Garden Tomato

Ah, les tomates. No, scratch that. Actually, it’s la tomate. They’re slowly ripening (and threatening to take over the lawn… whoops. Sorry, sorry!). And I found a nice big un’!

Nope, it’s not an under ripe tomato either – I just bought a ton of yellow tomatoes. When we were starting the garden, that is. At this point, I am staunchly not buying tomatoes because I KNOW. I just KNOW. That these plants will start ripening. SOON. I have a plethora of green tomatoes. JUST RIPEN ALREADY. This big one was so nice, fat and firm. I sliced it thinly and layered it with thin slices of avocado, mozzarella and basil (also from the garden) and sprinkled it lightly with some balsamic vinegar. The cheese was unnecessary, but everything worked so well together. The tomato even tasted sunny!

Now ripen, you lot! Albany Jane needs her tomato gorgings!

Oh, and my peeeecchar? You like? I got a new camera! It’s actually from my neighbors – they gave it to Albany John, and he gave it to me. They rock! Now I can take pictures again! I have to find a book online or something since I can’t get it to focus that well. I never knew how much I took pictures until now. It’s nothing intrusive or long lasting, but I’ve noticed how often I say “Oh! Let me get a picture of that [food/person/funny thing]!”. I think I will have to take them out to dinner, or have them over, or do something nice for them, because this rocks and I’m not going any where near Albany John’s camera – it is way too high tech for me.

MJ’s Bar

Okay Troy, NY – You’re up. Local gem, comin’ right atcha.

So after I wrote about MJ’s, we haven’t had much of a chance to go back. Mainly for lack of trying, because I am incredibly lazy and most of my foodings happen on the spur of the moment. Albany John wanted to check out their bar, since it looked really cool. It’s got a wine-cellar-y vibe with the restaurant downstairs – stone and wood and such. I don’t know. I’m no decorator (Albany John can totally vouch for that one). But nice scheme overall, ya dig?

We heard some cool peeps talking about MJ’s, and how much they rocked in general, when they mentioned a beer club with a mug and cheap beer.


Oh yes. They said for $6, you could get your very own mug at MJ’s, and it was even engraved. ENGRAVED!!! And that refills were redonkulously cheap (I’m paraphrasing here).


So we went over and checked it out. And guess what?

There was a special going of Smirnoff Source for $2 a bottle. WTF?! That’s freaking awesome. So I was set for the night. Man, those things are good. Of course, I get made fun of to no end for drinking them by my friends who call them ‘baby drinks’, but what can I say? They’re good.

Do you see them? Do you see the wall of mugs??? There are tons of glasses hanging over the bar with numbers on them, and the engravings. $6 is a great deal. Don’t they charge that much per word over at those Silver engraving stores at the mall?

Albany John got a mug fresh outta the fridge, and then… TOOK FOR FREAKIN’ EVER to pick out a number and something to get engraved on it. I think at this point I was all “PICK SOMETHING!!!” because seriously. He was taking

For the unaware: This is how it works. You go to the bar. Say you want to buy a mug. The nice bartender will give you a book that has numbers in all of the rows. Pick a blank number/row and fill out your name and what you want engraved on it. This might take a while, but they’ll never rush you (yay!), and they’ll mark you as paid. Done. Set. Go.

Domestics are $1.50 and Imports are $2.50 or $2.25, or something close to it. How cheap is that?

And guess what I spotted at the corner of the bar? No, not the wine list. A Magic Bullet!!!!! Ah ha ha ha ha! Awesome!!

I was really impressed with the bar too, it’s huge and well stocked. It had good lighting – light lighting, but not too dark. And the music wasn’t too loud either, so you could actually talk. I can’t stand it when it’s dark and the music is blaring when there are only a handful of people lingering in a bar. OH, OH, OH. I almost forgot to mention this – They have hooks under the bar for purses. At least that’s what I used it for. I’m sure you could use it for a light jacket, or an umbrella or something, but fellow chicas – PURSE HOOKS. So you don’t have to worry about getting your purse wet or hanging it over the chair, or keeping it awkwardly in your lap. They rock.

