Yes, I Really Liked the Old Google Reader That Much

So we have to start with the arrogant presupposition that anyone is missing new posts here.  Now that we have that covered, whether it's true or not, I can get into why.  I'm going to focus on technology and not on the whole "when I started I was a student and now I have a demanding full time job" thing.  (Also, Pinterest exists.  Rabbit hole, you guys, amirite...)

Let's talk about the death of Google Reader.  Google Reader was the way that at one point I kept up with over 80 blogs I wanted to read: what was going on in DC, new restaurants, some people I knew doing awesome stuff, recipes, etc.  I organized favorite posts with recipes and ideas with labels like "jewish holidays," "vegetarian," "entertaining," and many many more.  But more than just a feed aggregator, Google Reader was a place to share to a very tightly controlled group.  I maybe had 20 people (and I knew them all IRL, or In Real Life) that were part of my "Google Reader Sharing" group, and when I read a post I wanted them to see, I shared it.  Not to all 400 or so Facebook friends who I mostly never talk to or see, not to hundreds of accounts (active and non) of people and companies on Twitter, just a handful of people who appreciate reading blogs the way that I do, and could pick a few good posts to share with me daily, and who could read the ones I shared and make a few comments.  The loss of Google Reader was truly devastating to me.  I know that sounds dramatic, but it was how I organized my internet for quite a while.

Obviously technology has changed a lot (for the better).  When I started this blog, I didn't have an iPhone (actually I didn't have a smart phone until 2010 because student loans aren't for paying big cell bills, right, college aged people??).  It used to make sense to take pictures with my point and shoot camera, plug that in to my laptop, upload them, save them in a place where I could find them from dumb Blogger platform, and upload them into a post.  Now that entire endeavor seems antiquated.

I'm not a huge fan of redundancy. Of course I would watch Pretty Woman on a weekly basis, but what I mean is that if I Like you on Facebook (or we're Friends), and I have your blog in my Google Reader, and I follow you on Twitter and you tweet your posts, and I follow you on Instagram and you post fun pictures (otherwise why would I follow you!), and then you Pin the thing you saw that you want, I'm getting a lot of repetition. 

So for me it started looking like:

DC2ALB on Twitter: Off to City Beer Hall for brunch, man I love that place.
DC2ALB on Instagram: Pic of awesome beet/arugula/gorgonzola salad with over-easy eggs on top + an oatmeal stout
DC2ALB on Pinterest: Pic of City Beer Hall on a board named something like "eats."*
DC2ALB on Ravelry: I'm totes going to knit a blanket that looks like City Beer Hall.*

[*Full disclosure, these last two never happened.]

Me, at home: Should I blog City Beer Hall brunch?  I mean...why? 

If I'm bored by the same, and have been gradually unsubscribing from blogs for that reason, I assume you have been too.  Even without assuming our similarity in that respect, I am too bored of myself to even write the offending redundant post. And I have some etiquette questions, like if you share your Instagram to Facebook, should I Like or Heart them on the other platform? Comment on both?  What's the deal with that?

I have some friends and family whose posts I so look forward to (and will probably start just getting emailed to me), recipes I always read, and local happenings to find out about.  But as more and more blogs switched to the whole "click here to read on" and "after the jump" situations, the convenience of Google Reader started to fade. If I can read maybe 2 or 3 lines, not enough to get the pertinent information to see if I even WANT to click into a whole.new.window(or.tab), then I'm just annoyed. 

So I'll see you on Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Ravelry, and whatever I'm forgetting.  At least for now.


What We've Been Drinkin'

This is what we've been drinking at home lately:

Blue Point Pumpkin
Ithaca Pumpkin
Abita Turbodog
Sixpoint Apollo
River Horse Special
Southern Tier Harvest
Not pictured but in my fridge are also Shipyard Pumpkin, Sixpoint Sweet Action*, and Unibroue Blanche de Chambly.

Why do we have so many different beers in our fridge?  Well, we took home leftovers from a family party.  Also, we like beer.  In particular, it's nice when you are home alone and don't feel like making a real dinner, so instead you make half a real dinner and have a beer.  Or have a bowl of cereal and a beer for a filling dessert. 

