Henry’s in Waterford

I got a flyers advertising Henry’s Market in Waterford (42 Saratoga Ave), touting smoked meats. So in! It’s just a little further north of Cohoes after 787 ends. I think this place used to be a hot dog store before it was Henry’s.

It’s not as big as Roma’s. I was a little underwhelmed. None of the meats in the deli cases were covered, which meant for some really grey looking hamburgers, and some really dried out raw chickens.

The sausages looked pretty decent. It seems like there was a lot of extra air space. I don’t think Roma’s covers their meats either, but they don’t have issues with dried out meats like at Henry’s. Albany John mentioned something to someone behind the counter, and they were just like “Oh. Yeah.”

They had some desserts and smoked cheeses. Mmmm, smoked cheeeese.

Here is the smoked section. Oh, and some raw stuff too. The organization could use a little bit of improvement. Maybe. The sausages here looked REALLY dried out and unappetizing. Some things were vacuum sealed.

I love smoke, so we decided to get a little bit of food to try out. I wasn’t really impressed with a lot of the store’s presentation of meats (c’mon, it’s meat! treat it with some respect! don’t let it get all sad and dried out. do people buy meat that’s really dried out on the exterior?).

Ham steak, and some smoked cheese. I think it was gouda. The gouda was… not so good-a. A little too soft and mushy. Not a lot of smoky flavor.

Here’s the ham steak. It was pretty tasty, but I would have liked a little extra smoke in there.

So, the ham was okay. Henry, maybe you could check with Roma about how to keep your meat from drying out on the exterior. I can only imagine it would help sales and bring you more money. This is coming from someone who walks into Rolf’s Pork Store thinking “Okay. I’ll just get one kielbasa for my picnic of 3 people.” and then walks out with $30 in various delicious meats.

Dogfish Head Night @ The Ruck

On Friday (crap, or was it Saturday?) night, Albany John & I stopped by The Ruck for a quick beer. It was Dogfish Head night, meaning Victory Brewing Company Dogfish Head (thanks Fuj-y fuj!) took over the taps for the night. I was excited because there were three randalled beers to try. Randalls are these magical beer filter/infuser things that you can run a tap line through and you get additional flavors to your beer. There are better descriptions out there, but that was good enough for Albany John, who was like “Wait, Dogfish? And a contraption? Let’s go.”

When we got there, a few of the randalled beers were already gone, so we got a chicory kind of beer filtered through espresso. I was iffy on the bitterness of chicory (thinking of chicory greens), but oh man! This was like coffee chicory. And the espresso was an awesome pairing! And it was only $4 – totally cool.

The place was also packed with some chill folks of all ages. A lot of younger people, but a good mix of older folks as well.

We wanted to try one other beer, but Albany John came back with two, haha. “Um, I ordered and paid for these two, but I only asked for one… I’m not sure what these are.” Either way, the mystery beers were pretty good, though!
I want to hang out at The Ruck more often – it seems like a decent mix of relaxed folks & atmosphere. And lots of tasty beverages.

May Potluck

This past Saturday, we had a potluck with the Albany Eats! crew! I gave somewhat short notice, but Jerry, Cassie, Sue, R & M, 3rd Auntie, Jon in Albany, & JoJo, were nice enough to come out on a not too rainy day.

Oh, and evidently the covered area in Prospect Park was reserved that day, so we just moved up the hill. Uh, I promise I’ll at least TRY to scout out the next location a little better, mmkay, guys? On the plus side, we had some sweet music to rock out to.

Albany John grilled some flank steaks on his new portable Weber grill.

I made blondies with cacao nibs.

Jerry brought some bomb-ass olive oils to drizzle over bread, greens, and cheese. Mmmmm. He’s ever so kindly written them up here. Thank goodness, cause all I know is that I liked the 3rd olive oil best. I think it was Arbequina. Nice – I’ll have to try it out again.

Sue brought chicken taco bites! I love little bites like this. They’re so time consuming to make, but so tasty! Great job, Sue!

Third Auntie (a long time reader and commenter) brought her homemade pesto with pasta and asparagus. Mmmm. Yummy! I was so psyched I got to finally meet my 3rd Auntie! She’s a blast – you’ll be lucky to meet her, too.

Cassie’s dessert bars! So good! The coconut ones on the end had my name on them. So coconutty! These were a big hit. Well, everything was a big hit, but you know what I mean. Dessert! Everyone loves it!

JON MADE HIS OWN SAUSAGES!!! I never thought I’d be able to taste some of Jon’s handiwork, but HOORAAAYYYY! I did. These were some delicious sweet italian sausages. Great coarse grind on them. Damnit Jon, now I need to learn how to make sausages.

Grilling, eating. Albany John about to put his second flank steak on the grill.

Rochelle’s bread pudding just past the weber grill on the left hand side. So creamy on the inside, and nicely crisp on the outside. Girlie knows how to make some bread pudding. So creamy. Yet so bready. Yum.

I forgot to take pics of Jojo’s tasty tea & fruit salad (and Trader Joe’s sparkling pink lemonade – squee!), but they were a wonderful addition. Really refreshing and tasty.

