All Over Albany’s Tournament of Pizza

I’m late to the table with this one, but I kind of assumed you guys would’ve read All Over Albany and checked out the Tournament of Pizza they’ve currently got going on. This is more for my family and friends who don’t live nearby to check out since, well, it’s a Tournament of Pizza!

For those of you not fully immersed in in any and all things related to Albany, All Over Albany is a local website. They’re the best website to get the scoop on local events, people, and news highlights. They’re interesting, keep things casual and fun, and you know what? Just go check them out since I know you’ll love it if you’ve never seen it before. (Which would be weird if I directed you to them and not the other way round) They do some really cool things, one of them being the Tournament of Pizza.

The Tournament of Pizza is a fun match up competition of local pizza places to see who’s got the best take out pizza. There are brackets. There are groupings. And best of all, they let me return this year as a judge!

Currently they’re up to round two of Saratoga Springs, the sausage round. Round one consists of just cheese. Here’s round one of Saratoga.

Albany, Round One.

Troy, Round One.

Schenectady, Round One.

See? I told you I kind of forgot to tell you. I’ll try to keep you guys a little more updated, but at least now this explains why I’ve been pizza coma-ing more often lately. I absolutely love doing it, and I may take my judging responsibilities a little too seriously by keeping my lips tightly sealed when it comes to the ToP.

Fireworks Ice Cream (Happy Birthday L. Pants!)

I’d like to shout belated birthday wishes to Logan at Boots in the Oven!

Happy Birthday, Dude!!!

For his birthday, L. Pants, awesome cheffer that he is, made red velvet poprock cupcakes! Quite the feat, to be sure. I am drooling at the screen just looking at it.

As an e-present, here’s some poprock ice cream to go along with it.

Stewart’s is a local (to NY) convenience store, using New York dairies for their milk, eggs, and (I think) ice cream.

Their ice cream totally rocks. It’s not super-thick – at times it can be a bit airy. But it’s very creamy, and they have dozens of inventive flavor combinations. Growing up, going to Stewart’s for gas, milk, or eggs always presented the potential for shameless ice cream cone begging.

Fireworks is one such creative flavor – vanilla ice cream with a cherry swirl and candy coated popping candy. Along with cotton candy, this is one of my favorite flavors

Once you open the carton up, you’ll see a ton of red and blue candy coated ‘popping candies’, with the bright red cherry swirl in the center.

Once you begin eating the ice cream, it tastes primarily like the vanilla, and cherry if you get some of the swirl. The coating is similar to white chocolate, and once it melts (or you bite down) you’ll have that delightful popping sensation going on in your mouth.

Happy Birthday L. Pants! Here’s a cup for you!

Trust me, it’s Gnocchi

So yea, I’m not doing so well in the ‘focus’ department on my new/old camera. But just trust me that I got a rockin’ recipe from Elise, and then added shrimp, tomato sauce and a weeeee bit of butter and basil to the mix.

It’s frickin’ fantabulous, and Elise’s recipe is easy and yields delicious results.

Celina Bean’s Excellent Pesto Tasting

Celina Bean did a wonderful thing last week – she organized a pesto tasting at the Wine Bar on Lark! With a buncha the local food bloggers! I felt like Cinderella getting asked to the ball, but thankfully I kept my shoes on.
We sat upstairs next to the kitchen at the communal table. Pretty cozy, and there was great lighting when we first got there. Lighting for pictures, that is.

As you all can see, I plopped myself near the bread. Ciabatta bread. My first love.
It was really cool to see so many other people with cameras. Kevin Everleth, the owner and chef was also so sweet and charismatic! He really put off a friendly, caring vibe, like we were a bunch of people over at his house for dinner.

Celina bought pestos you could purchase at stores around here – no homemade pesto allowed!
You can read the official results on her blog – very awesome. Alex and Cati tallied the votes (you know, so now we can’t accuse Celina Bean of improper vote counting).

The winner was Buddhapesto, with Via Fresca’s pesto coming in second. I flipped their rankings, but they were both really good. I was surprised, mainly because I haven’t been a fan of Budapesto. I think it was the near-$8 price tag on it. Eeesh. Via Fresca’s was a steal at $4.50.
My thoughts, plus food spillage. Tilt head to the left.

The general consensus is that if you can make your own pesto – do it! I would probably buy these were I not with Albany John because he can grow basil like weeds. I have the Black Thumb of Death when it comes to gardening.

With a bunch of food minded individuals in the room, did you think we wouldn’t order food?

All Over Albany was awesome and bought wine for everyone. Go click on them!

Celina Bean got a goat cheese and yellow tomato salad. She was kind enough to share. I had one of the fried goat cheese rounds. So Good!

Yum, yum, yum. Fried rounds of goat cheese. This could be dangerous.

I saw seafood on the menu and ordered the clams ($12). They were spicy with a tomato broth and chorizo. They were cooked perfectly – not a rubbery one in the bowl. I used nearly a loaf of Ciabatta sopping up the scrumptious broth.

Afterwards everyone ordered dessert, except me. But Celina Bean gave me a taste of her crème brulee, which was really creamy. It was like an eggy whipped cream. I also got a bite of All Over Albany’s dark chocolate pie/tart. Woah, choco-city. If you’re into desserts, get these. I don’t know why, but I just don’t get dessert when I go out to eat. If you’re feeling a bit naughty I’d recommend going there after work (ahem, state employees!), unbuttoning that top button and relaxing out front when the weather is nice, and ordering this creme brulee.

Seriously, I had such a blast. I would love to do another blind taste testing on something, anything again.