Daniel B.: “The Tour de Egg Sandwich is going to start at 7:30 on a Saturday,”

Albany Jane: “Ha ha, that’s a good one. No, seriously, when does it start?”

Daniel B.: “7:30 am on a Saturday,”

Albany Jane: “Yeah, I’m gonna be late,”

Daniel B.: “You can’t be later. 7:30 A.M.. SATURDAY.”

Albany Jane: >_<

You may have heard about Daniel B.’s Tour de Egg Sandwich. You may have even been on it. Here are a whole lotta pics from that (way too) early Saturday morning. (For the record I made it there with THREE minutes to spare. That’s like arriving an hour early for me!)

Albany John and I decided to split a sandwich at each stop so we could hopefully stave off a visit to the cardiologist immediately following the tour. Our chosen sandwich?:

Bacon, Egg, & Cheese

Egg sammich #1 was pretty decent. Two eggs on the roll, although a bit pricey at $5. The cheese was white American, and the bacon was crispy and soaked the buns nicely. The buns also tasted fresh and were really pleasantly squishy-soft. We went to:
Jack’s on Central Ave (near the Co-Op). I’d never been there before, and is a little bit bigger on the inside than it looks from the outside, not unlike a Tardis.
We also got two cups of coffee, because at 7:30 AM, Go Go Juice is absolutely necessary. The Profussor wisely paired us up with another couple we’d enjoyed hanging with on the Tour de Fish Fry. I don’t know about you, but bleary-eyed me is completely unfriendly and crankasaurus at sevenfreakingthirty in the morning.

Two cups of Joe & a BEC is just over $8.00 at Jack’s.

Stop number two was the deli at McCarroll’s in Delmar.
You order at their counter, give your name, and wait for them to call it. These guys were busy on Saturday morning, and not just because of our group.

$3.19 for a sammich here.

I LOVED the bacon. So crispy, plentiful, and they had just the right amount of fat. Mmm. I think the roll was from Prinzo’s, which is probably my hands-down favorite hard roll in the Capitol Region. It was also toasted up just a teensy bit on the inside.
I also liked that the egg yolks weren’t cooked 100% hard. I picked out any of the hard cooked egg yolks from all of the egg sandwiches we ate this day. Yes, I’m picky. Cooked egg yolks gross me out; I only like runny egg yolks.

Anyway, you can see how generous the bacon was here. I think Albany John started getting a little full. We have an unofficial 2/3-rule in our house. Usually Albany John eats 2/3 of food in the time I can eat 1/3 amount of food. I def ate 2/3 of this roll. Man, I wish I still lived in the DelSo. It would be so easy to go here.

Our next stop was Stewart’s on New Scotland Ave. I was all “YEAH, STEWART’S!” Because, dude. It’s Stewart’s. It’s our local convenience store chain! This was a mere $3.05 after tax for one roll…

But… it was bad. There is no minicing of words on this one. Stewart’s, you may have fabulous ice cream flavors, and local milk, but you need to improve your bacon, egg, & cheese sandwiches.

The bacon was in a roll. A ROLL. As in, sliced off of a log of bacon. This is kind of not a normal bacon shape, and if you have abnormally-shaped bacon, it should at least taste good and not like fail and sogginess.

The egg circle patty thing was gross – they tasted like powdered eggs, dense and unpleasantly heavy, yet not very eggy. You guys have local eggs – use ’em!
The roll was equally unpleasant – the crumb was too tight and dense, and rather overwhelming (but then again, you really didn’t want to focus on the egg & bacon circles).
The cheese was there, but absolutely flavorless and forgetful. A waste of calories. Albany John and I took two bites of this sandwich and deemed it painfully inedible. As in, our stomachs started hurting after eating these hockey pucks.

Thankfully our tour-long sandwiching mates (i.e., folks goodly enough to put up with my sarcastic and cranky demeanor) brought along Zero, who was more than willing to dispose of our undesired sandwich.

