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Vacation Week Begins Close To Home

July 16, 2018

Welcome to Vacation Week!

Hey, it’s summer. People travel. And right now I’m renting a house with old college friends, somewhere in Vermont. I’ve got very little say in the overall plans for this trip. But the kitchen is well equipped, and the beers out here are great. Thanks for all the tips.

This week we’re going with a vacation theme. And I can think of no better way than starting with a guest post from Emily L. Recently, her mother came through town. One of my favorite things to do is showing off the Capital Region’s culinary chops to visitors.

Most recently that meant getting Raf some wings from Graney’s. And even though he wasn’t entirely sold on the idea of mozz and melba, we had to get some mozz and melba. Where did Emily take her mom? Well, I’ll let her tell you.

A Whirlwind Tour of the Capital Region

I recently took a break from my eggs benedict challenge while my mom was in town to visit.

My mom (from Ohio) had only previously been to Albany once in 1986 when she got lost in the city on the way to Maine. Needless to say, in the midst of the pre-cell phone era, she did not have a good impression of the city. I aimed to change that perspective for her. My strategy? Her stomach.

We went on a whirlwind ten day tour of some of my favorite restaurants in the area. We pondered menus, Yelped pictures of food, and made it a family vacation planned around food, fun, and most importantly, time spent together. Our plans had to change several times due to immense heat and huge thunderstorms. Here is a brief overview of some of the highlights of her visit.

Saratoga Springs:
A work trip took us up to explore Saratoga Springs. To truly experience the Saratoga Springs scene, we decided to be ‘ladies who lunch’ checking out Boca Bistro located in the heart of downtown. We enjoyed salads and fresh bread, taking in the beautiful summer weather. While Boca isn’t a ‘classic’ Saratoga restaurant, it was quite enjoyable with beautifully prepared food. A bit steep in cost, but that is to be expected in Saratoga in the summer.

A Friday off? Yes please! I decided to show my mom a taste of upstate life. We stopped first at Riverside Maple Farms in Glenville, sampling their four different grades of syrup and freshly made cotton candy. Finding ourselves quite hangry, on recommendation from Riverside, we stopped in at Oliver’s Cafe in Scotia at 2:15. Even though they close at 2:30, they warmly invited us in creating a special BLT burger with the maple spread we had just purchased for my mom. It was fresh, hot, and exactly what we needed. The prices were unbeatable and the owner made us feel so welcomed, inviting us back to try her maple sriracha sauce for waffles and chicken.

Hyde Park:
A day trip to Hyde Park to visit the FDR museum and library took us to a new culinary adventure at the Culinary Institute of America. This professional culinary school offers several restaurants run by students and staff. We decided to try their latest venture, the Post Road Brew House. While their beers were outstanding, the food left something to be desired. We ordered fish and chips and a cobb salad; the salad was fresh but small and the fish and chips were not crispy or hot. Next time, I would like to try their famous bakery, but unfortunately, it is only open Monday through Friday.

Lake George:
A day trip to Lake George brought us to the mecca of soft serve stands, Martha’s. Much like Daniel, my mom loathes soft serve. Even a cone of Martha’s chocolate peanut butter soft serve could not change her opinion; she took three bites and gave the rest to the boyfriend and I. Luckily, dinner was much more up her alley. We went to Barnsider BBQ, gorging ourselves on brisket and half a chicken. This was the meal that kept on giving; somehow, we turned this into an additional 3 meals. Their fresh BBQ sauce, made with real chunks of onion, got even better as it cooled and sat in the fridge.

Home cooking:
We did a fair amount of cooking at home, trying some of our local favorites including fresh duck eggs from Burhmaster Farms and chicken from Primal. Primal’s house blend is not one to be missed; check it out on Mondays when chicken breasts are just $3.50 a pound.

Before a trip to the state museum and statehouse tour, we grabbed a quick lunch at Iron Gate Cafe. This classic Albany institute has fresh salads and hearty sandwiches. Somehow, I have never had their brunch before. This might call for a special bennies mission.

Since we had a ‘light’ lunch, we decided to go all out for dinner, checking out the best burgers in the area at Crave. My mom ordered the french onion burger and as she explained, ‘I will be dreaming of that burger for years to come.’ Easily her favorite meal of the trip, I think the promise of future crave burgers will be enough for her to make the eleven hour schlep to Albany a yearly tradition.

So since we didn’t have time to do it all, what do you suggest as capital region musts? How can I incentivize her to visit again?

Surely, you all have something to add for the next time Emily’s mom comes to town. So, who is going first?

10 Comments leave one →
  1. albanylandlord permalink
    July 16, 2018 11:36 am

    Your CIA trip was unfortunate, The Brewery probably isn’t their best option. I have been blown away there by at least some of the food and at the whole experience every time. I have been to the Tavern (no rez required), American Bounty, and most recently the Cafe which really impressed me.

    • July 16, 2018 7:33 pm

      That is so good to know! Thank you for the advice. I desperately want to get down there Monday-Friday to try the bakery.

  2. Adam permalink
    July 16, 2018 5:41 pm

    If she loved crave you must check out the owners other restaurant the Cuckoo’s Nest for the best southern food you can find!!! It’s right across the street from crave so you can get a French onion burger to go afterwards haha

    • Emily Lang permalink
      July 16, 2018 7:35 pm

      I actually had a not great experience at Cuckoo’s Nest, but it was one of the first few weeks they were open. I’ll stick to Crave for now, but I do want to try brunch there sometime!
      If you are looking for good southern food, have you tried Yaya’s in Schenectady? The chicken is amazing there; you can get two pieces, a side, and a drink for just $5.

      • Adam permalink
        July 22, 2018 7:32 pm

        Ahhh that’s too bad! And yes I have been when they were at their first location. I loved it also!!

  3. July 16, 2018 5:52 pm

    There were better suggestions for lunch in Saratoga in this earlier guest post: . Most of the places are still there and the recommendations hold. Probably the best strategy is to grab a sub from Roma or a buffet box from Four Seasons and eat it in the park (or, starting tis Friday take it to the track).

  4. David Nardolillo permalink
    July 17, 2018 7:21 pm

    Peck’s Arcade is always an easy dinner choice for me when I have out of town guests swing through. If you can get a large enough group together, a family-style meal at the Cafe Cappriccio chef’s table is a great experience.

    Gaskins in Germantown (about 10 minutes south of Hudson) is a place worth a drive to.

  5. Ellen Marie Lang permalink
    July 19, 2018 10:03 pm

    Love that I was the subject of a blog! i have to say I was a BIG fan of upstate and all the foods. I hate to admit that soft serve is not my thing but I was amazed at the variety of flavors offered. The french dip hamburger was truly amazing . Riverside Maple Farms gave me soooo many ideas for incorporating maple syrup into my daily life ! was very sad that I didn’t get to try Gambles bakery for the cookies .

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