Items tagged with 'food'

Local food gifts

cornelius applejack bottle

Well, it would be a very heavy -- and happy -- stocking.

By Deanna Fox

We're into the stretch run for December holidays, so we asked Deanna for a few stocking stuffer-type local food gift ideas.

Stockings are my favorite part of Christmas morning. In my family, you are not allowed to open any presents until everyone is awake and in the living room, around the tree. Stockings, however, are fair game. As soon as you wake up, you can tiptoe to the mantle, un-hook your stocking, and dump out all the goodies that are crammed deep into the toe.

Here are some local treats I'm hoping to find in my stocking this year.

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Where to get latkes?

latkes on plate Flickr Sarah and Jason CC BY-SA 2.0Xina emails with a seasonal question:

Where can I get some excellent latkes in the Capital region? I have had no luck making good ones on my own, but I would love to eat some. :)

We get the sense that latkes tend to fall into the category of "foods people usually make and eat at home" -- in part because it's a holiday thing for a lot of people. But there's gotta be a place in the Capital Region that Xina get score some good not-made-at-home latkes. Or maybe you can share some advice on how she can make good ones at home.

Got a suggestion? Please share!

photo: Flickr user Sarah and Jason (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Drawing: DeFazio University pizza or pasta class

DeFazio's veggie pizza TOP final 2014

One of DeFazio's pizzas from this year's TOP final, the shop's second overall tournament win.

Drawing's closed! Winner's been emailed!

Two-time Tournament of Pizza champ DeFazio's is bringing back its DeFazio University pizza and pasta classes in 2015. Rocco DeFazio and his family started teaching the classes this year, and they've become pretty popular.

DeFazio University Shirt.jpgIf you've wanted to give them a try, this could be your chance. AOA is giving away a pizza or pasta class for four at DeFazio University. You and three friends can join one of DeFazio's upcoming pizza classes on February 8 or 22, or their pasta class on March 1.

Here's how to enter the drawing:

DeFazio's is a two time winner of the AOA Tournament of Pizza trophy. If you could give someone/something in the Capital Region a trophy, to whom/what would you give it and why?

Maybe it's a favorite food, or place to go, maybe it's a person or organization that should be recognized for doing good work or just somehow being worthy of praise. Tell us who you think should get a trophy and why and you'll be entered to win.

We'll draw one winner at random.

DeFazio's pizza and pasta making classes are being offered on Sunday afternoons from 1-4 pm for $60 per person. You can bring your own bottle of wine to enjoy while you're cooking, and everyone who takes a class leaves with a DeFazio's pizza or pasta kit so they can get started making their own pies and pasta dishes at home.

Important: All comments must be submitted by 5 pm on Friday, December 12, 2014 to be entered in the drawing. You must answer the question to be part of the drawing. (Normal 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 Monday, December 15 and must respond by 5 pm on December 16.

Lunch buffet at First Choice Caribbean

first choice caribbean troy lunch plate closeup

By Deanna Fox

Friends are great. Friends with surprising, delicious food recommendations are even better.

Thankfully, my friend Braden has that covered. When I found myself near his office in Troy around lunchtime recently, I thought I would see if he was interested in grabbing coffee or lunch. He was Johnny on the spot with his reply: "Caribbean buffet is good if you haven't been there."

First Choice Caribbean in Troy was what he was referring to.

No, I hadn't been there, but it sounded perfect.

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The Best Dozen: Cookie Factory

Cookie Factory box of donuts

By Daniel B.

We've enlisted Daniel B. to survey Capital Region donuts -- and pick his favorites -- for a short series called The Best Dozen.

Donuts are sweet. Well, technically they aren't. They are fried dough that are are then glazed, dusted with sugar, or frosted. Sometimes they are even filled. It's these finishing touches that actually make the donuts sweet.

There are forces at work to help temper the sweetness of donuts. Primarily it's the fat from the frying oil. Richness cuts the sweetness. And then of course there is the bracing bitterness of coffee. It's one of the reasons these two morning staples are almost inseparable from each other.

The best donuts are well balanced, with enough toppings or fillings to provide great flavor and enough sweetness to brighten your morning. But if you aren't careful at The Cookie Factory you could end up with a box of sugar bombs. (Unless, of course, that's exactly your aim.)

After recently trying the flavors available at this Troy shop one morning, here's how to get the best dozen...

