Items tagged with 'food'

Tacos at Oaxaquena Triqui

Oaxaquena Triqui tacos

By Deanna Fox

Jerry Garcia was right: "Once in a while you get shown the light in the strangest of places if you look at it right."

Sometimes it does take looking in an unlikely spot to find the best things... like tacos.

I think we can all agree on the culinary superiority of tacos. Combining major food groups into a portable, satisfying, wholly-delicious meal makes tacos the perfect food. Find me one person who doesn't like some version of a taco and I will find you 100 more to counter argue that point.

And then let me take that one person to Oaxaquena Triqui, a tiny tacqueria sandwiched between a Mexican bodega and a can redemption center in Albany. The tacos there are cheap and made from scratch, freshly flavored, and served up quickly with a smile.

Honestly, how can you do better than that?

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Chicken spiedies at Excelsior Pub

excelsior pub chicken spiedies

By Deanna Fox

I recently had a conversation with two chefs transplanted to this area from Manhattan. When I asked them what they thought of the Upstate food scene, they answered exactly how you think they might: "There is no good food scene outside of New York City."

I'm pretty sure my immediate reaction was an audible "pfffft" and an eyeroll so strong it shook leaves from trees.

Of course they would say that, stuck inside a tony restaurant for hours upon hours, without any chance to scope out what's unique about the food landscape here.

Fortunately they wouldn't have to travel far to sample the best parts of Upstate cuisine. Excelsior Pub, which reopened a year ago in Albany after a lengthy hiatus, serves up only New York State-produced wine, beer, and spirits -- with a food menu that hits the hallmarks of Upstate eats: Beef on weck. Hoffman's hot dogs, Buffalo wings, garbage plates.

Not to be left off the list is chicken spiedies. Not quite a sandwich and yet not something completely different from a sandwich -- sort of like a hot dog, or maybe a gyro, wherever that falls on the sandwich spectrum -- chicken spiedies are a true taste of Southern Tier food.

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Nine Pin + Ommegang = The Lion's Share

Nine Pin Ommegang yeast cider can mockupOne of the interesting angles to the craft beverage boom around this area has been the collaborations that have popped up. Special brews for a shop and a coffee/vodka collaboration are among the examples.

The latest one: Nine Pin Cider Works in Albany has teamed up with Brewery Ommegang in Cooperstown to produce a cider with Ommegang's proprietary Belgian yeast. Blurbage for "The Lion's Share":

This collaborative cider comes in 12 oz cans and is made from a farmhouse blend of apples from Samascott Orchards fermented with Ommegang's proprietary house belgian yeast. The result is a belgian style cider with a smooth mouth feel and complex fruit and spiced notes. The Lion's Share was made in the spirit of the craft beverage revolution happening in New York!

There's a Ciders and Sliders even this Thursday evening (August 4) from 4-9 pm to celebrate the release of 12-oz cans. The Slidin' Dirty truck will be at the cidery on Broadway serving food, and the Dutch Udder Craft Ice Cream will be there serving ice cream.

Earlier on AOA: Follow up: Nine Pin Cider Works

Nine Pin advertises on AOA.

image: Joe Klockowski/Nine Pin Cider Works

Blackened Fish Po'Boy at Hooked Seafood Co.

hooked seafood co blackened fish poboy

By Deanna Fox

Some people say the Capital Region food scene is behind the times, a decade behind the trends in major metropolitan areas like New York City and San Francisco.

That might be true. I think the decade span is waning, though, as social media keeps us connected to the food of elsewhere with unprecedented speed. Nevertheless, I don't mind if we are behind the curve a bit, for it keeps us from going through the same growing pains and trial-and-error slip-ups that more risk-tolerant, innovative cities experience.

Take food courts, for instance. Why not let people like Corey Nelson (of Troy Kitchen) or Richard Rosetti (of Galleria 7 Market) go and suss out what does and doesn't work other places so we can benefit and keep our bellies full of good food here?

A recent lunch at Galleria 7 Market, in Latham, cemented that thought for me. Just gazing into the oyster case at Hooked Seafood Co., which operates from the market, delivered me the option to try a fresh St. Simon oyster -- a perfect amuse bouche and gentle enticement to a lunch of blackened fish on a fresh roll.

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The first group of Park South redevelopment apartments are renting -- and there's a Chipotle going in there

park south redevelopment apartments morris street

Apartments in the Park South redevelopment area along Morris Street (looking west).

