Jake Moon Cafe

I've mentioned Jake Moon before--and Sean was all, What's Up With That?  TJP suggested it back in my Miss Albany post, and J and I realized it's really not that far, and is on the way to Thacher Park

On a beautiful morning we first gave out water halfway through the Delmar Dash, then we ran our own little Albany Dash before washing up for brunch with D.  When people from DC or NJ ask me what living in Albany is like, after I tell them how my rent payments were slashed (HAPPY FACE) and how little traffic there is (GIGANTIC SMILE), I always tell them how it gets rural fast.  I leave Albany on Delaware Ave, I'm in Delmar in bebeh suburbia, then bam.  Hills, views of mountains, open fields, horses, a goat staring at me on the side of the road, you name it.

Jake Moon serves breakfast all day.  You know how I feel about that. They also have lunch, dinner, catering, and by the by, if you yak on to the waitress about how much you love the apply butter, she'll happily jar some up for you for less than $5.

First up is local cider.  I didn't ask whether it would be hot or cold, because I didn't care. I wanted it either way!  It was hot, served with a cinnamon stick.  Delicious.

I had the Red Flannel Hash - sirloin beef, roasted beets, corn, onions, potato, poached eggs, and sourdough toast.  My dining companions commented that it almost looked like chunky-style chili!  It was very good, but I think next time I'll try the corned beef hash.  The sourdough bread rocks, but I sort of wanted half sourdough toast and half cinnamon raisin.

J had sausage gravy and biscuits with over easy eggs and potatoes--the SOS.  He was feeling happy and somewhat southern.

D had the Bennet Hill scramble, with smoked Gouda, wild mushrooms, and herbs.  She's such a sweet friend that she let me have a bite--let me tell you, this kitchen knows how to make an egg.  How many meh omelets have I had recently? (Hint: too many.)  The gouda was awesome; when a dish has real flavor, you know it's composed of quality ingredients. 
 The place is full of charm, friendly service, delicious food, and apple butter that you want to bathe in.  Or maybe just I want to bathe in the apple butter; I really shouldn't put stuff like that on you.

This is the orange marmalade, which, while more pleasing to the eye, is outdone in nom-ability by the apple butter.

We didn't have any 'zerts, but maybe next time we will, just to round out the experience. 

Jake Moon Cafe
2082 Delaware Turnpike
Clarksville, NY

Jake Moon Restaurant and Cafe on Urbanspoon


Passover 2011 and the Weekend of Feasts

How do you know it's Passover?  Well, I've literally used about 40 eggs in the past week.

Sidenote, eleven of those eggs were from Stewart's, which has the cutest sign: "Want fresher eggs?  Buy a chicken."  Maybe people will!

So it's not really a secret that I love hosting Passover.  In 2009 and 2010 you may or may not have been one of the 15-20 people crammed at my makeshift dining room table in the DC area.  You may or may not have your own little green smiling rubber frog "plague" that my mom gave you.

Last year my family decided that with the "real" seder nights on weekdays, we'd convene as a fam, original 4 + grandma + 2 husbands, on a weekend that falls during the holiday.  Last year in Boston, next year in Jerusalem Albany! 

A lot of the usual suspects reappeared--I admit this is somewhat lazy, but I have it on good authority from WaffleW that "if it ain't broke, don't fix it." 

