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Enchanting Food

September 14, 2017

Are there still people who complain that there’s not much to do in the Capital Region? There are so many incredible events happening this weekend, it’s staggering. But I can’t clone myself, and I’m the kind of person who likes to fully commit to one event, instead of trying to hit them all for just a few minutes.

You’ll drive yourself crazy trying to do everything. It’s an impossible task.

That means I’ll be missing Pearlpalooza 2017, and the really cool free yoga thing that kicks off this year’s street festival. I’ve given up on the Troy on Tap beer festival which is the culmination of Troy Beer Week. I won’t be able to make it up to Artisanal Brew Works for their pig roast. The Altamont Fairgrounds will have to hold the Capital Region Apple & Wine Festival without me. Irish Fest 2000 in Ballston Spa won’t even notice my absence. And The Big Lebowski will have to roll at Proctor’s with one fewer achiever in the seats.

Because on Saturday, just in case you were wondering, I’ll be at The Enchanted City.

For those who don’t know this is the steampunk and fairy festival that turns downtown Troy into a steam-powered victorian fantasyland. And this year, they are adding pirates. I’m not entirely sure how pirates fit into the narrative. But every year, there are street performers who go around advancing the story of Queen Mab and her fairy minions.

There’s good. There’s evil. And then there is Doctor Irritation, who some of you may have met out of costume on one of the Fussy Little Tours.

There’s food too.

The food has played out differently over the years. I missed the very first year of the festival. But in the second year, I helped to conceive of a victorian eating stroll. Kind of like a wandering picnic where several restaurants came up with their own victorian inspired treats to sell on the street. These were judged by a wandering pack of Yelp Elites, and a winner was declared.

Last year, that changed, and the food was all consolidated in a strip of stalls. There, restaurants and chefs could make whatever they wanted to sell to a hungry public of festival goers.

To make things a little bit more exciting, the Trial by Combat was introduced to the festival and co-sponsored by the Troy Waterfront Farmers’ Market. A small handful of Yelp Elite judges went down to the market and one bag for each chef full of locally produced ingredients. They had a short time to make a dish out of these ingredients, plus whatever they brought from their own pantry. The winner would be determined based on the creative use of ingredients, presentation of the dish, and its taste.

This year, Marla Ortega of Illium Cafe who is the winningest chef in The Enchanted City returns to defend her title. During the festival, she’s going to be selling duck confit mac and cheese with black truffle infused goat cheese, topped with pork belly burnt ends.

Whoa. That made my fat tooth perk up and take notice. When you start with duck confit and close with pork belly burnt ends, you’ve got me hooked.

Going up against her is past challenger Gladys Hirsch. She owned both the creperie in Troy Kitchen and converted Sweet Sue’s River Street location into Mab’s Kitchen for a short time earlier this year. From her booth she’ll be selling a ratatouille made from locally grown vegetables, a grilled New York cheddar sandwich on the Placid Baker’s honey wheat bread with housemade red pesto, and sweet crepes with berries or chocolate.

New to The Enchanted City this year is John DeFazio of DeFazio’s. He will be bringing their portable wood fired oven and serving pizza and strombolis. Those will include, Italian, meatball parm, buffalo chicken, spicy eggplant with sautéed spinach, broccoli and sautéed spinach, and pulled pork with caramelized onions. He will also have DeFazio’s new homemade gelato and Sorbetto cart.


But nobody is getting judged on the food they bring to sell to the masses. They will be judged on what they can do with a bag full of delicious local ingredients in thirty minutes or less. That’s right. They’ll only have thirty minutes to prepare something fantastic for Steve N, Juliet V, and the Yelp Albany Community Ambassador.

If you want to see the whole Trial by Combat go down, come to The Enchanted City on Saturday. The festival starts at 11am and the culinary showdown starts at 3pm. Winners will be announced from the main stage at 4pm

Now I have to head to The Costumer and see what I can do about dressing the part.

One Comment leave one →
  1. September 15, 2017 10:28 am

    Not to mention the Lake George Jazz Festival September 16-17.

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