Wednesday, March 31, 2010

An Open Letter to CCE's

Dear Cadbury Cream Eggs,
Thus far I have done a spectacular job of avoiding you.  I had a 4 pack of you in my desk at work and I only had ONE.  I gave another to a coworker and we ate them together and methodically smoothed out the foil wrappers like young, OCD children, something we both realized we did without even knowing it.  (Apparently the challenge is taking the wrinkles out without ripping the delicate foil  and the goal is to WIN WIN WIN that challenge.)

So now I have 2 eggs left in my desk.  And most likely I will have one tomorrow and give the other to my coworker so we can eat and dewrinklefy before I am away from said desk for a week because of April break.  AND you are only 150 calories so I am not THAT concerned with eating one more, even though I AM trying to lose ten pounds before the end of April.  Here's my problem:

YOU WILL GO ON SALE APRIL 4th!  You will be soooo cheap that it will be INCREDIBLY difficult for me to ignore you.  I tested the freezing theory a few years ago and found that you freeze incredibly well therefore allowing me to buy you in bulk and have you as late as AUGUST and probably even later.

And I have all next week off and most likely will be in lots of stores where you are cheap.

My suggestion.  Go away.  Go far, far away from me as soon as possible unless you'd like to be stripped of your foil suit which will be separately cared for and pressed, and then gobbled down like a common hershey kiss.

Really.  Please get out of my sight.  If you know what's good for you.

Love (and hate),

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Cupcake Eating Contest Thoughts

I am not going to make any friends with this entry.  But really - one of my pet peeves is bad service.  If your job is to get me things, no matter what those things are, I expect them to be gotten quickly and with a smile on your face.  Because that is your job.  Bottom line.  You are there, getting paid to do it, so do it the best you can.

That being said, Elizabeth and I went to the X's and O's (a vegan bakery in Troy) cupcake eating contest to benefit Out of the Pits, a Pit Bull Rescue Organization and major worthy cause.  We tried to sign up.  Well. E tried to sign up.  She called and got denied.  This is the email I got after the attempt which sets us up nicely for what happened later:

To:  Me
From: E
Subject:  On Being Shut Down, a play in one act.

Ingenue: "Hi, can I register for Saturday please?"

Weird lady: "Uhhhhhhhhhhhh (drawn out about 10 seconds)...I think I have to say no? (question inflection)."

Ingenue: "Oh, no!"
Weird lady: "Yeah 'cause I have, like, 13? (question inflection) So..."

Ingenue: (resigned) "Ok."

Weird lady: "...."

Ingenue: (confused) "Ok. Thank you."

Flaky lady: "You can still come there are going to be kissing booths and if you have $5 you can do something"

Ingenue: "Ok. Thank you."

Flaky lady: "Sorry?" (question inflection)


So - shut down from the getgo.  Which was fine because do I NEED to enter a cupcake eating contest?  Ahhh no.  But we still planned to attend, support the cause and watch the people shove baked goods down their talkingholes.  We get there and parked and this is where I begin to have a problem.

There are doggies outside.  We pet some.  They are cute.  We go inside to buy something to support the business that is holding this (and for a little treat since we weren't going to be cupcake contesting).  We stand on a not too long line - 2 people in front of us maybe?  I was getting a piece of carrot cake and E was getting a S'mores cupcake.  There were three people behind the counter.

This is the place so just imagine about five people total in line and three people behind the counter

Nice, open space.  Kind of empty of actual product in the case, but maybe because the contest was going on?  Not sure.  The owner did say she had to make 250 cupcakes for the contest, and I gather that she knew this information way ahead and could plan accordingly, but perhaps not?  But anyway, there was a huge carrot cake on the counter and a few things in the case, so we made our choices.  We were ready.

The problem was - they weren't ready.  And not in a "we are getting slammed because of this promo event" kind of way.  Each person in front of us only wanted one thing and there were THREE people behind the counter.  But here's the problem:  Two were just standing there.  Just.  Standing.  One was getting things for people.  And not in the fastest way either. 

