Shop Visit: Sciortino’s Pizzeria

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As many of you know, the latest Matt Baumgartner business venture is called Sciortino’s, an Italian restaurant in the former Miss Albany Diner, at 893 Broadway in Albany. What many of you may not know, is that it is currently open, as of today. I stopped by earlier to check the place out and take a few photos. I really like how much was kept the same, and all the new stuff fits right in with the old. The place also feels a lot bigger as there’s almost no extraneous display cases to encroach on your space.

If you are unfamiliar with the space and the story, a quick google search will take care of that.

Either way, stop by to check em out for dinner tonight, or after a bunch of beers at the Biergarten over the weekend. I’m sure I’ll be there a ton as this is now the second closest restaurant to my house.

Hit the jump or click the photo above to launch the gallery! Continue reading…

Must Watch: “Marshall Applewhite” by PJ Katz ft. Giant Gorilla Dog Thing and Gorilla Tao

Ever get a song stuck in your head before you even get the words down? That’s basically what I experienced yesterday after I listened to this track from a local gem of a musician, PJ Katz.

In advance of his release of his latest work, “’92 Renault Music,” which will be available on October 16th via Pig Food Records, Katz gathered his best troops for a modern day battle of an epic nerdy proportion, all set to the soundtrack of “Marshall Applewhite” which features Giant Gorilla Dog Thing and Gorilla Tao.

The video came out simply awesome and there’s a lot of local faces throughout. The music video’s concept and execution matches the song perfectly, in a weird, creative way and the editing/direction is of the highest calibre. I was pleasantly surprised, to say the least, that something featuring ninja turtle masks could come off so realistic and professional (?), while still being lighthearted and fun and maybe even totally serious. I can’t wait to check out the full album, which is available for pre-order here. PJ Katz will also be throwing a release party in celebration on November 17th at Valentines. Peep details here.

Also with full disclosure, I’ve watched this video (and therefore listened to the track) about six times in a row so far and I can’t get enough. I’m sure “Marshall Applewhite” will speak for itself, so check it out below:

Shop Visit: The Albany Distilling Co.

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Yesterday I walked down to Quackenbush Square to check out the new Albany Distilling Co. before their grand opening on Friday. The distillery itself is tucked unassumingly into a little annex of the Albany Pump Station, in a much smaller area than one would assume (if you’ve never been to a distillery before). After finding the space (just walking in) I met Matt and John, who are responsible for this whole thing.

Inside their space, there’s a lot of interesting and well thought-out stuff going on. They’ve got a bunch of tables and tool chests on wheels, making it so it can easily be re-arranged and/or cleaned. The two things that are stationary are the still itself and the sink. The desk they were using for their computers and storage will be turned into their retail counter during their opening, and the shop will be arranged in a more conducive way to hold an event rather than when distilling spirits. This is a pretty genius way to have a space be constantly revised for whatever the goal is that day. As John said, “it’s a constant game of Tetris.”

They walked me through the whole process, which is actually somewhat simple and easy to understand (the difficulty moreso lies in the the recipe itself and the aging times). Their main product, Coal Yard, is a ‘New Make Whiskey’ or white whiskey, meaning that it is un-aged, explaining why it’s clear. I got a sample and it tastes quite different from other whiskeys I’ve had in an interesting way. It has a ‘cleaner’ taste to it, in which you can distinctly taste the ingredients that went into it as you drink it.

As a new distillery, their focus is obviously in their un-aged whiskey, but that doesn’t mean they’re not barreling up as much as they can to start aging. They had about a dozen of each 52-gallon, 25-gallon, and 10-gallon barrels that once filled, begin their somewhat long to incredibly longer process of simply just sitting there. They plan on producing spirits other than whiskey eventually, such as rum and gin, once they get the permits to do so. I am especially excited about gin. Also of note, is the amount of insane restrictions a distillery has to abide by. For example, there’s actually legal requirements to what bourbon must be made from, contain, etc., in order to be called bourbon. And this confusing legalese extends to pretty much everything they’re making.

One of my favorite parts about the visit was talking to Matt about how they got started, which more or less was that they were interested in it. Simply put, they looked up the necessary details and started learning by doing it. Matt hopes that their actions help people who are similarly interested in something to make the leap to actually begin making it happen, whatever that interest may be. It would be really awesome if there were things like chocolate producers right here in Albany.

Be sure to check out their grand opening, this Friday, October 5th, starting at 11am and going past dinner time, which should give you plenty of time to stop by. If you can’t make it, check to see if your favorite bar or restaurant is carrying their product!

