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AskTP – Lightning Round

August 28, 2014

August has been such a slam-a-rama month, I can’t believe it’s almost gone. College has begun. Grade school starts next week. And that means soon I’ll be diving back head first into exploring all of the Capital Region’s hidden nooks and crannies.

Maybe I’ll even find the time to transcribe those old interviews with the Jersey Artisan Distillery founders and the owner of the American Diner.

But before I can think of doing that, I’ve got to rid myself of a burden. Specifically, I’m thinking of the huge pile of unanswered questions that have gone without a response for far too long. After all, I made a commitment long ago to answer all reader questions. So every now and again I tackle a bunch of them in one go and post them in a little feature we’ve been calling Ask the Profussor.

Now without any further ado, onto the questions.

enough already! defended against my snark offensive:
“enough already! wants to give me diabetes” -not so…
But how does this compare to cupcake, ice cream, donut, etc. tours?
Seriously, I was thinking not biggest is best, but a quality comparison, and all things being equal, rating price per unit weight, for example. Sounds like you are not fond of croissants aux amandes.

Fair point. Eating five sugar coated apple cider donuts doesn’t seem much worse than sampling five almond croissants. It’s just that I find the ones at Mrs. London’s to be so so dreadfully sweet. As far as I’m concerned, it’s gilding the lily. I am not a fan of croissants aux amandes (which isn’t to say that one fantastic version wouldn’t win me over).

Theresa Setzer is a member worker at the best CSA in the Capital Region:
Roxbury CSA? Worked the opening shift for our location yesterday. Best week so far and can’t wait to try the corn tonight!

Roxbury. That’s the one. We’ve been loving the corn, and the tomatoes, and the Carmen peppers, and the parsley. The dill, not so much.

Mike H is heading in a good direction for summer cocktails:
This post got me to go out and pick up a bottle of Tanqueray, club soda and some lemons. Great drink for a hot day. I also tried with half lemon and half lime juice – have you ever had a gin and Wink? My parents used to drink them when I was a kid. I don’t know if you can still get Wink.

I haven’t. Good luck in your search for a soda from yesteryear. Never give up hope. But know going into it that should you find it, any cane sugar has likely been replaced with HFCS.

Burnt My Fingers is both wrong and right at the same time:
I still worry about you and that crap grill. It seems like you are determined to make it work just because you paid for it. If someone brought home a bunch of groceries full of GMOs and HFCS, would you adopt the same philosophy?

Worry not. The grill has been doing admirably. My fire roasted corn and flame licked roast peppers really hit the spot. The thing is that I don’t want a gas grill at all. This is more of an experiment in how much a gas grill chips away at my soul. That said, I’m still vehemently anti waste. So yes, I would absolutely find a way to make a bunch of groceries filled with GMOs and HFCS work. Heck, I did that recently with the 7-Up biscuits. I was even the one to put the 7-Up and Bisquick on the shopping list. So there. As I’ve said many times before, I’m no monk.

Patrick came to the defense of the great state of New York:
Would it be better if there was a “sandwich rule” and a “burrito rule” and a “wrap rule” and a “hot dog rule” and a new rule for every variation of hand-held food? Then, there would be a Vox article about the unnecessary proliferation of tax regulations. Or maybe the State should have made up a nonsense word for the category?

No. It would be better if there was a “Taxable Food” category and a “Non-taxable Food” category. That is simple. The sandwich thing only creates confusion as the Gothamist post you linked to demonstrates further.

llcwine might be the one who wants to give me diabetes:
You never had a Teglach??? At Rosh Hashanah, sukkot? We used to make it with soup mandlen, honey, maracchino cherries and nuts…mixed in a bowl and then piled high…very very sweet and very very sticky….enjoy!!!

Nope. Never had it. I’ve never seen it. Until recently, I’d never even heard of it. Sadly, we didn’t get the chance to stop there while at the lakehouse. But hopefully it’s a stop we can make on future trips down to the farm in Pennsylvania.

-R should be congratulated for pointing out an alarming fact hiding in plain sight:
Is it just me, or have wings also gotten exponentially larger in the past couple of years? I used to be able to finish off a flat in around three bites. Now, some of them things are monsters, and it can take six or seven bites to get through one. Perhaps we should also be considering the hormone-fueled aspects of these jumbo wings – I mean, what the hell does the breast look like one one of those big birds? Are they being bred specifically to have super sized wings?

