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Brakes, Cakes & Chopped Steaks

December 8, 2014

It’s the last full shopping week before Chanukah! Oy vey. The holiday begins a week from Tuesday. That means its last night is December 23, the day before Christmas Eve. I’m not sure if it will be wonderful or terrible for those who observe both holidays to have ten straight days of celebration.

I don’t think I could take it.

Having a December birthday, I’ve been informed that many of my gifts were combined presents for both surviving the past year and for the Maccabees overcoming assimilation by the Assyrians. Actually, I don’t really want any presents for the latter. Celebrating Chanukah with the giving of gifts somehow feels like it violates the spirit of the holiday.

Fortunately, it’s also the seasonal festival when we get to celebrate the miracle of the oil. So I’ll be eating myself silly on fried foods. Which, incidentally, I also happened to do on my birthday. And I’ll tell you about that in just a moment, but first I have to share my exciting weekend discovery (and no, it wasn’t Tavern Noodle–I missed Sunday’s pop-up).

There I was on Lark Street in Albany, minding my own business, when I saw some young hip-looking people taking a picture of a building. Seeing that I do stuff like that all the time, I figured there had to be something special about the place that was not entirely obvious to the casual observer. Well…

The Brakes Coffeehouse & Provisions is now open.

Frankly, I’m not sure how a place that serves coffee can be focused on tackling climate change. Coffee is a pretty high carbon commodity. Even if they roasted their own green beans using power from the sun, ground them by hand, cold brewed them in reclaimed glass vessels, and strained the concentrate through vintage organic cotton, they would still need to find a way to transport the beans from some coffee-growing region to their shop.

I suppose they could get a sailboat to bring them from Brazil up the Hudson river, and then unload their cargo using bikes. And maybe that’s part of the growth plan. While I may be giving these folks a little ribbing, I am actually totally in support of their mission, and wish the owners every success. As someone who loves coffee, the more places to drink it, the better.

You know what carries even a higher carbon load than a cup of coffee? The Swifty’s deep fried Buffalo burger. Which I decided would be the perfect treat for my birthday dinner.

Oh yes I did. And once again, it was magnificent. Mrs. Fussy had never been, and she took one look at my precious batter dipped and fried beef patty and almost retched. I suppose it’s not for everyone. But ordered rare it came out perfectly medium rare – pink all the way though – and that’s really what I wanted. And with the medium sauce, the burger was spicy, but not so hot as to obscure the beefiness of the melting tallow and juices pooling in the heart of the sandwich.

Speaking of hearts, mine did just fine. What better way to celebrate another year of life than by flirting with death.

And that was even after the chocolate cake from Crisan, which was as rich and decadent as promised. I asked if they could make it a little fruity and was treated to a scattering of fresh raspberries and pomegranate seeds. But really, this cake was an exercise in chocolate on chocolate on chocolate. The smallest cake, which reportedly serves four, would have been more than enough food for eight hungry guests and could easily have satisfied ten adults. That’s just how rich the thing was.

This may be the last time I call in the cake myself, though. Claudia Crisan left strict instructions that she wanted it to be her gift to me. And that was very sweet and really unexpected. I tried to pay, but a crowd of people came in after the Santa Speedo Sprint and that kind of ended the conversation. I only mention this, because trust, transparency and integrity matter a lot to me, and disclosing the things I get for free in the service of this blog is critical to maintaining those things.

The cake was gorgeous, and there were leftovers.

With the leftover cake I did something super decadent. And I’m actually wondering if anyone else does this at home. I topped it with generous amounts of sour cream. It’s the acidity in addition to the richness that really accentuates chocolate cake for me. I prefer it over ice cream. I’ll choose it over whipped or chantilly cream.

Unfortunately, it’s one of those things that I generally won’t do in front of my family. Not because I’m ashamed of topping fat with fat. I mean, there’s nothing to be ashamed of there. But rather that I don’t want to have to hear anyone say, “Ew… sour cream? On cake? That’s, like, so gross!”

Little Miss Fussy may be small, but she’s a teenager in training.

On a side note, the next couple of weeks are going to be a bit nuts. I’ll spare you the details, but Sunday night was our last family meal together for the fifteen days. Mostly it’s pre-holiday travel, but there are evening events, parties, holiday celebrations, etc. I’m going to do the best I can to maintain a regular posting schedule, but some days may be delayed. Other days posts may be short. And a typo or two may slip through the cracks.

Thanks for your patience, and I wish you all the best in the madness of this holiday shopping season.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. December 8, 2014 11:07 am

    There’s a lot of good in what is perceived as bad for you, so long as you do something with it, other than sit on it that is.

  2. Weenie Girl permalink
    December 8, 2014 12:22 pm

    Happy Birthday to you Profusser. I remember past birthday (and other occasion) burgers at Swifty’s. I’m glad you’re still enjoying them. Tell me, would it have been as delicious if cooked rare but by sous vide? I’m learning about that technique…would love to have your opinion.

    Can’t wait to make a birthday plan with you!!

  3. DEN permalink
    December 8, 2014 12:51 pm

    Sorry to see Red Poppies close a while back (a good, family-run business, with some great polish food), but I am glad the space was filled with a promising tenant. Lark Street is quickly turning into Coffee Row. Now, if Dunkin’ Donuts wasn’t the only place that stayed open after 10, we might really be onto something.

  4. December 8, 2014 11:10 pm

    Happy Birthday – can’t think of a better way to celebrate then with Swifty’s Buffalo Burger.

    But man, you missed some good noodles at Tavern.

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