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Shishito Pepper Comparison

Oh my gosh, I love, love, LOVE shishito peppers. I didn’t succeed in planting them this year but luckily shishito peppers are available at two local markets that I’ve found so far: Jang Tuh and Trader Joe’s.

What are shishito peppers? They’re mainly sweet little peppers that you can easily pop in your mouth and are delicious grilled or pan-seared. Every once and a while you’ll get a pepper with a little kick of heat, but for the  most part they’re mild little peppers.

So, since there are two places to buy peppers from, I was wondering if there was any price difference for shishito peppers in Albany. It’s also nice to have Jang Tuh as a source since they ALWAYS have shishito peppers. Trader Joe’s on the other hand can run out of stock or quit carrying an item all together.

So: Is there any price difference?

Trader Joe's Shishito Peppers scale

Trader Joe’s sells 6 oz bags of shishito peppers for $2.29, or about $6.11 per pound. This particular bag as a little under weight, within a 1/10th of a pound.

Jang Tuh Shishito Pepper

Jang Tuh’s packaging is minimal/nonexistent. There’s no label save for the $3.99 sticker on the package. Turns out it’s 10 oz of shishito peppers, which is about $6.38 per pound. If you walk in the store, you’ll find them in the refrigerated case.

Jang Tuh’s peppers are $0.27/lb more than Trader Joe’s shishito peppers. There’s no noticeable difference in quality or taste between the two. Jang Tuh has always had a large stock of shishito peppers available, while Trader Joe’s quantities can be limited or temporarily out.
I haven’t found shishito peppers at the Asian Supermarket or Asian Food Market in Albany (they only have the REALLY spicy peppers), and haven’t been to Kim’s in a while to tell you.

Bella Terra Pepper

Now what have we here? These are Italian peppers from Bella Terra Farm at the Schenectady Greenmarket that look identical to shishito peppers! They were $2.00/lb. TWO DOLLARS PER POUND! What?! While they look similar in volume to the shishito peppers from Trader Joe’s and Jang Tuh, they were heavier. I excitedly talked to the folks at Bella Terra, telling them how they looked like shishito peppers (and rambling on about how good they are), when the mentioned that these were spicier and encouraged me to try one in case they were too spicy. I went for a sniff (they smelled exactly the same), and Albany John took a small pepper… and immediately started sneezing from the heat! Hee hee, so cute! (I mean manly. SO MANLY.). Any way, I thought it was incredibly sweet of them to urge me to buy less or none of their peppers. I settled on just over a pound. These are so good, and such a great deal at $2.00 per pound!

2015-Logo NYS Fair New Your State Fair

It’s summer, which means that it’s time for the New York State Fair in Syracuse! The fair will be August 27th – September 7th. There’s a ton of stuff to do and see. Did you go to fairs as a kid? What was/is your favorite thing to do? When I was little I LOVED the rides. and the NYS Fair has discounted tickets for $20 for a day pass to ride all you want (available here), which is a pretty good deal if you plan on riding more than 3-4 rides.

And FOOD. Let’s talk food. There’s butter sculptures to see, a ton of food to eat, and cooking competitions.

Did you know there’s also a parade every day at 6 pm? I didn’t. That’ll be cool to check out.

There are also special fair days like :

8/28 Pride Day
8/31 Dairy Day
9/01 Beef Day
9/02 Women’s Day9/03 Armed Forces Day (free admission with ID for active duty and veterans)

Want a pair of tickets to attend the NYS Fair? The New York State Fair is giving me a pair plus a parking pass, and a pair of tickets and parking pass to you, too! Add a comment down below about what you’d like to do at the fair! Use a valid email address, and be comfortable sharing your address over email. Contest closes Thursday, 8/13.

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 soulcafealbany@gmail.com.
+ More information can also be found on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/soulcafealbanyny

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!).

