Princeton, NJ

P1020916

Sometimes you need to get away from it all. Sometimes the location is important, but sometimes it’s the people that help you reset. Fall 2013 has been one heck of a doozy for me. Being an adult is a wonderful thing, but sometimes responsibilities and things like that toss in a few complications. I’d been planning on visiting Daniel in Princeton, NJ for a few weeks, and by the time I got there it was exactly the mental reset I needed. You can read his account of our adventures here.

P1020883

I left Albany Saturday morning, and by the time I got through all of the craptacular NJ traffic (seriously, it was smooth sailing until exit 17 on 87S, then a bunch of eye rolling until I got to Princeton) it was time for lunch. Greasy and so-bad-but-so-good sounded good to me, so Hoagie Haven it was!

P1020879

I loved the interior – one big open space with a menu and chips on the left, and the ordering line up front. You could customize any order you wanted, and they had a cute menu of their own custom sandwich combos.
P1020885

Daniel suggested we go with sandwich halves, which was a good call. Like, a really good call. Each half was about the size of my forearm. Dan and I split a Sanchez (fries, chicken cutlet, mozzarella sticks, cheese, special sauce) and a Wakeup Call, which is more of a breakfast sandwich that Dan customized as eggs, bacon, cheese, pork roll, .hash browns, and mozzarella sticks (mozz sticks in place of their “steak” slices). And we also got fried mac and cheese. The kiddos split a half sub which was a Sanchez, but with marinara sauce in place of the sweet sauce we got.

P1020886

Overall, the kids deemed the mac & cheese better than their sub, which I have to agree with. Those were freakin awesome fried triangles of mac and cheese. Just the right amount of crunch exterior and creamy interior. Get the mac and cheese bites from Hoagie Haven.
P1020889
We paired the subs with River Horse Hop Hazard beer.
The Sanchez. Meh. Not my thing. The sauce was way too sweet, and the fries were too heavy and didn’t add anything to the sub. The chicken cutlet was okay because it was meat, and how do you not like meat? But overall, just “meh” in terms of sub. Thank goodness Dan also got the wakeup call so I wouldn’t forever judge his select sub shop with a raised eyebrow. The wakeup call was pretty freaking awesome. Hash browns are a way better sandwich choice than fries at Hoagie Haven. If you see fries, just swap them for hash browns. But no, the pork roll, bacon, and eggs were pretty tasty. I didn’t think the mozzarella sticks added much flavor on either sandwich, which was pretty disappointing and weird that they didn’t add much flavor.
P1020906
After lunch, the food coma started to set in, so Dan made some of his super sugary Cuban coffee for me.
P1020908

The mixing of the espresso with some sugar, turning it into a creamy fluff of sorts.
P1020909

The pour

P1020912

Bam, energy shot in a glass
P1020914

And then, get this, we went for a WALK after coffee time! I know! The Veal of People wanted to go for a walk. I am so happy for the exercise addition in his life!

P1020918

Princeton’s grounds are beautiful.

P1020926
P1020939
P1020943
P1020946

Okay, enough of walkies, let’s get back to food. We went for two dinners, because that’s how we roll. The first place was Papa’s Tomato Pies.

P1020948

There was a magician at Papa’s, which the kiddos enjoyed, and was a nice distraction from the relatively short wait until our plain cheese pie came out. From what I can tell from this brief experience, Tomato Pie is kind of like a really thin (crackery) crust pizza with chunky tomato sauce, or chunks of sweet tomato sharing the spotlight with cheese.

P1020950

Papa’s crust was nicely thin. Not quite crackery, but quite ephemeral on its own. Papa’s tomato pie had a very short half-life in terms of enjoyability. The first slice was great. The second slice just a few minutes later was firmer and less enjoyable than the first as it cooled off. Still enjoyable, but just not as good as the first slice.
P1020951

Our second stop was DeLorenzo’s, which had one hell of a wait, and one hell of an inefficient hostess. The waiters were all taking peoples names and putting them on her list, telling her to seat people quicker. Yikes. And for some reason, she just kept telling the servers to wait, and slowly seating people. It was a weird experience. I’ve never seen waiters so openly tell the hostess they could handle more tables, and to seat more people.

P1020953
DeLorenzo’s pie was more of a crackery-crisp crust, which Dan and I preferred. The kids deemed Papa’s pie to be their preference of the two.

