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Day of Reckoning

June 9, 2011

Today’s a big day. It’s the day that the 2011 Times Union Best of the Capital Region Reader’s Choice Poll is published.

I’m going to spend an unreasonable amount of time today looking over the results to see if the FUSSYlittleBALLOT 2.0 had any impact whatsoever. Last year we had an impact around the margins. Maybe that will be the case this year too. But there were a lot more votes cast in 2011 than in 2010, so that may play a role. We’ll just have to wait and see.

So what if Subway won Best Sandwich in the region yet again, I’m going to take it in stride for two reasons:
1)    At least I can say I tried to do something about it
2)    My plan for taking down Subway in 2012 is already underway

But that’s not the only reckoning I have to face today.

All too infrequently I am offered free things that aren’t available to the general public because of this blog. I say that because really I would like there to be more. I would love for wineries to send me new releases and distillers to ship me their wares for sampling and reviewing. Regrettably that hasn’t happened.

Perhaps that has something to do with my turn around times for executing on reviews of this nature. For example, I’m still sitting on a case of Snow Natural Soda that the company sent me a long long time ago. And I have a bag full of jams and other jarred products from a local company that are waiting to be opened and tasted.

But I also want you all to believe me when I write things.

That is why my personal policy is to be entirely transparent. When I write something that is in any way connected to a freebie I’m going to let you know.

For example, yesterday at Classé Catering I was treated to a tasting of their new menu for an extension of their company called Big Kahoona Barbeque. I’m still trying to sort through my experience there, and hope to write something up in the next few days. But they provided a generous spread of ribs, pulled pork, brisket, jerk chicken, coleslaw, baked beans, macaroni and cheese with burnt ends, collard greens, biscuits, corn bread with honey butter, and iced tea.

I’ve also been invited (yet again) to another pre-opening event at the newest Chipotle Mexican Grill. There I will get a free burrito, even though on opening day at this location they will not be giving out free burritos to everyone. In case you haven’t already heard the news, the fifth Capital Region location opens on Tuesday, June 21 at 105 Wolf Road.

Hopefully given my predilections for high quality ingredients you all have no doubts that my fond feelings for this chain have everything to do with their sourcing, and nothing to do with the handful of free burritos I’ve received over time.

Finally, I’ve been offered VIP admission to the launch party of at Jillian’s tomorrow night, which includes free beer and food (for VIPs). I have a prior commitment, although I may be able to swing by on my way home. I’m very curious about this effort from our large local beer distributor. I’ve seen the site and am honestly unconvinced. But I’m obviously not the target audience, and I’d be eager to see how the drunk post-Alive-at-Five-ers take to the content and its presentation.

It feels like the pace of these events is picking up, and that’s great. I will continue to attend them and report back. While it is always fun to get free food and be treated like a VIP, the best part is being able to get closer to chefs and other taste-makers in the region. It allows me the opportunity to challenge them to do better, and talk with them about what I consider to be important when it comes to good food. Maybe that means I won’t get invited back, and that’s okay.

The promise of free food can lure me to an event, and it can sometimes inspire a post on the FLB. But just because I get something for free doesn’t mean I’m going to recommend it. And every time I get something for free, I’m going to make sure you know about it. That’s my promise to you.

10 Comments leave one →
  1. June 9, 2011 9:55 am

    Free food at my house, next time you are in DC.

  2. June 9, 2011 10:14 am

    Count me in for whatever Subway subversiveness you have in mind for next year, brother!

  3. June 9, 2011 10:47 am

    As a huge beer nut, scatterbrained beer blogger (I’ve slacked off again due to, well, life), homebrewer and general beer advocate, I too am unconvinced about the new I was planning on going to their launch party but my kids’ end of school activities take precedence. Still, I’m waiting to see what the site will pan out to be and how it will strengthen both their distributorship and the quality of beer made available throughout the region. As you are with quality ingredients and food, as am I with regard to beer.

  4. June 9, 2011 11:51 am

    The trouble with Albany is, Subway will probably be beaten by Mr. Subb…

  5. June 9, 2011 12:09 pm

    “That is why my personal policy is to be entirely transparent. When I write something that is in any way connected to a freebie I’m going to let you know.”

    That’s nice, but it doesn’t necessarily lead to this:

    “But I also want you all to believe me when I write things.”

    No matter how transparent you are, a gift is a gift. Imagine if, say, Ruth Fantasia accepted a gift during a meal at a restaurant she’s reviewing for the TU. You’re saying that, as long as she admits this upfront, you’ll waive any doubt that the gift influenced her opinion?

    No, in my opinion the moment you accept something for free you are not neutral (even for only not having the monetary stake in it that the rest of us would), no matter how clear you are about your sources.

  6. June 9, 2011 12:13 pm

    “All too infrequently I am offered free things that aren’t available to the general public because of this blog. I say that because really I would like there to be more.”

    Given your topic and the visibility of this space, I’m honestly surprised you don’t get more. Especially from local folk.

  7. June 9, 2011 6:01 pm

    Hi ProFUSSor:

    It was a pleasure meeting you and Little Miss Fussy yesterday at Classe Ctering. Just blogged up my thoughts if you’d like to check them out:

  8. June 9, 2011 9:41 pm

    I was pleased to see that finally – FINALLY – Olive Garden was ousted as “best Italian.” That in itself was a MAJOR victory in my book! Delmonico’s is not great, and it is a chain, but it’s still leaps and bounds better, and at least is sandwiched by independent restaurants.

  9. June 9, 2011 10:12 pm

    I’m never quite sure what to do about the free stuff side of blogging. I know that, for style bloggers at least, I’m actually required to stipulate if something I’m showcasing is ‘courtesy of’ and while I both love stuff in general (hey, at least I can admit it, I’m a pack-rat) and I love trying new stuff, I don’t want every other post to be about said stuff.

    Interested to see what’s going on over at the TU results. Hrm.

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