NYS Fair (and Ticket Giveaway!)

2015-Logo NYS Fair New Your State Fair

It’s summer, which means that it’s time for the New York State Fair in Syracuse! The fair will be August 27th – September 7th. There’s a ton of stuff to do and see. Did you go to fairs as a kid? What was/is your favorite thing to do? When I was little I LOVED the rides. and the NYS Fair has discounted tickets for $20 for a day pass to ride all you want (available here), which is a pretty good deal if you plan on riding more than 3-4 rides.

And FOOD. Let’s talk food. There’s butter sculptures to see, a ton of food to eat, and cooking competitions.

Did you know there’s also a parade every day at 6 pm? I didn’t. That’ll be cool to check out.

There are also special fair days like :

8/28 Pride Day
8/31 Dairy Day
9/01 Beef Day
9/02 Women’s Day9/03 Armed Forces Day (free admission with ID for active duty and veterans)

Want a pair of tickets to attend the NYS Fair? The New York State Fair is giving me a pair plus a parking pass, and a pair of tickets and parking pass to you, too! Add a comment down below about what you’d like to do at the fair! Use a valid email address, and be comfortable sharing your address over email. Contest closes Thursday, 8/13.

Win Dinner For Two at Creo

Creo wants to help make your Valentine’s Day that much sweeter and is giving away dinner for two! All you have to do is comment below and the winner will be picked tomorrow night (aww).

From Creo:

-Executive Chef David Gibson will create a 3-Course Tasting Menu for 2 people, customized to the winner’s personal tastes

-Bottle of Wine Included (if over 21 years of age with valid ID)

-Reservations Required
-Must be redeemed within 30 days of announcement of winner

To be eligible, please use a valid email address in comments (only used to notify winner and make reservation arrangements).

2013 NYS Fair

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The NYS Fair would like to give away a pair of tickets, parking pass, and a Best Bets Bargain Book to one lucky commenter here on AlbanyEats!

I attended last year, and it was a fair worthy of the drive out to Syracuse from Albany. There was plenty to see and do to last you all day, traffic went smoothly, and the parking was easy to get to from the highway while still being close to the fairgrounds. Even if you don’t win tickets, you can buy tickets for $10 at the gate, which is pretty sweet for an entire day’s worth of stuff to see and do.

The 2013 NYS Fair will be running this Thursday, August 22, through Monday, September 2. The gates open at 8 am, with exhibit booths going opening at 10 am. This year’s theme is “Sharing the Bounty  and Pride of NY”, celebrating cultural, economic, and institutional strengths with emphasis on agriculture.

Contest rules/info:
All tickets will be mailed to the winner, or you can pick up from their main office M-F, 9-5 (no Will Call/box office this year)
Include your email address so you can be contacted if you win.
Contest ends the evening of Tuesday, August 20th, so get your comments in quickly!

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.

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

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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.

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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)

Giveaway: 2 Tickets to the NYS Fair

Have you ever been to the New York State Fair? It’s held August 25th – September 5th in Syracuse, NY. The NYS Fair wants you to come, and they’re giving away two tickets that you can win!

This weekend I was talking with someone who was well familiar with the NYS fair, having grown up going to it just about every year. Though I grew up in NY, I’ve never been to the State Fair. I imagine my mom’s side of the family would enjoy going, since there are livestock shows. We hail from dairy folk, and there’s even a Dairy Day (August 29th, if you’re so inclined).

There are bunch of free acts to see, ranging from that Buddy dude from Cake Boss to Gym Class Heroes, and even the Pointer Sisters. Plus, you know, rides, and food, and awesomeness and such.

Kids 12 and under are free, so if you’re a family with some wee ones, this could mean free entry. Not too shabby.

If you wanna win two tickets and a parking pass:

Comment to win. If you tweet this link &/or put up a blog post, add the links as extra comments/entries. So you can technically enter 3 times.

Please comment with a valid email address.

You will be asked for your address. If I get this out in time, you’ll have tickets mailed to you, if not, you’ll get will call tickets to pick up when you get there.

This is open to anyone who wants to go there. Live in Buffalo? Awesome, enter. If you live in Western Mass and feel an urge to go NYS Fair-ing, type away!

Comments will be closed and giveaway over tomorrow night, whenever I go to bed. Or reeeallly early on Friday morning. At the very least you’ve got a solid 24 hours.

CLOSED: Congrats to L!

Happy BDay Albany John

Happy Birthday, Albany John! We recently spent a weekend fete-ing the birthday boy. Mama and Papa Amherst came over to spend the day with their baby boy. We went to Beirut for lunch in Troy (184 River St, Troy, NY). Albany John said it was in his lunch rotation when he’s in Troy for lunch, but less so than other places.

When he walked through the door he was greeted warmly by everyone in the shop. It’s a family business, and there’s lots of family.

“How often do you come here?!” I asked the mister. I mean, I know he said he came here every so often, but…
“Not that often, but they’re good,” he answered. Good indeed. That barely describes it. Just about everyone who walked in got the same warm treatment. I wish I had such a good memory!

Lebanese coffee. Loved the cups! Wow, acidic. It looked like espresso, but had a tarter flavor profile. Like chicory. I poured a ton of sugar in it, totally changed things up and made it tasty! I didn’t even need any milk!

We started with a large appetizer plate for 2 ($16). They added a few extra falafel for us to stretch it out for everyone. Tasty starter. I think this is the most expensive dish on their menu.

