Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Stewart's Bread Samples

The Stewart's over on 9W in Bethlehem had some samples out when I stopped by for a sod-y today. I didn't have my camera in the store, so I missed out on photographing the samples in their natural environments. I did, however, manage to get ahold of one of the "Stewart's Bread" samples (pictured above).

I don't know why this made me laugh, but it did. There were like 10 or 15 individually bagged and date stamped slices of white sandwich bread hanging on one of those little poles with the clips near the checkout counter. It is as if Stewart's Shops can do nothing without seeming "kitschy" and anachronistic. The funny thing is, I don't think they calculate any of it. I honestly think that Stewart's sees absolutely nothing amusing about putting slices of bread in little baggies and hanging them on a pole as samples. Well, maybe it is just me who notices these sorts of things.

Aside from the bread there were wee ice cream cones sitting in a little cone holder right on top of the gallons in the freezer. Just go ahead and help yourself! All this business made me chortle after my busy day and reminded me why I go to Stewart's at least once a week (i.e. for the weirdness... and hot dogs).

Anyhow, I am sorted in case I need to make half a sandwich. Perhaps I will use my bread sample for a cheese toasty, but I don't know. That might be too crazy. I don't think I can live at that speed....

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Pizza Sapiens

Every time I see this particular vendor at the Knick (I refuse these new fangled terms. "Pepsi," or "Times Union," Bah!) my mind reads "Pizza Sapiens." I am then carried away with visions of some intermediary species between Neanderthal and Homo Sapiens and their unusual feeding/mating habits... I am prone to bizarre mental tangents. Anyhow, I think they should embrace the "Pizza Sapiens" title and dress like cavemen and grunt, carry clubs, and dress in skins. Then I wouldn't feel so bad about paying them 10 bucks for a slice of crappy pizza and a diet Coke.

Anyways, I was there for a hockey game (go Devils). So of course, hot dogs happend.

The hot dog chili was pretty weak (i.e. it had tomatoes in it), but as I am hardcore, I still put some spicy brown on those bad boys.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Kinnaree Ain't Afraid

Look at that beautiful runny egg (on some Gob Dol Bi Bim Bop). Look at it! The white ain't even set, muhahahaha! I have a thing for barely cooked eggs, don't ask me why. In any event, the red hot stone bowl cooks the egg through when you stir up the dish. But I admire the balls the restaurant (Kinnaree, Lark St.) shows by presenting this dish this way given our society, which is so filled with squeamish, simpering ninnies. Although I will say that the sauce they served with this dish was a little tame as far as the heat level goes. Simply remedied, I will request something spicy next time.

Here is a picture of the Mee Krob that I ordered because the name sounded like Klingon food (it was actually fried noodles and shrimp, not that a Klingon wouldn't like noodles and shrimp...).

Based on my first experience, I think I really like Kinnaree. I will have to confirm with subsequent visits.


Suddenly, Crab Salad!

I didn't put up a picture of the Crab Salad because I didn't eat any. But some friends did and they drooled and raved about it. So hear is a picture, it does look good doesn't it?

I Had a Lot of Little Richard in My Belly

After having a little Gob Dol Bi Bim Bap at Kinnaree on Lark St. (Albany, do I need to specify? I never now if any outlanders are reading...) I decided to swing by Crisan Bakery for some pastry with my fair little 'un. Mademoiselle Dave had an engagement so Giblet and I had a daddy/daughter luncheon with friends.

At Crisan, I hurriedly pointed at a few things sort of haphazardly (young Giblet was at the end of her behavior rope) and ended up with the above assortment. Everything was good, but I have to single out those too little chocolaty looking bastards on the left of the picture. Here is a close up.

These were called "Little Richards" I believe, and were layers of walnut merengue with chocolate and vanilla butter cream. These were hands down the finest sweet morsels that have found their way into my gullet in quite some time. I ate both of them standing in my kitchen in about 4 minutes. I loved the texture as the "walnut merengue" almost reminded me of torrone (one of my favorite things in the world).

