SCCC’s Casola Dining Room

Schenectady County Community College has a culinary program. Part of the students’ culinary training is running a dining room. Some of the students are in the back of the house cooking and such, while others take over the front of the house as wait staff and such. I first heard about this on Steve Barnes’ Table Hopping blog. It sounded like a great way to experience a 3-course meal, and on the cheap.

They serve lunch and dinner. Lunch is $16 and has two seating times – 12 pm and 12:30 pm. Dinner is $22 and also has two seating times – 7 pm and 7:30 pm. The prices include everything – no tip required. If you’d like to bring wine, it is $3 per bottle corkage. The meals are held in the Casola Dining Room, as you can see above. Here are the menus and scheduled dates for the menus.

The dining room is quite posh, so I can see why reservations need to be made 2 weeks in advance, and shortly after the 10 am time they start taking reservations. I scored a reservation for six people: Albany John, Bro, Margarita, Benny, Panda, and Me.
The hardest part of the night was finding SCCC. The Google was not working in our favor. For those of you not familiar with Schenectady, once you take exit 4C, take a left on State (at the light), and then you’ll see a turn-in sign for SCCC shortly afterward. SCCC itself was well lit, and had signs clearly showing where Elston Hall was (the building the Casola Dining Room is in).

The place settings were beautiful. Not a smudge on any of the silverware or glasses. The water glasses had some ice and lemon in them when we were seated. Even the menu books are beautiful.
We went to eat the Puerto Rican dinner night. It was basically the only menu I saw and thought, “I want to try every single dish on this menu”. Trust me, you’ll see what I’m talking about in a few moments. Since we were a group of six, we ordered everything off of the menu and got to try a little bit of everything. Hooray!
Also included with dinner are drinks. I got a refreshing sparkling water, Albany John got coffee, Benny got tea, Panda got diet coke, Bro got iced tea (unsweetened), and Margarita stuck with water.

Albany John and Panda began their meals with Sanchoco. It is a stew with yucca, yam, cassava, plantains, corn, beef short ribs, and ham. I couldn’t differentiate the individual starches, but they really made for a creamy stew. This was a very generous amount, and I think I need to learn how to make it. It would be wonderful as a main dish during the colder times of the year.

Bro and I got the Ensalada de Pulpo. Grilled octopus salad – chilled octopus, diced tomato, onion slices, romaine lettuce, light olive oil-vinegar dressing, some lemon. It also says garlic, but I didn’t taste much of it. Again, a generous portion. I wasn’t expecting so much. The octopus bits were chopped up and overcooked. They were chewy and under seasoned. I think a little more salt while cooking and lemon to finish would have really punched up the flavor of the octopus. I didn’t taste anything that would make me think the octopus was grilled, though. It could have just been boiled for all I know.

If you can’t tell, the lighting is very nice, but a little low. The pictures are grainy because I don’t like to use flash when I’m dining out.

Benny and Margarita ordered La Raiz del Taro Fragmenta con Bacalao una Salsa de Ali-oli. These were taro fritters; and cold salt cod mixed with avocado, olive oil, and lemon. The salt cod is what looks like mashed potatoes in the background. These were the first dishes to come out, and at first I was thinking “Oh, that’s it? So tiny.”

We all got some bites of the salt cod stuff. I preferred Margarita’s to Benny’s oddly enough. I didn’t think there would be much of a difference. Hers was a little more creamy and well blended, while his was watery and chunky in comparison. Margarita loved the ali-oli sauce that was slathered over her fritter. She said it was “Just so creamy and good!”.

I picked up some wine, and for the appetizers, we all had a glass of Marques de Riscal 2006 Tempranillo (red wine). I picked it up at Empire Wine for $5.95. It was delicious! A little on the sweet side, and I think it went well with the heavy appetizers.

Dinner time! I should also mention that I loved the service. Our server had a pleasant attitude. And she kept pouring me more vino and playfully teased me about it. What can I say? I’m a lush. The dinner bottle of wine was just some Beringer white zin. I was the only one that really enjoyed it; everyone else thought it was too sweet. But that’s okay – it just meant there were leftovers to take home (they let you take home leftover wine!).

I was the only person who ordered the fish dish – El pargo de cacerola-quemo con Salsa de Criollo. I practiced for days trying to say it, but I just ended up ordering “The snapper dish”. I guess just listening to Pitbull doesn’t qualify me as a native Spanish speaker, eh? At any rate, this was a hefty fillet of red snapper topped with avocado slices and tangerine bits. There was a creamy pumpkin fritter on the side, as well as smoky rice and beans.

