Do our eyes deceive us? Banh mi AND poutine under one roof? The two dishes we live and die for were both on the lunch menu at Creo Restaurant. It's like they were meant just for us. I was always intimidated by Creo, thinking it was too stuffy to be part of our dining scene. We frequent Mr. Fuji Sushi and The Meat House on a regular basis but for for some reason or another, we always bypassed Creo at Stuvesant Plaza. Setting our prejudices aside, we set off for to try a new experience. The menu had our names written all over it; how could we pass up on two of our favorite meals?
Our search for poutine in the Capital Region has led us to various interpretations, from The City Beer Hall to Capital City Gastropub, with little success in replicating the flavors and squeakiness of this French Canadian delicacy. They both deserve honorable mentions for use of quality ingredients but the magic is in a certain cheese curd and execution of the dish. It's hard to impress this Canadian-Vietnamese. Thus far, the only place that has been able to perfect the ratio of unmelted cheese curd to crispy fries and gravy has been The Montreal Poutine food truck. The cheese curd I look for has a particular flavor and texture that local cheddar curds here just don't have. Oddly enough, Montreal Poutine truck aside, the only other cheese curd with the exact flavor profile can be found frozen in Trader Joe's version of poutine but the fries and gravy that come with it are atrocious. It's difficult to describe what I'm looking for exactly in terms of flavor but it's almost a cross between mozzarella and cheddar and the texture and squeak of halloumi. So how does Creo's poutine fare?
Sunday, March 30, 2014
Sunday, March 23, 2014
We're late risers so lucky for us brunch hours are from 11am to 3pm. The menu is small but covers your basic sweet and savory classics and some unique twists like a sweet potato and black bean breakfast burrito and Banana Bread Ale whipped cream on french toast. But how could we pass on something like the Breakfast Burger. You all know how much we love The Hollow Burger, so naturally we had high expectations for OE's version made with chuck and short rib meat, avocado, and fried egg. Even though the burger came out more toward the medium side rather than rare, the meat still tasted delicious. The burger was well- seasoned and the creaminess from the avocado and richness from the runny egg yolk made everything come together. They even seasoned the egg! Even the shoe string fries were delicious; perfectly crispy and salted. If it weren't for the The Hollow Burger's habanero ketchup, we'd say this burger is a pretty good contender for our top 518 favorites.
As for me, the specials board was calling my name. My go to brunch item is usually eggs benedict but housemade pastrami hash with hollandaise sauce with an over easy egg sounded just as good. It was a combination of my favorite benedict elements with another breakfast favorite. The potatoes had a nice crisp and the hollandaise was tangy and creamy, just the way it's suppose to be. I can't tell you how much I appreciate a well-seasoned dish. The pastrami was remeniscent of Montreal smoked meat and while a bit tough, had great flavor. Plus I finally got toast that wasn't stale nor heavily buttered! What a bonus that it was rye toast too, one of my favorites.
The brunch fairies have finally smiled down upon us. The Olde English Pub is more than the little house with beer in it. We've got to get down here more often.
Monday, March 17, 2014
Tuesday, March 11, 2014
|Pho with Chicken Meatball|
Organic, grassfed, and gluten-free are not part of my Vietnamese vocabulary but it does translate into a delicious bowl of guilt-free pho soup. I found a kindred spirit in Linh as we chatted about our Vietnamese backgrounds and how she came about developing her recipe. With Good Morning Cafe's philosophy in mind, Linh wanted to echo those local and sustainable ingredients in her Vietnamese dishes while providing a healthier alternative. That means no MSG, no bouillon, and no fish sauce in the cooking process (gasp! more on that later). During a recent blogger preview, we were served bowls of chicken pho with samples of beef broth and veggie broth.
Labels: albany, ballston spa, capital region, charity, chicken, fundraiser, gluten-free, good morning cafe, good night noodle, grassfed, meatball, ny, organic, philanthropy, pho noodle soup, Vietnamese
Saturday, March 8, 2014
It all started with a single tweet:
I saw a picture of kimchi fries and that's all I want to try now. Can a 518 eatery make that happen ASAP?!— Chopsticks Optional (@chopsticksopt) February 28, 2014
Then our fairy godmothers at All Over Albany, derryX, and Mingle Albany stepped in
and made our culinary dreams come true:
The end result is a unique cultural mashup whose introduction to the Capital Region has long been overdue. Kimchi fries have been on the urban food truck scene for awhile now and my only encounter with these loaded fries has been through my television screen as I salivate over the creation. Lo and behold, one and half days later, Mingle came through with a version of their own: "Our Kimchi Fries begin with skin on & baked fries layered with bulgokee chicken & beef, pork belly and kimchi layered with Havarti from The Cheese Traveler."
Sunday, March 2, 2014
As I've gotten older, I've come to appreciate my culture and its food more and am slowly incorporating Vietnamese recipes into my own repertoire. My mom tipped me onto a Vietnamese cooking show on YouTube and the recipe below is based on Bep Nha Ta Nau which translate to My Home Kitchen. I came across the waffle recipe from this channel. When my parents came for a recent visit, I knew pandan waffles was something I wanted to make with my mom.
Are pandan waffles a fairly new Vietnamese creation? Mom never came across them during her childhood but we're no strangers to the classic Vietnamese flavors of pandan and coconut milk. No pandas were harmed in the making of pandan extract. Pandan is a floral green grass abundantly used in Vietnamese cooking and has a striking green color when blended. It has a unique fragrant and herby flavor that is subtly sweet and almost vanilla-like. It's most commonly paired with coconut milk in desserts and the marriage of these ingredients is magical. Here's a loose translation of the recipe: