CDFI Potluck

The CDFI potluck was on Sunday, the 18th. It was great – and Albany John and I actually made a ton of food. The last time we waited until the last minute and made mini apple pies. Which were good, but man, we could do better! We had to prove it to ourselves.

I knew I was going to make bread. Bread and baked goods are totally do-able. So, I found a recipe from Coconut and Lime for focaccia. I went with focaccia because Albany John used up the last egg in our fridge, and I didn’t feel like walking over to Stewart’s to get more. Hey, it was kind of chilly out.
I doubled the recipe and hoped for the best. I don’t have much luck with doubling. I also got some new yeast in a huge container, so it’s taking some time adjusting the amount of yeast to put into each recipe.

The yeast did well, and I had some puffy cookie sheets of dough. I keep all my dough in the oven to rise in the winter, because my house is drafty. Otherwise it would take about twice the stated rise time. Brrrrrrr. Thankfully my tiny apartment sized oven (which is really too tiny. I really wish we had a normal sized oven) is gas heated, so it’s the perfect temperature to raise bread in.

The best part about making focaccia is poking the holes in it before baking! Poke, poke, poke! And then you slather that baby with some olive oil, and adorn one of them with onions. However, you should also add some salt and not forget that like I did.
They came out so well – I had two cookie sheets full of hot focaccia that stayed warm for the entire potluck!

Albany John showed off as usual and made napa cabbage dumplings stuffed with shiitakes, cellophane noodles, tempeh, and some other veggies. And he’s a hotshot cook, so he needed no recipe. They looked really good, and everyone at the potluck really liked them, or were really good and polite fakers. I was a douche and told him I would not be trying them, because he had made shiitakes one too many times for me in the past, and I was certain I would vomit if it even came close to my mouth. Told you I was a douche. But thankfully, Albany John is way used to it by now.

I also whipped up some soba noodle salad, which was super basic and probably bland (just sesame oil, vinegar and soy sauce to flavor). Another person made a great one that was super spicy! There were muffins, a ridiculously amazing bruschetta/garlic bread thing, candy apples, cheesy mashed potatoes, pies, peach mate, cookies, cheese, and juice. I also had a canister of gin and soda in the back, but I’m not very good a potlucking my booze. Yet. I had about three plates of food, no kidding. Plus the people were also great – I found out about a shmaltz sandwich, which was chicken fat and sugar. Holy cow. Or Chicken. In general, we talked about food. Wonderful! And reminisced about how good/bad our ancestors’ cooking was/is. One person brought his sitar to play, which was really relaxing and made it easy to chat about.

Paella

“I’m on Wolf Road now,” Albany John said at the other end of my phone.
“Oh-kayyy”
“I think I’m going to make paella. What’s in paella?”
“Oh, god, you’re awesome. Seafood. Get lots of seafood.”
“How much?””What? What are you asking me? I’ve never made paella before, either.”

And that’s how I found out we were gonna eat paella, or a very close kind of thing to it.
I rattled off something about seafood – lots of it, and that’s about it. I also mentioned there better not be any chicken in there contaminating my seafood. It obviously would not be very authentic paella.

I came home to this:
Holy cow, it was good. Albany John also threw in some linguica, which is similar to chorizo, but less… I want to say acidic. It is much tastier, and has much more texture in it. And all that seafood was amazing! (However, the $25 spent on the dish was… not) But, we did have leftovers to eat for a good 5 days.

Sephora’s Opening Night Rocked

Sephora?

Isn’t that the new make up store in Colonie Center?
What the hell does that have to do with food?

Granted, it’s a beauty store, but last night they had an opening that benefited The Women’s Fund of the Capital Region. It officially opens today, but for $25, you could get in early. Albany John rocks again, and got it for me for an anniversary present.

Oh, baby.

So I got there around 5 pm (I couldn’t wait any longer!) and was one of the first few people in line. It opened at 6 pm. By 5:40 there was a long ass line in the middle of the mall, with a bunch of people wondering what in the world these crazy ladies were doing. Turns out 600 people were going to be there. Woah.

When we walked in we were given gift cards ($10, which doesn’t get you very far in Sephora, but still awesome), and… HOLY CRAP!

They had caterers!!!!

With pink champagne.

In other words:

I WAS DRINKING PINK CHAMPAGNE IN SEPHORA ON THEIR OPENING NIGHT!

It was pretty decent champagne too. They mixed it with grenadine to make it pink. Then again, this is coming from the girl who thinks Andre is a perfectly acceptable ‘champagne’ with occasional glasses of Asti Spumante.

