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Ask the Profussor – Late For Everything

July 5, 2012

Wow, summer has been relaxing so far. I’m serious. I am feeling happy and mellow. That is great for me. It’s not so good for being fussy, which could explain why many of the last few posts have been missing a bit of their usual pizazz.

Although yesterday I did get truly irate over the idea of apple pie.

Summer is so relaxing that my Mom’s birthday totally snuck up on me. It’s today. Happy birthday, Mom! I really wanted to get her a present, especially since she recently took me on a shopping spree and bought me ten years’ worth of shoes. In lieu of a gift, I’m dedicating today’s link-of-the-day to her. So please click on it, and buy some of her hand-signed art cards. K?

I also completely forgot about Ask the Profussor which is supposed to run every other Wednesday. It’s the time when I answer all of the questions that were asked (using proper punctuation) over the course of the past two weeks. There are emails that haven’t been sent, parenting blogs that haven’t been written, and trips that haven’t been planned. They’ll all get done in time. But for now, let’s get to your questions.

Burnt My Fingers noted the lack of commentary on the last installment of AskTP:
Wait a minute. Not a single comment on this edition of Ask the Profusser?

I’m blaming summer. People are traveling and out of their regular routines. It’s beautiful outside, and some folks don’t want to spend their leisure time in front of a screen. It happens to blogs. It happens to restaurants. Things get slower. I can still see that people are reading, and that’s great. Maybe as comments slow down, some of the lurkers will be emboldened to stand up and say, “Hi!” That would be awesome.

Chrystal is one of many people who has no idea how to properly eat ice cream:
You spoon it into a bowl but you eat it with a fork? I would think you should eat it with a spoon as well, like ice cream, unless you eat ice cream with a fork too.

We can get into this in more detail if you like. But I don’t like to get mired in matters of etiquette. You may be able to find another source who disagrees, but I remember reading a passage in Miss Manners that explained, “The wide-tined fork is considered a more correct implement for eating ice cream than is the spoon, although the spoon is not actually incorrect.” This passage comes from Miss Manners Guide to Excruciatingly Correct Behavior and can be found on page 826.

derryX was unimpressed by the food specials at MezzaNotte’s bar:
Assorted vine ripe tomatoes, mozzarella, basil pesto & balsamic glaze: Seriously?!
Skewer of grilled shrimp: Upscale? Interesting? Creative? Would I want to order it based on the description?

I do not need my upscale dining to be either interesting or creative. Give me a fish, freshly killed, grilled over wood, drizzled with amazing olive oil and a squeeze of lemon. Chez Panisse famously serves on its dessert menu unadorned seasonal fruit, but it’s perfect, and deserves to be put on a pedestal. The reason all restaurants have caprese salads on the menu, is because the great ones are magnificent. Sadly, almost nobody makes a great one. As far as skewers of grilled shrimp at an upscale Italian restaurant, take a look at these and tell me you wouldn’t love to eat them.

capitoltocapital offers some more constructive criticism to MezzaNotte’s bar manager:
Agree that those cocktails are a snooze. I want to see something with cucumber, citrus (fresh, not citrus-flavored bottled stuff), maybe ginger, and of course how about seasonal fruits?

Seasonal fruits are good, as are seasonal vegetables. I’m getting some incredibly aromatic basil in from the CSA. A little of that muddled into a cocktail would be awesome, and it can create a bridge of flavor from the plate to the glass.

-R’s point in the below rant was to censure me for calling people names, which is fair:
Have you ever actually been to MezzaNotte during Happy Hour? How are you to judge their saccharine creations without beholding the consumers of such things (aside from the fact that you in particular find them repulsive)? For all you know, the place could be overflowing with irresponsible female 20/30-something boozers, with fake tans, boobs and nails, permanently attached smartphones, all of whom are dumber than a box of rocks. Does that sound like the envisioned demographic for such concoctions?

Look. I confess. I got carried away with the name calling. That was wrong. And no, I have never been to MezzaNotte during Happy Hour. The problem is not that I find the drinks to be repulsive, as much as it is they are off-brand. Not that they don’t use brand name spirits, they do. It’s that they are inconsistent with the image the restaurant is trying to create for itself. If they ran a beachside bar and grill, and wanted to run those drink specials, that’s fine. But they are selling themselves as an upscale Italian restaurant, and those are not the kind of drinks a restaurant like that should be promoting. A guest comes in and asks for one, by all means make it. But when you put the restaurant’s name on a drink, that says a lot.

