Items tagged with 'food'

Steven Tyler was in Saratoga, saw a movie, flew through ALB, maybe had a cupcake

By Deanna Fox

We had a special order for a certain #rockstar passing through the area...#redwhiteandyou #cupcakes #enjoytroy #bakers #ny #chocolate

A photo posted by Nibble Inc. (@nibbleinc) on


Check it out: Steven Tyler was in Saratoga Springs last night, taking in a movie, as WNYT reporter Mark Mulholland posted the news in a Facebook photo with his son.

What's he doing in Saratoga? Attempts to reach Tyler through social media and his management company haven't provided information yet.

But he did fly on a private jet through Albany International Airport, and his visit provides a peek into how local restaurants provide catering for such stops. It turns out Tyler -- or someone with him -- likes his sweets.

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3Fish Coffee

3 Fish Coffee Albany Emma and Abby Fullem

Emma and Abby Fullem, two of the three fish. (Their older sister, Zoe, is the third.)

Sometimes the push to finally do that thing you've always talked about arrives in the form of disaster.

Almost two years ago there was a fire in the building that houses the Downtube, the well-known bike shop across from Washington Park in Albany. It took a year of reconstruction and renovation before the shop's showroom reopened last March.

At the time of the fire, Emma Fullem -- whose parents, Robert Fullem and Marilyn Kaplan, own the Downtube -- was living in the San Francisco area, working for an organization that helps people learn how to be food entrepreneurs. And as renovation work on the building started up, she got a call from her dad: Come home and let's open a coffee shop.

So she did. And they did.

This weekend 3Fish Coffee -- located in a former garage space alongside the Downtube -- has its soft opening. It'll be operating weekends this month and next before opening full time in March.

We stopped in recently to get a look at the new coffee spot and talk with Emma Fullem about the family story behind the shop, being a part of the neighborhood, and the search for good English muffins.

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Good places for gluten-free desserts?

alleycarte chocolate chip cookie

A gluten-free cookie from a Peck's Arcade pop-up. As the pastry chef there, Gregory Kern, mentioned last year, the items on the dessert menu were gluten free. / photo: Steve Noisseau

Fred emails:

Hey gang, you've never steered me wrong before, and I'm looking for some gluten free restaurants, or some places that offer gluten free menus. I have been eating paleo for a while now, and have started dating a girl who has celiacs (I swear, we're not annoying about it!!), and am looking for some good places for dinner or desserts.

As Fred mentions in his email, we've touched on this topic a bunch of years ago. And the topic of restaurants with good gluten-free options came up again last year.

But we figured it could be good to focus on spots with good gluten-free desserts -- whether they're restaurants or some sort of other outlet. Because what's life without dessert? (It's also interesting from a culinary perspective because of the creativity the challenge prompts in chefs, much like vegan food.)

So, got a suggestion for good spots in the area for getting gluten-free desserts? Please share! And sentence or two about why you're recommending a place can be helpful.

Pizza dinner at Mia Lucci's

Mia Lucci's pizza

By Deanna Fox

As a lifelong pizza eater, I've come to learn there really isn't such a thing as "bad" pizza. Sure, there's pizza that doesn't quite hit the mark of great -- or even good -- pizza, but even subpar pizza is better than no pizza.

That fact became abundantly clear during the last few rounds of the Tournament of Pizza that I helped to judge. (RIP, TOP **kisses hand, points to God**.) A few slices were questionable, in the kindest terms, but I didn't flat-out refuse to scoff down any of them.

Those slices are few and far between, however: As a whole, I'd put Capital Region pizza up against pizzas from any corner of the world. We've got an amazing array of styles and varieties here. The doughy Sovrana's slices. The interesting crusts and no-Parm rule at DeFazio's. The pan-baked pub-style pizza at Kay's. The giant foldable slices from I Love NY and Paesan's. Farm-fresh sourdough pizza from 9 Miles East. (Tell me when to stop...)

If you're going to break into the pizza game 'round here, you better be darn confident in what you are offering. Sometimes that comes via the actual pizza. Other times, it's an experiential thing. Mia Lucci's in Colonie gives us a little of both.

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The restaurant space on the Empire State Plaza has re-opened

Empire State Plaza restaurant exterior

The restaurant space on the ESP near the foot of the Corning Tower is back operating as a restaurant again -- Cornerstone at The Plaza opened this week.

It's serving lunch Monday through Friday from 11 am-3 pm while in the state legislature is in session. There's also a happy hour Wednesday from 3-7 pm.

You might remember this space once housed the restaurant The Sign of the Tree -- it closed more than a decade ago. Mazzone Hospitality -- which also operates a cafeteria on the concourse of the ESP, as well as a bunch of other local restaurants such as 677 Prime -- is running the new Cornerstone restaurant. (It had already been hosting events there during the past year.)

New restaurant blurbage:

The menu will include foods and beverages produced in New York State, including a locally-sourced selection of artisanal cheeses; a warm winter kale salad featuring chorizo from Dashing Star Farm; a vegetable torta made with local farm eggs; and beef short ribs braised in Nine Pin Cider.

Here's the menu.

We stopped in for lunch Thursday. It was nice. The space -- about half of which was set up for lunch service -- has great windows which look out onto the plaza. The atmosphere was relaxed, and the service friendly. The music could use an upgrade. (If you're ever wondering if a chamber orchestra version of "Hotel California" is a good idea, the answer is always no.) There's an elevator inside that connects to the concourse below.

Here are a few pics if you're curious.

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Favorite local foods of 2016

restaurant navona albany exterior

An item at Restaurant Navona in Albany got a mention.

With 2016 about to end, we're talking with a bunch of people about favorite/interesting things from the past year.

First up: We asked about people around the online Neighborhood about their favorite local foods or drinks of the past year.

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A look around the new Save-A-Lot supermarket in Albany

Save-A-Lot Central Ave shelves

The Save-A-Lot chain opened a new supermarket on Central Ave in Albany Thursday, just about two blocks west of Swinburne Park. It's the company's second store in the city, joining one on Delaware Ave.

The store is in a building that, in the immediate past, was an Albany Med office. But its earlier lives include time as both A&P and Star grocery stores. So it's new, but also kind of old.

Save-A-Lot is a discount chain that specializes in small-format stores -- at 20,000 square feet the Central Ave store is one of the smaller supermarkets in this area. And one of the location types it looks for is densely-populated neighborhoods, the sorts of neighborhoods that, at least in the Capital Region, have struggled to attract new supermarkets over the last few decades.

"We're like a well-kept secret from a lot of people even though we have 1,300 stores across the United States," said Tom Kallio, the northeast business unit director of Save-A-Lot, Thursday. "But because we don't have a big footprint, we don't make the big thunder."

Here's a quick look around the new store, along with a quick chat with Kallio about why the company seeks dense, urban neighborhoods.

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Duck drumettes at Rascals

Rascals duck drumettes

By Deanna Fox

Eating at the mall used to mean Sbarro pizza or chicken from a Chinese food kiosk. (You know you always bought it out of guilt because of the free sample.) Maybe you opted for giant hot pretzels with neon "cheese" sauce, Orange Julius, or the week's worth of calories with a Cinnabon.

But malls are no longer just a place for power-walkers, angsty teenage meet-ups, or chain shopping; malls are becoming destinations for everything from underwear purchases to rock concerts.

The dining is changing to keep pace. Take Rascals -- a business-in-the-front, party-in-the-back space -- in Crossgates that allows for fine steakhouse dining in one space, a sports bar with several large TVs in another, and a performance space with its own bar and dining options in the rear.

The menu is designed to accommodate the varied patronage, but Rascals' take on chicken wings is a sure bet in any of the restaurant's environs.

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Phoenicians Mediterranean Palace

Phoenicians Mediterranean Palace Robert Rahal

Robert Rahal

The new Phoenicians Mediterranean Palace recently opened on Fuller Road in Colonie. It's the successor to the Phoenicians Restaurant on Central Ave -- and it's big. The space itself is huge, and owner Robert Rahal has big plans for it.

Here's a quick look around, along with a few bits about what's in the works...

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Plumb Oyster Bar

Plumb Oyster Bar Troy owner Heidi Knoblauch

Heidi Knoblauch

By Lauren Hittinger Hodgson

If you want fresh oysters daily, you'll soon have a new spot.

Heidi Knoblauch, an Emma Willard grad, recently returned to Troy after years in academia to open Plumb Oyster Bar. She's another young person investing in Troy, and she aims to create something a little bit different for this area -- while building a gathering space to serve both oyster lovers and the seafood-phobic alike.

We chatted about oysters, the motivations to leave academia, and why Troy is the right spot for Plumb.

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Breakfast sandwich at Gibby's Diner

gibby's diner breakfast sandwich cross section

By Deanna Fox

There's plenty of things that Gibby's Diner, in the tiny hamlet of Quaker Street in in the town of Duanesburg, does well -- but one thing it doesn't do is screw around with portions.

