Sunday, September 27, 2009
There's nuthin' like the onset of the fall season to make a tried and true Upstate New York boy (Appleknocker) like myself wax poetic about his home region. Fall, and everything that comes along with it around here, makes me love where I am from. The leaves changing, the solemn grayness of the cold weather, the celebration of Autumn foods and traditions all get me excited come late September. I already have a couple heady winter brews fermenting away in my newly chilly kitchen and I can't wait to start indulging myself with heavy fall cooking. Another way I like to herald the coming of the fall season is to go over to Altamont Orchards to gobble up some of their fresh, warm cider donuts. This rainy Sunday I did just that.
We decided that actual apple picking might be a bridge too far today as it rained all night. We did not want young Giblet's first apple picking experience to be soggy and miserable. Arriving at Altamont Orchards we found that there was a haunted house going on. We didn't go in, but we did get a photo of Giblet next to the fierce demon who haunts barrels of cider apples.
We browsed the apples first.
Macs, Cortlands, Macouns, Red Delicious, Fuji, whatever your apple craving heart desires by the bushel, 1/2 bushel, etc... They also have a nice selection of pumpkins, root vegetables, peppers, and a few other orchard fruits. Mrs. Dave got a small bag of Paula Reds and we picked up some cooking apples for my mom.
Altamont Orchards has a country store-esque space that peddles all sorts of local, folksy products. Think jams, pickles, relishes, stuff like that. A lot of it is pretty pricey, but you can still find some deals. I was excited to see a cold case filled with bacon! I think my hand was shaking a little with excitement, so excuse the poor picture.
I picked up a small pack of cinnamon bacon and a somewhat larger package of applewood smoked seasoning bacon chunks. I was very excited for the cinnamon bacon, that sounds like an excellent flavor combination to me.
There is a large bakery section as well with all sorts of homemade pies, danishes, cookies, etc..
The real stars of the bakery at Altamont Orchards are the Cider Donuts. They make them fresh, all day, in an open kitchen you can peek into. A half dozen is 3.99, and to me that is a bargain. They come warm and kissed with just enough unctuous grease. They are small, but not over small, maybe four bites worth. Light, fluffy, pillows of cinnamon/sugar goodness. I ate 2 and a half. Get them early in the season because come October people will be queueing out the doors waiting for donuts.
My wife also likes the apple fritters, you have to be lucky to get these fresh and warm, but I have seen it.
There is also a small snack bar in the back peddling hot chocolate, soup, and stuff like that. Today they had chili. I saw someone walk by with a serving and had to get a bowl to split with the wife.
The chili was served with a sprinkling of orange cheese and fresh, diced, white onion and some saltines on the side. It was thin and mildly spicy, possibly canned, but maybe not. I don't care, sitting with the wee 'un and the wife at one of the little tables amongst the orchard's homey surroundings made it taste very good. We even gave Giblet a small taste of the spicy stuff, she was gleeful. More evidence to me that she is a future fearless wild woman.
Anyways, if you are from the area take a trip out there and buy some apples. Give them to your mom or something, she will appreciate it and you really don't get over to see your mum enough, now do you? I will let you know if the bacon is any good.
Monday, September 21, 2009
So I stopped by the new Juicy Burger in Guilderland (155 a little north of 20 in that plaza with the Kem cleaners) during their Grand Opening the other night. Thought maybe you might like to hear my thoughts. This was my first Juicy Burger experience, I have not been to the Balston Spa location.
Walking in, the decor is a little more posh than your standard burger joint, very modern and spare with big screen tellies around the space. You order at the counter (friendly young lass when I was there) and then have a sit down at a table until they bring you your food. You can eat in and be presented with actual dinnerware or take your prize to go.
I ordered 2 burgers, their classic cheeseburger for the very classic Mrs. Dave and a bleu cheese burger for myself, medium rare of course (menu link here). In addition, I got a couple beverages and two orders of their Yukon gold French fries. The fries come in 1/2 lbs orders served in paper bags. I like the paper bag thing, it brings back memories of when my dad would take me to Jack's Diner on central and get me a greasy bag of krinkle cut diner fries to go. The whole meal is pictured above. Lets talk about the price here, 24 and change for the lot. A little steep in my book and I'm no pauper. Compared to other pseudo-fast food burger joints (Five Guys I'm looking at you) this is very expensive.
Burger verdict: Well, we have a case of truth in advertising here. This was possibly the juiciest burger I have ever had. The thing was very literally dripping with juice. I tried to capture it in the below photo.
Maybe you can see the juices that have dripped onto the burger wrapper. I don't know how they do this, possibly some sort of science or chemistry afoot. Perhaps it is simply their cooking methods, I have heard they have some super broiler thing that seals in the moistness. Maybe they use the old couple o' ice cubes in the center of the patty trick, I don't know. The real standout of the burger sandwich is the bun. It is dense and moist without being too dense and it holds up well against the torrent of meat juice released by every bite of burger. One thing I will say, mine was a touch bit salty, but this may have been the bleu cheese.
Fry Verdict: I hate to say it folks, my socks were not knocked off. Don't get me wrong, these were good fries, but I am still on about the 24 dollar thing. Not 24 dollars worth of good. I guess using the Five Guys comparison is not out of place as they are probably the most comparable establishment in the area, and Five Guys fries win. No contest. I will have to try the sweet potato fries and onion rings at Juicy Burgers as the fries were not tasty enough to justify the carbohydrate bomb they represent.