A milestone in the ongoing $110 million redevelopment project in Albany's Park South neighborhood: Apartments in the development are now for rent and some are already occupied.

The first group of residential units became available July 1, according to Julie Knox, the sales and marketing manager for Tri City Rentals. She said that as of August 1, a total of 60 units will be in operation and a majority of them are already rented.

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Artisanal Brew Works

artisanal brew works logoIt seems like there's a new craft brewery/distillery/cidery popping up (almost) every month lately. The newest: Artisanal Brew Works in Saratoga Springs. The brewery has an opening party this Saturday (July 23) starting at 1 pm, with food from Nine Miles East.

Artisal Brew Works is in the former Serotta bike factory space on Geyser Road southwest of downtown near SPAC (map). Also located there: Upstate Distilling Co.

The two people behind ABW are both high school teachers. Over at the Saratogian, Lauren Halligan recently talked with them about how they got into the brewery business, and the types of beers they're making (there's an emphasis on Belgian styles).

Pick-your-own blueberry season 2016

box of blueberries at samascott

Blueberry season recently started around the greater Capital Region. And it is an Official Summer Thing To Do.

Blueberries are just about our favorite pick-your-own crop because they're easy to pick (on bushes about waist high), relatively cheap (usually about $3 per pound), and they freeze beautifully, so you can stock up for later in the year.

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.

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School of beer

sccc craft beer course info posterAmong the things we learned this week: There is a US Open College Beer Championship. For making beer -- not drinking it.

And, as it happens, a beer made by students from Schenectady County Community College's craft beer program -- Question Mark IPA -- won a silver medal in the open category of this year's competition.

SCCC piloted a brewer training program earlier this year. And it's planning to offer a craft beer brewing certificate program and a craft brewing associate's degree program starting this fall.

The college has an info session about its intro to craft brewing course lined up for Monday, July 25 at 6 pm at its campus in downtown Schenectady. The course is scheduled to start this October.

Burgers at Crave

Crave burger on tray with fry

By Deanna Fox

There's something about summer that begs for red meat to accompany all those light salads and that fresh produce. An aged steak, seasoned with salt and pepper and grilled to medium-rare perfection, topped with chimichurri, served with a corn salad. Yep, that's my idea of a great summer dinner.

But that is my ideal at home dinner. The thing with a steak is that restaurants mess it up often, and consumers usually end up paying a premium for branding and advertising, and not really for a superb cut of meat.

So when I'm craving beef and I'm dining out, I'm going for a burger. I can never get burgers to turn out quite as good at home as I can at my favorite burger joints. I'm a thin-patty kind of lass, but my attempts at home are thwarted by dry meat and crumbly burgers.

I've heard only good things about Crave Albany, the burger and frozen yogurt place on the corner of Western and Quail in Albany's Pine Hill neighborhood. And my hopes to find a great burger came to fruition there -- once I could decide on which burger to order.

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Follow up: The Dutch Udder Craft Ice Cream

Dutch Udder Jeff McCauley and Kehmally Karl

Jeff McCauley and Kem Karl, make ice cream with beer, wine, cider and other local ingredients. / photo courtesy of Rare Form Brewing

AOA is on summer break this week. So we'll have new follow-ups this week with people we've covered during the last few years.

Today, we're checking in on the progress of the newly-opened ice cream business The Dutch Udder.

We first met Kehmally Karl and Jeff McCauley they were finalists in last year's AOA Startup Grant contest. The Dutch Udder makes some delicious ice creams and sorbets out of interesting ingredients -- including local beer, wine, and cider.

Kem, a nurse, and Jeff, who works in HVAC, started out by making ice cream for friends, who loved it. It's been a long road from that point to running a business, but The Dutch Udder has been officially open for two months. Now they bring their cart to places like Slidin' Dirty and Nine Pin Cider Works and to local events like Rockin' on the River, the Adirondack Wine Festival ,and the Sunday night concert series at Powers Park in Lansingburgh.

We talked with Jeff about the road to opening up, and how things are going so far.

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Follow up: Nine Pin Cider Works

Nine Pin founder Alejandro del Peral

Alejandro del Peral

AOA is on summer break this week. So we'll have new follow-ups with people we've covered during the last few years.

Next up: Nine Pin Cider Works in Albany.

