Friday, December 2, 2011

Giving it a try....

I make my own pasta. I try to make my own pizza dough whenever possible. Generally, I try to make everything I can from scratch. Especially when it comes to Italian. Italian food is something I am overly comfortable with. It's my wheelhouse, my comfort zone, my go to. When in doubt, I can always count on Italian food to make it through a meal for people.

My father is Italian. My grandfather was a butcher. The man knows food. He also knows, well, I think he knows everything. He also get's that everyone has their own taste. We do not share a pallet. He cannot partake in heat like I can, he dosen't overindulge in cheese like I do, and he ENJOYS bitter food. While I would say he enjoys food, he could just as easily make a sandwich and not be bothered.

My mother is not Italian. My grandmother was a casserole slinging, Mac and cheese making, here have a sandwich kind of lady. In spite of this, my mother has an exquisite pallet. Whether she likes a taste or not, she gets it. She is aware of it. It effects the way the other food will taste. She is terrifying to cook for. She ENJOYS food the way I do. It is more than just nourishment, it is a moment in time you will never experience the EXACT same way you are experiencing it at that very moment.

I digress. I have been dying to try to make my own ravioli. I don't own a pasta maker. I don't own a lot of things I really feel I should own for my kitchen. The main culprit currently is this little guy
Is it weird that I hear "Isn't she lovely" by Stevie Wonder in my head every time I see this. 

So when I make pasta, it's the old fashion way. Flour, eggs, water, olive oil on a counter-top. Doughy handed I mush and mush until I feel like it's right. The reason I have yet to make ravioli is because, well, because it's really hard. You have to make it so thin. So perfect. Otherwise it's so damn heavy. And you have to cut it just right. And I don't have a ravioli cutter. Or ravioli pan thingys. The potential for disaster has just been too damn high for me to take the risk. Until now....

So in case I screwed up the main course I decided to make an easy appetizer that I knew would please everyone. Sweet yellow baby tomato's, a basil leaf and fresh mozzarella rolled in a piece of prosciutto, served on a thin cut toasted piece of Italian bread and lightly dusted with a raspberry balsamic. Fun little finger sandwiches based loosely on  Mozzarella Caprese. 

I had been dying to make a basil-tarragon pesto. Normal pesto sauce except I use peanuts instead of pine nuts (still toasted) and the addition of tarragon adds a bright note I have grown to love.Cooking for my parents and Kay I knew seafood was the right way to in lieu of stuffing. Ricotta, shrimp, arugula, mozzarella and some grated pecorino romano cheese.

So all that was left was the construction. This part was the nerve racking part. This was not a disaster, per se, but it was NOT one of the best dishes I have put together. The dough was too damn think. It was tasty, but it was really really thick. I couldn't get it thin enough to hold the filling. It was depressing. I was sad. I still am sad.

The filling was a disappointment as well. The shrimp just didn't hold up to the other flavors. It faded away. The cheese was a perfect mixture and made the ravioli at the very least decent enough to eat. The only bright spot was the pesto. Pesto is delicious. I would put pesto on ice cream if given the opportunity. It's that good. I really enjoy it with peanuts too. It's a simple switch but it really elevates the flavor

As I said, overall it was not a disaster, but not a raving success. My parents were kind as always and Kay likes anything I cook. It was a great night regardless of the food faux pas. I plan on trying to make them again soon. Not sure what the hell to do differently other than roll and roll and roll and roll. We'll see. Tonight I brine a Turkey (hard cider, all spice, peppercorns, cinnamon, salt, sugar). Tomorrow, Friendsgiving (Thanksgiving all over again for my closest group of friends). Pictures to follow. 

Off to look for something else to eat....

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Follow up to Breakfast Sausages

The Spices

The Patties

The Product.

