Eating in a winter wonderland


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. 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.






















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.












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. 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!






















The cozy ambiance of Christmas lights inside and out made it the perfect backdrop for my Moose Island Ale. 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!!!




























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.











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).






















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.






















There 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.




























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!

Henry Street Taproom is a great new spot

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.





















It was a cool fall day so landing a spot in front of the fire was perfect.  After checking out the 16 beers they had on tap, I decided on a sampler of 4.  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.





















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.  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.

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Great weekend on tap, literally!

It's Travers weekend folks and you know what that means?! It's time to get Sh#*!ty in the Spa City!  This is one of the best weekends of the year and we are kicking it off at 12 noon tomorrow for the beer fest at the track.   Being able to sample tons of different craft brews while hanging out on a sunny afternoon at the track is pretty fabulous!











After 4.5 hours of "sampling" it's off to downtown for dinner and more "samples."  I'm sure Toga will be bumping as usual and I can't wait to be right in the middle of it.  We will kick off Saturday with an Ice Cream Sandwich throw down! (Info on the throw down can be found at Saratoga Idiots or FUSSYlittleBlog )











As if drinking beers the day before wasn't enough, we are off to Comfort Kitchen, Wheatfields, Creo and The City Beer Hall to "sample" 4 ice cream sandwiches.   My pants are getting tight just thinking about it but bring it on!











After I recover from my ice cream headache that will be WELL worth it, it's back the the track for round 2! Can't wait to place my $4 bets that I never win on and have a few Corona Lights (I have to balance out the day somehow:) The vibe is always awesome and there's really no other place to be on Saturday except Travers.





















After making a B-line for the car right after the big race, it's time to do it all over again and head for the hot spots in Saratoga.  This weekend is always one of the best, so get out there, place some bets, check out the local restaurants and have a blast!

Druthers Beer Rizzocks!!!


It’s finally here! An awesome brewpub in downtown Saratoga!

I headed over there on their second night and I’m glad I did because we went again on Saturday and they had already run out of a lot of their beers.  Although we were bummed about it, I was happy that Druthers did way more business then they anticipated!  Love when new businesses are kicking ass and taking names right out of the gate.  Before they kicked many a kegs, I was lucky enough to try the Brevity Wit, IPA, Pilsner, Brown Ale and the Hefeweizen.  The Brevity was like candy and it only took me about 3 sips to finish it because it was so good.  I loved the IPA and Hefeweizen as well. The pilsner was good (pretty standard as far as pilsners go) if your looking for something on the lighter side and the Brown ale was decent too.  I was SO disappointed when they said they weren’t doing samplers or flights but I guess they are planning on doing it soon.  For food we ordered the Smoked and Spicy “Cubano” which has smoked pulled pork, spiced ham, melted Gruyere, pickled jalapenos and banana peppers on a grilled ciabatta roll.  It was awesome!!


Druthers is owned by three guys, one of which is an ex public finance officer, another a burnt out financial analyst and the third a master brewer who’s been brewing professionally for 13 years and is one of only 100 Master Beer Judges (possibly the best job ever outside of a Ben & Jerry’s tester). What I love about these entrepreneurs is that they have built their business based on the philosophy that we all have choices.  They chose to follow their dreams and open a brewery (totally jealous btw) because they wanted to do things their own way.  If given my druthers, I’d be at this place every night!  It had a great vibe, live music, awesome beer and wine (house pinot was great!) and good food.  Although they still have a few kinks to work out, this place is a new Saratoga hot spot for sure!  They are located at 381 Broadway St.


Summer Saturday in Saratoga

I feel so lucky to live where I do during the summer months (November through April is another story).  Having access to the Adirondacks and Saratoga is such a wonderful benefit of living here.  It was opening weekend of the track and the forecast was 85 and sunny with a light breeze.  My first thought was let's pack up the cooler and head up.  We got to the track around 3 and found a shady spot to set up our chairs.  After a couple of bets (Corona’s and Pork Slap Ale), we walked around to find all of the new food and drink spots we’ve read about.  The first place we stumbled upon was “Mac Truck” which is a food truck that specializes in macaroni items like fried mac and cheese balls.  Next stop- the new beer garden.

