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Traders Joe's Albany Wolf Road

staying in downtown Albany

FYI, Captial Q is closed for vacation through Jan. 11, and Pearl is history. They closed down after losing their liquor license, which occurred after hundreds of underage drinkers were found there one night.

do all coffee grinders spill beans all over...

I have a Cuisinart burr grinder and have the same problem when the humidity is low - static charge causes the bits of ground coffee to literally leap out of the container when it's opened. I have found that tapping the lid and also touching metal (to discharge static) while holding the container before opening it helps a lot.

Nov 14, 2007
jkent in Cookware

Capital Q Smokehouse in Albany

I went today for the second time and tried the Capital Q roast pork, which is described as Carolina style on the menu. It was pulled pork, mostly strings without much bark, in a peppery, vinegary, liquidy (non-tomato-based) sauce. I thought it was very good, though it could have used a little more smoke flavor IMO. They also had a South Carolina style pulled pork on as a special, and were saying that the Capital Q roast pork is North Carolina style. I liked the cornbread, the coleslaw, and the pickle spear - those and your choice of one other side are included with the plate for $7 including tax. In addition to the maple glazed sweet potatoes, which I had before and liked, they had sweet potato crisp, which is like apple crisp. I tried that and it was very good, though it was really more like a dessert item than a vegetable. This time they had two people working the front of the store and they were keeping up with their business, which seemed brisk. Seems like they're going to have rotating specials in addition to the menu items. I think I will be a regular customer.

Capital Q Smokehouse in Albany

I went there tonight and got some Memphis (dry) ribs and a side of maple glazed sweet potatoes. I thought the ribs could have used a little longer in the smoker, as there was quite a bit of unrendered fat and they were on the chewy side. They were also somewhat lacking in deep smoke flavor IMO. However, I liked the rub, and they were very meaty ribs. All in all, I've had better ribs, but wasn't disappointed in these. A half rack was $10, and it was more than I could eat at a sitting even though they cut off the burnt end and kept it. I thought the sweet potatoes were very good. There was only one person working the front of the store, I assume he is the owner. He was a little overwhelmed as he was doing quite a bit of business, and some menu items were unavailable because he had run out. I will give him a couple of weeks to get up to speed then go again and try the pulled pork or the chicken. It is primarily take-out, but there are a few stools at a counter up against the window.

Capital Q Smokehouse in Albany

Thanks for this tip - I have long lamented the lack of a 'cue joint in Albany. I like Chico's in Guilderland, but it's a 25 minute drive for me. I will check this place out soon. Is it take-out only?

Ribfest in New Paltz

Well, there was beer, but none that I wanted to buy...only mass market lagers. I was disappointed in that, too. It seemed to me that The Gilded Otter or one of the other local brewers should have set up a booth there, or at least there should have been a local microbrew available at the beer stand. I seem to recall that I e-mailed them with that suggestion after attending last year; maybe things will be different this year.

Ribfest in New Paltz

I attended last year. It seemed to be primarily a competitive event with teams from all over the region preparing and submitting their cue for judging. There were also some short seminars where pros demonstrate their techniques and offer samples. As far as food for sale, it was limited to about four vendors, two local and two traveling. I was a little disappointed as I had envisioned being able to try samples from all the competitors, but apparently they can't/don't offer samples. I bought some decent cue from one of the traveling vendors, but I'm not sure it was worth an hour's drive each way. One interesting observation was that the traveling vendors have their trailers and their huge signs like those you would see on a county fair midway, and they had long lines. Meanwhile, the local operations without big signs weren't doing anywhere near as much business. One of the traveling guys mentioned that at his seminar, and freely admitted that his food was probably no better than the locals', and that it was just due to the big signs that they were doing all the business.

Dinner off I-84 - Newburgh/Fishkill/Middletown/ Title

I would recommend the I-84 Diner, at the Route 52 exit in Fishkill (one exit west of the US Route 9 exit). They have a big menu, good service, and decent food. It's nothing really special, but it sounds like what you're looking for.

What's that extra bitter taste in IPA's that make them so delicious?

Southern Tier IPA, Victory Hop Devil, Anchor Liberty Ale, Smuttynose IPA, and Lake Placid Frostbite Ale are among my favorite hoppy beers. All are available here in the Albany area, so I assume they are in NYC as well.

