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From Now Until September

June 20, 2014

The last couple of days have been very complicated. Today I promised to keep it simple. And nothing can be more simple than sharing the stories that I’ve been asked to pass along.

What can I tell you, people want your eyeballs.

This assortment of press releases, notifications, and promotional messages are arranged in order of the event date. They range from right now (depending on when you are reading this, you may have already missed it) to September.

It’s fascinating to see different PR strategies come to life before your eyes. Well, at least it’s fascinating to me. So pull out your calendars, grab your to-do lists, and consider the following.

It’s a good thing I post these in the morning

Irie Vybez Caribbean Restaurant holds Ribbon-Cutting

When: Friday, June 20, 2014 11:30am-12:30pm
Where: 313 Central Avenue, Albany, NY 12206

You can’t walk past Irie Vybez without ducking your head in, and if you do that, Owner Garth Antonio will invite you to order a smoothie, sit down, and enjoy the good vibes. “That’s what Irie Vybez means,” Antonio says with a smile. “Good vibes.” It’s an unusual moniker, pure Jamaica, and one that Antonio hopes will stand out on this block.

Irie Vybez, new smoothie bar and Caribbean restaurant, is the latest restaurant to join Central Avenue’s burgeoning Arts & Entertainment District, home to whopping eight international restaurants, four ethnic markets, the Linda, WAMC’s Performing Arts Center, WAMC Northeast Public Radio, the local public radio station, as well as two live music venues, Pauly’s Hotel and The Low Beat, and a new record shop, Noise Annoys record shop.

“I call it Albany’s 42nd Street,” says Antonio, a New York City native. Antonio says Central Avenue is the perfect location for his new restaurant, which combines great food with an inviting atmosphere. –and it doesn’t hurt that the place is open late — 3am on the weekends — so he’s poised to capture that after-hours crowd that lets out from local hot spots.

The menu offers a twist on traditional Caribbean dishes, with a number of options for the health-conscious. Irie Vybez has “Design Your Own Fruit Smoothies,” or a great menu of flavors including Ocho Rio’s, Negril, Montego Bay, Kingston, and Irie Vibe. All smoothies are made to order using fresh fruits, Greek yogurt, fresh veggies, regular milk, berries, and nuts, and customers can see their smoothies made right in front of them.

Irie Vybez also offers a “Design Your Own Salad,” which you can top with jerk chicken or jerk steak, as well as more traditional fare like ackee with saltfish and curry chicken. “I also have to say that my prices are probably the best of any restaurant around. Our lunches start at $4,” he says.

The restaurant is located in the former I Love NY Pizza, which Antonio is leasing. He has rehabbed the space over the course of six months, starting with a complete gut. Today, the restaurant sports digital signage, internet-connected flatscreen TVs which play upbeat reggae music videos. The space boasts brightly painted walls in Tropical hues, and slick high-top tables and bar stools to compliment the warm vibe. It’s a far cry from how he found it, Antonio says, with bleach white tile and red picnic-style tables.

Irie Vybez also offers free wi-fi, and online ordering that tells customers exactly where their order is from the time they log it until it arrives on their doorstep. “We’re trying to be innovative,” he says. Antonio is an admitted tech geek–when he was fresh out of college at Buffalo State, he and his buddies opened an online retail business. “All my life, I’ve been a real entrepreneur,” says Antonio.

He hopes this latest endeavor will be the start of something big–a franchise. “I won’t lie, we’re looking to open 10 in two years,” says Antonio. “We’re thinking of doing a lounge area next. We’re looking down in Saratoga Springs, Providence Rhode Island, and also near Temple University,” says Antonio.

Whatever you are planning for dinner tonight, skip it

The Cheese Traveler Cookout Menu
For Friday, June 20th, 5-8pm

We’re celebrating summer! In addition to our grilled cheese and cheese plate menus we’re going to be cooking out every Friday all summer long. Enjoy on our patio or call ahead for take out. 518-443-0440.

Fin’s Jail Island Salmon – $11
Rubbed with paprika and brown sugar, spices & served with a dill aioli.

Tilldale Burger – $9
1/3lb of juicy Tilldale beef, grilled to order. Served on a Bonfigilio roll with lettuce, tomato, onion. Choose from our gourmet selection of condiments, including whole grain mustard, tomato & pepper ketchup, and homemade mayo.