My buddy at work Anne has asked me about these. It really is the easiest damn thing to make and super inexpensive. I have the spices in my house all the time anyway and pay practically nothing for the turkey ($3.49 for 1.2 lbs, all natural from Shady Farms). Other than the fact that you have to touch the raw meat (thats Anne's hold back) it really is delicious and easy. A small dinner role (I buy Mastrianni's. They are surprisingly good for you in comparison to a lot of other breads), a half a slice of Munster cheese, and one sausage patty. It's quick, portable, home made, and really pretty good for you. 

It's not as good as Grandpa Jack's, but it's damn good and nice and healthy. 

When you leave me alone....

So, as I stated in a post earlier today, I wanted to attempt to make Snow Chicken, a dish which I love from the bottom of my stomach, however I have never been able to figure out what the hell it truly is.

This is an order of snow chicken from Sake Cafe in Price Chopper plaza in Slingerlands. I am not usually one for sweet tastes, I generally prefer spicy/hot/fire/magma, but for some reason this dish sings to me. The soft tempora batter mixed with a sweet, semi-thick glaze is one of my favorite dishes period. I can't get enough of it.

So in my pursuit to find this mystery meal, I went to one of my favorite blogs, Table Hopping. Steve Barnes, being the gentlemen he is, posted an email I had sent to him to asking what the hell Snow Chicken was. Although not met with overwhelming response, one reader DID post something I could use. Honey Walnut Shrimp.

I know, I said Chicken. But judging from the ingredients it SOUNDS just like the Snow Chicken I have come to love so deeply. And better yet, it all seems easy enough. A quick Tempura batter, a super easy to make sauce, minimal ingredients, and done.

Tempora Batter - the equivalent of 5 or 6 egg whites. The recipe called for 4, but I like super fluffy tempora. Then simply added some corn starch, whisked, and it was ready for the chicken to be dipped in. 

The sauce is literally as easy as it looks above. Mayo, sweetened condensed milk, honey. I went with light Mayo and fat free sweetened condensed milk. I actually added some water to thin the sauce out a bit after originally mixing everything. It thinned it out the perfect amount.  

Tempora battered chicken. Cannola and peanut oil mixture (by choice believe it or not). 3 to 5 on either side depending on the size of the piece of chicken. To be totally honest, this would have been more than enough for me. I LOVE tempora anything.

The finished product. It was very very good. I learned a few things.
1. Fat Free Sweetened condensed milk does in fact taste different (not surprised)
2, The light Mayo was actually fine. Didn't taste any different given the addition of the honey. 
3. It needed something to cut the sweetness. I have not yet figured out what I think would do the trick, however I will most definitely be experimenting with this to figure it out. 

Best part of this whole experience, only $14 at the store to but everything, and I have more than enough of everything left over (sans the chicken, of course) to do it all over again. 

Off to look for something else to eat...

And now for something completely different...


I am going to attempt to make Snow chicken tonight, which I believe to be a mutant offspring of Honey walnut chicken, It is a Chinese dish with condensed milk, honey, and tasty little bits of lightly battered and fried chicken. The opportunity for me to screw it up is high.


Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Direction comes from lack of direction....

So I have been doing a lot of thinking recently about the “place” food comes from. Not necessarily just the physical place (location) but more so the emotional place food comes from. It started out innocent enough, but I find it has really turned into a spinning thought in my head I can’t seem to escape.

I started to think about types of, let’s call it, “Cuisine”. French, for example, is delicate, complicated to craft, highly regarded as the foremost in cooking. But it’s WHERE French food comes from that makes it less interesting to me. One of the earliest to keep a true track or recipes (no doubt partially adding to the illustrious opinion of the food), the classic French preparations that has made the food so well known was for the wealthiest of nobles. The access these cooks had was unrivaled. The spice trade, the freedom to grow local produce (and the climate to boot), and the right to kill, well, whatever the hell they felt like all contributed to the “sophistication” of the food they were able to prepare.

