Items tagged with 'food'
Updated March 8
Public service announcement: Ice cream stand season has started.
The Snowman in Troy opened today. Bumpy's in Schenectady opened yesterday. And a few other season stands will be opening over the next week or so.
Here's a round up of a bunch of season 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 very much appreciate it. Because ice cream.
Who wants sprinkles...
When I first walked by Plum Dandy Cookies and Milk, with a charming family inside enjoying sweet treats with adorable glassware and fancy straws, I felt like I was staring into a modern-day hipster Norman Rockwell painting. I wanted to stop in right then, but I was on my way to meet friends somewhere else.
I love sweets, so it was only a matter of time before I arranged another chance to stop in. And here's what I discovered when I finally made it inside.
T asks via the Facebook:
I am having a City Hall wedding in August and I am looking for a nice place to have a decent meal afterward for about 20 people that won't break the bank. I would like it to be an Albany restaurant. I have researched several options and they are just too much. I would like to do something that would work out to be $20 or less per person. Can you throw this out to your readers for suggestions? Thanks.
Sometimes it seems like there's almost no ceiling on how much can be spent on a wedding. But trying to keep the cost down -- that can take some creativity and flexibility.
So... got a suggestion for T? Please share! We're especially curious if maybe there's some sort of non-traditional option that might work.
Earlier on AOA: Planning a Capital Region wedding: catering
Chipotle recently announced that its much-anticipated vegan "sofritas" would soon be arriving at Northeast locations, and there it was when we stopped into the Stuyvesant Plaza location Tuesday evening.
From the chain's description of the tofu product:
We start with organic tofu from Hodo Soy that we shred and then braise with chipotle chilis, roasted poblanos, and a blend of aromatic spices. The result is a delicious, spicy tofu that will give vegans and carnivores something they both will love.
The sofritas has gotten a lot of attention because 1) Chipotle almost never introduces new menu items and 2) it's tofu at a major national chain. The product has been hyped as a tofu "turning point", and the possible beginning of a "chain reaction" that could lead other chains and restaurants to add vegan items. It also didn't hurt that it was developed by Chipotle's star chef/culinary manager Nate Appleman, and that early testers said the stuff actually tasted pretty good -- so much so that it might appeal to non-vegans/vegetarians.
So, anyway, we got the sofritas in a (very not-vegan) burrito bowl. Initial reaction: It's... OK. It has the texture of crumbled sausage or chunky ground beef. And the chipotle flavor definitely registered. It sort of reminded us a little bit of ground beef with "taco" seasoning. We still prefer just the straight-up "vegetarian" bowl (something we get often) over a bowl with the sofritas.
Oh, and it should be mentioned that tofu in a burrito isn't exactly groundbreaking or anything. Bombers has had tofu burritos for a long time.
Earlier on AOA: Vegan dishes worth trying -- even if you're not a vegan
Slow-braised beef short ribs are the perfect dish for a cold winter night. Rich, heavy, filling, they are quintessential comfort food. And with a long, frigid winter that just won't quit, it's a fitting meal for the first week of March.
That said, it isn't terribly hard to make braised short ribs taste good. So for a time I held off on writing about the Midtown Tap & Tea Room's Vanilla Porter Braised Beef Short Ribs, despite how much I enjoyed them when I first tried the dish last summer, thinking I could probably get a comparably tasty version at many other area restaurants.
But a recent bad experience with short ribs at a different restaurant made me reevaluate -- and re-try -- the Tap & Tea Room's version.
Update: And here they are, kimchi fries from Mingle, via the restaurant's FB page. That's a photo above. (Thanks, Jerry!)
The Chopsticks Optional crew tweeted this afternoon:
I saw a picture of kimchi fries and that's all I want to try now. Can a 518 eatery make that happen ASAP?!
Potato fries topped with kimchi, pork belly, melted jack and cheddar, and sour cream and onions...*drools*
This seemed like an idea whose time has come -- and it should arrive here. Jerry talked with the people at Mingle in Albany -- and it sounds like it's on. Let us offer our strong encouragement. (Hey, sometimes these sorts of requests turn out really well.)