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Pics from the AOA holiday cocktail party at New World Catering

new world catering party composite

The AOA holiday cocktail party in the kitchen at New World Catering in Albany was Thursday night, and we had a lot of fun! It was very informal -- a throw-your-coat-over-here-and-grab-a-cocktail kind of affair. And, of course, there was food: pan-blackened stringbeans, deviled eggs, ropa vieja sliders, an enormous pan of paella, and more.

Thank you to chef Ric Orlando and the New World Catering crew for hosting us. And thanks to everyone who came to hang out with us!

Here are a few pics...

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Holiday cocktail tour: part 2

liquor bottles behind Malt Room bar

By Lauren Hittinger

Since the holiday cocktail is such a central part of any festive fĂȘte, we asked five Capital Region bars to create locally-themed versions of their favorite seasonal drinks.

Last time we stopped by New World Bistro Bar, dp, and 677 Prime to try their creations.

Today we'll finish up the tour with Speakeasy 518, The Malt Room, and the tasters pick their favorites.

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Holiday cocktail tour: part 1

cocktail at dp

By Lauren Hittinger

It's December, which means we are officially into holiday party time. I know that you're not looking forward to endless crudités and cubed cheese. Let's be honest. It's all about the holiday cocktail.

Here at All Over Albany we recognize the importance of a good festive drink. That's why we asked five local bars to create the perfect holiday cocktail. To make things even more interesting, we requested that each beverage contain at least one ingredient local to the Capital Region.

We brought along some tasters to give their opinion, roped in designated drivers, and headed off to try the five festive creations.

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A tour of the new Urban Grow Center

On River Street.

Two big pieces of news out of Capital District Community Gardens today. The first is that it's no longer Capital District Community Gardens. After 40 years the regional food org that runs eleven programs including the Veggie Mobile, Community Gardens, and Healthy Convenience Store program has changed its name to Capital Roots.

The new name comes as Capital Roots officially opens its long-anticipated Urban Grow Center in a rehabbed, 165-year-old industrial building in Troy.

The 12,000-square-foot building includes a produce market, gardeners'resource center, green roof, and community meeting space.

Here are few more details and a look around...

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The Best Dozen: Market Bistro

Market Bistro donuts in boxes

By Daniel B.

We've enlisted Daniel B. to survey Capital Region donuts -- and pick his favorites -- for a short series called The Best Dozen.

Donuts don't have to come from a standalone bakery. You can also find them in your local neighborhood grocery store.

The ones at Price Chopper's Market Bistro in Latham make an impression because the store's donut rack includes a variety of signature square donuts in addition to the classics. To the eye the signature donuts are reminiscent of the more famous specimens found at shops such as NYC's Doughnut Plant and elsewhere.

But are the Market Bistro donuts any good? And which ones are worthy to pack into your dozen? Well, there's only one way to find out.

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Lark Street's Hot Dog Heaven closing

Hot dog heaven in the snow.jpg

After 20 years, Hot Dog Heaven on Lark Street closes on Sunday.

A piece of Lark Street history closes its doors for good on Sunday.

Hot Dog Heaven, the tiny Lark Street diner where Barbara Lamperella and her family have been making homemade soups, roasts, burgers and, of course, hot dogs for 20 years will flip its last burger on Sunday.

Lamperella says after two decades, it's just time to close.

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Checking out Slidin' Dirty's new restaurant space

slidin dirty troy exterior

By Lauren Hittinger

I'm a big fan of food trucks, and particularly fond of Slidin' Dirty. So I was over the moon when I heard they were opening a permanent brick-and-mortar location in Troy.

This week I stopped by to check out the new space on First Street, which maintains the no-nonsense Slidin' Dirty vibe.

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The burger at 15 Church

15 Church burger

By Deanna Fox

Ever have a cheeseburger change your life?

I haven't either -- though I've had plenty of cheeseburgers that remind me why it's good to be alive.

To me, cheeseburgers are prized because they're quick, filling, and relatively inexpensive. It's part of the reason they've lasted through decades, beyond trends.

For all those reasons, it never made much sense to me to have a cheeseburger on the menu of an upscale, top-rated restaurant. Why, when you are going to dine at an eatery that features Artic Char with quinoa, squash puree, Greek yogurt sauce, and pickled black currants -- or beef carpaccio with crispy oysters, fried capers, shaved Parmesan, and truffle emulsion -- would you order a cheeseburger? Facepalm.

If you want a cheeseburger, go somewhere that's going to give you that cheesy, fat-dripping patty of delight that with leave you just a few bucks poorer. (In that situation, Five Guys is my burger of choice.)

