Garden Salad usually evokes the pre-fab wrapped trays of garden salad I could order for lunch in elementary school. I’d try to order the chef salad every now and then because I was generally the biggest girl in my class, and salads were healthy. I was not a big fan of vegetables in general, and every time I’d order it, I’d pick over the hard boiled egg, lettuce, tomato, and whatever other greenery they may have put in there, and ended up eating the strips of ham and turkey cold cuts. Not pretty, not tasty, not filling, and not good.
Eventually I gave up. How could I resist hot turkey sandwich, the fancy Chicken A La King, or spaghetti and sauce?
This salad came from my garden. The lettuce leaves are doing well. The French Breakfast radishes I planted seem to want to pop out of the ground. So I grabbed one, just one, and sliced it up into a small salad for two. Hell, it was a small salad for one, but you know. It was refreshing to eat last night, that’s for sure!
Albany John is awaiting a small but bountiful harvest of radishes. I hope they grow bigger! The French breakfast radish we had last night was a small sphere.
It’s funny – When I was growing up I’d never even think of touching the radish. But now that I’ve tried it, it doesn’t really taste like anything.
Lemme say – mission successful! Traffic was light when we went in on Friday evening. They seemed used to take out/counter service, but we opted for a table next to the wall of fake bamboo. The interior is gorgeous. Personally, I think it’s a great addition to Chinese food options in the Albany area.
Some people might think the market is getting saturated, but this is unlike other restaurants. It’s more upscale, akin to the Chinese coffee/tea shops in NYC. Or think of it kind of like a fancier Chinese Starbucks (or Professor Java’s). Hong Kong Bakery is across the street with the bare bones take out minimal service authentic food. CCK & Shining Rainbow are also on the same street, but do more full family meals.
The food choices at One of A Kind Teahouse are both more condensed, and more versatile than others. They have curries, soups, a few meals, skewers, noodles, rice dishes, sandwiches – rather continental in comparison to other Chinese restaurants in the area.
Price-wise, it’s not the cheapest place in town, but on par with coffee shop / teahouse prices. Nothing will break the bank, but you know you’re paying a bit of a premium. It’s like going to Starbucks, only instead of having a $2-3 scone with your coffee, you’re Chinese and you have a few other snacks with your beverage.
You can see Rochelle’s mango bubble tea in the background. She tried asking if the papaya was red or green, but our server didn’t understand what she was asking (language barrier), so R got the mango. Also $2.95 for all bubble teas.Albany John got a green tea smoothie. His cup was noticably less full than mine. *shrugs* It is very light – not too sweet or anything. I’m glad I didn’t get it. I would have wanted more sugar. But he enjoyed it very much since he has a low sweet tooth. Would be perfect in these 90 F + degree days though. My lychee smoothie was more creamy, and this green tea smoothie was very refreshing.
Albany John ordered a soup. Cute cover, no?
It was a shrimp and mushroom soup. Tasty mushrooms. Not overcooked or anything. It came out piping hot. I was classy and did the “spit it back in the spoon because it’s burning my mouth” technique.
R’s squid. This was the skewer order. Not a bad price. It was very tender, and tasted quite buttery. It was just the body, no tentacles. We are thinking those were fried lumpia or spring roll wrappers. Just a little sweeter and thinner than eggroll/wonton wrappers.
I didn’t hype myself up too much, and it was an interesting salad to try. Chopped lamby slices over iceberg lettuce, mixed with some carrots, cherry tomatoes, and red bell peppers. They served both the house sauce (top left corner) and the spicy garlic sauce (bottom right corner) since we were new. The house sauce was the same as with the squid. Not a fan. The garlic sauce wasn’t spicy, but it went much better with the salad. It tasted more like seasoned soy sauce to me. Not bad, but not spicy or garlicky either.
Like the lighting? R’s Droid was awesome at providing additional light for my pictures. Now I want one!
The curry sauce is so well flavored – rich, full bodied, a nice coconut accent. I don’t usually like coconut milk curries because they can be too sweet. But this. Oh man, it was good. Dudes, much like a newly minted lottery winner in a strip club, I felt ecstatic to be in the same room as this soup. It was chock full of beef and veggies – a good combination of both. We could have used a side of rice or something to sop up the tasty liquids at the bottom. I’m surprised we didn’t use our straws. That. Good.
Our waitress Darleen, who was coming back to restaurant serving from banquet serving, was absolutely lovely, in spite of any lingering opening night jitters that may have been. She helped create a wonderful experience, and I will be requesting her the next time I dine at The Epicurean. There’s something to be said for the innate, charismatic optimism of opening night – the air inside felt electric and sparkling with energy.
We initially thought we’d go in for some wine and appetizers to try some things out and lounge around a bit. However, after pouring over the menu, I soon realized that was not an option. Sometimes you have to go with the flow, and when the flow says “What does it taste like? Oh, order it!”, you listen.
The crust. Oh, the crust. I am in love. I will shout it from the mountains, “I LOVE PISSALADIERE!”. It was thinner than any other I’ve tasted, crisp, and yet still maintained a doughy chew without becoming cracker-y.
