Regular food

In the morning I was reading the comment section of a post on a popular food/restaurant blog about the closing of an ethnic restaurant in Albany and I came across one commenter that suggested that if the restaurant had served regular food it would be more likely to survive. It reminded me of a story about an encounter I had with a customer several years ago about the cheese on the hamburger I was serving.
I don’t remember the specifics of the burger but I do recall that the cheese was a beautiful creamy buttermilk blue from Wisconsin. I had the opportunity to ask the diner how he liked the burger and he asked “ain’t you got no regular cheese?” I inquired what he meant by regular cheese and he said “you know, sliced cheese.”
I assume that what this Burmese restaurant was in fact serving regular food, to the Burmese that is, and I wish I had the opportunity to try it. I love food from other cultures with flavors unique to the American palate.
With a job in a busy restaurant that requires long hours, a wife with a busy job that has an opposite schedule, and two small children at home, it’s rare that we get out of Saratoga for some irregular food.
I think things in our area are on the upswing and that the little ethnic restaurants will have a better chance of survival in the near future.
I also see a shift in diners eating “irregular” food like offal. My second menu at The Wine Bar three years ago had sweetbreads on it and I couldn’t sell them. This past summer I tried them again and would easily sell out by week’s end. I’ve also been having recent success with bone marrow in different forms including a really tasty bone marrow aioli for dipping duck fat fries. Think I’ll try kidneys this winter.
It’s almost embarrassing gloating about my ability to sell offal on a grand scale, I mean in an area with more savvy diners they’d laugh at me being proud of my eclectic offerings. In the Capital District however we need to celebrate getting sweetbreads on a menu without the “what the hell is that” reaction. We need to keep encouraging folks to leave their comfort zones and try some new shit. Go have some irregular food this weekend.

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6 thoughts on “Regular food

  1. 30 years ago I had my first creme brulee (in Chicago), it not being on the menu of any of my favorite restaurants around here. My first fois gras, sweetbreads, etc. were in New Orleans, or San Francisco….suffice it to say, the capital district has not been on the culinary cutting edge but does eventually blossom. Your menu items sound intriguing and delightful, but could they be prepared in a less cardiac eventful manner? Or are the portions so minute that they can be explored healthfully yet still enjoyably?

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  2. Lisa, I agree that our area will blossom at some point and catch up with the rest of the world. We have more talented young chefs here than ever before that will bring us to culinary maturity.
    I can say with complete confidence that not a single meal I’ve ever prepared has ever caused a cardiac episode. With that said, I am a chef, not a nutritionist, and should not be looked to for healthy dining choices. My food can be indulgent, as I believe the dining out experience should be. Eating duck fat fries with bone marrow aioli should not be a daily habit.

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  3. I have had sweetbreads on my menus for over 20 years. As long as I can get them, I will continue. Likewise, Foie gras, liver (duck, chicken, calf…). If you ate at my restaurant every day (think SuperSizeMe) and ordered the most consistently indulgent dishes I dread to contemplate the consequences. On the other hand, even I crave nothing but a salad once in a while. As far as regular food goes… well I did enjoy liver as a kid, so my bench mark is different than the sliced cheese
    type.
    Thanks for the blog…

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  4. Lisa, along with Chef Colosse’s excellent skills in the kitchen he consistently creates interesting menus that focus on small plates and sharing. You won’t be disappointed.

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  5. I love sweetbreads…and most other types of offal….it’s a shame folks have such a stigma….in fact, when I make my chicken stock…I usually go to the oriental market to get chicken feet, I use that along with leftover wing tips that I have saved over the year to make my soup stock….love nibbling on the feet afterwards…which totally grosses my friends out….their loss in my opinion!!!

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