The Week: What Caught Our Eye

December 7, 2019

Photo of an advertisement for a $689 plaid jacketROCKIN’ THAT UPSTATE LOOK:  For the hard-to-impress downstate hipster who aspires to be an upstate hipster, we have the perfect holiday fit: This “Upstate Jacket,"highlighted in New York Magazine’s fashion-forward Holiday Gift Guide. You’ll be so chill in your uncle’s boxy, old Buffalo Plaid hunting jacket missing only the hat with earflaps in Royal Stewart Tartan plaid, sourced from the Walmart near Watertown the Bocci Mill near Florence, Italy, and offered at local yard sales by Todd Snyder, the gentleman’s clothier who blends Saville Row sophistication with Downtown North Creek New York chic. The price? A mere $689. But, really, what price cool these cold winter nights?

HOMECOOKING: They were living and working in Copenhagen, she as a journalist, he as a rising-star chef, when she landed a job as a New York-based correspondent for a Danish newspaper. And so, after star stints in top kitchens of Napa and Copenhagen, Hudson Valley native Chef Kristopher Schram picked up his knives and moved closer to home. He found his dream job not in Manhattan where he expected but at the West Taghkanic Diner in Ancram, 15 minutes from the house where he grew up. Now, he’s slinging fare that’s short on neither taste nor imagination: The red potato hash features 12-hour smoked pastrami and bacon; the fries offer smoked mayo with a red swirl of fermented chili, and a featured omelet comes with ‘nduja and stracciatella. New York Magazine calls it the most exciting diner in America.

THAT PELOTON COMMERCIAL: For those who haven’t been pedaling along, Peloton sells $2,000-plus stationary bikes and offers a $39 monthly subscription for online fitness classes that you can watch on a flat-screen monitor on the bike. The company had its initial public offering in September and then last month released a commercial online that exploded in controversy on the Internet. The resulting selloff in the stock wiped out almost $1 billion in market value. Is the Peleton commercial an effective depiction of a young mom’s commitment to at-home fitness or is it a sexist husband’s conniving way to manipulate his subservient wife into getting in shape?

SPOTLIGHT SHINES BRIGHT: What a year for Upstate New York talent. Gabriella Pizzola of Niskayuna wins national acclaim as Suzie in Stranger Things 3 on Netflix. People Magazine calls her “NeverEnding Story” duet with Gaten Matarazzo one of the best and (totally delightful) moments from television.’’ Madison VanDenburg of Cohoes makes the finale on American Idol and garners one of the greatest number of votes in the show’s history.  Seattle Storm (WNBA) star and Syracuse native Breanna Stewart is named to Forbes 30 Under 30 List, recognizing her outstanding performance on the court and her efforts to combat sexual violence and racial and gender inequality. Lake Luzerne equestrians Gabby and Lexi Graham entertain millions watching the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade as they ride right behind the Sponge Bob balloon. And Maddie the Pharaoh Hound of Bethlehem is among only seven dogs out of 2,000 to ascend to the Best in Show category at the nationally televised National Dog Show, becoming top dog in the Hound Group. She’s headed to the Westminster Dog Show in February.

Exterior photo of a large home with a deckSPA IN THE COUNTRY: Saratoga Springs is known as the City in the Country, and this Adirondack Great Camp-style home embodies that vibe. It’s a mini resort really, perfect for entertaining, on 38 wooded acres about 10 minutes by car from the lights and action on Broadway. The style is post-and-beam with soaring ceilings, hand-crafted finishes, hard-rock maple flooring, granite countertops, solid wood doors and expansive windows overlooking a pond complete with a fountain, stocked with fish and surrounded by fields of birds, butterflies and other wildlife.

A TOWN GETS ITS WINGS: You remember George Bailey? He was dying to get out of Bedford Falls. He was going to shake “the dust of this crummy little town off my feet.” He was “gonna see the world. Italy, Greece, the Parthenon, the Colosseum. Then, I'm comin' back here to go to college and see what they know. And then I'm gonna build things.”  What you may not know is that “It’s A Wonderful Life” was inspired by a small Upstate New York community, not crummy in the least, a town that producer Frank Capra happened to visit while writing the script, a town where a tragedy on a bridge burned into the community’s collective memory.

