Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Fall Bites 2015

Colder temperatures definitely call for comfort food, as if that wasn't enough of an excuse to indulge in a few extra calories. Here's a look back at some of our favorite fall bites:
Cider Sunday: Ninepin Ciderworks organized a PYO apple and cider festival at Samascott Orchards. It featured a delicious pig roast by Lovers Leap Farm complete with sweet potatoes and and corn right from the farm and an icy glass of fresh pressed cider and apple cider doughnut for dessert.
Things got pretty meta when we started drinking in the orchard. Nine Pin sources a majority of their apples from Samascott and it was pretty awesome drinking in the very place where the fruit comes from. 

Twin Peaks Coffee & Donuts: We found ourselves at a doughnut shop while exploring the Catskills and its beautiful foliage. On a whim we stopped by this charming place in Tannersville for hot old-fashioned cake donuts. Each batch is fried to order by a donut robot and freshly glazed as it comes off the conveyor belt . Couldn't go wrong with the maple bacon but it was the Boston creme and samoa doughnuts that had us devouring half the order. 
TC Paris Bakery: Our favorite French bakery is back after a brief hiatus. You can now find them inside the Pavilion Grand Hotel serving breakfast and lunch daily alongside their decadent confectionaries. For the ultimate comfort food duo, go for the buttery mac 'n cheese made with imported gruyere and aged cheddar and a to-die-for ham and cheese croque monsieur made with a rich and creamy bechamel. Oooey gooey cheese hits the spot. Be sure to leave room for a macaron or two. 
Bees Knees Cafe: After Supper Club, I knew I wanted to return to Heather Ridge Farm during the daylight to not only enjoy the fall foliage but the weekend brunch. The menu changes every weekend and on this particular day we enjoyed a farm-fresh egg breakfast plate with and house-made corned beef hash and Irish bangers braised in cider with local potatoes and side of brown bread to mop it all up. Flavors were so fresh and knowing the meats were made from pasture-raised and grass-fed animals right from the farm made the experience even more special. 
Cafe Capriccio: I can't believe it took me 8 years to finally make it here. This Capital Region institution has been serving regional Italian cuisine for more than a quarter century and and we only recently made it here for THE BEST plate of pasta. Handmade tagliatelle is tossed in a robust ragu made with tender, melt-in-your mouth wild Icelandic lamb, root vegetables, garlic, cabernet, and tomatoes. The fresh pasta was a wonderful canvas for the sauce. Each bite unfolded layer upon layer of flavor. You'll be seeing us carb loading into the winter months at Cafe Capriccio. 

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Peck's Arcade

The days of summer are long gone but the memory of a delectable meal from Peck's Arcade lingers:
Sipping a sloe gin fizz on a perfect sunny day. So smooth as it went down the hatch.

Devouring creamy bites of this 23-Layer Potato [gruyere frico, salsa verde, merlot jam]. Thinly sliced potatoes are intricately layered and seared until a golden crust forms. The crispy wafer of nutty, salty cheese was the cherry on top.

Marveling at the rainbow of colors and flavors of this duck with chow chow, frise, and hazelnuts. It was an unexpected blend of familiar Asian notes with a Southern slaw, but its complexity was a welcomed flavor profile. 
Carb-loading on homemade tagtiatelle with lamb bolognese, peas, and ricotta. There's nothing better than fresh pasta with a rich, comforting meat sauce. The only drawback was that the pasta could've used a bit more cooking time.
Indulging in not one but two desserts: a decadent chocolate brownie with homemade vanilla ice cream and a creamy and tangy chevre goat cheesecake that was not only a piece of art but as good as it looked. From the friendly service to plating of the dishes, Peck's Arcade attention to detail was impeccable. As much as we miss summer, we're looking forward to what the team will bring in the coming winter months. Their creativity is endless.

Ok...don't judge us too hard but we also indulged in a third dessert next door at The Grocery. The maple soft-serve topped with feuilletine flakes was irresistible. Hopefully its reincarnation as Little Pecks will bring back the ice cream machine. 

