Saturday, July 30, 2011

The Laportos Flim Flam

Typical Average Joe luck – show up to a restaurant only to find it on vacation. While we were huddled around the “sorry we’re closed” sign, a buddy of mine suggested Laporto's but he didn’t think we were dressed to the nines so we should look elsewhere. Being an average joe, I threw caution to the wind. 

No sooner do I get in the door then I wish I had a collared shirt on. But who cares, I wasn’t wearing basketball shorts and a white t-shirt (like another friend) and my money is as green as the next guy’s. Anyway, I got a chance to see some of the meals when I walked in and this huge mound of fried calamari that looked too good to be true. Everything looked top shelf.

Once I saw the calamari I had to get it. I dove in as soon as the waitress put it down. After I ate a few pieces I noticed the garnish. It wasn’t just there to give it some visual pop, it propped up all the calamari. You end up with half as much as you think you get. It was definitely good and I’d order it again but that’s a major let down.

Every time I walk into an Italian restaurant, I can’t help but ask “how’s the veal?” If that reference flew over your head there’s a certain movie you need to watch right this minute. Anyway, I went with a pretty big group so I got to try a few different things.  The veal parm was really good and the veal Giuseppe was excellent. There was a lot of crab stuffed in there and the sauce was very good. Another friend had veal in a brown gravy sauce which was a little salty but very tasty. As for me? Well I chose poorly. (2 movie references now, try to keep up)

Friday, July 29, 2011

I like surprises but come on...

You know I'm no stranger to finding stuff in my food. Paper in my bread? Check. Hair? We've all been there. I've even went out to eat with friends that unearthed a fly in their meal. But a bandage in your pizza? No, at least my luck isn't that bad.

So, have you ever found any unwelcome surprises in your food?

Thursday, July 28, 2011

The Meat House Opens In Albany

I wanted to let you all know, Albany has a new neighborhood butcher shop! The Meat House, a national gourmet butcher shop and grocer, is now open at Stuyvesant Plaza in Albany. Co-owners Eric Jackson and Kevin Wickert believe they can become active members of the Albany community, as they have been in Clifton Park and Saratoga Springs.  

 “Expanding The Meat House brand in New York has provided us with a unique opportunity to support so many local organizations and vendors,” said The Meat House Albany Vice President Eric Jackson. “We look forward to extending our outreach to the Albany community and treating them to a superior customer experience.”

The Albany location is the third to open in New York and also features exotic meats such as alligator tail, wild boar, ostrich, buffalo and venison. The Meat House’s exceptional quality of all-natural meats includes legendary marinated steak tips and a variety of steaks and roasts hand-cut to order.

 “We provide our customers with a diverse line of the highest quality premium meats and grocery items,” said The Meat House Albany President Kevin Wickert. “We pride ourselves on being active supporters in the communities in which we operate and can’t wait to meet our Albany neighbors.”
For more info, check out the The Meat House's website.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Enjoying The Summer While it Lasts

Relax people, I left my gloves at home for this one. Bruce Springsteen has a song about what he looks forward to every time summer rolls around. While I’d never disagree with The Boss, I just want to mention that backyard grilling and BBQ come pretty close to the top of my list of things to look forward to once the winter snow finally melts. What can I say, some foods just work better when the sun is shining and the weather is warm.

BBQ Chicken
Summer is flying by too fast this year. I can’t believe it’s the end of July and I haven’t gone to one of my favorite seasonal restaurants – PJ’s BAR-B-Q. Between the music, the car nights and other events they hold, PJ’s has a unique atmosphere, one I sorely miss during the winter. Thankfully they’re taking some steps to keep it open year round.  

Before I knew it I was in Saratoga, sitting down at PJ’s getting my hands dirty with the North Carolina Style Pulled Pork and a hefty rack of ribs. And since I don't mind sharing, I tried some of their BBQ chicken (pictured). I strayed from my usual - rib sandwich on garlic buttered Texas Toast. PJ’s offers an open pit BBQ style, cooking everything over real charcoal.  No offense to fans of Hank’s propane style on “King of the Hill,” but charcoal is more flavorful. PJ’s was awarded the best ribs in Albany for good reason and it’s one of my favorite restaurants around.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Nobody's Home

Ever throw on your Sunday best, hop into a car and drive to a restaurant only to find that it was on vacation? That's happened to me a few times - once a few weeks ago when I went to Muza in Troy and a few times at Papa's in Watervliet. Now, there's nothing wrong with a little R&R so I don't blame the restaurant - just myself for not looking up whether they were opened online. Still, every time I pull up and see that "Sorry, we're on vacation" sign I can't help but think of this:

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Capital Region Craft Brewers Festival

This one's today folks. Sorry about the short notice.

