Although I generally avoid trends, thinking them to be too cliched for my attention, I have to confess to being susceptible to trends when it comes to food – specifically vegetables. Over the years, I’ve bought in to fiddlehead ferns and garlic scapes and jicama with varying degrees of commitment. This year, I jumped onto the ramps wagon, although I didn’t make it to Hudson’s Ramp Fest last week, and I’m suggesting that you do the same while you can. The season will be over really soon and you’ll be left wondering and waiting until 2014 for your own taste of these lovely spring onions. You can try your hand at foraging, but I was able to “source” the ones below the other night at Capital City Gastropub. Get ‘em while you can!
Category Archives: Dinner
I spent a little time Sunday afternoon at an event at Mingle. It was a fundraiser for Kathy Sheehan’s campaign for mayor and there were familiar faces present as well as some local food items from our DelSo peeps, All Good Bakers, The Cheese Traveler, Tilldale Farms and, of course, Mingle.
I have no personal aspirations to be mayor of the city of Albany (although Duchess of DelSo has a nice ring to it), but I think Kathy Sheehan has the right experience for the job. I didn’t have a chance to talk directly with Kathy, but I’d like to believe that she is interested in making Albany a city where the residents come before partiers and suburbanites who make their money here but spend it elsewhere. The focus needs to shift and I’m willing to take a chance on someone new after 20 years. It’s time.
Speaking of time, my neighbors and I finally found some to share. Perhaps with a bottle of wine or two. When it came time to adding a little food to the mix we were in complete accord that Sweet Basil was the answer. It was my first time trying this fairly new spot and we ordered a mess of food. It was pretty much all delicious – FRESH, tasty, and with a lovely creeper spiciness. We ordered our food as take-out, but the Yelp reviews pretty consistently note that the service is gracious and the dining room pleasant. I’ll definitely be putting this place into my rotation. Trying something new, be it politics or dinner, can taste pretty damn good.
Able to leap tall buildings in a single bound? Nope. More powerful than a locomotive? Sometimes. Proficient at getting a healthy, fast dinner on the table in a reasonable amount of time? Now you’re talking! How about you? What’s your superpower?
My middle son and I have continued our monthly new recipe explorations, despite my not being more consistent about sharing our exploits with you all. Last month we stepped away from Bon Appetit because everything was so damn holiday-centric and attempted Pappardelle with Wild Boar Ragu, a recipe we found in Cucina Italiana. Of course, in my typical half-assed fashion, there were some modifications…apparently pappardelle is not available in Price Chopper, so I substituted fettucine. There was also a snafu with the wild boar, or cianghiale, as I like to call it, and we had to go with ground pork in its place – whatever. I’m cooking for teenagers and a grade-schooler. Picky and well-traveled they may be, incredibly discerning? Not so much. I didn’t take any photos of that meal, although it was tasty, because it wasn’t very visually appealing, in my opinion. I would make it again, but would be tempted to add some color with maybe a bit of tomato or carrot or something.
Last night’s dinner was this keeper from Bon Appetit. Again, I’d be inclined to add more vegetables, although the leeks were splendid. Maybe asparagus or sweet baby peas? Generally, though, this was an easy recipe, rich and creamy with the lovely sweetness of essentially carmelized leeks. And bacon – don’t forget the bacon! Skip the calorie count and console yourself with the knowledge that it’s damn cold out and winter is the time for a bit of pasta indulgence. Winner!
The 9th day of Christmas would be the ideal time to visit the big sister on the block – Nicole’s Restaurant. This family run spot is most definitely an established business in the DelSo, really, it’s practically an institution. Established in 1986 (!), Nicole’s has long been a consistently great spot for a romantic dinner for two, a family meal or festive group dinner. The political types that litter Albany during session even make the trip down Delaware to enjoy items such as Eggplant Roulade and Hazelnut Chicken – you’ll recognize them when you them, trust me. I really appreciate that meals are available in full and small portions and they also do a terrific “to-go” meal deal during the week that I plan to check out after the holidays. And don’t forget them when you’re looking for a caterer for your next event – there were rave reviews for the food they provided in November for the Historic Albany Foundation’s BUILT show. Check back in January for a post about their to-go meal specials – something for us both to look forward to in the New Year!
On 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.