Sushi Tei

DSCF5321 Went out to Sushi Tei in Guilderland with Albany John and a friend one chilly evening. Albany John was craving sushi & suggested Sushi X, but I was not feeling a buffet, so I suggested the more relaxed and cozy Sushi Tei.

DSCF5320 Some rolls – a philly, a spicy tuna, a salmon skin, and a regular tuna roll. Yum. DSCF5319 And SOoOOUUuuuPPP, delicious soup! I love the soups at Sushi Tei – so flavorful, rich, clean, and simple all at once. I got tempura soba ($12.50). Albany John got a few rolls and a mini udon ($5.50) in the background. DSCF5318 We also got a few apps – Tako yaki above ($6.50). It’s dough balls baked, filled with octopus, and topped with bonito flakes. I’m not sure if I’m a huge fan of bonito flakes on their own (or perhaps only in very small quantities), which is kind of odd because I normally love all things intensely fishy. But overall I enjoyed the salty/savory octopus balls. Heh. Octopus balls.

DSCF5315I forget what this was called, but it was so good! They were cucumber & mango wrapped in raw salmon and in a sweet/tart soy sauce. I didn’t think I’d like them, what with the mango (coz I don’t really like to combine fruit + savory things) but it was younger mango so it was firm and wasn’t too sweet. The only problem I had with it is that there were only 4 to split between the three of us. I could have eaten about a dozen of these on my own!

I love the service at Sushi Tei – it’s like going over to your best friend’s house. Everyone is casual, nice, and serves at a relaxed pace.

Our total was something like $46 before tip.

 

Ala Shanghai to go

DSCF5246 Nothing like some spicy mapo dofu and pork, tofu, and capsella soup from Ala Shanghai, especially on these bitterly cold nights we’ve been having lately. Dinner for two for less than $20. The map dofu was especially spicy, which was a nice surprise since in the past I’ve thought Ala’s mapo dofu had lots of flavor, but not a ton of kick.
And that pork, tofu, and capsella soup stays insanely hot for the entire drive home. Yum. The mild to tame the heat.

The Confectionery

DSCF5283 The Charles F. Lucas Confectionery is one of my favorite new additions to downtown Troy. I’ve been there a few times already. Go for a platter of their charcuterie. The 3 choices for $12 worked well as a hearty snack for Albany John and me. You can choose between cheeses and charcuteries, but we went with a meaty trio.
Hot smoked duck breast on the upper left corner, boar pate in the center, and duck salami on the right. The boar really hit a high note with my taste buds: can’t wait to order it again. Good texture to the salami, too. I’d probably skip the smoked duck breast in the future. It was fine, but since I’ve started smoking my own meats at home I make things way smokier than other places tend to.

The kalamata olive tapenade is next on my hit list.

DSCF5281The bread was nice – from Placid Baker. This is such a cute date night place, and even when it’s busy they are so nice about seating you and trying to find you a place to stay.

I love the idea of wine from a tap. I got a glass of red, which was drinkable and tasty enough, but didn’t really make me want to order the same one again. Maybe I will try a white next time.

Service was great – our waitress kept refilling water frequently, was pleasant, and knew when to come over just enough.

DSCF5256Here’s a picture from another (more casual) time when we grabbed a table to stand at. I really like that they don’t push you to drink at the Confectionery. Albany John and I were getting over colds when we went here and went for hot beverages instead of wine. No pouting from our waitress or anything.

Oh my gosh, the lattes ($4). So good. So nutty and sweet. No sugar needed, although they have a variety of caloric and non-caloric sweeteners available. The herbal teas are $3, and pretty generous as well. A pot is a bit larger than a mug. The African Nectar soothed my sore throat.

Desserts are from Sweet Sue’s just down the road on River Street. I like the truffles and the macaroons (only $1.50!), but the whoopie pie is a bit dry/crumbly and the filling is a chocolate buttercream. I think your best bet is for anything that generally stays moist and doesn’t risk drying out. I’ve had some of Sue’s other baked cake-goods and they’re normally really moist. But cakes can dry out after a few hours, and if you’re here, it’s generally later at night past when a bakery would be open.

Anyway, the truffles are snacking orbs for $1 each. I liked the white chocolate and lavender. And for real, the macaroon was coconutty and light without being too chewy or as dense as a paperweight.

Now where do I buy chalkboard plates? Those things are adorable!

 

 

City Dining Cards Loves You

City Dining Cards loves them some AlbanyEats! readers and wants to send one of you a pack of cards as a little You-Are-Awesome V-day present. Aww, food prezzies, so sweet.

If you missed the first giveaway City Dining Cards had in November, or weren’t the one and only Mmasz who won, now’s a time to pick up a pair for free.