The first time we met Alejandro de Peral, the startup cidery's founder, it was in the summer of 2013 as they were just getting set up in a space in the Warehouse District. He told us then how meeting a group of cider makers at a tasting in a Burlington, Vermont liquor store set him on the path to starting the business:

"I'm having these conversations with these guys and lightbulbs are just going off in my head. Oh my god, I have all these apples down by where I grew up. This incredible product. These guys are cool, their whole philosophy on cider making and apple growing and the relationship between the two" -- sourcing locally from small orchards -- "is exactly what I believe and feel."

Over the course of the past three years, Nine Pin has grown a lot -- its ciders are available on tap at bars and restaurants around the Capital Region, and its bottles and cans are sold in retail outlets -- all while continuing to source its apples from the greater Capital Region.

And the company recently made a significant expansion to its production facility on Broadway, with more plans for the future.

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Follow up: Lark + Lily

lark and lily exterior silvia lilly 2016-July

Lark + Lily. And Lilly.

AOA is on summer break this week. So, like last summer, we'll have new follow-ups this week with people we've covered during the last few years.

Just about this time last year we talked with Silvia Lilly as she was preparing to take over ownership of the popular Wine Bar and Bistro on Lark from Kevin Everleth. As she told us back then:

I understand that I have a lot to learn about the back-of-the-house, day-to-day, running of a restaurant, but I also feel as if I have a lot of front of the house knowledge to share.
I don't define success by making tons of money. Never have. I want to be successful in terms of giving our guests a memorable and positive experience from the moment they walk in the door.

Lilly -- a teacher by day, who has also worked in restaurants for most of her adult life -- has now owned the business for about eight months. She's renamed it Lark + Lily and revamped the menu to include some more casual dining options -- but kept the beautiful courtyard and the knowledgable staff.

So how's it going? We checked in with her to find out.

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Follow up: Nibble Inc

Nibble Inc 2016-June Jesse Cramer

By Lauren Hittinger Hodgson

AOA is on summer break this week. So, like last summer, we'll have new follow-ups this week with people we've covered during the last few years.

Today we're checking back in with Jessie Cramer of Nibble Inc, a donut shop in downtown Troy. Nibble is known for its gourmet donuts that are made out of a potato-based dough.

When we first met Nibble, Cramer told us that this inspiration for her shop came from eating an amazingly delicious donut in Maine:

"The best doughnut I've ever had," Cramer adds. "And I thought 'How can I make this donut so I can have it whenever I want?'"

After almost two years in business, Cramer has refined her recipe, grown her business, and is planning for an upcoming move.

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A quick look around Little Pecks

Little Peck's interior

The latest addition to the collection of downtown Troy businesses created by Heather LaVine and Vic Christopher -- Little Pecks -- is set to start serving coffee this Friday. And a soft opening with a menu of food items is lined up for the end of next week.

The concept: A cafe open morning through the evening that serves drinks, pastries, lunch-type dishes, and grab-and-go items.

Here's a quick look around the space, along with a few bits about what's planned, and a few bonus tracks...

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Another record year for New York State maple syrup production

mountain winds maple syrup amber

Sweet.

New York State set a new modern record for maple syrup production this year, the Cuomo admin announced Friday. The Empire State produced 707,000 gallons of syrup, according to numbers from the from the US Department of Agriculture.

That's up from 601,000 gallons last year. And it keeps New York at the #2 spot nationally, holding off a surging Maine with 675,000. Better luck next time, Pine (Not Maple) Tree State.

New York's increased production this year was in part a result of a longer season -- 36 days on average this year, compared to 26 last year. But the state continues to add taps, too. Its tap count was above 2,500 this year -- the Cuomo admin says that's the highest number since 1946 -- and the count has been rising by a couple of hundred each year for the past few years. (The state's yield per tap has also been rising.)

Of course, Vermont continues to dominate the field, where they're just playing a different game.

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Taste of Troy food tours

troy monument squareA business called Taste of Troy, started by Amy Koren-Roth, is offering food walking tours (Or should be that walking food tours?) of downtown Troy. Blurbage for its "Central Troy Historic District Food Tour":

Put on your walking shoes for an entertaining and delicious way to learn about Troy, its ups and downs, and the role food is playing in bringing this architectural gem back to life. You'll sip and sample some New York classic flavors (often with a new twist). Of course, we will sprinkle in history, architecture, and culture to round out your perfect Saturday in the Collar City. Our Central Troy Historic District Food Tour is a leisurely 3 hour, 1.5 mile walk with plenty of refreshing and informative stops along the way, so it's suited for most ages and fitness levels.

