Happy New Year 2010!

CVS and Manhattan Maka came up to the ALB area for New Year’s Eve and the weekend, so we kicked the year off right and welcomed the weekend and new year by picking up some food from Red Front in Troy, NY.

A 24 slice square pie of pepperoni pizza. Manhattan Maka and I cannot get enough of Red Front’s pepperoni – just the right amount, and nice and crispy on the outside of the pepperoni. The cheese was perfect this time – on Thanksgiving Eve we thought it was a little thin and were correct – this time we had a lot more cheese, and the pizza was perfect. Hot, gooey, cheesey, sweet, salty. Just perfect.
The sauce and cheese ratio was perfect with this thicker cheese layer. The sauce is bright and sweet without being too acidic or sugary. The cheese is greasy and salty in all the right ways, and when you pop these two on top of a perfectly fluffy and light crust, well, it’s a perfect combination.

We also got 10 hot wings and 10 medium wings. They probably would have been crispy, but these sat in the styrofoam container longer than they probably should have. If you eat them in, I bet they’d be good.

“Hot” is also a subjective term. We thought that we were first eating the mild wings, but when we started on the second batch of wings, uh, nope. They were orange, but that was about it. Red Front, turn that heat up on them wangs!

Since it was New Year’s Eve, the Captain made an appearance.

Right before midnight I popped some bubbles (Ballatore – it’s cheap and sweet like me – hah) and added some black raspberry Kijafa to make it even sweeter.

Yum! Super sweet bubbles + raspberry flavor?! Yes, please!

We went to sleep fairly early because we had plans for the next day: A cooking competition between Albany John and Chicago Velvet Smoove!
Manhattan Maka and I had planned this out and decided the ingredient would be shrimp since we’re both crazy for shrimp. We headed out to the Asian Supermarket because I think Asian grocery stores have better tasting shrimp than mass merchants – they just taste shrimpier. And the prices aren’t too shabby either.
Manhattan Maka and I were slightly distracted by the hot bar area – she picked up some red bean paste buns and I snagged har cheung (shrimp rice rolls [for $2.50!]).

Manhattan Maka and I picked up the shrimp and the boys had 30 minutes to pick out ingredients they wanted to cook with. And they had to stick to a $30 budget.

Albany John is above, manhandling some cauliflower.

Check out that haul! CVS went $3 over – he really liked the spices. Albany John came in at a little over $25. Overall, good job, boys!

CVS’s table in the kitchen. Wow, that’s a lot!

And the shrimp! On the left are ‘medium’ shrimp, but they were very large. They cost a very affordable $4.69 per pound. On the right are the biggest ones they had, which cost $7.99 per pound. We only bought one pound of that, and 3 pounds of the medium shrimp.

Manhattan Maka and I were even good sports and unpeeled some shrimp for the boys. Here is Albany John’s portion of peeled and unpeeled shrimp.
And some of my hair.

The boys in action! CVS did some kitchen time first, and Albany John prepped.

CVS’s first dish was a plate of beer poached shrimp served with a side of fried firm tofu and Japanese sweet potato in date palm sugar.
The tofu was creamy and firm and not at all greasy. The shrimp was enhanced with pepper and ginger. The combo seemed odd at first, but when we ate everything together there was a very complimentary overall sweetness.

And either I forgot to take a picture, or Blogger decided not to upload it, but… his second dish was a mixture of shrimp, long peppers & fresh shiitake mushrooms. This was my favorite of all of his dishes. Hot, but not overwhelmingly so. The fresh shiitakes were a treat – much lighter than they are when reconsituted from dry, but much meatier than a portobello could ever be.

It was an interesting two dishes, since they were both so opposite of eachother – one very sweet, the other salty and spicy.

Next up was Albany John. His first dish was steamed shrimp with carrots and cucumber in a miso-shallot sauce. OH BABY.

Briny and sweet, it was love at first bite. The shrimp almost popped in my mouth. The carrots and cukes were seasoned with rice wine and rice wine vinegar and a bit of water. The miso shallot sauce rounded out the veggies and the shrimp giving this dish a deliciously even flavor profile – evenly salty, sweet, and richly vegetal.

