“Part of the secret of a success in life is to eat what you like and let the food fight it out inside.” -Mark Twain

Every so often I tend to find myself getting backed up with things to write about. I enjoy writing about food and I really enjoy writing about experiences and things to do but sometimes I find great products but they get lost because I can’t really post a whole segment on them. Also, it’s Labor Day and it’s a relaxation day, for me anyway, so here’s a quick post. For the below local products, the same goes: they were both delicious, both found at Whole Foods and both perfect for the end of Summer so check them out!

Beths Farm KitchenPeanut butter and jelly sandwiches have to be up there with my favorite kind of sandwich ever. Peanut butter in my eyes can do no wrong so I love changing up the flavors of jelly and was happy to find Beth’s Farm Kitchen Black Raspberry Jam.

She has a multitude of flavors and I need to try them all. Beth Linskey started this company in 1981 in an 1850s farmhouse in Columbia County. All fruits are purchased locally or regionally except for citrus fruits that don’t grow well in our climate.




As much as I try, my iced tea has to be sweetened. I’ve tried unsweetened a bunch of times and it IMG_1807just doesn’t do it for me. Imagine the moment I found sweet tea! Born and raised in Upstate New York, though sweet tea has been around, it’s not so in your face as it is in the South.

This tea is my new favorite. I just lost my Grandmother in July 2014 so hearing Maria’s story about her Grandmother pulled on my heart-strings in a big way. Nani used to make this for her family all the time and after a message sent from “Up above (or whatever you may or may not believe in),” Maria decided to make it for mass consumption and put Nani’s face on the front of every bottle and I’m pretty happy about that.

Thanks Nani for the sweet tea, each one I drink is for you!

“Only the pure in heart can make a good soup.” -Ludwig van Beethoven

As much as we don’t want to think about it, it’s inevitable, Winter is coming (and not the Game of Thrones kind). What we have to do is think about the positive: Pumpkin spice all the things, PikaFarmhot chocolate, sweatshirts, and soup. I love soup and I know where I’m going to turn for soup this Winter- Pika’s Farm Table (876 Neighbourhood Rd, Lake Katrine).
I first saw Pika’s Farm Table at the Schenectady Greenmarket except I knew them as the stand that had the delicious waffles. Recently I went to a blogging event at Whole Foods and had the chance to try their soup and I fell in love.

Pika was born in Belgium, which proves how delicious those waffles are and worked in Italy and France. They say on their website that their meal “are a true ode to our Belgian Grandmothers, who made a meal out of the freshest ingredients.”

From what I got to try, I love the Lentil Spinach soup. It’s vegan, gluten-free and is all-natural. Take a look at the ingredients and they’re: vegetable broth, carrots, tomatoes, lentils, onions, spinach, olive oil, garlic, cumin, pepper, and salt. All things I not only can pronounce but all things I can find in my own fridge. Unless you want to eat the soup immediately, you must keep it frozen or refrigerated. PikeFarm2I asked Pika about her soup and she gave me a little tip. Freeze the bag of soup that you plan on bringing to work with you, use it as an ice pack and by lunchtime, there’s nothing left to keep cool and your soup is defrosted- brilliant!

Want to find where to buy their products? Their website lists at which farmer’s markets they’ll be selling and you can always go to Whole Foods in Colonie Center. If you’d like, you can also order their products online and pick it up at a local farmer’s market. I miss them at the Schenectady Greenmarket but I love how accessible and local they are. What’s your favorite kind of soup?

“New mysteries. New day. Fresh doughnuts.” – David Lynch

I’m going to start off this obvious blog post ABOUT donuts by saying that typically, I don’t like donuts. Cider donuts to me are completely different. There’s some magic and love that goes into each and every one that makes it taste like unicorns and puppy dogs. Being from Upstate New York, I’ve had a number of cider donuts and I don’t like naming anything my “favorite” but if I had to choose, these would come pretty darn close. Cider Belly Doughnuts (25 N Pearl St, Albany) has put a new spin on the regular cider doughnut. Usually the options are sugar or no sugar, but Cider Belly has seriously stepped up their cider doughnut game.