Now here is where I say something rude and mean about vegans.  Because the two that were standing there had blank stares on their faces and were gazing towards the back wall with their hands kind of curled into themselves, looking kind of pale and tired.  Like they maybe needed some sort of energy.  Like from something that wasn't a garbanzo bean.  And they were doing nothing.  With people in line wanting to buy things from them.  Wanting to BUY THINGS FROM THEM WHICH WOULD HELP THEIR SMALL AND FLEDGLING BUSINESS.

So we waited for awhile.  And I was TRYING not to freak out because this was just so horribly, horribly wrong.  I could see E getting uncomfortable because maybe I might say something.  Because sometimes I do that.  So I didn't.  I promise you right now though, that every vein, cell and capillary in my body was SCREAMING at the Pale People Just Standing There.   Screaming something like, "HEY!  SEE HOW THERE ARE PEOPLE HERE WAITING?  CAN YOU COME AND SEE WHAT WE WANT?  BECAUSE YOU ONLY HAVE LIKE FOUR THINGS IN THE CASE SO I AM THINKING YOU CAN PROBABLY THROUGH PROCESS OF ELIMINATION AND POINTING AND SIGN LANGUAGE SEE WHAT WE WANT AND FIGURE IT THE FUCK OUT ALL BY YOURSELF."
But I stayed quiet.

And we waited.  Easily 10 minutes.  Then - it was our turn!  Yes!  CAKE!  SWEET!  The girl who was the sole one helping everyone got to us, we placed our order and I watched her go over to the huge carrot cake and cut a HUGE hunk off for me.  YESSSSS.  Big ol' hunka cake.  And then she placed it in one of those clamshelly to go* things.  But it was a big hunk.  So it didn't fit.  There was no way that top was closing but she stood with the cake in one hand and the cake cutter in the other, trying to orchestrate some sort of cake minimalization technique by poking the corners and hoping that molecularly the cake would shrink, allowing the top to close.  I finally cut her off from her caketrance and told her she didn't have to close it because it would be in my belly soon.  She slowly understood me (like I think I saw the moment when she understood on her face and it took a few seconds) and then walked over to the case to get the S'mores cupcake.  Which she put in ANOTHER clamshelly thing (necessary?)* and then rang us up.  Whew.  Finally.  Caketime.

Ok.  So I took this after I had a few bites so you can't see its precarious beginnings.  But there it is.

Now let me talk about the cake.  The vegan carrot cake.

Can't vegans have carrots?  Isn't that one of the few things they can have?  And raisins?  Can't they have raisins too?  Or are carrots grown in lard or in some sort of meat filled soil that would make some sort of carrot substitute necessary?  This cake - did not taste carroty at all.    Nope.  Not one bit.  It could MAYBE pass for spice cake.  But carrot?  I do not think so.  (Best carrot cake around is to be found at Spectrum/Ultraviolet Cafe, by the way.  C and I fight for the last bite brutally and usually will finish it before even the first preview).  I REALLY felt like carrot cake was a safe bet in a vegan bakery.  I really did.  I was prepared for the cream cheese frosting to be eh, but the cake itself?  I figured it would be a veritable carrotpalooza!  I figured I would be able to floss my teeth with the copious strands of carrot from this thing.  And sadly, none to be found.  The frosting was gritty - which I was told to expect because they can't use regular sugar (Many vegans prefer to avoid white table sugar altogether rather than chance using a product that was filtered through bone char).  So I bought that deal (not psyched about it, but I understand it) but I still can;t fathom the lack of carrot taste in the cake.  I had a few bites (enough to close clamshelly) and was done.

The S'mores cupcake, on the other hand, was very good.  Very, very good.  It had a toasty marshmallow on top and was adorable overall.  Excellent choice, E!

So where are we in the story?  Not even at the contest part yet.  OK.  Thank you for powering through thus far.

We went back outside to pet the dogs more and watch them setup for the contest.  There were a good amount of people now (most with skinny jeans and piercings and colorful hair/dreads!) and they were loading the cupcakes onto the long tables.

