Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Joy, Joy! The Canned Cheese and Butter I Ordered Has Arrived.



Not much time for blogging today as I am cut loose from the Gulag due to my wife having labor induced a little later. I have a spare minute and I had to share with everyone the contents of the lovely package I just received on this snowy morn. I ordered 4 cans of Red Feather Brand canned cheese and 1 can of butter. I can't find a website for Red Feather, but it is a New Zealand brand and their products are widely available on the internet. I am kind of a pseudo-survival nut, so anything shelf stable piques my interest. The thought of having grilled cheese ingredients when the zombie apocalypse arrives makes me happy. Anyways, I have to think of something to make with the cheese and butter to test the quality. Any ideas?


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Sunday, January 18, 2009

Return of the Neba! Capital Region Rejoice!



Any regular reader will be aware of my frequent nostalgia fits regarding the foods and restaurants of my Albany childhood. So when I heard that the Neba was back (via Steve Barnes and Cathy Woodruff of the Times Union) I was almost overcome. Does anyone remember Mike's Neba? To the best of my childhood memories it was over on Central and Colvin in front of where the Hannaford's is now. I am presently a Guilderland resident, but I grew up on the mean streets of downtown Albany and my parents worked off Central Ave. I remember uncountable trips to Mike's Neba where my parents would have lunch and I would get Slushies. In fact, I must have been Slushie mad as a child because these trips to Mike's are among the pantheon of those few disconnected, warm and fuzzy, especially treasured, earliest clear memories of culinary bliss. Except for the penny candy store that used to be on Ontario and Washington (anyone remember that?), I can't think of a place that made my 6 year old heart happier.

I don't remember too much about the actual Neba sandwich (I think this would have been too much for my finicky child's palate) so I was excited when I heard about Mr. Subb bringing them back. I never knew this, but Mr. Subb is run by the original owners of Mike's Neba. So this isn't just some corporate attempt to capitalize in the soft spots in our Upstate hearts, it is an actual recreation of the original sandwich. I had to run over to the Western Ave. location and grab a couple last night. They were reasonable at 3.99$. Here is one of the sandwiches-



The components of the Neba are fairly simple. Sesame bun, jus cooked roast beef slices, and Tiger sauce. No cheese thank you very much. Here is the opened sandwich revealing the Tiger sauce-



The Tiger sauce is a lightly tangy concoction described as a mayonnaise/horseradish mixture. I like it, it is only mildly spicy and I would have liked to have seen a bit more horseradish, but it had a nice sweet flavor. I am a spicy kind of guy so I forgive them for the mildness of the sauce. In the next picture you can kind of see that some of the roast beef is still pink, not the unpleasant gray of an Arby's beef n' cheese (didn't I hear the rumor that Neba stood for NEver Buy Arby's?)-



I watched them prepare the sandwich and I enjoyed watching them fish the beef out of the pot with a slotted spoon which was then pressed with a second spoon to remove excess juice. This results in a sandwich that is moist and succulent but not over soggy. I really enjoyed the Neba sandwich. There was a healthy amount of beef, the sauce was good, and the bun held up nicely. I am glad the Neba is back, I give it two thumbs up. In fact, I might have to have another for lunch. Hooray for local food traditions (see here for the unique Capital Region hotdog style), does anyone remember any others that are worthy of discussion? Please share.

**Update

I found a link to this picture in a link from Steve Barne's blog. Supposedly, It is the Central and Colvin location. Not quite how I remember it, it might be before my time.





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Saturday, January 17, 2009

The Onesie I Just Made for my Soon to Be Daughter



It looks like Mr. Dave will be the proud father of a lvl. 1 female human within the next fortnight, so I thought that the young lass needed to come into the world and immediately be indoctrinated into her fathers strange sense of humor. Via my wife's sister I was introduced to the Make A Onesie website and tonight I decided to craft the above garment. I did a little tinkering with the old "Push Button, Receive Bacon" graphic that has been floating around the internet. If you can't read it the onesie says, "Tickle Baby, Receive Bacon." This made me giggle for several minutes and I am now absolutely filled with glee to know that my creation is actually on its way to my house. It combines two of my favorite topics, bacon and poo humor.


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Saturday, January 10, 2009

Greulich's Market - Guilderland, NY



I have been doing a lot of strenuous exercise lately and my whole body is pretty much a massive ball of torn muscle fiber. I believe that this is the reason why I awoke this morning craving bloody red meat. Either my body is craving protein to repair itself or I am turning werewolf (the moon was full last night, no?).

I am always loathe to purchase meat from a supermarket, so I decided to make a trip down the road to Greulich's Market in my hometown of Guilderland. Greulich's is pretty much an institution among the somewhat stodgy folk of Guilderland and I am a frequent customer. The real draw for me is the solid butcher, although there is a fairly good selection of groceries, baked goods, and produce. In fact, you probably could safely do most of your weekly shopping at Greulich's. I especially love the giant cow sculpture adorning the market's roof. The story about how one day someone stole the cow and subjected it to unknown high jinx is the stuff of Guilderland lore and legend.

