Tuesday, November 24, 2009
I am not going to sit here and give an in depth discussion of the Miss Albany Diner, most of those reading probably know the place pretty well. If you live locally then you will also know that the owners have decided to sell. Because of all of this the wife and I decided to trek down there to have a meal just in case the place gets sold quick and stuff changes.
I appreciate the place for its kitsch and attitude, which is not the kind of kitsch and attitude that comes from slick, hipster, marketing bastards. It is the kind that comes from the owners and staff plodding through years of diner operation on Broadway in Albany (quite the interesting corner of the world for a diner, I can imagine the characters that have stumbled through those doors). There are the requisite stodgy quotes on the menu boards about noisy children and the dangers of demanding too frequent coffee top offs.
Tiny printouts next to the booths proclaim "Butts on benches, feet on the floor." The atmosphere gives one the impression that the cook might come out of the kitchen and punch you in the face if one makes too complicated of an order. I love it.
It is sad that the place is going to be sold. No matter how hard a new owner tries, things will inevitably change. One more bright spot is extinguished in our fair city. That is why I made the trip for today's breakfast, I wanted to capture a moment in time and to remember the Miss Albany Diner as it is now.
I overheard an interesting conversation between the owner/cook and a patron concerning all of this. The surly gent behind the portal to the kitchen said something to the effect that it is just not the same since his parents left. I can understand this. He also seemed to be in a somewhat rotten mood, he yelled at the nice waitress which was a slightly uncomfortable moment. So maybe it is a time for change in his life and I don't begrudge him this.
Me and the wife ordered a grand breakfast. Omelet with bacon for her, Rocky Mountain High for me (side of grits too).
Delicious breakfast as usual, I bemoaned the fact that I might not ever get to try the advertised fried Spam and eggs or the Ugly Eggs (eggs with anchovies). But what are you going to do? Such is life. Things fade into the past all of the time, but as I approach thirty I find myself prone to fits of nostalgia, it seems that the world is changing exponentially. What will be left of my childhood to share with my daughter when she gets a little older? Sigh.
Anyhow, enough whining, here is some local Albany movie trivia. What is the significance in film of this booth at the Miss Albany Diner.
Along with an order of toast.
Anyone know? If you get it I will find some way to reward you or sing your praises. I will reveal the answer in a couple of days in any event. Have a nice Thanksgiving all, I have to work. Still planning on doing some tradition on Friday for the family, mayhaps I shall post about it.
Well that didn't take long.
Happy Cuties of the Happy Cuties blog has correctly stated that this is where Helen Archer (Meryl Streep) sat and ordered toast in the film adaptation of Ironweed by William Kennedy. Big William Kennedy fan here, and not just because he is Albany born and raised like myself. I have another idea in mind to recreate Francis' path during the whole "sharp cheese sandwich" episode from the novel whilst actually eating a cheese sandwich. Anyways, huzzah for Happy Cuties.
Saturday, November 21, 2009
So, I think I invented a sandwich. Probably not, I am sure this has been done, there is nothing good and original left in this world. But whatever, I am owning it and have named it "The Hungry David." It consists of some pulled pork (I bought a pound at Capital Q the other day), a couple slices of Wonder Bread, and an egg. I like an egg sunny side up in a sandwich like this, I don't care if I am taking my life into my own hands. I fear no egg. Anyhow, this was absolutely delicious. If you are squeamish, go for an over easy egg, but make sure there is still some runny yolk. The tangy pork, kissed by the rich buttery-ness of the yolk was the stuff angels sing about at night on their cloud beds.
If you are wondering what those weird white pieces on top of the yolk are, they are by products of my bathing the top of the yolk with the cooking fat to get them just a little cooked without loosing any drippy goodness. You should try this.
Friday, November 20, 2009
**Immature and Vulgar Humor Alert Again (is this necessary, I don't imagine my loyal readership is on the prudish side, but one can't be too careful)**
One of the many post-modern food products that I have somewhat of an unhealthy obsession with are sliders. In fact, one of my few claims to fame involves a slider recipe. I find the slider fad endlessly amusing and usually will be suckered into ordering them when I see them on a menu, often with horrible results. I have had some very bad sliders at some very good restaurants. So when I spied these slider-esque "Side Shots" care of the Hot Pockets dynasty, you know what I had to do. Buy them. Eat Them. Make nut-sack jokes (for the last time I made nut sack jokes about some sliders click here).
But seriously, the jokes write themselves with these little guys.
Exhibit #2 Ahem, Ahem.
