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Ask The Profussor – Closing in on 900

March 7, 2012

It’s time for another installment of Ask the Profussor. Who is excited?

Can I tell you a little secret? Maybe it’s not such a secret by now. But I really don’t like responding to questions as they are asked, and much prefer to tackle them in this forum. Naturally, I have a ridiculous reason. If I were to respond to all the questions as they came in, my ugly mug would be plastered all over the comment feed.

I totally need to try and get over that, because after three weeks the questions that need answers have really piled up. For those who do not know, I am committed to answering every question that is asked on the FLB, provided it includes a question mark.

We’ve got some doozeys today. So buckle up and get ready for the wildest ride in the wilderness.

Mr. Sunshine is not alone in his love for the Saratoga Farmers Market:
Daniel, I only go to the Saratoga Farmers Market because I live in Saratoga, so I can’t offer comparison. And I’ve heard Troy FM is great. But didn’t SSFM come in 2nd in the state or something last year?

Actually it came in second in the nation for midsize markets and first in the state overall. Granted, this was just another one of these polls asking people for their favorites. So I suspect there may be some sampling error in the results. Regardless, it’s great exposure for Saratoga and its market.

techcommdood doesn’t seem to be too vexed by the irregularities of beer:
Of note, I’ve never had two Yellow Snow IPAs that tasted the same (the snowflake of the beer world?)

Since I know not what to make of this observation that’s stated as a question, I will answer it with an appropriate haiku:

This yellow snow beer
Tastes different to me today
Hand me another

Jessica R. asked me point blank a question on wine. Bless her heart:
This just made me realize that I haven’t seen any places that sell Canadian Ice Wine from the Niagara Falls region. This is fairly well-known wine region, and close enough geographically that I’m sure people from this area have visited them (lots of people go to Niagara Falls). Professor, why do you think this is?

Ice wine isn’t cheap, and it’s sweet. Sweet wine gets a bum rap by the wine snobs who have been conditioned to say they prefer dry wines. Those who generally say they prefer sweet wines aren’t typically accustomed to paying a lot for the privilege, as sweet wines can be had for a song.

So ice wine falls into this weird no-man’s-land limbo. But this is also the reason why it’s hard to find a broad selection of Sauternes or Tokaji (arguable two of the worlds great wines).

irisira has her own thoughts on the mozzarella sticks with raspberry sauce tour:
Maybe it’s just me, but I notice the sweet potato fries with melba sauce a LOT more. (And, um, yum?!)

See, that’s sweet on sweet. I understand there are folks into that kind of thing. But I like contrast. Red on brown. Sweet on savory. Fruit on cheese. Sticky on melty. There may never be a Tour de Mozzarella and Raspberry, but there will never be a Tour de Sweet Potato and Raspberry.

irisira is all over this installment of AskTP:
I can’t speak to them myself, but I have seen pictures, and apparently their mocha latte is quite good. Is it as good as Caffe Vero’s? It stands to reason, maybe, as the two shops apparently have some sort of partnership in that Caffe Vero sells Chocolate Mill pastries. They do the heart in the mocha, like Caffe Vero does…

All this talk of the Chocolate Mill has really solidified my need to get up there. Maybe I need an escort. Any volunteers?

irisira took some heat for her sandwich:
I know Boar’s Head is far from perfect, but they’re better than many options. (I’d love a local option, if anyone would like to suggest one – there HAS to be one, right?)

When I did the Eat Local Challenge a while back, I did find a few regional producers of deli meats and cheeses. By some standards they qualify as local. You can check it out here.

WrigsMac seems to be into the coffee extracted with vodka:
I could drink this at 10AM and not feel guilty, right?

I suppose that would depend on the day. On St. Patrick’s Day, a little caffeinated booze at that time of the morning may just be what the doctor ordered. On a school day, probably not.

mr. dave got all in a huff about producer only markets:
How about Fin? Should they not be allowed at the Delmar Farm market because they didn’t dangle their own line off of the Boston Pier?

The Delmar Farmers Market ought to be careful how it moves forward. Things like Fin and The Cheese Traveler make the market a destination for plenty of people. If they want to become just like all the other markets in the region and hold a strict line on being producer-only, they will lose the main thing that made them special in the first place: quality vendors you can’t find elsewhere.

derryX sees an argument for holding the line on producer only:
Why would any personal vendors even come to the markets if their goods can be taken there by a third party?

– So they can have a direct exchange with their customers.
– Because they produce so many things it would be easy to fill a table.
– In order to maximize profits from the sale of every item.

Surely there are more. But within reason I can see the two coexisting well together if managed effectively.

irisira takes an annual wine trip during the best wine holiday of the year:
I guess this means we’ll have to come up with our own OTBN, huh?

