Saratoga bitten

When I heard about this new place called The Charles F Lucas Confectionary and Wine Bar in Troy, it immediately piqued my interest. How could it not with both wine and confection being mentioned in the title?!?! IMG_1472.JPG It was around 4:30 and we were looking for a little happy hour fun. When posed with the inevitable "Where should we go?" question, I get stressed. We're always torn between going to one of our usual spots or trying something new. Once we decided on trying something new, we then have the task of figuring out where. There are so many great options in our area but I had my eye on the prize and the Wine Bar in Troy was it. Right when we walked in, I knew this place was going to be good. The décor was beautiful with exposed beams and brick throughout the space. IMG_1457.JPG We took a seat at the bar and were immediately greeted by one of the very nice bartenders. After hearing about the three wines they had on tap, I sampled the Cabernet Sauvignon and a Malbac from the large wine list. I went with the latter which was very good but not too full bodied. I should have listened to the bar tender when he recommended the Cabernet Sauvignon. No complaints though, trust me.IMG_1459.JPG After deciding on our drinks, it was time to move on to the menu. The Charles F Lucas Confectionary and Wine Bar specializes in small plates, cheese, charcuterie and confections of course. We decided on doing the 3 for $12 cheese and charcuterie menu where you get to choose from a wonderful selection of many different types of cheeses all paired with something sweet like Nutella, fruit or chocolate. IMG_1462.JPG The charcuterie selection was wonderful too so it made it very hard to narrow it down. We decided on Shushan Snow cheese which was from the Smooth and Silky section of the menu and that was paired with honey, the Soft Wheel from the Little Stinkers section which was paired with pear paste and Applewood Smoked Duck Breast to round out our third selection. Our choices were served on a slate board with plenty of fresh bread, mustard, pickles and we even got some figs and fig jam on there too since I told the bar tender about how much I love figs- what a nice little treat! IMG_1470.JPGThe cheeses were incredible and I loved all of the pairings they came with. It really complimented everything so nicely. The duck was excellent and the portions were very good. We were toying with the idea of getting a small plate as well but I'm glad we stuck with just the 3 choices because it was plenty. While sitting at the bar, we noticed lots of glass jars filled with all sorts of fun candy like Bit-O-Honey, Mike & Ike, Gummy Bears and Runts. IMG_1468.JPG You can order from a wide selection of candies and chocolates and they will serve it to you in a glass dish or you can get it to go! How much fun is that?!?! I saw that someone had ordered Runts which I haven't had in years! Our fantastic bar tender overheard me say how much I loved those as a kid and he gave us a little glass full. IMG_1466.JPG Yes, this place is truly heavenly. Sadly, it was time for us to leave but that did mean it was time for the Confections portion of the meal...my favorite! There was a beautiful display of truffles, cake pops, brownies, blondies and lots of other goodies. IMG_1460.JPG I'm totally obsessed with desserts topped off with sea salt so I went with the salted caramel truffle. It was the perfect ending to our perfect experience at The Charles F Lucas Confectionary and Wine Bar in Troy. IMG_1461.JPG This has become one of our new favorite places and we can't wait to go back and try some of the other wonderful selections from the menu. Put this place on your high priority list. You will not be disappointed!

Oh and by the way, if you have to use the restroom, just look for the Troylet :)
IMG_1465.JPG

To discover great local businesses, visit www.BiteMeShow.com and "Like" me on Facebook and Twitter. Thank you!