-AJ

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 soulcafealbany@gmail.com.
More information can also be found on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/soulcafealbanyny
Carmen’s Café: http://carmenscafetroy.com/
Honest Weight Food Co-op: http://www.hwfc.com

The Cheese Traveler to Host Friday Night Cookouts

Where: The Cheese Traveler, 540, Delaware Ave, Albany

When: May 30th, and subsequent Friday evenings

Cost: Priced according to menu between $4-$10

The Cheese Traveler, a cheese shop which opened in Albany in September 2012 and was recently named Best New Specialty Food Shop in Hudson Valley Magazine, will host Friday Night Cookouts over the summer beginning May 30th.

The menu will rotate every few weeks and feature locally raised meat, seafood, and seasonal vegetables. The Cheese Traveler sells organic beef and pork from Tilldale Farm, Fish from Fin, and developed many relationships with great producers when they sold their cheeses at farmers markets over the last three years.

We want to consistently host events in the neighborhood to bring people together. We couldn’t think of a better way to enjoy summer than with the grill. It gives us an opportunity to feature Tilldale Farm and other small producers of local meats, some of the great products we sell, and Ryan Skrabalak, our chef, whose talent we believe is one of the gems of our shop.” said proprietor Eric Paul.

***Squee! I’m so excited for this! I love being able to grab a casual burger in the Del So and just hang out. I’m not much of a burger-making gal myself, but I will totally swing by when someone else is making them.– Albany Jane***

Vent Fitness is a local chain of 4 gyms which used to be Gold’s Gym franchises. I’ve been a member since I moved to Latham last fall, and my overall take this far is that I am happy with my level two membership for $29.99/month.

The Level 1 membership just gets you access to the equipment at one gym, but it is significantly cheaper, so if you know you’re only going to go to one location and never take a class, then this is probably the deal for you.

The Level 2 & 3 membership grants you access to all 4 locations, group classes, tanning, a towel, and free coffee. The Level 3 is a whopping $80 now (I think it was $50 or $60 last year, but prices went up in the new year) and really the only difference for me is that you take more “exclusive”/smaller group classes/training sessions (IMO these seem primarily more like paying in to having a group trainer). You can read more about the memberships and benefits to each one, although most of the level 2-3 benefits currently listed are primarily at the Guilderland location (more on this later).

What I like about Level 2:
Flexibility. I can be all over the place, so it’s sweet to be able to pack a gym bag in my car everyday and being able to pick which Vent I want to go to. I also like the group classes for forced relaxation and stretching. I tend to do a yoga or bodyflow, and having the level 2 membership makes me at least try to get in one of those more restorative workouts a week. It’s also nice to change things up every now and then and try something new.
Free coffee is awesome. I don’t use any pre-workout supplements and am fairly distrustful of thermogenic pre-workouts as a whole. I’m also fairly sensitive to caffeine on its own, so a cup of coffee before a workout is usually all I need to really get in the swing of things.
Towel. I used to just sweat all over the place, but it’s nice to have something to mop your brow/neck before things get to a crazy-sweaty level.
Showers! All of the showers are clean and enjoyable to use.
Sauna. The good sweat. It was awesome to have somewhere to go where I could break a sweat in the icy cold winter.
I can bring a guest with me on the weekends to any location.

My customer service experience has been fantastic so far. Management is quick to address any issues, and everyone is generally very friendly and helpful. No “that’s not my job” and everyone on staff appear to be team players. This is probably one of the big draws for me. I really value good, effective customer service, and Vent excels at making the customer feel welcome without being overbearing or inattentive. Locations are also very clean and generally well maintained.

The locations! I have been to Latham, Clifton Park, and Guilderland. Can’t seem to get to the Niskayuna one. At least, not yet.