Open That Bottle Night is a tool. It’s a way to get people to finally open a bottle of wine that they think is just too precious to ever open. There is no reason to be married to the date of the event. Actually, for you it may make more sense to celebrate OTBN the week prior to your trip so there is one additional slot available for bottles purchased on vacation.

-R wants to confirm an important point:
Seriously, if you’ve never been to Andy’s, you are in for a treat…you have been, haven’t you?

Yes, I have been. No, I haven’t ordered a sandwich. I do love the small, packed, and cramped Italian market. I still remember when DiBruno Brothers in Philadelphia only had that small narrow stall in the Italian market. Now it’s a gourmet palace. Someone needs to remind DiBruno’s of their roots and get them to stop pre-cutting and pre-wrapping so many of their cheeses.

KB @ Home-Baked Happiness has an idea for a story:
Maybe you should do a post in which you introduce people to the ethnic markets. I’d find it helpful to hear why I should go there: What are the top three things, say, that I should buy at Cardona’s, if I’ve never been? At the DeFazio’s store? At Dnipro? Etc.?

This sounds like an AOA piece. AOA Greg, if you are reading this, let me know offline.

-R probably isn’t trying to get my goat:
The Gastropub is nice enough, but why the hell would you go there for pizza when there are so many other delightful tidbits on offer?

Because pizza is awesome. Fresh baked bread cooked in a blazing hot oven with delicious stuff on top? Yes, please. That said, I’ve yet to try the pizza at the Gastropub, but it’s on my short list.

KB @ Home-Baked Happiness is mad that most bread is owned by a Mexican company:
What, Americans can’t even make their own bread anymore?

Oh, it’s not that bad. The bread is still baked here in America. It’s just that the corporate profits go to Mexico. Personally, I think turnabout is fair play. Americans are rumored to have introduced wheat into the Mexican corn-based diet (which resulted in Mexicans getting fat). Now the Mexicans are loading our bread with HFCS, which is making us fat. Fair enough.

Marianne doesn’t feed Entenmann’s to her children either:
I wonder if the day will ever come, when we can trust store bought products? What does the food future hold for our children?

Not all stores are created equal, which is why stores like the HWFC are valuable. For the most part you can walk in there and trust the products they sell. Our children, on the other hand, are totally screwed. Although maybe when all the oil runs out the factory farms will shut down and food will get better? You know, provided there aren’t massive famines and you can actually get food to eat.

Matt may have misunderstood my nomination for Best Coffee:
Uncommon Grounds in Saratoga roasts its own beans and makes great coffee drinks (and also the best bagels outside of New York City. Should it really be off the list because there’s a second store in Albany?

No, it shouldn’t. I’m endorsing the idea of individual locations (not single locations). So if a good place has two outlets, you’ve got to commit to which one is The Best. Because there can only be one. And no two places are exactly the same. One is always going to be just a little bit better. In this case, I would totally give the edge to Saratoga. However, Caffe Vero’s Lark Street location still comes out on top.

Burnt My Fingers was not putting up with my shenanigans:
Am I missing something? You comment on Braden’s recipe but you don’t provide the recipe. And it’s not on his website either. (At least it’s not listed or obtainable by search.) What kind of mushrooms are these anyway?

Braden is working on a cookbook. Something he wants people to buy for the recipes. I wasn’t sure if he would be comfortable with me giving out the early draft of this recipe, so I kind of worked around that point to bring you all the post. Hope it wasn’t too frustrating. The mushrooms, incidentally, were simply common buttons. If they are good enough for Jacques Pepin, they are good enough for me.

Mr. Sunshine is apparently really busy in his retirement:
Who has the kind of time to shop for only virtuous food?

You mean besides me? I’m sure Nick & Britin at All Good Bakers take the time. But you are right, it’s not easy, and it’s not for everyone. But it’s a hobby that keeps me off the street.

Burnt My Fingers could use a clarification on what it’s like not to use one’s brain:
Why is buying a half gallon jug of kimchi at Asian Supermarket a no-brainer? A good Korean market is going to have at least 4-5 varieties for you to choose from. Last time I checked Asian Supermarket had only one and it wasn’t nearly as good as the kimchi sold by (the old) Kim’s.

Well, I needed kimchi, and they have it in bulk at a good price. Since they only have one brand, I don’t need to think about which one might be better. And while it may not be the best, it makes a passable kimchi fried rice.

Awesomedude hit a nerve:
Speaking of Bruschetta how many Bruschettas are really just toasted bread with can tomatoes thrown on top, the bread not rubbed with garlic etc?

All of these four-season tomato dishes just kill me. The bruschetta is just the tip of the iceberg. Panzanella and caprese round out the list. These things should be banned from every printed menu and only be available on a specials list during the height of summer when they are advisable to eat.