But then I ate the cheeseburger at 15 Church in Saratoga Springs, and I had a shift in perspective. I was trapped in a food identity crisis. I'm a thin-patty kind of girl who fell in love with a hockey-puck mound of ground meat. All I thought I loved/hated about a burger was being questioned.

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The Best Dozen: Park Side Eatery

park side eatery dozen donuts

By Daniel B.

We've enlisted Daniel B. to survey Capital Region donuts -- and pick his favorites -- for a short series called "The Best Dozen."

Donuts are a special treat. Given the ubiquity of that one regional orange and pink chain, sometimes we forget that.

At Park Side Eatery, donuts are only available on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. The flavors also change frequently, typically offering between 10-15 varieties on any given day. So all of the donuts sampled on a recent visit may not be available when you go. And they don't make a ton, so popular varieties often sell out by noon.

Still, by going to the shop and sampling one of every donut on the rack, it is possible to learn how to cobble together the best dozen.

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New blog worth a look: Chefsday

chefsday screengrabOne of our favorite things to do is to ask about people about their jobs. Not just "What do you do?" -- but more "How do you do that?" and "Why do you that?" and "What do you think about doing that?" Almost everyone has some interesting answers to those questions.

So we've been really enjoying Chefsday, a blog started recently by Dominic Colose, the chef at the Wine Bar in Saratoga Springs. As he explains in an intro post, he hopes it to be "an outlet for some of the great stories, victories, frustrations, and thoughts that come out of life in the restaurant business."

Here's a clip from his take on restaurant week:

I believe the start of this thing was done with good intention, meant to bring new diners into restaurants, and for restaurants to showcase what they can do.
Well, somewhere along the way chefs got lazy, owners got cheap, and the target market got fed up. So now we have mostly sub-par menus, low quality food, and bargain hunters. It's time to do away with this thing.

And a clip from a different post about the changing preferences of local diners:

It's almost embarrassing gloating about my ability to sell offal on a grand scale, I mean in an area with more savvy diners they'd laugh at me being proud of my eclectic offerings. In the Capital District however we need to celebrate getting sweetbreads on a menu without the "what the hell is that" reaction. We need to keep encouraging folks to leave their comfort zones and try some new shit. Go have some irregular food this weekend.

Or his take on whether the Capital Region could support a Michelin star restaurant.

What Colose has posted so far is interesting and entertaining. Subscribed.

[via Daniel]

Where to donate a turkey?

coldwater creek farm turkeys flockT. emails:

I was told at ShopRite today that I've qualified for a free turkey. I don't want it myself, but I was wondering if I should pick it up and drop it off at a food pantry or shelter. Seems like there are probably other people in my position too - how about a roundup of places to donate them, how and when etc? My receipt says to get it from ShopRite between 11/16 and 11/27.

We were just thinking it'd be great if these supermarket chains would allow you to designate your free turkey or ham or whatever to be given to charity directly.

Got an idea for T.? Please share!

The Best Dozen: Bella Napoli

bella_napoli_donuts_in_box.jpg

By Daniel B.

We've enlisted Daniel B. to survey Capital Region donuts -- and pick his favorites -- for a short series called "The Best Dozen."

Donuts are a great way to start the day. Don't listen to the naysayers. Not only do fat and sugar make human beings happy, but they provide us with a burst of quick energy. This is especially true when paired with a cup of coffee.

Nobody makes the best decisions blurry eyed at the donut shop early in the morning. And picking out the best dozen at any given shop shouldn't be left to chance. So we'll be going out and trying as many different donuts as we can to help you fill your box with the best sweet deep fried breakfast treats in the region.

First up, Bella Napoli in Troy.

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Drawing: Chefs Consortium pairing of local beer/food at City Beer Hall

city beer hall exterior

Drawing's closed!

This Thursday, November 20, there's a fundraiser for the Chefs Consortium at the City Beer Hall in Albany that will be pairing local beers with locally-produced foods. We have a pair of tickets to the event, and we're giving them away.

To enter the drawing, please answer this question in the comments:

What are two local things that pair well together?

This could be anything -- food, places, activities, whatever. We'll draw one winner at random, that person gets the pair of tickets.

Featured breweries at the event are: Chatham Brewing, Crossroads Brewing Company, Nine Pin Cider Works, and Rare Form Brewing Company. Beers (and cider) from those places will be paired with food made with products from Hawthorne Valley Farm, Honest Weight Food Co-Op, Hudson Valley Farm Hub, Northwind Farms, and R & G Cheese works.

