Category Archives: Food

Sweet love

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Cheesecake Machismo’r Frankencake.  Image:alloveralbany.com

Today’s run was brought to you by thoughts of love and dessert. Or maybe I should say, love of dessert. As Jeter and counted the miles, I considered my tendency to generally be a fairly generous person. I’m not a hoarder and I don’t feel the need to accumulate much in life, happily sharing things which come my way. With one exception.

I do not like to share my dessert. There’s something lost to me when I allow someone to get their fork or spoon all up in my cheesecake or creme brûlée. I know it sounds horrible, but it’s the honest to god truth. I just don’t get the same satisfaction in my indulgence when I’m not the exclusive consumer. I am unsatisfied, I guess. I want it all.

Being unsatisfied sucks, but I don’t think it’s nearly as bad as being dissatisfied. In my mind, dissatisfaction is worse. It’s like something occurred that actively inspired a negative feeling. Instead of satisfying you, it did something contrary. While being unsatisfied still leaves the possibility of satisfaction to occur, the state of dissatisfaction means that you’ve arrived at precisely the opposite destination.

What do you think? Which do you find to be more satisfying – dissatisfaction or unsatisfaction? And, most importantly, are you the kind of person who makes it a habit to share dessert?

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Filed under Food, love, musings, Observations, Random, running, Uncategorized

Things I miss

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  • The smell of my babies. There’s nothing like the fragrance of a newborn baby.
  • Snow. This winter just feels a bit barren without it.
  • Sleep uninterrupted by bathroom visits, drenched sheets and work related stress.
  • Puppy breath.
  • Evenings spent at home.
  • Eating with abandon – an entire pint of Cherry Garcia, burgers actually on buns, fettuccine Alfredo… Those days are done.
  • Free time and extra money to spend making day trips and overnight visits to NYC and other places the boys and I enjoy.
  • The sense that I can let go and let down – my guard, my fears, my sense of control.
  • Having a house already booked for the beach this summer. This is the first time in more than 15 years that I don’t have a plan in place.
  • Being able to feel light in so many different ways. I’m ready to shine again.

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Filed under Boys, Cape Cod, Food, musings, Random, Uncategorized

Sunday supper – Husk, Nashville

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When the girls and I go away we each have a role to play – Mary Lynn does research on music and shows to attend, Lisa is in charge of outdoor activities and places to visit and I arrange dinner reservations for an indulgent meal out. The Times Union’s Steve Barnes had mentioned Husk to me a couple of months ago and, after doing a bit of research, I was convinced that this was our spot for Nashville. I did my thing and made a reservation.

We arrived about 20 minutes before our 7:15 reservation to enjoy a cocktail at the bar. Husk is a very pretty restaurant, located in a historic house on a hill up above the Cumberland River. The hostess station is anchored by an enormous chalkboard listing the menu’s ingredients and their origin. Not being from the area, we were unfamiliar with most of the farms and producers, but hat in no way diminished how impressed we were with extensive list.

The bar was downstairs and the walk there took us past the open kitchen, an area populated by both kitchen and service staff. It was a cool opportunity to witness the controlled chaos that is the kitchen of a busy restaurant and I struggled against my wish to tuck myself into a corner and just observe the professionals at work. There were cocktails to be had, though, so we moved on.

My initial impression of the bar was mixed. It was attractive and cozy with low ceilings and windows peeking out to a patio, but the bar itself was a little unapproachable. After a couple of minutes of awkwardness we were presented with a lovely cocktail list and placed our orders. As expected, the drinks were meticulously mixed and beautifully presented – and tasty. The single high top table in the bar area became available and was offered to us prompting a change in our plans. We decided to eat in the bar instead of relocating to our table, a pretty remarkable choice since 20 minutes earlier we were feeling less than welcomed.

With some assistance from our bartender, Kenneth, we ordered opening with the available-only-in-the-bar, cut to order cured ham. This perfect starter was accompanied by the definitive version of freshly baked Parker rolls and a lard-butter spread. It was a wonderful introduction of what was to come – best quality ingredients respectfully prepared and presented. Delicious.

We followed with 3 items from the First course menu – Shrimp and Grits ($16), Gourds Roasted Over the Fire, Benne, Arugula, Aged Gouda ($12) and a Seafood Johnny Cake with Kimchi Purée and Benne ($15).  The Johnny Cake was the only one we didn’t enthusiastically finish, it was very good, not that I’m an expert on johnny cakes, but kind of heavy.  The other two were eaten with gusto.

For entrees we went with the Bear Creek Farm Pork with Barefoot Farmer’s Sweet Potatoes, Sassafras and Pecans ($34) and the Field of Dreams Duck with a Chestnut, Pear and Cornbread Dressing with Giblet Gravy ($37).  Just as you might intuit by the titles, these meals celebrated the ingredients and cuisine of the south. The pork was tender and flavorful and was accompanied by classic whipped (mashed?) sweet potatoes presented in a fresh, untraditional manner as thick squiggles painted on the plate, topped with a modern riff on marshmallows.  Very visually appealing.  The duck was hyper-rare and a bit chewy, but very tasty.  I wonder if my palate is so accustomed to large production meats, that maybe that chewiness, accompanied by rich flavor, is the hallmark of more consciously raised meat.  I do think another 60 seconds of cooking time would have elevated the duck even more.

My favorite item was an item which appears on many menus, yet was lifted to a previously unexperienced level – the shrimp and grits.  The grits were creamy and a little toothsome and the shrimp was firm and fresh.  What really pulled it all together was the lightly cooked egg which topped the dish, inviting the serving spoon to mix it all together in a blend of textures and flavor which was outstanding. In a restaurant which seeks to honor and present the local cuisine, their interpretation of a southern staple really scored perfectly.

We didn’t eat dessert but we did get a sweet tip about where to go for a good time on Monday nights.  More on that later. Dinner total for 3: Approximately $200 with a generous tip, including three cocktails, one glass of wine, four smaller plates and two entrees.

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Filed under Dinner, Eating, Food, friends, Nashville, Restaurants, travel, Uncategorized, vacation

For breakfast, I ate pork belly – Pinewoo0d Social

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Eating breakfast out is generally not my thing.  It’s usually just too much for me – time, money and calories.  An exception is made, though, when I travel and more than one person had strongly recommended the same spot.  So, on our first morning in town, I made a reservation and we took the short walk over to the very cool space that is home to Pinewood Social.  On approach, it wasn’t immediately obvious to me if the brick building was a new build or a reclaimed industrial space.  Once we were inside, though, it was clear that a well-executed renovation had taken place in what I’ve come to learn had been a series of trolley barns.  The facility was beautiful inside with areas which were well defined, yet open.  All of the attributes of the original building remained intact – exposed brick, gorgeous windows and original woodwork.

We were given a spacious booth with an excellent view (through a series of windows) of the bowling alley.  Yes, bowling alley.  This place is designed to have a little something for everyone!  We looked over the menus and made our selections.  I’m a good eater and overordered starting with the yogurt with fresh fruit and house made granola.  This was a generous and delicious portion of berries, Greek (?) yogurt and an outstanding granola whose only failure was a lack of availability for purchase to go.  It was an excellent primer for my less virtuous next course – 2 eggs over easy, biscuits and pork belly.

I’d have to say the biscuits and the yogurt were my favorite things, not that any of the food I ate wasn’t really good.  I’m just picking favorites here!  Coffee was rich and strong, accompanied by liquid versions of sugar, and the orange juice was freshly squeezed.  Music was exceptional – a great playlist, and service was competent and friendly.  It was definitely a terrific way to begin our first day exploring Nashville, despite what the oddly less than glowing Yelp reviews might say.  And, while I’m not a convert to breakfast out, I kind of regret not going back for a second morning meal.  If you’re in Nashville, I suggest this place for sure, y’all.

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Filed under breakfast, Brunch, Eating, Food, Nashville, Recommendations, travel

5 Things that got me hot in December

• A visit to the Hot Yoga Spot. After months of not managing to get to a Bikram class, I finally made it to the newest HYS location in East Greenbush this week. It was truly 75 minutes of blissful hard work and I am so happy that there is yet another location and schedule of classes of which I can avail myself.
• The thought of Donald Trump representing my country.
• Sunshine and 57 degrees in Albany, N.Y.
• The Soba noodle dish we’re offering as part of our Tuesday & Wednesday Pasta Special – so good! I know it is going to be exactly what I’ll crave when I get my first winter cold.
• New flannel sheets from Macy’s Martha Stewart Collection. They are legit like velvet.

