Items tagged with 'food'
Ah, summer. What could be more quintessentially American summertime than baseball, beer, and moules frites.
Yep, I said it. Moules. Frites.
Okay, so maybe that's a reach. While baseball and drinking beer are endemic to this country, the fancy title for mussels and French fries is a classic Belgian item.
But there is a place where those three elements -- baseball, beer, and moules frites -- coalesce in harmony, and that's Cooperstown, the site of the Baseball Hall of Fame and the hometown of one of the best examples of Belgian beer and food in America: Brewery Ommegang.
Back in February Sarah Fish mentioned to us that she was lined up to be on the Food Network Show Guy's Grocery Games. And now, via Notes on Napkins, comes word that the Troy chef will be on the episode that first airs this coming Sunday (July 27) at 8 pm. The episode is titled "Arounds in the World Three Carts."
Fish told us in February that the Food Network producers were interested in her because of her focus on cooking with fresh ingredients:
But they were asking, "What do you think is going to be your competitive edge?" I actually think that it's going to be my from-scratch cooking, because if I see something in a box or can or whatever I'm going to know what preparation has already gone into it so I can eliminate half the work by knowing what has already gone into it.
She'll be the second local chef to appear on the show -- Illium Cafe chef/owner Marla Ortega won an episode that aired this past May.
Fish is currently in process of transitioning her new restaurant, Cafe Congress, in Troy.
Yep, Wegmans does top this ranking of grocery store brands for the Northeast, as compiled by the polling firm Harris. But the thing that caught our eye about these rankings: Six grocery chains with presences in the Capital Region ranked above the category average for the Northeast -- and three of them are relatively new arrivals.
In descending order, those chains were: Trader Joe's (2), Whole Foods (3), ShopRite (4), Hannaford (5), BJ's Wholesale Club (Groceries) (6), and Price Chopper (9).
Other brands with local supermarket presences -- Aldi, Sam's Club, Target, and Walmart -- ranked below the regional average.
We gotta admit, we're not sure whether these sorts of lists actually tell us anything because they're not based on direct assessment/measurement/analysis of price/value/experience/whatever for the chains. That link at the top has a methodology section at the bottom -- basically, this was an (methodically done) online poll that asked people to rate brands. So, if anything, the rankings give some sense of to what degree people are fans (or not) of a certain brand.
For what it's worth, Wegmans and Trader Joe's also ranked 1-2 in the Consumer Reports' national ranking of supermarket brands this year. The CR rankings were also based on a survey of the public.
Earlier on AOA: Wegmans? Really? Please explain.
image: Harris Poll EquiTrend
Something that made us smile today:
A server at The Ginger Man in Albany got a $1,000 tip this week on a $114 check.
The talks are on Sunday afternoons, and the series kicks off this weekend with Shmaltz owner and author Jeremy Cowan moderating a talk by beer journalist John Holl, author of the American Craft Beer Cook Book . Chef Rachel of The Ruck in Troy will prepare recipes from the book, which will be paired with Shmaltz brews. The tasting and pairing is $15.
Future Books on Tap talks/tastings include:
+August 3 - Giancarlo and Sarah Annese, authors of Beer Lovers New York
+August 10 - Ben Keene, author of The Great Northeast Brewery Tour
+August 17 - Tom Acitelli, author of The Audacity of Hops: The History of America's Craft Beer Revolution
(For the sake of disclosure, John Holl is married to Mary's cousin.)
Blueberry season has started around the Capital Region, and we'll soon be right in the prime part of the season. Blueberries are are one of our favorite fruits to pick because:
1) The bushes grow about waist or chest high, so there's not a lot of bending or reaching.
2) The berries tend to be cheap -- usually between $2-$3 dollars per pound.
3) They freeze beautifully, meaning we can load up on berries during the summer and enjoy them months later.
There are a handful of farms around the Capital Region that offer pick-your-own blueberries. Here's a list with some info. And, of course, if you know of a place that should be on the list, please share.
