Albany wins travel destination award

Congratulations are in order to our fair city! Albany was included in Northwest Travel & Life magazine’s “52 Getaways” issue in January 2018, and has been named one of the publication’s 2018 Top Travel Picks.

Albany Visitors Association contributed to content developed for the feature article, and Albany businesses are highlighted, including The Pix Theater, Sybaris Bistro, and the Albany Historic Carousel & Museum.

Read the article “Dreamers and Doers” in NW Travel & Life’s ’52 Getaways for 2018.’

 

 

September Featured AVA Photographer

A huge shoutout to Mike Krutsinger of MKrutsinger Photography. Mike is our featured AVA photographer for September, and is volunteering with AVA to help give back to his community. His feature gallery reflects Albany Visitors Association’s summer Linn-Benton Farm-to-Table dinner that was held at Weddle Covered Bridge. It will give you a hint of what’s in store for next season!

*If you would like to contact Mike Krutsinger in regards to his commercial photography services, please email us.

Gallery

Click on any of the images to see better, You can exit the gallery at any time by pressing the escape key.

When ordinary coffee won’t do

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Organic coffee beans at Universal

I don’t know about you, but coffee is the highlight of my mornings and afternoons. Granted, I may be more fortunate than most caffeine lovers—I’m married to a man who orders green beans from small farms around the world and roasts them over flames in a popcorn popper.

Although living with a coffee alchemist is magical, when I’m out with family and friends I often usher them over to the closest Starbucks for a cappuccino. And even though we have many charming spots in Albany that specialize in espresso drinks, what I’m looking for is a dedicated coffee experience.

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A shady spot to sip coffee

Much like Oregon vintners use their knowledge to craft a perfect wine, coffee tasting (and making) is a fine art. In my quest to share my passion for coffee with Albany’s visitors, I discovered Universal Coffee on Santiam Rd.

Although Universal is tucked away from our city’s main thoroughfares, it is a jewel in the coffee crown. As I pulled up in front of the shop, it was obvious that adventurous spirits are welcome here.  A quirky bicycle and cart decorated with coffee sacks serves as a landmark, while enormous umbrellas shade those who appreciate sipping al fresco.

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A colorful explosion of art

The interior of the shop is an explosion of vibrant Latin art, complete with a corner devoted to musical instruments and plenty of space for groups or individuals to settle in for a leisurely coffee break.

I visited with barista Juan Ruiz, who has worked alongside Universal’s owner, Alexander Contreras, for the last two years.

“We are all about educating people on what coffee tastes like,” says Ruiz, as he lets me smell the beans he will craft my Americano with. “Most people think there has to be sugar or lots of dairy in their coffee, but then they cannot taste the differences in the varieties.”

Professional Barista Juan Ruiz

Professional Barista Juan Ruiz

As Ruiz busied himself grinding the beans, I asked him about their source. He explains that most are “single origin,” a term often associated with one specific family farm or geographical region. And each day at the shop, a new bean is featured. This means if you are serious coffee aficionado your taste buds will never be bored. In addition, all beans used at Universal are organic.

Today’s variety is sourced from Ecuador, from the family farm ‘Nossa Familia.’ The resulting brew? Citrusy notes mellowed with hints of chocolate that kept it from being too sour. It was smooth and mellow, not burnt or over-roasted.

Traditional Aztec drinks

Traditional Aztec drinks

Ruiz shows me a full rack of dairy alternatives, including soy, coconut, and almond milks. “We have a full range of non-dairy ingredients that we can use to make lattes and other drinks with,” he tells me.

In addition to unbelievably delicious coffee—Universal specializes in a Latin American historic concoction known as Champurrado—once the sacred drink of the Aztecs, made with corn and cacoa beans. Universal infuses their modern version of this ancient beverage using cinnamon, white or dark chocolate, corn flour, brown sugar, coffee, milk and other options. It is served in a special vessel.

Other specialties of the house include organic coffee ice-cream drinks, apple pie (made by a local baker), and tasty Latin American treats. Ruiz mentions that the shop is now sourcing a local baker to provide gluten-free goodies so that everyone can enjoy a delicacy along with their organic coffee.