As I was gliding around the store, some other wonderful catering staff came by with all sorts of miniature goodies. Mini beef wellington, mini crab cakes, mini shrimp things. And they were all good too. The crab cakes were really crabby. Mmm. Too bad I didn’t get the name of the company. There was also a chocolate fountain that I didn’t see until later, but ew, chocolate.

I also have to say, the champagne came in handy while waiting in lines. I probably sucked down about 4 or 5 of those glasses. But I think it was mostly grenadine, since, thankfully, I didn’t get the least bit tipsy. It was also really hot since it was jam packed with people. There were also servers with bottles of Saratoga water, but I kept missing them. Oh, champange people – you were life savers.

Also, Sephora has some great food-scented lotions and stuff. I was hoping for Demeter brand fragrances (you can get cookie perfume!), but alas, they did not stock them. It’s a little smaller than other Sephora’s I’ve been to, but it still freakin’ rocks! And also, they have low pressure sales – employee’s aren’t commissioned and they are so sweet.

And that’s all that’s even close to food that I can tie in. But everything else was AWESOME!

When I was excitedly telling Albany John about the night he said:

“Wow, it sounds like Libby Lu for grown women”

>_<

DeFazio’s Pizza

I have seen the light.

And it is DeFazio’s pizza in Troy.

Everyone who has recommended it – you’re right. It is SO good. The crust is charred from the oven, but has a nice crispness while also staying light. And holy crap, their toppings are amazing. This is one pizza that is best eaten in, as take out would leave the crust soggy and over all ucky. The leftovers were good, but in no way near awesome-ness as the original pie.

Happy Diwali!

I would like to wish everyone a very happy Diwali this year!

Diwali is the Indian celebration of lights, basically good over evil (anyone else, pls feel free to elaborate). It’s a huge, huge, huge holiday, and my Indian friends are planning on heading out to New Jersey to eat “good Indian food”. They tell me that the Indian food around here is kind of like the take out Chinese places in terms of quality. The food is far too bland for them – I never knew!
Today has been filled with some Gulab Jamun I made while burning the midnight oil yesterday (man, that was a LONG day), and an Indian rice ball sugar sweet called lohdi (I probably messed that up, correct me pls!) that I’m convinced is my new crack. It is ground rice with sugar, spices, golden raisins and AMAZING as some of the ingredients. We’ve also had cookies and cider, and now I’m really, really feeling like making some healthy samosas at home.
However, now I’m thinking a field trip to New Jersey is in order!

Again, many wishes for a prosperous season to everyone.

Drama at Totem?

I wrote a rather glowing review about Totem last October and a little earlier in the year when I first tried them. Pretty good sushi, nice people, good atmosphere.
I noticed an anonymous comment on that post about some horrific treatment one reader had the other night. I cannot imagine how I would have handled myself in a similar situation.

Basically, she says a friend went in ahead of her and her boyfriend to use the bathroom, then got kicked out when they were walking in because Totem thought he was a druggie. They didn’t apologize once everything was explained and treated them very rudely afterwards. She is calling for a boycott of Totem because of this.

This is really shocking to me, since when I went in there I felt nothin’ but lurve. But I don’t think this should be brushed off, as this kind of thing really gets to me. I’ve sent an email to Totem to get their side of the story. Maybe they will get back to me and my wee little blog, which would be really nice, since I would like to get their take as well.

Here is the full comment. It’s long, but if you don’t feel like linking back(apologies ahead of time for my awful copy and pasting skeelz)… here ya go:

