Here are a few highlights from the past week on AOA:
+ The AOA Startup Grant is back! We're giving away $1,500 to a promising idea. You should apply.
+ We got a look inside the (almost finished) Albany Barn artists live/work building.
+ New to the area, Brian asked about good ways to meet people and find activities.
+ What was up in the Neighborhood this week: the spare beauty of winter, thrift, good drivers, Mt. Colden, Market Bistro, red sauce, Nine Pin, 90 State, goat cheese and thyme cheesecake, sushi, tapas, smoked meat, dehydrated oranges, Paint & Sip, the Fagbug, The Joke, and equine tableware.
+ We heard about some of the early planning for high-speed rail in New York.
+ T asked about finding a place for an affordable post-wedding group meal.
+ Lauren checked out Plum Dandy Cookies and Milk.
+ That time people rode sleighs across the frozen Hudson River at Albany.
+ Ice cream stand season has started.
Here's the whole week all lined up.
Thanks to everyone who posted a comment or shared an idea or photo this week!
sleigh image: "Snow Scene in Albany, New York," 1850, Albany Institute of History and Art | map: NYSDOT
This calf was born this week at Gordon Farms in Berne. It's calf season there. Sarah Gordon -- her dad, Sandy Gordon, owns the farm, -- snapped the photo. She says they're expecting 22 calves on the farm between now and early April. The Angus-Hereford are usually 65-75 pounds when they're born.
Baby animals. Spring must be near.
From an AP story this week by Michael Hill:
Sharp winds lashed up the Hudson River as sailors launched boats onto the ice. Sails whipped furiously as the long blades slid across a white sheet that spread for miles.
Finally, a frigid winter has created excellent conditions for ice sailing on the river.
"In the blink of an eye you can get up to 30 miles an hour ... you can just feel the power of the wind filling the sails," Michael Soldati said after a bracing run across the ice. "It's just awesome. It's just you and the wind."
That YouTube clip embedded above has some good video from this past weekend (and a brass band). And here are some good photos from the Daily News.
Here's a website dedicated to the ice yachting on the Hudson -- it includes a bunch of photos, a details about activities this weekend:
The forecast for sailing has changed for the weekend -- Sunday is looking better with more wind and cooler temperatures than Saturday. Saturday should be warm with little wind -- the soft "snow ice" surface may soften to the point where even with good wind we could not sail. We will be on the ice none the less with sails hoisted and holding court to answer your questions and hopefully provide an enjoyable day on the ice. There is an ongoing potluck of gourmet food and fine wine on the ice when the sailing is happening -- visitors are encouraged to participate.
Gourmet food. Fine wine. And yachts on ice.
Bonus bit: The Coast Guard monitors the ice on the Hudson River, including aerial surveys of the conditions. And then it posts those photos online. Here are the collection of photos from this past Thursday -- you can see the long stretch of ice on the Hudson near Kingston.
Public service announcement: Ice cream stand season has started.
The Snowman in Troy opened today. Bumpy's in Schenectady opened yesterday. And a few other season stands will be opening over the next week or so.
Here's a round up of a bunch of season ice cream stands, with opening dates. In some cases the dates are TBA, or we just couldn't find out (yet). So if you can fill in some of the information in the comments, we'd very much appreciate it. Because ice cream.
Who wants sprinkles...
When Albany Med introduced the big plan for the two-whole-blocks redevelopment in Albany's Park South neighborhood last summer, one of the questions was: What about the Quintessence building?
The Fodero diner building that housed the restaurant Quintessence -- twice -- has been in Albany since the 1930s (or 40s), after it was shipped up from New Jersey. And while the land it sits on is part of the redevelopment plan -- the building itself is not.
As a result, Albany Med was offering to give it away -- for free -- to anyone willing to move it. But word is that the building is in pretty rough shape, and even after about a dozen inquiries, there were no takers.