I still can’t get over how awful this bacon, egg, and cheese from Stewart’s was. I love their buttered hard rolls, and pretty much every thing else I’ve ever gotten from Stewart’s. How could something so bad come from Stewart’s?
Stop number four was Bella Napoli in Latham. It was about a 10 minute wait from ordering to receiving an egg sandwich. Saturday mornings are busy here!

Two eggs, a generous amount of bacon, and hooray, the egg yolks weren’t entirely hard! $3.51 with tax.
It was okay, but I think Bella Napoli’s hard rolls are a bit too sweet, so it’s not as perfect as a Prinzo’s hard roll, or… any other not-super-sugary rolls. The texture is great, though – airy and light buns.
Our final stop was Famous Lunch in Troy, NY. This was another one of my favorites. It was like $2.50 for a sandwich! When you go to Famous Lunch you just order with someone at the counter, and pay when you leave. It’s really low key.

BACON, so good! And the buns were nicely charred. Not burnt, but a good bit of browning and flavor. Just a hair from burnt, basically the diner-equivalent of wok hei. Tons of flavor, just awesome all around. All of the flavors were equally balanced, and it was just an enjoyable and delicious bacon, egg, & cheese overall. So good. <3 Famous Lunch! <3 Troy!

My two fave BECs were from McCarroll’s & Famous Lunch. Stewart’s was a surprising last place finisher (if you’d asked me before the tour, I’d have easily placed it in the top 3. Not a distant last).

It also seems like egg sandwiches in the Albany-area cook their eggs whole and the yolks most of the way through. In the future, I would probably ask for egg-white only, or sunny-side up yolks in my egg sandwiches, or else risk picking out hard cooked yolks from each sandwich (which grosses out everyone else around me).

Mussels Night at The Merry Monk!

Albany John and I went back to the Merry Monk to try more of their mussels! We loved our first visit, we had to go back! And when they’re buy-one-get-one free on Wednesdays starting at 4 pm, it’s hard to stay away for long. Albany John got mussels in a cream sauce. Very good – plump, and not too creamy. Very complimentary sauce without being overwhelming.

And we each got frites! Two dipping sauces each. So tasty! The buffalo blue cheese is addictive as a dip.
I threw my normal pickiness to the wind and went with the coconut curry mussels. And I LOVED it! I’ve had this cold I just can’t shake – it just seems to keep coming back. And this had so much flavor!
There were a few funky/unopened shells, but for the most part, they were all plump and well-cooked. Albany John thought the turmeric garnishing was a little excessive – if it gets on your clothes they will be stained.

I’m still loving the atmosphere – laid back, not rushed, and a nice step away from the hubub of downtown Albany during/just after office hours.

Childhood Flavors

I was just randomly thinking about food and flavors my friends and I liked as a kid.

When I think of my Sistah, I will always think of Sunny D & Fruit Punch, and microwave popcorn sprayed with I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter.

I was also a late 80s/early 90s kid who grew to love I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter. Shrimpfests with Dad, Zucchini Bread made by Sarah’s mom that I’d trade for something out of my lunch box (for some reason my mom hated me trading stuff from my lunch box).
Cream cheese & jelly sandwiches almost every day for lunch in kindergarten.
Capri Sun, S’sips, or a juice box with every lunch (man, no wonder I was a tubby kid).
Pasta & butter.
Grilling Sabrett (natural casing) or Hebrew National hot dogs on the grill over the summer.
My mom grilling/cooking chicken wings before they became popular.
Binaca bread/baby jesus bread (It’s basically just braided bread stuffed with sweet ricotta filling).

If you had a pizza party for your birthday or a Carvel ice cream cake, that was an awesome birthday.

What are some of your childhood highlight foods?

The Brown Bag

I love late night dining. The Brown Bag is a lovely new late night addition to downtown Troy. Open 7 days a week from 9 pm – 6 am, it’s a great spot for some cheap eats in the wee morning hours.

$4 for a cheeseburger with meatyflavor and coarse grind. Can’t beat a hand formed patty, even if it was just the teensiest bit dry. Pickles were great, adding just the right amount of salinity.