Compared to Papa’s the atmosphere at DeLorenzo’s was more chaotic – lots of TVs, bright lights, and not much in the way of noise control. It was a little overwhelming for me. BRIGHT LIGHTS, LOUD SOUNDS, AND PEOPLE EVERYWHERE. Bit the pie was a nice crackery crust, and the tomatoes shone through.

Prices for both of the pies were in the $13 range. Not expensive, but I could see an adult eating a whole pie with ease.

P1020954
Then we were off for two desserts for our two dinners. First up was The Halo Pub, which is an ice creamery and not a pub.

P1020955
I got a scoop of peanut and cashew praline. The cashew was really good. The peanut, eh. This was only like, $2.50 for the ice cream, though!

P1020956
Then it was off to the Bent Spoon. I suppose you could call the Halo Pub an old school institution. Lots of wood everywhere. The Bent Spoon would be like the hipster child of the Bent Spoon. They had banana “ice cream” and more non-traditional flavors than the Halo Pub (but Halo Pub had more selection).

P1020958

Wall of hard to read flavors (for old people. I could read them just fine).
P1020961

Flavors for the sampling! These seemed more like gelato than ice cream by how they had them displayed.

P1020962

I got their Wild Turkey & caramel flavored ice cream, along with the very locally sourced NJ pumpkin and NJ mascrapone ice cream. They were both so good. Expensive, but so good. Something like $4 for this small ice cream. But really good. Like, I couldn’t pick a favorite between the two. They just nailed those flavors.

One of my favorite moments here was when Little Miss Fussy almost started crying. Why? Because she was full and sad that she couldn’t finish her ice cream. So freaking cute.

So then we went and slept off our foodings. To prepare for more foodings the next morning:

P1020963
Nino’s Pastry Shoppe for their icing filled donut. Which Dan said was more of a frosting sandwich, so of course I was all in.

P1020965

Their portions were enormous. Every good here was gigantic.
P1020966
P1020967
P1020970

Then it was off to the Eet Gud Bakery. Love those signs.
P1020969

P1020971

Also very large portions.
P1020978
Here are the sweets we got from Nino’s: frosting-FILLED donuts, cream puffs, and cookies for the kids. The cream puffs were pre-filled, but maintained crisp exteriors. Nice job.
P1020975

We may have gone a little crazy at Eet Gud. So many things just looked so gud, though.
P1020984

So here is Nino’s frosting-filled donut on the left, and Eet Gud’s frosting-filled donut stick on the right. Nino’s frosting had more of a buttery feel to the filling, but it wasn’t great butter, so it had a bit of a greasy lingering thing going on in your mouth after you ate it. Not too sweet, either.

Eet Gud’s donut stick was my favorite of the two similar donuts. A slight shell of an exterior on the donut, cushy interior, and a sweet, thick frosting inside. Nice textural differences. Dan preferred Nino’s to Eet Gud’s for those same reasons, haha. He liked the softness of the whole dougnut and wasn’t a fan of the different textures of Eet Gud’s donut.

P1030007
Raspberry filled donut on the left, “mango” on the right. I say “mango” because that filling seriously tasted like Pez. There was no mango in there, but a whole lotta Pez.

P1030009
Pumpkin filled on the left, custard on the right. The pumpkin was awesome. Mixing the pumpkin with their frosting, Eet Gud churned out a donut with a great pumpkin flavor and a mousse-like texture filling. The custard on the right was like a Boston cream, but without the chocolate.

P1030011
I wasn’t a huge fan of the custard. It was kind of weak in the flavor department, so this was my wee dreg of donut.

And then I drank an entire pot of coffee, filled up with some cheap NJ gas and was on my way to Flushing, NY to see my uncle.

All Good Bakers Grilled Cheese


Tis the season for grilled cheese from All Good Bakers. It’s really a year-round treat, but the $5 Truffle Shuffle is especially comforting when there’s a chill in the air.

Cheese, jam, crispy toast. Yum. Chase it with one of Britin’s fruit waters and you have a nice light lunch or hearty snack.

All Good Bakers is also now taking credit cards! A big hooray from those of us who never seem to have cash in their wallets, and an especially big hooray for how they’ve been promoting it and encouraging their customers to use it.

Viva San Antonio!

Howdy y’all! I went for a quick trip to Texas recently to catch up with some friends. Bought a ticket for the mister, and told him to pack his shorts!


