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Ask The Profussor – The First 100

September 1, 2009

If I can believe the dashboard of the FUSSYlittleBLOG (and I’m not always sure I can) we have passed the first 100 post milestone.  Many thanks to you, and many more thanks to the ever patient and quietly suffering Mrs. Fussy who tirelessly makes sure the commas are in the right place and that the devil stays down in the hole.

It’s been almost a month since the last AskTP, so there is a lot of catching up to do.

Melissa politely inquired, “May I ask you when you visited The Red Barn?  I have worked at this restaurant since I was fifteen [that was nine years ago], and I’m very pleased that you enjoyed your dining experience. I think the salmon is one of the chef’s best dishes. Did you have any other dishes?”

Fifteen?  Is that legal in this state?  You’ve worked at the same place for NINE years?  Let me do some quick math… that’s a third of your life!  They must give you some mighty fine health insurance.

Presumably it wasn’t entirely clear, but in the post I mentioned “I found myself on their website looking at the menu.”  I have neither been to the restaurant nor eaten the salmon.  One of the things I enjoy about this forum, as opposed to Yelp, is that it allows me write about restaurants without the need to review them.  So I can give them the promotion they deserve for doing the right thing without needing to hold them to my dauntingly high standards of execution.  I see it as a win-win.

My mom wanted to know, “is Norwegian Salmon OK? I just bought some at Whole Foods…should I forgetaboutit and eat cold cereal instead tonight?”

Really, I think you should eat that cold cereal alone, and in the dark.  Maybe you can share it with the bats.

Look.  It’s a serious issue.  Wild salmon fisheries could dry up as a result of the current farming practices.  If the labeling is unclear, you should ask the fishmonger at Whole Foods.

The big issue is buying it.  Once you have bought it, you have voted with your pocketbook.  To the best of my knowledge, none of the contaminants in any of the fish will kill you or make you directly ill should you occasionally eat them in modest portions.  How occasionally depends on many factors.

Bottom line: If you bought it you should eat it, but you may want to ask a few questions of your fishmonger before buying it again.

Brent is willing to go down in flames defending s’mores, “I feel like people are missing the point. The point of s’mores is not the taste or end product, it is the process. It is a dessert that you make as you eat them. It is like having crabs, only kid friendly… Also, I wonder if buying really expensive chocolate makes a difference to kids? “

Bless your soul for mentioning crabs and “kid friendly” in the same thought.

I love the idea of teaching kids how to toast marshmallows.  We just depart in that I think that should be an end unto itself.  Here we are, taking our most impressionable minds, and demanding that they gild the lily from this small and tender age.

As to the question of expensive chocolate, I was once given the parenting advice, “Buy your kids the most expensive chocolate you can afford.  Once they know what real chocolate tastes like, they will have no interest in the dreck from the store.”  I am not convinced it works, but I love the philosophy behind it.

Brownie had a question that has lingered without a formal reply, “Here’s a topic I assume will be unpopular among foodies, although I could be wrong. what’s the prevailing opinion on the bag lunch? I spend my money at overpriced sandwich shops in midtown Manhattan every day and would like to eat better while saving some coin. What’s in the Profussor’s officialy licensed Buffy the Vampire Slayer lunch pail?”

I could never really get into Buffy.  And I’ve never brought my lunch to work.  I’m racking my brain trying to think of one time I actually brought food from home, and I can’t come up with anything.

Lunch is just a treat.  Even if someone is just bringing in food from the deli for a team working lunch, it’s still better than brown bagging.

You have to pack, then schlep, then put it in the skeevy work fridge and hope nobody sneaks a bite, or absconds with the whole thing.  Maybe something will need to be heated.  And then you have to use the dirty microwave.  And at the end of the day, the entire dirty mess needs to be trudged back home.

I’d much rather get something near the office.  Or, if I were really going for economy/survival I’d pack a peanut butter sandwich, a banana, and a Newman’s O.  But likely I’d still go out and buy the skim milk when it was lunchtime.

