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April 14, 2016

My knives have been embarrassingly dull since 2010. Thank goodness I publicly confess the things I’m most ashamed about. That means there’s a record of my trespasses, and I can track how long it takes to turn around my bad behaviors. I’ve been cooking with shitty knives for over six years. And really, I think it’s been longer. Probably much, much longer.

There have been very generous people in the community who have heard my tale of woe and offered to teach me how to sharpen my own knives. But in all honesty, it’s something that I just don’t have time for these days.

For some reason, I always had a mental block about the guy at the Honest Weight Food Co-op and could never remember what days he used to be there. Apparently, now he’s gone. I really wanted to get them done well, and had my doubts about the service at places like Different Drummer’s Kitchen.

But mark my words. The days of my dull knives are behind me. I’ve finally found the answer. And it was hiding in Schenectady at a place that’s largely off the radar.

Yesterday I was in Downtown Albany, and I met a guy who was wearing an old faded t-shirt for something that looked like a local knife sharpening company. So I asked him if the shirt was just a relic, or if this was actually a business that was currently in operation. It must have been my lucky day, because Cavolis’s Grinding Service continues to thrive, and the fellow was on the clock making deliveries.

I always imagined that in Schenectady, there would be some Italian family that sharpened knives. And as it turns out the Cavolis are it.

According to the Cavoli’s Grinding website, it’s now a third generation family business. And while most of the business involves serving restaurants, I was told that I could drop off my knives for sharpening. The only catch is they are open from 7a to 4p, so I wasn’t able to come at 4:30 yesterday afternoon.

That’s okay. Next week I’m going to take an early lunch and drive my knives out to Schenectady. I’ve already put in on my calendar. And I couldn’t be more excited.

So here’s a question. How has this third generation local business stayed off my radar?

Well, for starters, their Yelp page is entirely blank. But I’m also curious why nobody else ever told me about this place. Maybe I don’t have enough friends in the restaurant business out in Schenectady?

As thrilled as I am about making this discovery, and I am incredibly pleased, stumbling upon places like this also make me a little bit uneasy. I mean, if I hadn’t heard about Cavoli’s, what other local gems am I missing?

It reminds me of when chef Paul from TC Bakery Paris first reached out via email to tell me about everything he was doing at his shop. I was embarrassed to have somehow overlooked these fantastic macarons that were right under my nose.

Schenectady. I’m sure there are other great places hiding in your midst. And I suspect there are little businesses in some of the smaller local hamlets that don’t get the attention they deserve, like Cohoes. Uncle John’s Diner looks pretty fantastic. And I’ve been to Joe’s Tavern which also puts out a higher caliber of food than one might expect. But surely there’s more.

So while we’re at it, is there anything off the beaten path you feel like sharing with the group? And don’t you dare say La Mexicana, Ala Shanghai, or Schuyler Bakery, because I’ll smack you.

7 Comments leave one →
  1. mark permalink
    April 14, 2016 10:48 am

    What? You haven’t heard of Dixon’s Shoe Repair, 257 New Scotland Avenue, just up from Academy Road? Quality sharpening and very reasonable. A very nice man owns the place. Go, drop off your knives, then go get a cup of coffee for a minute. Come back and the knives are sharpened.

  2. Laura K. permalink
    April 14, 2016 12:03 pm

    I think the Honest Weight knife guy is now at the Niskayuna Co-op on Tuesdays. Also, there’s a Facebook page for something called The Schenectady Project that has some nice profiles.

  3. April 14, 2016 6:14 pm

    I use Dexter Russel white handle chef’s knives sharpened with a 20 dollar knife grinder. This solution is more than sufficient for 95% of home cooks. I ditched expensive knives years ago.

    • April 14, 2016 7:29 pm

      Ditto on the $20 knife sharpener. No trip planning necessary for my dull knives. I just do it whenever it’s needed. They’re not artisanally sharpened, but whatever.

  4. April 15, 2016 10:42 am

    Have you been to Duncan’s Dairy Bar in Brunswick (Just past the Country View Diner on the right side of Hoosick Street). Having been to Uncle John’s Diner in Cohoes, I suggest checking our Duncan’s first. All bread is homemade. Amazing food. Their omelets are a thing of beauty and defy egg physics.

    Also, my husband and I have a disagreement on how Schuyler is pronounced. He says “Sky-lar”, I say “Shoe-ler” Which is correct?

    • -R. permalink
      April 15, 2016 12:05 pm

      Grew up outside of Utica (near the town of Schuyler) and your husband’s pronunciation is the only way I’ve ever heard it said.

      And yes, Duncan’s is sublime (but I thought everyone knew that). Try their glazed doughnuts.

  5. April 15, 2016 5:19 pm

    I am mystified by folks who turn up their noses at buying prepared meals from Blue Apron or Whole Foods and then search out knife sharpening services. You don’t pay somebody else to put your pants on for you, why should you pay to have someone else sharpen your knives?

    Option 1/buy yourself a whetstone with a rough side and a smoother side and then go find one of the many Youtube videos on how to use it.

    Option 2/buy an OXO Santoko 6.5 inch chefs knife for $25 at Bed Bath and Beyond, Amazon etc. When it gets dull, put it in your toolbox for cruder duty and buy another.

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