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My big Christmas present from Albany John was dinner at The Crimson Sparrow. The Crimson Sparrow has a frequently changing tasting menu with the occasional Asian influence. It’s headed by owner John McCarthy, and the experience was thoroughly satisfying. We were there for a little over two hours – the meal was paced so well we didn’t even notice how late it was once we left!

To note, the lighting in the dining room is a bit low, and I’m still trying to figure out how to work my new macro lens, so I’ll include a link to Crimson Sparrow’s IG account with much better pictures of these dishes.
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First up was the smoked octopus on uni puree, lardo, and shiso micro greens (Insta Pic). This was a two bite affair and I could have easily done with a plate of this. The octopus was perfectly executed – smoky, tender and meaty, and the uni puree was a deliciously rich pairing. Just an outstanding dish.
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Brussels sprouts with snails, charred leek, miso, honey, cashews, and parsley (IG Pic). The brussels sprouts were deliciously crispy and nutty, and a welcome vegetal dish. I couldn’t discern any snails, but didn’t realize it until I was done with the dish. I really enjoyed this, just didn’t pick up on all of the flavors noted.
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Sunchoke soup! (Instagram Pic) Sunchoke puree with date, chestnut, hazelnut, pickled cauliflower, black truffle. Oh. My. Gosh. Truffles. I go gaga for truffles. Albany John, not so much. This was a rich and creamy puree of sunchokes. One where, if you made it yourself, you’d be hesitant to serve seconds. The cauliflower, dates, and pickled cauliflower were judiciously portioned out in a wee mince beneath the shaving of black truffle. The black truffle added a lovely rich earthiness to the soup. So wonderful, Albany John even enjoyed the truffle aspect. And darn, I was hoping to get an extra slice of truffle from his portion – tee hee. Just kidding – I’m happy he has found one iteration of truffle that he enjoys.
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Scallop on top of salsify puree with masago (IG Photo is slightly different, but you get the delicious idea). Yet another dish that I could have very easily eaten a lot more of. A perfectly seared scallop, still soft and briny, and hugged with black masago.

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Pork belly with white beans, fennel, bay, mustard, rye (IG Pic). I heard fennel and my ears perked up. Uh oh. I’m not normally a fennel fan. But however this was made – yes. I am a fennel fan. The pork was meltinly tender, and the beans were a nice contrast.

Main Course time! Salmon and beef were the two main course options, so we got one of each.
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Skirt steak with broccolini and black bean peanut sauce underneath (No IG photo). This was one the only *womp womp* dish on the menu. The black bean and peanut sauce was just too much – the fermented black bean too present, and oddly out of whack with Crimson Sparrow’s normally judicious portioning. The beef was well cooked, but compared to the rest of the menu this seemed, well, just too normal.
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King salmon on a bed of black lentils, with bonito, sweet potato, maitake, sweet fern, and rock chives (IG Photo). Oh, sweet heavens, yes. Yes a thousand times over. The salmon was so wonderfully (minimally) cooked. The crisp maitakes were a nice textural contrast while also acting as a meaty complement.

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And then there was my favorite of amouses – the dessert amouse. Mulled spice anglaise, red currants, pistachios (IG Pic). What a nice surprise! It was a sphere of mulled spice anglaise, which had me wondering how I could recreate this flavor at home. Maybe reduce some mulled cider and mix it with anglaise? J
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Dessert also featured two courses, and Albany John went with the cheese course – a sheepsmilk soft cheese, I believe, with Bonfiglio bread and some honey on the side.
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I went with the sake lees ice cream on top of green tea cake mountains with some preserved fruit. I realized after ordering that I generally don’t care for sake, so this ice cream on its own didn’t quite sing to me, but as it melted, it made a nice sauce for the cakes to sop up. The cakes were a bit dry and dense and seemed intentional to resemble parts of earth. Admirable to look at, that’s for sure.

