Category Archives: drinking

O Captain! My Captain

I’m no army brat, so the term captain isn’t one I use with any frequency. Which is probably why I took note of the fact that I did indeed use the word twice in a single evening recently. Both were in the “proper noun” category, meaning a place and a person, (of sorts) and both have left me feeling reflective. I’m not complaining, it’s not a bad way to be, particularly as my academic years winds down.

So, the first occurrence was related to a mega reunion, involving many graduating classes, which occurred last weekend. While the event initially sounded fun and worthy of a drive “home,” as the date approached it began to feel less and less appealing. I don’t like really big crowds and I didn’t think I would know many people there. My immediate classmate cohort had been a freshman class of 65 which the much larger class(es) we were merged into, in a neighboring district (we didn’t have a high school in my town), had either absorbed or spit out. What was the point of driving 100+ miles to talk to people with whom I wouldn’t necessarily have engaged 35 years ago?

But, then I started seeing the names of the people who were making significant effort to get to Orange County and I reconsidered. I still didn’t feel comfortable going to the large, and probably loud, outdoor party on Saturday, but there was an interest in a Friday evening social at a local place that everyone there had memories of hanging out at during our late teens and twenties.

The get together was held at the Captain’s Table, a joint where softball teams celebrated after every game, win or lose, when we were kids. It was very much a roadside burger and beer stand, with barstool seating and, as I remember, hinged wooden windows that could be dropped at the end of the night. I learned to like beer there, something I had to do because it was the cheapest alcoholic beverage at the time and I was saving my money to travel.

Friday night’s mixer made me shake my head many times, none of which were particularly bad reasons. I shook my head to clear cobwebs and hopefully recall a long forgotten name. Or history. What was our connection? Shared academic classes? Parties? Did we hang out? Where do you start when you’re talking with someone you haven’t seen in 35 years?

There were, of course, some Laker friends whose names are pretty much etched on my heart. Those people? We really know each other and our histories have been entwined for decades. It takes no effort to remember our shared memories, families, or joint experiences and I’m always happy to see them anywhere. That part is easy.

I stayed at the Table long enough to catch up with a couple of people, eat a burger and drink a beer. That was really all I could manage since I needed to drive north again to spend the night with friends in New Paltz. I left feeling a twinge of regret for

1. Not arranging my schedule better to accommodate staying later and
2. Just not being more comfortable with a crowd.

My takeaway from the happy hour is that I really need to either work on my social skills or avoid placing myself in situations like this in the future. I’m pretty certain that I felt similarly after the last big get together. Maybe I just need to accept that I’m not the reunion type? How do you manage similar events? Any techniques you’d like to share for making reunions more meaningful?

Now, if you’re thinking my second captain of the night was a Captain Morgan and Coke, you’re wrong. It actually involves an adorable addition to the household of friends – a new puppy! Captain is a cocker spaniel who has stolen the hearts, and the shoes, of his new parents since he arrived a couple of weeks ago. It’s been a while since I’ve been around a puppy and I almost forgot how cute they are and how much work they can be! Although Captain is ridiculously adorable and easy to be with (even when he bites my toes), I sincerely salute both of this weekend’s Captains and wish them health and longevity.

 

 

 

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Filed under aging, drinking, Eating, Events, friends, girlhood, musings, relationships, road trips, Schools

She’s gotta have it – the soft shell crab sandwich at New World Bistro Bar

Image: NWBB Facebook page

A couple of days ago an image came across my Facebook feed* that I couldn’t stop thinking about. It was a photo. Of a sandwich, of all things. What would make a sandwich so compelling? Well, it was a fried soft shell crab BLT served with chipotle mayo and poblano slaw. What else do I need to say?

Knowing that soft shell crab season is over in the blink of an eye, I decided last night to make my way to New World Bistro Bar for dinner. Of course, me being me, I called first to confirm that the sandwich was on the evening’s menu and that there would be one available when I arrived. You do that, too, right?

Anyway, I settled in at the bar and asked Nick to make me a Stoli gimlet, a cocktail that I thought would go swimmingly with my dinner. As has been my experience without fail, my drink was perfectly executed and delivered refreshingly cold and slightly tart. Yum.I sipped my drink and chatted with Nick about travel and music, two favorite topics for both of us, until my date arrived and we placed our dinner orders. I tweaked mine a little, opting to skip the roll and save my carb intake for the hand cut fries as my side.