I love trying new ones, and getting flights at Dinosaur, CBH, and Gastropub then following up with a visit to the beer store.   Also, I want to have every pumpkin beer so I can figure out which one reigns supreme for me.  I definitely liked Shipyard and Ithaca more than the Blue Point.  Not that the BP was bad, but it wasn't very pumpkin-y. 

I should take notes about beers on my iPhone (in the Notes app) because sometimes I forget what I've tried, what I preferred, etc.  Even when it's a sip of my friend's drink (yes, they share). 

What are you all drinking this fall? 

*I haven't tasted this one yet.  The four pack of tall cans is full!  For now...



I like going places when they are new.  We pulled this move with Capital City Gastropub most recently.  Sciortino's opened in the Miss Albany Diner space this past Wednesday. 

Off the bat, I'll mention that I'm a fan of most things Baumgartner.  Yes, he's easy on the eyes, but the food at his restaurants is actually good.  Some of my favorite meals in Albany involve the fish and chips at Olde English (and the beer), the fish tacos at Bombers (made better by being post-Boilermaker 15k), and although I'm not a huge fan of the food at Wolff's, I love love love the space it's in (and the beer).  I like when his blog has pictures of dogs, which is most of the time.

Anyway, tonight was the perfect night to head to Sciortino's.  Because I'm approximately 75 years old (see, hobbies: knitting, baking, being obsessed with my pet), we went for the early bird.

You can read all about it here. And here, here, here.

We had a Peroni and a Brooklyn Brown Ale, then ordered entirely too much food.  It was on purpose, but it was still alarming.  One thing to note is that when on display, the square pieces of pizza are on an angle, and it makes them look shorter than they are.  Don't be fooled.  One slice is enough. 

BBQ Chicken pizza (one slice, cut up)

Sausage, peppers, and mushrooms (it's UNDERNEATH

White pizza with vegetables.

Chicken riggies

At one point this was a brownie sundae.  Totally unnecessary.  Really gooey and delicious.  
I really liked the pizza and I'd have all of them again.  The BBQ chicken might be my favorite. Service was really friendly, and Matt was hanging out at and behind the counter. It wasn't crowded, but if it had been, we'd just have a drink at Wolff's while waiting.  I had never tried chicken riggies but heard good things, and while it was good, it's not for me.  I'm a spice wimp and it was a little hot (which I expected).  I also thought it might be more baked like a ziti, but it wasn't.  Cash only, as per yuzh.

Sciortino's (pronounced like shore-tinos)
893 Broadway
Albany, NY


City Beer Hall

Dinner at City Beer Hall with our out of town friends was great, even though my dinner personally wasn't what I'd asked for.  We had the wild boar schnitzel, short rib shepherds pie, and two burgers (one stuffed with foie gras).  The only issue we had was that our burgers didn't come out right. Both were ordered medium (specified as pink center) but one was med-rare and one was on well-done side (totally cooked through).  Still tasted great, just not what we asked for or ideally wanted.   We had a side of Brussels and the charcuterie; I preferred the sprouts.  Obviously the stars were the beer (I split a flight with F and had a big girl beer of my own) and the patio (which is where we sat for a long while).

Brunch was a shining star all around.  The fried chicken was really moist on the inside, crispy on the outside, and the portion was great with the waffle.  I had eggs on the kale/farro/gorgonzola salad, and it was perrrrrfect.  No, it doesn't come like that, but I got a side of eggs and popped them atop.  The servings are really generous - I recently had the beet salad (with fennel, pistachios, and gorgonzola) and it was HUGE.  It made an awesome lunch, especially because....ALL BRUNCH ENTREES COME WITH A BEER (or mimosa or other brunch-y drink).  So for $9.99 before tax I got a beer with my salad, and that's ANY beer they have. 


