Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Take out, eat in ... your place of employment

An interesting scene:

Dropped in at P.F. Chang's at Colonie Center for an early dinner and saw an employee making himself comfy in a corner booth where he was obliviously scarfing down a takeout meal -- from Moe's Southwestern Grill further up Wolf Road.

The manager on duty obviously was OK with that, even though in my view it was insulting to Chang's and off-putting to patrons. He even chatted with the employee and sampled his Moe's takeout.

This is the sort of crap you see on "Mystery Diners." (By the way, the general manager was on vacation. While the cat's away ... )

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

The last Quintessence bites the dust

Driving down New Scotland Avenue in Albany this afternoon, I noted with sadness the former diner Quintessence just sitting there, growing more derelict by the day as it awaits demolition.

"Well," I said to Constant Companion, "at least there still is a Quintessence, up in Malta."

Silly me. That Quintessence has just announced on its website it has closed, ending a run that began in August 2011.

The announcement says, "We are sorry to say Quintessence has closed and we thank everyone who came to see us. Please keep checking back and we will keep you posted on the future of Quintessence."

That Quintessence operated in a classic diner building once home to Chez Sophie and then to Bloomers. The original Quintessence in Albany was purchased by the neighboring Albany Medical Center as an expansion site. Each had been owned by Latham attorney Joseph Zappone.

A great way to work up an appetite and a thirst

Dear NOTES ON NAPKINS friends:

Please feel free to share this flyer with all your friends online.

Besides promoting a fun event for all ages, it is an important fundraiser for a looong line of community projects undertaken each year by the Southern Rensselaer County Rotary Club -- activities that benefit family aid agencies, food pantries, scholarships, educational organizations, historic preservation groups and so on.

Taking a ride on the Capital Region's revolving food scene


Matt Baumgartner, the man behind the Bomber's Burrito Bar and Wolff's Biergarten restaurants in Albany, is branching out in a hurry. He has announced he will open a second Wolff's Biergarten, this one to be located in the former KEM Cleaners building at 165 Erie Boulevard in Schenectady. And, he says, he has firmed up an agreement for another Bomber's franchise, this one for Oneonta. He already has a franchise operating in Troy. In the case of the Bomber's venues, each is located in a city with a heavy college population, key markets for low-priced burrito joints. Oneonta is home to both SUNY Oneonta and Hartwick College. Baumgartner also is co-owner of the Olde English Pub & Pantry and Sciortino's, both in Albany.


Tom Bruno is back. The man who operated Tom's Tastee Treat in New Scotland until closing it and moving to Florida in 2011 has resuscitated Munchies on Madison. It closed last winter after just a few fleeting months in business. Bruno has leased the facility and will debut there on Saturday. His menu will include such items as a fish fry, shrimp and clam rolls and dinners, mini hotdogs with homemade meat sauce, burgers, grilled chicken sandwiches, wings and the like. The address is 848 Madison Avenue, in the Pine Hills neighborhood. Hours: 11 a.m. to midnight Sunday through Wednesday, 11 a.m. to 3 a.m. Thursday through Saturday. Phone: 729-2885.

• Looking forward to local farmers' markets, but unsure if the weather will be cooperative? The Williams-Sonoma store in Guilderland's Crossgates Mall will hold its second local farmers and artisans market this Sunday from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Vendors will be selling a variety of items, such as baked goods, cooking sauces, sauces and chutneys, eggs, rabbit, lamb and body care products. Phone: 456-0201.


