Category Archives: Brunch

Brunch and a bull ride

A couple of Sundays ago, I made it to the City Beer Hall for brunch.  I had no expectations going in other than to use my Living Social voucher and catch up with some friends.  I certainly did not expect the place to be so jammed with other wannabee brunch eaters and I most definitely did not expect to have a meal that was so completely satisfying.  Let me tell you everything…

Our group arrived piecemeal.  I was the first in and I got our name on the list for a table for 5 + a child.  The wait was approximately 25 minutes, a length of time which did not feel overly long.  Drinks were enjoyed by the bar and appetites were whetted by the passing plates of food.  When we sat down at one of the picnic style tables we were ready to sample a variety of the menu’s offerings. Here’s what we ended up with:

Gastro salad - it may look a bit chaotic but it was really satisfying.

Gastro Salad – it may look a bit chaotic but it was really overwhelmingly delicious!

Challah bread French toast - yum!

Challah bread French toast – yum!

Spinach & tomato omelette with home fries

Spinach & tomato omelete with home fries

Truffled mac n cheese

Truffled mac n cheese

I failed to get photos of the Sliced Cajun Seasoned Hangar Steak  sandwich on grilled sourdough with stellar hand-cut fries and the adorably dubbed “Spit in the Eye,” but I assure you, they were pleasing to the eye and the belly.  Good stuff all around!  The only ever so slight misstep was the mac and cheese.  When it was initially delivered to our party the temperature was a bit lacking.  We brought the problem to a server’s attention (that’s what you do when there’s an issue with your food – you let them fix it) and it was returned to us a few minutes later piping hot and delicious.

At the risk of damning myself to an even longer wait next time I’m feeling brunch-ish, I’ll tell you this: from service to atmosphere to food and value, this place knocked it out of the park.  I’ll be back there in a couple of weeks (2/16) to photograph the Albany Boys and Girls’ Club Ride to Raise: Mechanical Bull Riding Competition.  Maybe I need to get there a little early to try the pulled pork sandwich.  Or the kale salad…

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Filed under Albany, Brunch, Eating, Events, Food, Local, Recommendations, Restaurants, sunday

12 Days of Christmas – Dining DelSo

DSC_0026On the 8th day it was time to check out the bar(tenders) at a favorite neighborhood joint – New World Bistro Bar.  This place has been such a huge asset to the DelSo area.  Seriously, it probably single-handedly started the resurgence of Delaware Avenue when it opened a few years back.  I think the appeal of NWBB is its ability to be everything to everyone.  Need a quick bite pre or post movie?  Check! Looking for a place for a meal to impress a date or group of friends?  Yep, they do that.  How about a spot for a well mixed drink and a nosh at the bar?  Yeah, they’ve got that covered, too.  The space is funky, the servers familiar veterans and the food creative and consistently well-timed to the season.  And speaking of Christmas – this place is in fact open and ready to give you the gift of a stellar meal. Here’s their new winter menu. – a present to each and every one of us.

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Filed under Albany, Brunch, Christmas, Delaware Avenue, DelSo, Dinner, drinking, Eating, favorites, Local, Recommendations, Restaurants

12 days of Christmas ~ Dining DelSo

DSC_0004On the first day of Christmas my true love gave to me…a kick ass bialy from All Good Bakers.  Ok, people, you must know about our DelSo Farm to Bakery restaurant, right?  Britin does a great job promoting their efforts and if there is a discussion about locally sourced produce or dairy, you can be sure she’ll chime in.  She and Nick happily brought their business to the neighborhood where they also reside and have  inspired others to follow them, be it literally, as in the case of their former Farmer’s Market neighbors who have taken the space to their right, or more philosophically, as evidenced by some thoughtful changes to the menu at their neighbors on the other side.  Make no mistake about AGB being exclusively a spot for baked goods – their menu is much more comprehensive than mere carbs!  So, go for breakfast or lunch and take some of Nick’s baked goods home for later.  And seriously, if one of Nick’s bialys inspires words of love, wouldn’t a holiday gift of a share of All Good Baker’s Community Supported Bakery Program prompt something along the lines of flat out adoration?  Yep, that’s what I’m talking about.

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Filed under Albany, baking, breakfast, Brunch, Christmas, Delaware Avenue, DelSo, Eating, favorites, ideas, Local, Recommendations, soup

Very nice, funny and huggable

image: www.prlog.org
At least that’s how my youngest described me in this year’s utterly precious Mother’s Day card.  Yep, it’s a keeper.  This was my 16th Mother’s Day and it contained both poignant and annoying moments. Kind of like motherhood,  in general,  I guess.
Quinn gave me a marigold, Griffin gave me a song and dance about the present I was going to receive at some undetermined point in the future, Liam gave me hope that he will one day shave that caterpillar of fuzz from above his top lip and they all gave me a hard time about walking the slightly over a mile distance to the Capital City Gastropub, our chosen brunch spot.  Just another day in paradise, right?
The death march walk on a beautiful late spring day was filled with conversations and complaints, probably in nearly equal measure.  I don’t really remember Mother’s Day 2011, my first as a separated parent, but I believe that this year was my first public Mother’s Day as an unattached mom.  And it was a little weird.
The boys and I sat on the Gastropub’s sunny front patio seated next to another unaccompanied by a partner Mom and thoroughly enjoyed our bountiful brunch.  I felt proud of my children for their appetites and their manners, Quinn’s requests for a beer, aside.   When it was time to walk home, the older boys went ahead of Quinn and me, moving at a different pace than a 7 year-old with comparatively short legs and a 45 year-old with a belly full of smoked salmon and eggs.  As we approached Albany Academy, I suggested that Quinn hand his glasses over to me and take a tumble down the grassy hill, an idea that he enthusiastically embraced.  After his third spin, he staggered to his feet and remarked that he would have missed the opportunity to have that fun experience had we driven rather than walked.  

Very nice, funny, huggable and, dare I say, sometimes able to teach my boys that taking a walk and roll or two down a hill is a much more enjoyable way to travel through life than merely being a passenger. Hugs for everyone.

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Filed under aging, Boys, Brunch, Events, family, holidays, musings, sunday

It’s All Good

I finally had a chance Saturday morning to get to All Good Bakers in their new DelSo location.  The space looks great – tidy, warm and inviting with the awesome aroma of baking bread. I poked around a little and was impressed with the variety of offerings – loaves of different shapes in varying shades of golden brown. I left with a couple of traditional white waxed bakery bags with bialys, cookies, rolls and a 2-day old loaf ($2!) of yummy bread that screamed French toast.  My overall impression was that this is staff of life bread – simple, wholesome, baked with care and quality ingredients, bread.  Not fussy or overwrought, but an essential, basic part of life.  Yeah, it’s all good.

wholesome goodness

olive loaves

rolls, bialys, DelSo cookies

$2 deal of the day

French toast with All Good Bakers bread @chez Silvia

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Filed under Albany, baking, Brunch, Delaware Avenue, DelSo, Eating, favorites, Recommendations, Restaurants

Savory Bread Pudding

I’m not a vegetarian, but every once in a while I have a dish that tells me I could be without missing meat at all.  Like this fabulous mushroom dish prepared by Jason Baker, the chef at the Wine Bar and Bistro on Lark – where I am lucky enough to work a couple of nights a week. Damn, that was tasty!
King Oyster Mushroom small plate – by Jason Baker
Thanks to another guy, Jonathan, at the bistro, I experienced my first savory bread pudding recently.  It isn’t often that I request a recipe from someone, but this bread pudding was unlike anything I’ve ever eaten – earthy, cheesy, and a touch squashy sweet – delicious comfort food perfect for a potluck, brunch or Super Bowl party.  I made mine with a molasses sweetened multi-grain bread, which I think added a nice dark richness to the finished product.  Next time I make it (and there most certainly will be a next time), I will be a bit less enthusiastic about the amount of bread I use.  It was a tad drier than I would have liked.  Nonetheless, the kale released a bit of juice which prevented things from being too dry and the 5th period lunch crew really seemed to enjoy my Monday offering.
Bubbly, hot veggies, cheese and bread – oh, my!
There were some leftovers to contend with and, in my opinion, this dish screamed for a fried egg or two to take it to a whole ‘nother time of the day – breakfast.  I’m a big fan of getting some fruit and/or veggies servings in early in the day and this recipe does the trick.  Don’t be shy – add some ham or smoked salmon, maybe mix things up with spinach or a variety of squashes.  Remember – it’s your meal!  Or meals, as the case may be.
The breakfast version.  You know I like me a fried egg.  Or two.

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Filed under breakfast, Brunch, Cooking, Food., Recipes, Recommendations, Restaurants

Deconstructed quiche salad

I don’t know about you, but I believe that nothing but good can follow butter and onions. Geez, the aroma is practically a meal in itself!  I was running a bit of a caloric deficit after completing the big loop at Muni and, truth  be told, I probably spent the last .5 mile or so imagining the perfect substantial lunch salad.  Here’s what I came up with…

Saute a chopped onion in about 2 t of butter,  over medium  low heat.  I went with a chop instead of the more attractive rings because I wanted the carmelization to happen sooner rather than later – greater area, quicker cook, right?  After a quick stir to make sure the onions were all coated in butter, I turned the heat to low and allowed them to get beautifully soft.  At that point, I added a thick slice or 2 of leftover spiral ham that I had cubed.  As the onions and ham became acquainted, I laid out a couple of piles of greens and dressed them with olive oil and fresh lemon juice.  I tossed some roasted beets on the plate and then shaved Parmesan generously all over –  like snowmageddon generous.  The gorgeous onions and ham were distributed around the plate and then I cooked 2 eggs perfectly over easy in the onion/ham pan.  Ah – the crowning glory of the fried egg!  Lavishly salt and pepper – then dip your fork into the yolk and let the mouth party begin.  De-frikkin’-licious!  It was a meal that was like the best of books – sad to conclude, but remaining alive in your memory for long after the inevitable end. 
eggs, cheese, ham, onions = quiche

impossible to convey the deliciousness with just a photo…

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Filed under Brunch, Cooking, Eating, Exercise, Food, Recipes, Recommendations, winter, x-country skiing