Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Tomo Asian Bistro for a sushi lunch

In the wilds of Slingerlands is just where a casual sushi joint is needed. And to be fair, this really is more of an Asian Bistro than a sushi joint, with an extensive menu ( use the link below to see it on the web site).  I happened to be taking some vacation recently and so I had the time to mosey out to Slingerlands and enjoy a late sushi lunch. The decor uses dark colors and lots of wood and was put together with care to provide a bit of an upscale atmosphere, so it's a lovely place to enjoy a leisurely lunch or dinner.

There are often dishes that we use to judge the qualities of a restaurant, and for Asian restaurants, mine is the age tofu appetizer.  It's just fried tofu, so the chef has the opportunity to make it something special if they wish to do so.  This is the nice presentation with flavorful scallion and bonito garnish at Tomo. A lot of places just toss it on the plate, so the little extras and pleasing arrangement here told me that I was in for a nicely prepared meal.

I had chirashi because I like to see what chefs do with it - there are many different styles because the name basically means "scattered" and conveys the idea that the fish and the rice are not formally shaped. Until recently chirashi was most frequently served to me in a bowl, but now the trend seems to be to put it on a plate.  I like it best as a sushi preparation because it allows me to combine the amount of rice I like with each piece of fish.  And there are always delightful condiments and vegetables or mysterious (to me) things that are new and tasty.

Although the chirashi plate was for the most part delicious, I wasn't happy to see the problematic "white tuna" as one of the fish.  I haven't gotten into the habit about asking whether it will be there or not, so I simply didn't eat it this time and will continue to try to remember to ask first.

Service at Tomo was attentive and friendly. The staff checked in a number of times to check on drinks and how things were going.

There were takeout orders the whole time I was there, indicating to me that Slingerlands has caught on to their closest Asian location and like it enough to drive all the way to the Price Chopper Plaza to pick up their orders.

The full menu and hours are on their website:

LorreBob sez: go have a nice Asian dinner in the suburbs!

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

DOING DISHES: Wrapping it Up for the Lettuce Entertain You Series: Salads from Fresh Market

Here is our final entry of the series.  The three other  ones are:

We thought we'd find salads at The Cheese Traveller, but by the time we got there for the series, they had decided to stop offering them for lunch.

This is the dish on our trip to The Fresh Market in Latham.

We're still taken aback at the sheer amount of candy that takes up a huge amount of real estate in the store. All that sugar in a store that has a name like Fresh Market makes a little cognitive dissonance for the Goddess and myself.

But they got salad.

In a case of great looking food that makes a hungry Goddess and her Foodie Friend companion want to take home a few delicious dinners are nestled the salads on offer.

Back in our perfessional tasting lab, we employed some of our analytic acumen to these samples.

Aren't they great colors? I think that is a good deal of the fun in salad.

Artichokes, tomatoes, green peppers,  feta, olives and fresh onion - this has a good olive oil dressing and is balanced well between bright flavors and more mild savory ones. The feta was less than optimal - the chef should use a better quality.
Broccoli cranberry: although a little on the bland side it has a good balance of cranberries, almonds and broccoli, and everyone likes the crunch. This was everyone's favorite.

Cucumber and onion with tomato.  This was a favorite and will go well with any dish - a light dressing makes it refreshing and fresh veggies make it crunchy and delightful.

Shrimp salad: expensive blah.  This was displayed on a separate stand with some other similar salads and gets a "looks pretty" but there's just not much there in the way of flavor, especially at $11/lb.  

Edamame: an odd combination of feta, cranberries and tasty little soybeans - no one could taste the feta, so we were curious about how it lost all its flavor.  Maybe the beans soaked it up after a few hours in the case.

In the lab we happen to have a small cadre of amateur tasters as well and the above is a summary of all the tasting notes.

All in all we have felt in our tasting across all the salads that the deli chefs should up their game, watch how long the salads stay in the fridge to avoid bland old worn out flavors, and everyone should take part in making sure that the same ingredients aren't used over and over in all the salads.  Mix it up!  Certain ingredients may be zesty for the first day, but change to meh over the succeeding days in the case.  We recommend continual tasting for quality and not letting salads slide into mediocrity or worse.

Monday, March 2, 2015

Lucas Confectionery: Wine and Nibbles

A few years back a wine bar was born in downtown Troy. They are even open on Sundays. Go figure.

I enjoyed a wonderful afternoon at the Troy Music Hall last weekend with Carol Jantsch of the Philadelphia Orchestra playing tuba with the Albany Symphony Orchestra. I never imagined the tuba could be so amazing (so now I think she's in fact a superhero, too). Despite pressure from the large lady to my left, who was very nice, and the hard seat which aggravated me even more, it was an amazing concert. I closed my eyes and let it take me where I wanted to be, and, my friends, that was to be a light dinner at Lucas Confectionery, just a few skips away, following the performance.

We had a reservation for 5:30, but it wasn't needed. I couldn't help wondering why this place wasn't packed with post-musica artsy-fartsy doctors and lawyers.  It doesn't look like much on the outside, and maybe those regulars have their routine and Lucas wasn't on their radar yet. Zena, Goddess of Fire, and friends, ventured in.

We asked to be seated with feet on the floor; many of the tables in the front of the house had barstools, so they put us on the end of a long table in the "garden", which was absolutely lovely. Twinkly lights, exposed brick, rough hewn tables, little candles, simple unmatched small plates and napkins - very homey and romantic.

I ordered a glass of Sauvignon Blanc (Loire Valley, France, $8), Jag asked for a glass of the Chardonnay (from Split Creek in Napa, $9), and FF wanted a glass of Nine Pin Cider Signature Blend (a six ounce pour, $4). The menu was mostly wine and beer (uh, yes, I get it, it's a wine bar). The food offerings were really just nibbles, including a short list of cheeses (many noted prize winners), charcuterie, a few dips, and small dishes like salmon with cabbage and caper aioli. There wasn't a whole lot on the menu that was fresh, or vegetable, or fruit for that matter.

Our evening repas was slow in coming. I was a bit hmmmmmm'd that we were already being asked for a second drink order when our food had yet to hit the table. It finally started with a slaw of shaved brussels sprouts flavored with horseradish and hazelnuts, a bright, tasty salad with a touch of sweet and salty to even out the bitterness of the raw veggies. We were hungry, and managed to put away a little bowl of sliced baguette in record time, but the friendly staff were quick to offer more. The bread was chewy and tasty and not too crusty and a must under everything we enjoyed that night.

We ordered 3 for $13's: 3 charcuterie items and 3 cheeses. These included the Country Pate from Three Little Pigs (Washington D.C., I think) - holding your attention with an intense porky goodness, herbs and onion in a spread that wasn't at all greasy; the Finocchiona from Molnari & Sons, a fennel salami that could only be described as smooth and mellow; and Smoked Duck Breast (also from Three Little Pigs) - tender and delicious. Our cheeses (each a 1.5 ounce portion) were the Middlebury Blue from Blue Ledge Farm in Salisbury, VT (with a side of candied walnuts), which I thought was slightly rubbery, stinky, grainy then smooth, and really quite delicious; a tart and creamy Cremont goat and cow cheese (Websterville, VT) topped with sweet, crunchy cocoa nibs; and Invierno, a raw sheep and cows milk hard cheese from Vermont Shepherd, this one sided with candied ginger. We tasted and talked and smiled and gushed. Delicious. Every bite was worth savoring - special, divine, memorable.

What I can't understand, with bread and cheese and wine and spreads and pickles and dips and smoked fishes abounding, why Lucas isn't offering anything a bit more substantial to it's guests, like a gorgeous sandwich creation. Me thinks they are more intent on liquor sales, but I could be just being bitchy, which happens, even to superheroes. But the food WAS amazing, and I intend to return. 

Make a date at Lucas. Put it on your radar. If you love to nibble on a few guilty pleasures and sip on a nice glass of wine, then trust me, you won't be disappointed. 

A light meal for three, including 5 drinks, came to $76.68 including tax plus tip.

Zena, Goddess of Fire

PS: Lucas is not a good choice if you are avoiding coffee, sugar, alcohol, gluten, meat, salt, or dairy. Just saying.