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Ask the Profussor – Phase Two

August 11, 2010

Well, there are no responses yet to the Open Letter to Chefs, but it’s just been up for a day.  Every new day I’ll be sending out emails to capital region chefs as I uncover their email addresses.  If you would like to help, and you have the email address of a local chef, please forward it along.

Regardless, I feel like this effort is the beginning of a new chapter of the FUSSYlittleBLOG.  We’ll have to see how it goes.

In the meantime the drumbeat of questions and answers continue.  Thank you all for your continued participation, your comments keep this blog rolling.  And for those of you who are reading and have yet to comment, I will patiently wait until you are ready.  Don’t forget, you can always email me your questions or comments directly.

So without any further ado, here are the answers to questions that have been unceremoniously ignored since the last installment of Ask the Profussor.

Mr. Sunshine was incredulous:
The half-lb. burger! When did this become the standard? Bring back the quarter-pound burger. And while we’re at it, why are fries ALWAYS included, whether I want them or not?

I’m going to go with 1990 as the Fuddruckers expansion out of Texas really took hold in cities across the nation.  While they served a one-third pound burger, it was the smaller option to their original half-pound sandwich.

Officially fries are not ALWAYS included.  Fuddruckers, Five Guys, Juicy Burger, and Ray’s Hell Burger are notable example of fast casual joints where you have to order the fries separately.  Heck, Ray’s didn’t even used to serve fries.

But personally, I love fries.  When I’m eating out, I am generally eating for enjoyment rather than health.  So bonus French fries make me very happy.  While I may not have ordered them on their own, if they just happen to come with the meal it would be wasteful not to eat them.  And I can’t abide waste.  So my body will just have to suck it up as I consume some delicious, highly processed, high-heat fried foods.

Sarah M. wondered on All the Small Things:
Is no one going to comment on the title of this post?!

I guess not.  Why?  Is there something naughty about the song?  All I know is that I totally nailed it in Rock Band.

North Country Rambler helpfully suggested:
Don’t forget, it will be raining this weekend so bring something that can double as lighter fluid. Grappa?

Grappa would have been a good choice, but it would have felt more appropriate for camping in Italy.  Plus I think it would have received a similar reception to the White Dog.  Given New York’s apple production, I probably should have stuck with a bottle of Cornelius Applejack.

Speaking of which, twelvebottles is catching up on old posts and asked:
Is it spiced ala the Laird’s Applejack or more of a straight brandy?

I am unaware of any spice in Laird’s Applejack.  This is what their sell-sheet says:

Laird’s Applejack is a blend of 35% apple brandy and 65% neutral spirits that possesses a hit of apple flavor and aroma. The apple brandy base gives Laird’s Applejace a unique smoothness – a deeper, richer flavor.

Laird’s Applejack is a unique alcoholic beverage in at least two major aspects:
–       It retains a hint of the delicate aroma and flavor of the tree-ripened apples from which it is made. For this reason, applejack imparts this delightful flavor and aroma to mixed drinks, punches and food recipes.
–       It is an extremely pure spirit beverage. By Federal Law, only whole apples may be used in its production. Throughout the entire production process, there are no additives, starters or yeast cultures employed.

Laird’s Applejack is a blended brandy. Its unique base is apple brandy versus rye, corn, etc. Its shelf positioning should be in the Premium Whiskey or Bourbon section.

There is a lot of nonsense in the above copy, but no mention of spice.  The Cornelius is imbued with the character of Woodford Reserve bourbon, since the apple brandy sits in their used barrels for about a year.  I’d call that more seasoning than spice.

Maybe the neutral spirits that makes up the vast majority of a bottle of Laird’s applejack is spicy.  But that wouldn’t be so neutral then, would it?

Tonia gave me a few good questions to chew on:
I agree that milk shouldn’t have a 60 day shelf life. But, I also care about where my products come from. Where does Price Chopper’s “organic” milk come from? If cows are living in piles of crap, poor living conditions and health, or inhumanely treated with no grass in sight, even though they are being fed “organically,” how is this good?

For milk my concerns are admittedly narrower than they are with meat, probably because the death of the animal isn’t involved.  I am aware that my argument is a little shaky from an ethical perspective.