Ice Cream Sandwich.  That's apple cider doughnut ice cream from Bowman Orchards.  With oatmeal raisin cookies from All Good Bakers.  That's an easy to bite into, cinnamon-y, perfect ice cream sandwich if I ever knew one.  Not sure what J would think about the lack of chocolate.
Here is a list of the things I love about City Beer Hall:
- The beer list is superb.  Lots of local, seasonal, delicious things that I love, including Unibroue Blanche de Chambly and Joe Mama's Milk Stout. And there's always an Ommegang.
- The patio is off the hook.  It's bigger than the inside.  On a nice day, why be anywhere else?
- It's never ridiculously crowded.  I don't have people breathing down my neck at brunch to take our table.  You CAN linger, and it's not the worst thing ever.
- I want to eat everything on the menu
- BEER COMES WITH YOUR BRUNCH.  Or another drink, if you're one of those.
- Don't stress about parking - they have a free lot.  It's further up Howard Street--pass the entrance to City Beer Hall if you are going away from the Hudson River (Northwest) you'll see an easel-like sign for it, turn left at the sign and it'll lead you to their little lot.
- They use at least some local ingredients.  Kilcoyne beef for one. 
- Interesting events! Including the Wild Game dinners this past summer. We were lucky enough to win tickets from All Over Albany for that dinner, and even though I was completely delinquent about blogging it, we had a great time and learned that we like Sixpoint Brewery.  

And yes, if you only go for drinks and not food, you'll get food anyway, because every beer gets you a ticket for a free little "pizza."  It's as thin as a tortilla, with melted cheese and a little sauce.  It is totally edible, and if you go with friends and end up eating 3 or 4, it's totally fine.   Although my boss said eating the pizzas made her more hungry for dinner when she got home. 

City Beer Hall
42 Howard Street


One at Revel in Atlantic City

Regardless of my thoughts on Revel (extensive metal staircase to climb to the one-level-misrepresented-as-4-level club in a brandynew resort which btw $30 cover even for a bachelorette party staying there? Letting someone put their pool bar tab on our room???), our dinner was actually pretty good.  Interestingly, because most AC restaurants don't require a credit card to make a reservation, it seems like people just make a handful and choose last minute where to go.  How else to explain how our TOTALLY BOOKED, WE DO NOT TAKE WALK INS restaurant had plenty of room and ended up able to seat 8 of us 30 minutes early?   And yes, we had made a second rez.

My first choice in the hotel would have been Central, because helloooo Michel Richard.  Or the tapas place.

So, I'm not entirely sure that it must be the place.  But it's a place. A place with very loud music (since when am I 80? Oh wait, since about 2003).  But we screamed into our neighbor's ears and decided we'd talk more later in the comfort of our rooms, over the ringing of course.

These little baby breads (each roll was about half a thumb tall) were delicious and so cute, sprinkled with rocky salt.  But being there with all girls, we sort of left 1.5 hanging in each dish.  Things That Don't Happen With Guys Present for 1000, Alex?

YUM, tuna tartare with stacked taro chips with an avocado base.   Sorry about the iPhone pics--it was dark in there.  I'd definitely get the tuna again.

Mini Kobe sliders - DELICIOUS.  Pickles, the key to happiness.

The menu for One is nearly impossible to find. Unlike other restaurants in Revel, the menu isn't on the web site (note, it wasn't two weeks ago!  It is now. Damnit).  Instead it's on the Facebook page. But it's not immediately visible, you need to look at their list of crap (About, Photos, etc) and press "5 More" to see an icon for Menu.  When I called to ask about an online menu, whoever picked up then put me on hold said it was on Facebook.  When I told her I still didn't see it, she said she didn't know.  Then she said I could email a manager for it.  I did email, because I figured they might send me one with prices (good to know when you're with a group), but never got a response.

When I don't see prices on a menu, I worry a little.  I worry that it's VERY expensive.  This was not the case; it wasn't any more expensive than the other restaurants in Revel or other big hotels in AC, so why not cut a girl (or 8) a break and stop the worries?   Transparency is good--tell people what to expect.

The food was pretty good, it came out pretty quickly, the drinks were way expensive of course, but there were beers for $7, so I went that route.  It seems like they brought us a round of free shots, but then we were charged for them.  A few girls got the lobster roll appetizer and they were the tiniest little guys I ever saw, picture mini hot dogs but lobster in them instead.  And $19.  Just know what you're in for!  


Eating at the Track

It happened.  The track opened!  We went opening weekend with our friends from out of town (first-timers to the CapReg, and one of them had never been to a racetrack before).  You know you're in Smallbany (or the Smallbany area, at least) when you basically know a handful of people outside of work and manage to see 3 people you know at the Track opening weekend.  There were tons of people there, but almost immediately we saw a dude from work and two folks from the dog park.  Obviously we don't know their names--they are [dog's] mom and dad.

So, eating at the track has a lot of choices, but I'm still getting started.  See above - HATTIE'S!  While brunch there recently was a bit of a miss (chicken was a little off, eggs weren't cooked right the first time), you really can't go wrong with fried chicken.  They had some initial drama on the Facebook page and beyond about their new location, made a few threats not to be at the Track, but alas are still there.  And BTW it was very easy to find. 

The line for Hattie's was long and we'd been there before, of course, so we had some smoked meat poutine (with gravy and curds of course) from this joint. When Shirley's was sold to a Montrealian (Montrealite?), poutine hit the menu faster than you can say s'il vous plait.

Shake Shack.  Whether you're a burger and fries person or a straight up milkshake person (raises hand), you are covered.  The line moves fairly quickly.  The straws aren't extra big, which is a little sad for someone who likes to drink milkshakes as fast as possible.  The Sloppy Track shake sounds up my alley but really the black & white is my favorite.  I'm a fan of salted caramel (including the Starbucks salted caramel hot chocolate...swoon) but it was too salty, and mine was on the meltier side.  I like my shakes frrrreezing and hard to drink, preferably out of an extra wide straw.  Thanks.

For now, these are my only eating experiences at the track after exactly 2 visits and 2 summers as a local.  I have a feeling we'll be back a few more times this season and maybe I'll branch out.  To homemade picnic sandwiches that I brought with me...(PS that's a thing, you can do that.  We brought a small soft cooler with beer in it. CHEAP! YUM! CLASSY!)

Go, have fun, eat food (bought or brought), and don't lose all your money.  I ended up $2 up after 5 races, but with admission at $3 and my shake at $6, I guess I was really down $7.  Pretty reasonable for 3 hours of entertainment and the chance of the thrill of winning.



When you live in the Capital Region and run the Boilermaker, you have two options: Stay over in the Utica area (and book well in advance--at least 6 months), or get up at an ungodly hour and head west for the 8am start.  In both 2011 and 2012 I chose to stay the night nearby. 

In a two sentence race review/recap, I can tell you that I love the Boilermaker 15k, the people of Utica are gracious with their colanders of ice, icicles, orange slices, and garden hose showers, and my only criticism/suggestion is that they do a pace-related wave start.  Because Super Elite followed by Everyone Else does not make for a comfortable first few miles.

ANYWAY, we had dinner at Symeon's, recommended by a friend who goes to Utica for work often.  It wasn't super crazy, despite the thousands of people in town for the run.  They also have a lot of tables.  The souvlaki was so flavorful and piping hot, and those pieces of well-seasoned meat contrasted beautifully with my antipasto plate (basically Greek salad with dolmades--grape leaves--on top).  My only criticism is that the bread to wrap the souvlaki in wasn't warm, which made it unappetizing.  I ignored it.  My mom (who ran the BM15k in 1:34!) really enjoyed her salmon with grilled vegetables and rice pilaf.  Light and healthy, getting ready to run.

We were pretty full, but baklava ice cream sounded very interesting.  We heard it was especially made just for them by Roc Star Ice Cream.  We decided to get one to share, and our waitress put it in three mini dishes (unnecessary but SO SWEET), and it was delicious.  Baklava or ice cream, WHY CHOOSE when you can have baklava IN your ice cream?  Really. 

3 mini sundaes for the price of one.  Thank you!


