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The Good Morning Cafe is expanding to become Good Night Noodle, a pho-centric Vietnamese restaurant.

They had a gathering of local bloggers one night to try out some of the the dishes that Good Night Noodle would feature.

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I’ve been following Good Morning Cafe for a while, but never managed to get up there (as I am a horribly late person and I just don’t leave my house early enough to get to breakfast places). This was also an awesome chance to learn more about GMC and their commitment to buying locally, easily summed up by their motto of “eat good * do good * feel good”.

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It’s a clean, open space with plenty of tables. Now, breakfast is always problematic for me, but dinner is much easier to add to my calendar. Good Night Noodle is projected to open in April 2014.

The Capital Region as a whole doesn’t have too many Vietnamese places – there’s Kim’s, & Van’s in Albany (and I know, I know so are My Linh and Pho Yum, but both of sit on the high side of menu pricing), Saigon Spring in Clifton Park, and soon Good Night Noodle in Ballston Spa. And it’s worth the drive.

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Shrimp Summer Rolls – with the addition of red bell pepper for a textural crunch.

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Vegetarian summer rolls also with red bell pepper. Good Night Noodle prepares Vietnamese food a little bit differently than most traditional Vietnamese restaurants. There is more of a focus toward using local produce and meats, and 95% of the menu will be gluten-free (and that 5% will mainly be dessert).

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Perfectly wrapped spring rolls!

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Pho condiment platter of hoisin sauce, Thai basil, cilantro, limes, jalapenos, and bean sprouts.

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Quick pickled veggies in apple cider vinegar.

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Chicken meatball pho. This was an awesome broth. Actually, all of the Good Night Noodle broths are awesome. Full bodied and warming but not too rich or heavy, which tends to be my broth preference. This was rich with chicken flavor. This bowl would be considered a small and will retail for about $7 per bowl. There will be large options available as well for $10-12.

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The bowls from the Good Morning Cafe were a bit on the shallow side, and Good Night Noodle has an indiegogo campaign to raise funds for the start-up and initial operating costs of setting up Good Night Noodle. This will include deeper bowls for more broth in their pho, among other kitchen upgrades/purchases.

The chicken meatballs use toasted rice flour, coconut oil, and aminos (aminos in place of soy sauce). It’s a great spongy texture – kind of like a fish cake, but chicken-y. It’s an awesome addition to pho – delicious on its own, but also great for soaking up a bit of pho broth. Once Good Night Noodle is open there are also plans of a chicken meatball sandwich.

Ok, more on the broths – the veggie broth is SO rich, thick, and delicious I’m going to have a hard time picking which soup I’d want – veggie, chicken, or beef. Normally I’d just brush off the vegetarian broth and likely go for beef, but this vegetarian broth really gives the other broths a run for their money.

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Dessert! Orange Blossom Cupcakes, and the best vegan cookies I’ve ever had.

From the desk of Albany John:

The Capital District Community Gardens has long provided agricultural and

nutritional resources to our area, delivering more than 333 tons of fresh produce

in the past year alone. This past week the CDCG celebrated the opening of a 2.5

million dollar project (in the first phase alone) at 594 River Street in Troy designed

to quadruple their capacity to provide access to local farmers and consumers.

The community presence and overwhelming support of the local government and

business leaders for the project shows the importance of this project to Albany,

Rensselaer, Schenectady, and Saratoga counties as well as farmers from 10 local counties.

I was introduced to the CDCG by their mobile produce project, which strives to

deliver produce to under-served communities. The cities of our region are full of

neighborhoods with little to no access to fresh produce, and the CDCG helps to

reduce the impact of poor nutrition by delivering produce along routes with the

“Veggie Mobile” a truck selling fruits and vegetables. They also have a smaller

“sprout” vehicle, and have introduced sales space in local convenience stores.

Where most convenience stores stock highly processed, high calorie food with long

shelf lives – local produce is now available through the healthy convenience store

initiative. I planted a community garden in Troy (one of nearly 50 in the region) and

the support of the staff was amazing – with seeds, education, and seedlings available

at very low cost.

