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The Myth of Consistency

May 13, 2015

When I worked in San Francisco, one of my favorite place to eat was Aqua. It was a great restaurant. Once I met a fellow socially who was a chef. I suppose technically he was a line cook, but he had been to culinary school and was thrilled to have a spot in the kitchen there. And I didn’t blame him. It had the reputation for being one of the best restaurants in the city.

But he quit. He couldn’t stand it. There was no creativity in the kitchen. He bemoaned the McDonaldification of fine dining. Every plate that came out of the kitchen had to look identical. It was this meticulous devotion to consistency of product that drove him away.

In my heart of hearts I believe chasing consistency is a fool’s errand. That’s not to say a kitchen shouldn’t strive for a consistent level of performance and excellence. I think it should. But attempting to make every plate of a specific dish come out looking and tasting identical is madness. And my prooftext for this argument comes from the most unlikely of places, McDonald’s.

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A Partner In Produce

May 12, 2015

It was a long long time ago that I signed up for this year’s CSA share with Roxbury Farm.

Every time I tell stories like this, it seems there are still people who have never heard of a CSA. So real quickly, it stands for community supported agriculture. That means consumers can buy a share of a farm for the growing season. In return, they receive a weekly allotment of the bounty that grows from “their” farm. It’s great way for farmers to have a more stable income, and it’s a great way for consumers to support local farms and get a good deal on local sustainable produce (in bountiful years it can be an incredible deal).

As amazing as it may sound, being a member of Roxbury Farm was one of the first things that made me feel good about living in the Capital Region. So buying into the farm isn’t just a matter of supporting a great local enterprise, it’s also a mental health expense. In addition, I consider it to be part of Tikkun Olam (which means healing the world), but that’s getting a little too Jewish.

Anyhow, to make sure I could get in, I had to commit early when we were still in the grip of winter. It turns out there was only one small problem with that.

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Tiptoeing Through the Tulips

May 11, 2015

Washington Park is really a remarkable place. On a beautiful spring evening it can be elegant. And on a sunny spring afternoon it can be a bit overwhelming.

This past weekend was Tulip Fest. Yelp was a media sponsor. And I have to say that I got a kick hearing the Yelp name ring out from the stage announcements. There were also other friends of Yelp there. Emack & Bolio’s, which hosted the Meet the Ambassador Yelp Event, had a truck in the park. And of course Slidin’ Dirty, which hosted the first Official Yelp Event, was there in their newly redecorated ride.

Incidentally, Slidin’ Dirty just got a great write up in the Times Union. Why this great place that focuses on elevated versions of comfort foods using local ingredients didn’t get a starred review is really beyond me. But on Yelp it gets 4.5 stars on 53 reviews. That’s no small feat.

But I wanted to talk more about Tulip Fest and Washington Park, especially since I was generously invited to cover Champagne on the Park last Thursday, which is the kickoff to the madness of this giant spring spectacle. In part because it was there that I learned something important.

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Funday: Grilling, Chalking, Chefing & Giving

May 8, 2015

This may be the most Funday yet. In case you’ve forgotten, I like to hold on to press releases and share them with you in one big batch.

Your feelings on press releases may vary. I like them. Right now I’m a bit too tired to go into that in detail. But if you want to press me on the matter, we can talk about it more later. For now, there’s a lot of news to share.

The first one is actually, truly a game changer. The next has to do with Tulip Fest and something to look at should you get sick of gazing at photographers taking pictures of tulips. Third is an open invitation to a party celebrating the arrival of a new chef. Finally, there are three separate crowd sourcing fundraising campaigns.

There were supposed to be four, but Scott Brooks must be behind in his schedule to get the kickstarter campaign going. He has a vision to bring downtown Albany “its first whole food eatery.” But the kickstarter was supposed to launch on 5/7 or 5/8. I can’t find it.

Well, we’ll just have to do this without him

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Fake Plants & Dust Bunnies

May 7, 2015

Here’s a question that’s been bugging me lately. Are fake plants ever okay?

I’m not talking in your grandmother’s home. She’s the mother of your mother or father, and she can do what she wants. But in restaurants. And maybe they are okay in some restaurants but not others. And if that’s the case, where do you draw the line?

Is it chains versus non-chains? Denny’s can have fake plants, but a real diner needs to be able to support life? Or is it based on categories of restaurants, so that red checked tablecloth Italian-American restaurants can have fake plants, whereas it would be out of line for a French bistro. Perhaps it’s best determined by price, so that a place with entrees under $10 can get away with the low maintenance decor, but an establishment with higher aspirations and plates $20 and up need to cough up for the real deal?

Not too long ago I honed in on one fake plant and now I’m seeing them everywhere.

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Every Week is Something New

May 6, 2015

Trying to wrap some kind of theme around a small handful of stories has been hurting my brain. But the thing is, with just one daily post, I really need to make the most out of it.

As a side note, I don’t know how many of you caught the pocket post yesterday. I’ve known about butt dialing. But somehow, the WordPress app posted from my phone without my direct knowledge. Resulting in a post entitled “M m”. Clearly, the iPhone 6 is too powerful for its own good.

There are two things launching today. One should be expected, and the other one may be off your radar. So let’s start with the reason why you should play hookey from work or school today.

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AskTP – April Fool

May 5, 2015

Not one Ask TP in April? That was foolish. I was busy.

But from the very beginning I committed to answering every question asked of me in the comments, so I created Ask the Profussor. It’s my little way of clearing the slate. Answering questions that have gone unanswered for far too long, and making good on my promise.

That said, I’ve decided not to answer the avalanche of questions and speculation posted to the Unexpected Dangers of Farming. I suspect all of those uncertainties will reveal themselves as the legal process unfolds. Hopefully you understand.

Oh, and don’t forget, almost all of the links below will whisk you away to the mystery link of the day. If you want to find the original post, I’d suggest using Google.

Now without any further ado, onto the questions.

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