The Queen Of Tarts

P1040244

Spring is here, which means my winter of tarts will likely be coming to an end. Or maybe I’ll just start using seasonal stuff in my tarts.  I bought a few tart pans, and my favorite is this Fox Run 14″ x 5″ tart pan. The shape makes me happy.

P1040243

I’ve been using this recipe from Smitten Kitchen for a sweet tart shell that doesn’t really shrink. It’s pretty awesome, and the best part is it’s all made in the food processor in a cinch. The recipe makes a bit more than you’ll need for the tart shell. By the way, Smitten Kitchen’s Whole Lemon Tart is also an awesome recipe. The filling is SUPER lemony and also made entirely in a blender (which I <3 for clean up). I made that recipe with a full tart shell recipe in a larger circular tart pan, and oh man was that ever a hit.

This particular pictured filling was cheesecake with some random bits of fresh strawberries (that were going south quickly). Cheesecake fillings are super easy – cream cheese + sugar + stuff (this can be cream, sour cream, milk, egg… something to thin it out a bit)
P1040240
The recipe makes more than this rectangular tart pan needs, so I flipped over a mini muffin/cupcake tray and wrapped some pieces with remaining dough. Filled with some whipped cream and aww, yeah. Yum! They are very tan because I forgot about them while par baking the tart shell in the background. Filled with cream, they just tasted like crunchy pie crust. Cream fixes everything, right?

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.

Buh-Bye Ms. Pasko Brunch

Yesterday was a good luck/bye brunch at Jess‘ place. She’s headed off to the windy city (Chi-town) and some folks in the area brought some goodies and ate food in celebration. Fondue, fruit, bagels, croissants, ham, and desserts.

I made gluten-free mini red velvet (well, pink velvet) cheesecake. I think it could have been sweeter. The g-f part was the cookie base. I thought it tasted like an oreo, and Albany John called it a molasses cookie. Either way. Not bad.

I’m pretty sure I could bathe myself in cheese fondue. It would be hot, but cheesily delicious.

She also had free stuff to give away in light of her move, and I’m currently rocking a cute pair of kitten heels.

Happy Easter

Allo beauties!
Hope your weekend was a good one! Here’s a quick rundown of what I’ve been up to this past week or so.
Start out cutting, cooling and icing cookies. I’ve always thought sugar cookies were a pain in the ass, and these just reinforced that. Cute looking, but they don’t really taste like much to be worth all the effort.

Hard boiled eggs, dyed funky colors. Make it like tea soaked eggs, only with colored water, not tea. IE: crack the shell all over after it cools off from boiling, then let sit 24 hours in colored water (I used mugs).


Decorate the 2nd batch of iced cookies with more icing. Much better, but what isn’t good with gobs of icing?

Lots of cookies. So many. I am definitely a drop cookie kind of gal. Reaffirmed.

Hey, time to slice the eggs.


The yolks needed a lot more mayo than I would have thought. Kind of dried out soaking overnight or something. No mustard this time – the bright orange color is from paprika.

Purple eggy weggs.


Friday I got to try out Beirut in Troy (old Al Baraki, new ownership) with friends. I haven’t gone out to eat in a long time – this was a nice, cheap treat. Owners are super-friendly, and kept the food hot and replenished quickly.

The fish stew was awesome (top left) – tangy, almost cheesey. And the rice tasted like a cross with orzo. Yum. Went really well with the fish.

Green beans were meltingly good. I was afraid they’d be brassy mush, but they were delish!
If I am not known as The Falafel Girl, I will be surprised. I tucked away 6 of them. And let me tell ya – not such good idea if you plan to, oh, I don’t know… move. Plus all of the other foods.
One quirk about them though is they don’t seem to offer tap water, just drinks from the case.


Went downstate for the weekend. Made copious cheesecake: this one was coconut and key lime. Also made a vanilla bean one. And shortbread for the crust.

Easy recipe:
Coconut Key-Lime (Pina Colada-y):
3 8 oz bricks of cream cheese
1.25-1.5 C sugar
4 eggs
1 can cream of coconut (or solids from 2 cans coconut milk) (guess which one I ran out of?)
1/4 c key lime juice
Vanilla Bean:
3 8 oz bricks cream cheese
1.25 C sugar
3 eggs
1/4 C sour cream
1 T double strength vanilla extract (or 2 T reg vanilla)
1/2 vanilla bean, scraped out
Mix them all in the order of ingredients given. Pour them atop your choice of pre-preped cheesecake bottom and bake @ 300-325 F for 60-90 minutes.
Make sure to use a waterbath, although cakes will both crack and brown after friends have pimped out your cheesecake making skeelz to everyone else who will consume it. While semi-ugly, they will still taste amazing, so it’s a 50-50 win.

