Items tagged with 'food'

Bars or restaurants with an Albany skyline view?

Albany skyline from E Greenbush sunset background

A question from Jim:

Looking for a bar or restaurant with a view of the Albany skyline that is also outside... A roof preferably.

You might think there would be a lot of spots like this because Albany does have a rather distinctive skyline. When we thought about it, though, there wasn't much that came to mind. A lot of other cities/metro areas have dining/parks/whatever that take advantage of these sorts of views -- especially along rivers -- but this area not as much (in part because of 787, probably). Maybe that's starting to change with new development on the Rensselaer side of the Hudson across from downtown Albany. And maybe new amenities -- like the proposed/hoped-for pedestrian walkway on the next Livingston Ave Bridge -- would help spur that sort use and development.

But maybe you know of some spots. If so, please share!

Pick-your-own strawberry season 2017

strawberries in basket straw closeup

Strawberry season has arrived! Many local farms just opened pick-your-own strawberry fields this week, and others will be doing so shortly.

All that cold, cloudy, wet weather a few weeks back held up this year's crop. Multiple farms have noted that things are a bit behind schedule. But it sounds like the recent sunny weather has things rounding into shape.

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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Lamb sloppy joe at Chez Mike

Chez Mike lamb sloppy joe

By Deanna Fox

Sloppy joes were a mainstay in my culinary repertoire growing up -- mainly because you can't burn them.

See, my mother (bless her) went through a period of time when she confused the smoke alarm with the kitchen timer. About the same time, my dad was the volunteer fire chief of our small town, and as a way to live-up to the job, installed 16 smoke alarms in our modestly-sized home that were all connected. When one went off, they all went off. And unless you completely forget that there's meat on the stove (like, go to the grocery store 30 minutes away while dinner is cooking), it's pretty hard to set off that many smoke alarms with sloppy joes.

So when I hear of someone "upgrading" the humble sloppy joe with lamb-sted-beef, I'm all in.

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Restaurants with really good dining experiences, not necessarily fancy?

chiogga beet carpaccioMelissa asks:

Assume money's no issue - what's your top dining experience recommendation in the area?
Any level of fancy is fine, just looking for places that people had really good experiences. The kind of meal that is memorable. The kind of place you go "remember that night, that was really great"
It might be a real "fine dining" or someplace you had a really great pub meal, but the environment and service were really memorable.

We understand Melissa is looking for this spot for a special occasion.

Of course, tastes and preferences are very subjective. But, to us, that last part of her question is key. In our experience, high prices or formality don't necessarily translate into great meals or experiences (in fact, sometimes it's just the opposite).

Got a suggestion or two for Melissa.? Please share!

A chef for at-home celebration?

fork on tableAnonymous emails:

Some friends and I wanted to host a small private dinner to celebrate and we are looking for suggestions of private chefs who could host a weekday meal at our apartment. Can you help?

In addition to private chefs who might be able to cater an in-house dinner, we're curious if there might be other options that are maybe more flexible -- maybe something along the lines of a pre-prepared dinner that can be served with minimal effort.

Got a suggestion for Anonymous? Please share! And a sentence or two about why're recommending a chef or service can be a help.

Pizza at Anna's Wood Fired Pizza

Pizza from Annas Wood Fired at Galleria7

By Deanna Fox

I was recently talking to a Capital Region native who moved to NYC for a few years before settling down back home. He said of all the great things New York City offers, the pizza in Albany is undoubtedly better, and so are the music venues (the little clubs that let you get right up close to the band).

But about that pizza thing...

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A restaurant for regular group meetings?

fork on tableAnne emails:

I am a member of a service group that meets 2 evenings a month, during the week. We are looking for a restaurant/food venue that is reasonably priced and can accommodate 10-20 people, preferably with a separate meeting area or space that is not too loud. Since our members come from all over the capital district, we are looking for something in the Colonie/Latham area. Looking forward to hearing your ideas!

That Anne included "food venue" with restaurant makes us think there might some flexibility here, so we're curious if maybe there are some other options beyond just a straight-up restaurant.

Got a suggestion for Anne and her group? Please share!

Kismet Mediterranean Grill

Kismet Albany exterior

It's in the Junior's/The Point/Cafe Madison/Madison Pour House/Curry House strip along Madison Ave.

We've been curious about what was happening at this space, so maybe you were, too..

