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Sell Out Funday: Surprise at the Bottom

September 9, 2016

Where did the week go? There’s so much that happened that I never got to tell you. Like trying the new Diablo sauce at Taco Bell and breaking out into a sweating fit after leaving the restaurant. That was scary.

But I also had my blood drawn for my follow up doctor’s appointment. That means I can loosen up a bit on the diet for a couple of weeks. That’s exciting. And just in time, too. The Saratoga Wine & Food Festival starts tonight, and I’ll be there on Saturday, too. Then on Monday is The City Beer Hall event with Kent Falls and Grimm Ales. The good times just go on and on.

Speaking of good times, there have been a few people who have sent me a few things to share with you. And the last time I did a Sell Out Funday post was back in July, so I don’t feel so badly about caving into the recent batch of emails and press releases.

The first one is super timely, because it’s all about something special happening tonight.

Tonight The Cheese Traveler welcomes Guest Grillmaster Tristan Lowery

Who? Great question. As it just so happens, Eric Paul posted a descriptive bio on his website. You can go there yourself, but for your convenience, I’ve clipped the relevant blurbs:

Guest chef Tristan Lowery spent six years at the stoves of a number of New York Times two- and three-star kitchens in Manhattan, including a formative nineteen-month engagement at John Fraser’s Michelin-starred Dovetail, as well as a valuable period learning inventive, market-driven Nordic fare with Phillip Kirschen-Clark at Vandaag.

Tristan also served two stints for renowned East Village restaurateur and hospitality master Jack Lamb. As sous-chef at Jack’s Luxury Oyster Bar, he presented playful American small plates with executive chef Nicholas Licata. Following that, he manned the open-kitchen passe at Degustation, where the sophisticated Franco-Spanish tasting menu perennially garnered 27 points (out of 30) in Zagat’s New York City dining guide. Other work in New York City included organizing an oyster-themed dinner at the legendary craft beer bar Jimmy’s No. 43, and freelancing with the in-house culinary team at the Tasting Table Test Kitchen in SoHo.

After moving to Albany for a career change, Tristan worked part-time at Ric Orlando’s New World Bistro Bar while pursuing a graduate degree in urban planning at the University at Albany. These days, Tristan usually only cooks for family and friends, so cooking for Cheese Traveler patrons is a rare treat.

So what’s he making? The menu is here. However, the thing that excites me the most is the escalivada. I know it’s just a side, but that melange of summer vegetables is super delicious. Plus it’s available with boquerones. Add some bread, and that’s all I need to be perfectly happy. But the beef tongue looks mighty fine too.

It seems like this recent diet might have a lingering effect on some of my food preferences. I suppose that’s not a bad thing. But it may take some adjustment.

Superior Merchandise Company Celebrates One Year in Troy

Troy, NY // September 1, 2016

Superior Merchandise Company, a specialty coffee bar and design shop in downtown Troy will celebrate its one year anniversary with an all-day extravaganza on Saturday, September 10th to take place at the shop’s location at 147 4th Street.

“It’s been an exciting year and we want to thank our wonderful customers for their support with an all-out party in collaboration with some great friends and neighbors” said co-owner Mike Romig.

Planned for the event is a special lineup of coffees from roaster partners past, present and future, collaboration beers with Troy breweries Rare Form Brewing Company and Brown’s Brewing Company, food from local vendors (to be announced soon), custom monogramming on mugs hand-painted by local artist Michael Conlin of Conlin Studios, live local music in the afternoon and evening as well as free giveaways for the first 100 attendees who purchase a beer.

More information and the full lineup of contributing artists can be found at

About Superior Merchandise Company
Superior Merchandise Company is a lifestyle design shop and specialty coffee bar located at 147 4th Street in downtown Troy, New York where you’ll find exceptional specialty coffee, craft beer and wine served amidst a selection of carefully curated and well-made home goods.

Fall Events: Polish Treehouse Birthday Party, Vineyard Grape Stomp, MUZAPALOOZA Polish Ocktoberfest

TROY, N.Y. (9/06/16) – A hidden beer garden celebrating its one-year anniversary this month is showing the region that Troy’s rebirth extends beyond downtown.

