Items tagged with 'food'

New blog worth a look: Chefsday

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[via Daniel]

Where to donate a turkey?

coldwater creek farm turkeys flockT. emails:

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

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

Got an idea for T.? Please share!

The Best Dozen: Bella Napoli

bella_napoli_donuts_in_box.jpg

By Daniel B.

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

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

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

First up, Bella Napoli in Troy.

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

city beer hall exterior

Drawing's closed!

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

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

What are two local things that pair well together?

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

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

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

Important: All comments must be submitted by 10 am on Wednesday, November 19, 2014 to be entered in the drawing. You must answer the question to be part of the drawing. (Normal commenting guidelines apply.) One entry per person, please. You must enter a valid email address (that you check regularly) with your comment. The winner will be notified via email by noon on Wednesday and must respond by 7 pm that day.

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

chef Ric Orlando

Chef Ric

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

Update update: New tickets have been released!

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

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

AOA is going to do just that.

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

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

We'd love to see you there.

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Around the virtual water cooler: Price Chopper name change

Price Chopper Market 32 rendering cropped

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

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

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

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

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

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Empanadas from La Empanada Llama

Empanada Llama empanadas

By Deanna Fox

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

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

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

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Where to buy a goose?

roast goose flickr Tim Sackton ccJustin emails:

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

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

Got a suggestion for Justin? Please share!

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

Tea tasting at Whistling Kettle Troy

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

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

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

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

Earlier on AOA: The Whistling Kettle, Troy

Beyond boring apples

unusual apples from Samascott

You never know what you might find inside.

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

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

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

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Cider donut bread pudding

cider donut bread pudding serving

By Deanna Fox

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

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

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

This was the time for cider donut bread pudding.

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A look inside The Shop in Troy

The Shop bar

By Lauren Hittinger

This Friday marks the grand opening for The Shop, a new restaurant and bar in downtown Troy. It's the third commercial space to open at the former site of Trojan Hardware along 4th Street and Congress, following the May opening of Rare Form Brewing Co. and the Collar Works art gallery.

Looking to create a neighborhood bar, owner Kevin Blodgett says The Shop will have a "casual atmosphere, with no pretense. We just want people who are going to enjoy good food and good conversation."

I stopped by to talk to Blodgett and his partner Nada Rifai to get the scoop on the restaurant, the building, and how The Shop fits into Troy.

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A look inside Wolff's Biergarten Schenectady

The new new Wolff's Biergarten in downtown Schenectady opens Wednesday around 4 pm.

This Wolff's looks a lot like the Albany location, but it's larger, with three garage doors, more picnic tables, lots of flat screens for viewing soccer matches, and the requisite indoor faux tree. The building has been vacant for about ten years. It started out as a service station and last belonged to KEM cleaners.

If the Erie Blvd location seems strange, Matt Baumgartner says, it is a little.

"I think that's also consistent with Wolff's in Albany, which opened before there was much down in that area. And hopefully it will grow the same way."

Renovations on Erie Boulevard and recent growth in Schenectady were encouraging factors, he says. And the building itself interested him. "It was really affordable, and I love an old, sad building -- and this one was really sad. But I knew you could have garage doors, and having the garage doors is a real asset. People love them."

So with a Bombers and a Wolff's, is there going to be a Schenectady Sciortino's too? Baumgartner just laughs.

"Well, that's a good question. There's an empty building across the street."

After the jump, a look inside Wolff's Schenectady.

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Chicken parm at D'Raymonds

D'Raymonds chicken parm

By Deanna Fox

There are two types of Italian restaurants in the Capital Region: The eh-talian, and the EYE-talian. The former are the restaurants that serve food more in line with something plucked from the Tuscan hills. The latter are the checkered tablecloth joints where most dishes come slathered in red sauce.

Unless you count D'Raymonds in Loudonville. Then I guess there are three.

D'Raymonds lies somewhere in the middle of the two mentioned above. It embodies the cuisine of red sauce joints with a more upscale vibe. It's Little Italy meets Upper West Side. It's Nonna meets your hot WASPy girlfriend. It's comfort, with class.

No dish on the menu emphasizes this more than the D'Raymonds chicken parmesan.

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Wine & Dine for the Arts 2015

 wine and dine for the arts wine glasses

Tickets for the popular next Albany Wine & Dine for the Arts Festival are now on sale. The annual Albany chefs wine and food festival is January 15-17 in downtown Albany.

Here's the schedule for this year's festival, which includes events such as the grand tastings, slider slam, barista competition, and battle of the bartenders. Event tickets range from $10-$175. Here are the arts orgs tapped as beneficiaries for this year's festival.