The Onglet also came with frites. They were well fried – not oily/greasy, very soft and full of potato flavor in the center. They came skin-on, and the skin parts maintained a crispness, but otherwise they were soft fries. I would prefer them to be crispy, but then again, they were delightful as-is. They came sprinkled with what I think was flaked sea salt.
As soon as my neighbor put the cake down on the table in front of the birthday girl, all of the attendees swarmed the table and started poking in. I guess that’s the thing about three year old guests. They’re so selfish. Jeeze.
You’re not going to feed a family of five for $10, but it doesn’t put too much of a dent in your wallet, and they take credit cards both at the ticket booth and the concession stand.
They’ve got beer on tap. The only catch is you have to drink it before you go in to your movie. Personally I’d just as rather sneak a few bottles into the theater to enjoy my movie, but that’s just me.
(as an aside, I’d love a frozen margarita machine at the movies. Or in my house. Albany John, get on that.)
However, I think the best thing about Movieland is their popcorn with REAL BUTTER! Real butter in a small chain movie theater! Hooray!
I don’t go to the movies all that often any more (I swore I’d see Alice in Wonderland in 3D, but never actually made it to a theater), and enjoy a bucket/tub of popcorn bathed in the fattiest of liquids when I do go. (Un?)Fortunately, I no longer have the tongue to stand movie theater popcorn with fakey buttery topping. It’s just too heavy and gloppy, and it coats your mouth when you’re done eating it. But slather my popcorn in real butter? You’ve got yourself a winner.
Oh, and their ticket prices are a little less than Regal Cinemas and they show popular movies out. All I know is now I can see both indie and mainstream movies somewhere in the Cap Region and enjoy popcorn with real butter. Hooray!
Cupcake bouquets! Bouquets made out of cupcakes! I’ve ever found my favored gift basket, bouquets of food are it. If you’ve got some extra time on your hands (or just want to have a decent reason for procrastinating), these are worth a go.
My decorating skills end here. I didn’t have any green tissue paper to stuff between the cakes to cover up the empty spaces, but if someone has an issue with that, I’d snatch the sparse looking bouquet out of their hands. Dude, they are cupcakes in the form of a bouquet, and inherently awesome.
Now, I have a pretty bad track record at cake baking. My cakes are usually on the denser side, and while I haven’t been making bricks lately, they’re generally so-so.
I’ve stumbled on a real winner of a recipe for a good all-purpose cupcake/cake. Grace‘s Cinnamon Cake from her Just How Much Cinnamon Can One Mouth Handle? cake fit the bill quite nicely for a light and fluffy crumb. I couldn’t resist after seeing the texture of the cakey innards she posted. SO tender looking. What I liked the most about it was that such properties came out of a recipe that used all purpose flour.
I left out the cinnamon (I hope you’ll forgive me, Grace) and just used vanilla extact since I wanted to pair it with some raspberry icing.
I recently picked up Royal Raspberry extract at the Confectionary House in Troy. It was like $5.99 for a large bottle, and hoo-boy is it ever strong and worth the price. It’s made for candies, so that’s probably why. A little will last you a long way.
I also found out that I was completely out of big cup cake liners. Whoops. Luckily I had some small cupcake liners laying around and I used them all up. Like I said, cakes and cupcakes aren’t what I usually make when I opt for desserts.
I also finally used this mini icing piper thing. I think the aspect of icing is why I don’t do cakey desserts more often. I try to make pretty icing designs, but I am really terrible at it. It usually squirts out of the bag I put it in, and I end up covered in it and wasting a ton of icing. I don’t mind the slatherings of frosting, but the waste is annoying.
The mini thing is like a contained accordion squeezy tube. It’s small and I couldn’t figure out how to get icing in at first. Turns out it’s just a slow process, but overall now that I have figured it out I like it. I have never iced cupcakes with such ease before!
And yup, those are pixie sticks in the background. They’re Albany John’s. He likes to mainline his sugar in as pure a form as possible, while I like to add as much fat as possible to my sweets.
I used a hair too much raspberry extract (they weren’t kidding – that stuff IS strong), so I added some peach juice and ended up in fruity-frosting heaven. It was quite a tasty mistake to have made. Just your basic buttercream – butter, powdered sugar, extract, milk, juice, pink food coloring.
I loved how I could pipe little cartoonish rosettes onto the mini cupcakes with the piping accordion. And you would not believe how easy it is to shoot a line of frosting in your mouth with those things (hint: very).
Check it – I wasn’t kidding about the crumb. If you’re a cake doofus like me, give Grace’s recipe a whirl. Those whipped eggs and sugar help build one fluffy base.
Sistah woke me up with a phone call on Saturday morning.
“Yo, when are you getting here?”
“Why the fuck are you calling me this early?”
“What are you talking about? When are you leaving?”
“Oh, shit. Sorry. I thought it was a half hour earlier than it was. Never mind. I’m getting ready. I’ll be there by like 1:30.”
And there began my graceful trek to my homeland down state for my girlfriend’s wedding reception. Thank god for Sistah calling me and waking my ass up. It figures the one time I’d oversleep would be on the same day I had to be down state for a reception. I’m sure drinks the night before at Ryan’s Wake did nothing to help (man, on another note, I hadn’t been out to a bar in a WHILE before that).
