Thursday, December 29, 2016

Trying to be Perty at Slidin' Dirty

I love a good gushburger. The kind that demands that mortals and superpowers alike have to fight the bun and grease and toppings into your mouth without allowing it to take control and dribble all over your face and hands. Please pass the napkins.
Street parking. Casual crowd, with men at the bar watching sports on TV and doin' the daytime drinks.

The food is at Slidin' Dirty in downtown Troy is amazing. We started with a full order of Fravos ($10) - panko encrusted avocado fries with a spicy smokey creamy chipotle dipping sauce - hot, with a gentle burn, crispy on the outside, squishy on the inside. The battle over the last few was intense, as we licked our fingers, loving the decadence of fried fatty food. Delicious.
Fravos - cripsy fried avocado, potentially healthy

Pony went for a "dirty duo" with a Buffalo Chicken and a Pig Roast Taco ($9) - a generous serving, pretty before she crunched into it, loving the fresh crispy corn wrap and the tender meat. Standard "buffalo sauce" but very good. The Pig was even better, topped with black beans and corn and salsa with a crunch of red cabbage. She will totally come back and get this one again....
Pig on the left, Buffalo Chicken to the right

Red had one beautiful little Crab Cake Slider, a spicy combo, the cake boasting loads of lump crab meat topped with avocado, tomatoes, arugula and horseradish sauce. Again, perfect in all respects.
A pretty, perfectly constructed and delicious Crab Cake Slider

The Divine Ms. M went for a pair of sliders. The Dirty Yankee ($5, with the burger - chicken breast or black bean burgers also available) - perfectly cooked little patty drenched in fried onions and sauerkraut, kicked up a notch with pastrami and provolone. Um FIVE STARS for sure.  The Dirty Po Boy ($6) had some heat in the sauce, tempered by a fresh slaw and tomato with delicious little fried shrimps.
Two potentially gushy sliders, Dirty Yankee left and a Dirty Po Boy

We all shared a Classic Mac & Cheese ($4) - a deal for the size of the serving - good, no surprises, peppery - it wasn't baked but it didn't get gluey as it cooled. We ate it all.
OK Mac & Cheese, this was a good dish to share

I had an Arugula Side Salad ($4) - sort of a Caesar, lemony, with tender bitter leaves, lots of parm, and light crunchy croutons. Next to that I took on The Hangover Slider ($5), topped with cheddar and bacon and their signature chipotle cream sauce, and a fried egg. The brioche bun, slightly sweet and toasty, lost the battle, and so did I, with egg dripping all over, the sandwich disintegrated as I daintily did my best to chow down without wearing it back to work, but OMG it was good. Slippery, salty, and totally tasty, no doubt even better if you've had a few too many the night before.
The Hangover Slider and an Arugula Side Salad

Slidin' Dirty is noisy, the music is funky, and the vibe is friendly and hip. Ten beers on tap, five from good ol' NYS. Next time I will wear my jeans, plan on a brewski, and ask for extra napkins, AFTER work, so I don't have to try so hard to be perty at Slidin' Dirty.
Tryin' to be perty at Slidin' Dirty

Zena, Goddess of Fire

Monday, December 12, 2016

The Magic of Manicotti: Tesoro Restaurant

I love this time of year. Magic is in the air.

So is the smell of roast pork and wood smoke, and little white fluffy things that fall from the sky. After a cold afternoon in Altamont, exploring the charming downtown during the Annual Victorian Holiday Celebration, eating all the free cookies I could find, begging for roast pork samples at Mio Vino, buying a raffle ticket at the Altamont Free Library, and doing a little shopping, Cookie and I buzzed back towards town and an early dinner at Tesoro Italian Restaurant (located in another attractive strip mall in Guilderland, NY).
Brightly lit, attractive exterior in 20 Western Mall
The restaurant is actually quite lovely, and the staff gracious. We sat at the bar and each enjoyed a glass of wine - Kim Crawford Sauvignon Blanc for me ($9.50/glass, overpriced, but it also has magic), and Kendall Jackson Chardonnay for my friend ($9.00/glass, ditto). Okay, we had more than one, but that's another story...
Early on it was quiet except for a party in the back room full of lively jokesters