You are totally right. Chickens are getting bigger. It is crazy hard to find a three pound bird these days. For what it’s worth, I like my wings small. The skin to meat ratio is better that way. Anyone who argues there should be more meat on chicken wings is totally missing the point.

MikeH isn’t crazy about my ongoing support for one wing joint in Buffalo:
Daniel I notice you always mention Anchor Bar when you post about wings. Have you ever had their wings? Albeit the alleged inventor of the delicacy, in my opinion they are mediocre at best.

I’ve never been to the Anchor Bar. One day I’ll probably have to go simply for science. But I too am certain that the best wings in Buffalo can be found elsewhere. From all I’ve heard, Anchor has become a cartoon version of itself, a victim of its own success. But the reason I mention them is because this bar is widely accepted to be the place where Buffalo wings began. Origins matter. Even if they are just origin myths.

Chef Paul misses the third option:
Is it the restaurant to blame for creating these enormous plates? Or did they simply give the consumer what they demanded? It’s a really tough one, and I have thoughts on both sides.

Or is it the government that subsidizes the production of cheap high fructose corn syrup and allows vile practices to be permissible in meat and dairy production in order to keep costs down? We wouldn’t have plates piled high with all of these calories if the calories themselves weren’t so damn cheap. It’s time to end the subsidies on the junk and reconsider our priorities as a nation.

Dave and I have different opinions on the state of upstate salad greens:
Salad greens should be outlawed for most of the year in Upstate NY? Why? Are you talking about a specific “salad green”? Most lettuces/greens are good cool weather crops. A lot of salad greens will actually bolt in the heat of July/August. You can grow good greens from April/May-ish right up to the first frost (early October-ish). You can get away with stuff like kales and spinaches in surprisingly cold weather.

I’m not talking about spinach and kale. Yes, they show up in salads, but raw spinach is nasty. Massaged kale salads I’m fine with, but it’s a much heartier green. Regardless of how good lettuce does in cool weather, transporting those tender greens through our harsh wasteland results in sad, limp, browned, and shriveled leaves. You can see the toll it takes on lettuce at the grocery store, and it’s a tale echoed on salad plates throughout the region for much (if not most) of the year.

Burnt My Fingers isn’t convinced we’re more chicken than the Russians:
Wait a minute. When you wash a chicken, do you do it in the sink and clean the surfaces and hands after? Or do you hold it up in the air and splash water on it? The blurb author evidently assumes the latter. How stupid do they think we are? (Those are all questions.)

I don’t let food I plan to eat touch the bottom of my sink. Not that my sink is particularly dirty. It’s a long story. Suffice it to say I was one of those stupid people who was holding their raw chicken under running water. But now I’m just going to do it the Russian way. And that doesn’t involve tossing back a shot of vodka when the bird goes in the oven.

jasondcruz is on a chicken wing mission from God:
Have you tried the “Noodle soup with spicy chicken wing” at Taiwan Noodle? For me, it’s close to the perfect wing preparation. Four piping hot crispy (outside) and moist (inside) wings sprinkled with five spice, and a bowl of home-made noodles and clear broth with bok choi.

You know what, I haven’t. Probably because I assumed they would put the wings on top of the soup, totally ruining the crispy fried exterior. But you make it sound as if the wings come on the side. That would indeed by an exciting option. Four wings, plus noodles sounds fantastic.

Burnt My Fingers sounds like he’s seriously considering my Elizabeth recommendations:
A layover at Newark airport is entirely doable. Would you advise renting a car? Or cab? If the former, will the Tommy’s dog trigger the $100 cleaning fee?

I’d probably cab it, get the Italian ice first, eat it while you wait for the double Italian hot dog with the works to be made, and have Tommy wrap up the dog to go. Then you can eat your trophy in the safety of the airport under all sea of jealous eyes. Even better, you can bring your dog on the plane and be the envy of every passenger.

Zena, Goddess of Fire, may not quite understand exactly what I do here at the FLB:
I think you’re nit picking. What did it taste like???

The devil is in the details. Taste is important, but I’ve explained time and time again why taste alone cannot be the ultimate factor in what makes something good. For what it’s worth, the green mint chocolate chip was a bit too potent. It’s a lot easier to go overboard when using extracts and dyes instead of opting for ingredients made from actual food.

omaxwell comments a lot, but must have missed all my posts ranting about artificial colors:
And what’s wrong with food coloring? You think the peppermint oil in those chips was distilled in house?