One of the kids behind the line might wanna change his gloves though – he was touching raw burgers, then pretty much everything else in the kitchen. From burger buns to the fryer handles. But the buns went on the grill, theoretically enough to kill any potential pathogens from raw ground beef.

The guys working there were way personable, though. I think Albany John and I may have been the only two customers who were still able to drive a car, and they handled their rowdiness well.

And guess what? They also take credit cards! Awesome!

Mac & Cheese Bowl 2012

Congratulations to Christian Noe for winning the 2nd people’s competition at the 3rd Annual Mac & Cheese Bowl at the Albany Marriott.

Overall, the event raised a bunch of money for the Regional Food Bank of Northeastern New York, so excellent on that account.

Here is the assembly line at 677 Prime’s station for hamburger mac & cheese.
An innovative take on it, for sure. I arrived at 11 am on the nose, and it was already packed with people and only got more crowded as the minutes flew by. Not for the claustrophobic, that’s for sure!
One of my favorite stations – Valente’s mac & cheese. I got a huge chunk of crab in my sample, and it was one of the best I tried. My other favorite tie for first was DP Brasserie/Yono’s ducky mac & cheese.

My least fave? Taste’s – instant frowny face. Their flavors didn’t make my mouth happy at all.
Albany John snapped a few action shots for me.
Like these mac & cheese enthusiasts.
Steve announcing the Judge’s Choice (aka, Christian Noe).
The Standard’s presentation for their tex-mex mac & cheese.

Last little bit of me dragging out my vacation

Ok, this is the last of the dead horse that is my vacation to Mississippi that you will read about. Albany John introduced my nephew to flying dics. The kid took to a liking to it quickly enough, but between you and me his aim is pretty weak.
My sis-in-law Margarita showed me how to make flour tortillas from a recipe she got from her grandmother. I miss cooking with her so much! This recipe was so simple, but makes delicious flour tortillas.
Knead dough.
Roll out.
Roll into circles, then lightly rub with oil & let sit for 20 minutes.
Margarita says her grandmother’s generation really prides themselves on being able to make a flat and perfectly round tortilla by hand – we made our by pressing them on plates. Some of them came kind of close to being circular.
Cast iron pan + bubbles!
Flip. Nom. So delicious. I’ve made these a few times since coming back, and they don’t taste as good. :/ I need her guidance.
Albany John made beef stew. Mmm.
The next morning bro & Albany John found a discgolf location nearby called The Rez. Really nice layout.
And then we went for lunch at Two Sisters Kitchen in Jackson, MS. I’ve been lusting over this spot since my last visit two years ago and was psyched to finally make it. Southern home cooking on a small buffet.
This is a crappy picture, but it’s a lunch buffet for $12.50 per person (kids under 5 for free). Bro thought it was kind of high for the area, but being a New Yawkah I thought it was a steal. Plus this is the south, and there are some BIG appetites.
Fried chicken, fried okra & zucchini, cabbage, and collards. The collards might have been my only veggie while dining out – they were fabulously porky and salty.

I’ve not been into carbs lately, but I couldn’t get enough of these biscuits – cornbread on the left, and angel biscuit on the right. Cornbread was like polenta – so moist and crunchy on the outside. The angel biscuit, true to its name, was heavenly soft (and buttery).
Albany John loved their veggies as well.
For round two I had to have the chicken fried steak in gravy. And more collards and biscuits. So good! And while we made it for the last 30 minutes of service, they couldn’t have been more welcoming. Freshly fried chicken was coming out within the last 15 minutes of service.

Dessert is ordered at the table. Albany John got apple pie (way better than any I’ve had up north) and I got bread pudding with bourbon sauce.

That was my last meal in Mississippi – we went to the airport a little bit later. Sad to go, but so many more places to eat when we return.

Chili from Potbelly at Chicago airport.
And a vegetarian salad with loads of chickpeas. Mmmm.