Tampa, FL

Albany John and I went to Tampa, Fl for Grandma’s funeral over the weekend and for a bit of this week. The funeral was short and very sweet.

When we first arrived, we were a bit jet lagged. Basically, we both were up all night Friday doing our respective things, and got about 2 or so hours of sleep before heading to the Albany International Airport at Butt O’Clock in the morning. On the plus side, we were able to enjoy beautiful Tampa tropical air when we walked outside.

We also flew Southwest Airlines (which I find funny, being the Northeast and all) and snagged a direct flight and hotel for just under $700. We rented a car and got a coupon from Bjsvacations.com (I don’t think you need to be a member) for renting a car, which ended up being just under $200 for 4 days. Not too shabby for a last minute trip, if you find yourself in similar circumstances.

Now, as Albany John said, “There are worse places to be than Tampa in March”, so we managed to enjoy ourselves on this trip as well. He is quite right – Tampa was so very nice in comparison to the 29F degree weather in Albany. After booking into our hotel, we called up one of our relatives!

You see, I was kind of excited to meet all of Albany John’s extended family I had not already met. We called his younger cousin, and his mum (who is now my new sister in the Cult of Hello Kitty) and they drove over to meet us at our hotel.
Luckily, my awesome new Hello Kitty Sister is also into fooding and took us over to Ybor City to nosh at The Columbia! http://www.columbiarestaurant.com/


I ordered a glass of sangria for $4.95, which ended up tasting oddly soapy. Even the replacement glass.
Buuuut, the rest of the food? Total YUM.

Bread – nearly a loaf, for each person. Crusty on the outside, and warm and soft on the inside. Mmmm

Gazpacho – zesty, light, and yet still creamy in texture. I liked this a lot, and normally gazpacho is something I’d never think of ordering (Albany John got it)

I was a piggy and ordered El Combo de Cuba ($12.95) which was a sample of everything. Boliche, roasted pork, an empanada, black beans and yellow rice, and some very sweet platanos. YUM. This was so, so, so good. My favorite was the boliche, which was meltingly tender and slathered with gravy.

Our cousin, Tampa John, ordered Corvina “Russian Style”, which is a white fish with a lemony sauce. It looked very good, and he enjoyed it!

Hello Kitty Sis ordered a sandwich-salad combo. The cubano sandwich with the 1905 salad (one of the Columbia’s specialties). I got a bite of the salad (which they mix table side), and boy was it good! They accidentally gave her one of the soups instead of the salad, but eventually brought out the salad.

Albany John ordered the boliche main – the boliche is a slice of eye of round (a lean and tough cut) with a chorizo center, and cooked until tender. Then slathered with gravy. What isn’t good slathered with gravy? But seriously – fork-tender, with a seriously deep flavor.


The inside of my empanada. I think the outside could have been more tender, but this was well flavored inside.


We went late in the afternoon on Saturday and had a 20 minute wait. Not sure if they were overstaffed, but the waiter was a bit scattered and slow, but very nice.

To finish up, Hello Kitty Sis and I split a guava cheesecake ($6.50, I think…) which was like a soft, whipped cheesecake filling with a hint of the warm tropical flavor guava brings. It made me go “Oh, cheesecake… oh, wait… OHHHHH.” *drool* There was also a squiggle of guava syrup/sauce on the side, which really emphasized the guava in the cheesecake.
Thanks for the lunch, HK Sis!

And then we hit up the Sanrio Store at one of the malls. I LOVE YOU FOR TAKING ME HERE, Hello Kitty Sis!!

Later that day, Mama and Papa Amherst came in, and the troops were rallied. We went to WhatABurger for dinner (ok, based on my giddiness, and Papa John wanting some food ASAP). I think it was good, but not as good as I remembered it – it was probably nostalgia that made it taste so good before. This time, it was just OK. Sorry bout that one, guys.

Original WhatABurger

Inside of it (no mayo, ketchup, etc)

Fries
Papa Amherst got the patty melt.


