Category Archives: Delaware Avenue

When culinary worlds collide – Peking Duck Mac and Cheese at New World Bistro Bar

Mashed potatoes aside, mac and cheese is the ultimate comfort food in my world. When I make it at home, I consider it an emptying-of-the-cheese -drawer exercise, which makes me feel warm and fuzzy in multiple ways. (I hate wasting food.) The randomness of the cheese selections means it may never quite taste exactly the same twice, but believe me, it’s always good.

While consistency may not be my personal strength, chef Ric Orlando has been hitting it out of the proverbial ballpark for decades. I can’t think of another person (except maybe Dimitrios at City Beer Hall) who has so successfully merged seemingly disparate cuisines into fantastic and memorable dishes. Thai and Italian? IRC’s done that. Traditional dish with an ingredients twist? Of course!

For the recently held Mac & Cheese Bake Off at Keegan Ales, Ric combined two of my favorite dishes – Peking Duck and Mac & Cheese into a dynamite skillet of deliciousness. I dropped in on Tuesday night to sample the dish and was very happy to have had the opportunity to make a meal out of this small plate which satisfied two cravings with each forkful. Three, if you count bullshitting with Nick at the bar.

Served piping hot in a cast iron vessel, the plate was a delight of creamy, crunchy goodness with lovely and tender slices of duck hidden beneath toothsome noodles, mung bean sprouts and chopped scallions. There were also swirls of hoisin (plum?) sauce and gorgeous buttery breadcrumbs, making this a perfect marriage of many flavors taken from two very different and individual cuisines.

The dish was a special Tuesday, (3/3/20), so call ahead or check NWBB’s website for availability. At $12 it was a bargain, paired with a glass of wine it was a meal. Can’t get enough of Mac and Cheese in all its glory?   Here’s your chance to sample more delectable variations this weekend – and raise some $$ for a good cause.

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Filed under Albany, Cooking, Delaware Avenue, DelSo, Dinner, Eating, favorites, Food, Local, Recommendations, upstate New York, winter

Galentine’s Eve

Last night, after far too long, I finally saw my running friends. Getting a date on the calendar was a challenge only slightly less difficult than running a half marathon together, but a special screening at the Spectrum provided the perfect occasion.

February 12th would have been The Doors keyboard player, Ray Manzarek’s 81st birthday. The two surviving members of the band worked to honor the life of Manzarek and helped to produce a feature length movie, The Doors: Break on Through, which included footage from a 2016 tribute concert with an impressive roster of musicians, along with archival footage and personal recollections and anecdotes.

Show time for this One Night Only film was 7:00 which gave us just enough time to slip into New World Bistro Bar for a quick bite to eat. I had been craving a burger all day and the deluxe Kilcoyne Farms version that I ordered last night rang all the bells. Delivered perfectly medium rare with peppered bacon, Cabot sharp cheddar, grilled onion and a chipotle aioli it was everything for which I had hoped. Paired with an excellent bottle of Tempranillo, and great company, it was the ideal dinner.

As for the movie, I had no real expectations or assumptions about what I might see. While there was a definite buzz about the showing (and the theater was at least ⅔ full), I hadn’t seen any critical response to the film, so I walked in completely open to the experience. And slightly buzzed.

I don’t often see these types of movies and I’ve got to check my life and do this more often because I had so much fun. When I was about 15 I went through the standard Jim Morrison phase and crushed on him pretty damn hard. Seeing his hot and handsome self on the big screen elicited more than a few sighs, and not just from me. The musical performances from the tribute concert were for the most part fantastic. Warren Haynes and his guitar prowess were definite highlights, but a couple of the singers who boldly took on Morrison’s leading role also were impressive.

The audience at the theater was enthusiastic with lots of shoulders moving and singing along with the music. One guy could not control himself and took over the aisle to make it into a dancefloor – a move I greatly admired. I wish there had been a designated area to get my groove on, because I would have been inspired to join him.

It was an awesome night. Galentine’s Eve just might be my favorite new holiday to celebrate.

 

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Filed under Albany, Delaware Avenue, Dinner, drinking, Eating, Events, friends, Local, Movies, Music, Recommendations, Restaurants, running, Wine

The enchantment of the holidays

The holidays are a magical season. Money, resolve and time all disappear faster than you can say “abracadabra” during these short December days. Accepting that what one gets in exchange for those commodities are opportunities to share time and laughter making new memories, it’s a trade I’m happy to make.

This first weekend of my holiday break has been filled with activity – and cookies. Lots of cookies. Friday’s original evening plan had been to revisit Soul Night downtown at Lost & Found. We went last month and really enjoyed the music, vibe and diverse crowd. But, I caught an ad on Facebook for a Funk Night at Savoy, which was easily within walking distance, and it appealed on a cold night. No regrets – DJ Trumastr was on his game as usual and the Manhattans (yes, two) were impeccably crafted. It was a fun night.

