Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Troy Kitchen

From Mexican to French and Korean, Troy Kitchen's ever expanding list of eateries is an international feast of flavors waiting to be savored. The food court boasts eight shops, each with its own tantalizing specialties:
Troy Lobster: Our No. 1 spot goes to Troy Lobster. Save a trip to Maine and get yourself to Troy. The seafood here is as fresh as it gets from the coast and flavors are on point. The chowder and lobster rolls are good but it's The Kracken that lures us to this side of the river. Look how drool-worthy that sandwich is! It's everything you ever wanted: lobster, applewood smoked bacon, guacamole, and egg with chipotle cream. It's a magical moment when the egg yolk breaks and coats everything.  

Allie B's Cozy Kitchen: It was love at first, crispy bite. Allie B's fried chicken belongs in the the Capital Region's top picks. It's seasoned just right and fried to perfection. Plus what's better than a classic chicken and waffle combo? One with sweet potato waffles, it's a game changer. 

La Petite Crepe: It's a taste of Paris in Troy! For authentic French crepes and savory galettes, say oui to La Petite Crepe. We've yet to taste the savory side of the menu but the sweet crepes are heavenly. The batter is slightly sweet lending a beautiful canvas to fresh fruit filings like nectarines with berry coulis, apples with housemade caramel, and my favorite to date, The Suzette with oranges and a buttery sauce. All topped with homemade whipped cream of course.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Summer Bites 2016

How is it fall already? Before we're inundated with everything apple and pumpkin spice, here's a look back at our favorite bites from this past summer:
The Dutch Udder: We were first introduced to The Dutch Udder and their hard cider sorbet at an AOA/Nine Pin Cider Cheese Pairing event. Throughout the summer, TDU has returned to Nine Pin for Cider and Sliders events where we've indulged in flights of ice cream. Why choose one flavor when you can have them all! Their creamy, decadent beer-inspired flavors had us coming back. Our favorites so far include The Wit (a wheat malt base ice cream with coriander and orange peel) and The Chocolate Oatmeal (made with Brown's Oatmeal Stout). Louis' Lunch: An impromptu trip to Connecticut led us to the OG of all burgers. Established since 1895, it's the birthplace of the hamburger and it doesn't get any old school than those vertical gas grills. Not to mention that condiments, especially ketchup, are not allowed. As for toppings, the only options are cheddar cheese spread, onion, and a slice of tomato. That's all you need really because all the flavor is in the broiled meat. Keeping it simple for 121 years. 

Donut Dip: Another road trip jem was Donut Dip in West Springfield, MA. Opened since 1957, they have mastered the perfect donut. Fresh yeast donuts are delightfully chewy and fluffy with a crispy shell and the cake donuts are tender with a crunchy exterior. While the frosted ones are bit too sweet, the stars of the bunch were the honey glazed, sugar raised, and the oh so dreamy strawberries 'n creme filled. It's the kind of donuts that are worth driving an hour for a dozen.

Maharaja: We were delighted to find out that our favorite Indian restaurant, Flavors of India, has reincarnated as Maharaja. It's back and better than ever with classic masalas and curries, Indo-Chinese fusion, and new favorites like these wings. You're probably scratching your head but Indian wings are fantastic! The Kalmi Kabab is marinated in an almond and pepper sauce and roasted in the tandoor oven giving these wings are wonderful smoky aroma and charred bite. Dare I say they might be better than buffalo wings?! 

Sunhee's Farm & Kitchen Soup: Who says you can't have soup in the summer!
We've explored several bites at Sunhee's and the menu just keeps getting better. I have no idea when Korean New Year is but I'm glad the KNY soup is a regular staple on the menu now. It's a combination of satisfyingly chewy rice cakes with dumplings, egg, and seaweed in a lightly seasoned broth. Consider this Korean New Year's soup a new favorite comfort food.

More Seasonal Bites:
+ Spring Bites 2016
+ Winter Bites 2016

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

PJ's Bar-B-QSA

Summer just screams BBQ. It's been a lazy summer and sadly our own smoker has been on hiatus. Lucky for us, PJ's Bar-B-QSA has satisfied our need for smoked everything this summer season. For ages we drove past without a second thought, even though TC Paris' Chef Paul always told us how delicious PJ's pulled pork was. On Memorial Day, we drove up to Saratoga in hopes of getting into a certain crawfish boil but hours-long lines led us to BBQ instead. We're kicking ourselves for not stopping by any sooner!

Get ready to take your tastebuds on a BBQ tour! The Q-S-A Road Trip platter was the perfect way to sample from every BBQ region: New York chicken, Texas brisket, North Carolina pork, Virginia sausage, and Memphis ribs. The pulled pork was as good as Chef Paul described it. We got ours with vinegar; the sharp tang cut the fattiness of the pork yet you could still taste the wonderful smoked flavor. Chunks of fatty brisket was moist and crusted with a succulent bark. The ribs weren't quite falling off the bone but still tasted good and the sausage had a great snap and char from the grill. The only slightly disappointing bite was the Cornell smoked chicken, a tad dry but good flavors reminiscent of Brook's BBQ. 