Eating in a winter wonderland

user-pic

First of all, I have been a complete and total blogging slacker. Between the holidays and starting a new job, blogging has taken a back seat recently. Over the holidays, I had the opportunity to go to Lake Placid and what a wonderful trip is was. Being at the Mirror Lake Inn during the holidays is like something out of a greeting card. IMG_2467.JPG The Christmas decorations both inside and out are amazing.Everywhere you look, something beautiful and festive just pops up. I've been looking forward to this weekend for a couple of months for many reasons, but the two things I really had my eye on were the Abby Ale from the Adirondack Steak and Seafood Company and the house-made granola from Mirror Lake Inn. More on those wonderful treats in a bit. We arrived to freshly baked chocolate chip cookies upon checking in which is always the best way to be welcomed in my opinion. Although they weren't the best chocolate chippers I have had, I managed to have a couple just to be sure ☺. We arrived around lunchtime and knew that having a little nosh at The Cottage is the only way to go for lunch. It's a great spot that's part of MLI and sits right on the lake. We were able to get a cozy table right next to the window where we enjoyed the spectacular views and a Harpoon Winter Warmer. IMG_1292.JPG We decided to get the cheese board which came with a loaf of fresh bread, wheat crackers, grapes, apples, Boursin cheese, strawberry chardonnay cheese and maple cheddar. Boursin is a favorite or ours so we knew that wouldn't go to waste but the maple cheddar was something new to us. I've had a lot of cheese and many varieties but my first instinct wouldn't be to reach for a maple cheddar. Well I've been converted my friends. This combo was excellent!!! I can't wait for my next get together so that I have an excuse to get it. The maple added just a hint of sweetness but it wasn't overpowering at all. It was a great way to have a different variation on cheddar. It was time to check out the holiday stroll going on in the village so we walked around and got to eat free Christmas cookies and gumbo samples. This place is truly heaven on earth! As we reached the end of the strip, there was a cute little bakery called the Sugar Shack Dessert Co. IMG_2403.JPG I had to pop my head in to see what they had and the cupcakes looked really good. In the dessert hierarchy, cake and cupcakes don't usually come in at the top of my list but these looked delectable, so I went with the Sno-Cap cupcake which was chocolate cake with chocolate frosting topped with nonpareils. IMG_2404.JPG I don't want to say that this cupcake was topped with frosting because it was reminiscent of chocolate mousse. Needless to say, it was excellent and I could have eaten the frosting by the gallon. The light airiness of the chocolate mousse frosting combined with the crunchiness of the nonpareils was so good. The only thing I regret is getting a mini, but seeing as though our next stop was the Lake Placid Brewery, it was probably a good idea. Now that I've had my sugar fix, it was time for my beer fix so LPB here we come! IMG_2400.JPG The cozy ambiance of Christmas lights inside and out made it the perfect backdrop for my Moose Island Ale. IMG_2398.JPG Now I definitely enjoy the beers at LPB but one of THE BEST beers I have ever had can be found at the Great Adirondack Steak & Seafood which also has a brewery (Great Adirondack Brewing Co.) located on the main strip in Lake Placid. All of their beers are excellent but the Abby Ale is unbelievable!!! IMG_2432.JPG I practically have dreams about this beer it is SO good. It's worth stopping in for a sampler so that you can try all the beers they have on tap but I say just skip to the good stuff and get a pint of the Abby. IMG_2440.JPG Now that we've had a few beers to keep up warm, it was time for dinner. I've always been a fan of Milano's in Latham, so we thought we would check out Milano's North right here in Lake Placid. We got a great spot in the window (again) overlooking the main strip so we could watch holiday shoppers and strollers wonder about. I've been completely obsessed with figs lately so we started with the Fico pizza which had Adriatic figs, roasted shallots, prosciutto, gorgonzola and fontina with a balsamic glaze. (the Latham locations' version comes with fig jam, not Adriatic figs). IMG_1303.JPG It was so good I almost ordered it again as my meal. I loved the sweetness of the figs and balsamic glaze against the saltiness of the prosciutto and cheeses. I would almost drive back up to Lake Placid just to have this pizza and an Abby Ale. Unfortunately, that was the best part of the meal. For dinner I got a pasta dish which had chicken, roasted squash, eggplant, red peppers, tomatoes, spinach, toasted almonds and extra virgin olive oil. Sounds good right!?!?! Not so much. IMG_1304.JPGThere was practically a puddle of water on the bottom of my plate and everything was soggy and flavorless. Such a huge disappointment after such a great start. My husband's pasta dish was not much better so we decided that it's probably best to stick to the pizza. After a fun night playing games at the Inn next to some of the most amazingly decorated Christmas tress, we headed to bed as visions of sugar plums and Mirror Lake Inn granola danced in our heads. IMG_2481.JPG The breakfast buffet at the hotel has a decent selection of your typical morning fare but there is one item that is head and shoulders above the rest, and it's the house made granola. It has huge chunks of oats, brown sugar, cashews, cinnamon and some other heavenly type ingredients along with a TON of butter. I'm going to try and convince myself that it's healthy because it's "granola," but nothing that good could actually be good for you (at least in the quantity I eat it in:). Okay, I would add this granola to my list of items worth making the trip to Lake Placid for. I noticed that the granola is on the room service menu so you might be able to just pop in and pick some up. If not, it's worth getting the breakfast buffet just for this-it is that good. All in all, it was a wonderfully festive and delicious weekend at the lake. My picks are obvious so enjoy some Abby Ale from Adirondack brewing, grab a Fico pizza from Milano's and start your day off with the Mirror Lake Inn house-made granola. You won't be disappointed!