SKI INN: Tourists, the old-school motor lodge turned luxury hotel in North Adams, Mass., is honored by The New York Times as one of five new standout ski hotels in the world. Tourists offers a study in the “underestimated value of plywood” – which might sound like a snooty putdown but is actually a compliment – seasonally inspired food (Bon Appetit calls it “highly recommended”) and a system that brings the fresh Berkshires air into your room every hour. It’s also where arts country meets ski country: Mass MoCA, the Clark and the Williams College Museum of Art are up the road, as is Jiminy Peak.

Restaurant storefront windows decorated for the Christmas seasonHometown holidays are officially on tap Davidson’s Brothers Brewing Co. in Glens Falls.

WHERE TO CHRISTMAS: The Conde Nast Traveler is out with its recommendations for 22 snow-filled Christmas vacations, ranging from Munich, Lake Tahoe and Prague, to North Pole, N.Y., where the man himself and the elves are in overdrive and where you can peek into the blacksmith shop where those magical reindeer shoes are made; Skaneateles, N.Y., where every weekend the entire community takes a page from Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol” and more than 50 live performers and carolers stroll the streets, and the landmark Mohonk Mountain House where a 60-foot Austrian Pine sparkles with 1,500 lights perfect for spotting reindeer tracks and inside spectacular kissing balls, elaborate gingerbread creations and more intricately decorated trees await.

SOURCE OF PRIDE: The Human Rights Campaign, which conducts the only major national assessment of LGBTQ inclusion in municipal policies and legislation, awards a perfect 100 score to the Cities of Albany, Rochester, Yonkers and New York.

SOMEBODY DROPPED A CEO ON OUR FRONT STEP: Among the many things Amazon delivers: New CEOs for startups. In the Big Tech era, it’s become the go-to incubator for senior managers steeped in a culture of constant innovation and disruption. The question is: Can Amazonians relate? Do they have the soft skills to foster the kind of trust and relationship building so critical to success in the C-suite?

EXPLAINING FACEBOOK TO THE FOLKS AT HOME: You can just imagine some of the awkward holiday conversations Facebook employees must face. Aunt Florence insists Facebook is a threat to Democracy. Uncle Joe claims Facebook stole his personal data. So, how’s a Facebooker to respond. Meet Liam. He’s smart, efficient and here to help.

THE EMPIRE IS BACK: The 88-year-old Empire State Building, the Depression-era marvel that became the world’s most famous art deco building and a global symbol of American innovation, has just undergone an overall, four-year renovation and is now debuting a reimagined 80th-floor observatory. To visitors from all over the world, the observatory offers soaring views of New York City and new technology to make the most of a visit to the city that wakes up new every day.

SEE ‘EM AT THE MUSEUM: It’s the most wonderful time of the year to duck into the special exhibitions at some of the finest museums on the planet, including the newly expanded, refreshed Museum of Modern Art, the venerable Metropolitan Museum of Art (where the Christmas tree and Neapolitan ornaments delight), the Brooklyn Museum  (see The Chronicles of New York City), the Whitney (experience the pianist and conceptual artist Jason Moran) and don’t miss “ Six Takes on the Guggenheim at where else?


INNER LIVES OF RUSSIANS: Robert K. Massie was a magazine writer who, on lunch breaks, would steal away to the New York Public Library to read and do research. Early on, he focused on hemophilia because his young son suffered from the disease. That’s how the writer of “Nicholas and Alexandra,” the first of several immensely popular books on Russian history, first discovered the Romanoffs.

AMID NATURAL BEAUTY, NO HOME: Friends in Boise speak glowingly of the agreeable climate, the beautiful mountains that ring the city, accessible trails for hiking, biking and skiing, and the many other attributes that frequently earn the City of Trees a spot on the lists of best and safest places to live, retire or raise a family. But the cost of living in Boise is rising and, like most American cities, it has a homelessness problem. Boise’s way of addressing the issue has led to a U.S. Supreme Court case that poses the interesting question: Do you have a right to sleep in a public place when you have nowhere else to go?

Image of an apple strudel dessert on a festive tablePerfect winter weekend:
Start with crisp apple strudel, end with schnitzel with noodles. (
Eric Potter)

OUR FAVORITE THINGS: Maybe it was the snow, maybe the cold, but this week we were thinking warm, cozy kitchens, burned oven mittens and all things savory and sweet. Here, in the holiday spirit, are a few of the favorite things of our very eclectic gang:

• Mom’s kitchen, if only in memory.

