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After Albany John and I went to San Francisco , I cut off to San Diego for a little solo trip while he came back for some previous commitments. I like that we can take separate vacations from each other and aren’t joined at the hip all of the time. My camera also ate it while I was in SF, so all of my pictures from here on out are on my phone. So, not great, but they’re something.

Any way, shortly after I got off the commuter plane to SD, I met up with Albany John’s Uncle and his new fam for dinner. (Side note: we kind of forgot that they lived in San Diego (because we are evidently really bad relatives) until after we made plans, so only I met up with them and they really missed him. yeah. really bad relatives). But they are really good and nice relatives, and my new auntie took us all out for dinner at a place in Old Town that makes fresh tortillas. 

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See? Ladies making tortillas. 

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Queso fundido app. 

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Tortillas were okay, but kind of meh and heavy. 

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I got some pork, beans, and guac. Hearty stuff, lol. It was great to spend time with more family. Maybe this is weird of me, I don’t know, but I like being around people when I’m bad at expressing my feelings. Yeh-Yeh was not doing well at this point, and I’m not one to say it to family I haven’t seen in a while. I just don’t want to be “that guy” being mopey or having people think I’m trying to get attention because of my sick grandpa. Or just making things awkward with sad subjects. Besides, he wouldn’t want a big deal about that any way. But when times are tough it’s nice just to be around people you like, you know? Reconnecting/connecting and all. I spent several hours with them at their house, too. They have an orange and lemon tree right in their backyard! They smelled so good!

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Left to wander San Diego on my own (I was staying downtown), I ended up making foods I can’t get here in Albany a priority. Hello, Pho Express! My gosh, this place was awesome and I’d give a kidney for something like it in Albany. This was a small pho Tai, which is supposed to be rare beef. It was piping hot and basically cooked all the way through by the time I got it, but oh my gosh, still so freaking good. It was $6.25 and came with the side of Thai basil, lime, jalapenos, and bean sprouts that I tossed in the soup. There’s a condiment bar on each table, too. Great flavorful broth alone. And the noodles were vermicelli & flat rice noodles. Cool texture. 

I got the shrimp rolls, too. They were the shrimp pounded with a bit of sugar and then grilled. 

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I think regular shrimp might have been better than this, but just marginally. Can I please have fresh rice rolls like this? So refreshing. The peanut dipping sauce on the side was also the bomb. I was so full after eating all of this. Because no way was I leaving any of it behind. Although to be honest, it would have been enough to split with another person. So much!

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This new donut bar just opened.

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Vanilla bean glazed twist doughnut. Eh, just okay. On par with Bella Napoli in Troy. 

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All of that pho = afternoon walkies. Cool effect to walk on a sidewalk between water.

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Walked down to North Embarcadero park. 

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Sadly I did not get to try any of my delicious neighbors.

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Looking at South Embarcadero.

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Walking into the tourist section. There were a lot of chain restaurants here. Old Spaghetti Factory, Chili’s. They all had hosts outside kind of hawking for people to come in. Interesting. 

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And then I walked to a Grocery Outlet. Oh man do I love grocery store tourism. Forget a magnet, I wanna see what’s on your shelves. 

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BOXED WINE FOR $5.99. ARE YOU KIDDING ME?! I cannot even fathom these prices. And they had Unjunked candy bars for $3 for 12. I may have bought a box. And ate a lot of them.

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After a good afternoon & evening of walkies, I wound up by J. Wok for some Asian tapas fusion. 

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I got a few small plates: Shrimp with lemongrass salad, papaya salad, and kalbi. Dinner was like, $13 with tax! I thought I would want to eat more, but these were good portions of food and I left feeling quite sated. 

The shrimp w/lemongrass salad had a hearty dose of sprouts and a light hand on the dressing. Papaya salad = refreshing and YUM! Galbi – how can you not like galbi, especially when it’s got a bit of char on it. 

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I walked on down to Crunch Time because I heard they make their own ice cream.

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Peanut butter ice cream with some caramel sauce. Caramel sauce was pre-made and too saccharine. Albany John’s caramel is way better. The ice cream was okay but melted really quickly (it wasn’t really hot) and I think we have better homemade ice cream in the Cap Region. This was also crazy expensive. Like, over $5 for a small ice cream. 