There's a "Food Media Boot Camp" in Rensselaerville July 17-20. The camp is billed an "intensive retreat in which people can learn to expand their writing, photography, interviewing, and recipe development skills," and it's in a converted barn space. Blurbage:
The cast of characters include: the fabulous Lee brothers who have written the James Beard award winning cookbook The Lee Bros. Southern Cookbook; Molly O'Neill, the famed James Beard award winning author; Diva of America Pie, Kate Lebo (whose cookbook Pie School: Lessons in Fruit, Flour and Butter will be coming up this September); writer, photographer and genius behind Local Food Milk Blog, Beth Kirby; and Kristen Miglore, the executive editor of the website Food52.
The price is steep -- $1,250, which includes all meals and dorm-style housing, or $900 if you arrange housing separately. (We also hear you might be able to swing a discount by posting about the camp on social media outlets -- be sure to ask.) But if you're interested in writing about food, and making something more out of what you're writing, it might be worth considering.
If you have questions or would like more info, email Ali Rea-Baum: email@example.com.
AOA's summer tour is headed to Hudson this weekend, so we thought it'd be fun to have Hudson Week on AOA. Each day we'll be featuring posts about things to do, see, and sample in this city on the river.
For being only a thirty minute drive from Albany, Hudson feels like another world, especially in the gastronomical sense. A distinctive West Village vibe permeates the eateries and food shops that dot either side of Warren Street, to the point that even the staff seems as though they probably arrived at work from a two bedroom overpriced apartment that seven unrelated people live in.
Thankfully, the prices in the Hudson dining scene haven't yet reached skyscraper heights. On a recent trip I challenged myself to eat on a $5-$10-$15-$20 budget for the day. I would find a meal at each price point.
The criteria were that the food had to be 1) delicious and 2) an adequate serving for the price. With joints like Fish and Game and Crimson Sparrow - both run by top NYC chefs who moved up the Hudson - I was worried I wouldn't be able to find anything beyond quick grab-and-go options (a tasting menu at Fish and Game is $75. Add wine pairings and it's another $75).
I couldn't have been more wrong.
New York State's highest court -- the Court of Appeals -- issued a decision today that blocks New York City's much-talked about attempt to cap the size of containers for sodas and other sugary beverages at certain outlets. The 4-2 ruling rejected an appeal of lower court decisions by the city's Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.
There are a lot of issues that intersect at the point of a 16-ounce soda -- health, business, personal liberty -- but the court's ruling was focused on... separation of powers.
CD asks via Twitter:
Can anybody recommend Albany area restaurants that use local ingredients and have a veggie friendly menu?
We checked to clarify that CD was looking for vegetarian options. Or as CD responded:
Vegetarian options from local sources. #NoBagSalads
It seems more restaurants are offering vegetarian options, though the choices aren't always engaging. That said, some spots have given it a surprising shot. 677 Prime, the fancy pants steakhouse, recently had a vegetarian tasting menu -- we tried it, and while not every course was a hit, there were some interesting dishes. (The best dish involved carrots prepared a few different ways -- it was really good.)
And that points to one of the reasons to be curious about vegetarian options, even if you're not a vegetarian: going meat free often prompts a different, more interesting take on food.
So we're curious to hear about people's vegetarian favorites. Got a suggestion for CD? Please share!
Earlier on AOA:
+ Vegan dishes worth trying -- even if you're not a vegan
+ Hungry for Shades of Green
My ancestral background is less of a patchwork and more of a woven blanket -- the weave and weft is all the same color with little variation. I can trace my familial heritage almost exclusive to the lush, green landscape of Scotland, Ireland, and Wales. There are a few one-offs here and there, but overall it is a fairly homogenous mix.
One would think I should crave potatoes and boiled meat for my daily meals. Why, then, do I yearn constantly for the cold, exotic salads of the Middle East?
Once you eat at Ali Baba in Troy, you want to keep eating at Ali Baba. And I'll be content to keep eating the meze there.
Strawberry season in the greater Capital Region has arrived! Many local pick-your-own farms are now open for the season.
Many farms just opened PYO during the last week or so. The cold spring and some of the rainy weather of late has apparently held back -- or sort of paused -- many of the strawberry fields. But the recent run of sunny, warm weather has things picking up, and this coming weekend is looking like prime berry picking.
A typical strawberry season at many farms in this area only lasts a few weeks, though some farms have strawberries for longer stretches because their fields include a range of varieties. (It's always a good idea to call ahead or check the website before heading out.)