Upon entering you are greeted by a poster delivering an obvious jab directed at super market butchery-



On your way to the butcher counter you will pass the quaint and folksy selection of baked goods that the market offers, I recommend the black and white cookies-



It appears that the good folks at Greulich's have linked up with some spice distributor and are now peddling their own "house" brand of herbs and spices. This makes me raise an eyebrow, Greulich's should stick to what they are good at (namely, meat) and resist the urge to slap their venerable name on some cut rate spices to be sold at inflated prices. Here is one of these travesties, displayed in front of the lovely wifes 9 months pregnant belly-



Notice that these are imitation bacon bits. I think I heard the small voice of my soon to be born daughter from within the wife's belly saying something like, "Fake Bacon? What is that shit?" Fake bacon in a venerable house of meats is never excusable.

In the back of the store you are presented with the spacious and sparkling clean display of butcher's delights in Greulich's lengthy cold case. I was only able to capture a mere section of it in the following picture. Behold the meaty beauty-



I am a weirdo and get a kick out of old timey industrial design and this lovely 40s/50s Viking display fridge is tantamount to high art in my opinion.



Something I always found interesting about Greulich's is the meat plans they offer.



These are family plans that each involve various selections of pork, beef, and chicken packaged, portioned, and made ready for pickup on a weekly basis. This is a great idea for those who have large and ravenous families along with the time and thrifty nature to plan their meals in advance. If you break these plans down by what you get, they are also a pretty darn good deal. Much cheaper than what you would pay item by item at the local Hannaford's or P-Chops.

I was craving a steak so I chose a lovely 1 pound plus porterhouse at something like 6.99 a pound. Even though this steak would probably have sated my beefy desires, I decided to pick up some of Greulich's sandwich steaks. Me and my wife are big fans of these, they are pretty much like fresh steakums. The wife, being a good Italian lass, enjoys a good potato and pepper sandwich. Once in a while the addition of some fried sandwich steaks pleases her. I like them with some fried onion on white bread.

There are few things as pleasing to the eye as fresh meat, wrapped lovingly in butcher's paper, and fastened with masking tape.



Here are the sandwich steaks-



This is the lovely porterhouse-



I purchased a wedge of Danish Bleu to broil to a goodly brown on top of the steak and I think I will be having quite the nice meal this snowy evening. I really encourage any readers who are Capital Region locals and have a spare minute to go give this place a try. I think you will find it charming as I do, in fact, today I was grinning ear to ear when I overheard an old gentlemen (red/black checkered flannel, jeans, suspenders, tractor hat) ordering a pound of Tobin's First Prize bologna (the poor old codger probably didn't even know that our own Tobin's was bought out some time ago by the John Morrell meat conglomerate) and fully pronouncing the g in bologna, as in "bo-log-na."


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Saturday, January 3, 2009

Breakfast at Grandma's on Central

It looks like I have been taking the culinary tour of Central Avenue this weekend. Me and the wife stopped in at Grandma's this morning for a little breakfast. I had heard some scuttlebutt to the affect that Grandma's has changed ownership somewhat recently. Apparently the owner of another venerable Central Ave eatery, Ralph's, has taken over operations. I am not a huge Ralph's fan, but I stop in every few months for some mozzarella sticks with raspberry sauce. By the way, Ralph's has been calling their raspberry sauce "coulis" which sounds to me like they are puttin' on airs. What is next? Foie gras parmesan?

My parents used to take me to breakfast at Grandma's fairly often when I was a kid, so I thought I would give it another shot. I seem to most strongly remember the roller ball bowling video game they used to have in the entrance way, and the fact that they put onions in the home fries. The first thing I noticed when we walked in this morning was the ridiculous amount of Valentine's day decorations that were present. It was a festival of red paper hearts and crepe paper. I had to giggle at the side-by-side cameos of George Washington and Martin Luther King in the windows.



Me and my wife both ordered the Grandma's Special (2 eggs, meat, home fries, toast, choice of bev) with a Belgian waffle to split. The Belgian waffle was pretty solid, my socks were not blown off, but all in all a tasty waffle. The real whipped cream was definitely a plus.



I ordered my eggs poached and chose sausage for my meat. It was interesting that the sausage was not links as I expected, but a smushed patty of loose sausage meat. It was pretty tasty, not as heavily spiced as I like my breakfast sausage, but it was an interesting change of pace. The eggs were perfectly poached which is pretty important to my poached egg maniac self. Notice that the wife graciously donated a strip of her bacon to my breakfast as she knows that I don't consider any breakfast plate complete without a savory slice.



Me and my other half were both very pleased with the breakfast and the price. A couple hardcore Grandma's fans that I have in my family swear up and down that the quality of the food has suffered under the new ownership and have forsaken the place, but I don't share the opinion. Grandma's is still OK in my book. We purchased a chocolate cream pie for my parents on the way out and entered the parking lot with pleasantly full bellies.


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