It’s nice to have some options for draft beer but it wasn’t as exciting as I had hoped.  They offer an okay selection of stuff but you can get a lot of those beers at other places around the track so I don’t really see what all of the buzz is about.  Plus, if you bring a cooler, just go to The Beverage Mart in Clifton Park where they have a huge selection of craft brew canned and ready to go! After drooling over the homemade ice cream cookie sandwich they offer at Bettie’s cupcakes, we strolled on over to the always low calorie French fries, gravy and cheese curd stand called Shirley’s which serves up the Montreal-style poutine. This is located where Nathan’s hot dogs used to be in the Carousel area. Looks like the cheese-covered fries from Nathan’s wasn’t cutting it anymore and this place is definitely an upgrade.  We were planning on going downtown afterwards so we chose to skip all of the delicious looking items but made mental notes of where we will eating on our next trip back.  It was about 5:30 so we decided to skip the mass exodus and leave the track a little early to go downtown.  With no plan in mind, we ended up at the bar at Boca Bistro because I can’t get enough of their bacon wrapped dates.  It was still happy hour so in addition to those, we got the grilled farm bread rubbed with tomato, garlic and olive oil and the chef selection of cheese’s both off of the $5 menu.  Although the portions were small, we didn’t mind because it allowed us to try a few different things.  We decided to stroll around on Broadway and ended up at the rug store next to Forno Bistro of all places.  They had live music, and were giving away free drinks along with a huge spread of cheese, crackers and fruits!  Wow we just hit the jackpot!  I’m not in the market for a new throw rug but if you’re trying to get a new customer, this is definitely the way into my heart.  After a few songs (and grapes, both solid and liquid) we went on over to Cantina which had the best vibe going.  Bob Marley was playing in the background and all of the floor to ceiling windows were wide open.  We weren’t sure if we were hungry or not but we ended up with chips and salsa which hit the spot.  All in all, the “Hats off to Saratoga” Saturday was a great day and I look forward to heading back very soon!

Best brew with a view- The Boathouse

I dream about being at The Boathouse all year long.  It’s one of the best places to be in the summer and the view of Lake George is breathtaking.  While sitting at the bar, you can enjoy your libation while watching boaters, swimmers and occasionally the Mini Ha Ha will pass on by.

The large wooden bar and Adirondack theme throughout will make you feel instantly relaxed.  They offer a decent selection of beers on draft too. If you don’t see what you want at the outside bar, head on in to the bar inside where they offer a larger selection.  I had my heart set on the Waialua Wheat from Kona and sure enough, they had it!  Luckily our bartender outside didn’t mind running in and getting it for me either.  The staff is great and they will make sure you are taken care of.


The Boathouse was originally built in 1876 as part of the Abenin estate and was once owned by The New York Times publisher Adolph Ochs.  Today they offer exquisite views, private events and casual dining.  Feel free to pull up on your boat after a day out on the lake or take a trip over there if you are in the Lake George area.  You will not be disappointed!  They are located at 3210 Lake Shore Dr in Lake George, NY.  Have you been to The Boathouse yet?  Tell me what you think!

Saratoga Beer Festival 2012

Ahhhh beer!  It’s one of life’s precious gifts and to be surrounded by an endless supply of over 150 different varieties on a sunny 80 degree day is just about as perfect as it gets.

The Saratoga Brewfest held it’s third annual celebration of beer at it’s new location, the Saratoga County fairgrounds in Ballston Spa, NY where about 2500 people came to soak up the sun and sip craft brews.  There were 68 American craft brewers at the event with over 150 beers to choose from including IPA’s, hefeweizen, saisons, stouts, lagers and much much more


A few of my favorites were the Koko Brown from Kona Brewing Company which is brewed with coconut and has a nutty, toffee like flavor.  Stone Brewing’s IPA was great and the 2025 Hefeweizen from Mad Jack brewing company, which is right here in the capital district, was outstanding!  It had a cloudy golden color to it with flavors of cloves, banana and a hint of bubble gum!!!  There were definitely some other beers that stood out like Saranac’s Lemon Ginger beer, Shipyards Applehead and Brooklyn Summer Ale (I know that some of these beers could be considered “girly” but I don’t care- they were delicious!!).  What I loved about these beers is that they captured the essence without being too sweet or overpowering.


The brewfests are put on by Saratoga Festivals and after speaking with the owner A.J. Bodden, I can see why they are always a huge success.   In the fall of 2008, one of A.J’s co-workers at Peak Organic Brewing Company (yes, A.J, not only has the coolest job working at a brewery but he also runs all of these beer festivals.  I think he may be my hero!) told him that he should start a brewfest in the Capital District.  After doing some research, he held the first beer festival in June of 2009 at the Ellms Family Farm.  A.J. began the process by contacting beer distributors to find out information on how to get licensed and what would be involved in terms of getting the beer to the festival and serving it.  He then contacted a family friend from the Ellms Farm to see if the beer fest could be held on their beautiful property.  Well all of his hard work paid off because the first festival was a huge success and it continues to grow.  Saratoga Festivals also hosts an Oktobeerfest which features fall and German beers and new this year, the Parrot Head festival which is filled with island inspired fun and Jimmy Buffet tribute bands.  This past winter, the first Saratoga Beer Week kicked off in February and consisted of 3 days filled with seminars, beer tastings and food.


A.J.s festivals are so successful because he is driven to create quality events.  He said that he doesn’t want people to wait in long lines, there has to be great music, great food and beers featured at the events that you can’t find anywhere else.  After attending almost all of his events, I can say that he has accomplished his mission because they are a blast! A.J. and his team at Saratoga Festivals will kick off the first annual Parrot Head fest this weekend and make sure to mark your calendars for September 29th when their third annual Oktobeerfest will take place.  I know I will definitely be there with a pretzel and dunkelweizen in hand!  Prost!!