Skip to content

The Limits of Passion

November 17, 2017

Every restaurant owner is in business to make money. It’s a business. But almost no restaurant owners open a restaurant driven by the goal of financial reward. The work is too hard. The risk is too great. The profit margins are too slim.

People open restaurants because they are passionate about them.

Passion for restaurants can take many forms. Some are driven by hospitality. Some by food. Some by beverage. Some by design. But it’s unrealistic to expect restaurant owners to have an infinite well of passion, and that’s where things can get dodgy.

Here’s a good example. I know a guy who reads this blog who loves The City Beer Hall. Loves it. But he and his friends don’t go out to eat alone, they bring their wives. And the ladies aren’t beer drinkers. They are wine drinkers. And the wine program at The City Beer Hall is its achilles heel. There is clearly nobody at the place who has a passion for wine.

The argument here isn’t that everyplace has to be everything to everybody. But even just a few well chosen bottles would go a long way.

But I don’t want to talk about wine today. Today, I want to talk about beer.

Read more…

Sullying Spinach

November 16, 2017

Subscribing to a CSA is a mixed blessing. The good side is that you get some amazing local, seasonal, and sustainable produce on a regular basis. The bad side is that you might get vegetables that half of your household refuse to eat.

And “refuse to eat” is probably too strong of a term for what happens in the Fussy household. The rule is that the kids have to try everything. But the corollary is that we don’t force anyone to eat something that will cause them distress.

Seriously, I’ve heard too many stories about adults refusing to eat certain foods because they were traumatized by them as kids. So we just don’t go there. My goal is to try and create positive experiences around food. And family dinners are a part of that.

Not too long ago, we ended up with a lot of spinach, and I followed the advice of my old friend Raf. His kids eat vegetables because they are loaded with salt and fat. The cooking methods Raf employs render green veggies as unhealthy as eating french fries, but his kids will eat spinach, kale, brussels sprouts, and the like.

With Raf’s example in mind, I set out to make creamed spinach.

Read more…

Pollan’s Nightmare

November 15, 2017

Here’s the mantra. You’ve heard it before, but it’s short:

Eat food.
Not too much.
Mostly plants.

That’s from Michael Pollan. This isn’t news to regular readers of the FLB. And following this path has helped me to drop twenty pounds since the end of the summer. Remarkably, that weight has been staying off. Of course, there has been a little exercise too. But very, very little.

What’s funny is that I think the new Bloomin’ Onion from Outback Steakhouse might be on the Michael Pollan diet.

Read more…

When Life Hands You Ground Veal

November 14, 2017

Maintaining a daily food blog while growing the local Yelp community has been a challenge.

Maybe you’ve noticed that the daily posts are going up later in the day than they had in the past. That’s a problem I need to fix. Perhaps there are more typographic errors in my daily musing too. It’s certainly likely, since with a delayed posting schedule, fewer essays are getting a second set of eyes from Mrs. Fussy.

I’ve also been told that the content is getting further away from my core mission of improving the local food scene, and focusing more on the trivial and tangential. Those criticisms aren’t wrong. They are hard to hear, but I recognize the truth in them.

That said, I continue to find the FLB a fun and worthwhile pastime, so it persists.

But it’s not just the blog that’s been suffering from the demands of the job and the requirements of everyday life. Home cooking and family dinner isn’t quite what it used to be either. I haven’t even had the chance to leaf through “Sara Moulton Cooks at Home” which I’m hoping will have some quick weeknight meal ideas.

However, thanks to the New York Beef Council, I have a new go-to dish in rotation.

Read more…

Reckless Abandon at the Diner

November 13, 2017

Making healthful eating choices can be hard. Especially when one really appreciates delicious food. What makes it doubly hard is when a menu is jam packed with options which are all appealing, but loaded with fat, simple carbohydrates, and salt.

For those trying to make good choices, diners are a minefield.

In the past, I would order the old man breakfast of oatmeal and black coffee. And I really did enjoy seeing how different diners treated this healthful and hearty classic. But most were pretty bad. Oatmeal is better when it is salted, and perhaps because this is the default healthy breakfast option, far too many diner oatmeals aren’t salted at all.

These days, I take a more moderate approach, and instead of trying to eat like a monk while out at a diner, I focus more on portion sizes than the milligrams of dietary cholesterol. And that often means an egg and cheese sandwich on a toasted hard roll, or maybe a couple of fried eggs on top of potatoes, hold the toast and hold the meat.

On Saturday, Mrs. Fussy ran a 15k in Schenectady. Afterwards we went out to The Bellevue Cafe in Rotterdam. She ordered something I would never ever get, for a variety of reasons.

Read more…

Judging Grilled Cheeses

November 10, 2017

It’s unfortunate that grilled cheese sandwiches have been shortened to the simplified term of “grilled cheese”, because grilled cheese is a thing. And if you haven’t tried halloumi yet, you should really get on that. It’s delicious.

But so are grilled cheese sandwiches.

Now I can’t remember how this came to be, so I don’t know which hat I’ll be wearing, but I do know that on Saturday, November 18 at the Takk House, I’ll be judging the Capital Region’s first grilled cheese festival.

While I do judge food competitions fairly regularly in the service of the FLB, I’m pretty sure this opportunity was the result of Yelp being one of the sponsors of the event. All Over Albany is another sponsor, and I love being on the same ticket as my favorite local website.

So here’s the question. What do you look for in a great grilled cheese sandwich?

Read more…

An Oreo Mystery

November 9, 2017

There is no real mystery as to why Oreo cookies are so popular. Those dark, crisp, chocolatey cookies have a great snap to them. And that sweet, white, creamy center is a great foil in texture and flavor to the cookies that contain it. They are fun to eat. They go well with milk. And while two is a perfect snack, it’s easy to chow down on a mass quantity of these delightful rounds.

When it comes to cookies, I like them crispy. I know that I’m an outlier on this. But that’s okay.

Still, I don’t really eat Oreos. My sweet tooth is satisfied with the malty backbone of an IPA, the fruitiness of a syrah, or the juiciness of a crisp apple. If I am going to eat a cookie, I prefer one made by human hands, and with plenty of high quality butter.

That said, one thing that I cannot resist is a good marketing gimmick. Ask the folks at Nine Pin Cider. They got me to go out 26 times over the course of the year and try a different cider every two weeks, just so I could get a sweet card that said I did it.

So when I saw that Nabisco had made a batch of Mystery Oreos, where if you could guess the flavor you could win a big cash prize, I had to give it a go.

Read more…