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AskTP – Old Business

January 2, 2014

One of the first things to do in the new year is to finish up old business.

While I love answering reader questions, I also like to do them in batches. That means every so often I scan through the comments section of the blog looking for comments with question marks. Those that haven’t received answers finally get their due in this periodic feature I like to call Ask the Profussor.

Occasionally, I’ll grab another comment or two that is calling out for some kind of response. Today’s installment of AskTP has a few more of those than usual. Burnt My Fingers, who is usually so fastidious with his punctuation, looks like he might have gotten careless. But I’m not going to hold that against him. This time.

Oh, and for the uninitiated, each question is preceded with a link. Once upon a time each link was mapped back to the original question. Now they will all send you to the mystery link of the day. Hope you enjoy it.

So without further ado, onto the questions.

Susan L. is on my wavelength when it comes to what makes a good Finger Lakes wine:
I agree with your recommendation of FLX Guwertz. and Reislings. I’ll add that the DRY Reislings are far better than the other versions. Have you ever tried Rkatsiteli? It’s an old Eastern European-style white with a similar snappiness. Dr. Frank makes a good one, but McGregor Vineyard makes a Rkatsiteli-Sereksiya that is superb with poultry. Must buy it directly from the vineyard though.

Yes, indeed I have tried Dr. Frank’s Rkatsiteli. I’m a fan of unusual varietals and this one totally delivered. Thanks for the McGregor recommendation. I will have to seek them out. Sometimes these wines that are only available at the vineyard are also carried by better restaurants and wine bars. Maybe one of them can be convinced to carry it when I return.

theresa 518 learned as a child about another evil aspect of gingerbread houses:
It was a cruel life lesson to learn that something so lovely could taste so terrible once we were finally able to tear into it weeks later. Candy can go stale? Nooooooooooo.

Oh yes. Candy can get quite stale. Chocolate too. Well, that white bloominess that can appear on the outside of chocolate doesn’t affect the taste, but it does tend to happen as the chocolate sits around. Long ago when Scharffen Berger was made on antique German equipment in Berkeley, they attributed their extended shelf life to superior conching techniques. Man, that was a great factory tour. What a shame that Hershey’s purchased and destroyed the brand.

Susan L. was curious when I described my birthday as, “Once more around the sun”:
Is your title an intentional Montessori reference?

Montessori as in the schools? Nope. Actually it wasn’t an intentional reference to anything other than the passing of a year from the Earth’s perspective. I find the vastness of the cosmos to be intensely comforting. Maybe that has a wee little something to do with Monty Python. But maybe not.

Mr. Dave seems to be terrible at letting things go:
Forgot a question mark, so – Of all the New York nog travesties, have you tried the Ronnybrook nog?

I try not to sample the crappy ones. Honestly, I don’t know who is giving this excellent dairy producer such cruddy advice about product design. Some of their other offerings are also filled with dreck. And they aren’t the only ones who suffer from this phenomenon. Battenkill dairy puts awful things in their ice cream. And I beseech you not to look at the ingredients of Meadowbrook’s chocolate milk. Okay, you should always look. Just try not to hold it against them. Regardless of where your stuff comes from, always read the ingredients.

Susan L. clearly gets the award this month for most prolific questioner:
How can you mention Candy Canes without including their bastard cousin Ribbon Candy?

Ribbon candy? People actually eat that stuff? I thought it was just put in candy dishes for decoration only to be later thrown away.

albanyjane was distressed by my revelation about Lindt truffles:
LALALA, I CAN’T HEAR YOU! No, but for real. The vanillin is sad-making. But find me a truffle that satisfies my fat and sweet teeth like Lindt’s cappucino truffle. WHY DO THEY MAKE IT TASTE SO GOOD?!

I suggest you have a heart to heart conversation with Sweet Sue. If she can’t make you a real truffle that satisfies both your sweet and fat tooth, then I think it’s time to abandon all hope.

Wendy didn’t ask a question, but there was a question mark in the link she provided:
Saw this yesterday. The vanillin in artificial vanilla is chemically identical to that found in natural vanilla, as I’m sure you’re aware. And I’m sure you don’t care one iota, either.

It’s not that I don’t care. It’s that the sound bite is a bit misleading. The vanillin is the same, but vanillin is just one of the chemical compounds found in real vanilla. Look, part of me is glad there are folks out there who think vanillin and pancake syrup are the bee’s knees. Do you have any idea how expensive these things would be if everyone used them? Oh dear. That would be awful. Maybe I need to reevaluate what I’m doing here with this blog. I’m starting to think it’s in my own financial disinterest.

Mister Dave always enjoys giving me the needle:
Did you know that many distillers flavor their gin with juniper berries!?! I have read numerous articles on numerous internet “websites” stating that there could potentially be many health risks associated with juniper berry intake…

You know, I haven’t looked into it, but I wouldn’t be at all surprised if a significant quantity of gin on the market was not actually flavored with juniper berries. Seriously, there is so much cheap crap on the market, I wonder if they use flavor extracts instead to mimic the aromas of juniper and spice. I don’t even want to know.

DEN, like Wendy, provided a link with a question mark that I want to address:
Perhaps you caught this story about the New Jersey startup pinball machine company on NPR. 

Not to rub it in, but I even got to play that machine while at the museum in Asbury Park.

Deedee had another good idea instead of using a blender:
You could consider using a food mill. Mine has a choice of 3 disks for fine to coarse and works very nicely with hot foods.

Somehow I left my food mill in storage instead of packing it for Princeton. It’s one of those tools I use only a couple of times per year, and I wasn’t quite sure how much cabinet space would be available in the rental. It will be a treat to have it back in July.

Chocolate Fiend made me curse the disdain food manufacturers have for Americans:
I just checked my box of lindt truffels and they are made with real vanilla, maybe they do them differently over here (UK).

Damn and blast! I would say that I’m shocked that an international food producer would send a lesser version of their wares to the USA, but we see it far too often. So much for American exceptionalism, eh?

Burnt my Fingers was clearly asking a question here, no?
Maybe some pickle-flavored candy canes will change your tune, Profusser: 

I can’t say that sweet dill pickle suckers really float my boat. However, if you found a way to grow novelty cucumbers so they emerged from the earth shaped like a cane, and then proceeded to pickle them… well, then you might be able to change my mind.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. January 2, 2014 11:44 am

    Ha ha! If it any comfort to Albany Jane, the manager of the Lindt shop in crossgates is a very good customer of mine. We have plans to do a chocolate and wine pairing class together for a future TNO, (my chocolates). He has been taking classes to become a Sommelier, and wants to expand his craft. We have also been speaking with Frank Vollkommer, from the now closed Chocolate Mill in Glens Falls. He is our rep. from Hillcrest and a master at chocolate. Let me know your favorite profile!

  2. January 2, 2014 2:04 pm

    Ah, Profussor, that was never meant to be a question mark. The colon preceded a link to Archie McPhee’s site where you could order not only pickle flavored candy canes, but matzo-flavored candy dreidels for Hanukkah. I had not assumed you would do anything but click the link.

    Also, your Facebook link suggested, in a roundabout way, that you had some hate mail you were going to respond to. I’m a bit disappointed.

  3. January 2, 2014 9:06 pm

    I am so behind on my blogroll.

    McGregor is fantastic. It is hard to find their wines outside of the FLX, but not impossible. Next time you are on Long Island, the Empire Wine Cellars in the Riverhead outlets (I know, I know, it’s weird) likely will have some.

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