Each tasting menu is $75, with wine pairings available for $55. They also have brunch on the weekends, and Sunday Supper (a paired down and more casual tasting menu for $45). I can’t wait to return to try brunch and supper.

 

Hi,

Welcome. Are you new? Well, it’s good to have you here.

It’s January, when folks typically start on the new year’s resolutions and going to the gym more often.

Consider this your pep talk – you can stick with it! You can find something you like. Maybe you take a few classes and decide you love kickboxing. Or maybe you’re a dance queen.

Maybe you want to branch out into weights. I think taking a few weights classes  are good to learn form on your own, or find a friend (hiiii) who is comfortable in the gym. I really like the BodySpace app on Bodybuilding. You can search for a variety of workouts and programs, and track them in one place on your phone. I’m incredibly lazy, so I’ll never be one of those people in the gym with a sheet of paper or a notebook with my workout ready to go, but it’s easy to follow a program for a few weeks, or pickout a workout by whim.

But hey – good job! Keep it up! And you know what? Half-assing it in the gym is better than no-assing it. So when those inner voices start in on you: “You are so fat. These shorts look ridiculous. Seriously, what do you think this is going to do? You can’t do this.” you don’t listen to them. If you don’t feel up to a big and crazy workout, do something to get yourself moving, and tell those inner voices to suck it. This takes a while, but you can get over that negative self talk. I went to the gym earlier this week feeling pretty blah, and the negative thoughts started “Ugh. Why am I here today? I don’t want to be here. What, you’re going to wear *that* to workout in? Everyone will be looking at you, and then they’ll notice how much you suck at working out.” And then the other part of my brain retorted “You know what, I don’t know what I’m doing here, but I’m going to figure something out. It might not be super hard, but it’ll be challenging. You know what – lats, back, and shoulders. And yep, I am going to wear this ridiculous outfit because it’s also kind of hilarious, and maybe it’ll make someone else smile while they’re working out, so shut it.”

So keep it up, keep with it. I’m not a resolutioner, but tis the season. Scale your resolutions down if you have ‘em. Focus on getting healthy, not the numbers on the scale or your clothing size.

And holler if you really need a workout buddy to keep you motivated. I promise I won’t make you do a 2 hour workout the first time we pump iron.

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Panmarino bread with some soaked toasted onions and dried chives. This was a great bread. I did a pinch of yeast in the preferment the night before, and 1/4 teaspoon of yeast the day of baking. It rose beautifully. some big airy bubbles at the top, and a tighter crumb near the bottom where I moved it around (and thus compressed the dough) a bit. So savory and great.
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Grace Hill Farm Hilltown Blue. A blue cheese with some real kick to it. Very punchy and bold.
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Makes the maytag look tame by comparison.
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Tower of cookies! Crannberry & white chocolate on top. Compost cookies on the bottom.
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Tortilla chips, a handful of random baking chips, and some browned butter. Yaass.
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Alfajores from Argentina from our traveling cousin. Shot with my new macro lens from my brother-in-law, CVS.
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These were like bricks. Thick, and rich.
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Macro meat!

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Macro ribs!
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Macro fat cat!
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Macro buffet lunch from First Choice in Troy.
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More cat portraits.

Hooray, the holidays are over, now everything can go back to normal.

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Yup, super late on this summary. Checked out the Tavern Noodle pop up with Chopsticks Optional and some other friends.

So. The good. It’s cool that there was a pop up shop. Novelty, and it’s likely not coming back.
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Spicy miso ramen was a dud. $10 was a bit much for this, especially since it didn’t taste much like miso, or much of anything. Just kind of a weak veggie/mushroomy broth.
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Pork ramen was tasty, but still a  bit high at $12. Rich and flavorful broth. Noodles were a little too underdone for my tastes. Chopsticks Optional ordered the entire menu.

