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2012 The Year of We Broke Through

December 26, 2012

Holidays come and holidays go. Over the course of a year a lot of things happen. For better or for worse, mine is a daily food blog and that means there are over three hundred original essays on food published here every year. Almost every single one of them is written by me, and the vast majority get reviewed by Mrs. Fussy before going live.

In many ways this year was like every other. We went on more FUSSYlittleTOURS and I made my case in support of the FUSSYlittleBALLOT for the third time. I continued to write Eat This! for All Over Albany every other week, and was reinstated as a judge for their Tournament of Pizza.

Except this year something happened. I don’t quite know what it was. But in January the traffic numbers went up substantially from the same period a year ago (over 40%). And now instead of just complaining about the Times Union poll, somehow the paper adopted one of the meaningful changes I was pursuing, which eliminated Subway from the Best Sandwich winner’s circle. Without a doubt the FLB has been getting more attention both within the Capital Region and beyond its borders, and that is very exciting for me.

What follows isn’t so much a top 10 list of the most popular posts, but really rather buckets of what seems to have resonated over the past year. This is as much to help me figure out how to write more meaningful content in 2013 as it is for the curious or neophyte to either re-read or discover significant posts from the past year.

So here it goes:

Influencing the Times Union Poll
Thanks to all of you for passing along the link to your friends, families and coworkers on Facebook, Twitter and by e-mail, the FUSSYlittleBALLOT 3.0 was the most read post from the past year. It has a full summary of all the discussions we had on the blog in the weeks and months leading up to the annual reader’s choice poll. It’s worth checking out even if just to be reminded of which places are truly among the best of the region.

But the voting guide wasn’t the only critical piece. The Open Letter to the Times Union might have been even more important. Many of you signed this via your comments, and in the end the paper changed the questionnaire in a way that reflected the goals of this effort. By making readers choose a single location of a business that makes the best of anything, it took away the unfair advantage held by mass market chain restaurants. I cannot even tell you how happy this made me.

Ultimately the combined effort scored one big win.

Food Tours and Tastings
Of all the FUSSYlittleTOURS from the past year, the one that got the most love from readers was the Tour de Hard Ice Cream. But more than the tour itself, people were interested in the results. This one had a great turnout, and I was thrilled to get back to the winning establishment for further investigation on All Over Albany.

The Tour de Egg and Cheese on a Hardroll got more than its fair share of readers, as did the subsequent results post.

Somehow I seemed to get into a dustup with the Saratoga Idiots and found myself in the center of an intra-regional ice cream sandwich competition. Readers of the FLB selected their two favorite ice cream sandwiches in Albany to compete against the best from Saratoga Springs. A small but dedicated group then went around and tried all four ice cream sandwiches on one day to come up with a winner. It was hard work, but we ate well.

People were also compelled by the third installment of the Tour de Cider Donut and the blind cupcake tasting that put Coccadotts up against Bettie’s, Sweet Temptations and Fluffalicious.

We’re Cooking, Kind Of
It’s not easy for me to buy anything. It’s almost always a well considered purchase. So I took the time to explain how I selected my new slow cooker. I’m glad to report that I still love it.

Partially, the story called Stupid Easy Chocolate Syrup took off because someone posted it on Pinterest. Thank you mystery poster. I’m just glad that there may be a few less people paying good money for bad commercial syrup at the supermarket.

Declaring the Emperor Has no Clothes
People came out of the woodwork to read my thoughts on the Honest Weight Food Co-op’s expansion plans. This place has a lot of supporters. I too think the co-op is a valuable community resource. That’s primarily the reason I don’t want to see it fail. But I’m worried.

I was also concerned that one of my favorite local restaurants had lost its way too when they started selling hamburger for more than they used to sell steak. The good news is that since the post was written the restaurant has lowered its price of this monstrosity. It’s only by a buck, but it points to the fact that perhaps I was correct in my assessment of this dish.

In the spring I noted that Albany’s Restaurant Week was getting weird. But thanks to the miracle of social media, when the fall iteration of this promotion came up I was able speak with someone at Jack’s and confirm a suspicion about how restaurants view this event.

Finally, if you want a laugh you should check out this job posting for a marketing position in a local restaurant company. I can’t wait to meet the marketing guru who took the position.

Ingredients for Better or for Worse
I was one of only three people who actually enjoyed the first annual BaconFest. That’s because I was a judge for the event and neither had to wait in line nor suffer the trip to Hudson only to be deprived of bacon when the vendors ran out. Next year promises to be better.

It was refreshing to see people flock to the story about the current problem with rice.

Thank you all for participating with the blog this year. I’m looking forward to more of your comments in 2013. Please keep on spreading the word about the FLB to your friends, and I’ll keep working to try and say interesting things about food and drink on a daily basis.

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