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Don’t Play Cards With Seitan

January 14, 2013

Did anyone here know that when I was as a senior in college I had a radio show? Can’t say it was very popular, but I did get to explore some strange and wonderful music with my friend SK. One song that particularly sticks out in my mind from that era is this master work from Daniel Johnston, which provides some context for today’s title.

Never forget that much of this blog is written purely for my own amusement.

While the focus of the song is Satan, today’s food story begins with seitan. I don’t have a lot of experience with fake meat. The first time I recall ever eating the stuff I was at a fundraiser for Everglades Earth First at some weird vegetarian cafe somewhere in Miami listening to a local folk singer rail against the non-indigenous Melaleuca tree. True story. In my defense, there was a girl involved.

But this time was different. This time I went in search of seitan on purpose. I was even looking forward to it. And while I didn’t know it at the time, there would once again be a girl involved. Actually, more than one.

So you know I’ve got this new diet. I’m making good progress on taking off the weight from Chanukah and Paris, but I figure while I’m at it I should also tackle my cholesterol. There will be a specific diet post later this week.

One of my favorite cholesterol-fighting diet foods ever was the Michael Milken Reuben. But it’s not an exaggeration to say that it took me over two days to make it. It was great, but not two days great. And making it myself wasn’t particularly cheap either.

Enter All Good Bakers.

I’ve had my eye on one of their menu items for a long time now. They call it the Noob’s Roob. And it’s fairly similar to the Milken Reuben. Pretty much I’ve learned that if you grill rye bread, and stuff it with sauerkraut, something sweet resembling Russian dressing, something fatty like cheese and something substantial and savory like meat, it’s going to be delicious.

AGB substitutes avocado for the cheese and Three Smiles Kitchen seitan for the corned beef. For the record, Reubens have corned beef. If you want pastrami, that’s a Rachel (just make sure they still use sauerkraut and don’t substitute coleslaw).

At $7.50 it’s not exactly cheap, but it’s a bargain when compared to the time investment required to make the Milken version. And it’s totally delicious, not to mention entirely virtuous.

So, there I was eating my sandwich and minding my own business. I had a good book. But I couldn’t help but overhear that the woman sitting next to me was from NOFY-NY. So I leaned over and introduced myself. She was traveling from Brooklyn out to the NY Agricultural Society’s annual meeting in Syracuse, and stopped in Albany specifically to check out All Good Bakers and The Cheese Traveler.

Anyhow, we had a fascinating talk about local food, farms and the state of food in the Capital Region in particular.

The funny thing is that this kind of impromptu meeting of food lovers isn’t the exception, but rather seems to be the norm at All Good Bakers. While I was there, I also happened to see a woman I bumped into at the Schenectady Greenmarket just a few days before. On a prior visit I met Jessica Galasso of Mildred’s Meadows, and I’ve engaged in food topics with other patrons in the past.

It kind of feels like a salon for those who care deeply about food to gather from all corners of the Capital Region. You know, like a blog, but in real life and with delicious things to eat.

And even more than their seitan Reuben, that is really special.

11 Comments leave one →
  1. Elyse permalink
    January 14, 2013 11:20 am

    I ate a Noobs Roob this weekend too! Good sandwich!

  2. January 14, 2013 11:46 am

    I don’t like things that are supposed to taste like other things but are better for you.

    Also, I simply refuse to believe that low fat diets are beneficial. But I am not a scientist and I have stated this before so I will shut up.

  3. January 14, 2013 12:12 pm

    Hey Daniel, I really enjoy reading your content. I’ve been following you since you started leaving some in-depth reviews on Yelp! and you’ve actually kind of inspired me to find a language to articulate my tastes in cuisine. Thanks so much for putting out enriching posts like this one.

    I am glad that AGB has come to our Delaware Ave neighborhood. I am so stoked that they’re getting attention and that you’d be so kind as to illustrate that.

    I saw the Noob Roob on the menu, but the selection of avocado instead of cheese turned me off. Now I am thinking of giving it a shot.

  4. Tonia permalink
    January 14, 2013 1:24 pm

    I hope I bump into you there soon. Was just there Thursday and had the Muffaletta. Love the seitan in it. It was that or the Noobs Roob. So glad to hear that was delicious as well! I will have to try on my next visit.

  5. Debra permalink
    January 14, 2013 1:41 pm

    I thought a ‘Rachael or Rachel’ was a Turkey rueben. No?

    • Kerosena permalink
      January 14, 2013 2:51 pm

      I thought a Rachel was turkey, too.

      • mattVSmatthew permalink
        January 15, 2013 9:08 am

        That’s a Rebecca

  6. January 14, 2013 2:14 pm

    “You know, like a blog, but in real life and with delicious things to eat.” Love it DB!

    We never tire talking about food and that is really my favorite aspect of running our shop. Farmers, market & event organizers, customers, other small food producers and chefs, bloggers/press, students…we are always up for a discussion with anybody! If we’re busy with prep, we might even invite you into the kitchen so we can keep working and still get to chat. We’re trying hard to be a resource, as well, to other small local food producers trying to grow their businesses (we’re taking on a couple of new entrepreneurs very soon). 3 Smiles Seitan is made in our kitchen, we barter kitchen space for our supply. Katherine is coming up with new varieties all the time (her stuff is now on the NWBB menu and available at the Coop & the Delmar Health Hut).
    Glad you liked the Roob, and thank you for helping to solidify us as a community meeting space centered around the celebration of clean local foods!

    @prafix, you can add cheese to your sandwich if you like! Happy to leave off the avocado if that suits you :)

  7. January 14, 2013 3:40 pm

    Reminds me of the tempeh reuben I enjoyed several times last year at Melanie’s in Boone, NC, though I don’t think that one was all that healthy. I miss places like that out here, quirky, casual, creative little restaurants; AGB is certainly one good option, but I wish there were more. What is it that makes that such a small niche thing out here? There are lots of college students, lots of twenty-somethings that I’d think would populate such eateries.

  8. Joseph permalink
    January 14, 2013 11:28 pm

    I first encountered Seitan in the early 1980s. I was captivated by its culinary possibilities. The flavor and texture can be manipulated in order to mimic a variety of meats and poultry. An excellent brand of Seitan is:
    The founder of “Bridge,” Bill Spear, was a student of Michio Kushi who introduced Macrobiotics to the U.S.

  9. January 15, 2013 1:27 pm

    Daniel, I’m so glad you liked your sammie! I’ve been thrilled by the community’s response to our seitan. Thanks so much for trying it! If anyone is interested in trying our other flavors (Italian Sausage, Chorizo, and Everyday Roast), you can find them at Honest Weight Food Co-Op:, Delmar Health Hut:, and, soon, at Fin, your Fishmonger:! I hope you’ll be in to All Good again to try some of the other magic that they do with our seitan. Smiles to you!

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