The shop's landmark

The shop’s landmark

If you haven’t yet tried Universal Coffee, enliven your local coffee experience by visiting Alex and Juan soon. It’s an opportunity to learn more about how coffee is produced, how single origin defines flavor, and the art of tasting the brew’s true identity. One sip will ensure that even the most discerning coffee critic in your group sits up with delight.

Information for when you go
Universal Coffee is located within the Carriage House Plaza at 1157 SE Santiam Rd, Albany, OR, 97321. Hours: Mon, Tues, Fri, Sat: 7:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. Wed and Thurs: 7:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m. Closed on Sundays. Telephone 541-981-2126. Website: http://universalcoffee.co

The 9th Annual Mid Valley Brewfest

brewfest_vert_fullCome check out the 9th Annual Mid Valley Brewfest in downtown Albany. This event keeps getting bigger every year. Over 50+ beers on tap plus wine, cider, and spirits. Games on multiple screens, food carts, and entertainment.

Dates
Friday, October 20, 2017 – 5 to 9pm
Saturday, October 21, 2017 – TBD

Location
Downtown Albany on NW Water Ave between Broadalbin and Ferry Streets under the big tents. Entrance into the event is on the corner of Water and Broadablin.

Admission
$20 – 2 day pass
$12 – 1 day pass
All proceeds go to a local non-profit.

For more information, connect with the Albany Brewfest Facebook page.

Places to take your Valentine

Romantic-Valentines-Dinner-014_thumb1It’s almost that time of year when Cupid visits our fair city. If you procrastinated on what to get your sweetie-pie, perhaps a romantic meal will do the trick. For those desperate to wow someone this Valentines Day, here’s a short list of places to enjoy a fab dinner for two.

BBQ: Does your better half enjoy tickling a rib with you? Do they prefer a quiet night at home with some down-home BBQ? You’ll find it easy to pick up meals to go from BoMack’s BBQ Express in Downtown Albany, complete with traditional sides such as mac ‘n’ cheese, green beans, corn bread, tater salad, and extra sauce. BoMack’s is located at 315 Lyons St. Telephone (541) 791-7058 to ask about their specials.

Wine and Dine: If your significant other loves kitties on the Internet (who doesn’t?) then Cellar Cat in Downtown Albany just might be the cat’s meow. Featuring a bistro atmosphere with “cattitude”—Cellar Cat boasts a unique wine list, seasonal entrees, appetizers, and house-made desserts. They might even light a candle for your big date. Located at 211 1st Avenue, telephone 541-704-0304.

Hungarian: Just tell your handsome hunk that “Momma” is holding a table for you! Novak’s Hungarian Restaurant is located in a historic building in Downtown Albany at 208 2nd Avenue, and the menu is guaranteed to knock your guy’s socks off. Don’t wait until the last minute though, telephone 541-967-9488 for reservations or to inquire about V-Day specials.

Flaming dates dessert and more wine: Granted, you’ll most likely want a little something more solid than dessert, and Sweet Red Bistro and you and your date will appreciate their delectable morsels prepared with love. Located at 208 1st Avenue in Downtown Albany, Sweet Red is cosy and romantically lit. Telephone 541-704-0510 to check on V-Day specialities.

Cocktails and small plates: If you really want to impress that special someone, the Vault 244 Bistro & Lounge in Downtown Albany will tell them you care. From its lush and cozy lounge with a fireplace and classy cocktail bar, your date will be mesmerized. A creative menu featuring locally sourced ingredients, tapas or full dinners, is sure to please event the most discerning palette. It could be the perfect spot to slip a ring box in front of her. Telephone 541-791-9511 for more info. The Vault is located in Historic Downtown Albany at 244 1st Avenue West.

What to do in Oregon in 2017

17_OECGet ready for an Oregon year to be remembered! Many travelers will visit Oregon for the very first time—particularly in late August when a Total Solar Eclipse will occur on the 21st. Oregon’s Willamette Valley is prime TSE viewing territory, and many locales along the eclipse route will feature special viewing activities, food, celebration, and drink, including Albany.

