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Albany is as Walkable as Troy

May 3, 2018

In many ways Albany has been lagging behind Troy over the past decade. I could speculate on some of the reasons, but that won’t move the conversation forward. The good news is that Albany is finally catching up!

There are all kinds of exciting things happening within the city limits. The word on the street was that last weekend’s Half Moon Market in the Washington Park Lake House was off the hook!

It’s great to see a hunger for this kind of thing in Albany proper. To me, it proves that having a significant weekend farmers market would be welcome with open arms and would be a draw for residents. Of course, there are small farmers markets scattered around the city. But Troy, Schenectady, and Saratoga Springs all have large markets that have left Albany in the dust.

No matter. Good things are happening in Downtown Albany, including a weekly walking food tour which starts tomorrow.

A couple of years ago, I was invited on a walking food tour of Troy by Amy Koren-Roth, and it was a fascinating experience. It was the very first time I had ever been on a bona fide food tour. The FUSSYlittleTOURS don’t really count, because those are less about learning about an area than they are evaluating multiple versions of a single food.

Her tour exposed me to some of the history of the city that completely eluded me, having never gone through a social studies class in the local New York public school system, and never taking the time to read up on the matter.

Well, now she’s taking her show on the road, and bringing us an Albany tour.

Last month, I was invited on a sneak peak of the Albany tour, and I’ll confess a little something to you. I enjoyed it even more than the Troy one. Amy is still Amy. The difference is not her expertise, or her delivery, or the buildings, or history she highlights along the route.

For me, it’s all about the food.

In between food there is architecture, art, and history that will fill you with a sense of civic pride. But there are also several stops at local restaurants, bars, and shops that will fill you with deliciousness. Here’s what we had.

Albany Pump Station
The tour kicks off with a couple of beer samples to loosen everyone up, and some warm pretzel sticks to stave off your hunger. The spicy mustard really packed a kick. But this is just an aperitif of sorts. I enjoyed the IPA, and maybe as the new brewer at CH Evans becomes more established, they will start sharing some of his new brews.

Pump Station

Ama Cocina
There is a sizeable break between the first stop and tacos. But this tour has tacos! Everyone gets one of Ama’s creative, multi-layered, and deeply flavored tacos; along with a side of warm chips right out of the fryer and cold guacamole. Man, Ama Cocina is a gem.

IMG_2375

The Hollow
I’ve been to The Hollow before, and I enjoy their food. But never have I tried the eggplant stack or the signature salad. This was the entree portion of the food tour, and both of these dishes were delicious. Actually, most people on the tour weren’t able to finish all of the food. But they were amateurs.

The Hollow

Stacks Espresso
After this late lunch, we move on to Stacks. There we were given some cups of their batch brew along with a couple doughnuts from Cider Belly. That’s two doughnuts each. Maybe I should not have made fun of the people who didn’t finish their eggplant stack. Two doughnuts is one doughnut too many for me. Fortunately, they came in a bag, so I could take one home for the kids.

IMG_2380The Olde English
We end at the Quackenbush House where you get your choice of a beer, wine, or cocktail. I went with beer, since it’s a British pub after all. They do have some talent behind the bar, so cocktails are crafted by well trained hands. It was a beautiful day and we got to sit outside.

The tour concludes with everyone pleasantly full, happy, and ready to begin the weekend. And since you are effectively at the gateway to the Warehouse District, you can start your weekend by continuing the party anywhere downtown you might like.

And the options are expansive these days.

If you want to book tickets for one of the upcoming tours, Amy’s site is here. I love that Taste of Troy Food Tours has expanded to Albany.

One of the only challenges is that these tours only take place on Friday afternoons. That means you’ll have to play hooky from work, and be ready to start your weekend early. But that also means you can play hooky from work, and start your weekend early.

Maybe you can even pitch it as continuing education to your boss or manager, if you have one of those. Or maybe you can include this as part of a staycation. There’s a lot to explore in Albany, and more is coming all the time. You might need to dedicate a weekend to the city sometime this summer, and experience it on foot.

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