Tuesday, August 20, 2013

What's in a name (and a logo)? The new Jugs and Mugs makes me wonder

First, the background: Steve Barnes ran a short piece in his Table Hopping blog last Friday discussing the concerns expressed by the city of Albany over the name and logo for the soon-to-open restaurant/bar called Jugs and Mugs, which will be located at 849 Madison Ave., just down the street from St. Rose.  The city apparently is worried that the provocative name and logo are harbingers of trouble--rowdy late night partying, that sort of thing.

That's all speculation.  I'm more concerned with the name and logo and what they represent for Jugs and Mugs in concert with the type of restaurant the chef and general manager, Chick Hawksley, is going for.  In the Table Hopping piece, Hawksley says, "This is not a college bar; things are not going to suddenly go crazy at 9 p.m."  Barnes goes on to say that the restaurant expects to feature compelling food--the kind that I say is missing from most pubs and casual restaurants in the Capital Region (in favor of unimaginative Sysco stylings)--including New Orleans shrimp, pork belly and manchego tacos, fried chicken, house-made corned beef.  None of it will be frozen, and the shot of chicken wings included in the article makes the food look promising.

So what's the problem?  I say this as a non-prude, someone who doesn't care that places like Hooters--or even Nite Moves--exist and are popular.  I may not frequent such places, but unless a place is bringing real problems to an area, I don't see a reason for the government to step in and stop it from opening or shut it down.  The problem is that the name and logo for Jugs and Mugs don't seem to jibe with the type of restaurant Hawksley is going for.  In one fell swoop, the restaurant has effectively eliminated a significant portion of their potential clientele.  And that just seems like bad business to me.

Friday, August 9, 2013

A West Coast Beer Sampling, featuring Deschutes Obsidian Stout, Port Brewing Mongo IPA, and Stone Old Guardian Barley Wine

As I go through everything I meant to write over the past two months but didn't find the time for, here's a post highlighting some of the best stuff that came back with me after a quick trip to the west coast earlier this summer: the beer.

It's kind of sad to think that, as a California boy, I didn't really get into craft beer until I was long gone from the state, and I've since discovered that there are some really great west coast beers that we don't have access to on the east coast.  I would have liked to have gotten my hands on some Pliny, but there wasn't any available in the areas I traversed--except for the Davis Beer Festival, where Russian River had a tent and was pouring out some Pliny the Elder.  I got a small taste, and yeah, it was very good, but I'd need a bottle to savor at home to really get a sense of how it compares to so many other great double IPAs out there.

But I can't really complain.  I got to try a ton of great beers at the festival, and the beers I was able to try while there--and bring back with me to New York--were varied and all quite good.  I can't talk about them all here (and I'll have a post coming soon highlighting a variety of just Sierra Nevada beers and another on saisons), so I'll pick the three that stood out to me the most.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Good Granola from Gatherer's

While I was up to my knees in papers (this seriously isn't much of an exaggeration) over the past month for a summer program I was teaching for at UAlbany, there was a campaign afoot that I nearly missed out on publicizing--the Kickstarter fund for Gatherer's Granola baked locally in Schenectady.

I learned about Gatherer's earlier this summer when they found my little blog and asked if I'd be willing to review their three granolas.  An offer for free granola?  That was an easy answer.  I'm a sucker for granola, though usually it comes from Trader Joe's or Target (on their Archer Farms label).  Or, if I'm especially lucky, homemade and neatly packaged as a Christmas gift from K.

I'll admit I like all those mentioned above, and K's still reigns as my favorite, but Gatherer's three different varieties--Chipmunk's Choice, Squirrel Bait, and Fox's Fancy--are creative and tasty, all while featuring high-quality ingredients.  And that's something I'd be willing to say even if Gatherer's hadn't sent me those three bags.