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AskTP – February Break

February 20, 2013

Don’t blame me. I’m on vacation. The kids are out of school so I plopped them in the car and drove them out to Providence. We needed more meatballs anyway. Today they enjoyed some of the housemade frankfurters at Chez Pascal (while I was more moderate and had the pulled barbecue chicken sandwich). Afterwards it was all I could do to not buy the whole store at Stock culinary goods, but I did get a set of cheese bags made by the same folks who supply The Cheese Traveler with his very special paper.

But blogging continues. Mostly because I’m a creature of habit. Also if I didn’t answer the growing stockpile of unanswered questions today, they would ultimately grow into such a beast it would take multiple days to fell. Remember, if a question is asked with a question mark in the comments of this blog, it is a certainty that eventually an answer will be received.

You may have noticed that Mrs. Fussy isn’t along on this escapade. I guess some people with jobs still have to work. That means you are getting full-strength unedited fussy, which has its pros and cons. She can’t tell me to behave. But she’s also not here to make sure my spelling is perfect, my grammar is correct, and my commas are in all the right places. Consider yourself forewarned.

Now without further ado, onto the questions.

Megan is wondering whether or not to be concerned with what’s inside her food:
On the topic of Parm-Reg, I was at Price Chopper last week and found (labelled) Vegetarian Parm-Reg. It’s half the price per pound of the regular Parm-Reg blocks and I can’t think of what ingredient would be different. Though it does have a texture difference. Should I be concerned about whats inside?

Always. But in this case instead of a traditional animal rennet, the producer has used a non-animal based coagulant. I’m okay with that. You could probably research what the official Parmigiano-Reggiano consortium says about this practice. But if the cheese’s rind is stamped with the traditional markings, then it would seem that the consortium approves.

As far as textural differences go, there is difference wheel to wheel and producer to producer. Most of which has to do with the age of the wheel when it was cracked open. Eric at The Cheese Traveler has some great Parm-Reg and another similar Alpine cheese that’s made with full fat milk and is amazing.

-R was one of the few people who actually clicked on the mystery link of the day:
Thanks for the mystery link of the day; pretty funny. Now I’ll be thinking about the Batman jammies with the integrated feet all day. Damn, do they still make those?

For adults? For men you may have to do without the feet. Because these are all sold out.

WrigsMac says she doesn’t want to derail AskTP with these, but asks them anyway:
Does it break your heart even a little that you are forced to make ethical trade offs when it comes to food? What does this say about us as a society, or as individuals, that we can’t even eat without hurting others (this includes the exploitation of workers, destruction of the environment and inhumane treatment of animals just to start)? Personally, I struggle with this a lot. *Why* should we have to trade in our ethics in order to just get by without starving or going into debt?

1) Sometimes. Other times I try not to think about it. Like homelessness.
2) Probably that we’re normal. The world is a cruel place. Wild animals, if given a chance, would gladly tear us to pieces. We at least try to dispatch domesticated animals with less torment.
3) I don’t think you do, just so long as you are prepared to make other sacrifices.

Reba just went and spoiled the surprise of a potential future post:
Did anyone else listen to the recent This American Life episode called “dopplegangers”, investigating a claim that sliced hog rectum is served as “fake calamari”?

Mrs. Fussy did. She bought it to my attention, and I was keeping it in the vest pocket just in case I ran out of other more pressing things to write. But I guess the pig rectum is out of the bag. So to speak.

Michaeline doesn’t want to let this go. That’s okay. I’ll play along:
I do not listen to music with filthy language and would never allow my children to do so either. Why would any responsible parent? There is plenty of music out there that does not contain lyrics like the ones you printed above. I’m not a prude Daniel, I just don’t want to read offensive rock lyrics in a food blog!

I don’t know why I would think that Michaeline is a person who is excessively attentive to propriety or decorum. But I do know that I disagree that any language is filthy. My old english teacher thought the most vile word in the english language was “snot” because more than “fuck” or “shit” the actual intonations of the word more closely conjured up the image of dripping mucus.

My parenting blog is still dormant, but as a responsible father who exposes my young children to profanity, I can explain my reasons. Words aren’t bad. They all have their time and place. And frankly that’s something that has to be taught. It’s like trying to prevent teen pregnancy by only talking about abstinence. It can’t be done. Tell a kid that a word is bad and that word has power. Kids aren’t idiots. They are just young people who are trying to learn things. Each of mine learned The Aristocrats when they turned three.

Speaking of rectums, Masticating Monkey had a question about real vs. fake calamari:
So is it safe to assume that if there are tentacles included in your calamari, you’re out of the pig rectum woods, so to speak? (Wouldn’t want it any other way, anyway.)