Jess asked, “Have you discussed rose wines yet? I want your opinion. A local somelier and a local wine store clerk both recently tried to sell me on them, and I just can’t seem to get down with the pink stuff. They’re all too sweet for me.”

I enjoy good wines.  And I don’t mean for that to sound snide or snobbish.  It is intended as the opposite.  I don’t hate merlot for being merlot.  I just think most merlot is overpriced and not very interesting.  That is not to say there are not good ones.

But I do enjoy dry rosé wines.  And there are good ones to be found.  I’d look to France though, and specifically Provence for some in the drier style.  Sadly I am still lacking a grill, and now that summer is ending, the acquisition is unlikely.  But grilled sausages and a good dry rosé is one of those great pairings.  No bun needed.

You may need a better wine store.

Jess went on the record, “If I may play devil’s advocate for a minute, a big rationale for having any coverage of places like Arby’s or Mercatos has to do with a local newspaper’s “need” to be as fully encompassing as possible. It’s a delicate balance with your readers — how do you maintain high standards yet not devolve into populism and alienate many of your readers? How do you appeal to the more discerning while also appealing to the general public?”

The Times Union review policy I thought was designed to do just that.  Higher end restaurants get stars.  Lower end restaurants get reviews, but no stars.  I’m not thrilled with that system, as you might have read.  But when a place like Mercato’s gets included in the high-end reviews, something inside my head explodes.  It’s not a good feeling.

And Steve’s blog is not actually the paper.  As large as his audience is, it is still made up of foodies who are interested to know about up-to-the-minute changes in local restaurants (and also apparently about people behaving badly.)

I recognize that Steve has said that he will publish any offer that is sent his way on the blog.  And that’s cool.  But does it have to be classified under the “recommended” category?

Otis wondered, “I have seen busboys use the tea to clean up the table after diners, but cleaning up before eating as a patron is new to me. What do you do with the resultant liquid? Use your napkin? Then what happens to the napkin?”

The liquid is either dumped in a passing bus tub or brought to the nearest available one.  The plates and utensils are dried with the paper napkins and left on the table.  It may not be classy, but it’s effective.

cw wanted to know, “I too received a wonderful corkscrew as a wedding gift – the only problem is, the corks that are not made of actual cork – tend to get stuck. Hubby and i have a routine of how to remove said stuck cork, but it does not work very well….Thoughts? Suggestions?”

Perhaps the corkscrew isn’t so wonderful after all.  I recommend a double-hinged model.  They pull out everything.

Mr. Sunshine piped in, “I don’t understand the last 3 arcane and/or in-joke comments.”

Here is the quick background.  A few people who read this blog work or have worked in advertising.  I used to work for Jeff Goodby at his agency in San Francisco.  He’s older than I am, so he threw me an archaic term that is similar to but older than the one I used in the post.  The other Jeff was a client of ours at the California Milk Processors Board for whom Goodby created the Got Milk? campaign.  Otis (who among other things writes ad copy) and I were very excited to see the first Jeff had posted a comment on my little blog.

I guess one of those cards I left around the office on my trip to San Francisco made it up to his desk.

One Comment leave one →
  1. September 1, 2009 10:09 am

    I bring my lunch every day. It saves a ton of money. I work in sort of an isolated area and get a very short break so I don’t really have much time to go pick stuff up. I’m also weird and like leftovers.

    Today, for instance, I have leftover Capital Q. The day before that I had a wrap with homemade hummus, veggies, and Grafton sharp cheddar, with some chuncks of fresh cantaloupe.

    I think bringing your lunch to work is starting to take on some recession chic, even amongst foodies. Not to mention that bento boxes are getting kinda trendy. I use a regular ol’ insulate Aloha-print lunch tote from LL Bean but I’ve been eyeing some other cool-looking totes.

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