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The next day I woke up ready for more walking. I never did make it out of downtown, but there’s so much to do and see down there. Like the Chinese benevolence center, which was mainly a bunch of grandparents playing mah jong. 

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It was right next to the cultural museum that I peeked into, but then kept on walking. Maybe next time. It was pretty small. 

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More walkies into the south Embarcadero! I liked these things. Reminded me of the moving art sculpture at RPI. 

 

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The south embarcadero featured more homeless people and a fishing pier. No homeless folks ever hassled me in all of my walking, though.

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I liked this! How cute!

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This is the bridge for crossing the main road to the South Embarcadero. 

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And the view of the city. The other side is the more industrial port.

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I walked a little more to Rolando’s Taco Shop.

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Shrimp burrito & a fish taco! The fish taco was piled high with cabbage. I really liked the fish taco! It was only $1.50

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The burrito was like $7.50 and CHOCK FULL OF SHRIMP. And cheese. And it worked. I ate half of it easily, but the 2nd half I wound up picking the shrimp out and eating the burrito skin. So good, but SO. MUCH. FOOD. My stomach just cannot.

 

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My uncle & auntie wanted to hang more, so we drove around to the beach. Nice beach. Next time I will bring swim wear. Or find a beach where I don’t have to worry about forgetting a suit, lol. 

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Dinner time was, you guessed it, more walking to Gaijin Noodle. Is it weird that I was all about these Asian fusion restaurants in San Diego? We just don’t have anything like it up in Albany, so I kind of wanted to get my fill of any and everything I can’t get normally. 

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The bartender greeted me as soon as I walked in and invited me to sit at the bar so he could keep me company. Aw, sweet gesture even though I’m very comfortable by myself.
I ordered one of their shaved ice cocktails ($9), which was cherry syrup, chocolate pocky, and a side shot of sake to pour over. They put the cone in a cup with a wee spoon, so it makes for hands free drinking/consuming. I am super uncoordinated, so I wound up pouring about half of the sake on the counter. Whoops. Still tasty, though. It helped offset my meal, which wound up being EVERYTHING SPICY on them small dish menu. Even better, the bartender comped my drink at the end for whatever reason (I would hope my general awesomeness, but probably the pity comp for a single lady dining alone)

Yellowtail poke with purple potato cups on the bottom (with spicy togarashi dashed across!), a freebie salad on the left, and blistered shisito peppers sprinkles with more togarashi on the left. Oh man, I am all about shisito peppers now. They pack a punch, but nothing I can’t handle. Really enjoyable heat. 

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Fire chicken wings. Slathered in a spicy sauce with peanuts, the skin was cooked non-crispy style, so it was okay, but I think it would have put them on another level if they crisped the skin just a bit.

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I walked back to Pho Express for lunch on my last day. Papaya salad with shrimp. Oh man, I fell in love with papaya salad while I was in San Diego. I tried recreating it at home with absolutely no success. But this. Oh, this was great.

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Crunchy green papaya in a tangy-tart sauce (it didn’t reek of fish sauce), and a whole bunch of crunchy crushed peanuts and sliced shrimp. How can anyone not love this? One of my favorite things about San Diego was that I got to eat seafood every day I was there. Albany Jane, depleting the oceans one bite at a time.

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I grabbed a banh mi for a snack at the airport. It was like $4. Very reasonably priced. About 1.5 Albany Jane hands long. 

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The bread was so great! Crispy on the outside & pillowy-soft on the inside. Beat the pants off of any $5 foot-long or any other airport snack option. 

IMG_20130404_132846Chock full of pickled carrots + daikon, cilantro, cucumber, porky pate, and a schmear of inoffensive mayo. 

Oh San Diego. I can’t wait to go back to you. With Albany John the next time. You weren’t as friendly as San Francisco, but holy cow were you full of so many tasty and dirt cheap eats. 

