I know of no better way to start off a meal than with fried yucca and chicarron. Flores Family Restaurant is one of the few places you can get this fab appetizer.

You can also get a papa rellena, which is a massive fried disc/oval of mashed potato stuffed with ground beef for $2.99. Seriously – share this. It’s great, but you’ll fill up on it if you order it for yourself, and there is so much more to eat. Creamy mashed potatoes filled with seasoned ground beef, the entire exterior crisped up.


ALL OF THE PUPUSAS. Cheese, bean and cheese, and loroco greens. The loroco greens are incredibly mild and blend in well with the cheese. And who doesn’t love a soft corn exterior before giving way to any filling?

Whole fried tilapia is another menu bargain at $10.99 and more than enough for two people to share. I happily crunched on the especially fried tail and fin bones.


December is here, and colder weather calls for rib-sticking, hearty meals. Kenji’s take on traditional cassoulet recipe is fantastic for a comforting, warm meal in cold weather. Read through his recipe – it’s really phenomenal writing and made me want to try this, despite not being much of a bean eater in my normal meals.  And now I have  a reason to add beans to my repertoire. It’s a really versatile recipe, too, so you could go traditional, or you could just go with what you have.

The real revelation here is adding gelatin to boxed/canned broth or stock. It really beefs up the flavor and helps combine the liquid and beans into a creamy, rich dish. I should strive for homemade stock, but I go through more broth than chicken carcasses to make enough stock/broth, and it’s just never really worked out for this household like that. Ah well. One day. Either way, homemade stock or no, you’ll have delicious beany goodness after several hours.

Great Northern beans, some mild italian sausage, chicken thighs, and lamb shoulder (there’s lamb nubbins in there, too) were a nice combo. The sausage was… eh, a little out of place, but it’s what was in the fridge, so it’s what went in the cassoulet. I tried this again with just lamb and chicken, and the flavor was a little lacking, so some sort of sausage or third meat is a good idea.

As is, this makes a TON of food if you’re a 2-person household like mine. So be good at eating leftovers, or freezing. This was so good I happily ate it all week for lunch and a few dinners. Me. The lady who hates leftovers. Loved this and looked forward to it so much. It was that good.

Hey cool cats – check out what’s in store for the Soul Cafe (Albany Edition) tomorrow night!

Soul Café Albany
Monday, September 29, 6-8 PM
Westminster Presbyterian Church
parking lot access at 85 Chestnut Street
Albany, NY
$3 suggested donation
Pizza! Why read any further?
The Soul Café Albany community meal is at it again on Monday, September 29 from 6-8 PM at the Westminster Presbyterian Church (parking lot entrance at 85 Chestnut Street) in Albany. There is a suggested donation of $3 for this volunteer-run dinner (no one will be turned away). The Honest Weight Food Co-op and other generous area businesses donate culled produce for the cooks to prepare. Vegan and vegetarian options will be available.
All are welcome! We are looking forward to working together to break bread in the community.
+ For more information, contact
+ More information can also be found on Facebook:


I couldn’t wait to get back to Shwe Mandalay for a second go-round after my first visit. This second visit didn’t go as smoothly – we were the only table in there on a Friday night and service was slow and a bit disjointed. The food is still fabulous, though I’m worried about how little business I’ve seen in Shwe Mandalay. Please, people – get in the doors of Shwe Mandalay. It’s delicious, cheap, and a new realm of flavors for the Cap Region!

Another order of fried squash above. Bu Tee Kyaw $5.

Southern Shan Sausage, $5. Perfect little beef & pork sausage balls.

Fried sliced onion, $5. I love the batter at Shwe Mandalay – very light, like a combination of beer batter & tempura. Great for frying. Light and crunchy.

Side dish of dried salted fish, $7, which I think is mostly an Albany Jane love. I ate most of this dish. They changed the presentation from the first time I had this – instead of flat strips the fish was broken up into more bite-sized or smaller pieces.

Butter Rice & Chicken Curry, $7. All this for SEVEN DOLLARS! Super rich rice with a hearty chicken curry.

La Phat Thote. Tea leaf salad, $6.50. This time it was covered in dried shrimp, which was unfortunate because one of the folks in our party had a shellfish allergy. The shrimp itself were tasty – crunchy and not too salty or briny, though the salad didn’t really need it.

Rice & Tea Leaf Salad $6. This was more of a rice dish than a salad type dish, but tasty all the same.

Black Curry, $8. Pork curry with black bean paste (this is Chinese-style fermented black beans, not black beans). This was a rich dish, but so good (also came with large plate of rice).

