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What Am I Missing?

October 7, 2013

All Over Albany’s Tournament of Pizza has commenced. Saturday was the Fourth Annual Tour de Donut. Sunday Mrs. Fussy flew the coop for a work trip to the west coast. And despite eating too many donuts to count in the last few days, I have yet to find a Boston Cream that I enjoy as much as those from Bella Napoli and The Cookie Factory.

I’m really enjoying the heck out of New Jersey, but there is a lot that I am missing.

That said, I’m really starting to feel at home in Princeton. Now that I’ve been here for over a month, I have come to realize Exit 8b is my home, and not Exit 9. The labyrinthine conglomeration of strip malls and access roads is no longer confounding, even at night. And I’m making friends with people from around the world who are starting to reveal the secrets of cooking the delicacies of their homelands.

Surely as time goes by, the things that I miss will start to fade away as I adjust to life without them. Still, this seems like as good a time as any to capture these longings. Maybe they might help some of you appreciate what you have.

1) Homemade chicken stock
This one is coming. It’s coming soon. But not soon enough dammit. Yes, I know I could just buy a few chickens, break them down, vacuum seal the meat, roast the bones, and have my stock by the end of the day. That’s just not how I do it. I collect carcasses from our weekly roast chickens, and make my stock once there are enough bones to fill a pot. I’ve got four carcasses now, and I’m trying to hold out for one more. I might not last.

2) Heidelberg bread
Wow is it hard to find 100% whole wheat bread that’s made with five or fewer ingredients. Even at Whole Foods. Yes, I finally found one at Whole Foods, but it’s not as good as the stuff from Heidelberg which is found pretty much everywhere in the Capital Region, even at Walmart.

3) My Chest Freezer
I like to cook long simmered dishes in quantity. That means on average the foods I cook are good for at least two to three family meals. Sometimes this can be extended to four. The trick is that once the food is cook, it’s portioned and then put in the deep freeze. My mother calls these home-cooked frozen meals, “money in the bank.” And it’s totally true. They are a lifesaver for when one doesn’t have the time to cook something, yet wants something delicious and wholesome. But now with my tiny freezer, there is only so much money I can put in the bank.

4) Honest Weight Food Co-op
Yes, I have a Wegmans. And it’s great. There’s also a Whole Foods, and that’s really amazing too. But there are two staples of my diet for which HWFC has always been a mainstay. Those are organic steel cut oats and organic coarse cornmeal. These two items can be stupid expensive at some stores, but the co-op has always offered these at very competitive prices.

5) Rolf’s Pork Store
Where do I get a good ham hock in this town? I was under the impression that New Jersey was just filled with pork stores. But apparently that’s north Jersey. I’m really just beginning to understand some of the culinary and cultural divides. In the north they have Taylor ham and subs. In the south we have pork roll and hoagies. All the good deep fried hot dog places seem to be north of here too. I don’t know why, but I don’t like it.

6) Capital City Gastropub Burger Night
Yeah. That’s a great burger. I only got to do it once. And it just made me so sad for all those weeks that passed where I wasn’t spending Wednesdays at the Gastropub.

7) The City Beer hall
When you can find a place that’s laid back, with food built from great ingredients, and an ever changing list of tasty beers, you’ve got gold. Even without the mechanical bull or the downstairs speakeasy. Mrs. Fussy and I haven’t yet found a place to go here were we can always find something that we want to eat, and don’t have to get all dressed up. In Princeton it seems you have to get dressed up to work out. Perhaps I’ve gotten too accustomed to a more casual standard of living in the Capital Region. At least I never went out in my pajamas.

8) The Cheese Traveler
This could be my fault. I just haven’t been looking hard enough after returning from Paris, because no cheese place in this country could measure up to the treats I enjoyed on the recent excursion. But I have taken a hard look at a few of the local gourmet stores with dedicated cheese counters. And I am not impressed. This little cheese shop in not-fancy-at-all Albany runs circles around the precious gourmet markets of Princeton.

9) The Confectionery
This place is special. Not because it’s in Troy. Not because of the exposed brick. But really because it is designed to be anything you would like it to be. A coffee shop, a wine bar, a restaurant, a stop for an after dinner treat, a hang out, a reading nook, a beer hall, an oyster bar, whatever. Amazingly, it does all of this without losing its focus, and that’s an amazing feat that I haven’t encountered in very many places.

This isn’t to say that I think these are the only great things about the Capital Region. Rather, it’s just that these are things that I have yet to find the equivalent of here. New Jersey does have craft distilling, bagel shops, solid pizza parlors, unique hot dogs, seafood markets, coffee roasters, sandwich shops, bakeries, and more.

I can already tell that it’s going to be hard to leave Princeton at the end of June. But it’s good to know that there will be some great things waiting for me when I get back.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. October 7, 2013 9:56 am

    Thanks for the shout out Daniel B. What amazing cheese and specialty food did you have in Paris?

  2. October 7, 2013 1:20 pm

    My question is this: have you finally made peace with turning right to turn left???
    And, for the record, having a Wegmans AND a Whole Foods totally outweighs the lack of competitive pricing for the oats and cornmeal. Just sayin’ . . . Other than that, I feel your pain.

  3. October 8, 2013 12:39 pm

    1) Did I ever tell you Bella Napoli has a truck in a weird parking lot in Cobleskill? Yep, it’s true, and was a total game changer for me and my waistline. Fact: Cobleskill is closer to SGF than Latham is. Fact: Deanna really likes Italian pastry. Myth: Deanna has willpower.

    2) I have a great story about my Dad almost getting in a fistfight with a deli attendant over “sub” colloquialisms when he worked in NYC. I should share this with you sometime.

    3) I’m easily bribed, and would happily put in effort to ship some of the items you mentioned in this list for a price (monetary or otherwise).

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