Tuesday, July 10, 2012


Ever wonder what a Closed Door Restaurant is?

The "Secret" Society of Closed-Door Restaurants 
Picture dining at a cozy restaurant that takes place in the comfort and luxury of a chef's home -- where menus are forbidden and surprises are law, where guests are limited and invites are exclusive, and culinary themes can be as wacky and intriguing as the imagination will allow. 

These restaurants operate a few days a week and guest list numbers can range between 15-20 people. Because the dining events are so special, custom, and quaint, guests often pay between 150-300 dollars per visit.Closed-door restaurants also offer unique opportunities for diners to meet others who are food and drink enthusiasts. Visitors can come from all over the world or from various parts of a particular country, province or state. Many guests who show up regularly eventually make friends or create connections with the chefs themselves.

Intrigued yet? You should be....because we have one here......

Keeping it Fresh: Panza's 28 Tables

Thank to Sous Chef  Jose Arteche for sending these along! 
He tells me that this is the current menu that was purposefully a little generic, but it will change up after track season to be geared more towards local ingredients and the palates of our "local foodies". Very cool!

Also, he sent along the tasting menu that is set to change every two weeks.

Just sayin, 6 courses with wine for $55...holy schnikeys, you could potentially go every two weeks!

Friday, July 6, 2012

Eat: New World Bistro Bar Summer Menu 

By the way, I totally had a food moment....

So I went to NWBB the other night because I kept hearing about the summer menu...and secondly because I've had a shift in the way I think about food, which is due to a number of factors but in part because of things that I've learned from Chefs like Ric, and I just love their approach. I'm always curious to see how people will re-invent themselves and what they are going to do that's new and innovative too. So there I was on a hot summer night, for real it was like 900 degrees out and there was not enough chenin blanc in the world to cool me down. 

Maui Poke of Sockeye Salmon
Chili Mayo, Seaweed
Ok so I was curious, I kept seeing on various postings and blogs that the Maui Poke was going to be made with Salmon instead of  Tuna because of the sustainability issues. Ok that's cool, I can dig it....and you know when something just keeps jumping out at you and before you know it you need to have it or it will drive you insane because you have to know what the big freakin deal is.....well that was the situation here. I know a lot of lead up for an appetizer, but this is why. IT BLEW MY MIND. I'm not talking like a little bit. I had a total food moment where I had a bite, had a moment and then had to glance around to see if anyone else noticed the moment, because I think I might have invoked God in more than one language. So yeah, it was perfection of balance and textures and heat and seasoning. It was so good, I wanted to share it with someone and sadly I was dining alone...but I felt the need to tell someone how freakin amazing it was. Oh my poor server (who was totally awesome) must have thought I was a nut job...hope he didn't notice my eyes roll back in my head a little....

Kale-Aloo Island Stew
So then I had a little bowl of the nightly feature Kale-aloo Island Stew. I don't know why but it spoke to me, just the thought of having something Island-y up here was cool to me. I knew it was going to have a little heat to it and that's really the best thing to eat on a hot day, so I was all over that. I thought it was seriously delish, just so unique and not what I expect when I eat in the Capital Region. It's interesting to me to have a dish like that after the first one, because they were in totally separate directions yet they completely worked together. 

Ambiance is awesome too, by the way!
My entree was the Columbian Style BBQ Shrimp which were totally awesome...but I have to say the roasted corn-jicima salad was out of control. It was so fresh and sweet, I just love when food tastes like what it is...when it's not contrived or over manipulated, and that's exactly what that was. The corn was the star is was simply sweet fresh local corn and everything balanced off of that. The black bean cake was a nice rich contrast too and worked so well with everything. I loved it, totally happy camper. 

So that was that, I had an amazing meal...topped it off with my favorite scotch and was joined by my good friend for a night cap. There are moments in life that are special and this meal was certainly one of them.

Food Moments

I love to talk about food, to try new things & revisit my favorites, to experience new flavor profiles. And while I've had a lot of great food and experiences there are just a handful of what I call "Food Moments". It's that experience, when you eat something and it stays with you on your palate. Each and every one of my food moments, I can recall to my palate the exact flavors just by the memory of the event. I love being able to taste in my head..and it's funny (total sidebar by the way) one day I was talking with a Chef and her sous chef; and the sous chef didn't have any idea of what I was talking about regarding tasting in our heads, let's just say that her culinary career didn't portend well. I don't say that to be obnoxious though, it's just that I think it's kind of a hallmark of a great chef...but anyway, I digressed. 

I don't think that we have very many food moments in our lives, maybe a couple dozen. I know that when I think of it, I have ones that come to mind instantly...and while I'm not going to do this in any particular order, just really what comes to mind, I can almost pluck them out of my bank of memories tasting the flavors in my head, remembering the aromas, the ambiance, who I was with. ...it's almost magical to think about. 

So there was this restaurant in Grand Cayman, where I used to go to rather often as a kid, it was called L'Escargot. It was magnificent, just stunningly beautiful. I had never scene French service at that level, and as a child it was just so impressive, so elegant. I remember my dad had frog's legs, and I don't know I remember that because I have no idea what I ate...but then dessert came around. I had table-side Bananas Foster. Here I was just 5 or 6 years old, and this perfectly coiffed waiter wheels up a cart, and then the chef comes out to make the dessert all for me. It was such a show, but with such grace. The bananas were perfection and I can taste the caramel, rich and buttery. The Chef explained to me that he was making a comet; that the ice cream was the head and the bananas were the tail, and the sauce was the galaxy....and to me it just tasted like heaven.

