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Last Pan Standing

July 30, 2013

Packing up the kitchen is traumatic. Even after I cooked our last meal, the cookware remained in the kitchen. And last night, we still sat around the dining room table eating leftovers warmed up in one of the All-Clad saucepans. You know, since I refuse to have a microwave.

But now all the cookware is packed. All but for the cast iron skillets.

They are my babies. And they get packed last. These mighty pans may even get to ride in the front of the cab with me. I haven’t figured that part out yet. I’ve also kept two cocktail mixing spoons out of the box. Don’t laugh: with their long handles they are quite a versatile tool. As our last remaining metal utensil, they may help to scramble one or two last eggs later today.

I’m not letting go of cooking. You can pry my pans from my cold dead hands. But speaking of not letting go, there is someone else I want to tell you about. And I am pretty sure he’s been writing since before I was born. Now he is blogging. Actually he’s been doing that for awhile too. And really, the only thing that his blog needs is you.

Bill Dowd and I don’t always see eye to eye. Maybe that’s why I’m not on his blog roll. But maybe it’s just because I have never asked. Or perhaps I was on there once upon a time, and after I became persona non grata on Table Hopping, the FLB was removed.

I have no idea. But these are trivial matters.

Here’s the thing. The Capital Region is bigger than it looks. If you are willing to drive 45 minutes for a special dinner, your choices of restaurants is immense. Keeping tabs on the ins and outs of these kitchens can be a full time job. And for a while that job was being done admirably by the Times Union’s senior writer Steve Barnes on his Table Hopping blog.

Recently, not so much. And even if there is an occasional good story, the comments get mired down in some nasty infighting between readers. Part of me wonders if some restaurants are shying away from sharing their news on the blog as a result of its commenters.

Dowd’s blog, Notes on Napkins, recently has been doing an incredible job of succeeding where Table Hopping has failed.

If you read Table Hopping, you might not know the Capital City Gastropub is getting a makeover. There were also three notable closings in Troy’s CityStation that were covered by Notes on Napkins but not in the TU’s most well-read food blog. And he has a great piece on what’s been going on with Sarah Fish and what’s up her sleeve.

There are a few places where Dowd falls off the mark. He laments that the Capital Region doesn’t have a Signature Dish of its own, when in fact it has several. None of which were mentioned in his post. And, amazingly, this error of omission wasn’t commented upon.

Because here’s the thing. He may have readers, but he does not have commenters.

Man, his blog could really be great if some of you were to pop over there and engage in the same thoughtful, respectful, insightful conversations that occasionally spring up on the FLB. As I will invariably be focusing less on the Capital Region in the days to come, I’m hoping that some of your energy and enthusiasm for our emerging culinary scene can be channeled over there.

It’s a great opportunity to engage with the news on local eateries without the drama of the TU. And the fact that it’s written by a former TU food critic who simply refuses to stop writing, gives it a unique sense of perspective into the area.

I may not always agree with Mr. Dowd, both now and his observations from the past, but I totally respect what he’s doing, and I hope you check him out.

Now, I’ve got to pack like the wind.

9 Comments leave one →
  1. July 30, 2013 10:29 am

    Daniel – All the best on your journey! We look forward to catching up with you upon your return to Albany. We would love to send out a care package with the Duchilly Hazelnuts . . . if you ever find yourself homesick.

  2. July 30, 2013 3:45 pm

    This is obviously the early stages of a steamy bromance.

  3. July 30, 2013 7:24 pm

    Thanks for the nice comments, Daniel. We’ll miss you around here. By the way, you were on my links last, but I removed it when I made the assumption you’d be out of touch with the area while on hiatus. I’ll be glad to restore it if you like. Best wishes to you and your family for the new adventure, and hurry back.

  4. July 30, 2013 7:41 pm

    Notes on Napkins is definitely an important resource for news; I’d say I check it almost as often as Table Hopping and more often find it to be a more useful resource.

    Re: the Troy CityStation problems, I’m not surprised at all. I never even got to the coffee shop because of their limited (and unclear) hours.

    I’m still waiting for a decent coffee shop in the Troy/Latham/beyond area. And by decent I just mean one that A) isn’t Starbucks, B) serves at least average coffee, and C) is actually open past 5 or 6 p.m. on weekdays. I like to work in coffee shops, and within a 15 minute radius from my place in the Watervliet/Latham area, it’s Starbucks or bust, with Professor Java on the outskirts of that range.

    For that reason, I’m still hoping for a Spot Coffee to open soon in Troy.

  5. July 31, 2013 8:49 am

    Thanks for your link to Bill’s blog, Daniel… I’ve added it to my Feedly list (now that Google Reader has gone the way of the dodo).

    I think commenting is something you ease into… it’s sort of like making a friend. You observe for a little bit, then you tentatively reach out. On your blog, you have a coterie of dedicated followers because you bring elements of your personal life into your writing, while Barnes seems to throw stuff at the wall and gets a lot of indifferent people who (probably because it’s the largest newspaper in the region) find Table Hopping and decide they want to fight with one another. I read Barnes’ blog, and I occasionally comment, but I don’t want to be dragged into the miasma that’s occasionally created.

    One element of this needs to be elucidated upon: If you’re writing for a newspaper, you’re attempting what we used to know as “journalism.” ;) If Bill is scooping Steve Barnes on that many local food-related stories, I think the TU has a bit of a problem. Perhaps they need to hire a few more people than just Steve and Cheryl Clark and really get out in the region, meet chefs and purveyors, and survey the landscape.

    In any event, I hope your move is going well. And the last time I moved, yes… the cast iron pans were the last things to be packed up. I use World War I-era Griswolds (one from my great-grandmother, a few from eBay)… they may be iron, but I treat them like porcelain. ;)

    • DEN permalink
      July 31, 2013 11:22 pm

      I think Mr. Barnes has other roles at the TU besides writing about food and maintaining Tablehopping, so his time might be more scarce. Thankfully, Mr. Dowd, and others provide some competing information sources.

      I don’t think one can comment on Notes on Napkins without logging in. That might dissuade some from commenting, and thus the reduced comment level, but I can understand why bloggers want to erect some barriers to leaving comments, rather than allowing a free-for-all.

  6. July 31, 2013 10:02 pm

    Best wishes on your journey and thank you for the recommendation!

  7. July 31, 2013 11:30 pm

    Oh, by the way Daniel, since I wrote that the Capital Region has no signature dish of the sort recognized in other areas (spiedies in Binghamton, chicken riggies in Syracuse/Utica, Buffalo wings in … well, you know) you say it does. However, you don’t specify. What, exactly, is our signature dish, in your view?

  8. July 31, 2013 11:33 pm

    Den: Anyone who has difficulty commenting on “Notes On Napkins” can just e-mail it to

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