Sunday, January 30, 2011

come chowder-up on Saturday everybody.

Saratoga Springs set to welcome chowder heads again
Sunday, January 30, 2011
By Jeff Wilkin (Contact)
Gazette Reporter

Photographer: Bruce Squiers

Connie Crudo relaxes at Bailey’s in Saratoga Springs with chowders prepared to promote next month’s Chowderfest in the city.Text Size: A | A | A
As queen of Saratoga Springs’ summer society, Marylou Whitney knows all about haute cuisine.

Quail in puff pastry shells — served with foie gras and truffle sauce — is a natural for an August party.

As a queen of Saratoga Springs’ winter society, Connie Crudo is an expert on hot cuisine. Clam chowder, sausage chowder, corn chowder and shrimp chowder are naturals for the February party Crudo puts together every year.

The gathering is Saratoga’s 13th annual Chowderfest, part of the city’s Winterfest. This year’s pilgrimage for potatoes, clams and assorted vegetables will be held Saturday from 11 a.m. until 4 p.m. About 60 restaurants will serve chowder in 3-ounce cups for $1 a sample, and about 60 chefs hope their concoctions are convicted of culinary excellence — and win one of six “best of” categories.

“I think Chowderfest is an affordable, fun thing to do on a cold day,” said Crudo, membership and services coordinator for the Saratoga Convention and Tourism Bureau and unofficial queen of the party. “I think we’ve got great restaurants and these restaurants have great reputations. There are diverse offerings, and there are a lot of bars that sell chowder, too.”

Saratoga Springs 13th annual Chowderfest
WHEN: Saturday

WHERE: Assorted restaurants in Saratoga Springs

HOW MUCH: $1 per 3-ounce sample of chowder

The festival is a big deal for both restaurants and chowder lovers. “It’s a very family-oriented event,” Crudo said. “You see a lot of large groups, it’s great for the kids and it’s great for the older people. Everybody comes bundled up and prepared to stand in line.”

They pick up their ballots first, from any bar or restaurant on the chowder roster. They’ll taste the thick soups, and vote for favorites in categories that include “Best on Broadway,” “Best off Broadway,” “Best Newcomer” and “Best Non-Downtown.” Ballots will be dropped off at the Saratoga County Arts Council and the Saratoga Springs Visitor Center and tabulated later in the day.

Exploration and discovery
Exploration and discovery are two reasons people decide to try dozens of chowders, depending on their appetites. “There’s everything,” Crudo said. “There’s vegetable, there’s chicken chowders, clam chowders, shrimp chowders, Southwestern chowders. I can’t tell you who is serving what because that is top-secret, confidential information until the last minute.”

The event started small. “I have records that go back to 2002, and in that year there were 18 participants,” Crudo said. “In 2010, we had 56 participants.”

This year, Sperry’s, Lillian’s, the Parting Glass, Gaffney’s, Maestro’s and Stadium Cafe are in. So are Wheatfields, the Wishing Well, Cantina, the Grey Gelding, Hattie’s and the Seven Horse Pub. Even Ben & Jerry’s ice cream on Phila Street gets a piece of the action. Scoops of the store’s “Phish Food” ice cream were sold as dessert chowder in 2010. There are even chowders for dogs — pooch-friendly stores “Dawgdom,” “Impressions of Saratoga” and “Sloppy Kisses” will have bowls for the bark set.

Money raised by the convention bureau — each restaurant pays a $150 participation fee — is given to charity.

Joe Richardson, who owns both Bailey’s Cafe on Phila Street and the adjoining Peabody’s Sports Bar and Grille, said Chowderfest provides a boost for the community the same way Saratoga’s popular First Night does on New Year’s Eve. Other restaurant owners say the same thing — chowder attracts people to city kitchens during what is traditionally a slow time.

John Capelli, executive chef at the Olde Bryan Inn on Maple Avenue, said competitive spirit mixes with community spirit.

