Showing posts with label lox. Show all posts
Showing posts with label lox. Show all posts

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Bread and Honey

I've had my share of NYC bagels when I spent a semester in New York, and even a few Montreal bagels from home. Each has its own unique style and now I get to add Albany bagels to that list. What's an Albany bagel? Just stop by Bread and Honey on Madison Avenue and taste for yourself. Bagels here are made fresh on premise but it's not just about the bagels. It's a mecca for all your carb-related needs--from loaves of fresh bread to pretzels, scones and sandwiches, and on occasion bread pudding made with Bake For You cookies! But the bagels here are the stars of the bakery.

Get to Bread and Honey early though, favorites run out fast. Lucky for us late sleepers, a couple of Everything bagels were still waiting for us. You're going to want a schmear of bacon scallion or smoked salmon cream cheese to accompany these jewels. No need for toasting, they shine own their own especially if you can get one still warm from the oven . It's not as thick and dense as the New York bagels I've come across but still sizable. There is a nice toothy bite to this Albany bagel with an unbelievable crunchy, crusty exterior and chewy soft innard that isn't too fluffy or doughy. It also has a great balance of toppings for an everything bagel, including chunks of salt which I haven't found as prominent on other everything bagels, if any really. The bagels from the chains just don't hold a candle to the ones at Bread and Honey. Even the cream cheese tastes better. You can actually taste the smokiness from the bacon one and the there's plenty of briny salmon bits in the lox one. One of each cream cheese is the way to go.

You can also add a cup of homemade soup for a light lunch. We happen to come on a day when turkey barley was on the menu. It was a cold, grey day and a cup of soup was just what we needed. I've never come across this combo before but this stew-like soup was so comforting with chunks of carrots, potatoes, and ground turkey. I never cook with tarragon and am not familiar with its flavor but a touch of this herb added a different and welcomed dimension of flavor. All it was missing was a touch of salt and pepper. 

We also got a sample of sourdough bread too and knew we had to take a loaf home. It had a beautiful crust and lovely chew. We knew it would be great bread to make grilled cheeses for dinner. It's refreshing to see so much thought go into a well-made, simple product and you can taste the love and care. We've stopped by at least three times now. Albany is so lucky to have a new bakery like Bread and Honey. Cheers to more Albany bagels!

Sunday, April 27, 2014

fin your fishmonger

Happy Blogiversary! It's hard to believe that Chopsticks Optional is one year old. We've come a long way since our very first post about our favorite Capital Region sushi spots. How fitting that we would write about seafood again exactly one year to the date. Since J has developed quite the skill for shucking oysters, fin-your fishmonger has been our purveyors for the best fresh and sustainable seafood needs. 

We were hooked at first bite at the lobster roll taste off last summer. We've also had much success with take-home meals (they prep, you cook!), particularly a halibut with citrusy tomatoes and capers. Since Chef Katie does a great job of complementing flavors, we thought we'd give lunch a go at the Guilderland shop. The menu is available for takeout or eat-in with regular items like salmon burgers and crabcakes with rotating soups and weekend specials. The fridge and cases are usually stocked with various sides, seafood salads, and house-smoked fish too. But we've had our eye on the fish tacos for quite awhile now and couldn't pass up on that plus the day's fish fry special. 

Monday, March 17, 2014

Reel Seafood Co.

Our one and only visit to Reel Seafood Co. was more than three years ago. Our meals weren't terrible; they were just forgettable. Ever since J mastered the art of shucking oysters, our outings for seafood has been limited to trips to fin-your fishmonger for our own stay-at-home feasts. But with recent news of renovations, new chef and owner, and renewed efforts to source sustainable seafood and local seasonal ingredients, we were willing to jump back on board Reel Seafood Co. We don't typically go out on Friday nights but it was a chance for us to observe a busy dinner service. 

Although it felt a bit like being inside an alien spaceship, neon glow aside, the "new" Reel Seafood Co. certainly looks sleek and modern with updated furniture, a wall of aquariums, and bright blue lighting.  We were excited to try the "new and improved" menu. We're more than capable of prepping our own raw bar and escargots has been on J's culinary bucket list for awhile now, so in we dove with snails as an appetizer. This was our first time trying escargots and we didn't quite know what to expect. What we got were underseasoned, butter-soaked bites. The little rounds of puff pastry didn't add much flavor or texture, and I didn't really care for them. A few shakes of salt helped a bit but the herbed-butter was overwhelming. As for the escargots, J liked them more than I did. They were a bit too earthy-flavored for my taste but the texture wasn't as bad as I was expecting; it's almost like eating a chewy mussel or clam. I would try escargots again but prepared differently.