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Showing posts from 2014

Country View Diner Pie

Today we checked out Country View Diner in Brunswick, and let me tell you about lemon meringue pie. We were all set to leave after having some tasty sandwiches, and I spotted a mountain of meringue in the dessert case. I had to have it. I got a piece to go and this slice of pie has to weigh like a whole pound and seems like easily 6 inches tall. Also, there's an extra crust on top of the lemon custard part, and I'm pretty sure the meringue has marshmallow fluff mixed it with it. This pie is impressive - a force of lemon to be reckoned with. Is it socially acceptable to have pie for dinner?

Berle Farm Yogurt

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The best food adventures are ones in which your navigation devices do nothing for you. When I went to the Bears' Steakhouse for my birthday a couple years ago, you knew it was going to be good because the GPS, the iphone, and the Onstar were all wrong. The universe was making us work really hard for our pile of meat, and it tasted all the better because of it.


When I first saw Berle Farm yogurt at the Honest Weight Co-op, I was surprised to see there was something from Hoosick I hadn't heard of since I've now worked out there for 7 months. My coworker and I decided it was a good lunch time activity to go show up over there and buy some yogurt. We phoned the exceedingly sweet lady for directions, got incredibly lost on unmarked beautiful country roads (GPS and smartphone acting useless), and were promptly greeted by the laziest of golden retrievers. We put our $6 in the cash can, and took with us the smoothest, tastiest of yogurts. Its not sweet (although you could always …

End of Summer

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Yesterday I left work and my summer intern on his last day said "Thanks for everything this summer. Its been real." Then, I decided to stop in at Grafton Lakes on the way home. I waded in the water and called a former coworker who has a whole new position at my old job. Her boyfriend wants to go to grad school, I'm going to do some work in NYC  - so many new things.  Then the loud speaker announced "Everyone out of the water, this is the end of the day and the end of the summer. Please come back next year!". I squeezed my toes in my sand and felt ok leaving.

There have been times in past years I tried so hard to pretend summer wasn't ending - trying to convince my husband to go on a last minute humid, hazy Labor Day trip to the Finger Lakes. But this time it  feels like something different. People say spring is a season of newness, but we spend our school years starting anew in September. We spend much of our lives having to pretend to be so many different…

Working and Eating around Hoosick Falls, NY

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Yesterday I asked my intern if we are yuppies, and he looked up from his laptop and the poetry book he was working with, glanced out at the hay bales in the field and said "No, we're yrppies, young rural upwardly mobile professionals." To which I stuck my hand in the air and said, "What? I live in the capital of New York state!" 

For the last six months now I've been working out in Hoosick Falls, NY. At its peak in 1900 it had around 7,000 people, and according to the 2010 census its now at half that and continues to decline. Its quite the experience being out there - not like Williamstown, MA which felt like a slice of the Upper West Side of Manhattan magically transplanted to bucolic New England - but rather authentically rural. People raise chickens not because its trendy, and they want to make some sort of fetish out of it, but because thats what their families have always done. Similar to my mother-in-law who grew up with homemade bread not because so…

Heirloom Tomato Salad With Tarragon Dijon Vinaigrette

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Since a friend requested the recipe for the dressing of the above salad, I thought I would share it with this blog's tens of readers. We serve this salad as a main course at least once a week and often more during the all-too-brief tomato season. And the tomatoes themselves are the secret!

Slice the tomatoes, add some salt, and place them in a collander over a bowl.  Wait at least 15 minutes.  As a result, not only will the tomatoes give of less moisture when they're in the salad, the juice serves as the base of the dressing.To the juice, whisk in two parts olive oil and one part each of good wine or sherry vinegar.  (If you don't have lemons handy all vinegar is fine.)  Add a teaspoon plus of good Dijon, which not only contributes good flavor but serves as an emulsifier.  Whisk aggresively.Add tarragon; a little fresh if you have it, but for this herb dried works fairly well. Add salt and pepper to taste. It's a great dressing.  This particular salad had wild greens,…

Summer Moments

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I was going to write a whole post about all the stuff I bought at the flea market at the Washington County fairgrounds last weekend, but taking the advice of the above sign I bought at Francesca's in Crossgates (ironic I know), maybe I'll tell you what I've been up to this summer instead (by the way, I love that store and I want to cover my body and walls with everything in it - but why so talkative, staff members? I'll tell you what I want in a clothing store - everything costs $20, no one talks to me, and Rihanna is playing in the background. That's it, when you try to be my best friend or make me into your career counselor for your Arts Administration degree I'm doing that instead of deciding on necklaces).