The fish was absolutely delicious. I didn’t even need any extra salt! It was very moist and well seared. Smoky goodness. Yum. I made sure to give everyone a bite. I even enjoyed the avocado and tangerines. I usually don’t like citrus with my fish, but this was only a little bit at the center of the fish, so it changed it up and made it interesting so as not to be monotonous.

Bro and Margarita ordered the Pollo Asado Rellano con Mofongo. These were little game hens that had been stuffed with mofongo (mashed plantains) and split in half. They also came with the smoky rice and beans. We’re thinking there was some sausage in the rice and peas to add the smokiness.

They both had some difficulty eating the little bird. Despite that, Margarita generously gave me a bite. It was juicy and moist. They both agreed that the skin was also delightfully crisp. Margarita also gave me some of her mofongo because she knows how to share. *coughcoughBROcoughcough* Kidding. The mofongo was deliciously creamy, garlicky, and salty. Oh, I am so trying to make this dish again.

Albany John, Benny, and Panda all ordered Pernil de Cerdo en Salsa de Tamarindo. This was a rich grilled pork loin slathered with tamarind sauce, and served with a roasted tomato and rice and peas. Rich barely describes the pork loin – it was juicy, deliciously fatty, and wonderfully porky. I don’t think I’ve ever tasted a better pork dish when out in a restaurant. Most places cook it too much. There were about three slices.
Albany John loves tamarind, and he absolutely loved the sweet and tangy tamarind sauce. Panda and Benny thought it was a little sweet, and I have to agree with them. I thought it was a bit syrupy and sickly-sweet. But then again I don’t normally like sweet-and-sour sauce combinations, and I really, really dislike tamarind. Albany John practically licked his plate clean. I just preferred the pork in its pure porky form.

For dessert Bro, Albany John, and I ordered the Mango Sorbet, which also came with two coconut meringues. The sorbet was a little melted, but so delicious – it was like pure mango puree. The coconut meringues were light as air – the outsides were perfectly crunchy, crisp, and perfectly white. The insides were fluffy and a touch moist, but not too chewy, with just enough coconut flavor. Just delightful. The green stuff is mint, which went nicely with the cookies. Albany John thought the mango sorbet and coconut cookies went well together. I didn’t find them as complimentary, but they were both highly enjoyable on their own.

Panda and Margarita ordered the Chocolate Tres Leches. I snagged a bit of Margaritas. It was a very moist and milky sponge cake. They both enjoyed it. I enjoyed the moisture – it didn’t make the cake crumbly or mushy. It was topped with more chocolate.

Benny ordered the absolutely beautiful Banana Torte. Two layers of creamy cakey goodness. I’m not a banana fan, but I had myself second-guessing my dessert over this one. It was so moist and creamy. I’d barely call it a cake. It was both rich and ephemeral. I liked the caramel decoration. Benny was more “What am I supposed to do with this?” and when we told him to eat it, he looked at us all funny. Bro helped him out with that one.

The bread was irresistible! It had a delightful chew and we could not get enough of it. They make it there at the school, too! Bro and Benny found half a loaf left in a basket as we were leaving and ate it walking out. I suppose it was a fitting way to end since Bro and Albany John both grabbed a loaf out of the basket and started tearing away at the beginning. As in, loaf completely out of the basket. Yipes. Okay, thanks for overlooking our terrible table manners, SCCC. Margarita and I will have to work on these boys some more.

Overall, I cannot recommend this experience enough. It was such a delightful evening for all of us and the service was spectacular. They accept credit cards. We all just brought cash. With the bill, our table also got a service review paper to fill out to evaluate the night. Needless to say, we relayed how great of a time we had. In all honesty we kept forgetting we were in a school – it was just like being out for dinner.

Chicken Gyros

Margarita and my Bro came over for dinner. Margarita and I had been planning on doing a cooking thing together, and she wanted to do gyros. I really love cooking with the fam and trying out new recipes! Whenever we’re at each other’s houses we’ll usually just stick around the kitchen and watch the other one cook, and end up trying to help out anyway.