Come on guys, these little things look like Truck Nuts. I laughed myself silly.
As for the taste, it hardly warrants mentioning. Here is the inside.
These guys were filled with some weird sort of burger puree. It was lumpy, and had a strong pickle/mustard flavor which I found weird. I didn't see pickles listed in couple hundred ingredients included in this chemistry project of a food. But they were definitely worth the cheap laugh. You have to live for the small things.
Thursday, November 19, 2009
I was on the way to Capital Q today to pick up a pound of pork when I passed Bros Tacos which is located at 319 Ontario. I had heard a couple good things about the place, so I decided to give it a whirl.
The first thing I noticed when I entered the establishment was this awesome t-shirt being offered for sale.
I am totally going to buy one of these. I love the Albany skyline and classic NY plate.
Reading the menu I was glad to see that Bros has options other then Taco Bell-esque crispy tacos filled with vaguely spicy meat sludge. They are peddling more traditional offerings wrapped in a couple of soft corn tortillas. I decided to sample a couple Bros Carne "Specialty Tacos" which included carne asada, salsa roja, pico de gallo, and avocado-lime sauce. On the menu we also have fish, shrimp, chicken, bbq chicken, pork, veggie, and American tacos (ground beef and cheese). I had to get mine to go, so here they are in a takeout container.
I thought these were really very good. The tortillas were very good quality, soft and full of corn flavor. There was a generous helping of flavorful meat and the sauces were aggressively spicy. I would definitely execute another expedition to Bros as these were the best tacos that I have had around these parts lately. In addition to the tacos, I ordered the wife a chicken burrito. In size it was roughly as gargantuan as a Bombers Burrito , maybe a little smaller.
I will have to issue an edit as my wife is not home yet, so I haven't cracked the burrito open.
Aside from tacos and burritos the menu also includes quesadillas, nachos, burgers, salads, tostadas, and darn it all, tamales. You know that I am a tamale freak, but I didn't notice this on the menu until after I left. I will definitely try them out next time I go. As for prices, the two tacos and burrito cost me about 14 dollars, really not that bad. I thought the food was worth the price. Give Bros Tacos a go if you are in that neck of the woods. Definitely quality grub to be had.
Wednesday, November 18, 2009
When the chilly winds of fall start to blow around these parts it fills some with expectant joy for the changing of the leaves, or maybe Thanksgiving. Not I. For me fall heralds the beginning of Nog season. We have discussed the fact that I am an egg nog fanatic in the past(see here for my controversial Aged Egg Nog Recipe). If you were reading my humble blog around this time last year you would know that as much as I love homemade nog, Stewart's Shops product is a very close second (click for my Homage to Stewart's and their nog). Well folks, the signs are out for all to see at Stewart's, the nog is back.
I was driving down New Scotland road the other day in Slingerlands and noticed a hand painted sign on the door of the Stewart's over there proclaiming "Egg Nog Milkshake." Oh sweet Bessy, where do I sign up! I had to stop and give this a whirl.
Oh yeah, that is good stuff right there. Sickly sweet and noggy, just how I liked it. You can't go wrong with Stewart's nog blended together with some good ol' Philly Vanilla of the same pedigree. By the way friends, did you know that Philly Vanilla is the "#1 best in the world?"
Apparently, Stewart's Vanilla took the prize at some world dairy expo. out in Wisconsin. That entitles them to some serious bragging rights which I am sure they will not be shy about. They certainly won't let us forget how tasty their milk is.
Anyway, hooray for nog.
I have always found GroceryLists.org fascinating. It is a collection of found grocery lists this guy started. He says, and I agree, that grocery lists are a fascinating glimpse into the life of some unknown stranger. I never thought that I would find my own strange and fascinating grocery list until the other day when I found this gem in the bottom of my cart (at Price Chopper in Guilderland of course).
The list includes (transcribed as written, the spelling errors are the best part):
Pantene Pro-V Shampoo
There are several things that I like about this list. The first thing that I like is the period after bread. I imagine that this was where the original list ended. The writer then had a sudden epiphany (remembered mom's birthday, anniversary, etc...) and scrawled "card flowers" as an afterthought. Then the reality of dry bologna sandwiches occurred to our author who added "muctard" as something of a finale. I admire a man who takes his bologna with mustard, mayonnaise is for the morally corrupt.
I wonder if our author stuck to this list, did he really only buy these things? Can man live on milk, bologna, bread, and mustard alone? Sigh...