Additional toppings:
Shelburne Cheddar – $1
Artisan Havarti – $1
Colton-Basset Stilton – $2
Smoking Goose Bacon – $2
Mingle Kimchi – $2

Sides – $4
Malay Asparagus Salad (with pickled onions and toasted coconut)
Mexican Street Corn
Salt Potatoes

Fast food for soccer or football or whatever you want to call it

You can make an elegant, gourmet pasta meal for your World Cup party with Giovanni Rana pastas and sauces ( without having to miss a single minute of the game. You shouldn¹t have to forfeit your fun because you¹re hosting friends. A few easy steps to the perfect and quick World Cup grub:

1. Make sure water is boiling before the game starts.
2. Beginning of the commercial break: throw pasta into water
3. 2-3 minutes later, drain & toss pasta in sauce
4. Get back to your guests with steaming hot & elegant dish in hand, before ESPN does

The signature fast cooking time of Giovanni Rana¹s line of refrigerated pasta comes from the ultra thin dough that’s created by machinery made to replicate an Italian grandmother’s hand movements when making homemade pasta. The thin dough makes the perfect vehicle for the filling, the true MVP. Made with imported DOP Parmigiano Reggiano and Genovese Basil, the highest quality ingredients are lightly cooked to retain an incredible flavor and texture. Tossed in sauces that taste as if you¹ve made them that day, you have a full, impressive meal without missing your team score a goal.

The Chef’s Consortium is looking for chefs to help kids

Bill Dowd wrote a story on Notes on Napkins that has all the information. You should click on it even if you are not a chef. Why? Because Bill’s blog has been great lately, and I have the feeling it isn’t getting its fair share of traffic. Seriously, check out his take on the recent news of Jason Baker leaving 15 Church and then compare it to Steve Barnes’ more measured report.

Anyhow, here’s the story. If you are a chef, or capable of assisting a chef one day between July 8 and August 8, please check it out.

Saratoga Wine & Food Festival is just over two months away

Chef MARC MURPHY Headlines Saratoga Wine & Food Festival and Concours D’Elegance

Friday, September 5 – Sunday, September 7

Star of The Food Network’s Hit Series “CHOPPED” & Owner and Executive Chef of Benchmarc Restaurants by Marc Murphy

America’s Premier Wine Educator KEVIN ZRALY Highlights Seminars & Events

Saratoga Springs, NY – The Food Network’s ‘Chopped’ Judge Chef Marc Murphy will headline the popular Saratoga Wine & Food Festival, Sept 5 – 7 in Saratoga Springs. Murphy, star of The Food Network’s hit series “Chopped” and owner and Executive Chef of Landmarc, Ditch Plains, and Kingside, will host the inaugural “BBQ, Brews & Blues” on Friday, September 5 on SPAC’s grounds.

“Marc Murphy’s eclectic background in a dizzying list of cosmopolitan destinations have made him a force to be reckoned with in the industry. His work as a judge on the Food Network’s hit show ‘Chopped,’ has earned him even wider acclaim, affirming his status as ‘celebrity chef,’” said Marcia J. White, SPAC’s President & Executive Director.

In addition to his work on The Food Network’s “Chopped,” he has also made appearances on Iron Chef America, Hot Chefs, The Martha Stewart Show, Make My Day, Unique Eats, The Best Thing I Ever Ate, The Best Thing I Ever Made, The Rachael Ray Show and the TODAY show, among others. He is the president of the Manhattan chapter of the New York State Restaurant Association, and a board member of City Harvest, Culintro and Passport NYC at the 92nd Street Y Culinary Camp.

Mr. Murphy’s participation surrounding the debut kick-off event is part of the revamped 3-day festival weekend. In lieu of the Live on Stage Gala, which has been a featured part of the lineup, the Friday night event will feature an upscale, barbeque-styled competition on SPAC’s grounds with outdoor fire pits, live music, and a lounge environment.

Kevin Zraly, Master Wine Connoisseur

Famed wine connoisseur, educator and best-selling author Kevin Zraly who has been described as “America’s most famous and entertaining wine teacher,” will be highlighted at events throughout the festival weekend. He’ll play a prominent role in Saturday’s Grand Tasting teaching a wine tasting seminar of exclusive tastings and upscale wines as part of the Connoisseur Tent experience, and he will lead the Live Auction of luxury goods and experiences.

