Writing something down is a powerful act.
Last year, I completely missed out on Gene’s Fish Fry. It’s the seasonal fish fry place in East Greenbush, and one of my favorites. A lot of that has to do with its non-traditional versions of the classic condiments: tartar, chili, and cocktail.
Anyhow, just yesterday I was lamenting that it looked like another summer might go by without me popping in for a visit.
But by writing down my desire, I was able to make it happen. Of course, it didn’t hurt that I had a burst of inspiration from a fellow local food blogger.
This is a first. The kids already have all their school supplies purchased, with two weeks of summer vacation remaining. It’s usually a last minute scramble. This year I’m ahead of the game. Here are two other small, but notable, recent events:
- On Sunday I bought some Sierra Nevada Octoberfest.
- Last night, the mercury dipped down to 52 degrees.
There can be no doubt, summer is ending. But it’s not gone yet, dammit.
This cooler temperature should serve as a wakeup call to cross all of those things off your summer to do list. And maybe your summer to eat list, if you have one. By the way, you should totally have one. If you don’t, I’ve got a few suggestions.
The title of today’s post is misleading. Let’s talk about prosciutto for a moment. Here is a craft that has been honed for generations. World class prosciutto exists thanks to the combination of great pork, plenty of salt, and even more time, But it needs a skilled hand and watchful eye over those many months of aging.
When it’s done, you’ve got a thing of beauty. Or rather, you have a great leg of potential. Because how the prosciutto is sliced can make a world of difference.
Little Miss Fussy loves prosciutto. It’s one of her favorite things. What can I say, she’s daddy’s little girl. And I’ve been bringing her up on La Quercia. But we dabble in the imports when we can’t get the good stuff from Iowa.
Did I ever tell you about the one time I bought some prosciutto as a special treat for her school picnic from Via Fresca in Guilderland? It was sliced so thickly that even my powerful chompers had a difficult time biting through the fat. My daughter’s disappointment was palpable.
Even a child knows that Prosciutto is not the same if you slice it too thickly. It’s not. Let’s discuss.
It’s good to have modest goals. Modest goals are achievable. There are a lot of things that I wanted to do on this trip to Pennsylvania. However, we didn’t come down here for me. We came for the kids. But really, there was one thing that I wanted to do more than anything else.
So, that became my priority. All the other stuff got pushed to the side. And I’m okay with that.
You see, my mother-in-law grows tomatoes in her sunny and warm garden. And they are fantastic. Sure, they may be a little smaller this year than in the past. Still, they are firm, juicy, and packed with flavor. And, of course, deep red all the way through.
My plan was to try and gather the supplemental ingredients required to enjoy these home grown delights to the fullest, which in rural Pennsylvania is easier said than done. But these days, we have the help of one incredible local resource.
Words matter. One of my favorite things about visiting the farm is our proximity to The Meadows, because this homegrown chain is famous for its frozen custard.
Frozen custard is hard to come by in upstate New York. Although I noticed on the Tour de Italian Deli 2.0 that Marcella’s in Schenectady had it. However, when I tried to call it frozen custard, I was rebuffed. “If it were frozen, it wouldn’t be custard.” I suspect the fellow behind the counter was trying to parse the difference between hard frozen and partially frozen.
But one thing was clear, it wasn’t soft serve. And in my book soft serve isn’t ice cream. Just yesterday my kids tried to call The Meadows’ frozen custard “soft serve” and I dadsplained the difference between the two. one. more. time.
So this week wasn’t intended to be the beat-up-on-Unilever week. But when I was researching Monday’s story, I ran across something small on the internet that made my blood boil.
Some might say that the Hellmann’s Split should be about the geographical line that is drawn across the country. To the east of the line, Hellmann’s is Hellmann’s. To the west of the boundary, Hellmann’s is known as Best Foods.
It’s the same thing.
After reading Monday’s post, someone suggested that Walmart’s Great Value private label branded mayonnaise is just Hellmann’s in disguise. And maybe that’s true. But private label stuff can be tricky, because even if a generic product is made at the same plant from the same ingredients, there can always be small but meaningful differences in the formulation.
Which isn’t to say that sometimes private label products aren’t simply identical versions of mass market brands. That happens too, however the whole point of today’s post is about shifting away from consumer packaged goods in general.
Specifically, I wanted to take a moment to explain why I split from my once beloved Hellmann’s.
Summer may be the wrong time of year to have a sandwich tour. Perhaps there is some kind of summery sandwich. Oh, I know: a BLT. When tomato season is at its peak, a big fat slice of ripe juicy tomato on toast, paired with some crunchy, smoky bacon, and some refreshingly crisp iceberg lettuce, is just about perfect.
But there is something extra brutal about asking people to sample five different Italian subs in the sweltering heat. And while you never know exactly what you might get when ordering an Italian mix, you’re guaranteed plenty of salty cured meats, usually with a bit of a spicy kick.
Well, last Saturday was unbearably hot for the Tour de Italian Deli Subs 2.0, yet that did not dissuade a few hearty souls from showing up and joining me for this epic feat. The best news of the day was that the rain stayed away, so the only reason we would end up soaking wet was if we succumbed to a case of the meat sweats.
This was a day full of great stories. And I’m sorry that more of you couldn’t join us. However, I’m thrilled to share the tale of what happened when we drove through Schenectady in search of the city’s greatest Italian mix.