The new 2017 Oregon Events Calendar, published by Pamplin Media Group, can help you plan your vacation—whether you hail from New York or Newberg. The Albany Visitors Association will have a supply of the publication at their office soon, but until we do, check out the digital edition.

In addition to the eclipse, Oregon is home to numerous annual music festivals, cycling and paddling relays, brew smackdowns, winery and culinary tours, and other venues to taste and experience our state in an entirely new way throughout the year. So come on, join us this year in Albany, Oregon.

*For print copies, please contact AVA at 541-9288-0911. Copies can be mailed, or you can stop by the office at 3rd and Lyon Streets in Downtown Albany, from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Monday through Friday.

Thanksgiving in Albany, Oregon

thanksgivingThe bounty of our region is never more evident than in the fall. As you drive, bike or hike through Albany and the surrounding countryside, you’ll see a wild beauty through raindrops. And as late November arrives, it’s almost as if people are holding their breath for holiday adventures and celebrations.

We thought it might be fun to go out to eat or maybe sip some of our award winning regional wines. And if you enjoy helping others, there are many community free dinners taking place, and we have included them.

Wherever you choose to spend the day, may it be a very warm and wonderful time filled with good memories! (*Please telephone the venue if you plan on attending, as times and dates may be subject to change.)

Thanksgiving Dinner Out

Elmer’s Restaurant will be open all day on Thanksgiving. 2802 Santiam Hwy,, Albany, OR. Tele: 541-928-4227.

Cascade Grill will be open on the holiday from 11:30 to 3:00 p.m. for Thanksgiving dinner. Reservations are available for parties of seven or more. 110 Opal St NE, Albany, Tele: 541-926-3388.

Sweetwater’s Restaurant is open all day on Thanksgiving. 2390 Santiam Hwy., Albany, OR. Tele: 541-812-9222.

Sybaris Bistro is hosting their annual ABC House Thanksgiving benefit dinner. However, the latest word said that the dinner has sold out. You might want to check with them about their hours on the holiday weekend. Sybaris is located at 442 First Ave, Albany, OR. Tele: 541-928-8157.

Area Winery Thanksgiving Specials for November 25 – 27

Willamette Valley Vineyards at 8800 Enchanted Way, Turner, OR will have wine tasting, appetizers and entertainment. Hours: 11:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m. Tele: 503-588-9463

Tyee Cellars at 26335 Geenberry Rd in Corvallis will do wine tasting from noon until 5:00 p.m. Tele: 541-753-8754.

Marks Ridge Winery, at 29255 Berlin Rd in Sweethome, will host an open house with tastings and appetizers. Hours are from noon until 5:00 p.m. Tele: 541-974-4557.

Spring Hill Cellars, at 2920 NW Scenic Drive, in Albany, will host wine tasting from 12:30 p.m. until 5:00 p.m. Tele: 541-928-1009.

Spindrift Cellars, at 810 Applegate, in Philomath, will be serving light food and hosting wine tasting from noon until 5:00 p.m. Tele: 541-929-6555.

Thanksgiving Option And Meal Resources

For those without family or in need of a hot holiday meal, please check the following list:

St. Mary’s Soup Kitchen: 822 S Ellsworth hosts a Thanksgiving meal during their normal hours on Wednesday, November 23rd. (The day BEFORE the holiday.) Tele: 541-926-8562.

American Legion Post 10, Albany: Invites all veterans and their families to enjoy a Thanksgiving Day meal at the hall, 1215 Pacific Blvd SE. The dinner is served from 2:00 p.m. until 4:00 p.m. Tele: 541-926-0127.

Albany Helping Hands: at 619 SE 9th Ave will host Thanksgiving dinner on Thursday the 24th from 4:30 to 6:00 p.m. Tele: 541-926-4036.

Lebanon’s First United Methodist Church: will play host for a dinner on Thanksgiving Day from 11:30 a.m. until 2:00 p.m. Free coats and blankets will also be available during the event. The church is located at 1890 S 2nd St, tele: 541-258-7819.