Many of these events have sold out in the past, so if you're interested in going, getting tickets sooner rather than later is not a bad idea.

Also newly announced: The finalists for the festival's rising star chef award. This year's list is after the jump -- it includes chefs from a range of restaurants, some established spots and others just getting started. The nominations can be a good prompt to try a place you haven't been to, yet.

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Official snacking

Thumbnail image for chobani containers in fridgeNoted: Yogurt is now officially the official snack of New York State. The Cuomo admin announced Wednesday morning that the governor had signed the bill making it so.

As you well know, New York has been the biggest producer of yogurt the last two years, thanks in part to the Greek yogurt boom and companies such as Chobani and Fage.

The press release doesn't mention anything about the heated debate over whether frozen yogurt would qualify as official snacking if consumed between meals. The Cuomo admin is obviously dodging this important question. (Zephyr Teachout would have put the screws to AC on this question in a debate, no doubt.)

Also: Empire State cottage cheese and sour cream -- call your lobbyists, it's time to get them earning their pay. New York was the #1 producer of both dairy products in 2013. (The Empire State rules cottage cheese.) So where is your official state designation and summit, huh?

TOP2014: The Final

tournament of pizza final a lot of pizza

Sometimes things live up to the hype.

The final of the 2014 Tournament of Pizza, sponsored by Keeler Mini, was this past weekend at Shmaltz Brewing Co. in Clifton Park. And, as would only be fitting for the Tournament of Pizza to end all Tournaments of Pizza, it featured a clash of local pizza titans: DeFazio's of Troy versus Marino's of Schenectady.

DeFazio's, so many times a finalist, finally broke through last year to take the title. Marino's won the title in 2010 by beating, yep, DeFazios's. The two shops have posted the two highest individual pizza scores this year. And they represent the two highest all-time shop averages in TOP history.

That all adds up to a lot of expectation. And they exceeded it.

TOP2014 Keeler Mini in-post-ad

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Waffles at Iron Roost

waffle sticks at Iron Roost

By Deanna Fox

The nearest Waffle House is 127.94 miles away from Albany. What a shame.

I'm normally not a big proponent of chains, but few places understand the utility and magnificence of a waffle. Waffles are the superior batter-based, carb-loaded breakfast option. Pancakes are great, don't get me wrong, and so is French toast, but neither can be manipulated the way a waffle can.

Many places in the Capital Region serve waffles, but few embrace the true glory of the waffle the way Iron Roost in Ballston Spa does.

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TOP2014: Crunching the numbers

16 slices of pizza on judges table
Your concept of "a lot of pizza" changes after 172 174 pizzas.

Corrected to include numbers from the 2013 final.

The the 2014 Tournament of Pizza, sponsored by Keeler Mini -- the Tournament of Pizza to end all Tournaments of Pizza -- is almost finished. One last clash of champions remains for this Saturday.

That means it's time for some number crunching. And there are a bunch of numbers now that we have six years of scores in the modern 100-point-scale era of the TOP.

Let's take a look.

TOP2014 Keeler Mini in-post-ad

TOP2014: Semifinal: Spicy

TOP2014_semifinal_pizza_boxes.jpg

This is it, the second leg of the semifinal of the 2014 Tournament of Pizza, sponsored by Keeler Mini. The results of this leg will decide which two shops face off in the tournament final.

This year's all-champions format has resulted in four past overall tournament winners meeting in the semifinal: 5th and 50 of Scotia (tournament champ in 2011), Marino's of Schenectady (2010), DeFazio's of Troy (2013), and Marisa's Place of Guilderland (2012).

The TOP semifinal is a contest with two legs, each pizzeria offering up a pizza for each leg of the contest (so two pizzas from each shop, eight pizzas total). The two best aggregate scores advance to the final.

The theme for the first half of the semifinal was "classic." The theme for the second: "spicy."

Back to the Keeler Mini showroom...

TOP2014 Keeler Mini in-post-ad

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Tasting a Snapdragon

snapdragon apple quarter

Because apples/autumn/upstate: We finally got a chance to try a Snapdragon apple, one of the new varieties publicly announced last year after being developed at Cornell. We picked a few of them up at the Samascott farm store in Kinderhook.

So, how do they taste? The texture is crunchy, and the flavor has an interesting sweetness. They've been described as having a "spicy-sweet" flavor -- and while we're not sure we'd describe it that way, it's more complex than a flat, uniform sweetness. We enjoyed the apples.

That the Snapdragon is crunchy isn't a surprise -- one of its apple parents is the super-popular Honeycrisp (the other parent is a numbered Minnesota variety). And we'd say the Snapdragon has a more interesting flavor. (Unpopular assertion: the Honeycrisp is overrated and kind of boring.)

