NYS Produced Oils Now at Saratoga Olive Oil

28 Oct

Every time I go into Saratoga Olive Oil (SOO), I fall in love with a new oil. In the past, I’ve learned the facts behind olive oil, and even how spectacular the Southern Hemisphere Olive Oils are at SOO, but never have I ever tasted anything as unique and interesting as the new oils they’re featuring right now.

Not only are the oils I’m referring to from New York State, but they’re as close as Geneva, NY! That’s seriously close to us.

But these oils aren’t made from olives. In fact, they’re actually made from seeds. Pumpkin seeds and butternut squash seeds to be exact!

Seed Oils Saratoga Olive Oil

seed oils

That’s right – Saratoga Olive Oil has NYS produced Roasted Pumpkin Seed Oil and Butternut Squash Seed Oil, and they’re both incredibly good. In the spirit of fall, they each have their own unique flavors which pair well with a variety of warm dishes as well as cold!

Produced by WholeHeartedFoods out of Geneva, NY, their butternut squash seed oil is a flavorful, healthy and local alternative to European olive oil. The BSSO contains no hydrogenated fats, chemical additives, or preservatives. The BSSO is high in polyunsaturated fat, and contains less than a third of the saturated fat in butter. It’s also rich in Vitamin E, with no trans fat or cholesterol. With a smoke point of 425 degrees, this oil can be used for cooking or as a finishing oil.

Pumpkin Seed Oil

Similarly, the Roasted Pumpkin Seed Oil (RPSO) is 100% varietal oil made from oilseed pumpkins grown in NY. Again, it’s all natural, expeller-pressed unrefined oil for finishing and flavoring dishes due to it’s smoke point of just 270 degrees. It’s made with non-GMO pumpkin seeds and is the perfect addition for fall-inspired dishes. This oil is high in mono-and polyunsaturated fats, and low in saturated fat. No trans fat or cholesterol in this oil!

BSSO Saratoga Olive Oil

The story behind these seeds goes even further. According to their website

“Our oils are pressed from squash seeds grown in a neighboring county in upstate NY. The farmer separates the seeds from winter squash to prepare and package fresh cut squash for supermarkets. The seeds are non-GMO and are not treated with any chemicals or preservatives after being separated from the squash.

The seeds are a green product, in more ways than one! For years, the seed was destined for the compost pile…until someone had the idea to put this byproduct to productive use. The farmer approached the helpful folks at the Food Venture Center at Cornell University for ideas…and voila, the concept of producing oil from seed waste was created. To our knowledge, we are the only company in the U.S. producing culinary oil from 100% locally sourced vegetable seeds.”

I can’t wait to add these oils to some of my own recipes, which of course I’ll be sharing with all of you. The pumpkin seed oil has a nice, savory flavor profile, with notes of sesame and mushroom. On the other hand, the butternut squash seed oil is very nutty, great for pairing with Asian-inspired dishes like a stir fry!

Have you ever tried Roasted Pumpkin Seed Oil or Butternut Squash Seed Oil? If you haven’t – now is the perfect time! Visit Saratoga Olive Oil today, and let them know I sent you! :)

Sneak Peek of the New Maestro’s

24 Oct

Last night (October 23) was the soft opening for the new Maestro’s at the Van Dam. Not only has the kitchen been transformed under the fabulous Chef Danny Petrosino, but the entire restaurant was given a makeover over the course of the past two weeks, and I’ve gotta say – it looks banging.

Maestro’s has been a favorite for many for decades, with a stellar location (353 Broadway), and a killer patio that no other Broadway restaurant can compete with. The one problem I always had with Maestro’s over the years was the consistency in the food.

Don’t get me wrong – I had many great meals there, but I was also unfortunate enough to receive some not-so-stellar meals there as well.

But in my opinion, that’s all going to change now, as the kitchen is under new management by Chef Danny Petrosino (previously of Mio Posto), which includes a brand new menu and some Mio Posto favorites like the Pan Seared Scallops with Blood Orange Panna and Lobster Risotto. Gah just thinking about it makes me hungry.

Some other new menu items include lobster mac and cheese ($28), stuffed brick chicken with prosciutto and grueye ($24), and veal marsala ($26).

The new Maestro’s not only has a new look and feel, but they also have new spaces for dining available as well. With a private room off of the main dining area that seats from 8 guests to 16, this is a great option for small parties. In addition to this, they’ve added a banquet room upstairs that will offer space for larger parties of up to 80, perfect for bridal showers, rehearsal dinners, and corporate parties.

Tonight is the grand re-opening of Maestro’s, but rumor has it the restaurant is booked through November. Here are some shots I took from last night to give you an idea of what the new space looks like, as well as some samples from the menu! Enjoy –

Maestro's at the Van Dam

Maestro's at the Van Dam

Maestro's at the Van Dam

Lobster Mac and Cheese

Samples from Maestro's

Cheese board at Maestro's

Samples at Maestro's

Private Dining Area at Maestro's

Scallops at Maestro's

Falafel Time at Vital Eats

21 Oct

When it comes to Greek food, who doesn’t love a good falafel? There’s just something special about a golden fried mixture of ground chickpeas and a blend of Mediterranean herbs and spices that at first sight, I tend to swoon.

That’s why when I hit the Spa City Farmers Market recently and saw a food stand selling falafel, I b-lined for them and ordered without hesitation. Vital Eats, a locally owned business in Saratoga Springs specializing in hand crafted artisan sauces, condiments, spices and gourmet fare was the food stand, and I was their new favorite customer.

For $7, I had the option of getting the vegetarian falafel with or without a pita, alongside their homemade hot sauce, pickled purple cabbage and onions, and their own tzatziki sauce. But for $3 more, I was offered the lunch box, which also included two sides.

Vital Eats Falafel

Without a second to spare, I ordered the lunch box for $10, and chose the roasted beets and tabouli to sit alongside my glorious falafel pita. The roasted beets were sweet with a slight crunch left to them, the tabouli was chilled and tasted super fresh as it should be, and the falafel, well that was the star of the meal.

The falafel itself had great flavors, and you could really taste the fresh herbs and seasonings incorporated in the ground chickpeas. The pickled vegetables were sensational, with just enough kick to keep your taste buds wanting more, and the homemade hot sauce was seriously the best I’ve ever had. It resembled Sriracha in thickness, but you could see chili pepper flakes in the hot sauce. It was definitely not for the faint of heart when it comes to heat, but if you like things spicy, you’d love this.

Vital Eats can be found at the Saturday Farmers Market on High Rock Ave from 9-1pm, or Sundays at the Spa City Farmers Market, off of Route 9 in front of the Lincoln Baths in the Saratoga State Park from 10-3pm.

Planning a Party in Saratoga

20 Oct

Normally, I’m not too into party planning. At least I haven’t been in the past.

However that all changed about a month ago when my big sis got engaged, and rather than taking a year to plan her wedding, she’s doing it in 4 months. No – she’s not pregnant, but she is determined to get her dream wedding planned by January 2015.

And as the maid-of-honor, I’m left planning the other two major elements for the bride, the bridal shower and bachelorette party with her three other bridesmaids.

Just thinking about the bachelorette party gives me shivers, but we can talk about that another time.

While I know she’s in good hands with Mazzone Hospitality who will be catering her wedding at The Hall of Springs, I really struggled finding a good enough location in my eyes for her Bridal Shower brunch, especially in such a short amount of time.

Now something you should know is my sister and I are similar in a lot of ways, but also different in a lot of ways. While for me, a good party is determined simply by the food, for my sister, she needs a little more than just the food for this experience to make her happy.

As an outsider, I always thought about how blessed we are in this area for having such incredible outdoor spaces for parties, weddings, etc. But once it was my time to plan something, and in November nonetheless, all of those thoughts were crushed by cold temperatures and the need to be in an enclosed space.

After my first plan to have the bridal shower at a distillery in Queensbury fell through, it was crunch time to find a new place that I trusted to host this very special party in a warm and cozy setting.

I immediately contacted pretty much every respectable restaurant in the area that I felt could accommodate 40(ish) us for this shower, with a decent price point. After many quotes and several emails back and forth, Bob Lee from The Brook Tavern beat the competition.

Not only do I love The Brook Tavern and it’s location, but working with them has been nothing but easy.

After two drafts of a menu, I’m done planning the details of food, which is SHOCKING for me. Bob was able to give me everything I wanted on the list within my budget, including a bloody mary bar and a mimosa station, along with my guilty pleasure – the chocolate chip cookie skillet.

If I could give anyone advice about planning a party in Saratoga, whether it’s a corporate party, family, holiday, etc., work with a restaurant or caterer that’s willing to develop a menu around you and your needs. I’m sure the pre-made menus work for some occasions, but if you’re into food (which I’m assuming you are since you’re reading this), then it will make a huge difference if you’re getting what you really want for the party that you’re paying for.

As we quickly approach the date of the shower (November 2nd), I’ll be sure to post some pictures of how it all turns out. Until then, I’ll be biting my nails and hoping everything turns out perfect! :)

If you ever have any questions about planning a party in Saratoga or need some advice for where to host it, please don’t hesitate to reach out to me – I’d be happy to help! saratogafoodfanatic [at] gmail [dot] com!

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