When I first moved to Albany in 1988, I got a job working split doubles at PD. Ladd’s, currently Dove and Deer. My apartment was just around the corner on Washington Avenue and, since I was carless, I needed to work within walking distance. The Ladopolous brother were very kind to me and, while I really enjoyed working there, I wanted to work someplace that was more renowned for their food than their proximity to the Capitol for the political types who regularly filled the bar.
At my 50th birthday party.
I read a story about Yono Purnomo, and his recognition as Chef of the Year, and set my sights on working at Yono’s in Robinson Square never imagining the impact that decision would have on my life. Thirty years later, my relationship with the Purnomo family continues to affect my life frequently. For instance, yesterday I enjoyed lunch with a friend who I originally met at Yono’s where she was a guest and I a server. Today, I will bring my tax documents to a preparer whose office is next door to the original Yono’s location. Back in the day I would deliver happy hour cocktails to his office, cutting across our rear shared parking lot. My dermatologist, veterinarian practice and optician all were selected upon Donna’s recommendation and I’m still loyal to each of them decades later.
Dinner with the ladies!
Because of this family, on some level, I have a family. My boys’ dad and I met working at Yono’s and we held our pre-wedding fete at the restaurant. When my boys were born, there was bakmi delivered to satisfy the intense hunger caused by birthing babies. Through the Purnomos I’ve met countless hospitality professionals and have enjoyed some terrific industry perks and courtesies. I realized recently that the very first time I ever shared a piece of my writing (some thoughts I had when we lost our resident curmudgeon, John Radley) publicly, was at Yono’s. The response and support I received was encouraging and more than likely influenced me to write and share more.
Is there a word for sister-daughter-niece? Maybe in Italian?
My life has been enriched by this hard-working and gracious family, and the experiences we’ve shared, and I am so glad they allowed me to become part of their extended clan 30 years ago. Happy anniversary, Donna, Yono, Nick & Sis.
The first time I made challah bread was a snowy day at the beginning of a staycation week. I found a recipe that seemed manageable, gathered together my ingredients and tuned to a jazz station on my Apple Music. I was ready, with a reasonable degree of seriousness, to take on the challenge. Baking intimidates me and other than my brownies (it’s a secret, but I’ll tell you in person if you ask) and No-Knead Bread, it’s most definitely not my strength. But, I’m an optimist and I’m curious about bread and yeast, so I began.
The recipe was straightforward and all seemingly went well. My kitchen is on the cold side of my house and I don’t know that the yeast slurry ever truly thrived, but the ingredients went together nicely and I left the dough to rise while I went for a ski.
About 3 hours later I checked the covered-in-plastic dough and saw some expansion, but not much. I handled the dough a bit and divided it into portions which I hoped to braid together prettily. That part went really well. Once the dough was shaped, it got covered and I placed it in the fridge for overnight. “Overnight” is such a non descriptive word really. This particular night, it meant taking the dough out and placing it on the counter at about 4:00 a.m. I miss sleep, but there’s always something with which to occupy one’s time.
About 3 hours later, I brushed the dough with the recommended beaten egg with a pinch of salt and popped the loaves into a preheated oven. They baked for about 34 minutes and I moved them around the oven a total of three times during the process. I think they’re beautiful, but the taste is kind of bland. I’m going to try them again with freshly purchased yeast, another egg and a touch of honey. I’ll let you know how it goes.
Do you bake bread? Hints? Recipes to share with the baking challenged?
The Super Bowl was already weeks ago (Remember? The Patriots won. Again.) but there’s something I’ve been thinking about ever since the big game…why would celebrities, like really rich and successful public figures, appear in advertisements or commercials about products which they weren’t enthusiastic about truly using? All of those actors and sports figures in the big budget commercials, do you think they need the money? How much money would you want to be paid for promoting and intrinsically endorsing something you genuinely appreciate and use? Would you want more money if it was item or service that you didn’t actually avail yourself of?
if you know me, you know I don’t value money very much. I appreciate it and understand working to have enough,* but I certainly don’t believe the accumulation of it is my life’s work. And, while I’d happily consider accepting money from companies whose products I truly use, I’m just about equally pleased to just share the following list with you of things I’m really loving right now. Here goes…
Great, color, great fabric
New Max Mara framed eyeglasses.
My Waterpik, although I wish the cord was retractable.
I don’t know what it is, but I can’t stop eating. Carbs are my thing and recently I have been going to town cooking, and eating, pasta. It’s a little too soon to be officially “carb loading” for either of the 1/2 marathons for which I’ve already registered, so I have no excuse other than it tastes good. And I like it.
Last week, I made a spicy bolognese sauce that I thought was delicious, albeit a little meaty. I will definitely riff on that recipe in the future because it was hearty, simple and really easy to put together in a single pan. I love that!
Over the weekend I made a lentil and butternut squash soup that ticked all my current boxes – lentils and orange vegetables. Again, the list of ingredients was reasonable and the prep practically effortless, an ideal combination of circumstances when one is planning lunches for the week. I mean, come on, how great is it to pull out a pint of homemade soup for lunch on a cold day? With a little forethought, you could be living the high lunch life
The more labor intensive culinary project of the weekend turned out to be gnudi. Have you had them before? I think the first ones I ever had were made by Nick Ruscitto and they were delightful. Lighter than gnocchi with a softness that proves the delicacy of their maker’s hands, these ricotta cheese dumplings are pillows of tenderness perfectly finished with the most simple of sauces. I had to make them.
