Sushi Satisfaction

Yesterday the Mister and I stopped at the Price Chopper on Western Ave after a trip to Crossgates Mall. While there we noticed a new sushi place and decided to check it out this evening as a little Monday dinner date.

Blowfish Sushi is tucked away in the far corner of the strip in the Price Chopper plaza, and we were slightly apprehensive upon approaching. We couldn’t get the door open,so we went immediately next door to the small Chinese restaurant that is apparently part of the same business.

After that weird mishap, everything exceeded our expectations. They’re a brand new restaurant, and we were the only ones there at the time (the waitress fixed the locked door situation immediately, to ensure that wasn’t keeping people out!)

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I loved the refreshing atmosphere inside; it was like the sushi serving version of a juice bar.

Blowfish offers an all you can eat option, for $20 per person. Each person is given an order sheet and a pencil to dive into satiation.

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We went into this with Sushi X in Latham as our foundation for expectations and were pleasantly surprised on everything. The service and food went above the awkward mediocrity of Sushi X; the waitress was eager to bring us constant refills of water and to replenish our order sheets, while the rolls were fresh and just the right temperature. (Does anyone else get irritated with super cold sushi?)

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A group of college aged kids and a mother and daughter pair were seated while we were gorging ourselves, and I couldn’t help but get excited for our waitress. This was a refreshing dinner date, and I wish them crowds and abundant tips.

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Hidden City House & Garden Tour

Since seeing the signs for it around Center Square, my interest was piqued in the House and Garden tour put together by the Center Square Neighborhood Association and Historic Albany Foundation in partnership with Audubon NY and Audubon Society of the Capitol Region. ( phew that’s a mouthful of sponsors)

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I purchased the tickets in advance online, and for $15 per person we got to snoop in several houses and gardens.

Mister and I headed to lark street at around 530 (the tour was from 5-8), and I’m glad he suggested starting early. After picking up the maps which served as our tickets we were off on a balmy evening stroll around the neighborhood.

There were several homes included on this free form tour, which you could visit in any order on your own. Some had only the gardens open while one had the entire house, garden, and even rooftop deck open (which had a phenomenal view of Washington Park).

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What really left an impression on me was how genuinely excited the owners were to share their homes with the strangers tramping through. Some offered real iced tea in their gardens, or wine in their magnificent kitchens. There were cookies and kind words all around Center Square.

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I couldn’t resist stopping at Crisan, which was offering a free cookie to every tour participant. (It turned out to be a truffle that tasted just like a gooey fig newton and was just enough sweetness to perk us up for the second half of homes)

There were volunteer docents helping to get people through the houses and gardens, as well as the owners on hand to answer questions about plant varieties, decorative choices, and impressive kitchen remodels.

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While I may never inhabit a structure worth being on such a tour, it felt like a mass party of neighbors, of which I felt honored to be a part. We even met many people we’ve seen at the dog park, or in passing around town, making us feel like part of a genuine neighborhood.

I’m already looking forward to next year.

Not Everyone’s A Winner

We’ve all seen those tantalizing recipes on Pinterest, or the inventive combinations bragged about on Instagram. I’ve stolen a few ideas for recipes or meals; but let’s face it, they’re not all the greatest thing. Even if they have a pretty border and great photos.

This morning I tried something new for breakfast, mixing my cooking oatmeal with my raw egg whites. The theory is they cook together making a light, fluffy breakfast with protein and cinnamon. Nope. Liar.

I ended up with a clumpy bowl of boogers. Sorry but it wasn’t good. I might have done something wrong but I think this process would only work if you loaded it up with all the fruit, peanut butter, and nuts shown in the pictures, which defeats the simplicity and low calorie enticement.

I couldn’t even take a picture, because it was chunky, white globs in a bowl. No one wants to see that.

Sister Sister

My younger sister, whom I haven’t seen in almost a year (she works out on ships) had the weekend off and we threw together a spontaneous girls weekend at our family’s house in Columbia County.

While she graciously spent an entire day driving from a port in Virginia to upstate NY, I had time to grocery shop and open up the house.

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Sister is gluten free coupled with some food allergies which had to be considered, but my main priority was making sure she got to eat all her requested food. This type of list will appear anytime someone returns home, say from camp or college, but for Sister it was all about foods she couldn’t get on her ship. Steak and fresh vegetables. And gluten free waffles. Done and done.