My buddy V picked us up at the airport and took us straight to Pico de Gallo for dinner. Sensory overload! Mariachis, and glitter, and lights everywhere!
SO MUCH GLITTERY BRIGHTNESSSSSS!
Broken chips and salsa to start.
I made the mistake of getting a jumbo margarita. Y’know how some things are bigger in Texas? Well, the drinks are a LOT stronger too! I made my way through (maybe) half of this throughout dinner before throwing in the towel.
App for the table. Beef and onions with cheese. Tortillas on the side.
Chicken mole enchiladas. A little too sweet for me. Refried beans were nice, though. V and I ordered the same thing, and the dishes came out looking a little differently. I think they made one, then forgot about the second one and made it on the fly.
Albany John ordered some kind of a goat dish. Just tasted like pork to me. I think this was a stewed goat spine of some sort?
Then we made our way to the Flying Saucer for drinks. Waitresses in cute plaid skirts, and an impressive selection of beers to choose from.
They also had some nice spacing – some areas were more intimate, others brighter and chatty.
Hello Kitty enjoyed her beers – a raspberry lambic and golden wheat mixture. Nom!
Breakfast the next morning was chorizo and eggs! So good!
Then you put it in your mouth. Then we were off to try and find the one person I was really hoping to see:
SGM Pryor, one of my biggest mentors growing up. He passed away before I left Texas, and I got it in my head that I had to see him again before I left. V and I eventually found his plot, and shared a few moments with him.

I’ve never been happier to be in a graveyard before. SGM Pryor was a great man.

And then I was off to meet some other friends from high school at El Maracube. I’d been there once or twice when I was growing up, and was psyched to go back. Their chips were awesome – super thin, crisp, and fresh.

Albany John got a stuffed zucchini dish. Not bad.
I got shrimp enchiladas! SO GOOD! Lunch prices on a Saturday, yes please. I don’t think any of our dishes broke $7 or $8. We sat around catching up for a few hours, totally unrushed by staff. Actually, I think it was partially because once they drop the bill, you have to pay at a register up front, which I didn’t realize, lol.

Caught up on who’s doing what. Life, gossip, you know.
Snacks after!
Meringues!
Then V was ALL ABOUT taking us to the CIA bakery downtown.
How cute!
They had these knitted pieces around pipes. Very cute.
Well hello. I love you. I want to move back to San Antonio. Be still my heart.
So many breads! At great prices, too! Ooohhh, NY inflation.
Desserts! An entire case of them! We grabbed some snacks and sat down.
You can even peep in the kitchens.
Our model-esque desserts. Chocolate mousse bombe (gluten-free), banana white chocolate tart, and a chili pumpkin panna cotta.
The white chocolate banana tart was my favorite. Super rich and fatty. The banana factor was actually very minimal. Mostly white chocolate and tons of flaky, crisp pastry.

V and I digging in!
They had this cute pan-delier outside.
Hipster brew!
Anyone know what these things are? Red on the inside, with green stuff on the outside. Cute.
Flowers!
Then we walked around the new leg of the San Antonio Riverwalk. This is new to me – they hadn’t expanded when I left!
This was really nice – peaceful, quiet. Not the hot hubbub of tourism like the main part of the Riverwalk downtown.
Herons, even!
And art! ART!
V was really insistent that we go to Mi Tierra Cafe for dinner. He said it was even better than Pico de Gallo.
We grabbed a buzzer (the place was PACKED), and waited outside.
Busy bar, but the inside was great. So many murals, and rich colors on the walls. One room even looked like it was permanently Christmas.
Grabbed a canteloupe agua fresca. Something like $5 for this huuuuge cup. Soon enough, we were called in.
Chips!
We went for some Texas beers. Which I forget what they were now, because I’m awesome like that. I went with a smaller baby-sized beer.
Tortilla soup! Nice broth. I could have had a larger bowl.
I got the appetizer platter for my meal. So much food to try! I ate about half of it, so full!
Albany John got pork ribs.
Hello Kitty was quite pleased with Mi Tierra and wants to go back again. Then we went downtown even more to meet up with one of my girlfriends (from lunch earlier at El Maracumbe) for the diwali festivities downtown.
Diwali party people!

Ended up going over to her place and hanging out for a few hours just talking and stuff. Awesome time – I love it when things like that happen. So unexpected, and so great!
The next day we went to the Oriental Sunken Gardens. It’s free, and so, so, so pretty! I never even knew it was nearby when I lived here. I’d have gone here all of the time.
We also went for a walk around the area. It looks like they feed stray cats/build them homes. And this area used to be an exit ramp for a highway. Albany John’s snapping some aerial photos here while V chills out.
Then we went to SAMA – the San Antonio Museum of Art. Ever in need of food, we stopped off at Cafe Des Artistes for some sustenance.
V was talking up the coffee. He said it was so good it didn’t need anything in it. He was right! It was tasty black!
This is a great spot to grab some light fare along the Riverwalk.
V got a quiche and salad.
Albany John got gorgonzola and beet soup (very cheesy!).
And I got a grapefruit tart. SO. Freaking. GOOD. Buttery and rich. Win!