Groceries Delivered from ShopRite

I have been happy with a ShopRite in the area. I like their general range of goods carried and prices for said goods. I noticed they have a home delivery program, and since ShopRite is still new to the Capitol Region area, they are offering home delivery for free with a purchase over $50. Normally the delivery fee is a flax $6.95, which I find rather reasonable.

I was tickled with curiosity and a lack of motivation to drive out to their Niskayuna store. How well does the home delivery program at ShopRite work? Pretty well, actually. Not perfect, but quite well overall.

I put approximately $55 of stuff in my cart. Check out with PayPal. They want to authorize an additional $10, just in case. You can opt to let them sub things in your order without calling you, but I had them call me in case anything was out. Turns out some stuff was out; some items I was okay with substituting, and other things I just left out.

What did I buy? Some household items, which arrived just fine. The produce delivered quite well – I ordered some grapes which came unbruised; some squash which were all uniformly sized and unblemished; and two bunches of asparagus.
Oh, and about 2.25 lbs of cilantro. That is a LOT of cilantro. Online I ordered by the ounce. On their side it must have come up as by the bunch. I ordered 6 oz, they subbed 6-0.37 lb bunches of cilantro. I am guessing the delivery fee is being waived as a way to test out our area and any glitches in the system like this one. I don’t think they charged me for this, and I’m guessing it’s because of the pricing/ordering issue.

You can order off of the flyer from the Specials tab, or put in what you want to order and then select it that way. Pretty neat way to order.

Happy Valentines Day

Happy Valentine’s Day. I couldn’t help but think of happy times of the past when I opened my cupboard and reached for the last little bit of Sweetheart Red Rooibos from the much missed The Good Leaf.
I tend to keep things, often for too long and letting them age past their prime just so I still have it. Thankfully, rooibos keeps forever, and this pot of Sweetheart Red was warm and comforting on a chilly day. I love that rooibos teas can be left in a pot forever, without worrying about steeping too long.

All I have left is a rusty can. Miss ya, Good Leaf. I haven’t found a comparably flavorful rooibos yet.

New Orleans – Day

After a night of revelry, Bro, Margarita, Albany John and I were in need of sustenance. Margarita suggested Cafe du Monde on Decatur. There was a line of folks waiting to be sat – there is no real hostess – just grab a table if it’s free. Late-risers that we are, we had no problem finding a table and sitting within a few minutes of getting there. There are a lot of tables outside, and even inside, it feels very open and breezy.
When you order from a server, they go to a line and pay for your order out of pocket. Interesting system, but seems like pretty much anyone can be a server here. Once your order is delivered, you pony up to your server and pay your tab.
4 cafe au laits for us, and three orders of beignets. Fried dough covered in powdered sugar. These were just the teensiest bit oily on the outside. A bit of custardy/creamy interior inside. I’m normally not a powdered sugar fan, but these weren’t too bad with sugar on them.

Overall, I liked the coffee much more. I love chicory, such a nice flavor in coffee.

It was after noon, so I felt it appropriate to grab a refreshing beverage. Frozen peach bellini daiquiri! This was about $8.50 and came with a free shooter. It was more refreshing than potent, a good hair of the dog. I managed to finish about half of it – so cold!

And guess what’s close to Cafe du Monde? Central Grocery for muffuletta! My “go-to” food places were almost entirely skimmed off of Boots in the Oven. In a perfect world, I’d have been able to meet my blog sister. One day. Until then, I will take her eating suggestions in NoLa!

There was a bit of a line, but we made it through in about 20 minutes. And they take credit cards! Win! From here on out, all of the photos are courtesy of Albany John.
It was $14.50 for a whole muffuletta – these were premade, or being made quickly to accommodate the line. There are a few tables and stools in the back to nosh.

Hello, muffuletta! Sesame-seeded gigantic bun/loaf of bread.
I have so much excitement!! Muffuletta about to go in my mouth!

It was pretty tasty, though I think it could have used a little more filling. The bread ratio was pretty high, and uniformly squishy. The fillings inside were an awesome combination – olive salad, what seemed like some gardinera, and a bunch of different meat slices. Reminded me of an Italian sub with more stuff on it, but with squishier bread.