And if you know of where these already exist, locally, please share.
By the way: Chi'lantro, a Mexican-Korean fusion food truck in Austin, claims to be the originator of kimchi fries.
By the way x2: We're generally in favor of all sorts of things being piled on fries with cheese.
Mingle advertises on AOA.
The new Price Chopper Market Bistro -- the company's long-planned concept store in Latham -- is just about ready for its grand opening. But you can check out much of what's new right now, as we did this week when we got a tour.
There's been a lot of change in the Capital Region supermarket scene over the last few years -- a lot of new stores, new competitors, new upgrades. But it's not a stretch to say that there is nothing else like Market Bistro in this area.
Here's a quick photo tour and a few bits.
A few years ago the 100-year-old manufacturing building at 594 River Street in Troy was home to a company that produced that little liquid piece that goes inside levels. By this time next year it's expected to house a low-cost produce market and it will be home to the Capital District Community Gardens headquarters.
And a few years from now, if all goes according to plan, the building and the land beside it will also include a hydroponic garden, educational and job training space, and a commercial kitchen.
CDCG executive director Amy Klein says the new Urban Grow Center is unique -- a space that will combine urban agriculture, education, and food access.
The Palace announced today that America's Test Kitchen Live -- a stage show from the popular PBS TV cooking show -- will be at the theater April 13 at 3 pm. Tickets go on sale to the general public Friday (February 28) -- they're $35 and up.
As host of America's Test Kitchen for the past 14 seasons, as well as editor of the popular Cooks Illustrated magazine, Christopher Kimball will share his strong and entertaining opinions on culinary trends and cooking equipment. He'll take questions from the audience as well as test their knowledge of unusual ingredients in an interactive segment during the live show. America's Test Kitchen Live with Christopher Kimball will deliver a fun and informative evening for fans and foodies around the country.
Dan Souza is a senior editor of Cook's Illustrated and an on-screen test cook for America's Test Kitchen. In addition to his work on Cook's Illustrated, Dan has contributed content to a dozen America's Test Kitchen cookbooks, most recently executing and editing the test kitchen experiments for The Science of Good Cooking (October 2012). Dan cut his culinary teeth as an apprentice in Hungary before graduating first in his class from the Culinary Institute of America (CIA). After cooking in restaurants in New York City and Boston, however, he found his true calling: applying good science to create great recipes for the home cook.
(This NYT Mag article from a few years back is an interesting look at Kimball and the Cooks Illustrated empire. )
The Palace event also has a VIP ticket that includes a book and meet-and-greet with Chris Kimball's bowtie. It's $85.
photo: America's Test Kitchen FB
Few foods are as satisfying as a classic hamburger. Lately, though, I've been making an effort to eat less red meat.
So even though I'd heard that The Hollow Bar + Kitchen in downtown Albany has a very good beef burger, one featuring a fried egg and habanero ketchup, I was more interested in their tempeh burger, curious to see if I could leave satisfied even after opting for the vegetarian option.
Nine Pin Cider Works -- the startup cidery in North Albany -- has been granted the first farm cidery license in the state, the Cuomo admin announced today.
One of the big payoffs to being granted the license: Nine Pin can operate a tasting room at its building on Broadway. Owner Alejandro del Peral told us today that they're planning to open the tasting room February 28.
Like the farm brewery and farm distillery licenses, the farm cidery license grants a range of rights if the operation primarily uses agricultural products from New York State (all of Nine Pin's apples come from right here in the greater Capital Region). In addition being allowed to offer tastings, a cidery can also sell not only its own product directly to consumers, but also beer and wine made from New York products along with small food items and gifts.
The cider business is on the upswing in New York. There are now 23 producers in the state, up from 5 in 2011, according to the Cuomo admin. It's good business fit here -- New York is the nation's second largest producer of apples.
Nine Pin started setting up in North Albany this past summer ahead of the fall apple crop. When we stopped in this past January, it was making the final preparations for the launch of its flagship product, an off-dry cider.
In the past, a bunch of people have indicated they'd like to see a Sonic here. And with Syracuse getting them -- and Sonic locations already in the Hudson Valley -- it seemed like Albany is a natural next step.