yeah, here’s your totem…
On Thursday November 8th I set my hair, applied mymakeup and polished my nails perfectly. My boyfriend Ryan and I decidedto take our friendNoah out for dinner for a vegitarian meal. I thoughtit would be awonderful idea to join the festivities at Totem on Lark Street for a lovely sushi dinner.I had experienced some questionable service the lasttime I ate therewith a few friends when we sat on the patio and ourwaiter forgot about us. Having worked in the restauraunt buisness for 2years at a cafe in stuyvesant plaza I decided that this mistake was forgivable, although we had to call the restraunt to ask about the forgotten bannana tempura which was the 2nd choice since they were out of green tea cheese cake.Our friend Noah is an AASI fully certifiedprofessional snowboarder on Burton Snowboards GlobalTest Team, straight-edge vegitarian, thin with longdark hair and a dark beard. On thecar ride there he was saying he needed to use therestroom. Whenwe arrived he got a headstart to the bathroom while I parked the car.Ryan and I quickly followed him until we wereabruptly greeted by Noah being shoved out the door. Erica —- the owner, whom I had met several times before was escorting noah outside and making it clear that she wanted him to “shoot up in someone elses bathroom”. Iwas in complete andutter disbelief, shock, and disgust at this person as she, without hesitation, threw my friend out of her “home”, based solely on his appearence. I was extremely disapointed since I was looking forward to a philadelphia roll but even more disapointed that she had blatently insulted me and my friends. I told her I was upset because I loved her place but I would no longer be a customer of hers. She responded by saying “you can stay and eat if you sit down and keep your mouth shut.” I had never had a more awful experience at a resturaunt before I hade ven been seated. She followed this by yelling in front of a full dining room that her loss of our buisness would not affect her ability to pay her car bill. Noah had already gone next door to Soho and was enjoying a slice of cheese pizza. We stood on lark street mind boggled. But before we could even get a chance to question ourselves she had marched out onto the street to try to explain herself. I was expecting an apology but that was the last thing on her mind. She continued with her argument about crackheads in her bathroom. She looked at me and insisted that I didn’t knowwhat it was like to clean up “poop…and puke” and again I expressed my disapointment that I would no longer be able to dine with her. Once again she made it very clear that she would not miss our buisness and went back to work with her threatening sidekick tablebusser or dishwasher friend. I hope that having experienced this discrimination without apology will make my friends and I stronger people,although I can only hope that other people will learn from my dreadful time at Totem and boycott this restauraunt. I am a resident of Albany.I was born 5 doors down from ericas restauraunt. I refuse to live in a community where you can’t even get a table at a fine restraunt because having long hair and a beard makes you look like a “bum” or a “crackhead”. I look forward to your response to my letter.

Sincerily,

(leaving anonymous here) “

Feel-Good-About-Yourself-Potluck

The Capital District Federation of Ideas is holding a Feel-Good-About-Yourself-Potluck on Sunday, November 18th from 6 pm – 9 pm.
The CDFI is located at POINT 5, 383.5 Madison Ave, Albany, NY.

The CDFI encourages you to bring a tasty dish to share, and maybe bring yourself some luck.

Best of all it is free! (Donations totally welcome)

Albany John and I attended the last pot luck (I think in October) and it was fun! There was a smorgasbord of people to meet with and talk to, and some really original dishes (like a french lentil dish with home made yogurt – yea!). No ‘tudes and lots of random conversations with very friendly people.

Sushi Tei

How do you know it’s love? When your future husband orders sushi delivered to your door as a surprise, because that boy knows so well you would do cartwheels around the house at a surprise sushi delivery as opposed to an enthusiastic “THANKS!” for a dozen flowers. Yes, edible surprises are the key to my heart.
Thank You, Albany John!!!


Sushi Tei delivered my sushi. Albany John treated me to a sashimi deluxe ($18.95), which came with three pieces of six different types of raw, tasty fishy goodness for a total of 18 pieces (if it isn’t obvious, I munched on a couple pieces before snapping a photo). They were mackerel, salmon, tuna, white tuna, mackerel, and I think the last two were hamachi and white fish but I can’t really tell.

They were all fairly good, if a bit on the small side. However, one of my girlfriends was appalled at the thickness/size of sashimi here in the states and tells me that sashimi in Japan is near paper-thin. The tunas and were about an inch and a half long and half an inch wide, or about the size of a very fat thumb. The mackerel were really fresh tasting though. All of the fish came on a bed of seaweed and had little plastic seaweed partitions between them. I love their use of faux seaweed partitions, because then the wasabi and ginger don’t touch them and slightly cook them with their acidity. I remember Sushi House used to put lemons in their sashimi boxes, so you had to ask for no lemons. I just thought it was weird you would put lemons in with sashimi.

The funniest part though, is that this time their wasabi was really weak. Usually I am the spice wuss in our house, but I could handle 2 big dollops on each piece before you could really taste it. Previously, I’ve had it very strong there.

Oh, yes, wtf is Sushi Tei, right? It’s where Sushi Yokohama was before, and San and Bada prior to that (i.e. Cosimo’s Plaza on Western Ave). They have a $1 a la cart sushi and sashimi deal going on now for orders in, kind of like Sushi Yokohama did before them. So far, I think their quality has been very consistent, and their prices pretty fair. The ladies there are also very, very sweet and make you feel right at home. They’ve also moved the sushi bar and really opened the place up.

Their lunch prices are amazing deals. I also ordered a tempura lunch box for $6.50 a while back (sorry, I lost the picture and really wanted to post it with a picture) and it was more than filling. This sashimi box came with rice and miso soup, so yay! Extras!

