All Things Ellie

It's like Sex and the Suburbs and 30 Rock all rolled into one…

Summer Musts: A Top Ten List

Despite living in the North East, I’ve been acting as if it’s been summer since before Memorial Day. Our weather here in upstate New York turned Climate Change hot before turning sharply cooler. Still, I’ve decided to deem this the Summer of Doing Shit and here’s what’s on the agenda. Feel free to join in, suggest additional madness, and share notes.

1. Drink more Sugar Cookie Iced Coffee: I may have decided a few months ago that my purpose in life was to find the perfect iced coffee and days later I think I might have. With the life I live, caffeine is mandatory and mandatory in the largest quantities possible. Iced coffee is my one vice; I’m dependant. Living in Troy, why bother with Starbucks or Dunkin Donuts when you’ve got Flavor Cafe moments away with the largest and possibly the best selection of coffee in the Capital District? They’ve got Sugar Cookie iced coffee – imagine if you’ve let a sugar cookie or shortbread dissolve into your coffee. Yes. That’s exactly what it tastes like. And at Flavor, you can either sit outside and behold the marvels of downtown Troy, or sit inside and enjoy a never-ending string of hits from the 1980’s.

2. Enjoy Riesling in the Park: It’s summer; it’s hot. For me, that means that the red wines go into the cabinet to come out only on rainy nights or for cooking large quantities of Italian food. However, most white wines have a slightly vinegar-esque after taste to them for me. Chardonnays and Pinot grigios just taste flat to me. Enter the Riesling. So fresh and light and sweet it makes the perfect glass of wine for a warm summer day. Especially at the park. It occurs to me that there is not enough proper picnicking in Albany and Troy. What joy it is to lay out a blanket, spread out some fruit, cheese and crackers and spend the day sipping sweet and refreshing wine while watching the people pass by. My suggestion for a great Riesling is the Dr. L Loosen, straight from Germany. It’s on at least one top 100 list yearly. So extra-curricular wine studying, a trip to Niagara on the Lake in Canada is a must for lovers of the Riesling. The Niagara Escarpment is a must.

3. Go Swimming: With the threat of park closures and government shut downs, the state of the State Park is in danger. Sure, Grafton is open and there are pools that will open soon in Albany, Troy and Saratoga, but why mooch off the state when the state provides you with free natural wonders? There are a good amount of lovely swimming holes through the Capital District and the entirety of the state. There are no life guards, and no one to clean up trash (which makes the carry-in-carry-out policy a matter of honor), but there are also few rules. One can go cliff jumping. Nudity is not so much of a problem if it’s something you enjoy. You can swim with your awesome dog. I went with a friend a few days ago, and we had a pretty fabulous time watching drunk men throw logs off cliffs and pitbulls race people in the water. Highly amusing times and great, free swimming!

4. Play Catch-Up with Great TV: Alright, let’s say that somehow you missed the fantastic BBC series Black Books, or you lived under a rock in the 90’s and never saw Babylon 5. With summer repeats, its the time to catch up on the television you missed when you were doing other things. Perhaps you missed the first run of FX’s Justified, or came late to Friday Night Lights. Why DVR repeats of The Office when you can fill in those cultural gaps that you really need to fill in now? We all need to schedule some down time during the summer, so why not fill it with something to broaden your horizons?

5. Wear a Maxi Dress: Summer days are perfect to break out those loose and flowing knit dresses we call the Maxi Dress in the fashion world. Warm weather style should seem effortless, and there is nothing intensive about throwing on a knit dress with an empire waist and a flattering neckline. The high waist is flattering on most body types, and the dresses come in a variety of colors, patters and fabrics – something to fit everyone’s taste and wallet. Jackie-O wore the maxi dress forty years ago, turning it into an iconic style that has recently seen a resurgence. Get in on this trend.

6. Those Boots are Made for Walking: I have a love-affair with soft brown boots that rivals Serena on Gossip Girl. It kills me to have to put them away for the summer. Except that lately I’ve seen people wear shorts with their boots. I gave it a a try with these from Express. The denim pairs well with the casual and worn in leather and the 4.5 inch inseam is short, but ultimately society friendly. They’re short enough that they looks like shorts rather than pedal-pushers, but won’t bring back terrible memories of Britney Spears. Let’s just say this is my new thing.

7. Eat Gelato: Oh sure, you could get ice cream. And the Capital District is certainly lucky enough to have some great long standing ice cream traditions like Stewarts and The Snow Man. Gelato differs from ice cream in that it has a lower butterfat content, typically gelato contains 4-8% versus 14% for ice cream. Gelato generally has slightly lower sugar content, averaging between 16-22% versus approximately 21% for ice cream. Non-fat milk is added as a solid. The sugar content in gelato is precisely balanced with the water content to act as an anti-freeze, that is, to prevent the gelato from freezing solid. But what it is is amazing, and often fresh. High-quality artisan gelato holds its peak flavor and texture (from delicate ice crystals) for only several days, even when it is stored carefully at the proper temperature. So Crisan on Lark St makes its own gelato. The best part of Crisan’s gelato is that is exceptional and at an exceptionally low price. The flavors range from novice friendly to highly unique.

8. Pretend you are a politico: State workers and politicians are pretty lucky in the summer – they have gourmet vendors come and set up shop outside the Education Building. While you are slaving away during your lunch somewhere in Gilderland, they are sitting outside eating rice and beans from The Old Daley Inn. Even a small serving is a heaping mass of brown rice, black beans and tangy and spicy flavoring. And it’s $3.50! Fancy something fried? Grab their sweet potato fries, a meal in itself. I recently went to the Greek cart and got a heaping plate of salads – potato salad, humus and pita, white bean salad and two, count ’em, two grape leaves! So fresh, healthy, and delicious! While you’re eating, enjoy the eye-candy of many a handsome man in a well-cut suit. (Oh, a man in a good suit is one of my vices.)

9. Wear Boat Shoes: Ditch your sneakers for a classic and comfy shoe that screams fashion and whispers comfort. Take a peek back at yesterday’s post on my finding the best summer shoe ever.

10. Read about your Founding Fathers: With Memorial Day, Flag Day, the Fourth of July and Labor Day measuring the passage of the summer, take some time to learn about how America came to be. Many of the very same questions we struggle with today were debated by some of the greatest minds of times past. With no political agenda in mind, I suggest reading the biography of John Adams and catch up on your Ben Franklin. And since PBS has been showing a documentary on Andrew Jackson that comes highly recommended, check out American Lion.

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This entry was posted on June 16, 2010 by in Uncategorized.
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