Friday, August 13, 2010

Trip report: the foodie itinerary version 2

Well heck yeah we tried it again...we could hardly wait.  Karen and I were back on the road this afternoon, scouring the countryside to bring you reports on the best in Capital Region foodie finds.

We began at Dnipro on Central Avenue in Albany, just to the west of Wolf Rd and the Northway underpass.  They have recently moved to this location from Cohoes - so visit and try their wonderful offerings!

There are a few places for parking out front, but plenty of parking out back that lets you get around to a stoplight and back on Central Ave easily. The space is very open and there are neatly stocked shelves ready for browsing.  There were dense black breads and plenty of cookies and other European treats.  Then we found the wonderful jars of spreads, relishes, pickles, fruits, horseradishes, mustards... you get the picture.  I found some red cabbage salad with apple that will be a quick and tasty  side dish.

We worked our way to the back refrigerator cases and found a freezer full of little fat dumplings that look like plump tortellini  and have a variety of stuffings.  There wasn't an English translation on the case, but dumplings are the general idea - pelmeni perhaps? They sell them loose so you can fill as many bags as you like, or they sell pre-weighed packages.  We noticed there were veal and chicken, and there could be other stuffings as well.  Definitely something that you can stash in the freezer and pull out on those nights when you're weary and yet you still want to have a good hearty supper.

I drifted up to the deli case and found dozens of meats, fish and cheeses.  It was so hard to choose!  The shopkeeper offered samples and I wanted to try the veal roll with spices - a lovely savory cold cut that brought back a rush of childhood memories. While I was waiting for Karen to get her double smoked bacon I was offered a "walnut" cookie.  It was shaped like a walnut and held a lovely paste of walnut cream in the center. I swooned and groaned while her bacon was sliced and neatly wrapped.

I'm looking forward to going back to sample more and discover some new favorites.

After we stopped by Karen's to stash the dumplings in her freezer we headed up towards Route 2, east of Latham Circle to Nora's.  I only have this link but I hope it's at least enough to show you where on Rt. 2 Nora's is located.  It's in a string of about 8 or 9 storefronts on the north side of Rt. 2 across from a big cemetary.

This little space is crammed with spices, grains, confections and even costumes.

I was drawn to the back when I heard Karen exclaiming that something was better than her grandmother's - I mean, should you even ever SAY that????  But when I tasted the stuffed grape leaves I also had a sort of deep emotional experience of my own. We each got a dozen.

I cruised the spices and scored a large box of oregano, one of the more common items among the vast and (to me) exotic array of those mostly used in Armenian and other cuisines of that region.  I asked Nora for some lehmajoun and got beef this time.  Nora makes them as well as many other foods in her kitchen in the back of the store.  It's definitely worth striking up a conversation so that you don't have to scrounge through the refrigerators  to see what is in store - plus Nora and her husband are just wonderful friendly people.

Karen had a hard time choosing but got the keftedes this time, and some of Nora's cheese with black caraway seed.

 I spied some frozen basterma and decided to give it a try. There were a variety of packages, and I got the slices to see how it holds up to freezing.  The many many packages of dates all were a bit too large for me to handle this time, so I settled on a package of figs. It was hard not to grab at least one of the varieties of Turkish delight - it was too close to lunch time - but the figs promised sweet stickiness of the right kind. (hmmm....they must be around here somewhere...a perfect writing snack...)

And next up was lunch at The Jonesville Store.  We were both pretty psyched after all that looking at and procurement of food. The store was bustling with weekenders and hookey players.

One orders at the deli counter and they bring it to the table.

Karen got the perfectly prepared pannini  special with a beer and
I got the pear and walnuts salad and strawberry vinaigrette with a local boutique root beer.  Yes that's a crab cake in the upper part of the photo.  It was very good with a yogurt/dill sauce.  The staff was friendly and quick, which I think was the foundation of the cheery comfortable atmosphere.

We were ready to go home after lunch since our budgets for the day were spent.

All in all it was a great trip, so now we're planning an "Italian" itinerary for our next adventure.

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