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New Tricks From Old Hounds

November 3, 2016

Something big happened a few months ago, and I don’t know how I missed it. But before I can tell you about that, I need to give you a little history.

Before I started writing about food on Yelp, I was an active contributor on Chowhound. And I loved it. I loved the community. I loved the people. And I had the chance to meet some of the other contributors in real life.

Anyhow, the spiritual leader of Chowhound is a man named Jim Leff.

I actually tracked down the guy a few years ago and managed to get one of the chow passports he created for adventurous eaters. They are ideal for when you find yourself in a restaurant with a staff that speaks little to no English, and you are trying to order a plate of something truly authentic to the cuisine.

That card is one of my prized possessions.

The bottom line here is that I have deep respect for this guy and his approach to food. Imagine my surprise to learn that not only had he come to Albany when I wasn’t looking, but he ate his way around the region, and made some incredible discoveries of things hiding in plain sight.

You should read Jim’s full write up on chowhound here.

But before we get into the stuff he loved, Alejandro needs to send this man some cans of the Nine Pin ginger cider. Jim only tried the signature cider and walked away not understanding what all the fuss is about. It’s the ginger. Or, at least it is for me.

Psychedelicatessen has an outstanding breakfast burrito? Why didn’t anyone tell me? Based on his glowing endorsement, I have to get one of these into my mouth. Pronto. And I have to try bringing home some of these bagels and toasting them. That makes so much sense, I don’t know why I didn’t think of that myself.

Gah. But instead of self flagellation, I should just go out and buy some bagels and correct the error of my ways.

Slidin’ Dirty has a Dirty Po’ Boy? Why have I never seen this? Maybe it has something to do with the menu. Is it hiding in a corner? Or does it just get lost on the page. I’ve got to get in there soon for my next Nine Pin 26er, so this goes on my list.

Officially, I love that Jim makes the distinction between sliders and mini-burgers. I can’t wait to sit down with Tim and Brooke to talk this through with them. Because I think Jim makes a good point.

There’s nothing surprising about love for Hattie’s fried chicken or Cider Belly’s fried doughnuts.

If there’s anything in the story that makes me question Jim’s judgement, is its his love for The City Beer Hall’s poutine. I love the CBH. And I’ve gone in for past versions of the poutine. But I just don’t think we can get the right cheese curds in the U.S.A. to make the dish properly. Here’s what Jim wrote,

Braised lamb and ‘name’ cheddar poutine was not only fantastically delicious, but it managed something no other hipster neo-poutine I’ve tried has achieved: it actually tastes like poutine.

Still, I may have to give it another shot.

Although he does reach a bit too far when writing about Pearl Street suggesting, “There’s a critical mass of good chow on this downtown corridor. I don’t imagine at this point that any venue could get away with serving lackluster chow.” That said, I don’t doubt the remarkable crisp yet tender shiitakes from The Hollow were delicious. So I want to try those too.

I also have never had the Rock Hill Bakehouse pistachio lemon biscotti that Jim fell in love with at Honest Weight Food Co-op.

It’s fascinating to see someone like this coming to the Capital Region as a food tourist. And it’s refreshing to hear an outsider discover deliciousness here that I’ve yet to uncover.

Looks like I’ve still got more eating to do. Good thing I’m done with the diet.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. November 3, 2016 10:20 am

    Would you be able to share a copy of this passport of which you speak?! I’d love to see what’s on it. Also, I’m with you on the praise of Pearl Street. However, I’ve been to Hollow recently for dinner, and the vegan hot wings they serve from Berben & Wolff were SO DAMN GOOD I would consider going out of my way to go back and get them–crispy and spicy and excellent meaty texture. I also got a shiitake gnocchi dish that was shockingly good as well–gnocchi a bit stickier than I find appropriate, but very good flavors and what could have been VERY heavy was lightened up with the addition of fresh rocket.

  2. Grrrr permalink
    November 5, 2016 6:38 am

    If you want the perfect cheese curds for Poutine, look for Heluva brand. They’re nice big chunks of extra mild cheddar curds absolutely perfect for the dish. They hold up well tossed on top of hot fries then topped with gravy. They stay intact with just the right amount of semi-melt required for legit Poutine. The brand is sometimes hard to find but surprisingly Stewarts always has them in stock. $2.75 a bag which is enough for a large portion of Poutine shared by 4 people. Also, the fries need to be extra crispy and the gravy a deep, rich and brown. (Think McCormick’s brand brown gravy mix). Hope the cheese curd tip helps :-)

    • Grrrr permalink
      November 5, 2016 8:00 am

      Also, I forgot to mention- do NOT dice the cheese curds into smaller bits. They must be left whole and chunky.

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