 

The Urban Grow Center has transformed a 100 year old former light industrial

building into a warehousing and office space. The staff and volunteers transformed

the first floor (once crowded by safety equipment and pipes) into a space where

they will be able to not only stock and distribute much more produce to the area

but also act as an incubator for local businesses. The grow center will feature a

commercial kitchen for nutrition education and food based micro-enterprises. The

project will also include an acre of greenhouses for year round urban agriculture

programming. Green technology will be a major factor, with a “green roof”, solar

power, water reuse and porous pavement reducing over 300,000 estimated gallons

of runoff.

Political support from the communities that the CDCG serves was incredible, with

mayors from Albany, Troy, and Schenectady speaking about their experience with

the CDCG and praising the project and pledging their support in the years to come.

Assemblyman John McDonald III, and Albany County Executive Daniel P. McCoy The

business community stood behind the project as well, not only with their words, but

with their wallets. E. Stewart Jones, (co-chair of the grow center campaign with his

wife Kimberly Sanger Jones) SEFCU, First Niagara, and MVP Health Care pledged

their support with SEFCU promising a contribution of $500,000 towards the first

phase of the project. They still need our support, and charitable contributors are

needed at all levels. The grand opening presentation ended with the CDCG interns

demonstrating with produce the level of funding the project has already received

(more than 50%), and how much more contributions they have to raise for the first

phase of the project.

Food ties our communities together. That’s one thing I know for sure, and farmers

and consumers in urban areas are often separated by more than distance. The CDCG

has demonstrated its commitment to fighting poor nutrition from farm to table. The

growth of the CDCG also means opportunity for farmers to open up to under-served

markets, and for at-risk youth and adults to receive job training and education

about how food matters, how it reaches the table, and the importance of small scale,

local healthy farming. The program is a model I hope is replicated in urban centers

worldwide, mindful of the needs of consumers and farmers, implementing green

technology.

For more information on this exciting venture, contact Amy Klein, executive

director of the CDCG amy@cdgc.org or (518) 274-8685

This Saturday marks the 8th Annual Santa Speedo Sprint on Lark street here in Albany, NY. The proceeds from the Speedo Sprint go to the Albany Damien Center, which suffered a fire this year and could especially use the help this year. They’ve been helping others and creating a sense of community within those suffering from HIV/AIDS in the Capitol Region for years – I want to see them around for many more years to come.

I’ll be registering the day of the event , paying the $25.00 entry fee, and donning something skimpy to trot up and down Lark Street. If you’d like to make a donation with my name as a sponsored runner, feel free, but I think the most important thing is to donate to the Damien Center so that they can continue to help others.

 

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The NYS Fair would like to give away a pair of tickets, parking pass, and a Best Bets Bargain Book to one lucky commenter here on AlbanyEats!

I attended last year, and it was a fair worthy of the drive out to Syracuse from Albany. There was plenty to see and do to last you all day, traffic went smoothly, and the parking was easy to get to from the highway while still being close to the fairgrounds. Even if you don’t win tickets, you can buy tickets for $10 at the gate, which is pretty sweet for an entire day’s worth of stuff to see and do.

The 2013 NYS Fair will be running this Thursday, August 22, through Monday, September 2. The gates open at 8 am, with exhibit booths going opening at 10 am. This year’s theme is “Sharing the Bounty  and Pride of NY”, celebrating cultural, economic, and institutional strengths with emphasis on agriculture.

Contest rules/info:
All tickets will be mailed to the winner, or you can pick up from their main office M-F, 9-5 (no Will Call/box office this year)
Include your email address so you can be contacted if you win.
Contest ends the evening of Tuesday, August 20th, so get your comments in quickly!

EMPAC‘s Evelyn’s Cafe will be expanding hours to serve lunch every weekday from 11 am – 2 pm this coming Tuesday, January 22nd.
I can’t wait – previously they only served lunch on Thursdays. It’s always nice to have another lunch option in Troy.