The classic diner car has been in business since 1952 and little has changed in the 60-plus years of operation. Passers-by come for quick food on the road between hither and thither, while the regulars expect the expedient service and solid food served with a smile and a side of sass.

Your transaction at Gibby's isn't complete unless you are waddling out of the cramped chrome-and-neon coated entrance. Homemade breads and pies and in-house roasted meats make sure that happens, but nothing guarantees the gluttonous feeling (shame?) quite like the Gibby's breakfast sandwich.

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Supermarket Showdown 2016

grocery list written in marker

New list, new stores.

It's back: Supermarket Showdown, in which check prices for a basket of 40 items across multiple supermarkets here in the Capital Region.

The showdown has taken a few years off -- the last time we did it was in 2012 -- and this year it returns with a new basket and three new stores.

Without further ado, let's get to it...

Supermarket Week 2016 CDPHP in-post ad

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Giving ALDI a try

ALDI Deanna shopping cart contents

The haul from Deanna's ALDI trip.

By Deanna Fox

I find that I am often a bit naive about how Americans truly eat at home, regardless of the fact that I make a living from writing about food. I eat out a lot and I when I cook at home, it either leans towards the clean, healthy side (to counteract all the eating out) or it turns into a production somehow related to a story.

That's not to say I live in a vacuum, but I realize that sometimes my grasp of what the typical grocery run looks like it a bit slippery.

Lately, I've noticed plenty of friends, acquaintances, and colleagues talking about ALDI, the low-priced chain of grocery stores with European roots that's rapidly expanding. (According to the US ALDI website, the supermarket will have 2,000 US-based stores by 2018.)

I remember shopping at LDI with my Aunt Laura and her kids growing up. It was the first stop on the bi-weekly shopping trip, followed by Tops, Grand Union, and Price Chopper if absolutely necessary. The generic-looking packaging under ALDI private labels, the fact that you had to bring your own bags, and the way the entire system worked always gave me the impression that ALDI was low-quality.

Now, some of my favorite food enthusiasts shop there... and they won't settle for subpar. So there's got to be something worth checking out.

So I did.

Supermarket Week 2016 CDPHP in-post ad

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Can't afford a brewery? Share one.

glass of nine pin ciderNext year it will become legal in New York State to operate what are essentially shared brewery/cidery/winery production facilities that home brewers will be able to drop in and use.

Legislation allowing these "custom centers" passed earlier this year, and the governor has now signed it, the Cuomo admin announced this week.

From the memo for the Senate bill, sponsored by David Carlucci, a Democrat who represents Rockland County:

[The legislation creates] a new custom beermakers' center license that authorizes the operation of a custom beermakers' center facility to provide individuals with rental space (to make and store homemade beer), the use of equipment and storage facilities, and/or beer making supplies for the production of beer for personal household use and not for commercial use or resale purposes. It defines beer making supplies as products grown or produced in New York in quantity amounts as determined by the State Liquor Authority. A custom beermakers' center licensee would be authorized, if permitted by the Federal Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau,(TTB) to conduct training classes on how to manufacture beer and conduct certain tastings of beer produced on the premises.

The legislation does the same thing for cider and wine. From a Cuomo admin press release:

New York's craft beverage industry is one of the fastest growing in the nation, however many urban and suburban residents often cannot afford or do not have access to the appropriate space or equipment to make homemade beer, cider, or wine in their homes or apartments. These custom production centers not only provide space and lower the overhead costs of production, but they also provide amateur brewers and wine and cider makers with the local ingredients and expert training needed when first starting out.

The legislation takes effect in six months.

We hadn't heard about these sorts of production centers before, so we poked around online looking for examples and found a few that look somewhat similar -- including one in Boston, and another in New Hampshire.

French toast at Baking You Crazy

baking you crazy french toast

By Deanna Fox

Considering French toast is little more than eggs, milk, and bread, it can be surprisingly easy to screw up. The KISS notion (keep it simple, stupid) is one that evades most of modern society. Bigger is still better, more is still more, and pairing it down to the basics seems like a weakness or cop-out, not an ability to be admired.

Simple doesn't mean thoughtless, though: The opposite is true. Because there is less fluff to mask errors and subpar additions, all ingredients need to be of a particular quality and incorporated with consideration.

Baking You Crazy, the bakery and cafe that replaced a small Italian restaurant at the foot of the Albany-Rensselaer train station on Broadway, employs these ideas across its entire menu.