What are City Dining Cards? If you haven’t heard yet, check out my first post on them, but the short of it is that that they’re a deck of discount dining cards that you can use in the Albany/Capitol Region area at a bunch of restaurants ($10 off $30 or more food purchases).

Add a comment to enter, contest closes Thursday, February 14th (aka, Valentine’s day).

Pork Roll

porky rollHai, I made a pork roll, and get this, the insides were tastier than the skin! I know, if I hadn’t made it, I would also have thought I were crazypants, too.
Pork rollI bought a whole pork belly and decided to try a stuffed pork roll. Stuffed it with some shallots and a carrot, I think.

Here’s what my slicing skeelz gave:
PORK PORK PORK

A 6-story pork high rise. All Belly The piece I used for the pork was just a smidge under a pound. So close. BEEEEERRR

Cracked open one of my noble Trappist ale home brews (you could use any Belgian beer), sliced the meat side up a bit, and poured the beer into a dish so it marinated the meat-side of the pork. Pork roll

After a few hours, I trussed it up with the stuffing ingredients and roasted it for a few more hours.

cooked pork rollDone! Now enjoy fatty-licious pork. Belgian-beer marinades go really, REALLY well with pork. So doing that again in the future.

Giovanni Rana Pastas & Sauces – Review & Giveaway


Giovanni Rana pasta and sauces

Giovanni Rana sent me some pastas and sauces to try that they are selling in local supermarkets. You can find them at ShopRite in the Albany/Capitol Region area. I’ve tucked into a few of these products, and so far, I’m digging them. Giovanni Rana is also going to give one reader 4 pastas and one sauce to try! See the many ways I’ve eaten their products below, or skip to the end to see how to enter.DSCF5243 The artichoke ravioli go for $4.99 for 12 oz, which is a pretty fair deal for them. The ravioli skins were pliable, and fairly thin, although they still had a decent tooth to the texture. If you roll your own pasta, imagine this on the 2nd or 3rd from thinnest setting. There was also a noticeable semolina flavor from the pasta, too.

Albany John had made some of his own marinara sauce, so that’s the sauce you see above. The artichoke flavors came out quite well – the filling itself didn’t disintegrate into the sauce when I cut into them with a fork, but it wasn’t super firm or dry, either. They also were easy to boil and none of them broke while cooking.

Giovanni Rana ravioli The next ravioli I tried were the Cheese Forte, which was a sharp cheese blend of cheeses (including parm reg). It went well with Albany John’s smoked salmon cream sauce (cream sauce cheat: he dissolves a bit of cream cheese with chicken broth so it’s a little tangy, but not too rich as a sauce base).

The cheese was pretty pronounced and sharp, held up well to the strong flavors of Albany John’s sauce. I’m really digging the ravioli as an alternative to homemade ravioli. I like this Giovanni Rana ravioli over other refrigerated pastas like Buitoni (which is  thicker/tougher-skinned and the fillings are dryer in comparison). It’s not the same as my homemade ravioli, but I’d probably pick up a baggie if it were late and I was in OMG-need-ravioli-now mode, because it’s pretty close.

Giovanni Rana fettuciniThe pesto sauce has been my favorite so far! What is not to love about pesto in the winter? It’s rich, but also bright! Albany John mixed some sweet onions and garlic with the pesto and tossed it with their Fettuccine, which, okay, I was really jealous about because this is the thickness and width that I want my homemade pasta to be, but for some reason I just can’t get it like this.

The pesto sauce is going to be the sauce one lucky reader gets to try! (And you have to tell me what you thought 😉 ) For some reason I kept thinking that this would make an awesome/impressive kind of Valentine’s day dinner if you didn’t want to go out to eat, weren’t the most confident in your kitchen skills, but wanted something satisfying for you and your dinner date. Wow, that is kind of oddly specific. Or maybe pesto just makes me all sorts of mushy and romantic.

DSCF5297

Okay, so you know what the marinara sauce is good for? Can you guess? It’s another one of my loves.

DSCF5298

Yes, pizza! Haha! Shape this baby into a heart and now you’ve got my Valentine’s day attention. I made Kenji’s Foolproof Pan Pizza dough from the Pizza Lab at Serious Eats, and I totally forgot to make a pizza sauce! Ahhh! And Albany John is not as much a fan of white pizzas as I am. I was scouring my pantries and fridge to see what I could come up with in a pinch, and… sweet! I was gonna repurpose this marinara sauce! It’s got sun-dried tomatoes in the sauce, so there’s a little sweetness in there, and since it’s in a plastic container there’s no tinniness to it. It’s a bit on the thick side, so if I were going to use it with pasta, I’d probably reserve some of the cooking water to thin it out a bit.