I found a recipe and got busy, draining the ricotta and exploring methods for how to eventually form and cut the gnudi. After chilling the dough, I opted for the long log technique, slicing the log into .75” pieces which I then gently placed in boiling water. Like many Italian recipes I’ve prepared, the challenge is the amount of time required, not necessarily the level of skill of the cook.
I cooked the gnudi in batches, resting uncooked ones on a plastic wrap covered baking sheet and cooling the cooked ones off under in a colander. Eventually I placed all the gnudi into a plastic container and drizzled them with olive oil. I was saving them for Monday’s “meatless” dinner when I planned to sauté them in olive oil and a dollop of bacon fat with mushrooms, onions, garlic and roasted cauliflower.
Mondays can be rough after a busy weekend, but when dinner and multiple lunches are prepared before Sunday officially ends, they’re not so bad at all.
I have absolutely zero feelings regarding whether the roll of toilet paper is supposed to be installed over or under.
However, double parked vehicles blocking available legal parking will probably be my trigger if I should ever totally lose my sh*t.
I’m at a stage in the aging process where I believe liberally applied moisturizer and not wearing my glasses (so I can’t see so well) takes five years off my face.
There’s an entrance to the parking lot at the nearby shopping plaza that is one way, but which way is undecided. Traffic uses it both to enter and exit the lot. A street sign was once placed indicating the correct direction. It was lying on the ground within days of installation and was gone in less than a week.
I’m obsessed with lentils at the moment. This is the latest recipe I prepared.
Made gnudi for the first time this weekend. Like most Italian food I’ve ever prepared, it’s labor intensive, but not particularly difficult to make.
We’re expecting some weather this week. If you happen to have a corner lot, please consider the difficulty of those in wheelchairs, or less physically mobile, and shovel a path that includes access to the street.
Every single time I’m reminded that I’m going to Greece this year, I can’t help but smile. So excited!
If anyone has a suggestion for a company that does basement work, please pass it my way. I’d like that project taken care of this spring.
I am dangerously close to renewing my Rent the Runway subscription. I’m just so enjoying it!
I’ve been planning vacations for long time. Usually it’s pretty simple – pick a destination, figure out which airport/airline makes the most sense and then find a place to stay. Easy. Last year I upped the ante by putting a trip involving 4 cities in 3 countries together, but that seems effortless now when compared to this year’s challenge…
I’m struggling a bit with this year’s Fabulous Lilly Boy Annual Trip. It’s feeling complicated and a little overwhelming, and so I’m coming here to ask for some help, friends.
Tell me about Greece.
Middle son and I plan to spend 10-12 days there in early summer and I tense up each time I think about the number of details involved in independently booking a trip to multiple islands. With acceptable and reliable transportation between islands, of course.
Friends have mentioned their favorite spots and some recommendations, and I appreciated that very much. What I’m hoping for now is a bit more specific. Can anyone share a suggested itinerary of islands (ideally 2, in addition to a night in Athens on either end of the trip) which includes islands which have beautiful beaches, chill atmosphere, trails to hike or run, and good food? I’m totally open to doing day trips to smaller islands, but want to minimize the amount of time I’ll need to be on a boat. I am not a good sailor.
So? What do you have? Please – be specific and share suggestions and experience. I’d appreciate it!
When you make plans with your two favorite running partners more than a week in advance, it isn’t possible to predict the weather. No surprise then that the evening arrived with a pissing rain that would inspire most folks to skip the 5 miles and head directly to a restaurant for some holiday cheer. But, we luna b*tches are a hearty breed and despite a moment’s wishful thinking, we were committed. We headed out at about 6:30 and, surprisingly, the rain wasn’t nearly as bad as we had anticipated. I mean, we got soaked, but it wasn’t particularly cold, and the holiday lights decorating the homes along our route provided a warmth of their own.
Following our run, we cleaned up and drove to our dinner destination – Capital City Gastropub. I hadn’t been there in a few months, the menu is always interesting, and their burger is consistently dynamite. We arrived a bit after 8:00 and were immediately seated in a comfy corner. After selecting drinks (the Cremant I wanted wasn’t available, but I was happy with my Sauvignon Blanc) and an order of Brussels sprouts, we made some decisions about what to eat.
My go to order here is the Kilcoyne burger, rare, no bun but with cheddar cheese and carmelized onions. Fries crispy, please. Without fail, my burger arrives exactly as requested with a great sear, beautifully seasoned and always perfectly cooked. The fries, such a seemingly simple side dish, are burn-my-mouth hot and worth every fatty calorie, something that is far too frequently not the case when I order them at other places.
The Brussels sprouts arrived, firm and bright in a light sweet and sour sauce filled with umami. So different than the usual fried or bacon garnished preparations seen around town. We finished them up and shortly afterwards, our mains arrived. My burger was prepared precisely as ordered and the other two plates were also well received. K went with the New Scotland Hot Chicken sandwich, a riff on Nashville style hot chicken and was really happy with her choice. The spice level was balanced and not blazing and the portion was generous without being overwhelming. C’s Grilled Squash Sandwich was nicely presented and seemed to satisfy the need for a solid, but not too heavy meal. We shared a Bibb lettuce salad on the side which was the ideal accompaniment to our plates and tweaked K’s fondness for citrus and greens.
There were no pictures taken of the food because we were too busy eating and talking and laughing to pause for anything beyond this little selfie.
Dinner – an appetizer, a salad, three sandwiches, 3 glasses of wine and a soda totaled $96 pre-tip, a small price to pay for the satisfaction we got from running 5 miles in the rain and rewarding ourselves with simple food made from quality ingredients. You’re welcome to skip the run, but don’t miss eating here.