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Ask the Profussor – Summer is Here

June 20, 2012

Happy solstice day. It’s summer. And right on cue it’s hot like summer. We’ve got abundant fruit and vegetables like it’s summer. All those spring projects I wanted to get done in time for summer? Well, they are all behind schedule. Crap!

The deck still needs a power wash and some new stain. My charcoal grill is still in the box in the garage. I haven’t made it out to pick any organic strawberries. But I’m cooking up a storm from the bounty of my CSA, still eating things for Chef Noah, and continuing to find tasty treats for AOA.

I’m also answering questions. Every question that gets asked in the comments of the FLB gets answered, if not by a fellow commenter, then by me. And if I happen to forget, or put it off too long, that answer gets rolled into this semi-regular feature we call Ask the Profussor. The only caveat is that all questions must contain proper punctuation. Otherwise they risk falling through the cracks forever.

Hope you are ready, because this one gets extra preachy.

Wrigsmac has bought into Seafood Watch hook, line and sinker:
Is it even remotely possible that eel can be sustainably farmed?

Look. I really don’t know who to believe on this. It does sound like Hannaford may have given some of its suppliers a grace period to certify that they are subscribing to the sustainability protocols. So maybe if they fail to do that eel will soon go away. Or perhaps Hannaford may have indeed found a supplier who is doing it well. If some farmer decided to raise its eels from eggs and could manage the pollution from the open pens, it could be fine.

ktvorwald answers her own question with a link:
But wait, isn’t Samascott’s cider unpasteurized? http://www.samascott.com/FAQs.html

“UV treated” sounds so much better than irradiated, doesn’t it? But yes, that would indeed make it unpasteurized and legal to sell to the public. While I’m still relatively healthy, I’m going to throw caution to the wind and drink the freshly pressed unpasteurized cider I make with Deanna at the Silly Goose Farm.

enough already! made it all worthwhile:
Your interview was outstanding….have you ever considered doing those more frequently?

Thank you. They are a lot of fun, but take a long freaking time to transcribe. Maybe next time I take a cross-country flight. In all honesty, I’m open to doing more of these in the future. Is there anyone specific you would like to hear from?

Tonia was dismayed by the results of the TU’s Best of the Capital Region:
If those are our tops… [shaking my head]. I won’t even begin to comment. Red Robin?

You know why I’m not bummed about Red Robin? Because it won the Best Family Restaurant category. This had formerly been “Best Restaurant for Kids.” And perhaps the bankruptcy had something to do with it, but let’s take a minute to be thankful that the paper is no longer suggesting the best place to take kids is the one place where there is virtually nothing nutritive on the menu. Baby steps. Incremental improvement. It’s a good thing.

Jessica R may have misread a Times Union quotation:
Congrats Daniel! Did you know you were “social-media savvy”?

I thought that referred to Nick & Britin. But thank you anyway. Officially, I’m not social-media savvy at all. In fact, I have no idea how anyone can live tweet, period, much less do so while eating.

upstatedave may think he has me stumped:
where is the best place to hunt turkey within an hour’s drive? Where is the best place to get a Brazilian around here?

Some may disagree, but I find the views and proximity of Thatcher Park give it the slight edge for turkey hunting. And for a Brazilian I’d have to go with Salon 109 in Albany.

Mr. Sunshine has started to sound like the wise old owl:
Who is Raf? Who called names?

Raf is the original FLB. We’ve been friends for well over 20 years. He is really the one who got me into cooking, and it was his well-cultivated collection of cookbooks that provided the recipes and techniques for my earliest successes in the kitchen.

In regards to the name calling, I suppose a lawyer would say you didn’t call anyone any names. But the implication of your comment was that Albanians are largely uneducated and unsophisticated. And the result of their failing is a dumb “Best Of” poll. At least that’s how I read it.

christine is going to make me get all preachy on this one:
people who know good food grew up in an environment where someone cared about food… grew their own vegetables and taught the next generation what mattered. Sadly, alot of this has fallen by the wayside as my parents did less of it than my grandparents did and I have shown my kids even less. You know why? Time. We have less of it.

No. We have just as much time as we had before. The time part stays constant. What we have now is a culture that prioritizes stuff over time. If we spent less on cell phones, cars, homes, and clothes we wouldn’t need as much money to stay afloat. With a parent at home, there is still time for teaching children to appreciate life’s simple pleasures, like a magnificent poached egg. But choosing to do so is not without its sacrifices.

The Cheese Traveler wants some details:
What cheese and charcuterie did you come across in your travels?

It was fun to taste through some of the cheeses at Market Hall, including a really remarkable extra aged provolone. But ultimately we ended up with a cheese called Piave Stravecchio. The sausages came from Boccalone and over a few days we tried their nduja and their orange wild fennel. I wish there was time for more, but this trip wasn’t about food.

