Friday, July 1, 2011

Hattie, Lena, and Maxine

Today was a nostalgic day, bringing to mind the early 70s when Saratoga Springs was a very different place.  Late this morning, just before my lunch hour, Katie called and asked if I wanted to meet her and the boys at the new Hattie's near the Wilton Mall, an off-shoot of the original Hattie's Chicken Shack on Caroline Street in downtown Saratoga.  Enjoying the grilled chicken salad with its wonderfully sweet  yet vinegar-y house dressing, I accepted the french fry that 3-year old Henry presented to me.  Well, actually, he fed it to me and kept going!  He had Hattie's home-made chicken tender nuggets, served with the MOST amazing home-made buttermilk ranch dressing.  I just have to, somehow, duplicate that dressing.  It was light and fresh and bright, and much less heavy than anything found in that hidden valley!

I've had dinner at the original Hattie's a few times (fried chicken, of course!), and even provided the wedding cake for a couple whose reception was held there a while back.  It was one of my first wedding cakes, and it was simple and lovely, a smooth buttercream finish to to tiers, adorned in fresh rose petals.  I remember assembling the cake in the then (and perhaps still?) un-airconditioned dining room.  When I think of Hattie's, I think of that wedding cake.

Entrance to Cafe Lena
Saratoga Springs

The other grand lady of Saratoga I came in contact with today is the Cafe Lena, named for her founder Lena Spencer.  One of my good friends from high school, Max (Maxine Train Marquis) invited a bunch of us to come hear her sing at Cafe Lena's open mic session tonight.  If you ever have a chance to attend an open mic night at Lena's, I encourage you to do it.  It'll be the best $3 you'll ever spend.  They had a full roster of performers tonight, and waiting for Max to perform was a very pleasant experience as we were able to enjoy quite of number of talented people as they strutted their various and assorted musical stuff.  I am in awe of the self-confidence and courage it takes to get up in front of a group of people and throw caution to the wind, to let it out, to share such an intimate part of one's self.  I couldn't do it, not in a million years.  And here's Max, who was the  quiet (if not fun-loving) girl in high school four decades ago, transformed into a confident vocal artist, comfortable in her own skin,  right before our eyes!  Way to go, Max!  It was a privilege to share the night with you!

Maxine Train Marquis
performing at Cafe Lena, 6-30-11


Cafe Lena photo:

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