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2014: The Stories That Resonated

December 30, 2014
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One of these days I’ll write another post that takes off and becomes a juggernaut. Way back in 2009, I wrote a little post about the effects of corn starch in the process of tenderizing meat. In 2014 alone, it got more traffic than the combined pageviews of this year’s top 10.

That’s just how big it is.

There’s another post that’s on its way to superstardom status. I wrote it last year in an effort to try my hand at click bait. The findings were that click bait works, but it also makes makes me feel dirty. So, you won’t be finding more titles like 3 Reasons Not To Trust Dunkin’ Donuts on the FLB anytime soon.

Still, I did have ten posts that broke away from the rest of the pack in 2014. Given their relative success, it’s likely that you not only read them, but you shared them as well. Because, that’s how ideas on blogs take off. Not from the reading, but from the clicks on the buttons below that place the posts in your Facebook or Twitter feeds. You may notice that the top two posts were shared over 100 times on Facebook. That’s amazing. Thank you. Seriously. I can’t tell you how much I appreciate these small acts of support.

So? What were these posts from the past twelve months? Okay. Here we go.

10. Understanding Albany’s Love of Chains
This one is especially cogent now as the news that Sonic is finally coming to the Capital Region has people frothed up into a lather of excitement. I don’t really get it either. But the post should help to explain the phenomenon.

9. The Fault in Our Stars
Usually, it takes a while for a post to get into the top 10. But this was from December 22. The fact that it reached a significant audience in such a short time gives me hope that this ongoing discussion on whether the Capital Region may ever have a Michelin starred-restaurant will have some legs.

8. Six Albany Gems
When I first moved to the Capital Region in 2007, the transition was rough. When I moved back this past July, it was a lot smoother. Even though some of my favorite places had closed, others were still kicking and there were some new and notable additions to the scene. Anyhow, this details a few of the places I was glad to find open upon my arrival.

7. The Restaurant of My Dreams
Change is a constant in the restaurant business. The fine dining restaurant that opened as Dale Miller converted into a place called Taste. Then they brought in Mark Graham. More recently they threw out their menu entirely for a changing weekly fixed price concept. Wow. I’ve been hoping someone would have the guts to do this for years. Bravo.

6. The Best Cider Donut Late in the Season
The move, travel, and other scheduling fiascos doomed the FLB’s summer tour, but the annual Tour de Cider Donut is non-negotiable. Sure, it happened a bit later than others in the past, but it happened, dammit. This was the wrap up, declaring the best of the bunch. And these are routinely very popular posts. I mean, who doesn’t want to know where they can get the best apple cider donuts in apple cider donut country?

5. Challah French Toast Pancakes
Don’t ever let anyone tell you that advertising doesn’t work. You’ve probably gotten sick of looking at this stack of golden brown pancakes with their crisp edges sitting on a plain white plate, just begging for you to pour some dark maple syrup all over them. But every day people click on it. And every day someone new learns of their splendor. Hopefully people are actually making them. Words and pictures can only go so far.

4. The Sauce
Holy comments, Batman. People have strong feelings on tomato sauce. And I love how responsive readers were to the request for detail as to who makes the best red sauce in the Capital Region and why. If you didn’t have a chance to weigh in at the time, it’s not too late.

3. Two Fancy Mexicans
Lots of people were excited at the arrival of Mexican Radio in Schenectady. I wasn’t one of them. And this post tried to be illustrative of why that was the case by pitting some selections from the restaurant’s menu against those from a similar restaurant on the West Coast. I think the comparisons are fair and balanced, but I’ll let you decide.

2. The First Local Tastemaker Nominations
While it brings me great joy that so many people were interested in this idea, I’ve got some disappointing news. The FLB is going to indefinitely postpone the feature. It’s a long story, and I will get to it in detail come January. It has absolutely nothing to do with the talent in our community. I was really encouraged by the support and the nominations. And everyone mentioned in the post is worthy of the title. Really, it has more to do with my larger plans for 2015, which I’ll talk about in broad strokes tomorrow. As excited as I am about the future, I’m still bummed to put this on hold.