 

Resto Week @ Druthers

 

Restaurant weeks in the Capitol Region can be disappointing. Generally, it’s 3 courses for a set price in the $20-30 range. Oftentimes, restaurants post menus they wouldn’t normally serve to meet a price-point, or just for the sake of participation. When I saw Druthersmenu for Saratoga Restaurant week, I thought “Hey, these guys are doing it right.” Their menu was 3 courses for $20, and all of the items on their menu seemed like plausible dishes to make their menu. DSCF4982

Danika of Garnish Marketing and her hubs, one of our other girlfriends, and Albany John joined me for dinner one night.
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Albany John tried a Druthers Manhattan. Our waitress was friendly, although when she dropped it off she mentioned that while the cherries seemed ugly, they were the best cherries she’d ever had. Kind of an odd comment, but the cocktail was well balanced and enjoyable ($10). DSCF4985

I went for the lobster bisque for the appetizer. Huge bowl of lobster bisque, and an enjoyable toast to the roux base of the soup. I was quite surprised with this portion on a restaurant week menu. I hope they add it to their regular roster of soups, because this was great. Not only was the roux well-toasted, but the lobster and cream were well balanced  with a sherry finish (I couldn’t pull a tarragon note, but sherry in lobster bisque = awesome) and this wasn’t over-the-top rich.

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Albany John got the duck wings in Thai peanut basil sauce with a raspberry puree & basil. Holy moly, these need to go on the menu, like, NOW. The skins were crispy, and the peanut basil sauce didn’t sog it up one bit! The flavors all really worked well with duck meat. Oh man, I want a ton more of these! Again, there were a good four duck drumsticks on this plate – a crazy amount!

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Danika went for the slivered beet salad, which was heavier on the arugula and dressing than beets. DSCF4992

Entrees are where Druthers slipped a bit. Their menu listed the cod as “pan-seared” with a smoked tomato puree, crispy pancetta, and cous cous and tarragon salad. , so we were surprised when they came out battered and fried. A few of us ordered the cod, and we were so confused, we wondered how we could all misread a menu.
We asked the waitress to double check for us, and she brought over a menu and made mention of how she hadn’t read the restaurant week menu and how this was how the cod was prepared all week. She even went to check with the chef, and came back to tell us that it turned out that this was a mistake in printing that no one had caught. She’d said the chef told her that pan searing cod was impossible since it would fall apart, and that this was the intended preparation. She was nice for checking, although her delivery was a little rough at times, asking if we were “going to eat it or not?” or if she’d have to take it back to the kitchen. She came back later, and was more apologetic and more insistent about taking things back to the kitchen. I’m not the most effective vocal communicator, so I can relate to not having a perfect response in awkward situations, but some of my other dining companions were wowed (and not in a good way) at first hearing “Well, are you going to eat this, or am I going to have to bring it back to the kitchen?” in a flat tone.
What was interesting what that this is how the cod had been prepared all week, and our table was the first to notice this (or at least, the first to bring it to the attention of the staff).

The fry job was a bit oily and greasy on the cod, so the thick batter wasn’t the most pleasant thing to eat; I picked all of the cod out of the batter. I didn’t see any pancetta on the plate. Maybe it was left off, or was another misprint. I think pan-seared would have been a much more enjoyable preparation method. Use Real Butter didn’t seem to have any issue with her cod falling apart when pan searing.

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The Duo of Filet Mignons were prepared as the menu stated, however, both of the orders at our table were requested rare…DSCF4995

And came out closer to medium and fairly tough. Aww.

DSCF4996So, while the entrees were a bit of a low note, dessert ended on a high note. Chocolate mousse, peanut butter & chocolate layered cake, and a strawberry sorbet in the back. All of these were great. While I don’t normally order desserts in restaurants, I think I’d order them again at Druthers. I couldn’t even finish the peanut butter & chocolate layer cake – so rich! The vegan sorbet had tons of fresh strawberry flavor, and the mousse was dense at first, but finished lightly.

Our waitress came back during dessert to chat a bit more. There was something about her that I really liked, she seemed like a good person and a good fit for Druthers as a server. She thanked us for being a “cool” table and not freaking about about the entrees earlier because it was a mistake on their part, but was ultimately out of her control (a server can’t control how the kitchen decides to prepare dishes). I just wanted to hug her – you could tell she felt badly about the preparation/earlier interaction (probably more than she should have) – it’s tough being the middleman between diner and kitchen sometimes. I still also think that Druthers restaurant week menu was an example of a restaurant doing Restaurant Week the right way – having dishes that they might be testing out for their main menu, or seem like they’d fit in with their normal menu (i.e.: they didn’t break out raw oysters, prime rib, burritos, or other stuff that wouldn’t fit with their menu).