This summer I:
Went swimming. We did all kinds of wine tasting in the Finger Lakes. I wanted to go swimming at the Seneca Lake State Park and the lifeguard never showed up. We went all over, including antiquing in Hammondsport (America's Coolest Small…

Another Fork in the Road, Dutchess County

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We used to take the Amtrak or drive to Poughkeepsie to take the Metro-North to visit NYC. In more recent times though, we've discovered the charm of driving. Insane Manhattan traffic you say? Take the BQE. Expensive parking you say? My mother-in-law spotted a place in Brooklyn that costs $7 a day. And there are benefits too - flexibility of timing, being able to buy stuff there and cart it back (no one wants to crush their pretty Paper Source loot or One Girl whoopie pies in a backpack), and in the case of my job being able to move artwork around. The Taconic State Parkway is also beautiful and incredibly civilized to drive on. You feel a bit like Don Draper dropping Sally off at boarding school. You can imagine all the old timey road trips taken on that very strip of asphalt. I drove down for work a little while ago, fought through traffic in the Bronx, got to a spot near Hudson on the Taconic and experienced the most beautiful view. It was all fresh air, arm-stretching space, an…

Anniversary Dinner At Angelo's 677 Prime

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Ms. Garlic and I haven't been to what is frequently cited as Albany's best restaurant in a long time, so for our anniversary we decided to go. It still has many pleasures to recommend, but at least one main course was crucially flawed. To start with the high points, the service was friendly, efficient and polished. Our "lobster cocktail" appetizer (served with roasted corn pico, cilantro, crisp rice pearls, smoked maize, and a chili crema) was superb. The by-the-glass wine list is unparalleled in my experience in the city -- I had an excellent 2005 Barolo for under $15. The atmosphere is nicely romantic. I'll let Ms. Garlic tell you about her salmon, but it was very good. But -- apart from this, Mrs. Lincoln, how was the play -- there was my steak. Not that it was bad, not by any means -- it was a high-quality, generous piece of meat that came with a pleasingly charred exterior. But given a very high price for steak that isn't advertised as and doesn…

We Shall Return, And the Surprisingly Good Dining Options at the Price Chopper Plaza

As Ms. Garlic's recent post indicates, we promise to be back imminently with some discussions of dining here (home and out) and downstate. In the meantime, allow me to endorse the positive TU review of Tomo Asian Bistro. The lunch specials, in particular, are among the better dining deals in Albany. (Another one, incidentally, is against all odds in the same Slingerlands strip mall -- if you're able to make it on a weekday, the salad-and-small pizza lunch at Bellini's is excellent.)

Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream

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My husband went out of town last week, and I decided to make all the things he doesn't really like. I had a whole bunch of eggs from a lady at my great new job who raises these kinds of chickens that produce different colored eggs. Aren't they beautiful?


I was browsing at Penzey's at Crossgates where I spotted some spearmint and thought making some mint chocolate chip ice cream was a great idea (both of our sets of parents can't get enough of it, and he's always saying how he doesn't get why people love the flavor so much). I have to say that I really really love Penzey's, and I love that they came to our area. I really want to support them. I love that you can go and stick your nose on into all their spices. I love their cocoa powder for making cakes. I love their green goddess salad dressing base. Their staff is always really friendly, knowledgeable, and often inspirational ("Hey, you like tacos? I will tell you what to try!"). Also, their catal…

The Low Beat Albany

At my other place, I briefly reviewed the spectacular show put on last night by the brilliant Cincinnati-based band Wussy.  Suffice it to say that they're one of my favorite bands, and the show was better than I was expecting.  Of more relevance to the subject matter of this blog, however, is the venue.

The Low Beat -- on Central and Quail -- is the new club run by the former owner's of Valentine's on New Scotland. And it's worth noting that they've done a terrific job with it. Not only because they brought a great band that hasn't played a lot of the country's major urban centers yet to Albany and have good taste in general. (Had I known Johnathan Richman was playing there in time, my first visit would have been earlier in the month. I really need a good "coming shows" app or something.) But not only does it look good, unlike so many music venues they didn't neglect the beverage choices. The taps included generally excellent selection o…

Boca Bistro Bachelorette Party

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My friend Jessica's Bachelorette Party was this weekend in Saratoga. It was a fabulous time. I couldn't believe how many really nice ladies she's friends with. I really love the movie "13 going on 30", and I watched it recently while out in North Adams dogsitting. I've probably seen it more repeat times than any other movie the last few years. I really love the pitch she gives on how to change the magazine. While her rival character gives the pitch to make the magazine more cynical, darker, more anorexic, the Jennifer Garner character says she wants to feature real women who are smart and pretty and happy to be who they are. Everytime I see that movie, I just love that scene so much. And so what a pleasure it was last night to meet so many interesting, accomplished ladies all in the mood to have a great time.


