Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Ménage à Xmas

Merry belated Xmas! I always get a little busy around the holidays and forget to ramble on about my usual nonsense here... So I thought I would share a concoction I inflicted on some friends the other day.

I am calling this the "Ménage à Xmas." Here we have some homemade fruitcake booze (self explanatory, rum infused with fruitcake), a bit of Genesee Abbey fruitcake (that I soaked in more rum), followed up with some of my famous aged eggnog.

I encouraged people to slam the fruitcake hooch, bite the hooch fruitcake, and then to sip the eggnog but no one was really game for my shenanigans. I did hear some good things about each of the components of my masterpiece, so all was not a wash.

In any event, I hope all of your winter solstice celebrations are humming along festively! Heck, the New Year is nigh upon us... Can you believe how fast this holiday season went by? It is hard to slow down and sniff the eggnog sometimes, but I am trying.

On another note, my meat curing chamber prototype is entering its testing phase... Mu ha ha! This is probably all you will hear about in the near term as I am sort of consumed with the project.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

The Missus and I Had A Nice Meal at the New World Bistro. That is All.

We got the window seat.
 As you know, I don't really fancy myself as much of a restaurant reviewer... But I do like to point it out when I have an especially positive experience out at a local restaurant. So here it is.

It was Mrs. Dave's birthday the other night so I insisted that she let me take her out for a nice dinner. We have a 3 (almost 4) year old and a 15 month old so the poor girl has pretty much been housebound for quite a while. She relented and let me get us a sitter with the condition that we go to a location within rushing-home-distance should Mr. Dave Jr. pitch one of his unholy baby fits. As we live in Delmar, I suggested the New World Bistro Bar (Delaware Ave., in Albany) and the wife was game.

I have only previously been to the NWBB for a Sunday brunch and I was pretty excited to give dinner a try. I started off with a "New Fashioned (bourbon, cherry liqueur  Patron citronage, and bitters)." I don't usually do cocktails (I like my hooch undiluted) but I give one a whirl. It was tasty.

I had the bourbon braised pork belly with black garlic caramel. This was absolutely delicious. It was probably the best thing that I have eaten in weeks. I have had some atrocious pork belly thingies at other restaurants but this was absolutely perfect. It made my night.

For my entree I went with the black pepper rubbed hanger steak. This was a very generous portion of flavorful beef cooked rare as requested. See those little thingies in the background? Those are chickpea "frites." They were chubby little sticks of fried, mashed chickpeas with a nice crust. The wife and I agreed that they were amazing (and I only had one bite, stupid keto diet).

The wife and I could not have been happier with the experience. The food and ambience (and proximity to our home, haha) were just what we were looking for. Plus, I would eat that pork belly deal for breakfast, lunch, and dinner every day.

That is all.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Ghosts of Albany's Christmas Past

My own little family's first 2 kid Xmas tree.

I am 32 years old. I spent my early childhood in the City of Albany, moved to McKownville (the bit of Guilderland that is almost in Albany) when I was 8, and have been residing in Delmar for the past four years. I just recently purchased a home in "Olde Delmar" which I insist on pronouncing "Old-uh Delmar." That is all to say that I have spent the majority of my mortal years within less than 10 miles of the center of the City of Albany.

As we are within 12 days of Christmas, last night it occurred to me to try to count the Christmas' that I have spent within the warm, comforting confines of Albany County. I have been lucky in regards to Xmas. You see, I am a ramblin' man. I have been taken away from my beloved home for extended periods of time for various reasons throughout my life. However, I always seem to be lucky in regards to coming home for Xmas. I think the year that I ate some takeout Bulgogi by myself in a hotel in Southern Arizona is the only time I have actually missed an Albany County Xmas.

Thanksgiving is another matter... I have spent no end of Thanksgivings in strange places in this country and abroad. I have been forced to eat icky, sweet cornbread stuffing down south and all sorts of other travesties in odd nooks and crannies of the world. Heck, I ate a can of Chef Boyardee in a dusty trailer in Mesopotamia to avoid the dinner line once... I do recall a nice thanksgiving that Mrs. Dave and I had at a Western Sizzler outside of Oklahoma City some years back. We marveled at some frightfully green form of pistachio pudding dessert that they sold and just had a good time of it. That was a tough period in our lives where I was away for long stretches but we made it through. We are hearty stock.