Assuming of course you can tell the difference between tentacles and testicles.

Mr. Dave has a track record of writing glowing reports on questionable products:
Gushing?!? You thought I was gushing? I thought the thing was disgusting. I was attempting to thoroughly lampoon the thing. If the phrase “Taking a bite is to look into the void” came off as gushing, I apologize.

Sure there was a lot of ink devoted to a half-baked dessert in a fully baked dessert. And the moral quandry about buying brownie batter as something to eat, versus licking it out of the bowl immediately preceding a batch of actual brownies. But it was this paragraph that led me astray:

In any event, Dunkin Donuts frickin’ nailed the “brownie batter” experience right down to the gritty bite of raw granulated sugar. This stuff tastes just like cheep Betty Crocker batter that your Momma might have made. So if you are looking to recreate the childhood experience of spoon licking this donut is for you.

In my book invoking mom and childhood memories, even if they are from a childhood where your mother didn’t cook from scratch, is gushing. Especially if they “frickin’ nailed” it. Seriously. The rest of the outrage towards this specimen seemed more philosophical to its existence than to your experience with the science experiment itself.

Randy F. seemed pretty appalled by my reading of Mr. Dave’s post as well:
Hey Fussypants, did you read his post? Are you really so eager to be a negative Fussypants or to do have some sort of ADHD reading disorder that doesn’t allow you pick up on others feelings?

Yes. No. If I do it’s undiagnosed, but I suspect that I don’t. As proof of this, I’m going to say that when you wrote this question you were feeling smug. Ha!

albanylandlord chose a bad day to check out The Chefs Consortium of New York:
I am confused about the Chef’s consortium. Looks like it was a dead blog and then you started writing…? Why put the effort into reviving that instead of adding onto things that are already working? btw, your link in the post goes to an empty list on the site.

So The Chefs Consortium of New York has been migrating its blog. The effort is run by volunteers so it seems to be happening a little bit at a time. And I’m guessing that’s what you happened to see. That probably means I’m going to have to check a whole lot of my links to make sure they take you to the right place. But I assure you it wasn’t dead before I started writing.

For the record I continue to value my association with The Chefs Consortium. A couple years ago I decided I wanted to get closer to local chefs, and this is one way to help me do that. Plus it is another channel where I can devote some energy to help promote regional foods. The chefs are awesome, and by being part of this group it opens me up to other opportunities that might otherwise pass me by.

You should check it out. My hope is that after the technology update it will be easier to leave comments, and the food posts I’ve written will be easier to find. We’ll see. Regardless, I’ll continue to write for them every other week.

Steph has a lot of gumption to make a photo request on a blog without many photos:
Just one request – next time, can you give us just one nice close-up of the Ruck blue cheese that I can see hanging out in the back of the frame, teasingly out of focus? It would be much appreciated.

Sorry, but I can’t do it. The Ruck is dark. Really really dark. And it took multiple visits before I could even get a halfway decent picture of wings. I’m done snapping pics in that joint. That’s fine by me, because my fingers are greasy mess when eating wings. Plus really you should dive into fried foods the moment they are put in front of you. I’ll never understand people who leave their fries for last. It’s madness.

enough already! is looking for another eating event or maybe just want to try pig rectum:
How about a calamari contest, profussor?

I’ve got something else up my sleeve for spring and summer. Not to mention that now since I’ve tried the calamari available at Fin even our best specimens locally may fail to satisfy. Get yourself down to that fishmonger and get their squid. Stat.

Mr. Dave seems to be opening himself up to a little outside inspection:
Best testes? I fancy my own, thanks for asking…

Are you laying claim to the best? Because those kinds of claims require proof. The only way I know is by putting them in the deep fat fryer. But I figure you are man enough for that. Anyhow, I think this time the misinterpretation is on the other blogger. There’s a small but meaningful difference between “best testes” and “bestestes”. And don’t go telling me that the letter t looks like a curved dick because Michaeline will shit.

-R clearly doesn’t live in Delmar:
Frankly, I’ve never seen an actual copy of Capital Region Living Magazine – is it merely a promotional flyer for the local chambers of commerce?

Nope. I’ve even bumped into one of their advertising sales reps at The Cheese Traveler. What was amazing was how much she reminded me of my magazine ad sales reps back in San Francisco when I used to work with them on a daily basis. Talk about deja vu.