Zraly, winner of the 2011 James Beard Lifetime Achievement Award, is the author of Windows on the World Complete Wine Course, the best-selling wine book in US history. He also leads the Windows on the World Wine School, which has been recognized as one of the top wine schools in the country, by Food and Wine magazine.


The three-day Saratoga Wine & Food Festival and Concours D’Elegance in Saratoga Springs, September 5 – 7, brings the epicurean lifestyle to the forefront with three days of gourmet events showcasing fine international wines, innovative chef-prepared menus, cooking demonstrations and wine seminars, expansive tastings, upscale auctions and a concours d’elegance of luxury automobiles. Attendees will enjoy opportunities to get up close and personal with expert chefs, wine connoisseurs and winemakers, automobile experts and celebrity personality Marc Murphy.

New features of this year’s festival include the following events:

BBQ, BREWS & BLUES PRESENTED BY CERTIFIED ANGUS BEEF & STELLA ARTOIS | Friday, Sept 5 – Hosted by Food Network ‘Chopped’ star Marc Murphy, this BBQ bash will serve as the kick-off event with six (6) of the Capital Region’s finest restaurants competing against six (6) Manhattan Grill masters.

WINE AUCTION WALL | Saturday, Sept 6 – A new major feature of the Grand Tasting will be the wine auction wall featuring jeroboam bottles of the top vintages of the season. In lieu of a silent auction, the wine wall will feature rare, one of a kind wines available exclusively for the event.

Returning to the festival are favorite epicurean events including:

ADIRONDACK ROAD TOUR & GOURMET LUNCHEON | Friday, Sept 5 – A spirited 1 ½ hour road rally for auto collectors winding through the beautiful Adirondack roads to finish at the historic Lake George Club. Gourmet lunch includes library-quality wines, imported fine foods and tours on wooden and Italian Comitti speed boats.

THE CONNOISSEUR TENT – Master Wine Connoisseur Kevin Zraly hosts this one-of-a-kind culinary and wine adventure for aficionados at Saturday’s Grand Tasting. This separate tasting experience will feature artisan food from Healthy Living Market & Café, wine and spirits including tastings of rare wines from Kevin Zraly’s private wine cellar. This event will be offered in a luxurious, lounge-style space and feature music from a jazz trio.

GRAND TASTING & CONCOURS D’ELEGANCE | Saturday, Sept 6 – The centerpiece of the festival, the Grand Tasting takes place under large, elegant tents on SPAC’s lawn, and features hundreds of fine international wines, delicacies prepared by the region’s top chefs, wine seminars and live auction of luxuries featuring opportunities to bid on rare wines, couture fashion, exotic travel, original artwork and more. The festival partners again with The Saratoga Automobile Museum to present a show of luxury collector cars at Saturday’s Grand Tasting including invited classes of Shelby Cobras, Alfa Romeo, Porsche, Lancia, Maserati, Ferrari, Lamborghini, Fiat-Abarth and more judged by Pebble Beach marquee auto specialists.

IN THE GROOVE JAZZ BRUNCH | Sunday, Sept 7 – This sumptuous Sunday Brunch will feature gourmet offerings from six (6) of Mazzone’s finest restaurants in Saratoga National’s idyllic setting. Live groovin’ jazz music, culinary delights, delectable Mimosa’s, Bloody Mary’s, Old Fashioned’s, and the Best in Show Auto Awards highlight the event.

Tickets to the Wine and Food Festival are available at, by calling 518-584-9330 or at the Route 50 Box Office.

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. June 20, 2014 10:07 am

    I had to speed-read the releases. My eyeballs come at a premium price, and I am heading out the door for a very long day.

    Unrelated: Daniel, we look forward to having you back in upstate New York very soon! While you were gone, I had to train all my staff to say “what would Fussy Do?” in this tasting situation?

  2. AddiesDad permalink
    June 20, 2014 10:44 am

    Any thoughts on the TU Best Of Poll? I can’t help but think it’s a huge step backwards/

  3. June 20, 2014 10:50 am

    I loved Irie Vybez! Such delicious & affordable food.

  4. June 20, 2014 1:28 pm

    Went to Irie Vybez around a month ago, not realizing it was their soft opening. Still, pretty good food and friendly people, though unless they’ve added seating it’s probably best for take-out.

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