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Ask the Profussor – Almost August

July 18, 2012

Don’t let summer pass you by. That warning probably sounds a bit out of place coming in mid-July, the day after we got our first corn of the season from Roxbury Farm. But depending on how you count, it could already be halfway over. Every day the sun is setting earlier. Each day is almost two minutes shorter than the day before.

This week will mark the end of the first session of Little Miss Fussy’s summer camp. And then we are off to Pennsylvania for a little R&R. When I return it will be August, which is also known as the month when the temperature starts cooling down as we march towards the inevitable fall.

Today however is dedicated to my commitment of answering all your questions from the past two weeks. Because while I may not respond to every single comment posted on these pages, I do want to make sure burning questions don’t go unanswered. Just so long as it is asked with proper punctuation, every query eventually will be fulfilled.

Now before you go off and run through some sprinklers, or whatever it is you do for fun in the summer, let’s get through these questions.

Capitol to Capital tried to explain once again why Trader Joe’s rocks:
If I’m going to buy dry goods and snacks (pastas, crackers, chocolate covered stuff), why not get interesting, creative stuff at a great price? Why not buy almond butter for half the price that it is at Price Chopper?

The prevailing attitude around here seems to have echoes from my grandparents. They were perplexed when I was irate that my Starbucks cappuccino was actually a latte. Their perspective was that I should feel lucky that I had any coffee at all. Seriously, C2C, where’s your gratitude that P-Chops, in their mighty benevolence, even saw fit to carry overpriced almond butter in the first place? And why would anyone want meyer lemon pasta when you could have Barilla?

The above opinions do not reflect my own personal beliefs. They are meant to be illustrative. As far as I’m concerned, I expect the Trader Joe’s to steal significant share away from Walmart when it comes to my personal monthly grocery store expenditures. We will be eating better for less. Guaranteed.

Ken Kozak might as well be asking for a bridge to Hawaii:
Awww man I miss Grimaldi’s! Love their pepperoni pizza. Is there anything like it in the Capital District?

Despite eating more than my body weight in pizza over the years, there are still plenty of pizza places around the region I’ve yet to try. But if there were anything like Grimaldi’s in the region, there is no way that it would remain a secret. But I don’t want to leave you without hope. While I have yet to go myself, I imagine Baba Louie’s might be able to scratch an itch until you can get down to the city for your fix.

irisira is curious about my FroYo bona fides:
Have you ever tried Pinkberry?

No. I’ve never been to the wellspring of the current-day tart yogurt craze. But I am a fan of the form. Plain tart is my go-to flavor at all the copycat places across the nation. The thing is that I like it all just fine, but I’m in no rush to make a pilgrimage to the place that started it all.

AddiesDad is not going to let me off this hook:
Speaking of cheese shops smelling like cheese, have you made it to Putnam Market’s Cheese Room/Cave, yet?

No. I have not. But in all seriousness, you should keep on pestering me. There are a lot of things I need to eat. A lot of places I need to get to. My list is long and my time is short. And it’s often the squeaky wheel that gets the grease.

Mr. Dave asks a question to which he already knows the answer:
Are we really taking ourselves this seriously?

Apparently, we are. Here’s my official stance: I love arguments, but I hate bickering. Surely we can all find some way to live with that.

WrigsMac and I seem to have some similar longings:
Speaking of grass-fed beef, do you know of any local place selling fresh, grass-fed ground beef? If fresh isn’t possible, then do you have recommendations for happy pork/beef/chicken? I’ve stocked up on some bulk stuff from Adventure in Food but if I need the convenience of grabbing something at any given moment and want to ensure it is happy, what is my best bet?

Trader Joe’s may be your new best friend. But I don’t know what our new store will stock when it opens on August 3. If you are willing to pick up the phone first, you can call the Honest Weight Food Co-op. I heard from their meat manager that the meat comes in fresh, and then they freeze it. So if you can time it right, you may be in luck.

Hannaford’s Nature’s Place line has been my go-to for convenient, happier meat. Their rotisserie chickens are delicious, and they have reasonably good fresh pork sausages. But little beats the convenience of the Applegate Farms organic grass-fed hot dogs at Shop Rite. They’re not inexpensive, but I found them to be tasty enough. Mr. Dave might disagree.