As I think back, I do believe that I have spent 31 of my 32 Christmas Holiday seasons in Albany County. There may have been some excursions down to Long Island to visit my Grandparents for the Eve or Xmas dinner, but the majority of my Xmas' were spent right here in my hardscrabble Albany County homeland.

I was thinking back over all of these years and holidays and reminiscing about times gone by. There are so many memories of faces that are now forever gone, moments that will never come again, my child self's glee at piles of presents. I see the much younger faces of my parents joyful at providing me with the bounty that all their hard work could provide on Xmas morning (Ma, Dad... You don't know that I write this blog, but that time you got me all the Star Wars stuff? I think about that almost everyday). If you want to get me started on these more personal sorts of memories then catch me out at a bar and buy me a couple belts of something strong. I will stop here on this forum.

This blog is a blog about the wonderful foods and experiences to be had in Upstate NY (mostly Albany County a lot of the time, that is where my heart tree grows I guess) so I thought I would stay on subject. I am calling this post "The Ghosts of Albany's Xmas Past" and am going to try to resurrect some memories of all the long forgotten taste memories of the past. It is good to remember sometimes... The following are just some odd bits and ends that came to mind.

-Who remembers when there was a Hot Dog Charlie's in the food court at Crossgates Mall? Remember when the food court had those booths with the high divider sorts of things? I threw up Mountain Dew in one once when I was small... Anyway, I didn't have the taste for my beloved Capital Region style hot dog meat sauce back then (or mustard, or onions). I would get 3 mini-dogs with luscious, bright yellow cheese sauce. This was my undisputed favorite food as a kid. This is what bound me forever to the glorious small dogs of my home. Luckily there are still Hot Dog Charlie's locations around, but not my Hot Dog Charlie's location.

-Who remembers the Mike's NEBA that was on the corner of Central and Colvin? I think there is a Valvoline oil change place there. I think they had some awesome primary colored signage... Of course the places main trade was in one our indigenous sandwichs, i.e. the eponymous NEBA (this is its own story, read more here). I didn't give a hoot about roast beef sandwichs with horseradish sauce back as a kid. What I remember most about that Mike's NEBA is the icy cool feeling of a real deal slush puppy sipped through a straw on a summers day walk to Westland Hills park. I loved green or blue if I remember correctly. I remember once, I was probably 6, trying to throw a rock across Colvin Ave. and failing. I hit an old lady's car and she was none too pleased...

-Who remembers the Chinese restaurant that was on Madison Ave. (I think Junior's is there now)? I think it was called Hunan and the owner was Charley Chow if I remember correctly? This was my neighborhood way back when and my parents would take the the sis and I here all of the time. It was one of my earliest experiences with the cuisine of the world. I have vivid memories of fighting it out with my sister over pieces of meat in the family style dish of pepper steak... I think some of the staff of this place later opened the Dumpling House (also now shuttered) over on Everett Road. That was probably the best Chinese in the area during its heyday.

-Who remembers when there was that penny candy store on Ontario Street right near where it runs into Washington Ave.? This was probably there in the 80's as my memories of it are very hazy. I remember pointing into a glass case filled with small cardboard boxes of ribbon candy, sixlets, Necco wafers, Bazooka Joe, wax candy, and endless other delightful things. An elderly gentlemen would put your choices in a little brown paper bags. The happiness I felt during my visits to that place (I don't even remember what it was called) was indescribable. If I had a million bucks I would build a penny candy store to the old standards just so my kids could have that experience. Just once.

-Who remembers the old ice cream shop (I think it was an ice cream shop) that was next to the Madison Theater? That is where I tasted my first chocolate malt. It was just a sip of my dad's, but I still remember it to this day. It was a taste revelation and instilled a lifelong mania for all things malted. Heck I would drink a Carnation malted milk if you gave it to me right now... Also, I still remember seeing ET for the first time at the Madison. Remember when they switched the sign to the "Norma Jean" nonsense and then it got struck by lightning? Maybe that is a legend, I don't know.