The holiday season is one of my favorite times of year, and being in New York City in December is magical. The energy, people, holiday lights, festive decorations, tree and of course food are all so much fun to be a part of. We booked our trip a few weeks back which meant I needed to start doing some research on which foods we will be eating and where we should have dinner. Baked by Melissa cupcakes have been on my hit list for a long time so they were a top priority for me. What I love about these mini cakes is that they are all about the size of a quarter which allows you to try a lot of different flavors.IMG_2304.JPG I tried the S'mores, Cookie Dough, Chocolate Chip Pancake, Cinnamon, Peanut Butter cup, PB & J, Red Velvet and the mini of the month which is a vanilla cake with fudge stuffing, vanilla icing and a snowflake coconut crunch topping. They were worth the wait because they were all delicious. The cake was moist and the flavors were great. My favorites were the PB & J, Snowball (mini of the month) and Cinnamon, although I really loved all of them. After my "mini" sugar fix, we headed to the holiday shops in Bryant Park. I stumbled upon the French macaroon booth which not only got me psyched for more sugar, but looked beautiful as well. The array of colors and flavors offered by Woops macaroons and cookies was so much fun to look at. IMG_1252.JPG It was a tough decision in terms of what flavors to get because they offered 15, but we went with Nutella and Caramel Fleur De Sel. IMG_1253.JPG Both of them were excellent but the Caramel Fleur De Sel was absolutely unbelievable. It had a rich butter flavor and just enough sea salt to balance out the sweetness. After working towards a diabetic coma, we figured it was time for lunch. Not really having an agenda, we walked down 5th Avenue looking down side streets to see if we could find something that looked interesting. We found a place called Brinkley's Station offering up classic American fare from local New York farmers, markets, winery's and brewery's. This is the way to support local businesses for sure! After grabbing a spot at the bar along with a Six Point Righteous Rye, it was time to check out the menu. We were given the brunch menu which I thought was a little weird because it was about 2:00 on a Saturday and they also offer a lunch menu but that's okay. The selection was still great and after looking things over, I went with the eggplant and chickpea burger. IMG_1254.JPG It came with spicy Tahini dressing and thinly sliced cucumber along with kale on a 7 grain bun with a side of sweet potato fries. This dish was awesome! The burger had really great flavor and the fries were served with a very generous dusting of some sort of brown sugar spice mixture. The dipping sauce was a chipotle mayo as if the brown sugar topping alone wasn't enough. I absolutely LOVED these. Now that I have the fuel to power down the rest of 5th avenue, it was time to do some shopping. After seeing the spectacular windows at Saks, and the amazing décor on the outside of Harry Winston and Bergdorf Goodman, it was time to check out the Rockefeller tree. Making our way through human grid lock was worth the pushing and shoving because as always, it's quite a beautiful sight. I had one more place on my hit list (involving sugar of course) and it was Momofuku Milk Bar. There's a lot of hype around their amazing cakes along with their Compost Cookie. IMG_1261.JPG I would consider myself a cookie connoisseur because it's one of my absolute favorite things to eat and I've probably consumed more then the average human being. When I heard that the Compost Cookie consisted of chocolate chips, graham cracker crumbs, potato chips, pretzels, oats, coffee grounds and toffee, I had to get my hands on it. Luckily there was a location close by so we stopped in to see this work of art in person. IMG_1262.JPG I have to say that the cookie looked great but it honestly tasted like a toffee cookie which was a little disappointing. It was a good cookie, don't get me wrong, but I don't really see what all of the hype is about. Save the calories for one of the other 8 million amazing things offered in New York. The weather was starting to get cold and windy which meant it was time for a little winter warmer a.k.a. cocktail. We wanted to go somewhere cozy and Christmassy and the Cock and Bull British Pub was both. The beer selection was good and I guess they are known for having a couple of rare British beers on tap. I was in the mood for wine so it was Cabernet Sauvignon for me. The place was decked out for Christmas and Bing Crosby was keeping things festive. We figured we would come up with our dinner plans despite the fact that I had already made a few reservations. My first choice was Mario Batali's restaurant Babbo, but it's one of the hardest places to get into. I called the day of to see if there were any cancellations but no such luck. I decided to cancel our reservations at his other restaurant Lupa along with our reservations at Bobby Flay's Mesa Grill since they were both a little bit further away and we didn't want to risk missing our train. A nice trade off was heading to restaurant row between 8th and 9th Ave in the theater district. We didn't have reservations anywhere so I popped in to about 5 places till I found one with less then an hour wait. It was a great little Italian restaurant called Lattanzi. After waiting about 20 minutes, we were seated in a beautiful room with brick walls, a wooden ceiling and lots of candlelight. IMG_2370.JPG While noshing on bread sticks and sipping some wine, we decided on ordering the tortellini which was filled with veal and chicken in a tomato sauce along with the Veal Scaloppini. IMG_2368.JPGThe food was very good but definitely not out of this world. The tortellini was the better of the two dishes and the potato's that came with the veal were very good too. If you happen to be in this area and your looking for a place to eat, I wouldn't cross Lattanzi off of your list, just don't expect anything over and above the norm. The day was winding down so we started heading towards Penn Station. Lucky for us, Heartland Brewery was on our way back so we thought we deserved a beer for all of the walking around we did. IMG_1269.JPG What better way to try a local brewery then ordering the sampler. IMG_1270.JPG The beer was good and the vibe was cool but I think we are spoiled by Brown's Brewing in Troy. There, I said it! The beer in Troy is better then NYC in this particular case (of course this is only my opinion☺). Our last and final impromptu stop was at Garrett's Popcorn right next door to the train station. When I saw that they had gingerbread caramel popcorn, I couldn't contain myself. Gingerbread_Footer_v01.png After a day fueled by sugar and wine, I figured lets go for the gusto and finish things off the only way I know how, more sugar! If you are in the city this holiday season, I highly recommend getting this as a snack to walk around the city with because it was AWESOME!!!
If you're lucky enough to get to New York over the next few weeks, I hope you get to enjoy a lot of the amazing food the big apple has to offer. My picks for the day were the Baked By Melissa cupcakes, Caramel Fleur de Sel Macaroon by Woops in Bryant park, and the Gingerbread popcorn at Garrett's. Happy Holidays!
To discover great food businesses, please visit www.BiteMeShow.com and "Like" me on Facebook and Twitter. Thank you!