“We’ve had an incredible first year at The Hill at Muza and it shows that other Troy neighborhoods, outside of downtown, are ready to start booming again,” said Adam Siemiginowski, who owns The Hill at Muza. “We have amazing regulars coming from Troy’s east side, but we’re also drawing adventure-seeking visitors from all over the region.”

On Saturday Sept. 10, from 4 p.m. to 11 p.m., The Hill at Muza invites loyal guests and newcomers to head up “the hill” on Congress Street for a Polish treehouse birthday party. The event features a live 80s cover band – Motion Blur – pumping up the jams from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m., a photo booth with inflatable Polish props, and massive before-and-after prints of the property’s amazing you-won’t-believe-it-till-you-see-it transformation with hints of awesome new things to come.

“Some of our guests say that being at The Hill feels like hanging out in a treehouse for adults, with beer and kielbasa,” said Timothy Tyrrell, business parter of The Hill at Muza. “We’ve built an entire business around feel-good energy, creating an experience that people will remember and want to come back for. Our guests constantly ask ‘What’s next? What are you up to?'”

And there have been a lot of updates along the way, from an evolving menu that now features “euro” burgers, house-smoked tacos and wings and unlimited kielbasa prepared in their outdoor kitchen, to an adventurous wine list recently featured in Albany’s “Local Yelp” newsletter as one of the top three wine bars.
(Parking is easy, seriously, it is easy to park on The Hill.)

The Hill at Muza is a surprisingly great event venue considering it features an intricate layout of intimate spaces.

Already, The Hill at Muza has established two major annual traditions for the community, each attracting more than 500 guests throughout the day. The first special event is an outdoor Holiday Tree Lighting ceremony featuring a 15 foot tree on the same night as the Rockefeller Center Tree Lighting. The second special event is Dyngus Day, a wildly named Polish-American holiday that occurs the Monday after Easter Sunday. The day features live Polka bands, energetic dancing, and strange customs like tapping those you adore with pussywillow branches.

The Hill’s Dyngus Day celebration in Troy this past March attracted major media attention in Buffalo, home to the world’s largest Dyngus Day event. Much of the buzz centered on The Hill’s marketing and t-shirts sporting an “enjoyski troyski.” oval customized by The Enjoy Troy Co., based on its famous “enjoy troy.” symbol. A friendly Polish rivalry now exists between the two cities, Buffalo and Troy, but like all rivalries it really just amounts to a Dyngus measuring contest.

This fall, The Hill at Muza is rolling out two more events with the same craziness, charisma and sense of humor.
Polish Ocktoberfest Halfway to Dyngus Day
(It always comes down to Dyngus.)

On Saturday, Oct. 15, from noon till 11 p.m., The Hill at Muza will party like it’s halfway to Dyngus Day with “MUZAPALOOZA,” a Polish version of Ocktoberfest.

The evening will feature live music from Noon till 4 p.m. by New Jersey-based polka band Middlesex Express, followed by Polka and Hits DJ Chris Podeswa from 4 p.m. till 8 p.m.

“MUZAPALOOZA will have all the good craziness of Dyngus Day — an awesome Polka band banging on the stage and a DJ set kicked off by the ‘2001: A Space Odyssey’ theme booming on accordions throughout the venue’s sound system,” said Siemiginowski. “There will be a nonstop flow of Zywiec Polish lager pouring out of the taps, and, of course, UNLIMITED KIELBASA!”

Muza, the restaurant adjacent to The Hill, will be open as a Beer Hall with a ‘festival food’ menu and open seating during the celebration. As with Dyngus Day, guests are encouraged to wear red.

“If you missed Dyngus Day, this is another chance to have a blast with us,” Siemiginowski said. “MUZAPALOOZA is one heck of a warm up for Dyngus Day.”
Speed Tasting: Fall in Love With the Wine You’re With

The Hill at Muza has quietly established itself as a new place to get active with wine in the Capital Region. On Thursday, Sept. 22, from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m., The Hill will unveil its adventurous and striking fall wine list with a Vineyard Grape Stomp and “speed tasting.”

Guests are invited to jump into wooden barrels to stomp on thousands of ‘crushable’ vineyard grapes courtesy of the Musto Wine Grape Co. LLC of Connecticut and Amorici Vineyards of southern Washington County, New York. Varieties will include Zinfandel, Cabernet and Marquette Grapes.

