Headed over to Amherst, MA for the weekend. Albany John’s best friend from childhood’s wife was having a Pampered Chef party.
I know, I know. It’s one of those MLM things – overpriced products, and they always try to get guests to book a party or become a consultant, but hey… they have nice spoons. What can I say? It was more for a social event than a shopping event.
Albany John left me with the ladies to make double chocolate mousse cups seen above, while he and his buddy went out doing man stuff. MAN STUFF. I hear the Circuit City or Best Buy or whatever in the Hadley mall is the bomb. I don’t know – it’s Man Stuff.
The company was a blast. The ‘mousse’ cups were any easy Rachel Ray type of dish. It was good for a quick dessert, but it was more of an airy pudding. Basically, melt chocolate chips and brush onto waffle cups. Then make instant white chocolate pudding, melt white chocolate chips, add them together, and stir in a tub of cool whip. Put into chocolate covered waffle cups. I am probably not going to make them, but it had a very kitchy 50s homemaker vibe about them.
After that it was time to gaze at catalogs to order stuff. I ordered some more bamboo spoons. I initially bought some years ago because they were a) one of the cheapest things and b) they were something I could use. Well, Pampered Chef spoons are actually pretty good stuff. I’ll go into further details once my order arrives.
The boys were out doin’ Man Stuff until a pretty late hour. So I watched Cake Boss with wifey, and then Albany John came home and we headed out. I was like “HUNGRY NOW.”, so we headed to Miss Saigon in the center of Amherst (96 N Pleasant St, Amherst, MA).
Holy crap, can we get a Miss Saigon here in Albany? The insides were minimal, clean, and had a nice atmosphere. I could see dressing business casual to eat here, or going in flip-flops and jeans. Their prices were very affordable, and they had a ton of authentic Viet dishes on the menu. The place looked so nice, I was kind of worried it would be expensive.
I got the Miss Saigon salad… I think. Um, I kind of forget the names now, but they were tasty.
I’m pretty sure it was $6-7.95 and … I don’t know. The description sounded really good. It had a good amount of heat to it. Albany John tried a bite before me and acted all dubious about the heat – like I shouldn’t try it. Well guess what? My mouth didn’t fall off from the heat. Pshhh, tryin to get all the shrimp. Don’t mess with an Asian when shrimp’s involved. I’ll always at least try a bite.
There were strands of green papaya, carrots, cilantro, and more stuff that I can’t remember, except they all added up to spicy, tasty, and somehow refreshing. The shrimp were cut in half, kind of a norm of Vietnamese dishes. They were also perfectly cooked. I’d order this again for sure.
Here’s another dish whose name or price I can’t remember. It is a soup/stew that had brisket, tripe, and beef tendon in it. But it’s not a pho. Albany John’s holding the quart of soup that held brisket and trip. See? He’s holding a chunk of brisket that is swaddled with omasum tripe in his chopsticks.
On the side were pre-cooked rice noodles, some jalapeno slices (reaaaaally hot!), beef tendon slices (with meat attached), lime wedges, cilantro, and a baggie of thai basil and bean sprouts. Wow, that’s a lotta food!
Oh, that broth was amazing. So rich and full of beefy flavor. Had a good bit of heat in it, too. It got spicier the more we ate. The chunks of brisket were melt-in-your-mouth tender. I wanted an entire pound of it on its own. I wanted gallons and gallons more of this broth and beef.
The amount of Thai basil was incredibly generous. It was about the amount you buy in baggies for $0.75-$1.00 in the Asian grocery stores here!
So I forget how much everything cost, but it was like $18-19 after tax for both dishes. I think we got a good amount of food!
We spent the night with Mama & Papa Amherst. Sunday was a really good day for swimming and mining the blueberry fields.
On our way out, I had a yen for fudge and requested we stop by Atkins Farms. Shortly after we began dating, Albany John came by my dorm with a box of fudge for me to try. I initially was resistant. I associated fudge with chocolate and walnuts made hastily around Christmas time, so, not the greatest impression. But then I tried Atkins’ penuche after Albany John told me how good it was, and how he and his grandma used to make it when he was a kid (sure, play the grandma card) and I was a fudge convert.
Atkins Farms is awesome. It’s like an indoor specialty market and farmers market. Plus they sell wine and beer. And it doesn’t look much like a store from the outside. Kind of looks like a big house.
Ok, so I like farmers markets and all, but I think that most of our local ones are on the expensive side. I know we’re paying for quality, but I think local foods should be more affordable, too. Atkins had tons of local produce, all available at very affordable prices. You can see that it is very popular with local shoppers.
Massachusetts local cauliflower was only $0.99 per head. HEAD! I don’t think I’ve ever seen prices like that here in New York.
We got two. A pretty one and an ugly/damaged looking one. Albany John likes buying produce that looks less than perfect because of all the waste supermarkets generate as a result of people only buying the best looking produce.
Mass native squashes for $0.79 per pound! I got some of the zukes, and man – they were so fresh and tender. Not watery at all.
Next it was FUDGE TIME! There’s an island of diabetic horrors located near the bakery. Sugary good after sugary good… I love it.
There were three large trays filled with a variety of fudges, and I got six pieces of fudge.
Atkins has a special where you buy 4 pieces and get 2 free. The way they do this is when they weigh the fudge (it costs $9.89/lb) they remove 2 pieces from the scale.
I couldn’t not buy 4 pieces. Hello! It’s cheap fudge! Six for the price of four! Okay, I also have a problem with grocery hoarding, but c’mon.
This six pack of fudge came packed (heh, fudge packed) in a decorative box. They’ll put the price label elsewhere if you want. But this was a gift to my tummy, so I didn’t care if the price was on the box. Easy to peel off, too. You can see my purchase came to $11.29. It would have been $16 and change if they didn’t have the buy 4 get 2 free deal.
OH HELL YEAHH!!!
Top row, L-R: Vanilla Praline (July’s specialty flavor), penuche, peanut butter
Bottom, L-R: Pistachio, White Chocolate Raspberry, Vanilla Praline
I am a sucker for praline, and this Vanilla Praline was great! Like, “I wanna rub it all over my body” great. “I want to take a bath in Vanilla Praline fudge” great. “I want to swim in a tub of vanilla praline fudge while shoving handfuls of it into my mouth” great. I hope they make it a regular flavor.
The peanut butter was so true to peanutty flavor and REALLY easy to eat
The pistachio was also very true to pistachio flavor. It had walnuts in it, and was dyed a neon green, but it had a lot of pistachio flavor (not almond extract) in the fudge itself.
Basically I loved everything. I mean, how could I not love raspberry AND white chocolate. It’s a no-brainer. Even Albany John liked that piece, and he thinks white chocolate is gross.
The penuche is completely gone. Albany John decimated that sucker. I came home to see the box half torn open (hello, it’s got a flappy lid thing!) and most of the penuche gone.
It’s now Thursday, and almost all of this fudge is gone. It’s so smooth, creamy, and damn good. Hope I fit into my plane seat next week!