Monday, August 8, 2011

upstate pleasures

This past weekend I made it up to one of my favorite farmer's market in one of my favorite towns, Saratoga Springs. This annual visit for me is always a highlight of the summer.
On the drive up from NYC, less than an hour south of Saratoga Springs, we make our first mandatory pit stop at The Rusty Anchor, a floating bar and grill docked just across from Troy, NY that serves drinks and tasty bar food in a tranquil waterside setting.
Once we have arrived in town the next stop is to leave again and hit nearby Moreau Lake State Park for swimming and hiking in a pristine woodland environment. The refreshing water soothes the soul and stimulates the flesh, getting us ready to face a day of browsing at...
the farmer's market!
Ok, now it is down to business. The pictures tell the whole story here. The vendors tables were overflowing with newly harvested treasures. There was plenty of corn and green beans to be found. The tomatoes, I am told, are a bit slow to ripen this summer but will be in abundance in a week or two. I scored some less than picture perfect tomatoes labeled "seconds" for $2 a pound, a bargain I always love.
I bought one of these long, shapely Japanese cucumbers, the price $1.00 for ONE, was irresistible.
 Ahhh, the colors!

I could have spent all day and all my money at the market, but other delights beckoned. Saratoga Springs is probably most famous for its horse racing and a visit to the track is not to be missed. How fortuitous that on Sunday Galloping Grapes, a charity wine tasting event, was going on at the racing fairgrounds. I left the handicapping and bet placing to those more experienced, like my husband, and headed over to the tasting where I plunked down my $25 to sample wines from ten NY state wineries.

I have never attended a wine tasting on this scale and I must admit, I loved it! It was very informative to be able to taste such a wide variety of wines in one setting. The proceeds of this event, sponsored by the Times Union, benefited the Capital Region's  Classroom Enrichment Program and the Times Union Hope Fund.  Drinking and helping, you know I love that!
Most of the wineries are located in the Finger Lakes region, an area that is really starting to make a presence in the wine market. I focused my tasting on the white wines and the absolute stand-out winner for me was the Glenora Wine Cellers Pinot Blanc, a really well balanced fruity crisp wine that I could see my self drinking. 

A recurring theme among the vintners was the variations on fruit wines and fruity semi-sweet wines that would taste good over ice on a hot summer day. Glenora's Peach Passion really hit the mark with a perfect fresh peach taste.

The Knapp Winery's labels are charming and playful.  They seem to have a cat thing going on.
Another good semi-sweet wine was the Knapp Winery's Vignoles, bringing a well balanced "adult" sophistication to a wine I might have considered too sugary sweet to drink with a meal.

Saratoga's own The Saratoga Winery had some reds that my husband enjoyed, particularly their Cabernet Franc. The whites still have some room to grow and I look forward to seeing their wines mature a bit.

The Atwater Estate Vineyards out of Watkins Glen was wildly popular with the Saratoga crowd and they offered a wide range of blends that were really enjoyable to sample. Their Vidal Blanc was light and fresh tasting, perfect on a hot day with a salad or some seafood.

Saratoga Springs is a town with a lot to offer for the weekend visitor, especially during track season. Every time I visit I begin to whimper that I want to move there and live in one of the quirky houses that give this town such visual charm. Well, some day, perhaps!

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