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Two of my friends went Morocco for a few weeks and came back with loads of goodies for me. One of these goodies was a sleeve of different types of honey that is produced in Moroco. They don’t have large flowers here like we do in the US, but herbs and small shrubbery that have flowers bees can eat. I really liked the lavender honey. It was very subtle. The Mountain honey one one of my favorites, right along with Euphorbe (which seems to translate to Euphoriba, which refers to an entire genus of plants).

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Eucalyptus even went surprisingly well with Four Fat Fowl’s St Stephen cheese, which I picked up at the Co-Op one night.

The only two that were good on their own but not with this cheese were the orange blossom and the thyme. For me, creamy citrus flavors are not great as a whole, so you may like this combo. The thyme was just so bold and beautiful on its own, the St Stephen just couldn’t hang.

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I’m always game for a road trip (especially when it involves food), so when Daniel suggested a detour into Old Forge, PA to try their pizza styles I jumped at the chance. We were armed with suggestions from NEPA Pizza Review, and off we went.  I just kind of tagged along with Daniel and his crazy list of must-try pizza places.

Northeastern Pennsylvania style pizza is unlike any I’ve ever heard of before. It reminds me of a cross of french bread pizza, Elio’s frozen pizza, and hot pockets. There are three different styles: red (tomato sauce + cheese), white (just cheese) & white stuffed crust (just white, but with a top crust of dough plus the bottom crust.
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First up was a tomato & garlic white pie at Colarusso’s. The bread dough was vaguely focaccia-y and the cheese was more of a cheese sauce. Order by the pies here.
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$8.00 for a pie, though the menu listed a higher price for white pies over tomato pies. Any way, first pie down and we were off to the next stop!
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Salerno’s was up next. It’s a dark bar right next door to a funeral home, but yay, it has its own parking lot.
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We put in the order for two cuts of stuffed white. About 20 minutes later, we got these ridiculously cheap cuts (they call them “cuts” not “slices” in NEPA). Each cut was like $1.50 or $1.75. Crazy cheap. The bottom crust was soggy, but the top crust was almost pastry-like and flaky, and the thin burnished onion on top was nice. The cheese itself was fairly flavorless and had a gluey texture.
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Third stop was Arcaro & Genell, a restaurant whose name I’m still not entirely sure how to pronounce. This was definitely the ritziest restaurant of the tour. Very clean and well maintained inside, solid tables, and I think there was even a bocce ball court out front.
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We went with a red, a white, and a white broccoli. The white at Arcaro & Genell was of the stuffed variety. This was probably my most enjoyable overall cut of the entire trip. The cheese had a little bit of mozzarella, which added some stretchy texture and salt to the cheese sauce. The crusts were fairly crisp, but not as pastry-like as Salerno’s. The broccoli was enjoyable – still a bit crunchy and fresh, plus a hearty kick of garlic.
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So cheap. It took about 15-20 or so minutes to heat up these slices. I’m guessing most folks don’t just order a cut or two.
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Revello’s – the clunker of the day.
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Anazalone Special Lager – said it was local, so I wanted to give it a try. The first sip was refreshing, but after that it was like PBR & Budweiser. Basically like metal shavings. Not my fave. Thankfully the fussman helped me with this beer.
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The long-reheat times seemed to be a thing with NEPA style cuts, but Revello’s wins for longest wait. 30 minutes from order to table, and we were one of the only tables. The cuts were gummy and easily skippable. The red slice reminded me exactly of Elio’s frozen pizza. We got a white & a white broccoli. The broccoli was gummy and mushy.
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Ghigiarelli’s was the final NEPA pizza stop.
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Hmm, wonder what they use for their sauce?
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The red cut here featured a lot of tomato flavor, but somehow they transformed canned into a refreshing & bright (not metallic) flavor. Lots of onions in the sauce as well. Took about 20 minutes for the slices to come out, which is just so crazy cheap for the amount of time a patron sits in the restaurant taking up space. Overhead must be low in PA.
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ICE CREAM BREAK
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Fro-yo, actually. And this was a small. A SMALL. And they said people complain that their smalls are TOO SMALL. What madness is this? It was close to a pint for like $2.50.
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A few hours later we were in Oneonta, just in time for a few more slices. I was initially grossed out at the thought of cold cheese on pizza, but hey, I was game to try it, and the NEPA style pizzas hadn’t been my jam, so what’s another slice or two?
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Tino’s is the alleged inventor of cold cheese pizza. The slice itself was just okay. But the cheese strands on top were way too thick and bland. Kind of like play-doh noodle thickness. It didn’t melt at all on the reheated slices, and was just a heavy addition that detracted from the slice.
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And then we strolled Oneonta’s cute main strip. The Fuss man wouldn’t indulge my request to go into the Novelty Lounge, citing depressing reviews. But dude, LOOK AT THAT SIGN! And a 23+ age limit. Sigh. Next time.
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The final slice du jour was at Sal’s, which we shared because someone who wasn’t me was starting to get full. Sigh. Fine. This was actually a much nicer iteration of cold cheese pizza. Flavorful crisp slice below, and thin shreds of salty mozzarella that melted over time into the slice. I think I’m still personally more of an extra-cheese-over-cold-cheese type gal, but this was a nice way to round out the night.