Who puts peppermint oil in the chocolate chips? I’m fairly certain that all mint chocolate chip ice cream I’ve ever had has used regular dark chocolate chips mixed into a mint ice cream base.

I’m not sure if all food coloring is terrible for you, but I’m convinced that some of it is. Tartrazine is on my list of bad things. And that’s yellow. And it takes yellow and blue to make green, I’m deeply suspicious of things dyed green.

MB is getting a little bit of bad news from the Profussor:
We used to stop at Shadowbrook Dairy Bar in Tunkhannock, PA. As far as I know, they made their own ice cream and mint chip was my favorite. Their mint chip was my first encounter with white instead of green and since then, I have always considered white more authentic, but that probably has to do with the overall experience – that ice cream was the best I ever had. I haven’t been in that area in years and have no idea if those ice cream recipes are still being used. Anyone know?

Well, the Times-Tribune reported, “The Dairy Bar part of the resort was sold in 2002 and refurbished as a Perkins Restaurant.” Sorry. I guess the world needed one more Perkins more than it needed one of the last remaining dairy bars.

Burnt My Fingers is team dill, and that’s okay:
“Funk of dill”? Really? Stank up your freezer? I think somebody pulled the old switcheroo on the profussor. That’s not the dill I know and love.

Someone else suggested that perhaps the dill had begun to pollinate. It’s possible. But that was some funky potent dill. And the smell clung to my ice cube trays for weeks after the dill left the house. I can’t make up stuff like this.

addiesdad had a bad experience with coffee:
Whither the pour over? So, I’m in San Fran and visit a coffee truck I thought would be on Fussys wheelhouse. No auto drip, just french press and pour over. I go for the pricey pour over with some wonderful Central American bean. And I don’t get it. The coffee was delicious but not what I was hoping for. Can it be the pour over needs to be an at home experience where I can bask on the aroma and ritual? It took 10 minutes for a good but not AWESOME cuppa. What’re your experiences with commercial pour overs?

The modern pour over is more about nuance and delicacy. Besides for the ones at Philz, I’ve never had one knock my socks off. It’s a preparation of coffee that I believe in, and one that I’ll choose when I’m in the mood for brewed coffee. But like all things, awesome versions are few and far between.

irisira apparently doesn’t realize the downside to stockpiling butter:
So, how was the Kriemhild? We’ve mostly been purchasing the unsalted Kerrygold (rBST free, as it is made in the EU!)

I have no idea. It’s still sitting unopened in my fridge. It will keep better that way. What I do know is that the Kerrygold isn’t nearly as good as what The Cheese Traveler brings in from France to use on their grilled cheese sandwiches (and also sell in small containers for home use).

Lorres found the story about Rush Creek Reserve production being cancelled this year:
And then there’s the fact that the FDA is trying to kill off our artisan cheesemaker businesses for no good reason whatsoever. I mean, wtf???

The government has no interest in people eating delicious food. We can’t import the best cheeses from France. But ingredients that have been banned in other countries for the sake of public health are perfectly fine to feed to Americans. Having a food based business in this country is a labor of love. Just peeking into a few of the regulations and the guidance statements issued by regulating bodies makes my head spin.

LB has a hot tip on some cool milk:
Have you tried Cowbella’s unhomogenized milk yet? I just picked some up at Honest Weight but haven’t finished my previous bottle yet.

No. I didn’t even know they started bottling fluild milk. I’m a fan of their yogurt, but not a big fan of their butter. But I’m stoked that this small local dairy decided to skip homogenization. I’ll have to seek it out soon. Thanks.

Burnt My Fingers gives a lesson in both traditional marketing and social media marketing:
It is the job of marketing to put lipstick on a pig and make it more attractive. Shocking! You would prefer that Gary Dake make a video and point out all the things that are wrong with Stewart’s? He is very active on Twitter. I know this because when I complained that I couldn’t find a place that still steamed its Deli Dogs he responded with the list the same day. Go ahead and try and engage him on this topic and let us know how you do.

I’d like Gary to point out all the awesome things they do even better than the farmers market. The hen to store story is a goldmine. The eggs I get from Stewart’s are often better than what I can get from my favorite farmers. And he would be smart to put the Stewart’s skim milk up against an ultra-pasteurized organic skim milk in a blind taste test. Stewart’s would win at about half the price. It would make for an amazing claim that would be 100% honest.