A new Mediterranean restaurant called Kismet opened this past Saturday in the corner storefront at the busy Madison/Western/Allen Street intersection in Albany. We saw the lights on the other night and stopped in for dinner, and two things:

1. The transformation of the space is remarkable. There had been a Brueggers in there for many years and the space had looked like... well, a rather lived-in bagel shop. Now it's a tasteful and comfortable sit-down dining space.

2. The food was good! We tried a sampler of the dips as an appetizer and split the mixed grill for dinner. The hummus was smooth and garlicky, the shakshuka was tangy, and the meats in the mixed grill were well seasoned and cooked nicely. (Also: The service was very friendly.) We'd happily go back.

The chef/owner of Kismet is Chingiz Jafarov. He came out during dinner to say hello to diners and ask how everything was.

Hours and a few more pics, along the with the menu...

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Dining around at Troy Kitchen

Troy Kitchen MKIslandHut GrandmaG HalalPalace composite

By Deanna Fox

Call it happenstance, or call it good planning: I ate at Troy Kitchen with friends two days in a row recently. That's probably not a big deal for most people, but schlepping from my rural Schenectady County home (with two kids in tow) over to Troy during the evening commute hours isn't always an easy feat.

The reward was worth it, though, especially since the inaugural vendors have moved out and new vendors have taken over booth space as part of the wonderfully conceived rental limits that are part of the Troy Kitchen concept.

It was the perfect opportunity to do a dine-around and sample what the new menus have to offer.

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Mastroianni Bros bread returning to stores

Mastroianni Bakery logoThe new owner of Mastroianni Bros Bakery announced Thursday that bread from the almost-century-old Rotterdam-based brand will start showing up on store shelves again this week.

A Utica-based company called Pumilia Pizza Shells bought the Mastroianni intellectual property last year at auction after the Schenectady company filed for bankruptcy. Pumilia makes and distributes pizza dough. [Daily Gazette 2016 November]

The Mastroianni products will be produced at a bakery in Utica, the new owners say.

The first of the new/old Mastroianni breads will begin appearing in some Price Choppers/Markets 32 starting this week, with discussions in progress for other outlets. The new owners say they'll first be making the Mastroianni sliced Italian bread and soft rolls, with more products planned for the future.

Mastroianni Bros Bakery had been trying to evolve its business in recent years in an attempt to head off bankruptcy, as detailed by Ned Campbell in the Daily Gazette back in 2015. Among the changes: The company -- known for its huge loaves of bread -- started selling smaller loaves to appeal to households with fewer people.

Matt Baumgartner has sold Bombers

Bombers Lark Street exterior 2016

Matt Baumgartner announced Wednesday that he's sold Bombers to Jimmy Vann, who's worked there for a long time and been managing the local chain for years.


Steve Barnes talked with both of them about the sale -- Baumgartner told him: "In that way it's a little sad, but the 20-year benchmark just felt like the right time. I've not been very involved in it, I feel like I've outgrown it in some ways, and I've got other things to keep me busy." [TU Table Hopping]

There's still Wolff's and The Olde English, and he now has a farm in Rensselaer County. (Mike DeMasi talked with him a bit about the plans for the farm.) [Biz Review]

By the way: Bombers is a reference to a nickname.

Sopes at Viva Cinco de Mayo

viva cinco de mayo sopes

By Deanna Fox

With Cinco de Mayo just days away, it feels appropriate to talk about a place aptly named Viva Cinco de Mayo.

Tacos might first come to mind when thinking about this anglicized holiday that gives we Americans a chance to sip tequila and feel less guilty about the upcharge to add guacamole to our burritos. But consider instead the sope, a cousin to the taco, consumed using flatware and heaped high with filling. It takes on regional flavors, like the taco, and has different preparations depending on when and where it is eaten.

Nevertheless, it is just as crave-able as a taco, and this new addition to the growing Mexican food scene serves sopes up right.

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Tara Kitchen Troy is now open

Tara Kitchen Troy exterior

The Troy location of the popular Moroccan restaurant Tara Kitchen is now open at 172 River Street (the block between State and Congress). Its first day was last Friday. There are a handful of photos after the jump.

This is the second location for the restaurant, started by Aneesa Waheed and Muntasim Shoaib. Their first restaurant space is on Liberty Street in downtown Schenectady, where they've won many fans. Before opening in Schenectady, they sold from a booth at the Troy and Schenectady farmers markets.