That night we decided that we should a)knock it off with the Tex-Mex, and b)try some BBQ. I put my foot down on having Bill Miller’s BBQ. It’s just so-so chain BBQ and nothing outstanding. Enter Rudy’s. We went to the original location WAAAAY north of San Antonio. It’s worth the drive, though.
Such a good sign. This is the best ‘que I’ve had in San Antonio.
We ordered about $45 of meat and sides. The smoked turkey was AMAZING. If I lived down there, I’d order my thanksgiving turkey from Rudy’s.
We also got brisket, chopped (a mix of chopped beef, pork, and chicken), 2 sausage links, and a TON of sides:
Witness, the yellow-hued sides.The creamed corn was actually really good. Potato salad was so-so, and the cole slaw had a good crunch and freshness to it.
V got me a Lone Star beer to try and wash down the remaining food. The peach cobbler was quite tasty! Fresh peaches!
In the end, we finished it all save for this wee bit o’sausage. I mourned our inability to fit an extra 2″ of sausage in our bellies. Next time we will. Next time we will also try the ribs.

Showed Albany John a HEB (grocery store chain). They had so many kinds of wine in their grocery store!
My beloved box o’ wine was under $9!!!!!! Are you freaking kidding me?!
And then I saw the Krispy Kreme sign was lit and hot, so I squealed at V to pull the F over.
Donut win!
The next morning we barely made our flight, so I grabbed a McBiscuit for breakfast when we got to our connecting airport. Love these little shameful breakfasts. I wasn’t even hungover, but man, they hit the spot.

Pot Belly sandwiches for lunch.
I got a chicken salad for the plane. It was okay. Some kind of greenery, you know?
Albany John got this phyllo dough pocket with ham and cheese. Tasty and greasy. And then we were back in New York. Le sigh.

Texas, I can’t believe I’m saying this, but boy howdy do I miss ya.

All Good Bakers Opening Day

Had to hit up opening day (Friday) of the All Good Bakers storefront (160A Quail Street, Albany, NY) to check out Nick & Britin’s hard work. It’s right next door to Mr. Pio Pio!

I dragged the Profussor and the Fussy Little Children down to peep what was available in the afternoon. We snagged the last baguette ($3) and split it. Albany John remarked that it’s really nice to have a friend that you can split a loaf of bread with.

Also, Albany John was out of town, leaving me to cook bachelorette style. And if I hadn’t had a friend to split the loaf with, I would have totally housed that loaf on my own (absolutely slathered in butter). There is no doubt about it, because I housed that half a loaf of bread as soon as I got home. Nice fermented tang to the dough, and thin/crackly exterior with an awesome crumb in the center. So good I didn’t even have time to snap a picture. Didn’t even need butter (but not like that stopped me)!

While there I got a maple pecan scone ($2.50). SO AWESOME. Crumbly and moist in the center, crisp on the outside. I’ve had a cold so I haven’t been able to taste all that much lately, but the texture was a real delight.

Oh, and btw, they sell croissants on Sundays! I was out of town this weekend, otherwise I so would have been there.

All Good Bakers Opening TOMORROW!

Yay, they’re opening their storefront tomorrow! Join the All Good Bakers for opening weekend. Deets below:

ALL GOOD BAKERS TO BEGIN SERVING LOCALLY-SOURCED BREADS AND FROM-SCRATCH BAKED GOODS AT FIRST RETAIL LOCATION, 160 A QUAIL ST. FRIDAY, APRIL 8, 2011 AT 11:00 AM.

After seven years of baking for regional farmers markets and a successful inaugural Community Supported Bakery (“CSB”) season, Nick and Britin Foster of All Good Bakers are opening their first retail shop at 160 A. Quail St. Opening day is this Friday, April 8 at 11:00 am.

All Good Bakers is committed to baking with the highest quality local, sustainable and fresh ingredients available, with fair-trade, environmental and health concerns in mind. Offerings will include Wholegrain Daily Breads, Specialty Loaves, and a variety of from-scratch baked goods, with never any GMO, hormones, antibiotics or trans-fat.

