Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Yes, but... (or, I eat at Juicy Burgers and am sent on another rant about value)

It's funny.  I'm a big burger guy, but I haven't found myself talking about them much on the blog.  And for a while, I don't think I even ate many around town after moving here.  One at City Beer Hall, one at Five Guys.

But then I had one at Ruby Tuesday, and it was good.  I'm not one to advocate chain restaurants, typically try to avoid them, but I can appreciate quality and value when I get it.  And for $9.99, Ruby Tuesday offered a properly-cooked "handcrafted burger" with two sides (I chose mashed cauliflower and grilled string beans from an extensive list).  Service was good, the Sam Adams Alpine Spring beer wasn't bad, and all in all K and I left as a couple of well-fed, satisfied customers.

Since then, I also finally got out to Guilderland to try a cheeseburger I'd read a bunch of good things about, the one from from Juicy Burgers.  I won't deny that Juicy Burgers can make a tasty burger, but my feelings after eating there are complicated and leave me wanting to dig a little deeper into the whole idea of "cheap eats" in this area, and why I think that concept is flawed on so many levels.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Why I Like Healthy Living Market in Saratoga

I'm eager for the day (year?) to arrive when Whole Foods finally opens its doors in the Colonie Center.  But until then, I'm happy that a similar type of market has emerged at the Wilton Mall in Saratoga: Healthy Living Market

From where we reside, Healthy Living Market's not exactly convenient--it reminds me of when we lived in Ohio and would drive about 40 minutes to Akron and pick up stuff at Mustard Seed Market.  We'd always try to make a day of it, shop and work in a cafe and walk/hike on a trail that wouldn't leave us too sweaty for the rest of the day, and I imagine that might be what we do once in a while with Healthy Living Market.

Upon our first visit there, we were also reminded a lot of a similar market, Earth Fare, which was about a 10-15 minute walk from where we lived in North Carolina last year.  I sure miss that convenience, I'll admit: taking a leisurely stroll around the curvy, hilly roads of our neighborhood, and then stopping by Earth Fare for some cheese, snacks, or prepared foods.  Sure, we had to then basically climb a mountain with our bags in tow to get home, but it worked out well and limited how much we could buy in one trip.

But enough on that; this post isn't about nostalgia for Boone--I'm saving that for another day--it's about the many little things about Healthy Living Market that make it a fun place to stop when in the area.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

In Need of Some Pancakes to Go with that Maple Syrup

So I've had maple syrup on my mind a lot lately.  I interviewed a couple local sugarmakers for my recent maple syrup article for All Over Albany, which I recommend reading if you haven't already not just because I wrote it, but because these two guys I talked to were so generous with their time and had a ton of interesting stuff to say.

I not only talked to these maple syrup experts, but I also read a little about sugaring so I didn't come off as a complete rube when it came to the process and science of it all.  And when it was over, I'd restocked my pantry with a nice jug of Grade A medium amber maple syrup from Bulson Road Natural Sweeteners (this is the product made and sold by Mark Cipperly of Capital Agway).

I was ready to try that syrup, and while there certainly are ways in which you can use syrup that don't involve breakfast, for me there's no better way to enjoy it than on pancakes.  And that's especially the case with the best pancake recipe I've ever tried, one K introduced me to and which comes from a somewhat surprising source: Bruce Paltrow, the late film and television producer and father of actress Gwyneth. 

Monday, April 1, 2013

Battle Double IPA: Firestone Walker Double Jack vs. Mission Shipwrecked vs. Lagunitas Sucks

In the article I wrote for All Over Albany about a month ago, a sort of "most wanted" list of beers for the Capital Region, I ended up leaning heavily on the Double IPA as a prized type of beer.  From Bell's Hopslam to Russian River's Pliny the Elder, many of the top-ranked beers out there (but not available here) fall into the Double IPA category. 

And for good reason.  These beers take regular IPAs--always popular in their own right--up another level.  Bigger hop profile, higher ABV--I get the sense that the top craft brewers in the country use this style as a sort of measuring stick against each other.  And it's not just about how bitter they can make a beer, or how strong; it's a question of how to include these elements while making a complex, drinkable beer.

So after all that time spent thinking about Double IPAs while researching the article, I couldn't help but pick up a few to take home.  And after I had one, I thought, Why not have these over a few nights and compare what each brewer is doing?  So that's what I did, and here are the results.