“It’s not necessarily about us winning,” Capelli said. “We all win. It’s a situation where Saratoga is known for a lot of things, horse racing, the spring waters and such, but we also have an excellent variety of restaurants. There are over 100 places to eat in this city. It’s an opportunity for people to maybe go to a restaurant they’ve never tried before.”

Sizing up the competition
Chefs can also check out what’s happening in other kitchens.

“You want to find out where they’ve got something better than you,” Capelli said. “So you can figure out what they did a little bit different. You’re sharing recipes. As competitive as it is, it’s a lot of fun. I’ve got chefs that come down and try ours after they wrap up and vice versa. One of the things I’m saying if I’m serving is, ‘Who’s the best so far? What do they have out there?’ We’re all curious about what each other is doing.”

Capelli said it’s also fun to watch people during the chowder Saturday. On snowy days, he’s seen people slide up to the Olde Bryan on cross-country skis. They park them next to the fireplace and sip the hot stuff. “It’s kind of like a live-action Norman Rockwell moment,” Capelli said.

Louis Maggiore, operating partner at Longfellows on Union Avenue, also appreciates the crush for chowder.

“If you walk down Broadway during the Chowderfest, there are people everywhere,” he said. “It’s great for the restaurants, people are talking to each other, everybody’s tasting a bowl of chowder, they’re having a good time. They make an all-day thing out of it, it’s almost like tailgating at a football game.

Richardson expects a lot of people and a lot of chowder at his two locations. “Last year, we did 1,911 cups at Bailey’s and 1,260 at Peabody’s — we ran out at 3:30 there,” Richardson said. He’s planning on between 60 and 70 gallons for the two restaurants this Saturday. And crackers — all Chowderfest participants get two cases of oyster crackers from the Westminster Cracker Co. in Rutland, Vt.

Crudo begins preparing for Chowderfest around the middle of December. Restaurants sign up, the party starts rolling and Connie is soon spending most of her time on chowder business. Office colleague Angela LaTerra takes care of advertising in newspapers, radio and magazines.

While chili contests still outnumber chowder parties, Crudo said soup shows are catching up. “They’re becoming more common,” she said. “Ballston Spa does a chowderfest now, Troy does a chowderfest now. I’ve got people calling me, ‘How do you do it? How can I have a chowderfest?’ I’ll share. Just don’t have it on the same day as ours.”

Because chowder heads are on the streets during the winter party, weather can be a concern. “A couple years ago, we had an ice storm the night before,” Crudo said. “By the time we got downtown, it was all cleaned up. The city has been very cooperative.”

Tabulating the votes
This year, Chowderfest has a new wrinkle. Instead of counting ballots over the weekend and announcing winners on Monday — the practice in past years — chowder fans are invited to a second party at the Saratoga City Center at 5:30 p.m. Ballots will be tabulated, and a cash bar and disc jockey will keep people occupied until results are announced.

“We’re trying to keep them downtown for a couple extra hours,” Crudo said.

And the event is becoming more ecologically friendly. A reusable mug with lid and spoon is available for $5, so people who make the purchase won’t be using and tossing bunches of disposable cups and spoons. The mugs are being sold at Celtic Treasures, Crafters Gallery, Crush and Cask Wine and Liquors, Impressions of Saratoga and Just Plain Good/Life Is Good.

Chowderfest is designed to warm interiors, but Crudo said some people want to warm exteriors, too. That’s why festival long-sleeve T-shirts have always been popular. The 2011 model costs $7.

“I once got an e-mail from a man in Florida who had always attended, but said he couldn’t make Chowderfest because of illness,” Crudo said. “He said, ‘I need my shirt. Can you mail me one?’ So I did. Can’t break up his collection.”


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Friday, January 28, 2011

Saratoga Spa State Park. candlelight ski and snowshoe, friday, february 4,2011,6pm-8:30pm at the Warming Hut.

1.5 miles of candlelit trail

hot food and drinks!

ice skating!

snowshoes and skis available for rent.

call Alli at 518-584-2000 Ext. 116 for more information

New Parks Commissioner to be named, Rose Harvey.