SUPPLIERS

AGB uses 100% organic flour including 60% NY-grown grains (White, Whole Wheat and Spelt) from Champlain Valley Milling Co. 90% of remaining ingredients are sourced from local farms and businesses [like Meadowbrook Dairy (rBGH-free milk products, cows fed with non-GMO alfalfa), The Country Creamery (rBGH-free butter) Adirondack Maple Farms (organic maple syrup), Farmer Jon’s Produce (sustainable fresh produce in-season), Once Again Nut Butter, Mike’s Spice]. Fair-trade organic sugars will come from Wholesome Sweeteners.

HOURS

Service will begin with limited weekend hours to start, with probable expansion in the summer. AGB requests that customers call ahead for bulk orders. An outdoor café permit will be applied for. Bakery Phone: 518-463-1349

Fridays: 11-6

Saturdays: 11-4

Sundays: 10-2 (small brunch menu)

MENU

All Good will continue to offer the items CSB and Delmar Farmers Market customers have come to crave like Upstate Bialys, Seasonal Wholegrain Muffins and Buttermilk Scones, Vegan Cinnamon Buns, Biscotti, Crispy Brown Rice Energy Treats, English Muffins and Rolls, as well as their 5 Daily Breads ($6.00 and $3.00 for 1.5 lb whole & .75 lb half loaves): Hearty Multigrain, Rustic Italian and Rye (all naturally vegan), and Whole Wheat and Spelt (with local organic honey), plus White and Whole Wheat Sourdough Baguettes ($3.00) and a limited variety of Specialty Loaves ($6.50, 1.5 lb).

All Good is excited to add Specialty Focaccia (by the slice or whole) topped with local produce and cheeses, as a new item to our roster. On Sundays, we will be offering Handmade Croissants and Seasonal Quiche (by the slice), also made with fresh, local ingredients. Focaccia and Quiches will be priced seasonally.

Environmental Initiatives:

§ In an effort to reduce Albany’s carbon footprint, anyone who arrives at the shop car-free will be offered a 10% discount off his or her purchase.

§ Fair-trade, organic regular coffee will be served for $1.00; however, no paper cups will be used in our establishment to help reduce neighborhood and local landfill trash. Mugs will be provided in-house. All Good encourages patrons to “Bring Your Own Cup for a Buck”. Meadowbrook cream and whole milk, as well as WestSoy unsweetened organic Soymilk and Wholesome Sweeteners organic fair-trade raw sugar will be available.

§ Loaves will be wrapped in parchment instead of plastic, and handmade bread bags will be sold for a nominal price within a few weeks of opening.

§ We are partnering with local business, County Waste, for our waste management; we plan to recycle as much as possible to reduce landfill trash. County Waste provides single stream recycling services at the Port of Albany.

Community Involvement:

§ Leftover bakery items will be donated to Albany Catholic Charities’ Mercy House Women’s Shelter and Refugee Resettlement Program. 28 loaves have been sponsored so far by Community Supported Bakery shareholders, with at least 24 more expected by the end of April.

§ In an effort to give other small, local producers a commercial space to prepare their wares, All Good Bakers began sharing their kitchen in November 2010 with Alessandro Gerbini (“Gatherer’s Granola”, www.gatherersgranola.com ). A variety of Gatherer’s Granola will be available at the shop. AGB will continue to support other small local producers with affordable, short-term kitchen rental.

§ All Good plans to work with other Pine Hills small business owners, residents and students to help make the area a more pleasant place to live.

#

AGB Bakery items also available through the following partners:

§ The Heldeberg Market (www.heldebergmarket.com), Albany’s online Farmers Market

§ Organica (http://www.organicanewyork.com/), Albany’s Organic Garden Supply and Local Foods Shop, 296 Delaware Ave.,

§ Saturday Delmar Farmers Market, (http://www.delmarmarket.org/), June through December, Bethlehem Middle School, 332 Kenwood Ave.

§ Mildred’s Meadows, http://mildredsmeadows.com/, Duanesburg, starting in May 2011

Cheesecake Machismo

Cheesecake Ma-delivery! Well, okay, Cheesecake Machismo (293 Hamilton St, Albany, NY)doesn’t do delivery, but they’re open Tuesday-Saturday from 12 noon – 8 pm (or until the cheesecake sells out). But when one of your friends hasn’t experienced Cheesecake Machismo, you make a delivery happen.

Y’see, Daniel B. and I had been trying to coordinate a time to get together and try Cheesecake Machismo. He hadn’t tried it and… the stars were just not lining up right. So screw THAT, I figured, I’m taking matters in my own hands. I’m coming over, and I’m a-bringin’ cheesecake. If you don’t try Cheesecake Machismo, I’m eventually going to come by your house and give you some.

