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Trial by Combat 2017

September 19, 2017

Yesterday, we left off with three identical bags of glorious local ingredients sourced from the Troy Waterfront Farmers’ Market. And hopefully you were thinking about what delicious dishes those ingredients could make.

The participating chefs only had thirty minutes to transform them into three portions of a single dish. If that wasn’t challenging enough, they had to cook outside from their tent in The Enchanted City.

Two of the chefs had done this before. Gladys Hirsch competed for the first time last year under the La Petite Crêpe banner. This year she was representing her newest venture Mab’s Kitchen. Marla Ortega from Illium Cafe was the defending champ. Actually, you can see the run down of last year’s dishes here. DeFazio’s was the new kid on the block, and John DeFazio was attempting to assemble a dish using nothing but a wood burning stove.

Here’s how it all went down.

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Ten Farms in a Basket

September 18, 2017

Happy Monday! This week is madness. Rosh Hashana starts Wednesday night, so there will be no post on Thursday. I know that a day without Fussy is like a day without sunshine. Fortunately, we’ll have plenty of sunshine this week. So, crisis averted.

Saturday is an Official Yelp Event. We are having a Beer Brunch at Artisanal Brew Works in Saratoga Springs. But that name doesn’t quite do the event justice. Upstate Distilling Co. has signed on to participate in the event, so there will be spirit samples too, including bloody marys made from their vodka which is made in the very same building as the brewery. Also chef Jeremy Roosa is now in Saratoga Springs at Gaffney’s and doing great things with brunch. He’s going to be cooking a few of his favorite dishes at the event for us to try.

You should come. It’s free for anyone with a Yelp account, and as of this moment, there is still space. The link to all the details, including the button to submit an RSVP and get on the guest list, is here.

Last night, I had to miss Josh’s and Michael’s dinner at Peck’s Arcade. Some of you went. Now I’ll just have to hear the tales from those who got a taste. The story I have to tell today is from Saturday’s cooking competition at The Enchanted City in Troy. But there is so much to tell, that I’m going to have to break it up into two posts.

Today is the Pretty Woman part and tomorrow will be more like Chopped, or Hell’s Kitchen, or maybe more like 30 Minute Meals. For those who like pictures, you’re in luck. Today we’ve got a lot from some amazing vendors at the Troy Waterfront Farmers’ Market. Because that was the source for ingredients in the Trial by Combat cooking competition.

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A Grain of Salt

September 15, 2017

Even before it was my job, I read Yelp reviews like it was my job. They are an amazing resource for keeping up with not just the food landscape of a region, but the ongoing output of a restaurant.

There are some people who believe that Yelp is a better tool than the Michelin Guide for staying on top of the world’s best restaurants, because while the guide is amazing in its meticulous attention to detail, it only comes out once a year. On the other hand, if a three-star temple of fine dining starts to slip, it will be all over Yelp long before the next Michelin Guide is published.

But today I want to talk about something else inspired by a Yelp review. Review might be a little generous, because it was one of the less helpful write ups and more of a bitter screed about something off at the business. But before jumping into the pool of negativity and getting to use all the fun words that come with it, the reviewer prefaced his write up with a line that got me thinking.

“Take this with a grain of salt.”

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Enchanting Food

September 14, 2017

Are there still people who complain that there’s not much to do in the Capital Region? There are so many incredible events happening this weekend, it’s staggering. But I can’t clone myself, and I’m the kind of person who likes to fully commit to one event, instead of trying to hit them all for just a few minutes.

You’ll drive yourself crazy trying to do everything. It’s an impossible task.

That means I’ll be missing Pearlpalooza 2017, and the really cool free yoga thing that kicks off this year’s street festival. I’ve given up on the Troy on Tap beer festival which is the culmination of Troy Beer Week. I won’t be able to make it up to Artisanal Brew Works for their pig roast. The Altamont Fairgrounds will have to hold the Capital Region Apple & Wine Festival without me. Irish Fest 2000 in Ballston Spa won’t even notice my absence. And The Big Lebowski will have to roll at Proctor’s with one fewer achiever in the seats.

Because on Saturday, just in case you were wondering, I’ll be at The Enchanted City.

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Drinking Milk

September 13, 2017

This may get me into trouble, especially with my friends who are all about supporting local farms and farmers. But I have to get something off my chest about milk.

Are there any adults out there who drink milk for pleasure?
Are there any adults out there who drink milk at all?

I’m not talking about pouring milk in your cereal, or putting a splash of milk in coffee. And I’m not even talking about washing down a dense chocolate brownie with a few sips of cold milk. Really what I’m curious about is if anyone sits down to dinner with a cold glass of milk to accompany a meal.

Because to me, it seems like madness.

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The Best of the Best Cider Donut Orchards

September 12, 2017

Last Saturday was the 8th Annual Tour de Cider Donut, and notably this was the first time we returned to any of the 35 places visited over the past several years.

That’s because this was a tournament of champions, of sorts. The excellent donuts from Hick’s Orchard were eliminated because of their distance from the center of the Capital Region. Also, Cider Belly received a bye into the finals, which will happen at a later date.

More than a dozen people began the tour in Schoharie, but in the end once the tour was finished in Valatie I received nine completed score sheets. Not everyone who started the tour was able to make it through. These are rigorous eating outings, and they take a certain amount of commitment.

By the end of the day I logged 179 miles on the car. Thankfully, I did not count the calories.

Each donut was evaluated on a five point scale, looking at the crust, sugar, cider flavor, internal texture, overall taste, oil, and an overall score for the donut as a whole. Since this was a tournament of champions there wasn’t a bad donut in the bunch, and almost every place we visited was somebody’s favorite.

In the end, there has to be a winner. And there was. But it was close. Here’s how it all went down.

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Bagged Lunch

September 11, 2017

Today is a heavy day. Unfortunately, I sent the kids off to school without adequate preparation for what they might encounter from teachers or classmates. Of course, none of their peers were even born in 2001. Still, I like to provide them with my take on the events. That way, should there be chatter on the bus or in the schoolyard, my children will have knowledge that is rooted in facts.

On the plus side, I did send them off with relatively nutritious bagged lunches. Mostly because school lunch in America still largely sucks. And by sucks, I mean it’s abysmal. We can talk more about that later.

For now, how about some quick thoughts on bagged lunches.

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