Cheese, wine and everything's fine... in Troy!


When I heard about this new place called The Charles F Lucas Confectionary and Wine Bar in Troy, it immediately piqued my interest.  How could it not with both wine and confection beingmentioned in the title?!?!  It was around 4:30 and we were looking for a little happy hour fun. When posed with the inevitable “Where should we go?” question, I get stressed. We’re always torn between going to one of our usual spots or trying something new.  Once we decided on trying something new, we then have the task of figuring out where.  There are so many great options in our area but I had my eye on the prize and the Wine Bar in Troy was it.

Right when we walked in, I knew this place was going to be good.  The décor was beautiful with exposed beams and brick throughout the space.


We took a seat at the bar and were immediately greeted by one of the very nice bartenders.  After hearing about the three wines they had on tap, I sampled the Cabernet Sauvignon and a Malbac from the large wine list.  I went with the latter which was very good but not too full bodied. I should have listened to the bar tender when he recommended the Cabernet Sauvignon.  No complaints though, trust me.


After deciding on our drinks, it was time to move on to the menu. The Charles F Lucas Confectionary and Wine Bar specializes in small plates, cheese, charcuterie and confections of course.  We decided on doing the 3 for $12 cheese and charcuterie menu where you get to choose from a wonderful selection of many different types of cheeses all paired with something sweet like Nutella, fruit or chocolate.  The charcuterie selection was wonderful too so it made it very hard to narrow it down. We decided on Shushan Snow cheese which was from the Smooth and Silky section of the menu and that was paired with honey, the Soft Wheel from the Little Stinkers section which was paired with pear paste and Applewood Smoked Duck Breast to round out our third selection.  Our choices were served on a slate board with plenty of fresh bread, mustard, pickles and we even got some figs and fig jam on there too since I told the bar tender about how much I love figs- what a nice little treat!


The cheeses were incredible and I loved all of the pairings they came with. It really complimented everything so nicely.  The duck was excellent and the portions were very good.  We were toying with the idea of getting a small plate as well but I’m glad we stuck with just the 3 choices because it was plenty.  While sitting at the bar, we noticed lots of glass jars filled with all sorts of fun candy like Bit-O-Honey, Mike & Ike, Gummy Bears and Runts.


You can order from a wide selection of candies and chocolates and they will serve it to you in a glass dish or you can get it to go! How much fun is that?!?!  I saw that someone had ordered Runts which I haven’t had in years!  Our fantastic bar tender overheard me say how much I loved those as a kid and he gave us a little glass full.


Yes, this place is truly heavenly.  Sadly, it was time for us to leave but that did mean it was time for the Confections portion of the meal…my favorite!  There was a beautiful display of truffles, cake pops, brownies, blondies and lots of other goodies.


I’m totally obsessed with desserts topped off with sea salt so I went with the salted caramel truffle.  It was the perfect ending to our perfect experience at The Charles F Lucas Confectionary and Wine Bar in Troy.  This has become one of our new favorite places and we can’t wait to go back and try some of the other wonderful selections from the menu.  Put this place on your high priority list.  You will not be disappointed!

Oh and by the way, if you have to use the restroom, just look for the Troylet :)


Mingling at The Cheese Traveler on Delaware Ave.

Delaware Ave in Albany has some amazing places to get food.  New World Bistro, Mingle, Emack and Bolio’s (I know it’s not locally owned but still delish) and most recently, The Cheese Traveler and All Good Bakers.  The only unfortunate thing is that I have only tried three of the places mentioned above.  Lucky for me, they were all superb.  We headed down to Albany to run some errands and I had one thing in mind; where are we going to eat on Delaware Ave?  All Good Bakers was a top priority for a few reasons.  One, they offer my drug of choice, SUGAR!  Two, I know the owner from way back in the day.  We were actually neighbors and went to school together for many years.  Third, and most importantly, is their incredible reputation.
