Guess what else? Margarita is preggo! G’bye to margaritas for a few months, then!
We’re all excited for them. It looks like they will be moving to Mississippi to be closer to her family (who can help out more) and have better career opportunities. It totally sucks that they are moving, but they think it would be much more difficult to raise a child here in NY. Having a kid really makes you re-prioritize your life.
I get to be both an Aunt and Godmother. I consider myself truly honored that Margarita asked me to be their godmother. Also considering that I would fight tooth and nail to take care of this kiddo should the need arise, this Godmother-ing makes that a whole lot easier. Them having a kid actually makes me realize I need to re-prioritize my own life and start doing more with myself.

Okay, I’m getting all emo on you guys. But suffice it to say, their time here in New York State has an expiration date, and I am trying to spend as much time with them as possible until they leave.

Margarita and I went grocery shopping at Hannaford. Kind of a mistake there, but we could only stop at one place. Chicken breasts were on sale for $1.99/lb (boneless, skinless), which was good even if they were the factory farmed kind. The killer was the price of pita bread. It was like $3.29 for a 6 pack of them. Jeezum crow, that’s freaking expensive for some pita! But it was good pita.

Once we got in, we marinated the chicken boobs in spices, plus red wine vinegar and olive oil. Just enough to make it seem like a cohesive marinade. The seasonings we just added to smell – it smelled really good, and then we made the boys sniff it and drool over it, and then we tucked them in the fridge to marinate. I know you can’t really see the pictures of the chicken itself, but trust me – it came out really well. Super moist and juicy. It made me think “Hmm, maybe I can cook with these factory farmed breasts as long as I marinate the crap out of them,”. This is probably not good from an environmental/hippie/green standpoint, but it is lighter on the wallet. Conundrum.

After letting the chicken marinate, we made tatziki sauce. We hung some plain yogurt to drain. This is much cheaper than buying Greek yogurts, which are thicker. We drained it by lining a sifter with a coffee filter and filling it with yogurt. We actually did this part before we started with the chicken breasts so it would have time to drain. About 20-30 minutes and then you have thick yogurt! It’s not exactly the same, but for recipes like this, I think it works just fine. And it’s much cheaper.

Then we let the tatziki sauce sit covered in the fridge while we turned on the broiler to cook the chicken. I didn’t make any pink chicken this time. Woo hoo! I really like the broiler. I’m getting pretty good at cooking chicken. We let the breasts rest for a bit after cooking them, and then we sliced them into strips to assemble our own little chicken gyros. Margarita is used to broilers being electric inside an oven, and I’m used to it being the thing on the very bottom. I remember when I first moved to TN, I was like “Why are you putting pans in here?! They’re going to melt as soon as you turn the oven on!”, and when she came here, she was like “Why are you putting food in the bottom of the oven drawer?”.

We also boiled some orzo and just ate it with butter or tatziki sauce. I made Albany John drag his butt away from video games with my Bro to make a salad. He did all the green stuff you see above, and it was delicious.

The tatziki was the highlight of the night! It was super yummy, thick, and creamy. I could just eat this stuff on pita bread. Or on anything else. We had a lot of leftovers.

Mediterranean Chicken Breasts
8 Chicken Breasts
½ head of garlic, minced
½ T black pepper
1 T oregano
1 T marjoram
1 T thyme
juice of ½ lemon
½ – ¾ C red wine vinegar
½ C olive oil

Put them all in baggies and shake it up to combine. Let it all sit and marinate in a refrigerator for 1 hour. All the measurements are more a guess – just combine them so it all smells irresistible to you. Don’t forget the lemon – it’s key.

Broil to cook.

Tatziki Sauce
1.5 C plain yogurt, hung to drain
1 whole cucumber, peeled, seeded, and shredded/minced
juice of ½ lemon
2-3 cloved minced garlic or a few shakes of garlic seasoning (I have this blend called GarlicGarlic! that worked wonderfully)
1 t salt

Mix all, let sit to combine 30+ minutes.

Chipotle Opening in Latham, Press Release

Just checked my email and found this blurb from the Chiptole folks:

Shaker High School Fundraiser and a Free Furrito
Day Open Latham Chipotle

Latham, NY – Chipotle, (chi-POAT-lay), the
restaurant chain where, according to the Washington Post, “has long been a
pioneer in bringing sustainable and organic food to the masses” and whose
offerings Food & Wine Magazine calls “delicious”, will start dishing up its
award-winning gourmet burritos, bowls, tacos and salads to the public on Friday
November 6 at 2 Wade Road at Troy Schenectady Rd in Latham. This is Chipotles
second Albany-area restaurant.

But, wait, there’s more. As a pre-opening celebration to say hello to its new
neighbors, Chipotle will throw a fundraiser on Wednesday, November 4 from 5pm
until 8pm for Shaker High School. A $5 donation will be rewarded with a big,
gourmet burrito, or order of tacos, a bowl or a salad, along with crispy
tortilla chips and piquant salsa or guacamole. Chipotle will even give you a big
fountain drink to wash it all down! All proceeds, yes 100%,will go to Shaker
High to support Key Club activities.
And there is even more. On
Thursday, November 5 from 11 am until 8 pm Chipotle is giving away burritos.
Sounds crazy, right? But, it is true. All day long you can stop in for a
delicious giant burrito and a fountain drink absolutely FREE.
Then, on Grand Opening Day, Friday, November
6 the first 100 customers after 3pm will receive a free t-shirt and free burrito
card to use at a later visit AND any customer that day can register to win free
burritos for an entire year! It is all very cool.

Distinguished by fresh, high-quality food, cool decor and speedy service,
Chipotle Mexican Grill plays a leading role in the quick-gourmet restaurant
industry with its vision of Food with Integrity (FWI). Chipotle’s
FWI philosophy stems from Founder, Chairman and CEO Steve Ells’ commitment to
move the restaurant chain toward using all responsibly and sustainably farmed

Page 2, Latham
All the pork and chicken
Chipotle serves is naturally and humanely raised (an all vegetarian diet, no
added hormones or antibiotics and responsible animal husbandry). And, while 60
percent of the over 900 Chipotles throughout the U.S. serve naturally raised
beef, all of the
East Coast Chipotles serve it. In fact, this year
Chipotle will purchase over 60 million pounds of naturally raised meats and sell
more naturally raised meat than any other restaurant company. In addition,
its sour cream and cheeses are made from milk that is rBGH-free (recombinant
bovine growth hormone) and over 30 percent of the black and pinto beans
that Chipotle purchases are organically grown. Also, Chipotle has the committed
to purchase 35 percent of at least one of its produce items for each of its
restaurants nationwide from small and mid-sized local farms throughout the
growing season.
These actions are informed by
Chipotle’s mission to change the way people think about and eat fast food.
Aiming to show that food that is served fast doesn’t have to be a typical
fast-food experience, Chipotle Mexican Grill pioneered offering gourmet-level
ingredients to make food in a quick-service environment. Yet Chipotle
recognizes that fresh isn’t enough. It’s only a starting point. To serve the
best tasting food, it is important to understand how animals are raised and
vegetables are grown. This thinking is at the heart of Food with
“More and more, we’re able to push
farther to have a meaningful impact on the way people eat,” explains Ells. “But
there isn’t a switch you can throw to make this happen all at once. It’s an
incremental revolution, and we’re committed to being part of
Ells came to the decision to use premium
ingredients quite honestly. By the time opened his first Chipotle in Denver in
1993, he had graduated from the CIA and worked at San Francisco’s Stars
restaurant at the elbow of renowned Chef Jeremiah Tower for three years. While
living in the Bay area, he loved to eat at the local tacquerias; yet, he thought
he could make that style of food better and came upon the idea of using the same
kind of ingredients he used at Stars to fill burritos and tacos. Thus was born
Chipotle. True to his training, Ells treated each ingredient with care. He used
market-fresh herbs for every dish. He hand chopped fresh ingredients and grilled
fresh batches of marinated meats throughout the day, and even made his own
tortilla chips seasoned with freshly squeezed lime juice and tossed with kosher
“There are not a lot of moving parts to our
menu, so we can focus on grilling the perfect chicken, steaming the perfect
rice, slow-cooking the best beans and finding the freshest avocados to mash into
guacamole,” Ells says. “The flavor of our food is complex, but we use very
simple ingredients.”
Sixteen years later, visitors
to any one of Chipotle’s locations will find the same methods, the same menu,
and the same emphasis on quality as at Ells’ original Chipotle. You will
see the fresh ingredients prepared in front of you, while you watch rather than
while you wait, in

Page 3, Latham Chipotle
open kitchen. The menu focuses on just two things, yet with countless
customer options. It has a hip, clean dining room, great music and gourmet food
you can eat with your hands, all for about $7.

The design of each Chipotle also mirrors Ells’ food philosophy. His team has
incorporated the principals of sustainable architecture in all new building
projects since 2001 and included many of those elements in existing
Chipotles. There are four certified green Chipotles in Austin, Texas and
Chipotle worked with the US Green Building Council to build LEED (Leadership in
Energy and Environmental Design) Chipotles in Gurnee, Ill…which just received
a PLATINUM LEED rating… and in Minnetonka, MN and Deer Park, NY.

And, just this week, Chipotle announced plans for a solar power initiative that
will make it the largest direct generator of solar power in the restaurant
industry. Chipotle is committing to install solar panels on about 75 restaurants
over the next year that, in total, will generate 500 KW of solar power. The
panels provide a portion of the power for each restaurant and, combined, will
produce enough power to eliminate some 41 million pounds of CO2

And, while all Chipotle restaurants use similar materials to achieve a sparse,
clean, urban look, no two are alike. When possible, Chipotle uses existing
space, incorporating its inherent architectural elements rather than building
from the ground up, to achieve a neighborhood feel for each restaurant. The
Latham Chipotle will seat 44 inside and 14 on the outdoor patio. It also will
feature a fax and on-line order pick

“The design of our restaurants complements the food,” Ells says. “The
environment should add to the dining experience, not detract from
About Chipotle
Steve Ells, Founder, Chairman
and CEO, started Chipotle with the idea that food served fast did not have to be
a typical fast food experience. Today, Chipotle continues to offer a focused
menu of burritos, tacos, burrito bowls (a burrito without the tortilla) and
salads made from fresh, high-quality raw ingredients, prepared using classic
cooking methods and served in a distinctive atmosphere. Through our vision of
Food with Integrity, Chipotle is seeking better food not only from using fresh
ingredients, but ingredients that are sustainably grown and naturally raised
with respect for the animals, the land, and the farmers who produce the food.
Chipotle opened its first restaurant in 1993 and currently operates more than
900 restaurants. For more information, visit

Mexican Grill Hours from 11 :00 a.m.
to 10:00 p.m. daily.
2 Wade Road at Troy Schenectady Rd, Latham, NY 12110
Ph: (518) 783-0648 F: (518) 783-4519

Another area Chipotle
Mexican Grill
3057 NY State Route 50, Suite 5 Saratoga Springs,
NY 12866 p. 518-587-0478 f. 518-587-0489

All Over Albany’s Tournament of Pizza

I’m late to the table with this one, but I kind of assumed you guys would’ve read All Over Albany and checked out the Tournament of Pizza they’ve currently got going on. This is more for my family and friends who don’t live nearby to check out since, well, it’s a Tournament of Pizza!

For those of you not fully immersed in in any and all things related to Albany, All Over Albany is a local website. They’re the best website to get the scoop on local events, people, and news highlights. They’re interesting, keep things casual and fun, and you know what? Just go check them out since I know you’ll love it if you’ve never seen it before. (Which would be weird if I directed you to them and not the other way round) They do some really cool things, one of them being the Tournament of Pizza.

The Tournament of Pizza is a fun match up competition of local pizza places to see who’s got the best take out pizza. There are brackets. There are groupings. And best of all, they let me return this year as a judge!

Currently they’re up to round two of Saratoga Springs, the sausage round. Round one consists of just cheese. Here’s round one of Saratoga.

Albany, Round One.

Troy, Round One.

Schenectady, Round One.

See? I told you I kind of forgot to tell you. I’ll try to keep you guys a little more updated, but at least now this explains why I’ve been pizza coma-ing more often lately. I absolutely love doing it, and I may take my judging responsibilities a little too seriously by keeping my lips tightly sealed when it comes to the ToP.

Hong Kong Bakery

So on Sunday when I came back from Brooklyn, my Dad was also in town. We managed to meet up on his way out, and he ended up killing some time by shopping at my new favorite store – the Asian Supermarket.

My Dad tells me the name in Chinese (Cantonese, I am guessing) is Ga Ga Lok, meaning Every Family Happy. Aw, that’s nice. He said that the prices were just as good as in NYC and he really liked the freshness. The other day he emailed me to say that he’d wished he’d bought more of their roasted pork (from the hot bar section) since it was so good he’d eaten it all.

I suggested we meet up at the Hong Kong Bakery since it’d be closer to getting him on the highway. And their food is good.

The owner remembered him from my wedding last year (they did an excellent job making the cake), and was super-nice. We just split an order of beef chow fun ($7.95). The beef was very tender and both the beef and noodles had excellent char to them. The noodles were soft and pillowy. So good. The bean sprouts were crunchy and hardly cooked – So bright, and refreshing. It could have used a little more salt or soy sauce, but still, it was great. That could also just be me, since I like to over-salt my food.
My Dad had just eaten lunch, and I had a gigantic coffee on my way back, so I wasn’t very hungry either. If you guys think that I can eat a lot, you should see my Dad. He might look skinny, but he can really pack it away when he wants to(I say this in a good way, Dad!). I think this was best evidenced at my Bro’s wedding where we went on an eating spree after the reception, and then met up with Bro and Margarita for Waffle House about 20 minutes later.