Duet of charoset, always--tradish with apples, wine, nuts (this year, pecans), some honey, and some ginger snow (I have Rachael Ray to thank for that tip, love 'er or not); second is Sephardic charoset like my grandma's, with wine, stewed dates, and orange zest.
Chicken soup with matzah balls--my dad makes the chicken soup with a whole chicken in the pressure cooker, then he picks off the meat for the soup and we add J's matzah balls.  If you're not feeling well, one bowl of this is sure to cure you. 
Salad (spinach, radishes, peppers, cucumber, nothing crazy)
Gefilte fish--not from a jar, but frozen then boiled or baked.  With lots of red horseradish
Roasted eggplant spread--I roast it with garlic for 45 minutes at 400, either whole and punctured or cut in half and face down, scoop the insides into a bowl, mash/stir with fork or pulse with an immersion blender, squeeze a lemon in it, and add salt & pepper.  Ta da!  My sister didn't like the way it looked, but I don't care because I like the way it tastes!
Tzimmes Souffle--J enjoyed Saturday's version more than Monday (we brought it as guests) because there was less pineapple.  Other people only liked on Monday because it tasted like pineapple (and not carrot).  My grandma does not like "cooked carrots" (whatever), but she liked this.  It tastes more like carrot cake and cornbread had a baby, and I make it every year.
Roasted root vegetables--yum, great leftovers, and with the above made my table quite orange. Olive oil, thyme, salt and pepper did the trick.
Chocolate drop cookies--straight from the freezer, to die for as per yuzh.
Chocolate chip mandelbreit

Date charoset doesn't look like much (after all, it's basically brown), but it is amaaaaazing.  See also, most of a seder plate's components.  For a beautiful background on Passover, check out The Shiksa's explanations from last year.  Or you can Google it.  <--seriously, watch this video, it's uber cute and has some dayenu in the background.

Sister desperately clings to the hope that after this seemingly last bite, there will be another.

The next morning we somehow were hungry again.  I made two frittata-type situations--one matzah brei (eggs, crumbled matzah, cinnamon & sugar), and one with leftover root vegetables, cheese, and spinach.  Served with salad, whitefish salad, lox, charoset, matzah, and coffee, this was a brunch table to die for, and we put it together in no time at all.

Then, although it's not seasonally appropriate, we put a pumpkin baby hat on my dog niece.

Happy holidays, if you're celebrating, and if not, happy it-was-sunny-this-morning (always a reason to celebrate)!


Personal Responses To Your Keyword Searches

But first, the making of a maple syrup ice treat:

 Obviously imagine that little boy has eyes as wide as saucers. Also: me.

Anyway, I don't pay much attention to my Google Analytics because I don't have ads (and I don't make money off of this blog...just joy).  But I do get a kick out of looking at GA every few months.  I love that the majority of new visitors were searching around to see what the heck they are going to feed their hungry Gryffindorian children  in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter--it is consistently a top-5 most viewed post, in basically every time period imaginable since I hit "publish."  Mmmm, butterbeer.

Along with the map of visitors (WHAT IS UP, Norway?!) is fun to see the search terms that bring people right here.  I search for the most random things all the time (or, mostly for [store] + "coupon" "code" "free shipping" or "promo"), and I hope some of my antics bring another analytics peruser some laughs.

"the one burger you must have before you die"  I'm glad you searched that and found me.  But let me assure you that although I favor the shake of the month sometimes, I prefer Ray's to BGR.

"chicken and waffle on a stick"   I like you.

"is injera kosher for passover" and many iterations of the same question.  I doubt it, but ask your rabbi!

"high cotton" "duck hash"  Go.  Now.  I'm jealous of you for going now.

"be at a real sedar online"   I love technology, but if you haven't been invited to a seder, host one!  Your friends, Jewish and non, will love it!  I do know a place for bar mitzvah lessons online though...

"can i walk to art and soul from union station"  ABSOLUTELY.  Also see Metro for directions via public transportation and walking!  Or, in the alternative, Google maps!  It helps me a lot, I'd be lost without it.

"directions to ray's hellburger from metro"  We've been through this a few times, and I've given some smart-alecky talking-tos to people who claim it's not Metro-accessible.  (Sorry if you live in the Capital Region and could not care less.)  The deal is if you get out at Rosslyn you have to walk uphill on the way there (sad panda).  I'd prefer to get out at Courthouse and walk downhill.  It's less than half a mile, and if you live in the city and are urban and walk everywhere with your reusable shopping bag just in case you happen upon a farmer's market, you can do it!  Driving there can be a hassle because that parking lot is minuscule and always full.

Have a lovely weekend everyone.  Search hilariously.