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Harvey is new parks commissioner
Posted on January 27, 2011 at 2:11 pm by Rick Karlin, Capitol bureau in Environment
1 Share 6 share E-mail We heard the naming of a new Commissioner of Parks, Recreation and Historical Preservation was in the works today and here she is: Rose Harvey. She comes from the Jonathan Rose Companies most recently, which describes itself as a green real estate firm that does a lot of municipal work, and she’s got a long resume of working on open space issues. It’s unclear what this means in terms of the speculation that Parks and Rec might be somehow merged with the Dept. of Environmental Conservation, although a merged outfit would presumably still need a parks chief. Here are the details:

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced the nomination of Rose H. Harvey as commissioner of the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation.

“Rose Harvey’s experience and knowledge as well as her expertise creating countless cost-effective parks, playgrounds and open spaces in underserved communities with efficiency makes her the person we need to lead this agency,” Governor Cuomo said. “I thank her for her public service and look forward to working with her.”

Currently, Ms. Harvey is a senior fellow at the Jonathan Rose Companies, where she acts as an advisor and researcher on parks and open space issues, and launched a non-profit organization to fund, design and develop safe, well-managed parks in urban neighborhoods. She was also recently a McCluskey Fellow and Lecturer at the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies.

For 27 years, Ms. Harvey held multiple leadership positions with The Trust for Public Land, most recently as Senior Vice President and National Director of Urban Programs. There, she oversaw all real estate acquisitions, urban park design and developments, managed the finances of a $20 million annual operating budget, and closed between $50 and $75 million worth of land and parks transactions each year across 8 states – a total of nearly $1 billion and more than a thousand new and enhanced parks, gardens and playgrounds in underserved neighborhoods in New York City, Newark, N.J. and Baltimore. She has also established large landscape woodlands and natural areas throughout New York State and the Mid-Atlantic region.

Ms. Harvey began her tenure in the parks and open space arena as the Assistant Director for Conservation Easement at the Maryland Environmental Trust, where she negotiated protections of private lands holding environmental significance.

Ms. Harvey received her B.A. from Colorado College in 1977 and M.E.S. at the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies in 1984. She currently serves on the Board of the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation and the Yale Leadership Advisory Council. In the past she has served on many conservation organizations, including the Appalachian Mountain Club, the Hudson River Institute and Walsh Park Low Income Housing. In addition to multiple state and national awards for her environmental stewardship and advocacy for open space and parks, Ms. Harvey has written multiple articles and op/eds in numerous national media outlets and industry trade journals.

Lucy Rockefeller Waletzky, M.D., Chair of the New York State Council of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, said, “Ms. Harvey has been key to many of the great additions to state parks of the past 20 years. I look forward to working with her to foster strong private-public partnerships that protect and enhance New York’s parks, open spaces and heritage. I am also deeply committed to working with Governor Cuomo’s administration in preserving our state’s recreational landscapes and natural resources.”

Frances Beinecke, President of Natural Resource Defense Council, said, “Ms. Harvey’s decades of experience in creating hundreds of parks and thousands of acres of open space makes her the perfect choice to lead New York’s agency tasked with protecting and preserving public land. I applaud Governor Cuomo for selecting such a dedicated professional.

Ned Sullivan, President of Scenic Hudson, said, “Rose Harvey brings to this critical job sterling credentials and experience in land conservation and in creating and managing urban gardens and parks. Governor Cuomo has selected an outstanding candidate to help him implement his broad reform agenda and to meet the state’s responsibilities as steward of our unparalleled parkland.”

Kim Elliman, CEO of the Open Space Institute, said, “Rose brings an unparalleled passion for providing all New Yorkers with access to parks and open space. Throughout her 30 year career, she has built an incredible track record of creating and protecting parks, from vest-pocket parks in cities to landscape parks like Sterling Forest. She is singularly qualified for the job and I commend Governor Cuomo for his selection.”

