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Ask the Profussor – Playing Catch Up

April 28, 2010

Hopefully this will be the last time ever I need to write two different Ask the Profussor posts in one week.  But the backlog of questions piled up so high, Mrs. Fussy advised that it would be imprudent to try and tackle them all in one mega-post.

I think she was right.

The good thing about simply answering questions is that it is preventing me from getting persnickety about my less-than-thrilling restaurant week meal at Café Capriccio.  But hopefully I will get to one more restaurant before the week is over, and I’ll be able to post a roundup of my experiences and thoughts on the event.

So without further ado, on to the questions.

Beck and Kyle had similar questions.

Beck wondered:
The only thing I really question is the decision to list Chipotle as best children’s restaurant. What was the reason for this? I certainly agree that Chipotle is very tasty and child-friendly, but was there no local option?

While Kyle had his own concerns:
Chipotle as a children’s restaurant? Don’t they serve beer and margarita’s? Not exactly the place I’d bring kids for a good time. That’s like the dolts I see bringing their kids to Bombers.

Honestly I wanted to make room for Chipotle on the ballot.  Despite being called a Mexican Grill, it really isn’t authentic Mexican food.  And I really wanted to push for authenticity on the ballot, which is why I cast my vote for Salsa Latina in that category.  Chipotle fit best in the children’s category, especially considering their focus on sustainable ingredients without added hormones or antibiotics.

I have no idea why a place that serves beer and margarita’s is incompatible with being a good restaurant for children.  Those children have parents.  And I am not going to begrudge a parent dining out with children a beer or a margarita.

But consider this: As opposed to Bombers, which is a bar which serves burritos, Chipotle is a restaurant that serves margaritas and beer to go with their food.  Better?

Richard Nixon wrote:
Have you tried to watch a game at Graney’s?  Your rationale behind this selection makes me question everything you’ve ever written.

I thought my friendship with Yelper Steve B. made you question everything I’ve ever written.  But to answer your question directly, no, I have never tried to watch a game at Graney’s.  People have lots of criteria they use for evaluating sports bars.  I care a lot about food, and very little about sports.  If they have TVs and call themselves a sports bar, that’s good enough for me.  From there on out, it is all about the food.

Ewan needed some clarification:
What does everyone agree on Blue Spice? Good or bad?

Everyone agrees it is good.

And Albany Jane couldn’t believe it:
And when did Oliver’s go belly up?

I have no idea.  But it is gone daddy gone.  Which is really sad.  Wish I went more.  This place had so much heart.  We need more like it.

Ellen Whitby had a two-part question.
Apparently concerned with my parenting skills she exclaimed:
You let Young Master Fussy walk around with chocolate melting in his hand?!!?

And in a followup question asked:
What kind of a coma did the kid fall into? And did he land on anything with his melted chocolate hands?

No, I didn’t let YMF walk around with chocolate melting in his hand.  He somehow managed to palm a chocolate chip as he was leaving the table.  I only noticed after it was too late.  He’s pretty sneaky.

His coma was brought on by too much chocolate icing from Boston cream donuts.  And luckily he was able to ride the sugar high and make it to a sink and wash his hands before he succumbed to the inevitable crash.

Jenny on the Block wanted to know:
Since you brought up Sherry, how soon do I need to drink the medium-good bottle of dry sherry I opened last month? Have I missed my chance?

Here is what I would do.  Go out to the store.  Buy a new bottle of the identical sherry, and drink them back-to-back.  Then you can tell us exactly how it changed and deteriorated.

I think this kind of stuff is fascinating.

Short of that, I’d drink it now.  But here is a bit more.  Just because a sherry says it is dry doesn’t necessarily make it so.  And that’s fine.  I mention that because in general, the sweeter Sherries will be less delicate, and more resilient to being left open for longer periods of time.  The lightest and driest Sherries should really be consumed within a few days of opening.

Without knowing the brand or the bottling, I’m kind of shooting in the dark.  But I am curious to find out what happens.

Ana had some concerns herself:
I have a concern about your nomination of the Bears Steakhouse in Duanesburg. Have you actually been there? I went there, and I’m baffled by its popularity. I live within easy driving distance, my husband loves steak, and we will never ever go there again. The steak was very average and the service was not at all ‘warm and personal’ like so many internet reviewers suggest. I couldn’t get a decent glass of wine to go with my steak, the side dishes were ho-hum and the prices and portion sizes were terribly inflated. What other places did you consider?

I am sorry to hear you didn’t enjoy your experience.  Honestly, I rarely go out for steak.  It’s a long story, but I do enjoy on occasion, big hunks of red meat.  And I know what makes a good steak, and a good steakhouse.   But no, I have never been to Bears.

As I had mentioned, the ballot wasn’t entirely based in my personal opinion, and that I drew from many sources, including but not limited to Yelp reviews.  This was one such example where I had no personal experience, but used the information available to make the best decision.

Despite your experience, this is the one steakhouse in the region that I am excited to try for myself.

I also considered Angelo’s 677 Prime, Butcher Block, Delmonico’s, Barnsider, Dakota, and Filet 7 West.  But in the end Bears edged out Angelo’s 677 Prime for my endorsement.

Albany Jane wanted a bit of clarification too:
Which of the Paesans locations have you been to?

Primarily I visit the Ontario Street location in Albany and the Western Avenue location in Guilderland.  If there are some that aren’t as good as the others, now I’m left wondering which ones don’t quite measure up to your standards.

My mom had no idea what I was talking about:
What is “structural integrity” of a donut?????

A stuffed donut requires structural integrity.  All that cream gets heavy, and without enough support, it will come crashing through.  But even if the donut shell stays intact under the strain of the cream, the feeling of the donut in the hand should give its eater confidence that the filling is secure.

If a stuffed donut shell is too soft, one might reasonably worry about its structural integrity.  Simple, no?

B had a good question in regards to pizza:
What did you think of Townsend’s pizzas, when they were still around?

Sadly, I never got to go.  But I am very excited that they seem to be reopening.  I heard some very good things about their pizza.

Elyse desperately pleaded:
Where can you get a decent baguette around here? Seriously?

Luckily you don’t need a decent baguette for pain perdu.  Anything that isn’t sour with a firm crust and substantial crumb will do fine.  I would trust Mrs. London’s would have a very good, if shockingly expensive, baguette.  To me that kind of kills the entire point of the form.  I would also check out the Placid Baker in Troy.  But honestly the search for a good baguette has not been on the top of my priority list.

I would want good cheese to pair with it.  And I am dissatisfied with the local cheesemonger.

Collin was interested in some muck raking:
What about the rest of the rankings? The why bother and probably tasty?

Fair enough.  I was trying to keep it positive.  But I can certainly understand why people would be curious about which restaurants I thought were not putting any effort into this promotion.  My bottom five, the “Why Bother” list was Amo La Bella, V&R, Savannahs, Pagliacci’s Hideaway, and Hudson Harbor.

Everything else beyond the three restaurants highlighted in the original post fell into the probably tasty category.  Although after my experience at Café Capriccio I would demote their menu from “Very Interesting” to “Probably Tasty” which is disappointing.  But I’ll get more into that later.

Jon in Albany said:
I’m putting the first night of Passover on my calender. What time do you want me to ring the doorbell?

If you come early, you can bring the brisket and save Sean the trip.

Wendalicious said:
Did you see the results of the Capital Region Living “Best Of” poll? No chains in the results, and Paesan’s won “Best Pizza”… the results have the kind of authentic local representation that you were striving for with the TU poll.  Perhaps it’s time to give up on the TU, and focus your attention and accolades on CRL?

I did see a few chains, but you are right, not many.  Certainly I should be paying more attention to Capital Region Living, but I am a firm believer in the power of newspapers.  Call me old-fashioned, or just call me plain old.

The local paper matters.

And it matters a lot.  Even if people stop reading it, and it ceases to become the influential player in public thought it once was, it is still very much a reflection of the community.  So I refuse to give up on them.  I think the paper can do great things.  And this has only been my first year getting involved.  Next year, watch out.

Finally, the highlight of my month was when Mr. Sunshine said:
You are so right, Daniel B. All The Standard needs to do is drop the word “Classic,” because it is anything but. Once martinis started being acceptable made with vodka, it was all downhill. Now anything goes.

If it weren’t for the age gap I would suggest that we were separated at birth.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. April 28, 2010 9:19 am

    RE: Townsend’s pizza. I’m a really particular kind of pizza dude. I go for either very thin and crispy crust or a really dense deep-dish. When I make it at home I usually use a naan dough, and it bakes up almost like a cracker. So, I can give or take most of the pizza places in the area (main exception: Defazio’s), as they all use a pretty “traditional” bready dough that bakes up with a nice thick ring of crust. This isn’t a bad thing, just not my style.

    OK, so, Townsend, I had their pizza twice, both times a plain cheese, and it was pretty much exactly as I like. A thin, crispy crust, scorch marks on the bottom, a few bubbles here and there (that’s where this came from, bubbles, right? right) and a bright red sauce that actually tasted like tomatoes, not like marinara. It was great. But I don’t think it’s what most people think when they think pizza. I look forward to the reopening too.

  2. Chris permalink
    April 28, 2010 9:31 am

    Jane and Daniel,

    Adam from Oliver’s Naturals is now in the kitchen at Spillin the Beans in Troy. Not sure if they’ve incorporated some of his items onto the menu, but I see him back there almost everyday when I go in for coffee.

  3. Mr. Sunshine permalink
    April 28, 2010 11:50 am

    Re: children-friendly restaurants, I’d like to give a shout-out to The Ripe Tomato in Malta.

  4. April 29, 2010 10:59 am

    Re: Oliver’s Naturals.

    Oliver’s Naturals moved to its new location on Hill Street (behind Flavour Cafe) in Troy’s little Italy late last year. Unfortunately, the crowd of regulars did not all follow and the Tuesday open mic nights were never reinstated.

    Adam closed the shop in March, and we took down the short-lived website. You can still become a fan of Oliver’s on Facebook — should the cafe ever re-open, it would be posted there.

    Yes, he is working at Spill ‘n’ the Beans, but not involved in the menu (last I heard from him).

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