Comfortable bar - they do a brisk takeout business
Cookie went for the Calamari Fritti app ($9.50) - a generous serving of tender battered squid served with a boatload of delicious marinara. It needed a bit of salt, but that was easily remedied. I've never met anything fritti that wasn't a magic moment and a guilty pleasure at the same time.
Calamari Fritti - lots of crispy fried bites

A simple salad with house Italian started my meal off right. I forgot to take a picture - one cherry tomato, one slice of cuke, shredded carrot, canned black olive slices, and really fresh chopped Romaine - it was just the right size, nice dressing, predictable but still enchanting.

I went for the Manicotti with Marinara ($15.95). Perfect al dente pasta sheets wrapped around sweet creamy fresh ricotta filling, with a delicious bright marinara on top. It wasn't baked, no mozz on top, no parm at the table, merely combined on the plate and served simple and hot. I watched the wine disappear, again, and my dinner. EXCELLENT ENTREE. I ate the whole thing...........

After, just like magic!!!
Manicotti, like Christmas, is magic and has superpowers. It's also warm and comforting and rich, but at the same time zesty.

Just like me.

Happy Holidays!!!  xxx Zena, Goddess of Fire

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

The Royal Treatment at The Palace - Phoenicians of Albany

I put on my crown, grabbed my sword and my scepter, and entered the Palace along with my knave Onion. All were at my service with grace and smiles, welcoming me inside. I looked around and I approved. 
The sign is small and hard to see - The Palace is in another scenic strip mall on Fuller Rd. between Railroad Ave. and Warehouse Row

Then I ate.

"The Palace" has plenty of promise - Phoenicians (formerly on Central Avenue in Colonie) is just one part, still offering their wonderful Lebanese fare. The space is enormous - still under construction but open -  it will soon include a banquet space for 300! Casual, colorful, yet cavernous - with partitioning it could become much more intimate as this newly combined Mediterranean marketplace unfolds. There are promises of a baklava bar, an Italian deli and a Kosher deli coming soon. And a wine bar??? Oh, and did I mention the jewelry store (also once on Central) is in there too? You can buy me something pretty while you wait for your meal. It's just a suggestion, anyway.
The main dining area - there is table service

Now a coffee bar until they get their license - soon to be the Wine Bar
I love the cozy room in front - a great place to relax and enjoy your morning joe and watch the peasants through the large plate glass windows commute to work down Fuller Road. It's kind of a Starbucks room full of comfy chairs - throw in some good coffee and free WiFi and we're all set. They are offering what looks like standard breakfast fare from 7:00 to 11:00 a.m., which is interesting - that Med theme is lost there, but who knows. With so many possibilities I'm pretty sure what works stays and what doesn't will get dumped the moat where it belongs.
Coffee lounge 
Knave Onion and I did take-out for the Goddess' Ladies. I went for a Meza Sampler, which wasn't quite on the menu but was on the old one, and they were happy to put it together for me. I love their hummus (best in the city!): smooth, creamy, just the right hit of salt and garlic with lovely slightly sweet homemade pita. The pita alone is the most amazing pita I've ever had - what a wonderful addition to their offerings. The baba ghanouj was also fab - fresh eggplant and a hit of lemon, royally delicious. The tabouleh salad was sans bulgur and oniony and lettucey, but very fresh with a hit of vinegar. Even the stuffed grape leaf was amazing, with a nice mush factor. Finally a surprise of moujadara - lentils and rice, savory and satisfying. En garde - an excellent foil to the rest of the plate!!! 

The current menu is all wraps as the space is still under development but there are goodies to be had, like this Meza Sampler ($12.99)

Hummus to go, $5.99

And do try the falafal - a bit salty but the texture is perfect, mildly spiced, crunchy on the outside, smooth inside, like me. 

Falafel Appetizer, $5.99
Falafel Wrap, $7.99 - this was a deal!

Zena, Goddess of Fire