Wednesday, May 30, 2012

You've Got Moxie

I missed the ice cream tour this week and compensated by eating my weight in Pepe's pizza. Earlier tonight, my older daughter's Girl Scout Troop had a service trip to the Albany food pantry. My wife had to work late. That left me and my younger daughter with two hours of time to kill.....what to do?

First stop was the library where I picked up a copy of Pizza: More than 60 Recipes for Delicious Homemade Pizza. Yeah, blah blah blah another pizza book. But this one has Tony Gemignani as one of the authors. Who? Tony Freakin Gemignani, that's who. The library had the book there, just sitting on the shelves waiting for me to pick up. Can't wait to go through the book.

So after I dragged Casey to the library, she wanted to get some ice cream. No problem. Let me break out the smartphone, reread the tour summary and program the GPS. She patiently waited listening to music while I set a course for Moxie's. Unfortunately, the GPS didn't know about a road closure. A missed turn and a detour later, the 20 minute ride was closer to 30 minutes. We made it.

What to have, what to have....The world tour of vanilla caught my eye. Casey didn't really seem to care as long as rainbow sprinkles were involved. After a brief negotiation, we went with the world tour of vanilla with some sprinkles on the side.

You get six scoops of different vanilla ice cream, a scoop of Blue Moon (one of their signature ice creams) and a bottle of water. I don't know if we got charged for the sprinkles or not - this was just over 6 bucks. My winning negotiation tactic was ripped from When Harry Met Sally - if the sprinkles were on the side, she could dunk in every bite - Checkmate. The vanillas were all slightly different. I'm not sure I could single one out as the best. I thought the bright yellow one was the worst. I didn't pay that much attention to the names but they are served alphabetically so you can if you want to. We had fun sitting at the picnic table sharing our world tour. Plus, Moxie's has a mini park.

We had a great time. We had the run of the playground and laughed a lot. The trip was a blast. In comparison to the best ice creams I've ever had, Moxie's is not in the running. "The Best" titles go out to Bart's in North Hampton, MA (but I haven't been there in over 20 years so I can't vouch for it still being incredible or even in business) and this place in Deep Creek, Maryland - holy shit their vanilla was amazing. That place in Deep Creek was also the first place I ever had Birthday Cake ice cream. Sadly, I have never had another version of birthday cake ice cream that even comes close. If their Birthday Cake ice cream is a 10, I don't think I've had anything above a 4 since. Thanks google: if you find yourself in Deep Creek, go to Lakeside Creamery. As a vacation destination, Deep Creek is kind of weak and not worth the ride from Albany, but I might go back for the ice cream. Yet I digress...

Moxie's is clearly a local gem with good ice cream, extremely friendly service and a neat little play ground. I'm not sure how they handle cross contamination, but a sign offered a gluten free option. There were several other flavors that are probably unique to Moxie's that I'd like to try.  Next visit, I'm going for horchata. It's based on a beverage I've never heard of, but I want to try it. Watermelon sounded good too.

If I lived closer, I'd be a regular.

Saturday, May 26, 2012


I may not have gotten to eat ice cream all day on the Fussy tour, but I did get to stuff my face with pizza here. Not a bad concellation prize.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Conference Lesson #5

The elevators of the future don't have floor buttons on the inside.

You type in the number in the hall/lobby and it tells you which elevator to get on. It seems weird. Especially when you type in a number and it says to got around the corner to find the elevator.

And seriously, enough with the Bon Jovi.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Conference Lesson #4

Take time out to visit the local restaurant supply store. This place was amazing. Every time you turn around, you see something new. I picked up a small pizza stone for the Firedome and was a good boy and walked past the pressure cooker I really want.

Conference Lesson #3

I'll never understand highway guys. There are many fields within civil engineering and I can find something interesting in almost all of them...but not highways.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Conference Lesson #2

This kind of shower head is strangely cool.

Conference Lesson #1

Drunk engineers like Bob Jovi more than they should.

Friday, May 18, 2012


We had a softball league game earlier in the evening. On the ride to the fields, my daughter Allison was recounting her first pitching experience which happened in a game last weekend.

"Strikes are fun. Unless you are hitting. Then they're not fun."

Just struck me as something Nuke LaLoosh would have said in Bull Durham.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

C'mon Food Network

I was flipping through the on screen guide last night and saw a show I had never heard of on Food Network. The show is titled Meat Men and it is about a large high end beef supplier outside New York City. Maybe they have other meats, but they didn't in this episode. I set the DVR to tape it and I just watched it. Well, kind of sat through it while playing Draw with Friends. I have games going with each of my sisters in law.