If you told me when I was a kid that I’d grow up to spend a summer eating pizza I’d have thought you were fooling me.

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2014 is the summer of pizza. I’ve gotten ’round to checking out Kay’s Pizza on Burden Lake in Averill Park, NY. It’s a seasonal pizza place, right on Burden Lake. I went with a large group of folks, and in the peak of Kay’s season the parking lot may overflow, but there’s street/lake side parking available as well. Prices are reasonable, and this is group-friendly, though if it’s packed you may be waiting a while.

Clams! $8.25 for a dozen. These were tasty and were served with real butter on the side.
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One large cheese pizza ($8.95 – WHAT?!), and one Baja Chicken ($19.75). These are poofy pan-style pizzas. There is a crust, but it’s more of a line where the cheese/sauce stops and the crust begins. The pies are all uniformly flat/one level.

Cheese was fine, the Baja Chicken is topped with chicken, bacon, jalapeno, onions, black olives, and tomatoes. The Jalapenos added a nice heat level, though I’d probably never order this on my own.
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Buffalo chicken, because buffalo chicken. ($8.95 + $1.80). This was a buffalo chicken where the chicken was tossed in buffalo sauce, but otherwise was on a regular large cheese pizza (with tomato sauce). Eh, okay. Not my fave style of buffalo chicken pizza.

So Kay’s pizzas are the poofy-soft type of pizzas that are really easy to eat. And  a large cheese is a crazy-cheap $8.95. I can see why this place is so popular. Low price-point on the pizza, very family friendly, and right on the lake, so you may have a lake-view (depending on where you are seated). I would go back again since this is a cute piece of local history. Though I’d personally go really early or really late, because it was jam-packed with people when I went. The seating was Manhattan-style, and if you were at a table with chairs (they had booths) you really had to scoot yourself up to the table and wedge in. I was kind of surprised by that, but it makes sense since it’s so popular. It was a little sardine-y, so try to get a booth. Because of the seating, I’d also suggest going with a table of no more than 5-6 people, because it was kind of impossible to hear anyone else at the other side of the table with 8 people.
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Also grabbed a gluten-free Kay’s Specialty Pizza (sausage, peppers, mushrooms). I forget exactly how much this was, but it’s pretty in line with gluten-free pizza prices in this area (like $12-13 for a medium, and then extra for toppings). Kay’s doesn’t make their own gluten-free pizza and is very vocal that these have the potential for cross-contamination, so if you are severely allergic to gluten you should still probably not order it.

It was the flat/gummy type of pizza crust. Crispy for the first few minutes, but then gummy.

 

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I found some corned beef on super-clearance at Hannaford. Hmm, it’s not corned beef season, but it is grill season, which means pastrami/smoked corned beef was on my menu.

