Pizza & Pasta at DeFazio’s

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It’s probably not a good idea to let me order for a table when I’m at DeFazio’s. There’s a good chance I’ll over order. Between 8 or so of us, we split a chicken pesto antipasto salad (SO good). For $11.95, this was great for a group and super satisfying.

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They had a special of white pizza with cherry tomatoes and balsamic glaze. So much yum. I can’t get enough of that delicious crust – so poofy, tender, and flavorful.
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And a clam pizza. So good, check out that charring on the edge!
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Pesto linguine ($12.95). How can you not love pesto + anything? So good.
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Spinach and garlic linguine ($12.95). Yum.
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Fettuccine Rosario ($12.95) was the only clunker. The sauce was good, but the fettuccine was a little undercooked and clumpy.

There was also a gluten-free pizza tossed in there. For 8 people this was a bit too much food, but super awesome to try so many different things. I think part of the charm of DeFazio’s is their inconsistencies. Today the pizzas were perfect, but the fettuccine was a bit hard. But the service is always friendly, warm, and welcoming.

 

Chinese New Year in Flushing 2014

 

 

Last weekend I drove down to Flushing to celebrate Chinese New Year with my family. It was our first year celebrating without Yeh-Yeh, our family’s patriarch. That didn’t really hit me until shortly before my drive down, but for me simply having these traditions with family keeps us together and that is what is important.

The drive down was a breeze (when I drive to Flushing from Albany I go: 90E > Taconic > 84E > 684S > 678SHutchinson River Pkwy> Whitestone Bridge. It’s about 15 minutes more than taking 87S down, but it saves on the tolls up until the Whitestone Bridge ($7.50) and breaks up the drive into smaller chunks so I don’t get bored. It also probably seems more complicated to hop off of the Taconic onto 84E, but it’s a much smoother drive with better drivers than taking the Taconic down all the way (you avoid where the road narrows, and all of the crappy drivers on it).
I got in shortly after 5, and figured I’d have to drive a while for parking, but found free street parking within 30 minutes! Woo hoo! I didn’t have to move the entire time I was there. I don’t know about you, but when I head down to NYC, I like to park and just leave my car until I’m ready to head back home.

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For dinner we went to Jin Cheng Restaurant, which I protested because last year we had a pretty craptacular experience at the kid’s table, and I thought we went there more for its close proximity to Yeh-Yeh’s condo than the quality of the food. I’ve since discovered they are better at lunch, or when they’re not busy, so they’re not a total lost cause, but I had prepped myself for a less-than-awesome Chinese New Year dinner because Chinese New Year Weekend in Flushing = every Chinese Restaurant is gonna be mobbed.

I was pleasantly surprised with how GOOD dinner was. Maybe it’s because we were a smaller group and not two big tables. (Maybe Yeh-Yeh was in the kitchen yelling at the chefs for me šŸ˜‰ ) It was my dad, his best gal, my uncle, Albany John, and me.

We started off with Beef and gai lan. Great wok hei on the beef, and super tender.
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Honey-walnut-mayo prawns with broccoli on the left. Plump and fat shrimp, no complaints there. Fresh crispy skin chicken at the top, and the same beef on the right (after initial decimation)

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Lobster Cantonese-style with ginger and scallions. We got two big lobsters. So perfectly cooked. I would say this is one of my favorite ways to eat lobster. This way, or just steamed.
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Whole steamed flounder. Mmm. It looks big, but it’s easy to eat a lot of. So light and good.

Albany John and I went for a little walk after dinner to digest. Naturally we wound up at Tous Les Jours, a French-Asian bakery.

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Like most Asian bakeries, there’s a bunch of goodies laid out for you to pick yourself, plus refrigerated things behind the counter.

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I wanted to keep walking, so we had a late-night (for Flushing, i.e. 9 PM) picnic on a bench near the police station (I know romance).