It was my fault for not checking their hours but they close at 3:00 on Saturday’s and I got there at 5:00.  I should have assumed that a bakery would be closed but it was wishful thinking on my behalf.  Luckily for us, or anyone else who happens to visit them, they are attached to The Cheese Traveler.  This is new shop that has some incredible cheeses from around the world. Eric, the proprietor, is more then happy to let you sample some of his wonderful selections. We tried samples of 2 different types of Gouda, something from Ireland and Parmigiano Reggiano.














Every single piece was phenomenal.  I feel as though I’ve been cheated in the cheese world after sampling some of the products in his store.  If you are in the Albany area, it’s definitely worth stopping by his shop located at 540 Delaware Ave.  This Sunday (November 18th) is their Grand Opening where they will be partnering up with Tilldale Farms for some fun events like a cooking demo and cheese tastings and demonstrations.  The festivities go from 1-6 and it would be a great way to sample a variety of cheeses.   After we made our purchases, we headed down the street to Mingle to see what all the buzz is about.  We sat at the bar where I had a glass of red wine while checking out the menu.  I ordered the Korean Tacos which is two corn tortillas filled with marinated beef tossed in gochujang and stuffed with apple-radish kimchi, Napa cabbage, scallions and Chef’s spicy yogurt sauce.





















They were everything I had hoped they would be.  The bar tender mentioned that they were spicy and when I first started eating them, I didn’t think they were too bad.  This is definitely a situation where the heat builds because by the end of my first taco, I could feel the spiciness but I liked it.  Mingle likes to support our local community and gives monetary donations along with gift cards and free food to places like Albany Suicide prevention, Senior Services of Albany and Women’s Employment and Resource Center.  If you are looking for a great place to have dinner, Mingle should be on the top of your short list.  While you’re in the area, enjoy some of the other great foods on Delaware Ave. I may pick up some cookies from All Good Bakers then head over to Emack and Bolios  and make an ice cream sandwich out of it.  Or, get some cheese from The Traveler and bread from the Bakers.  Ohhhhh the combos!!

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Local Fall Favorites

My favorite thing about fall is all of the wonderful food that’s available.  Right after Labor Day weekend, I’m ready for the pumpkin beers, cider donuts and freshly picked apples.  There are so many local places offering incredible fall treats so I thought I would highlight a few in case you needed a pumpkin, cider or apple fix of some sort.  One place that really exudes fall is Bowman Orchards.  They have a Pumpkin Pie ice cream that is to die for and their honey crisp apples are equivalent to Snickers bars in my mind.
































I do get the cider donuts when I go because who can pass up a donut, but they aren’t my favorite in the area.  Not to say they aren’t good, I mean come on! It’s a fried donut covered in sugar, but there are better ones out there.  I was thinking that it would be good to make an ice cream sandwich using a cider donut and either Bowman’s Pumpkin Pie or Apple Pie ice cream in the middle.  The ultimate fall treat! Some of my favorite cider donuts are at Devoe’s in Clifton Park.  The only downside is that you won’t be able to get them hot out of the fryer.  Another great place to go is Lakeside Farms in Ballston Lake.













You could grab a donut as an app, then have breakfast or brunch on a nice fall day.  Grab another hot donut on the way out for dessert too! If you haven’t had enough sugar eating donuts and ice cream, check out the fall cupcakes Coccadot’s is offering.  Two of the flavors that really caught my attention are Pumpkin Spice Walnut and Cider Donut (you can’t have too much cider donut anything in my opinion).















These cupcakes are great and they look adorable too!  After eating all that sugar you may need something healthy to balance everything out. 3 Chicks and a P sells a pumpkin hummus that goes great with apple slices, or you can sprinkle candied walnuts on top for a little added crunch.





















It’s still healthy if you eat the whole container right?!?!  Moving on to the adult beverages.  I seriously wait all year for the release of Browns Oktoberfest and Pumpkin Ale.















It’s SO good and having it with their Beer Pretzels and Pale Ale mustard is about as good as it gets.  To round out the evening, head over to The Living Room in Saratoga.  They have a Pumpkin Pie Martini that will rock your world.

















They won’t say what’s in it, but it’s absolutely wonderful and the cinnamon sugar rimmed glass adds such a nice finishing touch.  So pull out the cozy sweaters, put on your loose fitting jeans and enjoy all of the fall deliciousness the Capital District has to offer.