We stayed for a while. They brought the food out to us, plus some cups of hot tea(I don’t think they charged us for that, but not sure since my Dad paid), and bussed the table for us afterward too. That was different, since you usually pick up the food from the counter when it’s ready and bus it yourself.

It was busy when we first got there, with two large groups having food, but soon we were the only folks in the joint. I’m glad I got to meet up with my Dad for a quick bite. It was very nice to spend some time with him, and I find him motivational.

Brooklyn Indie Market, Sushi from Yuka

Wow, what a crazy fun trip to NYC, you guys! Here’s one of the cool steam punk costumes. It’s a cloak/coat and is really pretty looking. So Artsy Designer Friend and I managed to get into Brooklyn, deep into Brooklyn a little after 9 pm on Friday night. Not too shabby!

Artsy Designer Friend was staying at the place of the person running the show the next day. Wow, was it busy and full of fabric. Kind of to be expected by a designer running the show the night before the show. Very energetic and cool to see.

However, I had an HOUR AND A HALF subway ride to the UES, so I quickly jetted off to the nearest station and… listened to my mp3 player forever.

But once I got to my stop, I was happy since I was only a few blocks away from an apartment full of tasty food and beverages. Yes, the abode of Manhattan Maka and my brother-in-law CVS. Hooray! Maka bought these cute little umeshu single serving drinks. They even had a teensy little pickled plum in the bottom. Yummy. And quite necessary after all of that traveling. Ahh, time to unwind.

Since it was around 11 pm when I got in, I was all “Heeeeyyy, are there any tasty CVS leftovers?” there was! Chicken soup! I’m not usually a soup person, but this was like chicken stew – SO good. I ate a gigantic tupperware container of it (this was just round 1). It was excellent – moist chicken thighs and tasty potatoes and veggies. Very satisfying.

CVS was a little under the weather, so he went to bed early. Or rather, Maka and I stayed up into the wee hours of the morning quaffing beverages and chit chatting.

The beverage part made functioning moderately difficult the next morning when I had to head over to the Brooklyn Indie Market to meet up with Artsy Designer Friend. Thankfully, I wake up easily, so I didn’t oversleep or anything. Rather, when I’m in NYC I hardly ever sleep and I’m just dandy.

I’m not sure what I was expecting, but I just thought that since this was a moderately big event and it was in NYC, it would be in a big space. I mean, isn’t Brooklyn the hipster captial of New York? The Indie Market is in a small tent, with a vendor or two outside. They had another make-shift tent set up adjoining the Brooklyn Indie Market, and the rain made us all hope nothing collapsed. I guess it last year, yipes!

It was a whole mess of people crammed in one wee tent! The rain was so chilly. And Artsy designer friend and I were set to go on hours before the show. Ooohhhh, all that waiting was so boring, and I didn’t even think to bring a book. I kept looking at the time, shuffling around to not be in anyone’s way (not that easy) and tried chatting with other people, but most other people were either insanely busy, or other models chatting with other model friends they already knew, or unchatty models. Lemme tell you, 3 hours of that is a long amount of time and I was a totally annoying whiney model by complaining to Artsy Designer Friend every few minutes. Bless him that he didn’t stab me, since he was still working on chainmail the entire time.

We took a break and got lunch at the neighborhood Rite Aid. Vitamin Water, Low Carb Rock Star Energy Drink, and two kinds of Orbit sugar-free gum. Arsty Designer Friend said he couldn’t eat because he’d get too sleepy or something, and I was all “Uuhhh, HUNGRY!” but I’d already reached whiney mode, so instead of choosing food I went with an energy drink to keep me awake and kill my appetite, and peppermint gum.
Jeeze, we really chose a model’s lunch hunh? Energy drinks and gum? Guys, don’t let me lose any food cred over this, okay?