And don’t forget – if you love your girl, say it with seafood.

Note: I know it looks like a puddle of soy sauce in the back, but it’s in the clear top from the sashimi box.

Shrimp Rice Rolls!

I was shopping at the Asian Food Market on Colvin today. Our fridge has been pretty bare lately, so it needed some serious replenishing. The condiments have been calling for food to be used with (besides crappy stuffing).
Firstly, that sinkhole/drain ditch/grate in the middle of their parking lot is getting worse. On the plus side, they’re adding a larger refrigerated section near the fish counter. Hopefully it’ll be neater once everything gets finished, cause right now everything’s kind of tucked here and there.
Anyhow, I bagged some of their $3.99/lb shrimp (they’re small but much more flavorful than the easy to peel ones in frozen baggies in the supermarket) and drooled over the lobsters in the tank. Once I hit the back of the store, I poked around the pre-fab section of their freezers. This section houses frozen mochi, durian popsicles, frozen wontons, instant dim sum, lumpia, fake meats, and frozen steamer buns.
Guess what I found??


Shrimp rice rolls!
They are by the Doll Dim Sum people, and the package I purchased looked exactly like this one.

I think they’re pronounced ‘ha cherung’ in Cantonese. It’s one of the words I recently learned from my family, since I figured… well, I needed to expand my repertoire. By one food.

These things are insanely good. So insanely good, I ate two plates of these at my last dim sum, and there are three to an order. They’re rice rolls filled with three whole shrimp and steamed until cooked. Done well, the shrimp has a little bit of a crunch and the noodle is soft like butter. They also have a sweet soy sauce that comes with them that just makes the entire experience… joyful?
Now, not-so-fresh? They taste like crap. The rice noodle, while simple, can be screwed up SO many ways as to make it unappetizing. The places around here seem to cook the noodle until it’s firm as rubber and hard to chew, and then over cook the shrimp. The Asian Food Market usually gets shipments of dim sum goodies a few times a week, but they sell fast, ‘cause they are wickedly good. They cost $1.99 for a pack of three shrimp rice rolls. They’re ok, but they’ve suffered a little from traveling up here (from I’m guessing NYC) and sitting out. They still taste better than anything around here by miles, though and I’ve been known to push an old Granny out of the way to hoard some shrimp rice rolls.

So these… these frozen ones… hmm. They cost just as much as the shipments of shrimp rice rolls ($1.99), but they’re frozen. They could be completely crappy. Buuutttt. They are shrimp rice rolls, so I will inherently eat them. Either way, they’re goin’ in my belly. I threw them in with the rest of my groceries. Hopefully they would not suck.

I am happy to report they do not suck! They are the best thing around here and way easy to make in the microwave. They even come with the sauce packet!!! The noodles came out beautifully. They were like silky, buttery strands of happiness and they really soaked up the sweet, sweet soy sauce. The shrimp, however, were really small and rubbery. Eh. Still, I think the noodles really make this dish shine. I think it was completely worth it for the fact that no other place around here can come close to making them this well. They made my taste buds smile.

Raiding the Fridge

I feel like I’m starting to come down with… something. That’s never good!

So last night after hanging with the Capital District Federation of Ideas (CDFI) for an hour or two, I decided dinner was in order. For me, dinner can be any time between 4 pm – 11 pm, and last night it was around 9 pm that I got hungry, so dinner around 10 pm it was.
However, once I’m starting to feel under the weather, I don’t really feeling like trying to make anything fancy or hard like pancakes. I’ve also been way too busy lately, so the fridge is unfortunately bare. But there was a medium sized bowl of leftover dressing in the fridge (you know, the crappy kind in a box in the supermarket), and I decided I was gonna mix some egg whites in that puppy and pan fry them until they got a nice crispy coat on them.
They were really interesting, and tasted way better than the stuffing did as… well, stuffing. That stuff from the box is really crappy. Albany John got the first round of them, and then I smashed up some garbanzos and chucked them in with the rest of them. They were even better! The garbanzos got a nutty flavor after sitting in the pan for a while. MMmm. Chick pea-y goodness! I’m sure there’s a recipe out there somewhere, but for simplicity, they were akin to really, super duper ghetto laktes. Obviously latkes are way awesome – these just resembled them in shape, color and how they fried up. I bet you could make them into little balls, fry them and then call them super duper ghetto falafel.

For an accompanying beverage, I would recommend Keystone Light or an equivalent.
Another plus about these is that they are super cheap. Just don’t count on them for real nutrition every day of the night.