It’s probably time to finalize any last minute holiday shopping, unless, like me, you manage to leave it all to the last minute. Perhaps you’d like the Yesfolk kombucha vinegars, Rockerbox Mulling Spices, Irie Vybez jerk sauce and Primo Botanica sweatshirts among the goodies on the hefty holiday gift guide I compiled for the Times Union. Not included on this year’s list, but deserving a mention are the lovely Albany-made Fowler chopping boards, Hudson Candles, and Fruition caramel chocolates. All available at Fort Orange General Store in downtown Albany.
I gave myself a couple of early gifts too – more books! First, Tastemakers: Seven Immigrant Women Who Revolutionized Food in America by Mayukh Sen and MadMadeThese: Holiday Cocktails, a collection of unique recipes self-published by Madeline Dillon, the star mixologist at The Dutchess Farm in Rhinebeck, NY.
Feeling festive, I joined CBS6 Albany anchor, Heather Kovar, to talk cocktails. Since the 1990s are back in full force with the return of “Sex and the City” as “And Just Like That…” we talked about the Cosmo, sparkling Cosmo, Marmalade Cosmo and the drink of 2021, the Espresso Martini. Visit their Facebook page for the recipes or The Food Life where all the recipes live!
Inspired by the Cadbury chocolate oranges I was given as a child at Christmas, I came up with a Chocolate Orange Espresso Martini with added Cointreau and creme de cacao. Paired with espresso and Kahlua it’s a perfect holiday drink.
If you’re someone who likes to listen to podcasts while you cook, check out The Splendid Table Holiday Warm Up (Episode 672) where host Francis Lam is visited by Chef David Nayfield who shares his recipe for drankiki, chicken-stuffed potato pancakes, a Hanukkah staple for his Jewish-Belarusain family. There’s also a fun segment on champagne with expert Peter Liem who suggests pairing champagne with fried chicken take out, not just special occasions.
And for something soothing when your bellies are full, watch Robin Robin on Netflix. In the latest Aardman animation, an optimistic bird raised by mice wishes on a Christmas star.
Art As Food – Bakers are gonna bake and the lockdown gave us many more independent local baking businesses (check out: Brown Buttery Bakery, Ovenbird and The Bread Butler.) But, you have to see the incredible bread artistry of @konel_bread who bakes custom loaves with colorful insides, like this fish bread that, sliced open, reveals a pattern of bones.
If you’re crying into your pho bowl because the area’s best pho shop, Quang’s Bistro, has closed right as we’re heading into winter, there’s help online with Soupply pho by mail. And for every bowl sold, they donate a bowl to those in need.
Primo Botanica in Troy is preparing for the holidays with gorgeous, single origin, sustainably sourced chocolate, vegan cheese, dried fruit and chocolate boards. If you missed the order date for Thanksgiving, you’ll still be in time for their Yuletide holiday boards. Check out their website or follow them on Instagram for the next holiday release.
Drew Barrymore posted a video of herself at home watching Netflix documentary, Fantastic Fungi, featuring innovative mycelium producer, Ecovative Design, from Green Island.
As part of the Arts Center of the Capital Region-funded Fish Market Community Engagement Project, artist-in-residence, Meg Jala, is hosting her second Speakeasy at the Fish Market Project on 6th Ave in Troy, featuring artists in the field of visual art, music, and performance. $10 cover with beer & wine available. Event: Nov. 18th 6-8:30 p.m.
This week Turkish artist Yucel Erdogan, will host an art gallery reception in Hoosick Falls. The artist and COO for a NYC ad agency, owns Byte, an artisan pizzeria-wine bar and gallery built of reclaimed and repurposed wood. His 3rdEYE gallery is next door so go for the art and stay for dinner. Read more about Byte in my review earlier this year. Event: Nov. 20th, 6pm.
November 1st was World Vegan Day, fitting since my recent Sunday review featured the new Bar Vegan on Lark Street, a leafy transformation of the former LAX bar and nightclub. If you like the flora and fauna of Troy Beer Garden, you’ll likely like the shareable plant-based tapas and vegan wines, beers and spirits. Read more here to find out what vegan wine even means.
The nineties have come roaring back with muckboots, baggy pants, cropped tops and now espresso martinis on cocktail lists and pesto locking lips with sundried tomatoes on upstate menus. They’re at the newly opened Belt Line 3 on Albany’s Hamilton Street, where the kitchen hasn’t quite found its stride but the bar is making clever use of burrata whey and vegetal spirits like cynar (artichoke) and finochietto (fennel) in creative cocktails. It’s a cute spot and if you want to hear about the cocktails and wobbly kitchen kinks still being ironed out, check out my latest review of the diminutive new Italian here.