They did indeed look yummy.  I guess they figured on seventeen per person which is why they could only allow thirteen people in the contest.  The one who won finished nine.  This screams "they should have done more research" to me because they would have figured out that they could have let more people in, therefore raising more money.  The contest was who could eat the most in five minutes - not who could get closest to seventeen.  But...all for charity.

So, about ten minutes late, the people were called up to sit at their cupcake thones.  And it began.

There they are doing some major cupcake shoving.**  One had a whole Kobayashi thing going with the dipping in the water and slamming in the gullet.  Excellent.  And I started a chant with E's help during the eating.  But no one joined.  E would yell "CUPCAKES!" and I would answer "PIT BULLS!"  But nothing.  (We saw Albany Jane and John there and I am sure they were embarrassed by my attempt at starting a chant to liven things up.  Sorry guys!)  To my dismay, the crowd was just quietly riveted on the eaters.  Probably because they only had flax for breakfast and were saving their energy for some hackysack later.  (I'M KIDDING.  SHEESH)

So, longer story not so short.  Someone won. Yay.  And we pet more dogs and left.

Frick.  That was anticlimactic. 

Overall and in conclusion - I might give the bakery another try and hope for the best.  More product in the case, more taste in the product and more urgency when taking orders.  We will see.

I will leave you with E and I getting doggie kisses in attempt to repay you for the time it took you to read that entire entry.

Namaste.  Or whatever is the vegan word for goodbye.

*the clamshelly to go things seemed awfully wasteful by the way.  No one asked if I wanted to stay with it and I would think that putting it on a recycled paper plate would have been more thoughtful, more green, if you will.  Especially for a place that has about 70 containers of Earth Balance vegan butter substitute in their coolers. 

** OH YEAH - I almost forgot!  There was a KID in the contest and I never saw someone more miserable.  Not kidding.  He was sitting with his head in his hands licking the frosting off a cupcake looking like he was ready to cry and/or fall asleep.  I had no idea what his problem was.  I started yelling "Kid!  This is a DREAM COME TRUE!  Do you KNOW how many kids want to be in your chair right now?  It's ALL YOU CAN EAT CUPCAKES and you are sad?  This is better than the ice cream truck pulling up outside your room!  COME ON!"  Surprisingly my motivation yelling didn't seem to help.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

I dream of Aashiana with the Indian Buffet

So I met up with AlbanyJane and friends for some Indian buffet at this place on Central the size of a postage stamp.  And now I want to go there every day.  I want my own reserved table.  I want the owner to know my name and bring me naan and fill my glass before it is even empty and make me personal mango lassis and be my friend and give me his pakora secrets.  I want to get my next birthday catered by them and have a cake made of chicken tikka masala iced with whatever chick pea salad stuff that was with the sauce and the onions and the candles can be made of rice pudding.

I want to go back there as soon as possible.  Because it was delicious. 

I have been to several Indian buffets.  Most, of late, I have been to with Matt.  This is most hilarious if you know Matt because he is very delightfully thin (he actually said one time that he might have to quit playing in his soccer league because he was losing too much weight. Losing.  too much.  weight.) and he still manages to put away at least two heaping plates of food.  And I am not delightfully thin.  And I put away at least three and top it off with rice pudding no matter how full I am. 

Unfortunately, Matt was unable to accompany me to Aashiana (work called - boo) but I cannot wait to go with him.  And I cannot wait to take Charlie so we can have a race to see who can get sick from eating too much first, then who can complain loudest about eating too much later (put your money on me, people.  I'm pretty loud).

I should talk about the food now I guess?  I mean - I kind of did.  It's Indian buffet so its the usual - but it is not greasy or overcooked or too dry or too wet.  It is spiced beautifully and the owner comes and brings you fresh naan and recognized AJ and her man even though the last time they were there was over a year ago.  And I know I have mentioned this already, but they had piles of pakora.  PILES.  And I will choke a bitch over some pakora, for real.  I will stab a fork in the arm of anyone who gets in the way of me and the last one.  Usually my first course, or my grande amuse bouche if you will, is an entire plate of the things with little side bowls (usually the rice pudding ones) of the green, brown and red stuff.  So I ate many, but not as much as I would have if I was with people I knew well.  After all, I had only just met AJ and her crew.  I was also happy to see that they were all double platers (they went up more than once to get stuff) and there was even a rice pudding fan like me present.  Yeah!

