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Faces of Troy

December 17, 2018

It’s rare that I get to spend an entire day in Troy from dawn to dusk. But my son was doing some kind of robot thing at RPI. So as long as I was going to be waking up so early on a Saturday morning, dammit, I was going to make the best of it.

However, instead of just sticking to my regular haunts downtown, this adventure took me off the beaten path. And in doing so, it revealed a bit more of Troy’s character.

For starters, I feel like at some point I should just spend a day roaming around the RPI campus. Being up on the hill, I feel like it’s a bit removed from the community. But the grounds are extensive, and I love the feel of those buildings. The more time I spend there, the more I imagine what Troy must look like to the students who attend the university.

That said, I spent precious little time on campus. Classes were over, and I was hungry for breakfast. So I went to a classic Troy-area institution that I suspect is just a bit too far out of range for most of the student body.

Duncan’s Dairy Bar has been on my list of places to visit for so long, it hurts.

My plan was to come for a light breakfast. Not even breakfast. All I wanted was a donut and some coffee. I have heard great things about those donuts, but yet no donuts for me. Little did I know that Saturday was the second to last day the spot was open for the season. So, they sold out of donuts early.

Like, before 9am early.

But from my view at the counter, I could watch all the food being made. And I fell in love at first sight. I’m still not sure if its because of the strange technique they have for building omelettes, or if it’s in spite of this fact. Whatever the case, watching the eggs being cooked was simply enchanting.

At the counter, it’s all Troy old timers. The crowd is a bit less gritty than the one you might encounter on the stools at Famous Lunch, but it is just as colorful.

You can read all about my breakfast here, if you like.

From there, it was off to run an errand at Walmart. Go ahead and judge me if you like. That’s okay. I’d judge you in a heartbeat based on the contents of your grocery cart at the supermarket. But dammit, I needed zipperless gallon baggies. And as far as I can tell, Walmart is the only place in the region where this unicorn of food storage products can be found.

Errands are all fine and dandy, but I also had some work to do, so I popped into little pecks for some more coffee and free wifi. That outdoor patio, with the natural light, closed roof, and forced-air heat is really one of Troy’s must underrated gems. For two bucks you can hang out in this courtyard with all the pretty people, and kick your seasonal affective disorder to the curb.

Let me just tell you, the Trojans who work in and shop at the Walmart on Hoosick Road, are not the same people you encounter at the farmers market. I happen to know this for a fact, because that was my next stop.

If you put me in Troy on a Saturday, the farmers market is always going to be part of the agenda.

While I would have loved to shop extensively for produce, I could only pick up shelf-stable items that could survive in the car for a few hours. Fortunately, I found two different honey vendors with buckwheat honey. It’s a family favorite, and hard to find in conventional grocery stores.

Man, I do love the scene at the Troy Farmers Market. And it’s definitely a scene. For better or for worse, I really feel like those are my people.

Speaking of my people, the reason I had been sticking around downtown Troy was to meet up with some fellow Yelp Elites. Our plan was to try The Dutch Udder’s relatively new heifer shake. For those who do not know, this is a magical creation where the milk from a traditional milkshake has been removed and replaced with… wait for it… liquid custard.

I was the very first person to make it into the store that day, as soon as the shop opened at noon. And as a result, I was able to score some of the last bits of the Thai tea flavored ice cream for my decadent custard shake. It was incredible. I’ve heard of meal replacement shakes before, but I can’t imagine any of them being better than this.

The other members of the Yelp Elite Squad tried other flavors, and they all loved them too.

So here’s a question. What do you do, when you’ve got a belly full of milkshake in Troy, but still have a couple hours to kill before picking up your kid? The obvious answer might be to go see a movie. But there is no movie theater. Instead, I decided to check out the local kumbucha maker who is set up in the basement of a local church.

Seriously, the Yesfolk Tonics setup feels like it’s out of an Arlo Guthrie song. But I think I’m in love with these guys too. And considering the tasting room is set up in what seems like the abandoned basement of a chapel, it was remarkably busy for 3pm on a Saturday.

Oh yeah, and I bought all the kombucha. More on that later.

Before leaving Troy with the kiddo, we had to grab dinner. Fortunately, he loves deeply authentic regional Chinese foods. So we went to Lucky Corner. Man, that place is great. But the only way to get one of their few available seats is to get there before 6pm. The boy ordered the dumplings in clear beef broth. I went for a modest portion of braised chopped pork over rice, and a side of fried string beans.

The growing young man ate both my pork and his noodles. And I was oddly okay with that. It filled me with a sense of pride that he loved that braised pork so much. In reality, after the heifer at lunchtime, I really didn’t need to eat anything beyond those delicious string beans.

No, we never made it into north Troy. Although surely there are worthwhile spots to visit. Still, the day covered a lot of territory: College kids, the old school, the mass market, the brunchers, the bougie farmer’s market, the craft ice cream shop, the hippie kombucha makers, and the immigrant community.

Is it any wonder why it’s so hard to fill a hole in Monument Square? Cities are fascinating places. Selfishly, I’m glad that my biggest concern is trying to figure out what to eat.

10 Comments leave one →
  1. December 17, 2018 11:39 am

    Aldi has zipperless gallon baggies and you don’t have to sacrifice a piece of your soul to get them.

  2. HokieMom permalink
    December 17, 2018 1:13 pm

    all that travel and you found parking where ever you went – the day was perfect – and…that milkshake sounds awesome

  3. Lakesider permalink
    December 17, 2018 2:35 pm

    I’m a big fan of Yesfolks osmanthus oolong kombucha. Hope there’s a future post on your take of their products!

  4. christina medina permalink
    December 17, 2018 2:46 pm

    Get TF over yourselves, some people can only afford WALLY WORLD and that doesn’t make us LESS HUMAN.

    • December 17, 2018 5:37 pm

      Hey! I’m truly sorry.

      Never did I mean to imply that people who shop at Walmart are any less human than those who shop at the farmers market. FWIW I shop at both. And I don’t just buy the gallon baggies at Walmart.

      In fact, what I was trying to do today was the exact opposite. Troy may be known for its growing bougie culture of fancy coffee shops, acai bowl purveyors, and craft beer bars. What I was trying to point out is that Troy is much more than that, and delight in its diversity.

  5. Llcwine permalink
    December 17, 2018 5:36 pm

    Love Lucky Corner..it helps that they are across the street from my synagogue!!! Only in Troy!!!

  6. December 18, 2018 1:32 am

    I usually get those bags at Hannaford when grocery shopping. They are great for pizza dough…

    • December 18, 2018 10:57 am

      Have you seen them on the shelf recently? Maybe I’m old and my eyes are going, but I’m at the Wolf Road Hannaford weekly, and couldn’t find a box of them to save my life.

      • December 19, 2018 4:43 pm

        Yes. They are Hannaford brand “Twist Tie Storage Bags.” Pretty much in the middle of the Hannaford brand bags.

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