We had a “large order” meaning, we ordered one of everything, and the expos seemed to have a lot of difficulty in getting it all together for some reason. I’m not sure why. We waited up at the front for a long time while others who ordered after us got their orders. The ramens were ready first, so it was the two baos, soy egg, and spicy radish that took forever to come out, even though they were sending out these orders for people who just ordered say, two ramens and two baos after us. Not the biggest deal in the world, but not a great expo running the helm.

Soy egg was too sweet, spicy radish needed some sugar to help balance the cutting blandness that daikon often has. The spicy radish was probably the most disappointing dish and very poorly executed. Baos were poorly executed (huge chunks of raw ginger in the pork baos). These sides could have been really good, but they just missed a few steps in execution.

Any way, it was a bit of a bummer to have so many misses on the menu, but the pork ramen was definitely solid. If they bring one dish on Peck’s Arcade, I hope it’s the pork ramen.
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And then Chopsticks Optional busted out some Cider Belly dougnuts, and all was right with the world.

I  don’t know if there’s much more I love these days than being alone. I went down to NYC to hang with my SIL and BFF Maka for a few days and recharge. I didn’t tell anyone else I was coming down except for one of my cousins, who I was super close with growing up. For some reason, I had a bit of anxiety before seeing her, and almost bailed at the last minute, but I’m glad I didn’t because I was very happy to see her. She lives in Midtown close to Korea Town, and I was eager to eat some Korean food, so it worked out really well! That and I didn’t want to move my car and drive to Flushing. Lazy, I know, heh.

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We went to Kum Gang San, which was just okay. Overall, I think I like the homier Korean dishes more than BBQ. It just seems like a better ROI. This platter of meats to BBQ table-side cost us about $60. It came with banchan and lettuce wraps, but still seemed pretty pricey for the (maybe) 1 lb of meat.
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The grills are right in the center of the table. Kum Gang San was pretty ritzy – there’s a store on the first floor, but a piano player upstairs! They cooked the meats a the table for us. We also got some fried meat dumplings, which were satisfying in the way that fried meat dumplings always are.
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The soups were great. Ginseng chicken in the front, and soondubu jjigae in the background.
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Not so great seafood dduck/teock. It was spicy, but also very sweet and gloppy. We didn’t finish this.
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The next day Maka and I did some touristy things, like go see the Rockettes at Radio City Music Hall for a Christmas Spectacular. Wow, was it packed! They even had a camel on stage, though I was hoping for more rockette action. It was 50-50 Rockettes-Santa story.
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And then since we were very close to Rockefeller Center, we went to see the tree. I don’t know why, but seeing the Rock Center tree has never really been a big deal to me. Maybe because I grew up in “Upstate” (anywhere north of Westchester to anyone in NYC), and it wasn’t uncommon to see trees this large or larger decorated (though it was usually still planted and in someone’s yard). We went on a weekday, and it was pretty sparse for NYC-standards.
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And HELLO KITTIES!
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For lunch we went to the East Village to Momofuku Noodle Bar! It wasn’t busy at all, which was awesome, and we got seats at the bar right away.
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The menu is simple. About a dozen items: a few apps, a few ramen, and a few sides. I had this pea shoots dish – which was more escarole than pea shoots, pickled daikon cubes, a few carrot shreds, and a spicy dressing. Very tasty and refreshing.
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Momofuku ramen ($16) was everything I hoped for and more, which is a lot of mental hype to live up to. The bowl they serve the ramen in is MASSIVE, and the portion of ramen served is also large. The egg is so amazingly perfectly poached, I almost didn’t want to break it and mix it in with the broth. The noodles were great, and very plentiful (still, I mustered on to finish them). Overall, it was a wonderfully porky broth that even Maka liked (she does not delight in the porcine flavors as I do), and very rich without being greasy and heavy.
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More teock, which are listed a bit confusingly as “rice cakes”. For some reason, both of us were imagining something different, but were pleasantly surprised with this great execution of teock, which made up for the previous nights’ poor dduck/teock.
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And then a quick trip around the corner to Momofuku Milk Bar for a swirl of their cinnamon bun and cereal milk ice cream. The cinnamon bun flavor was INSANE. It tasted like cinnamon streusel crumble. My only regret was being too full to order a slice of crack pie along with the ice cream. Maka and I could barely finish splitting this little cup of soft serve.