• The public face of the Tutunjian family in Troy is quickly fading. After ex-mayor Harry T. lost two consecutive tries for other public office, we've seen a lot less of him. Now, wife Francesca has announced she is closing her ├╝ber-popular Francesca's cafe after a 12-year run. She cited health issues and a desire to do something different. On her Facebook page, she said, "What an emotional day! I tried to hold back the tears, but I was over come with emotion. I must have done something right to have the love and support of so many. Most of you know that I have a way of remembering everyone's name or what they like to eat or drink. This was my way of making everyone feel important to me because you are." Francesca's is located at 461 Broadway. Phone: 272-3726. The last day of service will be Friday, May 9.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Our house is a very, very fine house

The proprietor/chef.
Saturday's dinner menu at Chez Maison Casa Villa House of Dowd:
Chunks of chicken breast baked in the oven after being marinated in plain yogurt infused with 7-spice Malaysian curry powder, a touch of garam masala, turmeric, fresh-ground green peppercorns and sea salt.
Baby lima beans with shreds of aged Serrano ham, a few drops of toasted sesame oil, and grated Parmagiano Reggiano cheese.
Sliced white onions sauteed with olive oil and celery seed.

Mixed brown and wild rice.

Iced green tea.

A different way of looking at breakfast.

What are the most-read posts on Notes On Napkins?

The posting headlined "Hungry Fish equipment goes to community center kitchen" was the most-read item on the Notes On Napkins blog during the period April 12-18. In fact, it drew 15% more readers than the next-highest posting, "Update: 2nd Veronese dinner planned at Normanside."

These two were followed in order by:
3-- Capital Region food-go-round at full speed
4 -- 76 breweries, cideries confirmed for TAP New York
5 -- Update: Taco Bell reveals new Doritos Locos Taco item
6 -- 'Food Truck Showcases of Upstate' ready to roll
7 -- 'Cocktail Whisperer’ to appear at Northshire Bookstore
8 -- 32 providers lined up for 'A Taste of Albany'
9 -- The Wishing Well to host Burgundy wine dinner
10 --Telling a true tale of 2 cities
If you missed any of these postings, simply click on the specific headline to go to it.

Chef-author Nigella Lawson blocked from entry into U.S.

Nigella has 'secret ingredients'
Excerpted from the UK website
New Zealand officials have granted a special visa to Nigella Lawson, who has admitted using cocaine, in an apparent confirmation that she has been blocked from entering the United States, it was reported today.

U.S. authorities declined to specify why Lawson was stopped from flying from London to Los Angeles late last month. However ... Lawson, 54, admitted, in a court case last year that she had used cocaine and cannabis.

British newspapers have speculated she was prevented from flying to the US, where she stars in a cooking talent show "The Taste," because of her admission of drug use.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Hudson's Fish & Game adds bar menu, weekend lunch

HUDSON -- There's an expansion going on at the imaginative restaurant Fish & Game.

Not a physical expansion, mind you, but more food service.

The first addition began this week with the introduction of what the owners (Zakary Pelaccio, Jori Jayne Emde and Kevin Pomplun) call "an ever-changing selection of simple dishes offered a la carte in the bar from 5:30 ‘til 10 p.m."

Next up is the addition of weekend lunch service beginning Saturday, May 10. The offerings will be an abridged version of the somewhat longer set dinner menu offered Thursdays through Sundays. Lunch will be available from noon to 2 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays.

Beyond those new regular additions, a particularly attractive one-shot event is on the schedule. Adam Schuman, who was the acclaimed mixologist of Fatty Crab & Fatty ‘Cue in New York, will be the guest bartender on Friday. May 9. Schuman (see video above of him in action) is the creator of such cocktails as the chupacabra, turmeric pickle back, 36 chambers, and the Fatty Manhattan.

Fish & Game is located at 13 South Third Street downtown. Phone: 822-1500.

Reeher opens latest McDonald's, at Crossgates Commons

Owner John Reeher
ALBANY -- Chalk up one more set of golden arches.

The Capital Region's newest McDonald's opened Friday as scheduled at Crossgates Commons.

The franchise owners are Kathie and John Reeher. Mike Plante is the manager, and Kevin Bernard is director of operations.

The new restaurant is one of five McDonald's franchises John Reeher has in the area. Before moving to the area, he had 13 McDonald's restaurants in western Pennsylvania.

According to Reeher's biography, he has served on the local McDonald's advertising co-op executive board since 1993 holding virtually every office. As a member-at-large, he provides input on local promotions and works as a liaison between the advertising agency and the owner-operator community. He also serves on the regional purchasing committee and the insurance committee.