Items tagged with 'food'

Brew goes Pint Sized, plans second location (and a tiny bar)

Brew Pint Sized Albany interior 2017-February

The current shop on Lark Street.

Changes are coming to Brew, the popular beer/coffee shop on Lark Street.

Owner August Rosa says he's changing the name to Pint Sized. And he's opening a second location in Saratoga Springs -- what he believes could be the Capital Region's tiniest bar.

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Cinnamon buns at Fifth Tier Baking Studio

Fifth Tier Baking Studio cinnamon bun

By Deanna Fox

Fifth Tier Baking Studio is tucked into a section of Columbia Street in downtown Albany that feels like an alleyway, hidden away from the typical bustle of North Pearl Street. It's the sort of spot that requires a bit of sleuthing.

With no seating and a limited menu, the shop isn't focused on creating a comfortable lingering experience for its customers. Instead, the focus is on production, churning out scones of sweet and savory varieties, jumbo-sized cookies -- and massive cinnamon buns that blend warm spice with sweet dough in a masterly fashion.

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A handful of upcoming craft beer festivals

NYSBA Craft New York at Desmond 2014

From a previous Craft New York Brewers Festival at The Desmond. / photo: New York State Brewers Association

Whatever you call that in-between season from late February through April -- often not totally winter, but not really spring -- also happens to be a beer fest season.

And this year is no different, with a handful of festivals around the region...

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Fish and grits at The Breakfast Spot in Albany

The Breakfast Spot fried fish whiting grits eggs

By Deanna Fox

People who work in the food industry often play a game of telephone (y'know, the one you played as a kid, passing a message to each other in a series of whispers) when it comes to good food. One person finds a place, mentions it to another, who then passes the news on again. I was the lucky recipient of the message in a triad including Celina and Daniel. Go here, they said. Try the whiting.

Who am I to turn away from news like that?

The place they passed along was The Breakfast Spot, a space vacated by the old Portelli's Joe N' Dough Cafe, a location that's hosted many incarnations of an early morning/late night (depending on how you view it) diner intended to serve locals and the work shifts that miss noonday food carts and regular-business-hour establishments.

Tucked away in a skinny building on Central Avenue in Albany, it's a gem that's due for wider recognition.

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Elevation Burger now open in Latham

elevation burger latham exterior 2017-February

It's tucked in to the corner of the shopping plaza.

Quickly noted: Elevation Burger finally opened in Latham this week. The location for the new-school burger chain in the Fresh Market Commons shopping plaza -- at Route 155 an Route 9 -- has been in the works since 2015.

There's been a boom in more-upscale, fast-casual burger chains lately: BurgerFi, Smashburger, Burger21 have all opened locations in this area in recent years. And they've joined Five Guys and locals such as Crave and Juicy Burgers.

Elevation Burger's claim to differentiation is that the beef for its burgers is "100% organic, grass-fed, free-range." The company says its chicken, bacon, and the beans and grains for its veggie burgers are also organic.

We haven't had a chance to try the food. (Maybe you have?) But we might have to get a crew together and do another tasting tour.

Earlier on AOA:
+ A tasting tour of the new-school burger chains
+ BurgerFi, and the burger boom

Trying the "Super Hole" donuts at Cider Belly

Cider Belly Super Hole donuts 2017

One of these donuts has Buffalo sauce in it.

By Deanna Fox

When you think of the Super Bowl -- that high holy American holiday -- and all the food and feasting it entails, the first thing you think of is donuts, right? Right! We thought so, too.

That's why when Nick at Cider Belly in downtown Albany reached out to Daniel B. (and Daniel B. reached out to us) to come check out some donut creations inspired by the game, we jumped at the chance.

Fun names, interesting flavor combos, and an excuse to eat donuts for lunch like real adults. We're all for it.

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Albany Distilling Co. on the Today Show

Albany Distilling Today Show

Al Roker with the upstate mention.

Check it out: Albany Distilling Co.'s Quackenbush Still House Rum popped up on the Today Show Monday morning as part of a segment about food trends for 2017.

