Butter and Optimism
Eventually I’m coming back to Albany. Really I still have four more full days in California. Mrs. Fussy is a saint for letting me take such an extended journey. Today, I’m reporting from San Carlos where I am visiting my cousin and his children (who are also apparently my cousins).
Blogging on the road isn’t easy. But it’s necessary. Just because I’m traveling doesn’t stop food from being interesting. However, it does sometimes get in the way of me being able to fully engage on a topic.
Really over the past week, there are a couple of things that have come to light. So today, I’m going to take a few minutes and try to weigh in on these issues.
Butter flavored olive oil
As fate would have it, there is a store in San Carlos called Olive Crush and they seem to have the exact same product line as Saratoga Olive Oil Co. But that shouldn’t be too surprising because I learned from this piece in All Over Albany, that a company called Veronica Foods supplies oils and vinegars to more than 200 such stores around the country. Presumably they supply The Olive Oil Source, The Chefs Olive Mix, and Prima Oliva as well (among scores of additional retailers).
And that’s okay.
What’s not okay is this butter flavored olive oil business. Because now I’ve tried it. And it’s truly unpleasant. When I asked at the store in San Carlos what it was made from, the clerk didn’t know the answer, and believed it to be a proprietary trade secret. My guess of course is that it’s diacetyl (which also can go by “2,3-dioxobutane” or “dimethyl diketone”).
The good news is that there are credible sources which suggest Veronica Foods, which trades under the Delizia brand, brings some otherwise respectable oil to consumers. So perhaps I was too quick to condemn the whole product line at Saratoga Olive Oil Co. based on them carrying this one unfortunate product. But I hope the owners of this regional business take to heart the input from the community here that butter-flavored anything is never truly a natural product.
Optimism in the face of the TU results
The year I started to feel better about the TU results was 2010. That was the first year that I had engaged in the FUSSYlittleBALLOT. And while the outcome wasn’t great, I was hopeful that the effort demonstrated a little bit of influence, and at least I tried my best to change it for the better.
From a food perspective, there is precious little to get actively upset about. Yes. Mrs. London got robbed for bakery. But at least I understand the votes for Bella Napoli, and dammit they make some mighty fine donuts. And I get all the love for the Fountain and other beloved regional restaurants that captured the top spot in their categories.
Red Robin for Best family restaurant is a little bit upsetting. But I like how the category has been reframed as “Family” instead of “For kids.”
For some reason Best hamburger was excluded from the single location strategy. Had it held the line with the vast majority of the responses, perhaps we would have seen Jumpin’ Jack’s take the lead over Five Guys Burgers.
Sure. Some of the best places got robbed. Ala Shanghai should be on there. So should Caffe Vero, Mr. Pio Pio, and The Ice Cream Man.
However, without a doubt, this list is better than the one last year. And that’s improvement. Any improvement is good. Yes, I’d prefer the improvement to come quicker, but this is a big ship we are trying to turn around. It does not rotate on a dime.
Let me say this again loud and clear:
If you are dissatisfied with this year’s Best of the Times Union 2012 reader’s choice poll, please help me in the effort to improve the results for 2013. Don’t forget the poll is based on fewer than 14,000 surveys. With a voting block of a few thousand, we could be the change we seek. I think there are enough of the dissatisfied out there, it’s just a matter of reaching them, and getting them to take action.
Also, I have to be optimistic. My belief that there is good stuff out there keeps me sane.