Friday, January 26, 2024

24 Hours in Saratoga Springs, New York

Trip date: January 2023

My friend John lives in Saratoga Springs, and I had never been there. I mean, that is enough for me to buy a plane ticket! But when I saw that John and his business partner Charles were putting on a dinner in the area with Chef Erik Anderson (currently at Barndiva in the Napa area) I knew it would be a great time to visit.

John and Charles run Rascal + Thorn, a company that specializes in culinary travel. I went on a Northern Spain food & wine tour with John years ago and it was awesome! 

I knew of Anderson from when he was chef at Nashville's Catbird Seat, but when I had the opportunity to eat there Anderson had just left days before! This seemed like a perfect opportunity to finally visit my friend and eat some delicious food! When John found out I was interested in attending the dinner he graciously invited me to come to Saratoga Springs first. 

I booked a United flight in first class from Seattle to Albany, NY which connected through Chicago. It was a quick layover but I made sure to grab some popcorn from my fave Garrett's while walking to my gate. And thank God I had that popcorn as my next flight served only pretzels during dinner time! The flight attendant kindly snagged me a tapas box from the paid cart. 

January in Upstate New York is COLD! And snowy!! I called an Uber at the Albany airport and a huge pickup truck showed up! It was a 30 minute ride to the Holiday Inn in Saratoga Springs where I was upgraded to a bigger room and given free daily breakfast- so posh! haha! 

The hotel offered a free shuttle within a 5 mile radius so I took it to Hamlet & Ghost, as it was the only place in town still open at 10pm. But it turned out to be a great choice, as I ran into John and Erik who were just finishing dinner. 

I had a couple of drinks in their very pretty bar before heading back to the hotel. The kitchen was closed for the night, but the menu looked fantastic. I'd definitely book here if I was back in the area.

The next morning, after my free breakfast, I had the hotel shuttle take me to the Roosevelt Baths & Spa
The city is known for its naturally carbonated mineral waters that flow from 20 different springs around town. Each spring has its own makeup of vital minerals and carbon dioxide gas and are known to have numerous healing properties. The water from each spring also has very different tastes!

There use to be a number of baths in the area where people could "take the cure" but The Roosevelt Baths are the last remaining historical baths in the town now. Opened in 1935 as a health center, people would usually come for a 3-week stay that included daily baths in the bubbly waters, diet, exercise, and rest. 

I would just be there for the morning and had an appointment for a 20 minute soak followed by a 50 minute massage. While the waiting lounge was very comfy and modern, the treatment rooms are very clinical and old school. The tub had been filled for me, and it was explained that the color was normal and also that the water was very bubbly and I would probably float, which I did!

Unlike many springs on the west coast, the water here isn't coming from hot springs. The mineral water is cold from underground springs, then the spa mixes it with warm fresh water to a comfortable temperature. It was very relaxing and quite an experience feeling all the bubbles on my skin! My massage was also great and super relaxing. And the residue from the water does not look appetizing but it does taste pretty good!

The shuttle picked me back up and I had them drop me off at First Fill Spirits which is owned by John's biz partner Charles. This is the whiskey shop that every city dreams of having! Charles has put together a really thoughtful collection from around the world and was nice enough to give me a few tastes!

Before heading back to my hotel, I had a quick lunch at the historic Adelphi Hotel, which is right on the main drag. Saratoga is a very cute town, founded in 1776, it still has a lot of Victorian and Renaissance Revival architecture.

I walked through Congress Park which has both a Civil War Memorial, and a World War Pavillion. The park was really pretty, especially in the sunny winter weather. There are also 2 active springs here, Congress Spring and Deer Spring.You'll see Columbia Spring also, but that has dried up and is just the city's normal water now.

That evening John and his wife Kitty had invited Chef Erik, Chef Alex Lempka (from Hamlet & Ghost), and Will Wyatt (owner of Mister Paradise and Pretty Ricky bars in NYC), who would be working the event. Their significant others joined, as well as the couple who own Mack Brook Farm (local beef farmers). I was thrilled to be included in such a fun and delicious night!

Chef Erik and John cooked up a storm! There was lobster and beef and duck! There was a magnum of 1995 Beaucastel and a gorgeous Kistler Pinot Noir. 

Charles brought a bottle of Akashi Whisky for us all to taste and Kitty made individual crostatas. 

And for cheese, I had sent a huge can of Cougar Gold White Cheddar. IYKYK!! It was a hit! 

I absolutely loved getting a chance to see where my friend and his family live, and also meet these amazing folks in the restaurant/bar industry. 

I was really looking forward to heading to Saranac Lake the next day!

All Saratoga Springs photos here.

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