So, here's the current plan, according to Rich Rosen, VP of Columbia Development, which is coordinating the Park South redevelopment: Architects for the project are looking into which elements of the diner building have some sort of notable historic or aesthetic value. They'll then try to work those parts of the diner building into the new mixed-use building planned for the site along New Scotland Ave -- say, in the lobby, along with information about the diner building's history.
And if someone turns up tomorrow willing to take the building away, is the original offer still on the table? Maybe. Rosen told us that if the building would be staying in the area, then they'd consider the idea because it would preserve a bit of local history. But if the person wanting the diner would be moving it out of the area -- or scrapping it for parts -- they're not interested.
About the Park South redevelopment: The $110 million plan to completely redevelop two whole blocks of Park South took another small step forward Thursday evening when reps appeared before the city planning board for what was essentially a getting-to-know-you-again presentation. A few quick bits...
The forecast for this weekend may have you breaking out the sunscreen and Bermuda shorts -- but resist the urge. Sure, 40 seems warm when it's been snot freezing cold, but unless you're up for a polar plunge, it's not swimsuit weather.
After the jump, a few things to do on this lovely winter weekend. Got plans you don't see here? You know what to do. Drop them in the comment section so we can all see.
Also: Don't forget to set the clocks forward an hour for daylight savings time before you go to bed on Saturday. (Yes, already.)
And have a fantastic weekend.
Prosecutor: "This is one of the most heinous crimes I've ever seen," Gillibrand's push for reform of military's handling of sexual assault cases hits roadblock, lawsuit over K-cup ingriedents
Schenectady County prosecutors said Thursday that a medical assistance call this past December prompted the unraveling of the case in which a Schenectady man, Herman N. Robinson, is accused of serially raping a girl since 2006 when she was 11 years old, impregnating her, and then killing the baby shortly after it was born. "Individuals who requested anonymity because the investigation isn't over" tell the Times Union that Robinson allegedly left a suicide note in which he said he had buried the body of the baby in a local park (the baby hasn't been found). Schenectady County ADA and special victims bureau chief Tracey Brunecz: "This is one of the most heinous crimes I've ever seen," Brunecz said the young woman's family was "shocked" to hear about the allegations. And she said the woman, now in college, is "a remarkably strong young lady." [Daily Gazette] [TU] [TWCN] [WNYT]
The Troy City Council voted in favor of a resolution seeking an outside review of the Kokopellis incident. [Troy Record]
UAlbany's site plans for the Cuomo admin's Start-Up NY program have been approved. (Start-Up NY is the program in which companies locating on site connected to colleges or universities can get a range of incentives, including paying no taxes for 10 years.) [TU]
The state's unemployment rate was 6.8 percent in January, the lowest level since December 2008, the state Department of Labor reported. But the Albany-Schenectady-Troy metro was down 1,700 non-farm jobs in January 2014 compared to January 2013. [NYS DOL]
The last day for skating at the rink on the Empire State Plaza is this Sunday, March 9. The rink is open 11 am-8 pm every day (closed 3-4 pm for maintenance). It's free to skate -- and skate rentals are $4 adults / $3 kids / free on Friday.
We got a question today from a reader who, curious because of this winter's deep freeze, wanted to know if there are any officially sanctioned places or events for safely walking across the frozen Hudson River. After a bit of research and asking around, we arrived at the same conclusion she did: no, there are not. So, let's make this clear: Do not ever try to walk across the frozen Hudson -- not here, not upriver, not anywhere.
But, in looking into this topic, we came across some interesting local frozen Hudson River history. That image above is titled "Snow scene in Albany, New York". It's a hand-colored wood engraving on paper, part of the Albany Institute's collection, from around 1850 -- when things, including the river itself, were different.
