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Leaving the Echo Chamber

January 15, 2015

How did I turn into a cheerleader? Once upon a time I was a massive grump. I mean, look at that face. But recently I feel like I’ve been all about the pom poms.

My hope is that I’m no less critical of restaurants than when I moved out here in 2007. In those early days I was highly suspicious of those who would lift up our better restaurants and try to make an argument for a vibrant food scene.

I suppose there is still a difference between the me of today and the cheerleaders of the past. It’s a small difference, but it’s a meaningful one. I see plenty of bright spots. However, I also still see significant gaps. And not just the lack of an Ethiopian place either. Chef Dominic hit on some of the lapses in the culinary community a while back, and we don’t have to linger on them now. Because, believe it or not, I want to accentuate the positive.

Perhaps you remember a while back I asked for your help in spreading the word about those few great restaurants that exist under the radar? The idea was to try and find non-food-focused audiences with whom to share these businesses.

Earlier this week, I stumbled upon just such a place.

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Confessions of a Born Again Bachelor

January 14, 2015

That should really be, Confessions of a Born Again Bachelor (with kids).

Mrs. Fussy is away for the week, in Austin of all places. And I got a text from her last night taunting me about where she’s eating. It was the Salty Sow. The chef, as fate would have it, seems to have grown up in Albany. Small world. Anyhow, it was described to me as the best meal she’s had in over a year.

Once upon a time, when Mrs. Fussy would leave the first thing I would do was break out the onions. Actually, I still do that. And all of those healthy habits that we typically have for family dinner, are tossed out the window.

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The Saucy Fish Fry

January 13, 2015

Hopefully you aren’t one of those people who looks at January as a time to get fit. It’s winter in upstate New York. Surviving it means putting on a protective layer of body fat. And I’ve been working my hardest to stay warm.

Mrs. Fussy who has been running, even in the dead of winter, seems to be cold all the time. On the other hand, I’ve been eating donuts like it’s my job, and I feel great.

I only mention this because in my bacchanalia of fried delights, just yesterday I made time for my first fish fry in far too long. For those who don’t already know, Albany fish fry isn’t like other fish fry. In fact, our version of this dish is one of the area’s few regional specialties.

Today’s post isn’t so much a poll, but I am curious about your thoughts on a related topic.

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Potluck Likes

January 12, 2015

Potlucks make great parties. Especially for the food obsessed. These are fantastic opportunities to see what other people cook. Not to judge them, but to be inspired by them. And if you have kids they can be a giant laboratory to learn more about what the little ones will tolerate without having to cook a wide variety of foods that will ultimately be rejected.

Last night I learned my kids aren’t so crazy about grassfed rib eye. And that’s okay. It just means more for me.

That aside, we went to a potluck on Friday. The last time I attended such an event was in the fall. Usually, I try to make something relatively easy that transports well and can feed a lot of people without breaking the bank.

So, this time I mashed up two different Marcella Hazan recipes with some degree of success.

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Speaking of Excellent Small Producers

January 9, 2015

What does it take to be a confident drinker? It means that I don’t need a national spirits writer to sample Harvest Spirit’s Cornelius Applejack to tell me it’s excellent. I know it’s excellent. And if some trained nose can’t sniff that out, that’s okay. Tastes vary. The country is a big place and there are so many craft spirits. Plus the market for applejack is minuscule.

Now, should this product that I’ve known and loved since the first day it was available to the public get national acclaim, I’ll proudly share the news. But it won’t make the spirit any better. It’s been great all along.

We are quite lucky living in the Capital Region. We are surrounded by great small producers of all kinds of things. Are they the best of the best of the best? No. But that’s a crazy high bar. Actually, though, one could make an argument that Delaware Phoenix is the best absinthe distillery in the U.S. Her stuff is amazing. But I digress.

The point I was trying to make is that sometimes people don’t realize how good we’ve got it until an outsider comes along and shows us. This time that outsider happens to be Paste magazine.

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Constructive Criticism for Wine & Dine

January 8, 2015

A note from the Profussor: For a long time I’ve been looking to open the platform of the FUSSYlittleBLOG to other voices in the community. After all, if there is something about food or the food culture in the Capital Region you want to get off your chest, what better place is there to vent your spleen than on a community of readers who will tolerate several hundred words on the evil of sprinkles?

Recently, Deanna Fox picked up the gauntlet and asked to write the story below. If you don’t know Deanna, she’s awesome. Not only does she now write the Eat This! feature for All Over Albany, but she writes food stories for the Albany Times Union too. Her own blog and the one she’s maintained over at the TU have languished a bit, but she’s active on Twitter and Instagram.

So, I’ll let her say this in her own words, but D. Fox has some strong feelings about the Albany Chefs’ Food & Wine Festival: Wine & Dine for the Arts. And I know she’s not the only one.

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Tavern Pie

January 7, 2015

The Capital Region’s taverns are one of the area’s crowning glories. As we’re getting into the heart of winter, this fact is now more apparent than ever.

When it’s cold outside, people tend to stay indoors. But should one venture out, the soul craves warmth and comfort. It wants fried foods and foods dripping in cheese. It wants hot sauce and cold beer. It wants a cozy atmosphere, where you can come as you are and feel like you’re at home.

Like it or not, this is the food culture of the area. And if you want a good meal that delivers on expectations, you’re most likely to find it in one of these neighborhood joints.

I totally get them. I’ve learned to embrace them. And when I left the region for a spell, I have to say, I kind of missed them. But there is one part of the tavern experience that still continues to elude me, and today I’m turning to you for some guidance.

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