And another plus – MJ’s has vegan foods. Or at least they are very accomodating. I think there were some pastas, and their french fries and sweet potato fries are cooked in separate oil. So, yea. Just FYI.

The bartender was very nice too – she refilled our drinks when we were low, and even gave me a cup of ice and refilled the ice for my drink. She just had these nice little touches. I wouldn’t have thought of the ice, or a cup for my drink (classy lady right here, boys), but they were thoroughly enjoyable. I really appreciate the little touches. Kudos, MJ’s.

Le Weekend. It Roxored.

Raves of the weekend:

1) Kismet Art Gallery’s showings for Troy Night Out were funky and awesome, as usual, and they had shrimp scampi pesto shrimp – yum! They always have great food. And cheap drinks.

2) The Menands Farmers Market (The Capital District Farmers Market). I saw on Jennifer Gish’s blog that there would be a corn festival. With free corn! So I woke up early and after taking forever and a day to get ready, I headed out and got a free ear of corn. And there were squeeze bottles of butter! It was a great little breakfast.

I think I might like this market more than the Troy Farmers Market. It seemed a little more down to earth, and a lot of really local people were there, like farmers from Colonie and Loudonville. I snagged a cabbage for $2 a head at one table, and a basket of non-pretty yellow squash for $1. The squash was easily 3 pounds, so it was quite a steal. Sure, they weren’t as fresh as their more expensive squashy counterparts, but I’ll eat them this week, so freshness is not an issue for me. I also saw a stand with whoopie pies for $1, so I grabbed Albany John one since I remember he liked them. I thought it was terrific, and I have to go again this Saturday in order to try the Red Velvet whoopie pie. I think they were made by the Amish, or some other group of people who wear straw hats and such. They were really nice, I probably should have talked them up a bit more about their baked goods.

3) Cheap corn at the Troy Farmers Market. I didn’t buy any at the Menands market for some reason since I kept hoping I’d get a better deal than $3 for half a dozen ears of corn. And I did! I found some wildly sweet and buttery tasting corn for $2 for 5. Nice!

4) I found the veggie cart in downtown Albany, and got a yellow watermelon for $3.50! And it’s really tasty.

5) The Pickle Party at CDFI. The Capital District Federation puts on a fruit/food party once a year. I’ve never been to them and looked forward to it – there were people making pickle costumes, pickle dolls, and tons of pickles.

6) I ate the BEST SAUCE EVER. I will further post on this, it was that good. The creator has promised me my own bottle shortly.

7) Although I don’t love beer, I have found that I really enjoy Genesee Cream Ale in a bottle.

8) Waking up and impulsively heading over with a friend to At The Warehouse to look around and buy more wonderful Center Square honey. This is the heroin of honeys. It’s silky smooth, with a wonderfully rounded and sweet flavor. The Autumn honey tastes so incredibly buttery, I go into convulsions if my honey stash is in short supply.

9) Lark Tavern. I was thinking perhaps Bros Tacos, but wasn’t sure if they were open, but then remembered LARK TAVERN. My friend was all in as another Lark Tavern lover. I ordered the burger special. It was basically a reuben burger with Russian dressing, sauerkraut and cheese. And it came out perfectly rare and tasted nice and beefy. At $9.95, it was a good deal for what you got (it also came with fries). It’s now battling for Best Burger in Albany in my ranking system. My friend got fish and shrimp – and woah baby. They were fresh, not frozen – battered in a delicious cornmeal coating. I ate the shrimp tails – yum. Such good food. And they’ve redone the ladies bathroom! Now it’s much less cramped and has steel and mirrors all over. It’s awesome.

10) Corn nuts. Oh my goodness. I love the corn nuts from the bulk section at Hannaford. And since they’re in bulk, I can get a small amount every time I want some. I don’t know if I’ve ever eaten these before, but they’re awesome – like the semi-popped kernels of popcorn at the bottom of the bowl.

11) Tomatoes from the garden. They’re finally ripening! They’ve been teasing me, remaining green all season, but a few of our pear tomatoes (yellow. Yum!) have started to ripen, and I found a big fat yellow tomato that was aaaalmost ripe, and it should be ripe tonight and oh my gosh I just realized that we have a ripe avocado, and I need to combine them in my belly tonight.

Capital Q

I went to Capital Q on a super secret covert ops mission. Or at least that was my excuse for buying a ton of barbequed meat. What was said mission? Operation Wedding Food Test! I have a feeling there’s going to be quite a few of these in the near future. The very near future.

My overall mission for this shindig is that the food has to be good. I was going to make most of it myself, but have decided it would be really hard to cook up much more meat than a serving for 10 or so. Actually, I am still waiting on a miracle to get the boiled beef recipe from someone I meet once a year whose name I can never remember and solely remember him as the incredibly sweet man who makes a delicious boiled beef with amazing gravy. If I get it, I am so serving this at my wedding. It is so incredibly tender, and so incredibly good.

Obviously, I don’t really care if the food is what some people think is high brow/weddingy, just so long as all of it is really good. C’mon, it’s us. We have got to have good food. Or at least just not crappy food.

Where was I? Right. Capital Q. So I thought some food from Capital Q would be a very good idea since: 1) I can pick it up that day, and BBQ food holds very well so I don’t need to worry about timing, etc. 2)They can make big plates of ‘que, and 3) They were in my non-crappy-food category, and I’m thinking most people in the wedding would like it too.

The last/first time I went to Capital Q I wasn’t really wowed with the food. The brisket was OK, but nothing to write home about (don’t get me wrong, much better than anything else up here, but still), and I was kind of bummed on the portion size. So overall, I was thinking, “well, it’s a good place to get my BBQ fix”.
So since everyone in the area loves it so much, I went back and tried a little bit of everything. I think everything is really good now! Probably got all the kinks out.

I’ve heard people complain about the service sometimes. Well, the whopping 2 times I’ve been there, I’ve seen the same 2 people. One was clucking and seemed cranky both times I went, but the other guy was so sweet and helpful, and really seems like the kind of person you’d want working for you. He’s really energetic and it’s just infectious. This time he was even more helpful. He gave us samples to try of all the pulled pork since we weren’t sure which kind we wanted to try. Awww! So I’m officially in lurve with someone (anyone) who hands me porky goodness. He is the redheaded bearer of happiness.

I ended up getting about a half pound of pulled pork… I think it was Kansas City style, but now I can’t remember. Crap! It was good and so spicy!
And 2 tequila ribs.
And a ¼ lb of brisket (the brisket’s pretty pricey at $12/lb, so I just ordered a bit to taste). And the guy offered me the fat for free! Woo! I said yes, cause I’m a Texas girl somewhere in my heart (probably the part clogged with cholesterol). But for some reason maybe I mumbled because there was no beefy fat in my container when we sat down to eat. Oh well. No free fat. I’ll bet that’s gonna save me a coronary somewhere down the line.
And a pickle.
I also wanted a beef rib (oh MAN how I love beef ribs!), but there was only one left, and he said they couldn’t to give it to me because it was all old and they just couldn’t give me something they knew wasn’t fresh. Awwwww.
Our grand total came to $13 and change. I couldn’t figure out if they included tax or not. It was kind of confusing, but in the end I got my barbequed meats.

We sat on a stoop and dug in. Their pickle slices are SO freakin’ spiced. They were great. I think I would opt for the spears of pickles instead of the whole ones – they just had a little more kick to them.

Everything was insanely tasty. The brisket is so much smokier, moister, and oh so good. There weren’t any tough bits, and it was just as good on its own as it was without sauce. I am really considering getting some pans of brisket (they do catering too) and using this as the meaty ‘main’ for the wedding. They also had a great ratio of fat in the brisket. Sometimes people don’t cut off enough fat when they make brisket and it’s entirely too fatty (I know. I didn’t know such a thing could exist either, but trust me it’s way too much of a good thing) and can make the entire piece of meat a wad of grease and yuck. It’s not pleasant. But Capital Q’s brisket meat is perfectly marbled with nice little pockets of fat throughout the brisket.
Albany John loved the tequila pork ribs. They were pretty good, I’ve got to admit. Moist, just the right amount of chew – so good.

Now I am in lurve with Capital Q. Go there. Get some meat. BBQ in Albany, NY. Get your vegetarian friends a burrito or something tasty from Bros Tacos right around the corner.

Troy Pig Out!

Saturday and Sunday were the Troy, NY Pig Out competition. The FIRST ANNUAL Pig Out, to be exact.

It was kind of hard to figure out the details of the event other than that it was happening on Saturday and Sunday. Then thankfully those wonderful bloggers at the Times Union posted frequently about the detailed schedule.

Albany John’s parents came over from Mass, and my poppa and his chica came up from downstate, to add a little drama. They’d not met before, and I figured it would be nice to do so before we got married, just so everyone was acquainted with each other.

And phew – they got along SO well.

And, surprise! My brother showed up too. Weird. My bro just moved up from Tennessee last week, and then showed up. Everyone was meetin’ everyone!!

After playing Wii Fit for a few hours on Saturday, we eventually headed off and found parking in the garage (GASP! And YAY!). Man, I love free parking.

Once we got out, we realized how FULL everything was. There were people EVERYWHERE. And it was only 6:15.

Once we got our bearings I set off looking for tickets for $1.00 samples. Except once I finally found the ticket booth, they were all sold out. Oof. But then some lady was walking by and offered to trade tickets since she was heading out and had some left over. So we gave her the $7 for her 7 tickets, and were off to find samples.

This proved to be quite the adventure for everyone. We split up into teams to get samples, and jeeze, it was nearly impossible. Okay, when I say ‘teams’ I mean everyone got a ticket and started hunting for a vendor with meaty goodness.

I had no luck. The parents stuck together. Evidently they went to Tosca Grille’s booth, which was only a vendor, not a competitor. It was kind of confusing. Mainly cause there were tons of peoples everywhere. We all thought ticket = sample. After a while it dawned on us that the samples were all sold out, and we’d basically made a donation to charity.
I decided to wait in the line for Hickory Smoked – it was the longest line in the Pig Out, but looked like a solid bet. I got a brisket sandwich for $7, and a half rack of pork ribs for $12. For the prices, they were great – no huge ‘festival’ inflation prices, and the servings were very generous. I can see why this booth was very popular. The pork ribs themselves were kind of dry, but still, pretty good for ‘festival’ food.


Albany John came over with 2 samples from “The Big Guy with the ribeye, over there,”. And oh, Big Guy, your ribeye samples with fresh mozzarella were good – smoky and still moist. But quite tiny. We’re talking small sample size, here. My brother walked over and we urged him to try them out – and 30 seconds later, my brother said he was all sold out. Ah well.

Then we kind of lost the group for a while, but ultimately found them. My dad ended up getting 2 platters of meat samplings from Hickory Smoked (I think that’s the name, but I’m not 100% sure) at $20 each. The chicken on them was great. Albany John’s parents got some bbq pork, but I have no idea where they got it from, just that it was also pretty good.

Funny story – after I got the pork ribs, my dad came over. He said something about getting food for his girlfriend, and I told him we could all eat ribs. I turn around, he is gone. Oh crap. That dude ran off with my ribs! Turns out he went over to where his girlfriend was sitting, and offered her a rib. Another woman sitting nearby sees him offering her a rib and says “Oh, I’ll take one!”. My dad is about as generous with his food as I am, which means he probably towered over the food and growled before saying “What? Sorry, no. There isn’t enough” and the woman kept insisting she just wanted one rib.
I think what happened is she saw some guy come over; offer someone a rib, and thought ‘Oh, free samples’. I don’t know why you’d think this, especially of full sized ribs at a place where it was almost impossible to find a tiny sized sample, but who knows? That heat was pretty intense, and one can always dream of free ribs. At least I do. Evidently he left the plate of ribs with his girlfriend, and after he left, the lady finally put two and two together and asked if they were together.

We went home shortly after eating. It was just so hot.

Oh, wait. I forgot to tell you the other funny story.

So once we started packing up food to throw out and leave, these two guys walk over, one leans in and goes “Hey, are you done with that sauce? Can I have it?”
This is of the small sauce containers. We all thought it was pretty funny. Just someone walking up and asking for the leftover cuppy of sauce on your plate. We said sure, and he was so, so, SO happy. Made me think – maybe I am too much of a germaphobe. This guy was just happy as a clam being at the Pig Out, and getting a sauce right then and there made him beam. And, it’s got to be kind of a compliment. Despite being drenched in sweat, the entire group must have looked fairly clean enough to trust to want to eat their leftover sauce cup.

Right, so we packed up and left, got ice cream (mmm, rum raisin) and sat on our awesome porch drinking Brotherhood May Wine (ohgodiloveyou) and a really nice Riesling that I got at All Star Wine & Liquor in Latham, NY. It was something like $9 or $11, and very crisp and fruity – quite refreshing. I also bought a Spanish red wine (Tempranillo, or something like that) that we drank the next day – it’s a good sangria wine. Sweet, but not Riunitie sweet. It dawned on me that maybe I should buy some wine glasses since the closest thing I have are cordial glasses and 2 champagne flutes.

Overall, though, not too shabby, Troy! For a 2nd Pig Out, I think a bigger space is necessary. It felt very tight since it was so full of fellow pork lovers.
And more samples. Reading the local Albany/Cap District blogosphere it seems like the meat was donated to vendors, which may be why samples were so small and ran out so quickly – not enough. Or there were larger sizes and they sold out before I could find them (nooooo!). It seems like there should have been enough samples for tickets, but I just couldn’t find any samples. Some of the vendors were selling samples for $1, since they were sold out of tickets, so maybe that’s why I couldn’t find any samples.
Good music – I have to give Troy crazy props for the acoustics of the music area. They are amazing. It’s something I’ve always loved about Troy, and Troy and I tend to have a less than stellar relationship, but I think we’re starting to work things out. You know, I think we really are, since I am finding some lovely gems in Troy lately (I’ve got some more posts up my sleeve, don’t worry!).
I wish they’d had more information available earlier. It made planning the day a bit harder since for a few weeks, I had no idea when it started.
Albany John also wishes that Brown’s had had their beer cart at the event instead of Brew Crew/Got Beer? Albany John likes Brown’s beer. He said the selection was ok, but not great. I can’t really remember what they had. At the river park festivals on Wednesdays, they had Brown’s beer cart out and it had one or two of Brown’s beers, Blue Moon, and maybe Heineken? I don’t know. I think Troy is handling beer sales at events very well. I’ve heard some complaints, but the lines were much better than at Alive @ 5 in Albany. I still get shudders over those lines. They were SCARY.
But seriously – the problems were pretty minimal for a first time event, and the crowd turn out looked phenomenal. The Troy Pig Out was much less hectic than any Albany Alive @ 5 events.

Oh, one last “Yay Troy” shout out – turning on the sprinkler/fire hydrant. Sitting near that was heaven.

A Perfect Peach

I want to show you all the most perfect peach. It is absolutely beautiful – a light pinky exterior, crisp, and all white on the inside, with just a tiny streaking of pink near the pit. It tastes fruity, floral, and just wonderful. I bought it at the Hong Kong Supermarket for $0.88 ($1.68 per pound).

I can’t show it to you because this weekend I was being all eco-friendly and riding my recently acquired used bike, and hanging my adorable pink reusable bag from the handles, riding to get some produce for the week.

And then the bike ate the bag. That’s the best way I can describe it. It went through the wheel, and it wouldn’t budge. I’m not sure how this happened, but I think that the rules of physics were bent a bit, since the space between the wheel and the thing that holds the wheel was all of ¼- ½ inch thick.

My camera was the casualty, with a smashed screen and a pretty mashed up front part of the lens. It all happened in front of a convenience store, and the proprietors were nice enough to come out, laugh and point, but eventually gave me a straight razor and plastic bag for my stuff.

So I suggest you head over to the Hong Kong Supermarket and get a peach. Just one. They are perfect.

Tortillas and Plantains

Albany John bought a bag of cornmeal from Save A Lot. It is Maseca (the brand) masa harina. Masa harina is cornmeal which contains lime (the mineral, not the juice), and the lime additive makes the cornmeal into something our human bodies can process, and not just a vessel for butter and fat, which I think is just spiffy on its own.

So this boy got it into his head that he was going to make some home made tortillas, just following the directions off of the box. This entailed cooking on the stovetop, so you know my interest was gone.

We don’t have a tortilla press, so we improvised by using 2 cast iron skillets flipped upside down. Albany John sandwiched the cornmeal dough with saran wrap to keep them from sticking. I cut up parchment paper to put in between the uncooked tortillas so they wouldn’t stick before we could cook them. You can still see the imprint from the cast iron pan!

These were surprisingly easy to cook, and I really liked how they tasted! So fresh, so light! SO GOOD! They were pan-fried and I think they tasted much less dense than store bought corn tortillas. They were also a bit more delicate, but none of them broke in half when I folded them. Plus they get a gorgeous golden brown coloring.

We filled the small tortillas with some chicken, cabbage, and raw onion. Extra onions for me, please! On the side we had some refried beans, straight out of the can. I don’t know what it is about refried beans, but they are the meatiest looking beans straight in the can. It kind of reminds me of dog food for some reason, even though they’re fat free and 100% vegetarian. Maybe it’s the processing. Who knows? All I know is they’re darned tasty hot or cold, in plentiful amounts with just about any carb.

Afterwards, Albany John made fried plantains. We’ve tried them before making them just fried, but we found them fairly bland. Then Albany John doodled around and made these babies. Incredibly seasoned, and you can use the plantains fresh (green) or ripe (yellow or blackish), they are spiced and fried. They come out crunchy, gooey, and they are very hard to stop eating. I think Albany John said this style was popular in West African recipes he was reading, but I’m not sure. All I know is me likey. Try it out. They are freakin’ gooooood.

Next on the list – pupusas. Oh man, I bet I wouldn’t have to wait until going to Hadley, MA or Amherst, MA for my next pupusa fix!!

Capital Thai

I am disappointed. And still recovering from road rage.

I decided I really wanted something spicy and new, so I thought of Capital Thai. Albany John really liked it, and everyone around here seems to agree.

So I called in an order of a lunch sized entrée of Shrimp in Capital Thai Sauce (spicy tamarind) for $8.95 and since I saw sushi and I’m a piggie for sushi; one Philadelphia roll (salmon, avocado and cream cheese).

So I headed out to Central Ave and once I hit uptown Albany traffic I was immediately caught in bumper-to-bumper traffic for over 25 minutes. As usual, there was a merge of 2 lanes of traffic. Which means in Albany, (or all of New York for that matter) that one lane of people is in the lane that is supposed to be open, and the other jack holes speed up on the soon-to-be-closed lane and cut people off to get ahead of the line. This just backs traffic up entirely and everything is in a standstill.

Once I finally managed to get into Capital Thai’s parking lot (after getting cut off and almost hit by a big construction vehicle that was running a light >_<) my order was waiting on the counter. I paid $15.34 including tax and was on my way out. Thankfully traffic was a bit easier on the way back, but I was still stuck in traffic forever because the people on Central didn’t think they needed to follow the lights, so I couldn’t get in on my green lights because traffic cones were everywhere and people were running red lights in a big stream because traffic was so slow.

