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- Category: Events
- Written by Kent
Hudson Berkshire Wine & Food Fest
May 25th (Noon to 6 PM) & May 26th (Noon to 5 PM)
Columbia County Fairgrounds / Route 66 / Chatham, NY
The Berkshire Wine & Food Festival is an exciting culinary event, marrying the best aspects of the Hudson Valley and Berkshire Mountains. The rich fabric of the countryside is home to artisanal bakers and cheese makers, numerous CSAs, organic meats and vegetables, small and large family owned farms, and a host of other small artisnal food producers. The region is also host to a number of wineries, distilleries, and craft brewers.
Directions: From Albany
Take I-90 to Exit 12; go south on Route 9 to Route 203 in Valatie, follow signs to Chatham.
- Category: Events
- Written by Brian
The first ever Food Truck Festival of NY is happening Saturday, May 4th in Troy NY in River Front Park. Everything will kick off at 12 Noon and last until 7 PM. Admission is free, and food prices are set by the individual food truck vendors. Beer tokens can be purchased for $5 each.
See a list of participating trucks: http://foodtruckfestivalsofny.com/lineup/
- Category: Restaurant Reviews
- Written by Josie
Brian, and I were in the mood for something different for dinner this time. After two misses with places that had recent "For Sale" signs on them, we stumbled upon Mr. Pio Pio. Now it wasn't exactly a stumble, as it popped up as being a restaurant in the vicinity. So we knew the address we were looking for while driving. If we didn't have that, we'd have driven by this place never the wiser. The front sign is so faded, it's basically non existent. When you walk in, there are roughly six tables in the small restaurant.
Service is seriously lacking, for two main reasons. First, Mr. Pio Pio is an authentic Latin American restaurant. While that will mean true Latin flavors, that also means a language barrier when ordering; and a language barrier can be difficult if you have questions about the dishes or can't quite translate them off the menu. Second, this place gets busy (justifiably so, which we'll get to later) and there's just not enough service or kitchen staff to meet that demand. The staff seems stressed, and not all that willing to put out exceptional service.
All that said, we move on to the food. Oh, the wonderful food. For an appetizer, we ordered the Chicharonnes (crispy fried pork!). For meals, Brian ordered the Grande Feast which consisted of a 1/4 rotisserie chicken, grilled beef, spare ribs, rice & beans, and plantains. I ordered the Carne Asada, which is a marinated and grilled beef that comes with rices & beans, and sweet plantains.
After a good wait, our chicharonnes arrived. I was really looking forward to my maiden taste of chicharonnes. Without having another example to compare it to, I can say that the pork was crispy on the outside, and moist on the inside. Although the flavor of the chicharonnes was light, the fattyness made them very rich. My main critiques: the chicharonnes were a bit tough to eat texture wise due to the frying, and given the richness, I think there were just too many of them in the appetizer (too much of a food.. I know right?).
When our entrees arrived, there was a mixup with mine (remember that language barrier). After taking our order, the server misunderstood a question we asked, and replaced my order with something else. In the end, I had to wait a bit longer for my dish. Oddly enough, it came out faster than anything else in the meal.
The chicken, and beef in Brian's dish were absolutely amazing. The beef was well marinated, pounded thin, grilled to a nice char, and tenderly cooked. The chicken was marinated, moist, and amazingly juicy. You could pick up cilantro, and lime amongst the flavors. The ribs, though tasty, were a bit tough to cut through but still pretty enjoyable.
My steak, just like Brian's, was marinated and cooked to perfection. Every bite made me want to do a happy dance. I ordered the steak medium, and was amazed at how a steak that's been so thin it's almost reduced to one side, can actually be cooked to a medium temperature. Lo and behold, there was pink in the steak. My hat's off to that level of skill. The plantains were perfectly cooked, and they even take the time to season their rice!
All in all, Mr. Pio Pio is a must eat! My big recommendation, though, would be to call the order in and pick it up. Really, the service is that lacking, that I would even venture to say that it's not worth going there to eat a sit down meal, but it is a meal worth eating.
Rice & Beans
- Category: Restaurant Reviews
- Written by Brian
Have you ever had soup dumplings? If the answer is no, then this review will change your life. If you have, and didn't know about ALA Shanghai, then this review will also change your life. I had soup dumplings in China Town in NYC a number of years ago, and had been looking for a local place to get them since. I finally stumbled upon ALA Shanghai and my search has ended. ALA Shanghai is in Latham just past the circle.
We walked in on a Friday evening (I'd recommend reservations, it got busy fast). First off, we had to order dumplings - and lots of them. They had two types of soup dumplings, one with just pork ($5) and one with pork and crab ($7) Both came with 6 dumplings. We also ordered some traditional pork dumplings ($5). I had magical memories of soup dumplings, and these did not disappoint. I thought the wonton skin was a little on the thick side, but it didn't take away from the amazing flavor. (side note on soup dumplings... they come very hot, I usually just barely bite the top off, to expose the inside and let it cool down). If you go to ALA Shanghai, you must order some soup dumplings. the traditional pan fried pork dumplings were also very good, cooked very nicely and a good juicy flavor.
We ordered two entrees to split, Tong-Po Pork ($12) and Orange Flavored Beef ($14). Tong-Po Pork is Stewed pork belly in Shanghaiese style. It was difficult to cut and very fatty. It had a nice flavor, but wasn't really our thing. We could tell it was cooked well, and while hard to cut, it was still quite tender (I can't really figure that one out). Not something we would get again, but I'm sure if you like this dish you would like their presentation of it. The Orange Flavor Beef was thin and tender, dipped in batter and lightly fried. The sauce is like an orange flavored sweet and sour sauce. It is hard to keep beef as thin as this was, juicy and tender, but they pulled it off. We would get this again, once we go through the menu a bit more.
The menu is massive. There are many things we will have to go back and try. Wait staff is very friendly, and while there is a language barrier, they make sure the person who seats you and takes your order speaks English well. Although I would guess a majority of their patrons speak Chinese.
Conclusion, great, authentic Chinese food for a reasonable price. And of course, try the soup dumplings!
|Crab and Pork Soup Dumplings||Pork Soup Dumplings|
|Tong-Po Pork||Orange Flavor Beef|
|Pan Fried Pork Dumplings|