Friday, September 23, 2016

Vegging Out: The Schenectady Greenmarket

After another night of zombies then beer then the gym, I need to do something peaceful and virtuous. Maybe a nice salad and a walk among mortals.

Yes, it's time to go to the farmers market! There are so many in the Capital Region - Delmar, Troy, Saratoga, Empire State Plaza, and Colonie Crossings, to name a few. But just like where I buy my cat food and gas and wine and prescription drugs and T.P. it usually comes down to proximity and convenience. So for me, Sunday is Schenectady Greenmarket day, downtown by City Hall.
Not too big, not too small, and very friendly

I tried the CSA route - too much food, too many tied up Tuesday's, not always stuff you want, and quite frankly, I missed being out in the community. I missed the bugs and the dogs and the smell of the grill and babies in strollers and live music and face painting and bumping into friends. But most of all I missed seeing what so many dedicated local farmers and entrepreneurs are growing and pickling and bottling and crafting - honey, candles, soaps, fresh milk, dips, cheeses, meat, crackers, spice mixes, peanut butter - you name it. Oh, yes, and then there are the fruits and veggies.

Maple products from Uncle Pat (with a smile, on the left)

Assembly Coffee Roasters - my their coffee smells GOOD!

My friend Stretch loves Ole McDonalds Cinnamon Honey

The chef's mom proudly displaying products of a local startup
So fresh, so much variety, so much food! I have a tendency to overdo it, but I usually have a game plan in mind before I go about what I'm eating in the week to come. I like that the fruits and veggies don't decompose the minute you get them home.

Amazing tomatoes!

Eggplants everywhere. Red cooked up some Caponata. 

Fresh pears and apples are coming into season


Interacting with the vendors is always a delight. They are so proud of their products and will tell you where things come from and how they got started and who the chef is and where the farm is and about their animals and the weather these days.

Enjoying the vendors

Painted Goat Farm has GREAT cheese!

A few tips:

  • Bring cash. Small bills and quarters are appreciated. Some vendors do accept cards.
  • Street parking is plentiful, but you can also park in the lot at the corner of Clinton and Franklin, despite what the signs say.
  • Wander around first, have a cup of excellent coffee, look at what's available, ask about pricing, listen to the band, sing along if you wish.
  • Try something new on your way - a hand cream, maybe some hummus or a cookie. Buy yourself a treat. 
  • Now go back, once you've ditched your coffee cup, and fill your re-useable bag with fresh stuff. This week there were lots of eggplants, peppers and tomatoes. 
  • Oh, and leave the dog at home - not allowed at this market, although they are welcome at others.
Zena, Goddess of Fire

PS: After buying all that lovely fresh food I went to the pub for wings and a beer. So much for virtue!

We knew most of the words to "Four Strong Winds"

Friday, September 9, 2016

Eat Great Food: Capital City Gastropub

Q: What's kinda hip with a touch of grunge, still a bit classy, practical, decidedly local and pretty tasty?

A: HA! No, not me, silly - it's the Capital City Gastropub!!!
Homey, neighborhood feel with sidewalk seating in summer
OK, Albany has many many pubs and bars and taverns and saloons and roadhouses and taprooms and ale houses and speakeasies and gin mills and public houses and beer joints and watering holes and cocktail lounges and canteens and beer gardens and other dives. Take your pick. Some will say the food is good if you know what to order, but from where I fly I never expect much from the kitchen. I've even scoffed at those reviews in the TU because really? Who cares? It's just a pub, right? The food always fails in some way, and we expect that.

Level 1 is the usual burgers, pizza, mac n' cheese, bangers, french fries, wings always, sometimes a bowl of chili or nachos with yellow cheese goo. Ordering the salad is not recommended. $

Level 2 may also have panini and wraps, steaks, onion rings, cobb salad, shepherd's pie, quesadillas, and, of course, the flatbread of the day,  the decor is usually better, and so is the price, but the food will likely be just as uninspiring, and you may not get as much. $$

Level 3 will also offer you burgers, and pizza, mac n' cheese, bangers, and fries, but they will take your mind off another pint and back looking at your plate, wondering how something so simple could be so sublime and delicious. $$$ and worth every cent. A.K.A. Gastropub!!!

Decor includes hard chairs and it's noisy but streamlined and chic

Jaguar enjoyed a glass of Vino Bianco, Planeta La Segreta Bianco from Sicily ($8) - served up cold, nice and dry, not too fruity. I joined her with a Bell's Best Brown from Comstock, MI ($6) that was slightly sweet and very smooth. There's about eight beers in bottles or cans, a dozen or so on tap, and a pretty substantial list of whiskeys and ryes and bourbons to choose from - very nice.
My first beer and some water just to pretend I also drink water at the pub

We were both in the mood for a burger. She ordered up a Kilcoyne Farms Burger ($15), with house made pickles and roasted garlic ailoi, adding blue cheese and caramelized onions to the bun ($2.50). OMG this was perfectly medium rare, piled high, juicy, delicious, beefy even, and the fries were some of the best ever - skin on, crispy, but mushy inside, tasted like, um, POTATOES.
A big, juicy, beefy burger perfectly cooked medium rare

I went for the Double Pork Burger ($18), with two tender, lightly spiced patties, gruyere, housemade zucchini pickles, onion and Russian dressing. It was almost 3" high - messy, drippy, divinely decadently good - but the bun easily disintegrated. I ate the first half without putting it down and ate the rest with a fork and knife. Actually, it didn't need the bun so I might skip that next time.

Double Pork Burger - juicy piggy decadence

Gastropub - buying local, cooking up fresh, taking care of details, inventive, creative even. It's a pleasure to have a pint (OK, I admit, two) and some really great food at a pub, in my jeans and old shirt on a Saturday night.

Get down to the Capital City Gastropub - you deserve it.

xxx Zena, Goddess of Fire