-Who remembers Emil Meister's Market on Ontario Street? Capital Q is there now. I remember my dad bringing us there during the summer. You would know you were there because of the creepy mural on the building. You know what I mean. My dad would always get a big box of hot dogs. I thought of them as the "snappy" dogs because they had natural casings which were a departure from the usual cheese filled, skinless, Ballpark dogs I fancied back then. I don't know what we would do for a good German butcher shop these days if we weren't blessed with Rolf's.

-Anyone remember when the Picottes used to throw a holiday party at the Egg? There would be a staggering amount of food and snacks and then you would see a play... I think the family and I went about three times over the years. I don't really remember why these parties were held or why we went, but it sticks out as a happy memory so I thought I would see if anyone else ever attended.

In any event, I am done blathering. Sorry to confront you with this enormous wall of text, but I thought I might preserve some of these memories for posterity lest I get hit by a bus or something.

One last thing. Remember when it used to snow around here? Like, all winter. Sometimes from October until April. Winter and snow were inextricably tied together for the length of my Albany childhood. The past couple years have necessitated a paradigm shift in how I view the Xmas season and winter in general. The stodgy stoutness with which we faced the bitter cold temperature and mounds of snow is something we base a bit of our identity upon around here. Will this change in weather patterns make us soft? I just don't know...

Anyhow, I have recorded here some ghosts of the past. Enough on all of that, it is time for me (and you) to busy ourselves with the present and future holiday seasons. It is my mission to give my children all sorts of happy memories that tie them forever to their home and hearth. I hope that one day beautiful Giblet and the adventurous Mr. Dave Jr. will be recording their musings on some future blog (hopefully better than this one). They will probably write about ice cream at Stewart's or about those funny little hot dogs that dear old dad used to get so excited for...

Best wishes to you and yours this year, whatever holiday you may celebrate. I wish happiness and unending good fortune for you in the coming year. I wish your larder to always be full of bacon (or turkey bacon), your spouse to be always good natured, and your children's cheeks to always be rosy! Drink deeply of your egg nog!

Oh yeah, here is last years sappy Christmas post - An Albany Holiday Story.

P.S. Hope with me for some cheery old snow too...

Thursday, December 13, 2012

The Excelsior Pub (Delaware Ave., Albany)


I was informed by the proprietor (via the Excelsior Facebook page) that I made the heinous error of overlooking Genny Cream Ale on tap. My earnest apologies! A bar that has both Uncle Charley and Genny Cream on tap? I am moving in...


An associate of mine was in the mood for a quick beer this evening and I asked if I might like to pop in to the Excelsior Pub (Delaware Ave, Albany). I have been meaning to get over there ever since it opened as I have heard numerous hearty endorsements from friends. This was the perfect and rare opportunity for me to visit (my junior minions were relatively quiet so Mrs. Dave actually allowed it).

The Excelsior Pub pretty much exclusively offers NY produced beers, wines, and spirits which is sort of up my alley (you might say).

The Excelsior was doing quite a good business for 6:00 on a weekday I thought, barely a seat in the house. After looking about a bit I immediately sidled up to the bar and did a quick visual perusal of the bottles and taps. It was just peachy to see so much New York booze and brew in one place. I believe the owner knows the song of our people and is doing good work at this establishment. They even had Uncle Charley (Utica Club) on tap for god's sake (although I did not see any Genesee)!

I am laying off the oat soda (beer) for a while so I took this opportunity to try a couple doses of some NY hooch. I started off with a little 46 Peaks Vodka from Lake Placid Spirits which was handy because I have been considering buying a bottle blind. The stuff is made out of potatoes grown in the Adirondacks which I think is neat. I found the vodka to be just the thing to keep those North Country boys warm through the long winter.

Next up was a little Ironweed Bourbon from the much heralded Albany Distilling Co. The kind Barkeep informed me that the Excelsior had obtained the bottle only nigh 30 to 45 minutes prior and I was getting one of the first pulls. I found it to be interesting as far as bourbon goes... We will leave it at that.