Delaware Ave in Albany has some amazing places to get food. New World Bistro, Mingle, Emack and Bolio's (I know it's not locally owned but still delish) and most recently, The Cheese Traveler and All Good Bakers. The only unfortunate thing is that I have only tried three of the places mentioned above. Lucky for me, they were all superb. We headed down to Albany to run some errands and I had one thing in mind; where are we going to eat on Delaware Ave? All Good Bakers was a top priority for a few reasons. AGB2.jpg One, they offer my drug of choice, SUGAR! Two, I know the owner from way back in the day. We were actually neighbors and went to school together for many years. Third, and most importantly, is their incredible reputation. BREAD.jpg It was my fault for not checking their hours but they close at 3:00 on Saturday's and I got there at 5:00. I should have assumed that a bakery would be closed but it was wishful thinking on my behalf. Luckily for us, or anyone else who happens to visit them, they are attached to The Cheese Traveler. cropped-cheese-header-3.jpg This is new shop that has some incredible cheeses from around the world. Eric, the proprietor, is more then happy to let you sample some of his wonderful selections. We tried samples of 2 different types of Gouda, something from Ireland and Parmigiano Reggiano. Every single piece was phenomenal. I feel as though I've been cheated in the cheese world after sampling some of the products in his store. If you are in the Albany area, it's definitely worth stopping by his shop located at 540 Delaware Ave. This Sunday (November 18th) is their Grand Opening where they will be partnering up with Tilldale Farms for some fun events like a cooking demo and cheese tastings and demonstrations. The festivities go from 1-6 and it would be a great way to sample a variety cheeses. After we made our purchases, we headed down the street to Mingle to see what all the buzz is about. We sat at the bar where I had a glass of red wine while checking out the menu. I ordered the Korean Tacos which is two corn tortillas filled with marinated beef tossed in gochujang and stuffed with apple-radish kimchi, Napa cabbage, scallions and Chef's spicy yogurt sauce. IMG_1112.JPG They were everything I had hoped they would be. The bar tender mentioned that they were spicy and when I first started eating them, I didn't think they were too bad. This is definitely a situation where the heat builds because by the end of my first taco, I could feel the spiciness but I liked it. Mingle likes to support our local community and gives monetary donations along with gift cards and free food to places like Albany Suicide prevention, Senior Services of Albany and Women's Employment and Resource Center. If you are looking for a great place to have dinner, Mingle should be on the top of your short list. While you're in the area, enjoy some of the other great foods on Delaware Ave. I may pick up some cookies from All Good Bakers then head over to Emack and Bolio's and make an ice cream sandwich out of it. Or, get some cheese from The Traveler and bread from the Bakers. Ohhhhh the combos!
To discover great local food businesses, go to www.BiteMeShow.com and "Like" me on Facebook and Twitter. Thank you!