Some dolmas topped with garlic paste, baba ghanouj, hummus, pickled eggplant, salad, and falafel. Yummy. And those pink turnip pickles. So good! I want to eat a million of them. So tart and crunchy. The dips were super creamy, too. I think this might be a bit better than when Al Baraki was here, but then again it’s been a while since I’ve been to either.

I got the moussaka. Chickpeas, creamy eggplants in a stew. Oh, and UNLIMITED BOWL OF PITA! Really good pita, too. Totally helpful in sopping up the stew. Yummy. I liked it. Really flavorful vegetarian dish, and not too oily.

Lunch & drinks for four people was only $45 before tax and tip. Not too shabby!



Then mini golf. It’s not an Albany John holiday without mini golf. This was right before Papa Amherst took the lead and totally beat all of us.

Back home for lemon poppy chiffon cake. Recipe later. With lemony glaze. Poppy seeds galore! Hope no one has to pass a drug test any time soon.

Wolff’s Biergarten for 2 liter brekkie boots. $40 deposit, must buy $10 in food/beverage (recent-ish addition). Not too hard, and reason for me not to OD on peanuts (delicious, delicious peanuts…. mmmmm).

Lieberkase! I think! $9.95 ($10.75) after tax. Super friendly service – brought it right out to my table. Smoky pork loaf slice with a perfectly over easy
Caught a good game of footy on TV, then continued celebrating Albany John.

Love your scruffy face!

Red Pack Tomatoes Review & Giveaway!

When the people at Red Pack Tomatoes contacted me and asked me if I would like to try a sample of their product, I was all on board. I like trying new things. So I was expecting a shipment in the mail. But I was not expecting this! It was a large tin filled with Red Pack shwag!

The container is so cute! I plan on using it as some kind of a decoration for my house. Maybe like a mini table or something. Too cute to get rid of.

I decided to try out their tomatoes in a sauce. I made tomato sauce with anchovies, fresh basil, and some milk (no cream). Their tomatoes are bright without being tart. I bought some other tomatoes recently that had the organic label slapped on them, but I much preferred my usual non-organic canned tomatoes. The organic ones were really tart and lemony – hard to mask and not very good for making tomato sauce (my favorite application of canned tomatoes).

But any way – these crushed Red Pack tomatoes were fine for sauce. Not crushed into oblivion – some chunks here and there. I’ve seen them for about $1.49 in stores locally for large cans (either 28 oz or 32 oz), so they aren’t priced outrageously.

Here is what is in the can. A ton of red confetti and two cans of tomatoes – crushed and whole.

More shwag! A can opener I haven’t been able to figure out how to use (but it looks really cool), a spatula, a pasta spoon, and some magnets. The pasta spoon is pretty ergonomic, too. It’s got nubbins where you place your thumb on the handle.

So, do you live in the US and would you like to win a cute sampler tin of Red Pack tomatoes?
Of course you do!
Leave a comment! Maybe win!
(Please have an email either in your profile, or just popped in the comment so I can contact ya!)

CSN Stores Winner


You guys are some awesome readers! I initially put up a teaser post saying that I’d received a gift certificate worth $75 at any of CSN’s stores (they sell random stuff ranging from technology to kitchenware, to bar tables and stools). My true intentions were to get a bunch of comments on that post (the CSN posts tend to be pretty popular here on Albany Eats! for some reason) and give the certificate away to a commenter. I perhaps didn’t come off that well, but I promise my intentions were good.

I wanted it to be like when my Mom and her boyfriend were like “Yeah, we’re moving to Texas, and you’re not going back to see your friend in New York this Christmas. Or ever again!” They later surprised us kids with a trip to New York during Christmas, but let’s just say that there was a lot of sobbing in the interim between us kids. God, why did I do that original post? Okay guys, I promise I’m never going to do something like that again. YOU CAN ALWAYS COME TO NEW YORK FOR CHRISTMAS!

Oh, where was I? Right, sorry, there is an actual giveaway here. I promise. So I added all of the commenters who had contact info and put their names in a bowl above. Shook it around, and picked a winner…


Congrats Sue Rock! Although truth be told, I really selfishly wanted to give it away to CuteEllaisBold cause the girl is just so damned cute. Or -S to see what he would do with it (I’mma go with buy camera equipment). No offense, Sue Rock. I’m sure you are super cool and I will check out your blog now – thanks for leaving a comment!

Well, I am currently in Western Mass having early Thanksgiving with my in-laws (who loaned me the cute candy dish you see holding the sticky notes with names on them (I am SO legit)). We had an awesome dinner last night, but it’s 9:45 am and that turkey carcass isn’t going to pick itself.

Kisses, and sorry for the trauma! If it helps, I think you are really pretty. And funny. And smart. Also, would you like some cookies? I also have pictures of cute cats if that will help.

CSN Stores – Product Review

I’m going to be a greedy blogger. I hope you don’t mind. CSN Stores sells a bunch of different items, like bar tables and stools, but I still harbor a fodness for their cookware. They have offered me some gift certificates or products to give away to you, my incredibly good looking readers, in the past.

But this time, well, I am feeling just a wee bit ton greedy. This time I will be keeping the $75 gift certificate and using it myself. I really do enjoy my give aways, but here is where you come in: Wanna suggest something I need to try? I already have a surprising amount of kitchen stuff, but there is always the urge for more. Or maybe silverware or new plates. I have no idea. This is where you guys come in.