By the by, I was discussing with my wife the fact that I have never eaten a bologna sandwich (kind of like how I had never eaten a Big Mac until recently). I have to eat one soon. Anyone know where to get some good bologna?
Sunday, November 15, 2009
So my wife graciously went out to get me a fountain diet Coke from Burger King up the road (I am a horrible diet Coke addict). Knowing my penchant for strange fast food items she came home with the above pictured "Cupcake Milkshake," she knows me well. I could not find the cupcake shake on the official BK website, so perhaps it is a test item or in limited release. I don't know.
As you can see in the picture it has a whipped cream like substance on the top. Presumably, this is to imitate the frosting of a cupcake. Actually, the stuff tastes very much like cheap frosting. I liken it to the stuff you find on top of ice cream cakes. As for the shake, it was your standard over sweetened, artificial "cake batter" -esque flavored junk. This seems to be a very popular fad flavor in cheap iced cream lately, I don't really like it. I was not wowed by the shake, it is not good enough to offset the probably atrocious caloric weight. Of more interest to me than the shake was the following.
**Note** As usual this fast food review is laden with gutter mouth and potty humor, adults only (why do my fast food reviews always degenerate into vulgarity?)**Note**
Instead of a straw you get a extra thick "BK Pipe" from "Have It Your Way Technologies." This led to me making about 200 low brow, vulgar innuendos of the sort that I am sure you can imagine (you know smoking pipe, etc...). I told my wife that her mom is known to be able to suck a cupcake through a BK pipe in an ode to the classic "golf ball through a garden hose" line.
This is my Bread Friend (Rye Bread Friend to be exact), I got him at Price Chopper. You see, I was going over to my friend K8's downtown abode for some pre-Thanksgiving turkey eating practice (they got a new roaster thingy). I did not want to arrive empty handed, so I grabbed some moving stew, a gallon of my home brew (weird beer), and picked up the above pictured bread creature on the way. There was some debate as to what he is supposed to be, some thought bread bear and some thought bread man. I think he looks a little like the Reddit Alien.
Maybe he is a Breaddit.
Saturday, November 14, 2009
If you remember, a few weeks ago I whipped up some Sriracha Pickles. By the way, these turned out awesome. The cucumbers absorbed a lot of the spiciness of the Sriracha in just the way I had hoped they would.
I made a butt load of these pickles, probably more then I will realistically use in about a year, so I was looking for a way to make use of a jar. I am no fan of your standard, neon green, pickle relish that you see a lot of. I do like some of the fancier versions of mustard relish that I have had in the past. I decided to muddle around and try to come up with my own recipe.
I started by finely chopping an entire quart jar of the Sriracha pickles and throwing them in a pot. For some extra spice and flavor I added about a 1/2 cup of my home pickled Anaheim chiles, also finely chopped.
To the veg I added about a tablespoon of dried mustard, maybe a third of a cup of sugar, a little salt, about a cup of water, a 1/4 cup or so of flour, a splash of additional vinegar, and enough turmeric to give it the garish yellow color that I am looking for. I brought it all to a simmer until nice and thick.
Upon tasting, it did not have the mustard punch I wanted, so I squirted in about a quarter cup of good ol' French's Yellow. The resulting relish was exactly what I had imagined. An aggressively spicy, tart/bitter/sweet amalgam redolent of both pickles and mustard. Perfect for many applications, be it with some good and sharp cheddar, or on top of a tube steak. I had some little jars which were perfect for portioning into manageable quantities.
I spooned in the relish and processed as per usual in boiling water.
Very satisfied with this recipe, can't wait until the next time I get a hot dog jones so I can test drive the stuff.
This guy films himself eating all of those strange delicacies that you find in the "Canned Meats and Seafood" aisle existent in most grocery stores. Above is Mykylc eating a can of potted meat. He also does smoked oysters, pork liver pate, canned sausage, etc... All of these things are items that I have seen around and been curious about. Who supports the market for this stuff? Aside from some old timers in the Army, I have never seen any of my contemporaries eating smoked oysters or canned sausage. I personally have a jar of sausage, but not for consumption, more for companionship. I also am a fan of homemade potted meat but have not yet tried the canned stuff. I actually have a multi paragraph, ranting, diatribe on a can of meat that I bought at Walmart the other day on the back burner (I am sure you are all excited for that). Anyhow, check out some of this guys other videos. I also read that he takes challenges, I am sure we could think of something for him to eat.
