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A Schenectady Summer Sunday

August 11, 2014

Does it feel like I’ve been back in Albany a long time to you? It feels that way to me. But it’s just not true. Especially if you consider all of the summer travel. For those keeping track of my travel itinerary, this week will find me in New Jersey, Vermont and New Hampshire.

Of course, that’s my excuse for not making it to Troy or Saratoga Springs at all, nor visiting some of my favorite places like Ala Shanghai, The City Beer Hall, Crisan, Taiwan Noodle, Parivar, Adventure in Food Trading, the list goes on and on. And that list doesn’t even include new places that I can’t wait to try like the Madison Pour House, the Madison Theater, Bread & Honey, Nine Pin Cider, and those are just a few from the top of my head, and just in Albany.

My work is clearly cut out for me.

Saturday I was commissioned into battle against the woodpeckers who would love nothing more than to nest in our siding. But Sunday I was able to go out on an adventure of a different kind. A food adventure. And I brought the Fussy Little Children with me. Yes, it kept the adventure short, but at least it was entertaining.

First stop was lunch, and there was no way anyone was going to keep me from returning to La Mexicana. It’s been over a year since I’ve had real Mexican food (I couldn’t find anything up my alley in Princeton), and I was hungry for a carnitas torta with extra jalapenos.

Wow, this place has gone through some changes. Now there’s a large bar in the small dining room. But it does mean you can now get beer, sangria, or margaritas with your tacos instead of just Jarritos and horchata. Although truth be told, I’d rather have the horchata.

My Mexican sandwich was as good as I remember. I would like to take a moment to elaborate on the extra jalapenos though. Especially since eaters in this part of the world, and a few prominent food journalists, tend to like their food extra spicy. This embellishment is not about trying to turn this meaty, cheesy, beany, avocado sandwich into some macho feat about how much heat one can bear. A tolerance for burning spice isn’t some kind of prerequisite for appreciating authentic ethnic foods. Nor does it give your opinion any more credence when it comes to evaluating dishes from foreign lands.

At La Mex, these are pickled peppers, and they aren’t all that spicy to begin with. It’s not as if they are the raw shaved hot peppers you might find on a banh mi. But because they are pickled, these jalapenos add a much needed burst of juicy acidity to cut through all of the heavier fatty components. The increased heat level is marginal, the incremental pleasure they bring is immeasurable.

Perhaps I should add that the La Mex torta comes with shredded iceberg lettuce, which is totally appropriate on this sandwich. For what it’s worth, the kids enjoyed their favorite bean and cheese burrito. Just beans and cheese in a tortilla. What can I say, the little ones love their beans.

I would have loved to linger, but Young Master Fussy was feeling cold. Fortunately, I had a good solution for his problem. So off we went to the Schenectady Greenmarket.

It was the Greenmarket that brought us to these hinterlands of the Capital Region in the first place. With no CSA pick up last week, the Fussies were hungry for local vegetables. Well, Mama and Papa Fussy were, anyway. The children weren’t terribly excited. All the same, I keep on trying to involve them in the vegetable decisions, so they can theoretically get excited about trying new foods.

Little Miss Fussy was delighted by the turnips at Migliorelli Farm. Young Master Fussy picked out some ears of corn. I simply couldn’t resist the large bunch of baby fennel. Those bulbs are so small, and the bundle included the fennel’s roots (which seem to be edible). But despite the gorgeous looking cherry tomatoes, I couldn’t convince either child that these sweet treats of summer were worth their time. So we soldiered on.

Before too long, Young Master Fussy, who just a few minutes ago was complaining of the cold, was now complaining about the heat. I had just the answer. A four pound frozen bone-in pork shoulder from Bella Terra Farm. According to their signs, their meat is all pasture raised. For the outrageously low price of $3 per pound, it’s hard to believe. But maybe this was just a special for the week. I don’t know. What I do know is that we’ll make this into an easy no-fuss crockpot pulled pork dish which Young Master Fussy will love.

He also loved the cooling effects of carrying this chunk of meat. But before too long, it became too heavy.

We were able to grab a quick dozen pastured eggs from Cooper’s Ark Farm. The green-shelled eggs aren’t ready yet, but they are expected in a few weeks. But our tasting at Red Jacket Orchards and exploration of Old McDonald’s Honey Farm (Lloyd Spear’s replacement at the market) had to be cut short.

Fortunately, I had the presence of mind to pick up a small cabbage from Cornell Farm on the way out, so I could make a slaw for the pulled pork.

Had I not been at the market with the kids, I really could have spent some more time wandering around the stalls. Funk Farms was selling some gorgeous looking baked goods and I was momentarily transfixed by the wood fire in the mobile oven of Orapello’s Wood Fired Pizza.

Man, I’ve missed farmers’ markets like these. Can’t wait to get back in early winter when the produce really shines.

One Comment leave one →
  1. August 11, 2014 12:12 pm

    Didn’t know Orapello’s was at the Greenmarket. I’ve wanted to try their pizza for a long time.

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