“The Usual Suspects” as they call them are their signature 6 donuts: Original Cinn (basic cider doughnut), Sugar Daddy (w/ Cinn Sugar), Sap Sucker (w/Maple Frosting), The Venitian (w/Cappuccino Frost), The Glazer (w/ Sugar Glazing) & Das Yum (w/ German Chocolate).

You honestly can’t go wrong. I had a sample of each of these and I still have no idea which I liked the best. Each doughnut is made fresh and you can taste the difference. I love the decor of the whole cafe. I didn’t get a chance to take it all in since I was there originally for work. There’s no doubt I’ll be going back so keep a lookout for an updated post when I can get a closer look! What I should have done was pair it with hot cider but the weather is still a little warm for that.

Individual doughnut ($1.00); Six-pack ($5.00); Baker’s dozen ($10.00)

“I’m pretty sure eating frozen yogurt every day would solve 100% of my problems” -Anon.

I love frozen yogurt but my problem with a lot of places is that the flavors taste fake or too sweet and of course sometimes the toppings aren’t what I’m looking for at all. AyeladaOn top of it all, a good number of frozen yogurt places in the area are national franchises. That is, until I found Ayelada (1210 Troy Schenectady Rd/Rt 7, Latham). To be honest, I didn’t actually find them I was invited. I drive past Ayelada every day to and from work and though I’ve always wanted to stop by, after work I’m usually exhausted but now that I’ve been there, that will most certainly change.

I walked in and was immediately impressed, the place is incredibly clean. There are a great number of different types of toppings & some are local. At first glance, you can tell that this place is different. Unlike a lot of frozen yogurt places you’re used to, the employees put your toppings on for you. I kind of prefer this, that way I don’t over-weigh my yogurt with a bunch of stuff, the employees do it by the spoonful. Also, on the wall are local farms that they partner with which, of course, I love. To name a few (the rest are listed on their website): Bowman Orchards, Lloyd Spear Beekeeper, Our Daily Bread, Ronnybook Farm, Saratoga Peanut Butter, Sundae’s Best Hot Fudge and more!

The ingredients? Fresh skim milk and yogurt from independent farms and fresh flavors and fruit. The dairy does not contain antibiotics or synthetic growth hormones and loaded with probiotic. As they explained to me, every yogurt starts out with the same basic ingredients and then the flavor is added. Ayelada2For example, to make key lime pie they add key lime, for blueberry pie they add actual blueberries. So though you could taste the flavor there, it wasn’t overpowering so you could honestly add any topping and it could go well together. What surprised me was when I had a taste of the creamsicle, I assumed it was going to come out orange but it was the same color as the rest – no artificial coloring. The yogurt is created in small batches fresh each day at each location, meaning no prepackaged mixes. Can’t get any better than that!

I was also pretty impressed with the prices (taxes included). Mini -3oz ($2.50), Small- 5oz ($3.50), Medium – 8oz ($4.50), Large – 12oz ($5.50) & Pint – 25oz ($6.00). One topping is $1, two toppings are $2.50 and Loaded (3 or more) is $1.75. Have a gluten allergy? Make sure you tell your server and be sure to try the gluten-free cone ($2.50).

Overall, I LOVED their yogurt and I can’t believe I’ve driven passed this place so many times and didn’t stop after work because I was tired. Frozen yogurt makes everyone feel better, anyway, right? Keep an eye on their website to see which flavors they’re featuring that day. There’s also a sign on the street if you can’t get to the site. If you can’t decide, check out what the staff suggests and maybe give that a try!

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“I take a lot of pride in being myself. I’m comfortable with who I am”- James McAvoy

I wanted to use more video in my blog and I figured this was the best way to start it off. Don’t worry, as I say in the video, all of my vlogs won’t be of me sitting on the floor in my bedroom just talking but to begin, I made this.

It doesn’t really go into tons of detail but TL;DR my blog is  a-changin’ – I’m going to be changing it visually, utilizing a lot more video, and hopefully bringing you all a more in-depth view of places around the 518. Thanks for joining me on this cool new (soon to be updated) ride!



“Man who invented the hamburger was smart; man who invented the cheeseburger was a genius.”

