The lovely Ginny behind Dreampuff Sweet Shop held a pig roast this summer. It was a great day at Grafton Lakes State Park. I can’t believe summer is almost over. Boy do I have a lot of catching up to do!

I don’t even have the words for this pig. Other than delicious.

And drinks, too! Ginny was a peach and made two great cocktail punches. Somehow I forgot to take pictures of the rest of the potluck dishes, but they were all great. You know how sometimes someone brings that one dish that doesn’t work for the crowd? Not here. Everything was so good. More meats, beans, veggies, and dessert galore.

Until next year. What is summer good for, if not for spending it with friends, food, and drink?


Jon in Albany and his family have an annual beef slaughter. He has some great, informative posts on the whole process. You can see some here. He was generous enough to give me a rib roast in the winter, as the next slaughter was coming up and he didn’t see his family eating it before the next slaughter. I thankfully accepted, and hoarded it until now. It was a gorgeous 4-bone roast of well marbled beef. Man, I’m happy to be friends with Jon in Albany. I get pizza and rib roast delivered to my door.


Seriously – this is such a nice thing to give to someone. A rib roast from a cow your family raised and slaughtered. This is one of the best cuts of the cow to me, and I’m so lucky Jon thought of me.


I wanted to treat this roast with the respect it deserved. I generously rubbed it with some kosher salt, pepper, and dry mustard. That’s it.


Then I let it sit in the fridge for a few days to age just a bit and get some of that seasoning in the meat. And then I forgot to take any more pictures. But I roasted it at 200F (not on convection, just regular bake) for about 3 hours until it came to 120F, then let it keep at 100F on the warm function until it was time to eat it. It was so good – mainly rare to medium rare, with the end 1/4″ being a bit crusted over and seasoned. I was so happy I nailed it. I realized it had been a while since I cooked a beef rib roast and I was so happy to use the slower method. I just feel like slower cooking methods tend to work better for me. I’ll never be a chef, but I can on occasion be a pretty decent meal maker at home.

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 theĀ  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!

Lay's West Coast Truffle Fries BagI’m not much of a potato chip eater lately, but I a few of the new Lay’s flavors got me interested. I’m such a sucker for anything truffle, so I figured I’d give these West Coast Truffle fries a whirl. I always wonder how they really pick a winner. The way odds go, it’s likely multiple people submitted the same combination of flavors.Lay's West Coast Truffle Fries Potato ChipAny way, the chips were fine. They tasted more like sour cream and onion chips with less tang and a little extra something. Not really the earthy funk of truffle, but something a little more. Eh, what do you expect for $2.50?

BurgerFi Storefront Latham NY

BurgerFi opens tomorrow at 11 am on 860 New Loudon Rd (Rt 9), Latham, NY. I was invited to a menu preview this afternoon. Overall I think it’s a good new addition – they’re a chain that sources from Meyer Ranch, which provides antibiotic-free beef that was never given additional hormones, grass raised and grain finished (best of both worlds, IMO), and none of the beef is ever frozen. I think this is a great direction for a chain to head, and one I see other chains embracing as well. Ethics aside (which is a weird phrase), the food is competitively priced and enjoyable.

BurgerFi Latham interiorThe interior is set up casually – order at the counter, pay, grab a table and wait for your food. They also have beer and wine, and it looked like some MMA style fights were on the TV when we were there. It’s easy for me to imagine biking over for a burger, beer, and a match if they wind up broadcasting fights.

There were some other local members of the media at the tasting. BTW, it’s really a thing of beauty to see Angelo Mazzone and Bill Lia walk over and talk to Steve Barnes, who curates the Tablehopping blog for the Times Union. If you want coverage, his blog certainly has the most readership/exposure. Also, he’s a nice guy with good taste, and someone pretty much anyone would want to talk to. Any way, social peeping aside, let’s get down to the food!

BurgerFi Cry Fry

Up first was the Cry Fry ($5.47) – a combination of their fries and onion rings. This is a regular order. You definitely want to share this with 1-2 other people. The onion rings are massive and massively delicious! Theyre beer battered in Coors Light. The breading is very light and crisp, giving way to large rounds of onion underneath. The fries are fried in peanut oil, and get the perfect balance of fluffy/poofy/creamy interior and crisp exterior.

BurgerFi Urban Style Fries 2

Up next were the Urban Style Fries, and I believe (hope) that these were the large portions. Because dear god, they were massive. There are two servings pictured above, and 3 people could barely put a dent in one of them. Urban style friesĀ  are their regular hand-cut french fries with parmesan cheese, herbs, and garlic aioli. I’m not normally a mayo/aioli fan, but these were delicious. Just the right amount of garlicky creaminess atop the fries (they weren’t swimming in it), and a nice sprinkling of parmesan that stuck to the fries.

