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AskTP – More Eyes More Voices

April 3, 2013

Goals are tricky business. Still, I’d like to set a new short term goal. I hope you like it. Because my goal is you. Yes, you. If you don’t mind, I’d like to activate you. Luckily it doesn’t hurt a bit.

All you have to do is scroll down to the bottom of this post and write, “Hi” in the comments bar. You can even make up a name. Or if that’s too hard, feel free to do as I do and use your real first name and last initial.

That’s it. We can take baby steps.

The thing is that I’m just one voice out here in the Capital Region fighting the good fight. And I’m seriously thrilled that so many of you come here every day to read about it. But what would thrill me even more would be to have more people out there writing about it. You know, like the Masticating Monkey.

Anyhow, some of you are already writing comments and asking questions. What I’m really here to do today is answer those questions. So long as you put a question mark in the comment bar, I’ll eventually give you an answer. I promise.

Now with no further ado, on to the questions:

irisira might as well ask if anyone’s tried the steak at Joe’s Crab Shack:
Has anyone had the entrees at DeFazio’s?

I almost had a salad once when I went there on a diet. Luckily Stanford Steph plied me with wine and weakened my resolve. Maybe the way to try their pastas is to go with a big group. That way you can still eat your fill of pizza and everyone can try a bite of something else.

daviddoughan must not be from around these parts:
As an aside have you ever had Chicken Lollipop?

I’ve seen it done, but I like my chicken skin on the outside of the chicken where it can get all nice and crispy. And given how high the average quality of Buffalo-style wings is here in the Capital Region compared to the rest of the civilized world, I couldn’t imagine opting for those versus the traditional local favorite.

Deanna has a two-fer about my AOA piece on Healthy Living Market and Cafe:
First – AOA gives you 900 words? Jealous.
Second – As to peanut butter, “Only a few dozen are good enough to be sold at his store.” – I don’t think it’s a “good enough” issue as it is a “right” issue, eh?

First – I use very small words and it makes my stories seem shorter.
Second – I probably should have written, “Only a few dozen meet the unspecified (and undisclosed) guidelines of ‘healthy’ as defined by the category buyers.” But I was trying not to be snotty.

albanylandlord is preaching the gospel of FieldGoods:
Stanford Steph mentioned the FieldGoods “CSA” which is an option for those who don’t want to commit to 20+ straight weeks of food from a traditional CSA. You can jump in and out as often as you want from a website. Even do every other week. Would this be a good fit good fit for you Profussor?

FieldGoods came on my radar when they struck up a relationship with Fin. It may be a good fit, and I’m certainly looking forward to giving it a try. It will also be nice to get back to summer farmers markets, and explore some other options. But nothing is yet locked in stone.

-R is pushing the boundaries of my limited knowledge of Judaism:
So, (without sifting through Google for the next hour), why are egg matzos only for the aged or infirmed?

Here’s my educated guess. Matzoh is supposed to be the bread of affliction. In Jewish culinary culture, eggs are a luxury item. Add eggs to bread and you have challah, which is a loaf befit for a queen. Add eggs to noodles, and you have an enriched base for a decadent kugel.

Eggs are also nutritious. Matzoh, not so much. So I could see why you would want to enrich this holiday staple for those who can’t eat very much, but want to partake of the commandment to eat matzoh. But those who can take the full brunt of matzoh’s week long attack on your digestive tract should suck it up and suffer.

Burnt My Fingers has some more questions about Passover dietary laws:
Does not hametz refer to a dough that has been allowed to rest more than 18 minutes, during which time wild yeasts could presumably infiltrate? (That is a question.) If matzoh is not made from wheat, what is it made from?

Yes and no. It stems from dough, but the prohibition goes far beyond it. Beer made from oats is not okay. No dough there, but plenty of hametz was used in its making. Technically, real matzoh is made from special wheat. Wheat that has been watched its entire life from field to mill to bakery. Like gremlins, the flour is never allowed to get wet. Except at the very end, and only for less than 18 minutes. It’s crazy making stuff, and they are probably not the most important hoops to jump through in order to heal the world.

Theresa518 was equally flummoxed by some of the Troy Record’s Readers’ Best:
Papa’s Corner is a mystery. Best outdoor seating with a view of 787?

This reminds me of a song:
Standing tall / By the side of the road / I fell in love / With a beautiful highway

Elyse asks the ultimate question about Troy’s great wing war:
Are you really surprised about the Alehouse wings? People love them. Are Rucks wings really that much better?

You are right. I can’t say that I’m surprised. But to try and settle your last question for myself I tried a little experiment. On the same evening I would visit both places and try their “medium, crispy” wings back to back. The Ruck won handily, on all measures, and that was without even taking into consideration the strength of their blue cheese. I encourage everyone to try the same.

-R has a much more diplomatic approach than pitting The Ruck against The Ale House:
Are the Ruck’s wings better? I think this a matter of personal preference – I like the Ale House’s wings better than The Ruck’s, but I can see where both have merits. Put another way, these two establishments easily produce some of the finest chicken wings known in these parts – you really, honestly can’t go wrong with either; both are brilliant in their own way.

They are better, and I would disagree on the bit about personal preference. You can set up judging criteria and abide by those standards. If you think you could come up with a set of criteria that would make the Ale House come out on top, I’d love to see it. For real.

But you are totally right. We are very lucky to have such a debate. Both places are excellent and either would be a welcome sight in even better food towns where people know precious little about how to make a good chicken wing.

Brooke must be from around here and is still surprised by the Troy results:
Is the sports bar in the Burgh the old Pips?! Where is this place I’ve never heard of before now?! Mr. Subb? Um no thank you! Papas as ‘fine dining’? Yeah, not so much.

Maybe I can call it “the new Pips.” Maybe I can go in and sing some Gladys Knight and get my groove on. But clearly they don’t have much of a social media marketing team there. Because when something new happens, regardless of how small, it’s usually on Table Hopping.

Masticating Monkey was able to find a ray of sunshine in the Record’s Readers’ Picks:
No McDonald’s for best burger, so that’s something, right? (At least until people fall in love with the fancy new one on Hoosick St.)

It’s true. But seriously though, I’m quite thrilled by the weird results of this poll and eager to try out these places that weren’t even on my radar. Sure, deep ties to the community count for a lot in these parts. And maybe the food won’t be great. But I’m also a big fan of local color.

Mr. Dave always surprises and delights me with his thoughts and insights on food:
American cuisine never ceases to fascinate me. We have taken fair food/festival food/special occasion food and made all of it the staples of our everyday diet. “Hey, that chicken that grandma cooks on Sundays after church… Wouldn’t it be great if we just have that every day?!?” or “Hey, remember that corn-dog I got at the county fair last month? We should have that for breakfast! Regularly.”…

Don’t forget about ice cream. It was probably Michael Pollan, or at least someone of his ilk, who suggested that you could eat whatever you wanted just so long as you made it at home. The idea was that people would be less likely to idly snack on potato chips if they had to thinly slice and deep fry each of those suckers by hand. And clean up the mess to boot. It’s not a bad idea.

christine makes a good point but may also be leaving something out:
I was a very skinny kid. Skin and bones thin. The reason? I was active… we played outside year round. We rode bikes, did gymnastics in the front yard, ice skated, went sledding, played kick ball- whatever. My mother didn’t allow us to stay indoors and dirty up her house. The problem with kids these days isn’t really what they eat but that they don’t move around enough.

Point well taken. But food is also different now, and it’s hard to say how much of that is having an effect on people’s health. From the quality of the animal feed, to the inclusion of genetically modified ingredients, to synthetic growth hormones, to high fructose corn syrup, to partially hydrogenated fats, and a laundry list of preservatives, gums, fillers, no-calorie sweeteners. dough conditioners, the widespread use of antibiotics, the invention of more potent weed killers, the depletion of minerals in the soil, fungicides, pesticides, artificial colors and flavors, and more. And even if each of these on its own is perfectly safe, what’s the effect when consumed in combination with each other?

the_exile left upstate to a faraway land, and I’m quite jealous of his culinary adventure:
Did you see that I finally had some fried chicken in Korea?

I did! Lucky! Maybe I can beg Jose to see if he can get some on the bar menu at Mingle.

Ham Slinger sounds like she has the magic formula for heating HoneyBaked Ham:
But in a pinch for Aunt Bitsy, that just can’t get over eating cold ham for dinner…. Use the microwave. I know–GASP— the microwave? Say it isn’t so. But, when you need a piece hot, break down the ham according to the directions, fan out on a plate (only what you will eat at that meal) pour some of the juice in the bottom of the foil package on to the ham, and heat on medium. DON’T heat on high, it’ll dry out, just like the oven. It’ll retain the flavor, and Aunt B won’t get a bee in her bonnet.

Wow. Thanks. I have no microwave, but if I had someone coming who only liked hot hams, I’d be sure to have an inferior one hot and ready for them.

Bob W. doesn’t get the obsession with having food served hot:
I really don’t see what all the fuss is about with the idea of a “room-temperature” ham. I thought that all meats are supposed to rest after they’ve been cooked, anyway, to keep all the tasty juices trapped in the roast/steak/chop and not all over your plate?

Cured and hot smoked hams are long since cooked. Even when you put a glaze on them you are really just heating them through. My mother likes food served hot. But the thing is when you go to a nice place and they have to compose a dish in the window from 10 or more separate elements, it’s never going to be piping hot.

caravan70 was espousing the virtues of a bona fide aged country ham:
But why not get one of these if you really want a great ham? 

Because it’s not spiral sliced and covered with an impossibly crispy and crunchy honey glaze.

Burnt My Fingers wanted a bit of clarification on my egg boiling technique:
Couple of things I’d like to know: are the eggs right out of the refrig or at room temp? And, how many can go in that pasta basket before you have to adjust the 10 minutes cooking time?

The idea is to remove the variables. Eggs will almost always be the same temperature in the refrigerator, so they start right out of the ice box. And as long as I have kept the pasta basket to one layer of eggs, I’ve never lost the boil.

Kate D. has her own hypothesis of where the dining scene in Albany flies off the rails:
But then, I also enjoy the whole dining experience (service, atmosphere, location), not just the food served. Could that be one of the reasons behind the Capital region obsession with huge portions = value? If you only judge your dining experience by how many meals you can get out of a serving, then an amazing (smaller) portion is not going to make you happy.

It may sound strange, but there may be something to the notion of bringing leftovers as lunch. People who swear by their leftovers compare them favorably to “another boring sandwich.” This may deserve more thought.

Cher asks a good question, but it begs an even better one:
Seriously, why would I want to bring home a half pound of overcooked pasta in poorly seasoned tomato sauce? Ewww

Why would I want to bring home even a few bites of perfectly cooked pasta in the best tomato sauce I’ve ever had? It’s never going to be as good the next day. Instead of extending the pleasure of the experience, it taints the memory of the night before. There is a reason why they call it a doggie bag.

14 Comments leave one →
  1. Eric Scheirer Stott permalink
    April 3, 2013 10:34 am

    I visited Philadelphia and felt curious enough (and obliged) to have Scrapple with breakfast. Thank God for frying – properly applied heat can make it edible.

  2. -R. permalink
    April 3, 2013 10:44 am

    “Maybe I can go in and sing some Gladys Knight and get my groove on.”

    That doesn’t seem prudent; wrong end of town you know…

  3. April 3, 2013 11:04 am

    Snark-tastic, DB! I love it. Yes, it was a little vague in the “what is healthy” answer, but I think it was suitable for the general consumer.

    The day after I wrote that comment, I found out my TU piece was bumped up to 900 words (it was originally 750, knocked down to 600, bumped back up to 900). I guess the food journalism gods were smiling down on me :-). Unlike you, I love to use longer words like “epigrammatic” and “quaintrelles” to tell my food stories.