“This is going to be just like that classic grape stomping scene in ‘I Love Lucy,’ with people squishing around on grapes in big wooden vats, making funny faces, laughing and getting messy,” Tyrrell said.

The evening will also feature a “speed tasting” of wines.

“Speed tasting is like speed dating, but with wine, where you go on a mini date with each wine on our list,” Tyrrell said.

The Hill at Muza will be open normal hours, 4 p.m. to 11 p.m.

Parking for The Hill at Muza is easy and available on both sides of Congress and 15th streets, within one block of the business. There is also a bike rack at the 15th Street entrance. Check The Hill at Muza website for a parking map.

The Hill is an outgrowth of Muza, the adjacent Polish restaurant on 15th Street established nine years ago by Siemiginowski’s parents Jan and Alicja Siemiginowski, who immigrated to the United States from Poland in the 1970s.

“Muza has been a long haul gamble for nine years, even before Troy’s Congress Street infrastructure improvements began,” said Adam Siemiginowski. “The risk we took nine years ago is paying off for the whole community and we’re proud to be part of the revitalization of Troy.”
(Or: About The Hill at Muza)

The Hill at Muza has a uniquely textured space framed by three adjacent buildings, a cobble-lined wall and a wooded hill.

Guests enter through a pair of black gates, located at 379 Congress St. A narrow walkway between two buildings leads to a surprisingly charming open-air landscaped beer garden with intimate nooks of stonework and woodwork, as well as fanciful lighting by Troy-based Lightexture. Arriving in the space for the first time can feel a bit like stepping into Willy Wonka’s world of pure imagination.

There is an enclosed clubhouse-like barroom with tables and indoor seating. Overlooking it all is a man-made waterfall and stage for performances. After dark, the garden is heated by a collection of commercial flame-torch patio heaters that cast a wonderful glow into the night.

“It feels like a secret stone hideaway in the middle of the mountains, but we’re proud to be in the hills of Troy,” Tyrrell said. “When you visit The Hill you experience a European ‘staycation’ that’s within driving distance from anywhere in the Capital Region.”

The bar features a variety of Central and Eastern European half-liter beers as well as Zywiec Polish Lager on draft available in 10 oz., half-liter and one-liter signature glassware. There are several “beer cocktails,” including the “wheat toast” (wheat beer and sparkling white wine) and a vanilla ice cream porter float. The wine list features local vineyards such as Hermann J. Weimer from New York’s Finger Lakes as well as international titles such as Vorspannhof Mayr’s Gruner Veltliner which pairs well with pretzel bites.

An evolving menu features burgers, smoked wings and tacos prepared on an outdoor grill, snacks like addictive seasoned popcorn, vegetarian salads and sandwiches, smoked meat and cheese to share, and, of course, Polish kielbasa.

A new kitchen slated to be completed this fall will allow the menu to expand further with new main dishes.

The music of choice at The Hill at Muza is quality hits from the 80s, except for the bathroom which blasts Polka.

“When people come out of our bathroom they are usually dancing or saying ‘Oh my gosh, what was that?'” Tyrrell said. “Usually going to the bathroom is a downer because you have to leave your friends. With the Polka, you return telling a funny story. We want the entire experience at The Hill to be about our guests having fun.”


The following are pronunciation tips for the words and names in this press release.

Muza = moo-zuh
Dyngus = ding-gus
Zywiec = ziv-yets
Siemiginowski = shim-ig-in-ow-ski

The Hill at Muza One Year Anniversary Party
Saturday, Sept. 10, 2016: 4 p.m. to 11 p.m.
Live 80s Band, Motion Blur: 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.
Polish Photo Booth: All Night Long
Admission is free.
Facebook Event Page:

Vineyard Grape Stomp & Fall Wine Launch
Thursday, Sept. 22, 2016: 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.
Vineyard Grape Stomping: 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Wine Speed Tasting: 6 p.m. to 7 p.m.
Admission is free, open 4 p.m. to 11 p.m.
Facebook Event Page:

MUZAPALOOZA: Polish Oktoberfest
Saturday, Oct. 15 2016: Noon to 11 p.m.
Polka Band Middlesex Express: Noon to 4 p.m.
Polka and Hits DJ Chris Podeswa: 4 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Muza Restaurant will be open as a Beer Hall with a ‘festival food’ menu and open seating during the celebration!
Admission is free.
Facebook Event Page:

Moe’s Southwest Grill Celebrates Free Queso Day on September 15
Leading Southwest Fast-Casual Brand Honors Loyal Fans with FREE Queso, No Purchase Necessary

ATLANTA (September 8, 2016) – Moe’s Southwest Grill® is known for three things: its famous Queso, love of music, and awesome fans. On Thursday, September 15, Moe’s will honor this awesome trifecta with its own holiday: Free Queso Day. To celebrate this momentous occasion, loyal Moe’s fans will be treated to a free six-ounce cup of Moe’s Famous Queso and complimentary chips at more than 650 participating locations, no purchase necessary.

Queso lovers are encouraged to share photos and posts to spread the love for Moe’s Famous Queso using the hashtag #FreeQuesoRocks on their favorite social platforms. Better yet, three lucky fans who use the hashtag will be randomly selected to receive FREE QUESO FOR A YEAR. In addition to free queso, limited edition Free Queso Day t-shirts will be available at select locations.

“Free Queso Day is our way of saying thank you to our awesome fans whose loyalty to Moe’s Famous Queso is unmatched while also introducing our most beloved menu item to guests who have never tried it before,” said Dominic Losacco, Moe’s VP of Global Marketing. “For the seventh year in a row, we’re giving away a ridiculous amount of queso and look forward to hosting a celebration unlike any other.”

Visit to find a restaurant nearest to you and connect with Moe’s on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook by tagging your posts and pics with #FreeQuesoRocks. Also, find Moe’s on SnapChat @moes_hq and check out the custom Free Queso Day geofilter available at select locations.

About Moe’s Southwest Grill®
Welcome to Moe’s!® Founded in 2000 in Atlanta, GA, Moe’s Southwest Grill is a fast-casual restaurant franchise featuring fresh, handmade, customizable southwestern food in a welcoming environment that rocks. Moe’s is committed to serving only the highest quality ingredients 100% of the time at all of our locations in the U.S and abroad. While Moe’s is best known for its burritos packed with a choice of more than 20 fresh, flavorful ingredients, the menu also features kid’s, vegetarian and low-calorie options, all served with free chips and salsa. Check out Moe’s online at

Dessert Gets Upgraded with SONIC’s New Blast Flavor Funnels
America’s Drive-In to add innovative twist to Blast line-up

(OKLAHOMA CITY) – SONIC® Drive-In (NASDAQ: SONC) introduces an irresistible new way to indulge your sweet tooth with SONIC Blast® Flavor Funnels. Take the Blasts you love to the next level with a funnel of creamy OREO® stuffing, peanut butter, caramel or chocolate filled right down the middle from top to bottom.

With Blast Flavor Funnels, a delectable funnel of flavor at the center is surrounded by hand-mixed Real Ice cream making each Blast a treat within a treat.

“Our Flavor Funnels create an experience that give our guests even more of the premium ingredients they have come to expect from a SONIC dessert all the way down the middle,” said Scott Uehlein, vice president of product innovation & development for SONIC. “It’s a whole new way to savor a SONIC Blast, with more of what you love in every bite.”

Flavor Funnels are available in five Blast offerings: SONIC Blast made with Snickers® Bars and Caramel Funnel; SONIC Blast made with Butterfinger® pieces and Caramel Funnel; SONIC Blast made with Oreo® cookie pieces and Oreo® Stuffing Funnel; SONIC Blast made with M&Ms® Chocolate candies and Chocolate Funnel and SONIC Blast made with Reese’s® Peanut Butter Cups and Peanut Butter Funnel. Or, add a Flavor Funnel to any of SONIC’s Blasts to create a custom dessert with your favorite flavors in each bite.

SONIC Blast Flavor Funnels are only here for a limited time, so stop by your local drive-in soon to experience the revolutionary taste sensation for yourself.

Oh, and I have a reward for anyone who made it down to the bottom. If you are interested in trying the flavor blast funnels with me, leave a comment below saying so, and we’ll see if we can put together an outing. I’ll send a follow up email to commenters sometime next week. Sonic gave me some gift cards to sample these confections, and it would be more fun to include a few of you in the experience.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. Sue H permalink
    September 9, 2016 10:44 am

    Funnel tasting sounds good Dan

  2. Ewan permalink
    September 9, 2016 1:01 pm

    My kids would love the funnels…

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