The Ripe Tomato

 

Seb and I went food-venturing to Malta for lunch at The Ripe Tomato.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Haddock Amandine for me. Kind of small for an $11.95 lunch portion, but fair. I should probably just not order seafood at lunch because my stomach is bottomless for seafood. They have a bunch of Italian-American dishes on the menu that I’d also like to try.

The spinach was cooked/wilted just the right amount, and I really enjoyed the amaretto sauce on the fish. Normally I’m not a fan of sweet sauces, but this had a nice balance to it that went well with the haddock. Mashed potatoes were mashed potato-y and fine, but not something I’d have to have in the future.

 

S got one of the specials. I think this was Haddock schnitzel? I snagged a bite, and it was pretty tasty, too.

I guess we are both fishy individuals.

 

We decided to split a slice of carrot cake for dessert. For science. Pretty tasty cake – moist cake and tart cream cheese frosting. I would have been fine with a bit more icing, but really, I’d also have been fine with an obscene amount of icing. Is there ever such a thing as too much cream cheese icing? Bonus points for the freshly whipped cream on the side.

Hash & Waffles


 My brother-in-law sent me some of the best corned beef hash ever – from Paulina Meat Market in Chicago, IL (where he used to live). Seriously, this is soooo good. Everything is a fine mince – carrots, potatoes, some beef. And it crisps up so well! Goes really well with some waffles, and would be absolutely decadent with a runny egg yolk on top. 

 Here’s what the hash looks like from the tube after it’s been thawed out. 


Minimal ingredients. Just corne dbeef, carrots, potatoes, bacon, and their seasonings. OF DELICIOUSNESS. One of their major spices is pepper, because there’s a definite peppery kick to this, too. 
Ready the cast iron pan, ye scurvy dogs!

While your hash is cooking (I tend to prefer a low & slow searing method so I don’t burn it), you can whip up the Greatest Waffle Recipe Ever. Literally, whip. After mixing most of your ingredients together, you fold in whipped eggwhites at the end for some seriously light and fluffy waffles.
Albany John & I used white whole wheat flour and added an extra half teaspoon of baking powder.
You leave some lumps & bumps in the batter. It’s all good. 

AND THEN YOU GET THIS! Crispy waffle of deliciousness!
And then you eat the best waffles ever with the best hash ever and you are very, very happy! How can you not be happy with a crust like that? Happiness in meat crust form. Which I’m sure I’m not selling, but it is so good, trust me.

….AAAaaand now I have to re-up my supply of corned beef hash since I’ve opened this one up. So worth ordering and having shipped. This is cracktacularly good. 

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. 😡 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.

Sausage Making

Last Monday I went to take Christian Noe’s (of Nighthawks Kitchen) class on sausage making that the Arts Center in downtown Troy, NY. The next class is May 23rd, 2012, and you should totally sign up. It’s a really informative session for only $38! They’re in the evening, so if you’re a bit on the later side of things like me, it’s perfect!

We made three kinds of sausage – Italian, chorizo, and bratwurst.

Christian starts off with a quick intro into sausage making, and soon starts into chopping some lightly frozen bits of pork shoulder.
Then it’s placed into a grinder – two grinders are used. The big, sexy one; and the Kitchenaid attachment.
Everyone in the class jumps in to grind meat! Unsurprisingly, the Kitchenaid is a little slower than the big pro grinder, but gets the job done just as nicely.
However, now I want a big pro grinder for sausage. I wanted to take this class partially to see if I wanted to sink the dough into buying sausage making equipment, since I’ve also got a love of curing meats as well. And now it seems Christian’s class has given me a newfound sausage-making lust, too.
Christian’s class is really low-key and easy to understand. Very conversational, and you get a packet of the recipes you make and some handy tips & pointers, plus local shops to buy your sausage-making apparati.
The spices were already portioned out on plates, and easily mixed in with the meats.
I think this was the bratwurst.
And then the sausage-stuffing attachment goes on the Kitchenaid.
Meats are put into stuffers – there’s also a pro stuffer Nighthawks uses for their sausages that handles 5 lbs at a time. Want. WANT.
But you know what you need to stuff sausages?

Casings, my friend. You need lots of casings to stuff sausages with! These are quite hardy and easy to rinse out. Don’t fear tearing them.

You see that plate in the foreground?
This one here? It’s sausage patties! You can grill up some sausage meat to see how the flavors are and modify accordingly, if you so choose. You you can just make patties, but come on… who doesn’t love the snap of a naturally cased sausage?

Sausage stuffing is quite a breeze with the big pro stuffer. Tip: Watering your equipment and tables is a good idea. It helps keep everything lubricated and moving quickly.
You can poke holes with a pin or small poker to get air pockets out. Don’t use a fork – too big.
Don’t twist yet – just make one bit roll of sausage before you make links.
The Kitchenaid stuffer was more finicky than the pro-stuffer. It took a lot more force and time, but if you’ve already got a Kitchenaid at home, this will probably do you just fine. I don’t have a Kitchenaid at home, and don’t see myself buying it purely for sausage-making needs. Check out those beautiful chorizo & Italian links! It’s really easy to form links – just twist every other portion of them. The casings hold very quickly, so even when they’re cut, they hold their shape.
He’s got a knife!! Hehe, that’s just a part of the air pricker contraption.
Then it was time for… sampling! These bratwursts were simmered with lots of onions and beer. Loooove.
Linky love.
This might be some of the best chorizo I’ve ever had. Crazy to know it was made within 2 hours! So fresh, so good. I don’t know if I can go back to store-bought. Also, not crazy-greasy like a lot of other chorizo I’ve had in my day.
The night ends with us sampling all of the sausages, and taking some home as well. Albany John was quite a happy dude that night!

I’m also a happy gal – sausage making is easy and relatively frugal. I can’t wait to get my hands on hands on some gear and start making sausages!

May Potluck

This past Saturday, we had a potluck with the Albany Eats! crew! I gave somewhat short notice, but Jerry, Cassie, Sue, R & M, 3rd Auntie, Jon in Albany, & JoJo, were nice enough to come out on a not too rainy day.

Oh, and evidently the covered area in Prospect Park was reserved that day, so we just moved up the hill. Uh, I promise I’ll at least TRY to scout out the next location a little better, mmkay, guys? On the plus side, we had some sweet music to rock out to.

Albany John grilled some flank steaks on his new portable Weber grill.

I made blondies with cacao nibs.

Jerry brought some bomb-ass olive oils to drizzle over bread, greens, and cheese. Mmmmm. He’s ever so kindly written them up here. Thank goodness, cause all I know is that I liked the 3rd olive oil best. I think it was Arbequina. Nice – I’ll have to try it out again.

Sue brought chicken taco bites! I love little bites like this. They’re so time consuming to make, but so tasty! Great job, Sue!

Third Auntie (a long time reader and commenter) brought her homemade pesto with pasta and asparagus. Mmmm. Yummy! I was so psyched I got to finally meet my 3rd Auntie! She’s a blast – you’ll be lucky to meet her, too.

Cassie’s dessert bars! So good! The coconut ones on the end had my name on them. So coconutty! These were a big hit. Well, everything was a big hit, but you know what I mean. Dessert! Everyone loves it!

JON MADE HIS OWN SAUSAGES!!! I never thought I’d be able to taste some of Jon’s handiwork, but HOORAAAYYYY! I did. These were some delicious sweet italian sausages. Great coarse grind on them. Damnit Jon, now I need to learn how to make sausages.

Grilling, eating. Albany John about to put his second flank steak on the grill.

Rochelle’s bread pudding just past the weber grill on the left hand side. So creamy on the inside, and nicely crisp on the outside. Girlie knows how to make some bread pudding. So creamy. Yet so bready. Yum.

I forgot to take pics of Jojo’s tasty tea & fruit salad (and Trader Joe’s sparkling pink lemonade – squee!), but they were a wonderful addition. Really refreshing and tasty.

I can’t believe how well everything worked out. We had a good spread, not like, 4 dozen burgers and a sack of chips. So many tasty different items! And people who are way better at planning than I am and brought extra forks and plates. Man, I have the best readers in the world. You guys bring awesome food and stuff to eat off of them.

