Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Wolff's Biergarten und Wurst Haus

Who would've thought a little slice of Germany would come to downtown Albany? Just that has happened though with the opening of Wolff's Biergarten und Wurst Haus. If you are looking for a fine-dining restaurant, this is not your place, if you are looking for a casual fun place with great beer and good food, then this is your place.

Opened by the owners of Bomber's Burrito, Wolf's offers 14 draft beers (Spaten Optimator being a personal favorite) and 23 bottles beers, and not a one of them is Budweiser you know that American brewery umm no longer owned by an American company. These are German, Belgian, and Czech beers which are all high quality beers, many of which are hard to find.

The seating here is communal at a number of picnic tables, set-up to be like a biergarten might look in Germany. I'm not usually a fan of communal seating at large tables, but it seems to be a popular trend. To the back of the room there are a number of dart boards, I hear a dart league has been formed, and up in front is a ping pong table to keep you busy while downing your beer and food. In the summer it looks like a large garage door will be opened, which is the front of the bar/restaurant, which will bring some fresh air into the place, and I'm sure big crowds as well. A number of televisions play futball, or soccer to us underclass Americans, check out the televised schedule here.

If you are coming to Wolff's for food, be ready to serve yourself. You order your food at the back of the main room, either by telling the person behind the counter your order from a menu hung behind them on the wall, or for inebriated with poor vocal skills, little cards similar to a sushi bar are available to check off what you like. You then go sit down where you like, wait for your name to be called and go pick up your food. This all lends to the casual nature of the place, and also cuts down on the cost of waitstaff I am sure which in a time of rough economy makes sense.

The food is pretty good, and are all dishes you might expect from a casual biergarten. Schnitzel in three forms make their way to the menu, no weinerschnitzel though, which a visitor from Germany might protest as a few of my German friends have stated that schnitzel should only be made with veal and not pork. I tried the pork schnitzel however, and it was very tasty. The spatzle which accompanied it was very good as well.

The offer a variety of wurst (sausages), which are not prepared in house, but they are a high-quality sausage from a local purveyor, and I always love a local business supporting another local business. I tried the weisswurst, it was very good. Other dishes include a Currywurst, traditionally done with a curry infused sausage with a tomato based curry sauce, this one was done with a bratwurst with the sauce on top. A good rendition of the dish, and likely there was no location to attain the curry sausage. The french fires that accompany the dish are quite good as well.

There are a number of other options, including a traditional Bavarian meatloaf, rouladen, and a number of other tasty traditional dishes. You can even just order a pretzel, some french fries, onion rings or even a hamburger, perhaps accompanied by some roasted Brussels sprouts.

I will certainly be back again to Wolff's, especially when they lift up the garage door. So many more dishes to try, and so many more beers to go with them. Make sure you go check this place out.

Wolff's Biergarten und Wurst Haus
895 Broadway
Albany, NY 12207


Thursday, April 23, 2009

Steve Barnes' Times Union Article on the ACF SCCC Spring Culinary Classic

Go here to read the article by Steve Barnes on the Schenectady County Community College Sponsored ACF Spring Culinary Classic.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

From the SCCC Kitchen: Green Thai Curry With Chicken allows cook to adjust spiciness

Check out Jeff Wilkin's article on the Schenectady Gazette's website From the SCCC Kitchen: Green Thai Curry With Chicken allows cook to adjust spiciness featuring my Green Thai Curry with Chicken recipe.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Sweet Flavors of Thai Curry

I've been playing with some Asian flavors in some traditional dishes the last few months after having taught a number of Asian cuisines to my students in Modern Culinary Trends and Techniques. I am competing in an American Culinary Federation competition in a couple weeks out on Long Island. I've decided to work on my pastry skills, so I came up with the following dish for a 90 minute P/2 (Cold Plated Pastry) entry.

Sweet Flavors of Thai Curry

Red Curry Devils Food Cake with a Green Papaya and Mango Salad
Paired with a Terrine of Coconut and Green Curry Ice Creams
Sesame Tuile
(Either a Peanut Butter or Mango) Creme Anglaise

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Easter Ham Leftovers

Ham and Pea Risotto
Serves 4

1/2 lb Peas
¼ lb Ham, diced
4 cups Chicken broth
3 tablespoons Olive oil
½ each Onion, finely chopped
1 each Garlic clove, minced
1 cup Arborio rice
1/4 cup White Wine
1/4 cup Pecorino Romano cheese, grated
¼ cup Mascarpone cheese
to taste Salt and Pepper


1. Bring the chicken stock to a simmer in a small pot. While the stock is coming to a simmer, add the olive oil to another pot over medium-high heat. Sauté half the onion 2-3 minutes, or until soft. Add the garlic and sauté an additional 4-5 minutes or until the onion and garlic begin to turn golden brown. Add the Arborio rice to the onions and sauté for 2 minutes and then add 1 cup of the stock and the Pinot Grigio wine and stir constantly until all of the stock has been absorbed. Add the peas and ham, continue to add stock one cup at a time until the four cups have all been absorbed, the rice should not be dry it should still have some "movement" to it.

2. Mix in the Pecorino Romano and Mascarpone cheeses to the risotto and season with salt and pepper. Set aside to keep warm.

Chef Christopher Allen Tanner, CEC
Chef-Instructor Schenectady County Community College
School website - www.sunysccc.edu
Personal food blog - www.cheftanner.com

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Price Chopper Ham Demo and Tastings

I will be at the Price Chopper in Slingerlands from 1:30-4:30 pm tomorrow afternoon featuring their spiral cut hams for Easter. Yes they pay me, but I honestly would not support a product that I wouldn't buy. The producers of the ham for Price Chopper only produce pork products, that is what they specialize in. Price Chopper always chooses the best for what they will sell under their label, so the Central Market hams are better than the other hams you will find along side them in the market, but often for a fraction of the price. Those other hams that cost less, sadly are of low quality. Usually their hams run for 3.99/lb, they will be on sale for 2.99/lb at all locations, but be sure to stop by the Slingerlands store tomorrow to say his if you have the time.

Store Address:
1395 New Scotland Ave.
Slingerlands, NY 12159

Demo time: 1:30-4:30

From the SCCC Kitchen: Asparagus Risotto and Vegetables makes flavorful spring dining

Check out Jeff Wilkin's article on the Schenectady Gazette's website From the SCCC Kitchen: Asparagus Risotto and Vegetables makes flavorful spring dining featuring my Asparagus Risotto recipe for those fresh Spring asparagus.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Aperitivo Revisited

Sometimes I have a bad meal at a restaurant and yet I return again, and again the meal isn't stellar, and yet for some reason I return again in hopes to find that a place has gotten through its growing pains. Aperitivo in Schenectady, NY has been one such restaurant.

I have dined there about three or four times and had just about written the restaurant off. I found some of the dishes to be lacking in proper execution, while the portion sizes even for "small plates" were absurd for the price. However, I made another attempt last night as I had heard there were some recent changes to the location.

I never think to check the Proctor's schedule when I go out to eat in Schenectady, as I live a couple miles from the venue, I just don't think of it as a "special event" location, I guess you just get used to things. Last night Aperitivo had a "Proctor's Menu" which meant it was somewhat limited due to the high-volume of guests coming in, not quite sure how I feel about that, but there was still plenty to choose from.

The small plate dominated menu has been beefed up with a pretty big selection of larger plates. After talking to the bartender and some other people, it just seems that many of the guests didn't get the "small plate" concept. I for one love this concept which is very popular everywhere else in the country. It gives one a chance to try a large number of small plates to sample the many flavors that the chef has created.

I proceeded to order a number of items, the Surf and Turf roll which I have had in the past and hated, was so much better, flavorful and had a wonderful texture. Next I moved on to a dish called Mussels Panzanella, good simply cooked muscles, change the name though please, Panzanella is a salad made with day old bread or crusty bread cubes along with tomatoes and other fresh vegetable. Other than a tomato broth and some toasted baguette on top, it had nothing to do with Panzanella. Moved onto the Beef Carpacio, which I complain about every time because of the portion size. The portion itself has not increased but it is now accompanied by what I believe to have been some truffled sheep's milk cheese, a very tasty dish and I love truffles. The Lobster Arancine (balls of day old risotto usually breaded and fried, the name translates to "little oranges" which is what they are meant to look like) were full of flavor, although they were a little over fried. I'd skip the gnocchi, either they were really overworked, or they were prepackaged. If you can't make gnocchi in-house don't offer it as they will always be rubbery, gnocchi should be tender in texture. I asked for a dish off the regular menu and was accommodated, duck confit with risotto. The confit was good, a little heavy on the sun-dried tomatoes which the confit was sauteed with. The risotto had a good saffron flavor to it.

Finished the meal with a 20 year-old Talisker, the bar has a pretty good selection of whiskeys, a good amount of high-end Scotch and Bourbon. Aperitivo is a restaurant that seems to have come into its own, I met the chef, Devon, at the end of the meal whom is a graduate from Schenectady County Community College's culinary arts program. He is doing a wonderful job and I am looking forward to going back in again.

Aperitivo Bistro
426 State Street Schenectady, NY 12305
(518) 579-3371 Fax (518) 579-3372

Restaurant Website

Lunch: Mon–Fri 11:30am-2:00pm
Dinner: Mon-Sat 5:30pm-10:00pm; Sun 4:00pm-9:00pm
Pub Fare: Mon-Fri 2:00pm-Close
*Hours may be extended for Proctors shows, call for info.

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