We’re a day into Marcia’s final week in Albany, so most of the things we’ve done together recently, or will do over the next six days, are going to represent farewells or final passages for us. Some will be big ones, like today, when Marcia leaves her office of 13 years for the last time. But some will be just be quirky little moments of noticing and commenting and recording things that are given resonance primarily through the act of speaking aloud (or writing) about them.
Like last night, when we rode across the commuter-hated Thaddeus Kosciusko Bridge together for the last time on our way back from Saratoga Springs, and we actually noted and appreciated (aloud) the graceful curves and symmetry of the matching twins as they emerged through the evening fog above the damp valley beneath them. In actually speaking about our last crossing there as we reached the southern shore of the Mohawk River, it became a different sort of passage, memorable in the noticing, a strong residual image now freshly imprinted on my Albany mental movie reel. (Insert camera shutter sound here).
A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about the things that I won’t miss when I leave Albany , but as Marcia and I plan our last week together here, I now figure it’s time to start talking about the things that I will miss, starting with restaurants. Good meals are always a staple and anchor of our time together, and I’m guessing we’ve probably eaten out at least 2,000 times during our 18 years in Albany. So picking the locations for our last couple of meals here together was very much an exercise in figuring out what we’ll miss the most. We’re opting for one night at River Street Cafe in Troy (which, remarkably in this day and age, still does not have a website), and one night at Milano in Latham.
River Street Cafe can occasionally be funky and quirky in terms of service and dining room volume, but when it’s on at its best, it’s magnificent. We’ve worked up a list of the five greatest meals we’ve ever eaten together (a future blog post, presumably), and one of them was there at River Street: it was an autumn Saturday night after we’d both worked out hard during the day, we went later in the evening and had the dining room virtually to ourselves, and we were both ravenous, so the whole dining experience was just exquisite. I consider their Cod with Sesame Scallion Brown Butter sauce, served with a side of horseradish mashed potatoes, to be the consistently best tasting meal I’ve eaten in the Capital Region.
Milano earns a nod in our final week together in Albany because it has been a cornerstone staple for us for the entire 18 years we’ve been here, and there is no other restaurant in the Capital Region where we have consistently (at least once a month, often more) eaten since we moved here from Idaho in 1993. It’s 10 minutes from our house, the menu has evolved over the years so that we get to mix new dishes in with consistent favorites, the daily specials are almost always exciting, and we’ve gotten to know and like many of the staff members there, so it’s always nice to arrive unannounced and feel appreciated, and then be seated at a favorite table.
We’ve already eaten out several times in Des Moines, and the quality of the experience there was very encouraging and exciting to us both, but I’m not sure that these two restaurants will be replaceable for me, so I look forward to experiencing them again this week, and toasting them for all the pleasures they’ve provided us over the years.