The Iron Roost in Ballston Spa

user-pic

A lot of people have been crowing about the Iron Roost in Ballston Spa so I knew I had to check it out as soon as possible. A menu that focuses on waffles is something that would pique just about anyone's interest. It was a Sunday afternoon and the place was packed. IMG_1119.JPGMy first thought was how much I loved the simple yet elegant décor. My second thought was how long am I going to have to wait to get my hands on one of these waffles? IMG_1118.JPG After about a 30-minute wait, we were seated and started checking out the menu. There were plenty of sweet and savory waffle options along with a salad option. One menu item that really caught my attention was the French toast waffles which consists of homemade Brioche French toast (done in the iron), powdered sugar, creamy butter, & whipped cream! FTW.png That pretty much combines all of my favorite breakfast items into one dish. Add a little bacon on the side and it's a dream come true! They also had a waffle on special which was a pumpkin spice waffle topped with cranberry-orange butter, homemade whipped cream, and a drizzle of spiced cider syrup. Decisions, decisions! Since it was little bit later in the day, I decided to go with the savory side of the menu and opted for the chicken salad. Roost chicken salad.jpgUnfortunately they had sold out of it so I went with the grilled chicken with cheddar, LTO and a delicious garlic herb mayo on a savory waffle. IMG_1123.JPG My husband had the BLT as did our other 2 friends and their little ones got the PB&J waffle sticks. While we were deciding on what to get, I ordered the Liege waffle since I have heard so much about it. This type of waffle is native to Belgium and let me just say that it was incredible! Liege.png It had a nice little crunch from the sugar and just a hint of cinnamon. If you are planning on eating here, you must order this! It makes a great little app while you are deciding on what to get. We were all very happy with our meals as well. I loved having a waffle in place of bread on my grilled chicken sandwich and the BLT was also delicious. The bacon was crisp and the veggies were fresh. It's obvious that they get a lot of their ingredients locally. The PB&J waffle sticks were great too! They had a subtle peanut butter flavor to them and they're served with a side of strawberry jelly for dipping.

The Iron Roost opened in April of this year and is the brain child of Linnaea DiNallo. After a successful career with the content marketing firm McMurry, she decided to change gears and open the Iron Roost on Front Street in Ballston Spa. She knew she wanted to do something café related and over the course of two years, came up with a concept and a menu. The Iron Roost allows her to design and decorate which are two things she loves to do. Iron-Roost-logo-295x300.jpg Because she was bitten by the entrepreneurial bug and followed her passion, we now have a wonderful waffle place in the Capital District. I am still dreaming about those French toast waffles and next time I go back (aka this weekend), I am sticking to the sweet side of the menu because these sound to good to pass up. The Iron Roost is located at 36 Front St in Ballston Spa.

To discover great local food businesses, go to www.BiteMeShow.com and "Like" me on Facebook and Twitter. Thank you!

I discovered Cake last year when I was looking for businesses to feature on Bite Me. Alissa started Cake after leaving a career in executive recruiting. She wanted to follow her passion for food and baking so after 7 years in Boston, she packed up her bags and moved to Lake Placid with her husband to pursue a career as a pasty chef at Paul Smith's College. After graduation, she became the pasty chef at Putnam Market in Saratoga where she satisfied everyone's sweet tooth for 8 years. Combining her education and experience, Alissa launched Cake in 2011 and let me just say it's to our benefit. cake6_n.jpg When it comes to desserts, cake usually isn't my first choice. If it were up to me, I would much rather have a cookie, brownie or ice cream. That's not to say I don't like it and if it's exceptional cake, then I'm all for it. When it comes to sugar, I'm not turning too much down anyway (I'm two bites away from a 12-step program for sugar addiction. I kid I kid but I do love sugar☺). After filming the episode with Alissa, she sent me home with a strawberry chocolate ganache cake and chocolate peppermint cupcakes.IMG_0804.JPG First of all, the chocolate peppermint cupcake (it was December) was one of the BEST cupcakes I have ever had. It was a chocolate cupcake with peppermint butter cream sprinkled with crushed up candy canes. I honestly only planned on eating one, but ended up having two and a half. I couldn't stop myself! Thankfully my husband was there to take down the other cupcakes otherwise it could have gotten messy. cake.jpg We both thought that the cake and the frosting were wonderful. I also tried the strawberry chocolate ganache cake (I had to share this with my neighbors otherwise I would be writing this post from fat camp), which was also phenomenal. Rich chocolate cake layered with strawberry mouse then topped with chocolate ganache!!! Drooling yet??? I am just thinking about it!! The cake was so rich and had a deep chocolate flavor. The ganache was a wonderful addition (when is it not?) and the strawberry moose was light and tasted like a fresh picked strawberry. Last week I ordered her Pumpkin Pie cupcakes which consisted of a pumpkin cake with buttercream frosting. IMG_1001.JPG I could hardly wait to try them since my last experience was so good. The pumpkin cake was so moist and wonderfully spicy which went beautifully with the buttercream frosting. It's the perfect fall cupcake! Alissa makes exceptional desserts so if you are looking for cupcakes, wedding cakes, grooms cakes, cake pops, or any other cake, I highly recommend CAKE by Alissa. You will want to have your cake and eat it too! The only problem is that you might not want to share. www.cakebyalissa.com