5 Years Later

A lot can happen in five years.  Someone who joined me for my first meal to be blogged is engaged and currently living in a state with equal marriage.  I went from an unpaid intern (at a place with this guy's mug on the entry wall) to a full time employee with a salary.  My first cousins (22 in total) produced 14 children, so I got fourteen new first cousins once removed.  Eight boys and six girls, but I feel compelled to tell you that 4/6 of those girls arrived in the past 18 months.  So it was raining boys until recently.  Our schools got new presidents and the law school has a new dean.   

ANYWAY.  We moved, then moved further.  And moved again, albeit not as far.

We've got 380 posts, a number that includes a handful of drafts I'm not sure whether I should delete, even still.  These are "all time" stats, which are really from May 2008.  I guess I didn't have analytics enabled before then.  Because I didn't know what analytics were. 

So thanks Emily. Because you wrote the #1 viewed post by far.  HARRY POTTER HARRY POTTER.

I see a pattern here.  Postcards are popular.  People are traveling where I'm traveling (or maybe they live there) and they want to know where to eat.  If you live in Albany and I'm the 17th person to write a blog post about City Beer Hall, who cares?  Besides my mom? Just kidding, my mom doesn't read this blog.

Thanks for joining me (or searching for "where is the real hogwarts" and ending up here).   Have an awesome day, and don't forget to tip your server.


Gimme Your Summer Food

On a recent sweltering night I joined someone who is actually qualified to give feedback on a new menu and did my part by documenting it.  Not everyone likes to take pictures of their food.
Read Daniel B.'s post here.  I am grateful to be invited--THANK YOU!

Remember that Creo isn't tucked away on an adorable side street of rowhouses or shops - it's in Stuyvesant Plaza but it's unconnected, so it's floating in between the road and the massive parking lot.  I don't think they have outdoor seating...but who would want to be hanging in the parking lot anyway?  What it lacks in the outside it makes up for inside.  It's super funky with tons of pendant lights, mirrors, crazy high ceiling, and copper colored tabletops. 

Cheese plate.  Loved them all. Led to a short discussion about how most strawberries are covered in poison. Fresh figs are delicious and make me think of The Land.

Watermelon, watercress, feta, jicama, pepita, citrus.  This was my FAVORITE DISH!  What could possibly go wrong?   The watercress was kind of wild and and curlier than usual and I loved it. The chef said it wasn't a big seller.  Things That Make Me Sad.

 Halibut over sweet corn puree.  Inexplicable tartar sauce and lobster hat.  Loved the fish and the corn was yummmmmmm.  I like green beans but it was funny to have them hanging out in the puree. Like green kayaks.

Diver scallop and cauliflower puree.  Loved the puree.  Hmm piece of thing from the ocean sitting on puree of a vegetable.  Where have I seen this?  I liked it though.  My scallop was seared a little more perfectly crust-wise than the Profussor's.

Berry explosion with cake.  The homemade ice cream was my favorite part.  I thought the cake was kind of a snooze.  What if it were a waffle?  That would be fun.

I really enjoyed my first meal at Creo over a year ago, and I'd definitely go back and get some of the summer dishes I've now had the pleasure of trying.  Like the watermelon/watercress salad, but in extra-large size. 

It is disheartening to hear directly from chef Brian Bowden about the politics of changing a menu.  I think that's why I like small places with ever-changing menus on a chalkboard.  I want what's fresh and best NOW, and if my favorite thing isn't on the menu that week, that's probably a good thing, because it's not what it could be.


All Over The Internet

I haven't been posting much.  It's a pet peeve of mine when people apologize for that because it makes it seem like someone cares, and really the writer should just move on to their post. So I'm not apologetic, but I will tell you what you've missed since I haven't been posting it here.  However, I want to note that if you follow me on Twitter and Instagram, you probably haven't missed much, but my characters have been limited (which is probably a good thing. Too bad in real life I have more than 140 each time I open my mouth).

So, time passes.  We celebrated a birthday, an anniversary, anticipated a friend's baby, went to a wedding, and had a bunch of visitors.  Mostly, I cooked or assembled.  Sometimes we went out.