Latham Vent
This is the gym I go to most often since it’s close to home. The showers are fine, but probably the least private of the three Vents I’ve been to in that there is just a shower curtain and not another private little entry way before entering the shower in the stall to change and keep your stuff. So you either bring everything in the shower and maybe your bag gets wet, or you hang it on the hook outside the shower and occasionally flash a little boob or butt when you’re reaching in to your bag to grab clean clothes/ditch the dirty ones. This is more of an issue for anyone else in the locker room with me as I have almost zero shame about my body, but other ladies seem more squemish about seeing a boob. Whatever.
Equipment: They have a nice selection of ab machines. Probably my favorite of the three. This is also probably the most spacious Vent, and I also like that. I like my space. I don’t like equipment crammed next to each other. Cardio machines are on the 2nd floor and to the left when you walk in, so you can people watch your heart out at the folks lifting weights.
I really hope this is the next gym they renovate.

Clifton Park Vent
Surprisingly close to Latham. My secret confession is that the main draw for me here is the spray tanning, which I still have yet to master. I don’t do UV tanning, but hey, it’s included, and I want to try and get all coconutty every now and then. This is the only Vent location with spray (non-UV) tanning. I do pretty well until my knees. Below the knees it becomes splotch central with a hearty dose of Cheeto-colored soles of my feet. I wish I could tell you why I like doing the spray tanning, but I have no logical reason for liking it, especially since I kind of suck at it. I am like a moth drawn to the flame.
Showers have a little privacy screen/antechamber (?)  before the main shower. Any way, it’s nice to lotion up when you get out of the shower and change in one place. The actual lockers in this locker room are kind of oddly shaped. They can be up high, and I’m pretty tall, so that’s saying something. The lockers also seem too skinny, so it’s hard to fit a backpack in them.
The weights here are a little cramped for my liking and everything seems kind of circular. The cardio equipment is on the 2nd floor, and it’s shaped like a track/donut, which is an interesting way to peer at the people lifting weights below. They also have a punching bag upstairs near the stretching mats.

Guilderland VentThis is the flagship location – the one they are eventually going to use as the mold for remodeling the other Vents in the area. Holy cow, this place is awesome. Every time I go here I tell Albany John I’m going for a spa day and I’ll be there for at least three hours (BTW, their wifi kicks you off after 4 hours and you have to sign back in. Ask me how I know…). It’s got all of the bells and whistles. They have a hydro massage table, and while it won’t make me trade out my monthly massages, it’s a nice way to relax and soothe sore muscles ASAP.
Pool/hot tub. Albany John likes going here with me on the weekends for the pool He is a water guy. Meanwhile, I just look at a pool and get swimmer’s ear. I like hot tub. It’s another great way to try to ease out any kinks and stiffness after a long workout. It’s got a timed bubbler on it, too, or just go in without bubbles.
Sauna/steam room – there’s a steam room in addition to the sauna here, and it’s located in the same area as the pool/hot tub. At first I was psyched to have co-ed sauna/steam room because I thought it would be nice to have sauna time with Albany John. I don’t think we’ve ever been in it at the same time now that this is an option (of course, right?). And then I realized how used to a gender-specific sauna I got. But no one here really bothers you. I had an old guy letch on me (nothing bad, but he kept awkwardly interjecting how beautiful I was when we were chatting), but he was respectful once I told him what’s what and really, he was so old it was one of those “I’m so old, I’m going to say what I want,” moments. It was like seeing Albany John in the future.
Oxygen therapy. I don’t know if this really does anything, but you get to smell nice smells for a few minutes.

Overall, I like Vent. Peak times seem to be the after work crowd, M-F after 5 PM (people central). As with all social situations, I try to avoid this as often as possible. Mornings are pretty empty, as are Friday nights. There are plenty of things for me to lift at each location, and I can shower after every workout. I’m not much of a relaxer by nature, so having a membership with group classes included is great as an incentive to TRY to relax and stretch out.

Any way, this is just my brief synopsis of my experience to date. I know other folks who go for an entirely different experience, and there are bound to be annoyances at any gym location (for the love of goodness, don’t deadlift in the squat rack), but overall the pros at Vent far outweigh the cons. It hits me on price, perceived quality, and customer service.

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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.

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