Ignoring the disappointment that they only show cutting things that were already broken down and aged. No sides of beef. Just porterhouse and tomahawk steaks. No talk of where it came from or their suppliers. But they appear to dry age themselves.And to give credit where credit is due, the beef looked good. This show could be awesome. It could be informative and really show people where their food is coming from. Not that I was expecting that from Food Network,  but the show could have been something special. Instead, it is your standard dime-a-dozen faux reality shows with made up emergencies. My grievances about this particular episode in no particular order:

The parade of fake, bullshit emergencies: First, a panicked chef calls and need 10 porterhouse steaks for the currently ongoing dinner service. Luckily, cameras are there to catch both sides of the phone conversation. The steaks get there late after the delivery driver gets lost, but they are there just in time. Whew.

Every single knife they have is dull. At the same time. Lets put every knife in a box, get the knife guy back to his shop to sharpen them all. Nothing gets done until we get our 20 knives back. Seriously. They did that. Are you freaking kidding me? This place only has 20 knives? And they must all get sharpened at the same time daily. In one of the asides the main guy says, "And I don't even have a knife in the building." We're talking about cutters that are honing knives after every fifth or sixth cut. No back up blades. But wait, it gets worse...

A celebrity chef calls while everyone is standing around and needs sixty tomahawk steaks for the current evenings dinner. That's a 6 and a zero. 60 custom steaks for a party, a few hours after the order is made. Again, cameras are there to catch the chef ordering as well as anxiously looking at the door for the order to arrive.

Plus, everything has to get done by midnight so a turkey hunting trip can happen the next day. And with all the bullshit, they still had to show everything 4 times. You know, in case you missed 3 minutes of the show, you could be caught up that they still had no knives and a big order to fill.

Top Chef often seemed over the top for the sake of producing drama but this was just silly. Based on what they showed, I think I may have more knives in the house than they have at their business. If they needed emergencies, they could have made up some believable ones. How about a compressor goes and they are losing cooling? Maybe a delivery truck breaks down. Band saw blade breaks (they probably don't have a back up and would have to drive to Buffalo to get a replacement). Or if they want blood, someone gets cut or hurt.

The show probably shouldn't have pissed me off as much as it did, but what a waste. To paraphrase Homer Simpson, this show was one of the suckiest bunch of sucks that ever sucked. You want to watch 30 minutes of people working with and discussing being a butcher, watch this instead.

Thanks for listening. I feel a little better. I'm off to try and draw something on my phone.

Friday, May 11, 2012


I walked past the future Trader Joe's this morning. Looks like a concrete floor went in today.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Eating Modernist Bacon

This post is long overdue. The bacon has been done awhile and this was the third time we've eaten it. I can say without doubt, this is the best bacon I have ever made. The only problem, I'm not sure if this deliciousness was derived from a combination of the recipe/technique or because this batch was made from the highest quality pork belly I have ever purchased. If only all of our problems were this bad....

The next mission is to try the Ruhlman bacon cure with the Modernist technique on an Adventures In Food pork belly. Challenge accepted!

Tuesday, May 8, 2012


I buy popcorn in bulk from either Hannaford or Honest Weight. Heat a pot on high, add some oil, then add the kernels, slap a lid on a shake every so often. When it's done, I mix in some butter and salt. Delicious, right?

Well last week I was flipping through a friend's copy of Cook's Illustrated. I dropped my subscription to Cook's Illustrated awhile ago for a number of reasons. I wasn't actually making any of the recipes. I hated their writing style - everything they do is not "the best" and they have proven it by updating the "the best" recipe to be "really, seriously, this time it's the best" recipe. They also write like they've invented the technique. While I have no proof, I feel confident in my assumption that they didn't invent brine. The magazine often refers to techniques and recipes that are online for a few months. A magazine at that price is should have content worthy of being saved. Two years from now when you come back to the recipe you wanted to make but never had time to cook it until this weekend...and are directed to find some online content that you may or may not have access to? Screw that. So I let the subscription lapse. And it was like a bad break up. I got a lot of letters asking me to come back. I got phone calls too. Couldn't we just be friends? It finally ended when I told a telemarketer that I didn't like the magazine and I would never buy it again. A little over the top and untrue, but the letters and phone calls stopped.

I think if I ever went back to them, it would just be online only. I hope I'm not leading them on. I'm way off track here..let's go back. Last week I was flipping through a friend's copy of Cooks Illustrated. Not even sure if it is the current issue. I think it was. One of the tips in the back was for popping corn. They recommend heating the pot, adding some oil and then dropping in a few kernels. When those few kernels pop, add the rest of the kernels, slap the lid on, give it a shake and move the pot off heat for 30 seconds. After 30 seconds, put the pot back on the heat, crack the lid and shake frequently until the popping stops.