On a return visit we braved the slop bucket: a hot mess of bbq beans, curly fries, a swap of mac salad for the coleslaw, our choice of vinegared pulled pork, all topped with melted cheddar. Hello fat tooth! It shouldn't taste this good but it certainly hit the spot. Think of it as Upstate's own version of a garbage plate. Wash it all down with a can of Crystal Beach, PJ's unique beverage concoction of loganberry juice. It tastes like a cross between a blackberry and red raspberry and very addicting!

Equally as addicting are these wings. Smoked to perfection and fried to a delectable crispiness. Each bite showcases the smoked flavor and they're a great vehicle for sampling PJ's range of bbq sauces. Our favorites are the original hickory and tangy Carolina sauce.

Be sure to save room for dessert! You're going to want a loganberry sundae with a scoop of extra creamy vanilla custard, or be a glutton and get both a sundae and a loganberry milkshake. 

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Bangkok Bites

Back in April, a family emergency unexpectedly took me across the world to Bangkok. While I spent most of my time in a hospital, Thailand surprised me with some of the most unique and complex flavors. I made the most out of my two weeks overseas by eating my way through it: 
Khao Chae: The summer heat in the States is nothing compared to the scorching, humid temperatures of Thailand. Most people cool off with an ice cold beverage so you can only imagine how confused I was when my dinner came with a side of iced rice! I merely pointed at a picture so I had no idea what I ordered.  Some Googling revealed that khao chae is a seasonal dish served during the hottest months to cool off, which explains the rice soaked in iced jasmine water. Considered a "royal dish", it was almost too pretty to eat.  Dinner was an elaborate dance of alternating bites of deep-fried shrimp paste balls, shredded pork floss, and egg-battered pork-stuffed pepper with spoonfuls of the floral rice. At first I thought the vegetables were decorations only but nibbles of green mangoes and scallions balanced the sweetness of sides. It took some time to adjust to the sugar levels in Thailand, even in savory dishes. 

Pad Thai: One of the first dishes I had upon landing was a classic pad thai. It was from a Sodexho cafeteria and it was amazing! The hospital cafeteria is managed by a company that we as Americans look down on, but in Bangkok stalls are independently run by mom-and-pop operations. You won't find balut and freshly roasted duck at a Sodexho cafeteria here in the U.S.! Back to my pad thai, as sweet as it was the flavors were well-balanced and a squeeze of lime perfected it. I loved the tiny dried shrimps in addition to the fresh prawns, fried tofu and bean sprouts. You could even taste the bit of smoke and char from the wok. This was a legit stuff! Pad thai has never tasted the same since. 
Som Tum: The one dish that slightly scarred me was the Thai papaya salad. It looked really appetizing between the fresh, shredded green papaya, cherry tomatoes, and long beans but the assertiveness of the fish sauce, fish paste, and scorching heat of the tiny amount of Thai chilies was enough to make me cry. After a few bites, my tongue was on fire and begging for a cooling scoop of ice cream. They really hold back on the spice level here in the States. 
Beef Meatballs: The wonders of Instagram led me to some meat on a stick down the road from the hospital. Turns out that Anamai was named one of CNN's Top 10 best street food stalls. The stall is known for its beef meatballs and some picture pointing got me some meatballs grilled and covered in the typical sweet chili sauce. I also got a bowl of beef noodle soup. The clean, clear broth was very welcomed after a few too many spicy dishes. It was very pho-like but with a much simpler soup base. The meatballs were tender but I much preferred the texture of the ones with the chewy tendons. Alas, there were no hot guy sightings per Miss Tam Chiak's blog
Tropical fruit: Not a day went by that we didn't try something new. The abundance and variety of fresh, tropical fruit was mind boggling. Papaya and pineapples never tasted so good. I fell in love with Thai mangoes, both the crisp green versions and fragrant golden ones. I tried a custardy sapote that tasted like creme brulee and new fruits like langsat with its logan-like flesh and date palms that are indescribable. What a treat this all was!

Durian: I couldn't leave Thailand without trying the king of all fruits! As stinky as it was, I was happy to devour this lovely fruit on the balcony of my hotel. Some people find it so offensive but it's a heavenly custard to me. What's neat is that in its fresh form, you can taste the difference in varieties. If I could've I totally would have brought some back with me but I'm sure the folks on my 22hr journey around the world wouldn't have appreciated it. 

Monday, June 27, 2016

Sunhee's Farm and Kitchen

Troy's Sunhee's Farm and Kitchen is a charming mix of fast-casual Korean eats and mini-mart all in one. It's hard to pay attention to the menu while a wall of unique Korean snacks is staring at you. Step away from all the temptations and pay attention to the bevy of dishes waiting to be devoured. From bulgogi to bibimbap and japchae, one of each of these classic Korean dishes is a good start to exploring the menu. 