Anyhow, if you haven't been to Crisan you are missing out, I ain't blowing smoke, they put out some good stuff.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Pusties, Pusties, Oy, Oy, Oy.

This will be my last Utica/Rome centric post, I promise. You can't blame me though, so much to cover out of a 3 week stay (and I didn't even take pictures of half the food I shoved down my gullet). Have you ever heard of a Pustie? A pustie is a small, custard filled pie that is one of the ubiquitous confections available out in the greater Utica/Rome area. The moniker "pustie," I have been led to believe, is a corruption of the Italian "pasticiotti," which is pretty much the same thing.

Since I was in the neighborhood, I decided to test out a few pusties from the venerable establishment that is the Franklin Hotel in Rome. On a side note, go there if you are ever in the area. Get an order of the greens Vescio, an order of the hot peppers, and the beans and greens. These items along with the complimentary bread make quite the nice lunch.

The pusties that look like boobs are straight vanilla custard and the ones with the stripe are a vanilla custard/lemon hybrid. Aren't they pretty?

Anyhow, I broke one of the vanilla ones in two to examine the innards.

In the middle of the flaky pie crust we have a fairly stiff, pale yellow custard. The flavor is not too eggy, with an assertive sweetness, and a faint vanilla/citrus flavor. Thoroughly enjoyable. This is a simple dessert with a no frills appeal. Good pie crust encasing delicious custard, how can you go wrong there? The lemon ones were good, but why mess with success? Go for the vanilla.

I hear that various pusties are available locally at Bella Napoli (to include chocolate ones). I think I recall seeing these, and they are somewhat of a smaller creature than the real deal. Anyhow, yet another regional delicacy to be celebrated.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Bon Voyage Utica/Rome

Pictured above are some Hinderwadel Salt Potatoes. I have spoken about salt tatties before, and they are interesting in their own right, but why was I interested in this particular group of spuds? Because I found these in a gas station in Verona, NY (just outside of Rome, NY). This is what I like about the greater Utica/Rome area (from where I have recently returned from a 3 week stay), they have some really good food and they are damn proud of it.

Need some escarole for to make some Utica Greens (my recipe is unforgivably inauthentic) ? Any good deli worth its salt will have a big ol' box of escarole in the cold case (this is Mazzaferro's in Rome).

You have pusties (more on these later), Utica Club, greens, salt tatties, and any number of other local delicacies shoved (with charm) in your face at every opportunity. This is aside from the unusually good American style Italian food to be had around every corner. Strangely enough, the lust for Italian food seems to even have seeped into some unexpected places.

This place had Kung Pao pizza, no joke. Regretfully, I didn't have a chance to try it.

Anyhow, I consider Utica/Rome to be one of my ever growing number of homes away from home. I find the area to be a shining oasis in the somewhat bleak expanses of the formerly thriving and bustling canal zone.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Delicious Cusk (Brosme Brosme) at Bob and Ron's

I was over at Bob and Ron's on Central Ave. the other day. As I have stated, the Wife is currently incubating my next minion (i.e. she is preggers), so there been having wicked jones' for certain food items. Fried shrimp and scallops seem to be high on the list, and for a quick take out version Bob and Ron's is the place to go around here.

Anyhow, I have been in there a million times and always forget to grab a couple pictures of the "decor." I finally snapped a picture of one of my favorite items.

This terrifying sea-beast stares at you with disapproval from the wall near the counter while you eat his brethren. He is labeled "Cusk (Brosme Brosme). Fish Used in Bob & Ron's Fish Fry." I like to order the fish fry and while eating it say with relish, "Mmmm... The Cusk is good today. Nothing like some tender Cusk." Anyhow, nothing like a horrifying, mounted, sea-snake beast thing to whet your appetite for seafood.

Suddenly..., A SCALLOP!!!!

That is all for now.

The Doodle Dumpster

I have few rules in life, but one of them is that should I walk into a new food establishment and there is a sign heralding some strange and wonderful specialty, I am honor bound to try it. I was confronted by the above pictured scene upon entering the Nicky Doodles in Verona, NY. Nicky Doodles is a small chain of drive up eateries in the Utica/Rome area, think Jumpin' Jack's for a local analogue.