Are those carriages? On the frozen Hudson? Yes, yes they are. From Hudson River Panorama: A Passage Through Time:
Ice formed regularly on the upper portions of the Hudson River until the 1903s, when deep channels were dredged for the year-round operation of the Port of Albany. A frozen river provided many opportunities to cross from one side to another. Numermous references to people walking or skating across survive, but horse-drawn sleighs provided one of the fastest and most common crossing methods. The popular Albany Sleigh, manufactured by James Goold and Company, was well known throughout the United States and Europe. According to the an 1871-72 brochure, Goold used only the finest wood and steel in his Albany Sleigh, which featured pleasing combinations of colorful paint decorations and included the finest plush upholstery and carpets for interiors. Established in 1813, Goold's company also manufactured carriages, coaches, and wagons.
So not only were people conveyed across the frozen Hudson River in a sleigh -- they were doing it in style. (Here's more on the Albany Sleigh over at Hoxsie.)
Bonus history bit: The frozen Hudson River also plays a role in "The Knox Expedition," a Revolutionary War story.
An article in NYT this week depicts Bennington, Vermont -- just over the border from Rensselaer County -- as a place overrun by heroin. Says a Vermont state trooper in the story: "The quaint town of Bennington has had a rude awakening of drugs ... Everyone is doing it... It's in the high school. The kids are doing it right in school. You find Baggies in the hallway." In January, Vermont governor Peter Shumlin devoted his entire State of the State address to the topic of heroin and opiate addiction. [NYT] [Shumlin admin]
When I first walked by Plum Dandy Cookies and Milk, with a charming family inside enjoying sweet treats with adorable glassware and fancy straws, I felt like I was staring into a modern-day hipster Norman Rockwell painting. I wanted to stop in right then, but I was on my way to meet friends somewhere else.
I love sweets, so it was only a matter of time before I arranged another chance to stop in. And here's what I discovered when I finally made it inside.
Stock market fact of the day: Of the 11 publicly listed companies headquartered in the Capital Region, the one currently with the highest market cap is Plug Power. The fuel cell system company recently hit a one-year high -- but its share price was once much, much higher. Being the local company with the highest market cap doesn't necessarily make Plug the biggest fish in the pond, though. Example: The Golub Corp -- the parent company of Price Chopper, headquartered in Schenectady -- is privately owned (that is, not listed on the stock market), and has annual revenues of almost $3.5 billion. [Biz Review] [Google Finance] [Forbes]
T asks via the Facebook:
I am having a City Hall wedding in August and I am looking for a nice place to have a decent meal afterward for about 20 people that won't break the bank. I would like it to be an Albany restaurant. I have researched several options and they are just too much. I would like to do something that would work out to be $20 or less per person. Can you throw this out to your readers for suggestions? Thanks.
Sometimes it seems like there's almost no ceiling on how much can be spent on a wedding. But trying to keep the cost down -- that can take some creativity and flexibility.
So... got a suggestion for T? Please share! We're especially curious if maybe there's some sort of non-traditional option that might work.
Earlier on AOA: Planning a Capital Region wedding: catering
Astorino running for governor, church raffles gun in effort to gain parishioners, please don't feed the vultures
Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino, a Republican, has announced he's running for governor. Astorino made the announcement on Wednesday in a six-minute video in which he charges that Cuomo is the manager of New York's decline. [WNYT][Capitol Confidential]
Troy City Council Public Safety Committee chair Robert Doherty says that under an ordinance created by the committee, city police officers who try to stop people from filming or photographing them would face a fine and jail time. [TU]
What the unanimous vote by the Saratoga Springs City Council opposing expansion of casino gambling in the city actually means for the expansion of casino gambling in the city depends on where you stand. Opponents of a full casino say they are confident the vote shows there is not support for gambling expansion in Saratoga. Casino advocates say they supported the council's vote because it could help reserve judgement on the casino until more details are revealed in a final bid. [Saratogian][TU][NYT]
A Schenectady man is charged with raping a girl over the course of six years, from the time she was 11 years old, fathering a child with her, and then killing the baby. [Gazette]
The Times Union reports that the new suspect in the Schenectady house fire that killed a father and three children has told them he was in the vicinity of the home on the night of the fire. [TU]
Chipotle recently announced that its much-anticipated vegan "sofritas" would soon be arriving at Northeast locations, and there it was when we stopped into the Stuyvesant Plaza location Tuesday evening.