• What Sam Sifton is doing to elevate food coverage at The New York Times. 

• Pete Wells’ New York Times restaurant reviews.

• Suzi-Davidson Powell whose Albany Times Union restaurant reviews are as tasty (often tastier) than food itself.

• And The Times Union’s Steve Barnes’ comprehensive amuse bouche-to-digestif coverage of the food business and the people who make it work.

• 15 Church, Saratoga Springs. It elevated the game big time and continues to do so.

• Mouzon House in Saratoga Springs, its cozy outdoor bar and the imaginative farm-to-table cuisine inside.

• Peck’s Arcade, Troy … loud, fun, cool, DJ funky, vegetable-forward and always surprising.

• Danny Chang’s inventive and unbeatably fresh sushi at the Mikado Restaurant, Glens Falls.

• The people-watching porch at Salt and Char, Saratoga Springs, on a sunny summer afternoon.

• The Italian block in Saratoga Springs: Osteria Danny and Solevo Kitchen and Social.

• The Interlaken in Lake Placid, with a bar that’s perfect on a winter’s night and a wine list and fresh local cuisine to match (roasted stuffed acorn squash, Edelweiss Farms Veal Saltimobocca).

• The Cottage on Mirror Lake … cozy in the winter, delightful in the summer, the views and the food never get old and never disappoint.

• Lisa G’s in Lake Placid … try the Chile-Coffee Dry Rub Wings, the Moroccan burrito, the Tuna Zoodle.

• Manory’s in Troy … order the apple cider doughnut French toast.

• Morgan and Co., Glens Falls … as one reviewer put it “freakin’ amazing food” in a charming historic home.

• The cozy Wishing Well bar where, as one of our mothers used to say, they know how to pour a good drink.

• Rachel’s Spice Company, new on the Glens Falls dining scene … with inventive bowls, wraps and paninis, don’t be confused, this is not just a spice shop.

• The Aviator at the Warren County Airport in Queensbury … worth a flight from anywhere.

• Lidia Bastianich’s Felidia in New York, like dining at grandmother’s house, if your grandmother had truffles.

• Keen’s Steakhouse, New York. Since 1885. Put that in your pipe and smoke it

• For a drink in New York, Bemelmans at the Carlyle, the King Cole Bar at the St. Regis, the Ty Bar at the Four Seasons or, of course, P.J. Clarke’s

• Red Farm in New York, where green market meets modern Chinese dim sum.

• Far left seat at the counter at Poopie DiManno’s Lunch in Glens Falls where the food’s great and the show never gets old.

• All-you-can-eat Pasta Night at the Gourmet Café in Downtown Glens Falls.

• The Harvest, Queensbury, for best-crust pizza, spaghetti or a hot turkey sandwich.

• Massie’s in South Glens Falls (est. 1929), the magic is back.

• The Algonquin in Bolton Landing, the seeming center of the boating universe on any summer weekend, and the Ridge Terrace in Lake George, the seeming center of the universe on any summer weekend night.

• The Caldwell House in Lake George, a cozy gem hiding in plain sight on Route 9

• Talk of The Town, Glens Falls. It never changes. Thank goodness. Get the all-meat pizza and the steamed clams.


“Dear George, remember no man is a failure who has friends.”
-- It's a Wonderful Life


TO PROTECT, SERVE AND SHOVEL: When more than a foot of snow blanketed Upstate New York last week, one 99-year-old Albany homeowner worried about whether she would be able to get out of her home. She called the Albany Police. The way they responded made national news.

PLEASE SHARE: Feel free to pass this along to your friends and colleagues.

THANK YOU to our contributors: John Brodt, Bill Richmond, Bill Callen, Lisa Fenwick, Colleen Potter, Tina Suhocki, Tara Hutchins, John Behan, Matt Behan and Claire P. Tuttle.

FACING OUT is what we do. We help companies, organizations and individuals work effectively with their most important external audiences – their customers, their shareholders, their communities, the government and the news media.

Facing Out features news and other nuggets that caught our eye, and that we thought might be of value to you, our friends and business associates. Some items are good news about our clients and friends, others are stories that we hope will leave you a bit more informed or entertained than you were five minutes ago. As always, we welcome your ideas and feedback. 

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