Here are a handful of places in the greater Capital Region that you can pick your own strawberries. Know of a good place not on this list? Please share!
The annual Saratoga Wine & Food Festival is coming up September 5-7 at SPAC. The headlining "personalities," and a new event, this year:
+ NYC chef/restauranteur Marc Murphy, who's also one of the judges on the popular Food Network show Chopped.
+ Wine expert/educator Kevin Zraly is returning.
+ New event: BBQ, Brews & Blues: "Hosted by Food Network 'Chopped' star Marc Murphy, this BBQ bash will serve as the kick-off event with six (6) of the Capital Region's finest restaurants competing against six (6) Manhattan Grill masters."
The list of events with blurbage is after the jump.
Tickets for the various events go on sale today (as of this morning it appears they haven't yet been made available through SPAC's online ticketing system).
The long awaited Whole Foods at Colonie Center opens this Wednesday.
We figured a lot of people will be curious, so we stopped by for the media tour Monday afternoon.
Here are a bunch of photos and a few thoughts...
The upscale Mexican restaurant's location -- a completely renovated former a large building, a former OTB betting parlor, at State and Broadway in downtown Schenectady -- has been years in the making. Word of Mexican Radio's impending arrival in the city first bubbled up in 2010 after the owners apparently picked the Electric City over Albany. [Tablehopping 2010 April ] [Daily Gazette 2010 April]
The original Mexican Radio opened in NYC in the 90s. A lot of people around here know the restaurant from its location in Hudson on Warren Street, which opened a little more than a decade ago.
Earlier on AOA: Flan at Mexican Radio (2009)
The chain World of Beer is set to open its new location at Crossgates June 23. The beer restaurant is on the lower level near the movie theater.
That there is a chain of craft beer restaurants with 54 locations is either a sign that the craft beer boom is continuing to roll along -- and/or perhaps that we're rapidly approaching peak craft beer. (And then, what, the craft beer apocalypse? Maybe New York State can fall back on its strategic cider reserves.)
Anyway, this bit about WOB (its term for itself) caught our attention:
In addition to more than 500 craft beers in bottles, World of Beer will offer 56 beers on tap from more than 40 countries. Partnering with thousands of craft breweries allows World of Beer to rotate over 10,000 beer items in its coolers. World of Beer offers patrons the most unique and complex beers from local, domestic and international brewers.
You might have to order a beer while you figure out which beer to order.
photo: World of Beer
It is said that the pizza you grow up with is the pizza by which all other pizza will ever be judged -- regardless of how good or bad that childhood pizza was. As a result, pizzas of many types -- and a range of relative merits -- have a special place in the hearts of people.
Sure, that very poofy crust/exceptionally thin crust/sweet sauced/tangy sauced/underbaked/overbaked/whatever pizza might have its flaws, but it's your pizza. And eating it evokes memories.
No matter what type of pizza holds that place in your heart -- and no matter how good (or bad) that pizza is -- there is little doubt the pizza from Kay's will stand up to it favorably.
Chef Carla Hall -- from ABC's The Chew, and multiple seasons of Top Chef -- is scheduled to be at 3FortySeven in Hudson June 28 for a recipe demo and book signing. The event is free, but RSVP is required (details at the second link).
Hall was a finalist in Top Chef season 5, and returned for Top Chef All Stars. She won a lot of fans with those appearances because she came across as both a formidable competitor and a fun person. Hall now co-hosts The Chew with fellow chefs Mario Batali, Michael Symon, and others.
She'll be promoting her cookbook Carla's Comfort Foods. The event is from 12:30-2 pm on June 28 at 3FortySeven, a furniture/lighting/design gallery on Warren Street.
photo via Carla Hall Twitter
The new Rare Form Brewing Company in Troy is set to open its doors this Friday. The startup craft brewery is the result of a long-running plan by married couple Kevin Mullen and Jenny Kemp, who moved to the Capital Region after stops in Denver and Seattle.
Rare Form's opening also marks the ongoing transformation of its block at Congress St and 4th Street, which over the next few months four new storefronts are planned -- the sort of change that has a lot of people optimistic about the future of Troy.