Friday, November 13, 2009
I have been purchasing local eggs from various producers at the CooP for the past couple of weeks. I have been doing this as sort of a challenge to my palate, can I detect a difference in flavor between the various producers? and more importantly is there a significant difference between the flavor of these eggs and the factory farmed oeufs a la grocery store? I am, for the purpose of this discussion, ignoring the environmental/economical benefits of buying local and concentrating solely on flavor. The most recent purchase (pictured above) is from Mountain Winds Farm out of Byrne.
At 3.50$ for the dozen this is double, if not triple, the price of grocery store eggs. This is a price that I am more than willing to pay on philosophical grounds, as long as certain standards for poultry production are met (I won't get into that here). Ok, maybe I will get into that a little. On the whole "buying local" thing, if the chickens that shat out these eggs were farmed under deplorable conditions, fed on franken-corn and whatnot I could give a crap if they are local. I ain't buyin'. I have not researched Mountain Winds Farm, so I am uninformed. But again, for the purpose of this discussion, I am evaluating only on taste.
This is the dozen eggs. Brown and varying in tone.
Now, I am a poached egg fanatic. Give me two or three poached eggs and some limp white toast and I am a happy man. I guess that makes me seem like I am about 87, but we all have our favorites. Poaching also gives you a good feel for the quality of the egg, so this has been my control for comparison. I am kind of a free form egg poacher, I don't use any tricks or gimmicks. I just kind of plop eggs into a couple inches of simmering water.
They look a mess in the pot, but come out rather nice.
Puncturing the yolk of a properly poached egg with the point of a triangle of toasted wonder bread (I don't want to hear it bread snobs, poached eggs ache for wonder bread) is one of my undisputed favorite moments in life. You have to live for the little things.
Verdict: The yolks were a more vibrant yellow than the pale globes you see in many generic eggs and the whites were nice and firm. There was a definite fresh flavor to the Mountain Winds Farm eggs which was good. I will say that the yolks did not have that melted-butter-esque richness of some super high quality eggs that I have had in the past. But all in all, they were very solid eggs. Superior in every way to the 99 cent dozen that you would otherwise pick up at Walmarts. I would be interested in learning a little more about the farm, so if you are informed, let me know.
Mexican beverages have always fascinated me. I still get grumpy about the fact that you can't get a big ol' horchata anywhere around here (although I did manage to find some horchata mix the other day, I will let you know how it is). But as we will all soon be in the icy grips of that wench who is the Upstate New York winter, I was in the mood for a hot beverage. Ever heard of atole? Atoles are a family of corn meal based hot beverages, yup you heard me right, they are made with masa (base ingredient for tamales, which we have discussed at length). One particular atole is Champurrado, a hot cocoa of sorts. I bastardized this recipe to make my mug.
I started with some maza.
A half cup of the masa goes into a pot with 2 1/4 cup milk and 1 1/2 cup water to heat gently. I substituted about a half cup of demerrera sugar for the piloncillo.
For the chocolate I used a half of a bar of Dagoba Xocolatl, which has some nice chile spice.
I gave it a good steady whisking until the mixture thickened to about the consistency of heavy cream (very heavy cream). You don't really want to bring this to a boil, unless you really want to scrub the burnt masa off of your pot. A bare simmer at most.
A step you definitely don't want to skip is to strain the Champurrado. My masa brand has some larger pieces of corn and other odd bits that you don't necessarily want in a beverage. I just used my normal kitchen sieve.
There you have it. A thick, frothy, rich mug of Champurrado. This is a much more substantial beverage then a wimpy cup of Swiss Miss hot cocoa, you feel like you ate a big bowl of grits after drinking it. It is good and sweet with a pleasant corn flavor, a big serving of this will keep your internal belly furnace stoked and warm through any cold Autumn day. I could think of many variations on the basic maza/milk/water/sugar mixture as a base. Things like vanilla, cinnamon, booze would not be out of place. I was pleased with Champurrado, you should give it a go.
Tuesday, November 10, 2009
Apparently, Stewart's hates the man! This little bit of activism was spotted by myself on the bathroom door at the Slingerland's Stewart's on New Scotland Road. It is in the official "Stewart's Font," so it looks like this is endorsed by corporate. I wonder what has inspired this, have people been whining to Stewart's about higher prices? Does anyone else find it so interesting that an unassuming, local, gas/coffee/grocery mart is taking some sort of pseudo-political stance? One more reason to be fascinated by Stewart's Shops.
Oh yeah, and the owners of Stewart's just made a multi-million dollar donation to charity, FTW. Huzzah.