Monday, January 30, 2017

Drinking at Druthers OR How I Got Lost

Cheese and crackers, where am I??? I'm at the far end of Broadway in Albany, NY, just before it goes under the Interstate, in the warehouse district where the trains cut through and the trucks are big and it's disturbingly dark and quiet after business hours and the wind and rain can really howl and forces of evil and dirt devils lurk behind every overflowing bin of trash. Then I burst into the light that is Druthers Brewing Company, and I know that all is well.
The brewery at Druthers
It's really a brewery - really really - you can see that through the glass walls on the other side of the bar. Very bright and clean and industrial looking. Contrast that to the rustic exposed beam and brick open concept low light bar and restaurant. Both are spacious, and I liked that the dining areas and bar spaces were broken up into smaller, intimate spaces. It was fun to explore, crowded, noisy (but not from loud music, thankfully), cozy and very exciting, especially when I saw the wood fired oven. Working hard to keep my identity a mystery, I sent a few soft kisses to the kitchen and finally took a seat.  Everyone was safe now and it was time to get serious.
Cozy dining with open kitchen/wood fired oven in the back

Beer. CBM enjoyed a pint of their 80 Shilling- malty and smokey and amber colored, a deliciously smooth Scottish style ale, while I downed a Druthers Golden Ale, light, loaded with hoppy goodness, clean and refreshing ($6/pint, $2 off during happy hour!). First rate - obviously alot has gone into their development - bravo!!!

Druther's Golden Ale - $6/pint and $2 for a 5-oz sample

Looking over the menu it was very much pub classics - burgers, sandwiches, pizza, wings. We shared an order of Confit Chicken Wings - jumbos, cooked in animal fat, super tender, definitely mild, even a bit sweet. The blue cheese dressing was great - chunks of cheese in a smooth creamy base, with the requisite side of celery/carrots that were decidedly fresh and crispy. OK, good, not great, I would have liked it a bit more kick cause I like it hot, but good with beer. Maybe two....  (:
Confit Chicken Wings
The Autumn Veggie Pizza ($14) was lovely to behold, creative even, laced with sweet apples, shaved brussels sprouts, and pumpkin seeds, cheddar???,  and finished with a drizzle of balsamic reduction. Good, with a nice char and a chewy crust, hot and drippy, a bit too sweet for me, but it was still a real treat.
Autumn Veggie Pizza - seasonal, creative, sweet
By 630 pm the place was pretty much mobbed with families and mostly 30+ somethings talking and laughing; the service continued to be first-rate despite the crowds. Druthers is certainly a bright spot in a part of town that by contrast ain't so inviting, so if you make a left when you should have made a right and find yourself  thinking "Where's a Goddess of Fire when I need one to protect me?" and "Would she like a beer?" find a parking spot and step inside, and call me anytime!!!

Druthers is so hot it's cool.

Zena, Goddess of Fire

Monday, January 9, 2017

The Paradise that is Parivar

The holidays are behind us, and we are left with the dregs - a few extra pounds, little presents that still need a place to get put away, Christmas socks. There are several months to come when it will be dark, cold, snowy, bleak, windy, stormy, slippery, and icy.  Most mortals that do not possess that rectangular gold thing they call currency and leave for warmer climes or that "ski" will hunker down to their routines: feed cat or die make bed empty dishrack clean catbox pack car gym shower work work work fight traffic and lousy roads home to warm socks and sweatpants heavy bowls of pasta one more glass TV toothpaste bed. Like the dog, who is highly intelligent, even gods and goddesses and superheroes won't go out.

Now that you are feeling totally depressed, maybe even like a loser, lonely with your Ragu, I am here to help.

Enter paradise: Parivar Grocery and Cafe.

Ample parking in paradise, as well as shopping carts
Fresh vegetables, some weird, totally fascinating.

I've never heard of "snake gourd"

Lots of spices and sauces and mixes, exciting.

Lots of mixes and sauces and jars of stuff and spices everywhere

More types of flour of more types of grain than I've ever seen anywhere - enticing.
They also had a whole display of organic flours, which is cool

Frozed prepared foods and breads and veg - definitely not Stouffer's - who said eating Indian had to be complicated???.
Frozen goes on forever, much of it unusual, which made the visit FUN

As well as staples and basics - beans and beans and peas and lentils - such bounty!
Market32 did not have split peas. Sheesh.
And, if that wasn't overwhelming enough - I ate at the Cafe in the back.  After buying Black Eye Peas and frozen unsweetened coconut and tamarind concentrate and really fresh garlic and a few other goodies, I still ate out.
Menu items include yogurt drinks

The menu isn't extensive, and so I trust it all - Chat (small plates of "street food"), and South Indian specialties (Uttapam, Vada), as well as full dinner options. The kitchen is open and rudimentary but fully staffed with talented cooks turning out what had to be the best Dosa I've ever had.
Spring Dosa

Mistress of the Hounds enjoyed the Spring Dosa ($9.99), rice crepe filled with veggies like potato, onion, carrots and cabbage - beautiful (albeit unusual that it was cut to serve) and super spicy, lots to eat, especially fun with the fresh ginger & coconut chutney, hot sauce and sambar on the side.
Masala Dosa (triangle, not rolled - all the filling in the corner leaving lots of fresh bread to pull out and clean the palette

My Masala Dosa ($7.99) made my eyes water because I was so happy and it was so spicy and then it was gone. Fresh crispy dosa that we could watch being made - pure artistry. Simple and humble, absolute paradise in a bite.
Order at the counter and take a seat and bus your own. Very casual. Parivar means "family". Lovely.... 

Yes, it's still winter. The mornings smell like after shave and car exhaust, cats will sleep, birds will flock to bird feeders, and pigeons perch on the power lines to keep their toes warm. But you will be full and safe and warm and happy with just one visit to Parivar.

Only 70 days until spring. Just sayin'.

Zena, Goddess of Fire