Menu Board

Papa Amherst also got the chocolate shake. I got the vanilla malt, and woah – chocolate lovers – order this. Even I liked it. It was blastingly full of chocolate flavor.

You know what else I found in Tampa?? Grocery Stores we don’t have up here! Like a Publix! And within that Publix was…

Passion Flavored Smirnoff Ice!!! Can we get some of this up here? SOOOO good. It really tastes like a passion fruit spritzer.

Our hotel was really noisy, so I ended up getting woken up around 2 am every morning from the wannabe frat boys on spring break, and then at 7 am from southerners shouting at each other. So here’s a photo of the hotel pool at 7:30 in the morning. Yep, that’s a waterfall in the back ground.
The next day we went over to First Watch for breakfast.


Here’s what it looked like waiting to be seated. Lots of people!


Albany John and I each got gigantic pancakes ($2.99 for one). He got a cranberry-nut pancake, and I a wheat germ. They were very light and fluffy. The butter wasn’t even necessary!
Mama Amherst and Hello Kitty Sis ordered the fruit filled crepes with strawberry yogurt on top. The fruit was very fresh (Mama Amherst gave me a bite), but the crepes could have been thinner. They came with mondo muffins, and Albany John went on about how they were muffins only in name, because if it’s double-chocolate-chocolate-chip, then it’s a cupcake. Aww, bless. We gals argued that it was a muffin – there was no icing. Ah, we like driving our menfolk crazy.

Papa Amherst ordered, um… that. Some kind of omelet with potatoes and an English muffin. Sorry, can’t remember!


Afterwards, we headed out to the beach. Which beach? Any beach! Mama Amherst and I decided Sunday was so beautiful, we absolutely had to set our northern bones on some sandy, Floridian beaches.

We went to Ft De Soto, led by Albany John’s uncle, Tampa Tom (Tampa John’s papa). Man, what a great place he picked. It wasn’t too busy (free parking) and there were ample beaches to choose from.


Ft De Soto is also a no-booze beach, which I found out after I fell asleep and Albany John put one of my Passion Fruit Smirnoff’s on my back and one of the beach patrol folks came by and asked me what was on my back. Wheeewie, disaster avoided, though! While it might be a no-booze beach, plenty of folks were drinking beers and such (but maybe this was covert) on the beach.

For supper, we headed to Skipper’s Roadhouse Grill.

FUN!


If you’re in Tampa, this place is worth checking out. It’s got live music (the night we went didn’t have a cover, bless) and indoor and outdoor areas to sit and nosh and drink. The place is huge.

The food was also cheap, tasty, and came out quickly. What more can you ask for?
I orderd a margarita. Woah, this drink had a LOT of tequila in it. Awesome.


Here is a live band playing on their stage. The stage was covered, but the immediate viewing area in front of it was open.


There were: crawfish poppers (with an addictive remoulade)
Gigantic conch fritters, which were a steal at $5.95 per appetizer order. They were soft on the inside – almost pillow-y, and had a good overall flavor. The fritters came with a mustard that was also great. It was curry-ish flavored, and went wonderfully with the conch fritters. Good call, Hello Kitty Sis! (Also, another cajun crawdad on the side – they were good)

Clam chowder – clammy. Pass on it if it’s your first time here – there are many more awesome things to try.

Albany John ordered Gator Ribs!! $12.99. How adventurous! He loved them. I thought they were an interesting texture. Kind of like fish – a fairly similar flavor profile to frog legs, but a bit tougher in a texture that broke apart like fish. Chicago Velvet Smoove took this picture, since I was sitting across from Albany John. It’s also why the picture looks so good.


Crap. I forgot what this was. I think this was the blackened sandwich Catfish Mama Amherst ordered. As you can see, it came with hush puppies and a pickle.

The bar area of Skipper’s (hey, I’m just breaking up the food pictures for you. What’s that? Stop? Ok, here’s more food)

I ordered the Cajun po’ boy, which came with more fried crawdads! Yummy! The toasted bread was lightly coated in some kind of spicy sauce, and the sandwich was huge. I think it was around $8 – what a steal! These crawfish were so fresh tasting. This was fun to eat with the hands!

Both Chicago Velvet Smoove and TN Girl’s mom, TN Auntie, ordered the clam strips. They thought these were kind of a bust – too bready.

Fried grouper sandwich our other cousin TN Girl (girl cousin. Makes I.D.-ing the cousins easy for you – Tampa John = Boy, Other Cousin = Girl) ordered with fries on the side.

I wanted to try some onion rings. Holy crap. We didn’t even come close to finishing these. $3.49 for an order of these puppies is quite a good deal. And did I mention our table of about 10 people couldn’t finish them? Woah.

Tampa Tom ordered a fried fish sandwich as well.

Devil Crab – CVS and I ordered one each, not really knowing what they were. For $2.50, it was worth a miss. They kind of were – I expected a crab flavor for something half-named Crab, but meh.

It was kind of too big – like a gigantic stuffed croquette, and had a fairly generic spiced-brown-soft flavor and texture for the filling. I think they used the same breading/coating as the conch fritters, but it didn’t translate well in this dish (but man, could I go for more of those conch fritters).

Mama Amherst got some Key Lime Pie for dessert – how tangy, smooth, and the crust?! Cookies! This dessert was small (possibly the only thing small they serve), and well worth $2.50.

Ok, that’s it for now. I switched memory cards halfway through the trip, and it’s a 40-60 chance I’ll actually get the other memory card out and upload photos.

If I don’t – more fooding was had. The Taco Bus (El Taconazo) is aaawwwweeeesome, as are Mema’s Alaskan Tacos. Ybor City doesn’t have a lot of touristy souvenir shops, and Albany John and I went into a cigar shop that had drinks, smoking, and playboy magazines inside. Bo’s is tasty for ice cream, but not so much for milk shakes.

Even though we came to Florida for a sad reason, it turned out to be a very wonderful experience to meet new family and meet up with those I had met before. Albany John’s family is so close, even if they might annoy each other, they’re still family. I like that, and I am glad I am part of this family.

Vegan Cheeeeeessseecake



My deal with vegan food is this: I’m fine and dandy with it as long as it doesn’t start using faux ingredients to replace non-vegan ingredients. Tofutti and soy cheese, I’m looking at you. I know what cheddar should taste like, and lemme tell you, soy cheese – you pass about as much for cheddar as I do for a natural blonde. Those subsitutes are also wildly expensive, so there’s another knock against it for me.

But I found a vegan book (Vegan Cooking for Everyone by Leah Leneman) with some decent looking recipes, so I decided to give the cheesecake recipe a whirl, with my own tweaking, of course.
I can’t not tweak a recipe. Especially one that I seems kind of bland. The basic cheesecake recipe given in the book didn’t have a whole lot of flavor, and a whole lot of tofu. Tofu can taste pretty overwhelmingly beany, and personally, I need a LOT of extra flavor to get past tofu’s initial flavor. So I chucked in some blueberries to the filling and shredded coconut to the crust.


Modified Like Crazy Vegan Cheesecake Recipe:
Crust:
1 C whole wheat flour (I used a mix of graham an irish red whole wheat)
2 T raw cane sugar (think Sugar in the Raw)
pinch salt
nutmeg to taste (I like a lot, the recipe called for a pinch of cinnamon)
1/4 C vegan margarine (I used butter flavored crisco)
1/3 C coconut flakes
1 T water


Mix all together, and work in the margarine. Add water last, mix to combine. Pat in a pie pan and bake 10 min at 350F.

Filling
1 1/4 C/10 oz firm tofu (I used the fresh stuff)
2 T veggie oil (I used a mix of half olive oil and walnut oil)
4 T raw cane sugar
Juice and rind of 1 lemon
1.5 T double strength vanilla extract
1/3 C almond meal (the recipe called for ground, but this is what I had on hand)
2/3 C frozen blueberries

Put tofu, oil, sugar, lemon and vanilla extract in a blender (hello Magic Bullet!) and blend until completely smooth. Stir in nuts, then stir in blueberries.
Spoon evenly into crust and bake 30 minutes at 350F.


Ok, confession time. I am not a huge fan of this recipe. It has lots of potential. The texture is great – smooth and creamy, and no cracking. But the taste. Ugh. It is still very, very, VERY heavily flavored with, you guessed it, tofu. The bites with blueberry were best, so I advise slathering the holy crap out of it with blueberry syrup or maple syrup. Or both. Ok, definitely both.

I think the lemon needs to be at least doubled. The lemon and vanilla flavors were completely lost, and the almond meal (maybe I should try the actual nuts ground a bit rougher) didn’t have any flavor at all. The lemon is a must for tanginess. Otherwise you’re left with what I’ve got, which is a total FAIL on the cheescake scale of things. Tofu pie, sure, but certainly nowhere near close to cheescake in terms of flavor. I’m thinking there would be a decent chance of this being a good highly flavored cheesecake, like perhaps key lime, or coconut. Next time I think I’ll try assaulting it with coconut extract, or lots of key lime juice.