Sarah M. really really enjoyed one of my typos:
“But that’s what Yelp’s does,” I responded.
YES! I wish these polls had “best verbal regionalism” so I could nominate the addition of the apostrophe-S. “Yelp’s”! Does the bus still say “Walmart’s”? Perhaps this was a typo, but it warmed my heart.
re: the poll, I get Mrs. London’s and I get Crisan, but have you never been to Cheesecake Machismo, or what? I don’t miss much about Capitaland but the apostrophe-S and those cakes.

Or maybe I’m going native. Yikes. I’m pretty sure it was a typo. I don’t know about the bus though. I’ve had cheesecake Machismo. Albany Jane made sure to make me eat it.

Julie asked the question, but when I think about a cheesecake person, I shudder:
I second the shout-out for Cheesecake Machismo. Are you not a cheesecake person, Daniel?

Cheesecake is fine. Fat and sugar are fantastic. Creative combinations of toppings and flavors can be interesting. But as good as they are, put head to head with Crisan and Mrs. London it’s no contest. Perhaps that means I’m not a cheesecake person. But I would hope that even a cheesecake person could appreciate the delicacy and finesse of assembling delicate multi-layer cakes, crafted with house made fruit preserves of locally grown, seasonal produce.

Jessica R wanted me to help promote her slate for the Troy Record’s Reader Choice Poll:
is this too much to ask??

Not so long as I can add a few of my own picks to the list. Thanks again for the suggestion.

Isaiah didn’t like one of my pics in Troy:
But really? Dinosaur BBQ haha :(

Seriously. Dinosaur may not be better than Capital Q on the whole, but there are some things that they do very well. Those are chicken and ribs. Plus, they don’t do a good job of making this known, but they cook pit to plate. It’s seriously an insane goal for a barbecue restaurant to attempt. Especially since barbecue holds pretty well.

Really the best way to appreciate their ribs is by getting a full rack. Actually, it’s the only way. Which is why mostly when I go I stick to the chicken. It’s fantastic. Get the brisket or pulled pork at your own risk, as they don’t carry the FLB seal of approval.

enough already! was trying to be complimentary, I am sure:
Wow, profussor! You really should be called proFESSor. Love the way you teach…have you ever thought of going that route?

What is it that you think I’m doing here anyway? ;^) But thank you.

To really answer your question, yes. But besides a whole bunch of other factors, I’ve got a marketing problem. There is a stigma attached to men who want to spend time around young children. Especially in female dominated professions. Yes, it’s wrong. But it exists. Denying its existence doesn’t help anything either. And that’s okay, at least for me, because the pay is lousy.

Burnt My Fingers was having some problems getting a comment through onto the blog:
I should have posed that as a question: why would an internet filter find it objectionable to talk about kids and nutrition?

I have no idea. Sorry for your lost comment. I even checked my spam filter and it didn’t show up there either. Maybe they noticed that you were some old dude and thought you shouldn’t be talking about children on an Internet forum.

Maria reminded me of something I thought might be lost:
Any idea where I can score some natural carmine colored Campari?

Nope. None. But I had kind of given up hope on the brand. When it converted over to being artificially colored I just switched over to amaro to get that bitter Italian flavor. Maybe if the spirit gods have saved Makers and are reviving Noilly, perhaps there is hope for Campari.

Dare to dream.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. February 25, 2013 4:02 pm

    Daniel, what’s up with guargum etc. in local ice cream? Why is it even there? On Saturday, I picked up a pint of Battenkill’s Mint Chocolate Chunk at the Saratoga Farmer’s Market as a treat for my daughter and I. As I was scooping it out I decided to check the ingredients hoping to find the most basic of ice cream ingredients (and expecting there to be 5 or fewer of those ingredients, mint and chocolate notwithstanding). What did I find? To my astonishment guar gum and other thickeners/stabilizers I normally expect to find in national and large scale ice cream (B & J’s, Stewart’s, etc), but not Battenkill Creamery! So, what is the deal with these ingredients? Are they to be avoided at all costs, or are they the price for Battenkill and others to be able to ship around the region without excessive melting? I probably shouldn’t have been as surprised as I was, since I did leave the pint in the trunk of the car, and it didn’t seem to be as melted as I expected. Thoughts?

  2. February 27, 2013 12:13 pm

    My wife and I had an argument about pig rectum last night in a red sauce place. My observation was that frozen rectum is not likely to be any cheaper than frozen calamari when purchased in bulk, given the price of offal these days, so it’s not worth the trouble to do the deception. I also pointed out that calamari rings have a little ridge along the inside and if you run your tongue along the inside of the ring that may be a way to tell them apart.

    She wasn’t buying any of it. And the calamari we were served was so heavily breaded it could have been whale udders, for all we knew.

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