Italian cuisine is similar to French for me, but a bit more rustic feeling. A lot of the basics in Italian food seem to me to be constant throughout.  Some ingredients (mostly protein) would differ greatly, but there is a certain amount of consistency in Italian food that I have grown to appreciate over the years. Sauces, pastas, cheeses find their way into every dish most “classic” Italians prepare. But Italians had great access again because of environment/climate. Similar to the Greeks, much of Spain and Portugal, and even as far as India and parts of China. Not to mention wealth. Most of the countries i've named were driving the bus called commerce. They were controlling the trades, had goods to barter with and the travel to accommodate such bartering. 

In thinking about these cuisine types I have come to recognize something in me when it comes to food. I like, no, I prefer it if the food has primitive roots. I am fascinated by cultures that had little to use in the culinary sense and make dishes that burst with flavor. It is so much more impressive to me to make something delicious from what’s available as oppose to making something exquisite with, well, exquisite ingredients.

Authentic Mexican for example. Not that I can find it ANYWHERE in upstate NY, but by nature this food is a product of what people HAD to cook with. It’s the opposite of a delicacy. This is the stuff the people who cook delicacies throw away. Yet I LOVE Mexican food. The flavor profile is anything but simple. It’s complex, there is a ton going on, it’s spicy/rich/bitter/sweet many times in a single bite. And it’s not because they took the time to create or develop a complex flavor palette, it’s because they have ingredients they quite literally have to balance, otherwise you wouldn’t be able to stomach the stuff.

That’s culinary prowess. That’s to be envied in the cooking community. That’s awe-inspiring. That’s what makes me love food. Eating something I wouldn’t have before. Getting others to eat what they never liked. Isn’t that the goal of any great cook?

I mean no offense to some of the more “classical” preparations of food. French food is incredibly difficult to master. Truly become a master of ANY type of cooking is something to be marveled. But in a world where we have celebrated Chef’s as rock stars, is it not short-sighted to look upon people using the FINEST ingredients and tout them as “Iron Chef” of “Master”? I mean, it’s hard to screw up a Filet. Lobster does most of the work itself. And if you can’t cook pasta….

In fairness, I don’t necessarily resemble the type of cook I am describing. I spend an absurd amount of money on ingredients (cheese, really, just cheese). But as I become more cognizant of the food world and have started to ask myself questions about where food comes from, why it comes from those places etc. I find myself becoming increasingly more interested in Eastern European dishes, Thai preparations, Slavery inspired (Soul Food is offensive to me because of that Ice Cube movie) meals, and authentic Mexican dishes. People who made without. People who truly crafted meals. Artists of a different nature.

This is the direction I am taking things. I want to start to understand food on a truly visceral level. And I plan on doing everything I can on taking this search to the streets by finding people who know first hand, the Chef’s of these types of food. 

Now, off to look for something NEW to eat....

Thursday, October 20, 2011

A reason to love the interweb

If for no other reason than I never want to forget having seen this....


Thursday, October 6, 2011

Breakfast sausage recipe

About 2 weeks ago my local grocery store had for sale pre-made chicken sausage patties. I have gotten into the habit of making my own little breakfast sandwich in the mornings because it is A) Cheaper and B) Healthier. These little guys were actually really, really good. And supposedly all natural. So I went to buy more last night and, well, they are gone. Never to be carried again. Of course. So after wandering around the meat department for about 20 minutes (I shouldn't be allowed in a grocery store alone) I found NOTHING that was even remotely comparable to the chicken sausage patties. So now what....

I'll make my own. Here is how it went...

1.3 lbs of 99% Fat Free Turkey
2 tbsp dried sage
2 tbsp salt
1 tbsp marjoram
1 tbsp ground white pepper
red pepper flakes to taste (I like heat)
a pinch of ground clove

Mix all the spices together, add meat, make patties, cook on stove. 

Actually really good. I made 5 patties and one taste tester. I could (and next time will) make 6 or 7. The clove, while I believe is necessary, is WICKED powerful. When I say pinch, I should have said simdge. It'll definitely do the trick for the next 5 days at least. I cook them in advance and leave them in the refrigerator so I can quickly microwave them in the AM before the hour commute I have to work. Pictures to come...