I really loved the crust for this recipe – it was crumbly when I put it in the pan, but it was oh-so crisp and crunchy. A great texture and pretty good taste, except the Crisco left a bit of a greasy film all over your mouth. I am definitely going to use this again, only with butter instead of Crisco.

Or … you could just slather the cheesecake, syrups and all, with whipped cream. Heh heh. It completely negates all the healthful properties of this dessert (I have no many calories it has, but I am going with “significantly less” than real cheesecake since there’s no cream cheese in it. Delicious, delicious cream cheese), but the whipped cream at least gives a bit of a hint that you could convince yourself you’re eating cheesecake and helps cover the beany tofu taste.

Overall, I’ll try it again, just with a TON of other flavorings and extracts.

Cheesecake Machismo

I wound up eating a slice of PEANUT BUTTER AND JELLY cheesecake($5) for lunch. Oh, Lynn, you make the best cheesecake ever. It was perfect. A layer of peanutty goodness hid beneath the jelly. I couldn’t even finish it all.

And have ya heard? They’re moving location up the road to where Mezzo was. And Lynn’s even offering to honor half the value of mezzo gift certificates. She is awesome.

Do not resist the call of the cheesecakey goodness. Go forth to Cheesecake Machismo. Disregard the $300 you’ve spent in dental bills this month and bite into it.

Now I need another slice. Who wants to split one with me?

Buy Me Things

Here’s a list of gift ideas for me. No, my celebrity status has not gone to my head (har har). Albany John is always asking me what I’d like for my birthday, our anniversary, and various other holidays in which giving me presents occurs. My usual answers are “I don’t know… anything Hello Kitty or… I don’t know, I’ll tell you later”. So he pinned me down, and now I figured I would post it here since I’m pretty sure it will go to his RSS feed.
But hey, you can feel free to buy me presents too. These could also make good ideas for the pseudo girly-girl in your life. But generally we girly-girls are pretty easy to handle – go to Sephora – buy something. Done.

Hair Sticks

Skirts – pencil length or A line in style. Black, brown or grey in color.

Dresses. Man I love me some pretty dresses. I could probably do with some light cotton ones for summer that aren’t all ’empire’ waist shaped and make me look all preggified.

Square neck tops

Stainless steel earrings. Just simple studs, so long as the posts are stainless steel based.

Underpants. Cause I’m sensible like that.

Unlocked cell phone. Preferably something flippy. I don’t need this toute de suite or anything, but eventually. Maybe.

Hello Kitty checkbook cover.

The recreation of this menu at Marche at State 74. It’s one I’m actually considering going to, but there’s a 50% chance I will have plans I cannot ditch (I would be a serious jack hole if I did) on 6/13, which is the only reason I haven’t already booked a reservation. Seriously, though… $85 for that duck-centric menu AND wines (wines that sound really good to a novice like me)? Sounds like a good deal. Hell, who am I kidding, it’s probably best I can’t/don’t go since I’m sure my spazzy ass would stick out like a sore, distracting thumb.
And after today’s publication i
n the Times Union, I’ll bet this sells out fairly quickly.
Hell, just the fourth and main courses – those are the dishes I’d really like to try. Mmmm, duckies. Albany John, you can get a-cheffing on those dishes!

Pearls Before Swine comic books.

Another makeup case… I think Albany John is going to kill me over this one, but I think need another makeup case… The last one he bought me is like this only without the dividers. I’m sure my continual belief that I need more eye shadow is not helping either.

Books by Anthony Bourdain.

Glass or metal perfume misters. I love, love, love the Demeter Fragrances (Golden Delicious Apple… very awesome, and coincidentally, I am running low on that too) and their $5 ½ ounce sample sizes are wonderful. Now I just need to put them into something so I’m not just dabbing it on my pulse points.

Demeter Fragrances. Oh, how I love Demeter. They nail just about every scent they touch. Their Golden Delicious smells so clean and happy, and I’d like to try more of them. $5 samples are a great way to get a variety of scents, plus they usually kick in a free full size sample after $25.

A slice of non-chocolated cheesecake from my beloved Cheesecake Machismo.

