Love of the Soba Noodle

I called Albany John from the Asian Food Market asking him if he wanted anything.
So I wandered into that wonderfully huge aisle that contains nothing but noodles on one side. There’s just about every type of noodle you could ask for in there. Square rice noodle, stick rice noodle, egg noodle… you get the point. I was in the middle of the aisle, looking for anything that said Soba in big English letters.
It’s times like this that I actually wish I understood Chinese. You know, times with food involved. If I’m sitting at the dim sum table or somewhere in Chinatown, my Chinese miraculously improves from nil to almost comprehensive for about three dishes. Usually Albany John or my Dad will help me translate. Albany John’s white butt is fluent in Mandarin. He and my Dad like to rip on me for not speaking any form of Chinese… while speaking Chinese. To each other. Don’t even get my started on my grandfather, who will cackle with glee and rip on me for not speaking the language, while Mr. Taller-Than-Everyone-Else over there can roll with the punches. Meanwhile, I’m mumbling ‘Ai-Ya…’ since that is all the Chinese I have picked up from movies and my family to actually add to a conversation.

So, right, back to the hunt. I knew soba noodles were made of buckwheat, and saw a bunch of packages proudly blaring ‘BUCKWHEAT’, but only saw one that clearly said ‘SOBA’. It was a bit pricier than the others (by about 10 cents). But I have the habit of buying the wrong thing about 90% of the time unless it is clearly marked, so I picked them up anyway. Ten cents is worth knowing I didn’t pick up a newfangled buckwheat egg noodle monstrosity.

I wasn’t sure I would like them. I’d heard they were chewy, kind of hard, and not that flavorful. Well, hell, I looove these puppies after trying them.
They cook up in 5 minutes in boiling water. That’s it. Five. Minutes. The long part is waiting for the water to boil. Once you drain them, you can add them to soup, or cool them off with running water and chill them in the fridge. I opted for the latter since it’s been at 95% humidity here lately and there was no way I was going to be slurping soup in my hot-ass house. No freakin way.

After they cooled off (which takes a total of about 1 minute under cold water. Add ice if you want) I stuck them in a bowl with about a tablespoon of sesame oil, a teaspoon of rice wine vinegar and a liberal dousing of soy sauce. I stuck it in the fridge with some scallions on top for 30 minutes to further cool and let the flavors mingle. You can eat it at this point, but I wanted some flavor penetration into those noodles.The texture isn’t anything weird at all. It’s like really al dente pasta, and has a nice flavor, but doesn’t taste very buckwheat-y either. It also absorbs flavors really well. I had mine with some boiled shrimp and a half assed peanut sauce for dippin’. It was tasty, quick, cold and filling.

DP Dough

DP Dough is a new place that’s had a moderate amount of buzz for a place specializing Calzones. Albany John actually showed some excitement when he heard they were coming to town.
DP Dough is a small chain of eateries that sells a plethora of calzones, in addition to some salads, wings and bread sticks. They do not sell pizza. They even have a sign on their overhead menu that says they don’t. But seeing as how they’re located on 212 Western Ave right across from Mary Jane Books and are neighbors with that place that used to be the Post, but is now another bar… yea, they’ll be doing some handsome business in a week or so.

Their dough is fat-free, which means their calzones must also be healthy for you. They’re a good-sized calzone, and way too easy to eat all at once. They aren’t over stuffed, nothing leaks out, and all the ingredients are minced. The minced toppings might seem a little odd at first, especially if you’re used to hunks of whatever tossed in their like I am like they are in a pizza. However, these work out really well. You can take as big or little of a bite as you want and don’t need to worry about an entire disc of pepperoni flopping out. Or maybe you can bite into your calzones without this happening. Either way, DP dough is very good for people who like neat food, or people like me, who are absolute slobs when they shovel food into their mouths and end up with a good portion on their clothes after eating.
Kristi Gustafson from the Times Union was really excited to see them in town too, as we heard from Steve Barnes.

But seriously, this stuff is good. I have no other way to say it. The cheese has just the right amount of chewy-ness and melty-ness with absolutely no leaking. The teensy topping bits really spread evenly and give you a nice flavor all throughout your calzone.

They also come with a side of tomato sauce to dip in, which tastes ok, but nothing to really write home about. But then again, I don’t really eat ketchup or dip things in tomato sauce, so… yea.

We’ve also tried a bunch of calzones already! And at $5.99 each, they’re pretty affordable too. They all taste freaking GOOD! So far it’s been the Maui Wowie, Ham Zone and Falling Rock Zone. Oh, god, I really shouldn’t eat any of them as much as I want to. But they seem a smidge smaller than the ones every other pizza place around here sells, so I’m hoping they’re, uh, healthy. I can’t even describe them coherently – just go try one! They’re all freakin goo-oood! I haven’t found one I don’t like yet, but I’m sure there might be one or two. And let me know how the steak ones are if you beat me to it, cause I’m borderline afraid they’re like steak-ums.

But then again I’m really tempted to grab Albany John and eat another one tonight, even though our food from the CSA farm share thing is really piling up.If anyone has a good idea on how to use up a lot of scallions, please let me know. I really want to make scallion pancakes, but feel like I should at least pretend that I’m making something close to healthy with them.

Why Do I Stay On Their E-Mail List?

What you don’t see here is “$9.99 all you can eat popcorn shrimp”. God, I miss you SO much Joe’s Crab Shack. I really should have tried to visit you when I was in Texas. It’s just a chain, but, oh, the good memories attached to it. (Ok, on further inspection, it looks like it could be an ad for Red Lobster. But if you slap ‘All You Can Eat’ and put something seafood in there, I will go ape-shizz over it.)
And if anyone in Sonic’s advertising department manages to stumble upon this page (obviously be sheer luck) – Please stop airing commercials here. For the love of all things Southern, unless you plan on opening a new branch in the area anytime soon (just to be clear, this is Albany, NY, not Albany, GA), you’ve got to stop making me salivate at the thought of cherry limeades. Cherry limeades. So. Good. With the syrup, and the cherries, and the teeny ice pellets…Damnit!