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AskTP – Bacon, Cheese, Donuts and Stuff

September 12, 2012

Wow, there were a lot of comments over the past two weeks. Never underestimate the power of bacon. Or cheese. Or donuts. Or free stuff.

In some of those comments were questions. A few of those questions got answered. The questions that have been unanswered will finally get their response today in a forum I call Ask the Profussor. For those who may have joined recently, Profussor is an honorific I created to refer to myself, because Mr. Fussy is the intellectual property of the publishers of the Mr. Men series.

Thankfully they didn’t trademark Mrs. Fussy.

Anyhow, I’ve committed to answering all your questions. Just so long as a question mark follows the query it will not fall through the cracks. It may take a long time to be answered. You may not like the answer you get. I won’t even vouch for the accuracy of the response. But in due time it will get a response.

In this installment of AskTP we begin and end with addiesdad.

addiesdad has a twofer about two difficult subjects, fish and cheese:
What do you think of the new seafood place (Joe’s Crab Shack or something) opening in Latham? Their website doesn’t have a lot of regarding the origins/sustainability of their seafood, at least that I could find in a cursory check. Thought? Also, when’s the cheese room tour?

I don’t know what to think about Joe’s Crab Shack. Some people I know like it, others don’t. I’ve never been to one. But providing sustainable seafood is hard. It’s probably the hardest of any of the proteins. If you go through the work to source it, you make it known. That said the different marine advocacy/science organizations generally tend to rate many varieties of crab among the better seafood choices.

As far as cheese goes, it’s not scheduled. I’m trying to get through my backlog of work that piled up over the summer while the kids were out of school and I was out galavanting around the country. I haven’t even had one full week of a normal school schedule yet, but this is on my list of things to do.

-R has some good instincts about peanut butter:
I’m not so sure about the fridge though – doesn’t it harden up the nut butter making spreading (especially on an untoasted bread surface) well nigh impossible?

Most def. That is, unless you warm it up with friction by furiously mixing it around, but then you are just as well off leaving it out of the fridge in the first place.

jenh718 doesn’t sound like she’s buying it.
$10.99 for a pint of ice cream? Crazy.

I hear you. It’s ridiculous. But now hear me. One pint has four servings. Granted, a half-cup size serving is really just one scoop in a normal size cone. Such a thing is almost unthinkable in our current super-sized culture. But once upon a time a single cone was a major treat. That would potentially make this ice cream $2.75 for a scoop of the best ice cream you’ll ever eat. In those terms an $11 pint doesn’t sound so crazy.

Jessica R. wants to learn the secret to using the spoons at Dante’s frozen yogurt:
So, what’s the technique? :-)

Turn the spoon upside down and scrape out the bowl with your tongue. Apparently more people do this than I ever thought. Who are you people and where did you learn to eat?

Rebecca questions the judgement of our local restaurants:
“restaurants weren’t sure people would show up to this thing”?! um. restaurants? it’s BACON.

And even the ones that showed up were still unconvinced that people wanted to eat so much bacon. Thus they were also selling a wide assortment of consumables that didn’t include any bacon at all.

It’s safe to say that Mr. Dave does not like change:
1. Imagine if the Delmar farmer’s market were a 30-45 minute commute from NYC?
2. How does a state, sprinkled with small cities ringed by suburbs within a vast ocean of rural farms and mountainous expanses deal with the influx of urbanized folks from one of the biggest mega-polises in the world?

1. It would be glorious. Perhaps then some of our best local farmers wouldn’t completely bypass the capital region, and our local bounty would stay local instead of feeding solely Manhattanites.

2. One day at a time. Look, I understand your concerns. I saw what happened to Healdsburg on the northern edge of California’s Sonoma County. For years it was too far north for most city folk. But as the more southern wine country towns got overcrowded, city folk finally made it up to this remote outpost and slowly over time fancified it much like they did the hamlets they were escaping. Change happens. Trying to fight it is like trying to rake water uphill.

Michelle has a lot of young children, so I’ll forgive her skimming:
Ah yes, DeVoe’s donuts are good. But have you heard of Lakeside?

Lakeside made the first tour. In comparison to everything else we ate that day, they were fine, but not exceptional. The place was cute though. But we were there for the donuts.

The new voice of Adventure in Food Trading cracks me up:
This wasn’t just a bad bacon shake, it was a bad shake period. What I got was a cup full of gritty bacon milk. Cannot believe I paid $4 for that thing. Oh, and would it kill you to drizzle a little maple in there?

Why bother. There is no amount of real Grade B maple syrup that could have made that bacon milkshake palatable.

Burnt My Fingers sounds like he almost doesn’t trust me:
I don’t recognize any of the other proposed spots on your list but have you looked at a map recently? (that is a question) Broadalbin is a looooong way from the other spots which are clustered within a few miles of the Northway.