Tara Kitchen also makes a lineup of jarred sauces -- you might have seen them in local supermarkets. We've tried a jar of the apricot and prune sauce. It made for a few tasty dinners at home.

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Dutch Udder Craft Ice Cream opening Troy storefront

Dutch Udder Troy storefront pre-opening 2017-April

A quick mention relevant to your ice cream interests: The Dutch Udder Craft Ice Cream is opening a storefront in downtown Troy at 282 River St. (It's the spot on the corner with the Franklin Street alley near the Market Block.) The opening is planned for May, according to the company's Facebook page.

The people behind Dutch Udder are Kehmally Karl and Jeff McCauley, who started the business as a side project and now have a commercial kitchen space in Cohoes. They've been building the business methodically, developing new flavors and selling ice cream from a cart at events and pop-ups. (You might remember they were finalists in the 2015 AOA Startup Grant contest.)

We've sampled their ice creams and sorbets on multiple occasions and they're very good. An example: They make a Nine Pin cider sorbet that's really smooth and nice.

We're hoping to get a few more details about what's in store for the Troy location.

Earlier on AOA: Follow up: The Dutch Udder Craft Ice Cream

Massaman curry at Emmanuel Thai

Emmanuel Thai masaman curry

By Deanna Fox

If you don't work in the Capitol corridor -- that section of Albany stretching from Dove to Broadway, extending a few blocks north and south, with buildings populated by state-related agencies -- you might miss many of the small eateries that are popular for quick lunches.

The grab-and-go sandwich shops, the small sit-down locations that offer momentary respite from the rigors of government -- and now, Emmanuel Thai, a barely noticeable restaurant that has quickly gained a downtown Albany following.

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What's up with that plan for a new food hall in Albany's Warehouse District

Good Market rendering interior 1

A rendering of the planned interior.

The food hall is one of the hot food/dining concepts around the country at the moment, and it's popped up here, too -- in Troy with Troy Kitchen, and Latham with Galleria 7.

There's another new-school food court on the way: GoodMRKT -- "Good Market" -- planned for the Nipper Building conversion in Albany's Warehouse District. Word of the project first surfaced in late 2015 as part of the state's Regional Economic Development Council grant process.

Roughly a year and a half later the project is still on, and the backer is planning to open later this year.

Here are a few bits about what's up...

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Brunch is back at The Low Beat with Celina's Kitchen

celinas kitchen french toast

Coconut-crusted French toast is on the Celina's Kitchen brunch menu for The Low Beat. / photo: Jamel Mosely - Mel eMedia

By Deanna Fox

Celina Ottaway took a circuitous route to the kitchen, but it's paid off. The global influences of her life in business, journalism, and personal endeavors now show up in dishes for her Celina's Kitchen menus: Asian pesto, poulet creole, japchae. Together with chef Pierre Farvil, they're pulling together vibrant, rich flavors that reflect past experiences while looking ahead.

If you want to first hand taste of what they're cooking, your best chance is to bundle up and head over to The Low Beat on Sunday for the spot's latest pop-up brunch.

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CSA fair at Takk House

Hudson Valley CSA Coalition stickers

This could be a good way to learn more about CSAs if you're been curious: Takk House in Troy is hosting a CSA fair April 15 from 11 am-2 pm. The event is a collaboration between the Hudson Valley CSA Coalition, Hudson River Exchange, and Glynwood.

CSA = Community Supported Agriculture, in which you pay at the beginning of the season for a share of a farm's produce and then get regular allotments during the season. Event blurbage:

CSA Fairs provide an opportunity for local residents to learn about the vital role Community Supported Agriculture plays for independent farms, to shop around the various shares available and sign up for their Seasonal Share. From fruits and vegetables to herbal wellness to meat and dairy, CSA shares offer community members access to the diversity of farm fresh products - and land based wisdom - that make Hudson Valley living plentiful and enjoyable.

The event at Takk House will include reps from Colfax Farm, Denison Farm, Field Apothecary, Laughing Earth Farm, Roxbury Farm, and Soul Fire Farm. Also: "Remember to bring your checkbook for share deposits and be entered to win on-site sign up giveaways when you buy a share at the event."