The bride and groom were married in a small ceremony just about a month ago. I went down for the bachelorette party, and man, this is the way to do a wedding. Seriously, if anyone wants me to be there for their hen night and reception, I’m totally down.
The reception was super casual, and held in a local fire house. I was expecting a moderately casual affair, but her family is full-blooded Italian and there was a spread of food and drinks the likes of which made me want to flip cartwheels.
DO YOU SEE THE SIZE OF THAT SANDWICH???? It was huge. Ham, sweet cappicola, prosciutto, hot cappy, greenery. Oh my gosh, that was the sandwich of my dreams. Albany John had trouble eating his in whole bite, but said I looked like a snake eating prey. Mouth, make room. Sandwich comin’ at ya!
And that fava bean salad? Ohhh, that fava bean salad.
Best of all was the cheesy slurry of sauce. I thought it was eggplant parm, but no… eggplant rollatini. I am in need of eggplant rollatini now. Like, in a bad way. Ricotta, sauce, eggplant, mozzarella. Yes, sign me right the F up.
Oh, dudes, and there were meatballs that were super soft and fluffy. Totally awesome balls of meat. Not too heavy or anything, but still meaty.
Her grandfather MADE THIS CAKE. Like, just the night before, he made the cake. Are you kidding me? He used to work in a bakery, but still – how much love was this? Poppy made the cake for his granddaughter’s wedding? Better than anything you can buy.
Her family was a trip. They totally lived up to the huge Italian family stereotype. She wasn’t kidding. Before she was like “Yeah, this is going to be like 90% my family. I have a ton.” Her hubby is in the military, so he had a handful of friends and his mom come, and the rest were pretty much her family.
Her mom was in frantic Mother of the Bride mode, making sure everything was perfect. And then after her mom would organize and straighten food that was already perfect, her grandparents would walk past and do another straightening.
Cake cutting time! I was really looking forward to this one. They had a cute and short speech. The groom initially thanked everyone for joining them in their “captivity”. Haha, whoops, he meant “join in their festivities”.
They smashed cake in their faces. Girlie looked like a smurf when he was done. Haha. Don’t think you can out cake-smush a guy in the military!
Needless to say, grandpa’s wedding cake was awesome. Tender and moist at the same time, and the pastry custard fillings were also a smash.
I just want you guys to know that I’m the “giver” in my marriage.
FIrstly, I bought 3 lbs of ground meat from Roma for the husbear’s birthday, and we ended up not eating any of it. It’s a lot for two people who don’t usually eat ground meat.
Last night I was kicking it bachelorette style (i.e. eating stale cheetos [crunchy kind] and sipping a watered down old fashioned while procrastinating stuff I should have been doing) while the bear was out doing stuff, and figured that I could at the very least use up some of the ground meat instead of, uh, not.
I’ve gotta say, this was the best burger I have ever made. The ground meat was changing from red to grey (which doesn’t bother me. Just google “meat oxidation” “myoglobin” and “iron” – it’s fine) on the outside, but visuals and chemistry aside, it was still fresh.
I have no idea what temperature I had my pan set to, other then hot. I flipped it every 20-30 seconds, and I’m sure it took me longer than I was supposed to, but hot damn, I made one tasty burger! It went from the pasty looking burger patty above to the patty with crusty goodness at the very top. I used a little butter in my pan when I first started, and the exterior got nicely brown and crunchy.
The homemade burgers of my youth resembled something more akin to hockey pucks. I always hated the homemade burger for its dry, crumbly, overcooked properties. And don’t get me started on the “Use two slices of white bread” bit. Unfortunately, those were generally the only things I could reproduce in making burgers as an adult. It’s always bothered me how something so simple could be so hard to execute. Ultimately, I don’t care what temperature my burger is cooked to as long as there is some moisture and non-rubbery texture to it. I can get more particular, but that is where it starts. Don’t overcook it to oblivion.
I was greatly aided by the help of a digital thermometer. While it’s not exactly an instant-read, the Kitchen Aid Digital Probe Thermometer kicks some serious ass as an all purpose digi therm. It reads quickly, and has a little side container to put the thermometer in to keep it safe. At $25, it’s been an investment I’m very happy with. There were noticeable differences in temperature at different depths. I almost pulled this too early after lightly sticking it in. When I wiggled it a centimeter (or less) in, it dropped significantly in temperature, and more so the further I pushed it in. Otherwise I would have pulled a raw, seared burger.
The burger came out around medium rare. So good. I had some buger drippings that were in the pan, so I tossed in some onion slices to absorb them. Golly, I love onions. I had about 1/5 of an onion cooked in the juices, and another 3/5ths just raw. They go so well with burgers.
Congrats to Small-bany for winning the Almondina cookie giveaway! Her winning entry also referenced none other than the great blue guy himself – Cookie Monster. I have a sneaking suspicion she and her wee-uns will enjoy the treasure trove of snacky goodness.
(Smallbs, I’ll send ya an email in a bit. I’m not holding cookies hostage. Well, not intentionally)