So I hopped on down to Hamilton. Some roaming dude tried to ask me for money “for a bus”, but he was so spaced out I kept thinking he was asking for a ride to the bus, and I was all “Uh, no, sorry, busy. On a mission. Cheesecake.” And then he muttered something about no one in Albany having money for him and was kind of following me, so I waited until he was in front of me before heading into the land of Cheesecake. (Oh, and it might sound like a dangerous situation in retrospect, but most of the people who ask for “money for a bus” or something in Albany are usually fairly tame and go away after a while)

Slices were obtained! Three! L-R: Crunchy Frog, PB & J, Candy Bar. They’re $5 each and come with a drink, or you can get a Franken Cake, which is a mish-mash of different slices. So yummy. I have not bought a Franken Cake, because I will eat the entire thing in one go if I do.

Any who, The Crunchy Frog was creme de menthe with candy canes on top. The candy canes were a little melty and sticky. I was thinking it might be something more like a grasshopper. Still, not too bad.

I had to get the Peanut Butter and Jelly for the Profussor to try. It is so good. Peanut butter layer. Jelly layer. Deliciously creamy cheesecake. So good. This was his favorite. And it was my favorite…

However… the Candy Bar tasted so spanking good! It was like a butterfinger without getting toffee bits in your teeth! Peanut Butter and Jelly, you have been replaced as the favorite.

Best of all, Cheesecake Machismo isn’t a chain, so you don’t have to know the calories in each delicious slice (keep your hands off my cheesecake, gubmint!).

So for real – get over to Cheesecake Machismo for a slice of cheesecake. I highly endorse them because they make cheesecakes that are better than my own. I’ve had a few dud cheesecakes every now and then, but on the whole( I’m not going to be modest), my cheesecakes kick ass. But Cheesecake Machismo’s are on a whole ‘nother level.

Christmas 2010

Buckle your seatbelts – this is a long pic heavy post. Christmas weekend 2010!

My dad came in to town a little before Christmas, and we spent it touring around Albs. Ended up introducing him to my buddy Daniel B. and his kiddos. We met up for snacks at Ruby Asian Bistro (875 Madison Ave, Albany, NY). I got a taro milkshake ($3.50) and my dad got a hot tea ($1). You know it’s an Asian “bistro” if they’re charging for tea, lol!

The taro milkshake was pretty good. Tasted more like vanilla and pandan than taro – I’d be surprised if it came from anything but a powder. Still – good portion for the price.

Daniel B. got the beef chow fun and it came with… veggie soup. Ookkaayy… kind of odd. He said it was veggie soup. Y’know, no biggie.

The FUSSYlittleCHILDREN got a strawberry milkshake to share, and were disappointed in how little progress I’d made about five minutes into receiving it. Here you can see the comparison.

Guess what Ruby Asian Bistro has? Xiao Long Bao! 6 soup dumplings for $4. These were… Well, not as good as the ones at Ala Shanghai, but they are soup dumplings, so looking on the positive side, Albany now has 2 places to get soup dumplings from?

The skins were oddly gummy – like they’d been made more out of rice flour than wheat flour or were overcooked and had too much water in them. The soup inside was fine and meaty, but the skins made the whole thing a little … the texture did not win me over.

The second dish we got was the beef chow fun. We were the only people in here, and had only planned on meeting up for some quick food and chatting, but. It. Took. For. Ev. Er. to get our food. And if it’s going to take that long, the food needs to be impressive.

I’m not really sure why it took so long for this dish to come out, because it didn’t taste like it was prepared freshly. The noodles were mostly broken into bits and clumping to each other, making me think that they were sitting in fridge pre-cooked, and pulled out and plopped in a wok or whatever. The beef could have had more of a sear to it, but it was tender.

I’ve still heard plenty of raves from Ruby, so I’m suspecting we need to order some different things from the menu. I’ll be back to give them another try eventually.
At any rate, my Dad and I were saving our appetites up for…

SHRIMPFEST 2010.

Seven pounds of shrimp, two contenders. This was four pounds of black tiger shrimp. Something like $24 at the Asian Food Market on Colvin. They give you a 10% discount if you buy the shrimp frozen in whole boxes instead of just picking them from the counter. Hell yeah – I totally prefer that. Better quality (it hasn’t been thawed out already), and cheaper!


Albany John had a great idea – bring out the electric griddle to the living room so we could have a DIY hibachi. We blew a fuse the first time, but then we plugged it into a different outlet, and it was smooth sailing from there on out.

