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AskTP – August, September, Whatever

October 8, 2015

“Are you still doing Ask the Profussor?” That would be a fair question, since this is the longest stretch I’ve ever gone without dipping into the archive of unanswered questions, and providing each of them with their long-awaited response.

The short answer is, yes. In fact, I’m doing one right now. And speaking of short answers, I think that’s the only way we’re going to make it through over two months of neglect. My original commitment was to answer every question asked in the comments section of the blog, just so long as it uses proper punctuation. Never did I say the answer would be long or even complete.

So let’s power through this. If there is any good news, it’s that the velocity of questions has come down quite a bit. Maybe it’s because after over six years of writing this thing, people can Google the answers from within the blog. It’s hard to think of a subject on which I haven’t weighed in.

It’s been a long time since the last one. Hopefully you haven’t forgotten that most of the links go to the same place. It’s the mystery link of the day. Where will it take you today? I promise it will have nothing to do with my day job.

Now, without any further ado, onto the questions.

Burnt My Fingers may have just realized why his belt was feeling a bit snug:
Beer has calories?

You betcha. This dieting thing has really cut into my beer tasting. It’s a major bummer.

Doug wanted to know what case of beer I brought back from the PA farm:
What beer is it? Iron City? :)

Sam Adams Boston Lager. My father-in-law is intensely loyal to the brand. It’s almost like he has stock in the company. Perhaps he does. I have no idea. I don’t talk money with family.

C wants me to break my diet:
Have you had a chance to check out F&A Pizza on Rt. 4 across from Walmart in East Greenbush? They have some excellent crust, some of their slices are monstrosities but the Grandma’s slice is awesome and they don’t use screens!

No, but that’s good to know. Thanks for the heads up.

Burnt My Fingers felt badly about my super quick trip to Boston:
Assuming you were not on this grim schedule, what/where would you eat in Boston? What is one can’t miss place you endeavor to visit on every visit? I have those for SF, LA, NYC and even Saratoga but not Boston.

LA Burdick isn’t a Boston institution, but they used to have a chocolate cafe in Harvard Square. That was always a favorite place of mine. But usually when I visited town, I was there to see family, and there have always been small children underfoot. As many times as I have been, I’ve never done any serious eating.

Jennifer is talking trash about a very sensitive subject:
Burritos? Are those even food? Surely you can find something worth eating for the one meal you’ll eat in Boston. If you have time, I’d squeeze in a trip to any of the Flour bakery locations.

I love burritos. For over a decade, the SF Mission was usually just a short BART ride away. Those glorious tubes of meat, cheese, rice and beans were a life changing culinary awakening. The ones in Boston can’t touch their West Coast cousins. The same goes for Flour bakery. [mic drop]

jasondcruz feels the pain of Bon Appetit endorsing Breyers:
I scream,
You scream,
We all scream,
for …. Frozen Dairy Dessert?

It’s madness. I still can’t believe that was Bon Appetit. Magazine sure aren’t what they used to be.

Jack C. was a little upset about those great Italian Delis left off the Tour de Italian Deli:
So you’re limiting to that small triangle and anything outside it is off limits? I have had Genoa quite a few times and enjoyed it. I also hear great things about the Roma in Latham (and SS), but you say they’re out because they’re in Loudonville and Latham, respectively. Is it just because they aren’t in that triangle? Otherwise I’m not sure why Genoa “doesn’t count.”

Genoa doesn’t count because it’s firmly in the suburbs of Albany, and not the city itself. That said, I love the idea of doing this tour again, and perhaps this suburban tour will be activated for Summer 2016.

boya 3706 had a great point on the naming conventions used in the summer tour:
See you say tour de sandwich and then just indicate only Italian delis? Because if you’re talking sandwiches, I would recommend Little Anthony’s in Albany. They have an italian mix, but their sandwiches are fantastic. But they are NOT an Italian Deli, just a pizzeria with superior eggplant parm sandwich.

Thank you for the catch. It was your comment that shifted the tour to the Tour de Italian Deli. Because that’s totally what we were checking out. I believe that the sandwich is the window to the soul of a deli.

MikeH. may be Jack C.’s soul mate:
I could see a Latham/Colonie micro-regional tour in the future – Genoa, Roma, Bella Napoli, Positano’s, U Mundo E Ca?

Great idea. It may have to compete with another micro-region for the Summer 2016 slot. But we’ll see.