In any event, I was tickled with the Excelsior experience. The Barkeep was enthusiastic and knowledgeable, the inventory was staggeringly impressive, and the crowd was the just the sort of crowd I have come to enjoy drinking around as I move into my 30s (no one was yelling). Heck, I even felt a little underdressed in my standard khaki pants/black North Face combo. There was a lot of young professional/Albany business casual types milling about in nice duds.

I give the Excelsior Pub my wholehearted endorsement (whatever the heck that means, no one reads this) and will attempt to visit as many times as the Missus will allow. Uncharacteristically, I don't have one bad thing to say about the place. I will, however, have to sample the menu (they sell food) next time I go.

Upon returning home I decided I needed a lil' Rolf's teawurst pick me up.  My dusky, 23 pound, feline lifemate went buck wild when I took it out of the fridge and tried to steal it. He is a good boy who needs his nourishment, so I rewarded his pluck with a couple kitty treats. One has to treat his Court Eunuch (does anyone else call their neutered male cats this? Nope, just me eh...) well...

Monday, December 10, 2012

Deep Fried Hot Dogs (NY Hot Dog in Monroe, NY)

I just got back from a 10 day work excursion to Orange County (stayed in Monroe, worked in Cortlandt Manor) which explains my general lack of posting lately. This and I seem always to enter a winter time internet malaise during which my droll blathering dries up a bit. Sometimes I even throw a gloriously dramatic blog ending tantrum around this time, only to triumphantly reappear the following spring all plucky like and ready to inflict my musings on the populous at large once more... Hopefully we don't have any of that this year.

In any event, while driving through Monroe I spied NY Hot Dog which I had never noticed before. I think it must be relatively new as I am down in that neck of the woods fairly often. Everyone is well aware of my general obsession with the hot dog sausage. Needless to say I was compelled to sample the establishment's offerings.

I initially thought it may have been a Mexican run joint (due to the corn on the cob painted on the window) and I had a flash of hope that I might be able to get one of the glorious Sonoran Dogs that I love so much (I lived in Arizona for a while). But alas, I discovered that NY Hot Dog was run by some good ol' New Yorkers. No matter, we know our hot dogs here too.

The menu at NY Hot Dog had an item that immediately drew my attention -- deep fried hot dogs! I am aware that this is a thing in New Jersey but I don't know if I have actually ever seen them sold in New York (at least in my usual Upstate Haunts). I am however familiar with the deep fried hamburger (Swifty's in Delmar), but that is another story.

I ordered two with mustard and the recommended house made onion sauce.

I must caveat this adventure by stating that I am in the midst of experimenting with the ketogenic diet (I am 32 and have decided that if I ever want to see abdominal definition again then this would be the time to nip my beer bagel in the bud). Buns and even onions in large quantities are a no go, so I bought these with the intention of giving one to a trusted advisor. I consumed the other hot dog by itself which was all sorts of depressing. It took no small amount of will power to not just eat the whole shebang.

Here we have a Boar's Head hot dog on your standard workaday hot dog bun. The mustard is spicy brown/deli style. I sampled a bit of the house made onion sauce which had a really nice flavor. My only issue is that the onions in this sauce were substantial and still almost crisp. I tend to like the onions cooked down a bit more in my hot dog onion sauces, but that is just a personal preference.

After eating his deep fried dog my trusted advisor informed me that he had thoroughly enjoyed it. He said he wouldn't have even known that the hot dog was fried if no one had said so. On close examination of the hot dog itself I noted that it was only lightly fried in oil, i.e. it wasn't deep fried to the degree that your "Jersey Ripper" hot dog would be. I actually thought it was pretty tasty. The bath in the hot oil gave the natural casing dog a nice crispy snap and a pleasingly unctuous flavor and mouth feel. I can only imagine that I would have found the whole hot dog to be delicious in its totality. 

In any event, should I ever get off of this miserable diet (hopefully in a few weeks, I am only trying to lose 5 or 10) I would happily go back to NY Hot Dog and gorge myself with abandon. 

Sunday, November 25, 2012

After Being a Negative Nog Nancy Yesterday, I Actually Liked Meadow Brook Farms Dairy's Nog

I was a little negative concerning Battenkill Creamery's and Ronnybrook Dairy's eggnogs yesterday... So I needed a positive Upstate NY nog experience to wash the taste of disappointment out of my mouth. Luckily, I was reminded on the twitters that Meadow Brook Farms (I buy their milk and chocolate milk at the Delmar Market all of the time) makes an eggnog. I ran right up to the 4 corners and picked me up a nice half-gallon.