A short while later I was rewarded with the gorgeous plate you see here. The crab had a meaty body and crunchy legs and was everything I had hoped it would be – and, seriously, how often in life does that happen? The mayo had a pleasant heat to it and the slaw provided a great crunch to the dish. In place of the roll, I had a combination of lettuces and some cooked greens, which were a lovely surprise.

Get it while you can, people. Tell Nick I sent you.

*how appropriate a term!

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Filed under Albany, Delaware Avenue, DelSo, Dinner, drinking, Eating, favorites, Food, Local, Recommendations, Restaurants, Spring, Uncategorized

Greece is the word

Planning my upcoming trip to Greece was a formidable task. I struggled with the incredible array of options in terms of where to go and how to get there. After polling some friends and seeking some assistance on the Fodor’s Greece Forum, I came up with a loose itinerary and booked our flights (from Montreal) and accomodations (all Airbnb other than on one island). At that point, I shifted my focus to Easter in Ireland and took a break from the remaining details of our Greek adventures.

Now that the end of the school year and Greece are finally in view, it’s time to get a little more specific about what the trip is going to look like. Here’s what we’ve got so far –

Flying out of Canada is going to be a new experience. I booked the tickets primarily because the flight was nonstop and the fare was approximately $900 r/t, a fairly reasonable price for summer travel in my opinion. The drive to Montreal is admittedly further than NYC or Boston, but it’s a straight shot and I don’t anticipate much traffic along the way. I scored a park and stay package that provides us with 15 days of parking and a room on our return for just over $200, which I think is a good deal. An overnight in Montreal is never a bad thing and we’ll definitely score some croissants and bagels for the ride home.

We land in Athens and will spend two nights there at the beginning of the trip, as well as a single night at the end. The time difference is 7 hours and since I imagine we’ll be whooped from flying (and personally, that valium) I made no plans for that first afternoon/evening. We’ll find our way to our apartment, unload our bags and do our best to acclimate. My goal is to stay on my feet until at least 9:00 or 10:00 and score a few food items for our breakfast.

The highlight of our first entire day is a 3.5 hour walking food tour, an Airbnb experience, I booked. My son is an adventurous eater and we’re excited to explore some places recommended by a local guide and sample authentic and traditional Greek cuisine. Since we’ll depart the next morning for our first island, Naxos, the tour will also give us a chance to gather some sundries for our island stay. The temperature could be a real factor in how active we’ll want to be and I imagine the day as pretty relaxed, with some day drinking. Yum, Assyrtiko!

An early morning four-hour ferry* ride gets us to Naxos, which we’ll have the next few days to explore. I imagine that we’ll spend our time visiting the windmills, eating, walking and checking out some beaches. The only plan we have is to take a small, private boat excursion that includes grilled octopus on the beach, a remote grotto swim and an on deck bar-b-q aboard on our way back to Naxos. Ok. I’m in.

Our next stop is a single overnight in Mykonos. I understand it isn’t much time, but it’s a very expensive island filled with people who have no limits on their budgets. That’s not how I travel but I do want to see the beautiful things without getting jaded from the extreme and obvious consumption. Kind of how I feel about Chatham, MA. We’ll stretch the time by arriving before noon and departing the following day in the late afternoon for Paros, our last island.

I’m picturing Paros as the quietest spot we’ll be and I’m looking forward to just savoring the last nights of the trip in a place that looks and sounds beautiful. I found a 5-hour farm to table experience, again on Airbnb that I went ahead and reserved. It involves picking produce on a farm and then preparing a meal whilst we sip local wines and beers and sample small dairy cheeses as the sun sets over the nearby Antiparos. I’m practically there already.

Our last night will be in Athens. We’ll have time to hit any last sights before our return home. Maybe you might have some suggestions?

*I went ahead and booked all of our ferries in advance spending about $300 total for two. That seems remarkably cheap to someone accustomed to paying $100 to travel r/t to NYC from Albany on Amtrak.