Shrimp.

And more shrimp. Glorious shrimp.

Sizzling and searing little shrimpy beauties.

Eventually, it progressed to Albany John playing hibachi chef for us. Christmas hats for all!

I’m sad to say that the three of us were only able to eat about three pounds of shrimp. We didn’t even get to the other shrimp. We had 21 left over that we just couldn’t eat. I’m also betting that Albany John didn’t eat nearly as many as my Dad and I. We are seafood demolishers. We’ll have to prepare ourselves for Shrimpfest 2011.

The next day my sister insisted Dad check out X’s to O’s Vegan Bakery (97 4th Street, Troy, NY). I was jonesing for a Soynog cupcake after reading a tweet of theirs and my dad got a Brownie. I’m not really much of a breakfast person, but I’ll make an exception for desserts.

The funny thing is, my sister hasn’t eaten sugar in over a year, and yet she wanted us to try sweets from here because they were vegan. Whatever, as long as she’s not yelling at me, I’m happy.

Yum. This soy nog cupcake was a total success. Tender, moist crumb, and the perfect icing ratio – lots!

Then I had to get Dad to Ala Shanghai (468 Troy-Schenectady Rd, Latham, NY) to try their soup dumplings. We got some freebie snackytizers – aster salad in the foreground and cabbage in the background. Yummy.

SOUP DUMPLINGS!!! DAD, YOU HAVE TO TRY THE SOUP DUMPLINGS!! We got an order each of the crab & pork ($6), and pork ($4) soup dumplings. My dad said they were pretty good – thick on the skin, but good overall.

Pork babies!!! YUM! I was super psyched because both orders of XLB had gobs of soup in them!

Scallion pancakes ($3) – crunchy, scallion-y, and goooooood.

Turnip pastry. I think there was some kind of meat in them too, which was a nice texture, but the dough was a little soft and not that flaky. More like a soft bun in terms of texture.

Fish bellies in chili sauce! Albany John said he saw some kind of spicy fish on their website deal of the week, but the waiter wasn’t aware of it and suggested this dish instead.
Wow, spicy! Albany John said that if he ever wanted to be sure he got seafood at a table with my family, he’d order this dish. Heh heh. If you’re looking for some heat, this has it. My dad and I had a few bites, but couldn’t handle much of the heat.

Still, I liked the flavor – if you like fish, you will like this dish. It tastes like a deeper fish flavor. I think this was either salmon or trout. There were lots of bones, and if I weren’t such a spice wuss, I would have eaten much more of it.

Oh baby – this was my favorite dish. The salty veggies with bean curd skin. Yes. SO yes and full of win and deliciousness. My dad was getting over a cold and thought it was great, and I just love bean curd skin and edamamae and the salted veggies and… yeah, I loved every component of this dish, and the combination together was even better than the sum of its parts. Order this.

The bean curd skins were nice and chewy – kind of like noodles. And oh, all of that saltiness was so good.

My sister is eating some cooked foods (she likes mostly raw food), and got steamed mixed vegetables. She wolfed down most of this plate after saying “Oh, I’m not hungry” all morning when we tried to get her to eat something. I swear, you’d think she was an anorexic since she only eats steamed vegetables, but no, she’s just mostly a raw food vegan who banks on “safe” cooked foods being steamed.

I think my dad might have gotten a bok choy, but I left this one to my sis.

We got a free dessert, too – red bean pastry. It was red bean paste wrapped in dough. Kind of like a Shanghaiese quesadilla. I was surprised Albany John ate some, because he usually doesn’t like red bean paste.

Haha – it sure sounds like my little sister and I were competing for my dad’s food attention: “Dad, come here.” “Okay Dad, now we have to go HERE.”, right?

My dad took off a little after that to head down to spend Christmas with his fabulous girlfriend. I’m glad he made the trip all the way up here. He had a lot of driving to do. And him coming early meant I didn’t have to worry about holiday drama with my mama since they’re divorced and all.

On Christmas, my fab in-laws trekked over from Amherst to spend the holiday with us at my Mom’s place. I made some peppermint/ candy cane macarons with a white chocolate ganache.


Papa Amherst brought over a slew of cookies (i.e. the perfect amount), and Mama Amherst made a sheet cake. Hee hee.

My mom’s got a bunch of Indian friends, and they do not play around when it comes to good food. Fried tandoori chicken strips. Oh hell yes. I had to pace myself on these babies.

The first roasted beast – Prime Rib with a decent fat cap on it.