My Dad came up for a weekend, so he was taken on a food tour of the area. First stop was Selena’s Cafe in Troy for lunch. Albany John likes this place, and he’s only told me good things – it was definitely a place I’ll visit again. $6.99 for salad bar lunch buffet with soup/mac & cheese! $5.99 if you just want the salad bar.
And the salad bar comes with a bunch of fresh ingredients! We went for a late lunch and they were still replenishing the salad greens and items at the bar. Freshly roasted chicken, ham slices, chickpeas, tons of tomatoes, beets, cucumbers, broccoli, onions, olives… so many veggies! What a great value! Seriously, there is a ton of stuff on their salad bar – tis a great healthy alternative for lunch. There were a bunch of salad dressing offerings as well.

Their mac & cheese was awesome. So rich & creamy. They also had a pot of cream of mushroom soup for the soup of the day. I took a few spoonfuls – so rich and fresh! Equally delicious – I liked how fresh everything was.

We went to Taiwan Noodle for dinner. My dad really liked this place. They were slammed and were apologetic to my dad in Chinese since we came during a rush. Tea was really good (it’s served in large mugs) and we all LOVED the pigs feet appetizer for $4.95. My dad and I couldn’t get over what a great value this was. The feet were sliced and super soft – great tendon & collagen texture. Jiggly, soft, & supple. My dad was saying it’s a great bargain because trying to make this dish at home would be so much work for three people – long cooking times, and the mess to clean up afterward. This was a great portion for the three of us to share. Loved it. Get it. It’s not gross, it’s delicious.
Dad also liked that they served some baby bok choy with the pigs feet. And they’re cooked perfectly – cooked enough to be cooked through, but still have some crunch to the base. Mmmm! Perfect boy choy!

Sorry for the poor exposure – Boiled lettuce in oyster sauce (and some oil). I’m still not sold on this dish. My dad likes it and has made it at home before. Texturally it was alright – the lettuce was wilted but still crunchy. I’d rather have a greener veggie boiled like gai lan, but I guess this is legit Chinese home cooking.
Suppah time! Albany John got the Spicy Noodle with Meat ($4.75). Nicely chewy noodles! Albany John thought it wasn’t that spicy, but I thought it packed a goodly dose of heat. It’s either ground pork or beef (or both)- the menu doesn’t specify, even in Chinese, lol!
My dad got the three mushrooms soup ($5.95) – shiitake, enoki, and straw. Very clean soup. Noodles were also nice & chewy.

Spicy noodles came with a broth on the side. Albany John, heat lover that he is, requested more hot sauces. They gave him two – an oil based one (I think it had ma la peppers in it), and a chili paste. Boy was he red by the time he was done with his noodles!


I had the stewed beef chuck soup ($4.95). OMG, so tender, and even had bits of tendon attached to the beef. Generous portions of beef for a soup. And the broth! So flavorful and yet not greasy! I specifically ordered the chow fun noodles with my soup – these aren’t chow fun noodles, just flat rice noodles. They were nicely chewy, but next time I won’t specify the noodle and just have get those nicely bouncy & chewy long noodles that come with the soup by default. Again, perfect bok choy.

We left stuffed for $30 with tax and tip. How crazy is that for dinner for three people?! I left about 1/3 of my soup behind – couldn’t finish it, so much food! My dad wanted to go back the next day for dinner again. That good. We also hung around after dinner and chatted, and they didn’t even try to push us out (don’t worry, the rush was long over by then!) and kept asking us if we wanted more tea. So nice, I love that this space is being put to good use again!

We went to the Troy Farmers Market for brekkie the next day. Albany John got a tamale from Magdalena’s. He loves their hot sauce and while it had a good dose of heat, it was very flavorful, too.
Dad and I opted for Nighthawks Kitchen. You can see Christian Noe outside cooking while his family and friends take orders. They’ve got a neat setup for how to get orders to him – you should check it out – very ingenious and a good use of space.

I opted for a ham biscuit ($2.50). It’s deliciously smoky ham on a sweet potato biscuit. The biscuit was a bit falling apart, but surprisingly (very) tender and fluffy. Noe, I want this recipe!
Dad opted for an egg sandwich with sausage. I may have been a source of influence on the sausage.

Dinner was DeFazio’ for pizza. We got there when they were busy and ordered the Fra Diavolo pizza – nicely spicy and I could only manage two slices! Woah mama! We also got sides of sausage & meatballs. So good and meaty. Garlic bread was tasty, although there was an ant crawling around the outside of the basket. :x It took somewhere around a half hour for everything to come out, which seemed a bit on the long side. We also got sun dried tomato pesto, which was very creamy. The noodles were great – nicely al dente yet tender, and if they weren’t homemade I want to know where I can buy them.

I’m trying to search out more restaurants in Schenectady, so Albany John and I went dinner at Petta’s in Schenectady with Phairhead & Sexy Beast. Yay date night!
Don’t even ask me how many slices of bread I had. Ok, I had 6. Tasty stuff. The service was great – our waiter was friendly and knew his stuff. The decor itself is 50s recreation room. Kitchy.
Dinners come with salad or soup. I got the chicken soup to start, which was a bit heavy on the grease. Probably wouldn’t get it again.
Albany John went with a salad, which had comically large slices of celery, but was overall a nice starter salad because everything else was bite-sized.
For dinner I ordered the veal cutlet sorrentino. Great fry-job on the eggplant. The bottom was veal cutlet, and the top were thin eggplant slices. I wasn’t so crazy about the sauce – it was a little sharp for me and had some metallic finish going on. I got a side of linguine – s’okay.

Albany John got veal oreganata with a ton of sliced mushrooms. Loved those mushrooms. It was okay, too.
Sexy Beast got the prime rib – this was the SMALL 12 oz steak. GET THE STEAKS, GET THE STEAKS, GET THE STEAKS. This was perfectly cooked (med rare as requested) and so deliciously savory. Soft & buttery. The au jus was perfect – incredibly savory – not at all watery or weak. This was a beefy dish in every sense of the word. Phairhead and I stole Sexy Beast’s cast off fat bits (who throws those away?!)
Phairhead got the lasagna – I’m glad I didn’t. Fennel all up in that sausage! But good for a fennel lover.

I’m probably going to pass on the pasta dishes at Petta’s the next time I go, but I am ALL OVER that steak section!

Daniel B., Crunchy Chelle, and I went out to Mezza Note for their restaurant week menu. Yes, I’m again way late to the party since Guilderland Restaurant Week is so long gone. First off, Crunchy Chelle is so fun to meet in person! And her and Daniel B. are so nice to put up with my late-arriving self.

Bread + olive oil & vinegar. Nom. Really good. And olive tapenade! I want a bucket of it. So good.
I went with the Chestnut & Winter Squash Gnocchi with buttery sage sauce for my primi dish. It was ok, but a poor selection on my part. It was well executed, but I am just not a sweet appetizer kind of gal. The Profussor ordered the exact same dishes that I did. I’m assuming this was so one of my errant forks didn’t find its way onto his plate like it usually does (which, as you can imagine, he loves).

Our waiter, who really reminded me of a young Christopher Walken, noted my lightly-nibbled plate and apologized for me not liking it. It was nice, I suppose.

Albany John got the meatball soup. The meatballs were a little tough, but they were small, so it’s not too surprising. The flavors were great, though. Hearty and well-rounded.
And now my pictures sux0rz. Sorry. Chelle got the Saratoga chips with cheese crumbles.
For his salad course, Albany John got the mixed green salad. S’okay.
I got the Caesar salad, which was really well-dressed (light), and came with anchovies! Yum! So good!
Albany John’s main was the Siciliana. Rigatoni with spicy sausage and eggplant in pomodoro sauce. I thought this would be boring, but the flavors were fun and played off of each other well. Warm & hearty without being greasy & heavy.
Chelle got a rabbit pasta, although she thought it didn’t taste discernibly rabbity.
Profuss & I got the Trota Picatta atop lemon risotto. While I’m not a risotto fan, I do love trout. I actually enjoyed some of this risotto, and ate a good 1/3 of it! The trout was perfectly cooked.
Although, just being a teensy bit picky, the skin wasn’t crispy, and a textural difference would have been quite enjoyable. However, fish skin in any form is enjoyable by yours truly, so even soggy fish skin is quite welcome in my book.
Our waiter told us that the tiramisu was made in-house by the owner and was really worth trying. The creamy parts were light & tasty, but this was more of a tiramisu cake than a true tiramisu. The layers were fluffy cake-like layers (if they weren’t cake) and only lightly sprinkled with liqueur. It was kind of like angel food cake with tiramisu cream. Not something I’d get again if I were hankering for tiramisu.