I usually love the stuff Tous Les Jours makes, but man this was mixed bag. The vanilla milkshake was really unpleasant – lots of large chunks of ice, and cheap vanilla ice cream. Bleh. And $4.50 to boot.
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Here was the statue we noshed at, right in between the hubbub of traffic.
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Macarons: skip. Red velvet on the left and Oreo on the right. Red velvet had no notable red velvet flavor, and used a pasty vanilla buttercream as the filling. The black “Oreo” macaron also bore no flavor of its namesake, and was equally pasty. Disappointing. I should have avoided from the start because while these were not cracked, they had some cracked macarons on display, and if they took pride in their macarons, the cracked ones would never be up for sale.
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Albany John got a cream cheese pastry. These are epically delicious in an it’s-so-bad-for-you kind of way. I’m pretty sure I could hear one of his arteries start to clog. They don’t skimp on the cream cheese.

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I had a backup pastry which was tasty – a soft and fluffy bun filled with sweet potato filling and covered in almond flour/meal. Yum. Stick with the baked goods you can pick yourself and you’ll be good.
The next day we kicked off the day eating (of course).

Joe’s Shanghai to start for breakfast. We got there right when they opened at 11 AM and had no wait.

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Bready, soft scallion pancakes.
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Big steamer full of 8 Pork & Crab Xiao Long Bao (soup dumplings). If you go to Joe’s Shanghai, you absolutely must get xiao long bao. The tongs are kind of unnecessary, and the teeth on them can pierce the skin of the dumpling, and there goes all of your soupy goodness. Their skins were good (but Ala Shanghai’s are thinner!), but the broth is where these dumplings shine. Each soup dumpling contains a glorious broth. Each dumpling is a treat, and if I think just a bit, I can relive those flavors for just a moment. The broth is thick and rich, with hearty flavors from both the pork and crab, but neither standing out over the other and instead combining to make this magical soup that you can’t get enough of.
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Shanghai style rice cakes, with some veggies and meat. Nice softness and wok hei.

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Two big bowls of soup. I think their soups are a bit on the bland side, at least after eating the xiao long bao. Beef chuck on the left, pork and veggies on the right. Noodles are okay, but they need a little salt or something. I think the soups at Taiwan Noodle are better though (deeper broth flavors and better noodles).

Then Albany John and my uncle split off to do their own thing, and Dad and his gal and I were off to have more adventures. I was SUPER excited because I was planning on going to Sunrise Kitchen & Hardware Supplies (4205 Main St, Flushing, NY). This place is awesome for all of your Asian kitchen gadget needs.

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Sadly for me, they took the week off for Chinese New Year. No cheap and awesome kitchen supplies. Next time. Sigh.
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Saw some lions on the street.
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Went to Rose House for an English-style tea break. Overall, I’d say it’s a nice place if you want to get away from the loudness and crowds in a pretty atmosphere and comfy seats, but that’s about it. All of the teas seemed to taste the same, and they were on the expensive side – $9.00+ per small pot.

Service was weird. A server initially told us there was a 2 hr sitting limit because it was the weekend (which was fine and totally reasonable), but then after being there for a total of 40 minutes the same server took away our tea warmers and started checking the pots. There were no crowds waiting for a table, either.

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Their butter cookies were decent, and despite finding a hair in the rose hips jam after I spooned some on a cookie it was freaking DELICIOUS.

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I broke off to explore on my own and found Pho Hoang on Kissena Blvd.

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There are tables, but order here at the counter for to-go orders. It also shares space with a Chinese butcher further near the front of the store. It’s not the cleanest looking space, but $4.00 for a banh mi was calling my name.
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Hello gorgeous. A nice baguette tucked into a parchment sleeve.

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SO GOOD! Look at that bread. It’s deliciously perfect little baguettes with a crisp exterior that gives way to a soft, squishy interior. Great for banh mi and stuffing with julienned veggies, pate, meat, and cliantro. Yum, yum, yum.
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$4.00 for all of this, versus $6.50 (to start) for a small banh mi at Pho Yum in Albany that doesn’t even use the right bread.

I wound up going to a friend’s that night.

The next morning we went to Jade Restaurant for dim sum with one of my aunts and some cousins.

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More lions!

