Archive for May, 2008

Mmm-mix tape

Thursday, May 29th, 2008

Remember making mix-tapes?  Well, here’s a dining-out-in-Albany-blog equivalent (which is nothing like a mix-tape really, but humor me): 

Track 1:  Angelo’s 677 Prime“Steak Tartare (traditional preparation, created tableside)”

The pictures don’t do it justice.

Track 2:  Angelo’s 677 Prime“Seven Hour Cherry Pepper Pork (fresh fried chips, pepper jack cheese)”

Pulled pork goodness.

Track 3:  Angelo’s 677 Prime“French Toast & Ice Cream (sweet brioche French toast, caramelized apples, cinnamon maple sugar, brandy, butter pecan ice cream and soft whipped cream topped, rosemary infused maple syrup)”

Breakfast meets dessert meets my belly.

The whole place is like “buttah.”

Track 4:  My Linh“Cary Gà (Chicken, potatoes, and onions simmered in a light coconut milk and spicy curry. Served with [a] baguette.)”

We always get this when we go.  So good.

Track 5:  My Linh“Phở Bò (for two) (Sliced sirloin beef and rice noodles in a beef broth. Served with fresh bean sprouts, basil, lime, and jalapeno peppers.)”

One bowl pho both of us.  Werd.

Track 6: Captial Q Smokehouse– BBQ Mix (1/2 chicken [ahem Jack’s, please note photo], full slab ribs, 1/4 lb S. Carolina style pulled pork, and collard greens). 

I am eager to try the N. Carolina style pulled pork.  I have not heard anyone say anything bad about the food here, and considering how fun complaining is, that’s saying a lot.

Holy mamma, this place is all about the food.  The food is ridiculously good.  I mean, when you try it, you will actually chuckle and think, “This is so good, it’s absurd.”  You will look for someone nearby, and you will point to your food and say, “Can you believe how good this is?  It’s ridiculous!”  There is no sense in trying to explain the virtues of good BBQ; one shouldn’t have to.  That’s like explaining the majesty of the Grand Canyon or why the Beatles were so great.  We all know already.  Anyway, just go to the Capital Q Smokehouse on Ontario St. and try it. 

Track 7:  McGuire’s– Fried Oysters (served with Asian dipping sauce).  They practically started a riot on Steve Barnes’s Table Hopping Blog.  Cati really liked ’em. 

Fried oysters.  I prefer ‘em raw.

Track 8:  McGuire’s– Lobster and Crab Fried Dumplings.

These were delicious.

Track 9:  McGuire’s“Grilled Ostrich (marinated grilled ostrich sliced thin, served with a Southwestern black bean ragout)”

The ostrich tasted like beef meets lamb to me- very tasty.  Just look at that presentation too.  This place is one hell of a benchmark, no?

What a beautiful view…oh, and the sunny day looks nice too.  I was talking about the Tetley’s.

Track 10:  Saso’s– Nigiri sushi, rolls, and miso soup all around (with the sushi, never before).  We also started with the striped bass tataki.  What a talented guy that Saso-san is, eh?

Almost too pretty to eat…almost.

We go to Saso’s so often that I think I’m turning Japanese.  I really think so:

Edible Complex

Monday, May 19th, 2008

We recently went to The Greek Festival at St. Sophia Greek Orthodox Church.  We went on a pleasant Saturday afternoon for some fun on a nice day and, of course, Greek treats.  I decided against wearing my Macedonia T-shirt, y’know, for the sake of international harmony.  [wink

I’m not sure Cati and I would go to The Greek Festival (or The Grecian Festival, as it’s technically called [shrug]) if we didn’t live within walking distance of St. Sophia.  The food is just okay, the music is played very loudly, and the event seems to be increasingly geared toward kids (e.g. carnival rides, “Spartan warriors,”).  But it does make for a festive afternoon, and judging from the crowds, it’s a formula that works. 

I think we regard the food at the Albany Greek Festival as only “okay” because we have a benchmark by which to judge it-  the Troy Greek Festival at St. Basil Greek Orthodox Church  (June 6-8, this year).  At the Albany Greek Festival, the food seems catered by Greek-food vendors and at St. Basil, it’s obviously all homemade- and the difference shows.  The Troy Greek Festival isn’t nearly the size of the Albany festival, but this adds to its quaint charm.  Go to both; see for yourself.  Plus, you can get a bottle of Mythos at the Troy Greek Festival where you can only get Budweiser or Michelob Ultra [blecch] at the Albany Festival.  See?  It’s the little things. 

On this year’s visit Cati and I split a large Greek salad, a piece of spanakopita, a greek appetizer plate, and a mutton gyro.  The salad and gyro were great; everything else, meh.  We also bought a full box of Greek pastries to bring to a party we were going to that evening, y’know, to ensure we get invited back.  ;)  See some pics below:

On our way there.

Signing up to win a cruise.  Corfu for you?


Sampler plate; we didn’t really care for anything on it.  The dolmas were dry.  We should have gone with the hummus.

Our eyes were bigger than our stomachs.  We took the other gyro home.

The salad was great!

On the subject of Greece, here are a few pictures from the full-scale replica of the Parthenon in Nashville, TN.  I went to Nashville to run in The Country Music Half-Marathon (04/26/2008) with some friends but I was keen on checking out this interesting anachronism.  I finished the 0.5-marathon in 1:35:36 (hr:min:sec). 