Jan 03, 2007
jkent in Beer

stovetop smoker and low temperatures: pointers?

No, I find 10-15 minutes to be just about right. The temperature inside the smoker after that amount of time is just getting up to near what it would level off at if you left it on the stovetop, yet it is enough time to burn the wood.

Dec 29, 2006
jkent in Cookware

stovetop smoker and low temperatures: pointers?

I have the Cameron's stovetop smoker. You are correct that in normal use it runs much hotter than 200 degrees, so isn't appropriate for slow-cooked ribs, pork butt, etc. What I have been doing is starting it off at medium heat on the stovetop for 10-15 minutes, long enough to burn most of the wood chips, then moving it into a 200 degree oven. I keep it sealed up for at least an hour or so to let the smoke inside dissipate, then remove the cover for the rest of the cooking time to allow bark to develop. For spareribs, my total cooking time is usually around 3 hours. Then when I remove them I wrap them tightly in plastic wrap and let them sit for an hour at room temperature, followed by a quick finish on the gas grill (or under a broiler). The results have been pretty good - the smoke flavor isn't as deep as true BBQ, but it's enough to be worth the trouble. Before starting, I apply a spice rub to the ribs and keep them in the fridge for 24 hours or so.

Dec 29, 2006
jkent in Cookware
1

Online source for nuts; can you get them cheaper?

If price is your main concern, you might not be interested, but I love the nuts from Zenobia: http://nutsonthenet.com . Their Turkish pistachios are smaller than the California ones, but they are by far the best pistachios I've ever had. I have ordered from them several times and always had quick service and great product. Note that their prices include shipping.

Dec 22, 2006
jkent in General Topics

Montpelier baguettes?

We got the Red Hen plain baguettes from the coop and were very happy with them. The banh mi were great. Thanks.

Dec 10, 2006
jkent in All New England Archive

Montpelier baguettes?

Thanks, all. I will go to Hunger Mountain Coop.

Dec 05, 2006
jkent in All New England Archive

Montpelier baguettes?

Thanks for the alternative suggestions, but yes, I am specifically looking for baguettes, to use for banh mi. Actually, the authentic Vietnamese banh mi are made with some rice flour, but regular French-style baguettes is the closest I expected to be able to get.

Dec 05, 2006
jkent in All New England Archive

Montpelier baguettes?

Can anyone recommend a place to get good fresh baguettes in the Montpelier VT area on a Saturday morning? I will actually be in East Montpelier, but will travel to Montpelier or Barre.

Dec 05, 2006
jkent in All New England Archive

can not turn off e mail notification

Me too. I just started getting these e-mails a day or two ago, and I'm sure I didn't turn the setting on.

Dec 01, 2006
jkent in Site Talk

Over-easy vs Over-medium

I would bet that some restaurants refuse to serve eggs even a little bit "liquidy" because of liability concerns about food-borne illness. I remember a few years ago New Jersey made it illegal to serve eggs that weren't cooked hard, though I think they may have repealed that because it was difficult to enforce. I know of some restaurants where they ask you how you want your burger cooked, yet they always deliver it at least medium-well regardless of what you say. There may be the same thing going on here.

Nov 27, 2006
jkent in General Topics

Bittman's No Knead bread is out of the oven - anyone else?

I have very little baking experience, but I tried it, using a heavy 8-quart stock pot. I used all purpose flour. The pot is cast aluminum coated with stainless steel, and has a heavy copper disk in the bottom. The dough came out so wet that it was impossible to follow the instructions to fold it over on itself, and it stuck pretty badly to the towel despite a heavy coating of flour. With the large pot and a significant amount of dough lost to the towel, it didn't even cover the whole bottom of the pot. It came out only about 2 inches high in the middle, thinner around the edges. However, the texture and taste are great. I guess I'll have to try it again and cut down on the water.

Nov 12, 2006
jkent in Home Cooking

Are you satisfied with your tap water?

We have good tap water at my home in Albany NY. At work, though, even though it's the same water system, it tends to be a bit heavy on the chlorine. We use a Brita filter there, which makes it taste fine. I only occasionally buy bottled water, when on the road. I agree with those who feel that the bottled water industry is having a negative environmental/energy impact. I was in Phoenix once, though, and do recall the tap water being bad enough so that I wouldn't drink it if I lived there.