Postcard from Montreal

36 Hours in Montreal?  I had more like 27 hours (not to be confused with 127 hours, also known as almost 32 days).  When my sister said she'd be at a big conference just 4 hours up the road, I jumped at the chance to share the weekend with her.  The ride up took just under 5 hours because I was quite delayed at the border.  The lines didn't look long, but it took forever.  I zoomed back (with no wait at the USA gate) in 4 hours with one short stop.  (And no tolls.  Can you believe that, everyone?)

I've heard tons about Montreal bagels (even in 1987, when I was really too young to be thinking about it).  But I just didn't have time to eat one on this trip.  I know we'll be back this summer, but if I can't wait until then, I may just need to go to Mile End in Brooklyn (a Montreal-style Jewish deli that imports the bagels and smokes the meat in-house). 

Naturally, after parking the car, my first stop was Schwartz's.  The long line outside scared me a little, but it turns out that's for the restaurant.  Anyone can walk in and order at a counter, then either take out or head to the back where there are some tables and stools.  I won't lie, it was hot in there.  Besides the obvious reason (hi, they are smoking meat all up in there), I think it was hot inside a lot of places in Montreal because it was the first warmer day in quite a while after a long, cold winter.  I had the smoked meat sandwich, $5.90.  I didn't make any specifications (I think someone behind me ordered "lean"), and it arrived with a little mustard on rye.  It was delicious, and it smelled like heaven.

Schwartz's Montreal Hebrew Delicatessen on Urbanspoon

By the time I arrived, Sister had already had French food several times, abysmal conference fare, and tapas. When we finally headed out to dinner we didn't feel like waiting too long for our dishes.  Yelp led us to some options for pollo a la brasa, often referred to as "Peruvian chicken" (although in Montreal one place explicitly said "Portuguese").  I remembered the drill from the good old days in Arlington at El Pollo Rico or Super Pollo, and I figured for a low price Sis and I would be chowing down on 1/4 or 1/2 a chicken and some sides.  That's exactly what happened.  We had super juicy tender chicken, potatoes, and decent slaw at Coco Rico. We tried Romado's first, but they close at 8pm--we arrived a little later, and they were actually out of chicken.  We grabbed some pastries from Presse Cafe on our way back to the hotel, which we served ourselves with tea from the lobby (because nearly every day of my life ends with a hot beverage).  The ginormo biscotti was dipped in delish white chocolate on one end and regular ol' chocolate on the other.  Sister happily guessed correctly that the danishy-twisty friend had apple in the middle.

 Is there anything like Diet Coke in a can?  So what if it'll kill meNot if something else does first.

 Sweet industrial decor.

Coco Rico on Urbanspoon

Now on to the main event.  You and I both know what I was really looking forward to--brunch.  The fruit of the hen.  My favorite.

I read around on Yelp and elsewhere and decided we should go to Le Cartet.  We waited about 15 minutes, but we used that time wisely in their little shop.  You could definitely do some damage getting takeout and boxed/preserve treats for a picnic.  I stocked up on some made-in-Quebec treats for my best buddy back home, and obviously got a blueberry and chocolate spread that I finished alone in two short workweeks.

Lots of choices here for brunch--you could get anything from a pastry to an enormous plate with many things on it, and every option in between.  We opted for enormous plates with everything on them.  Sister had the Brunch de L'Atlantique: Eggs with smoked salmon (or lox, right Em?), half a bagel with all the typical accoutrements, greens, a little sweet potato and salmon cake, and fruit.  They weren't kidding about the salmon, I know.

I went for the Brunch de Sante: yogurt with granola and blueberries, poached eggs on greens, and grilled bread, cheddar sticks, and a fig.  And it came with coffee and juice, all for $15.  I highly recommend you go there and try it.  Illy coffee.  Luv.

Le Cartet on Urbanspoon

Sigh, home sweet home.  For now.


Juicy Burger

Juicy Burger had a decent burger.  I liked their bun, the portion was reasonable, and the price is right.  I'll take it over Five Guys any day.  It was equivalent to (though less expensive than) the one we had at the bar at New World.  They even have sweet potato fries!!  I heard from a little bird that if I ask for it to be between red and pink it'll be that way--just "pink" by their standards is a bit too done for my liking.

I'm trying my best, you guys.  But I've been spoiled--I found the ideal burger for me (admittedly, not for everyone), and now it's all I want. It's my gold standard, and pretty much nothing else can compare.  Not Rare, not 5 Napkin, not Palena (though many people dig that).   The bun at JB was tasty, and they have some salads if greenery is your kind of thing.

Juicy Burger
5 New Karner Road
Guilderland, NY
(Also in Ballston Spa)

Juicy Burgers and More on Urbanspoon


Van's Vietnamese

I'll break it down for ya:  Enormous portions.  Very friendly service.  Jam-packed by 7pm on a Friday night.  Room for a few more tables but does not put them there (not sure if it's for fire code/zoning reasons or for my comfort, but I'll pretend it's for my comfort and for that I say THANK YOU).  Tasty food.  That, in a nutshell, is Van's Vietnamese.

Granted, we have not tried their pho yet.  We recently lived near one of the most hyped up pho places of my knowledge, Pho 75 in Arlington.

Crispy vegetarian spring rolls,  crispy duck, and lemongrass chicken.  I'm pretty sure they gave me an entire chicken, or more.  This meal was dinner, dinner again (+ new rice made at home), and then part of my lunch.  The quantity here is out of control. 

I'm looking forward to trying the pho and other dishes recommended by happy diners.  You just have to hope that you like what you get; you know, since it'll be enough for three to five meals.

Van's Vietnamese
307 Central Ave
Albany, NY

Van's Vietnamese Restaurant on Urbanspoon



One of my coworkers goes to Karavalli once a week.  Some people might find this mundane and redundant, but let me be clear: he often switches it up by alternately visiting the Saratoga location and then back to Latham, closer to where we live. 

I really can't blame him.  It's just so good.  The portions are enormous, you feed yourself and then some with leftovers to bring back the good memories at a later date, and the service is prompt and friendly.  The place is always busy, humming with a good energy that just makes you feel glad.  Maybe it's the blue "sky"?

If you've been around a while, you know we love Indian.  Upscale modern Indian from Rasika, cheap takeout from Delhi Dhaba, sit-down traditional from Delhi Club, or crazy colors pizzazz at Tandoori Nights.  We haven't met much Indian cuisine that we don't like, but we had high hopes at our new digs.  And the menu had some items we'd never seen before--apps go well beyond the typical samosas and pakoras.  Let's discuss below.

Mmm giant beer + buttery naan.  J's pale hand cannot wait to spoon some palak.

Above you'll find Bhel Poori, a typical chaat or snack.  Rice puffs, chopped onion, potato, coriander leaves, and tamarind. It's odd how they left out how it's made with crack, but clearly there's an addictive substance in it.  I shovel it first to my plate, then quickly (really, before it really arrives) into my mouth as if a famine is going to set in at any moment.  I'm like Katniss when she first leaves District 12--insatiable, despite the bounty before me.  

Crispy tamarind eggplant with a similar flavor profile to the bhel poori, but with yogurt, too. 

Lamb korma.  Delightful, but not as favorite in my heart as the apps.

A rock solid palak paneer.  The tandoori chicken was also a delight.  Seriously, one appetizer + two entrees + naan and you'll still have leftovers.  Which means if you're us and you get two apps + two entrees + naan you won't have to cook dinner the next day, which is nice.

Our current obsessions with Karavalli and Ala Shanghai (rainbow shredded chicken WHAT'S UP) make me super meh about going to a random Italian or new Americanish place on our hypothetical list.  Why pay $20ish per entree for something that might be good when I can have 6 soup dumplings for $4, and delicious entrees with guaranteed fab flavors (and leftovers) for $10-12?  Recently it's been Vietnamese, Indian, Thai, Chinese, repeat.  It kinda makes me want to move to Latham.

9B Johnson Road
Latham, NY  (add'l locations in Saratoga)

Karavalli Regional Cuisine on Urbanspoon