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Sack Friday

November 27, 2015

Officially todays is National Buy Nothing Day. It’s a great antidote to the consumer frenzy that used to be reserved for the day after Thanksgiving. But the day to try and quench our endless thirst for all the things we want, seems to be encroaching on the day we sit around with our family being thankful for what we’ve got.

Buy Nothing Day is great in theory, but it’s terrible in practice. Mostly because this is the day that I go hunting and gathering for treats to bring to my family’s belated Thanksgiving celebration in Connecticut. We’ll see how many stops I can make before I need to get home for Friday night dinner. But The Cheese Traveler is a must, and I’m hoping that Rolf’s and Chester’s might be open too. My goal is to fill a sack of meats and cheeses that the family will snack on before the meal.

But presents? We’re not so big into presents. Perhaps that’s a cultural thing. You know the old joke about getting socks on Chanukah? It’s funny because it’s true. Speaking of which, the first night of Chanukah is crazy close, it begins a week from Sunday.

However, first thing is first.

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An Old Restaurant Celebrates Thanksgiving

November 26, 2015
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Today is a day for giving thanks. As screwed up as the world may be, there are always things for which to be thankful. Some years we may have to dig deeper to find them, but they exist.

One thing I’m perpetually thankful for is this holiday tradition of mine. Really, I’m big into traditions in general. But every Thanksgiving, I make sure to watch one particular video on YouTube. And every Thanksgiving, I write a post encouraging others to watch it too. Some people might be watching it for the very first time. Others might have made it a holiday tradition of their own sometime over the past fifty years, because it all started about fifty Thanksgivings ago.

Regardless of how screwed up the world may be, I am thankful for the optimism that exists at the heart of this song. So hopefully you can get away from your family for eighteen minutes, or maybe you can have them gather around the computer to watch with you.

Who knows, you may find yourself starting a new Thanksgiving tradition. Mine is torturing Young Master Fussy with these words of an aging hippy. Perhaps when he’s older, he’ll understand.

Happy Thanksgiving. I hope you enjoy the song and have a wonderful holiday.

So Many Thanksgivings

November 25, 2015

How many Thanksgiving meals will you be attending this year?

Something weird is happening to our holidays. Much like Halloween, which can sometime extend to well over a week and include both the weekend before and after the holiday, Thanksgiving has slowly expanded to be a much bigger holiday.

On the flip side, it would also seem that Thanksgiving is also at risk of being entirely eaten up by Christmas now that Black Friday officially starts on Thursday. But perhaps that’s one of the factors that is pushing more and more people to celebrate our national gut busting bacchanalia on additional days of the week.

So maybe it’s also a good question to ask when do you officially celebrate the holiday?

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Pics From an Upstate New York Dinner

November 24, 2015

It’s the season for giving thanks. Thursday, I will run my traditional holiday post. What’s a holiday without tradition? And Wednesday’s post will be made from the road in Providence.

But today, I’ve got to give it up to the chefs. Last week I got to share a bunch of menus that several talented chefs put together as a starting place to understand what an Upstate New York cuisine might look like… you know, if we had one.

Some commenters have been arguing that what we’ve discovered through this project is a list of ingredients that are looking for a cuisine to bind them together. Others seem to be suggesting that the availability of these ingredients spill over political boundaries, which is true. If you want to get precise, I see the menus reflecting the culinary diversity of Northeast Appalachia, of which Upstate New York is the largest sub-region.

The chefs’ enthusiasm is unabated. And that’s great. Dali-Mamma has set a date to cook its menu, on February 27. And while I never asked for these menus to actually be executable, other chefs have been talking about cooking their menus too.

One chef has beaten them all to the punch.

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Predisposed Prejudices

November 23, 2015

Egads! The week feels like it’s over before it has even begun. Somehow I cleverly scheduled two different overnight trips, in two different states, on either side of Thanksgiving. Tuesday and Wednesday I’ll be in Rhode Island. Thursday and Friday I’m back in Albany. Saturday and Sunday I’ll be in Connecticut.

It all sounded like a good idea at the time. The blog will continue. Yelp will Yelp on. Everything will be fine. And I’m actually excited about all the plans. The logistics are just unfortunate.

My biggest concern is whether or not I’ll be able to bang out a batch of chicken stock in time to make some kind of quick and sleazy stuffing for Thursday night. That’s our small immediate-family dinner. Our bigger feast isn’t until Saturday. Fortunately, I don’t have to worry about that. My aunt N. has it all covered.

The only thing I’m worried about right now is revealing how wrong I’ve been about some deeply held prejudices. But when I’m wrong, I come clean. So here goes nothing.

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Rocking Breakfast – Recipe #12

November 20, 2015

If you missed the Pork & Waffles at Josh Coletto’s Rock N Roll Brunch last month, I’ve got two good pieces of news for you.

This Sunday, the RNRB is heading back to The Low Beat in Albany. No, the dish won’t be on the menu a second time, but there will be another savory waffle and meat combination. This month it will be Goat & Waffles. And man, does it sound good. But I’m also a sucker for Red Flannel Hash. You can see the menu as it now stands right here.

Today, Josh is sharing his recipe for carnitas, which was the pork in the Pork & Waffles. Turns out, it’s easier than I thought. I’ll turn it over to Josh to explain.

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Disappearing Local Icons

November 19, 2015

There are some institutions that are just part of the fabric of everyday life in a city. They will vary place to place. But they are businesses that have been in town for a very long time. So long, it’s almost as if people take them for granted.

Albany is not alone in losing some of its cherished local icons. Just look at the state of Jewish Delis in Manhattan. It’s tragic.

Maybe you haven’t been paying attention, and I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but just this week Albany has suffered two major losses.

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