It is 7.99$ per half gallon and I think I got the last one on the shelf this afternoon... That price is a bit dear so the fact that the Delmar Market is doing a brisk business of this nog seemed to speak well for it.

The Meadow Brook Farm's nog pours middlin' thick. Not as thick as some and not as thin as others. The color is a nice shade of pale yellow and the aroma is pleasing with vanilla undertones. The taste is absolutely lovely. It is very sweet, but has that sense of "richness" that I look for in a nog. There is none of the blandness that plagues so many other eggnogs. I am starting to think that a lot of producers don't understand that you need just a bit of salt to give your eggnog its necessary balance.

Color me impressed. Meadow Brook Farms and Stewart's are pretty much in a dead heat in terms of capturing my definitive Upstate NY eggnog endorsement. I think you should just go ahead and buy a half gallon of them both and revel in a bounty of noggy goodness!

Saturday, November 24, 2012

So I Tried A Couple More Upstate (Ronnybrook Dairy and Battenkill Creamery) Nogs...

If you know me at all then you know that I have an unholy lust for the Nog. I love nog in any shape or form and in the past I have documented my musings on Zombie Apocalypse Nog, Nog Pie, Sweet Noggy Nun Cake, Nog Shakes, My Secret Boozy Aged Nog Recipe, and perhaps my favorite nog subject -- Stewart's Eggnog.

I generally stick to a holiday season nog diet of Stewart's eggnong supplemented by my homemade aged stuff. You see, Stewart's eggnog is a sort of guilty pleasure for me. I know this eggnog ain't like homemade and that that there is all sorts of food chemistry going on with it.,, Besides the ominous sounding "EGG NOG BASE" (which I would bathe in) the Stewart's Nog has all the usual suspects -- artificial flavors, corn syrup, potassium sorbate, guar gum, carrageenan, etc... But guess what? I am head over heals in love with the toothache-y sweet concoction.

I usually only allow myself one refresher sized bottle at the beginning of nog season and then another one right around X-mas as it is 960 dairy filled calories per 16 ounce bottle. That is to say, appearances to the contrary I don't really consume that much nog (I know that you picture me as a beastly nog swilling lummox). Working another brand of nog into my rotation would be a big step. I do like to keep an open mind so I decided to give another two Upstate, NY produced nogs a whirl.

I have heard good things about both Ronnybrook Dairy's (Ancramdale, NY) and Battenkill Creamery's (Salem, NY) product. I have bought various other dairy products from both producers and have always been satisfied. Heck, the HuffPost even named the Ronnybrook stuff America's #1 nog last year... Needless to say I had  pretty high hopes.

I purchased both nogs at the Slingerlands ShopRite just the other day. 32 ounces of the Ronnybrook was about 7 bucks and 16 ounces of the Battenkill was about 2 bucks. Both brands come attractively bottled in glass with purty labeling.

I didn't really check the ingredients at first, I just poured the stuff into a couple glasses as I was in a state of excited nog frenzy. I will briefly summarize my thoughts before I begin sermonizing and being a blowhard about the relative merits of all of these nogs.

The Ronnybrook Nog --

This stuff pours thick like whipping cream which got me a bit excited. Even though it is colored with Anatto-Turmeric we have a very pale nog. To the nose it has a faint and understated noggy aroma. Actually putting the stuff in your mouth is where we begin to go downhill fast...

You know how good gravy that is thickened with roux made with some nice duck fat tastes exponentially better than some thin crap made with cornstarch thickened stock? This analogy may be a stretch but the Ronnybrook sort of reminded me of the cornstarch thickened crap... This nog utilizes both guar gum and carrageenan for the purpose of thickening and "mouthfeel." So here we have an artificially thickened nog that has none of the luxurious and silky mouthfeel that comes along with copious amounts of egg yolks and butterfat from cream. I found the flavor to be very bland, almost as if it needed salt (I have found this problem in other brands as well). Also, it had a pasty Pepto-Bismol sort of aftertaste...