Press Release & more deets below:

The Experimental Media and Performing Arts Center (EMPAC) and Hospitality Services at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute announce the expansion of hours for Evelyn’s Café. Beginning Tuesday, January 22, the café will be open for lunch Monday through Friday from 11 AM–2 PM, in addition to supporting public events. The menu will be seasonal and will focus on locally sourced items.

“This expansion of café hours makes EMPAC an exceptional gathering space, providing opportunities for a meal with colleagues or a snack before or after a performance in the special atmosphere of the building. We hope to continue the expansion into the morning and evening hours in the future. And we are pleased that the daily offerings include “eating local,” a unique menu on campus,” said Johannes Goebel, director of EMPAC.

“We are committed to showcasing local and sustainable ingredients to create a seasonal contemporary menu for our guests,” said Elaine Reynolds, Hospitality Services marketing director.

Evelyn’s Café opened in 2008. The café will continue to be open one hour before all curated events as well as during intermissions and after most performances. Rensselaer’s student run and sustainability focused Terra Café will be serving lunch on Wednesdays.

Vectors of Research—Circles of Art

EMPAC—The Curtis R. Priem Experimental Media and Performing Arts Center—is where the arts, sciences, and technology interact with and influence each other by using the same facilities, technologies, and by breathing the same air.

Situated on the campus of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, EMPAC is dedicated to building bridges between our human senses, to modes of perception and experience, to creating meaning in a physical environment, and to the intangible world of digital technology.

Four discrete venues are designed with unique technical infrastructure to enable audiences to see, hear, and move in space in endlessly different ways. EMPAC hosts artists and researchers to create new work and presents events which ask audiences to join the quest for new perspectives.

Hospitality Services at Rensselaer is a passionate, dynamic, and fun-loving team striving to satisfy diverse tastes and appetites on the Rensselaer campus. With an emphasis on convenience and flexibility, Hospitality Services provides a variety of menu choices that reflect a commitment at Evelyn’s Café to local and sustainable offerings.
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, founded in 1824, is the nation’s oldest technological university. The school offers degrees in engineering, the sciences, information technology, architecture, management, and the social sciences and humanities. For over 30 years, the Institute has been a leader in interdisciplinary creative research, especially in the electronic arts. In addition to its MFA and PhD programs in electronic arts, Rensselaer offers bachelor degrees in electronic arts, and in electronic media, arts, and communication — one of the first undergraduate programs of its kind in the United States. The Center for Biotechnology and Interdisciplinary Studies and EMPAC are two major research platforms that Rensselaer established at the beginning of the 21st century.

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.

Have you ever been to the New York State Fair? It’s held August 25th – September 5th in Syracuse, NY. The NYS Fair wants you to come, and they’re giving away two tickets that you can win!

This weekend I was talking with someone who was well familiar with the NYS fair, having grown up going to it just about every year. Though I grew up in NY, I’ve never been to the State Fair. I imagine my mom’s side of the family would enjoy going, since there are livestock shows. We hail from dairy folk, and there’s even a Dairy Day (August 29th, if you’re so inclined).

There are bunch of free acts to see, ranging from that Buddy dude from Cake Boss to Gym Class Heroes, and even the Pointer Sisters. Plus, you know, rides, and food, and awesomeness and such.

Kids 12 and under are free, so if you’re a family with some wee ones, this could mean free entry. Not too shabby.

If you wanna win two tickets and a parking pass:

Comment to win. If you tweet this link &/or put up a blog post, add the links as extra comments/entries. So you can technically enter 3 times.

Please comment with a valid email address.

You will be asked for your address. If I get this out in time, you’ll have tickets mailed to you, if not, you’ll get will call tickets to pick up when you get there.

This is open to anyone who wants to go there. Live in Buffalo? Awesome, enter. If you live in Western Mass and feel an urge to go NYS Fair-ing, type away!

Comments will be closed and giveaway over tomorrow night, whenever I go to bed. Or reeeallly early on Friday morning. At the very least you’ve got a solid 24 hours.

CLOSED: Congrats to L!

Dear Restaurants,


If you’re gonna do a promo, do it right.