Once I finally trekked back inside, I was really looking forward to Thai food. There was a hot metal container with my Shrimp in Capital Thai Sauce, and it looked pretty substantial. Normally I wouldn’t spend so much on lunch, but hey, this seemed like a good deal.

And then I opened the container.

As you can see, it looks closer to a soup than to a sauce, at least in my book. It was very runny, and there was a mish mash of veggies in the sauce. The menu says the shrimp is supposed to be crispy fried and covered in this sauce, but these were soggy. I am blaming that on Traffic, since they were the opposite of crispy.

Flavor wise, I was not impressed. It was like a modified sweet and sour sauce with some chili flakes thrown in. If I don’t think it’s too spicy, then it’s really not spicy. Maybe I got the anglo-heat since I used my American name for pick up. The veggies were mostly shredded carrot, pineapple, and celery. Kind of a weird combination, and I didn’t really like them. Maybe this is normal? I’m not sure, but with the heavy soup/sauce combo, it was a bit of an overdose on sticky-sweetness and mushy veggies. Again, I am willing to blame this on the traffic and the heat affecting the container.
The shrimp were swimming in the sauce, and so I picked them out and put them on the gigantic container of rice they gave with the entrée. When I picked them out, I realized there were 7 shrimp in the entire container. I’ll say 8 and be generous. But to me, the seafood lover, 8 medium sized shrimp is puny for a dish that cost $9. They were a bit gummy and mushy (ick), but I am going to blame that on them sitting in the container while I sat in traffic, but still, I have had other Asian foods sit around for a long time with less ill effects. Also, the container as a whole was shallowly half filled with food. I think a smaller container would have been better, or better yet, more food, since when I first looked at it, I just thought “Aww, is that all?”.
In the end, I left the last shrimp (something I never do since I love seafood) and just threw it out – it was so disappointing, I just didn’t want to eat it anymore.

The Philadelphia roll was okay at $5.25, but I would not order it again. The fish was fresh, but the roll itself was very hard to taste because of all the rice on the outside. The cream cheese was ok, but I didn’t much care for it. I ended up picking off a lot of the rice around the rolls and poking out some of the cream cheese to make it taste better. I tossed the last 2 pieces of roll since they were just not worth the calories.

I would really describe this experience as disappointing. Not awful, not bad, not good, not great, just disappointing. Sometimes I think disappointing meals are even worse than bad meals. With disappointing meals, you know there’s just a little something that needs tweaking. Bad meals are just plain bad (you know, like anything with ketchup and mayo in it – har har!).
I think I will give Capital Thai another try and eat in – their décor was simple, spacious and very relaxed. The staff was very polite and nice. I am just going to blame this entire thing on traffic and my own poor menu choices.

6 Random Things About Albany Jane

So Grace tagged me for 6 random things about myself. I’ve been dawdling on another post, so this is a nice quickie. Ta da:

1) Until about the 11th grade, I was staunchly into… less than complimentary clothes. Kikwear jeans, baggy boy button down shirts, gothic, oh gosh, trust me, it was bad.

2) I once lit the floor of our house on fire.
Lesson learned: If you’re using gel fuel for fondue, it takes the flame a few seconds to appear. Do not pour more in. The bridge of fuel will catch on fire and you’ll have a flaming bottle of gel fuel.

3) I had the crappiest bike in the world stolen. I got it for about $5 during a tag sale near Grafton, NY. The brakes didn’t really work, and on the whole, it was a POS that nearly killed you every time you rode it.

4) Albany John and I are getting hitched this fall. We’re still not terribly excited about the whole thing, but we’ve got the basics – a killer officiant, a venue, and invitations. Now it’s just everything else we’ve got to pull together. (ie, tables, linen, and cup rentals. Ugh – any vendor recs?)

