But if you are looking for an adventure for you palate, Liquids and Solids is the place to go.