This is just the nominations. I don’t want to rule any place out right away based on geography. When I map out the entirety of the tour is when I take a good hard look at the map and plan out a route. But donut tours can be driving intensive. Those who aren’t willing to put in the work are welcome to sit out and read the recap.

ktvorwald wants rashers of uncooked bacon:
I was also really surprised at the lack of vendors and lack of actual bacon to buy – only one table selling packaged bacon to bring home? In the Hudson Valley? Really? Crazy. Hopefully next year will be bigger and better, with more vendors (and more bacon).

What I don’t understand is why one of the restaurants didn’t buy out the packaged bacon producer and just cook their bellies and sell it for whatever premium they required to make it worth their while. In fact, I can’t believe anyone was allowed to take any raw bacon from the premises. If the angry mobs ever found out, they would surely not be pleased.

-R is concerned about the effect of the changing climate on cider donuts:
While all this sounds lovely, hasn’t the NYS apple crop been hopelessly compromised by the late frost we had in spring?

Here’s what AOA reported on the matter. But the summary is half of last year’s haul, which is the lowest harvest in sixty years.

Debra wasn’t crazy about Bacon Fest:
I just thought: what the heck did I just pay 10 dollars for?
Neither was JG:
Samples? I didn’t even know there were samples in the first place. I think that when the samples ran out (and not at 2:00 when I left), the organizers should have lowered or cut the admission price (I can understand paying for the tent, chairs, music, which was easily paid for early on, and I know it went to charity, but otherwise what do you get for $10?)

You do know those vendors don’t just decide to show up all by themselves. It takes a lot of work to put something like this together for your amusement. Dealing with the city, coordinating restaurants, booking bands, advertising and marketing expenses, equipment and supplies. It’s a major undertaking. Yes, it might be nice if the organizers could capture all their expenses from the participants. Yes, the organizers could have done a better job when vendors ran out of food.

And you know what? I’m not sure if I would have paid $10 to get into Bacon Fest myself. I’m not really into local music, nor do I particularly love bacon in everything. Duck Confit fest, maybe. But there were plenty of people who got there early who were perfectly happy to pay for having someone bring all these bacony delights under one tent.

Hopefully next year it’s better. I have every reason to think it will be. And I believe even people who were burned this year will be back. As the organizers quickly learned, never underestimate the power of bacon.

christine isn’t really being snarky, she’s being honest, and I appreciate that:
Since I can’t get over the stop at Stewarts for the egg sandwich tour, why not stop in at Price Chopper for an apple cider donut? It makes as much sense as the stop at Stewarts….

I blame Mr. Dave. He romanticized that circle bacon. Plus the egg sandwich tour really did something different. It tested the sandwich at every type of place people go to eat it. Cider donuts can really only be eaten one place, and that’s the orchard. Although we did expand it last year to include a bakery that reportedly did a remarkable job. And while the bakery version was very good, it still lost in the end.

That said, I learned my lesson. You will notice how the Tour de Hard Ice Cream avoided Stewarts completely.

Deanna might not be aware of the awesome power of Google:
I just read something somewhere (so descriptive, eh?) about a public school teacher saying if you want your kids to eat healthy, you have GOT to make them brown bag it.

Now you can say you read it in the Daily News.

Mr. Dave can sometimes speak in riddles:
“Hicks?” You mean those people of whom it has become a cottage industry among so many urbanites to so artlessly imitate?

I hope you aren’t talking about the wearing of flannel shirts and trucker hats, in addition to a penchant for drinking beer out of cans. Or for that matter the drinking of unaged corn whiskey. Because I see all of these as coincidence and not imitation.

Paul Gallo asks questions to Mr. Dave that I’m happy to answer myself:
How many people do you think would travel 150 miles to raid your favorite vegetable stand, no matter how fast they’re able to get here, when they’re surrounded by probably the best selection of food on the east coast? Of course, the realistic area of potential customers *would* increase… and you think that the local businesses, organizers, and vendors up here wouldn’t kill to have that additional market to draw business from?

Don’t think of it in raw numbers. Think of it as a percentage. But because the population downstate is so large, even a small percent could really have the disastrous effect that Mr. Dave so dreads. Despite the bounty that surrounds them, people will travel to go somewhere cute and desirable. Right now, Albany doesn’t qualify under either criteria.

For the record, much of that bounty comes from up here anyway. We just never see it because it all gets funnelled down to NYC and skips the region entirely. But frankly I’m not sure the current crop of local vendors would be thrilled to have the Union Square Greenmarket up in the Capital Region. It would raise the level of competition, and put into stark contrast those who don’t raise the same quality produce.

August Bloom should count her lucky stars that she missed the bacon milkshake:
Hey Dan- Did the vendors make treats specifically for Baconfest? Or are these items on their menu or in stock at their places? Maybe both?

It was a little of both. The bacon wrapped hot dog seemed to be a standard item, while things like the bacon rice crispy treat were focused on the event.

marielizaadopt was really excited about the recent giveaway:
Oh Em Gee. Have always wanted to explore Bannerman’s Island… and fantastic local food in the bargain?

The good news is that the chefs do this every year. And this last one went well, so I’d expect one next September. You can start saving your pennies today.

Jian wants me to explore the realm of fantasy:
Who doesn’t love food and castles?

Orcs with stomach bands.

Ewan seems to think he has figured out the algorithm:
Maybe I can be comment 42, in which case sucess is assured?

Or maybe not.

Eric Straus seemed to want to confirm my prize selection methodology:
Random comment #?

Something like that. The idea is to keep it simple. I don’t want to tally who has tweeted about it, and I don’t even want to read all the submissions. Let’s get in, move out, and award a winner. Then have the event postponed by rain, the original winner cancel, a second winner awarded, and repeat as necessary/feasible.

The recommendation of Kate D. is strong because of the presence of Hick’s:
I never knew I had so much (too much?) experience with cider donuts, but I can recommend Sutton’s Marketplace, Hick’s Orchard and probably my favorite – Gunnison’s Orchard in Crown Point.

You can never have too much. Thank you for sharing. I will take these under serious consideration.

vik really wants to score some free Parm-Reg rinds:
is there any place that DOES throw it away that anyone can think of? like how couponers have their hotspot of places/neighbors/stores that toss coupons, are there shops/delis/ANYWHERE that anyone would throw this away? id love to score them for free, i cook with the rinds all the time and love it!

The best bet is to form a good relationship with your cheesemonger. Sometimes they will trim parm rinds because they will find that pieces with rind on two sides just won’t sell as quickly as a piece with the rind removed. If they have priced the cheese to account for this loss, they can simply toss the rinds, which would be a tragedy, but totally understandable. My best bet would be to find someplace that does a lot of volume. Here that would be an Italian market like Cardona’s or Andy’s.

ktvorwald has an exciting report from the field:
Golden Harvest put “Best Cider Donut Award” out on its message sign thingy. I wonder if that’s from your Donut Tour or from some other award?

I have no idea. It wouldn’t be the first time though. On The Farm in Latham has posted a printout of the results from the Tour de Soft Ice Cream. Seeing that makes me smile. So does the chance that Golden Harvest is taking advantage of the bragging rights they earned in the last Tour de Donut.

addiesdad is rising in the ranks of FLB commenters, and that’s great:
Great catching up with you at SPAC, Profussor. It was great to meet Albany Jane, too, although she seemed less willingly to go all-in on food nerdom as we were. Did you manage to chat with Paolo about Grana Padano? If not, maybe I can arrange a chat/interview between the two of you?

AJ can be a little quiet at times. But she’ll nerd out. I didn’t get to do so many things at SPAC last weekend. I never got an espresso from Chris. Nor did I get to chat with Paolo. I do have some tough questions for him, but I’m sure they aren’t anything he hasn’t heard before. But anything you can set up would be great.

9 Comments leave one →
  1. September 12, 2012 9:44 am

    Funny Fussy, (I dropped the Mr., Profussor is too deferential for me to say or write with any seriousness) because you linked to Eater, I know longer remember which high priced ice cream I was kvetching about.

  2. kathleenlisson permalink
    September 12, 2012 12:34 pm

    I learned to turn the spoon upside down in my mouth the first time I attempted to dislodge peanut butter from a spoon. Chalk it up to childhood ingenuity.

  3. christine permalink
    September 12, 2012 4:42 pm

    Mr. Fussy, you are being very kind, because if you knew me, you would agree that I am a snarky person almost daily!

    I DID notice the absence of Stewart’s on the ice cream tour… I was most pleased to see that. As for egg sandwiches at Stewart’s- someone must be eating them. Poor things! Rubber egg like things with circle bacon and maybe cheese. And, just for a little more snarkiness- when I went into Stewart’s this morning they were displaying a familiar item right by the front door… APPLE CIDER DONUTS. How about that?

  4. Aaron permalink
    September 12, 2012 6:55 pm

    Just read your yelp review of Dante’s, and I have to say I’m disappointed. “I don’t live in Troy, so I don’t need this place to succeed” really seems to run counter to what you supposedly set out to do with this blog- create a richer food culture in Albany. I don’t see how a small business bringing variety to a city, Troy, trying to rebuild with some real food gems, does not concern you.

    This might have been a flippant comment, or you were just chiding this place out because of your own utensil incompetence, or maybe you were just having a bad day. But I honestly expected more.

  5. Mikko permalink
    September 12, 2012 7:03 pm

    Thanks Prof.

  6. September 16, 2012 11:50 am

    Dear Profussor, I have ramped up my fresh OJ producing capabilities by purchasing a citrus juicing machine. I am on the lookout for the perfect oranges for juicing. Do you have any suggestions? Type of orange or specific store?

  7. September 20, 2012 8:17 pm

    Imagine my shock when I discovered that Ben & Jerry’s sells for the princely sum of $12 a pint here in Melbourne! It sure makes me miss my local Hannaford…

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