For what it’s worth, I tagged Gary on Twitter, so we’ll see if he responds. He may be on vacation because his feed has been inactive since August 18.

addiesdad may not have watched the whole video:
I don’t think he’s trying to persuade farmers’ market shoppers that Stewarts is an alternative, but rather convince those that do shop at Stewarts that they don’t need to go to a farmers’ market to get quality, local products. What do you think?

Given that the video starts with how great it is to shop at a local farmers market, including glamor shots of a real farmers market in action, I think it’s a message aimed toward that crowd. I think that’s also the reason for a message that includes thoughts on antibiotics and GMOs. The demographics of the region are changing. My bet is that Stewart’s is recognizing this and is trying to pull in these new local transplants with a message of farmers market competitive quality (with the added convenience of a c-store).

Did you really make it to the end? If you did, give yourself a pat on the back. You earned it.

5 Comments leave one →
  1. August 28, 2014 11:10 am

    @enoughalready- are there really even 5 croissants in the capital region that would be worth trying? Apart from Daniel, the Mrs. London almond croissant seems to be the gold standard. And it is sweet but I’ve tried almond croissants at all the top patisseries in NYC and they’re all sweet. Almond paste is intensely sweet even before other ingredients are added to it.

    @MikeH- here’s your soda . I’d imaging it has a lot of not good ingredients in it but it sounds like the nostalgia factor is important to you. That being said, gin & tonics are my go-to, year round, drink and I love them with Fever Tree tonic (introduced to me by Wrigsmac) which has no HFCS or food coloring and the bitter lemon flavor is perfect for g&t.

    @Dave- you’re right, kale is an excellent cold tolerant green and I’ve had some plants that continuously produced into early December.

    @omaxwell- a quick internet search will inform you of what’s wrong with food coloring.

    @Dan re: @irisira’s comment- what’s wrong with stockpiling butter? It’s fine in the freezer for at least a couple of months. And while the CT might have delicious butter, it’s really not practical for anything other that small special occasion as it’s crazy $$$.

  2. August 28, 2014 2:49 pm

    I wasn’t talking about just kale and spinach… I was taking issue with you “salad greens” not available “most of the year” assertion. No one is arguing that bibb lettuce shipped in in December will be any good, but you can get good locally grown lettuces (not just kale/spinach) from probably about late March until early October in zone 5. That is 6 months of the year.

    So had you said that the “salad greens (from the conversation I presume you are referring strictly to romaine/iceberg/spring mix)” that you personally prefer were not available for *half* of the year then we would be in agreement. And by the way, it is tyrannical to be telling people what are and are not “salad greens.”

  3. boya3706 permalink
    August 29, 2014 8:59 am

    I’ve tried Kreimhild when they first started carrying it in our Price Chopper a year ago (the Clifton Park one) it was on sale and we got it and ate it in two days.
    I did have a question though regarding iced coffee. I can’t seem to figure out between all the local coffee shops (including Stewarts) how it was invented to be prepared and consumed. Stewarts leaves more room in the cup to fill with ice to be desired and I’ve seen them pour more milk in there on top of it than I want to consume in a week. Any chance we could get a run down of iced coffee origins, preparation and original intent of serving? It would be appreciated. I’ve never experienced iced coffee until I moved here. Seems to be a New England thing.

  4. August 29, 2014 11:46 pm

    Thanks for researching the end of Shadowbrook. At least, I no longer have to keep the Dairy Bar on the bucket list.

  5. August 31, 2014 10:20 am

    Kerrygold is convenient as it is sold at Trader Joe’s. We got this French butter from the co-op a while back, damned if I can remember the name of it. I’ll have to check out the butter from the Cheese Traveler. I haven’t been in a while, and I am overdue. :)

    As for Buffalo wings, C went to graduate school in Buffalo and maintains that Duff’s are the best wings, which from talking to other Buffalonians seems to be the general consensus. That said, he does think that the Anchor Bar has very good wings, just not nearly as good as Duff’s. Even so, I love the Ruck in part because there is always amazing craft beer to be had when eating the wings on site.

    Which reminds me – last time we were in Buffalo we stayed with friends who have a 6-year-old. We decided takeout from Duff’s, while imperfect, made more sense for a number of reasons. They got the 6-year-old a dozen wings with just butter sauce, and Duff’s ended up sending some hot sauce on the side. We tried the butter sauce wings and dipped them in the hot sauce and OMG … this is clearly the way to do takeout wings. No sogginess!

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