Fun was had by all and we parted full and happy.  I went on to the park to take pictures with Nigel and later watch friends play frisbee (and film footage for this) and much later, skip dinner and fall asleep at 8:30 on a Saturday night from delicious overload.

Oh - and Aashiana?  I will be back.  Start making the pakora.

Adventures in Food

No really.  Adventures in Food.

A few weeks ago my bestest chef friend Stephen (he cooks for you here)  and I decided we were going to cook a whole heck ofalotta yummy food.  So we planned a day and went on down to Adventure in Food in Menands to see what they had going on.  The only plan was there was no plan.  Until we looked around and made a plan.

I have never been there before so I had no idea what to expect.  And when I got there I was pretty surprised.  It is basically just an office with a huge walk in freezer, another cooler, a room with dry goods and a room with spices and nuts and baking type things.  All in ginormous portions. 

When we got there they knew Stephen from the MAD so they were happy to see us but anyone can go in and buy stuff.  Especially if you want 400 pounds of duck or an entire wheel of Pecorino Romano.  So they let us in and we moseyed around and then made our way to the walk in.  Lots of meat.  Lots of gigantic amounts of meaty goodness.  I could bore you with the back and forth of deciding what to purchase but it was really just me shivering in the freezer telling Stephen to pick something please, so we will skip to the part where we bought a 9 pound bison roast. Because we do not mess around.

We did some more shopping at the Hannafords (I love pluralizing that) and the Asian Market for veggies and accompanying deliciousness then we came back to my place where we laid it all out to start getting down. We were so busy cooking I didn't really take any pictures.  We managed the roast (which we cut down to about 5 pounds and split the extras - I made bison stir fry with mine not too long ago), mashed potatoes (because I am just so damn good at them), roasted root veggies and roasted broccoli with lemon and some sort of cured spicy meat chunks we scored at the Adventure place.  Stephen also made gravy out of nothing.  And I am not kidding it was brilliant to watch.  I think he made it out of boullion, some mushrooms and like a stick of gum and some C4 or some such nonsense.  The guy is a gravy McGuyver.  A McGravyer.  I made some tarts for dessert from leftover linzer cookie dough I had in the freezer and filled some with cherry jam, some with lemon curd and the rest with Nutella.  I guess I am a McTarter.  Or McTarded.  Either way.

So...bison.  It was good.  It was tender and meatier than beef, but it wasn't like "Holy Moly this is from the WILD and I can TASTE the WILDERNESS in it".  There were no notes of pine cone or speedy getaways from natural enemies for species survival.  I did not feel super adventurous eating it.  But - it was very tasty.  And really, that was the whole point.

Monday, March 15, 2010

I Am A Professional Blogger. (It's all about the Durian's, baby.)

That's right.  Me.  A PRO.

How, you ask?

Because now I get PAID.  Pizzaid.  P to the A to the I to the D, people.  Or I got paid once.  To eat something gross.  That I was then going to blog about.  So this makes me a professional. 

Shut up.  Yes it does.


See?  Me holding my PAY.

Why?  What?  How?  Who?  Let me 'splain.

Elizabeth and BK had a brunch this past Sunday.  It was a pretty simple one with a bring-some-yummies-and-let's-watch-a-movie theme.  I brought bacon, chive and cheddar corn muffins.  They were spectacular, holy moly were they good.  But ANYWAY - Elizabeth and I have been talking about buying a Durian fruit from the Asian Market (red roof on central) and cracking that baby open to see what the fuss was all about.  We have read that they are stinky and gross and nasty.  Anthony Bourdain noted that "Its taste can only be described as...indescribable, something you will either love or despise. ...Your breath will smell as if you'd been French-kissing your dead grandmother."   Thanks Anthony.