  4. April 3, 2013 11:13 am

    For Burnt My Fingers,
    The best way to hard-boil an egg IMNSHO, is the Julia Child 17 min. egg. Put your egg(s) in a saucepan in cold water, cover by at least an inch of water. Bring to a rolling boil, turn the stove off and let sit in the water for 17 mins. Then remove and put in an ice bath to cool them down…no green line just a perfect HB egg.

  5. Jessica R permalink
    April 3, 2013 11:28 am

    It seems more and more like a “Tour de Troy Chicken Wing” is needed. That way, we can all have the chance to do the investigation you’re suggesting.

    Also, have you considered a “Tour de NEBA”? This roast beef sandwich is definitely a local specialty food item, one that may be dying, and could use some attention before it disappears. Unfortunately, the only places I know that serve them are Mr Subb and the small restaurant at the Route Four Golf Center in Troy. I’m sure other readers could come up with other ideas though.

    • April 3, 2013 12:31 pm

      The “NEBA” was available at Mike’s NEBA (s). The Mr. Subb NEBA for better or worse is the spiritual heir to the NEBA and the only sandwich that has a right to the name. You would have to have a “Tour de Roastbeef dipped in jus, maybe with some horsey sauce, on a hard/kaiser roll.” I think it would be disappointing…

      Some of my favorite childhood memories are from the Central and Colvin Mike’s NEBA location. I lament the loss of these establishments daily but they have passed into the realm of epherma… The present NEBA sandwich is a shadow of what once was. The real sandwich now lives only in the memories of nostalgia addled locals like myself.

      If you had a time machine you could go back and view a six years old, toe headed, version of Mr. Dave sipping at a graveyard slushy at Mike’s after a long day of tee-ball over at Westland Hills park circa 1986.. You would be gazing at happiness. Sigh.

      In any event, I believe the NEBA has passed into legend and a tour would be a fruitless endeavor.

  6. Theresa518 permalink
    April 3, 2013 12:07 pm

    For irisira and any other curious DeFazio’s patrons….

    The pizza is undeniable but there is a fantastic opportunity to “have your pie and eat it too” by heading to their Italian market next door to the pizzeria. A variety of stuffed pastas, mac and cheese, and other entree components are available in small portions that you can prepare at home. You can purchase all their sauces, pestos and dough balls to create your desired combinations. I have been buying their meatballs (frozen) for years and always have them on hand. I am guessing but there is probably 8 golf ball sized balls-o-meat per container and you cannot make a better quality product at home.

    For those averse to frozen foods….the pasta items are not cooked prior to packaging so they are as fresh as if you ate them at the restaurant.

    I make pizza at home… their doughs and sauces are wonderful addition to the ingredient pool! They also have fresh fettuccini and linguini if you do not make your own.

  7. david doughan permalink
    April 3, 2013 12:30 pm

    To be fair . .. I only asked about lollipop chicken in response to your critique of Steve Barnes revier of Darbar. But yes I am not from here originally. I am from a far away place called New Hampshire.

    And I would love to do a chicken wing tour of Troy.

  8. Maria permalink
    April 3, 2013 12:47 pm

    There is more to the area than Troy. Have you tried the Iron Roost in Ballston Spa? Bring the little fussys for waffles. You won’t be disappointed.

  9. April 3, 2013 7:57 pm

    HI! Just started blogging about gardening, dining and shopping. Believe me, they go together:-)
    Always looking for great and unique places to eat!

  10. albanylandlord permalink
    April 3, 2013 9:43 pm

    One of your more entertaining Q&A sessions… Snarktastic indeed!


  11. emily l permalink
    April 5, 2013 8:46 am

    On DeFazio’s entrees… They are fantastic. The pasta is thick and toothsome and the sauces are excellent. I’m a big fan of the arrabbiata sauce and the red pepper pesto. I’ve bought the marinara and pesto in the market next door and used them on my own pasta at home and they are also great. We usually get one pizza and one pasta for the two of us and have several meals (leftovers are good but we usually eat it cold) from the two items.

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