The wait wasn’t too bad, but my aunt saw a friend of hers who was a manager, and we got whisked off to a side room that I’ve never seen before (that was opened up to handle the Chinese New Year crowds). That was awesome – less loudness and craziness, all of the carted dim sum goodies.
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Food, food everywhere. So good.

We hung out for a bit, but soon it was time to hit the road.

But not before hitting up Pho Hoang one last time since Albany John was back.
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And there was a DRAGON group that came in!
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I got a regular banh mi ($4.00) & a duck banh mi ($6.00).
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They withstood the drive up pretty well – the bread stayed crisp and the interiors didn’t get soggy.
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Duck on the left, regular banh mi on the right.

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We both thought the regular/standard banh mi was better than the duck banh mi. Better flavor overall. The duck was good, but man, the veggies and meat are just SO good!

Druthers

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It’s nice to find a restaurant in Saratoga that keeps their prices sane during track season (i.e. the racing of the horsies). While I didn’t make it up to the track this year, I went up to catch the Philadelphia Orchestra at SPAC one night. It was late evening after the show was over, and the group I went with was looking for a snack/meal. Druthers was our first thought, and it was nice to see that they kept their prices Saratoga-reasonable during track season (i.e. they didn’t change them to jack them up during the busy season).

Albany John went with a sampler of beers ($14) and I went with a light pint.

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Thai chicken wings for me ($11). They weren’t crispy, but the skin was a pleasantly succulent-soft without being soggy and flaccid. What was initially a bummer wound up being really pleasant for a crispy-skin lover like myself. The peanut flavor was on the mild side, and there was just a little kick of heat. It was served with homemade quick kimchee, which had red bell peppers in it (ruining an otherwise pleasant side slaw coz you guys know I dislike bell peppers).

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Albany John got a Druthers burger ($13) with greens on the side. Ordered rare, and received rare. So beefy and juicy. I had to exercise what little self control I have to not eat my good husbear’s burger, too.

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Our friend got the Mac & Cheese ($13), which I’ve seen other people order before, but never had anyone at my table order. It looks big, but once you get it in front of you… woah. It’s gigantic. And comfortingly cheesy, too. Stretchy, creamy cheese with crunchy crumbs on top.

Leisurely dinner for two during Saratoga’s high season with drinks in the $50 range? Not too shabby.

Scallops with Whole Wheat Linguine

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Man, I love scallops. I picked up some big, fat scallops, and I was thinking fra diavolo at first, because I had heard someone in passing mention “a really great fra diavolo sauce” so, like a dog with a bone, I was all “FRA DIAVOLO”. Thankfully my better half is better about realizing the delicate flavors scallops have, and how fra diavolo might be a bit overwhelming for their delicate sweetness. So he lightly sauteed the scallops and tossed them in a browned butter sauce with fresh basil.

White wine in the sauce would have been awesome, but we didn’t have any. In my early twenties I didn’t quite pick up or “get” the flavors wines in sauces, but for some reason it just clicked with me how good a splash of a dry white would be in this sauce to add a bit of brightness & acidity.

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Albany John & I haven’t been eating all that many wheaty carbs lately, but this whole wheat linguine was a nice and somewhat hearty treat.

Rana Alfredo Sauce

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Giovanni Rana sent me a few more of their products to try. Some ravioli, some alfredo sauce. I really like using these sauces as a starting point for pasta. They don’t need any hiding, but they are a great base to add more flavors to.

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Albany John used the alfredo sauce to toss over some pasta with kale. It was good as a quick week night dinner, then the next day as a cold pasta salad.

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’tĀ disintegrateĀ 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 Ā 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 šŸ˜‰ ) 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 gotĀ sun-driedĀ 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.Ā 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.Ā 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)

Homemade Orecchiette


I love shaped pastas. They’re usually on the thicker side, and … oh, I don’t know. There’s just something so fun about them! I like making my own pasta, but I wanted to try making something shaped, something you don’t need a pasta roller for. Folks, say hello to orecchiette, the ear shaped pasta! Although I think they look more like little seashells.


I got the recipe from The Blender. It rocks. SO much semolina flavor, and a really pleasantly thick & chewy (but not tough!) texture.


They also weren’t kidding when they said the dough needs to be stiff and not too moist. This first batch I made had a bit too much water in it, so they took a while to dry & were a bit more pliable than they should have been (some got indentations from the drying racks). The next batch I made with less water came out fantastically. But even the first batch yielded some happy results.

I was curious about how shaped fresh pasta would hold up when boiling it. Would it lose shape & just turn into dough plops? Turns out they keep their shape pretty well. And they really only needed about 2 minutes of cooking time! So fast!


After a few batted eye lashes, Albany John made me a stellar sauce for the pasta. Bacon, blue cheese, onion, and some greenery. So savory-licious! Toss in some cream & left over pasta water for a sauce.


This sauce was great with orecchiette. Albany John thought it was a little too saucy & wanted to cook it down more, but I thought it was a great way to use the orecchiette to pick up extra flavor.

If you’d like an easy way to make pasta at home, orecchiette is the way to go. All you need is all purpose flour, semolina flour, a little salt, and some water – that’s it! No eggs, dairy, or fat needed, and you just pinch off a bit and roll it over one of your fingers to shape it. And seriously, that semolina flavor is awesome. I picked up my semolina flour from the Co-Op for something like $0.65/lb.

Bacchus


I went to Bacchus (32 2nd St, Troy, NY 12180) with my sib-in-laws last Friday night for dinner. It’d been a while since I’d been, and I remember my initial impression wasn’t the greatest. I am very happy I returned (their restaurant week menu was a pretty big pull), because we had a great time. We ordered the shrimp & artichoke appetizer. This was something like $6, and well worth it. Fresh wood-fired bread, and a big bowl of deliciousness.


My brother-in-law went with a pizza with jalapenos, chicken, & onions. He really liked it, and even said it was pretty spicy.


My sis-in-law Maka went with a design-your-own pasta with tri-color spirals & some red pepper cream sauce.

Albany John and I both got their restaurant week menu, which was $10 for a margherita pizza & a glass of wine or beer. I went with a glass of Malbec, Albany John got a glass of beer. They’ve got a nice selection of beers on tap – something close to a dozen, and all priced fairly, mostly in the $5-7 range. This Neapolitan-style pizza was awesome! A thin, flavorful crust with bubbles & char. No sogginess. I’ll definitely be back for more pizza and drinks in the future.

Bacchus strikes me as a nice place to catch up with friends or take a date. It’s a basement restaurant, so it’s got a cozy vibe with the exposed brick walls and low lighting.

Capitol Region Mini Food Tour

My Dad came up for a weekend, so he was taken on a food tour of the area. First stop was Selena’s Cafe in Troy for lunch. Albany John likes this place, and he’s only told me good things – it was definitely a place I’ll visit again. $6.99 for salad bar lunch buffet with soup/mac & cheese! $5.99 if you just want the salad bar.
And the salad bar comes with a bunch of fresh ingredients! We went for a late lunch and they were still replenishing the salad greens and items at the bar. Freshly roasted chicken, ham slices, chickpeas, tons of tomatoes, beets, cucumbers, broccoli, onions, olives… so many veggies! What a great value! Seriously, there is a ton of stuff on their salad bar – tis a great healthy alternative for lunch. There were a bunch of salad dressing offerings as well.

Their mac & cheese was awesome. So rich & creamy. They also had a pot of cream of mushroom soup for the soup of the day. I took a few spoonfuls – so rich and fresh! Equally delicious – I liked how fresh everything was.

We went to Taiwan Noodle for dinner. My dad really liked this place. They were slammed and were apologetic to my dad in Chinese since we came during a rush. Tea was really good (it’s served in large mugs) and we all LOVED the pigs feet appetizer for $4.95. My dad and I couldn’t get over what a great value this was. The feet were sliced and super soft – great tendon & collagen texture. Jiggly, soft, & supple. My dad was saying it’s a great bargain because trying to make this dish at home would be so much work for three people – long cooking times, and the mess to clean up afterward. This was a great portion for the three of us to share. Loved it. Get it. It’s not gross, it’s delicious.
Dad also liked that they served some baby bok choy with the pigs feet. And they’re cooked perfectly – cooked enough to be cooked through, but still have some crunch to the base. Mmmm! Perfect boy choy!