From the chain's description of the tofu product:
We start with organic tofu from Hodo Soy that we shred and then braise with chipotle chilis, roasted poblanos, and a blend of aromatic spices. The result is a delicious, spicy tofu that will give vegans and carnivores something they both will love.
The sofritas has gotten a lot of attention because 1) Chipotle almost never introduces new menu items and 2) it's tofu at a major national chain. The product has been hyped as a tofu "turning point", and the possible beginning of a "chain reaction" that could lead other chains and restaurants to add vegan items. It also didn't hurt that it was developed by Chipotle's star chef/culinary manager Nate Appleman, and that early testers said the stuff actually tasted pretty good -- so much so that it might appeal to non-vegans/vegetarians.
So, anyway, we got the sofritas in a (very not-vegan) burrito bowl. Initial reaction: It's... OK. It has the texture of crumbled sausage or chunky ground beef. And the chipotle flavor definitely registered. It sort of reminded us a little bit of ground beef with "taco" seasoning. We still prefer just the straight-up "vegetarian" bowl (something we get often) over a bowl with the sofritas.
Oh, and it should be mentioned that tofu in a burrito isn't exactly groundbreaking or anything. Bombers has had tofu burritos for a long time.
Earlier on AOA: Vegan dishes worth trying -- even if you're not a vegan
We used to joke that one of the state's main economic development strategies was to just append the word "nano" onto as much stuff as possible. Maybe that actually is the strategy. The latest: The NanoCollege is building a public/private facility near Syracuse that, among other uses, will somehow be merging nanotechnology and film production [Syracuse.com x2]
High speed rail in this country is one of those things that always seems to be happening just over the horizon. And for the Northeast -- and the Capital Region specifically -- this somewhere-out-there future holds all sorts of potential. Imagine what it would be like to hop a train at Albany-Rensselaer -- the 9th busiest station in the nation -- and be in NYC in a little more than an hour.
The thing is, for all the talk, we never seem to get closer to actually arriving at high speed rail. But that might be changing. Slowly.
The state Department of Transportation is currently working to sort out plans for higher speed rail service through New York. And there was a public information session Tuesday at the NanoCollege about the options, the first of series of sessions around the state.
We stopped by, checked out the presentations, and talked with one of the people involved in the planning. Here's a breakdown of the state's current route toward high-speed rail.
Among the topics in this most recent spin around the Capital Region's online neighborhood: the spare beauty of winter, thrift, good drivers, Mt. Colden, Market Bistro, red sauce, Nine Pin, 90 State, goat cheese and thyme cheesecake, sushi, tapas, smoked meat, dehydrated oranges, Paint & Sip, the Fagbug, The Joke, and equine tableware.
It's Phantogram's second national TV appearance in less than a month -- they were on Jimmy Kimmel in February.
They're headed for a national tour in late March/April, then over to Europe in May.
I recently moved to Albany from Manhattan and I am looking to get involved in the area and meet new people. Do you have any suggestions on local groups, leagues, clubs, events, etc? I am open to almost anything - sports (softball, dodgeball..), classes (cooking, painting, sewing, music..), outdoor (running, fishing, hiking...), bar leagues (corn hole, darts..), art shows, wine/food events, etc. Is there a good resource that aggregates info on this (other than AOA of course)?
We suspect moving here from a really big metro area -- especially one like NYC or San Francisco or Seattle -- takes a bit of an adjustment in terms of finding the sort of stuff Brian's looking for. Sure, there's a smaller number of total options and the range is maybe not as wide. But there is plenty of stuff to do around here -- it's just that, unlike one of those big metros, you maybe have to put a bit more effort into finding them.
It sounds like Brian's looking for some specific suggestions, and if you have some, great. But we're also curious about more general strategies you might have. Maybe you can share a little bit about your own experiences finding your niche or crowd here. It could be a big help to Brian and other people who move here. Please share!
photo: Andy Kainz Photography
And you can always try searching for it: