Weekend: St Paddy’s Day, The Epicurean

If Lark Fest is the season-ender for nice weather outdoor celebrations, the St Patty’s day is the season opener. Saturday was spent hauling booty over to Albany’s St Patrick’s Day Parade. Brr, it was chilly! Last year it was warm and sunny, but I also had a really bad stomach bug, and this week I was just getting over a pretty crappy bout of food poisoning, so I’ll definitely take not feeling nauseated and crappy weather over warmth. Pshh, this is Albany – it’s grey the first day of spring anyway.

There’s way less college kids at the beginning of the parade route (Central & Quail) since the college bars were shut down a few years ago.

Still, always a good time. Everyone’s always in a good mood. If anything, the poorer weather encourages rowdier folks to stay in, leaving only the foolish die-hard celebrators come out.It’s pretty safe to say that I’ll always be an Albany die-hard.

The next day Albany John had some biz to attend to, so I had the whole place to myself. I ended up making a trip to The Epicurean for some blue cheese!

It was a little over $13 for the wedge of cheese (about 3/4 of a pound). I think this was the French blue cheese. My cheese-memory is terrible. Next time I’ll ask them to write it down.

I picked up a birch beer for the hard working husbear, which was made with sugarcane. He said it was very refreshing.

And two croissants, because they were the last ones and just looked too good to pass up. Just under $20 – not too bad at all. I’d have stayed for food, but I was in a breakfast mood and it was well past breakfast time.

Seriously blue cheese. They have three mild blue cheeses, and they are really mild (yay!). The rind is edible, but some bites I had were a bit tangy/ammonia-y. I think I’ll continue being a princess and not eat any of the rinds on my cheeses.

While mild, it’s still pretty intense stuff. If you’re just getting into blue cheese, I really suggest trying some of these out at The Epicurean. They’ll give you a nibble of it, and the small selection isn’t overwhelming.
This cheese is creamy, with pockets of mildly intense blue. Overall it’s a pretty light blue cheese flavor, but one that spreads a creamy-blue flavor across the entire tongue.

The croissants from The Epicurean didn’t have the layered, buttery definition that Mrs. London’s croissants have inside, but the crumb was incredibly moist and tender. Very light, and not too rich. Well, as light as a croissant can be. The exterior was wonderful. A thin, crisp shell that gently broke when you chewed it. I like this exterior more than Mrs. London’s – hers shatter too much and are really messy. I didn’t have to worry about crumbs as much with this.

It’s definition like this that is what I love in a croissant – contrasting crisp outside, and ultra-soft interior. It reminded Albany John of the corner-store boulangeries in Montreal. Not too rich to leave you feeling heavy, but satisfying all the same.

I poached a couple of eggs, sliced some blue cheese off of the wedge, and snuggled under a blanket in my living room to enjoy it all with the rest of my croissant. Wow, what a rich breakfast! I also managed to toss in about a quarter of a raw onion. It’s a good thing I was the only one home – I’m sure my breath was pretty intense after all that.

Do NOT eat the blue cheese with a croissant. I nibbled a little of them together and it was a richness overload. Too much of a good thing. Separately, very enjoyable. A little goes a long way with this blue cheese – I ate about half of it with my meal, and nibbled on the rest throughout the afternoon.

  1. I prefer a mild blue cheese myself. When the rind tastes ammonia-y doesn't that mean it's not good? I thought that was one of the signs of cheese that's not been stored properly or something? We bought some pricey raclette at Hannaford that smelled like ammonia that had been mixed with vomit. Not sure why I'm sharing that so very gross tidbit. 🙂

  2. Yikes, I hope not! Maybe I’m a little sensitive to the tanginess, too. The rest of the cheese was really good, I think I’m just not a rind gal.

  3. You best be eating those Parm-Reg rinds if you've got 'em. They are too good to toss.

    You do need to stew them for an hour or so before they are edible, but once softened, they are delicious.

    And they will add awesome flavor to a tomato based sauce or bean stew.

    That said, some rinds are best avoided. I was astounded when I saw a French friend of mine eat the rind from a wheel of Cantal. Let's just say, it's not for me.

  4. grace said:

    i certainly wouldn't reject that croissant–it looks like a pillow of pleasure to me! blue cheese isn't my cup o' tea, but i can recognize a quality wedge when i see it.
    by the way, the parade looks like lots of fun–glad you were able to enjoy it regardless of the dumpy weather.

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