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The Blue Cheese Dip Spectrum

February 15, 2019

Remember, I did not grow up around these parts, and that means I don’t have a lifetime of experience with buffalo wings and their classic accompaniments.

It’s an interesting exercise to think back to when I had my first encounter with buffalo wings. Memory is a funny thing, but my best guess is that it was when I lived in Miami, most likely when I was in high school. It was certainly during my late teens that I fell in love with the crispy, fiery, and juicy combination of flavors and textures that I still enjoy today.

However, the wings I fell in love with were not buffalo wings at all, because they were most definitely breaded. And while I may still have a soft spot in my heart for crisply fried breaded wings tossed with hot sauce, I have a much deeper love for the unbreaded wings more widely available throughout the Capital Region.

One of the issues that came up on the most recent Tour de Wings was the wide range of different opinions on the blue cheese dip that is served with the wings. Today, I was hoping to get a few people to weigh in on the matter, just so I can gain a bit more perspective on the form.

Here’s the spectrum of blue cheese dip as I see it.

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A Day of Love

February 14, 2019

Let’s put aside all the saccharine expressions of romantic love for the time being. That’s the roses, the chocolates, the stuffed animals, the jewelry, and the like. This morning I was reminded that today is the one year anniversary of the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.

One year?

I encourage you all to take a moment and remember the seventeen people who were murdered that day. Here is a report with their names, ages, photographs, and a little about their lives. It’s impossible for me to make it through the list without welling up with tears.

That feeling right there, that’s love. It’s love for strangers. For people who I’ve never met. It doesn’t matter what their political ideologies may have been. Or where they came from. This hits deep in the gut. For the lives lost. For the families who are left behind. For the friends and teachers who witnessed the horror.

It’s a very Jewish notion that all of our joys are tinged with sorrow. We don’t forget. We always remember. And we make sure to celebrate joyful moments whenever we can, like today.

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A Savoy Galentine and Savvy Valentine

February 13, 2019

Egads! How is tomorrow Valentine’s Day already? I guess that makes today Galentine’s Day. For those who might begrudge someone a made-up holiday, take a walk. They are all made up. We choose to celebrate the arbitrary things we think are important. Be they the Earth’s position around the sun, the resetting of a calendar year, or the date which some notable person was thrust from the womb. They are all kind of ridiculous.

What’s important is the meaning with which we imbue these occasions. So what we are really celebrating are things like love, renewal, and justice. The names and the specific dates that accompany these holidays matter less than the feelings they inspire in those who observe them.

If you’re not feeling it, then these dates are just another day to skip work, get drunk, and eat.

So today some people want to take a moment and celebrate sisterhood. Tomorrow, it’s about romantic love. Yes, I’ve been cynical about Valentines Day in the past, largely based on the commercialization of the holiday. Or rather, its modern popularity, which has been driven by a desire to capture consumer spending.

But these days, I’m looking for all the joyful moments I can find. And a celebration of romantic love sounds like a great idea. And if you don’t know how to celebrate sisterhood, I was just sent a great idea from my Facebook friend Jason Pierce who is one of the owners of Albany’s Savoy Taproom.

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The Bettering of The Orchard Pizza

February 12, 2019

The Orchard and I have history. Not nearly as much history as those families who have called the Capital Region home for generations, but history nonetheless. This is arguably Albany’s oldest tavern, and a little over a year ago, it switched hands.

But old pieces of Albany history don’t stay in the same family forever. The building that is now Rolf’s has been a butcher shop for over 100 years, but it’s only been Rolf’s since the 1960s. The Orchard has been a tavern since 1903, but its unique style of pizza didn’t appear until after prohibition when the place became Gorman’s Grill.

For years the Noonans kept the Gorman’s pizza recipe exactly the same. Brendan and Mike told me the story about beseeching the cheese manufacturer to keep producing the same block cheddar that crowns these rectangular pies.

Now, under new ownership, these signature ten-cut tavern pizzas have changed. The change is very very small. And I would argue it’s a change for the better. Before I’m accused of being a heretic, maybe I can take a few moments to explain.

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How the West Albany Wings Were Won

February 11, 2019

Buffalo wings. They are a staple of life in the Capital Region. Everywhere from dingy hole-in-the-wall bars to fancy restaurants, wings everywhere. So how do you even begin to tackle the challenge of finding the very best?

You break the task down into micro regions. And that’s what we’ve been doing on the FLB for the past few years. We went to the downtowns of Albany, Schenectady, and Troy. But those were just for starters.

On February 2, ten intrepid eaters showed up to eat their way across Albany’s west side. You might call it uptown. You might even say we dipped our toe outside of Albany. And you might be right. But we’re not harnessed by political boundaries. We went to a cluster of great wing places that at least theoretically were in walking distance from each other.

All three teams went to the same five places that made it through the nomination process, although each of those three teams approached the task a little differently. There was Team Mild, Team Hot, and Team Hot & Crispy. And while no team ended up walking the tour, the Profussor felt much much better after the four mile walk home.

So, who came out on top?

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Emily L Goes to College

February 8, 2019

This week, I got an email from Emily L with her most recent guest post. What’s funny is that I was just talking with another friend about how poor I was in college and the crap I ate to try and get by.

One of my main goals in college was to try as hard as I could to graduate without taking on debt. Was that a good idea? I don’t know. It did give me the flexibility to hold out for my dream job in San Francisco, where I got a foot in the door of the advertising industry.

On the flip side, in addition to working a handful of various jobs, it meant eating fifteen cent ramen noodles out the package, snacking on margarine sandwiches, and smearing some eggy potato salad on a hard roll for filling meal. It’s not that there wasn’t a lot of spending money for food, there wasn’t a lot of spending money period.

But Emily’s post is about the other side of college dining, the college cafeteria. I have fond memories of mine, because I was on the one meal a day plan, and I would easily take in a day’s worth of calories and nutrition. Which helps to explain how I could survive on ramen, margarine, and potato salad.

Recently, Emily checked out the Upper Class dining hall at Union College and here is her report.

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One Last Ridiculous Idea

February 7, 2019

Call me sentimental, but I like to look back sometimes and reflect on the past.

Long ago I learned that you can never go back home again. The past is in the past. Things change, and what’s left are only cherished memories. Life moves on. People grow. But as much as possible I try to be glad for the experience, instead of being sad about the loss.

As a result, you would think I would be better about taking pictures. But I’m not. And forget about scrapbooking. It’s just not in me. Growing up, we always had a drawer jam packed with family photos that were intended to go into albums. I don’t think that ever happened.

My own photographs are mainly of food. But there are some shots of kids, family, and cherished friends scattered about. However they are all trapped on devices, old dusty corners of the internet, and backup hard drives. These are the photo drawers of the modern age, where memories go to die.

Okay, that got dark pretty fast. I mention all of this, because there may be one last chance to save a memory of the golden age of Capital Region food blogs. But to do it, I’m going to need some help.

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