Leslie Wright, New York State Director for The Trust for Public Land, said, “Governor Cuomo’s selection of Ms. Harvey as Commissioner for the Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation shows that he is serious about maintaining open space and making it accessible to as many New Yorkers as possible. Ms. Harvey’s storied career in establishing parks, playgrounds and gardens in urban areas, combined with her ongoing advocacy for open space makes her the ideal candidate to lead this agency.”
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Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Geyser restoration continuing, PostStar, Saratoga Blog.

Restoration plan sprouting up
StoryDiscussionImage (3)Restoration plan sprouting up
By DREW KERR The Post-Star | Posted: Friday, December 3, 2010 12:05 am | (1) Comments

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Derek Pruitt - Lester Beninati and his grandson Scott Beninati sample mineral spring water near the island spouter spring at Saratoga Spa State Park on Tuesday, Nov. 30, 2010. Beninati brought his grandson along who was visiting from Alaska and hadn't been to the park in years. The geyser spring, at right, and the surrounding visitor area have been restored through a public-private partnership with donations near $150,000. .
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..SARATOGA SPRINGS — When state parks officials set out to restore the area around the mineral-water spouting geyser that served as the genesis of the city's tourism industry there was one project they didn't anticipate having to tackle - fixing the geyser itself.

But, in overhauling the area around the so-called island spouter this summer, officials at Saratoga Spa State Park discovered the 300-foot-deep well bore dug to reach the limestone layer where the mineral waters percolate had been compromised.

The geyser - the only such formation east of the Rockies - would sit dormant unless a new well casing was installed.

It was, and this week the geyser was shooting a 10-foot arch of mineral water fresh from the fault line on which it sits.

The repaired spout is among several efforts made over the last five months to beautify the area surrounding the geyser and other mineral springs that dot the 100-year-old state park.

Workers have also cleaned up an area near the geyser where visitors can fill glasses with mineral water, put in new sidewalks so the area is handicapped-accessible and rebuilt a pavilion next to the geyser.

Future plans call for adding signs that will explain the history of the park, its springs and their role in the city's tourism industry, and putting in an extended trail network and a new overlook area.

Those efforts will be taken up again in the spring, and officials said this week they hope to have most of the work done by this time next year.

"People have been very excited about the whole process," park manager Michael Greenslade said. "I think having this area cleaned up and dressed up will just make it that much more attractive to people."

Work to restore the area around the geyser began in May, when officials kicked off a fund-raising effort as part of the park's centennial celebration.

More than $150,000 in donations has since been collected, and officials are seeking another $100,000 to finish the renovations.

Heather Mabee, a volunteer parks commissioner who represents the Saratoga region, said the money that has been raised shows people are willing to step in and support parks when their tax money will not.

Public funding for state parks across New York has diminished in recent years because of budget shortfalls, and officials said they sought private money for the restoration because it was unlikely tax dollars would be spent on such a project.

"People are still contributing, whether it's $5 or $1,000," Mabee said. "We've really been overwhelmed by the public's realization of how important these springs are."

Mabee said restoring the springs is important because they played a critical role in the development of the park, and are such a part of the community's history.

The state bought the land around the springs in 1910 as industry moved to exploit natural gases beneath the surface, threatening the environment.

The area later became a mecca for tourists who sought the mineral water's restorative powers, and park visitors remain enthralled by the water today.

"This is the place in the park that attracts the most tourists, which is really why we picked this place to focus on," said Alane Ball Chinian, director of the Saratoga-Capital region for the state Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation.

Another project in the park was undertaken this year through a public-private partnership.

Two dozen white pines were planted along the Avenue of the Pines last month through a program in which the drink company Odwalla distributes money for tree-plantings in parks.

And a group of resident volunteers, part of a "friends" group that supports the park, has restored a pair of pavilions this year.

Chinian said the efforts show that parks can find ways to make improvements despite limited resources.

"What I think this work really shows is that we're moving on, even in this very difficult economic time," she said.