The tours are offered on Saturday mornings. Tickets are $49 and must be purchased in advance.

Daniel went one of the tours recently -- here's his recap.

Coconut cream pie at Restaurant Navona

restaurant navona coconut cream pie

By Deanna Fox

Looking back through my entries in the Eat This archive, it seems that many of the things I suggest you go eat start off with me stating my distaste for that item as a whole. Frozen yogurt. Pastrami sandwiches. Salmon and bacon. This post isn't going to be much different.

I don't really like cream pies. Something about the texture always throws me off. I mean, I like pudding well and fine, but so many times I've had cream pie (banana, chocolate, coconut) that err on the side of flan or gelatin more than silken custard. And that's just not something I want to put in my mouth.

The first time I was offered a bite of the coconut cream pie at Restaurant Navona in Albany, I hesitated. I didn't want to cap the delightful meal I just had with something that would just put me in a cranky mood for the rest of the evening, perpetually disappointed by cream pie.

But this coconut cream pie isn't anything like I expected, and that's a good thing.

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You're New Here: Food

youre new here week food composite

By Daniel B.

It's You're New Here Week on AOA. All this week we'll have stuff to help get you acquainted with the Capital Region -- whether you recently moved here, or just want to see this place through new eyes.

You're new here? Well, about nine years ago, I was new here, too.

We relocated from Berkeley, California and I knew the transition would be challenging. Our old apartment had been just a few blocks from Chez Panisse and the famous gourmet ghetto. Good food was the air we breathed, and local, seasonal, sustainable was a mantra everyone took to heart.

Back in 2007 Albany had no Whole Foods or Trader Joe's. There was no place to get a reliably good cappuccino. Heck, I couldn't even find a grassfed hamburger.

So I plunged myself into the quixotic task of attempting to improve the region's food culture. Without a culinary background, I figured the best path to this goal was through consumer education. And that began a nine-year journey which started with an avalanche of Yelp reviews, spawned a food blog, led to a writing gig with AOA, and landed me my dream job of working for Yelp.

And over that time I've learned a thing or two about how to best enjoy the food of the Capital Region.

YNHW in-post ad Linium

YNHW in-post ad CDPHP

YNHW in-post ad Columbia County Tourism

YNHW in-post ad ACCVB

YNHW in-post ad Downtown Albany BID

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Booze at brunch, two hours earlier

brunch bloody mary

Restaurants will be able serve alcohol two hours earlier during Sunday brunch as part of an agreement on new state legislation announced today by the governor and the state legislative leaders. From a Cuomo admin press release:

Expand Sunday Sales: The [Alcoholic Beverage Control] Law includes provisions strictly prohibiting the sale of alcoholic beverages at on-premises establishments (restaurants, bars, taverns) before noon on Sunday. The agreement expands Sunday sales at restaurants and bars by changing the statewide opening hours from noon to 10 am. In addition, the agreement enables these licensees to apply for a permit, limited to twelve per year, to sell alcoholic beverages for consumption on the premises on Sundays between 8 a.m. and the new 10 a.m. opening hour in areas outside New York City.

Earlier this year a Cuomo admin working group released a report with recommendations on how to modernize New York's many (and complicated) laws related to alcohol sales. In addition to citing "the common practice of consuming alcoholic beverages during Sunday 'brunch'," the report also mentioned how bars showing NFL games played in Europe -- as well as European league soccer matches -- were an example of how the soon-to-be-old rules clashed with what people wanted to do. So it looks like the 12-times-a-year exemption pushing back the time to 8 am is a nod to those situations.

The agreement announced today also includes provisions for licensing craft beverage producers, wholesalers, and even the sale of wine in growlers.

It also includes a small provision that in some way really seems to highlight the tangled mess of rules here: The new legislation also will allow liquor stores to sell... gift wrapping and gift bags.

photo: Lauren Hittinger Hodgson

Pick your own strawberry season 2016

strawberries box strawberry field samascott

Summer, it is here.

Strawberry season is here! Many local farms are just opening for pick-your-own strawberries, or will be very shortly.

We get the sense this year's crop is maybe a little slow in arriving because of some of the cool weather. And the early warmth in spring further complicated things.

A typical strawberry season at many farms in this area only lasts a few weeks, though some farms have strawberries for longer stretches -- even most of the summer -- because their fields include a range of varieties that produce at different times. When you're at the farm stand, ask about the varieties the farms are growing. In our experience people are happy to talk about what's available, for how long, and why. (It's also 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!