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Filed under Eating, favorites, Food, Lark Street, Local, politics, Random, Recommendations, Uncategorized, yoga

Tara Kitchen

olive tapenade with artichoke hearts and sundried tomatoes

olive tapenade with artichoke hearts and sundried tomatoes

Sunday, more than ever, has become my “Me” day. Yesterday I had hours to myself to do whatever I felt like – once the waffles and bacon had been cooked, served and cleaned up and payroll had been done and the sheets had been changed and I had met with Linda Kindlon at Bake for You about adding her cookies to Lark + Lily’s dessert options…hours, I tell you.

Following an afternoon run (down one lunar b*tch, missed you, Chrissy!), I decided to follow through on my intention to eat at Tara Kitchen. I’ve been wanting to get to this spot in Schenectady forever and this post  in All Over Albany’s weekly roundup of what’s going on in the neighborhood, forced my hand.

I’m not very familiar with Schenectady, but I have spent some time in the area where Tara Kitchen is. Parking was readily available in the lot directly across the street from the restaurant. I arrived at about 5:30 and the place was hopping with nearly all the tables seated. Bar seating was plentiful. I sat at a table in front of the window and was completely comfortable even with the door opening and closing. The upstairs seating was definitely toasty warm due to, I imagine, the heat rising off of the big range in the open kitchen.

spinach with potatoes and poached eggs

spinach with potatoes and poached eggs

As I browsed the menu, I sipped a delightful tea from a small glass.  It was a magical elixir, I swear, stimulating my taste buds and giving me a boost.  I eventually ordered three courses – opening with the olive tapenade served with warm triangles of pita. It was delicious, wonderfully salty and earthy with a hint of heat. For my entrée, which was served blazingly hot, I had the spinach, potatoes and eggs, the kind of meal which would be perfect at any time of the day. There was more pita and rice served along side the tagine, I imagine just to give a diner something to pick on while they’re waiting not so patiently for their main course to cool off. The flavors were fantastic – I especially loved the cardamom, and the vegetables were beautifully cooked retaining just a touch of firmness.  I  requested some harissa to add a little zip, since I felt a cold threatening and I loved the smoky quality it lent to the dish.

warm delicious baklava

warm delicious baklava

I finished with the baklava, because, why not? Unlike some renditions of this dish, it was not overly sweet or buttery and it actually was perfect with my remaining half glass of Moroccan Pinot Grigio  (Ouled Thaleb White).  Service throughout was comfortably casual and I wouldn’t hesitate to return to this terrific little spot.  Total for my meal including tip: $43.  Pretty reasonable for a trip to Morocco, don’t you think?

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Filed under Dinner, Food, Local, Recommendations, Restaurants, Schenectady, sunday, Uncategorized

Answering the call of cheese

imageOr maybe I should say the call of The Cheese Traveler. A couple of weeks ago while I was out of town, Eric reached out to me to see if I might lend a hand during his weekly cookouts. His regular servers were moving on to other opportunities and he just needed some help for the last 8 weeks or so of his season. Well, you know me. I like to work and if I can be of assistance to someone in my DelSo neighborhood, I’m in. Plus, there was cheese!

Two weeks ago, along with my neighbor/former McG’s coworker, Emily, I worked my first shift. How did it go? Well, we muddled through by the grace of our experience and the mellowness of everyone involved. If you’ve never done front of the house duties before I don’t know if I can explain to you all the variables and details which are involved with walking into an unknown food business and providing service, but, I’ll give it a shot…

First, there’s the menu. Although Ryan, Eric’s rockstar grill guy, runs a fairly small menu, the individual items feature numerous ingredients. Many of them include source information (for instance “Tilldale Farm“) or require some explanation (what is Halloumi??). Then there’s the beer, wine and cider offerings, which are really extensive and primarily small batch. Add in the need to understand how tickets or orders are placed (who makes the cheese plates vs. the hot items) and how the meal is paced if there are multiple courses. Of course, the server needs to know where to find things like silverware, napkins and glasses. Oh – and what do you when the gentle sprinkle of rain becomes a downpour?

So, Emily and I figured it out. Some familiar faces came out to enjoy a bite to eat and we managed to make it through the night relatively unscathed. Last night, our second dynamic duo evening, we did even better helping The Cheese Traveler to enjoy one of the best Friday night cookouts of the season. And we had a great time doing it!

I’m in for the next two Friday nights beyond point I’ll be occupied with my own project. Check out the menu, which is updated weekly, and stop by and enjoy a tasty dinner al fresco. In addition to my cameo appearance(s), there will be guest chefs featured on 8/28 and 9/4. Come see us!

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Filed under Albany, Delaware Avenue, DelSo, Dinner, drinking, Food, Local, Restaurants, Summer