Matthew McConaughey

Oh my, Burger Fi. Sorry, I’m not usually that corny but it felt appropriate. It’s always so strange for me when my “real-life” BurgerFi-9job and my blog intermingle. I was invited to a press event for Burger Fi (860 New Loudon Rd, Latham) for my “real-life” job so I figured, might as well take advantage and write about it on my blog! I walk in and the place is beautiful! The press event was Tuesday and the restaurant opened Wednesday at 11AM.

If you didn’t already know, BurgerFi is actually a franchise. Our local location is owned by Angelo Mazzone and Bill Lia (Burger Ventures LLC). BurgerFi, as they listed in their press release “was founded on the belief of creating a better guest experience through serving a high-quality, gourmet chef-inspired food.” They pride themselves on serving never frozen, grass-fed, hormone-free, steroid-free, and anti-biotic free Angus beef with their focus on giving back to local communities. All of their ingredients are natural, fresh and cut, chopped, mixed and prepared daily.

Each BurgerFi location is built to reduce its carbon footprint on the environment. Tables are constructed using compressed wood and chairs are made from 111 recycled Coke bottles, large fans utilize 66 percent less electricity, and strict recycling policies.  I love the effort they’re putting in to not only have a delicious product but help the environment in the process. I respect that.

Now, what you’re here for, how the tasting went. We had a special menu for tasting and had the opportunity to taste a good number of items on their menu. If you don’t want to read my step-by-step, check out my TL;DR at the bottom for a quick overview.

PARM + HERB FRY: HAND-CUT FRIES TOSSED IN OUR SIGNATURE PARMESAN + HERB BLEND — I’m going to preface this with saying thatBurgerFi-1 I’m not a huge French fry person but I know what I like and I wasn’t really impressed. We started with these so I was worried what was to come when I wasn’t too excited about the fries. They weren’t terrible but they weren’t special They were soft, the flavor was okay but not incredibly strong. What I did really like was the Parmesan sauce, that was delicious. The problem is that it’s drizzled so once I ate the fries off of the top, the sauce was gone. (Regular $3.27/Large $4.37/ Bucket $6.57 + $0.97 for the Parmesan + Herb sauce)

URBAN STYLE CRY + FRY: AN ONION RING + FRY COMBO, TOSSED IN PARMESAN + TOPPED WITH HERB + GARLIC BurgerFi-2AIOLI– The fries used in this are the same hand-cut fries so I could do without the fries. On the flip side, coming from someone who doesn’t like onion rings, theirs were delicious! Not only were they the size of my face but they were so lightly breaded yet crisp. I can’t wait to go back and just get an order of those. If you’re getting a burger, don’t leave without the rings! (Onion Rings Regular $4.37/ Large $4.97 or Cry + Fry $5.47)

BURGER FI CHEESEBURGER: DOUBLE NATURAL ANGUS BURGER, DOUBLE AMERICAN CHEESE, LETTUCE, TOMATO & BurgerFi-3BURGERFI SAUCE — It was about this moment when we realized that we weren’t getting one burger to taste but 4 and a hot dog so I started to pace myself. I got two bites in of these burger and it took everything in me to not finish it. It was delicious. The burgers were hearty and juicy but not too overwhelming so I didn’t honestly realize I was eating two of them. The cheese was perfectly melted and I don’t know what magic they put in that BurgerFi sauce but I want to put it on everything. It was definitely a gourmet burger, similar to a Shake Shack style for comparison. The coolest part was they had their logo burnt into the bun, it didn’t change the flavor of the burger but it was a nice little touch ($5.97).

BREAKFAST ALL DAY BURGER: NATURAL ANGUS BURGER, AMERICAN CHEESE, HICKORY BACON, MAPLE BurgerFi-4SYRUP, FRIED EGG, HASH BROWN, GRILLED ONIONS & KETCHUP — I didn’t expect to like this but I really did! I didn’t get a strong maple syrup flavor and was surprised to read that it was on the burger somewhere. The bacon made it but bacon is amazing so that’s to be expected. The hash brown was crunchy on the outside and soft on the inside as it should be. Note, because of the hash brown, this is a singular burger patty. Be careful when eating this though because the fried egg is runny and gooey so expect to have to lick that delicious yolk off of your fingers when you’re done ($9.97)!