I was still all over the internet.  I'm in love with these Shiba Inu puppies. And a few of these Call Me MaybesThis makes me laugh.  And of course, I was posting on Instagram and Twitter all this time.


 This photo is from Memorial Day weekend, when we had two friends stay over on Friday, a sister and grandparents on Saturday and Sunday, and parents on Tuesday (on their way up north).

We went to an awesome wedding, and a friend we've known since we were 5 and 6 years old literally rode in on a white horse and married his beautiful bride.

 For two weeks straight I was addicted to knitting this blanket in all of my free time.  One of those weeks I was home alone with pup and knitting time was fairly short, but I fit it in whenever I could.

3/4 of us had chicken and waffle (singular) at Hattie's, plus one crabcake eggs benedict.  The poached eggs were hard inside but they were happy to make them pretty quickly.  Sitting on the covered patio is really relaxing and there was no wait for brunch.  

 We took Henry hiking for the first time, a short one in Thacher Park.  Not one, but two people told us he looked "just like" another dog they knew.  He was bringing back memories left and right.

The rest of the summer is going to be great. Another boating day on Lake George, two more weddings, a bachelorette party (whooooa watch out), and many more meals.

I hope you're enjoying this unbelievable weather week and that you had a great weekend!


My Favorite v. The Best v. I Like It

What makes something The Best?  Is it the best because it's been compared to others and really is, in the end, The Best?  Or is it the best because it's your favorite?  Or is it the best because you really like it, and everything else is just meh.

Sometimes I think about this when we figure out where to have a meal.  For me, value has a lot to do with what makes an eatery great.  Note that value includes not only good food but also good service.  The more expensive the meal, the better experience I demand.  If that's not the case, I'd rather spend less.  When we go out sometimes in the Albany area, I think: Will this be better than Ala Shanghai?  At Ala Shanghai we may only spend $25 for the two of us, even with leftovers.  And it's fresh, delicious food with big flavor and lots of texture.  It's hard to get a better bang for our buck with a sit-down restaurant.  Of course, you're not always in the mood for soup dumplings. Or maybe you are.

Take it over to my birthday, where we enjoyed the tasting menu at the Wine Bar on Lark.  Now, it certainly wasn't $25 (although that was the wine pairing price--a STEAL), but it was truly phenomenal.  Chef Jason Baker created such a personalized, thoughtful menu where dinner truly was the show (it took a few hours, which allows one of you to maybe drive home).  Even at more than 6 times our Ala price point, I was happy with the value we received.  I couldn't repeat that experience frequently, but you see what I mean.

So.  Is the Wine Bar my favorite?  Is it the best?  What about Andy's Subs Carmen's Colossal or the 42nd Street--I truly love eating those sandwiches, and they are $8 each.  What about Ala Shanghai?  Or Karavalli, where I have an addiction to the Bhel Poori.   Or All Good Bakers, where I feel like I'd sell my kidney for a warm savory scone. 

To wrap up, if I feel like I could make something better at home (and I'm not a tremendous cook, but I'm okay--particularly with breakfast) then I will not be back to that restaurant.  Or if another restaurant does it way better (I'm looking at Ala compared to the purported "Chinese" "restaurants"--quotes necessary to denote the ick--in the strip malls near our house, where the food is plentiful and SUPER cheap but you'd rather not eat it).    If I think I've had better at a lower price, I won't be back.  But if there's value, you'll be seeing me again.


Whether You Live Here Or Not

Whether you live here or not, you know that Subway isn't the best sandwich we have to offer.  You know this especially well if you've had Andy's Subs while visiting me (that's at least 4 of you).  Subway smells icky, and Andy's Subs smell like fresh happy yummy omg they put that all together on a sandwich?  I cut those suckers into four pieces, and 3 people can happily share 2 sandwiches, with a little left over.

Whether you live here or not, you know deep down in the pit of your stomach (and if you are like me then it is a deep, deep pit waiting for delicious duck confit hash and eggs) that our best burger is not from Five Guys.  We may not have a Ray's Hell-Burger (or anything close) but we certainly can do better than FG, and we have.