The service was enjoyable, but I’m not sure if the food was enough to draw me back at non-restaurant week prices.

Daniel B. and I were still a bit hungry after we left, so we went to TCBY for fro-yo. I picked white chocolate, which was really chemically-tasting and artificial. My topping choices weren’t much better. Def stick with the original/unflavored yogurt flavor, or a sorbet.

Ok, this is the last of the dead horse that is my vacation to Mississippi that you will read about. Albany John introduced my nephew to flying dics. The kid took to a liking to it quickly enough, but between you and me his aim is pretty weak.
My sis-in-law Margarita showed me how to make flour tortillas from a recipe she got from her grandmother. I miss cooking with her so much! This recipe was so simple, but makes delicious flour tortillas.
Knead dough.
Roll out.
Cut.
Roll into circles, then lightly rub with oil & let sit for 20 minutes.
Margarita says her grandmother’s generation really prides themselves on being able to make a flat and perfectly round tortilla by hand – we made our by pressing them on plates. Some of them came kind of close to being circular.
Cast iron pan + bubbles!
Flip. Nom. So delicious. I’ve made these a few times since coming back, and they don’t taste as good. :/ I need her guidance.
Albany John made beef stew. Mmm.
The next morning bro & Albany John found a discgolf location nearby called The Rez. Really nice layout.
And then we went for lunch at Two Sisters Kitchen in Jackson, MS. I’ve been lusting over this spot since my last visit two years ago and was psyched to finally make it. Southern home cooking on a small buffet.
This is a crappy picture, but it’s a lunch buffet for $12.50 per person (kids under 5 for free). Bro thought it was kind of high for the area, but being a New Yawkah I thought it was a steal. Plus this is the south, and there are some BIG appetites.
Fried chicken, fried okra & zucchini, cabbage, and collards. The collards might have been my only veggie while dining out – they were fabulously porky and salty.

I’ve not been into carbs lately, but I couldn’t get enough of these biscuits – cornbread on the left, and angel biscuit on the right. Cornbread was like polenta – so moist and crunchy on the outside. The angel biscuit, true to its name, was heavenly soft (and buttery).
Albany John loved their veggies as well.
For round two I had to have the chicken fried steak in gravy. And more collards and biscuits. So good! And while we made it for the last 30 minutes of service, they couldn’t have been more welcoming. Freshly fried chicken was coming out within the last 15 minutes of service.

Dessert is ordered at the table. Albany John got apple pie (way better than any I’ve had up north) and I got bread pudding with bourbon sauce.

That was my last meal in Mississippi – we went to the airport a little bit later. Sad to go, but so many more places to eat when we return.

Chili from Potbelly at Chicago airport.
And a vegetarian salad with loads of chickpeas. Mmmm.

Went on a couples trip to Mystic Seaport in CT with my girlfriend and her guy. It was okay. Maybe it’s better if you’re a kid. It was pretty kid-oriented. I’m not very kid-oriented.

It was about $26 to enter. Kind of a steep entrance fee, but it supports ship rebuilding and historical preservation. Still, kind of a bit much for a place that’s open year round. I probably just don’t appreciate historical education. Any way. There are food-related things.
Here is a ship that’s being rebuilt. It gets repaired a lot. Or something like that. There are such things as gribbles that eat wood. Or maybe they were called something else. But it sounded funny.
Food. There was only one place open when we went. Prices were decent – not jacked up museum prices or anything. Order here.
Pick up nyah.
Albany John got a fish sandwich and some onion rings. Good fry job on the onion rings.
I got a salad. Some greenery, goat cheese, and soggy flavored walnuts. Nice to get some vegetation, though.
My girl and her guy got the “nachos” because it was like a $3 side to accompany their sandwiches. holy moly. If you want bang for your buck, this is where it’s at.