So we asked the company if anything was up here. The response we got today from Patrick Lenow, Sonic's vice president for public relations (via a company PR agency):
"There is significant demand for SONIC in upstate New York. We have successfully identified franchisees for Buffalo, Syracuse, Rochester and Watertown, making Albany the last available market in the area. We are engaged in talks with individuals that would like to bring SONIC to the Albany area, but no agreement is in place. Those interested in franchising SONIC in Albany should visit sonicfranchises.com."
Sounds like limeade might not be too far off.
The closest Sonic locations to Albany currently are Kingston (51 miles), Wappingers Falls (76 miles) Springfield, Massachusetts (77 miles).
On a recent expedition to Sushi Tei in Guilderland to satisfy a sushi craving, I made an exciting discovery on the restaurant's specials menu: hamachi kama, or yellowtail collar.
This is the part of the fish just behind the head, and while it may sound like something that belongs on an episode of Bizarre Foods (it has, in fact, been featured on the program), there's nothing particularly strange about it. Hamachi kama is really just a piece of grilled fish.
Except it's a remarkably delicious part of the fish, one that's worth seeking out when it's available at Sushi Tei.
Because it's the weekend and the middle of winter -- and a bunch of people mentioned that cooking helps them shake off the January gloom -- here's a recipe for ancho pinto beef chili.
It's warm and rich and meaty -- even though it's mostly beans. It's also easy to make. And it makes the house smell fantastic.
Interesting: Researchers at the University of Vermont's Proctor Maple Research Center -- Tim Perkins and Abby van den Berg -- have stumbled across a new, and potentially "revolutionary," way of harvesting sap for maple syrup. From a November 2013 UVM news article by Joshua E. Brown:
Their new technique uses tightly spaced plantations of chest-high sugar-maple saplings. These could be single stems with a portion -- or all -- of the crown removed. Or they could be multiple-stemmed maples, where one stem per tree can be cut each year. Either way, the cut stem is covered with a sealed plastic bag. Under the bag, the sap flows out of the stump under vacuum pressure and into a tube. Voilà, huge quantities of sap.
In short, these plantations can allow maple syrup production in a farm field.
Typically, a traditional sugarbush produces about 40 gallons of maple syrup per acre of forest by tapping, perhaps, 80 mature trees. With this new method, the UVM researchers estimate that producers could get more than 400 gallons of syrup per acre drawing from about 6,000 saplings. ...
"We got to the point where we should have exhausted any water that was in the tree, but the moisture didn't drop," says Perkins. "The only explanation was that we were pulling water out of the ground, right up through and out the stem." In other words, the cut tree works like a sugar-filled straw stuck in the ground. To get the maple sugar stored in the trunk, just apply suction.
Over at Modern Farmer this week, Laura Sorkin -- a maple producer in northern Vermont -- reflects on some of the possible implications of this new method, which could eventually offer cheaper production and protection against the effects of climate change and the Asian Longhorn Beetle. But also:
[T]he news of the plantation system has been a lot to chew on since we learned of it. We are relatively new to the trade but have come to love it, one of the principal reasons being our interaction with the thousand acres of forest behind our home. Like Dave Folino, I fear that the industry will no longer be special to New England but will be usurped by entrepreneurs anywhere with the right climate. And on a more visceral level, I feel that maple syrup is and should remain a product of the wild. Aside from mushrooms and game meat, the woods of Vermont hardly yield anything edible. And yet, this exquisite sugar can be extracted from the trees while still leaving them healthy and the forest a home to everything from rare wildflowers to bob cats. For me, knowing its origins elicits an amount of pleasure equal to tasting its unique flavor when I drizzle it over morning pancakes. Finally, I ponder what will happen to the acres of working forests if landowners are no longer making an income from them through tapping the trees. It would be unrealistic to expect all of those landowners to choose conservation.
Vermont is the country's leading producer of maple syrup -- it produced 1.32 million gallons of syrup in 2013. The #2 state? New York, at 574,000 gallons last year. [USDA]
photo: Sally McCay / UVM
There's a lot of exciting stuff happening these days in downtown Troy; from the shops to the restaurants to the bars, it seems like a new business is opening its doors each week. This makes it easy to overlook some of the old stalwarts of the city, places like Famous Lunch that have been turning out good food for decades.
