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Paris in Saratoga in Winter

March 5, 2015

Last week I got to do something pretty special. Chef Paul from TC Bakery invited Albany Jane and me into his kitchen to check out a few of the new items he and Brianne have been developing.

Tomorrow, they are launching their new hot lunch, and we got to sample the centerpiece of that program, the Croque Monsieur. AJ took pictures. I know she’s running a backlog on her blog, but eventually they will surely go up.

In addition, Paul treated us to samples of the bakery’s French beignet, La Mosaic macarons, brûlée caramels with fleur de sel guerande, and the infamous lemon tart.

If you happen to live or work close by, you are in for a treat. But don’t go with a group of friends. This is a place to go and treat yourself. If you must, bring one close confidant. Or maybe you can bring a tablet to catch up on the latest news from Le Monde. Because lunch promises to be a rather intimate affair.

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Lots of Drinking

March 4, 2015

Happy Purim. A couple years ago I wrote a synopsis of the holiday in a charming little post called Eat His Ears. I’ll spare you the rehash, and if you are interested why you may see kids running around town today dressed in costume delivering boxes of cookies door to door, just know that the answers can be found in the link above.

I do get a kick out of the fact that this holiday is like a reverse Halloween.

Tonight, I’m off to temple. Again. It does really feel like I’m always there. But it’s not a bad thing to have an excuse to trek out to Schenectady. Although this year Dinosaur Bar-B-Que will be providing the food. Presumably, we won’t be getting the pulled pork or the ribs. There is a barbecue place I want to try in Schenectady, but that’s another story.

The thing I wanted to talk about today isn’t my own cultural heritage, but rather those marvelous times when a bunch of cultures converge around a brilliant idea. You know, like the winter solstice. Everyone agrees that December is the time for lighting lights. The days are shorter and the nights are a lot longer. So you light up a Christmas tree, if you’re Hindu you may stoke the Lohri bonfire (after getting a jump on the season with Diwali), and we kindle the Chanukah candles.

There’s another cultural consensus around March.

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Tune In & Turn On Tuesday

March 3, 2015

Alliterations are awesome. Words have power. I love words. And I think writing about food is a great way to capture the nuances of an argument. As you’ve come to expect, most of the words posted at the FLB are devoid of pictures.

Mostly, that’s because as a reader myself, I’ll sometimes take the easy way out and skim a periodical for copy call-outs and read the captions under the pictures. Savvy to these kinds of tricks, I try to force those who come to the FLB to read every word.

And I’ll occasionally try to slow you down with alliterations. Photo Friday’s frequency has been fitful. But I do know there is power in images. There can be even more power in video. I’m not sure if I can make this a regular thing or not, but I did find two videos that I think are important for different reasons.

They are short. And they merit watching, and I think they merit discussion. The first is only a minute long. The second is just five minutes. Surely six minutes isn’t too much to ask. And I would hope you would find at least one, if not both, inspiring.

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Growing Cider in New York

March 2, 2015

Hard cider has been a part of my life for over 20 years, mostly because my friend S has always loved the stuff. Whenever she would come over to visit, I would make sure to have it on hand.

Once my Welsh neighbor came over and said in his thick accent, “That’s not cider.” It reminded me a bit of that Crocodile Dundee movie. But this fellow lovingly recounted the chunky potent jars of rotting apple juice that adorned the pub counters of his homeland. It sounded like wild and wonderful stuff. You know, the kind of thing that our government would never let us enjoy.

Then a few years ago I went to Paris for the first time and tasted some small production Brittany farmhouse ciders for the first time. Man, those were good and funky. More recently I tried a Basque still cider that I spied in a small specialty shop in Princeton.

The point is, there is cider made all over the world, and every place it’s made has a different take on the beverage. Here in New York, we’re experiencing a bit of a cider renaissance, and last weekend marked the one year anniversary of the state’s farm cider license. Nine Pin Cider Works in Albany is license holder number one, and they invited other craft cideries to join them in celebration.

So what does cider look like in New York? After trying dozens of them in one morning, I have a much clearer picture of what’s out there, and which ones I like best.

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Open That Bottle Night XVI

February 27, 2015

Amazingly, it looks like I can copy and paste much of last year’s post on today’s subject. I guess that’s what happens with an annual event. But I have made a few changes, so if you’ve read this before, just skip to the middle. The end should still be a good refresher on how to celebrate the pre-spring wine bacchanal.

This Saturday is the last Saturday in February? That’s preposterous.

Holy cow. I just looked at a calendar, and it’s totally true. That means I’m horribly delinquent in reminding you that it’s Open That Bottle Night. I’ve been writing about this brilliant wine holiday since I started blogging.

Here’s what happened. Dorothy J. Gaiter & John Brecher wrote the Tastings wine column for the Wall Street Journal. While there, they came to realize almost everyone was holding onto at least one bottle of wine that was too precious to drink. Given that wine was meant to be enjoyed and not hoarded, the pair decided to create an occasion explicitly to celebrate these super special wines.

For ten years, they celebrated the holiday at the Wall Street Journal, and the paper would share the tales of how readers spent OTBN across the world. The first such recap even includes a fellow from Clifton Park.

A lot has changed over fifteen years, but one thing remains the same. People still are reluctant to pull the corks on wines they’ve put aside for a special occasion or are in some other way too meaningful to drink.

This Saturday, I’ll still be drinking wine, but it won’t be my own. Here’s a little more about that and what you can do to celebrate this holiday at home.

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February 26, 2015

Have you noticed I’m already falling behind at keeping up with questions on the blog? Maybe I can catch up over the weekend or something. I’m loving the new job, but it totally takes away from all that leisure time I spent blogging. Not that I’ve historically spent that time answering questions anyhow. But it’s good to have something new to blame for my lack of correspondence.

But, wow, am I excited about some of the things on the horizon.

Since I’m waffling on this question and answer thing, it’s probably a good day to talk briefly about waffles. Especially since I got a question via email explicitly on the subject of waffles. The Universe is clearly trying to send me a message. Who am I do deny the universe a waffle post?

These days, waffles are popping up everywhere, in unexpected places, using unexpected ingredients, and almost all of them are awesome.

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Love Craft Cult

February 25, 2015

In last week’s Ask the Profussor, I mentioned that the mystery link of the day would be the subject of its very own conversation. Well, that day has finally come.

That means today I’m talking about beer. The problem is that I don’t know a lot about beer. What I do know a fair bit about however is wine. And I can never resist making completely inappropriate comparisons between the two beverages.

What I do know a bit about is marketing. And I have a deep understanding of snobbery. Plus, words are very important to me. So, at the risk of opening up a giant can of worms, I want to share a few observations with where I see the language of craft beer going wrong.

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