The dough above is in a 10″ cast iron pan, and I used about 2 tablespoons of marinara sauce.

DSCF5299

It was a kalamata olive pizza kind of night in our house. DSCF5300

Baked! The sauce was a nice supporting character in the pizza play that went into my mouth. Overall, I think I’m not so much a pan-pizza kind of gal, preferring thin crusts over thick and poofy ones, although this one was not the least bit dense, even though I subbed in about a half cup of whole wheat flour. DSCF5308
Interior shot of the pizza – the hole structure in the dough made for a soft and pliable crust. The bottom of the crust crisped up nicely. Cooked in a cast iron, this was like a grown up Pizza Hut pie. I think it would be even better rolled out thinly and tossed on a stone, though, if you’re more into thin crusts like I am.

So, would you like to try some of Giovanni Rana’s pastas and a pesto sauce? If so, why don’t you leave a comment and tell me what your plans are for Valentine’s day.
I’ll start: Going to an anti-Valentine’s day celebration of some sort: show your love every day, not just one day a year!

(US entries only, comments close Wednesday, February 6th)

Hot Pot

DSCF5189Chinese New Year is coming up, and what’s better than hot pot with friends? Not much that I can think of, especially during these bitingly cold winter nights. I teamed up with Celina Bean for a night at her place with Albany John, Daniel B., and some of Celina’s family and friends. In total, we were about 13 people, and had two hot pots going.

Albany John and I had given our new Rosewill induction cooker a trial run with Garnish and her hubs (it was a spicy and successful run!), and I was eager to test it out again.  I am in love with this induction burner ($59.99). It comes to a boil quickly, maxes out at 450F, comes with a pot, and now Albany John and I don’t have to worry about burning our home down with any other kind of burner.

Oh my gosh, this was a delicious night. Celina went to Fin for the fish. She got so much seafood! It was great! The squid really stood out for me. It was so incredibly fresh & beautifully briny! It held up really well to the hot and mild broths we had going. I will so be going there for more of that dreamy squid.
The shrimp were also awesome. At one point I may or may not have sequestered myself away with the bowl. Okay, there are no maybes about it. I so did.

We also had a mega load of other eats: mussels, fish fillets,  oysters, sliced beef round, sliced lamb, sliced chicken, greens, Fuzhou fish balls (the kind with pork stuffed inside!), tofu, scallions galore, enoki & shiitake mushrooms… oh, it was a glorious night of eating.

Now, there are two schools of hot pot cooking. One is that you dunk some food in and fish it all out eventually with your comrades, the other is that you put in what you want, watch it, and take it out. I like a combination of the two – toss in the foods you know that can cook a while or will take a while to cook – like greens, onions, tofu, mushrooms, or any chunks of stewing meat you may have; and individually dunk and hold in thinly sliced meats and seafood so they don’t overcook. Nothing is sadder than a well-done and squiggly slice of lamb or beef meat. You wanna hold that slice of meat with your chopsticks, dunk it in the bubbling water a few times, and take it out while it’s still got some color to it. Yum!

Noble Trappist Ale Homebrew

Nobel Trappist Ale My second attempt at home brewing beer was a success. I was brewing this at a friend’s house, but long story short, their house basically imploded when I was going to bottle, so I had to get a bottling tree and bottle at home. The house is on its way to being okay again, in case you were wondering (although I am a bit terrified of buying a home, now).

I went to Hammersmith Home Brew in Latham for a bottling tree. I was glad to have a physical store to go to last-minute, but wow was there a price difference. $32.95 for a 45 bottle drying tree, versus $18.99 on Midwest Supplies (less shipping), or $26.48 from Amazon (with shipping) for the exact same models. But I’m supporting a local small business, so that’s good for our economy, right?

Bottlin' So since I had to bottle at home, I put a whole bunch of sanitizing solution in one of my largest buckets and started sanitizing away. The whole process went pretty quickly & smoothly. I really tried to siphon the beer from the primary fermenter into the bottling tub, but oh my gosh I am so clumsy. I ended up giving myself a beer shower twice while I was holding the tubes somehow, and then I just gave up and poured the rest of it directly from one bucket into the other.

Oh yeah, this is the kit I used from Midewest Supplies for the Noble Trappist Ale.
Nobel Trappist Ale

 

I think it has a lot of fruit and coriander notes in it. I think it came out a tad heavier than I like in a beer, so I’m not sure if I’d make it again for my own drinking enjoyment, but Albany John has been enjoying the heck out of it. Belgian ales are some of his favorite types of beer, and he thinks this is pretty well in the ball park for a Belgian. I do like the small bubbles, though.

The flavors in this beer make it a great cooking beer. More on that in a bit!