Sooooo, if you would like to be a part of the next potluck you can shoot me an email. If you already have, I’m just going to continue jamming up your email and invite you again, though. I’m tentatively planning Sunday, June 26th just to give you a little over 1 month of notice, and partially because my June is pretty freaking full already.

It was great seeing you all! Thanks for all of the good eats and times!

Spinach & Sausage Ravioli

Whenever I hear “Handmade pasta dough” I get these visions of lovingly made noodles, using only the finest ingredients in the dish it makes. I recently made ravioli dough by hand, and used some seriously budget filling ingredients. Turned out pretty tasty. My budget filling ingredients? Canned spinach and a tube of pork “sausage”.

Here are some uncooked shaped ravioli. I tried using the ravioli maker on the pasta roller, but there was a bit of a learning curve to it and it was late and I was hungry, so I made them by hand with bigger blops of filling.

So yeah. It was late. I made the pasta dough. Kneaded it and let it sit, then ran over to Aldi to shop for a few groceries because the pantry was getting a little sparse. Also tossed some cans of tomatoes on top of some onions and garlic and let that simmer for a while.

Wandered around Aldi getting this and that, looking for ravioli filling ingredients. Wanted to do spinach, but they didn’t have any frozen or fresh. So I went with the can. It was $0.55, and was going to be mixed with some other stuff, so why not give it a try? I’d never had canned spinach before, and… it was okay, but I’d still go for frozen in a pinch.
Also picked up some “sausage” in a tube for $0.99 because it was that point in the night where my brain goes completely dead and is like “Yeah. That sounds good. Meat in a tube. That’ll go really well with ravioli.”
I mixed them both with some garlic and ricotta. BTW, Aldi’s got some pretty good ricotta for the price. $1.69 for 15 oz, I think. I like it over other grocery store brands, and way better than Sorrento (too sweet). Polly-O is still my fave of the mass made ricotta, though.

Anywayzzz, it worked out pretty well as a late night, last minute filling. I also lazied out after making a few dozen ravioli and just sliced up the remaining dough into noodles. Man, I’m like an idiot zombie when I get hungry late at night. “Mmm… food sound gooooood. Want foooooOOooood.”

Oh yeah, and I just used regular AP flour for ravioli dough. No semolina required. They were nice and tender. For the Ravioli Dough I did:
2 C AP Flour
dash of salt
3 Eggs, whole
1/8 C olive oil
Water to bind

It’s a really easy dough to make. Combine everything EXCEPT the water. Then if you need a little extra water to hold everything together, toss in a tablespoon or so and knead until it comes together. It’s not a perfect science, but it’s forgiving and then you let it sit there for 30 or so minutes.

Roll ’em out to your desired thickness, and boil away.

Sauce, ravioli, noodles. Works for me! Next time I want to try a bit of ricotta and crab meat for the filling. The sausage was fine, but overall unnecessary. Eh, that’s what I get for being a zombie shopper! Whatever.

I think I’d also like to give mushroom fillings a try, and maybe some cheese-less fillings, too. I can’t really do the sweet-savory thing like squashes like some of my awesome tweeple suggested (a personal flaw that is surely keeping me from enjoying some tasty dishes).

Do you think a zombie would be a vegetarian if they didn’t eat brains but ate pork sausage? Zombetarian?

Dino BBQ

Went to Dinosaur Bar-B-Que in Troy after picking up the Bro-in-law from the bus station from the city. He and Albany John still had to check the place out. Service was great – really friendly, no rush.

The three of us split the 2 person appetizer sampler ($9.99). 2 deviled eggs, 2 grilled/smoked chicken wings (the drumettes), some spicy boiled shrimp, and 2 fried green tomatoes.

Shrimp were good. Spice powder was on the outside, so it didn’t carry very much after peeling them. They were served coldy, cold, cold and had just the right snap to ’em. I’d actually get them again.

Albany John lurved him some deviled eggs, and he and his bro really liked the wings. I wasn’t much a fan, but that’s more because I like my wings to have some kind of crispy or taught skin to them. They kind of melted off on these wings. But whatever, cause Albany John thought I was crazy for not loving them.

Really liked those fried green tomatoes, and whatever buttermilk kind of dip they had for them. I want, like, 800 more of them. They weren’t the least bit greasy, and were plenty crunchy. Yum. Yes, please.

And then I stopped taking decent pictures. But CVS my Bro-in-law got a platter. The cornbread was definitely old, but we were there at the end of the night, so I guess it’s kind of expected to get the rock hard old ones. I still can’t shake the feeling that I wish they’d give you just a touch more food, but my bro(in law) CVS made a good point about a meal he and his fiance/my buddy Maka had at 5 Guys.

Long story kind of short, she didn’t know that regular orders were double burgers, so she ended up ordering them both double burgers and they couldn’t come close to finishing the fries. It was so much food for the money, he thought that the portions at Dino BBQ were … responsible (in comparison to the 5 Guys experience). I guess I can see that. But part of me just equates BBQ to generous portions.

Albany John & I went for sandwiches. He got a brisket sandwich with blue cheese and carmelized onions. I thought about this one, but the combo seemed like it could be either REALLY good or REALLY bad.

I tried a nibble of brisket, but eh. It was okay. Not really smokey, even though it had the pink ring and everything. Not really beefy either. I like Captial Q’s brisket better.

The combo of blue cheese & caramelized onions? I, uh, did not less-than-three it. This was just a personal preference. Albany John really liked it. Just a little too many potent flavors. Those caramelized onions were caramelized into a sweet brown pile. I have neurotic issues with the combination of sweet and savory, so yeah. My bad.

None of the sides seemed to call me, so I just got a sandwich. Hot link for this lady, thanks! I think it was about two links of sausage with onions and pimento cheese. I liked the grind of it, and the snappy casings on the sausage. Can you see the grind on it? Nice and thick. They cut the sausages in halves to make an easier-to-eat sandwich. A few lightly sauteed onions. And their pickles on the side.

When I first got the sandwich, all I thought was “Man, that is a lot smaller than I thought it would be.” Props on the bread – I think it’s a bun from Bella Napoli (right down the road from them). Lightly sweet and super squishy. I like this bread. Just maybe a little overwhelming with the sausage, and I love my bread. It was just a bit too bready of a sandwich overall. Maybe more sausage or less bread? Thinner buns?

I thought the pickles on the side were great, too. Definitely an apple cider vinegar brine. I just would have liked more than two little coin-sized slices of pickle.

Pimento cheese was not bad, but Albany John really didn’t like it. I kinda dug it though.

Overall, I’d say the only thing that I really, really like at Dinosaur BBQ are their ribs. I’ll definitely keep coming back for them, but I wish they’d sell them without sides. Does anyone know if they’ll just sell you a rack of ribs, or ribs without sides?

El Mariachi II on Hamilton

I conned the mister into taking me out for dinner this weekend, and we wound up walking the streets of Albany until we wandered into El Mariachi on Hamilton Street. Albany John’s been telling me for years about how much better the Hamilton Street location is than the Washington Ave location for years, and I finally got to check it out.

I wasn’t very impressed with the Washington Ave location when we went. I don’t really remember why, but it just didn’t do it for me. But this location was a little cozier. More intimate. It reminded me of NYC dining in terms of seating – all of the tables were really close to ours. One of our table neighbors was pretty jovial and started talking with us. I was afraid of hitting her in the face with my purse when I first took a seat, though. Snug.

Service was good – not too much or too little, and on the friendly side of efficient. It was really nice for a date night, where Albany John and I wanted to focus on the food and each other.

My only eep moment was the molding next to our table. It was dirty and not exactly what I wanted to look at while I was eating dinner. It was kind of hard to ignore because it was pretty much at eye level. But hey, I figured my base boards aren’t that clean at home, so I had a pomegranate margarita ($8.50) that helped take my mind off of it.

The free salsa and chips that they served when we were first sat were really good. Fresh chips, and the salsa had a lot of flavor and a bit of kick. Fresh cilantro, even. The salsa was even refilled later in the meal. Nice touch, and unexpected.

We started with the mussles in garlic tapas ($8.50 or $8.95). The quantity served were quite satisfactory for the price, and all were briny and delicious. I found myself eating well over half of these before I knew it. The bread was also lightly toasted and crispy on the outside and soft and chewy inside. Perfect for sopping up the garlic broth, which had a spicy kick and was lightly thickened (I want to say with cornstarch).


I forget the names in Spanish for our other dishes, too. My bad. Plantains wrapped in flour tortillas and covered in mole sauce. At first, I thought this tasted dessert-ish, but then it finished with a spicy kick. Neat, and not cloyingly sweet. Still, an interesting combo of sweet and savory for me.

There were two of these, and they were both quite large. And absolutely slathered in mole sauce and raw sesame seeds.

Gorditas Poblanos (I think)! With some spicy chorizo that was packed with cumin. $6.95 (or maybe $5.95?), and totally worthwhile.

These two corn patties (like really thick tortillas with an edge to them to keep the meaty goodness atop) topped with chorizo were tasty and flavorful. I like the lettuce bits on the side. Adds a little crunch and relief to the spiciness, although the one wee tomato circle was pretty funny. Was it just decoration? Why just one?

My eyes were bigger than my stomach, and I also got the beef soup. It was the one with mint leaves or yerba buena in it. (This was somewhere in the $5 neighborhood)
This wasn’t bad, but it was probably a dud for us compared to the other items. I couldn’t taste any mint leaves, though. The meat was tender and there were plenty of veggies, but it just tasted like beef stew with chiles in it. And while I like the fact that there was an assortment of fresh veggies, and not just your standard Birdseye frozen, mushy vegetables, they all could have used a little more cooking time. The yellow squash was downright crunchy, and they were in large half-moon pieces.
I liked going the appetizer/tapas route for dinner. In the end, we still wound up taking home some leftovers. It’s a nice restaurant for tex-mex and Mexican food items in Albany. I’d say pricing is typical of New York in general for Mexican restaurants, in that it’s maybe a little higher than you’d expect, but nothing outrageous. Portions are on the larger side, and there’s some spiciness to all of their dishes that I tried (which isn’t always the case in a lot of south of the border type restaurants in the area).
On the whole, I’d say El Mariachi II is on my radar for when I’m craving some Tex-Mex or foods that remind me of Texas, and is one of the better/best restaurants of its kind in Albany, NY.

Rt 66 Smokehouse Sausages and Burgers

Albany John randomly driving around the Cap District getting lost (anyone else like doing that?) and called me up:

John: “Hi, yeah, I’m somewhere in Rensselaer. I think. Or maybe East Greenbush.”
Jane: “Okaaay…” (I call him a lot randomly, too)
John: “I passed a laundromat, and some woods, and some animals and – woah, smokehouse. Call you back.”

**Click**

It turns out he was in Wynantskill and passed Rte 66 Meats & Smokehouse on Main Street.

He spent about $10 and brought home a few goodies to sample. Everything was about $2 each. Two Swiss and mushroom burgers, some chorizo sausage, spicy sausage, and regular sausage.

The burgers seared up nicely on the stove and were filled with tons of shredded swiss and mushroom bits.

The sausages were kind of explode-y.

We couldn’t figure out if Albany John had manhandled them in between buying them, transporting them, and taking them out of the fridge to cook, but these seemed to be delicate sausages. Every single one of them had burst, and oddly enough, none of the ends were tied or anything. Just loose ends of casing.

See? Explodey. I didn’t get why there were no tied ends on here, either. That’s my favorite part of the sausage. All of the snappy casings concentrated in one end.

The casings were natural, but so very thin.

They cooked up okay in the broiler. Tada, naturally cased sausages!

Albany John did a great job searing the burger. Mmm, dark crusty goodness.

And pinky interior goodness! Man, look at that cheese! These burgers were savory, melty, and good. They had a coarse grind to them, which I love in a burger. Makes it feel more substantial and meaty. I’d get these again. And the swiss tasted sharply swiss. Not just melty and cheesey.

The sausages were fine, but not great. I think they were all chicken sausages? They were very lean and finely ground, except for the big guy on the right. I think that one was pork, but still finely ground. I like sausages with nubbins of meat in them, not finer grinds. The consistency is too paste-y to me when they’re ground finer.
I don’t think I’d get the sausages again. I liked the spicier ones, but overall the texture and flavor weren’t enough to pull me to try them again. But the burgers and other meats, I am definitely interested in trying again at some point.
So far the best chicken sausages I’ve had in the area are from Cardona’s – juicy, moisty, and plenty of snap to their casings. I’d bought those on a lark, but was surprised with how good they were.