The reasons I consider factory farmed organic milk to be good is that the animals were never treated with artificial growth hormones and they never received antibiotics.  Period.  I haven’t really written much about antibiotics in animal husbandry, but I should.  It’s a problem, and organic milk is one solution.

Plus, regardless of how far it may be from the platonic ideal of dairy production, factory farmed organic milk is still a significant improvement from factory farmed conventional milk.  I’m willing to help move things forward one baby step at a time.

John H. wondered:
I wonder if the WBC cappuccino definition contemplates 2 shots of espresso? With a one and a three year old boy, one shot is just not enough. How would you adjust the definition, Profussor, to meet my need for two shots?

It doesn’t.  But for your dilemma I offer you this father’s solution, one that I employed just the other day while visiting a promising café in Philadelphia.  Order a cappuccino, and enjoy its balanced splendor.  While the kiddos are still pecking at their pastry, and your coffee is a distant memory, order an espresso (or perhaps a macchiato if you require a bit of foam) to acquire the needed level of caffeination.

Lars wanted a bit of clarification:
Is the 15-yr old Rum Barbancourt Rhum? I have a bottle myself and it is spectacular for sipping. For cocktails, I prefer Pussers.

Very well played sir, it is indeed.  It’s been a long time since I’ve had the Pusser’s, but based on your glowing recommendation I may need to revisit it in the fall/winter.

Ellen Whitby thinks I might also be an expert at geometry:
The internet has corners?

The Internet has more corners than you ever dreamed of.

bk’s wasn’t too hopeful that I would get a response to my first letter:
You think the chef’s with overpriced poorly sourced food are going to respond to a letter written clearly and concisely and then emailed to them? Do these guys even have email?

No.  But I do hope that chefs who are trying to do more with their food, and who haven’t gotten a lot of support for their quality ingredients from the local food press will.  Chefs are busy, but I’m confident they have email.  The trick will be finding the best email address to reach them.  To that end, if anyone has any chef’s contact information they would like to forward to my attention, I promise I will put it to good use.

Jessica R was probably more helpful than she knows when she asked the following:
My question is, what do you plan to do with this information? Are you going to visit the restuarants that respond, and then review them? Are you going to publish a weekly or monthly post to let us know what local and seasonal foods are being prepared throughout the region? Are you just going to post their letters onto the blog? You say you plan to promote the restaurants, but don’t specify how. I think the chefs would like the clearer understanding of what they get out of it.

Also, do you plan to target restuarants that you think might be using local and high quality ingredients, or just do a blitz across town? What about places like Five Guys and Chipotle, which probably do consider some of their ingredients “high quality”? Will you target chains? I think some places might be miffed because you are basically saying their restuarant is lower quality if they don’t use certain ingredients. Maybe it’s a good idea to at least get them thinking about it though.

First, thank you.  A lot of these questions were addressed in my revision of the open letter.  Truth be told, the information will be processed differently depending on how the information comes in.  If I get an email from a chef that this week’s heirloom tomatoes were plucked from their very own garden, it’s timely information that needs to go up right away.  It’s possible that news like this could inspire my own separate post on why heirloom tomatoes are so great anyhow.  But all of the news that comes in from local chefs will run in its own category, and will likely have a prominent link at the top of the front page.

Given that I do not have a developed Rolodex of chef’s addresses, emails will go out slowly and selectively.  But high quality ingredients can be used anywhere, from hot dog carts to formal dining rooms.  So seriously, if you know a chef I should be talking to, please send along their email address.  That said, chains are unlikely to qualify for a variety of reasons, but I would certainly consider their news.  I would love nothing more than to post that McDonald’s has moved to local sourcing of grass-fed and finished beef for their Capital District locations.  And I’m prepared to put a few prejudices aside in support of a greater purpose.

Raf dug into me like only an old friend could:
11 links to your own blog, 5 to his. that’s writing about someone else’s blog?

Um, yeah.

In my defense, I was trying to show how the two blogs see things eye-to-eye with a brief refresher on where I stood on those subjects.  But I see your point.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Elyse permalink
    August 11, 2010 10:36 am

    What ever happened to the Honest Weight Cheese counter post?

  2. August 11, 2010 1:15 pm

    Huh, maybe it’s just a natural difference, but the Laird’s Applejack has also tasted spiced to me in comparison to the straight brandy. Could just be me.

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