Yet I can't help but approach any place labeled as an institution with a healthy dose of skepticism. At some places, the history and value to the community far exceed the present quality of food.
But Red Front Restaurant on the south side of downtown Troy has built a well-deserved following since opening in 1956 thanks in part to their COB Pizza -- that's "cheese-on-bottom" -- a non-traditional pizza in which the sauce and the bready crust are the stars.
For the second year, a group of the Capital Region's top baristas vied to make the best coffee drinks this past weekend in the Barista Albany competition, part of the Wine & Dine for the Arts food and wine festival. This year's winner was Luen Proft from The Confectionery in Troy. Congrats to him.
But the competition not only crowned a winner that day, it also highlighted the coffee culture in the Capital Region, a culture that's evolving beyond just cream-or-sugar, those machines with the little plastic cups, and Starbucks.
So we figured it'd be interesting to bounce a few quick questions to each of the four competitors at this year's Baristas Albany competition -- about the state of the Capital Region coffee culture, what separates a great cup of coffee, and what you should try at their shops.
Last August we met Alejandro del Peral and got an early look at his startup cidery in North Albany, Nine Pin Cider Works. At the time, some of the equipment had just been installed and del Peral was waiting on the fall apple crop to start making his product.
Nine Pin has made a lot of progress -- and a lot of cider -- over the past six months, as we found out when we stopped by the cidery on Broadway this week for a tour. Here's a look.
Janae asked on Twitter today:
Where can I get a smoothie in Albany? Recommendations?
We retweeted, and there were a bunch of suggestions. Apparently people have many opinions about smoothies!
So, with Janae's blessing, we plucked her question from the ephemeral stream of Twitter and gathered the answers here (after the jump). Smoothie seekers of the future, thank Janae.
And if you have a suggestion to add, please do!
The current reigning Tournament of Pizza champion -- DeFazio's -- has started offering classes on how to make their award-winning pizzas and pastas. Rocco DeFazio and his family are teaching the classes on Sunday afternoons in the kitchen of their Troy shop. The classes have, not surprisingly, have already begun to sell out.
You could win a pizza-making class -- for six people -- this week on AOA. Here's how to enter the drawing:
During the class, DeFazio's will share some of the secrets of what makes their pizza so delicious. So, it's secret sharing time. Tell us a secret in the comments of this post.
Or, to put it another way, tell us something we don't know. It could be something you add to your own favorite recipe. It could be a fun and little-know fact. It could be something most people don't know about you. It could even be a secret that's not all that well kept. (We're interpreting "secret" very loosely here.)
We'll choose one winner at random. The winner can schedule a class with up to five of their friends.
DeFazio's pizza and pasta making classes are being offered on Sunday afternoons from 2-5 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 kit so they can get started making their own pies at home.
Important: All comments must be submitted by noon on Wednesday, January 15, 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 2 pm on Thursday, January 16 and must respond by noon on Friday, January 17.
Another interesting potential development in North Albany's warehouse district: Druthers Brewing Company -- which already has a brew pub in downtown Saratoga Springs -- has been granted a zoning variance in order to open a production facility and tasting room/restaurant in a building at the corner of Broadway and Bridge Street. (A tip of the hat to Steve Barnes for picking this development out of the BZA agenda.)
Druthers partner and brewmaster George de Piro posted about the plan at the TU's Beer Nut blog:
Our current location on Broadway in Saratoga Springs has been doing pretty well and we really want to get our beer to a wider audience. The 10 BBL (barrel) brewing system there can barely handle demand, so to sell more beer we need to build another brewery. I live in Albany and want to do more to help revitalize our downtown (I am proud of the work I did helping the Pump Station to succeed and all that did for Albany). I also miss brewing with Albany water. It's really awesome! Thus, the decision was made to open Druthers II in New York's capital.
De Piro's post includes a projected start date for brewing of June 2014, "if everything goes perfectly."
