Brunch is always, always, always a good idea. Continue reading “Brunch Round Up: Winter '17”
Despite Schenectady’s not so great reputation, I know from experience that not only is Schenectady full of great restaurants, it’s full of great coffee, entertainment, and businesses as well. Following successful events like the Chili Chowdown and the 2nd Annual Schenectady Soup Stroll, Schenectady Restaurant Week offered a special 3 course menu with many participating restaurants for just $25. While I wish I could’ve tried out all the restaurant week menus, there are only so many nights in a week, and I found myself only able to get to one: Mexican Radio.
If you’ve ever been to Rochester, or even within 100 miles of the central New York city, you’ve without a doubt heard of the famous Garbage Plate. Although initially hesitant to trying the mish-mash of greasy cheeseburgers, spicy meat sauce, macaroni salad, and french fries, today I find myself craving a plate quite often.
The problem is, I don’t live in Rochester any more and getting a plate is not as simple as a drive down the street to the closest diner. Since buying a plate was not an option when my most recent cravings kicked in I decided to attempt at bringing the garbage plate to life in my very own kitchen.
The first step in bringing the garbage plate to Albany was to find the perfect meat sauce recipe. Lucky for me, Nick Tahou’s, the restaurant who put the garbage plate on the map, had a website floating around on the internet (check out the recipe here) which turned out to be pretty close, although not nearly as perfect as the real thing.
While the meat sauce was simmering I started making the home fries from scratch. I took a couple potatoes and cut them into small pieces, seasoned them up with a bit of salt, pepper, and cajun seasoning for added spice. I heated up the oil and cooked the potatoes until brown. While traditional garbage plates often have two cheese burger patties, one was enough for the my own plate. Although I made the sauce, burgers, and home fries from scratch, I ended up cheating just a little bit on the macaroni salad, buying a pre-made container from my local Whole Foods.
Overall, my homemade fries were way too salty and the meat sauce came out a little bit too thick, but my first attempt at making a garbage plate was a success. Have you ever made a garbage plate yourself? Was it a success? Let me know in the comments!
As always, stay up to date on my food adventures on Instagram @erin.eats.upstate
ChowderFest is an annual event held in Saratoga Springs, New York. This years event included over 80 participating restaurants and over 100,000 cups of chowder served. ChowderFest is exactly what you might imagine, a bunch of restaurants coming together to serve, you guessed it, chowder!
Heading up the Northway to Saratoga I was expecting a crowd of people, as I had seen so many on my Facebook timeline planning to attend or already there. What I did not expect was the long lines of people just waiting for a small sampling of chowder on a chilly 20 degree February day. I also did not expect the party that was ChowderFest. Of course Saratoga is known for it’s nightlife, but it was still surprising to see so many young people out partying on a Saturday afternoon.
Between the lines and the cold weather, it would take a dedicated soup taster with the capacity to try 80 soups to try it all. I only accomplished about 6 or 7 (including the Ben & Jerry’s dessert chowder) but in those few that I tried, there was not one bad thing to say about any of them. There were the traditional clam chowders, the seafood chowders, the corn chowders, and the chowders with chicken.
My personal favorite came from Hattie’s Restaurant which included a piece of hot fried chicken (YUM!!) but following close behind was a crab chowder from Cantina, and a classic clam chowder from Fish at 30 Lake.
Now that I know what ChowderFest truly entails, I’ll be better prepared for next years festivities. I’ll be ready for more chowder, and more fun!
Growing up I had this idea about Troy, New York. The idea was that it was a place I didn’t want to visit. Today, I have a different idea. Troy, the Collar City, is a place that I want to visit, with shops and restaurants I need to try. The list of places I want to visit is growing at a faster rate than the free nights and weekends I have, but I have been able to check a few spots off the list.
Lucas Confectionery Wine Bar
When a gift certificate to Lucas Confectionery came into my possession it was possibly the best thing to happen in a long time. I had been wanting to go to this wine bar in Troy, New York since I first walked past it in June but just did not feel like spending the money. So, naturally when a $50 gift certificate made it’s way into my possession I was so excited. The inside of Lucas Confectionery is dark, but candlelight sprinkled throughout gives it the kind of ambience you would expect from a wine bar. We sat at what felt like our own private bar, complete with coat hooks and surrounded by bricks emblazoned with the word Troy. We ordered one glass of red and one of white, and mongers choice, a selection meats and cheeses. Our plate came with a huge basket of bread, one in which I thought there was no way we would eat it all. I was extremely wrong. I will be heading back to Lucas Confectionery, and next time, I am getting dessert.
Troy Kitchen is essentially a food court for people who want to eat something a little bit better than Taco Bell or a slice of pizza. Inside there are a variety of food stands to choose from including Korean BBQ and Mexican. But what I went to Troy Kitchen for was something a little sweeter, and I found that at the Butter and Sugar Company. I proceeded to eat was easily the most amazing carrot cake of my entire life.
I am always looking for local coffee shops. Little Pecks is actually connected to Lucas Confectionery and another local restaurant I’d like to try, Pecks Arcade. I went to Little Pecks on a snowy Saturday morning to meet a friend for coffee. I was expecting a small cafe with only a few tables, but what I found was a bright and colorful dining area with a few tables, and a large back room with a collection of longer tables. With brick walls, plenty of plants, a dripping water wall, and even pineapple wallpaper, the aesthetic of Little Pecks is one in which you could easily spend a whole day working on your laptop while sipping a latte and never want to leave.
When it comes to health food trends I’ve always been a step behind, so naturally I am just catching on to the acai smoothie bowl. After seeing them all over Instagram and watching my favorite YouTuber’s vlog about them I decided it was time to try my own. It’s only taken a couple at home attempts and a trip to a local juice bar, and I am hooked.
Since I did not know exactly what I was getting in to when I first attempted a smoothie bowl at home, I decided to use the Sambazon frozen acai packets to get me started. The first time around I just used one packet and almond milk but found that it wasn’t enough and was too thin. Now, I use almond milk, a frozen packet, some extra frozen berries and about half a banana (the other half I cut up and put on top).
My favorite toppings to include are strawberries, blueberries, banana, granola, toasted coconut, and Justin’s vanilla almond butter. On occasion I will switch up toasted coconut for sliced almonds, and use regular peanut butter instead of almond butter. Toppings are really what make the bowl so I like to load them up!
Since trying my first bowl I have started to crave them more and more often. Part of the reason for this is probably because of how tasty they are. Eating a smoothie bowl in the morning feels like eating a bowl of ice cream for breakfast, and honestly who doesn’t want that. I’ve had bowls for both breakfast and lunch and they typically hold me over for a few hours, which surprised me because I doubted that it would be enough.
Unfortunately there aren’t a lot of places around the Capital Region to get acai bowls, so for now I’ll have to get adventurous and try my own. If anyone knows any great places or recipes please let me know on my Instagram page!