This ice cream sandwich throw down got me thinking…..

After seeing what all of the local restaurants came up with for their version of the ice cream sandwich, I started to think about what my ideal ice cream sandwich would consist of. There were a few ideas that starting swirling around my head like a S’mores ice cream sandwich or something that incorporates Nutella. But in my sugar addicted mind, the ultimate combo would be a chocolate chip cookie on one side and a peanut butter cookie on the other (possibly a smear of peanut butter on it). Add chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream to the middle then roll it in crushed up peanut and pretzel pieces (heavy on the pretzels).  I may need to hit up a bakery to pick up some cookies so I can make one of these!  What would be your ultimate ice cream sandwich?


CNN mentions Saratoga and Lake George as a must see! Great small businesses mentioned too!

Now I love NYC and the surrounding areas just as much as the next person but there are some really incredible places to visit in this beautiful state of ours.

The other great thing about visiting these adorable small towns is that you can uncover some really cool and unique small businesses.  CNN chose both Saratoga and Lake George as 2 out of the 5 places to see outside of the Hamptons (Umm duh! Us locals have known this for years :) ).  What I loved about the article was that they specifically mention local food businesses for each location. Some of the local shout-outs included Putnam Market, Saratoga Peanut Butter Company, The Saratoga City Tavern and The Pink Roof located in Lake George.

Do you think they did our area justice or should they have chosen some other places to mention?  Check out the article here.  http://www.cnn.com/2012/07/31/travel/nyc-getaways-not-hamptons/

Capital Region Veggies from the CSA Program

“Vegetables?!?! Vegetables aren’t exciting! Lets see the stuff that’s a minimum of a 1000 calories so I can drool at my computer then go into my kitchen to scrape up something that doesn’t even come close to the deliciousness I was just staring at!”

Well that’s what I would be thinking if I saw a post like this on a food driven blog but I feel the need to share everything that tastes great and yes, these veggies are delicious, I promise!  If you told me a year ago that we would have joined a local CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) program where we receive locally grown vegetables each week, I wouldn’t have believed it.  When it comes to veggies, I’m a lettuce in a bag, frozen steam in bag, canned veggies kind of girl.  I know that it’s not the healthiest option but I’m kind of lazy when it comes to making them.  Well all I have to say is packaged veggies are out and fresh veggies are in because they taste so unbelievably great! This week we received cabbage, chard, garlic scapes (I feel the need to define these since they are a bit unique.  They are the “flower stalks” or green things as I like to call them that stick out of the top of the garlic bulb), bibb lettuce, cilantro, and fresh lavender.  What’s great about the CSA program is that you receive veggies you wouldn’t normally buy so it forces you to find ways of making them and more importantly, making them taste good.  One dish we made (I use the term we loosely since my husband made it and I watched) using the rainbow chard was so good, it could have come out of Wolfgang Puck’s kitchen. (recipe below)  It consisted of toasted pine nuts, olive oil, fresh basil, fresh garlic, and Parmesan cheese.  So simple, so delicious and SO darn good for you!!  I encourage you to try a new vegetable at the store, google a recipe that looks appealing and easy, and start cooking!  You won’t be disappointed and neither will anyone else in your household. Plus if you do the cooking, you can make the other person do the clean up- even better!

Recipe for Rainbow Chard-

13 to 14 oz. Rainbow chard (about 1 large bunch) 1 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil 3 Tbs. pine nuts Kosher salt 1 Tbs. minced garlic 1 Tbs. cold unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces 1/4 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano1/4 cup thinly sliced fresh basil leaves (8 to 10 large)

Pull or cut the stems from the chard leaves. Cut or rip the leaves into 2- to 3-inch pieces and wash and dry them well. Rinse the stems and slice them crosswise 1/4 inch thick.

In a 12-inch nonstick stir-fry pan or skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the pine nuts and cook, stirring constantly, until lightly browned, 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer the pine nuts to a plate, leaving behind as much oil as possible.