Saturday brought another opportunity to stay in the neighborhood, but this time it was DelSo, rather than Center Square. A neighbor’s annual holiday party brought together a wonderful crowd of yogis/educators/creative types who all shared at least one common friend, the hostess, but often the connections between guests exceeded that minimal number. Albany, Smalbany, I love you. Another merry event with lots of laughs.

Sunday it was our turn to host for the first night of Hanukkah. The plan was traditional latkes, soup, salad and a couple of quiches. And cookies, of course. Prep, beyond the task of preparing and frying latkes, was well in hand until minor tragedy struck – or stubbed, as in a broken toe which required medical attention and prevented the potatoes from being transformed into latkes. What to do?

Not actually our latkes. We ate them too fast for photos.

My friend and uber talented chef, Ric Orlando, had shared on FaceBook that New World Bistro Bar was featuring his “Beat Bobby Flay” latkes…hmmm. Why stress when I could place an order and simply stop to pick them up on my way to my sweetie’s house? Done – and no lingering odor of frying at home with which to contend.

While nothing replaces a hot latke out of the pan, Ric’s latkes were wonderful. They’re large and magically manage to be crispy on the outside, fluffy on the inside and nearly devoid of oil or greasiness. After reheating them on a rack on a baking sheet, everyone happily loaded on sour cream and applesauce and we feasted. Crisis diverted, we enjoyed  a festive evening with lovely people.

I’m  not going to claim that bringing latkes to dinner for the first night of Hanukkah is a miracle or anything, but I believe many would be happier to see a resourceful woman  arriving with award winning latkes, than three “wise” men bearing Frankincense.  I know I would.

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Filed under Albany, Christmas, Cooking, Delaware Avenue, DelSo, Dinner, Eating, Events, Food, friends, holidays, Lark Street, Local, Recommendations, sunday, vacation, winter

Fast and Furious – 5 things pissing me off right now

I’m generally pretty easy going. I try to accept that not everyone thinks or behaves the same way I do and feel fairly happy most of the time. Heartbreaks aside, of course. There are a few things, though, that have recently got my blood boiling and I’m hoping that if I obey the full moon and practice letting go, maybe I can move past these injustices and minor outrages.

First – if I read one more time about how a 6-week infant was “allowed” to ingest methamphetamines by the man responsible for caring for him, I just might lose my shit. This baby, with 8 broken ribs and a head injury declared “not grave enough” to warrant legal charges, was killed by both the individual who administered the drugs and injuries to him and the system which absolutely and completely failed him. 

Next – The hypocrisy of the president and his wife when it comes to respecting young people. I really don’t understand the outrage about a remark made by a legal scholar during the recent hearings relating to Donald Trump’s actions in relation to Ukraine. This apparently deeply offended the occupants of the White House, yet did not prevent the Idiot-in-Chief from making direct and disparaging remarks about Time magazine’s Person of the Year, Greta Thunberg. There is no bottom when it comes to Trump and his lack of sensitivity and basic social mores. He is absolutely repulsive and an embarrassment to the United States.

Speaking of the United States, I am appalled to live in a country in which a ball player receives a contract compensating them to the tune of $324 million over nine years. There is nothing anyone could ever say to me that would justify that kind of ludicrous salary. Nothing. Don’t even try.

My last two issues are much more trivial, yet still infuriating. One is a driving etiquette thing with which upstate people are apparently unfamiliar. I’m pretty certain I’ve railed about this before, but it seems folks weren’t listening so I’ll say it again – if I have the green light, but am not proceeding through an intersection because I can not clear the “box,” you should not interpret my holding back to be an invitation for you to make a right on red. If you’re someone who has mistakenly done this in the past, you’re welcome for the driving lesson because if you try that move in NYC, you won’t be educated quite so politely.

And, lastly, to the person who allows their dog to crap in my front garden (2x) and on the sidewalk (3x), when I find out who you are, we’re going to have words – and I’ll probably notify the city, too. The DelSo is a nice neighborhood filled with people who take care of their properties and are responsible pet owners. Pick up your dog’s sh*t like a respectable person.

I feel a little better now but if my rage persists, maybe Greta and I can get a group discount on those Anger Management classes.

 

 

 

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Filed under Albany, Delaware Avenue, Local, News, Observations, politics, Rant, stress, upstate New York

Past peak

Jeter and I went for a little run the other afternoon. It was little because my body is currently in protest mode, refusing to run more than 3 or 4 miles without demanding a stretch or moment’s walk. The discomfort has shifted from being exclusively felt by my feet and hips to a more general sensation radiating from my rear pelvic region, hips and glutes. A joy it is not.

We ran one of my favorite routes – down the yellow brick road and around the perimeter of the big field down by the Normanskill Farm. Jeter swam for the last time of the year (again) and I chugged along the path, consoling myself with the view as I tried to focus on the positive. Like the view.

The trees remained beautiful, despite the scarcity of the leaves clinging to their branches in their shades of orange, yellow and red. I thought about a recent meme I had seen.


I considered the irony of reaching peak beauty only to release your stunningness and watch it fall to the ground.  I chided myself for not having the same grace, for not being as capable when it came to letting go.  Why was I occupying my mind with thoughts of how much easier this run once had been instead of celebrating the fact that I was simply out there doing it?

Wasn’t it unreasonable of me to expect to remain the same physically despite the passing of time?

Maybe I was past peak.

But, if I am, so what?

It’s not like a tree losing its leaves dies. No, it just shifts into a different season, one in which it strips itself bare and hunkers down until the eventual snows melt. In spring it returns to life with the coaxing of the sun. It’s probably not exactly the same in its new year as it had been in its past, but it really doesn’t matter to a tree, does it?

It shouldn’t matter to me either.

 

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Filed under aging, Albany, beauty, Delaware Avenue, DelSo, Exercise, Gardens, Local, musings, Normanskill, Observations, running, upstate New York

She’s gotta have it – the soft shell crab sandwich at New World Bistro Bar

Image: NWBB Facebook page

A couple of days ago an image came across my Facebook feed* that I couldn’t stop thinking about. It was a photo. Of a sandwich, of all things. What would make a sandwich so compelling? Well, it was a fried soft shell crab BLT served with chipotle mayo and poblano slaw. What else do I need to say?

Knowing that soft shell crab season is over in the blink of an eye, I decided last night to make my way to New World Bistro Bar for dinner. Of course, me being me, I called first to confirm that the sandwich was on the evening’s menu and that there would be one available when I arrived. You do that, too, right?

Anyway, I settled in at the bar and asked Nick to make me a Stoli gimlet, a cocktail that I thought would go swimmingly with my dinner. As has been my experience without fail, my drink was perfectly executed and delivered refreshingly cold and slightly tart. Yum.I sipped my drink and chatted with Nick about travel and music, two favorite topics for both of us, until my date arrived and we placed our dinner orders. I tweaked mine a little, opting to skip the roll and save my carb intake for the hand cut fries as my side.

A short while later I was rewarded with the gorgeous plate you see here. The crab had a meaty body and crunchy legs and was everything I had hoped it would be – and, seriously, how often in life does that happen? The mayo had a pleasant heat to it and the slaw provided a great crunch to the dish. In place of the roll, I had a combination of lettuces and some cooked greens, which were a lovely surprise.

Get it while you can, people. Tell Nick I sent you.

*how appropriate a term!

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Filed under Albany, Delaware Avenue, DelSo, Dinner, drinking, Eating, favorites, Food, Local, Recommendations, Restaurants, Spring, Uncategorized

Stormy weather

I recommend this version of Stormy Weather, if you want to go multi sensory with this.

4F4D2B59-31F4-44E2-97AF-ADDC1F667062While I’ve been relishing the languid pace of this hot summer, with the added bonus drama of a spate of recent storms, sh*t has gotten real to folks in my immediate and extended neighborhoods. Last Friday, the rain came down in a textbook example of “deluge” and the infrastructure in our aging city just can’t bear it. Numerous homes on my block, and the neighboring streets, experienced a pretty gross example of that when their basements filled with inches of disgusting water from the overtaxed system. Nasty stuff that they’re still cleaning up nearly a week later. Ick.

Yesterday’s round of afternoon storms was wildly intense with pelting rain, fierce winds and chunks of hail pinging against my house. After it passed, I walked to our farmers market and was shocked by the destruction I saw. There were trees down and streets closed and Delaware Avenue, during rush hour, was very slow moving. The most shocking sight on my walk was the enormous tree down on Delaware and the resulting damage to at least two homes. The roots had just pulled out from the sodden ground and down it went.

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Omg – what are my open tabs communicating? 😊

This morning, Jeter and I took a walk to see how the clean up was going. It was obvious that a lot of work had been done overnight to cut up and cart away limbs and entire trees, but what was even more obvious was how much destruction had actually occurred. We walked Delaware to Beekman to Southern Blvd and I couldn’t get over how many times we had to walk in the street because there was a pile of branches monopolizing the entire sidewalk. Traffic was weird because streets were still closed and news trucks were setting up for their broadcasts. Pretty crazy.

AB05F5ED-10F3-4CBC-B7B6-7991693802A9I hope you all made it through unscathed and, for those that didn’t, I wish you well and hope you receive a fair insurance settlement. And, if you’re a renter, make sure you spring for renter’s insurance. You just never know.

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Take some inspiration from this ray of sunshine – just about broken in half, yet still blooming.

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Filed under Albany, Delaware Avenue, DelSo, Flowers, house, Local, Observations, Summer, upstate New York