Items tagged with 'food'

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.

Read and Feed at Basilica Hudson

basilica read and feed logo

Basilica Hudson has a new festival July 30 -- Read and Feed -- that looks to pair food and literature. Blurbage for discussions at the fest:

// Legendary authors Lydia Davis (Can't and Won't: Stories) and Lynne Tillman (What Would Lynne Tillman Do?) will engage with each other and the audience in a wine tasting led by oenophile and power reader Michael Albin of Hudson Wine Merchants.
// "Food, Farming, and Spirituality," will feature celebrity chef and cookbook author Zak Pelaccio (Fish & Game, Eat With Your Hands), author Marie Mutsuki Mockett (Where the Dead Pause, and the Japanese Say Goodbye), and organic farmer Sarah Chase (Chaseholm Farm), in conversation with renowned chef, cookbook author, and end-of-life doula Rozanne Gold (Radically Simple, Cooking 1-2-3, and many others).
// "Reading, Drinking, Eating, Writing" will explore food as a language, and will be moderated by author, mixologist, fortune-teller, teacher extraordinaire Rosie Schapp (Drinking with Men, New York Times "Drinking" columnist) and feature award-winning poet and President of the Poetry Society of America, Kimiko Hahn (Brain Fever: Poems), author and "urban forager" Ava Chin (Eating Wildly: Foraging for Life, Love and the Perfect Meal), and true crime writer and serial killer specialist Harold Schecter (Man-Eater: The Life and Legend of an American Cannibal).

The Basilica is partnering with the Community of Literary Magazines and Presses on the event. There will also be a marketplace with food products and titles from small presses (including cookbooks).

Read and Feed is Saturday, July 30 from 5-11 pm. Tickets are $20 ahead / $25 at the door.

Parts of the event will also be broadcast (over the air and online) by WGXC 90.7-FM.

Earlier on AOA: Basilica Hudson 2016 season

Albany Tea Festival 2016

Albany Tea Festival 2016 logoThe Albany Tea Festival will be returning to Overit in Albany this Friday, June 3. Blurbage:

Capital Region's Tea Professionals will be all in one place for this unique event. Six speakers are scheduled to discuss a range of tea related topics including tea/herb basic, culture, world tea traveling and future trends of tea. Tea and tea related vendors will be offering their products.

(There's probably a reading the tea leaves joke in there about the "future trends of tea" bit.)

The lineup of talks includes presentations from a ginseng farmer, "walk through a tea plantation," and tea trivia.

The event is Friday is from 5:30-9 pm at Overit's space at 435 New Scotland. It's free to attend.

Talking with Berben and Wolff's Joey Berben about vegan food that can appeal to everyone

Berben and Wolff's Joey Berben

Joey Berben

By Cristin Steding

To say the guys at Berben and Wolff's are busy is an understatement.

"I've got to go make 20 pounds of seitan after this," says a smiling Joey Berben at the end of our recent interview. And that's on his day off. He and his business partner, Max Wolff, just opened a new restaurant on Lark Street, but they've been supplying seitan to a bunch of other local restaurants long before theirs opened.

Berben and Wolff's is a vegan deli, which sounds like an oxymoron. But according to Berben, "The definition of deli, as far as we're concerned, is more like specialty foods. It's specialty prepared things. It's going to be along the same lines of a typical deli -- pre-made salads, to-go things. We're selling things by the pound too, like the seitan products that we make."

What sets Berben and Wolff's apart from other vegan restaurants, is that they actually downplay veganism in the business.

"You'll notice the word vegan isn't in here anywhere," says Berben. "We're trying to disconnect from people's misconceptions about vegan food or vegan restaurants. It's just good food. Vegetable forward, plant-based food."

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"Science of Great BBQ and Grilling, with Meathead Goldwyn" at HGS Home Chef

Meathead cookbook coverBarbecue and grilling expert Meathead Goldwyn will be at the HGS Home Chef June 12 for a talk and signing of his new book MEATHEAD - The Science of Great Barbeque and Grilling. Blurbage:

Meathead will debunk the misinformation that surrounds Grilling and Barbeque techniques in a talk called "Old Husbands' Tales: BBQ & Grilling Myths That Need to Die."
Meathead's book is a fount of information that will help you achieve succulent results every time, explaining why nothing is more crucial than understanding the science behind the interaction of food, fire, heat, and smoke. This is the definitive guide to the concepts, methods, equipment, and accessories of barbecue and grilling.

If you've ever looked up info online about making barbecue at home or some about grilling, you've probably come across Goldwyn's popular site AmazingRibs.com.

Goldwyn's new book comes highly recommended from J. Kenji Lopez-Alt of Serious Eats The Food Lab fame (he also wrote a forward for the book): "Far more than a recipe book alone (though there are tons of bulletproof recipes), this text will teach you the hard-tested fundamentals of outdoor cooking, giving you the confidence to cook anything, even without a recipe. The myth-busting and equipment tips alone were enough to get me hooked."

The event at the HGS Home Chef is Sunday, June 12 at noon. Tickets are $35 and available online.

HGS Home Chef -- which is related to the Hillsdale General Store -- is in Hillsdale, New York in Columbia County.

Sunhee's Farm and Kitchen

Sunhee's Kitchen Jinah Kim

Jinah Kim

By Cristin Steding

Sunhee's Farm and Kitchen is a new Korean restaurant in downtown Troy with a three-part approach: farm, food and community engagement.

The family farm supplies the restaurant with eggs (and soon, produce), and the restaurant assists and employs recent refugees. It's a family endeavour, with owner Jinah Kim's mother and a longtime family friend as chefs, and her father completing the renovations to the restaurant space.

Sunhee's just recently opened, but Kim has big plans for the future. She's trying a new business model and isn't afraid the blur the line between for-profit business and social service agency.

I got together with Jinah Kim to talk about the new restaurant, her passion for social service, and her favorite Korean foods.

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Buffalo wings from 20 North Broadway Tavern

20 North Broadway Tavern wings

By Deanna Fox

"Can we try Buffalo wings sometime?"

Finally. My youngest child is now a true Upstater.

A kindergartener in public school, it was only a matter of time before he heard about wings and was tempted to try them. He was barely off the school bus when he asked, and then asked again, and asked a subsequent half-dozen times over the next few days.

It was happening. We were going out for his inaugural taste of this quintessential Upstate New York dish. But where do you go to make sure the first bite is a good introduction?

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Ben & Jerry's open again in Lark Street neighborhood

Ben and Jerry's Madison Ave Albany exterior 2016-May

The Lark Street Ben & Jerry's has re-opened -- and it's on Madison Ave now. Specifically, it's at 467 Madison Ave, which is right next to El Loco and just east of Washington Park. (It's the former Little Moon storefront.)

The store opened this past Saturday, and there will be a grand opening set for sometime in the near future. Hours are noon to 11 pm every day.

Rich Wilson, who owns the franchise with business partner Mike Sperduto, was in the store this afternoon working on the wall art when we stopped in for a few minutes. Some of the furniture is yet to arrive, but there's ice cream in the cooler and they're scooping. Wilson said they're enjoying the feel of the new space and the extra work space it affords.

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A quick look around Berben and Wolff's

Berben and Wolff's exterior

That new vegan deli on Lark Street -- Berben and Wolff's -- opened Tuesday. It's in the space at 227 Lark formerly occupied by The Brakes.

The deli is backed by Joey Berben and Max Wolff, who had already been making seitan for local restaurants. As Berben told us back it in March, their plan is to serve "things you would expect in a New York deli, but all plant based." And the menu reflects that aim. It includes items such as a housemade seitan pastrami reuben, a tempeh bacon lettuce and tomato sandwich, and BBQ pulled jackfruit with cabbage slaw on a bun. (We'll have more about the food in the near future.)

Hours currently are Tuesday-Saturday 10 am-8 pm and Sunday brunch from 10 am-3 pm. It's closed Mondays.

Here's a quick look around...

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The buzz on New York honey

lloyd spear honey trioAgricultural fact of the day: New York State produced almost 3.6 million pounds of honey in 2015, according to numbers from the federal government.* That's up almost 9 percent from the year before.

New York's total ranked 10th among all states last year. (It ranked #13 last year.) And it's by the far the biggest producer in the Northeast. (Next up is Maine at #31.)

The state's production was valued at a little more than $10.5 million. The average price per pound that New York producer were able to get was $2.94. (The national average $2.09.)

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Hot Plate from K-Plate at Troy Kitchen

K-Plate Hot Plate

By Deanna Fox

I love the idea of a food court. Part of my college decision came down to the schools with the best cafeterias. There is something so American about being offered a plethora of food options without having to walk too far to explore them.

Sadly, most food courts are depressing. Just look at most malls. It almost gives the term "food court" a biased, bad reputation. Unless -- like me -- you grew up in a magical land shaped by the mythos that is Wegmans and its epic food court, there is little hope when one hears that term.