5) I love little, tiny cars. The smart car? Love. If it’s older and crappy, I am in double love. My ideal car is a Mazda 323 from the 90s.

6) A few years ago I had pink bangs (the long kind, not the asian bob kind that’s straight across). I’d still have them except the upkeep is a bit hard for someone lazy like me.

Bear Cake




I have made the best cake ever – all from this recipe from Happy Home Baking.

It’s a sponge cake and very light – it has absolutely no levaners in it whatsoever. Not a speck of baking soda or baking powder. It’s just eggs that have been whipped for several minutes. You’ll want to break out the hand mixer for this one, or even that sweet KitchenAid.

The recipe is even in metric, which let me use the kitchen scale that’s been used mainly for some of Albany John’s kitchen chicanery (read – beans and cooking measurements).

The recipe calls for cake flour, which can be purchased on the cheap at an Asian food market (pastry flour, cake flour, basically low gluten flour). I found 500 grams which is a little over a pound of flour for $0.99. When I was in the grocery store the Swan’s cake flour was about $1.60 per pound. And you don’t use much flour at all – so it’s easier to buy the smaller 1 lb bag.

I’ve got to say again just how much I love the intarwebs and how easy it is to find new ideas, recipes, and in general just share things. Start a blog. Slap some food pictures in there, send me the link and I promise you I will read it. Seriously. You. Reading this – do it. IDEAS!! OPINYUNZZ! SHARE!! It’s awesome! Right, oh… so, I wanted a lighter cake, akin to those scrumptious sponge cake rolls you get in a Chinese bakery. So I went over to Google (goshiloveyou) and found that great recipe above. That’s basically how I make anything – I think of something that would be good, and then I Google it. Shh, let’s keep that secret between us. I don’t know how many people know about it yet.

I am so happy with how this cake turned out – heck, I’m happy I bought cake flour. Normally I just use All Purpose flour or (turn your heads) boxed cake mix (which also tastes best eaten in gooey pre-baked form, no?). It was light, airy, and incredibly flavorful. Buy the cake flour. It’s worth it.

My only problem was with my adorable but leaky 3-D panda cake mold. Now, I was entranced by this mold the minute I saw it at Pete’s Place in Troy, NY. Pete’s Place is right across from the Troy Waterfront Farmer’s Market (aka, the parking lot to the right of Revolution Hall). I have no clue what the hours are, but I always go Saturdays when I go to the Farmers Market. And Pete is such a hoot.

Right, but… Panda mold. Clips hold it together, and you are supposed to keep them clamped together. Mine started leaking around the leg and wouldn’t stop. Next time I’m just going to put tin foil or parchment paper around the whole thing. The leaking batter started off a chain of curse words, and I managed to salvage most of the spilled cake batter by splitting the bear in half and baking the 2 halves separately. But really, they should be baked together. They weren’t even and I couldn’t slap them together.

So instead I plated them and piped stars all over them. You know – like those cakes you had in elementary school. I had all those Barbie, Sesame Street and Fraggle cakes growing up. I really wanted to use the mini icing squeeze bottles I got from my Pampered Chef selling neighbor, but my butter cream icing was too stiff to get in the little opening. But luckily the metal decorating tip came off, and I used it with a bigger parchment icing bag.

OK – confession – I could have sworn we had food dye, but of course I couldn’t find any. Then I scrounged around looking for cocoa, but since we don’t really eat chocolate… you can see where this is going, right? So guess what I used? Hot chocolate powder! It was a cute idea, but it really clogged up the icing tip, which is why the brown part of the icing is really wonky. Next time I will use food coloring (Albany John found it in the pasta drawer a few days ago… eesh).

Oh, and a note – sponge cake and icing said sponge cake is a huge PITA when it’s hot AND humid, so shoot for another day. Icing the stars was the most difficult part just because the icing kept pulling away from the cake and sticking on the tube because it got overly hot and gooey.