Soon, I hope there will also be another source of happy local meat at The Cheese Traveler’s retail store. Rolf’s in Albany has happier fresh chicken. And you can talk to the meat guys at Cardona’s and Roma’s because some of their stuff is happier too.

maryonhudson may not have read how Mrs. Fussy hates onions:
I like the Frontera salsas, my husband however only likes thick and chunky salsas. Do you know of a thick brand which isn’t horrible?

Salsa isn’t something we stock in the Fussy household. Mrs. Fussy hates onions. That said, Cooks Illustrated did a jarred hot salsa tasting a few years back and recommended Pace’s Hot Chunky Salsa and Frontera’s Hot Habanero Salsa with Roasted Tomatoes and Cilantro.

irisira trying to be helpful has another suggestion for the salsa question:
Make your own? Chopping the vegetables is a bit labor intensive, but it really isn’t hard to do.

We might make a fresh tomato topping of diced tomatoes, capers, olives, garlic, oil, salt, red pepper flakes, and anchovies, but it’s not salsa. By the way, cutting vegetables shouldn’t be that labor intensive. If it is, that’s a sure sign that you need to improve your knife skills. Don’t worry. I’ve got something to help you.

Mike wanted me to watch a movie:
Have you learned anything about…the large difference between craft vs. BMC (Budweiser, Miller-Coors) products?

I think so. But maybe I should watch the movie too. I love movies. But I’m no stranger to the gulf in quality between industrial products and ones made in much much smaller batches.

maryonhudson continues with the quest for those who have eaten specific products:
Has anyone tried the Nature’s Place or Bilinski’s chicken sausages?

I think Bilinski’s once offered me a tour of their facility. But I wasn’t able to make that, nor have I tried their products. Actually that last part may not be true. I may have tried it some time ago. Given that I don’t totally remember, I’m guessing it was fairly unremarkable, which I think is par for the course when it comes to chicken sausage. People eat that stuff to be healthy, not because chicken makes super-delicious sausage.

Jessica R is going to be disappointed with the answer to her question:
What were their suggested wine pairings with each sausage?

You know, I can’t find the sheet anymore. But my memory was that the wine pairings were fairly generic. Spicy sausage called for a riesling. If you really want to know, I can ask the PR firm to resend the sheets. But they weren’t anything that made me sit up and pay attention.

jenh718 is right on target:
I understand that it’s called a sweet apple sausage but does it need to be that sweet?

No, it doesn’t. And in fact it would totally be better if it were a lot less sweet. Mind you, it would still be sweet. But it would at least be a little more multidimensional. I found it to be totally unpalatable until I slit the sausage and inserted a piece of funky, tangy cheese in there to balance it out.

5 Comments leave one →
  1. AddiesDad permalink
    July 18, 2012 1:08 pm

    Never gonna let you off the hook, Daniel! I’d be happy to arrange a “tour” of the cave with mind behind the cave, just let me know.

    • addiesdad permalink
      July 23, 2012 3:31 pm

      Let me rephrase this: Can I assist you in scheduling a tour of the cheese cave?

  2. July 18, 2012 7:54 pm

    I probably would not have bothered with Pinkberry, either, if I did not have another reason for going there, though I would go again – it was quite tasty. My niece is transferring to Albany, so I’m sure I’ll be using her as an excuse to frequent the area “copycats”. :)

    I’ve gotten better with knife skills … labor intensive is the wrong word. I mean it more as tedious than I do difficult.

  3. July 19, 2012 6:35 pm

    When you say, “I imagine Baba Louie’s might be able to scratch an itch,” does that mean that you recommend Baba Louie’s? Or that you’ve heard good things, etc., but have never been? I keep trying the place (I live in the Berkshires) and keep not liking it. What am I missing? (Forgive me if you’ve tackled this topic before.)

  4. Kate H. permalink
    July 20, 2012 8:17 pm

    I took Christian Noe’s sausage making class at the arts center and he totally changed my mind about chicken sausage. The ones we made just blew me away. I don’t know if he ever sells them at Nighthawk’s booth, but if you tried them it just might change your mind!

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