The Point Restaurant and Sweet Home Elks Lodge: Located at 440 Osage St, are providing Thanksgiving dinner to those in need on November 24th, from noon until 3:00 p.m. Tele: 541-367-1560.

Newsletter subscription contest

subscribe_buttone_webSpam? No Ma’am! Our Albany Visitors Association e-newsletter is full of great ideas for visitors, new residents, and terrific events and places for family outings. We’ve got you covered, no matter the season. And, we’ll never sell your email address to anyone.

Special November Subscription contest

For e-news subscribers who sign up during the month of November, your name will be entered into a drawing for a free Holiday Nosh Tour ticket (Value $45.00) Wind your way through an Albany evening on a delicious tour of culinary delights aboard the Trolley. The Nosh Tour is scheduled for Saturday, December 17th, and we’re holding a ticket for one lucky new subscriber.

Don’t lose out on all the news fit to print. Subscribe now!

Halloween Nosh Tour Canceled

food-samples

Notice: Due to conflicting events and levels of interest in the Halloween Nosh Tour, we have canceled this month’s event. If you have tickets that you paid for online, please telephone our office for a refund, or we may be able to apply the funds towards the December 17th Holiday Nosh Tour. We apologize for any inconvenience. Please stay tuned for more about the December tour.

Albany is becoming well-known for its farm-to-table eateries, delicious delis, distinctive breweries, wineries and distilleries. With Halloween fast approaching, fun-loving foodies will not want to miss Albany Visitors Association’s October “Nosh Tour.”

Slated for Saturday, October 29, 2016, the tour begins at 4:00 p.m. and guests will be treated to a surprise smorgasbord of culinary samples by local restauranteurs and vintners. It’s bound to be a deliciously good time.

The AVA Nosh Tour is a special event—participants will check in at the Albany Visitors Association and climb aboard the city’s historic trolley. They’ll meet local chefs, get the behind-the-scenes low-down on how meals are prepared, and taste incredible sample plates along the way.

Limited to 28 participants, coveted Nosh Tour tickets are available by pre-registration only, and you must be 21 years of age or older to attend. Tickets are $45 each, or $40 for two or more. This includes transportation on the trolley and all food, drink, and of course, Halloween fun!

To pre-register and reserve your space, telephone the AVA at 541-928-0911. Tickets may also be purchased online by credit or debit card on the AVA culinary tours web page at https://albanyvisitors.com/visitors/dining/culinary-tours-and-events/#Albany%20Nosh%20Tours

The Seven Wondrous Trails – Chapter 3

Culinary delights

By AVA Executive Director Jimmie Lucht

*This trail is designed primarily for those 21 and older; however, if a (c) appears after the attraction, it is suitable for children.

Albany is located in the heart of Oregon’s wine country, but it is also known for the agricultural products that are grown here—and has been historically called “Oregon’s Bread Basket.” This self-guided tour offers tastings of wine, beer, cider, root beer, distilled beverages, handcrafted chocolate, and berries. In addition to the places mentioned below, when you explore the backroads of Albany, make sure to stop at our bountiful roadside stands bursting with farm fresh produce.

albany_oregon_west_shore_magazine_1887Your trail begins in historic Albany. To fully understand the ‘backbone’ of the region, a visit to the Albany Regional Museum (c), at 136 Lyon Street S, 541-967-7122 is a must. Next stop, Monteith House (c), at 518 Second Ave SW, 541-974-7603. You’ll see culinary arts in action—1800s-style during Monteith’s open season, mid-June through September each year.

For an ice cold glass of root beer or a bite of a “Class V Burger” and famous chili beer, Calapooia Brewing Company will accommodate. Located at 140 Hill Street NE, telephone 541-928-1931.

springhill-winery-albany-oregonAfter your burger, take a small backroads trip to Springhill Cellars, at 2920 NW Scenic View Drive. The tasting room is open May through November (with appointment scheduled tastings December through April). Springhill is a small family-owned winery producing award winning Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris. Mark your calendars for the annual Federweisser Festival in November. The event pairs new, still fermenting Riesling (the Federweisser) with specially made bratwürst and Zwiebelkuchen, a sweet onion tart. The oom-pah-pah music drifts through the air during the day for a nearly normal German flavor, and at night, a floor-stomping barn dance with a live rock-n-roll band helps work off the extra calories.