XO,
Albany Jane

Let me elaborate. Some restaurants do promos. Some don’t. Some to promos really well. Others… not so much.

I really dislike crappy restaurant promos. A lot of the restaurant.com coupons are just promos for restaurants. The restaurants usually don’t get any of the money you pay for the coupon. Restaurant.com gets that little sum. And the restaurants eat what they lose in the hopes they’ll gain a new customer (who won’t use restaurant.com coupons for every visit). That’s why you have coupons like La Fiesta‘s for $50 on sale for $25. With the caveat that you have to buy $100 of food. La Fiesta isn’t getting the $25 you’re paying on restaurant.com. So their way of recouping some amount of money is to force you to buy $100 of food in the small print so they’ll at least get $50 in sales. However, from a consumer point of view, you’re paying $25, and then another $50, so you’re basically paying to get 25% off of your total bill.


Personally, I don’t really like how that works. It’s less money for the restaurant overall. If you want a promo, offer a 25% off printable coupon and sent it to Steve. He’s got enough exposure in the region (i.e. FREE ADVERTISING) to get the word out so you’re not paying restaurant.com to lose 50% on a sale that the customer’s only getting 25% off of.

If you’re running a promo, make sure it’s a desirable one. I’m not going to run out to a restaurant that’s offering me a free salad with purchase of two entrees and two appetizers.

I recently got a rather confusing coupon/promo from a local restaurant. It’s a good learning experience for other restaurants.

This promo came with a long-winded letter that was basically a “Happy Birthday, we are sending you something”. It’s a nice gesture, but there were a few things that made it flop:

1) It was sent generically to “customer”. If you’re going to bother to send something out to someone for their birthday and you have their name and address, do a mail merge from Excel to Word to make their name pop up. Customers appreciate these little touches. (If you need help, email me. I’m an excel nerd)

2) Make sure you send it in the right month. If you just send them out randomly, make sure they’re good for an entire year.
I received this coupon in the middle of a month that was not my birthday. The coupon was redeemable only for a person with their birthday in that month, on their birthday, and expired 10 days after I received it. Which basically meant I couldn’t use it. All this does is make me think you randomly picked my name out of a hat and don’t pay very much attention to details like… numbers. Plus, if the birthday was at the beginning of the month, by the time it reached the customer, it was already expired for use.

3) KISS – Keep It Simple, Stupid! (Sorry, I know you’re not stupid) Customer’s don’t need a longwinded letter wishing them a convoluted “Happy Birthday”. Really. All you have to type is the equivalent of “We LOVE YOU/ YOU ARE AWESOME! Happy Birthday, here’s something on us!”. The more you write, the higher the potential for confusion gets.

4) If you’re going to send a coupon, make it a good one. Especially for customers you see fairly regularly. Or even sporadically, but recognize. It makes them feel valued. A coupon that gives you one free dessert or app with a requirement of three entree purchases isn’t much of an incentive. What it comes off as is: “I would like you to spend a lot of money here in the hopes that a small free thing will make it worth your while,”.
Don’t get me wrong, this is a good aim of owning a restaurant. Give the customer some little low-margin items that make them feel valued, at little cost to yourself. But don’t nickel and dime your customers. One of my fave local restaurants will give me a little snackytizer when I sit down. It’s a little gesture that makes me feel welcomed, but not so much that it would make me uncomfortable. It’s like when you go to a bar with popcorn – you think “Ohh, snacky! Now let me get some drinks.”
Wolff’s and Bombers have a great business model: Free drink on your birthday. You’re going to bring friends, and they’re going to spend money on their own food/drinks. And as the birthday person, you’re all like “Wolff’s is AWESOME for giving me a free boot of beer on my birthday!”

Does this make sense?

Look, this is just one customer’s perspective, take it as what you will. I’m sure there are customers that are totally willing to scam anything free. I’m more of a customer that’s like “Hmm, they’re giving me something for free. That’s nice. I like that. They are nice. I want to buy something to support these nice people.” Maybe it’s guilt. I like to think that it’s seeing genuinely positive attitudes of businesses in the area.

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