We started out at Boca Bistro. Our friend Tiffany did a fabulous job organizing it for such a large party, and $30 per person for three courses was a gr…

Ugly Rooster Cafe, Mechanicville

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Yesterday we checked out the Ugly Rooster Cafe in Mechanicville. We tried it once last year too. It is a cute, old school looking place that feels very much like it fits in with the town. People all seem to know each other, a whole big group was huddled around a tv tuned to the local news at the counter, and the employees are all super friendly. They have an extensive menu with a lot of inventive things I'd still like to try, including: the omelette with asparagus, crab, and hollandaise sauce, the BLT with fried green tomatoes, and the southern style breakfast sandwich which sounds over the top (fried egg, cheddar, fried green tomato, on a buttermilk biscuit is what the menu online says but I'm pretty sure the menu there had added bacon and gravy inside the sandwich). Its hard to decide what to eat when so many things sound so good.

Scott had the Huevos Rancheros, which were very delicious:


I had a chicken sandwich (The Mechanicville Special) with bacon, ranch, and avocado and…

Life Lessons / Philosophy in the Bathroom at The Point

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I had a real Smallbany moment at The Point on Thursday night. It was really funny. It turned out that our server Lauryn (the best), who had been our server starting 5 years ago at Provence, was the babysitter when she was a little kid of a server we know from the Pourhouse who was there at The Point as a customer and came over to talk to us. It was the funniest thing because they hadn't seen each other since Lauryn was the babysitter.  I never get tired of weird coincidental connections between people, so much that it gets hard to explain sometimes or so far removed its not even interesting. Like... my new coworker's husband is in the Albany Symphony Orchestra, and I have a friend (who I met at the All Over Albany party 3 years ago) who also is in the ASO and so they know each other... my new worker's daughter is friends with a friend of someone who did a reading at my wedding, who I was introduced to by someone I went to grad school with in NY. Is it interesting? Are we s…

Irving Farm Coffee Roasters

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On one of our super fun day trips to the Hudson Valley last fall we discovered the small town of Millerton near the CT border. Its a cute town, like a mini Hudson - there's a handmade glass place, a cute vintage store that sells the kind of lingerie from the 1940s that can help you pretend you are some kind of old Hollywood starlet (I just wish I had this Pier 1 mirrored vanity as well), a well-curated wine store that offers weekend tastings given by friendly staff members, and Oblong Books.



For my point of view, the best part of Millerton is the solidly outstanding coffee shop, Irving Farm Coffee Roasters. Like all really delicious coffee places, they really pay attention to where the green beans come from and sell the roasted beans as close as possible to when they were roasted. You really want to make sure you grind your beans as close as possible to when you brew the coffee for best results. All that combined is pretty much the formula for an amazing cup of coffee.

At the ca…

Belhurst Castle

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I was lucky enough to receive a gift certificate to Belhurst Castle in Geneva, NY from my in-laws as a birthday gift! We stayed in the Chambers in the Castle, in which each of the rooms is unique and charming. We stayed in the Garrett Room, which was the only one vacant and not the most luxurious, but still great. It is a completely relaxing place with a really fascinating history. We're talking architectural beauty, pure class, insanity, gambling, and finally tourism and incredible hospitality. Scroll down here for the history - its a great read. There are complimentary chocolate castles, a wine spigot that spits out unlimited red wine free with your room (!), free slippers, a super comfortable bed, and incredible lake views. There's also something about lake front air that has a really fresh taste to it. There's also a great lounge, Stonecutter's, and fabulous restaurant, Edgar's. Oh they also have a spa and sell and offer tastings of their own wine. What more co…

The Madison Pourhouse: Opening Week

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After an aborted attempt at a yesterday, I met some friends and then Ms. Garlic at the Madison Pourhouse, the replacement for Mahar's being opened by the owners of the bar's neighbors Cafe Madison, Junior's, and The Point.  I had some degree of optimism -- Junior's has always had much better taps than you would expect from the collegey vibe -- but also some trepidation.  The extensively renovated space isn't Mahar's for better (much more seating, much better restrooms) and worse (tradition, the beer tour.)  But ultimately it has to be judged on its own merits, and I think there's a good chance that it will rival the Bier Abbey as the best beer bar in the Capital Region, at least on the beverage side. 

The beer selection, which you can see here, is excellent and very fairly priced.  I had an Old Chub and a Founders All Day, while true to her Michigan roots Ms. Garlic had the Bell's White.  It's a nicely balanced list, between styles and regions, an…

Baked Dishes in Winter

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So its winter in upstate New York. After all the bustle of the holidays and the work it takes to de-Christmasfiy one's house (I still have some wrapping paper spread out on the floor in some far flung corners), its nice to spend some time indoors and reconnect with old friends and long lost acquaintances. On Friday, I threw a Book Exchange Party. Its like a book club with less commitment or a regular party with extra topics of conversation. I thought it turned out great, and it was super interesting to see what people brought. The downside (or upside?) is that we are now the proud owners of everything people were given over the years, King Jesus being the biggest prize.

I also spent a lot of time in the kitchen today. I was talking to my mom about how the New York Times dialect quiz knew I was from Detroit, and you just can't deny what you are or where you are from. I made some spanokopita from America's Test Kitchen's book Cooking for Two, which you might not think s…