Manhattan Maka trekked down to see me walk! That was really cool of her, especially considering the mess the F train was in. Despite all the rain the tent was still packed with people to see fashion. Dude, steam punk fashion is totally cool and now I want a corset.
The runway was a path in the center of the tent walking around the pole. The mass of people made it semi awkward to walk since people were sticking their cameras out as far as they could, and this one woman stood in the MIDDLE of the path back taking pictures and stayed there while I was trying to get back. I ended up almost bumping into her and walking around her, trying to avoid hitting anyone walking. Really annoying. How can you not know that you’re in the middle of the return walk and NOT FREAKING MOVE?!
After the show I tore myself out of my clothes and headed back to the UES with Manhattan Maka. Check out this bar I peeped. I know Albany John would have immediately made us go in, and if it weren’t raining during our walk, I really would have too. Zombie Bar!

Once we got to the UES we headed to The Food Emporium to get some food and drinks since CVS was feeling even worse. Poor guy.

This place was really nice looking – clean and wide aisles. But yipes, prices for food are really high. $4.99 per pound for white button mushrooms? Are you kidding me? And don’t even get me started on juice. Ay yi yi.

And then Manhattan Maka decided to order dinner in since cooking would take a while. OH MY GOSH I LOVE YOU. Since I didn’t have much dough on me, she bought my dinner from Yuka in Manhattan. I love free sushi! Well, she did say that she expected an insane spread of food at Thanksgiving when I was like “But, you know how much I can eat… and I haven’t eaten today…”, which I can totally promise! Girlie, I will stuff you to the gills with food!

I got a salmon don (fat salmon slices over rice) and a New York Roll, which was a giant maki filled with eel and shrimp tempura. Humungous. CVS also got some rolls, and Maka ordered chicken katsu. The katsu was very moist and not the least bit greasy. So good. Thank ya, thank ya, thank ya!

The next morning I got up super early to be in Brooklyn super early to head back with Artsy designer friend. Another hour and a half subway ride, but the Brooklyn train was pretty much empty for the entire ride.

Asian supermarkets abound in Bensonhurst! That was the area of Brooklyn I stayed in. I toured the red and yellow one next to McDonald’s. It was okay, but I didn’t find anything all that impressive. Boy, the new Asian Supermarket is really spoiling me up here.

There’s also a Russian deli called Gintaras that we checked out before heading home. They had some cool stuff inside, and I was tempted to try a savory pastry but didn’t. Artsy Designer Friend got a sour cherry juice that wasn’t all that sour.

I grabbed a pear soda thing. It looked cool and I couldn’t read anything on the label. Artsy designer friend bought it for me, thus continuing a joke that every ‘meal’ we have is now a soda or beverage of some kind, and not actual food.

I didn’t much care for the drink. I was expecting some tart-ness, but it was a little medicinal. The pear was there, but not that great.

We stopped for gas along the highway, and one of the rest stops had a Farmers Market. And jeeze louise was it ever expensive! I guess for folks coming from NYC it might be a deal, but good gravy! $4 for quart of apples!

Brooklyn Bound, Pulutan at Hand

Hola, Bitches! Tonight I’m off to Brooklyn with Artsy Designer Friend. He has a piece he’s showing this weekend and his model had to call off last minute, so he asked if I’d do it for him. I’ve walked a piece for him once before, and he’s a fun guy to work with in addition to being a good friend. He also becomes adorably spastic, as most designers do, when getting closer to the show. Plus, I can never get enough of the city!

Above is a mini metal Chinese takeout container Benny picked up for me the last time he was in the city. Kawaii! It’s got tiny candy red and white stars in it. They just taste like ‘red’ and ‘white’. He also picked up an awesome pair of glittery pink Hello Kitty chopsticks, but like the Hello Kitty utensil set Manhattan Maka gave me, I have failed to take a picture of them. I wonder what goodies I’ll find in Brooklyn?

I’m excited since I haven’t really explored Brooklyn. I’m not sure if I’ve ever even set foot in it. It’s usually Manattan, Queens, and occasionally Long Island when I head down. Tonight I’m going to be in Manhattan though, having girl time with Manhattan Maka!

The only down side is that I’m on a super strict budget, so I’ll have to stick to the whopping $6 in my wallet for the weekend. $4 of which is tagged for the subway. Le sigh. I’ll also be missing the Zombie Walk! I’m hoping someone will represent it up for those of us lameasses not showing up.

To help with my budget and to also be a decent car buddy, I decided to whip up… any guesses?

Yes, it’s my current snacky love – Garlic Peanut Pulutan! And yet again, I didn’t get any pictures besides the garlic and oil. But last night Albany John helped/mocked me by peeling half a head of garlic lightning quick. Pfff, whatever, like it’s my fault I am kitchen molasses. I let them sit in the oil for about half an hour before actually cooking them – I’m hoping they’ll be more garlicky. Maybe I’ll snap a few pics for you on the drive down.

Or maybe I’ll be a terrible spendthrift and withdraw even more money out of my ever dwindling savings account. You guys have my back, right? Got any good recs for food in Brooklyn, guys? I’ll be in the Bay Parkway area.

Ta ta for now my salty, garlicky, shooting stars! Here’s hoping I don’t fall on my face or mess up Artsy Designer Friend’s piece!

Happy Birthday to Phairhead!

Phairhead graciously invited Albany John and me to Wolff’s to celebrate her birthday!

Up front and center is the most important thing – the birthday girl! There’s knockwurst in the back, a box full of cupcake goodness, and you can also kind of see the three liter boot just behind her head.

Unfortunately, I had to jet before Ms. P got past the calf. She had a good pace going with the boot. I hope you finished all of it missy!

Oh, and I was a total touch-hole and didn’t bring any birthday gift, and I got a cupcake! I don’t know if that’s a good idea for the future – it’s akin to feeding a stray cat. Just wait, P – now I’m going to be knocking on the back door of your new house at all hours of the night mewling for cupcakes.

In the front are chocolate chip and in the back are carrot cake. I went for the carrot cake and mowed the hell out of it. Mmm, delicious – the cream cheese frosting was just perfect, and I squinted and said “Don’t you even think about it,” when Albany John was going for the very last nibble. It was more a “mmppphh mmooo eeemmeenn ffffinnng mmrrmmow dddiiid” since my cheeks were full of tasty cupcake, but he saw my eyes squint into slits and said “What? Uh, I was just going to feed you the last bit. Sheesh.”

Look, I get really greedy when I eat something tasty, kay?

Her and Sexy Beast are awesome people! I can’t wait to hang out with them again. She mentioned pasta, gruyere, and brie. Oh hell yeah! We are gonna get along juuuuust fine 😉

Xs and Os and puppy dog toes my delicious plops of icing!

Paradise Taste

Albany John and I found a new-to-use Caribbean restaurant. It is called Paradise Taste and located at 99 Main St, Cohoes, NY.

We initially tried a jerk chicken patty. Yum. Total love. I think all of their patties are hand made. They are super flaky and not too dense and chewy like commercially made patties. The jerk chicken patty was excellent, and only $2.35 (before tax).

The patties were so good, we went back a few days later to try out the rest of their dishes.

Here is a large order of oxtails. $10.50. We had to order oxtails. It’s like one of our favorite dishes. The oxtails at Paradise Taste were a little on the tough side. They could have been cooked longer, as they were still very chewy and difficult to bite off of the bone. There was a lot of cartilage left on the bones (and not melted into stew-y goodness). They also tasted a bit sweet, as if there were sugar added in it. The sweetness and toughness detracted from what could have been an excellent dish. I will probably try this dish again, just to see if this was a one-time thing. I do love oxtails.

The amount of oxtails were very plentiful and ranged in sized from small to large.

This is a small order of Brown Stew Chicken ($9.50). The small and larges are served in the same containers, it looks like. I loved the stew chicken. It was bursting with warm, delicious Caribbean flavors that made me forget it is turning into winter. This wasn’t spicy in the least, and was very comforting. The chicken was tender, but not mushy or greasy or anything like that – just tender and moist, swaddled in a bath of delicious gravy.

The rice and peas – I have to say, I was skeptical of. They looked dry. I mean, some of the beans were split and fluffy looking. But nope – this was delicious. I really liked them the best out of all of the other instances of rice and beans in the area that I’ve tried. The rice was cooked into individual grains and light and fluffy, but not dry. It soaked up the gravies very well. The beans were also cooked into a light fluffiness, but in a good way. Sometimes the rice and peas can be dense and thick. I wonder if the rice here was steamed?

We also got a side order of jerk chicken ($5). They have side orders of jerk chicken, how awesome is that?! This is in a small Styrofoam container, and we were wondering how full it would be when we opened it. Very full! This was packed with chicken. The jerk spices were – whooo! Spicy! Albany John loves jerk chicken, and this version pleased him very well. He still added pickapeppa sauce to kick things up a bit. I don’t think he’ll ever eat something too spicy for him served as-is. Meanwhile, I really liked it too, but I could only eat a small portion of breast. The flavors were well rounded, not just “HEATHEATHOT”, and we received a lot of chicken, both white and dark pieces.