Another great moment in food for me was the last time I ever ate duck...but oh what a duck it was. My mom took us to the Publik House in Cape Cod when I was about 8. Back in those days it was much more formal than it is now...my brother who was 9 at the time didn't have a jacket and we had to go back to the hotel to fetch one, so much for just being spur of the moment and deciding to have a nice dinner.  In fact, I would never go back now because it is really just a shell of what it used to be and I firmly believe in never going back to revisit a great memory because it will always live greater in your mind. It's also sad too to me, when places don't keep up with their standards. Anyway, I had Duck a l'Orange there. I can close my eyes and taste the astringency of the gastrique against the gamey duck fat. Oh my god it was delicious. I didn't know then that it was going to be the last time I would eat duck, and even still I savored every morsel, every moment. It was beyond words. 

So as I've said, I have a couple dozen food moments thus far in my life from all over the world, but actually quite a few here in the Capital Region. I'm going to share them here on the blog periodically, and hope that enjoy!

Monday, July 2, 2012

Eat: Brewery Ommegang's Hop Chef Competition  

Steve Barnes' Review  has lots of great pictures from the judges table. Check out the awesome shots and great descriptions of all the Chefs dishes.

B.A. Nilsson's  awesome review in Metroland about the Hop Chef Competition just came out. Check it out Here .

I have to say that what these Chefs did made me  incredibly proud to be a part of our Capital Region's culinary scene. Our Chefs just hit it out of the park on this one! But not only was it a great night for our Chefs, it was a great night for Albany. We had folks that are major players on our national food scene in town for the event, and they were just couldn't stop talking about Albany & the Capital Region as a place where exciting things were happening in the food scene. They went on to say that in contrast to larger markets where Chefs might be working more towards that celebrity status of having a show etc, that their  take on the Chefs here was that they were more about the creating and innovation in their food and also integrity ingredients. That's just pretty cool!

Great job Chefs Jaime Ortiz, Paul Ozimek, Ric Orlando, Brian Bowden, Marcus Guiliano, Rachel Mabb, Elliot Cunniff, and AJ Jayapal!

Do Good! : Yono's Scholarship Foundation 1st Annual Golf Outing

Our 1st Annual Golf Outing is being held to further the ongoing fundraising efforts that will ensure Yono's mission "to perpetuate a scholarship fund to sponsor disadvantaged students in both the USA and Indonesia who show integrity, promise and talent in the culinary arts and to foster a student exchange program between Indonesia and the USA."

Event Info

Monday, July 23rd, 2012

Lunch: 11am
Shotgun Start: 12:30pm
Reception & Dinner to Follow that includes a brief program, Live & Silent Auctions, and announcements of tournament winners. 

Normanside Country Club
150 Salisbury Road, Delmar, NY
Chefs , Chefs and more Chefs!
There will be gourmet food stations on the golf course and after golf with a cocktail reception followed by dinner prepared by some of the Capital Region's  top culinary talent!
Participating Chefs include:
A.J Jayapal - The Mallozzi Family
Brian Molino - Prime Business Dining
Brian Sterner - The Gideon Putnam 
Elliot Cunniff - Creo Caters
Giovanni S. Morina - Gio Culinary Studio 
Jackie Baldwin - Sodexho
Joan Dembinski - Yono's Restaurant
Kenneth Ruud - Normanside Country Club/ Grille One Six Five
Marla Ortega - Illium Cafe & Wine Bar
Michael Mastrantuono - The Milestone
Rachel Mabb - Bitches Kitchen
Special Contest & Awards

Golf format is a Modified Scramble:
Top 3 places will be awarded
Most Honest Foursome
Best Dressed Foursome

On the Course Contests Golf ball by pin

Closest to the Pin
Longest Drive (Men)
Longest Drive (Women)
$5,000 Cash Putting Contest
$50,000 Shootout
$2,000 Cash Hole-in-One Contest on all Par 3's

 There are still sponsorship opportunities available for this event. If you or your company is interested in sponsoring any aspect of the event, please contact: Bob McNamara at 518.434.4383 or follow this link: SPONSOR PACKET for more information. 

Golfer Registration is still open! 
Please see click on this link to download the registration form: Golfer Registration

We look forward to seeing you and thank you for your support!


Yono & Donna Purnomo                
Yono's Scholarship Foundation  
Yono's Restaurant & dp an American Brasserie     

Event Committee:

Bob McNamara                                                 Jay W. Vandervort                           Michelle Hines Abram
Robert J. McNamara Financial Advisors           Proforma Nextidea Marketing           M.H.A Innovations 
                        Yono's Scholarship Foundationdp logo

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Things That Make Me Go Yum: BENs BREW

I was taking a wander through the Schenectady Greenmarket today and I happened upon a little tasting table of Ben's Brew. And while I wasn't so inclined, Rachel said, "No, no you must try the Saison." Well I have learned to listen to Rachel... and so I did. Let me tell you, it was Fantastic! So I started asking questions and they were totally cool, down to earth people just interested in making good beer with quality ingredients. So what I'd really like to do is get them in a couple of local restaurants. Just sayin, that would be awesome!