We walked around the French Quarter for a bit – saw this youth marching band rehearsing by a church.
And then we were off to Cochon Butcher on our way out of NoLa. It was easy to find parking near Cochon Butcher.

Inside our senses were regaled with cured meat-goodness. True story, our recently moved Chef Tanner worked with the owner of Cochon in his New Orleans days.
Albany John got a grapefruit cocktail and I got a Pecan beer. I swapped with him – the cocktail was so refreshing and tart. Bitters and such.

Charcuterie plate ($14) The pinky/tan plop in the foreground is a rabbit pate (or something like that). Tasty. The lardo on the left was ok, but I liked Chef Tanners better – his was a little more flavorful. The other cured meats were awesome. I’ve kind of forgotten them already. Sadness. But they were delicious on my tongue.
Boudin! This side portion was only $3! Awesome casings, and kicky mustard. I like boudin. It’s a sausage with rice in it.
This. Get this this this. It’s a quinoa side salad and I need to figure out how to make it at home. $3 for a refreshing cold salad with roasted califlower, scallions, and AWESOME. The cauliflower lent a nuttiness and… I want some more RIGHT NOW.

Really liked Cochon Butcher, and the next time we visit, I wanna eat at Cochon proper.

On our way out, Margarita gave us a tour of the neighborhood she grew up. Cute area. And we saw a place selling oysters. They sell oysters for $30 for 30 lbs, or $50 for 100 lbs. DUDE! Bro picked up a 30 lb sack. We got ice and such for the ride. S’cool.

These guys were fresh and covered in mud. They are of various shapes and sizes, and I think in warmer weather it would be fun to grill them.

Bro took to oyster shucking quite well. Mmm, so meaty and plump.
Oh, and they picked up some gulf shrimp. Look at how big those guys are! No preservatives or anything. So briny and good.

Bro & Albany John also cheffed up some baked oysters. A tasty way to end our day in New Orleans. Laissez les bon temps rouler, indeed!

New Orleans – Night

Our trip to New Orleans began with fast food take out. Look, I know. But waffle fries. C’mon!
Grilled chicken & waffle fries! Nom. New Orleans is only 3.5-4 hours from Jackson, MS. Not bad for an overnight trip. It’s like going to NYC from Albany, only with a slightly more debaucherous air.
I met up with my Brother-In-Law (in-law?), my sis-in-law Maka’s brother. He lives in New Orleans and picked us up from our hotel in the French Quarter to grab dinner at the High Hat, a fairly new restaurant. One of the benefits of tourism is having people drive you to awesome places.
The high hat had a retro feel inside – lots of wood.
Dinner menu was short and sweet, with a few specials on the menu board. The most expensive thing tops out at $14, so you won’t break the bank here.
Specialty cocktail of the night – Albany John got one. Good stuff. I stole a sip. I can’t remember what it was. My bad!
I got the two cat fish dinner. $13.50 for two whole catfish. So good! And a TON of food for one person, but somehow I managed, hehe. Coleslaw as a side, and greens as another side. Greens were nice – zippy collards.

Albany John got an oyster po’boy with okra and tomatoes as his side. Man loves him some okra. I still think it’s pretty slimy stuff, but he really enjoyed this preparation. I really enjoyed the fried oysters. Mmm.

Afterward, my awesome bro-in-law^2 gave us a tour of the area at night – local colleges, and all that good stuff. It was interesting to see how some blocks would start off looking all fancy-dancy, but have a middle section that was run down.

After that, it was time for SECOND DINNER! Bwa ha! We waited in line at Felix’s for some oysters for a short spell.

Bro & Margarita got a Jester – some kind of specialty frozen drink. There were billboards on the drive in touting it as the strongest drink in New Orleans. I stole a sip – reminded me of alcoholic Ecto-Cooler Hi-C.

I was intrigued by these nearly open air bars. You can walk around New Orleans with alcoholic drinks. It’s kind of like Albany on a parade day, but with less rioting.