The festival runs from 2:30 to 6:30 pm at Joe Bruno Stadium in Troy and is hosted by the Tri-City Valley Cats and sponsored by Brown's Brewing Co. Tickets run from $10 to $47 depending on the amount of tasting tickets you want, if you would like an event glass, a VIP pass or other novelties.

The event website has plenty of information about ticket prices, participating brewers and directions.

Friday, July 22, 2011

What's so wrong with gloves?

I might be considered a softee but when it comes to the mess wing sauce makes I’ll put it on the line. Come to think of it I don’t need a 3rd degree burn to prove my manliness either. I used to be too ashamed to wear gloves when I ate, that was until I saw all my dry cleaning bills pile up.

Hold your horses, just think about this for a second. You guys can still start projects and not finish them, refuse to ask for directions, spend 10 hours watching football on Sundays and ignore your wife when she tells you to mow the lawn. Just stay away from rubber duckies or polkadots on your gloves and your masculinity will be safe and sound.

Now, well let’s just say I am considering it…

What gives?

Why am I showing you a picture of my gloved hand? No I am not on trial for murder but if you ask nicely maybe I'll tell you...

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Festa Italiana

The Italian American Community Center in Albany will be holding their 21st annual Festa Italiana tomorrow from 5 to 10 pm. Festivities will continue on Saturday and Sunday from noon to 8 pm. You can expect plenty of food, wine, live music and fun for the whole family. I for one can’t wait to sign up for the pizza eating contest. If you’re interested in flexing the golden pipes there is also an “Italian American Idol” contest.  There are pony rides, face painting, puppet shows and rides for the kids. It sounds like a great way to spend the day.

The Italian American Community Center is located on 257 Washington Ave Ext in Albany. Admission is free. For more info call (518) 456-4222

UPDATE: The schedule is now back online. Click here for a full schedule for each of the 3 days.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

White Management Supporting Four-Legged Friends

Bountiful Bread is selling all natural dog treats
to raise money for Pet Connection.
 Bummed you can't get tickets to the track this weekend? Well cheer up, I have good news for you: that's not the only game in town. Pet Connection with Steve Caporizzo is hosting the 2nd Annual Pet Connection Adoption Day and Open House at The Animal Hospital on Saturday, July 23rd from 9 AM to 2 PM. The Animal Hospital is located at 2 Rocking Horse Lane, Slingerland. It's for a good cause - proceeds raised at the event will be used to help homeless animals. You can do your part too by taking home a fuzzy pet of your own. 26 adoption groups will take part in the event which includes a silent auction, tour of the facility and drawings to win a day at News 10 and have a private dinner with Steve Caporizzo at Creo'.

How does this relate to food you ask? The event is being catered by Central Steak, Bountiful Bread and Creo' -- three of the five eateries owned by White Management. White Management also owns Mangia and Coldstone Creamery. All of their restaurants are selling homemade dog biscuits baked by Bountiful Bread for $3 each. They will be on sale until Saturday and proceeds from the sale are going to Pet Connection.

“The whole White Management family is excited to be involved with this event,” said Brian White, Vice President of White Management. “This is the second straight year White Management is supporting Pet Connection’s Adoption Day. Last year we were able to adopt more than 70 animals and we hope to do even better this year.  Adoption Day is a tremendous opportunity for us to tie our passion for food into the passion Steve Caporizzo and many others foster through Pet Connection.” White is an avid pet lover whose wife is a veterinarian and the couple owns three dogs (Wolfgang, Otis and Molly Brown).