Coconut Chicken Noodle Soup, $6.00. A light, but filling broth with a lightly boiled egg (the yellow is from the yolk).


Grab 5 of your friends, and get a table for 6 at Shwe Mandalay. Six is the perfect amount of people to try a significant amount of Shwe Mandalay’s menu without taking up half of the restaurant. Albany John, Daniel, Chopsticks Optional, and 2 other friends made up our table of 6. It’s right on Central Ave next to Taiwan Noodle, and as I remember: “The old Hong Kong Bakery space”.  There’s a small parking lot for a few cars. The service is polite and efficient.


Bu Tee Kyaw. Fried squash. This had a great shell  – like tempura meets beer batter. Very light and airy, and so crisp.

Bayar Kyaw – fried lentil balls with onions & curry leaves. I’m pretty sure frying makes everything delicious. I’m not an enjoyer of dal in any form other than fried. This were nice and crispy little nuggets.

Southern Shan Sausage. Adorable little sausage balls filled with a mix of beef/pork and rice. Served with a whole lot of super hot chili peppers (they’re in the back, there). These were great! A nice texture to them. Kind of like Vietnamese sausages, or boudin.

Some dishes come with a simple beef soup (free). Nice, light little soup.


Chicken Biryani, filled with deliciousness. Cinnamons, raisins, cardamom pods, and Burmese chicken curry. This was fantastic.

Chicken Curry in the back there. We also ordered pork curry. The curries come with sides of veggies and condiments. And massive plates of basmati rice. The curry bases are really enjoyable (not too much turmeric for me). The chicken was mainly white meat, so I’d likely skip it in the future and go for the fattier pork curry.

Samosa triangles. Tasty triangles. They seasoned a touch lighter than Indian samosas. While potato was a large part of the filling, there was also a nice amount of cabbage (and the lightness the cabbage lent).

Hey, pork curry and massive plate of basmati rice!

I think this was the Mom’s taste salad. Oh, those crunchy peanutty bits. So good. Along with everything else in there.

Now, this dish. this could be a very polarizing dish. This is the dried salted fish dish. Fried, dried salted fish. It’s like salty fish jerky and I love it. If you’re not a fish person or have issues with sodium, then this dish isn’t for you. But if you love fish & salt like I do… well, you are in for a treat!

Another polarizing dish was the tea leaf salad. This was another one of my favorite dishes, though others at the table didn’t feel as much love for this salad as I did. It didn’t taste like you were eating raw/crunchy tea leaves. They had a texture that went well with a salad, kind of like blanched kale.

Pe’ Paratha. A flaky coconutty-tasting paratha with a very large bowl of vatana puree. Holy flakiness, in that paratha.

Mandalay Myee-Shay salad. Fat rice noodles with pork/chicken, pickled mustard leaves, and bean sprouts.

This was a soupier noodle dish, which I’m blanking on right now. Thick noodles with some pork, greens, beans, and carb-y sliced bits on top. Nice, but we got these at the end of our eating spree, so they probably didn’t get the full appreciation from our table that they deserved.

Dinner for 6 for $85 before tip! Can’t beat that!

So this was my first time eating Burmese food, and I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. It’s a delicious combination of a lot of aspects of subtle Indian & Chinese flavors. I can’t wait to go back and try some of their other dishes, like the paratha salad.


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.

Once the package thawed out, I separated the ribs into two containers to season and marinate.




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.

Half of the ribs got slathered in galbi (which wound up being very mildly flavored, but did a great job for tenderizing).

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.

Then they sit (covered) in the fridge overnight. The fridge will smell amazing.

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.

All lined up.


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


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.


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.

Check it out, Soul Cafe is expanding from Troy to Albany. Their first shinding is next Monday, June 30th! I went to the planning potluck, and this is sure to be an awesome time (plus there’s parking!).


Soul Café Albany
Cuban Night with Chris Faraci (Carmen’s Café, Troy)
Monday, June 30, 6-8 PM
Westminster Presbyterian Church
Albany, NY
$3 suggested donation
The first Soul Café Albany community meal will take place on Monday, June 30 from 6-8 PM at the Westminster Presbyterian Church on 262 State Street (parking lot entrance at 85 Chestnut Street) in Albany. There is a suggested base donation of $3 for this volunteer-run dinner (no one will be turned away). Denison Farm, the Honest Weight Food Co-op, Placid Baker, and other businesses donate culled produce for the cooks to prepare.
This month’s theme is Cuban Night, with a menu created by Chris Faraci of Carmen’s Café in Troy.
We are looking forward to working together to break bread in the community.
For more information, contact
More information can also be found on Facebook:
Carmen’s Café:
Honest Weight Food Co-op:

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