Items tagged with 'food'

Halal options at Zaitoon Kitchen

zaitoon kitchen chicken wrap

By Deanna Fox

How bold is this claim: The best new dining hotspot in the Capital Region is that area around the Latham Circle.

I mean it. When was the last time you dined there? I bet you opened social media in the last week and found a photo of someone eating in that area. Superior Thai, Chinese, Eastern European, and pub food can all be found just off Exit 6.

Now there's halal food, too, with the recent addition of Zaitoon Kitchen, another example of why this spot is becoming a premier local food destination.

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Talking about the Veggie Mobile on its 10th anniversary

veggie mobile side

Capital Roots is celebrating the 10th anniversary of The Veggie Mobile -- its rolling green market on a truck -- with a party called The Big Veg this Friday, July 28 at the org's headquarters in Troy. There will be music from a bunch of acts, food trucks, and drinks.

The Veggie Mobile is an established part of the food landscape, making stops around the Capital Region each week, selling fruits and vegetables in neighborhoods that don't have easy access to such products.

But a decade ago?

"Everybody I talked with afterwards thought it was a crazy idea," Eric Krans said to us recently about taking the job back then. He helped start the program and headed it up for almost eight years.

Eric -- who's known as EJ on the Veggie Mobile -- has since moved on to a job at UAlbany, but he's still involved with Capital Roots. And he'll be playing The Big Veg as part of The Parlor, the band he and his wife, Jen O'Connor, have had for many years.

We got together with Eric to talk about the early days of The Veggie Mobile, the power of relationships, what it was like to move on from something he helped build, and what's up with The Parlor these days.

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Pick-your-own blueberry season 2017

box of blueberries at samascott

Blueberry season has begun around the greater Capital Region. And there are a bunch of places where you can pick your own.

Blueberries are just about our favorite PYO crop because they're easy to pick (on bushes about waist high), relatively cheap (usually about $3 per pound), and they freeze beautifully, so you can stock up for later in the year.

Here's a list of farms around the region for PYO blueberries, along with a few details.

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H&L on the Hudson

H&L on the Hudson

Albany has a lot of waterfront. But it doesn't have a lot places along that waterfront to grab something to eat.

So we were happy to find our way to H&L on the Hudson this week, a food trailer set up along the riverfront at the C. Springer Marina on the south end of Broadway.

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Ice cream sandwiches at Different Blend Bakery

Different Blend ice cream sandwich big bite

By Deanna Fox

Summer, man. It's fleeting. It is hard to believe that already, here we are in mid-July. I recently had a conversation with my dad about how time just speeds up as you age, and I feel that phenomenon is finally happening to me this summer. I'm nostalgic for summer before it has ended.

In my house, summer begins on the last day of school. We write out a "summer to-do" list posted to the refrigerator and get busy enjoying the warmest season. Top of the list: Eat ice cream sandwiches.

There's no such thing as too many ice cream sandwiches, especially when they are homemade like those from Different Blend Bakery in Guilderland. And they also happen to be gluten free.

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Follow up: Troy Kitchen

Cory Nelson at Troy Kitchen 2017-June

Cory Nelson at Troy Kitchen

AOA is on summer break this week. So we'll have new follow-ups this week with people we've met and covered during the last year.

Troy Kitchen opened its doors in February of 2016 in the former Pioneer Food Coop space in downtown Troy. Entrepreneur Cory Nelson had a vision for a luxury food court and local food incubator in which small food businesses could get a start, learn the ropes, and move on to start their own restaurants. Admittedly, he had no experience in the food business when he began the venture. But Cory Nelson is an optimist.

So, now a year and a half after its opening, how are things going at Troy Kitchen? We stopped by to catch up on what's new and talk with Cory about the challenges and rewards of entrepreneurship, some of the lessons he's learned, and the plan for his next food court.

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Follow up: Berben and Wolff's

Berben and Wolffs Joey Berben 2017-June

AOA is on summer break this week. So we'll have new follow-ups this week with people we've met and covered during the last year.

A little more than a year ago, Joey Berben and Max Wolff opened a vegan restaurant on Lark Street with the goal of making food that appeals to all sorts of people -- vegan and non-vegan.

As Berben said last year, "It's just good food. Vegetable forward, plant-based food."

And it's worked. Berben and Wolff's has built a following of fans, expanded its wholesale business that sells to other restaurants, and now has an eye on expansion.

We talked with Joey Berben last week in the busy second-floor dining space that looks out onto Lark Street about drawing an eclectic crowd, staying positive, and snowballing small successes.

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Follow up: Sunhee's Farm and Kitchen

Sunhees Jinah Kim 2017-June

By Cristin Steding

AOA is on summer break this week. So we'll have new follow-ups this week with people we've met and covered during the last year.

When we first spoke with Jinah Kim in 2016, she had big plans for Sunhee's Farm and Kitchen.

The goal, she said, was for Sunhee's to not only be a Korean restaurant, but also a hub for social services, specifically focused on the refugee and immigrant community. Walking into the restaurant today, you'll find little placards dotting the walls labeling things in Korean and English -- evidence of the English classes currently offered to staff members.

We caught up with Jinah to talk about how things have progressed over the last year, including a bar and a new patio, and how she's balancing between running a successful restaurant and giving back to the immigrant community.

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A look around Great Flats Brewing

Great Flats Brewing interior

Every month it seems like there's a new brewery somewhere around the region. And one of the most recent is Great Flats Brewing in Schenectady.

The brewery opened three months downtown, and this Thursday had its official ribbon cutting.

Here's a look around the brewery space, along with a few bits about what's going on there.

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A look around the new Slidin' Dirty in Schenectady

Slidin Dirty Schenectady

The popular restaurant Slidin' Dirty opened a new location in the Foster Building on State Street in downtown Schenectady Thursday. It's the second location for owners Brooke and Tim Taney, who started out with a food truck in 2012, and then opened a permanent location in downtown Troy in 2014.

The new spot in Schenectady is much bigger than the Troy location, occupying two floors behind a large arch window that looks out onto the street.

Here's a look around the new space, along a few quick bits from the Taneys about why the picked Schenectady and the path from a food truck to multiple locations.

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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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