Oh, and crusty bread is also pretty good with sausages. I made no-knead bread. And good lard, it is sticky stuff in this humidity. I’d up the flour to 1 3/4 of a cup in this NY summer weather. Way too wet of a dough.

Rte 66 Meats & Smokehouse is located at 195 Main Ave, Wynantskill, NY 12198. Phone: 518-283-0482.

Art on Lark, Sausages, & Farmers Markets

Saturday was Art On Lark! Lark Street is closed off from traffic, and the streets are lined with vendors, musicians, and family friendly activities. It’s a really lovely way to spend the day.

I usually just attend, but this year I decided to volunteer, too. I was there early in the morning to help with the initial set up. It didn’t take up too much time at all, and I was glad to be able to help out and have a good time.

It was still really quiet when I was done helping around 10 am when it officially started. No music, not too many people – it was the quiet before the storm.

I really liked this terrarium vendor’s goods. Especially the hanging glass terrariums.

I was also getting over (or trying to) being sick. I pumped myself full of Dayquil and hoped for the best. I made it through my volunteering just fine (and thankfully it was light work), but shortly afterward I lost steam.

I bought an iced chai at Scratch for $3. It’s weird – I know Scratch has been around for a while, but whenever I go in I just don’t find anything in their display to look all that appetizing.
I found out the amazingly decadent treats at Romaine Brooks Gallery (on First Friday) are from Scratch, and decided to give them another go on Saturday. Same deal – the treats in the fridge display looked a little dried out. The mufins looked moist, but I’m not much of a muffin person, so I just went with a drink.
The chai was exactly what I was hoping for – sweet, cooling, really refreshing. I was initially kind of bummed to see it come out of a box (I mean, $3 for something from a box?), but it was just what I was hoping for: really tasty. I’ll keep an eye out for the box at the Co-Op to make at home. I got it with soy milk – I like the chalkiness soy milk adds to chai.
And then I turned into a zombie and Albany John walked me around Art on Lark and the side streets for a little bit before I demanded SAUSAGES (I’m a food zombie when I’m sick) from Rolf’s Pork Store. They have the BEST sausages in the area. And smoked meats too, but I’m all about their sausages.

You can see the guy at the counter caught me taking a picture!

And then I demanded we go to the Menands Farmers Market. It was a little late, so things were winding down there. For some reason when I’m sick, I get it in my head that one perfect food exists that will make me all better. There isn’t, but I end up stuffing our fridge with groceries when I start feeling sick.

After that, I decided I needed EMPANADAS. EMPANADAS WILL CURE MY SICKNESS. So we went to the Troy Farmers Market.

I ran into Joe & Nora! They thoroughly lambasted me for not attending the previous day’s Troy Night Out, and then got in line for some food.


Oh Magdalena’s – how I love yew! If there was something that could clear my clogged head, it had to be Magdalena’s! There was a huge line when we got there too – people are quick to find the good eats!

Got a watermelon agua fresca for $1.50. Good price there – it was so light and refreshing. Basically, like pureed watermelon.

$3.50 might seem steep for one empanada, but it also comes piled high with black beans, cheese, greens, and tomatoes. Plus salsas on the side. It’s also one pretty big empanada, too.

I also added all of the spicy condiments that I could. Boy did they make me feel better! The red might seem like it would be the hotter one, but the green salsa is the one that really packs the heat.
We found a spot to sit in the shade by the river. I love running in to friends like that!
After all that excitement (you’d think I was turning 85) I went home and napped.

And then woke up and ate sausages and some salmon (Hannaford had wild caught sockeye on sale last week).
Oh Rolf’s sausages. You are so good. So, so good.
Oh yeah! I also got some greenery at the Troy Farmers Market. Kale! I usually hate the stuff, but guess what? THEY ARE AWESOME AS CHIPS. Just rub them with a bit of olive oil, season em’, and bake them under 300F until they crisp up. ADDICTIVE AND HEALTHY.

Mmmm, garlic brats. The garlic sausages were huge! But somehow Albany John and I made our way through them.

So good, and then I fell into a food coma and slept for another 12 hours.