Food & Wine editor in chief Nilou Motamed pointed to the rise of rum distilleries in the United States as one of the trends. (See recent Food & Wine listicle about rum being the "spirit of the year.") ADC's name wasn't mentioned, but Al Roker picked up the bottle and mentioned it was from Upstate New York and Motamed added it was from Albany.

As you know, Albany Distilling is located on Montgomery Street at Quackenbush Square in downtown Albany. It opened in and was Albany's first distillery since Prohibition. It produces whiskey and rum, as well as a coffee-flavored vodka in collaboration with Death Wish Coffee.

screengrab from The Today Show

Albany Craft Beer Week and Festival 2017

Washington Ave Armory Albany exteriorThere's an Albany Craft Beer Week planned for April 17-23, with an Albany Craft Beer Festival on April 22 at the Washington Ave Armory.

The organizers of the week and festival are from Oliver's in Albany and Westmere Beverage in Guilderland. Press release blurbage:

The festival will focus on high-end and limited-release craft beer. Rather than offering an alternative VIP admission that would exclude many consumers from sampling, the organizers are working to curate a selection of hundreds of these exclusive beers making the entire experience VIP. In addition to providing a never-before-seen selection of beer, the festival will offer the opportunity for many consumers to talk to brewers, reps, and other beer enthusiasts. There will be local food vendors, festival-centric merchandise, charitable raffles and giveaways.

Tickets for the festival are $65, which includes a tasting glass, unlimited tastings, and four tokens for limited quantity beers. There's also a $20 ticket for designated drivers which includes a $10 food voucher and one free Stacks Espresso coffee.

It looks like a detailed schedule for the events during the week has not yet been posted.

Tom Kha at Celadon Thai

celadon thai latham tom kha soup

By Deanna Fox

Exit 6 off the Northway is a surprising culinary destination in the Capital Region.

Not hip by any means, nor safely walkable, there are unexpected bright spots of good food that makes one reconsider the notion that the suburbs are inherently void of worthwhile restaurants. Heading west off the exit, find Euro Deli and Ayalada. East, you'll come upon Tipsy Moose and A La Shanghai.

Just across the street is Celadon Thai, a family-run jewel that serves up generous portions of pad thai and fiery curries that glimpse authentic cuisine. Chief among those offerings is tom kha, a classic soup that alone could make Exit 6 a food destination

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Steven Tyler was in Saratoga, saw a movie, flew through ALB, maybe had a cupcake

By Deanna Fox

We had a special order for a certain #rockstar passing through the area...#redwhiteandyou #cupcakes #enjoytroy #bakers #ny #chocolate

A photo posted by Nibble Inc. (@nibbleinc) on


Check it out: Steven Tyler was in Saratoga Springs last night, taking in a movie, as WNYT reporter Mark Mulholland posted the news in a Facebook photo with his son.

What's he doing in Saratoga? Attempts to reach Tyler through social media and his management company haven't provided information yet.

But he did fly on a private jet through Albany International Airport, and his visit provides a peek into how local restaurants provide catering for such stops. It turns out Tyler -- or someone with him -- likes his sweets.

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3Fish Coffee

3 Fish Coffee Albany Emma and Abby Fullem

Emma and Abby Fullem, two of the three fish. (Their older sister, Zoe, is the third.)

Sometimes the push to finally do that thing you've always talked about arrives in the form of disaster.

Almost two years ago there was a fire in the building that houses the Downtube, the well-known bike shop across from Washington Park in Albany. It took a year of reconstruction and renovation before the shop's showroom reopened last March.

At the time of the fire, Emma Fullem -- whose parents, Robert Fullem and Marilyn Kaplan, own the Downtube -- was living in the San Francisco area, working for an organization that helps people learn how to be food entrepreneurs. And as renovation work on the building started up, she got a call from her dad: Come home and let's open a coffee shop.

So she did. And they did.

This weekend 3Fish Coffee -- located in a former garage space alongside the Downtube -- has its soft opening. It'll be operating weekends this month and next before opening full time in March.

We stopped in recently to get a look at the new coffee spot and talk with Emma Fullem about the family story behind the shop, being a part of the neighborhood, and the search for good English muffins.