The nachos were fried triangles of wheat dough, so it was more like fried dough. That was kinda soggy and crispy at the same time. It came with two mega huge cups of Hormel’s best chili (har har) and some velveeta cheesey dip. Oddly addictive.
Hey, here’s what a kitchen looks like on a fish catching ship.
Map! Of fishing areas! In Canadia! I’m part Newfie, so I liked this bit of my background.
Old school dining room. Man, houses used to be dark. But oh-so-proper.
Anyone else ever want a canopy bed as a kid? I think it must be a girl thing. But I guess it was probably more necessary than cute way back when to keep heat in.
There were mussels growing on these docks. Mmm. I resisted eating them, though.
Nother boat. This one was in the water.
Mmm, seaweed!
Now we’re talking my style! Oyster info!
Different ways to harvest oysters. Man, I wish I could get in on that.
What’s the larges oyster you’ve ever had?
Oh, then Albany John bought penuche fudge. The gift shop was way overpriced otherwise. Overall, it was a nice day to hang out with friends, but I’d probably rather not go again. Or maybe just go to a nice park and roam around instead.

Tasty salad, yay! I went a little extravagant on this one and ended up spending a little over $11 on it. Tee hee, whoops! It was so good, it was worth it, though.

Cucumbers, walnuts, avocado, beets (not from a can!), chickpeas, red onions, blue cheese, artichokes, mushrooms on top of some lettuce. Crunchy tastiness! Dressing on the side ‘coz I haven’t been into heavy salad dressing.

You can pay another $0.50 to get everything chopped, if you’d so like. Everything was fresh and tasty. Totally loved it.

Although, minor thing – I wish they had some salad combos listed, because I am terrible at coming up with my own combinations. This was a success, but I was wondering if the ingredients that sounded awesome in my head would actually be awesome on my tongue.

Oh, and BTW, this was a large salad. Who orders small salads for a meal? They’re salads. Go big or go home (hungry).

Bro, Margarita, and Baby Dubs came up from Mississippi for a bit recently. It was so good to see them! Hard it believe it’s been almost a year since I last saw them!

I wanted to do something special while they were up here, and booked a dinner at Garden Bistro 24 for them, my mom, my sister, plus Albany John and me. Oh, and a toddler.

I emailed ahead of time to partially arrange a special meal for my sister, who’d said she’d eat cooked food. So I requested something vegan and gluten-free. Much to my surprise, John Grizzaffi himself responded! Who ever expects the chef and OWNER of a restaurant to answer your emails? (He’s a peach, btw).

They have old fashioneds!So yummy! So potent!

Albany John got a hangar steak. Yum! Cooked med rare. My mom got a steak too, but no sauce. Not sure if she really liked it, she said it was kind of tough. Ah well. I guess I should have considered the cuts a little more. My mom’s more of a prime rib gal. I was hoping she’d like GB24 because they do simple meals, but I guess I didn’t consider the cuts she usually likes.

I got a duck confit special. Came in an amaretto sauce (but not too sweet). Two legs! Woah man – so much food! Really tasty – can’t get enough of their mustard, either.

My sis-in-law Margarita got a Garden Bistro 24 salad with Chicken. She really liked this.

My brother got mussels with the coconut sauce on them. He was like “These are fucking DELICIOUS!” (only add more cursing and it’s all said in caps). If I hadn’t seen the duck special I would have deffo ordered up some mussels!

Here is the special dish John made for my sister. I don’t think she actually ate any of it, since she ordered a salad instead. I guess she decided to switch back to raw food ’cause she got a salad. It was beautiful, though, and full of ingredients I don’t normally see on BG24′s menu. Freshly grilled seasonal veggies, kalamata olives, and organic polenta. The rest of us picked at it – so flavorful. I don’t know, I just wanted to have something she could/would eat with the rest of us aside from her usual greens, but I guess I screwed that one up along the way. I ordered it any way, since I made such a big deal about special ordering it. At least she was nice enough to take it home in a doggy bag, tossing it, I’m guessing, out of my view.