So go here and check out Daniel's list of picks on his FUSSYlittleBLOG, because, as you might have read, he's on a mission to make things change.  Because he, like you, knows that Cold Stone Creamery is certainly not our best ice cream store.  #1 it's not "ours" at all, and #2 it's not the best.  And I have a lot of experience in this area so I can say it definitively.

Keep in mind that Daniel may be Fussy, but he's not bossy.  We built this ballot together over time and comments.  (Sing it.)  I'm not all that helpful having lived in the Capital Region for all of 16 months, and part of that was in a hotel in Latham.  And sometimes I disagree with the Ballot; but the idea is to agree that we're going to agree (not disagree) for a higher case: to change the results. 

For anyone who's confused, it's like the movie Stick It: we're picking the winners, on OUR terms. And it'll only work if we all buy in.  So get Fussy and get votin'. 


All Good Bakers - New Location

In case you missed the news, All Good Bakers moved from Quail Street (also known as, why would I ever be over there in the first place/inconvenient for my life) to 540 Delaware Ave, right next to the Yoga Loft (much closer to my life). 

So you can do some yoga and then eat some feel-good vegetarian farm-fresh happy food.  Or, like me, you can skip the yoga and go straight to the food.  Seriously, I am the WORST at yoga.   I'm more likely to have brunch there and stop at Jim's Tastee Freeze on the way home.

There are a few more seats in this location than the last, but that same charming feeling that--and I mean this in a good way--you might be in an episode of Portlandia. 

The place was jamming when I dropped by only 90 minutes before closing time on Saturday.  I got the last sourdough loaf (YUM) and a Philmore (pastry dough stuffed with apple happiness).  Then I ran my errands at Target, BJ's, and Marshall's, and when I got back into my car it smelled like my Ford Fusion used to be a bread factory--maybe even that morning.  Amazing smells.  Eventually I'll sit down again for a grilled cheese, seitan sandwich, seasonal soup, or scone. 

Because the Northway Mall needs like 8 more stop signs than it has, I got hungry before I even got to the light that let's you leave.  Thank goodness for that Philmore and the end of the loaf.  Sorry J - I had bought the Philmore for you. But you still have chocolate chip mandel bread, Samoas, leftover chocolate chocolate chip cookies that my coworker made for me...you'll live.

Go visit, and try to knock The Profussor from Dukedom.  A little competition would be great for the shop.

All Good Bakers
540 Delaware Ave
Albany, NY
Wed-Fri 8am - 3pm
Sat/Sun 9am - 3pm with brunch


What's Making Me Happy

If you listen to the NPR podcast Pop Culture Happy Hour then you might enjoy the last segment, called "What's Making Me Happy This Week."  Well, here's what's making me happy this weekend.

On Friday we were low on dining ideas, so we ordered two pizzas from Bellini's.  We've never been to a Bellini's or ordered before, but I've heard about the deals they do for takeout from some parents in my office.  With pizza we figure we'll try almost anything once--very open-minded.   We ordered the meatball and ricotta pizza and the Da Nico (spinach, prosciutto, & goat cheese), and yes, I was also wondering why some had names and some were merely the name of the key ingredients.  The smaller size of each (12 inches) brought us to $31.  This becomes important later. 

We had plenty left over, which brings me to my favorite part about the pizza:  eating a slice of Da Nico from the toaster oven with over easy eggs on top for brunch after a long run, with a side of sliced pear and Nutella of course.  YUM.  

Saturday night we wanted to go out, and once we got soup dumplings in our mind there was no doubt we were off to Latham and Ala Shanghai.  When we were there last on Christmas Eve with family, some of our XLB were deflated and desoupified--the place was jamming, and we ate them anyway.  Last night each one was soupy and super hot.   But the star of the show was the eggplant in our eggplant and chicken dish.  I'm not sure why the eggplant tasted like magic, but it did.  I'm surprised we had any left over--when we were both admittedly full we continued to nab pieces of eggplant until it was getting ridiculous and we HAD to stop eating.  Soup dumplings and two large entrees brought us to $25, AND we had leftovers and complimentary tea.  Quality, value, and a truly delightful atmosphere are what keep me schlepping to Latham from south of the border.