I can’t believe how well everything worked out. We had a good spread, not like, 4 dozen burgers and a sack of chips. So many tasty different items! And people who are way better at planning than I am and brought extra forks and plates. Man, I have the best readers in the world. You guys bring awesome food and stuff to eat off of them.

Sooooo, if you would like to be a part of the next potluck you can shoot me an email. If you already have, I’m just going to continue jamming up your email and invite you again, though. I’m tentatively planning Sunday, June 26th just to give you a little over 1 month of notice, and partially because my June is pretty freaking full already.

It was great seeing you all! Thanks for all of the good eats and times!

Lemon Poppy Chiffon Cake

Albany John is not a big sweets fan. He likes a few things. Jelly Beans = crack. Traditional birthday cake – eh, not so much. But one cake he enjoys is lemon poppy seed cake, so that’s usually his birthday cake. It’s usually a dense loaf-type cake, which was how I’ve made it for him in the past (and also sustained an impressive burn on my forearm when I forgot about the oven rack above the cake. Smartypants, I know).

I wanted to lighten the texture up this year and do a lemon poppy seed chiffon cake. Chiffon cakes are usually less saccharine and have a fluffier texture than traditional cakes. I added some poppy seeds (about 1/2 C) to this recipe from Happy Home Baker for Lemon Chiffon Cake. Her website is SO awesome for baked goods.

I don’t have an angel food pan, so I used a springform pan lined with parchment paper. I used my biggest one, so that’s why this looks so flat, lol. Not enough batter (my fault).

The glaze was simply a pat of butter, the juice from one lemon (only the finest NY-grown local lemons, please), and some sugar cooked in a pan until the sugar melted. And then poured over the cake. Lemonade Glaze, if you will.

I freaking love chiffon cakes. They’re so easy, light, and so perfect for warmer weather.

Seafood = Yum

Rochelle came over to help me celebrate some good news recently. Steamed lobster – only $8.99 per pound at Matt’s (574 Saratoga St, Cohoes, NY). Well, raw. I steamed it at home. Nom. Nothing says celebrate like lobster. And a big ole bottle of Cook’s to keep it classy.

I was going to chuck the green stuff out of the lobster’s body (after checking that no one wanted it!) and R was all “NOOOOO! WHAT ARE YOU DOING?! THERE’S STILL MEAT IN THERE!” cause it looked like I was going to toss out the whole body. You know you’re in good company when someone shouts that (the company of seafood loving lobster non-wasters). And it sure looked like I was gonna toss out the delicious lobster body, too.

And bonus – it was a female! Red coral eggs yum.

Oh, and 50 clams and some spicy marinated squid (Albany John’s recipe). On the grill! Albany John was like “This is enough seafood to feed a small army… or two Asian women,” So right. We did some damned good damage. I think only one clam was left over. Maybe we forgot about it.

In sum – for tasty lobstrosities and clamosity, head to Matt’s in Cohoes. Such freshness!

My Community Garden

Here’s my community garden. I signed up for a plot with Capital District Community Gardens and have secured a plot somewhere in the greater Capital Region.

Albany John and I did the bulk of our land-moving one day. He is one excellent work horse. If only I had a plow. Meanwhile, I am a fairly decent rock-plucker. Man, NY ground is rocky!

Here’s an Excel spreadsheet of what’s in the ground so far, and when it was planted. It’s about 19 Albany Jane Feet by 12 Albany Jane Feet.
Carrots, Parsnips, Cucumbers, lettuces, and Zucchini. And all this rain means I don’t even have to stop by to water them.

I am now impatiently waiting for warmer weather so I can plant my army of tomato plants. As of now, the cat bellies/paws are really wiping out the seedlings at an impressive pace. Good bye Nasturtium. It seems I’ll never be able to see you flower. But the asparagus beans are holding up pretty well (except for the day I tried to weather them outside and squirrels started nibbling the leaves. I swear, between the cat bellies and the squirrels, I’m going to be lucky to have any seedlings at all).

Here is one pile of rocks from the garden. One of many. So many piles of rocks. Actually, these turned out to be handy as cheap-o row markers. I just placed them at the ends of my rows in a line where the seeds were. Not too bad, and helps me get a visual on what’s where.

My next big tasks are going to be figuring out organic gardening fertilizers (are there liquids I can use for that, or do I have to do manure?); transplanting my seedlings; trellising the cucumbers, squash, and beans; and not screwing things up too much in general.

The latter’s going to be hard, since I always want to put things closer together than the packages of seeds say, but this year I am sticking to it! Spacing! Spacing! If you’ve ever met me in person, you also know how incredibly clumsy I am, so there’s also a pretty huge chance I’ll drop something on my seedlings and ruin them all.

Happy BDay Albany John

Happy Birthday, Albany John! We recently spent a weekend fete-ing the birthday boy. Mama and Papa Amherst came over to spend the day with their baby boy. We went to Beirut for lunch in Troy (184 River St, Troy, NY). Albany John said it was in his lunch rotation when he’s in Troy for lunch, but less so than other places.

When he walked through the door he was greeted warmly by everyone in the shop. It’s a family business, and there’s lots of family.

“How often do you come here?!” I asked the mister. I mean, I know he said he came here every so often, but…
“Not that often, but they’re good,” he answered. Good indeed. That barely describes it. Just about everyone who walked in got the same warm treatment. I wish I had such a good memory!

Lebanese coffee. Loved the cups! Wow, acidic. It looked like espresso, but had a tarter flavor profile. Like chicory. I poured a ton of sugar in it, totally changed things up and made it tasty! I didn’t even need any milk!

We started with a large appetizer plate for 2 ($16). They added a few extra falafel for us to stretch it out for everyone. Tasty starter. I think this is the most expensive dish on their menu.

Some dolmas topped with garlic paste, baba ghanouj, hummus, pickled eggplant, salad, and falafel. Yummy. And those pink turnip pickles. So good! I want to eat a million of them. So tart and crunchy. The dips were super creamy, too. I think this might be a bit better than when Al Baraki was here, but then again it’s been a while since I’ve been to either.

I got the moussaka. Chickpeas, creamy eggplants in a stew. Oh, and UNLIMITED BOWL OF PITA! Really good pita, too. Totally helpful in sopping up the stew. Yummy. I liked it. Really flavorful vegetarian dish, and not too oily.

Lunch & drinks for four people was only $45 before tax and tip. Not too shabby!

Then mini golf. It’s not an Albany John holiday without mini golf. This was right before Papa Amherst took the lead and totally beat all of us.

Back home for lemon poppy chiffon cake. Recipe later. With lemony glaze. Poppy seeds galore! Hope no one has to pass a drug test any time soon.

Wolff’s Biergarten for 2 liter brekkie boots. $40 deposit, must buy $10 in food/beverage (recent-ish addition). Not too hard, and reason for me not to OD on peanuts (delicious, delicious peanuts…. mmmmm).

Lieberkase! I think! $9.95 ($10.75) after tax. Super friendly service – brought it right out to my table. Smoky pork loaf slice with a perfectly over easy
Caught a good game of footy on TV, then continued celebrating Albany John.

Love your scruffy face!

Garden Bistro 24

I was finally able to check out Garden Bistro 24, one of the more recent additions to the Albany dining scene. It’s in a stripmall on Central Ave in Colonie. Or, as Albany John knows it – in that plaza with the video game resale company.

We met up with Daniel B. for a nice night out.

I actually showed up a touch early (shock, I know), and we sat at the bar and had a cocktail. Lemon drop type thing. Tasty, and wow, what a kick! Only minor gripe was that tax was not included in the price. It was something like $9-10. It’s Albany – this is a bistro. We can drop it down a few bucks if tax isn’t included.

Other than that, tasty drink I’d order it again.

A very well stocked bar. I doubt they even have a well. One or two large flat-screen TVs, but they’re not blasting. Garden Bistro has some minimal decor. Lots of tan and earth tones in the decor. Tables on one side, bar slightly to the rear.

The bartender was nice, and the bar area quiet. We decided to have dinner there. Seemed like a little more space than a table, too. Bottle of wine. Albany John and I left wine selection to the Profussor, who narrowed a few reds down he thought I wouldn’t hate. Good call on this bottle, and the bartender even gave us a few pours to try to help us decide. I thought this was nice though – low tannins, fruity, juicy (and under $30! woo!). See? I can use my wine buzz words!

We split the soup special. Eggplant and…. it’s been a few days so I forget what else. But it was tasty stuff. I think it was about $6 for a fairly large bowl.

The boys both ordered flat iron steaks (~$14) which came with a decorative amount of greenery (salad) and a big ole pile of frites. Plus some herbed butter on top. They both ordered medium rare.

I went for the mussles special – with champagne sauce ($16.50). Each mussle was plump and perfectly cooked. Not one bad mussle in the whole lot, and they didn’t become overcooked while sitting there. So tasty!
Plus a gigantic cone of frites with ketchup and a sweet mustard sauce to dip in. The mustard sauce was quite tasty. The fries bested me by a long shot, though. Haha! But they were perfectly crisp on the outside, light, and not too greasy. I usually don’t like smaller shoestrings because they tend to be way too crunchy throughout, or oily; but these were crispy on the outside, light, and airy on the inside. Well done.

Daniel B.’s steak came out closer to medium rare. Albany John’s was more like a medium. Kind of annoying to have two steaks ordered exactly the same and have them come out at different temps. Still a tasty steak, but a minor disappointment because when he was ordered he mentioned that he usually orders rare because he wants medium rare, and was told that they cook their steaks on the rarer side and should order medium rare.

I guess we’ll stick with ordering “rare” in the hopes of medium rare.

I definitely look forward to returning to Garden Bistro 24. The service was casual and friendly, the meal paced leisurely, and overall a nice night out. Cozy, almost. I’d put Garden Bistro as an affordable night out and a good place for a date night. Affordable prices, but you still get a bit of an upscale vibe and nice atmosphere. It’s also low-key enough that it’s relaxing.