Snapdragons are still a year away from being widely available, according to the New York Apple Association. But a handful of orchards in the greater Capital Region are growing them, including Indian Ladder, Goold, Golden Harvest, Samascott, and Bowman.

Apples as brands
The Snapdragon was introduced with the RubyFrost, and they represent a new effort by Cornell to partner with the New York Apple Growers org to license the apple varieties in North America. It fits into a wider trend within the industry to establish individual apple variety brands.

And, sure, that makes business sense. But we have to admit we're not fans of the names and slogans produced by this trend, like "CRUNCH INTO ZESTAR!"™. They don't have the romance/mystery/history of names such as Esopus Spitzenburg, Worcester Pearman, or Cortland.

Earlier on AOA
+ How 'bout them (new) apples?
+ Lost and found apples

TOP2014: Semifinal: Classic

tournament of pizza semifinal at keeler mini

We have arrived at the semifinal of the 2014 Tournament of Pizza, sponsored by Keeler Mini. And it's shaping up to be quite a clash.

This year's all-champions format has resulted in four past overall tournament winners meeting in the semifinal: 5th and 50 of Scotia (tournament champ in 2011), Marino's of Schenectady (2010), DeFazio's of Troy (2013), and Marisa's Place of Guilderland (2012).

The TOP semifinal is a contest with two legs, each pizzeria offering up a pizza for each leg of the contest (so two pizzas from each shop, eight pizzas total). The two best aggregate scores advance to the final.

And the theme for the first pizza match: "classic." The shops were given this prompt and allowed to interpret it however they wanted in deciding which type of pizza to make.

Let's head to the Keeler Mini showroom to see how things turned out...

TOP2014 Keeler Mini in-post-ad

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TOP2014: RD1: DC's vs. Marisa's Place

DC's and Marisa's shop windows

Dueling neon.

The final first round matchup in the 2014 Tournament of Pizza, sponsored by Keeler Mini is last year's tournament runner up, DC's of Albany, against the 2012 tournament champ, Marisa's Place of Guilderland.

This year's clash-of-champions format includes first round matches consisting of two pizzas. Highest aggregate score advances. And, again, the two types of the pizza for this first round: sausage and the deceptively difficult broccoli ricotta white pizza.

Can Western Ave handle the drama...

TOP2014 Keeler Mini in-post-ad

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TOP2014: RD1: I Love vs. DeFazio's

I Love and DeFazio's exterior

The 2014 Tournament of Pizza, sponsored by Keeler Mini -- the Tournament of Pizza to end all Tournaments of Pizza -- heads for Troy and matchup between 4th Street rivals I Love, a two-time semifinalist, and reigning tournament champ DeFazio's.

This year's clash-of-champions format includes first round matches consisting of two pizzas. Highest aggregate score advances. And, again, the two types of the pizza for this first round: sausage and the deceptively difficult broccoli ricotta white pizza.

Pizza fuit, pizza est...

TOP2014 Keeler Mini in-post-ad

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The Tournament of Pizza championship pizza tasting event is now free thanks to pizza miracle

TOP2014 logo final event 2

Update: The tickets have now all been claimed! And a waitlist has been set up.

Ladies and gentlemen of the Capital Region, we would like to take a moment to tell you today about a bonafide pizza miracle. Years from now, when they write the history of the Tournament of Pizza -- and they will (well, maybe they will) -- let them write that on this date, the first day of October in the year 2014, a great benefactor came forth from the world of real estate brokers and offered free pizza to the citizens of this great land.

Yes, ladies and gentlemen, it's true -- tickets to the All Over Albany Tournament of Pizza championship final tasting at Shmaltz Brewing on October 11 are now free thanks to realtors Brian Brosen and Reggie Monroe of The Capital Team at Realty USA.

Brian and Reggie say they're pleased to be able to share their love of pizza and beer with AOA readers. They've purchased all of the tickets to the first-ever public tasting event in the august history of the Tournament of Pizza, and they're giving them away to Capital Region pizza lovers.

No, you say -- it cannot be. But yes, we assure you, it is. So how do you get to take part in this delicious miracle? You need to claim a free ticket and you can do that at this link.

The event is Saturday, October 11 at 3 pm. The free ticket includes four slices of championship pizza (one from each pizza entered in the final), two five-ounce pours of Shmaltz brews, a ballot for the People's Choice Plate, brewery tours, and other surprises.

(And if you've already purchased a ticket (thank you!) keep an eye for an email confirming a refund and switch to the free ticket.)

The AOA Tournament of pizza is sponsored by Keeler Mini.

TOP2014 Keeler Mini in-post-ad

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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Recent Comments

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