Barcelona on Broadway: Tapas At Boca Bistro

Summer 2014 was a life changing summer. On a spontaneous whim at midnight in my twin xl dorm bed  I applied for an international marketing course for 6 weeks in Spain. Although a little rusty on my high school Spanish, I got on a plane at John F. Kennedy airport, closed my eyes, and woke up in Barcelona, Spain.

There are many beautiful things about Barcelona- the architecture, the beaches, the fashion. But to know Barcelona, and to truly love Barcelona, is to appreciate the food.

Screen Shot 2017-05-07 at 9.41.10 PM.png

Before my arrival in Spain, I researched the people, the culture, and the language. When I saw main dishes like arros negre, a dish in which the main ingredients included rice with squid ink, I knew I was in for an adventure. Before I left I declared to my mom that I would try as many things as possible, but I would not eat squid ink. As fate would have it, on our first full day in Spain the restaurant where our professors took us to lunch had arros negre on their menu del dia, and I went for it. Screen Shot 2017-05-08 at 9.37.00 PM.png

There are so many different things I could tell you about the food in Spain, from menu del dia 3 course lunch specials to the amazing Tapas crawl in which I got small plates and a glass of wine for 2 euro each, but this blog is called Erin Eats Upstate.

After my summer in Spain I’ve attempted to find Spanish food here in Upstate New York but the options have always been few and far between. You’re sure to find some paella dishes around, and certainly a carafe or two of Sangria, but the traditional tapas like pan con tomate, patatas bravas, croquettes, and tortilla de patatas are rare, hard to find treats.

I found out about Boca Bistro when I first came home from Barcelona in 2014 but it has taken me 3 years to finally set foot inside the restaurant. The delay was primarily caused by location, I live in Albany and spend far more time there, as well as exploring Schenectady and Troy. When I found myself hungry, and on a casual stroll in Saratoga, I knew exactly where to go.

The restaurant itself is beautiful, albeit a bit smaller than I anticipated. We were seated by the window at a small table aside a beautiful brick wall. I don’t know what it is about a brick wall, but for whatever reason I’m instantly drawn to them. As we sat down we were given a food and drink menu, with a full selection of beer and wine. Despite my best judgement I didn’t order a drink, partly because it was the middle of the afternoon, but mostly to spend more money on food. On the drive home all I could think about was how much better the meal would’ve been with a nice red wine.

While the menu included salads, sandwiches, burgers, and paella, I didn’t even give them more than a glance. After munching on some freshly baked bread dipped in olive oil (and eating some of the olives too) we ordered a selection of tapas including pan con tomate with manchego cheese, ham croquettes, and patatas bravas.

Pan con tomate is literally bread with tomatoes mashed across the top when you order it in Spain. At Boca Bistro there were a few more components. They used cherry tomatoes cut in half, with olive oil, a tomato spread, and some sprouts for garnish. We added manchego cheese to the order, because why not, and the bread came with more olives (which I LOVE).

You don’t need to speak Spanish to understand what patatas bravas are. You probably already guessed it, potatoes. Patatas bravas are traditionally fried potatoes cut into cubes with spices, and served with a garlic aioli and these did not disappoint. For an additional cost we could’ve added a fried egg or chorizo but I decided to keep the dish classic as I remember it. There’s always next time.

The meal wouldn’t be complete without ham croquettes, although it probably would’ve been a bit healthier without these delicious fried ham and cheese fritters. Stuffed with manchego cheese and serrano ham, the plate came with 5 of these tasty croquettes. This is often a pet peeve of mine at restaurants. Why not serve an even number? Especially when it comes to tapas when you know people are going to share… But I digress, overall if that was my only complaint, I’d say it was a pretty good meal.

I was pretty full after these small plates and entertained myself by looking at the dessert menu, but ultimately had to decline. Although I didn’t get to try, if you are a dessert person I can only assume that the churros and chocolate is a worthwhile choice.

With relatively inexpensive flights to Europe these days the goal is to save some money and return to Spain, revisiting Barcelona and exploring other cities like Madrid or Sevilla. But for the time being I will continue to find local options and reminisce about Summer ’14.

Do you have any recommendations for Spanish food in New York? Let me know in the comments and as always, I’ll see you on Instagram

Schenectady Restaurant Week '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.

Continue reading “Schenectady Restaurant Week '17”

Enjoy Troy: A Visit To Collar City

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

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.


Little Pecks

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.

Eating With Erin: A Baking Adventure

Lately I’ve developed a bit of a sweet tooth. I’ve never really been the dessert girl- pastries and cakes have never been my number one choice- until very lately. I  tend to prefer the more savory indulgences, but maybe that little bit about our tastebuds changing every seven years really is true? Either way, this new sweet tooth has led me to my most recent challenge in the kitchen: carrot cake cupcakes.

Processed with VSCO with c1 preset

Continue reading “Eating With Erin: A Baking Adventure”

Getting Locally Caffeinated

Lately I’ve been spending a lot of time (and money) at Starbucks. I spend most of my day scavenging LinkedIn for jobs and editing cover letter after cover letter, so I like to get out of my house and embrace the application process over a caffeinated beverage. After reading a recent Times Union Article about some new projects in Downtown Albany I felt inspired to step out of the Starbucks bubble and try out something a bit more local.

Continue reading “Getting Locally Caffeinated”