Juicy Burgers is literally right up the road from me so I hazard that I will be making return trips when I get that rare hankering for a burger. Do they offer my Platonic ideal of a hamburger sandwich? No, but they are really very decent and I am hard to please. However if you are closer to Five Guys, go to Five Guys. Better product for less money. Sorry Juicy Burgers, I wanted to love you. Unfortunately, you are only my late night burger booty call.
I read about the Dnipro Market in Cohoes, NY on the wonderful All Over Albany Blog (check out AoA if you are local, it is top notch). One out of my various strange talents is that I speak a pretty good Russian. I am always looking to test out my skills, so I thought it might be fun to check it out and see if I couldn't translate some of the food labels.
Dnipro specializes in both Russian and Polish goods, groceries and meats. The market is immaculately clean in a nice, well lit space. It is not over large, but there is still a decent selection. There was a Russian speaking couple in the market when I arrived who were seriously stocking up, they must have bought a little of everything in the store. I took this as a good sign in regards to the quality/authenticity of the products, it seemed like these people had traveled a ways to get to Dnipro. I tried to eavesdrop to see if they could lead me towards anything good and I ended up buying some kabonosy because of them.
The first thing in the store that will draw your attention is the large meat case running the length of the store. It was filled with exotic meaty delights of all descriptions, they even had salo.
Here is the other half.
I didn't catch a shot of the fish case as Slavic seafood is not something I know a heck of a lot about. But if that is your thing, it was chock full of all sorts of smoked fishes and other odd bits and ends.
Can you guess what immediately drew my eye? Check out this bacon, to me it was beautiful.
It was a Polish brand and had the label of "hunter bacon." A pound was about 6.00$ which I thought very reasonable. It was a massive amount of bacon. I also bought a couple kabanosi (kind of like very long, smokey hotdogs), pelmeni, lutinica, sour cream (сметана), and some rye bread.
In addition I had to pick this up.
This was "Army Brand Chopped Pork Pattie Loaf" in a fetching camo can from a Polish manufacturer.
I look forward to trying all of this stuff, I have already consumed some of the bacon. Let me tell you folks, that is some serious bacon. Good enough to warrant its own post when I get to it. The bread was also outstanding. All in all, I was very impressed with the place and will definitely take another trip out. It is a nice change of pace if anything. I recommend checking it out if you are in Cohoes.
Saturday, September 12, 2009
I was browsing the local cookbooks at the Book House in Stuyvesant Plaza earlier when I came across this. It is "Applehood and Motherpie. Handpicked Recipes from Upstate New York." Care of the Junior League of Rochester. I came a hare's breath away from buying this for obvious reasons, but I didn't feel like shelling out 20 bucks and the recipes were kind of run of the mill, not really regional in nature. But I did leave the store snickering about the term "Motherpie." What exactly is in a Motherpie? Do I really want to know? It sounds dirty and my childish mind delights in these sorts of things.
Tuesday, September 8, 2009
I was over in Delmar on Labor Day for a cookout with some Delmartian friends of ours. I had planned on swinging by Rolf's Pork Store for some assorted tube steaks, but wouldn't you know? They were closed. I kind of forgot it was a holiday. Not wanting to arrive all empty handed and meatless, I decided to stop in at the Delmar Marketplace. I have been there a couple of times and they usually have some good stuff.
Upon arriving I immediately noticed the above pictured sign. "Nuns of New Skete Cheesecake?" Having never heard of the Nuns of New Skete (or the Nun's of Old Skete for that matter) surely it was imperative that I sample their cake. A little research led me to the fact that the Nuns of New Skete are located up by Cambridge, NY and run quite the little cheesecake pushing operation there. I purchased a pack of 2 slices.
The cheesecake got a little smooshed by a foursey of Guinness. 5.98$ for 2 small slices seemed a little pricey, but what do I know? I generally avoid desserts so I am not to0 versed in cake prices. We decided to have the cheesecake as an hours d'oeuvre as I was extremely curious about the nun cake. Biting into it I definitely made my ick face and my wife laughed at me. Let me preface this all by saying that I am not a big cheesecake fan in the first place, but this stuff was too much for me. My friend's comment was that it was like biting into a sweet, rindless, wedge of brie. It had a dense, very soft cheese-esque texture. You kind of wanted to spread it on crackers. The Nuns of New Skete cheesecake is probably made according to some hallowed old recipe, and to die hard cheesecake fans it is probably a revelation. I kind of wanted my 6 bucks back, but I welcomed the experience to try something new.
By the way, the Delmar Marketplace has a butcher and offers a range of prepared foods that are pretty tasty in a homey sort of way (a little pricey, but Delmar is moneyed). Up until recently they carried Oscar's Smoke House products which are awesome (see here for a Scientific Bacon Butty I made using their bacon). Tragically, Oscar's suffered a devastating fire and their operations have temporarily ceased. I wish them the best.
While I was there I also picked up some wee Swedish Meatballs with a subscript that read, "by Inga!!!!!!!!!!" I feel that maybe I should have heard of Inga. Anyhow, she makes tasty looking meatballs.
They also carry a bunch of simple, prepared foods. I was hungover on another trip to the Delmar Marketplace and in need of starch, cheese, grease and meat. I bought a couple stuffed potatoes and some stuffed bread. They served their purpose well, but ordinarily would have been a little heavy for my tastes.
Anyways, stop in if you are in that neck of the woods. The place definitely has some "quaintness" factor and they carry some interesting stuff. If you are an Utz chip fan they carry the brand (even the crab flavored ones).
I just noticed that this is the 200th post that I have written. The archive has a few less due to a couple deletions for various reasons, but hooray for me anyhow. I am magnificently prolific.