BurgerFi Urban Style Fries

Seriously massive, right? But also seriously good.
BurgerFi CheeseburgerAnd then it was time to try the burgers! First up was the BurgerFi Cheeseburger, which is two patties, american cheese, lettuce, tomato, and BurgerFi sauce. This reminded me of a ShackBurger. Actually, when you first walk in, you’ll probably notice some similar vibes from Shake Shack and BurgerFi.

The meat was good – the patties are just under 4 oz (pre-cooked weight), and cooked all the way through. They maintain a good amount of moisture and flavor while being cooked all the way through. Texture-wise, the grind is a pleasant medium or small/medium (depending on how you look at it).

BurgerFi Breakfast All Day Burger

The Breakfast All Day burger is one patty, American cheese, hickory bacon, maple syrup, a fried egg, hashbrown patty, grilled onions, and ketchup. I love that runny egg. It’s really nice to see a chain restaurant not cooking an egg yolk all the way through before it goes on a burger so you get that golden goodness all over the burger.

This wasn’t my favorite type of burger, but if you’re a bacon-on-everything person you’ll like it. For some reason I just prefer my breakfast as breakfast and not on other stuff. Oh, and the maple syrup wasn’t too cloying. Very subtle.
BurgerFi The Twenty-Eight BurgerThe Twenty-Eight is the burger you want to order if you can only try one thing. Oh my gosh, so good. And I’m glad they saved this for last. It packs a mighty whollop of umami in the very best way. The burgers on the Twenty-Eight are from brisket dry aged for 28 days. The patties have a little more funk, just the right amount of blue cheese in between the burgers, and the pickles are add a great crunchiness.
BurgerFi VegeFi BurgerWe also tried the VegeFi Burger. It’s made of quinoa, lentils, and veggies, and topped with cheddar cheese, tomato, and BurgerFi sauce with a lettuce “bun”. The whole patty is fried, so it pretty much tastes like a big pakora/lentil fritter. The lettuce are squares of iceberg lettuce.

BurgerFi Chicago Style Wagyu Beef Hot DogChicago Style Wagyu Beef The hot dog itself has a nice little snap/pull to the case and a good beefy flavor. This is a little different than your typical Chicago style hot dog – the pickle and tomatoes are in slices instead of wedges, which makes for a different kind of chew/bite.
BurgerFi Red Velvet ConcreteDessert! We tried the Chocolate Shake (not pictured) which had a lot of dark chocolate flavor and wasn’t a complete sugar bomb. A very grown up shake.
We also tried Red Velvet Concretes, which are very thick vanilla custards with layers of red velvet cake. You’ll want to split your concrete with at least 1-2 other people. They are incredibly delicious and rich. The vanilla custard is really good. Lots of rich egg yolk flavor and vanilla. Frozen custard is more popular in the south – it’s nice to have a place nearby to grab some.

Overall, I think it’s a good addition to the fast food options in the area. It’s family friendly, cares more about animal welfare than other mainstream chains (change has to start somewhere), and has a tasty product. Hopefully the quality I tried today holds up to the test of time.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to go patronize another Lia-owned business and put some of this food to use!

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.

Sour Cream Rhubarb Pie whole

Have you ever picked up a cook book and had almost all of the recipes sing out to you? Rosie Daykin’s Butter Baked Goods is like that for me. The book itself is gorgeous (and available at Albany Public Library!), beautifully laid out and the recipes inviting and easy to follow. When I borrowed it from my local library I worked my way through seemingly half of the recipes over the course of a week – and everything was delicious!

The Sour Cream Rhubarb pie was a delight that I’d never tried before, and cooked up beautifully. I mean, put a crumbly crust on anything and I’m sold.
Sour Cream Rhubarb Pie

And can I let you in on a little secret? I used store bought pie crust. After years of making my own I’m ready to realize my own limitations. I can’t make a pie crust to save my life lately and the premade kind is a huge time saver.

Any way, grab the book (it’s worth it), but the gist of the recipe is:
1 uncooked pie crust.

An 8 oz container of sour cream.
A bit of sugar to sweeten things up (but not too much)
2 eggs
2 tablespoons flour
3 C rhubarb

Butter + Sugar + Flour for the crumb topping

Mix together the sour cream, sugar, eggs, and flour.
Cut the rhubarb into small pieces. Toss it in the pie crust.
Pour the sour cream mixture over it.

Bake at 375-400 for 20-30 minutes until the top sets just a little bit.

Mix together the butter + sugar + flour for a crumble, then sprinkle it over the set pie top.

Lower to 325F and bake until the crumble is lightly browned and delicious, about 30-ish minutes more.

It’s best the same day its made so that crust and crumble stay crisp. It’s also delicious if you have some leftover slices and freeze them. Oh my gosh it’s so good frozen. It’s like a delicious frozen ice pop. Even better than those pinky white strawberry shortcake ice cream bars.


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