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AskTP – Part One of X

February 18, 2015

So far the new job hasn’t gotten in the way of my daily posting schedule. That’s good news. But it seems to have made my ability to answer all of the questions that have collected in the comments section of the FLB take a disastrous turn.

I may have to start doing the unthinkable and answering questions when they arise. Egads.

Now is not the time for looking forward. Now is the time to look back. And I’m going to try and get through as many of these as possible, but some of these questions go all the way back to December. Yikes. Don’t forget to check out the mystery link of the day, which today not only serves as a line of demarcation between questions, but will also lead you to a very special local giveaway.

Just know that whatever we don’t get to today, will be picked up again very shortly. Hopefully this week, but no promises. Now, without any further ado, on to the questions.

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Death by Chocolate & Other Modern Tales

February 17, 2015

Fear no food. That’s my mantra. In fact, that phrase has been on my Yelp profile since 2007. The question I suppose you have to ask yourself is, “What counts as food?”

I don’t think you have to parse it that closely. The idea is that anything in moderation is probably going to be fine. That includes partially hydrogenated oils, which I know the scientists say are unhealthy at any level. But people were eating flaky pie crusts made with Crisco for years and continuing to live rich full lives. And of course we’ve all been eating GMOs for a long long time now, and most of us are fine.

You aren’t going to find scare tactics on the FLB. I’m not going to try and insist that all food be safe. It’s not. Some food might make you sick. But you have to live life. And eating eggs with fully cooked yolks or hamburgers cooked to within an inch of their life doesn’t sound like living to me.

That means I’m still going to eat chocolate after telling you the below tale. More than anything, it should be seen as a cautionary story about the negative consequences we face when we fail to protect our fragile and complicated environment.

So as a punchline, I’ll also share the story of how we don’t learn from our mistakes.

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Dreams of Garlic Scapes

February 16, 2015

Winter is here. The earth is locked up tight. Snow is everywhere. The ground is frozen. The wind bites. Ice is dripping from everything and forming in the most unexpected places.

Our furnace stopped working for a few hours in the thick of it on Friday. Luckily it was a small and quick fix. I was able to make my savory bread pudding for the potluck using an extra New Mt. Pleasant challah I had taking up space in the freezer. Valentines Day was lobster and Roederer Estate sparkling wine at home, as is our tradition (when we can take the time).

Yesterday there was more shoveling, and last night was split pea soup. I’m trying to clear out room in my freezer for another giant batch of Cuban black beans.

Like everyone else, winter is dragging on us. But even in these depths of winter, I just had a vision of spring. And I invite you to join me.

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Funday: Cider & Beer

February 13, 2015

Seriously, how is it Friday again?

There was an interesting conversation on the Yelp Albany Twitter feed yesterday. It had to do with me promoting Akira, the new Hibachi place in Glenmont. And it referenced some of the things I had said about Hibachi in the past.

The question was, where has my fussiness gone. Well, if you remember, we had spoken about the new tone of the post-Yelp FLB a few weeks ago. And this week it got put to the test. My hosts at Akira offered me up a full Hibachi meal on the house at the opening. It was probably the first time I sat down at one of those cooking surface tables in twenty-five years.

And pretty much it went about as well as can be expected. Nobody was engulfed by the volcano flames, I endured a ten-second sake squirt (actually two) without too much of a mess, and I caught a piece of food tossed into my mouth on the first try. It’s not my thing, but there are a lot of people who love the experience of it all. Fancy steakhouses don’t do much for me either, but I’m not going to disparage those who enjoy them.

There is one last promotional thing I want to share from that experience, and then we’ll move on to a round-up of some other press releases. Oh, and believe it or not, it’s yet another picture.

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Past Posts’ Positions on GMOs

February 12, 2015

No single person has read every post on the FLB. My father hasn’t. My mother hasn’t. Even Mrs. Fussy who helps to copy edit the thing almost every morning takes an occasional day (or week) off. She’s sitting this one out today, because she can’t stand to read my posts about GMOs anymore.

That’s just one of the reasons I stopped writing on the subject. The other was that I didn’t want the FLB to become the anti-GMO blog. For a while in the beginning the FLB was starting to feel like the “Chipotle is awesome” blog. And then it was All Good Bakers all the time, or at least it was for a spell. Don’t forget that time I picked up the gauntlet of the salmon police.

What can I say? I’m a passionate guy and sometimes I go through phases.

There were two good questions yesterday about my stance on GMOs however, and I thought this would be the right time to clarify my position on this technology, largely by looking back to what I’ve already written. This is a complex issues, with lots of nuance, and it’s not really possible to convey all of that in one blog post. ButI think you will find I’ve been pretty consistent over time with my arguments.

Okay. Here we go. I’ll start with short answer responses to the direct questions.

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Sugar Swappers

February 11, 2015

For someone who doesn’t have much of a sweet tooth, I’ve been eating a lot of sugar. Should I be eating less? Probably. But sugar sneaks its way into so many things and in so many different forms.

Concentrated grape juice is sugar. Lactose is sugar. Brown rice syrup doesn’t sound like sugar, but it totally is, and in fact it’s one that probably contains higher levels of arsenic than you might expect. Of course there is the dreaded industrial sweetener, high fructose corn syrup, too.

Then there is just straight sugar. Except did you know it can come from two different plants? There is cane sugar and beet sugar. Do you know which one of these two would drive the Food Babe into an apoplectic fit? That would be the beet sugar. Sugar beets are one of those newfangled GMO crops where the corporations that produce them say the seeds are different enough from regular crops to be patentable, but yield plants similar enough to regular crops to not require special labeling. Go fig.

GMO beet sugar is insidious, but there is something equally insidious and sweet hiding in plain sight.

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Five Totally Different Tavern Pies

February 10, 2015

Albany has taverns. Those taverns have pizza. They also have wings, but let’s put those aside for today. These neighborhood joints are where the people of the Capital Region hunker down during the winter to eat comforting food, drink plenty of beer, and fortify themselves for the remainder of a season that looks like it will never end.

So what exactly is tavern pizza, and what sets it apart from what’s made at a pizza shop? I couldn’t really say. But to understand this dish better, I went off to five of the Capital Region’s most beloved taverns with five other intrepid eaters. There were six of us in all.

We skipped the Orchard Tavern and the Fountain. Mostly because these pizzas were known entities. The Orchard’s really is its own thing. And after a recent visit to the Fountain and receiving a sausage pie that was a shadow of its former goodness, I thought it more prudent to check out places I’ve either never visited or haven’t visited in many years.

This is what we found.

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