K.G. Schlegel had a great idea:
Why not just call the TU’s poll exactly what it is (a crowd-sourced popularity contest) and work to create your own poll of what’s the best in the area, curated by a group of experts and taste-makers in conjunction with a site like All Over Albany?

Hey, AOA Greg! Are you listening?

Ellie would seem to agree:
My own suggestion is to do away with the voting entirely. Create a panel of experts in each general area, with people who actually know what they are talking about, and have them hash it out. Have them explain the why of things. If The Fountain is really the best, why did they choose it?

And if the panel of experts disagree, I recommend they fight to the death! In a steel cage. That’s lit on fire. But in all seriousness, I’m digging this idea. AOA Greg, what do you say?

christine surely meant this to be rhetorical, oh well:
I too think it’s not fair to judge a person if they happen to think that Pizza Hut has the best pizza ever… I mean, really, who am I to judge?

You are a human being. Human beings judge. It’s what we do. That’s why the Bible says, “Judge not lest ye be judged.” Although that sounds more like a pirate saying than the bible. But whoever said it would never have had to make that prohibition if it wasn’t a natural impulse for humanity. So judge away. It’s what makes you human.

Marianne also really enjoys her CSA:
Enjoy your bounty – it’s fabulous, isn’t it?!

It is. I only wish I had other people at home to help me eat all that cabbage.

Angelos Tzelepis may be a little bit less tolerant than I am:
On the other hand, people who return things for sport? They’re dicks.

Believe it or not, Doc isn’t a dick. It’s just how he has been raised.

Perhaps Gabby is not alone in her perspective of my athletic prowess:
As a fellow long-time hater of exercise (and sweating, heat, and team sports), may I recommend the only sporty activity I can stand (and have done faithfully for 25 years)? Walking.

You know, at one point in my life I was a fairly capable tennis player. Granted, that was 25 years ago. I think I’d rather sweat while playing tennis than sweat when walking. In this case it’s about context more than exercise, if that makes any sense.

North Country Rambler was looking for some clarity:
The Clearwater link makes no mention of where the boat will be docked / leaving from. And ~ is it a fundraiser?

How odd, on mine the page has a map that clearly notes the boat will be docked at 50 Rondont Landing in Kingston. As far as I know the event is not a specific fundraiser. But I suspect some of the money goes to the boat which would support its environmental mission. Presumably the profits go to the Chefs Consortium which supplies me with tasty things to eat, and finds other creative ways to support and promote local farms and regional food producers.

Burnt My Fingers got excited by sandwiches:
11 Bahn mis? That’s better than one a day. Please say more!

Sometimes certain people bring out the worst in you. ADS didn’t have to suggest getting eleven sandwiches. In fact the brilliance of his plan was that he resisted. He tried to talk me out of it. But when the two of us were in Falls Church, we visited at least three Banh Mi shops and probably purchased a minimum of fifteen sandwiches. So there was a precedent. When you can order five sandwiches for less than $20 it seems silly to walk out of the shop with any fewer than that. Especially given how many varieties there are to choose from. And really where we were in Oakland, there were two different sandwich makers I wanted to try. So that’s five from one and six from the other. Let’s just say that itch has now fully been scratched.

Jenh718 didn’t even hear the details of the above story when she wrote:
Wow. I don’t know if I should be impressed or worried about you. I’ll go with impressed, leave the worrying to your wife ;) Where do you put it all?

In my belly.

CP wanted some recommendations from the SF Bay Area:
Where did you go for Ethiopian food, and would you recommend it? Which banh mi was the best? Favorite Szechuan? Favorite dim sum? Anything else that’s not to be missed?

Ethiopian was Red Sea in Temescal. It’s an old haunt of mine, and so long as you aren’t in a rush, it’s a good place to experience the cuisine. Likely it won’t agree with you. So don’t eat it before a travel day, or a day where you have to do much early morning hiking. Sorry to be gross, but that’s an important disclaimer. Best banh mi was probably the BBQ pork from Cam Huong Cafe, where they also pressed a mean sugar cane drink. Z & Y is my Szechuan place in the city. China Village was my place in the East Bay, but I didn’t make it there this last trip. All my favorite dim sum joints packed up and left. But it’s the fancy pants Yank Sing that first won me over to the form. You’ll spend a crap ton of money on food that is supposed to be dirt cheap. But the quality of ingredients and cleanness of the food at Yank Sing are a few steps above the grittier Chinatown joints. Don’t miss Blue Bottle Coffee and their off-menu gibraltar. Email or DM me for more. Because I could go on and on.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. June 20, 2012 10:14 pm

    Wait a minute. Not a single comment on this edition of Ask the Profusser? (note i phrased that as a question.)

    • June 21, 2012 12:15 am

      I’m guessing with the blistering temperature today few people wanted to get into heated arguments. That’s fair.

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