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A Beacon on a Hill

April 5, 2010

One thing that really cooks my goose year after year is reading the “Best of the Capital District” lists from the local media.

Last year the Times Union poll awarded the following:
Best Sandwich Shop: Subway
Best Buffalo Wings: Wings Over Albany
Best Hamburger: Five Guys

Those are just a few.  In a place that actually has several brilliant Italian delis and Buffalo wings are offered at every tavern and pizza parlor, to give these “best of” designations to big chains is just absurd.  And while I love Five Guys for their famous burgers and fries, it is still inescapably a fast food burger.

Well, instead of complaining about it, I’ve decided to take action.  Only it is taking a good bit longer than I initially thought.

Now is the time to vote in the Times Union Best of 2010 poll.  And when I say “now” I really mean later this week.

Because right now, I am working on putting together the FUSSYlittleBALLOT.  It is a list of my picks, for your consideration, in all of the most relevant categories of this year’s Times Union “Best Of” poll.

I realize why nobody has done this in the past.  It is a shit-ton of work.  I’ve been at it for hours, and still have miles to go before I sleep.  There is no way it will be ready for today. But it will certainly be done by the end of the week, and hopefully much sooner.

Chains (along with other businesses that are both popular and mediocre) win because they get the plurality of the votes.  Overall, I have to believe the majority of us prefer independent and/or higher quality establishments.  Except we end up splitting the vote between the dozens of places we each prefer, and the chains come out ahead.

If we could only agree to put aside some of our minor squabbles about whether The Ale House, Ralph’s or Bomber’s has the best wings, our 2010 winner wouldn’t be the identical plonk you can get in almost any state across this great nation.

So my solution is coming.

And rest assured, it is not just one man’s opinion.  As much as possible I have pulled in Yelp reviews, the past writings of other local bloggers, and historical precedent in addition to my personal preferences and not-so-hidden agendas.

I don’t ask for much, and I don’t ask often.  But this is the only way.  Now I beseech you, please hold off on entering your ballot until I post the slate.  Once it is up, please share it with your friends, relatives and colleagues.  Maybe you will choose to vote for the whole slate, or perhaps just the ones I’ve identified as the most important.  But any amount of participation helps.  The key is to just participate.

Together we can do this.

6 Comments leave one →
  1. Mr. Sunshine permalink
    April 5, 2010 9:45 am

    Yeah, those “Best of” polls are truly pathetic, especially Metroland and The Saratogian. (I just filled out the Times-Union one). The average person can’t cook anything, and knows less than nothing about food. Why “less than nothing”? Because in addition to knowing nothing, they think they know a lot, because of advertising and common misconceptions–so that’s less than nothing. An example is “flame-broiled”or “corn-fed”. In addition, Americans like things sweet (“honey-glazed”), soft (on a soft bun), and mild; in other words, bland. I look forward to your attempt to rectify this ignorance.

  2. StanfordSteph permalink
    April 5, 2010 11:30 am

    It would be nice if the papers excluded the large chains to focus on the local places. I certainly would appreciate it. When I saw Olive Garden on the list of Best Italian shortly after I moved to this area, I pretty much dismissed the whole process.

  3. Sarah M. permalink
    April 5, 2010 1:53 pm

    In our defense, I think the Metroland results are so uniformly terrible because their poll requires answers for hundreds of categories (at least it seems like that many)–this many categories would make sense for NYC or a city with a comparably dense landscape, but Albany? Best Japanese AND Best Japanese Steakhouse. Best International AND Best Continental. Best Neighborhood Italian of 3 cities. Best Tapas (seriously?). Best Middle Eastern, Best Mediterranean, Best Falafel. I attempted to shill for my favorites (Bomber’s, Cheesecake Machismo, FLB, Avenue A RIP) but gave up about 4 pages into the questionnaire.

  4. Phairhead permalink
    April 5, 2010 3:43 pm

    I’m all for voicing my 2 cents about the best flipping wings in the capital district :<)

  5. Jessica R permalink
    April 5, 2010 5:44 pm

    Great idea Daniel. Let’s gang up on them! I’m looking forward to reading it and voting!

  6. April 5, 2010 10:46 pm

    But Wings of Albany and Five Guys ARE the best in their respective categories the Capital Region….

    oh well.

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