To discover great local food businesses, visit www.BiteMeShow.com and "Like" me on Facebook and Twitter. Thank you!
cake_n.jpg

Henry St is turning into quite the little hot spot in downtown Saratoga and the Henry St Taproom is heating things up even more. Located in the old Virgil's House location, the Taproom offers a cozy and inviting atmosphere including a wood burning fireplace and comfy leather chairs. IMG_1037.JPG It was a cool fall day so landing a spot in front of the fire was perfect. After checking out the 15 or so beers they had on tap, I decided on a sampler of 4. IMG_1038.JPG The taproom had a really nice selection that would appeal to lots of different beer drinkers. It was a good combination of familiar beers along with some more rare varieties that we haven't heard of before. Not that I need to discover even more beer varieties that I love, but it's always fun to try something new. Lucky for me I did find a great new beer (actually a couple) and it was the Ayinger Oktoberfest. The only problem is that I could drink a bunch of them and at $9 a glass, things could get pricy. IMG_1036.JPG We checked out the dinner menu which looked great with dishes like duck confit quesadillas and mini mahi-mahi tacos. They also offer a nice cheese menu with about 12 different varieties to choose from. It comes with toasted bread, balsamic and olive oil dip, fruit and a peach chutney. We went with the black truffle cheese which was delicious but left us wanting more. IMG_1041.JPG Maybe next time I would get my own vs. sharing since the portions are small. What's nice is that each cheese selection is only $5 so it allows you try a couple of different varieties if you want. All of us thoroughly enjoyed this new bar and the fireplace really added to the ambiance. The Henry St Taproom will definitely make those cold snowy days much more tolerable. Just don't take my spot in front of the fire :)

They are located at 86 Henry St in Saratoga Springs, NY.

To discover great local businesses, visit www.BiteMeShow.com and "Like" me on Facebook and Twitter. Thank you!