Sorry for the poor exposure – Boiled lettuce in oyster sauce (and some oil). I’m still not sold on this dish. My dad likes it and has made it at home before. Texturally it was alright – the lettuce was wilted but still crunchy. I’d rather have a greener veggie boiled like gai lan, but I guess this is legit Chinese home cooking.
Suppah time! Albany John got the Spicy Noodle with Meat ($4.75). Nicely chewy noodles! Albany John thought it wasn’t that spicy, but I thought it packed a goodly dose of heat. It’s either ground pork or beef (or both)- the menu doesn’t specify, even in Chinese, lol!
My dad got the three mushrooms soup ($5.95) – shiitake, enoki, and straw. Very clean soup. Noodles were also nice & chewy.

Spicy noodles came with a broth on the side. Albany John, heat lover that he is, requested more hot sauces. They gave him two – an oil based one (I think it had ma la peppers in it), and a chili paste. Boy was he red by the time he was done with his noodles!


I had the stewed beef chuck soup ($4.95). OMG, so tender, and even had bits of tendon attached to the beef. Generous portions of beef for a soup. And the broth! So flavorful and yet not greasy! I specifically ordered the chow fun noodles with my soup – these aren’t chow fun noodles, just flat rice noodles. They were nicely chewy, but next time I won’t specify the noodle and just have get those nicely bouncy & chewy long noodles that come with the soup by default. Again, perfect bok choy.

We left stuffed for $30 with tax and tip. How crazy is that for dinner for three people?! I left about 1/3 of my soup behind – couldn’t finish it, so much food! My dad wanted to go back the next day for dinner again. That good. We also hung around after dinner and chatted, and they didn’t even try to push us out (don’t worry, the rush was long over by then!) and kept asking us if we wanted more tea. So nice, I love that this space is being put to good use again!

We went to the Troy Farmers Market for brekkie the next day. Albany John got a tamale from Magdalena’s. He loves their hot sauce and while it had a good dose of heat, it was very flavorful, too.
Dad and I opted for Nighthawks Kitchen. You can see Christian Noe outside cooking while his family and friends take orders. They’ve got a neat setup for how to get orders to him – you should check it out – very ingenious and a good use of space.

I opted for a ham biscuit ($2.50). It’s deliciously smoky ham on a sweet potato biscuit. The biscuit was a bit falling apart, but surprisingly (very) tender and fluffy. Noe, I want this recipe!
Dad opted for an egg sandwich with sausage. I may have been a source of influence on the sausage.

Dinner was DeFazio’ for pizza. We got there when they were busy and ordered the Fra Diavolo pizza – nicely spicy and I could only manage two slices! Woah mama! We also got sides of sausage & meatballs. So good and meaty. Garlic bread was tasty, although there was an ant crawling around the outside of the basket. šŸ˜” It took somewhere around a half hour for everything to come out, which seemed a bit on the long side. We also got sun dried tomato pesto, which was very creamy. The noodles were great – nicely al dente yet tender, and if they weren’t homemade I want to know where I can buy them.

The Dark Dinner

Last week I was invited as a guest of the Wishing Well Restaurant in Saratoga Springs along with some of their other close friends to try a new dining concept – The Dark Dinner. Guests gathered ’round for beverages (including a great Cava + St Germain) and passed nibbles before donning blindfolds and eating entirely in the dark. Executive Chef Patrick Longton created a fun menu for adventurous guests to enjoy.

The music for the evening was also curated by Burners UK frontman Jay Yager (you can check it out here on itunes).
Pork belly wrapped kimchi was a great little snack to enjoy pre-blindfolding.
And the ceviche was also a stand out dish. Fresh, great textures. It was almost as good as their luxe & buttery pate. Oh man, was that ever good. I think I had about three of them before realizing I still had a multi-course menu ahead of me.