Thursday, July 14, 2011

New Quintessence to open in Ballston Spa

The owners of Quintessence are planning on expanding and opening up a diner in Ballston Spa as early as July 22nd, also known as opening day for the Saratoga Race Track. Everybody wants to cash in on the ponies… Anyway, they are looking at 2853 Route 9 in Ballston Spa and they plan on keeping the same menu with one addition – gourmet pizzas.

Have any of you been to the original Quintessence? If not you might want to stop in – it’s located on Delaware Avenue in Albany.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Troy Pig Out

 Cancel your plans for the weekend and forget about whatever your wife has been nagging you to do, the Troy Pig Out is back. For those of you not in the know, the Troy Pig out is a two day competition that pits professional BBQ teams from all across the U.S. against one another. Winners are given People's Choice awards and attendees can visit various the BBQ vendors and listen to live music. That's not all though, there will also be a fireworks show Saturday night which promises to be a lot of fun. It's a great time and plenty of fun for the whole family.

The event is free but if you want to participate in the People's Choice rib competition you have to purchase tickets. Tickets will go on sale Saturday at 4pm. Each ticket is $1 and can be redeemed for one rib from one vendor. Tickets go fast so they suggest lining up for them by 3:30 pm, well before the tasting actually begins.

What: 4th Ever Troy Pig Out
When: Saturday, July 16th 11am-10pm and Sunday, July 17th 11am-4pm
Where: Troy Riverfront Park

Friday, July 8, 2011

Polish Night in Cohoes

Looking for some local Polish cuisine and music? Well you're in luck, the Cohoes Farmer's Market is hosting a Polish Night tonight from 4 pm - 7 pm on Remsen Street.
For information, call 238-2232.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Mangia to host wine tasting in Slingerlands

This was just sent to me, check it out:

Mangia Promotes Local Products and Economy
Local Restaurant Hosts Wine Tastings

SLINGERLANDS – Mangia, a Slingerlands restaurant owned and operated by White Management, will be hosting a wine tasting July 12th and July 26th. Attendees will sample wines from the Glenora and Knapp Wineries, both of which are located in the Finger Lakes region.

The restaurant is partnering with Empire Merchants North to host several other New York State wineries throughout the month of July in support of Uncork New York, a promoter of New York State wines, grape juice and table grapes that sponsors research to enhance the quality of wines, productivity of wineries and the social responsibility of consumers.

The wine tasting is part of the restaurant’s ongoing effort to promote local products throughout the spring and summer months. In addition to buying and using local products at their restaurant, Mangia hopes the events will encourage other businesses and consumers to support the New York State Economy by buying local products.

WHO:                 Mangia Slingerlands
WHAT:               Wine tastings featuring Glenora and Knapp Wineries
WHERE:           1562 New Scotland Road, Slingerlands, New York
            July 12th & 26th from 5 pm – 7 pm
WHY:                 To sample wines produced regionally in the Finger Lakes.

Friday, July 1, 2011

BBQ Recipes for the 4th of July

Let me let you in on a few secrets - Average Joe isn't the best cook in the world. Small wonder that I go out to eat so often. However, that's not to say I'm a stranger to grilling. Over the years my friends and relatives have been able to scarfed down all the bur -- lightly charred hot dogs and hamburgers they wanted to. This year I'm looking to do something a little different for the holiday weekend - I think it's high time I tried my hand at making some ribs. But I confess to not having a good recipe to call my own. Thanks to the internet that shouldn't be much of a problem.

So if you're like me and you're scrambling for an idea at the last minute I think I found a pretty good article to check out. Click here to view 14 regional BBQ recipes...let me know if they are good enough to make your family sing your praises.

Bus trip from Cohoes to the Thousand Islands

Every once in a while even an average joe like me wants to do something a little bit difference. On days like that I dust myself off, take off my baseball cap and jeans and try something different. Why not try a wine tour?

Harmony House Marketplace will be hosting a one day wine tour on July 23rd. The tour visits the Tug Hill Vineyards, Yellow Barn Winery, Coyote Moon Vineyards, Thousand Islands Winery and the Otter Creek Winery. The $75 tickets cover transportation, all tasting fees and snacks on the bus. (wonder if they have any Chex Mix) To make a reservation or get more information call 238-2232.

The bus will depart Cohoes at 7:30 am and return at 8:30 pm.