A big part of traveling, for me at least, is the food. I’ve seen some stuff written recently about Michelin starred restaurants in Germany, but that wasn’t what this trip was about. No, this time with family was more focused on home-style cooking a la Deutschland.
Wandering around Freiburg’s Munsterplatz earned us a delicious sausage sandwich from Meister’s food truck. Topped with beautifully browned onions and a dab of mustard, it was the perfect snack to tide us over until dinner. Next time I’m in Germany I hope to schedule an entire day in Freiburg eating, beginning with strong coffee and pretzel rolls smeared with unsalted butter. I hope to make lunch a leisurely enough event that it will effortlessly flow into the evening’s repast. I think the best way to accomplish this lofty goal would be to begin at the Munsterplatz’s food trucks with some version of wurst, washed down, naturally, with a fine hefeweizen or two.
For dinner, I plan to wander down to the Markthalle (food court) and sample as many different offerings as humanly possible. ”Food court” is a bit of a misnomer because this place is nothing like what you might find at Crossgates.
If the broom is out, they’re open!
It’s more like a German version of the restaurants at Eataly except the individual kiosks are each independent and devoted to an eclectic array of international cuisines. There are tables and central gathering spots where one can enjoy a bite to eat and/or a drink and there is a bustling sense of activity akin to that of a bee hive. That’s where I want to be.
Unless, of course, I’ve got wheels and get a little outside of the city and find a Straussen or Broom restaurant. We hit one of these last month in the Markgrafler wine region and thoroughly enjoyed the meal, the local wine and the cozy makeshift dining room in the winery’s tasting room. I had the Flammkuchen and it was delicious – and perfect with the local wine! Flammkuchen, or fire cake, is sort of like a pizza, but instead of tomato sauce, the top is spread with some sort of creamy yumminess. I had mine with diced veggies and it was a satisfying yet not too heavy dinner.
All this food talk and I still haven’t shared any images of our traditional Black Forest breakfasts…until I get to it, imagine plates holding meats and cheeses accompanied by a basket of freshly baked breads and rolls. Yes, save that thought and trust me, morning was definitely not anything to dread.
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 overwhelmingly delicious!
Challah bread French toast – yum!
Spinach & tomato omelete with home fries
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…
A close second, I might add. Just for the record, my most favorite is “fete,” but enough of language. Here are the pictures which tell a thousand words! Seeing as how everyone at the
fete event looked like a million bucks, let me add a few additional words of the text variety:
- This was a really fun crowd with many familiar faces. Not one person declined to pose for a picture and I didn’t hear a single complaint while I worked the crowd.
- The staff at the
Hilton Crowne Plaza Albany Hotel were all professional and pleasant.
- It was fun shooting pictures of some of the same people from Thursday’s event. It didn’t feel indulgent or redundant – the faces you see in both photo sets are the faces of the folks who make the restaurant industry happen.
- The Times Union merged my two galleries with another set of photos taken during Friday’s Grand Tasting event – you’ll know mine by the credit in the caption.
- Personal shout out to a former student and his lovely fiancee* ~ It made my night to see you! And I told you that you weren’t a Republican – thanks for listening.
*two French words in one post – Mon dieu! That’s 3…
Filed under Albany, art, drinking, Eating, Events, favorites, Food, Local, Observations, Recommendations, Restaurants, SEEN, upstate New York, Wine, winter
These are the folks, along with the chefs, who make this happen. Bravo!
I’m never prouder to be even an infinitesimal part of the Capital Region dining scene than I am during this (4th) annual event. Such a terrific group of generous and hardworking – and really fun, folks that we are all lucky to have in our community. Speaking of scene – check out my SEEN gallery over at the Times Union. If I caught a good shot of you and you’d like the jpeg, let me know. I’m happy to send it your way. Maybe I’ll see you Saturday at the Gala?
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.
Filed under Albany, Brunch, Christmas, Delaware Avenue, DelSo, Dinner, drinking, Eating, favorites, Local, Recommendations, Restaurants
There were fireworks!
Saturday night was the 16th annual Last Run in Albany. This is absolutely one of my favorite races of the year – festive, fun and filled with friends. This year, my friend Lisa got herself together and registered before the race reached its 1500 runner capacity and we had a blast! The course for this run is fantastic – up State Street, across Willett and into and around the park. It is such a treat to run through the holiday lights display and if the spirit of the season doesn’t touch you, well, it’s time for you to slow down a bit then. The mayor was there to get things started and I was really pleased by the moment of silence he requested for the Newtown, Connecticut victims. Well done.
As far as the race went I took 14 seconds off my time from last year, which is fine considering it is impossible to really run until nearly 3/4 of mile into the race. That being said, I have to admit, I don’t run well with others. I like to run my own pace, whatever that is, but Lisa and I found each other easily after the run and got up to some of our usual antics. Trust me, enough said. Can’t wait until next year!
Fab bourbon sour made by Jonathan at the Wine Bar & Bistro on Lark. Yum, yum!
Filed under Albany, Christmas, drinking, Events, Exercise, favorites, friends, Lark Street, Local, Recommendations, running, SEEN
Steve Barnes’ lovely opening course
I was fortunate enough to have an opportunity to shoot a TU SEEN gallery this week at Yono’s Restaurant in downtown Albany. I think you know about my love for the Purnomo family, as well as my sincere admiration for all the good work they do for our community, and this event was a fine example of how they inspire the restaurant industry to so generously give to those in need. My intent with these photos was to capture the army that works behind those swinging doors, and I only wish I had more pictures of the kitchen professionals who came together to provide a memorable meal for an excellent cause. If you have any experience inside a kitchen, you know two things – 1. taking photos is challenging in the tight space and intense action of a kitchen in full swing and 2. chefs enjoy working behind the scenes, not necessarily in front of a camera (Food Network folks, aside.)
It was a special night and I was happy to be able to witness the benevolence of our Albany community. Check out Steve Barnes’ post about the night - his starter course was killer!