I smoked it for a few hours on a grill with apple wood scraps from when the tree was trimmed earlier this year.
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Let it cool & chill overnight, then started slicing. The eating happened quickly. “Mmm, this is good. Wait. Must get picture.”
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Albany John made up a sliced meat platter.
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Pastrami!

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My house is a never ending series of projects, which is both good and bad for my “I hate downtime” type A personality. It means I always want to start a new project, but finishing… well, sometimes the project lingers when I find a new project. But laying linoleum is an easy project, which is satisfying on the “Done” checklist of house projects.
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I wasn’t terribly keen on linoleum as a flooring material in my house, but when one of your rooms has no floor and it’s been driving your Type A-self nuts for months… well, linoleum starts looking a heck of a lot more attractive. It’s cheap, it’s easy… okay, I’ll give it a try. If it gets wrecked pretty quickly, it’s not like you’re out a whole heck of a lot.
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So, you get everything out of the room, then sweep and shopvac all of the stuff off of the floor that may have been there from lord knows when.
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Then you begin moving the baseboards, which is probably the most difficult and time consuming task of the entire project. Above are the tools I used. A crowbar, a hammer, a metal scraper, and a small wedge of wood. I wedged the scraper in between the baseboard and the wall to wiggle a bit and loosen things up. Then when it loosened up a bit, put the wood on the wall, wedge in the crowbar, and push the crowbar against the baseboard and the wedge of wood. The wood helps protect the walls from the pressure of the crowbar. Luckily my baseboards were only nailed in and not glued & nailed.
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I’ve heard of sealing a penny in the walls for good luck. Maybe that’s what this is.
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Does a pencil sealed in the walls mean anything?
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Once the baseboards are removed, vacuum the place up again to get rid of all the old dust behind the walls. This should also go without saying, but make sure you wear junky clothes. Home repairs has taught me to have a separate wardrobe for wrecking with house repairs (which are mainly my freebie shirts and some old long pants).
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Hey, look at all of those removed baseboards. Great job, you didn’t damage the walls any more than they already are.
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I didn’t bother pre-cutting the linoleum to the approximate measurement of the room, which is what I hear would have been “easier” but it was still also easy to just unfurl the whole roll of linoleum and cut it to size against the room, too. Either way, pick your preference. Give a 1/4″ or so of wiggle room for expansion and contraction (i.e. don’t get it completely up against the walls).

I bought a big roll of faux-wood linoleum from Grossman’s Bargain Outlet here in Latham. You tell them how many feet you need, and they’ll cut you off a length, roll it up, and there you go. The linoleum selection is more geared for bathrooms or kitchens (with fake stone/tile patterns), so the fake wood print is kind of the best option for a bedroom. I bought something like 17 x 12 feet and it was about $157. I still have a lot of excess of the roll since you have to buy the width of the linoleum, which was a few feet longer than I needed for the room, but I may just use that to redo the hallway outside of this bedroom, which has plastic tile on it. Actually, it has pieces of plastic tile on it and one of those “slip safe” carpets over it. Whenever we’d remove the slip safe carpeting the cat would run on the hallway like it was a runway, so the tiles chipped pretty easily, and… yeah. Any way, I think I have a use for the excess width.
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I just floated the linoleum floor, which means I just rolled it out, smoothed it over a few times to get rid of any air bubbles or warping from laying it down in the first place, and then nailed the baseboards back over the top (and it looks like I forgot to take pictures of the baseboards actually back on the walls, but worry not – they are up). It doesn’t seem like it’ll keep the floor from moving around, but it does. The whole project took just under 4 hours to compete, about $150 in materials, requires not of fancy tools, and is pretty hard to screw up.

Mountain Man came for a visit from Colorado for a few weeks. Albany John and Mountain Man went to SUNY Albany together, so he’s familiar with Albany, but it has changed since he went to school here. Thankfully, he likes eating and being outdoors, so we’re in good company. The bar for good food is pretty low where he lives in Colorado. Between most things getting trucked in and the elevation, there isn’t a ton of fresh/good food or variety where he lives.