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Good places for gluten-free desserts?

alleycarte chocolate chip cookie

A gluten-free cookie from a Peck's Arcade pop-up. As the pastry chef there, Gregory Kern, mentioned last year, the items on the dessert menu were gluten free. / photo: Steve Noisseau

Fred emails:

Hey gang, you've never steered me wrong before, and I'm looking for some gluten free restaurants, or some places that offer gluten free menus. I have been eating paleo for a while now, and have started dating a girl who has celiacs (I swear, we're not annoying about it!!), and am looking for some good places for dinner or desserts.

As Fred mentions in his email, we've touched on this topic a bunch of years ago. And the topic of restaurants with good gluten-free options came up again last year.

But we figured it could be good to focus on spots with good gluten-free desserts -- whether they're restaurants or some sort of other outlet. Because what's life without dessert? (It's also interesting from a culinary perspective because of the creativity the challenge prompts in chefs, much like vegan food.)

So, got a suggestion for good spots in the area for getting gluten-free desserts? Please share! And sentence or two about why you're recommending a place can be helpful.

Pizza dinner at Mia Lucci's

Mia Lucci's pizza

By Deanna Fox

As a lifelong pizza eater, I've come to learn there really isn't such a thing as "bad" pizza. Sure, there's pizza that doesn't quite hit the mark of great -- or even good -- pizza, but even subpar pizza is better than no pizza.

That fact became abundantly clear during the last few rounds of the Tournament of Pizza that I helped to judge. (RIP, TOP **kisses hand, points to God**.) A few slices were questionable, in the kindest terms, but I didn't flat-out refuse to scoff down any of them.

Those slices are few and far between, however: As a whole, I'd put Capital Region pizza up against pizzas from any corner of the world. We've got an amazing array of styles and varieties here. The doughy Sovrana's slices. The interesting crusts and no-Parm rule at DeFazio's. The pan-baked pub-style pizza at Kay's. The giant foldable slices from I Love NY and Paesan's. Farm-fresh sourdough pizza from 9 Miles East. (Tell me when to stop...)

If you're going to break into the pizza game 'round here, you better be darn confident in what you are offering. Sometimes that comes via the actual pizza. Other times, it's an experiential thing. Mia Lucci's in Colonie gives us a little of both.

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The restaurant space on the Empire State Plaza has re-opened

Empire State Plaza restaurant exterior

The restaurant space on the ESP near the foot of the Corning Tower is back operating as a restaurant again -- Cornerstone at The Plaza opened this week.

It's serving lunch Monday through Friday from 11 am-3 pm while in the state legislature is in session. There's also a happy hour Wednesday from 3-7 pm.

You might remember this space once housed the restaurant The Sign of the Tree -- it closed more than a decade ago. Mazzone Hospitality -- which also operates a cafeteria on the concourse of the ESP, as well as a bunch of other local restaurants such as 677 Prime -- is running the new Cornerstone restaurant. (It had already been hosting events there during the past year.)

New restaurant blurbage:

The menu will include foods and beverages produced in New York State, including a locally-sourced selection of artisanal cheeses; a warm winter kale salad featuring chorizo from Dashing Star Farm; a vegetable torta made with local farm eggs; and beef short ribs braised in Nine Pin Cider.

Here's the menu.

We stopped in for lunch Thursday. It was nice. The space -- about half of which was set up for lunch service -- has great windows which look out onto the plaza. The atmosphere was relaxed, and the service friendly. The music could use an upgrade. (If you're ever wondering if a chamber orchestra version of "Hotel California" is a good idea, the answer is always no.) There's an elevator inside that connects to the concourse below.

Here are a few pics if you're curious.

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Favorite local foods of 2016

restaurant navona albany exterior

An item at Restaurant Navona in Albany got a mention.

With 2016 about to end, we're talking with a bunch of people about favorite/interesting things from the past year.

First up: We asked about people around the online Neighborhood about their favorite local foods or drinks of the past year.

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A look around the new Save-A-Lot supermarket in Albany

Save-A-Lot Central Ave shelves

The Save-A-Lot chain opened a new supermarket on Central Ave in Albany Thursday, just about two blocks west of Swinburne Park. It's the company's second store in the city, joining one on Delaware Ave.