My love of Korean food began with bbq and quickly grew with each bite of bibimbap. It's a comforting bowl of rice mixed with a delicious blend of sauteed vegetables, sweet and savory bulgogi beef, and the signature gochuchang pepper paste for added kick. At Sunhee's, this Korean classic gets a fresh makeover with a swap of black rice, turning my love of this dish into an obsession. The dark purple color not only adds a pop of color to this rainbow of flavors but an added texture that is pleasantly chewy and nutty. Aside from the black rice, my favorite component of the bibimbap is the addition of gosari, a wild fern/fiddlehead that adds an amazing earthy flavor. The rice bowl is also refreshingly chockfull of veggies.

Although lacking the usual spread of free banchan side dishes, you'll find a complimentary side of kimchi with the rice bowls. The quintessential Korean pickled cabbage had the perfect balance of spice to fermented funk. Plus my favorite banchan of japchae was available as an appetizer. It's a dish of sweet potato glass noodles with stir-fried veggies tossed in soy sauce.

My only disappointment was the pajeon. The flavors of this seafood pancake were there but it lacked the satisfying crisp texture that I enjoy the most from this dish. As for the mochiko cake, I liked that it wasn't too sweet and the chewy texture reminds me of some of my favorite Vietnamese desserts but alas, I've never liked walnuts in my dessert. 

I'm looking forward to returning to Sunhee's and adding the kimbap rolls and tofu stew to my lists of things to try. Hopefully the bar area will soon be opened too; the "coming soon" sign had me intrigued.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Spring Bites 2016

This spring was a hectic one. A family emergency took me out of the country for a good month and before I knew it, summer was here. Bangkok was a journey in and of itself but here's a look back at our favorite spring bites from this side of the world:

All Over Albany: An AOA Birthday party wouldn't be complete without these iconic cupcakes! Congrats on 8 awesome years Mary and Greg! Thanks for letting us be part of the online neighborhood. 
Restaurant Nanova: [Parmesan Gnocchi: pork belly, brown butter white beans, charred tomato & broccolini rabe pesto] I was convinced that the addition of beans would make this dish too heavy but one bite proved me wrong. The homemade, pillowy soft gnocchi was enrobed in a bevy of flavors from the bright pops of pesto to the rich pork belly and creamy beans. Not to mention that brown butter makes everything better. 

Restaurant Phuong Thao: Of course mom's cooking will always be the best but when momma was away, dad took us out for the next best thing. For a homecooked-styled meal, we went to this Montreal shop for three classic Vietnamese dishes: caramelized braised fish in claypot (ca kho to); canh chua ca (sour fish soup); and tom rang muoi tieu (salt and pepper shrimp). It was a melting pot of sweet, sour, and salty bites. These are the flavors that I grew up and I loved being able to savor and share these moments with my husband. 
Rob and Deb's Frozen Dreams: It wouldn't be spring without the first ice cream cone of the season, or in this case the first sundae! An impromptu stop in Glens Falls led us to an insanely addictive hot maple fudge concoction. It's a family recipe exclusive to Rob and Deb's and boy is it worth the stop! The cherry on top really isn't the red glop but the generous gob of sweet maple sauce. If you were sad about the end of maple season, here's another reason to cheer up. 
Sushi Makio: We celebrated our first year wedding anniversary with a trip to our favorite sushi shop in Kingston. The omakase is always a treat and fun to watch Chef Makio prepare each dish with care and detail. A particular gem on this visit were these sweet Japanese whelks steamed with sake and soy. Unlike the texture of clams and oysters, these sea snails were pleasantly chewy and its flavor much more agreeable than its earthy escargot counterparts. What a lovely new experience. Cheers to making it to one year of wedded bliss and here's to many more happy bites together!

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Off Shore Pier Restaurant and Fish Market

I am convinced that any restaurant connected to a market has got to have great food. Case in point: Parivar Spice and Market and La Mexicana Grocery and Restaurant. Now we can add Off Shore Pier Restaurant and Fish Market to that list. I've been shopping at the Target store in East Greenbush for years and never really bothered to stop by any of the restaurants along Route 4. On a whim, we stopped by Off Shore Pier and have been hooked ever since. It's a gem of place amongst a sea of fast food chains. 

The seafood market right next door is small but purveyor to some of the freshest seafood around. The quality ingredients translates to some amazing flavors when fried to order next door. There's the classic fish fry sandwiched on a hot dog bun and the seafood platter with succulent pieces of fried scallops and shrimp. But what you really want is the fried clam bellies. Each briny bite brings back great memories of our honeymoon in Maine.

Not everything is encased in a golden cornmeal crust. Sure you can get your seafood broiled but we all know everything is better fried, including your vegetables. Little nuggets of cauliflower are not only fried but enrobed in a layer of cheese for good measure. For a true taste of the oceanside, it doesn't get any better than fresh clams on the half shell. You can usually find us slurping back dollar oysters at The Beer Belly but these puppies are just as addicting. Just because the Capital Region is landlocked doesn't mean you can't find great seafood. Until we can get out those little New England clam shacks, you can find us at Off Shore Pier.