Maestro's is one of our favorite places to grab a drink and sit outside while watching tourists and Saratogians stroll up and down Broadway. They offer a great cheese, cracker and charcuterie spread in the bar area that hits the spot if you need something to nosh on, and their location on Broadway makes for great outdoor seating. Recently we ordered the lamb lollipops (My previous write up can be read here) as an app before heading out to dinner with friends on Saratoga Lake. The lamb lollipops were excellent which led us to believe that their dinners would be just as good if not better. After a summer packed with weekends away and prior obligations, we were finally able to find a free Saturday to dine at Maestro's. I have to say that I was pretty excited since our first experience was so good. Not only was the lamb exceptional, the bread, white bean dip and dark chocolate bark we had was also fantastic. We were thinking that this was the tip of the ice-berg and that our dining experience would be even better. Unfortunately, that wasn't the case. We arrived to a packed dining room but were offered seating outside amongst many gas patio heaters and fleece blankets on the back of the chairs. IMG_1016.JPG It was actually pretty cozy and if I could squeeze in one more al fresco dining experience, I'm in! The house Sauvignon Blanc (The Crossings from New Zealand) is not only delicious, but serves as a good way to stay warm as well. After enjoying some of the white bean dip and warm bread, we were ready to order. I thought I was going to go with the Prix Fixe since the options that were online looked great. I had my eye on the duck and white bean sausage as an app along with a great looking salmon dish that came with kale and a potato pancake but both were no longer an option. I opted for the Salmon burger as an alternative and the pumpkin raviolis as an appetizer. My husband ordered the five-onion bisque and butternut chicken risotto as his entree. IMG_1008.JPG My mother went with the Prix Fixe and also went with the bisque along with the hanger steak and blondie for dessert (She didn't have a choice when it came to choosing her dessert. Once I saw that it came with salted caramel, pretzels and peanuts, it was a no brainer.) First of all, the ordering system is cumbersome and I felt like I was in the Soup Nazi episode from Seinfeld. Each person had to order their soup, salad or app first then their entrée. If you order then change your mind, the waiter has to delete your original choices out of his handheld PDA and start from the beginning. After we ordered, I realized I wanted to add an appetizer and felt as though it was an inconvenience to change things once they were entered into this seemingly regimented system. It definitely took away from the dining experience and I'm sure it results in lower food bills since guests probably feel as though once they order, they are locked in. "No soup for you" wouldn't be too much of an understatement with the way things are done here. After our ordering debacle, the bisque came out relatively fast and was extremely rich and hearty which hit the spot on a cool fall evening. The flavor was wonderful and not too overpowering and the extra virgin olive oil drizzled on top was really delicious. Next came the pumpkin raviolis topped with walnuts, pumpkin seeds, chevre and brown sage butter. IMG_1007.JPG They weren't too sweet which was enjoyable and the crunch of the nuts and seeds was a nice contrast amongst the soft pasta. They were good but nothing special in terms of a pumpkin ravioli. It was time for the main course and I was looking forward to finally having a chance at trying some of their entrées. My salmon burger came on a griddled flatbread with shredded lettuce and a bacon tomato relish. IMG_1010.JPG The dish was served with "tater-tot sticks" and a pickle. I was disappointed with this since the salmon was "fishy" and the burger was difficult to eat. The tater-tot sticks were awesome but it's not something I would expect at a nicer restaurant. IMG_1011.JPG My mother's steak was tough and not cooked to her liking. The dish came with haricot verts and mashed potatoes that were both good but again, nothing out of the ordinary. My husband's butternut chicken risotto pretty much left us feeling the same way. I had no problem eating the blondie because it's filed with sugar and I'm a sucker for anything with sugar in it, but I wouldn't classify it as a gourmet dessert. I loved the crunchy peanuts and chewy consistency of the blondie but I've gotten just as good if not better high-end baked goods at local coffee shops. I wasn't thrilled with the presentation either. IMG_1017.JPG All in all I would give them a 6.5 out of 10. My impression of Maestro's was that it's more of a fine dining restaurant and their prices certainly reflect that. I have had much better meals at Brown's Brewing at less then half the price. I don't want to say that the food was bad because it wasn't; it was just way under par for what we had anticipated. I will absolutely go back but it will be for a couple of drinks on the patio and lamb lollipops. Think I will head to Capriccio afterwards or maybe just Esperanto's for a dough-boy. I'll be conducting my dinners elsewhere going forward.
To disocver great local food businesses, please visit www.BiteMeShow.com and "Like" me on Facebook and Twitter. Thank you!

Local Fall Favorites

user-pic

My favorite thing about fall is all of the wonderful food that's available. Right after Labor Day weekend, I'm ready for the pumpkin beers, cider donuts and freshly picked apples. There are so many local places offering incredible fall treats so I thought I would highlight a few in case you needed a pumpkin, cider or apple fix of some sort. One place that really exudes fall is Bowman Orchards. They have a Pumpkin Pie ice cream that is to die for and their honey crisp apples are equivalent to Snickers bars in my mind. IMG_0972.JPG I do get the cider donuts when I go because who can pass up a donut, but they aren't my favorite in the area. Not to say they aren't good, I mean come on! It's a fried donut covered in sugar, but there are better ones out there. I was thinking that it would be good to make an ice cream sandwich using a cider donut and either Bowman's Pumpkin Pie or Apple Pie ice cream in the middle. The ultimate fall treat! Some of my favorite cider donuts are at Devoe's in Clifton Park. The only downside is that you won't be able to get them hot out of the fryer. Another great place to go is Lakeside Farms in Ballston Lake. You could grab a donut as an app, then have breakfast or brunch on a nice fall day. Grab another hot donut on the way out for dessert too! If you haven't had enough sugar eating donuts and ice cream, check out the fall cupcakes Coccadot's is offering. Two of the flavors that really caught my attention are Pumpkin Spice Walnut and Cider Donut (you can't have too much cider donut anything in my opinion). cupcakes.jpg These cupcakes are great and they look adorable too! After eating all that sugar you may need something healthy to balance everything out. 3 Chicks and a P sells a pumpkin hummus that goes great with apple slices or you can sprinkle candied walnuts on top for a little added crunch. pumpkinhummus.JPG It's still healthy if you eat the whole container right?!?! Moving on to the adult beverages. I seriously wait all year for the release of Browns Oktoberfest and Pumpkin Ale. browns.jpg It's SO good and having it with their Beer Pretzels and Pale Ale mustard is about as good as it gets. To round out the evening, head over to The Living Room in Saratoga. They have a Pumpkin Pie Martini that will rock your world. martini.jpg They won't say what's in it, but it's absolutely wonderful and the cinnamon sugar rimmed glass adds such a nice finishing touch. So pull out the cozy sweaters, put on your loose fitting jeans and enjoy all of the fall deliciousness the Capital District has to offer.