The event starts at 6 pm on Thursday, Novemeber 20. Tickets are $35 each, and include $1 off drinks all night at the City Beer Hall and a 20 percent discount ticket for dinner there. Proceeds from the event will benefit the Chefs Consortium's educational programs.

Important: All comments must be submitted by 10 am on Wednesday, November 19, 2014 to be entered in the drawing. You must answer the question to be part of the drawing. (Normal 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 noon on Wednesday and must respond by 7 pm that day.

AOA event: Tasting in the kitchen with New World's Ric Orlando

chef Ric Orlando

Chef Ric

Update x3: The new batch of tickets has now also sold out. Thanks for all the interest!

Update update: New tickets have been released!

Update: The event is currently sold out! But we've arranged for more spots and we'll release them Monday at noon.

Some restaurants have a special table in the kitchen where you can watch the chefs prepare your meal, and maybe even ask a question or two. So why not have a whole party there?

AOA is going to do just that.

New World Catering has a new space on Delaware Avenue with a bar and an open kitchen, and on Thursday, December 4 AOA is hosting a holiday cocktail party there with New World chef, author, and Chopped champ Ric Orlando.

We'll have food, signature cocktails, craft beers and locally-sourced wines. Here's a peek at the menu and how to get tickets.

We'd love to see you there.

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Around the virtual water cooler: Price Chopper name change

Price Chopper Market 32 rendering cropped

A rendering shared by Price Chopper on Facebook of the new Market 32 exterior design. (larger)

Everybody eats. And (pretty much) everyone shops for food.

So the news that Price Chopper is changing its name to Market 32 prompted a lot of reactions, even more so because the company is a local institution.

For a while on Tuesday our Twitter feed was jammed with people commenting, criticizing, cracking jokes about the change. It was the topic of the day at the virtual water cooler.

Here's a quick collection of a bunch of those tweets.

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Empanadas from La Empanada Llama

Empanada Llama empanadas

By Deanna Fox

When it comes to the eating of feelings, I am the champion. The contents of my refrigerator are direct indicators of my mood. Happy or generally content times manifest as plenty of fresh produce, lean meat, and other aspects of a homemade, well-balanced diet. Other times, you'll find all the things that would make Jenny Craig blush.

One particular crappy day had me hankering for something fried, spicy, and perhaps even a little sweet. How could one better address all those cravings that with fried handpies? And on this day, that came in the form of empanadas at La Empanada Llama.

In one single bite, I could feel my entire day turning around.

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Where to buy a goose?

roast goose flickr Tim Sackton ccJustin emails:

I'd really love to know where to get a decent whole goose for christmas dinner.

We're curious if you can just walk into a store and buy a goose -- or whether they require a pre-order.

Got a suggestion for Justin? Please share!

photo: Flickr user Tim Sackton (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Tea tasting at Whistling Kettle Troy

whistling kettle tea tasting tea closeupThe Whistling Kettle in Troy is hosting a tea tasting Friday, November 14.

The tastings include 5-6 cups of tea not on the cafe's menu -- "most will be in the premium/exotic category" -- along with descriptions and experts on hand to talk about the tea. The tasting is by reservation, and there's a registration process detailed at that link. It's $21.99 per person.

The Whistle Kettle has hosted many of these tastings at its original Ballston Spa location, and they've been very popular. (They often sell out.)

Casey attended one of the tastings last year, and said it was relaxing and fun.

Earlier on AOA: The Whistling Kettle, Troy

Beyond boring apples

unusual apples from Samascott

You never know what you might find inside.

One of the fun things about the Capital Region in the fall is that we're surrounded by apple orchards. And there are all sorts of good things that go along with that: weekend apple picking trips, cider donuts, all that stuff.

But it also means we have access to a wide range of different apples -- way beyond the same 10 or so varieties you see in the supermarket all the time. And given that there are literally thousands of apple varieties, why limit yourself to the same-old Macs, Galas, and (shudder) Red Delicious?

We took a drive out to Samascott Orchards in Kinderhook recently to try some unusual apples.

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Cider donut bread pudding

cider donut bread pudding serving

By Deanna Fox

We saw that Deanna had made this for a party and it looked like an idea that needed to be shared. So, we asked her how to make it.

I recently hosted a group of foodies at my house for brunch to celebrate a good mutual friend. Hosting brunch can be intimidating. Hosting brunch for people who seriously know their food? Even more so.

This was no time to hold back. This is when the big kitchen guns come out: the no-holds-barred, all-stops-pulled kind of cooking.

This was the time for cider donut bread pudding.

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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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