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Ask the Profussor – Answers from PA

July 28, 2011

It’s time for another round of Ask the Profussor. I love your questions. Even the ones that are difficult and challenging. Perhaps I should say, especially the ones that are difficult and challenging. Just recently I dedicated an entire post to a string of these questions, asking about my credentials for giving advice about wine.

Luckily, I’m staying on top of the questions a bit better than in months past, so this installment will neither have to be a lighting round nor will it run for several thousand words. But there are some great questions here that deserve some answers. Today they will get them.

If you happen to be new around here, every so often I catch up on the unanswered questions that were posted in the comments. As long as you make sure to use a question mark when asking a question, I will make sure it eventually gets answered. That’s my contract with you. Now without further ado, onto the questions.

Irish J on the subject of chaptalization asks:
It is amazing what effect this concentrate has on cheap grapes that would be undrinkable otherwise. The question is: does this matter? It is after all grape juice in a super concentrated form that they are adding…if you are a purist this is adulterating the wine (chaptelization in France) If you are just drinking the wine it makes it taste better

I am keenly aware of the chaptalization, and my personal belief is that wines that are made using this process be labeled as such. There are a few people who claim they can taste the difference between a wine that uses this shortcut, and a wine made without added grape sugar, but I’m not entirely convinced of their abilities.

You can also put in cream of tartar to a wine that needs more acidity. But just because this makes it taste better, doesn’t make it a better wine.

My belief is that the best wines don’t need much manipulation. I would also prefer it if more wines were unfiltered. But I don’t see that happening soon either. I do hope we are on the same side of this issue. Because ultimately, yes, I think it does matter.

Matt K couldn’t remember the bad wine his wife brought home:
Good to know there are some other good boxes out there. When I’ve ventured away from Bota, I’ve had pretty bad experiences (my wife bought me a box of something-Canyon (Clabbert?)) I tried to drink it but couldn’t do it.

That would be Corbett Canyon, and I’ve had it in bottle form. I agree with your assessment that it wasn’t a very pleasant wine to drink. At this point it’s been many years since my last encounter with the wine. But it was at an early stage of my wine journey when I was exploring the bottom shelf at the supermarket and all the mega values at Trader Joe’s. Even among the cheapest wine out there, Corbett Canyon still ranked towards the bottom of the barrel.

Mr. Sunshine is the bearer of some sad news:
Are you aware that Nunzio’s is gone as well?

What! Pasquale’s and Nunzio’s? No! No, I was not aware of that. If it weren’t for the fact that Pasquale’s is being turned into a gastropub by two of the more talented chefs in the Capital Region, the news of Nunzio’s might just put me over the brink of despair. Well, at least there is now a Dunkin’ Donuts at the track. That’s got to count for something, right?

In all seriousness though, that’s awful news. Nunzio’s made some mighty fine pizza. They were really a hair’s breadth away from taking the AOA 2009 TOP. Surely it’s just coincidence. It’s far too early for any talk of a pizza curse.

Alan is almost on board with not microwaving eggs:
What if it’s 95 degrees out and you really don’t want to turn on the stove? What then?

It it’s 95 degrees in the morning, I think we have bigger problems than making eggs. But for argument’s sake, my answer is to have a bowl of cereal instead. Or if you must have eggs, eat them out someplace that has some seriously good air conditioning.

Jennifer had a suggestion for non smutty corn:
Have you ever tried leaving the husks on and grilling the corn that way (or broiling, if no grill is available)? The corn has the most amazing flavor this way.

I love the smoky smell this produces on the grill. And I’ll even concede on flavor. But I am such a purist sometimes it hurts. When the corn is truly wonderful, and I mean really incredibly delicious, all I want to do is warm it in boiling water. Maybe for a minute at most, just to take a bit of the rawness out, and make it hot enough to melt butter. Fat and salt make even the best seasonal vegetables even better. Smoke comes in a distant third.

That said, or CSA changed their variety of corn they grew this year. And steaming them in their husks on the grill did make them more delicious. It’s true.

Otis is apparently not one of those people concerned with personal privacy:
Where did Un-Hui Filomeno go? I was planning to get down to Sage, sad to find out I am four months late. Can we put a tracking device on her? Same with Cliff, the much-missed master of meats at Max London.