And then we went clothes shopping, as one normally does after consuming vast quantities of food. BTW, Trash and Vaudeville is a great gothy/punky store for every day type clothes (well, if you’re into this type of fashion, that is), and their clothes still run true to 90s sizes, even a bit small!

Overall, it was nice to get away by myself for a bit, though for some reason it wasn’t as recharging as I thought it would be.

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Think: “I’m gonna make fondants,” “I am so gonna make fondants, chocolate covered fondants,” “ZOMG, I need a bunch of cute molds for fondants because THIS IS WHO I WILL BE!”

Make fondants.

“FTS. I am never doing this shizz ever again.”
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Sooo, my adventures in fondant making were successful, but time consuming. From start to finish, it was a multi-day project, and waaayyy too sweet for me. The husbear, my own sugar fiend, loved them, and is sad to hear this was my first and only endeavor.

Painting the chocolate into these molds was a bitch and a half. Oh my gosh. And tempering the chocolate? Wow, I’m actually surprised I succeeded at first try on that one, but I did. Glossy little fondants, all around.

The fondant filling I used was a purely sugar based fondant, which was… way too sugary for me. Haha. I need fat! And when you make just the sugar
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So. Much. time. But hey, most things are painfully time consuming at first.
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They did look cute. Maybe I will try them again.
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After all, I do have two sets of rosette molds that are perfect for filled chocolates. Sigh. Okay. I’ll try it again. Eventually.

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I don’t have many bucket list items. But I’ve read tale of Google’s corporate kitchens, and it’s been in the back of my mind to check out for some time. One of my friends from Albany took a job in their Chelsea offices in NYC. While I was sad to lose my friend, I was a wee bit happy to have an “in” to Google’s NYC office foods.
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Lego land! No pics of Googlers were allowed, which was great, because people are never my photo target, just food. This was when you first walked in past reception – a lego themed area as a nod to how they first started building computers in a garage with legos.
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Snacks, candy, and fresh fruit. They even had fresh rambutan!
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Lego heads filled with candy. Google owns the building across from Chelsea Market entirely (home to Food Network, and Google’s own YouTube), so the layout is pretty maze-y. But every floor has a few food areas. Oh, it was so cool!
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We settled on the top Google floor kitchen for lunch. They had griddled fish and sauteed zucchini. Yum!
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And also wood fired but tough pizza. Still, very cool to see the execution and scale. So many worker bees, and yet the turnaround was very quick.
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More snacking on a lower level with outdoor seating. They had creme brulee! CREME BRULEE! and more fresh fruit, and…. oh man. So awesome. If I worked at Google I would have a hard time wanting to go out to eat. This was great cafeteria food, and so many healthy options, too.
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And even sushi! It was on par with what you’d pick up at a supermarket, or other pre-fab sushi, but still. How awesome is it to just be able to leave your desk, grab a quick roll, and get back to work? Man, very cool, and better fuel than candy or processed foods.

Oh, and their coffee bar with baristas? So totes amaze. I had an almond milk cappuccino with Counter Culture coffee when I first walked in. It seems like a nice place to work for productive people – everyone was motivated and working hard, but friendly and very polite, too. I know those Googlers work their patooties off, and it still seems like a really neat place. There aren’t really any offices, everyone is out in the open, working collaboratively, and there are private booths for phone calls and video calls, in addition to delightfully quirky conference rooms. Any way, I’ll stop raving about their corporate culture and structure. If you’ve got a friend you can visit at Google in NYC, you should give them a ring. It’s an awesome place to visit.

 

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