Return the pan to medium-high heat, add the chard stems and a pinch of salt, and cook, stirring occasionally, until shrunken and beginning to brown lightly, 6 to 7 minutes. Add the garlic and cook just until fragrant, about 15 seconds. Add the chard leaves and 1/4 tsp. salt. Toss with tongs until just wilted, 1 to 2 minutes. (If using a skillet, you may need to add the chard in batches, letting the first batch wilt before adding more.) Remove the pan from the heat, add the cold butter pieces and stir just until the butter has melted.

Using tongs, immediately transfer about half of the leaves and stems to a serving plate and arrange. Sprinkle on half of the Parmigiano, basil, and pine nuts. Layer on the remaining leaves, stems, and pan juices, and garnish with the remaining cheese, basil, and pine nuts. Serve immediately.

Expanding the Bite Me blog. Come get bitten!

Bite Me is taking on some new ventures in the blogosphere.  Originally I started blogging about business’s featured on the show (which will now be monthly), but I will be adding posts including honest food reviews from places in the capital district as well as information for small business’s in the food or beverage industry.  If there are places in the area that you absolutely love, please feel free to send them along since I am always looking for new spots.  The Bite Me blog will be a resource for foodies in the Capital District offering up suggestions for all sorts of food categories as well as info for people interested in either starting a food business or already in the business.   So join me as I learn, love, laugh and bite my way through the area.


One main goal for the blog is to expand readership.  I will be giving away a $25 gift certificate for Pasta Pane to a new follower on Facebook.  The goal is to get to 500 likes by the end of the month.  So feel free to tell your friends or share on Facebook and Twitter!  One of them will get a great meal out of it :)  Thank you!

The Pit in Raleigh, NC

I was in North Carolina to visit some friends and I had one request- bring me somewhere that screams Raleigh, NC. They had one solution, “The Pit”.

I couldn’t wait to get there knowing that it’s been featured on The Food Network, Travel Channel and the Today Show to name a few.  The décor was upscale and the food was awesome! I had the Triple Combo (I mean why would you want to try just one thing when you can have 3!).  I chose the fried chicken, brisket and their famous Chopped, which comes from a pig raised on a local NC farm then cooked to perfection as a whole-hog on their pit-cooked barbecue.  In true southern fashion, I chose the cheesy bacon grits and black-eyed peas as my side and I chose wisely!  If you are lucky enough to be in Raleigh, make the day even better by stopping here for some real southern BBQ!!

City Sandwich in Hell's Kitchen NYC

So I traveled to NYC in June to take a TV hosting class at Actors Connection and to my surprise, the school was located smack dab in the middle of Hell's Kitchen. UMMMM Yes!!!!!!!  I was tempted to blow off the class and just eat my way down Ninth Ave but that of course would not have been the best idea (or would it have been ??:) I stumbled upon a new sandwich shop called City Sandwich where the owner was greeting everyone who walked in and he walked us through the menu that hung on the wall.  You could feel his love for all the sandwiches as he described the fact that each one was named after someone who has either helped him out along the way or happens to be a close friend.  Guerrieri, who started City Sandwich 7 months ago, was born in Italy, raised in NYC and lived in Portugal for many years and as he puts it “marries those worlds between the bread” which might I add could be some of the most delicious bread for a sandwich I have ever had.

Engagement Dessert

Wow, I couldn't have been any happier when this came out. I ordered the Gianduja chocolate canollis and my new fiance had what I called the triple threat of the creme brule world. I loved the way the dish separated out the three wonderful variates of pistachio, espresso and vanilla bean creme brule. To top it all off, we had fresh berries with wonderful cream to lighten things up a bit :) I think that the flavor of the chocolate and hazelnut in a cannoli could be one of the best combination's yet! The Sagamore on Lake George really knows how to sweeten up an already sweet day.


Hi and thank you for checking out my site! I am exicted to share with you all of the wonderful food and beverage startups this amazing country has to offer.  I look forward to finding and talking with many different business owners who get to share their passion with us.  Stay tuned for all the yummyness headed your way!! Bite Me!