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Heather Ridge Farm Supper Club

It's always an adventure when dining with FUSSYlittleBLOG. I was lucky enough to dine with Daniel as his guest at Heather Ridge Farm's "Why a Duck?" Supper Club in Preston Hollow. This past Sunday's dinner was all about poultry and Chef Rob Handel designed a 5-course meal with the best of the farm's own pasture-raised birds combined with locally farmed and foraged ingredients. 

Soup: Guinea fowl consomme with guinea fowl confit, foraged goosefoot, and winter squash gnocchi. The broth was wonderfully complex and flavorful but it was the gamey confit that elevated the dish. If you've never had guinea fowl, it's very duck-like.
Salad: Massaged kale, marinated beets, and roasted parsnips tossed in a pear and hazelnut dressing with goose sausage. I'm obsessed with beets but the highlight of this salad was a well-executed and skillfully prepared sausage. Instead of a traditional casing, Chef Rob stuffed the goose sausage into the skin of goose neck! The creativity was mind-blowing. 
Cheese and Charcuterie: Local brovetto cheese, house-made seckle pear mostarda, and turkey and chesnut terrine with foraged garlic seed mustard. I wish this dish could make an appearance at this year's Thanksgiving. The terrine had a delightful center of funky pate that I couldn't get enough of and was savoring every bite of.
Palette cleanser of house-pickled plum.  
Entree: Cider braised chicken with heirloom apples, served over polenta with roasted brussel sprouts. The chicken was fork-tender and braised in house-pressed cider with apples straight from the farm. I'm going to start stealing this recipe for my own chicken dinners.

Dessert: Fives spice cake with Grenada Chocolate Co. ice cream and smoky duck fat caramel. Never would have thought to use a savory spice blend in a cake but the flavors worked so well as a dessert but what I really came for was the duck fat caramel. Don't knock it til you try it! It's as decadent as it sounds. Duck fat adds an incredible richness that dare I say is even better than butter, and transcends caramel to a whole new level.

By the time we arrived, it was pitch black so we weren't able to explore the property but Heather Ridge Farm and the Bees Knees Cafe is open year-round for brunch on the weekends. Learn from our adventures--avoid the GPS-led mountain road at all costs! It'll take you up a "seasonal road" that all the locals know to avoid. If you're not in a military vehicle of any sort, you'll be forced to pray that there's a spot for you to do a three-point turn to back into so you can safely come down the road of death without falling off a steep cliff, or get mauled by an wild animal in the middle of nowhere with no cell or data service.  Props to Daniel for driving us back down safely though. Follow these ones instead, have the farm's number handy in your phone, and have backup directions. Survive and you'll be rewarded by a wonderful and delicious farm-to-table experience!

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Memphis King BBQ

We don't venture out to Schenectady much but when we do, man is it good eats. Our recent adventure satisfied a long time craving for good, comforting BBQ. It's a charming hole-in-the-wall type of place but Memphis King BBQ delivers on promises of tender and properly smoked meat. 

The brisket is delightfully succulent and kissed with a ring of smoke. Ribs are smoked to perfection with this awesome bark yet falling off the bone. The pulled chicken was a tad dry but still flavorful. The sides are equally as amazing. The mac 'n cheese is one of the best around but it's the baked beans that we can't stop raving about. They're sweet and creamy but it's the chunks of smoky meat that really adds to the flavor of the beans. It's drool-worthy. 

Memphis King BBQ is really on point with letting the meat shine with just the right amount of smokiness, allowing you to customize even more to your liking with an an array of sauces. The house and hot ones were our favorites but it's worth trying them all. 

One menu item not to overlook is the fried chicken. Despite being a BBQ joint, this place rocks a mean piece of crispy buttermilk fried chicken. The flavor is all in the dark meat of the chicken thighs they use and to boot, it's deboned and only $3.99 a piece. Consider it another wonderful side dish to all the wonderful BBQ.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Summer Bites 2015

Adios Summer! I'm sad to see the weather cool down a bit. Our summer was so busy between work and our wedding but it was nice to indulge in some seasonal treats in between. Here's a look back at some favorite bites from the summer:

Scoup's Ice Cream: This little stand by The Crossings makes delicious homemade hard ice cream but it was the homemade Italian ice that had us coming back all summer-long. The texture is delightfully smooth and the lemon ice is so tart and refreshing.

