Items tagged with 'food'

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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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.

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