Ellen is hoping The Man doesn’t shut down a good Thai restaurant:
Have the owners of Blue Spice been cleared of the charges of welfare fraud?

I have no idea. But I hope even if the owners are convicted that the restaurant will find some way to go on.

Chelle wanted to confirm a point of fact:
Can you freeze already-ground spices?

You can freeze anything.

A Raf (a.k.a. Mrs. Raf) wanted to know:
How can you tell this story without mentioning the timeline Raf made detailing historical events corresponding with the age of each spice?

The details of the story were hazy. It was a long time ago. I figured someone would pop in to add color commentary. Thanks for helping to tell the parts that I forgot. And give that man of yours a big sloppy kiss for me. I miss you guys and hope to see you in the spring.

16 Comments leave one →
  1. March 7, 2012 10:23 am

    You know I’m a huge fan of the food at the Gastropub, but their pizza is one of those menu landmines you talk about. You’ll see.

    • -R. permalink
      March 7, 2012 11:24 am

      Ha! I had a sneaking suspicion about that pie. I witnessed one parade by our table and was somewhat aghast. Apparently, Viktoria’s recipes are still a closely guarded secret, or her words fell on deaf ears. A pity.

  2. techcommdood permalink
    March 7, 2012 11:46 am

    Watch out where the huskies go, and don’t you eat that yellow snow.

  3. March 7, 2012 11:51 am

    You don’t have to ask twice, I would love a reason to go to Glens Falls and visit The Chocolate Mill. Consider me volunteered.

    Now the producer only thing is complicated. Dancing Ewe Farm in Granville sells the most amazing cheeses at the Saturday market in Saratoga but I can’t buy the olive oil they sell which is produced in Italy by the wife’s family

    I understand that it would violate the producer only agreement but in a case such as this where we can get unfiltered, cold pressed olive oil and talk to the people who produce it, I strongly feel that an exception should be made.

  4. March 7, 2012 12:04 pm

    You say you can freeze anything, but is that really a good idea? I refuse to freeze coffee beans because I don’t want them to pick up on odors in the freezer. I’m assuming the same could be true of spices. I would be hesitant to freeze anything you’re trying to retain specifically for flavor. As I type this I recall I have a bunch of vanilla beans in the freezer on the recommendation of the guys at Adventure in Food Trading. Then again, I tend to only use the inner scrapings of beans and haven’t retained the pods for infusions or anything yet so I suppose that is a decent exception.

  5. March 7, 2012 12:16 pm

    If you end up writing about ethnic markets, don’t you dare (yes I said dare!) ignore Frank & Giovanni’s Market on Morton St. in Albany – the best Hispanic/Caribbean market we have around here (and yes the name is Italian just to throw you off). Nope, it’s not high-falutin’ like Cardona’s, but it’s real and perfect for anything you need to make authentic latino food.

  6. March 7, 2012 12:16 pm

    Seriously, any place called “The Chocolate Mill” is a good idea in my book.

  7. March 7, 2012 12:22 pm

    I had an ongoing, unofficial series for AOA in which I highlighted some of my favorite items at various ethnic markets locally, including (as mentioned by another commenter) Frank & Giovanni’s. I am sure there are still quite a few left for you to explore though. Happy hunting!!

    • March 7, 2012 5:26 pm

      Jess, that’s probably how I learned about it and found everything I needed to make pasteles! I would love to know why it’s called Frank & Giovanni’s though – is it just a hold over from when the neighborhood was likely made up of a different ethnicity?

      • March 7, 2012 6:54 pm

        That’s always been my assumption. Technically it still has two names: Frank and Giovanni’s AND La Marqueta. I kind of like that dichotomy, in the same way I like the ethnic dichotomies that exist all over Central Avenue.

  8. March 7, 2012 8:17 pm

    Wow, I DID have a lot.

    Thanks for the link for the Eat Local Challenge. That was posted the day before my wedding and I wasn’t reading blogs (well, OK, except wedding blogs) for the week leading up to it …

  9. Eric Paul permalink
    March 7, 2012 9:50 pm

    I would also be willing to check out The Chocolate Mill with you.

  10. March 7, 2012 11:59 pm

    I will sit at the table with many Andy’s sandwiches so you can sample. It’s decadent and delicious.

  11. Matt permalink
    March 8, 2012 11:30 pm

    Just had a great dinner at Max Lomdons in Saratoga. They have Inniskill Ice Wine (from the niagra region) available by the glass

  12. Jessica R permalink
    March 9, 2012 3:46 pm

    @Matt – awesome! :-)

  13. March 13, 2012 10:42 am

    panzanella when in August is the best thing ever. Couldn’t agree more- generally anything with fresh tomatoes left whole (as in not in a sauce where can san marzano can tomatoes are fine) should not be allowed in restaurants except July-September.

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