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Saratoga and North Creek Railway

by Fraida Varah

Located in New York’s Adirondack Mountains, the Saratoga and North Creek Railway is a shortline railroad that runs between Saratoga Springs and North Creek. This historical railroad was once the Adirondack Railway built by Thomas C. Durant in 1871 and acquired by Delaware and Hudson Railway (D&H) in 1889. In 1901, Theodore Roosevelt was at the North Creek station when he learned that William McKinley was assassinated. After the Lake Placid Olympics in 1932, North Creek built ski trails at Gore Mountain, and the first D&H ski train from Schenectady to North Creek in 1934. North Creek soon garnered fame as home to the state’s first downhill ski center, Gore Mountain.

In addition to the scenic beauty of the Hudson River and Adirondacks, the excitement of the Saratoga Casino and Raceway and Gore Mountain, the Saratoga and North Creek Railway provides access to many of the region’s farmer’s markets, antique shopping spots, and museums and galleries. Popular spots include the Hudson River Trading Company, Garnet Hill Lodge, North Creek Depot Museum, and The Rustic Homestead and Streamside Fly-Shop. The Hudson River Trading Company’s Lodge & Camp merchandise provides a window into the region’s past; Garnet Hill Lodge offers rafting, fishing, biking and hiking; North Creek Depot Museum offers educational programs and exhibits; and The Rustic Homestead and Streamside Fly-Shop encompasses the rustic charm of the region as a renowned furniture shop, art gallery, fly shop, and fishing outfitter.

The Saratoga and North Creek railways include The Hudson Explorer, The New York Express, and The Gore Mountain Snow Train. The Hudson Explorer is the railway’s classic excursion that begins in Saratoga Springs in morning with return trips to North Creek in the late afternoon. The New York Express provides morning service from North Creek to Saratoga Springs, where riders head to the Saratoga racetrack or to NYC. After a half-century hiatus, The Gore Mountain Snow Train once again brings skiers and sightseers to North Creek. Diners can enjoy breakfast, lunch, and beverages in the Golden Sands and Bryce Canyon Vintage Coach Cars as they take in the beauty of the Adirondacks.

Albany Chef's Food & Wine Festival

by Fraida Varah

The Albany Chef’s Food & Wine Festival is a three-day festival that showcases the city’s chefs and restaurants by providing the community with innovative cuisine and exceptional wines. Its mission is to educate consumers on sustainable agriculture while providing funds to support Albany’s non-profit arts community.

The Albany Chef’s Food & Wine Festival will be held January 12th, 13th and 14th (Thursday through Saturday) at the Crowne Plaza – Albany City Center (unless otherwise noted). Participating chefs and restaurants include AJ Jayapal from the Mallozzi Family, Brian Molino from Prime Business Dining, Dale Miller from Sperry’s, Jaime Ortiz from Angelo’s 677 Prime, Jim Rua from Café Capriccio, Jonathan Crean from Kelsey’s Crowne Plaza, Luc Pasquier from Attache Culinaire, Mark D. Graham from Mezza Notte Ristorante, Ric Orlando from New World Bistro Bar, and Yono Purnomo from Yono’s and db, An American Brasserie.

The festival kicks off with a Mayor’s VIP Reception, which will be held at City Hall from 5 pm-7pm on Thursday, January 12th. The reception is presented by Angelo’s 677 Prime and The Business Review, and wines are courtesy of Korbel & Sonama-Cutrer. Limited tickets are available for $125.

On Friday, January 13th, 4pm-8pm and Saturday, January 14th, 12pm-4pm there will be a Grand Tasting at Rising Star Chef Pavilion. There will be more than 250 wines, spirits, and beer and 40 participating chefs and restaurants over two days of tastings. The wines are courtesy of Empire Merchants North, and Beer by DeCresente. Three Rising Star Chefs will be featured in the Grand Pavilion at the ballroom entrance. Tickets are $50.

A Slider Slam will be held 8pm-11pm on Friday, January 13th, featuring 10 participating chefs and restaurants. Craft Beer pairings are presented by Brewery Ommegang, and Wine & Spirits by Empire Merchants North. There will be live music and dancing, a Judge’s Choice, and a People’s Choice for best and most creative sliders. The Slider Slam is $25.

On Saturday, January 14th, the Signature Chef Invitational will be held between 1pm-3:30pm, where chefs will compete for a spot on the 2013 Signature Chef Team in a mystery live competition during the Saturday Grand Tasting in the Pearl St. Room. The 2012 competitors are Jason Baker from Wine Bar & Bistro on Lark, Dominique Brialy from The Epicurean, Ryan Huneau from The Mallozzi Group, Rachel Mabb from the Renesselaer at The Hilton Garden Inn, and Giovanni S. Morina from the Gio Culinary Studio. Tickets are included in Saturday’s Grand Tasting.

There will be a Grand Gala Reception and 6-Course Dinner on Saturday, January 14th. The Reception will begin at 6pm and the dinner at 7pm. The 2012 Signature Chef team will present “Food as Art” at live action stations, inspired by Capital Repertory Theatre’s 31st Season. Wine is presented by Empire Merchants North, paired by Sommelier Dominick Purnomo. There will be a live and silent auction, and music and dancing. Tickets are $150.

Albany NY Real Estate Market Update: December 2011

by Fraida Varah

Preliminary single family home sale numbers for Albany County are in and show the following.

There were 152 homes that closed in December compared to 157 in November. The average price fell from $227,000 to $221,000 and the median price fell from $203,000 to $182,000. Average days on market for those homes that closed in December were 89 and the sale to list price ratio was 96.3%.

Preliminary year end numbers for 2011 show 1892 homes sold and closed compared to 1962 last year. The average price dropped slightly from $228,000 to $227,000 and the median price dropped from $201,000 to $195,000. Average days on market increased from 73 in 2010 to 80 in 2011 and the sale to list ratio remained about the same at 96.5%.

Single family inventory in Albany County stood at 1281 homes on January 3, 2012 and their were 104 homes that went under contract in December indicating a 12 month supply of homes on the market, up slightly from November when there was an 11 month supply.

30 year fixed mortgage interest rates remain at historic lows in the low to mid 4% range.

Fraida Varah

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