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Beer Bars

April 15, 2015

Last week we played a little game. I asked you to write down five classic Albany institutions, and then I sent you to The Weekly Yelp to see how close your answers were to mine.

Hopefully, by now you’ve all subscribed to get The Weekly, or you were already getting it based on the fact that you have a Yelp account and live in the the Capital Region. Although I understand those in Saratoga Springs may have been left out of the email blast. I’m working on that.

Anyhow, if you aren’t getting it, I’ll share the free subscription link in just a few moments.

This week, I’d like to try the same game, but with a different question. This time it’s not limited to Albany. In fact, the answers should really be spread out over the entire Capital Region, which makes it even harder. Mostly, because we’ve got a lot of great beer bars.

Which would be your top five? Write them down before you click through, so that we can compare. Ok. Ready? Go.

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Spring Fling

April 14, 2015

We all have our crushes. My mom has a thing for rabbis. I have a thing for chefs. And bartenders, and distillers, and baristas, and winemakers and cheesemakers and bakers, and, well, you get the idea. I hope the brewers, chocolatiers, coffee roasters, butchers, mongers of all stripes, and buttermakers don’t feel left out. That would be tragic.

I’ve got a lot of love to give.

So sometimes the FLB can get a little redundant when I’m crushing on one particular person, place or thing. That’s part of the problem with obsessive personalities. We’re known to sometimes get fixated on something, and it’s hard to let go.

Well there is one chef locally who is in a very enviable position. He doesn’t own his own restaurant, but he’s found a way to do whatever the heck he wants. And what he wants to do is awesome.

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Go With the Flow

April 13, 2015

Now that Passover is completed, I’ve already had bread, pasta, cookies, pizza, cereal, beer and whiskey. Amazingly, I think it may have been the beer I missed most. Sometimes I don’t even know who I am anymore.

For Friday night’s potluck, I brought a full batch of chana masala, which seemed to have been the surprise hit. It always kills me how popular this dish is, since beyond chopping an onion, it’s mostly just about bringing the pot to a boil and reducing it to a simmer.

Actually, this was the first batch I made in the pressure cooker, but I was overcautious and as a result it took me just as much time to make it with my new device as it would have to make it the conventional way. Part of that may have been the pressure of the potluck. It’s a long story that I don’t want to bore you with today.

What I do want to bore you with today is a recent observation that may go a long way to explain why Capital Region restaurants are the way they are.

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Funday: Lack of Bread Make Me Crazy

April 10, 2015

Passover is almost done. What the heck am I going to do with all this leftover matzoh? Every year it’s the same thing. We are given an impossible choice. One either over buys and is left with a surplus of pain-bread or under buys and is left with the dregs of the matzoh supply for the last couple days of the “holiday.”

Not all matzoh is created equal. Some is terrible. And others are really really terrible.

But soon my pain is going to be over, and I can resume my usual whining about food matters beyond bread. Man, I could go for a slice of pizza, or a beer, or even a piece of toast.

Anyway, Passover doesn’t stop the press releases from coming. So today I’m going to share those with you. Maybe tomorrow you can help hook me up with some bread. Actually, I have a pizza date on Sunday, which is going to keep me from the Grown Up Egg Hunt. But man, that sounds like a lot of fun. I hear some of the eggs may even have Yelp schwag in ‘em. But if you don’t get there early, you might miss out. There’s an attendance cap. You’ve been warned.

Now, onto the press releases.

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Goat Neck

April 9, 2015

Sometimes I think I’m the laziest cook.

Take last night’s dinner for example. It’s Passover, so bread is out. So are a few other grains. But my family is okay with rice and beans, although that’s not the case for everyone. Regardless, I decided it would be nice to make Indian.

Well, I had a batch of chana masala sitting in the freezer, I had some brown basmati rice in the pantry, and I thought it would be lovely to turn those goat necks in my refrigerator into a lovely curry.

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The Weekly

April 8, 2015

Today’s a big day. But before we go into that, here’s a pop quiz. Write your answers down on a scrap of paper if you can. Yes, I really want you to play along.

Quickly, without consulting the Internet, name five notable old-school Albany institutions that are still around today. This is an old town, so old-school means older than the 1980s. And that’s city of Albany, and not Albany County or Capital Region.

Got ’em? Okay, now hold on to that list. Let’s compare.

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The Babe Wars: Food vs. Science

April 7, 2015

I love science. Forget all the amazing technology that we completely take for granted on a daily basis, and how it borders on magic. We have non-addictive pain medication like Advil that can take something small like a throbbing headache and make it go away. The improved quality of life this brings is virtually immeasurable.

Vaccines, electric lights, hot water heaters, indoor plumbing, the sewing machine, air conditioning, and more all owe a debt to the intellectual rigors of science.

I love food. Tell me what pleasures are greater than a ripe strawberry picked at its peak, garnet red through to its core, and bursting with sunshine. Or a perfectly ripe peach that is so packed with sweet juice that it’s impossible to eat without covering your chin and forearms in its sticky glory. Just yesterday we were talking about tender spring peas so delicate that even a picky child delights in eating them, pod and all.

Fragrant basil, hot garlic, fiery peppers, earthy mushrooms, and crisp radishes are just a small fraction of nature’s bounty. It’s nothing short of amazing that you can make bread with little more than wheat and water (of course, salt, sugar, and fat can all help to make it better).

Food and science are inextricably linked. However there is also an ideological divide that’s raging right now, and I have to say, I’m on both sides.

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