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A look around Lucky Strike Social at Crossgates

Lucky Strike bowling lanes

The new Lucky Strike Social opens to the public at Crossgates this Friday. The latest entertainment venue at the mall includes two restaurants, a bar, a concert venue, an arcade, and a bowling alley.

Here's a quick look around...

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Food Truck Festival of NY at Saratoga County Fairgrounds

food truck festival troy 2013 slidin dirty crowdThe Food Truck Festival of NY is returning this year with an event at the Saratoga County Fairgrounds this Saturday, June 11 from 11 am to 7 pm. Admission is free. Be sure to check out the rules.

Here's the lineup of vendors -- the published list includes more than 20 trucks.

The organizer of this event -- Townsquare Media Group -- is the same group that was behind the food truck festival in Troy a few years back. (The pic on the right is from the Troy event.) That event ended up being very popular, and we're guessing this one will be, too.

The big crowds at that earlier event prompted Daniel to write up some suggestions for food festival strategy suggestions.

Fork in the Road
Speaking of food trucks... The Fork in the Road food truck series is back in Tricentennial Park in downtown Albany this Friday from 5-8 pm.

photo: Daniel B

The best place to buy olives?

marinated olivesOmar emails:

My girlfriend and I are starting to become Martini fanatics. We have a ratio we like but have yet to find the perfect olives. We are hoping someone knows a place to get great olives that have good flavor and a decent firmness. Bonus points if they're stuffed with a quality cheese (blue or Gorgonzola).
Thanks for the help!

A lot of supermarkets have olive bars now. But Omar's question makes us curious if there's some place -- maybe it is a supermarket, maybe a smaller market, maybe someplace completely different -- that is the place to buy olives around here. Because of quality or selection or whatever.

Got a suggestion? Please share! And a sentence or two about why they place is worth checking out is alway helpful.

Pulled pork plate at Middleburgers BBQ

Middleburgers pulled pork plate

By Deanna Fox

Here's my theory on where to find good food: If the parking lot is full of a diverse array of cars, from luxury SUVs to old jalopies, the likelihood good food will be there is high.

Middleburgers, an old food trailer given a permanent home in the middle of a field, is a great example of that. Many times I have driven by, but never ventured to stop. That finally changed last month after a hike up Vroman's Nose, when I initially drove past, saw the bevy of cars in the gravel lot, and swiftly pulled a U-turn to check it out.

Good barbecue isn't hard to find in Upstate New York; great barbecue, however, is another matter entirely. And if Middleburgers -- aptly named and found in the town of Middleburgh -- is any indication, an overlooked field is the best place to find it.

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Nine Pin expanding its production capacity in Albany Warehouse District

nine pin cider works exterior

Nine Pin Cider Works is expanding cider-making facility in Albany's Warehouse District, and it'll be showing off the expanded space to the public this Saturday, June 11 from 1-3 pm.

This expansion has been in the works for a while -- you might remember the state awarded it $100k in the last round of Regional Economic Development Council grants in December. And the company has been posting updated on its Facebook page -- here's a quick video of one of the seven new 6,000-gallon fermentation tanks being installed. (The expanded production facility also makes large apple juice deliveries easier.)

The official announcement came Friday via a Cuomo admin press release. A clip:

Nine Pin Ciderworks will expand its operations by 7,000 square-feet at its leased facility in Albany's warehouse district; investing $511,000 to upgrade its fermentation and aging processes to increase cider production by 20 percent. Through Governor Cuomo's Regional Economic Development Council initiative, Empire State Development is providing a $100,000 grant to support the purchase of new equipment and machinery and leasehold improvements as part of the company's expansion of operations. Nine Pin has made a commitment to retain six current employees and create seven new full-time jobs with the completion of this project.

Nine Pin started building out its Albany facility in 2013. And it was the state's first farm cidery, a special license that smooths the way for a cidery to operate if it sources its apples from New York. (There are similar farm distillery and farm brewery licenses.) Nine Pin gets its apples from orchards right here in the greater Capital Region, including Samascott in Kinderhook.

The facility open house on Saturday is part of Hudson Valley Cider Week.

Nine Pin advertises on AOA.

The Scoop

Ever wish you had a smart, savvy friend with the inside line on what's happening around the Capital Region? You know, the kind of stuff that makes your life just a little bit better? Yeah, we do, too. That's why we created All Over Albany. Find out more.

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