So - E and BK bought one.  It's a spiky pine cone thing that never in your right mind would you want to buy unless you eat danger for breakfast.  Which we do.  It was partially frozen so we didn't really smell any particularly bad odors eminating from it.  Previously we had read a LOT about the smell with people using words like "garbage" and "ass" to describe it.  I thought it smelled fruity.  I found out later this was because the deep freeze kept the smell in.  Because of this knowledge I will now freeze my summer flip flops from now on to spare the noses that enter my house via the "shoe hallway".

Moving on.  Finding a seam to open this thing is apparently the way to go after we You Tubed how to split Sharpie the Hedgehog open.  So Elizabeth went to work seam opening and tearing. 

We were getting a little more scent, and some noticed that it was pretty bad down by the stem of it.  This was probably because it was the most thawed.  Once we opened a "pod" we pulled out the fruit and went to work on the other pods to get all the fruit we could.   I say "we" but really I mean Elizabeth and BK.  And there was even an injury!  BLOOD ON THE DURIAN!

The stuff was still frozen but we could see a hint of what people meant when they said the texture is "pudding-like".

Go ahead.  You can say it.  It looks like partially melted old lady fat globules.  It literally looked like it came out of the garbage can of a plastic surgeon's office.  (Yes, some Fight Club comments were made.)  Most people at this point were pretty unhappy - it looked not nice and smelled not nicer.  And of course I was voted first to try it.  Here's a side view complete with double chin action:

It wasn't bad at all.  But it was a small piece and still a little frozen.  So we went around the table and everyone tried it.  Some gagging, not able to get it down and some really not making a big deal out of it.  One of the guests was very affected by the smell and refused to try it, but this is where I become a WORLD FAMOUS PAYED BLOGGER/REPORTER.  Because she told me she would give me a twenty if I ate a really big piece.  I think she said it jokingly at first but I jumped at it.  I like money.  So I took her up on her offer and speared me a big ole' chunk.  What you see below this is the actual part I consumed (the size was approved by the group).

Here's me choking it down:

At this point I was just concentrating on keeping the chunk down. I was thinking about pleasant things, like what I was going to spend my twenty on (ice cream ice cream ice cream).  And - is the texture that is the thing.  It is very strange.  And I can see people really being grossed out by it.  But the taste - it is fruity, kind of like very overripe fruit and a tang of nuttiness after you swallow. 

I will say honestly I do not think I will have it in its natural form again, but I can see why people eat the ice cream versions of it which would remove the texture issue completely.  It was difficult to open, and really - if I want to work at opening a fruit it better taste pretty amazing.  I mean, look at pineapple.  A good pineapple is a joy forever!  And it is WAY less challenging to open than the Durian was.

Glad I did it?  Heck yes.  Glad I got payed for it?  ABSOLUTELY!  I look forward to trying many new things to eat and getting paid for them in the future.

Soooo...this is Nicole K, Professional Food Blogger, signing off...  Feel free to email me if you want to write me a check to try some marinated monkey eyeballs or something.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Newflash: Betty Crocker Recipes from Early 70's Not Always Good.

We should have known when the main ingredient was Hamburger Helper.


It was the browntannest meal I ever ate.

They can't all be winners.

food costs money.

I haven't done a large food shopping in months, so I decided to bite the bullet and go for it.  Two hunny and sixty bills later I was done.  Youch.  To my defense, I did buy some kind of pricey stuff (cheese, ground lamb), a good amount of meat (well - pork, chicken and turkey), and some extra fun stuff (coffee syrup) - but holy moly.  I am hoping to make this shopping trip last except the trips for fresh stuff and I even might try my hand again at planning meals (when I owned a house and had an extra freezer I did a LOT of that).  My lifestyle now supports more of a decide-dinner-the-night-before type situation but I KNOW I can save money by planning - so I will give it a try again.

Either way - 200 bucks I could have spent on boots so the food better be good.  :)