His second dish was a shrimp soup that also decided not to upload, but it was also good. A chicken broth base with thin slices of beef, shiitakes, and soy bean sprouts. A wedge of lime was included, which really rounded out the flavors. Without the lime it was a little bit busy. A very Thai dish – sweet, tart, savory, and spicy.

The mister’s third dish was probably the clunker of the night. Shrimp, green baby eggplant, potatoes, and carrot on top of millet. The flavors were flat and oddly incongruous with each other. I mostly picked the shrimp out of mine. I think the eggplant could have used a little bit of salting or something – its blandness might have been what was overwhelming the dish and draging the flavor down.

Manhattan Maka and I loved this dish of lightly stirfried shrimp with white pepper, bok choy leaves, and shallots. This was a much-needed cleanser dish. It was so light and refreshing – everything was so very complimentary. Shallots were lightly cooked and true to flavor, which really enhanced the simple preparation of the shrimp. The shrimp being cut into bits was also cute!

A dessert dish – custard with lychee-mango syrup with a fried custardy shrimp dumpling and fried dumpling skins.

Holy crap, I never knew Albany John could bake custard! It was delicious – lightly sweet and eggy. Very smooth. The lychee syrup had me flipping out! He was pulling out a secret card – the Albany-Jane-
While I loved the syrup, the shrimp dumpling was a little out of place. It would have been best on its own. Actually, about a dozen of them would have been even better.

CVS hopped in the kitchen to create his final dish – Shrimp, snowpeas & peppers. HOLY MOTHER, this was freaking H-O-T! It was very spicy and very salty, even for me. The saltiness, that is. Overwhelmingly salty.

CVS also brought out a dish he did not want ‘judged’. It was shrimp he’d poached in oil earlier, which were a bit overcooked after sitting for a bit. A good choice on his part -these were pleasantly salty, but also overcooked.

The result – two incredibly stuffed girlies who took a good 20 minutes to deliberate a… DRAW!

They both cooked up such great meals we honestly could not decide. You might be thinking “Sure, riiiight. You two just didn’t want to play favorites, or voted for your own guy!”. To which we’d say, “Nope, do you think we play favorites when it comes to food? Oh, come on. We care about them, but we’re not going to baby anyone.”

How they put up with us, I’ll never know.

So yes, brother against brother, these two were raised well. Really well. With both highs and lows from both of them, they matched up to a draw. Man, and Manhattan Maka and I were really hoping to declare a winner! We need a 3rd person next time.

Also, now I know why multi-course meals are so filling! Sure, it looks like a little bit on the plate, but damn are they ever filling! We ate almost all of the shrimp by the end of the night (6 were left) and Manhattan Maka and I had aching tummies as we plodded off to bed. I even had a dream that Albany John and CVS were still cooking, giving me more shrimp to eat. I woke up clutching my stomach going “Oouuuhhhh. Nooooo.”

The next day (Saturday), we all headed over to Mi Madre’s house for a surprise shower for Margarita. Just a little one for us Yankees to throw her before she and Bro move to MS.

And because we’re awesome like that – we were drinking bubbles out of plastic cups. Don’t let Manhattan Maka and me anywhere near bubbly. We’re like bottomless cups!

  1. i wish i could marry champagne!!!

    you had Iron Chef night, NICE!!! “allez cuisine”

    hee! word verification: haute.
    don't know why that makes me laugh

  2. Next time you need an extra judge, I'd be happy to render my services.

  3. what asian market do you go to? The ones i've been to in the area aren't that great.

  4. Grace said:

    classy–everyone should drink champagne from plastic cups! 🙂

  5. p – woo woo for the bubbles!

    Daniel B – Yes! How could I forget?!

    Mr. Dave – Noice, now I know how to get you to hang: food judging!

    redbeantime – I go to the Asian Supermarket on Central Ave. It's right next door to Bryant & Stratton college. It's like NYC Asian grocery stores. The staff are shockingly friendly too.

    Grace – If it meant champers every day, you bet!

  6. cw said:

    ok – now i'm hungry…i love the asian supermarket – will have to go back to try the shrimp – i have a wonderful recipe for wasabi pea encrusted shrimp with a spicy soy-ish dipping sauce..yummy! 🙂

  7. I miss markets like that. That produce looked pretty good. What a neat idea, looked like fun.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: