Items tagged with 'food'
Today's map: The breweries, wineries, and distilleries of New York State.
We created this map based on data recently posted by the state. It includes big breweries and distillers, but also microbreweries, farm wineries, and cider producers. Check it out in large format -- where there's also a legend for the map.
To some extent, this is just sort of map gawkage. But it does highlight certain patterns...
Collins asks via Twitter:
Good Albany steak/filet recommendation? Other than Prime
The "other than Prime" part is a little like asking "What are some traditionally successful baseball teams -- other than the Yankees?" But it's good to get some suggestions beyond the places that get mentioned all the time.
And our quick take on steak: Considering steak is one of those things we don't order often, we tend to avoid filet. You know, if you're going to order a steak, order something with a lot of flavor -- a ribeye, hanger, something like that.
Got a suggestion? Please share.
Earlier on AOA: Ask AOA: The best burgers in the Capital Region? (2010)
Perhaps you are among the many who have been intrigued by the mysterious Albany Bagel Co., which appeared out of nowhere late last year. They have been tweeting, creating interesting maps of Albany, and teasing all of us with the promise of great bagels.
Well, the wait is almost over. The Albany Bagel Co. will begin retail operations at the Colonie Farmers Market at the Crossings this Saturday.
But who are they? Why are they doing this? And what can we expect when they finally start selling their bagels to the public? We talked with one of the founders to find out.
Gustav Ericson, Capital Region rock star of cheese, won't be making the leap to Honest Weight's new building.
Yes, we said the rock star of cheese.
Ericson has presided over the cheese counter at Honest Weight for the last 12 years, listening to stories, doling out samples, and educating volunteers and customers. And in that time he's developed a passionate band of fans for a guy who sells cheese.
Before it was famous, Famous Lunch in Troy was called Quick Lunch when it opened in 1932. And it's still quick today. In the front window hot dogs are plucked off the griddle, topped with mustard, chopped onions, and zippy sauce, and handed to eager customers in mere moments.
Zippy sauce -- for the uninitiated -- is a deeply savory concoction of onions, meat, and spices.
Those in a hurry could surely eat these diminutive three-inch wieners as quickly as they are assembled, although I wouldn't recommend it. Some things in life deserve to be savored. But that doesn't stop people from ordering them by the trayful in quantities of four, six, eight, or more.
Now while it may not be quite as quick, Famous Lunch's decidedly less famous breakfast is a very special treat. Specifically I'm referring to their egg and cheese sandwich on a hard roll with zippy sauce. It's not exactly on the menu, but they are more accommodating than one might imagine.
Some people might contemplate the notion of going to a famous hot dog place and not getting the hot dogs with deep scorn. But are you sure it's the restaurant's hot dogs that made them famous?
We all have to eat. So we've pulled together yet another list of upcoming local cooking classes that look interesting or fun.
Here's a batch of classes for the next few months -- from "off the hook" sandwiches, to chocolate, to eggs, to sauces, to sausage, to dairy at home, to exotic ice cream, to pasta, to grilling, to new Southern, to peaches...
The long-planned new Honest Weight Food co-op location on Watervliet Ave in Albany is slated for a soft open on June 19, with a formal grand opening scheduled for August 8. Honest Weight marketing manager Jennifer Grainer says construction has been on time and is expected to come in under budget, at around $5.5 million.
With just over a month to go before the opening, we got a quick tour of the building, which includes a full commercial kitchen for catering, a station for smoking meats, and a teaching kitchen for classes.
Here's a look at how it's shaping up.
The Pig Out is an annual barbecue competition and tasting. The first Bacon Fest was last year in Hudson -- it was very popular, which turned out to be a problem as there weren't enough samples to go around. It sounds like that experience played a role in the decision to team up with the Pig Out this year.
And, as Troy Downtown BID exec director Elizabeth Young notes in the press release: "Adding bacon just made sense - because really, what isn't better with bacon?"
The bacon portion of "what may be most ambitious pork festival in the state of NY" will be "Bacon Alley," according to the press release -- "a dedicated portion of festival grounds to hail the accomplishments of chefs, artisans and craftsman from around the region as they pay homage to the glory of bacon."
Admission is free. Samples are $1 for the People's Choice rib taste off, and other BBQ samples will be $1-$5.
Earlier on AOA: Strategy for crowded food festivals
Lucas emails with a specific outdoor dining/drinking question:
I'm looking for places in Albany where I can enjoy a beverage on a patio; however, because of the inconsistencies of the weather here, I'm looking for places in particular where the patios are covered. What places around town do you suggest?
This reminds us that we really need to update the outdoor dining map. (Like, really.) So your suggestions will help not only Lucas (and others), but also help us update the map.
Got a suggestion? Please share!
Juicing is the new (fill in the blank).
The new cleanse. The new vegetarian. The new subject of grand theft.
Jam-packing an entire day's worth of fruits and vegetables into one tasty cup appeals to both the health-conscious -- and those who don't like veggies but know they should have them.
Here's quick tour of a handful of juice bars around the Capital Region, with suggestions for both beginning and experienced juicers.
