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The One Thing Everybody Wants

January 17, 2019

It’s become a trope around food circles within the Capital Region.
Someone will ask, “What’s the one thing that’s missing from the local culinary landscape?” And the chorus will respond, “Ethiopian food.”

There are a few other common answers like, “A dim sum restaurant with cart service.” And invariably there are the negative answers along the lines of, “The last thing we need is yet another Italian restaurant.” There are also a small handful who continue to long for a place to get banh mi, made on a proper roll that shatters when you bite into it. Although those voices seem to be fading a bit. Sometimes, there is a lone voice calling for an upscale German spot.

Those are all fine and good, but personally I have a longing for simple, casual, rustic food from Spain and France. A legit tapas bar, with bocadillos, and without the aspirations of being a full restaurant, would be right up my alley. Small plates. Spanish wines. Think Lucas Confectionery, but with more of a focus on food than wine. Ooh. Actually, I should pitch that to Heather and Vic.

Then there is the dream for a casual French bistro. Imagine the warm comfortable feeling you get when walking into one of our classic taverns. Well, take that, reduce the menu to a few simple classic dishes, like braised chicken, grilled sausage with lentils, mussels in wine, a ham and cheese sandwich, and a small steak with fries. Maybe through in a ratatouille or something for vegetarians. Serve good cheap wine. Supply great crusty bread with cultured butter. And I’m a happy man.

But I’m the outlier. The good news is that for those who have been waiting for Ethiopian food in the Capital Region, your wait is over.

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Drinking Yogurt

January 16, 2019

What do you know about the human biome?

Personally, I know next to nothing, just the little pieces of information I’ve picked up along the way. But it’s an interesting idea that each of us is made up of more things that aren’t human, than our own human being parts. We are each an entire universe of microorganisms.

Where it starts to get weird is that these microorganisms can have an impact on behavior. It sounds like make believe, but it’s science. Have you read the thing about mice and the toxoplasma parasite?

That made the news a few years ago, and I’m not quite sure how far this line of scientific inquiry has come since then. Perhaps, just perhaps, my current love and interest in fermented foods is driven by the bacteria I’ve already consumed trying to increase their numbers. It may be the only thing that helps explain the following interest in drinking yogurt.

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Fussy Frozen Green Beans

January 15, 2019

Last week’s post about frozen broccoli was a surprise hit, and elsewhere on social media a reader asked about the other frozen vegetables I lean on during the winter months. So today, I thought I would share another staple of the vegetable side dish repertoire.

But first, I should note, that winter is still a great time to shop the local farmers markets. I was just at the Schenectady Greenmarket on Sunday and picked up a butternut squash, some beets, a cabbage, and a bag of dried beans. The winter storage crops that grow in and around the Capital Region are some of the tastiest vegetables we produce.

I also happened to find some local braising greens. Unfortunately, I was a bit distracted and forgot to ask how they were grown given that we’re currently in the heart of winter, so that will be a topic for another day.

Today, I have to start by saying, not all frozen green beans are created equal.

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Tour de Wing Uptown: Nominations

January 14, 2019

Now, it’s winter. The calendar has said it’s been winter for a while, but with all the rain it has felt more like “the unlocking” than anything else. This week, there is no mistaking that winter has finally arrive.

That means it’s time for the FLB winter tour.

I’m not entirely sure where we got the fool idea last year to do pizza slices in winter and wings in the spring. Wings are most assuredly some of the best, calorically dense, winter foods we’ve got in this frigid zone. They are the staple of taverns, which are designed to warm you from the inside out.

So that’s what we’re going to do in the very near future. And on the last wing tour, I committed to doing one last follow up tour in Albany. We started downtown. We hit midtown. And this year we’ll be exploring uptown, where I don’t think Mike Graney owns a wing place, so he can’t win a third time.

Today is the day to not only announce the date of the next tour, but also to open the floor up to nominations. So put those thinking caps on, grab your calendar and a pen, and let’s get geared up for the Tour de Wing: Uptown Edition.

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Kombucha Crazy

January 11, 2019

Maybe I’m late to the kombucha game, but I’ve just recently been bitten by the bug. The word doesn’t quite roll of the tongue. I still feel a little silly saying it. But I have to admit that I love kombucha. And like all things I love, I’m a little obsessed with it right now.

Which isn’t to say I have a deep love for all kombucha, because like everything else that gets popular in America, there are a lot of terrible bastardizations that pop up to capitalize on a trend. And I’m still in the infancy of my kombucha journey, so there is still a lot that I do not know.

What I do know, and what I want to tell you, is how this whole new passion was started. And the kombucha that pushed me over the edge from being okay with the beverage to being an evangelist.

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Emily L: In Defense of Eating

January 10, 2019

Earlier this month I found myself at little pecks on a Saturday morning. I got there just before the morning brunch rush, with my laptop in tow, to put in an hour’s worth of writing before heading off to do errands.

If you’re not sick of me telling you this, little pecks is an amazing place to sit, enjoy something delicious, and simply hang out. You get to enjoy the enclosed Lucas Confectionery patio, that’s heated in winter, and a great source of natural light. Why more of Troy doesn’t spend the afternoon working from this beautiful space remains a mystery to me.

So when I was ordering my morning coffee, the barista asks me if I would like anything to eat. My response was, “I’ve given up eating for January.”

Which, of course, isn’t actually true. But in a way, it is. I’m attempting to avoid fried foods, sweets, fatty meats, refined grains, and simple starches. I’m eating only when I’m hungry, and stopping when the hunger is abated. I’m giving up beer, wine, and spirits until I hit the target weight I left behind at the end of 2018.

All of this inspired some thoughts from Emily L who submitted today’s guest post. Read more…

Syrian Delights

January 9, 2019

Can we talk about the world without talking about politics for one hot minute?

Right now everyone in America is totally riled up about what’s happening in Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and California. But bad bad things are afoot with Turkey and Syria.

Global affairs is complicated stuff. Especially when it comes to war in the Middle East. But it sounds like someone in D.C. realized that if the U.S. troops pull out of Syria, our Turkish allies will likely start killing our Kurdish allies. And just the other day, we made a diplomatic attempt to stop it, but failed. What happens next is anyone’s guess. But how many people in America will be too distracted to even notice?

The truly awful thing is that I don’t know what can be done about any of this.

What gives me hope is that there are much much better people than me, who are actively doing something about helping some of the people who have managed to escape this disaster. Right here in the Capital Region is an operation called New York for Syrian Refugees. In their resettlement efforts of 40 refugee families, they discovered some of the mothers were excellent cooks. And just recently, they have started something delightful. Read more…