We stopped by this week to get a look at what's in the works, and talk with some of the people involved.
New York State was once again the largest producer of yogurt in the country in 2013, the Cuomo admin reported Tuesday based on numbers from the federal government. It's the second straight yogurt production title for the Empire State, besting California both last year and in 2012.
New York factories produced 741 million pounds of yogurt in 2013, according to the Cuomo admin's quoting of USDA stats (it doesn't appear the state by state numbers have been posted yet). That's up almost 7 percent over the year before. For 2013, NYS was responsible for about 16 percent of the national production total.
The Empire State's reign is attributed to the Greek-style yogurt boom. Both Chobani (the #1 brand) and Fage (the #2 brand) have plants in the state. (The Chobani plant near Oneonta is said to make a million pounds of yogurt a day.)
By the way: The Cuomo admin reports New York was also the third biggest producer of milk in 2013, and the biggest producer of both cream cheese and cottage cheese.
Simple things can be delicious things. A chicken roasted for an hour with butter and herbs. Tomatoes simmered with garlic and basil until silken. A peanut butter and jelly sandwich. All are simple to prepare, relatively hard to screw-up, and completely tasty.
The breakfast taco at Five Points Grocery in Saratoga fits into this category. It might not look like much, but its simplicity and utility make it a delicious grab-and-go option. Four ingredients -- five, if you include butter -- are all it takes to make this little jewel shine.
John and Jean Travis had run two successful restaurants, including the former Jonesville Store in Clifton Park, before getting into the food truck business three years ago with the Eat Good Food truck. The transition hasn't always been easy -- a sign on their truck reads: "The only thing more overrated than natural childbirth is the joy of owning your own business."
Even so, the experience has the Travises sticking to their core principles of serving fresh food made to order -- while having fun doing so. And along the way they've found success teaming up with other food trucks.
Whole Foods announced today that its new store at Colonie Center will open June 18 at 9 am.
The new store is in the mall's southwest corner -- the company is leasing space from the Sears there. (The facade recently went up and is visible from both Central Ave and Wolf Road.) It was planned to be about 32,000 square feet -- that's about the same size as the new Honest Weight Food Co-op location or the Healthy Living Market that opened in Wilton.
As you know, it's the first Whole Foods in the area. (The current Whole Foods closest to the Capital Region is in Hadley, Massachusetts.) The company first announced its intent to open here in May of 2012.
The Capital District Community Gardens org is starting a new venture: the Virtual Veggie Mobile. It's an online marketplace to connect local farms with local wholesale buyers, such as schools, hospitals, and restaurants. From a press release:
Local farmers often struggle to market their products to chefs and other wholesale consumers, with whom their schedules conflict. The Virtual Veggie Mobile provides a way for consumers to communicate with farmers and shop local markets when it is convenient for them. The site gives farmers the advance notice they need to produce only what is in demand, eliminating the risk of food waste. CDCG will take on the responsibility of delivering orders, enabling farmers to spend less time away from their crops.
One of the things we've heard from a few local farmers and restaurateurs in the past is that the prices all the players are seeking don't necessarily match up. Basically, many smaller-scale local farms are looking to sell their products at retail prices, but restaurants are looking to buy them at wholesale prices. (Obviously some of the players find a way to make it work because local farm ingredients do show up on local restaurant menus.) So it will be interesting to see if this marketplace can help smooth out that gap.
CDCG says the Virtual Veggie Mobile will also eventually allow low-income families to purchase products through the marketplace.
It's kind of remarkable that this area has three online local farm products services, now with the addition of the Virtual Veggie Mobile. It joins the already-established -- and more end consumer focused -- services FarmieMarket (an online farmers' market) and FieldGoods (sort of like a virtual CSA service).
I've a bold proclamation to make.
No one in the Capital District is making an authentic banh mi. Not nobody. Not no how.
There are many places that certainly give it the ol' college try, but they all fall short in one way or another. Now, I'm not saying that these eateries should just give up, but maybe they should start rethinking what they are trying to do.
One area restaurant is already doing that, and it might come as a surprise. It's Reel Seafood Co., one of the independently-owned holdouts on Wolf Road in Colonie, and its take on banh mi is something to be admired.