After running into a brunch predicament Sunday, Andrew emails:
Do you guys know where to get a good brunch and bloody Mary on a Sunday in Troy?
Just thinking about some of our go-to brunch spots now, we gotta admit that none of them were on the east side of the Hudson.
So, got a suggestion for Andrew? Please share!
Earlier on AOA: A boozy brunch spot? (2010)
Saturday was the first Food Truck Festival of NY in Troy, but it was not the first food truck festival ever.
These things happen all over the place all the time, and they come in many shapes and forms. Occasionally, like Tulip Fest, they aren't exclusively food events, but simply have a food component. Other times the festivals may not be focused on trucks but rather a specific ingredient... like bacon.
Events like these can be amazing or they can be agonizing. Sometimes the difference between the two is as simple as having a strategy.
A few years back we picked some Golden Russet apples at Samascott in Kinderhook -- we were curious because we'd never seen that variety before. And it was unlike any apple we'd had before. The skin, the texture, the flavor... everything about it was just different than the apple varieties usually in the supermarket.*
Anyway, ever since we've been intrigued by old/rare apple varieties. So we found this Mother Jones article about an "apple detective" in Maine super interesting. A clip:
Thurlow led Bunk to the abandoned intersection that had once been the heart of Fletcher Town, pointed to an ancient, gnarled tree, and said, "That's the tree I used to eat apples from when I was a child." The tree was almost entirely dead. It had lost all its bark except for a two-inch-wide strip of living tissue that rose up the trunk and led to a single living branch about 18 feet off the ground. There was no fruit, but Bunk was interested. A few months later he returned, took a handful of shoots, and grafted them to rootstock at his farm. A year later, both Thurlow and the tree died, but the grafts thrived, and a few years later, they bore the first juicy, green Fletcher Sweet apples the world had seen in years. "It's a great apple," Bunk says. "It has a super-duper distinctive flavor." Today, Bunk has returned young Fletcher Sweet trees to Lincolnville.
The apple detective, John Bunk, runs a nursery that preserves and sells heirloom apple varieties.
The Mother Jones article also includes some great illustrations from The Apples of New York, a 1903 state report on apple varieties and their histories (and it was printed right here in Albany). The book is available online through archive.org. There are a handful of references to Albany...
Magnolias. Ice cream trucks. Outdoor farmers' markets. It must really be May.
Three of the biggest farmers' markets in the Capital Region are starting their outside seasons this weekend:
Troy Waterfront Farmers' Market
Saturday, 9 am-2 pm
River and 3rd Street (Monument Square) in downtown Troy (map)
(The market's first "twilight market" is part of the Troy Night Out on Friday, May 31 in Riverfront Park.)
Of course, there are a bunch of other farmers' markets around the area. Some of the smaller markets -- like the Empire State Plaza market (Wednesdays, 10 am-2 pm) -- are already open. Others will be popping up through this month, and into June.
photo: Troy Waterfront Farmers' Market
Albany is filled with old food. And rightly so, it's an old town. Our fish fry and mini-hot dogs with meat sauce offer widespread examples around the region. But slightly less visible, inside one the city's oldest taverns, there is a remarkably old pizza.
The Orchard Tavern has been making its distinctive style of pizza from scratch for more than 70 years from the recipe of a former proprietor. Much of what is known about the pizza's origins is based on anecdotal evidence. But, since the recipe has remained unchanged for all this time, we can learn a lot about this pizza by understanding how it's made.
To unlock the secrets of The Orchard pizza, you have to start with a visit to their dungeon.
Andrew emails (emphasis added):
My fiancee is moving in with me this weekend and her parents will be meeting my parents for the first time. We're looking to go out to dinner somewhere nice, but noise level is a big concern. My mom is partially deaf so it's really hard for her to hear in a normal restaurant. Any suggestions?
So, this is a big dinner for Andrew and his fiancee.
Got a quiet spot to suggest? Please share!
The Fuj asks via Twitter:
What's the best BYOB restaurant in the Capital Region?
We retweeted last night, and netted a few suggestions. They're after the jump. If you a good place in mind, please share!
(And if you have info about corkage fees, even better.)
Drawing's closed! Winner emailed!
The Capital District Community Gardens' 26th annual spring brunch is coming up May 5 at HVCC -- a hundred chefs and bakers will be preparing a buffet-style brunch to benefit CDCG's many community projects. We have a pair of tickets and we're giving them away.
To enter, please answer this question in the comments:
This time of year is hard for local produce -- winter crops are tapped out, and spring crops are just starting to show up. So... What local produce item -- fruit, vegetable, whatever -- are you most looking forward to having back in season?
We'll draw one winner at random.
CDCG's brunch is from 10 am-2 pm on May 5 at HVCC's Siek Campus Center. Tickets are $25 ahead / $30 at the door. There will be live music, a silent auction for Mother's Day gift, and activities for kids. Proceeds benefit CDCG's programs, including the community gardens, the Veggie Mobile, The Produce Project, The Healthy Convenience Store Initiative, and Squash Hunger.
Important: All comments must be submitted by noon on Wednesday, April 24, 2013 to be entered in the drawing. You must answer the question to be part of the drawing. (Regular commenting guidelines apply.) One entry per person, please. You must enter a valid email address (that you check regularly) with your comment. The winner will be notified via email by 5 pm on Wednesday and must respond by noon on Thursday, April 25.
Dairy product fact of the day: New York was the nation's top producer of yogurt in 2012, the Cuomo admin reports.
Producers in the Empire State turned out 692 million pounds of yogurt in 2012 -- up almost 25 percent over the year before. That pushed New York ahead of California, whose production fell almost 7 percent. Ferment that, Golden State.
New York's rise to the top is in large part due to the Greek-style yogurt boom. Chobani, the #1 brand of that type, has a large plant outside Oneonta -- that facility alone produces about half of the yogurt in the state* and consumes 10 percent of all the milk produced by New York dairy farms. And Fage -- the #2 Greek-style brand -- has a plant in Johnstown. And there are more plants in western New York. [USA Today] [Fage]
As the state's yogurt production surges, the state's milk production is having a hard time keeping up -- in part because of the costs of expanding dairy herds and regulations on milk pricing. The situation even has a name: "The Chobani Paradox." The milk crunch was one of the reasons Chobani built a new plant in Idaho. [WSJ] [Food Engineering Mag]
The situation has prompted state leaders to look for ways to help dairy farms expand. Example: Chuck Schumer has proposed federal tax breaks ( not without criticism) and immigration reform (to help dairy farms with workforce issues). And today the Cuomo admin announced it was relaxing some environmental rules on the number of cows that can be kept at large feeding operations. [Chuck Schumer office] [NYDN] [Slate] [Chuck Schumer office]
By the way: Chobani founder Hamdi Ulukaya is scheduled to be the speaker at the Sage Colleges' commencement in May.
Do you ever get to the end of a meal and think, "I should be rewarded for how much I ate just now?"
Well, finally, your hard work and determination can be recognized. There are plenty of food challenges in the area where those with a hearty appetite and a willing spirit can pit their powers of digestion against an impossible amount of food.
Grab a fork...
What brings you comfort?
Even when it comes to food, the answer will be different for everyone. For some it will be a taste of home. Others will long for a taste of childhood. The answer could be situational, and refer back to some restorative dish eaten after a traumatic experience.
These foods aren't necessarily exciting. But dishes like biscuits with sausage gravy, fluffy scrambled eggs cooked in bacon fat, and mashed potatoes with gravy share a common heritage. They are all simple enough to be made, more or less from scratch, by the home cook.
So what could be more antithetical to unprocessed homemade food than the beloved tater tot? After all, its original purpose was to help Ore-Ida use waste created from the mass production of frozen french fries. How unlikely that this would turn into the comfort food of today. But there is a sea change surrounding the tater tot around this country. It's being taken back by talented chefs.
Now let me tell you why Comfort Kitchen in Saratoga deserves a top spot among their ranks.
So we looked into it. And as we found out along the way, part of the challenge of operating a food truck in the Capital Region is the area's many municipalities -- and their many different rules.
Here's a look at where you're more likely to find -- and not find -- food trucks around the area, and why.
The first -- and aptly named -- Food Truck Festival is May 4 in Troy's River Front Park from noon-7 pm.
The festival's website lists 12 trucks so far, promising more to be announced. Food will be priced by the trucks. The festival will be selling beer -- a $5 token for a 16 oz beer. Among the rules: no coolers, no outside alcohol, no dogs.
You might recognize at least a few (or more) of the trucks lined up so far. Among them: Slidin' Dirty, the Wandering Dago, and Sweet Temptations. Organizers are still looking to add vendors.
You might also be thinking, "Wait, wasn't there something about this a while back and it was supposed to be in Albany's Washington Park?" And the answer is: yes. The word we got from festival organizers was that they weren't able to work things out with the city -- so they headed to Troy.
Also in the mix: music from High Peaks Band, Funk Evolution, and the Chris Dukes Band.
The festival is organized by a group connected with Townsquare Media, which owns a group of radio stations in this area.
Why do most people go to the Dinosaur Bar-B-Que in Troy? Well if you ask general manager Joe Soldo, he'll tell you it's for the pulled pork. That's the big seller -- followed by ribs and then brisket, with chicken lagging way behind in the rear.
Chicken gets little respect at a barbecue joint.
When I think about barbecue, it conjures up images of long, slow cooking that breaks down the collagen in tougher pieces of meat, renders their fat, and turns them into unctuous smokey masterpieces. But when I hear the words "barbecue chicken" it's hard to picture anything but a dry, flavorless chicken breast slathered in sauce.
Barbecue chicken has a marketing problem. But I'm far from alone in thinking that Dinosaur's chicken is among its best offering. I recently got to sit down with the regional chain's CIA-trained executive chef Jeffrey "Cooter" Coon to find out why it's so good.
Little did I know that this is the chicken that changed his life.
Friday morning on AOA's Facebook page we blithely asserted that the Reese's peanut butter egg is vastly superior to the peanut butter cup. And while there were some who agreed with us, we did later in the day realize the error of our ways.
We didn't have data to support our claim.
So, because it's Friday afternoon, here is definitive proof that the peanut butter egg is better than the peanut butter cup.