|We're all cursed with our obsessions.|
I'll begin by mentioning that there have been a lot of great little discoveries, some of which I've written about--fried chicken and pizza, for instance--and some of which I've neglected to mention. I've become totally accustomed to having some really solid Asian markets right in town. I live in a place where I can get pretty good xiao long bao (at Ala Shanghai). There's no shortage of quality Indian restaurants in the area which serve up some satisfying buffet lunches.
I don't doubt that if I keep searching, keep digging, keep eating in and around Albany, I'll have a lot more positive posts to throw out there. But...
That's not to say that everything here is good, or even available. This is the case almost everywhere; nothing against the Capital Region. You don't want to know how many times K and I bitched and moaned about the pizza in Ohio.
But in a way, these complaints can be kind of fun. They can lead to list-making. And lists are always fun.
So lately I've been jotting down the notes in my head: what are some foods I've found myself longing for over these three months?
Now, I could expand this to beer, too, the great craft beers that don't make it to every corner of the country--and this might deserve its own post, in honor of the release of my beloved Great Lakes Christmas Ale, which is once again not distributed to the place I'm living. (That sound you just heard? No, not the wind--just me sighing, very loudly, at the thought of all that Christmas Ale being brewed to be drunk by people who are not me.)
Like I said before, it's not a bad place to be for food, here in the Capital Region. If there's something you want but can't get, the good news is a trip to Boston or New York isn't that difficult and will likely prove fruitful. And in most cases you can buy the ingredients here that will allow you to make just about any dish you want at home.
So, onto what I'll call a "starter list." Just a few ideas to get the discussion going--but I'd love to hear what others are longing for.
- Malaysian food. What a dream of a cuisine: a combination of influences from Thailand, China, and India, all coming together to create some incredible dishes. I'm especially partial toward roti canai and beef rendang--the latter of which I'm going to have a post about later this week)--but there are lots of dynamic options out there with flavors that, if spiced right, will blow your mind. But it's not always easy to find Malaysian restaurants; the closest to the Capital Region is in Pittsfield, MA (I'll be talking about that, too, in the upcoming post).
- Ethiopian food. It's easy to make jokes about Ethiopian food, but once you've actually had it, you realize how lame those jokes are. I discovered Ethiopian food at Abay in Pittsburgh, and I've tried it in a few other places (St. Louis, Washington, D.C., Cleveland) with mixed results. If you're unfamiliar with Ethiopian, I'd suggest just reading some of the descriptions off the Abay menu. There are so many rich, spicy, strongly-flavored vegetarian and meat options on a typical Ethiopian menu, all eaten off the flat, spongy, and sour injera bread. But it seems this is a cuisine we'll have to make do with searching out on trips to Boston and New York, at least for the foreseeable future.
- Pho (and Vietnamese food in general). Here's the thing: there are a few Vietnamese restaurants in the Albany area, and I haven't even tried any yet. But in talking on the Twitter to a few locals who have tried the pho at area restaurants over the years, I'm not exactly optimistic or hopeful about the offerings. Pho seems like such a basic thing, a staple of Vietnamese cuisine, and the stories I've heard (and mixed reviews I've read on Yelp) make me really question what's going on out there.
Maybe more ideas will pop into my head by the time I post this, and please feel free to chime in--I want to know what's been in the discourse here for folks who have lived in the Capital Region for longer than I have.
And in the meantime, there are enough positives here that none of us will be running out of satisfying dining options anytime soon, which is more than I can say for some of those other places I've lived in recent years.