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!

The Aftermath of Flavorfeast 2014

16 Oct

To say I’m grateful would be an understatement when it comes to the first annual Saratoga International Flavorfeast.

Five days later, I’m still in awe of the success and support we received on Saturday for the event.

Not only did I have the opportunity to meet some of my loyal readers in person, but I also had the chance to meet new people who were just in the area for the day or who had not been introduced to Saratoga Food Fanatic yet, which I absolutely love to do.

Seeing the streets bustling with excited people in October is a dream come true, and will definitely be something we carry on in years to come!

The most important part though is that the outcome of the event would not have been possible without the amazing support from my readers, friends, family, our sponsors, the entertainers, and of course, our participating restaurants. Again, from the bottom of my heart, I cannot say thank you enough.

Here are some photos to recap the day. Xoxo

Flavorfeast

Trolley

Ravenous

Ravenous

Prime

Drummers

Sushi Thai

Parting Glass

Merry Monk

Sperrys

Sperrys

The Wine Bar

The Wine Bar Tostados

Flavorfeast

Three Vines Flavorfeast

Three Vines

alaturco flavorfeast

Flavorfeast fran and ashley

Meet the Chefs at DZ Farm Recap

15 Oct

After an incredibly busy Saturday, I spent Sunday doing what I haven’t done in months – relaxing.

The weather was beautiful, the sun was shining, and I was at one of the most serene places I’ve been in Upstate NY, the DZ Farm.

Out in Galway, the foliage on the drive there alone was worth the trip. Once I arrived at the farm, I was welcomed with a glass of champagne and a quick whisper by one of the DZ staff members that my fly was down. That was cool.

After zipping up and sipping up (a lot after that), I started snapping pictures of the beautiful scenery that even just the entrance had to offer at the farm.

DZ Farm

With two Adirondack Chairs facing a small pond and a guitar player to the left, it was certainly a picture perfect view.

DZFarm1

Once I reached the backyard, it was clear that DZ Farm was all about the family feel. With rustic decor everywhere, just like in their restaurants, the food was plentiful, as was the great company.

DZ Farm 8

I’m not sure I’ve ever been to an event with so many friendly people, so this experience might top the list for me. Highlighting the four chefs from the four DZ Restaurants, Chianti, Forno, Pasta Pane and Boca were all being represented by the amazing chefs that make the restaurants so well known in the area.

Each offering their own unique flair to each menu item, we enjoyed some Spanish foods from Boca, and the more traditional Italian dishes were from the remaining three.

As far as appetizers go, the highlights included the Brûléed Nectarines stuffed with Honey goat cheese from Forno, as well as the Roasted beets, monte enebro cheese, and blueberry compote from Boca.

DZ Farm 3

DZ Farm 2

In addition to these appetizers, we were also treated to a full dinner buffet with foods cooked by the chefs practically right in front of us. With offerings including grilled duck sausage, creamy polenta, wood fired brussel sprouts and roasted porchetta, my mouth is watering just thinking back to it.

DZ Farm

DZ Farm 4

DZ Farm 5

Here’s a full list of foods offered throughout the day:

Chianti Ristorante

  • Sweet  Focaccia with grapes “Focaccia all’ Uva”
  • Roasted Porchetta
  • Braised “Smoked” Lenticchie
  • Crisp shaved cabbage salad

Forno Bistro

  • Brûléed Nectarines stuffed with Honey goat cheese
  • Grilled Duck Sausage with an apple cranberry mostarda
  • Grilled delicata squash
  • Assorted Fruit Tarts

Pasta Pane

  • Spaghetti squash and fresh ricotta Crostini
  • Wood fired Kilcoyne Farms  steamship round of beef with Cabernet grape reduction
  • Fire roasted fingerling sweet potatoes with ginger butter and mini marshmallows
  • Wood fired Brussel sprouts with ricotta salata
  • Creamy polenta

Boca Bistro

  • Roasted beets, monte enebro cheese, blueberry compote
  • Wannabe Farm rabbit and chorizo paella
  • Grilled leeks with romesco sauce

The night ended around a campfire, complete with haystacks and all the fixins for s’mores.

haystacks

smores

Finally, as I was walking out, they had transformed the registration table into a little party favor table, lined with olive oil’s from the restaurants and a thank you note. Simple yet very thoughtful. A+ for effort!

Olive Oil

This event was incredibly special. Not only was the property absolutely gorgeous, but the DZ team made me feel like family. There are very few restaurants that offer that type of dynamic, and I’m really pleased to say DZ is one of them.

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