Heading west on the trail, your next stop is 4 Spirits Distillery, at 6040 NE Marcus Harris Ave, in Adair Village, 541-760-0696. This small craft distillery specializes in award-winning small batch vodka, American whisky, bourbon whisky, rum and single malt whiskey.

Going south on Highway 99W towards Corvallis, turn east onto Granger Avenue and discover Vivacity Spirits, 720 NE Granger Ave, 541-286-4285. Meet the founders Caitlin Prueitt and Chris Neumann, and taste their signature Turkish Coffee Liqueur—no dessert should be without it!

mead_slide_03_nectarcreekReturning to Highway 99 heading south, turn east onto Highway 34 (NW Van Buren Ave), and stop at Nectar Creek Mead, 33848 SE Eastgate Circle, 541-760-1343, in Corvallis. Their specialty is craft mead created from local Willamette Valley honey. Nectar Creek was started when two brothers pursued their dream to sustain traditions-old mead recipes and their desire to preserve honeybees and the agricultural heritage of the Valley. In the same complex as Nectar Creek, Mazama Brewing awaits. Located at 33930 SE Eastgate Circle, Suite A, Mazama is a family owned and operated production microbrewery. Jeff and Kathy Tobin started home brewing in 1984 and recognized they had found a passion in their new hobby. In 2011 they traveled to Belgium, which provided the inspiration to start the brewery. Telephone 541-230-1810. Before you leave the complex, make sure to pop into 2 Towns Ciderhouse, 33930 SE Eastgate Circle, 541-357-8301. Three childhood friends who lived in two different towns, banded together with meager savings and a love of craft brewing and cider to launch their dream business. The philosophy is to advance the cider craft industry through a mix of both old and new cider techniques and experimentation.

eagle_at_ankeny_wildlife_refuge_by_sarah_buys_8272126745Whether you choose to head north, south, east or west, culinary treats are to be found in every direction. A visit to Ankeny Vineyard (c), at 2565 Riverside Drive South, in Salem, 503-378-1498, is filled with opportunities to taste fine wines, or side-trips to neighboring historic Cox Pioneer Cemetery (c) and the Ankeny National Wildlife Refuge (c).

Few buildings in Oregon were more important to settlers than flour mills. In 1858 Thompson’s Mills State Heritage Site (c), at 32655 Boston Mill Drive in Shedd, 541-491-3611, began processing local farmer’s summer grain harvest. Thompson’s Mills is a unique survivor of times past, chronicling 150 years of Oregon rural life and honoring the owners who adapted the mill to the changing world around it. It is the oldest water-powered mill in the state and its turbines can be seen in action on guided tours. A water-right that predates statehood produces the water flow that still runs the milling machines for demonstrations today.

marks-ridge-winery-deck_viewMarks Ridge Winery, at 29255 Berlin Road in Sweet Home, 541-367-3292, is the pride and joy of Jay and Janet Westly, who look forward to sharing their handcrafted wines with you in the dramatic setting of their winery. Their tasting room is said to have one of the best views at an Oregon winery.

Continue on Berlin Road to Springbank Farm (c), 32264 Berlin Road in Lebanon, 503-819-6209. Springbank is home to blueberries, wine, and even a farm camp. The camp’s amenities include horse riding, creek-play, straw castles, pigs, bunnies, goats, sheep, chickens, herding dog, and barn cats.

victorian-chocolateAnd finally… who doesn’t like chocolate? To finish your tour, head over to the Victorian Chocolate Company (c), at 959 Grove Street, in Lebanon, 541-401-3765. Let Kelly Reetz, chocolatier extraordinaire, tempt your taste buds with his delicious confections and in particular, his truffles.

There’s a little something for every person in your party along this culinary trail, as well as a few surprises. Stop at the historic sites, take a walk in a garden, visit a local museum, but most of all, enjoy the wonder-filled Willamette Valley and the graciousness of Albany.