Albany John held our place in line, and it had scootched up for us to get a neat view of an empty grenade cup.

Oyster shucking!
Once we were seated, we ordered quickly – Albany John and Margarita weren’t feeling savory, so they split a brick of bread pudding. Don’t put this on your bucket list. Interestingly spongy.
Bro & I were ALL ABOUT the oysters. We got a dozen char broiled. Holy moly! Order these, they’re awesome! $16 for a dozen deliciously briny oysters slathered in butter with some Romano or Parmesan tossed on top.

If you’re in New Orleans – get these, get these, GET THESE. The oysters themselves were lightly cooked, and oh man. So good. Charred and reminiscent of grilled beef – very meaty and savory things, these. Even Margarita liked them, and she doesn’t really care for oysters.

And a dozen raw! Their horseradish is on the table, and it’s got quite an addictive kick. So fresh, and not as pungent as oysters north of the Mason-Dixon line. Southern oysters grow quickly because of the warm waters, but don’t develop as much flavor. If you’re not a fan of Oysters in NY because of their pungency, give these a try. Same great texture, and a lighter flavor profile.

These all had bits of shell in it, though. Mildly annoying, but easy enough to spit out. No issues with shells in the char broiled variety.

It’s drinkin’ time! Felix’s is located right in the French Quarter, so there’s nightlife all over. These cherry bomb shots were $1. Good lord, I think they were made with a combination of tequila, everclear, and rubbing alcohol. Po-tent! Phew!
Here’s a place called the Rat’s Hole. So, story time:
In high school, my boyfriend’s parents liked going to New Orleans. They’d tell me about this place called the Rat’s Hole that was a fun little shop with Rat-themed shirts and souvenirs. They’d stop by when they visited for souvenirs. This is they story they told me.

Yes, they sold some shirts, but they also sold a whole lot of adult beads, and cheap ass drinks. It was neat to see it IRL-sies, and then be like, WAIT A MINUTE. They were out partying!

As it turns out, New Orleans is kind of a mecca for partiers and drinkers of all ages. We were probably on the younger side of the age spectrum, with a majority of people out and about in their late thirties through mid fifties.

Here’s a picture I snagged of their rat-related drink cups.

This was Miss Allison or Alice… something like that. She was directing traffic outside of two gay bars. And actually doing quite a good job of making sure traffic wasn’t completely impeded by pedestrians, and vice-versa.

We stopped in one of the bars for some people watching from the balconies – good spot to people watch from above.
Then We stopped in for a drink at the Tropical Isle.
Grenades! Albany John got a skinny grenade. Blech. Really artifical tasting. These came with ice or without. Wow, without is one potent drink I’d imagine. I went with ice.
I liked this old signage. Very cute. And hey, you can just barely make out our four shadows. We ended up hanging out/dancing in a clubby little bar called Voo Doo something or other. It was on Bourbon Street, but many of these clubs/bars are pretty darned similar – you can walk in with drinks, buy cheap ones there ($3 shots! Although Bro managed to find a beer for $6.50), and just dance around to whatever they have playing. There are… I wanna call ’em “hosts” in these clubs. Basically just a guy on stage that sings along into a mic occasionally with whatever song is playing, and act as host/DJ to keep the crowds interested and lively. The songs are on loop after a while.

I liked this smaller bar over a larger one we went to. At the larger bar the crowd was a little rowdier – one guy walked up and knocked Albany John’s drink all over me for no reason on his way out. Thanks, buddy. This smaller one had a little more character and a whole lot of people watching crammed in. Having one or 17 drinks too many is definitely nothing out of the ordinary in New Orleans.

It was quite a fun night out. We had to leave the day of the first parade, so we missed what I’m guessing would be some really wild nightlife, but still – great time overall. I’m not a big club/nightlife kind of gal on most occasions, but in general, the people were all generally happy dispositions. Your hotel might cost you an arm and a leg in the French Quarter, but you’ll break even on the cheapo nighlife and noshes.