Burnt My Fingers tries to triangulate my displeasure when it comes to salad:
Since you seem to have just one bag of salad greens, why not just put them on sandwiches? Similarly, I can’t believe you are just going to cook up that cabbage instead of turning it into slaw. Cold food is good. Especially on hot summer days. Won’t you give it another chance?

The truth is I don’t make a lot of sandwiches. And by not a lot, I mean none. I don’t make sandwiches. Well, I don’t make them for myself. The kids will get peanut butter sandwiches, grilled cheese sandwiches, and egg sandwiches. Maybe when the tomatoes come in, I’ll treat myself to an amazing BLT. But my homemade sandwiches are few and far between. In other news, you will be happy to hear that the cabbage did indeed turn into a slaw. I love cold food, especially on hot days.

Third Auntie offered some suggestions for all the veggies:
Soooo many vegetables, so little time before they get tossed into compost! I hate waste also. Some suggestions?

You will have to go back to the original post to see her list of suggestions. But it turns out that she and I think very much alike. It’s probably why we hit it off so well at Albany Jane’s birthday party at Ala Shanghai. I’m still waiting to see the post on that meal. Because…shrimp balls! Anyway, most of Third Auntie’s suggestions were already part of the cooking plan. I only wish that I could get Mrs. Fussy excited about chard stems fried in bacon fat as part of a savory bread pudding. Sigh.

Ed and maryonhudson both wanted to know:
Where do you get the Lion and Globe peanut oil?

Even though it’s been answered twice, I want to make sure you both can track this down. I buy it at the Asian Supermarket on Central Avenue. However, it only comes in extra-large and extra-extra-large. Once upon a time you could buy a reasonable amount of the stuff. But I keep my giant container in a cool dry place, and I’m able to make it through before it turns rancid. Yea oil!

irisira is just coming back from vaca so I’ll answer this again, just for her:
What kind of grill did you get?

I got the Weber Smokey Joe. It’s small, but it does the trick. Barely. Squash takes up a lot of freaking space. But grilled summer squash is so good, especially with salsa verde.

Angelos called attention to something I left out of the post on grilling:
I assume you got a charcoal chimney?

Yes. I kind of thought it went without saying. Are there really people who still don’t know about charcoal chimneys? They are the best way to start a fire without using nasty chemicals, or having some kind of uncanny scouting skills.

KB @ Home-Baked Happiness wanted some grocery guidance:
What things should be at the top of my Trader Joe’s shopping list? I’ve never been to one before. Which things are either awesome things you can’t get elsewhere around here, or things you can get elsewhere but they’re cheaper or better quality at TJ’s?

At my local Trader Joe’s in El Cerrito, California, I had a regular shopping list. You can see all the items on it here. And I vouch for them all. They qualify under the “can’t get elsewhere or cheaper than anyplace else” paradigm. But I cannot tell you what to buy, because I don’t know what you eat and what you like. At TJ’s there are hits and there are misses. Everyone eventually triangulates their way to their favorites, and then hopes they don’t get discontinued.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. Doug permalink
    July 5, 2012 10:46 am

    Where’s the link-of-the-day?

    • July 5, 2012 3:26 pm

      The better question is, “Where isn’t the link-of-the-day?”

      A while back I stopped linking the individual questions back to the original posts. Not only was it a time intensive process, but I could tell by looking at the traffic statistics that few people were clicking on them. Still, I thought for readability purposes it was useful to have each question highlighted in blue and underlined. So my solution was to link all the questions to one mystery link-of-the-day.

      Go ahead, click on any of the questions in today’s post. Or for that matter, any of the questions in any Ask the Profussor from the past few months. Then prepare to be surprised and delighted by what you find.

  2. July 5, 2012 9:54 pm

    irisira is just coming back from vaca so I’ll answer this again, just for her

    June was many things. Vacation was not one of them, sadly. Though I did get a vacation in May, so I suppose I shouldn’t complain. I’m not sorry for June 2012 to be behind me. I have a quiet and relaxing summer (not) planned, and I am very much looking forward to recharging. (And catching up on blogs.)

    So you got that little mini Weber I’ve been seeing everywhere. I think something like that would be perfect for my mother. Chris disagrees and wants to get her a full-sized grill. I like the price tag on the smaller one. :)

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