The Shakshuka at Morgan & Company

Recently I’ve fallen in love with poached eggs. When made well, the whites are tender and creamy. The yolk should be runny and slowly ooze its golden goodness into, and onto, whatever it’s paired with when pierced. The combination of delicate albumen and rich vitellus, make for wonderful textural and flavor contrasts, and are but one reason why eggs are a cherished food the world over.

More and more I’m of the mindset that poached is a better way to eat an egg. As such, I’ve been seeking out dishes that incorporate poached eggs. The North African dish of Shakshuka—eggs poached in a spicy tomato based sauce—has become one of my favorites.

I’m also a big fan of the Italian corn porridge better known as polenta, similar to the southern staple grits, it’s hearty, homey, and comforting. When made by expert hands, it’s swoon-worthy.

Morgan & Company has combined shakshuka and polenta into a filling and flavorful dish. It’s an Italian-African mashup if you will, and on a recent trip to Glens Falls, I stopped in to try it.

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Yelp Makes My Life Better

I had not a single close friend during my teen years. Oh, I had acquaintances, and I would spend time with my two brothers and other family, but for the most part, I felt alone.

I was extremely shy when I was little. I don’t remember when it dawned on me that I was shy, but at some point I became aware of it and it caused me to withdraw further. I was a skinny kid, and not at all athletic. I wasn’t cool. I was geeky and dorky. As a result, I was picked on in school, and because I was shy I wouldn’t stand up for myself. I withdrew even more. By my early teens I was a loner. It’s better to be alone, than to be picked on. I felt I wasn’t likeable, so I was afraid to reach out to people and strike up friendships because I was convinced they wouldn’t like me. I deeply envied those who had a group of friends or were part of a clique. I desperately wanted to be a part of a group and spend time with others that have similar interests.

Thankfully, I quickly grew out of the shyness, and for the most part I’m now very outgoing. My personality has swung 180 degrees.

But a few years ago, I started to get frustrated with my social life. I was getting more and more into food, and there was no one among my friends or family that shared my passion for it. I wanted to share that passion with others who could appreciate it. I wanted to experience the camaraderie of being with birds of the same feather. But I had no idea how to make that happen.

That’s when I discovered Yelp.

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Bad Chain Restaurants VI – Cognitive Dissonance

Cognitive dissonance as it’s described on the Simply Physcology website:

“Cognitive dissonance refers to a situation involving conflicting attitudes, beliefs or behaviors. This produces a feeling of discomfort leading to an alteration in one of the attitudes, beliefs or behaviors to reduce the discomfort and restore balance etc.”

Am I feeling discomfort due to cognitive dissonance? Perhaps. But it does make me want to rethink some of my beliefs regarding casual restaurant chains. Some obviously are better than others and that makes it easy to justify eating there. Sometimes though there are places that shouldn’t be much better than the rest of the pack, yet I find myself eating there on occasion and actually enjoying the food, as well as the atmosphere.

Macaroni Grill is one of those that causes me to experience cognitive dissonance.

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Making Great Pizza at Home

I was going to title this post “Making Better Pizza at Home” because I don’t quite think my homemade pizza would qualify as great. However, grading it on a relative scale, and though I have a ways to go yet, I do think it’s possible to make great pizza at home.

I’ve discovered 3 secrets to making very good pizza at home, and using those 3 methods, anyone can make pizza close to something you’d get at a decent pizzeria.
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Manhattan Copycats

I’m slowly becoming more and more enamored with simple foods. And I’ve discovered simple foods generally are created on a triune foundation. Three components that come together to make delicious magic. I want to elaborate on this more at some point and hope to write a full post about it in the future.

I found myself with the opportunity to spend a full day in Manhattan,  and I decided while I was there I would eat a couple of copycat items that are attempting to elevate themselves above their inspiration. I found a restaurant that’s making copycat Five Guys burgers, and one that’s making a copycat Chik-Fil-A sandwich.

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Marcella Hazan’s Bolognese – A Study in Fat

Do you have any Marcella Hazan cookbooks in your collection? If you don’t you should. She is without question the Grand Dame of Italian cooking. Or perhaps I should say she was the Grand Dame of Italian cooking, as sadly, she passed away a few years ago. If you’re unfamiliar with who she is, and the huge impact she’s had on Italian fare in America, please read the wonderful bio/obituary the NY Times wrote just after her death.

If you don’t have any of her cookbooks, you should pick up what is probably her best collection of recipes, “Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking”. It’s chock full of great Italian dishes, of which I’ve made more than a few, and they never disappoint. Plus there’s instructions for cooks of all levels on things like how to make pasta, risotto, and other classic Italian dishes. As well as information about herbs, spices, and cheeses used in Italian cooking.

The other day (and it takes almost a whole day) I decided to make her bolognese for the first time, and what I discovered, is that it’s a dish that’s all about fat.
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Pizza Pilgrimage II – Fried Pizza

Did you know fried pizza is a thing?

Yes, fried pizza. I know it sounds gratuitous, but stick with me. I first discovered it a couple of months ago. I was surprised to learn it’s not new, it’s been around for awhile. And it’s not gimmicky, as though it were something you’d find at a carnival food stand. Trust me, it’s a heck of a lot better than it sounds. I’m even inclined to use the “D” word—delicious—and that wouldn’t be an embellishment for the sake of dramatic effect. In fact, I’d love to see an Albany area establishment create a fried pizza of their own. More about that in a moment.
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Bad Chain Restaurants V – Fool me once…

On a recent visit to a local chain restaurant, this idiom came to mind:

“Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me.”

We all know that chain restaurants have marketing departments. People that get paid to make their restaurant appear to be someplace you want to spend your time, and more important, your dollars. This is no secret. We’re all jaded by TV commercials, online ads, billboards, etc. But have you realized that a restaurant’s menu is also a marketing tool? Some of it is obvious. Most casual chain restaurants today have very large laminated menus with beautiful mouth-watering photos of the food in the background. There’s also the marketing terms scattered throughout the pages that are obviously attempting to “sell” you.

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The Best Fried Chicken You’ve Not Eaten

When you think about fried chicken locally, what restaurants come to mind?

Most would say Hattie’s. And that’s for good reason. Hattie’s fried chicken is renowned in the area, and it’s not only locally famous, it’s also nationally famous. And just as a side note, if you’ve never been, do put a visit to Hattie’s on your bucket list.

Any other local restaurants that are known for their fried chicken that you can name?
The only others I can think of off the top of my head are The Flying Chicken in Troy, and Cupz on Arch St., in Albany’s south end neighborhood, neither of which unfortunately, I’ve yet to get to. (But if there are others, please feel free to enlighten me in the comments).

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Death by Cheeseburger V – The Jon in Albany Burger

Back in April of last year, I tagged along with Daniel B. of FUSSYlittleBLOG fame on the Tour de Soft Serve. I had a great time, but I previously wrote about it in my Soft Serve Sucks post, so I won’t rehash the event here.

Jon in Albany also joined in on the fun, and I had the pleasure of meeting him, and during one stop on the tour, I had a fairly long conversation with him. We talked about a lot of different things, mostly food obviously, but he also mentioned that his family has a farm where they raise cows, and they occasionally slaughter one and split up the meat among the family. He mentioned he gets quite a bit of ground beef from it. The subject of my love of burgers must’ve come up, because he promised he’d give me some of his ground beef.

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