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Times they are a changing....

Needless to say, I have been slacking on this in a serious way. I have about 5 posts that are mostly done, however they're are a few things that have kept me from throwing them up here:
1. I hate blogger. The template is clunky and annoying to work with. Uploading photos of high quality is an issue unless I want to actually go through the process of doing HTML coding (which I don't BTW).
2. Direction. I want to take TfT to the streets and do some new things however am having trouble gaining access to chefs. I want to turn this into a interview style forum to discuss food with those who craft it. I am overwhelmed with concepts but am lacking funds, access, and time.
3. Go big or go home. I have this need to be all gas and no brakes the majority of the time. Not that you would know by reading the posts here, but it takes me 2 hours to write them because I waffle back and forth between pictures, wording, blah blah blah.

Anyway, this is not the end of TfT, but it needs to be reinvented YET AGAIN! I will keep this one up this time as a point of reference for myself and in the meantime will use it as a portal for updates.

More to come....

Sunday, June 5, 2011

It's been too long/A West Coast send off

Once again adulthood has gotten in the way of me writing about something that happened AGES ago. Meet Leeana and Dave...

The original plan was to head to a restaurant named "Taste" in Downtown Albany, NY. The young chef is married to a woman who has a gluten intolerance, meaning his menu has a great selection of gluten-free fare. Leeana has been a very close friend (more like sister) of mine for the better of 12 years, however has only recently discovered that oppose to an extremely sensitive stomach she actually has a gluten intolerance. Coming from a family of Italians (and I mean Italians, like two kitchens in the house, grandmother who doesn't speak the language, more vowels than consonants Italians), you can imagine how hard this news could be. After some last minute conversation between Leea and I, we decide I should instead cook us dinner at their house. Now Dave spent quite some time in SoCal, and the two of them were heading to  Cali in a few short weeks (they are, in fact, their as I write this). So not knowing a  ton about gluten free, I decide to go for a San Francisco classic, Cioppino. I feel as though a Cioppino is the perfect choice for the meal. Not only is it Gluten free, but both Leeana and Dave are avid seafood lovers, and so is Kay.

So a traditional Cioppino is  dungeness crab, clams, shrimp, scallops, squid, mussels and fish. I opt to ditch the crab and the white fish and add 1 1/2 pounds of cold water Maine Lobster instead. When being completely over the top, I find it best to go big or go home. And let's be frank, Lobster makes EVERYTHING taste better. I was a but concerned it could get lost in everything else...

Now the BEST part of Cioppino is that it is VERY impressive to eat and incredibly easy to make. Shallots and fennel heated to translucency with olive oil. Followed by garlic and VERY thinly minced red peppers. Add in a dry white wine, tomato paste, diced tomatos with the natural juices, fish stock, and bay leaf (or leaves, depending upon your taste). Let it sit and reduce for roughly a half hour (or until all the tastes begin to blend). Now the fun part. Through in the mussels and clams and cover.  

 Within 5 minutes the mussels and clams will open. Now add the uncooked, peeled and devained shrimp. The shrimp, much like the mussels, will take little to no time. Simply watch the color. As they JUST begin to turn pink, throw in the lobster. The lobster will take less time then the shrimp to cook through, and the result of overcooked lobster is, in my opinion, significantly more upsetting than overcooked shrimp. 

The finished product. Like I said, looks cools, awesome thing to tell your friends you made, and beyond delicious. It is like drinking the ocean. It was beyond delicious, it was superb. I would have slept in it if it was an option. The fennel (even though it does smell like Jaeger while cooking) is the perfect bitter to the sweet and salty of, well, everything else in the pot. Garlic of course plays a major role. The small hint of heat from the red pepper, not a ton of salt given the amount of natural salt in the proteins themselves. It truly is a dish that makes itself. And if you like seafood, it's the home run of home runs. I could (and would) eat this 3 to 4 times a week. Its light but robust in flavor. It fills AND warms you up without carb loading. It is, well, Cioppino.  And after not so long, it was gone...

