Sunday, April 28, 2013

Talking about Troy

I'm feeling really hopeful about the future of Troy nowadays. Back last year when the Pioneer Co-op closed, I wasn't feeling as hopeful. I have a friend who used to shop there who now walks across the bridge to use the Watervliet Price Chopper (its not their best location). I really feel that things are looking up though, and not in a way like realtors have been saying that Long Island City in Queens has been looking up for the last ten years - where they build luxury condos assuming other businesses will follow, and they never seem to (unless you want to count the gentlemen's clubs under the subway tracks).
  • The Troy Farmer's Market is great. Next week is the first week they are going to be outside, and as a bonus they are also going to keep things going an hour later (untill 2). They are also adding a twilight market on Friday nights. Some of our favorites at the market include: Danascara Cheese, Pika's Farm Table (I really like to throw a couple of their quiches in the freezer for times when we don't have anything for dinner), and The Berry Patch (this winter I was particularly fond of the blue hubbard squash). I do have to say I've gotten a little bored of the winter market and the focus on cheese, potatoes, and snacks, so I was really excited to see some vendors advertising fiddleheads for next week. 
  • The Arts Center of the Capital Region seems like a really positive space for the community. I have a gift certificate there I have been waiting to cash in on Embroidery Basics taught by the proprietor of  Anchor 5 Boutique on a day when I'm not traveling for work. They have all sorts of classes though from memoir writing, to stained glass panel making, to Chinese cooking. My Yoko Ono Appreciator's group had a drawing we did in a show called "Text as Art". We had it set up so people could add to the drawing while it was installed in the show.

 We took the students down to do a Yoko instruction piece called "Walk on a Painting", in which we took our drawing down from the gallery, stomped on it, got the audience to stomp on it, and then hung it back up. It was a lot of fun. Also, St. Rose professor Kate Laity read some amazing poetry and talked about her piece in the show. It wasn't a huge turnout, but it was a great vibe, and the students had never been to Troy before and were really impressed.

  • We went to the Illium Cafe this weekend and really enjoyed it. They have unusual things on their menu like scallops quesadillas and pork belly and crab omelets. I also thought this high protein salad sounded really interesting: "gigante white bean salad, peppers, capers, carrots, romaine lettuce, arugula, locally produced black truffle infused cows milk cheese and crispy onions topped with a fried egg and lavender-balsamic vinaigrette". I got a breakfast sandwich with ham and swiss on a croissant, and Scott got the Parisian Omelet ("shaved ham, gruyere cheese, sauteed spinach and chevre"). We both really enjoyed what we got and couldn't believe we hadn't come sooner. Some of our friends are huge fans and others have mixed reviews, so it was great to finally try it ourselves. Jen is Green went there recently too
  • The Charles F. Lucas Confectionery & Wine Bar is fabulous. Everyone loves it. It is a fabulous space, they have Finger Lakes Riesling on tap - what more could you want? Oh great cheese and some venison on the side? They have that too. I can't wait to see the positive influence I know they are going to have on Troy in general.
  •  Some Girls is my new favorite clothing store. It is so, so well curated, and it isn't like you are going to want to buy everything in the store (although I bought quite a bit this weekend)- but you can look at pieces and imagine that there would be a person or event right for them. We talked to the owner quite a bit this weekend, and she said "Why can't Troy be as cool as Hudson?" That doesn't seem to be that high of a bar actually, but I took my friends from out of town to Hudson as a day trip and they loved it, so maybe she means something like that - a cool place with great restaurants and a happening arts scene that you can take out of town visitors for an afternoon and they won't be bored or let down or feel unsafe. 
So, I think things are looking up for Troy. There is something for me especially about loving the Confectionery so much and hearing that more and more people love it too, that makes me feel especially optimistic. I sort of like all those Uncle Sam statues too.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Tara Kitchen: "Pure Joy"

Cheryl Clark definitely speaks the truth about the Tara Kitchen here. The tagines there are remarkably flavorful, and I also love the atmosphere. One one the best food values in the Capital Region. The chicken with preserved lemon and olives pictured in the photo is what I had, and it was remarkably good.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Business Trips and Housewives

I was in Michigan last week on my way to a work errand in Chicago, and my grandfather said to me at his 90th birthday party "How can you stand to live in a place you aren't from?"

It was an interesting question. He was asking me about my new-ish job and Saratoga, and I said to him "I think you can like many places".  I've taken to this new theory nowadays that there can be several happy endings to everyone's stories, instead of only one. Perhaps life is less fated, and more "Choose Your Own Adventure". 

I went to Chicago where I met up with some friends of ours who are originally from the San Francisco area and moved to Albany around the same time we did. We went to a Starbucks that serves wine (what? what? see for yourself below! It was great fun actually!)

They talked about the difficulty of moving to a new area, the difficulty of making friends, finding work, and fostering a sense of community. They didn't seem to like Chicago as much as they thought they would. I actually ate at three Rick Bayless restaurants on my entire trip (including Xoco which was fabulous). Mexican food seems to be taking over. An art handler I met from San Francisco said the tacos have been better in the Windy City in recent years than in the Bay Area.

I sat on the shores of Lake Michigan my final day there and called my dad. Great Lakes vacations were an important aspect of my childhood, so much that I wanted to have "The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald" as our father/daughter dance (to my surprise no one else got the charm of it!).

It was interesting to sit on the side of a lake opposite my home state, with my grandfather's question still pinging around in the back of my mind.

Upon coming back, my boss and I had an interesting discussion about my friends' lack of friends in Chicago, and we came to the conclusion that you can't force true friendship anywhere - it just happens. I wonder that with places too - you either feel like you fit or you don't, and you can in fact fit into multiple places. I've heard people make arguments about this area, and say there is more of a sense of community in Brooklyn, or more tight knit neighborhoods in Manhattan (neither of which I agree with). I will say that so much about how you fit in somewhere has to do with you - making an effort, being yourself - but sometimes there are factors you can't control. Sometimes it works or it doesn't.

With that, I'll leave you with some trashy and awesome things. When I lived in NYC, and the second "Sex and the City" movie came out I didn't really want to see it, but I secretly wished I had a gaggle of tackily dressed women to go see it with. What I can say to my grandfather is that I might not be from Albany, but I have people willing to come watch Season 8 Premiere of the "Real Housewives of Orange County" with me and eat these awesome high heeled cupcakes I made. I think in some convoluted way, that is the answer to his question.  For fun, you can check out my feelings about having moved here that I wrote around this time last year. And check out my cupcakes!