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Albany John picked me up a hard shell lobster meal from Sea Fish Market and Grill in Newton Plaza in Latham. It was $9.99 for a steamed lobster with two sides  – he went with waffle fries and grilled veggies. The waffle fries had some kind of extra coating on them to make them very crunchy. Love. So much love for the waffle fry. They traveled very well, too. Although everything in Latham is just 10 minutes away, max.

Lobster was great – it was a female and had some eggs inside. I love female lobsters and their egg sacs. Sea even sexed the lobster for Albany John. He’s a sweetie like that and will ask people at the fish counter for a female lobster because he know how much I like the roe. A lot of people will look at him funny, but he tells me Sea was very accommodating.

Albany John says everything was very clean inside. I’ll have to check it out myself in the near future. It’s nice to have a seafood place so close to home. Fin in Guilderland and Saratoga are awesome places, but for some reason I just don’t make it over to either location when they’re open. It takes me a bunch of schedule planning to get out there. Has anyone else been to Sea in Latham?

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I was invited to check out Price Chopper’s newest endeavor – the Market Bistro in the Latham Price Chopper. It’s been close to a decade since I’ve set foot into a Price Chopper, but I suppose a combination of age, time, and curiosity got the best of me, so I went.

So the Market Bistro is interesting. Fast casual dining/take out in a grocery store, kind of like a mall food court, but with somewhat better food and a centralized check out, so you can grab food from a few different kiosks and pay in one central location.

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The checkout register is located in the center of the Market Bistro underneath this tree sculpture, which I found to be rather aesthetically appealing.

Right, so here are some quick thoughts and impressions from the stalls we sampled. Other awesome local bloggers have posted their own opinions, check it out to make your own:

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This was from the Giving-Chiptole-and-Moe’s-a-Run-For-Their-Money stall. Buffalo chicken quesadilla. On the oily/greasy side for me, and the chicken flavor was pretty mild. I’ll probably stick with Chipotle for my tex-mex needs.

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Chicken stall has smoked meats and fried chicken. We didn’t try any of the fried chicken, but we did try some smoked meat.

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Ribs and brisket. Brisket is smoked ~12 hours, ribs smoked ~3-4 hours. Good amount of smoke on it. They said they brought in Tennessee hickory for a more authentic smoked flavor. Brisket was fine. The rib was pretty damn good, I’ve gotta give them that. Flavorful rub, good texture, nice penetration of smoke.

A full rack of ribs will set you back $18.99, so a little less than you’d pay in a restaurant, and I can’t really think of any place in Latham where you can walk in and out with a hot rack of ribs within 5 minutes. So that is pretty cool. It would be even better if this was with locally raised meat, but I realize that would likely not be logistically possible.

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Burgers & dogs. Burgers are cooked to 165 F. The Golubs were very proud of their buns, and it’s pretty awesome to see the head of a corporation beaming while talking about a product. They were proud of engineering a bun that they felt enhanced the flavor of the burgers they were serving. I tried some of the buns, and my first thought was “I wonder what kind of dough conditioners they use?”. It was very pleasantly soft, and had a bit of a Wonder-Bread aftertaste. Not really my jam, but I assume this is fairly popular with kids.

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Fish Fry counter, which they designed to evoke that “seaside” feeling. Pick your seaside – Jersey Shore, Cape Cod, Maine. Beachy seafood was the vibe they were going for.

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We tried their lobster roll, which uses the claws and tail of 2-1lb hard shell lobsters. They plan on using hard shell lobsers when they have them in store, but otherwise bringing the parts in. These are very generously sized. This is half of a sample sized roll. The mayo was on the (blessedly) light side, and overall I found this to be pretty enjoyable.

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The sushi stall is an independent operator in the Market Bistro, meaning it is not run or by Price Chopper employees and the fish is all brought in by the operating company. You can skip this stall, and I kind of wish Price Chopper had because it seems like it brings down their Market Bistro brand. But we are American consumers and evidently we demand sushi in all grocery stores.

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It’s not that it’s especially bad, but it’s also not especially good. It’s generic supermarket sushi with overly vinegared, chilled rice and bland fish. The flavor really paled in comparison to Price Chopper’s lobster roll.

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Then it was back to the cheese counter! Hello cheese. Tasty stuff. There’s also a beer counter. All of the staff we encountered really seemed to be enjoying their jobs.

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Fresh pasta available by the pound. This is an especially neat concept. I wouldn’t mind giving this a whirl in the future.

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Ben & Bill’s is now also in Latham. I know many folks who really like this deli, and many of the other attendees were also excited at this counter.

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Sandwiches.