I tried it. Dammit, it worked really well. Amazingly well. After the little pre-heating, I don't think there were any un-popped kernels at all. The popcorn came out great too. Next time you are making popcorn, give it a try.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Shopping at the new Shop Rite

This morning I made my first shopping trip to the new Shop Rite on Central. The place was hopping this morning at about 11:00. Even Fly 92 was there. Between the crowd and the having to be back at the house for lunch, I didn't have the time to thoroughly explore the store. And I was just shopping by impulse, didn't have a list together.

The deli ordering system by the door worked very well for me. The order is brought to a cooler by Register 20 and the other end of the store. I had seen that on the ticket and went by the register, saw the line was closed and was a little confused. Once I was directed back to the register (Patricia Cruz and Tom Urtz - who both remembered me and my name from the tour), I found my order immediately. And this cooler is in the perfect place. I walked right past it earlier. Anyhow, you walk in the front door and the machine is right there to enter your order. You go shopping, working your way across the store. And when you get to the far end and start to head to the registers...the cooler is right there. And so was my order. Lovely.

As I said earlier, there was a good sized crowd shopping. There were a handful of things I probably would have taken pictures of, but I'm still a little self conscious of public food pictures and I didn't want to take photos that included random people. But, I couldn't resist this one. Right next to the cheese display, a man was making fresh mozzarella. Behind him, a small CD player was pumping out Italian opera. When I picked up the ball of cheese I purchased, it was still warm.

Even with the crowds, I was able to walk directly up to a cashier without any waiting. Before all the groceries were in the fridge, I had a slice of that mozzarella cheese. The texture was a little rubbery in comparison to the better mozzarella I've had but the flavor was good and there was a nice saltiness to it. It couldn't have been too bad, it was gone before 1:00.

Overall, I enjoyed the trip and will certainly do it again. Once you get the overall lay of the land in a market, shopping is easier. Kind of makes it your home turf. Some prices were better than the other local markets. Some were the same. And some were a little higher. I think the price of the same cart of groceries in Price Chopper or Hannaford would have been about the same-except there were a handful of things you can't buy at those stores. Like the warm mozzarella and those Guss' pickles I spotted during the tour. I'll be back.

Friday, May 4, 2012

All Good Bakers Grand Opening

The All Good Bakers Farm to Bakery/Cafe is now officially open. The grand opening ribbon cutting ceremony was earlier this evening. The cafe, which I have wanted to visit since it first opened its doors in late April, was relocated from Quail Street. As luck would have it, the local Girl Scouts are at the Circus tonight, so I'm on my own for the evening and I got to enjoy the festivities with a lot of people from the Del-So neighborhood. Also, that giant piece of toast hanging next to David Soares is a custom made pinata.

The support for owner's Brittan and Nick Foster was incredible. Really overwhelming. And if it felt overwhelming for me, I can only imagine what it felt like to them. My personal favorite experience at the event was talking to Nick's mother. She's incredibly friendly and was absolutely bursting with pride. I also saw Albany Jane and Albany John. I haven't seen them since they hosted a pot-luck last year (subliminal italics message in case they read this: you guys should host that again, it was a lot of fun).

A lot of snacks were out. The From Scratch Club had an information table set up and I got to introduce myself to Christina who I should have introduced myself to while touring Shop-Rite but didn't because I couldn't believe I was touring Shop-Rite. Eric Paul, aka The Cheese Traveler was offering samples. He is working on opening up a shop next door. They mentioned carrying some local dairy and meats in addition to the cheese.

Mountain Winds Farm was also passing out samples of maple syrup. I tasted the dark syrup, then reached for some money and bought a bottle. I think we're having pancakes tomorrow morning. There was table with bread/ goat chease and a number of topping. They also had some garlic scapes.

And a baked goods table featuring vegan cinnamon buns. While they are probably not the best cinnamon bun you have ever had in your life, they probably will be the best vegan cinnamon bun you ever have and are better than many non-vegan cinnamon buns. They were pretty tasty. A little inside scoop - Nick's mother told me the cinnamon bun recipe originated with her mother.

I look forward to coming back to the cafe for lunch. I'd also like to take a peak at their hydroponic garden they have going in the back. And once the Cheese Traveler opens, I can see myself sitting in my car in the parking lot and tearing into a loaf of fresh bread and some cheese. Waiting to get home to eat will take too long.