BRISKET BURGER: DOUBLE 28-DAY DRY-AGED GROUND BRISKET BURGER, SWISS AND BLUE BurgerFi-5CHEESES, LETTUCE, TOMATO, PICKLES & BURGERFI SAUCE — This, though delicious, was my least favorite burger. That’s not to say I hated it, because I didn’t, not at all, it just so happened that it was my least favorite. The burger itself was delicious. Juicy, well-constructed and delicious but not only was it too tall for me to take a solid bite with all the ingredients, there was a lot going on. Looking at the burger itself, you could tell that it was brisket and not regular hamburger meat. I think the mis-step in my opinion were the cheeses. The blue cheese plus the swiss plus the sauce just wasn’t my favorite. The way I’d construct it? One burger, just blue cheese but a lesser amount, leave the rest the same (Called “The Twenty-Eight” on the menu, $10.57).

VEGEFI BURGER: CRISPY QUINOA, LENTIL + FRESH-CUT VEGGIE BURGER, WHITE CHEDDAR, LETTUCE, BurgerFi-6TOMATO ON GREENSTYLE WRAP & BURGERFI SAUCE — I loved this. I can’t put into words how much I loved this. I love that there’s not only a veggie option but it’s available with a lettuce bun. The quinoa burger was crispy and didn’t fall apart when I bit into it. I had the deep-fried option and could taste it, I would’ve liked to have tried the grilled quinoa option. That said, I had already tried 3 other burgers by this point and this one I finished. If I had the option, I probably would get the “Conflicted Burger ($7.47)” which is one hamburger and one quinoa burger. Was this my favorite? No, but if you’re a vegetarian or looking to eat a little lighter, this is a great burger substitute and you don’t have to worry about going to a burger place with your friends ($6.97).

CHICAGO STYLE WAGYU BEEF DOG: WAGYU BEEF DOG, MUSTARD, NEON RELISH, ONION, BurgerFi-7TOMATO, SPORT PEPPERS, CELERY SALT, PICKLE SPEAR ON A POPPY BUN — There was so much stuff on this hot dog, it was hard to taste the dog by itself. It was a delicious hot dog, but the condiments were over-powering. I know that’s the point of a Chicago dog and it’s not something I’m used to but that was the flavor I got. The condiments were delicious and as a total package, I enjoyed it but I’m more of a burger person than a hot dog person anyway. If you like hot dogs, definitely give this one a try because it was good on its own (Kobe-Style Beef $5.47/ Chicken Apple $4.97/Vienna Beef $3.97 + $1.00 for Chicago-style).

RED VELVET CONCRETE: VANILLA CUSTARD WITH LAYER UPON LAYER OF RED VELVET — Well, if you have room left over after your delicious burger, you need to order this. The red velvet was really good but the vanilla custard was out of this world. The consistency was perfect, the flavor was spot on- I loved it and if I didn’t love their burgersBurgerFi-8 so much, I’d go there, grab a spoon, and just order this concrete. If you don’t get this, you’re seriously missing out ($5.57)

CHOCOLATE SHAKE: THICK, RICH AND DELICIOUS MADE WITH ALL NATURAL FARM FRESH, OLD-FASHIONED CHOCOLATE CUSTARD — Thank goodness I left room for these two at the end! This shake was lighter but still with the heaviness of the custard that separates it from any ol’ milk shake. It’s served with a straw so it’s just liquidy enough but still with some substance. The sprinkles were unnecessary but the chocolate flavor was rich, like a dark chocolate over a lighter milk chocolate. They also offer a ton of flavors including black + white, banana, peanut butter and coffee mocha. This was a little too rich for me but I enjoyed the flavor of it ($4.47). Wow. I think I’m still full from all of that food but reliving it just made me want to eat it all over again.

That was a lot- for those of you skimming for the good stuff, my TL:DR version is this: the BurgerFi original, straight-forward cheeseburger was my favorite but the brisket would have probably been if it wasn’t overwhelmed, the onion rings are a much better choice than the fries & if you leave without a concrete of any kind, you’re doing it wrong but because of how sweet it is, know you’re not eating that all in one sitting. Everything tasted extremely fresh and you can tell that nothing is frozen. I don’t like to say anything is “The best I’ve ever had” but in terms of local burger places, I’d no question put this in my top 3. Next time though, I’m checking out their wine & beer selection!