Click the image above or hit the jump to launch the gallery. Continue reading…

Ticket Giveaway: Dada Life at Upstate Concert Hall

This Friday at the Upstate Concert Hall, Dada Life will be playing alongside 12th Planet and Alex English and we have two tickets to giveaway courtesy of Step Up Presents.

Dada Life is a Swedish electro house duo comprised of Ollie Corneer and Stefan Engblom. The pair have quite the array of accomplishments under their belts such as headlining festivals such as Electric Daisy Carnival and Ultra Music Festival, and being voted #38 in DJ Mag’s Top 100. They are coming to Clifton Park as part of their fall tour promoting their upcoming album, “The Rules of Dada,” which will be released on October 16th.

12th Planet, whom we “interviewed” here back in 2011, is joining the fun, alongside “local” support Alex English, by way of NYC.

Hit the jump to enter!

Continue reading…

Ticket Giveaway: Frankie Rose and Better Pills at Valentine’s

This Wednesday, October 3rd, Frankie Rose and Better Pills are playing upstairs at Valentine’s at 8pm. You should enter the contest even if you plan on going since I can’t find anything that lists the actual price of the tickets.

Frankie Rose is a Brooklyn-based musician who was an original member of Crystal Stilts, Dum Dum Girls and the Vivian Girls. Her latest album, Interstellar was labeled as “Best New Music” by Pitchfork.

Better Pills is a new project by local indie force Brent Gorton, and you’re able to download their entire album from the Better Pills website.

Hit the jump to enter the contest! Good luck. A winner will be picked tomorrow afternoon, and don’t enter if you can’t go!

Continue reading…

Ticket Giveaway: Wild Belle and Emily Sprague at Valentine’s

This Saturday, Wild Belle and Emily Sprague will be coming to the downstairs floor of Valentine’s and we have two tickets to giveaway courtesy of Dellarocca Booking.

Wild Belle is a two piece comprised of siblings Natalie and Elliot Bergman and is the pair’s first official musical collaboration. Following a successful SXSW run this year, Wild Belle was signed to Columbia Records and will be releasing a full length in 2013. The duo is currently on tour with Tennis now, and they just announced upcoming dates opening for Passion Pit and Of Montreal.

Essentially, judging by their current track record, this band is going to be huge in six months time and Saturday is your opportunity to check ’em out in an intimate venue.

Local performer Emily Sprague will assist in kicking the night off.

The show is Saturday, October 6, with doors at 8pm and show start at 8:30. The show is $9 in advance (available here) and $11 at the door. You can enter our giveaway by hitting the jump. As usual, only enter if you can go, etc.

Continue reading…

Shop Visit: Tierra Coffee Roasters

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This past week I stopped by Tierra Coffee Roasters on Madison to see what they’ve been up to. They’ve changed a lot of things in the space that was once known as the Muddy Cup, to the point that the single thing I was able to recognize was the long wood table. If you’re not already familiar, the space is now a cafe owned by Tierra Farms, which is based out of Valatie. They specialize in nut roasting, dried fruits, and trail mixes, and have more recently become involved in Fair Trade coffees. The shops got all sorts of food, including soups, sandwiches, salads, paninis and of course tons of vegan options.

It’s no secret that I’m an enormous coffee snob and when family was over and I was out of coffee, I bought a bag of Blonde Roast from Tierra. My expectations were admittedly low, but once I brewed a pot of coffee, I was quite shocked with the result. After talking to the guys at Tierra, they clued me in on the coffee roasting schedule so I’d be able to grab a bag of coffee that was roasted earlier that same day, which I’ve been doing for a few weeks now. My only nitpicky complaint about their coffee is that the bags don’t have a roasted on date on ’em, which isn’t that common, but would be nice to have.

Not only are they stocking small-batch self-roasted beans in addition to their big cafe menu, they’ve also started to do single-cup Chemex method brewing for those who ask. Rumor also has it that they’re getting in a few Aeropresses to have another brewing method for a single cup of coffee. This is definitely a first for any shop in Albany, and a big leap forward for coffee culture here. During my visit, I shared a Chemex of the blonde roast and they did everything spot on; got the water up to the right temp, rinsed the filter, did the 30-second pre-infuse, all of it. Ron, the manager at Tierra, told me about future plans for coffee tastings, including all their roasts and brew methods.

They’re close to getting their cabaret license so they can begin to do open mic nights again, and in addition to coffee, patrons can opt for a beer as well. Whether it’s at open mic night or just to be able to enjoy a beer in a non-bar atmosphere, it’s pretty cool that they’ve got a cooler full of craft brews.

Next time you’re in the area, stop in for a soup, a sandwich and a coffee, and stop back later that night and grab a beer and a baked good. This place is so much better than it was in its previous iterations; you won’t be disappointed. Hit the jump or click the photo above to launch the gallery.