Tastee Freez: It was definitely the summer of soft serve. We found ourselves making several trips to the Delmar stand for his and hers cones.

Jumpin Jacks Drive-In: We finally made it to this iconic landmark for the first time ever. The food isn't gourmet (and doesn't have to be) but there's a certain nostalgic factor to the place that adds to the atmosphere . The signature Jack Burger with the coleslaw was a bit perplexing but the onion rings and fish fry were surprisingly delicious. 

The Clam Shack: Our mini-honeymoon turned into a quasi Tour de Maine Lobster Roll in Kennebunkport. The lobster roll at The Clam Shack far outshined the rest of the bunch with generous chunks of lobster meat. Look at that whole tail! The half-butter, half-mayo mixture also added extra flavor. The fried clams were just as stellar but you have to get the ones with the bellies. 
Cantine Le Relais: A trip home to Montreal and back wouldn't have been complete without a stop by our favorite little summer poutine shack by the Canadian border. Every squeaky bite reminded us how delicious and unique cheese curds are in Quebec. 

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Lunch at Namu Korean BBQ

Need an excuse to play hookie? How about lunch at Namu Korean BBQ. The special menu is only available Monday-Friday from 11am to 3pm and many dishes you won't find on the dinner menu. 

Kimchi Taco: It's Korea by way of Mexico in one tasty bite. Your choice of marinated meat, kimchi, sprouts, and a tangy and spicy sauce is mixed with a fresh tomato salsa wrapped up in a tortilla. The bulgogi beef and spicy pork are highly recommended. Sweet and salty meat meets the fresh bite and crunch of fresh veggies. It's a fusion of flavors and textures that works really well. 

Kimbop: Looks like sushi but with delicious meat! A generously filled rice roll is stuffed with your choice of meat (we chose bulgogi beef) along with carrots, cucumber, and pickled radish and rolled up in seaweed. It's the perfect lunch in a bite-sized slice. Plus that potent sweet and spicy mustard sauce really kicks things up a notch.

Spicy pork and squid: Marinated slices of juicy pork and tender squid come sizzling on a hot plate and served with a bowl of rice. You'll find a non-spicy version of just the squid on the dinner menu but this lunch plate packs a lot more flavor plus you get pork with this one. 

The best part of lunch? You still get free banchan side dishes including J's favorite soy eggs and my favorite chap chae noodles. If you're going to play hookie, just plan for a post-lunch nap after this meal.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

A Chopsticks Optional Wedding

It wouldn't be a Chopsticks Optional wedding if food wasn't the focus of it all! Not too long ago, we got married on the family farm in the Hudson Valley. Not only did we have a beautiful venue but we had free reign on all aspects of the wedding. In the early stages, the challenge was finding a local caterer that could meet our wildest dreams. We've long been fans of brunch at Sweet Sue'swho else would be up to the challenge! 

First we had this crazy idea of gauchos walking around with churrasco swords but playing off my own cultural traditions, we decided to have a pig roast instead. The idea evolved into four different marinated suckling pigs to reflect our blend of cultures and favorite global flavors: an Asian 5-spice pig; American brown sugar bbq pig; Hawaiian pineapple pig; and a Cuban mojo pig because Chef is our favorite movie. 

The rest of the menu was a combination of traditional and non-traditional sides that would complement the Asian/American pigs: lettuce wraps with noodle salad :: papaya salad :: cornbread and tortillas :: quinoa tofu salad :: black bean, corn, and cilantro salad :: chilled watermelon and fruit salad with mint :: jicama cole slaw :: mac 'n cheese :: grilled chicken and shrimp skewers :: pickled fiddleheads and grilled vegetables.