Saturday, February 27, 2010

Five Guys

I was in the Stuyvesant Plaza area recently and had heard that Five Guys burgers and fries opened a new shop in the old Denny's building across Western Ave. Thinking that perhaps I missed something when I went to the stop over in Schenectady, I stopped in, expecting a nice experience. Boy was I ever disappointed.

Ick, yuk, pui.

Not only is the ambiance sort of like the skating hut on Ann Lee pond only worse, the fries were completely bitter and the cheeseburger was about the ugliest I've ever seen, the pasty whitebread bun was a shrunken mess and the beef had next to no flavor at all.

Whoever called this horror "heaven on a bun" must have been delusional.

LorreBob sez: don't bother.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010


I was shopping at the Berkshire food coop and they had pollock caught off Cape Cod, so that sounds local enough for me. I got enough for a few servings across this week. I started out thinking I was going to bake it with salsa. As I was choosing it a fellow shopper was musing about what a great frying fish it is for my benefit. So I changed my narrow thinking and decided to give frying a try, even though I had convinced my fellow customer that baking with salsa was a fine idea.

Since I haven't had a greens salad in awhile I picked up a box of organic spring greens. I was dreaming of using my spiced pears from The Berry Farm out in Chatham.

I sprinkled the greens with a little walnut oil and then seasoned them with salt and pepper. I took a little apple cider vinegar, garlic and some of my jaggery syrup - just enough to keep the vinegar from puckering my lips. The spices in the syrup resonated with the delicately spiced pears and it was all good.

Setting all that aside, my real labors began. I chopped a large onion and some sun dried tomato, then pitted my herbed green olives and dropped in a few nicoise olives for the dramatic blackness of it all. I thought rosemary and oregano would add umph but not be overly heavy. Once the onions were tender I took all that out of the pan and dusted the pollock with cornmeal and dropped it in until the meal was crispy on both sides. Then I put the veg/olive mix over the fish and added freshly squeezed lemon juice.

I made a rice pilaf that complemented all the strong flavors. I'm not sure why the photos look so wonky but it could have been the combination of using a different camera than I have been for a few months and the gin and tonic that started this cooking adventure. More study is needed.

To top it off I had lemon curd with raspberries and blueberries from the WinterSun Farms winter CSA share. It was spoon-licking delicious.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Aperitivo Bistro

I was on State Street in Schectady Friday night and looking for a nice dinner. I found one at Aperitivo Bistro.

I ordered the cocktail special Artini -- the color matched my clogs! It was citrus-y and a wonderful antidote for a long week and pounding the pavement looking at art on Jay Street. The staff was attentive without being overbearing, and I felt that all my questions and requests were given very good responses.

The mussels with broth - yes, there's a beautiful broth under that pile- were a superb starter. I asked for a spoon to scoop up as much as I could of the wine lemon tomato and herbs deliciousness.

I had the lobster special and also enjoyed it. The creamy sauce in front is a chipotle concoction, wisely added to the side. Otherwise it would have smothered the delicate lobster flavor. I used it sparingly. Supporting the lobster tail underneath was a creamy bed of polenta. Its texture was very smooth and it was a lovely foil for both the lobter and the chipotle sauce. I kept mixing forksful of the three main elements with different proportions of each and had a grand time. It was satisfying without being totally overwhelming, so I had the creme brulee after consulting with the very good staff person about dessert sizes. The creme brulee seems to be the smallest. I struggled with resisting the coconut cream pie, but the staffperson assured me that it's huge.

The creme brulee was so good that I forgot to take a photo. It looked like the standard little white ramekin, but was served on a small tray with carmel sauce and raspberries to the side. It was a perfect finish.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Jaggery syrup

In the last post I wrote about trying jaggery syrup.

Yum. I keep sneaking little drips of it, just to try to get used to the taste.

I tried it in coffee that was a dark Italian roast and didn't like it. I think the meyer lemon did not complement the coffee in a way that I like. Then yesterday I tried it in a Columbian regular roast coffee with milk and it was delicious.

I also tried it with asam tea and milk and it was wonderful.

Jaggery is available at both India Bazaar on Central Ave. in Albany and at India Spice on Fuller Road. The "rock" I mentioned was two pounds. I'm not sure if it's available in smaller amounts.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

My weird and wonderful evening in the kitchen

I'm not sure if I can really call it cooking.

I decided to cook the little pork roast before I was pushing it's shelf life limits. So this is a beautiful fresh little local pork roast from the little local butcher shop - Rolf's on Lexington Ave.. Nothing to let go to waste or anything like that.

But what to do? I didn't want it to be just plain roast. I just got finished with a plain pork roast and I wanted something a little jazzed up. I decided I would let it cook slowly because I had all night. So I also wanted to use some of my really great frozen local organic yellow tomatoes from Winter-Sun Farms CSA. I thought on my mother's "barbeque" from the 1960s when she used to start with ketchup and add orange juice or pineapple juice, a little apple cider vinegar and onions.

So I thawed the tomatoes which ended up like a puree. They were picked at peak ripeness and are beautiful. Then I went to my huge spice shelf and began picking things: five spice powder, garlic, bay leaf, dried red chilies, Busha Browne's Authentic Jerk Seasoning, my friend Irina's homemade apricot and current jam. I could tell it was going to be sweet and hot. I also spied the key limes my brother sent me from Florida. Sweet hot and tangy. I thought of the jaggery I had in my big cannister. That finished the job that the jam began.

I had it in a 280-degree oven and basted the roast about every twenty minutes for three hours. I don't really care if it's barbeque or something else - it's magnificent.

The jaggery is a different story altogether. The last time I was in the Indian grocery I bought a huge "rock" of it. The shop keeper said that her mother always made a syrup with it. I had been treating it much like brown sugar and just using pinches of it here and there, including in my spiced coffee, which I spice with cardamom, cinnamon, clove and nutmeg.

I put the whole rock in a pan with a couple cups of water to see what would happen. When there was an adequate sort of syrup and put a little into the roast pan to sweeten the sauce a little more.

But I still had this huge amount of syrup. And there were a bunch of intriguing spices on the counter. So I added the cardamom, cinnamon, clove and got out a vanilla bean. There were a couple Meyer lemons on the counter too, so I cut one in half and squeezed in all the juice and plopped the whole thing in. This is one heavenly syrup. I'm going to be having coffee at home or toting a bottle of this stuff to the cafe.