Copyright 2011 The Post-Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

.Posted in Local, Saratoga on Friday, December 3, 2010 12:05 am Updated: 12:06 pm. | Tags: Saratoga Springs, Saratoga Spa State Park, Geyser, Mineral Water

Friday, January 07, 2011

New York City Ballet to tour the world for third week of ballet lost to Saratoga and SPAC.

City Ballet Creates A Troupe For Touring
Published: January 6, 2011
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CloseLinkedinDiggMixxMySpaceYahoo! BuzzPermalink New York City Ballet is creating a small and nimble touring ensemble in the hopes of broadening its appeal around the country and the world.

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While the company’s stars often perform elsewhere on their own, establishing an official spinoff is a departure for the company. Performances by the new group, called New York City Ballet Moves, will also replace work days lost when the company shortened its summer season at the Saratoga Performing Arts Centerto two weeks from three weeks several years ago.

In an interview this week the ballet master in chief, Peter Martins, said the small works that Moves will perform can easily be accommodated by more modest sites, like university auditoriums. “There’s a whole market we haven’t been exposed to,” Mr. Martins said.

He said that he envisioned the possibility of more than one small company operating at the same time, and that he saw the European summer festival circuit as fertile ground.

Without solicitation Mr. Martins took pains to emphasize that the new company would not be an apprentice or grade-B group.

“This is not a diminished product in any way,” he said. “These are not students that I’m training to get in the company. These are top-notch dancers. You’re getting the real thing when you hire this group.”

A rotating group of dancers will make up Moves, and it will include members from every level of the company. The roster for the first season consists of the principal dancers Jared Angle, Joaquin De Luz, Robert Fairchild, Sterling Hyltin, Maria Kowroski, Tiler Peck, Amar Ramasar, Daniel Ulbricht and Wendy Whelan; the soloists Adrian Danchig-Waring, Erica Pereira and Rebecca Krohn; and the corps de ballet members Chase Finlay, Anthony Huxley, Lauren Lovette, Brittany Pollack and Taylor Stanley.

Musicians will be drawn from the New York City Ballet Orchestra. Moves will have its first performances this summer at the Vail International Dance Festival, on July 31 and Aug. 1 and 2, followed by four performances, Aug. 5 to 7 at the Center for the Arts in Jackson, Wyo., where a group of City Ballet dancers performed last summer in what the company called a trial run.

They will present two programs, consisting of George Balanchine’s “Duo Concertant,” Jerome Robbins’s “Dances at a Gathering,” Mr. Martins’s “Fool for You,” “Hallelujah Junction” and “Zakouski,” and Christopher Wheeldon’s “After the Rain” pas de deux and “Polyphonia.” The musical accompaniment includes one and two pianos, piano and violin and taped voice.

A natural connection links the Vail festival to City Ballet: the festival’s artistic director is a former City Ballet star, Damian Woetzel. “Knowing that they were starting to look at this as a way to present the company differently, I looked at it and thought this would be fantastic at Vail,” Mr. Woetzel said.

In Vail the dancers will present a program that Mr. Martins called a lecture-demonstration and the festival called a “rehearsal-style romp.” It will be devoted to solos for male dancers by Balanchine, who is perceived has having focused more on female dancers. (“Ballet is woman,” went his famous line.) “The irony is he choreographed great material for men,” Mr. Martins said.

The new program is a return to City Ballet’s history of touring, especially its frequent travels in the United States in the 1950s through the early ’80s. That helped build a following and expanded the pool of potential dancers, Mr. Martins said. But when a musicians’ contract after 1986 required the orchestra to perform with the dancers in any North American engagements, traveling with large-scale works became too expensive, he said.

Most of the recent touring has thus been abroad. City Ballet also appears regularly at the Kennedy Center in Washington. While visiting companies there are required to use the Kennedy Center Opera House Orchestra, a deal was worked out in 2002 allowing the two orchestras to alternate.

Mr. Martins said the touring would not be a source of revenue, but was expected to break even.

A version of this article appeared in print on January 7, 2011, on page C3 of the New York edition.
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