What’s old is new.

Good-lookin’ group of people, no?

Pretty big, eh?

Revel With A Cause

Monday, May 12th, 2008

Cati and I threw a wine party a few weeks back to raise money for The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.  Unfortunately, the weather wasn’t ideal for a backyard party as it was a bit cold.  But we fired up the chimenea and made the best of it.  About 35 people showed up and they each contributed (at least) $10 to the LLS.  Here’s the invitation we made for the party:

The invite.

The wine and much of the food was donated by local businesses.  We asked several local wine shops to donate a case of wine.  We asked them to supply us with four different wines (2 whites and 2 reds), and 3 bottles of each (for a total of 12 bottles).  Of course, we provided requisite credentials and explained what we were trying to do.  Some wine shops were unable/unwilling to help, others were willing and eager.  Three wine shops that deserve a big “thank you” are:

These are great wine shops that I would highly recommend you check out (even if they hadn’t helped).   So, next time you are at any of these three places, chatting with their friendly and knowledgeable staff, mention that you read about their kindness here, and say “thanks.”  I know it sounds hokey, but they really are giving back to their communities by helping to improve (and in some cases, extend) the lives of cancer sufferers (and helping their families).  If you don’t buy your wine from these shops, please consider it.  I would also like to thank:

The Honest Weight Food Co-op helped by giving us store credit to buy food.  Cati bought delicious mushroom ravioli along with fixin’s to make pasta a la suegra.  Cardona’s donated a beautiful and (allegedly) delicious fig and apple salad that went so fast, I didn’t even get to try it.  Ah well, I’ll count that among my sacrifices for the cause. 

People milled about the backyard sampling the wines and having a good ol’ time.  Our eloquent and charming friend Gina (of Wine Words) wrote brief descriptions about the wines after having tried them all, at our pre-party, the night before.  We displayed the descriptions of the wines, just to provide a little info about each bottle.    

We collected all the score sheets and headed inside for dinner because it was too cold in the backyard.  All the food was great except for our pasta which was a bit chewey because we left it to ‘warm’ in the oven for too long [oops].

While everyone was eating, the multi-talented Anne (who makes a mean chocolate cake) and I crunched the numbers from the submitted score sheets.  We identified the most-negative palate (the person who gave the lowest average score for all wines), the most “promiscuous palate” (the person who gave the highest average score, and apparently will drink anything), and we also identified “wine-palate twins” (largest positive correlation between any two tasters), and “wine-palate evil twins” (largest negative correlation).

Here’s what the score sheets and certificates looked like:

Here’s the score sheet we used.  Hey, that’s my kind of drinker, eh?  Some winners are more equal than others.

So who won what?  My very own sweet wife won the most negative palate award with her average score for all wines being a mere 4.2.  Interestingly, as some of our guests pointed out, Cati was the only taster who spit every taste.  Being pregnant excluded her from actually drinking the wine, which likely prevented her from “loosening up” her judgement, shall we say.  Hey, let’s face it, after three or four glasses of wine, it all starts to taste better, eh?  The most promiscuous palate award went to our wine-conneseur friend (and certfied specialist of wine) Kathleen Lisson.  Her average score for all wines was a whopping 8.8.  The next highest score was Linda’s- a 7.5 .  Tough crowd, eh?  The favorite wine of the night was a Spanish rioja called Zuazo Gaston donated by Delaware Plaze Liquor Store.  The least favorite was a pinot grigio called Bivio, donated by Empire Wine.  That’s not to say it wasn’t good; it just means our friends weren’t too keen on it (I kinda liked it).  Here’s what the scoring results and correlation results looked like, have a look:

The results are in!

I highlighted the overall faves and least-faves, along with the Guys’ and Gals’ picks too. 

The “wine-palate twins” were our friends Nick and Vaneeta whose scores correlated with an R = 0.83.  I think they had never met prior to that evening, and were surprised to know they had similar tastes.  We awarded them each with an interesting bottle of blush which was generously donated by Niskayuna Wines & Liquors.  Well, however they feel about their prize, I’m sure they’ll agree. 

The “wine-palate evil twins” were our lovely friends Kathleen Lisson and Shavasia.   They had a negative correlation of R = -0.79 between their scores.  Yikes, let’s hope they never have to share a bottle of wine at dinner.  Someone will not be pleased.  So, the correlations aren’t super strong (I don’t know that I’d place too many bets on R2 values of ~0.6), but they are close enough for some wine party revelry.  Have a look:

The R values for correlation. 

I am pleased to say we raised enough money to reach my $4000 goal.  I am done fundraising and now can focus on training for my marathon on June 1st.  Thank you to all of you who have donated to the LLS on my behalf and/or encouraged me with a kind word during my training (so far).  I was repeatedly and pleasantly surprised by the generosity of so many of you.  Here are some photos from the night:

The wines.

The revelers.

Chillin’, literally.

Some of the eats.

They taste, they score!

More discussions.

More tasting and discussing.

Nacho lurks for fallen treats.

The night carries on.

Gabe approves.

Jackets and drinks help us stay warm.

We like.

The awards go out.

We finally got some nice weather a week later.  Cati and I spent a portion of our morning at Tulip Fest in Washington Park.

 Tulip Fest 2008

What a beautiful photo, eh?

Ain’t life grand?