1. Small, Cheap & Unique
People in the Capital Region who love food still have never heard of these six great restaurants. It’s amazing. Even after writing this post, and after it was featured on All Over Albany, and after all the shares on social media, I went to the All Over Albany party at New World Catering, and talked with someone who still never heard of these places. Don’t give up the fight. Keep on sharing and spreading the word. Let’s not lose another great small place, and let’s let the success of these businesses be an inspiration to others that Albany has a market for great food at reasonable prices.

There you have it. Now come back tomorrow, and I’ll try my best to predict the future.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. December 30, 2014 10:51 am

    Daniel, the blog is fantastic. I really should comment more. . . as I have so many thoughts when reading your Blog (which means you are truly great at what you do), but often, time gets the best of me. I live a life against the clock, as I literally work (in some form or another) 20 hours per day.

    Through your blog, I found a love for Zomick’s (??) Challah, over at Whole Foods. The challah rolls were addictive as a dinner bread, but even better as breakfast sandwich rolls. There was a flavor in this challah that was not only amazing – but very unique. Unfortunately, I have have not seen the Zomick’s bread or rolls at WF in several weeks. Just when you learn to love something :(

    Kudos for avoiding the Click Bait! I spent 11 years as an SEO specialist (what can I say, I am a very well rounded baker – but, you need to be, these days!). Black hat tricks work. They really do – but only for a short time. It’s all smoke and mirrors. The ones that stand the test of time are sites with actual great useful and strategically created content – like FLB. Growth takes a long time – and the FLB has come a long way, and continues to do so. Truly a great job!

    Happy New Year!

  2. December 30, 2014 3:08 pm

    Daniel
    Ive enjoyed perusing these posts, and Ive written one that briefly touches on them. Interested in seeing what you write tomorrow..

  3. BlueCollarCritic permalink
    January 8, 2015 1:32 pm

    I’d say the most powerful stories you did in 2014 were those that covered the dangers of the junk they put in our food from HFCS (High Fructose Corn Syrup) to the dangers of GMO and the fact that many a food manufacture would prefer we as customers not know if some food product contains GMO. The public is now so aware of the dangers of HFCS that the food industry is being forced to act unfortunately they are once again choosing to be deceptive. Back in 2012 big corn refines like Archer Daniels Midland tried to get the FDA to let them rename HFCS as “corn sugar” but thankfully that was denied. Proves that there are still a few good people left at these agencies. Now in 2015 they are taking a new direction and instead of going through official channels such as with the FDA name change they are option to replace HFCS with HFCS-90 and call it “fructose”. You can find out more about this on the corn growers association website. HFCS contained between 40 to 50 percent fructose where as HFCS-90 contains 90 percent fructose. So they are doubling up on the poison and calling it by a less scary sounding name. If we had a legitimate government someone would be in court over this kind of deceptive practice.

    In your “3 Reasons to not trust Dunkin Donuts” article you make the following statement in regards to how the blue berry donut has no actual fruit let alone blue berries in it: “Sounds delicious. But seriously, I have no idea how the donut maker is legally allowed to say they sell blueberry donuts when they don’t.”

    The reason Dunkin Donuts can get away with this is the same reason just about any/every medium to large sized corporation can do the same; they have partial ownership of our government, its agencies (like the FDA) and the men and women in it who are supposed to represent their constituents in Congress. The recent changes in political contributions has further eroded our protections by allowing these same powerful corporate entities to give even more money (aka buy more political favors) albeit they have to do it through a front called a PAC (Political Action Committee).

    When you combine that corruption/collusion between government and private business with a revolving door policy at these federal agencies like the FDA it’s no wonder these food outlets can get away with selling us all kinds of poisons. I’m just glad that the people in general are waking up to this and seeing what’s going on.

    Thanks!

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