Thursday, September 27, 2012

Eat: Mingle's Spicy Sensation

It's ironic how things happen sometimes. I had heard about Mingle for months from my friend Britin Foster from All Good Bakers. She kept saying all these wonderful things about this guy Jose Andrew, who was their new neighbor when they moved in to their new location over on Delaware. I thought that was nice, it seemed like a great neighborhood feel was developing over there with AGB, Mingle and now the Cheese Traveler. It's actually pretty cool in my book how they're all working together and supporting each other's efforts. So as it turned out, last weekend Britin needed some help with the Harvest Festival at Washington Park and so I offered to help out. Well our booth was smack dab in between Mingle and New World Bistro Bar...lucky me! So through the course of the day I got a chance to talk to Jose who he really is, as Britin says, the nicest guy in Albany. And I love that by the way, when someone is super nice and passionate about what they do and helping's just good stuff! So fast forward to Tues...I get a text from Chef Rachel Mabb from New World Bistro Bar and she's got a hankering to go out for a cocktail and little nosh....and what do you know, she suggests going to Mingle. So that's the lead in....

Let's start with the wine's not huge, but this is the thing it's a solid mix of nice selections that are all just easy drinkable. I kinda tasted a couple of things and not because I was meaning to but it was the way the night evolved, more about that later...It was a damp fall day, and I was feeling malbec so that was the jumping off point...really not thinking of pairings or anything, just what I had a taste for ya know. Rachel has been on a cider and spicy kick for a bit now, which by the way I think Ric's food has got to be rubbing off on her.

 So we start out with Pan Fried Yakimondu and the "Flavors of DelSo" Cheeseboard. Now I wasn't even close to thinking about having a cheeseboard, but then I get the description and I am such a sucker for good cheese.... I just can't resist.
 "Flavors of Del-So Cheese Board"...Our board is a "3 level" balanced 4 cheese platter, provided by "The Cheese Traveler," featuring: L1- Shushan Snow, L2- Pawlett & Abby's Gouda, L3- Ewe's Blue. The cheeses are paired with 4 ounce servings of Switchback Ale, Blue Point Toasted Lager & Harpoon IPA or 2 ounce servings of Gazela Vinho Verde, Loredona Pinot Grigio & Wither Hills Sauvignon Blanc. Served with fresh fruit and specialty crackers baked by "All Good Baker's."  

Then it was on to the entrees; we had both ordered Korean dishes at various levels of spice. Now it has been years since I've had real Korean food...not since my ballet days in New York when my friends looked more like a UN delegation than a conservatory, but oh how I loved those days. It's funny very few of us spoke the same language, yet we would have dinner together when we weren't dancing; our language, our communication rather, was through food. So many wonderful memories learning how to appreciate each other's cultural foods and they all came flooding back to me as my plate was placed in front of me and the aromas wafted up. Anyway, I digressed but I just love when smells and tastes can transport you, to make a memory come to life.  

 I had Ojingo Bokkum which is Calamari stir-fry with flavorful miso and spicy gochujang, sautéed with tofu, soybean sprouts, zucchini, and scallions.  It was simply incredible, it tasted so authentically of the Korean flavors that I loved, so unlike anything I've eaten in Upstate. It was divine even as the heat of the gochujang totally kicked my ass, made my nose run and subsequently made me suck down a glass of vouvray in about 4 minutes flat. By the way take note, if you're ever in a postion where the spice is a little intense, a nice sweeter wine will totally help balance that out. I loved every delicious bite of it though. 

Rachel had the Meat Lover's  Bokkum...sesame and soy marinated beef & chicken along with pork belly sautéed with Chef's house-made kimchi & spicy gochujiang. Served with sticky rice and a chilled seaweed "namools."   Hers was more of a smokey smouldering heat that hits you after it settles for a minute, where mine was a bold smack you up front, straight-up chile sensation. Either way they were both sensational dishes, well executed and just truly authentc. 

On top of the fabulous food, what I love about Mingle is the nice, easy going atmosphere that's fresh and vibrant, chic yet comfortable. There's just great energy in the whole place and it's certainly somewhere that I can see myself stopping by much more often.

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