Lastly, what's making me happy this weekend is a new-to-me hamantaschen dough recipe from Not Derby Pie that yielded 21 cookies, none of which flapped open.  NONE.  J says they are the best-looking hammies I've ever made.  I liked that they were really fast to make--no refrigerating for hours or overnight, a quick 30 minutes did the trick (I recommend cleaning in between....or making another batch of hammies).   I'm still making a batch of these from smitten kitchen (with the cream cheese) because I do really like the taste of that cookie, but I've had varying success with the shaping.

Lastly, but certainly not least, we watched most of Cool Runnings this weekend.  It had been way too long since we saw that movie, and we couldn't tear ourselves away.  Really brought us back to '93.


News Good and Bad

Bad news: Miss Albany Diner closed.  Even the New York Times got in on the coverage, but it burns me up that they didn't mention where the building came from (my favorite place).  That's right, the building was made in Silk City, also home to a certain someone's salsa.  I'm looking forward to seeing what comes of it now that it's joined the Matt Baumgartner club.  As an Olde English and Bomber's fan (Wolff's I'm not so sure about) I hope it's interesting and different. 

Good news: We had the burger at Merry Monk and it was AWESOME.  Cooked perfectly (at "medium" it was still plenty pink inside, but not scary pink), flavorful, and totally opposite of the dry or tasteless gray matter I've encountered at most establishments (not just in Albany--everywhere).  It happened to be the special Add some Three Philosophers and you are golden.   Man I love beer.

Next burger on my list to try is at City Beer Hall. Anyone have it and care to weigh in?

Considering plenty of people wait in the cold or uncomfortably near the bathroom for a seat at Hattie's, I'm curious about why they chose to run a LivingSocial.   Maybe because I recently listened to an old radio segment about the economics of Groupon, and also because I am one of those people who has waited in the cold or uncomfortably near the bathroom, and the place doesn't seem to need more fans.  Or maybe it does?  Out of season, particularly? 

Hope you're all having a great weekend.


New Year's Eve @ New World Bistro Bar

I should probably tell you officially how much I enjoyed spending NYE @ NWBB.

NWBB is always a blast and it's always interesting.  When I heard they were doing a special NYE menu I knew it was way more up our alley than an open bar situation anywhere else.  Two drinks is enough for me; the food should be the star.  Luckily Steph and A shared our interest so we enjoyed good food and good company.  Look how cute our rolly menus are.

I began with the BLT salad with Bibb lettuce, rabbit bacon, and sundried tomato confit.  I really liked the gorgonzola ranch dressing and the polenta croutons, too.  If I assembled it myself,  of course I'd add more of the bunnybacon.  Everyone enjoyed theirs, but I think A's dish wins for prettiest.

Snapper cruda with a crunchy three-seed crust, Meyer lemon, Greek olive oil, and honey

Fried black-eyed peas and rice made for delightful Hoppin' John fritters for course two.

But I had the grape risotto and loooved it.  It, er, doesn't photograph well.

\ Oh hey, tamale and surf & turf.

Red and white tuna duo

For my entree I chose the Thai-style red snapper with spicy tamarind glaze. YUM!  I thought about the seitan because green tea soba noodles sounded fun, and it would be served in a kombucha squash. 

As ingredients dwindled throughout the night, the crispy rice paper lemon cloud napoleon went from lemony to Nutella-y.  Yes, yes, yes.   Also pictured above: ice cream sundaeeeeee.

Chevre cheesecake from Nettle Meadows Farm.  The little baby jar is adorable, and the "cake" was not really sweet at all--it was creamy and deliciousm no need for crazy sugar. 

The Italian Greyhound cocktail was a little too tart for me, even though I love grapefruit.  3/4 of us started with a special New Year's Eve cocktail that had cava and cognac.  We had more dishes, some of which just didn't photograph well.  Obviously we all had favorites, but no one was disappointed in any of the dishes.  The menu is full of whimsy and creativity, which is so important when dinner is the show.