Nov 11, 2006
jkent in Not About Food

Great Titles for Beers

I have had the Lenny Bruce R.I.P.A. (the R is for Rye, as I recall) and it was very good. I was a little skeptical of the He'brew beers at first...I figured that they probably thought that since they had a good marketing gimmick they didn't need to worry about the quality of the beer...but it's very good.

The most amusing name for a beer I have seen recently is "Kentucky Breakfast". It's a double stout, 10% abv, which was one of the highest-rated beers of all on beeradvocate.com. I believe the brewery is in Michigan. It was described there as having the color and consistency of used motor oil.

Nov 11, 2006
jkent in Beer

what's the strongest beer I can buy off the shelf?

It depends on the laws of your state, and on what the distributors carry. As Luwak said, there are a number of "beers" being made now that exceed 15%, but they are prohibited in some states, and expensive. Some types that tend to be among the highest are imperial or double stouts, imperial IPAs, and Belgian tripels. These brews are usually only found in stores that have a wide variety of craft brews. If you're talking about beers that are available in every store that sells beer, you're probably not going to find anything above 7% or maybe 8% abv. Most of the mass-market American beers are about the same, in the 5% range. There is some info on state-by-state rules at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alcohol_...

Nov 11, 2006
jkent in Beer

help identify Funky Micro -brew taste!

I agree with brentk - American microbrews, especially pale ales and IPAs, tend to be very heavily hopped compared to the beers you mentioned as your favorites. Many people who are used to British/European styles feel that Americans have gone way overboard in that regard. Personally, though, the hoppy ones are my favorites. In particular, I love Southern Tier IPA, Victory Hop Devil, Smuttynose IPA, and occasionally even a Weyerbacher "Hops Infusion" ale, though that one is a little bit over the top even for me.

Nov 09, 2006
jkent in Beer

Casual Eats in Newburgh

I have been to Barnstormer BBQ a couple of times and thought it was good. It is in a large shopping center on the north side of NY 17K just east of NY 300 and the Thruway entrance.

boring chicken breasts...what to do

Thanks for this recommendation. I just made it and used it as burrito filling (along with Spanish rice and cheese) and it was outstanding!

Oct 03, 2006
jkent in Home Cooking

Chico's BBQ - Guilderland NY

Yes, I particularly like the chicken at Mo's - it's the best I've had. However, his irregular hours have hurt his business, I think. I like to go for lunch with a group of co-workers, which takes some planning, but then we can't be sure whether he'll be open for lunch that day. Sorry to hear that he's planning to give it up.

Chico's BBQ - Guilderland NY

Today at lunchtime I made my second visit to Chico's BBQ in Guilderland, NY (near Albany). It is located on the south side of US Route 20 just west of the intersection with NY 146. It has been open for a little under a year. I had the pulled pork sandwich topped with coleslaw ("Carolina-style"). It was a generous serving of very tasty pork with great smoke flavor and nice bits of bark. The roll was excellent, and two sauces were offered in squirt bottles (regular and spicy). It went well with a draft Paulaner hefeweizen. The other time I went, I had 1/4 rack of ribs and 1/4 chicken. I liked the ribs...the chicken breast was a little dry, but otherwise tasty. I have forgotten what I had for sides, they didn't impress me. Anyway, I recommend the place...the service has been very efficient and friendly both times. The menu can be seen at http://chicosbbq.com/

Any good canned or frozen crab out there? [Moved from Home Cooking]

I have recently been buying a brand (sorry, can't recall the name) of crabmeat that is sold in foil envelopes which are kept refrigerated and sold near the fish counter in the supermarket. They have two types, claw meat and lump - the lump is slightly more expensive. I think tastes a lot better than canned. I am not sure whether or not it is previously frozen, I don't think so.

Aug 03, 2006
jkent in General Topics

mid hv questions (ribfest, hurley corn, fried chicken)

I haven't been there, but I recently looked into the Hudson Valley Ribfest in New Paltz after seeing it mentioned in the NY Times. They have a website, but it's not very informative. I e-mailed them to ask whether the event was meant just for competitors, or also for people just looking to eat some BBQ. I heard back and they said that they will have 5 BBQ vendors as well as other food/drink vendors and activities for kids - I guess that means it's open to all. However, the website says that there is a $5 entry fee - I'm not sure I want to pay $5 for the privilege of being allowed to buy some food.