John – thank you very much for the effort you put in this dish (and vegans, put a rezzie here!).

A pic of Albany John’s steak, the special vegan dish, the salad my sis got instead, and a pic of my mom’s frites, ’cause evidently I didn’t snap a pic of her steak.

Service was great (as usual) – really friendly service, and guess what? Kids are always welcome here!

All done!

I always like going here. I was hoping I’d pick a place everyone would like because I like it so much. You can enjoy the food yourself, but you can’t necessarily force others to like what you do too. Or hope really hard. But you can enjoy the company and let them distract you from bluer thoughts ’cause you’re so happy to be with the crazy family you have.

Hunh, and here I thought I just went here for a meal. Instead I come out with some kind of life lesson.

I got to meet one of the area’s coolest dudes last year, Chef Christopher Tanner. He and his wife are an awesomely energetic couple who I met at a few different food events. He also happens to be a chef teacher at SCCC’s Casola Dining Room, and we talked about having the mister and me trying to swing by for dinner on one of the nights he teaches. Round the corner for tastiness.

We went on Irish week. How often do we think of Irish food as corned beef and cabbage, and some boiled potatoes? (Well, that’s the extent of the meals I’ve had with the anglo side of my family) Boring. I was excited eat during Irish week after seeing the items listed on the menu for the week.

Albany John and I got to sit with the lovely Mrs. Tanner and her parents. SOCIALIZING! YAY! We’ve been horribly boring/busy lately, and we’ve hardly had much time to, you know, talk with people other than each other, so we were really looking forward to meeting new people.

Bread course – some of the best Irish soda bread I’ve ever had. Seriously. My mom used to buy Irish soda bread every week near St Patrick’s day. Once she even went to the Rockland Bakery and was convinced it was the best stuff ever. To me it tasted just like every other kind of Irish soda bread I’ve ever had, which was dry, dense, and rather unpleasant.

Hot damn, I want this recipe. It was moist, crumbly and a little toasty around the edges, and slathering a slice of this with butter was freaking decadent.

Salaaaaad! Albany John got a salad for his appetizer course – it had beets, greens, and fried nuggets of brie.

I got the smoked cod appetizer. SMOKED COD CAKE!! On a bed of lightly cooked spinach! I think it was spinach. Greens. At first I ate the greens and was like “Eh, it’s okay, but it could use a little salt.” And then I had the cod, and OMG it was a match made in heaven. Salty cod. Unsalty greens. AWESOMENESS.

I followed seafood with more seafood – wild caught salmon with… deliciousness. I think it was colcannon, or something like it. Mashed potatoes with some greens. And tart red cabbage.

Oh dear lord, I wish I could get salmon like this in a restaurant. The top was licked with salt, butter, and deliciousness. It was cooked juuuust right. Meaning, not well-done all the way through. The center of the cut had lovely bits of medium-done meat. So good. Brings tears to my eyes and a smile to my mouth. SCCC students, whatever you do when you leave school, PLEASE KEEP COOKING SALMON LIKE THIS.

Albany John got the pork belly. Pork belly! I’m so glad he got it, because this was the other dish I wanted a bite of. There was also lamb shepherd’s pie that sounded awesome, but no one at our table ordered it.

Chef Tanner, I WANT THIS RECIPE. This was soooo freaking good. And believe it or not, not too fatty. Yeah, there are layers of fat, but this dish wasn’t greasy. I could have easily housed a few plates of this.

Yeah, yeah, potato patties and carrots were there too, but the belly was the star. I’ve gotta figure out how to make this. Man, I’m still swooning.

DESSERT! I got the strawberry sponge cake trifle thing (sorry, my memory is terrible about the name). It was good, but there was some sharp liquor or liqueur at the bottom of that dish.
Albany John got the steamed pudding? Crap… I can’t remember what it was called. Sorry. But it was awesome. Like a very soft cake with toffee. And the ice cream was beer flavored. No, seriously, it really tasted like beer + ice cream. Not sugary sweet, but rather a nice foil to the sticky-sweet cake. Albany John wants beer ice cream now.

Dinner was such a blast! Thanks for having us, guys!

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