Sometimes people question my ever growing affinity for the Northside. I live and work here. I rarely leave the area. My tendency to stay put first stemmed from my aversion to driving. Yet, once I got to know my neighborhood and the people in it, I found fewer reasons to leave and more to stay. Walking about the neighborhood gives me ample opportunity to see friends and learn more about the community. I wanted to share a few ways I have found to entertain myself here in hopes that others will come to see the Northside as affectionately as I do.
I recently learned about Vinomania, 313 E. Willow Street (Pearl Street Entrance). About once a month, they have free wine tastings, so I attended the last one. The small shop was packed; owner Gary Decker estimates upwards of 60 people drop in for tastings. The store’s fun and friendly atmosphere kept it from feeling stuffy. I admit, I am an amateur aficionado, but I enjoyed the wine selection. A typical tasting includes 3 or 4 people pouring 10-15 different kinds of wine. The samples are determined by what Gary has in stock at the time. He says he is constantly looking for the best taste to price ratio. In other words, the wines he sells taste like they cost a lot more. Because he focuses heavily on finding his customers great deals, his product selection is constantly changing. Gary tries to have different local businesses offer samples at each tasting. Having been in the restaurant business for many years, Gary and his wife also occasionally prepare food and offer lite fare like local, organic cheeses. From his years of experience in the food industry, Gary has a wealth of knowledge on recipes and food and drink pairings. With a well-priced bottle of wine or liquor you will also get expertise and good conversation. Vinomania is open Mondays from 4-7, Tuesday-Friday from 11-7, and Saturday 10-6. The next tasting is on Friday, October 19 from 4:30-6:30.
My second recommendation is the small free yoga class at the White Branch Library. The class is offered twice a week, 9:30-11:30am on Saturdays and 4-6pm on Wednesdays. When I attended the class, the instructor was Dil Dahal. Other instructors from the Bhutanese Community of Syracuse, which leads the yoga program, help out when they can, and all have multiple certificates in yoga from Nepal. Dil’s friend Lisa Warneke helped her develop the class after Dil taught her ways to deal with back pain. Lisa approached the library about using the upstairs space. Flooded with natural light from windows on three sides, this room is an ideal location for yoga. Although Dil learned yoga in Nepal, according to Lisa, they continue to learn through books, online videos, and other yoga classes. Dil’s specialty is Pranayama Yoga, or breathing exercises that carry more oxygen to the blood and brain. Dil says this type of yoga is especially good for headaches. To join the class, you simply need to come to the library with your own yoga mat or blanket and wear comfortable clothes.
On Saturday mornings, feeling refreshed and energized after yoga, I head to the CNY Regional Market to complete the morning. It’s just a leisurely walk away from the library or my home. The market is more than a great place to find local produce, baked goods, and other items, it is an experience. Last weekend I learned that buckwheat honey contains many more antioxidants than other varieties. With a more molasses like flavor, it tastes great too. Squash is prevalent at this time of year, so I have enjoyed experimenting with many different ways to prepare all varieties. Depending on the season, different items may be more abundant. The diversity is a part of the fun.
The same can be said for the Northside in general. In the course of a weekend, I am able to engage with people from many different nations and walks of life. Each of these encounters gives me an opportunity to try something new. These events are just three examples of the many reasons I love the Northside.