We have no Wegmans here (yet), but there is light in the dark tunnel of "food courts." Galleria 7, on Troy-Schenectady Road in Latham, is part of it. As is Troy Kitchen, the food court that recently opened in the old Pioneer co-op grocery building on Congress Street in Troy.

As much I love options, I'm basically ruined from trying most things that are offered at the handful of food stalls within Troy Kitchen. Because the Hot Plate, from K-Plate Korean BBQ, is my new go-to.

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Fork in the Road returns this Friday

Fork in the Road Tricentennial Park

Tricentennial Park is the park on Broadway across from Kiernan Plaza/the old train station.

The Fork in the Road food truck series returns to Tricentennial Park in Albany this Friday, May 13 from 5-8 pm.

The truck lineup for this month:
+ The Hungry Traveler
+ Sweet Mama Mia
+ Emack & Bolio's
+ The Chuck Wagon
+ The Hollow will be serving beverages

There will also be music from Morris Code.

This is the second year for Fork in the Road. The Downtown Albany BID has said it averaged 600 people for each event last summer. And the spot seemed to work well, with the trucks lined up along Broadway and people sitting around the park. Here are pics from the first one last May.

The dates for this summer are: June 10, July 8, August 12, September 9, October 14.

The Downtown Albany BID advertises on AOA.

Talking with the new manager of the Troy farmers' market

Troy Waterfront Farmers Market River Street

The Troy Waterfront Farmers' Market starts is it's new outdoor season this Saturday morning on River Street in downtown Troy.

And its 17th season includes a new manager: Liz Hammond. She comes to the job with experiences that include both working on farms and the Veggie Mobile, Capital Roots' mobile vegetable market.

We met up with Hammond this week to talk about the state of the market, its place in the local food scene, and the connections between the market's producers and customers.

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Idea: A farmers' market for Washington Park?

washington park lake house exterior

Ryan emails, not so much with a question as an idea to float (link added):

As we enter outdoor farmers' market season, I have been thinking that the Washington Park Lakehouse would be the perfect spot for a weekend summer farmer's market. Aside from the beauty of the park in summer, the Lakehouse is well equipped to hold markets (as evidenced by the Half Moon Market, which is a welcome addition), and there is plentiful parking around the park. On top of that the development in Park South will likely add thousands more residents within a few blocks of the park over the next several years. Not to take anything away from the other summer outdoor markets in the area, because they are great, but Washington Park seems to be screaming for a farmers' market. If you have any insight, I'd love to hear it.

Ryan had asked if this idea had ever come up before -- we're almost certain it has in some way, but as we were thinking about it we couldn't point to a specific instance.

A quick take on the idea: A farmers' market in the park might work, though there would be organizational (Who runs its?) and logistical (What about Park Playhouse?) issues to address. The overall question we come back to is whether there's enough room for another entry in the already crowded local farmers'-market market. It's not just a matter of there being enough customers to go around, it's also about whether there are enough farms with the resources necessary to show up each week at an Albany market and contribute to a critical mass of vendors. If you're a small farm, showing up at more than a few markets each weekend is probably a big stretch.

That said, there's also the possibility of induced demand. Would an Albany market add customers who wouldn't otherwise be shopping at farmers' markets? Would that make it worthwhile for more farms to participate or expand?

Like Ryan, we're curious to hear your thoughts.

Death Wish Coffee Vodka

death wish coffee vodka albany distillingThe latest local beverage collaboration: Albany Distilling Company and Death Wish Coffee have teamed up to create a coffee-flavored vodka. And there's a release party for the product of the collaboration this Saturday, April 30 at Olde Saratoga Brewing Co in Saratoga Springs.

Vodka blurbage: "Our most recent joint project has been a long time in the making - Death Wish Vodka. This silky smooth coffee flavored vodka is balanced by roasted choclate and just a touch of sweetness."

The release party is from 2-6 pm. There will be samples of the vodka, and bottles available for sale, along with beers on tap from Olde Saratoga. Also lined up: music from The North & South Dakotas, Angels on the Fourth, and Better Pills. Tickets are $5 ahead / $10 at the door.

Bottles of the vodka will be available on retail shelves starting Monday, a spots such as Empire Wine and Exit 9 Wine and Liquor.

Earlier on AOA:
+ Death Wish Coffee gets a Super Bowl ad
+ The Brew Brew

photo: Optimum Exposure Photography / ADC

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