This is just my humble opinion but I found the Ronnybrook Eggnog to be thoroughly unenjoyable. I think the stuff tempts other less experienced nog-ologists with its apparent thickness and tends to get a bit overrated. There. I said it.

The Battenkill Nog -- 

I was a bit suspicious of this nog right from the pour. The liquid is very thin, almost as thin as a soy nog or some such. It had a very sweet sort of aroma and was a bit yellower (also contains Annatto-Turmeric) then the Ronnybrook.

The Battenkill was aggressively sweet (I think HFCS is the third listed ingredient with corn syrup and "sugar syrup" included later) with a defined nutmeg "noggy" (lists natural and artificial flavorings) taste. The flavor wasn't awful but the complete lack of texture and mouthfeel put me off the stuff. I didn't see any gums or carrageenan listed, so if you are concerned with the purported dangers of carrageenan this may be the way to go. I would doctor it with some additional cream and egg yolks though.


So what this brings me back to is Stewart's eggnog.

Stewart's humble offering unabashedly contains all of the various additives and nonsense that both the Ronnybrook and Battenkill contain. They are also similar in that all three of them are made with dairy products produced in Upstate NY. I guess an argument could be made that the raw materials for the Battenkill or Ronnybrook are of slightly better quality... But you know what? The Stewart's stuff (again, just my humble opinion) is hands down the most enjoyable out of this triumvirate of Upstate nogs.

This is not to say that Stewart's eggnog is perfect, but for a mass market offering it is pretty damn good. The only truly perfect nog is a homemade nog. You need fresh cream, yellow-orange yolks, good booze, and some time. My current batch of holiday nog has been aging since Halloween and I am waiting with bated breath for a nip.

In any event, I hope this isn't too controversial... But the long and short of it is that I stick to my guns. Stewart's nog is absolutely the king of commercially available noggery in Upstate NY and I will fight anyone who says it ain't. Not really, but we will certainly discuss the issue over a mug of Stewart's nog (Stewart's light nog if you are fond of wearing skirts).

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Stewart's Pumpkin Pie Ice Cream

So I swung by Stewart's this morning on my way home from work (I work nights) to buy some lickies and chewies for my younguns'.  As generations of fathers have done I generally try to assuage my guilt at missing holidays (I have to work tonight too) by plying my children with ice cream and candy. Little Giblet has a soft spot in her heart for Junior Mints and vanilla ice cream and Mr. Dave Jr. is plum tickled by pretty much any edible substance.

I was peeking in the ice cream case when I saw some hand-labeled pints of "Pumpkin Pie." I am not crazy about the Thanksgiving gimmick of making pumpkin flavored everything, but I trusted that good ol' Stewart's had done it right.

Here we have a pale orange ice cream spotted with nice sized chunks of graham-y/pie crust-y sorts of things. The stuff had a strong "pie spice" kind of flavor which was somewhat less nasty than your work-a-day attempt at "pumpkin pie" flavor.

I found it a bit over sweet, but altogether not bad at all. This is probably the only Thanksgiving type food I will consume today as my family has decided to time warp the holiday to Saturday. I am kind of jealous of all the people out there worrying and fussing over their various holiday dishes, sigh...

Anyhow, happy holiday all! I wish upon you moist turkey and unburnt baked goods!

Monday, November 19, 2012

Hot Dog alla Genovese

So I was making some pasta alla Genovese (that link is in Italian, so here is a slightly different recipe in English) the other day. I don't know why, but sauce alla Genovese seems to be a bit of a rarity around these parts. I could be wrong, but I don't think I have ever seen it on a menu locally. 

I kind of loathe recipe blogs so you can consult the above links for a starting point on your journey towards a personal alla Genovese recipe. The long and short of it all is as follows --

You take a crap load of onions --

-- some cheap cuts of meat (shanks, ribs, etc...) --

-- and simmer it all low and slow for many hours (of course there are other ingredients/steps. As I said, consult the recipes). 

In the end you are left with a thick, sweat/savory, meaty bastard of a sauce that -- for my money, has few rivals in the universe of sauces. Lightly dress a little quality pasta with the stuff and it is simply a very beautiful thing.

Anyhow, while I was eating a bit of this particular sauce something occurred to me. In my version I use a bit of white wine for acid and some crushed red pepper for heat. So here we have a savory, slightly spicy, slightly acidic, oniony, meaty substance. Remind you of anything? It sort of kind of reminds me of some good ol' fashioned hot dog sauce (here is my method for Capital Region style hot dog sauce production if you happen to be interested).

As it has been a quite a while since I have innovated anything to throw on top of a hot dog sausage (at least since my Capital Region style MacCheese Deli Dogs), I thought the time was ripe to create the Hot Dog alla Genovese.

As this was a spur of the moment hot dog endeavor, I ran up the way and grabbed a Stewart's Deli Dog.

I slathered the steamy sausage with a generous amount of the alla Genovese and sprinkled a bit of parmesan on top.

Wouldn't you know it? Somehow this just works. The Genovese has many of the same flavor/texture notes that I enjoy so much in Hot Dog Charlies' or Famous' sauce. It deviates a bit from the standard form as mustard or raw onion would be a bit strange, and the stuff is pretty sweet... Other than that the alla Genovese seems to feel right at home on top of a Deli Dog. Who would have thought?

I am sure that any Italian cook worth his sauce would cringe at this application of the alla Genovese. But they are just going to have to get over it because I like to put random crap on hot dogs. So there.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Rolf's Teawurst on Some Prinzo's Bread: In Albany One Can Feast Like a King for 5.45$

So you have 5 or 6 bucks in your pocket and you are looking to fill your belly with carbohydrates, meat, and fat... What should you do? Burger? Taco Bell? Fie on you if you live near Albany and you choose these! What you should do is march your happy ass down to Rolf's Pork Store on Lexington and get yourself a little chub of their teawurst.

If you don't know, teawurst (or teewurst) is a lightly smoked, lightly spiced, spreadable sausage hailing from Germany. Teewurst has a mild, smokey, subtly "wurst-y" type flavor if that makes any sense... I love the stuff. It has a pleasing mouth coating creamy fattiness that you just can't get in other foods.

Rolf's sells both coarse and fine ground teawurst. I prefer the fine ground, but that is just a personal preference. Anyway you take it, at only 6.99$ a pound a good sized chub will cost you under 4 bucks (the one I just bought was 3.70$). That is a goddamn bargain if you ask me.

Teawurst is generally served in a fairly straight forward manner, i.e. spread on some substantial bread (maybe with a bit of thinly sliced onion to guild the lily). I believe rye bread is traditional but I prefer to take my teawurst spread thinly on some crusty white bread. On this particular occasion I grabbed a Prinzo's Bakery (Delaware Ave, Albany) loaf at the Delmar Market.

Should you, after reading this, shuffle off to Rolf's to stock up on teawurst let me give you a tip. Let it sit out for a bit before you tuck in and spread it on your bread. Not for too long as teawurst is a raw product, but just long enough to knock the chill off. There is a lot of fat involved in this product and it becomes creamier and tastier when it approaches room temperature.

I wouldn't be too ambitious with how much you spread on your slice of crusty bread. I have found that a thin schmear does nicely. Think of the teawurst as a sort of "meat-butter" and keep that in mind. I have seen people put a half of an inch on a slice of bread and they tend to get a bit overwhelmed. It is kind of like watching a dog eat an open faced peanut butter sandwich...

Anyhow, my chub of teawurst was 3.70$ and a Prinzo's loaf was 1.75$. So for 5.45$ myself and a couple friends could have had a filling, simple little lunch of smokey meat and bread. You can't beat that with a stick.

I have said it before and I will say it again. Rolf's Pork Store is an absolute local treasure. We are luckier than we know to have the place. Go there and spend all of your money.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Veteran's Day Post: Creamed Chipped Beef (S.O.S.)

For Veteran's Day I like to take a look at some item of military cuisine. Last year we took a look at the giant bag of dehydrated eggs that comes in a UGR (Unitized Group Ration). In the past we have also reviewed an MRE and a Heater Meal (there are a lot of fellow New Yorkers subsisting on these as we speak by the way).