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Filed under beauty, Boys, drinking, Eating, Europe, family, Greece, ideas, Summer, travel, vacation

Don’t ever buy me earrings

It would be impossible to count all the earrings I’ve lost over the years. Hoops, studs and danglers – none are safe in my ears. Even screwbacks have inexplicably gone missing my from my lobes. I just can’t win when it comes to earrings. Until recently, that is.

A couple of weeks ago, following dinner with friends in Dublin, I decided to enjoy one last pint in town before hopping the Dart to my AirBandB. With its proximity to the Tara Street Station, Mulligans was the obvious choice. I happily sipped my Guinness and people watched the Friday night crowd until all that remained in my glass was the telltale white ring of my perfect pint. Time to go.

As I rounded the bar a group of guys engaged me and asked if I would take a photo of them with the Nikon hanging around my neck. Of course! Unfortunately, though, my camera’s battery was dead which caused the gentlemen to reconsider their request – how about a group selfie? Sure. The five of us gathered together and as I snapped our selfie I heard something hit the floor. I checked my lens cap to see if it was still in place and it was, so I assumed something else must have fallen. I left to catch to catch my train.

Note the left ear!

Twenty minutes later, home for the night and partially undressed, I realized I was missing an earring. Immediately I knew what had made that noise in the pub – a very nice earring. Shit. As I considered what to do, I recalled the bum’s rush we had received at Mulligan’s the week earlier as we lingered over our after dinner drinks…they could be closed by the time I got back there. I needed to phone them.

I googled the number and turned on my cell phone service to make the call. After just two rings the phone was answered and I quickly explained the situation, describing where to look for my errant earring. In minutes I had good news – my earring had been found!

Late Saturday morning, I returned one last time* to Mulligan’s and gratefully retrieved my diamond earring from the rocks glass behind the bar where it had spent the night. My celebratory pint tasted particularly delicious.

 

*last time for this trip

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Filed under drinking, Europe, Fashion, favorites, Ireland, Observations, stress, vacation

Best bites – Ireland, 2019

People say all kinds of negative things about Irish food – it’s bland or all fried or what in God’s name is black pudding?, but I’m here to tell you there is some excellent food to be had on the Emerald Isle. While my first day of eating was a disaster with two subpar meals, it’s all been good since then. Here’s a round up of my favorite places to get a good quality meal.

Dublin proper

Vintage Kitchen. Apologies in advance for not having photos of my fantastic dinner, but it’s hard to snap pics when your hands are full of wine glasses! This established and highly regarded spot, near Tara Station, is a tough table to get and had been booked a full 6 months prior to our Saturday night reservation. My lamb shank was divine, but following the starter course of a potato gratin with crab (served in an adorable mini copper skillet), I was hopeless to finish it. This place rocks.

Italian food in Ireland can be dodgy, but Ciao Bella Roma, excruciatingly slow service aside, does a good job with a fairly broad menu. Our table of five enjoyed an array of items including pizza, a calzone, three pasta variations and a couple of salads and everything was surprisingly tasty. Was my cacio e pepe as memorable as what I had in Rome? No, but it was really good and the portion was tremendous. Desserts and a cappuccino rounded out the meal and all were thoroughly enjoyed.

Searsons Pub – This large, popular pub serves a terrific pint as well as a full menu of delights. I had the seafood chowder and found it excellent, chocked with fresh fish and a touch of cream. Very nice and social spot.

Outside of Dublin

Tranquil Tearooms in Deansgrange Cemetery. After a drenching walk trying to locate my father’s resting spot, this cafe was like a welcome mirage promising warmth and coziness. I had no expectation for the high quality of the offerings and I only wish I could have justified ordering a slice of any of the cakes on display, following my sweet potato soup with a slice of brown bread. Wholesome, fresh and precisely what my chilled self needed prior to making my way back outside again on a damp day.

Octopussy’s in Howth. Get on the Dart to Howth and make your way to this small tapas place. If you’re lucky, they’ll find a table to tuck you into, but if you need to wait for availability (reservations not taken), settle in. It’s worth waiting for oysters like the 1/2 dozen I enjoyed. Rounds things out with another plate or two – I went with the scallops and patatas brava. Solid selections. Bonus – great music and very capable service.