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Recalling the grocery stores of Albany's past

Empire Food Market Albany Lyon Block storefront

The Empire Food Market -- "Albany's Premier Food Center" -- in the old Lyon Block building in downtown Albany. (The building was knocked down during the Empire State Plaza construction.) / via the Albany Public Library History Collection

By Carl Johnson

The trick of time is that it passes slowly, and changes are incremental, so you can hardly notice it happening. The world of today looks mostly like the world of yesterday to us, and yet there have been a thousand little changes over the years that separate those worlds. When things change all at once, it seems a revolution, but when they change little by little, it just seems the passing of time.

Grocery stores are one example. Sure, 50 years ago, they were selling milk and meats, frozen foods and Cap'n Crunch, just as they are today. And yet everything about them has changed.

Supermarket Week 2016 CDPHP in-post ad

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What's a bit of supermarket shopping savvy that you can share with everyone here?

items in paper grocery bag

Drawing's closed and winner's been emailed!

It's back: Supermarket Week returns to AOA this week. We'll have a bunch of posts about supermarkets -- including a new version of the popular Supermarket Showdown price comparison -- because, well, we all have to eat.

To start things off, we have a drawing for a $100 gift card to the local supermarket of the winner's choice. To enter the drawing, please answer this question:

What's a bit of supermarket shopping savvy that you can share with everyone here?

The range of possible answers is very wide. Maybe it's a tip about how to play the coupon game. Or maybe it's the best local market for finding a certain item. Or maybe it's about your system for doing your shopping quickly. Or maybe it's the best way to pick out a certain type of fruit or vegetable.

We'll draw one winner at random. That person gets the $100 gift card of their choice. (The gift card must be to a supermarket in the four core counties of the Capital Region.)

Important: All comments must be submitted by 11:59 pm on Wednesday, November 16, 2016 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 Thursday and must respond by noon on Friday, November 18.

Supermarket Week 2016 CDPHP in-post ad

Mazzone Hospitality cooking classes

cooking class angelo mazzoneWe noticed recently that Mazzone Hospitality -- the restaurant group that includes 677 Prime and a local culinary empire -- is offering a cooking classes at its headquarters in Clifton Park.

The upcoming schedule includes both hands-on and demonstration-style classes, some of them led by Angelo Mazzone himself -- he has a Feast of Seven Fishes demo class set for December 20. (The schedule's next class -- a hands-on holiday cooking decorating session with Kristin Hartman on November 29 -- is already sold out.)

Class prices range from $65 to $110. Here's what the classes include.

A compressed schedule for the rest of the year is after the jump, if you're curious.

A bunch of places around the area offering cooking classes, including Different Drummer's Kitchen at Stuyvesant Plaza, Gio Culinary Studio in Voorheesville, Spoon & Whisk in Clifton Park, Market Bistro in Latham, Honest Weight in Albany, and the Arts Center of the Capital Region in Troy. (It's been a while since we've done a cooking class roundup -- we should do that soon.)

Why Stacks Espresso picked downtown Albany for its next location

Stacks Espresso owners Ron Grieco Tyler Wrightson

Stacks co-owners Ron Grieco and Tyler Wrightson.

Earlier this year Stacks Espresso Bar co-owner Tyler Wrightson was in downtown Albany looking at office space when someone mentioned the retail storefronts on the street level of the Arcade Building on Broadway, the upper floors of which had recently been converted to apartments.

"It was completely busted," he said of a space in the building's northeast corner, which had been vacant for many years.

But the windows. Really big windows. Windows that provide a view in two directions out, and allow light to stream in. So he brought the crew of Stacks down from Lark Street to see it. The conclusion: "It would be killer to do something cool here."

This Monday, November 7, Stacks Espresso will open in that Arcade Building space. And the plan is to be open from 7 am to 7 pm -- seven days a week -- to serve both the daytime tide of downtown workers and the neighborhood's growing residential population.

Here's a quick peek at the space, along with a few bits from a chat with Wrightson and co-owner Ron Grieco about why they picked downtown Albany for their second location, and why they picked it now.

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Dominican icey at Coco Mango's

coco mangos troy icey in cone

By Deanna Fox

My winter jacket has been moved from the attic closet to the main coat rack in my entryway. It's here, friends. Or at least it's on its way.

I'm talking about winter, of course. While my attire choices change, my eating habits often revert to different times. All summer long I crave slow-simmered stews and rich desserts. In winter, I lust after garden-fresh Caprese salads and cooling treats.

Lucky for me, Coco Mango's is finally up and running in Troy, and I can indulge in chilly Dominican icey that keep my insides the same temperature as my outsides to beat winter at its own game. (C'mon, I'm not crazy! It's all using science Parabolic partial differentials! Heat diffusion!)

