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...