Hudson River Exchange advertises on AOA.

photo via Hudson Valley CSA Coalition Facebook

Buffet dinner at Salsa Latina

salsa latina buffet plate

By Deanna Fox

Every culture and cuisine has its own version of a greasy spoon diner. Places with quick crowd-pleasing menu items that focus less on modern, qualitative platitudes (farm-fresh local zero hormone free range organic sustainable conflict-free!) and more on getting cheap eats dipped, fried, or otherwise laden in fat on the table with haste.

Greasy spoons are abundant in Albany, and in many ways, these sorts of establishments comprise the hallmark of our local eating scene.

When it comes to the Tex-Mex variety, Sala Latina reigns, and its Monday night buffet is one of the best bargains in town.

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Ice cream, A VALUABLE FOOD

albany ice cream for st. patrick's day, 1925
It was a different time. One with ice cream potatoes.

This ad is via the Albany Group historical image archive on Flickr. The Albany Muskrat highlighted it today on Twitter, along with pics of some of the ice cream forms.

The factory for the Albany Ice Cream Company -- "Wholesale and Retail Manufacturers of Plain and Fancy Creams and Ices" -- was located on Pleasant Street in North Albany. (There was that time that the Albany Ice Cream Company realized that -- gasp -- women could work in that factory.)

It also had an important message for its customers of the late 1910s.

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Downtown Albany Restaurant Week 2017

downtown Albany restaurant week 2017-April_logo

Downtown Albany Restaurant Week is set to return April 1-7. (That's Saturday through Friday of the next week.)

Participating restaurants will be offering three-course meals for $20.17. And on the Monday of the run -- April 3 -- students with valid ID can get meals for $17.17 at some of the participating restaurants.

Sixteen establishments are lineup for the week. And that first link above includes links to restaurant week menus for most of them. (We're intrigued by the cauliflower schnitzel with beetroot spaetzel on the City Beer Hall menu.)

As with any restaurant week, reservations are a good idea. And spots often fill up fast.

Ice cream stand season 2017

kurver kreme exterior 2016

Kurver Kreme is set to open mid March, but a few other local stands are already open. / photo: Deanna Fox

It's spring! It's winter! It's winterspring! Whatever it is, it's ice cream stand season again.

A few stands are already open, and more will be opening in the next few weeks.

Here's our annual rundown of a bunch of seasonal ice cream stands, with opening dates. In some cases the dates are TBA, or we just couldn't find out (yet). So if you can fill in some of the information in the comments, we'd much appreciate it.

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Ramen at David's Uptown Noodle

Davids Uptown Noodle ramen

By Deanna Fox

If you are a safe eater, someone unwilling to go beyond your culinary comfort zone, stop reading now.

What I'm about to tell you about can only be described as Chinese grandmother cooking, and for the typical American palate, stagnating in predictable flavors and preparations, that's bad news.

But for you adventurous types in the AOA readership, those who can open their minds (and mouths) to unusual ingredients and authentic, ethnic technique, read on:

David's Uptown Noodle and its ramen menu are awaiting you.

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Drink Schenectady

drink schenectady logo

The The Capital Craft Beverage Trail has an event called Drink Schenectady coming up Saturday, April 15 at the Schenectady Armory from 2-6 pm.

It's similar to the Drink Albany event held in the fall. Blurbage:

Enjoy samples from all local Capital Region beer and cider producers along with local live music, vendors, food and games. All proceeds for the event go to benefit the Capital Craft Beverage Trail Association. ...

Capital Craft Beverage Trail Producers: Albany Distilling Company, Nine Pin Cider, C.H. Evans, Druthers, Helderberg Brewery, Helderberg Mountain Brewery, Indian Ladder Farmstead, Beer Diviner, Wolf Hollow, Browns Brewing, S&S Farm Brewery, Altamont Vineyards, Common Roots, Crossroads Brewing, Chatham Brewing, Upstate Distilling

Early bird general admission tickets are $35 until April 1, after that they're $40. There's also a VIP ticket for $60 that gets you in early for a cocktail hour.

Capital Craft Beverage Trail? Mission statement: "To promote the facilities of craft and farm-based beverage producers in the Capital Region of New York as a unified tourist destination, including representing, protecting and promoting the common business and regulatory interests of its members and their role as part of the fabric of Capital Region and to promote tourism in the region."

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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