The Sad part, of course, is that as I write this Leeana may very well be enjoying the west coast sun with her husband, eating a cioppino somewhere on some deck overlooking the north pacific. I fear that as good as this was, it took SO long to post that the joy is now gone, the flavor forgotten, the wine has been replaced with many others, and the conversation has floated into the realm of the lost, which means only two things: 1. I need to make it again, with the Tetas, and Joseph Carr, and soon. 2. Off to look for something else to eat...

Monday, May 9, 2011

When Success outweighs Failure

This post comes late. Very, very late. Work has become overbearing to say the very least. It is seriously getting in the way of me being a productive blogger. All the same, to the food!!

So, first things first. Failure....

So my brilliant idea was to make a play on potato pancakes. I cleaned and washed some small yukon golds, cubed them, and threw them into the food processor. A hash brown of sorts. Seasoned well with parsley, salt, pepper, a small amount of oregano, and of course, a extra sharp cheddar cheese. Concept was simple enough. A hash brown/potato pancake type thing in small happy little lump. Pan fry them first and then bake them off. Too easy to mess up, right????

Here was the lesson of the week. I tried to get this done a day in advance. I know oxygen has a negative effect on potatoes. What I DIDN'T know was HOW negative. I was convinced that covered and sealed in the fridge the potatoes would be fine. What happened instead was a brown, lumpy, ugly, fowl smelling potato concoction I would not have served to the homeless. Thank goodness, as I have a tendency to do, I overcooked. 

So we've covered the hash browns are done. Next was on to the Quiche. Quiche is probably one of, if not my favorite, breakfast dishes. Crust, egg, cheese, some sort of protein. It's everything breakfast is supposed to be in a simple, bite size form. And, when cooking for a large group, to easy not to make. I went with what I call a "cheat quiche". "Cheat" referring to the use of a pre-made pie crust. 

Being that we had around 10 people coming for this Easter brunch, I decided less was more. I went with one pound of bacon, 3 and 1/2 cups of cheddar cheese, and one large white onion. I sautéed the onions in the bacon fat (after cubing and cooking the bacon obviously), let it cool for around an hour as to not cook the eggs upon contact. Then used 8 eggs. I use about 1 part milk to every 2 parts eggs before beating. It softens the eggs while cooking and keeps the eggs nice and fluffy. Usually this would be cooked at 350 for about 45 minutes, but given that the oven was filled with others, this was aout 1 1/2 hours at about 275

So when all was said in done, this might have been the true hit of the brunch. I would have preferred to have more bacon and perhaps even more cheese. Let me rephrase, I would ALWAYS like more cheese, and this particular dish was no different. The crust was good (cheat or no cheat) and I got to watch my little brother eat more than I think I have ever seen him eat. It was not the best I have ever made, however I got more people to indulge in quiche than normal, so I will take it as a win.

Next was the Ham. As is the usual for me, This was more of a purchase than it was an event. It came, spiraled, with glaze. I put it in the oven (very carefully I might add). I cooked it. My quasi father-in-law cut it. And that was the ham...

Next was on for the french toast. French toast is one of my better breakfast dishes. This particular time was a huge pain. The goal was Brioche. I wanted to get some brioche bread and use my regular blend of vanilla and almond extract. The issue. No Brioche anywhere. So instead, I decide I could use a cuban bread. Figuring I could easily cut the bottom crust off the cuban bread would have a similar sweetness and density so that it could hold up to both the vanilla and almond. But alas, no cuban bread either. For those of you who lives in a large metropolis and has access to great markets, consider yourself lucky. Instead, I found a nice sourdough. Although it is NOTHING like the original plan was, I thought the sweet and sour combo could actually compliment each other. And, as I sometimes do, it was a good idea. The sourdough was sour (as advertised), however the almond and vanilla extract additions really did serve a nice contrast, especially when you included some fresh from Vermont maple syrup.

