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Ask The Profussor – Gone Eating

August 5, 2009

It has been over two weeks since our last Q&A session, and I wanted to get all caught up before heading out to San Francisco.  The Profussor will be traveling with the family in tow for 11 days in the Bay Area.

If you are one of my friends currently living in the Bay Area, and you are learning about this trip from my blog, instead of from me directly, let me apologize now.  Despite my former career, I am not the best planner when it comes to my social calendar.

While I am away, I am going to try very hard to maintain my rigorous daily posting schedule.  We will have to see how my copyeditor (Mrs. Fussy) feels about that too.  If she wants to take a holiday, you may just have to suffer through the improper use of commas and the occasional run-on sentence.

Now without further ado, onto the questions:
Mike recently pontificated, “Do adjectives make the food better? Or do they simply make the place seem more pretentious? In a large market like SF, you can afford to alienate people by putting on airs, in Albany you don’t want to appear snobbish or off-putting. Is a Sanitation Removal Teamworker worth more than a Garbage Man? A Petroleum Dispensing Specialist more desirable than a gas pump jockey?”

He goes on to suggest, “Stop doing yourself and readers a disservice, why not report on the food and actual dining experience at a restaurant rather than get caught up in judging the value of a dining experience based solely on menu verbiage?”

Hello Mike, and welcome to the FLB.  I had considered giving this response a dedicated post, because Mike brings up a very good point that I had taken for granted.

The FLB was never intended to be a home for restaurant reviews.  I do review food and actual dining experiences at Yelp and there is a handy link provided to my Yelp profile under the “Another Side of Fussy” category.

One of the reasons I started the FLB was to address issues that were beyond the scope of a review.  Evaluating restaurant menus was a big part of this.

The menu is the window into the soul of a restaurant.  For years Mrs. Fussy and I have enjoyed walking around different cities, towns and villages looking in restaurant windows and reading their menus.  We have very exciting lives.  And our food choices are very well considered.

Certainly adjectives do not make food taste better.  But Berkshire pork shoulder does taste better than Hormel pork shoulder.  And frankly I think it is pretentious to charge over twenty dollars for a Hormel pork shoulder that has been gussied up with a linen tablecloth, some vegetables and a starch.

This is the battle I am fighting.  I think the people of Albany deserve better than what they have currently got.  Although I do recognize that what is available now is a vast improvement from just five years ago.  And I am encouraged things are moving in a good direction.

If you need more, let me know, and I’ll do a dedicated post on the matter.

On the subject of oatmeal, Renee challenges, “Is this seriously your favorite breakfast? You need to get your butt to Chicago for my buttermilk pancakes and snausages.”

Seriously, it is.  In part because of its optimal mix of taste and healthfulness.  I love perfect poached eggs on real bread that has been toasted.  Mrs. Fussy’s dad makes the best pancakes and sausages, period.  Sorry.

But his recipe is a well-guarded family secret.  You will just have to bring your crew down to the farm sometime.  Maybe we can have a pancake throwdown.

And she then goes on to ask, “Wait, in which parts of the country is it NOT summertime?”

Well, everyone was saying that here in Albany it wasn’t summer.  Mostly because it was super rainy and not brutally hot.  I still can’t figure out why that’s a bad thing.  And in the Bay Area, the high is in the 60s and the low is in the 50s.  I mean, it’s San Francisco summer, but not capital S Summer.

Renee wins the prize this time for the greatest volume of questions.  I love it.  Finally she shares, “My pops is coming in this weekend and I am totally going to do a cheese plate — something quick and easy that doesn’t take too much time. Plus it will force me to stop serving just Ossau Iraty.  Do you have any advice on beginning to to appreciate blue cheese? It still makes me gag.”

First, there is nothing wrong with just serving Ossau Iraty – it is a magnificent cheese.  Second, I like Albany Jane’s idea of the Gorgonzola/mascarpone torta.  Montbriac is a good creamy standalone blue that has blue pockets instead of veins.  Maybe that would help?

Or you could try to build up to a blue cheese tolerance slowly.  You could start with something very neutral like polenta and blend a small amount of Gorgonzola into the pot.  Keep tasting and keep adding in more cheese until you are at the edge of your comfort level and then stop.  Next time you make the dish, see if you can go a step further.

It’s so crazy that it just might work.

Mr. Dave wants to know, “How long have you lived around here? Have you yet experienced an autumn? Fall is cider donut season around here. Go to Altamont Orchards if you want to see quite the queue. My wife swears by the apple fritters, but I don’t particularly like the fritters or the donuts.”

I don’t know where the time went, but I just completed my second year in the area (which is how I’ve managed to rack up 140 Albany Yelp reviews, and even more if you count Guilderland et al.).

So I have a couple of autumns under my belt, and I have done my fair share of apple picking.  I should really save writing about my first apple cider donut experience for a dedicated post, but yes, I am familiar with the form.

By the way, and I hope you don’t mind my saying so, but I am continuously amused by how you and your wife always seem to be at odds over food.

Jennifer delves deeper into my thoughts on Capital Q, wondering, “Do you have any sides you would recommend? If I am going to pig out on stuff that’s bad for me, I like it to come with something starchy.”

Sides?  I have no use for sides.

If you need something starchy perhaps the Frito Pie is the answer.  They take a bag of Fritos, open it up for you, scoop in some of their awesome chili, and throw in some cheese for good measure.  I haven’t had it yet, but it’s on my list.

Frankly I have found most of the sides disappointing.  And I am fine with that.  It means they are putting all of their attention on the meat.  Where it belongs.

In the same thread Joanna wanted to know if I had “Ever been to the Pig Pit in Troy?”

No, I haven’t.  I did read Jess X.’s review of the place.  And I am generally in agreement with her judgment on restaurants.  If you have a counterargument to her assertion of sweet sauces, I would love to hear it.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. renee permalink
    August 5, 2009 10:54 am

    Oatmeal: OK, if you take healthfulness into account, I kind of get it.

    Pancakes: I would seriously love to do a pancake throwdown with Mr. Fussy-in-law. We will need to figure that out in the coming years.

    Summertime: points well taken

    And she then goes on to ask, “Wait, in which parts of the country is it NOT summertime?”

    Ossau Iraty – Agreed that it is a magnificent cheese. Just appreciate the idea of getting out of my all-too-common food ruts

    Blue cheese – going to give it a try. Maybe.

    Crazy – I like crazy.

    Bonus question for next time: Any thoughts on how to buy good maple syrup when not in the general vicinity of Vermont? The stuff we’ve been getting from Trader Joes is mediocre. Hit the jackpot with one from Costco but wondering if you might opine.

    • omaxwell permalink
      August 7, 2009 7:28 am

      Renee, you need to seek out Grade B maple syrup for the really good flavor. It’s darker than Grade A so not as pretty in the glass bottle, which is why it’s hard to find. We buy from a producer in the Adirondacks and I’ve seen Grade B for sale at the Troy Farmer’s Market. It will deliver the syrup kick you are looking for.

  2. August 5, 2009 9:37 pm

    THEY HAVE FRITO FREAKING PIE?!

    *ahem*

    Pardon me, please.

    But I tend to flip over stuff like this. 1st Friday I just may find myself over there.

    Bon Voyage! I’m looking forward to all of your seafoody goodness!

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