The store is in a building that, in the immediate past, was an Albany Med office. But its earlier lives include time as both A&P and Star grocery stores. So it's new, but also kind of old.

Save-A-Lot is a discount chain that specializes in small-format stores -- at 20,000 square feet the Central Ave store is one of the smaller supermarkets in this area. And one of the location types it looks for is densely-populated neighborhoods, the sorts of neighborhoods that, at least in the Capital Region, have struggled to attract new supermarkets over the last few decades.

"We're like a well-kept secret from a lot of people even though we have 1,300 stores across the United States," said Tom Kallio, the northeast business unit director of Save-A-Lot, Thursday. "But because we don't have a big footprint, we don't make the big thunder."

Here's a quick look around the new store, along with a quick chat with Kallio about why the company seeks dense, urban neighborhoods.

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Duck drumettes at Rascals

Rascals duck drumettes

By Deanna Fox

Eating at the mall used to mean Sbarro pizza or chicken from a Chinese food kiosk. (You know you always bought it out of guilt because of the free sample.) Maybe you opted for giant hot pretzels with neon "cheese" sauce, Orange Julius, or the week's worth of calories with a Cinnabon.

But malls are no longer just a place for power-walkers, angsty teenage meet-ups, or chain shopping; malls are becoming destinations for everything from underwear purchases to rock concerts.

The dining is changing to keep pace. Take Rascals -- a business-in-the-front, party-in-the-back space -- in Crossgates that allows for fine steakhouse dining in one space, a sports bar with several large TVs in another, and a performance space with its own bar and dining options in the rear.

The menu is designed to accommodate the varied patronage, but Rascals' take on chicken wings is a sure bet in any of the restaurant's environs.

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Phoenicians Mediterranean Palace

Phoenicians Mediterranean Palace Robert Rahal

Robert Rahal

The new Phoenicians Mediterranean Palace recently opened on Fuller Road in Colonie. It's the successor to the Phoenicians Restaurant on Central Ave -- and it's big. The space itself is huge, and owner Robert Rahal has big plans for it.

Here's a quick look around, along with a few bits about what's in the works...

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Plumb Oyster Bar

Plumb Oyster Bar Troy owner Heidi Knoblauch

Heidi Knoblauch

By Lauren Hittinger Hodgson

If you want fresh oysters daily, you'll soon have a new spot.

Heidi Knoblauch, an Emma Willard grad, recently returned to Troy after years in academia to open Plumb Oyster Bar. She's another young person investing in Troy, and she aims to create something a little bit different for this area -- while building a gathering space to serve both oyster lovers and the seafood-phobic alike.

We chatted about oysters, the motivations to leave academia, and why Troy is the right spot for Plumb.

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Breakfast sandwich at Gibby's Diner

gibby's diner breakfast sandwich cross section

By Deanna Fox

There's plenty of things that Gibby's Diner, in the tiny hamlet of Quaker Street in in the town of Duanesburg, does well -- but one thing it doesn't do is screw around with portions.

The classic diner car has been in business since 1952 and little has changed in the 60-plus years of operation. Passers-by come for quick food on the road between hither and thither, while the regulars expect the expedient service and solid food served with a smile and a side of sass.

Your transaction at Gibby's isn't complete unless you are waddling out of the cramped chrome-and-neon coated entrance. Homemade breads and pies and in-house roasted meats make sure that happens, but nothing guarantees the gluttonous feeling (shame?) quite like the Gibby's breakfast sandwich.

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Supermarket Showdown 2016

grocery list written in marker

New list, new stores.

It's back: Supermarket Showdown, in which check prices for a basket of 40 items across multiple supermarkets here in the Capital Region.

The showdown has taken a few years off -- the last time we did it was in 2012 -- and this year it returns with a new basket and three new stores.

Without further ado, let's get to it...

Supermarket Week 2016 CDPHP in-post ad

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Giving ALDI a try

ALDI Deanna shopping cart contents

The haul from Deanna's ALDI trip.