Hammy ham ham.

Carved roast beast. Not overcooked- hooray!

Dessert table. My mom also made these really good cookies with ground walnuts in them. Really melt in your mouth. I thought they were Mexican Wedding Cookies, but she said they were something else, and I can’t really remember what they were other than “good” at the moment.

Sheet cake! Hazelnutty frosting = mega win.

And then after Christmas, I was like “Need eggnog” so I whipped some up (literally). Tasty. And really creamy and vanilla-y for something with absolutely Zero vanilla.

Shrimp chowdah. Albany John made stock during Shrimpfest 2010 with all of the shells, and I cooked it down and plopped in some potato, onion, sausage and a can of evaporated milk. Worked out pretty well.

And also made some pretzel rolls to go with the soup. Good way to recover from the holidays. And maybe a little walking in the snow.

Hope your holidays were equally epic and delicious.

XO,
AJ

All Good Bakers “End of the Market” Giveaway

Yo, check this out: All Good Bakers are having one last giveaway before the season at the Delmar Farmers Market comes to an end. One membership for the next season (over $100 in value) to folks who come by this & next Saturday (11th & 18th of December) and drop their info in a bowl at their table. Read more about it here.

Stop on by – it doesn’t get much easier than that. I’d suggest using it to build up your winter fat stores with their cracktacular cinnamon buns

Pizza Central

The re-opening of Pizza Central (1123 Central Ave, Colonie, NY) had signs up touting their new ownership and $1 slices through the end of November.

See? Any slice, $1. This prompted a frenzied call to my fooding partner in crime, Daniel B., which went something like this: “Dan! Dollar pizza slices! DOLLAR PIZZA SLICES!! EAT! WE! PPPIIIZZZZAAAHHH!!!”

He kindly obliged my half-coherent call and we met up for pizza. Pizza Central is REALLY busy for lunch with these $1 slice deals, and they have all of, like, five parking spots. But all of the slices are ONE DOLLAR! You can wait it out or park nearby and walk from a side street.

All of the pizzas on display are available. I think the bigger one above may have been $1.50.

The one on the left had me really intrigued. It’s probably hard to see, but it was a good amount of cheese and cheese charring and crust bubbles. It was chicken bacon ranch, which is something I’d normally never consider, but when slices are $1 each, it’s easy to say “Ah, the hell with it,”.


I also got a tomato broccoli slice (y’know, to be healthy, haha). Man, these were GOOD! The crusts were airy and moist on the interior, and crackery crisp on the exterior. The underneath part of the crust was beautifully thin and equally crisp. I’m not sure how a whole pie would fare, since part of the allure of these slices was how crispy they got when reheated in the oven.

Oh, and that chicken bacon ranch? Most of the ranch flavor cooked off, so it just tasted like chicken and bacon pizza on really good crust.

Some of the crusts were shaped or made differently though. The crust on the plain was different from my crazily flavored slices.

There are still a few days left where you can enjoy some solid slices for $1. If you’ve got the time, give it a go. There are some counters and stools and one booth to sit at, but you probably want to do the take-out thing.

Pizza Central is pretty close to the Hong Kong Bakery in the Asian Supermarket on Central Ave, so we popped over there so I could make good on a promise to the Fussy Little Baby. Red bean bun. The kiddo loves beans, and I figured she seriously needed to try one of these Asian bad boys. Bean + sweet. How could she not like it?

We scored big time and found some red bean buns still warm sitting on the counter! A $0.90 victory if there ever was one. I also got a dan tat for the big kid (me). They’re good ’cause they’re fresh dan tats, but they are no match for the ones from fresh ones from the city. This dan tat has a uniformly crumbly pie/cookie-like consistency. The eggy flavor is great, though. But it’s no double-dough flaky crust that I really love. Which is probably a good thing. Otherwise I’d be eating these non-stop.

I think she likes it.

All Good Bakers Giveaway

Check out what the All Good Bakers are offering! I’m always happy to host a giveaway:

All Good Bakers is offering a
GIVEAWAY this week in anticipation of their Community Supported Bakery Winter Bread
sign-up deadline (October 24). Post your thoughts about or favorite items
from AGB and they’ll draw a winner randomly on Friday by 12 noon
(winner will be posted in comments by 1pm).


Winner will receive $10 worth (your choice) of bread and/or baked goods to be
picked up on Saturday at the Delmar Farmer’s Market from
9-1! If you’d like more information about their CSB, please email Britin
& Nick of All Good at allgoodbakers@gmail.com