Galway

Quay Street Kitchen on the lower part of Quay Street, is a wonderful spot to enjoy a meal while watching the crowds make their way up and down the busy pedestrian street. This was probably my favorite chowder of the trip and it’ll be hard for anyone to exceed the quality and freshness of the ingredients prepared with a respectful and light hand. Absolutely delicious and served with warmth and hospitality.

Oslo Bar  in Salthill, luckily for me just a few minutes walk from my Airbnb, is a place that takes it beers quite seriously. Fortunately, their menu rises to the occasion and I thoroughly enjoyed lunch of broccoli salad with a side of the best polenta fries I’ve ever had. The service was a bit distant, but the food hit the mark.

Cava Bodega, a wine bar and tapas spot, made my last evening in Galway a sensory delight. After a bit of negotiating between sitting indoors and out, my server found me a lovely high top table and I settled myself indoors with a view of the street and dining room. My glass of cava came from a fresh bottle and the anchovies with peppers paired beautifully with the dry bubbles. I enjoyed the evening’s special preparation of local mussels in white wine and garlic and despite the loudness of the nearby Americans, I thoroughly enjoyed my time in this well lit and cozy nook slightly off Quay Street. Find it.

Maybe you have some recommendations to add to my certainly incomplete list?

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Filed under Dinner, drinking, Eating, Europe, favorites, Food, ideas, Ireland, Recommendations, Restaurants, soup, Spring, travel, vacation, Wine

First impressions – Galway town

I’ve only visited Galway once before and it was very brief, maybe an afternoon at best. For all intents and purposes, this is my first time here and everything is new. Except, of course, for the friends who are also here on holiday from Albany, that I got share a meal with last night. Small world in the best of ways.

The city feels cozily small.

Fish chowder, brown bread, salad & cider

Food here is excellent – I had a great lunch and delicious light dinner so far and both were superior to the meals I had on my first day in Dublin.

Staying in a traditional B&B is ideal for a two-night visit.

It seems like there are lots of European tourists here. Walking around I heard a lot of Italian and Spanish being spoken.

Despite all the tourists, it does have a college town vibe with lots of students lazing about while the sun was shining.

The Guinness is excellent.

Dublin’s street musicians are superior to the ones I’ve heard here, so far.

The smell of the sea is only a deep breath away.

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Filed under beauty, drinking, Eating, Europe, Food, friends, Ireland, Irish, Observations, Spring, travel, vacation

Mums the word – Mumford and Sons at the Times Union Center

Confession: three concerts in three nights nearly broke me. By the time Sunday morning rolled around last weekend, I was completely exhausted, but I couldn’t stop smiling. What a great few nights this little city of ours showed visitors, local music fans and me! Here’s how this early March Bucket List concert went down…

After hearing from friends about the impressive wait lines they had encountered at the City Beer Hall on Elton John night, I made sure that I called in a favor we arrived before 5:00 for dinner pre-show. Cozy and warm by the fire, our party of 5 ordered an array of food, including burgers and two chicken sandwich variations along with drinks. Despite the fact that the inside of this place was absolutely jammed, the kitchen and front of the house staff were on their game and absolutely humming with professional competence. Food and drink were without exception excellent and I highly recommend this place whether its pre or post show or any other occasion when you want quality ingredients well prepared. I’m still thinking about that burger!

While the girls continued socializing I grabbed my crowd photos for the TU, which was a blast. It was an awesome crowd and there was no shortage of folks willing to pose for me, including a fair number of my friends. This was Mumford and Sons first Albany show and there were lots of excited people, including me. I had been shut out when they last came around for a sold out concert at SPAC and I was still kicking myself for missing that show. By the time the lights went down, I was comfortable in my seat and ready to enjoy some music.

And, boy, did I! Marcus Mumford was absolutely mesmerizing singing his pipes out and playing whatever instrument he happened to land in front of as he ran around the stage. There appeared to nothing he couldn’t play and somehow, the sound mix was remarkably good, something I’ve never thought before at this particular arena. At one point during their set, I couldn’t stop myself from texting a friend with this message: I am so happy.

I will not miss this band again. Maybe you’ll go next time too?

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Filed under Albany, concerts, Dinner, drinking, Events, favorites, friends, Local, Music, Recommendations, Restaurants, SEEN, upstate New York, winter