Seasons Change, and So Do Saratoga Restaurants

30 Mar

We’re finally entering into a new season, and while most articles these days begin with something that has to do with how damn cold it is outside, this one is looking to the future.

The final (and I mean FINAL) stretch of cold air is here, and while many of you have probably been hibernating these past few months, I’ve been getting the scoop on what’s new in the restaurant scene in Saratoga.

So here we go, let’s talk about all the new things that have come about in the past couple months:

Gennaro’s Pizza Opens in The Fresh Market Plaza

Smashburger Opens in The Fresh Market Plaza

Cliff’s Country Inn Closes, Reopens as Carson’s Woodside Tavern

Mario’s Pizzeria From Lark to Lake Opens on Lake Ave

T.C. Paris Offering “Lunch in Paris” Menu

Henry’s Tavern Opens in Ballston Spa

Cake Placid in Ballston Spa Sold to Spa City Baking Co.

Restaurant at 62 Beekman Begins Lunch Service April 1st

Is there something I missed? Please comment below and I’ll add to the list!

The Wishing Well Eurotour: Class Five

27 Mar

Scotch Whisky tasting bottles

I learned two new things about myself last night.

First, I really love wine.

Second, I really don’t love scotch.

To be a little more clear, last night’s final class in the Eurotour Series at The Wishing Well was all about scotch.

While I must admit, I learned significantly more than I ever thought I would about this specific type of whisky, I don’t think I’ll be ordering it at a bar anytime soon.

Let me be a little more specific and start off by explaining some of the things we learned last night.

Understanding Scotch Whisky

Single Malt -

A whisky made from 100% malted barley and coming from a single distillery

Cask Strength -

Whisky bottled directly from the barrel with no water added maintaining natural ABV

Grain Distillery -

Used to make whisky that is primarily used in blending. Can be made with unmalted barley, and other grains (rye, wheat, etc.)

Blended -

A whisky that is made from a combination of grain and single malt whiskies.

Peat -

Decomposed vegetation compiling over millennia to create a source of fuel for heating and for energy production in some countries.

I never really knew much about scotch before last night, besides the fact that my boyfriend loves it and every sip I’ve taken in the past has made me cough and my eyes water. To say I was nervous about this class is an understatement.

But I did learn about what I liked and what I absolutely didn’t like in a scotch.

Joe Armstrong, our extraordinary teacher and pot of knowledge gave me a quadrant to work with, with the top being smoky, the bottom being delicate, the left side being light, and the right side being rich.

After tasting the eight different wines (which are listed below), I realized that I like my scotch like I like croissants – delicate and light.

I starred the scotches that were tolerable for me, and there’s one that I might even order out if they have it at a bar (**).

The eight scotch whisky’s we tasted last night:

  • Bank Note Blended Scotch Whisky
  • The Lost Distillery “Auchnagie” Blended Malt Scotch Whisky
  • **Auchentoshan 12 Yr Old Single Malt (Lowlands)
  • *Glenmorangie 10 Yr Old Single Malt (Highlands)
  • Springbank 10 Yr Old Single Malt (Campbeltown)
  • *Balvenie 12 Yr Old “Double Wood” Single Malt (Speyside)
  • Talisker 10 Yr Old Single Malt (Skye)
  • Laphroaig 10 Yr Old Single Malt (Islay)

As for food, it wouldn’t be a class at The Wishing Well without a great spread! Here’s a look at what the Chef whipped up for the class last night:

Goat Cheese Canape with toasted pecans and rosemary honey

The wishing well scotch class

The Wishing Well Saratoga

Grilled Zucchini & Carrots with BBQ sauce

The Wishing Well Saratoga Springs

The Wishing Well Eurotour

Roasted Pork Tenderloin, orange & ginger glaze, roasted mushrooms

the Wishing well wine series

The wishing well eurotour

Seasonal Berries with caramel sauce & chocolate mousse

The Wishing Well whisky class

Dessert at The Wishing Well Saratoga

Before I conclude this final post of the Eurotour Series, I have to say how enjoyable it is taking these classes at The Wishing Well.

Not only are they extremely accommodating, but you meet some really fantastic people who have similar interests to you – in this case, booze!

I’ve learned such an incredible amount of information about wines and now scotch, it’s an experience I wouldn’t trade for anything. So if you missed out on these series, don’t fear – rumor has it they’ll have a new series coming out in the fall. As soon as anything is set in stone, I’ll let you all know.

Until then, cheers!

The New Pizza Hot Spot: Gennaro’s

25 Mar

Pizza might be one of my favorite guilty pleasures in life.

I know it’s simple, and it’s certainly pretty common, but when I’m in the mood to indulge, pizza has my name written all over it.

When I read on Facebook that a local chef tried the newest pizza spot Gennaro’s over by Fresh Market and raved about it, I knew I had no choice than to get my butt over there and try it for myself.

As usual, I like to give new businesses a little time to adjust, so I waited over a month to order. Also – I rarely order delivery, so when it comes to pizza, I trust myself the most to go pick it up and bring it back home so I can eat!

Last Friday we finally made the order, a large (18”) cheese pizza with meatballs and caramelized onions for $17.50.

Gennaro's Pizza

Gennaro's Saratoga Pizza

The verdict? It was love at first bite.