We took him to Ala Shanghai for some real Chinese food. He told us some pretty horrific “Chinese” food take out stories in CO. He was so happy to have real dumplings, and that fresh whole steamed fish… man. So good.

Evidently the only cheap things in CO are the beer and alcohol, heh.

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Sushi is a crapshoot where Mountain Man is from. He’s in a touristy town and the elevation does something funny to the rice. We went to Sushi X. I know it’s not the greatest sushi ever, but there is something alluring about AYCE rock shrimp, grilled squid, and some fairly decent sushi rolls and sashimi.
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For $25 a person or so, it’s a pretty decent dinner out. Check off what you want on the order slips. Everything is made to order and quality is decent for what it is, and the selection is pretty wide. I’ve noticed that they don’t quite fill your order slips fully. A few orders might get left off, but eh, that’s what round 2 of ordering is for.
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We continued the Albany New Things tour by going to Nine Pin Cider Tasting Room downtown. The day we went was when they also had “Ciders & Sliders”, pairing up with Slidin’ Dirty serving up in their garage.
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The Nine Pin Flight was okay, though they only half-filled two of the flights for no particular reason, which was kind of a rip. We also got a bottle of cider to share and surreptitiously sip on with burgers.
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Sliding Dirty had a long ass line queuing when we got there. For me, the crowd was a bit overwhelming, but thankfully a friend was nice enough to wait in line for me.
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Sliding Dirty will put your burger on a tortilla if you’re celiac/doing the gluten-free thing, though if you are a true celiac their presentation may pose an issue for you, as they didn’t separate the tortillas from the bun-ed burgers, so gluten cross-contamination may be an issue for the very sensitive.

I thought the sliders were okay, but the price point kind of kills me at $4 per slider. You’d need at least 2 sliders for a meal if you’re peckish, at least 3 if you’re hungry, so you’re looking at a good $8-12 to start for sliders. When I think sliders I think “affordable”, and $8-12 to start for sliders isn’t what I really think of as affordable. FWIW, I hear they are trying to move to all local grass-fed beef in the future, which would at least rationalize the price point somewhat. I’m also not a huge fan of the bread-to-meat ratio on sliders in general, so I’m likely not Slidin Dirty’s target market. I’d just rather get a steak to grill at home for $12, or an actual burger somewhere else with a lower bun-to-meat ratio if I’m feeling burger-y. What the hey, lots of folks seem to like them, and they’ve just opened up a physical location, so this is just my curmudgeonly take on the slider fad.
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City Beer Hall was one of the final stops on the Newish In Albany Tour. Mystery buckets and brown liquor to round out a visit.

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Ah, the joys of the swine. I picked up a ~10lb package of “Kurobuta” pork baby back ribs for $3.65/lb. What a steal. And while there is a high amount of bone in baby back ribs, 10 lbs of baby back ribs is a lot. 10 lbs is a great amount for a party.
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Once the package thawed out, I separated the ribs into two containers to season and marinate.

 

 

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Guess what’s really easy to make? Galbi marinade. You can use bosc pear if you can’t find Asian pears. Super yummy, and not as dark as the store-bought kind.
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Half of the ribs got slathered in galbi (which wound up being very mildly flavored, but did a great job for tenderizing).
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The other half got rubbed with rib-a-licious spices. You know – some sugar, some paprika, some chili powders, some salt, some black pepper, some mustard… a little of this, a little of that. And generously packed on each rib section.
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Then they sit (covered) in the fridge overnight. The fridge will smell amazing.
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Then it’s time for grilling! A rib rack is really awesome and fairly necessary for a grill when making baby back ribs. They’re so thin and small that you don’t really want them to lay flat on the grill. And a rib rack saves space, you can cram more ribs on the grill to cook at the same time.
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All lined up.

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I used the “cowboy” style charcoal, and let the ribs sit for about 60-90 minutes, covered.

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Hello, darlings! The meat retracts while cooking, the rib bones pop out a bit, and a nice lacquer forms on the outside of each rib.
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Done.
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Now I’m just hoping Albany John and I finish our never-ending living room renovation project so we can have a big housewarming party and serve up some of these ribs.

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