Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Eat It - Hattie's, 45 Phila Street, Saratoga Springs, NY‎, 518-584-4790‎

Some of my readers might get annoyed by my posting from the Empire State, but that should be a small percentage, since everyone's from New York. My girlfriend is no longer surprised to hear of people's New York and Upstate New York roots that are so common in South Florida.

You might think that this says something negative about New York, like the people want to get out of there and that makes it a bad place, but I think it's mostly the weather that causes New Yorkers to flee the state. That and taxes. It's different in, say, Boston, where people like the place itself, but dislike the miserable people. You don't hear of Bostonians going to places en masse and meeting all of the other lovely people from Boston. They tend to spread out to L.A. or Chicago or South Carolina, hoping to be the lone Bostonian who really "deserves" to wear a Red Sox hat. Not like all of those bandwagoners. Come to think of it, most of them talk about moving to those places, but never actually do it. I hope I don't hurt the feelings of any of my Beantown buddies. I love you guys. You know that. But you're miserable bastards.

Now, New Yorkers, on the other hand, are quite happy to be around New Yorkers. It's just that the winter is really long, and the state government insists on squeezing every penny out of its residents. I could be wrong, but I'm just gonna go with it. I'm sure the fact that I'm from New York and hate all Boston sports teams with a passion has absolutely nothing to do with it. But I do genuinely think that people in New York state are easier going and just plain nicer than those just east of us on I-90.

Moving along. Last summer, I became obsessed with watching the Food Network, and this was detrimental to my sleep patterns because I was constantly staying up really late to watch reruns of Iron Chef and Bobby Flay's show, "Throwdown." Both of these programs have a winner and a loser at the conclusion of the show, so you really want to see them through to the end for some closure. Yes, I just used the word "closure."

Anyway, I bring it up because Bobby Flay visited a restaurant called Hattie's in Saratoga Springs, NY in one of those episodes, and, as I mentioned in the last post,  I happen to be taking some courses at Skidmore College right now. On Monday, I visited PJ's BBQ, which I'll review in the next couple of days, and today I ran over to Hattie's after class. Hattie's is famous for its fried chicken, and that's what Bobby Flay challenged them on.

I thought I'd never been there, but as soon as I walked through the front door, I realized that I had. I think maybe 2 or 3 summers ago, I went there with my oldest brother and a bunch of his friends. The reason I had sort of forgotten about the episode was that we got really drunk while we were eating dinner. I don't know if you've done that lately, but a rich dinner with fried chicken, along with lots of cocktails (I believe we were drinking mojitos long before I instituted my "don't order mojitos outside of Miami" rule), can lead to a rather uncomfortable type of fullness/sleepiness/nausea. *My brother has confirmed that we ate there in 2007. We asked the waitress if we could substitute mojitos for salad in our dinner orders. I think we both threw up that night. He definitely did. I probably did. Anyway, that is not meant as an indictment of the food at Hattie's. It was caused by excessive drinking that Irish brothers do when they're together. We're only a quarter Irish, but the drinking gene is a strong one, like pale skin.

As usual, you are probably wondering when I'm going to write about the food. Have you not figured out that the ostensible subject of this blog is simply a delivery system for my sardonic rants? You fools! AHAHAHAHAHAAAA. So let's get it over with.

Hattie's has been in business since 1938. You should read the "About" section of the website to learn some more about its interesting history. It could be more well-written, but the content is decent. Some white people bought it at some point, since Hattie was born in Louisiana around 1900 and is probably dead by now. I assume it was those same white people who have trademarked her name.

It was funny to eat in a sit-down restaurant all by myself. I could have just sat at the bar, but I was given a table on the patio out back. I haven't done that in a while and the reactions that people have to it are funny. The waitress seemed like she felt really sorry for me to be eating alone. I just wanted to eat and go back to Skidmore to work out, since class is from 1-4, just early enough that I have not eaten lunch before class, and late enough to screw up my timing of lunch, gym and dinner. It was around 5 and I was sort of appalled by the fact that people were coming in for dinner at the time. I was eating lunch, goddammit.

So, I had the fried chicken, of course. Not the best thing to eat before a work out. But it sure was good going down. Crispy, peppery, juicy. Everything you want in a piece of fried chicken, and they give you half a chicken, which for most people should be enough for a meal and a little leftover for a late night snack.

As I sat there, eating in solitude, I was struck by how nice it was to focus on the flavors and not be chit-chatting about some stupid gossip. I've been hearing a lot of that lately, having forgotten that the official hobby of every resident of the Capital District is gossip. It's petty and annoying and people shouldn't do it. I might be a critical son-of-a-gun, but I am not a gossip. Why do I want to hear all of that negative stuff about a friend of mine just so you can make yourself feel better about how screwed up YOU are? So, as I was saying, I was sitting there taking in the delicious flavors set out before me, when I was reminded of a phrase that they use in the Middle East. The grease from the chicken was all over my fingers and I thought "I could eat my fingers right now." In the Middle East, they'll say that food is so good that you want to eat your fingers. I think that's a great saying.

There are a few sides to choose from, and the ones I ordered were cranberry coleslaw and mashed potatoes. The coleslaw was amazing. Best I've ever had. Perfectly balanced between tartness and freshness. I find that coleslaw tends to be either too vinegary or too dry, and in the latter case, it just tastes like cabbage. That's no fun. The mashed potatoes were creamy but had some character in the chunks of potato that remained. I like that. They also give you a piece of cornbread AND a biscuit. Man, that meal must have been soooo unhealthy. But it was so good. Everything came out piping hot. Except the coleslaw, of course.

If you're ever in town, it's a great place to stop. I got all of that food for like 20 bucks, by the way.

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