I’ll break it down for you:

Sauce

The sauce on a pizza can make it or break it. This sauce was acidic and salty, with just the right tang to compliment the richness of the fresh mozzarella. What I loved the most about the sauce was that it really highlighted the tomatoes. It wasn’t heavily seasoned with herbs, it let the tomatoes do the talking, and I love that.

Cheese

The cheese to sauce ratio was less that what you’d imagine from a typical pizza, but this isn’t your average pizza. After reading their menu that came in the mail, it’s actually based off of a NYC classic, Lombardi’s. The fresh mozz is scattered in large blobs, as opposed to just cheese everywhere. This makes the sauce all that much more important, and they both shine in different ways.

Crust

Finally, the crust. The first bite had a crunch, but wasn’t too crunchy that it was falling apart all over my plate. It was perfect for folding (like a true New Yorker), and was dusted with cornmeal for an added texture that I really really enjoyed.

For me, this pizza was near perfect. It hit the three performance points that matter to me the most (listed above), but all around, the flavors just exhibited everything I want and desire in a pizza. What’s even better is that it tasted fresh and the ingredients were legit, and I love that.

Aside from my occasional Pope’s Pizza, Gennaro’s is absolutely without a doubt going to be my new go-to pizza place.

The Trick to the Perfect Breakfast Sandwich

22 Mar

I don’t typically write about my own cooking, but since I’ve been doing so much of it lately, I felt like it was only natural to start incorporating it a little more into Saratoga Food Fanatic.

bacon egg and cheese

Disclaimer – I’m not a professional, I have no professional training, and I’ve only worked in one real kitchen my whole life, so if I can make things that taste like heaven, so can you.

Today I want to talk about the creation of the perfect breakfast sandwich.

I have recently become rather obsessed with eggs, and preparing them on all sorts of things. From avocado toast with a fried egg on top (which is bomb by the way) to the traditional breakfast sandwich, my Instagram is pretty much flooded with pictures of eggs.

Something I hold pretty near and dear to my heart is my skill at creating a stellar breakfast sandwich. Aside from my love of the egg, sausage and cheese from Spring Street Deli, I prefer to make this breakfast staple at home.

But what’s the trick to creating the perfect breakfast sandwich?

Well, my friends, I’d have to go with the ingredients and the preparation. I’m not into using regular bread for breakfast sandwiches, so as a base, you have to make sure you have your favorite bagel or english muffin readily available. I like bagels and english muffins because they’re really great for holding a sandwich together. I also am just biased because I don’t really like my eggs on soft rolls.

This past weekend I used a cinnamon raisin english muffin, and I’ll tell you in a bit why that was a great choice.

Okay so you have your base, then you need to make sure you have the fixins for inbetween the carbs. I typically like thick cut bacon over sausage for breakfast sandwiches, so I look for quality stuff. The best local bacon is from Oscars, so if you can find it, use it.

Local eggs also make a difference. When I don’t get my eggs delivered from King Brother’s Dairy, I run down to Stewart’s and get eggs from them. They actually source their eggs from Thomas Poultry Farm in Schuylerville, NY so I’m supporting two local businesses at once – and I’m getting farm fresh eggs.

Finally, the cheese. The cheese can really make or break a breakfast sandwich.

Personally, I love cheese that melts well, such as a meunster or american cheese. American is as classic as you can get, so if you already have it in the house, you’re in a good position. Otherwise, I also really like cheddar, but you have to make sure you cut it thin or shred it to melt more easily.

Now for the preparation.

I begin by cooking my bacon in a skillet. Cook those babies until they’re crispy and golden and then set them aside.

Drain 1/2 of the bacon grease from the pan, and then add a little butter.

Crack those eggs straight into that bacon grease (2-3 for a sandwich, depending on how hungry you are).

Add some salt and pepper to the eggs, and then do a quick flip for 10-15 seconds, top with cheese, and remove from heat.

Now it’s time for assembly. I usually have my carb toasted before I crack the eggs, and butter them so they’re ready to go. After the eggs are cooked and the cheese is melted, layer those eggs onto the english muffin or bagel. Finally, top with bacon (I usually do three pieces).

The end result? Beauty.

Bacon egg and cheese

bacon egg and cheese with yolk

This sandwich has everything. Saltiness, sweetness, crunch, creaminess. OH MAN it’s making me want another one right now. The big thing with this sandwich for me was the cinnamon raisin english muffin had those sweet notes when I would get a raisin in a bite with bacon. What a heavenly pair.

Feel like recreating this in your kitchen? Here are the ingredients and directions:

Ingredients (Serving Size 1):

  • 3 pieces of bacon
  • 2-3 eggs
  • 1 english muffin or bagel
  • 2 tbsp butter (divided)
  • 1 slice of cheese (American or Meunster preferred)

Directions:

  • Slice bagel or english muffin in half and toast
  • In a medium skillet, cook the bacon on medium high heat until crispy and golden brown. Remove bacon from pan and drain 1/2 of the bacon grease.
  • Add 1 tbsp butter into the bacon grease and let it melt.
  • Crack the eggs into the grease and butter mixture and cook on medium high to your liking. 10-15 seconds before they’re done, add the cheese and cover with a small lid to trap moisture and melt cheese.
  • Meanwhile, add remaining butter to the toasted bagel or english muffin.
  • Take the eggs off the heat and pile on top of bagel or english muffin.
  • Top with bacon & enjoy!

Happy Sunday! I hope you enjoy this sandwich as much as I do.