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Happy Hour Dreams

October 3, 2017

Making dreams come true. That’s part of my job description. It’s a pretty cool job. And maybe—technically—that part isn’t codified anywhere in the roles and responsibilities of the Yelp Community Ambassador. But it is what I do.

Of course, my dreams typically revolve around food. I’m sure you are shocked.

One of my dreams has been to visit IL Faro for its happy hour specials, ever since I heard that one of the items on the menu is a meatball slider. In the Fussy household, we are always on the lookout for a good meatball. And I’ve been known to put a meatball on a bun myself from time to time. It’s a real treat.

But thanks to my grueling work schedule these days, most of my eating out centers around work events. Between doing things like judging  food competitions and organizing Official Yelp Events, and trying to maintain a healthy diet, there isn’t much room for eating out.

Which is why I was thrilled that I could make my own dream come true, and organize last night’s Official Yelp Event: Happy Hour at IL Faro. So not only did I get to finally try the meatball sliders, but I got a bite of everything on the happy hour menu, including some samples of the new fall cocktail menu, and some delicious beers and wines.

Here are some of the highlights.

Jeremy Irving from Remarkable Liquids was there, and I loved the way the Mikeller Fruit Face—which is a mango coconut habenero sour—paired with the classic bruschetta. It wasn’t a spicy beer, but the pepperiness played beautifully with the bite of garlic and the tomatoes.

This was my favorite of the beer pairings. Beer goes well with so many things. But I love it when a beer can bring out flavors in the food, and vice versa.

Ooh. Those calamari. I know that calamari used to be a bit of a cliche around the Capital Region. But I think it’s safe to say those days are behind us. Although still, I am reluctant to ever offer praise for the dish. Regardless, chef Chris did a great job with these, which not only were crisp on the outside and tender inside, but also beautifully seasoned.

Vivithefoodi put a picture of the dish up on her Instagram feed. Which if you aren’t following, it’s high time you started.

The arancini were small and delightful, filled with wild mushrooms and served with mascarpone. Joe Armstrong of Winebow paired them with the Monchiero Carbone Sire Nebbiolo, and that was delicious.

You’re probably wondering about the meatball slider.

It’s exactly what I thought it would be. Maybe even a little better, since the roll was nice and crusty. My son would probably still prefer just to have meatballs on a plate, and that’s fine. But I like my fat to be combined with carbs for a double hit of culinary pleasure. And I especially enjoyed the pairing with the Leone de Castris Primitivo, which up until last night I mistakenly thought was the same grape as Zinfandel.

Joe is up on all the current science, and apparently the two have been identified as distant cousins. I won’t pretend to understand the genetics of grapes, but since Joe is a professional wine consultant, I’ll trust him on this.

It was fun to talk to people about their favorite cocktails from the night too. Mostly because everyone seemed to have a different pick. That’s what’s fun about experiencing these events with a lot of people. Everyone has a range of taste preferences. If we all liked the same thing, cocktail menus would only need to have one drink on them. Where’s the fun in that?

You can see the full IL Faro fall cocktail menu here. The ones I preferred were the ones I expected to like. Maybe you can even guess.

If you suggested, the bitter aromatic one made with gin, you would be right. And if you said the smokey mezcal one with ginger beer, you would also be right. But I was surprised at how much I also enjoyed the persuasion with vanilla bean infused Tito’s vodka, nutella, coffee bean simple syrup, and cream. It’s not something I would ever order. But at the end of the night, and talking for almost two hours straight, it was really soothing.

It’s hard to make happy hour happen during the week. I usually have stuff to do. But Menands is pretty centrally located, and IL Faro offers this happy hour menu on Saturdays between 5 and 7p at the bar and on the patio.

I’m putting it on my Google calendar as a reminder to try and get back in there for a light bite and a glass of something special to wash it down.

These days, we need all the happiness we can find.

Thanks to Chris, Jess, and their staff for hosting such a wonderful event. Thanks to Joe and Jeremy for making it out and talking a bit about wine and beer. Thanks to the Albany Yelp community for showing up and being awesome. And thanks to you for reading all about it and making it all the way to the end of the post.

Any questions?

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