The building currently serves as space for a plumbing supply company, and its zoning doesn't allow for restaurant use, thus the need for a variance. (The BZA application is after the jump.) It includes a project narrative and pics. From the narrative:
The brewing area of the Building will be equipped with a 30BBL brewing system that is capable of producing an estimated 15,000 kegs annual, a canning line capable of canning 30 beers per minute, 1,500 square feet of cooler space, and commercial keg washing/filling equipment. The tasting area will feature a bar, restaurant style seating, and offer wood-fired pizza. It is expected that the hours of operation for the brewery/tasting room would be daily from 12pm to 10:00pm.
The statement also lists the total cost of the project as $2.2 million.
The warehouse district along Broadway is shaping up to be an interesting area for the city.
For an area of its size, the Capital Region boasts an impressive array of Chinese restaurants, strong in both quality and diversity. And it's only getting better: Northeast Dumplings House opened just two months ago in Albany and offers not just tasty dumplings made in-house, but small Sichuan delights.
Judging from the lack of traffic there on a recent weekend evening, it seems most are unaware of what this new restaurant is offering. That needs to change.
Drawing's closed! Winner's been emailed!
The annual Wine & Dine for the Arts food and wine festival is next week. The multi-day event includes tastings, chefs and restaurants, seminars, and competitions for sliders, baristas, and bar tenders. We have a pair of tickets to the grand tasting on Saturday, January 18 and we're giving them away -- maybe to you.
To enter the drawing, please answer this question in the comments:
What is your 2014 resolution for the Capital Region?
Could be big, could be small, could be whatever. We'll draw one comment at random -- that person will win the tickets.
Wine & Dine for the Arts, the Albany Chef's Wine & Food Festival, starts Thursday, January 16 with a cocktail reception at Albany City Hall. Friday includes a grand tasting and seminars (along with the NYS Craft Beer Pavilion and the Rising Star Chef Pavilion) at the Hilton Albany, an appearance by chef Suvir Saran, and the Slider Slam. Saturday's lineup includes a grand tasting, the Barista Albany competition, and the grand gala reception and dinner. Ticket prices for each event vary -- they're available online.
The tickets for this drawing are for the Saturday grand tasting, from noon to 4 pm. They're $60 each.
The arts org beneficiaries of this year's festival are the Albany Barn, Albany Institute of History and Art, Albany Symphony Orchestra, Capital Rep, and Park Playhouse.
Important: All comments must be submitted by 5 pm on Tuesday, January 7, 2013 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 10 am on Wednesday and must respond by noon on Thursday, January 9.
THE GREAT CHICKEN WING HUNT is an award-winning documentary comedy about Buffalo wings and the band of misfits who set out to find the world's best one. Join us for the Albany premiere of the film critics call "The Big Lebowski of documentaries" and "One of the bonafide best movies of the year". Featuring several scenes shot in Albany. Associate Producer and Albany native Melinda Person will introduce the film. Director Matt Reynolds will Skype in for a Q&A.
The trailer is after the jump.
And here's a review of the doc by Eater's Joshua David Stein from this past November -- he calls it "hugely enjoyable."
The screening at the Spectrum is Wednesday, January 22 at 7 pm. Tickets are $10 and available online.
Lauren & George are planning a wedding in the Capital Region, and they're chronicling the planning process here on AOA. Last time we heard from them they were checking out venues. Now they're trying to select a local caterer.
It is now less than six months until my wedding and I'm freaking out a little bit. My fiancé George and I wanted to have a fun and casual wedding, so we didn't rush planning and have been slow to make decisions. Now that a master list of over 50 wedding to-dos has been constructed and time is ticking, I'm quite anxious. Luckily we've already decided on one of the most important parts: the food!
Food is crucial to a wedding. Not only is a delicious meal one of the best ways to thank your guests for attending, the food and beverage is typically the biggest wedding expense. For those of you who tuned in last month, you know that my fiancé and I have booked our wedding venue: Indian Ladder Farms. We are lucky that our venue does not require certain vendors, but it also means that we have to do a lot of searching ourselves. After we secured Indian Ladder, I went on a mad search for caterers.
How much does it cost to feed a wedding of 75 people, anyway? The answer: It depends.