By Deanna Fox

I find that I am often a bit naive about how Americans truly eat at home, regardless of the fact that I make a living from writing about food. I eat out a lot and I when I cook at home, it either leans towards the clean, healthy side (to counteract all the eating out) or it turns into a production somehow related to a story.

That's not to say I live in a vacuum, but I realize that sometimes my grasp of what the typical grocery run looks like it a bit slippery.

Lately, I've noticed plenty of friends, acquaintances, and colleagues talking about ALDI, the low-priced chain of grocery stores with European roots that's rapidly expanding. (According to the US ALDI website, the supermarket will have 2,000 US-based stores by 2018.)

I remember shopping at LDI with my Aunt Laura and her kids growing up. It was the first stop on the bi-weekly shopping trip, followed by Tops, Grand Union, and Price Chopper if absolutely necessary. The generic-looking packaging under ALDI private labels, the fact that you had to bring your own bags, and the way the entire system worked always gave me the impression that ALDI was low-quality.

Now, some of my favorite food enthusiasts shop there... and they won't settle for subpar. So there's got to be something worth checking out.

So I did.

Supermarket Week 2016 CDPHP in-post ad

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Can't afford a brewery? Share one.

glass of nine pin ciderNext year it will become legal in New York State to operate what are essentially shared brewery/cidery/winery production facilities that home brewers will be able to drop in and use.

Legislation allowing these "custom centers" passed earlier this year, and the governor has now signed it, the Cuomo admin announced this week.

From the memo for the Senate bill, sponsored by David Carlucci, a Democrat who represents Rockland County:

[The legislation creates] a new custom beermakers' center license that authorizes the operation of a custom beermakers' center facility to provide individuals with rental space (to make and store homemade beer), the use of equipment and storage facilities, and/or beer making supplies for the production of beer for personal household use and not for commercial use or resale purposes. It defines beer making supplies as products grown or produced in New York in quantity amounts as determined by the State Liquor Authority. A custom beermakers' center licensee would be authorized, if permitted by the Federal Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau,(TTB) to conduct training classes on how to manufacture beer and conduct certain tastings of beer produced on the premises.

The legislation does the same thing for cider and wine. From a Cuomo admin press release:

New York's craft beverage industry is one of the fastest growing in the nation, however many urban and suburban residents often cannot afford or do not have access to the appropriate space or equipment to make homemade beer, cider, or wine in their homes or apartments. These custom production centers not only provide space and lower the overhead costs of production, but they also provide amateur brewers and wine and cider makers with the local ingredients and expert training needed when first starting out.

The legislation takes effect in six months.

We hadn't heard about these sorts of production centers before, so we poked around online looking for examples and found a few that look somewhat similar -- including one in Boston, and another in New Hampshire.

French toast at Baking You Crazy

baking you crazy french toast

By Deanna Fox

Considering French toast is little more than eggs, milk, and bread, it can be surprisingly easy to screw up. The KISS notion (keep it simple, stupid) is one that evades most of modern society. Bigger is still better, more is still more, and pairing it down to the basics seems like a weakness or cop-out, not an ability to be admired.

Simple doesn't mean thoughtless, though: The opposite is true. Because there is less fluff to mask errors and subpar additions, all ingredients need to be of a particular quality and incorporated with consideration.

Baking You Crazy, the bakery and cafe that replaced a small Italian restaurant at the foot of the Albany-Rensselaer train station on Broadway, employs these ideas across its entire menu.

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Recalling the grocery stores of Albany's past

Empire Food Market Albany Lyon Block storefront

The Empire Food Market -- "Albany's Premier Food Center" -- in the old Lyon Block building in downtown Albany. (The building was knocked down during the Empire State Plaza construction.) / via the Albany Public Library History Collection

By Carl Johnson

The trick of time is that it passes slowly, and changes are incremental, so you can hardly notice it happening. The world of today looks mostly like the world of yesterday to us, and yet there have been a thousand little changes over the years that separate those worlds. When things change all at once, it seems a revolution, but when they change little by little, it just seems the passing of time.

Grocery stores are one example. Sure, 50 years ago, they were selling milk and meats, frozen foods and Cap'n Crunch, just as they are today. And yet everything about them has changed.

Supermarket Week 2016 CDPHP in-post ad

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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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