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Then me and dog waited and waited and waited. Sister finally arrived and we had a perfect summer dinner at the house. Followed by an adventure to watch a movie, it included a 20 min drive to Walmart, a DVD player, and rotating two TVs in the house.

On Saturday we woke up to waffles, watermelon and real NY syrup. (Food coloring is on the list of things Sister can’t do, so the real versus imaginary syrup wasn’t even a question)
After a two mile walk with my dog, we decided on a trip into Chatham.

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Since we unofficially grew up in this area, our trips are less about sight seeing and more about spotting changes in the landscape. Those changes have become so numerous, we hardly recognize some of the roads beyond the oasis of our property.

Chatham, while visually the same, has had an explosion of food and drink choices that were intriguing. But first we had to visit ReWraps, my favorite second hand store. They usually have quality pieces and good finds: I debated a very 90s Bestsey Johnson dress while Sister found a very bright, summery Gap dress in her size for about $10. Their sales rotate weekly I believe, depending on the color dot on the items tag.

We were hungry at this point, but not starving. We decided on salad, something healthy and no where complicated. That led is to Ralph’s Pretty Good Cafe, which seems like a disheartening name now that I think about it.

We managed a mixed green salad with chicken, after confirming the chicken was not pre-marinated and the dressing fit Sister’s allergy stipulations.

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It was beautiful, and the veggies and dressing were seriously perfectly on point. The chicken, however, was just not good. I’m not sure if our allergy requests threw off their regular prep of what the story was, but the chicken appeared to be sliced and then pan fried to reheat. It was as tough as microwaved thanksgiving leftovers. Not okay.

After that we were hoping to do some wine tasting at the Hudson Chatham winery, which is consistently a great trip. Except for this one time I try to bring my sister there on a Saturday. They were slammed, with an event going on outside and at least four couples waiting inside. And two staff people total. The woman inside was so busy chatting to one woman, and you could see the visibly growing aggravation of the only couple in the room that had actually attempted to start a wine tasting, that we decided to just head to the wine store.

Not too surprisingly, we were able to pick up a bottle of their Ghent Blush, which I adore, at the next wine store we passed. I like to think we supported an extra business in the process.

We headed back to the house, built a fire, poured some wine and relaxed.

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Now it’s Sunday, the dog is crying to go out and there’s more waffles to be eaten. I’ll be sad to see her off, as she heads back to her ship for a 4am Watch shift, but I know we’ll make sure it’s not another year before I see her again. Maybe I’ll journey down to her this time.

Simplicity

Good quality, marinated grilled chicken is delicious. While there are variables in the source of the protein and what marinade choices you’ve made, grilled chicken is pretty much always something to savor.

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This week I grilled a few breasts to be eaten cold with my lunches. The flavorful chunks were mixed in with arugula, tomatoes, white and red onions, quinoa, cucumber, and a big of fresh jalapeƱo.
The perfect combination of flavors and textures, dressing seemed superfluous.

Resetting Habits

I fell in a slump. My lack of posts must be indicative of that. I was craving sugar and carbs, ice cream and sandwiches.

In an attempt to jump start better habits and reset my mind frame I’m currently on day two of the Advocare 24 day challenge. I’m not going to sales pitch it, you can google it and research for yourselves if you’re curious.

It’s only been 1.5 days, I’ve eaten nothing but fruits, eggs, quinoa, veggies, and grilled chicken. I’ve taken my scheduled vitamins.

I’m not hungry, cranky, or lethargic. Yet. I can do these next 22 days and start back on the healthy track!

And on another entirely different note: mister and I are looking to go camping of some variety. Maybe a cabin, maybe a site. Pet friendly.

Italian Fest

After the Troy River Street Fair we headed to Italia Fest at the Italian American community center on Washington Ave.
The Greek Fest has amazing food, so our expectations of an ethnic food festival was pretty high. Italian food, we all know the red sauces of Albany and the Pastries of Villa Italia: high expectations, bigger disappointment.

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An empty tent, cold food. A girl singing acoustic covers of Lady Gaga replaced by a garage band singing Green Day. They were probably in diapers when the song came out.

Where is the Italian? Where is the good food? Why is my soup cold and my meatball definitely frozen from Price Chopper? So much went wrong here.