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Beer Diviner planning Troy spot

461 Broadway in downtown Troy

Update: Here's a press release about the new taproom, which mentions an opening date will be announced in the coming weeks.
____

Check it out: It looks like The Beer Diviner is setting up a bar in downtown Troy.

The brewery mentioned the plan for 461 Broadway recently on both its Instagram and FB page. (Also: The building is owned by Harry Tutunjian, and he tweeted a welcome to the location to the brewery Wednesday afternoon.)

The Beer Diviner currently has a farm brewery and tasting room in Cherry Plain in Rensselaer County. A few years back Casey talked with owner Jonathan Post about the operation, his approach to beer -- and how he became known as the Beer Diviner.

We have an email in with The Beer Diviner and we're hoping to hear back about a potential opening date.

461 Broadway? If that address seems familiar, it was the location for both Nibble, and before that, Francesca's.

New York's farm cideries

fermentation tanks at Nine Pin

Fermentation tanks at Nine Pin in Albany.

The hard cider industry in New York continues to fizz -- there are now 24 farm cideries around the state, according to the Cuomo admin. That's up from eight in 2014, when the farm cidery law took effect.

Farm cidery? It's a type of license issued by the state that smooths out some of the regulations and requirements for running a cidery -- if the operation uses New York State apples to make its products. (There are also farm winery and farm brewery license.) The state's first farm cidery was Nine Pin Cider Works in Albany's Warehouse District.

Of course, the requirement to use New York apples isn't too much of a hurdle. The Empire State is the nation's #2 producer of apples, behind only Washington State. So the hard cider industry is another way to make use of the state's abundant crop.

Given the growth in the number of farm cideries, we figured it'd be fun to roll together a map of where they're located around the state.

Let's have a look...

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Tuna sandwich at Little Pecks

little pecks tuna sandwich overhead

By Deanna Fox

To relegate tuna to the lower levels of the sandwich totem is an easy thing to do: Tuna sandwiches are stinky, leaving your breath, your fingers, and the room they are made and consumed in reeking of tinned fish. More involved but less portable than the PBJ, tuna fish is a fussy sandwich that is open to endless interpretation but always requires the same level of attention. Where a PBJ can be slapped together, thrown haphazardly into a zip-top bag and shoved into a backpack, ski jacket, or lunchpail, the tuna sandwich demands gentle, precise insertion into a storage and transport vessel, constant refrigeration of some manner, and delicate nibbles to protect the integrity of assemblage.

Despite its particularities, tuna fish is sometimes an act of desperation. A can of tuna can be found in most home pantries for last-minute sandwich emergencies, and tuna or whitefish salad is often one of the cheaper options on deli menus.

Still, a good tuna fish sandwich is a thing to marvel at. The perfect mayo-to fish ratio, the inclusion of additives to the salad, the choice of bread... a good combination of those things makes all the downsides of a tuna sandwich completely worth it.

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"Albany's Premier Food Center"

Empire Food Market 119 Hudson Avenue Albany undated

If you head over to the APL's collection at NY Heritage you can zoom in on the photo very close to read the signs in the window.

We stumbled upon this old Albany photo in the Albany Public Library History Collection online. It's the Empire Food Market that occupied a part of the big Lyon Block building on Hudson Ave that once stood alongside the public market space where the TU Center is now. The date of the photo isn't listed.

That big vertical sign -- "EMPIRE FOOD MARKET" -- caught our eye. Wonder what happened to it.

Empire Food Market was a local supermarket chain founded by Henry Schaffer in Schenectady in the 1920s -- it and would later expand to almost 200 stores around upstate and Western Massachusetts, and Schaffer would sell the chain to Grand Union.

Here's a 1932 full-page ad in the Times Union for the Hudson Ave location -- "Albany's Premier Food Center." (And here's another ad, which mentions Fort Orange Toilet Tissue.)

The Albany Muskrat has a post chronicling the history of the open air Albany Public Market area and the Lyons Block building. The building met its end in demolition for the Empire State Plaza project (which, at the time, most people called "The South Mall.")

And over at the Albany Postcard Project, there are cards depicting the old Lyon Block building and the market area.

Turn all those apples into pie

unbaked apple pie

By Deanna Fox

If each month had a food that represented it, February would get chocolate, July would get sweet corn, and October would get apple pie. There are plenty of foods symbolic of autumn, but nothing really says October like a warm apple pie from the oven.

Pie can be intimidating for those new to the experience of making one, especially when everyone has their own ideas on what makes the perfect version.

Regardless of what sort of apple pie you're making, there are a few rules you should be following to make a good one. Don't worry, I'll walk you through them. And I've also included a few recipes to get you started.

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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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