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AskTP – Fatty

April 2, 2014

There’s a distinct possibility that I’m in the best shape of my life. It’s a good thing, too, because one of the current household staples is pints of ice cream from Halo Farm. We just recently discovered Peanut Paradise, which is vanilla ice cream with a peanut butter swirl and chocolate covered peanut pieces. Damn, that’s good.

Mrs. Fussy finished it last night. The kids are not going to be pleased.

But I also have a couple cups of clarified butter, some home-rendered lard, and a cup or so of olive oil infused with the flavor of Tonno del Chianti. I’ve been roasting root vegetables in the latter, and man are those good. Oh yeah, and I just finished up the bag of lard chips.

The big question will be if I can keep up this exercise thing when I get back to Albany, or will I revert back to my old ways? Speaking of questions, it’s been a long time since I’ve answered any on the blog. You do remember that I’ve committed to answering all questions asked in the comments section of the blog, provided they use proper punctuation.

So let’s get on with another installment of Ask the Profussor.

Shawn was curious about how everyone responded to my question about red sauce joints: 
And so you can ponder the results of this post and report back to us, a question – What were the results of the questions you posed and was there any type of majority?

Looking back, perhaps it was foolish for me to ask this question on the FLB. But I thought Jenh718 did a good job of succinctly encapsulating the thoughts of the plurality of readers. You can read an excerpt of her comment below (which is part of the next question).

Jenh718 has an answer for Shawn but also asked a larger question:
It’s rare (never?) for me to go to a red sauce Italian joint. What’s the point? Anything they can do, I can do better. When I go out to eat it’s typically for things I can’t easily make at home.

Remember how I said I asked this question of the wrong audience? Well, to answer Jen’s question, there are plenty of people who go out to eat in the Capital Region just so they don’t have to cook. Someone else cooks and cleans up, and sends them home with leftovers for a week’s worth of lunches. But that’s not the only reason why people order unspectacular food at red sauce joints. Rochelle had a good answer in her question below.

Rochelle may be surprised by the sustainability of Ralph’s clam sauce:
I usually order linguini with red clam sauce. Is it because the sauce is amazing or the clams are sustainably sourced and taste like the ocean? No. I order it because I’ve been ordering it since I was in college. I liked it then and I go with what I like.

Fair enough. That’s what comfort food is all about. It brings you back to a certain time and place. Thank God I was exposed to biscuits and sausage gravy as a kid. Now I have an excuse to indulge in this fabulous southern treat. But I digress. It turns out clams are pretty much all sustainable. So there. I only wish the same thing was true about sausage gravy.

irisira did have something specific that she likes in red sauce, that she mentioned once or twice:
I like smooth sauce. It’s a texture thing for me. Oh, and did I mention basil? I like basil. :)

Basil is lovely. It’s the aroma and how well it pairs with tomatoes. But there can be trouble in paradise when fresh or even dried basil leaves simmer too long in a sauce. It gets bitter and takes on an unpleasant stewed flavor. I just recently discovered that Mandy Aftel has a Chef’s Essence spray for sweet basil. I have her black pepper spray and just got a vial of her coriander leaf drops. This stuff is amazing, and fun to play with. I bet the basil would be great for finishing a plate of silky smooth tomato sauce without those chunks of pesky leaves getting in the way.

addiesdad had a great FLB collateral idea:
Oh, and you carry much weight in Addie’s household. Your seal of approval gets me a free pass on trying/bringing home much food/wine/booze randomness. Maybe you need to make decals?

I’m so glad to hear that. Maybe I do need to make decals. Here’s a question for you. If I put a sticker on the door of an establishment, will you have carte blanche to buy anything and everything inside?

Burnt My Fingers wants to see how my small local farm’s ice cream stacks up:
Have you tried Jeni’s ice cream? Discovered this nectar at the Fancy Food Show. It’s the best ice cream I’ve ever tasted by a county mile… and it’s $10 per pint! I expect you can get it at your local Whole Foods. Would be interesting to do a taste off against Halo…

I have not. I know that I need to do it. And it’s not even that I’m put out by the price. I’ll pay $4 for four ounces of ice cream at The Bent Spoon in Princeton. At $10 for a pint it comes to just $2.50 per four ounces. For ice cream of Jeni’s caliber, that’s a bargain. When Mrs. Fussy hears this kind of logic, I get to watch cute little veins pop out of her forehead. She is less convinced. Me? I’m sure Jeni’s flavors are marvelous pairings of exotic ingredients, but it also contains tapioca starch which makes the veins in my forehead start to appear.