After this, the waiters led each diner into the sectioned off dining room. It was lit with a few candles, but you had to wear your mask in. It was definitely an exercise in trust to put your hand in someone’s arm and have them guide you around a room. The staff doing so were very patient, though (and didn’t mind my occasional peeking from under the mask en route to the chair).

Bob Lee, the owner of the Wishing Well, and his staff made sure each and every guest was comfortable and addressed everyone by name.

Cheese filled puff pastry breadsticks were a fun starter in the dark. Inside the cups were mustard.
Nomtacular first course – Lobster, corn, & basil risotto on the left, and crispy lobster tempura on the right. It’s really interesting to be without your vision when trying a dish. I thought the tempura was shrimp, and the risotto was something with scallops in it. I might have to rethink my stance on risotto, because I finished all of this.

There were drink pairings with each dish. If you think trying to identify food without vision is tough, try identifying drinks!

A 2010 Tramin Chardonnay was served with the risotto, and Ichishima Silk Deluxe Junmai was served with the tempura. I’m normally not a sake person, but the Ichishima was quite smooth, sweet, and creamy.
The second dish was chicken galantine and linguine with pesto. The chicken was moist, and I found myself enjoying the red pepper flavor (which I usually really dislike). I thought the tomato was more of a grape, though!
Drink pairings were Cap de Faugeres 2004 & Bastianich Friuliano 2010
Lamb slider! One of the biggest “complaints” people had was that there was only one slider on their plate. Seriously, that good. Meaty and lamby – this was a comforting treat. I don’t think my slider had the decorative rosemary sprig. Either that, or I am really not paying attention to what I eat when meat is present. It was so good, I’ve decided that I need to make the trek back to Saratoga Springs with Albany John to try out some dishes at the Wishing Well in the near future.
An Ique Malbec was served as a wine pairing with the slider – robust and big!
Israelei couscous was a cold side dish with this, which was a bit clumpy, but tart and a nice foil to the lamb burger.
Blue Heron Pale Ale was the accompanying beverage with the salad. When everyone was trying it, we all knew it was beer, but what kind? Even the beer enthusiasts were having trouble trying to find the *exact* beer it was. If you can’t tell, these dinners are quite open to conversation with your table mates. You can also blissfully opt out of conversations if you’re the introverted type, because no one can see you or attempt to chat you up. But really, I’d suggest chatting – it’s fun trying to guess what exactly is going in your mouth.

Palate refresher! Peach bellini sorbet, which we weren’t allowed to eat until… Zardetto Proseco di Conegliano was poured atop. I loved this – not only was it a nice change of pace, but when you leaned in you could hear the bubbles fizzing with the sorbet.
The main was a mini beef tenderloin with a cheese potato croquette, and baby spinach timbale. A timbale! That would explain the light flavor & texture! This one was a real stumper – it was custardy soft, so I was thinking it was a mini crust-less quiche, or something eggy. I wasn’t imagining something so green!
The beef wellington was quite savory, thanks to the generous amount of Hudson Valley Foie Gras. I thought it was boar tempura! Haha. Boy was I off on that one!
And that potato croquette? Oh man, so good – very full of deliciously funky cheese.
I was totally digging the 2008 Hall Cabernet that was paired with this dish. It wasn’t so bold, and I thought it was similar to a lot of the gentle qualities that tempranillos have.
Dessert! These were four different kinds of truffles – chocolate & hazelnut, bacon & brown sugar, white chocolate & peanut butter, and POPROCKS!

I was in love with pretty much all of them. The Bottex Bugey Cerdon “La Cueille” was a wine like a hug, and a great way to end a fun meal.

Beverage pairing remnants. Each pairing was a treat, and really complemented the dishes they were paired with. I am definitely going to try some more sakes after this event, and am thinking some blindfolded drink tastings might be a thing in my future.

This was the first Dark Dinner evening, and I certainly hope it won’t be their last.


Photos kindly provided courtesy of the Wishing Well & Toque Consulting.