I walked up to the fresh faced lad at the counter and cheerfully inquired as to what a "Doodle Dumpster" was (I did not, however, make any inquiries about the chair for sale). He smiled and pointed at a picture above the register.

Obviously not immediately recognizing that I am a veritable professor of Upstate New York culinary traditions the friendly gent asked me, "have you ever heard of a Garbage Plate?" Chuckling a bit, I said yes, yes I have, and he continued on to explain that the "Dumpster Doodle" was similar, down to the hot dog sauce for which they use a "special Rochester recipe."

If you don't know, Rochester, NY is home to the originator of the Garbage Plate, Nick Tahou's. Nick Tahou's Hots is a veritable shrine to the hot dog gods as anyone who has visited will attest. So I took from the young man that the Doodle Dumpster is something of a homage to the Rochester style garbage plate. He further explained that Nicky Doodle's is hoping that the Dumpster, along with a monstrous banana split that they offer, might entice the "Man Vs. Food" guy to make a visit to Verona.

Anyhow, to the issue of the Doodle Dumpster I said, "Yes please, one of those" and immediately slammed 3 bucks into the tip cup. Smiling, my new friend turned to the griddle staff and informed them that they had been well tipped. I hoped to ensure the highest level of artistry and attention be given to my prize.

As I was by myself (in CNY for work, not just food), I decided to get my order to go. I thought sitting among the happy children and families whilst gorging myself might appear a little lonely and sad. Back at the hotel, I sat down and cracked her open.

There we have it. Fresh cut French fries, cheese sauce, hot dog chili, 1 grilled hot dog, 1 hamburger patty, topped with macaroni salad and with 2 grilled hotdog buns on the side. I could detect the fragrant Greek influenced spice mix (also typical of our Capital Region style hot dog chili) of the hot dog sauce along with a vinegar punch from the macaroni salad. Here is a closeup of the chili.

This hot dog chili is the same beanless/tomatoless concoction that is familiar to me, but a little tighter and less liquid which is good for topping fries without making them over soggy. The homemade macaroni salad was full of tart pickle/mustard flavors and had nice big flecks of hard boiled egg, much better than what you usually see on a Garbage plate. Here is the hot dog, most likely a Hoffman's in this neck of the woods.

I washed my meal down with the only beverage that one could truly pair with a Dumpster Doodle.

Utica Club! By my incessant Utica Club name drops, you will notice that I am something of an entusiast of the golden canned brew. On a side note, you can see my tube of Harissa in the background. I call this my "travel ketchup" and have taken to lugging it around as an essential additive to bland road food.

Anyhow, I found the Doodle Dumpster to be thoroughly enjoyable. Every element was well done, fresh cut fries, good chili, good macaroni salad (and I am not the hugest fan), all prepared by friendly staff in a good setting. I have an instant soft spot in my heart for Nicky Doodle's now and wished that the wife and kid were there to enjoy it with me as the place really shines as a family destination. Next time I am out there I look forward to trying their frozen custard, and there was an interesting sounding "Hot Ham BBQ" sandwich on the menu as well.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Silence from Mr. Dave. Then suddenly....Croghan Bologna!

I have not up and head for the hills, forever forsaking (again) blogging (yet). I have actually been out among the wilds of Central New York for a few weeks (don't ask...). So I thought I would check in and show you part of the culinary spoils that I have been enjoying whilst in the Utica/Rome area. Above is a lovely ring of Croghan Bologna. You would have to be real lucky to find this North Country pearl as far south as the Capital, but it is easily available in these here parts.

I also indulged in a little gas station tomato pie.

There have been cheese curds, Utica Club, Utica Greens, fried peppers, and innumerable other local favorites sampled at venerable establishments such as the Franklin Hotel and Mazzaferro's Meats and Deli.

Mayhaps I shall return to the shores of the mighty Hudson laden with exotic delicacies from my travels. We shall see.
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