So the best part of all of it, we had NO left overs. Almost the whole immediate family was there, the food was good, the conversation was spirited, and everyone left full and happy. My parents were in Hawaii which was the only missing piece, but otherwise is was a perfect Sunday afternoon. 

Now, off to look for something else to eat....

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

A BOLD move

So as any home cook can tell you, making food for friends can be stressful. Out of my group of friends, there are not a huge group of cooks. For the most part, its myself, and Kate.

Meet Kate.  Kate has been a dear friend of mine for over 7 years. Not only is she a friend, she married one of my great friends of over 12 years. Kate and I share a few core values:
1. Sarcasm above all else
2. Food is the closest thing to heaven on earth
3. Sometimes you have to hurt feelings to get shit done.

So the reason for the name of the blog. Kate and Kayla had talked about doing a friends dinner this past Saturday. When Kate agreed to host, she said she was going to make her lasagna. It just so happens, that is one of my more popular dishes with friends/family. It's also one of my personal favorites. Seven layers, so decadent that it actually induces a coma, and a full two days to cook. So needless to say, when I heard that Kate was making lasagna, the gloves were off. She was given full disclosure that I would ABSOLUTELY be critical in this post and not pull any punches. But before the main course...

Presentation was excellent. Olives, tomatoes, cucumbers, lettuce, with two dressings offered. A light ranch and a light italian. I had very little of the salad given that the lasagna was on the way, so I can't speak to the salad other than how pretty it was. But as pretty as it was, I was NOT about to waste space for rabbit food after I saw what Kate went through to make the main course...

Home made sauce. Not anything like my own, but delicious. I'm a huge oregano guy when it comes to my sauce, Kate's was significantly more subtle. Bay leave was prominent, could definitely taste the garlic (theres no such thing as to much garlic), and a nice amount of salt. My sauce tends to pack more of a punch. It isn't my style, but it was damn good.


Ricotta cheese with Mozz. Whipped well. Creamy, delicious. Don't think much was done to it prior to being lathered on the lasagna. 

And the finished product. Is there ANYTHING better looking than melted cheese. No, no there is not. For this shindig, Kate and fam pulled out all the stops. 

You see that. That's fresh made (from scratch) Italian bread. HUGE win. First time Kate said it had gone the way she intended. Super crispy on the outside, warm and soft on the inside. It was incredibly well done. 

And plated. A HUGE slab of cheese, meat, sauce, and pasta. Bread to pick up what ever gets left behind. Heaven. The cheese on top was thick. Sweet italian sausage with ground beef. A nice balance of the two. The sauce was generous however not over powering. I use hot and sweet italian sausage and generally veal. Not to mention the heat my sauce usually has (red peppers, yellow peppers). There was no heat in this. The flavor profile was not complex. It was simple, but executed extremely well. And Kate wasn't done. 

Turtle dove cheese cake. Caramel, chocolate, pecans, and more cheese. One of the only desserts I could generally be bothered with. After TWO portions of lasagna, I barely found room for a small piece of this,  but of course, I did. It was awesome. I don't bake. I don't know anything about baking. I rarely do dessert. I don't eat enough cake/cheese cake/dessert in general to say anything about this other than, well, yum...

It almost pains me to be so gushy in this. I really almost wanted this to be an epic failure so I could prove how objective I was, prove that just because I know people I won't play nice. It was my shot at integrity in journalism. Instead, Kate nailed it. It was not the lasagna I would make. It is not the way that I make my sauce. And yet, it was all very homey, very delicious and made with the kind of care only a friend who knew some jerk behind a keyboard would judge it could do. Hats off dear friend, it was a raving success. 

Off to look for something else to eat....