To disocver great local food businesses, visit www.BiteMeShow.com and "Like" me on Facebook and Twitter. Thank you!

There are a couple of new businesses that have opened up just recently and both are worth checking out. The first one is Moby Rick's located at 173 Lake Ave in Saratoga Springs. MR.jpg Moby Rick's is a seafood market offering top-quality fresh seafood. Rick Lofstad Jr., owner of Pura Vida Fisheries has been a regular vendor at The Saratoga Farmers Market for over two years and has decided to open up a retail location. Rick says that they will offer all different kinds of seafood like shrimp, crab or anything else his customer's request. Don't expect the market to look fancy though. The main focus for this fish man is the quality and freshness of the seafood. Another business that just opened this past Saturday is Olivia!, located in Clifton Park Center (or as I affectionately refer to it as CCM). Oliviajpg.jpg Olivia! is a family run business offering an extensive collection of olive oils and balsamic vinegars from around the world. They import their products from both hemispheres in bulk allowing them to provide customers with fresh extra virgin olive oil all year round. Stop in to sample a variety of their products before deciding on which olive oil will be coming home with you. I plan on swinging around the corner to pick up a loaf of fresh bread from The Meat House and maybe some craft beer to round out my dinner of champions.

Are you looking for something to do this Sunday? The 4th annual Harvest Festival is happening between 12-4 at the Washington Park Lakehouse in Albany. 2012-save-the-date-post-for-posting1.jpg This festival first started in 2009 as a way of bringing a lot of the amazing local vendors in the Capital District together for one event. There will be over 45 local businesses and bands including Bake for You, Mingle, New World Bistro, 3 Chicks and a P hummus, All Good Bakers, Bro's Tacos, Creo and many many more. If you haven't filled up on all of the incredible food at the Harvest Fest, head up to Saratoga for the Henry St Festival which is also from 12-4 happening on none other then Henry St. ☺ This is a fundraising event for Ballson Spa's Gateway House of Peace. There will be a wine tasting at Scallions, a beer tasting and The Forthlin Road Band and Irish music by The Saratoga Celtic Music Session at The Parting Glass. Several local vendors will be in attendance as well including Eat Good Food, Sunnyside Gardens, Thousand Island Winery, The Chocolate Spoon and Chane's Deli. There are lots of great local places to check out this week so enjoy your fresh fish sauteed in some EVOO from Olivia! You're going to want to eat light leading up to Sunday's food festivities!

To discover great local food businesses, visit www.BiteMeShow.com and "Like" me on Facebook and Twitter. Thank you!

Archives

Leave a Comment

Jennifer Savino

Hi and thanks for checking out my blog! I am passionate about food and small business, which has led me to start “Bitten.” Bitten is a blog about food and beverage start-ups in the Capital District. Features include talking with business owners to find out how they were bitten by the entrepreneurial bug, information for small business owners and honest food reviews of places around town.

Bitten came about after I closed my small start up gourmet cookie company Park 19 Cookies. I loved my business but knew that the endless hours of baking was not where my passion was. I know how difficult it can be to get exposure for a business and I remain passionate about food and travel. That is why Bitten is a great opportunity for food and beverage business’s to get exposure and tell the world their story about how they got started and why they love making others happy with their delightful treats. I also love food and will bring readers along on my culinary journey throughout the Capital District covering everything from the great, the bad and the ugly.

On the weekends, I love hiking in the beautiful Adirondack Mountains, boating with friends, snowshoeing in the winters and playing with my two rescue dogs Lily and Stella. One thing I do every weekend is dine out at beloved restaurants or try the newest place in town. I was born and raised in Clifton Park, NY. Please visit www.JenniferSavino.com for more about me.