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Pizza counter. They have their usual Price Chopper hot pizza, but also have a thinner NY-style crust.

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These were a lighter alternative to the original Price Chopper pies. Very crackery-thin crust.

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We finished off at Scoops & Smiles, the ice cream shop.

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Hot Fudge Sundaes and the “World’s Best” Strawberry milkshake, which uses fresh strawberries.

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As we left, I couldn’t help but grab another snap of the tree sculpture at the center of the bistro. There is something fairly calming about it, lending to a relaxed feeling. It felt both cozy and open at the same time. Despite the large space and seating it wasn’t cacophonous or hectic. They definitely managed to design this to feel relaxing and welcoming, which is a pretty impressive engineering feat given all of the metal materials in the area.

“Magnificent” was a word that was used a lot on the tour, and that is what Price Chopper is striving to have their customers thinking when they leave the Market Bistro. Props for aiming high, guys. They said they welcomed customer feedback and one of the things they felt that distinguished the Market Bistro was their dedicated detail to small aspects of production, like cold plates for salads (kept chilled), and finely shredded lettuce they shredded in-store because they thought the textural difference made a better product.

I haven’t been a Chopper Shopper for almost a decade now, but this tour may have just turned me back in to one. The Latham store will be a “trial” store where they test out new ideas before implementing them (or not) in other Price Chopper stores. I wasn’t able to check out the rest of the store before I had to leave, but I will likely return for a bit of local grocery store tourism.

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Since moving to Latham, one of Albany John’s favorite new food spots is Euro Deli and Market at 106 Wade Road Extension. The staff are super friendly, helpful, and always so sharp looking.

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When you first walk in there are rows of dry goods and shelf-stable groceries on the left. Pickled things, candy things, tea things, giant wafer discs.

There are freezers in the back with some breads (they have a few fresh loaves of bread, too) and vareneky and pierogi.

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There’s a deli counter to the right of the store with a bunch of cured meats, cheeses, and sausages. You can get them sliced or made into a sandwich. They also have hot food options that they prepare very quickly. Their food is so cheap! All of the food we ordered in this post came to about $20, and we ordered a ton of food.

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Even further to the right of the deli was a small dessert counter with paczi they brought up from a bakery in NYC (the person behind the counter couldn’t remember the name). Filled with prune and mixed berries.

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One grilled kielbasa (they split it horizontally) with hot sauerkraut and toasted rye. This is something crazy like $4.

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This is their big combo platter and it might be $7.99 (I kind of forget the prices of everything, just that all of the food we got was about $20.

It’s 4 pierogies (so tender and… pillowy perfection with a little crisping on the exterior), one grilled and horizontally split kielbasa, bigos, and a stuffed cabbage. Albany John loves stuffed cabbage, so he loved this. I thought it was a little heavy on the rice, and but then again I’ve never been much of a stuffed cabbage fan.

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Pancakes of potato with sour cream. So, so good! Crispy exterior, creamy interior.

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Borscht. A gigantic tub of borscht. Beets, carrots, and I think broad beans. Light, earthy/beety & peppery flavor to the broth.

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Paczi. We bought one of each of the flavors. These were likely a day old, so they weren’t that great. Kind of heavy, tough, and stale tasting. Still good with a cup of tea, but pretty dense things on their own.

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And a Maciek chocolate bar to wrap things up. I thought this was like a caramel filled bar, but it was kind of like honey with just a hint of anise/fennel/licorice at the end. Albany John liked it, though.

Here are some photos from this year’s Grand Tasting at the Saratoga Wine & Food Festival. This year there were more non-Ferrari sports cars, still pleasing to the eye.

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And a whole tent of Big Green Eggs from Adirondack Appliance. They had a few sales going on, but said there would be more sales available to the public around December.

Like Ashley Dingeman over at Saratoga Food Fanatic, I also thought the number of vendors seemed lower than in years past, especially food vendors. There were three connected tents (yay, shade!) and the center table seemed pretty empty in the center, with food and wine vendors along the edges, and 1/3 of the front for the silent raffle. I emailed SPAC’s PR to see what was up with that (did some vendors bail? Less turnout than expected? Was it intentionally left empty so people would have more indoor room?) but I haven’t heard anything back yet. Updates as/if they occur.
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Gideon Putnam made some cheesecakes on cookies. Tasty little nibbles.
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Albany John got a kick out of Pavan liqueur, which is kind of like a citrus version of St. Germain. I thought it was like drinking honeysuckle, which was rather pleasant with some sparkling water.

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677 Prime’s display. They were the only vendors that seemed to do an actual display this year.

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Beauty, in porcine form.