-R went off on senomix which must mean they are awful because he loves chemicals:
“Flavor programs”, eh? WTF are we doing to ourselves? And we thought MSG was bad?

Actually, I never thought MSG was bad. Well, maybe when I was very young. But now I think it has been unjustly vilified. What are we doing to ourselves? We’re supporting capitalism. Obviously. Hey, if we stop eating Senomix’s flavor additives just think of the devastating economic impact it will have on whoever owns senomix. That last part was supposed to be sarcastic. Or maybe sardonic. I always conflate the two.

Shawn may not realize I’m old:
Have you tried Pocket? It has helped with my tab backlog and syncs nicely across all platforms.

No. I don’t even know what that means. But it’s okay. I’ll power through just as long as I have an unlimited number of post-its to scrawl notes all over my desk.

albanylandlord may have missed the part where I said it was okay for Chipotle to sell soda:
Would Chipotle be able to raise their food prices 50 cents across the board?

Possibly. But I don’t think they would need to do that. There are other chains with similar ethical interests to Chipotle, and instead of a soda fountain they simply stock real-sugar versions of American sodas that were made in Mexico. Yes, they are more expensive. But those who really want a Coke can get a Coke, and nobody has to compromise on their principles.

Burnt My Fingers is calling me to task on a platitude:
“Deli meat isn’t my thing”? (That was a question.) I don’t see how you can claim to be a food blogger and ignore an entire food group.

Perhaps I should have been more specific. Most deli meat is disgusting, even the stuff that is trumpeted as being fancy, like Boar’s Head. Smaller scale cured meats that aren’t part of the same system are some of my favorite things. The soppressata from Fra’ Mani is incredible as is the heritage breed prosciutto from La Quercia.

How can I be a food blogger and ignore an entire group of food? Well, I don’t exactly ignore it. Every now and again I’ll have a taste of something and confirm that it’s still not for me. Which is why even if Burger King comes out with some fantastic sounding hamburger, you can bet I’ll be staying far, far away.

Rob Madeo wants to hear all about the pickle tree and the pickle fairies:
Hooray for picklebacks. Question: where does all that pickle juice come from — and what happens to the pickles?

I can’t speak for how our local joints execute this drink, but when it established a foothold in Brooklyn, the brine came from McClure’s spicy dills (and the bourbon was Old Crow). The pickles got eaten. But now it’s true that bartenders are making their own brine sans pickles. Brineback just doesn’t have the same ring to it though.

pensiveengineer was also concerned about the changing face of Wolff’s Biergarten:
What matters is the question you asked, where does it end?

Actually, I’m not convinced anymore. Mostly because DEN had the following to say before launching into his question below, “Part of Biergarten’s brand, and the brand of is sister bars, is indeed catering to a crowd that is into feats of drinking prowess. I am talking about the birthday beer boots and the corresponding feats on the Olde English and Bombers birthday drink tour.” And he’s right. I was hoodwinked into thinking that it was a German beer bar all this time. The joke’s on me.

DEN did wonder if it matters what people choose to binge drink:
Are people wasted on shots worse that people wasted after a beer boot?

Alcohol is alcohol. It’s the same poison to your body. Sweet, sweet poison. But your body does metabolize it at varying speeds, depending on multiple factors. Given that for most human beings it’s a greater physical challenge to quickly consume large quantities of beer, people can indeed get drunker quicker on shots. I mean, isn’t that the point of their existence?

Jessica R. has some early thoughts about the Tour de FroYo:
What about the idea of doing two tours on the same day, and splitting the group in half?

I like the cut of your jib, but I don’t see that being a practical solution. Mostly because like the Tour de Gelato, I foresee participants choosing flavor themes for the day. There are going to be enough variables as it stands without dividing the pack to cover more ground. Hopefully that makes some sense. If this turns out to be a popular tour, I have no problem going back for a round two to cover off some of the notable places that didn’t quite make the cut.

We’ve always liked to take the long view.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. pensiveengineer permalink
    April 2, 2014 11:52 am

    Good points DEN and Daniel. Many ppl go to bars just to get wasted and don’t really appreciate what they’re drinking. Still, I appreciate the beer selection at wolfs, and the cheap beer you get in the boot is still better than most of the swill you can get at your average bar.

  2. April 3, 2014 1:06 am

    Tapioca starch is a natural ingredient, Fussy. It’s not like Red Dye 5 or something.

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