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Help, I Need Somebody

September 4, 2014

Readership has its privileges.

The sheer quantity of food related activities happening in and around the Capital Region these days is staggering. Tonight there is the barista throwdown at Stacks Espresso, Chef Ellie’s free class on healthy school lunches at Honest Weight, and all of the events surrounding Troy Craft Beer Week. And I can’t go to any of them, because I’ll be hanging out with some of my favorite food people and being super judgmental. But more on that later.

Friday is another Cheese Traveler cookout I can’t make. Saturday is the Saratoga Wine and Food Fest. Sunday the Lucas Confectionery is having their Sunday Supper. Monday is the Soul Cafe in Troy. Tuesday is the first official Yelp Albany event. Wednesday Mop & Bucket is putting on a free show at the Lucas Confectionery. Thursday I’m being all judgy again. Friday I have a potluck in Schenectady. Saturday is the Chefs’ Consortium Bannerman’s Island dinner.

Regrettably, I’m probably going to miss most of these. Fortunately, a few of them come around once or twice a month, so I’ll get other chances to try them out. The Saratoga Wine and Food Festival, however, is once a year. Last year I had to ask someone to cover the event while I was on sabbatical. This year, I’m doing it again. Except this time, I’m asking you.

Would you like to be my correspondent and get a press pass to the event?

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Kat and Kim Come to the Cap

September 3, 2014

Albany is a crossroads. That’s really the reason why we have a Tesla supercharging station. Sure, some have New York plates, but I’ve seen just as many from New Jersey and beyond. We get traveling concerts, theater, and visual artists.

Occasionally we’ll even have some culinary luminaries come to town. John and Dottie would visit Saratoga Springs when their daughter was at Skidmore, and they wrote about a meal at Hattie’s washed down with a nice carmenere.

But a week from this Friday a bunch of giants in the food world are coming to town. Technically, they are headed to Berne. But they are here for the Longhouse Food Revival. Part of the program includes a Lincoln/Douglas-style debate with Kat Kinsman and Kim Severson debating the merits of pork versus beef. It sounds like a ton of fun, and I really really wish I could be there.

Regrettably, my schedule precludes participation in this event. Regardless, I’m going to take their coming as an opportunity to pitch some of the truly notable places in the area.

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A Fire in the Belly of the Consortium

September 2, 2014

The FLB does not have a viable business strategy in place. Yes, there are a few paid writing gigs that keep me in beer money. For now, I’m happy to write for those occasional scraps of free food and an inflated sense of my own self-importance.

I’m very, very lucky to get to spend my time pursuing such endeavors. One of these days, I may have to find a way to generate more income. But perhaps through all of this writing, some opportunity may arise all on its own. We’ll just have to wait and see.

The Chefs’ Consortium is an entirely different enterprise. Despite my years of participation in the group, I never stopped to ask how or where it got the money to fund those care packages of food I’d periodically receive to write about. Apparently now it’s a 501(c)(3) organization–which means absolutely nothing to me.

What the Chefs’ Consortium now has going for it is a new leader. His name is Lecco, and in just a few short days he put together a fundraiser for the group, which was held last week at the Albany Distilling Co. He’s a young man with an incredible amount of energy and passion. And if you didn’t go to the event last Thursday, this is what you missed.

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Labor Day Lamentations

August 29, 2014

The road to Albany is paved with good intentions. Labor Day is Monday. It’s the unofficial end of summer. In theory I suppose I should hang up my white linen pants for the season. In practice, I’ll probably still keep them on the ready should we have any more particularly balmy evenings.

I’ve always been a strong believer in bending the rules.

That said, I cannot make more days of summer. And there were a bunch of things I wanted to do this summer which seemed to have passed me by. Two of them are easy to take care of today. The last will just have to wait until fall.

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AskTP – Lightning Round

August 28, 2014

August has been such a slam-a-rama month, I can’t believe it’s almost gone. College has begun. Grade school starts next week. And that means soon I’ll be diving back head first into exploring all of the Capital Region’s hidden nooks and crannies.

Maybe I’ll even find the time to transcribe those old interviews with the Jersey Artisan Distillery founders and the owner of the American Diner.

But before I can think of doing that, I’ve got to rid myself of a burden. Specifically, I’m thinking of the huge pile of unanswered questions that have gone without a response for far too long. After all, I made a commitment long ago to answer all reader questions. So every now and again I tackle a bunch of them in one go and post them in a little feature we’ve been calling Ask the Profussor.

Now without any further ado, onto the questions.

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Over Selling Stewart’s

August 27, 2014

For all intents and purposes, in the Capital Region, our convenience store is Stewart’s. Sure, there are convenience stores attached to gas stations and a smattering of bodegas. But Stewart’s is an inextricable part of life in upstate New York.

It took me a few years to really appreciate the place for what it is. Part of that was reprioritizing what I look for in eggs, and growing more comfortable with exchanging some degree of sustainability for eggs with tighter whites.

Stewart’s actually became one of the places I missed during our sabbatical in Princeton. Mostly, for those super fresh eggs.

The kids like Stewart’s for the ice cream. Me? I’m pretty much ruined for all ice cream after Halo Farm. But whenever we drive by a Stewart’s, which around Albany is just about every five minutes, I’m assailed with pleas for ice cream from the back seat.

Last week the little ones finally earned a stop. He got “Fireworks” which is vanilla with a raspberry swirl and pop rocks. She decided upon rainbow sherbet. And as they ate, I watched a fascinating video starring Stewart’s President, Gary Dake.

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Telltale Tesla

August 26, 2014

(Believe it or not, this is actually a post about milk)

A million years ago I worked on a project for General Motors called the EV-1. It was their electric vehicle, and it never quite found mainstream success. I’m not going to get into all the gory details here, but if you’re interested, you should take me out for a few drinks sometime.

Despite it all, I became a big fan of electric cars.

Back in the day I’d get giddy with delight when a new public charging station opened. There were a few around San Francisco and each one was a pretty major affair. After all, the number of electric cars on the road was minuscule. Each charging station was an exercise in unbridled optimism for the future.

There are two things that I never ever expected to see in Albany. One of them was a Whole Foods. The other was a Tesla Supercharger, which in just 30 minutes can power up their electric car to drive 170 miles. As they say in this town, “That’s huuuuge.”

What are the chances than that both of these things would be mere feet from each other?

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