This year I thought it might be fun to go back into our military's past a bit and experience some Creamed Chipped Beef. This particular example is a pre-made pouch of the stuff from Knauss and is peddled in the cold case at Shop Rite (I got it at the new Slingerlands one).

Creamed chipped beef was once a ubiquitous breakfast option for the US military, particularly during the WWII era, where it earned the moniker S.O.S. (variously "shit on a shingle," "stuff on a shingle," "something on a shingle," etc...). 

I have been involved in the military in various capacities for the past decade or so and don't ever remember being served creamed beef. Don't get me wrong, there was plenty of "creamed" stuff (mostly sausage or ground beef) served with toast/biscuits for breakfast. But I don't think I remember any chipped beef. I never had any special love or disdain for creamy breakfast slop, but I think some guys found it nauseating.

The generally bad feelings generated by creamed chipped beef in most Americans is what I find interesting. The dish was served ad nauseum to the military during WWII. When those millions of boyos came back home afterwards they brought their ill will towards the creamy concoction with them. That feeling was passed on to their families and friends and has persisted to this day.

The culinary implications of war often go unnoticed. I find them fascinating -- carrot cake becoming common during wartime sugar rationing and the reduction in types of cheese produced as a result of WWII... You know, stuff like that.

Anyhow, the Knauss creamed chipped beef is pretty much what you would expect. A salty, viscous, pouch of gloop spotted with little scabby bits of thin chipped beef. I had it on some toast and while struggling through a bit it occurred to me that if done exactly right (quality cream and butter), creamed chipped beef might not be that bad.... After some hard work on a cold day, some creamed beef spooned on hot biscuits is probably just the thing....

As an aside, the recipe for a Boboli breakfast pizza on the back of the bag made me laugh. I appreciate Knauss' pluck in trying to wedge the stuff into a recipe.

Well, I know these posts are a diversion from my normal subject matter but it is my opinion that shining  a little light onto some of the everyday aspects of military life (such as food) is useful in helping people understand how service in the military shapes a person.

I don't really know how I feel about Veteran's Day to tell you the truth... I am proud of my service, but somehow the day makes me a little uncomfortable. I don't know why. I think I am much prouder of the service of others (especially my lovely wife), so I guess I thank all of them very much.

As I am always fond of reminding everyone, it is not just the tall, crew cut, stick up the ass types (like me) who are veterans. It is also the young mother, pushing a baby carriage, at Price Chopper (like my wife). So hold the damn door.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Meat Romney: Adventures in Election Day Meatloaf Artistry

I got such an almighty kick out of my last meatloaf art project (Meatloafy the Whale, pictured below) --

--that I thought it might just be time to put on my meatloaf-artist hat and get to work on a new beefy masterpiece. You see, I am going to watch the election results with some friends tomorrow night and I thought some meat and whimsy just might bring a little levity to this stressful situation. Hence, "Meat Romney" was born. I won't get into mine and my group of friend's political views, but lets just say we plan on baking Meat Romney in effigy.

I think you should make your own meatloaf presidential candidate. It's easy! All that you need is a couple trays of meatloaf --

-- and a Meat Romney stencil. I thought that Mr. Romney's weird side part was the hardest part to capture. I had to be a little cartoonish because drawing with barbecue sauce is not exactly a precision science.

Simply cut around the stencil and remove the Meat Romney scraps. 9 out of 10 meatloaf artists agree that meatloaf scraps are the best part of the job.

This is a two layer meatloaf presidential candidate food-effigy so I decided on some garishly colored shredded cheddar for the filling.

After you place the top half on, simply use instant mashed tatties to create weird mashed potato skin.

Finally, I used a squirt bottle of barbecue sauce to draw Meat Romney's features on. I think it came out pretty durn good if I don't say so myself.

I can't wait to eat a big slice of Mitt Romney's forehead. Mrs. Dave has already called dibs on the hair piece to the right of the side part. I am hoping that when ol' Meat gets heated up in the oven all manner of grotesque melty things happen to his smug face. Maybe cheese will melt out of his earholes...

In any event. Upstate Americans, I trust that you will all make informed decisions when you vote tomorrow.

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