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My photographer, Albany John, loved Druther’s food offerings, which were pulled pork sandwiches and ribs. They were the most substantial of the foods offered at the event and very popular.

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The Crimson Sparrow had, hands down, my favorite bite of the day. Restaurant-made nori chip with togarashi, uni, and … oh sugar… I think it was <some kind of delicious fat> with a shiso microgreen. So much umami and textures going on all in one bite. Just great.

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I also caught Zak Pelaccio‘s demo on butchering a whole heritage pig. Check out Burnt My Fingers for some great pics and additional details. Zak was a great presenter – easy to understand, good speaking pace, and fun, informative vibe. Really need to get myself to FattyCue one of these days.

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I also checked out Kevin Zraly’s private wine tasting, which was okay, but not as fun as last year. Perhaps the very real danger of a tornado touching down upped the excitement factor last year. Kevin Zraly was about 15 minutes late (darn, could have caught more of Zak’s butchering demo) and the wines we tasted were wines that were better for buying, storing and tasting in a few years. Kevin mentioned a few times about how some weren’t great now, but would be in a few years. Or maybe that’s just how I interpreted what he was saying and I’m completely off. However, the proceeds from the registration went to supporting the arts and creating grants for children to attend SPAC and (hopefully) continue the appreciation of the arts and music.

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The people watching at these events are always great. You see all different kinds of faces of humanity. Most of the wine vendors aren’t from the vineyard(s) they represent. They’re usually either hired to represent the brand, or are purchasers trying to promote their wines. Some are really good at it. One rep was really overwhelmed by the crowd and it seemed like it may have hurt the brand she was selling. Another rep was so jovial and excited to promote his brand, he was handing out his card in case people saw the wine priced higher than $X amount in a retail setting. There was one woman who stepped in front of me as I was asking a vendor more about the product (no lines) and blurts “Are any of these sweet?” and when the vendor replied that most weren’t super-sweet and began trying to ask her what her tastes were, she made a huge frowning face and goes “Eugh. Eugh. No. No sweet wine. Eugh.” There was the sweet couple I met at the Wine Tasting with Kevin Zraly who knew what cotton mouth was because they “…were children of the 60s. C’mon.”

This year the Grand Tasting sold out, as did the Connoisseur’s private tasting tent, and Kevin Zraly’s wine tasting seminar. This was a great fundraising event for SPAC and the programs they support.

I don’t usually post press releases, but ShopRite’s press release below for their Can Can sale gave me just a twinge of nostalgia. I don’t have cable: do they still do the ShopRite Can Can dancers in commercials? The cartoon Can Can dancers singing about ShopRite’s Can Can sale are the first image/sound that spring to mind when I hear about it.

The website itself doesn’t list many specifics things about the sale, other than it’s going on. You’ll have to search through the local circular for that. In Albany/Cap Region we’ve got Bumble Bee solid white tuna for $0.99 per can (limit 4) and a whole bunch of canned veggies & beans for $0.49 each. There’s some more stuff on sale, but those are probably the things I’ll hit up.

SHOPRITE KICKS-OFF FAMOUS CAN CAN SALE

 

January 2, 2013 (Florida, NY) – ShopRite’s famous annual Can Can Sale, begins Thursday, January 3rd and will run through Saturday, January 19th. This year marks the legendary sale’s forty-second anniversary.

 

The Can Can sale, made famous by low prices and those iconic Can Can dancers, continues to have a loyal and devoted following among ShopRite customers who eagerly await this annual event.  Over the years, the Can Can Sale has changed and grown.  Originally intended to focus solely on ShopRite Private Label products, today many national brands are included, as well. In fact, Can Can proved so popular that in 2002, ShopRite introduced a Summer Can Can Sale.

 

Although there are no sales figures available from the early days of ShopRite’s Can Can, the company estimates it has sold more than 3 billion cans over the sale’s 42 year history.

 

The 2013 ShopRite Can Can sale begins Thursday, January 3rd and runs through Saturday, January 19th at all ShopRite stores in the Northeast.

Free corn at the Capital District Farmers Market in Menands a few weekends ago. Albany John and I biked over, which was nice. As with most of my bike rides, it was a little further than I thought it would be, but corn day made it very worthwhile.

Hit up my two favorite stands: Krug’s.

And Lansing’s Farm & Greenhouse. I love, love, love their produce.

We biked past Mac’s on our way back. Albany John says the sign is pretty hard to argue against. What a country.


 My brother-in-law sent me some of the best corned beef hash ever – from Paulina Meat Market in Chicago, IL (where he used to live). Seriously, this is soooo good. Everything is a fine mince – carrots, potatoes, some beef. And it crisps up so well! Goes really well with some waffles, and would be absolutely decadent with a runny egg yolk on top. 