Monday, March 28, 2011

Anniversary Dinner

So on Friday Kay and I celebrated our anniversary. As per usual, within minutes of sitting down and before we had ordered drinks, I have a story.

Meet Dottie and Jane. Dottie and Jane were sitting at the table directly across from us as I sat and took pictures for the blog. They noticed we were sitting together and promptly came over to see if we needed to have them take a picture of us. "Of course"! After struggling with the SLR for a few takes, Dottie snagged the picture you see above. Cheers Dottie, the picture is great, the spirited conversation we held for the short while we got to talk was even better. You guys rocked!

I digress. So we decided to head to a newly opened restaurant in Albany called "The Point". Chef Jennifer Hewes is responsible for a mix of what I would say is classic american eats with a sophisticated asian flair.

Meet Steve. Steve will be hanging out this evening with Kay and I. Steve has just recently returned to Upstate NY after living in Canada for a while. The accent stuck with him from those parts and I rather enjoy it, eh. 

I had a light lunch with the anticipation of trying somewhere new and Kay, well, eat's like the birds. I decide we need an appetizer. The choice wasn't easy. "Bang Bang Lobster and Shrimp". Lobster marinated with sesame oil, flash-fried and served with shrimp and spicy sriracha aioli. They had me at "Bang Bang". The promise of anything with heat is always a winner for me. However, as mentioned in my first post, Kay does not share this affinity for food-sweats. The "Trio Sampler". Taste-size eggplant napoleon with spicy red sauce, crab cake with lemongrass-ancho chili remoulade and green bean fries. Nothing says good idea like a "sampler" of anything. More to taste always wins out in my head.

Eggplant Napoleon - Now I must first admit that eggplant and I are close friends, especially battered and fried. So walking into this particular part of the "trio" it was destined to be a winner of sorts. It was as advertised. Eggplant was fried well, not too greasy but still with a nice crisp to it. the red sauce was pretty standard. I would trade the word "spicy" in the description for "peppered". Not too strong of a pepper flavor, but I wouldn't classify it as spicy by any stretch.
Green Bean Fries - Served on top of a wasabi style aioli (creamy, smooth, and actually quite delicate considering). Again, fried well, not overly greasy, not soggy. Not a thrilling dish by any stretch, but I don't assume it was intended to be. Tasty, not to heavy, and the wasabi aioli was great.
Crab cake - Winner! Really nice crunch on the outside, soft and flaky on the inside. Well seasoned, the bread did not dominate the taste. The real star was the lemongrass-ancho chili remoulade. It was superb. The citrus was the first taste, immediately followed by the chili. It was the perfect consistency, well distributed across the bottom of the crab cake. This was really a very nice treat.

After a few drink orders, it was time for dinner

 Seafood cakes- Sweet lump crab meat, shrimp, scallops and langostino’s house-made bread crumbs and herbs lightly fried, served with
vegetable rice pilaf accented with a Dijon-dill remoulade. This place get's cakes! Again, fluffy, crispy, great remoulade. Just a great dish.

French Kiss - Grilled filet mignon atop scalloped sweet potatoes, with a vanilla bean, cherry butter kiss and drizzled with a Bordeaux port wine glaze.
A few things stuck out on this. First of all, the steak was cooked perfectly! Wonderfully medium rare, and it was a very nice piece of meat. The vanilla on the plate was a home run! As a fan of vanilla, it was easy for me to get behind the idea of adding a Bordeaux to it and running every single cut of the steak through it as heavily as possible. There was, however, a downside. The sweet potatoes were buttered to DEATH! Like Paula Dean buttered. The result, a little river of butter at the bottom of the plate. That butter, when interacting with the steak glaze, acted as quite the diluter of what was some fantastic flavors. Only on the furthest edge of the plate was the butter not running interference with the glaze. Generally speaking, there is no such thing as to much butter, however a beautiful cut of beef with a well executed glaze suffered because of it.

Overall, a very satisfying meal in a nice place. I will definitely head back to The Point. The tables are nicely broken up so you're not sharing your meal with others. The food was great, the company (as always) was wonderful, service was fantastic, and we immediately followed the meal by wandering into my favorite TRUE dive in Albany, Mahar's. We'll chalk that up as a tease for a later post. Off to look for something else to eat....

Friday, March 18, 2011

Weekend away

So as you get to know me, you will eventually understand the beautiful irony that for my first entry I will discuss going to a Brewery. Unintentionally I might add, but none the less.

Kay and I set out to Cooperstown NY this past weekend. B&B, Baseball Hall of Fame, and the prospect of somewhere we had never eaten before. Plan for dinner is Saturday night. We arrive early, check into a B&B we find while driving in. The house was beautiful. Built in the late 1800's it has all the Victorian charm one could ask for. We get a dinner recommendation of Inka's and Alex. The owner mentioned they serve Lamb. Sold. It's early afternoon. What is there to do in Cooperstown?

Drink. That's what you can do in Cooperstown. And you can drink WELL! About 4 miles from our B&B is the Ommegang brewery. Now if you live in the northeast and enjoy beer, you've heard of them. Delicious Belgian style beer. Come to find out they do tours of the factory. Perfect. So away we go to take a tour and hopefully have a nice little tasting.

Bad news. They are re tiling the factory and tours are not available. Good news. They just opened a bar behind the brewery that is in it's second day of operation.

Meet John.
John is my bartender today. Not his usual gig, he actually works in the Promotions department. He's helping out since they just launched this new bar.

Meet Kay.

She is undoubtedly my better half. Not much a beer drinker, she wanted food. So they bring out the menu.
Color me surprised. A huge menu of crepe's, salad's, a whole array of chocolate and dessert offerings (including waffles), and Frites (or french fries). Given the unknown of dinner, we decide smaller is better. Frites it is. But the decision was not that easy.
Sauces. Delicious sides of sauces. I have an affinity for heat, however Kay does not share this disorder. We agree on the Chipotle (a compromise from the Spicy Chili) and the Truffle/Soy Aioli. Whilst we wait, John buys me a beer since the tour was closed.
Duvel Green. New to me. I have had Duvel in the past, but the "Green" has a softer, lighter feel to it. Not overly yeasty, not very hoppy, a lovely introduction into the Belgium world of beers if it was your first time. But, this is not my first time.

Rare Vos....hello old friend. Caramel in color and in up front taste, immediately followed by either pare or apple, hard to tell. Incredibly smooth for as dark as it is and refreshing as all get out. And a perfect compliment to something salty!
You will quickly learn I am a SUCKER for presentation. This was great. The fries were fresh cut (which is a taste you cannot fake), definitely fried in peanut oil (huge improvement in taste for my palette), and the side sauces were fantastic.
Chiplote sauce - tasted a lot like a Rick Bayless (Frontera Chef) creation. Smokey, clean, not super hot but a nice spice throughout.
Truffle/Soy Aioli - WOW! As you can tell, this one got a TON of use. The soy note was incredibly subtle, but offered a really nice salty contrast to the richness of the Truffle. This is something I will undoubtedly try to recreate. A great idea.
They were delicious. Not overly greasy, not too salted, perfectly complimented by the dipping sides. A win.
Three Philosophers. A dessert beer if you ask me. Luscious, silky, smooth, rich, sweet, and oh-so-delicious. Also roughly 9% alcohol. Vanilla, fruits, chocolate, even coffee jumps on the tongue during a single sip of this.

Needless to say, both the Three Philosophers and the entire experience was enjoyed to the last drop. However, it left me in NO position to go truly enjoy a nice meal. So instead, we retired back to the B&B, grabbed a slice of pizza and some snacks, and relaxed.
This blog will be about food for the most part. In this case, an adventure presented itself, and as I have a tendency to do, I dove in head first. And I wouldn't have changed a thing. Off to look for something else to eat...