I really hope she went to develop a more authentic family-style Korean restaurant with great food and reasonable prices. Paying $20 for a plate of japchae isn’t what I’m talking about. If she could open a place like Ala Shanghai or Kinnaree, I am convinced it would be a gold mine. Albany is ready for Korean food and she’s the chef who is best positioned to bring it to us.

But even if we could convince her to go forward with a venture like this, I doubt she’ll submit to a tracking device. Maybe you could find a crooked broker and get her nabbed on insider trading charges, a la Martha. But short of that, I’m afraid you are out of luck.

KB @ Home-Baked Happiness weighed in on the Tour de Fish Fry:
Greenbush? Blergh, so far and out of the way. But anyway… how ’bout Matt’s Cape House? I’ve heard good things but haven’t ever gotten there to try it myself.

East Greenbush is in the boonies? Really? I used to go out there all the time when it was the only Five Guys around. I think it’s actually closer than it seems. But thank you for suggesting Matt’s Cape House. Now I’m struggling to figure out which one of the previous five contenders might be nixed to make room for Matt’s.  Or if Matt’s will just have to wait until the second Tour de Fish Fry rolls around.

AddiesDad held me to task for my last minute preparations:
I certainly admire your pluck and stiff-upper lippedness (?) to undertake such ambitious cooking projects in this heat, but it does seem like a bit of bad planning, unless this is a last minute excursion. Certainly, the tortillas and the cheese can be frozen (it may not be 100% the same after, but better than waste, no?), you could have skipped a week of the CSA, or donated the produce to a shelter (which may be a good idea for the squash).

It was a lot of bad planning. Most definitely. Surprisingly, we ate through an impressive amount of perishables in our last few days in Albany. I really, really do not like the texture of cheese after it has been frozen. So there is still a little bit of queso fresco sitting tightly wrapped in the fridge. I’m hoping it will be in reasonable shape when we get back.

The two weeks I’m missing of the CSA were offered as a gift to the friend of mine that I thought would appreciate it most and get the most pleasure out of the produce from this most excellent local farm. It breaks my heart to be out of town on any Tuesday during CSA season, but that’s the price I pay for this extended vacation.

Deanna has clearly never been to south central Pennsylvania:
Yay farm! What’s that I hear faintly in the distance? Someone singing “Green Acres?” ‘Tis the place to be! You’ll be a farm convert in no time.

Does that make me Eva Gabor?

Mr. Dave added some great context to my post on fair food:
Imagine being a young boy from rural PA., let us say 75 years ago. You got to go to your State/County fair once a year for an ice cream. That was the only ice cream you had all year. Imagine how good that must have tasted?

Imagine how loath you would be to share it with anyone else. It makes me think of foods I only have once a year. Although in all honesty, those are mostly accidental annual treats. I might intend to eat more than just one whole lobster a year, but never get around to it. There are too many delicious things to eat, and simply not enough time to eat them.

Lydia Kulbida took issue with how I characterized something recently:
One quibble: I would call it games of chance instead of games of skill. Who can really get a ring around the bottle neck? And if you want great pierogi/varennyky, the ladies of my church in Troy can’t be beat. We don’t make them in the summer (too hot), but will gear up again at the end of September. Let me know if you want to try them!

The skill is in identifying which games aren’t games of chance. There are some that are unwinnable and designed to take your money. In others you can stack the odds in your favor by knowing a few tricks. For the ring toss game, here is a suggesting plucked from the site

Snap your wrist as you throw the ring to achieve the most spin possible, this will stabilize the ring making it easier to land cleanly on your target.

I can’t say I’ve tried it, mostly because I have never wanted any of the mega stuffed animals offered as prizes. Nor have I dated any women who would have deemed me a manlier man if only I could separate a carnie from his loot.

On the subject of pierogi, I had some good ones on the farm last night. But I was just telling by brother-in-law recently about the magic church ladies can bring to traditional ethnic foods. Please keep me posted.

One Comment leave one →
  1. Tonia permalink
    July 28, 2011 10:47 am

    What church in Troy has these magical pierogi?? Muza’s are good also. I’m always looking for the perfect pierogi like my grandma used to make. :-)

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