That’s all I can think of now, which is way more than I thought I could think of. Also, I don’t need all of these, or anything close to them, it’s just a good guideline of stuff I like.

Happy Birthday to Me!

It certainly was a very happy birthday! I got HELLO KITTY CAKE!!! If you know me, you’ll know that Hello Kitty is my only non-food vice. And then Albany John went and combined the two!

He got me a three layer fruit salad cake from the Hong Kong Bakery. I luuuurve their cakes, mainly because they’re not tooth-ache-inducingly sweet. Their whipped cream icing is really light and the fruit adds a nice bite of freshness. The cake wants you to think it is healthy for you (it is, right?). The cake itself is a light sponge (I think) and it’ll last you a good week in your frige with minimal decay.

My girlfriend also took me out to the Cheesecake Factory for my birthday (her idea), and I’m not one to say no to free chow! I got a tasty raspberry concotion in a martini glass and didn’t spill! Man, I must have been courting trouble with that drink. Unfortunately they must have screwed something up with our order, because we waited about 40-50 minutes for our food to come out when everyone else around us was getting stuff. (Also, the manager came out instead of our waitress to tell us our food was going to be rushed out. Kind of a flag that something got screwy along the way) Ugh – boo! My girlfriend also asked if they did anything for birthdays. Evidently what they do is sing you a song and charge you for your slice of cheesecake. I thought instead of “Yes, we do something for birthdays” she could have said “Yes, we’ll sing you a song for birthdays” instead of letting us think there was a freebie along the way (heck, even if it wasn’t, something to comp that wait since it was pretty obvious we were forgotten about). I mean, most places get you a free dessert or something. I didn’t want one, by my girlfriend insisted and ended up taking my slice home – he he. What can I say? I’m not the cheesecake maven I used to be.
Oh, for dinner I got a seared tuna salad – it was great! The tuna was actually seared and wonderfully rare/raw on the inside. It also had a nice spice to it. This is also probably the one thing at Cheesecake Factory where you can get a managable portion of food. Just tuna, some field greens, tomatoes and half an avocado. I was really surprised and would higly recommend anyone going there to try this. Also, get the dressing on the side so you can keep it light.

But thank you for a nice night Albany John and my awesome girlfriend!

Cheesecake Machismo


This is a long overdue review of Cheesecake Machismo. Cheesecake Machismo is located in downtown Albany, NY on Hamilton Street. It’s kind of a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it for those of you who don’t pay attention to your surroundings like me.

There’s the Cheesecake pin-up girl in red. She’s just a picture, but I bet if they had a girl outside going “CHEESECAKE” dressed like the cartoon lady, they’d sell a lot of cheesecake to the state workers. Inside is a small and cozy vibe that smells of baking and deliciousness. There are lots of nice warm decorations, stuff to read, pictures of different kinds of cheesecakes in a book, and some space to sit if you choose to eat your cheesecake there.
Also on the wall is a chalkboard listing the daily cheesecakes. You can build your own cake, or you can get a piece for $5, PLUS a coffee, tea, seltzer or hot cocoa! For FIVE DOLLARS!!! If I were a state worker, I would be eating here EVERY single day, and that’s no joke. $5 for lunch is a steal!

Ok, I’m not healthy. I knooowwww.

On my most recent visit, I had a Kahlua Caramel slice. Oh. So. Good. It’s buttery, dense and rich, but it won’t make you sick to your stomach. It is real honest to goodness cheesecake. The Kahlua flavor was also very light, adding just a nice flavor of rich coffee to the cheesecake. Often times too many people think that since there’s liquor, people want a whole ton of it in there, and then you get that sharp, bitter taste of alcohol that’s out of place in a dish. Not here. Oh, no, baby. These are some perfect cakes.

Also, the people that are there are always really, wonderfully nice.

This is also a great place since everything is made there. So for those of you home bakers strapped for time, or like me, don’t feel like wolfing down an entire cheesecake every time you want a slice go here. Or, if you can’t bake worth a damn, but told that cute guy/gal, boss, the ladies in your bridge club, or anyone else you’re trying to fool that you can really make one mean cheesecake, come here!

I’d also like to note that Cheesecake Machismo’s hours have changed. They are now open Tuesday,Wednesday, Friday, Saturday from 12-8pm, and Th from 12-6pm. So, every day but Thursday, and they’re closed Sunday and Monday.

Now go get some cheesecake!