 Here’s what the hash looks like from the tube after it’s been thawed out. 


Minimal ingredients. Just corne dbeef, carrots, potatoes, bacon, and their seasonings. OF DELICIOUSNESS. One of their major spices is pepper, because there’s a definite peppery kick to this, too. 
Ready the cast iron pan, ye scurvy dogs!

While your hash is cooking (I tend to prefer a low & slow searing method so I don’t burn it), you can whip up the Greatest Waffle Recipe Ever. Literally, whip. After mixing most of your ingredients together, you fold in whipped eggwhites at the end for some seriously light and fluffy waffles.
Albany John & I used white whole wheat flour and added an extra half teaspoon of baking powder.
You leave some lumps & bumps in the batter. It’s all good. 

AND THEN YOU GET THIS! Crispy waffle of deliciousness!
And then you eat the best waffles ever with the best hash ever and you are very, very happy! How can you not be happy with a crust like that? Happiness in meat crust form. Which I’m sure I’m not selling, but it is so good, trust me.

….AAAaaand now I have to re-up my supply of corned beef hash since I’ve opened this one up. So worth ordering and having shipped. This is cracktacularly good. 

Mmm, I love Cardona’s hot bar. It’s like $7/lb, and this big tray of food was ~3/4 lb. Shrimp and tortellini with alfredo sauce (not for dieters, but so, so worth it!).
The broccoli rabe was surprisingly bitter. I wouldn’t have wanted to eat much more of it, but it was a nice foil to the uber-rich and fatty tortellini. The shrimp wasn’t overcooked or anything!
Albany John got seafood marinara with some grilled chicken. I was kinda skeptical about how the scallops would be on a hot bar, but they were just perfect – juicy, not at all rubbery or overcooked.

I got a flyers advertising Henry’s Market in Waterford (42 Saratoga Ave), touting smoked meats. So in! It’s just a little further north of Cohoes after 787 ends. I think this place used to be a hot dog store before it was Henry’s.

It’s not as big as Roma’s. I was a little underwhelmed. None of the meats in the deli cases were covered, which meant for some really grey looking hamburgers, and some really dried out raw chickens.
The sausages looked pretty decent. It seems like there was a lot of extra air space. I don’t think Roma’s covers their meats either, but they don’t have issues with dried out meats like at Henry’s. Albany John mentioned something to someone behind the counter, and they were just like “Oh. Yeah.”

They had some desserts and smoked cheeses. Mmmm, smoked cheeeese.

Here is the smoked section. Oh, and some raw stuff too. The organization could use a little bit of improvement. Maybe. The sausages here looked REALLY dried out and unappetizing. Some things were vacuum sealed.

I love smoke, so we decided to get a little bit of food to try out. I wasn’t really impressed with a lot of the store’s presentation of meats (c’mon, it’s meat! treat it with some respect! don’t let it get all sad and dried out. do people buy meat that’s really dried out on the exterior?).

Ham steak, and some smoked cheese. I think it was gouda. The gouda was… not so good-a. A little too soft and mushy. Not a lot of smoky flavor.

Here’s the ham steak. It was pretty tasty, but I would have liked a little extra smoke in there.

So, the ham was okay. Henry, maybe you could check with Roma about how to keep your meat from drying out on the exterior. I can only imagine it would help sales and bring you more money. This is coming from someone who walks into Rolf’s Pork Store thinking “Okay. I’ll just get one kielbasa for my picnic of 3 people.” and then walks out with $30 in various delicious meats.

Rochelle came over to help me celebrate some good news recently. Steamed lobster – only $8.99 per pound at Matt’s (574 Saratoga St, Cohoes, NY). Well, raw. I steamed it at home. Nom. Nothing says celebrate like lobster. And a big ole bottle of Cook’s to keep it classy.

I was going to chuck the green stuff out of the lobster’s body (after checking that no one wanted it!) and R was all “NOOOOO! WHAT ARE YOU DOING?! THERE’S STILL MEAT IN THERE!” cause it looked like I was going to toss out the whole body. You know you’re in good company when someone shouts that (the company of seafood loving lobster non-wasters). And it sure looked like I was gonna toss out the delicious lobster body, too.

And bonus – it was a female! Red coral eggs yum.


Oh, and 50 clams and some spicy marinated squid (Albany John’s recipe). On the grill! Albany John was like “This is enough seafood to feed a small army… or two Asian women,” So right. We did some damned good damage. I think only one clam was left over. Maybe we forgot about it.


In sum – for tasty lobstrosities and clamosity, head to Matt’s in Cohoes. Such freshness!

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