Steve N. was in my camp of the dry sandwich versus the soggy sandwich:
I like Otis’ idea, but is not an Italian mix dressed with oil and vinegar? The bread is going to absorb the dressing in transit, and the sandwich will be in a less than optimal state, with a soggy roll and/or a dry sandwich. I think these need to be eaten immediately after being made.
I also agree the team thing may not work. Why not just order the same sandwich (or two varieties) at each establishment and then cut them up and each person gets an appropriate portion?

Otis knows his stuff, and I was a fool to doubt him. These Italian Delis know that people will be taking the sandwiches to go. Most of them are absolutely built to be better after soaking in some of that oil and vinegar. Dammit. The big question is, now that I know this, do I alter the next Tour de Italian Deli to reflect this knowledge? Maybe this just needs to be worked into a tasting. Fortunately, we have all winter and spring to figure this out.

albanylandlord got excited by the festivities on our trip to Maryland:
D&D? Pool table? Sounds like a party!

Mostly, I played foosball and cooked on the indoor, gas-powered cast iron griddle. Man, that was a thing of beauty.

chezjake was speculating on a hypothesis:
And, while we’re on the subject of sandwiches, why doesn’t anyone make a rye hard roll?

Probably for the same reason that nobody makes an oatmeal croissant. There’s no demand for such things. Or even if there is, it’s more of a curiosity for a minuscule group.

Burnt My Fingers is putting ideology over taste, which is certainly understandable:
I know there are some places that pride themselves in overstuffing a sub with mediocre meats (usually Boar’s Head). In that case the one-cut method would do a better job of containing them. But we aren’t interested in such subs, are we?

I’d say it really depends on how they taste. The tours are ideological vacuums. We don’t ding donut places for using mixes or frying in partially hydrogenated oils. Nor do I think we should. By the same token, if one sandwich joint could make something super delicious by overstuffing a roll with cheap meat, more power to them.

Josh needs to find a fishmonger:
Where can I buy fish fry wholesale? I now live in GA and all they eat is tilapia…

Look for pollock. Bob & Ron’s made their name on cusk, but good luck finding that. Cod is a red herring. But if you can find whole fillets of pollock, then you can cut them into long strips, bread them, and fry them at home. I have no idea how to do this, but I trust with the internet you can find a way. Bon chance.

Shawn wasn’t crazy about the state of Italian Delis in the Capital District:
The tomatoes and prevalence of Boar’s Head is disappointing. Is everyone just using the same distributor and in order to stay price competitive using basically the same ingredients?

God is in the details. The great thing about these tours is how they can shine a light on minor but important differences in things that are ostensibly the same. Go to Rangonese for their fatty cappy and sharp provolone. Go to Andy’s and get their signature sub with the house marinated eggplant.

mr. dave clearly isn’t the target market for the craft beer revolution:
I hate beers with names. “Old Uncle Slappy’s Pschotelekenetic” and nonsense like that. Why can’t we simply have the name of the brewery followed by the style of the beer? All those precious sorts of names are so gimmicky. I hate it.

Mostly because it would seem that many of these breweries make many different forms of the same beer.

Cindy requested additional details about my bet on the Travers Stakes:
But… but… did you bet against American Pharoah? Inquiring minds want to know! (And, this made me really miss the Saratoga Racetrack.)

Nope. I put money on the “sure thing” so American Pharoah was part of my three-horse exacta box. Unfortunately, Keen Ice wasn’t.

Jack C. indicates our first Sonic in the district is substandard:
I love corndogs. And I can tell you that the long waits at the Latham Sonic are NOT standard for Sonics more generally. No idea why they take so long. Is the kitchen too small? Do they have too many customers (car bays + drive thru + indoor = critical mass)?

Did you suggest management too? I really have no idea what could be driving the wait times and incorrect orders. But it surely feels like someone over there is intent on killing the goose that lays golden eggs.

Steve N. brings up a good point:
“Maybe one day this genetic engineering technology will create crops that will save the earth or end hunger.” Have you not heard of golden rice?

Thanks for reminding me.

Enough Already! is ready to move on:
Now can we talk about frito pie?

Sure! I still remember hearing Sean Custer of Capital Q talk about running after the Frito truck so he could try and secure a supply of individual sized frito bags just for this purpose.

-R has been reading the blog for a while, so I’m surprised that he’s surprised:
Seriously? You wrote an nearly an entire blog entry about ice? I never knew it was such a thing (no surprise really), but it begs the larger question of why you are flying a private charter out of Million Air? Surely if you can afford the charter, then a $400 ice maker seems like pocket change…

Ice is important. This isn’t the first post that I’ve dedicated to the subject either. For what it’s worth, I don’t fly out of Million Air. But my mom will occasionally land there with deliveries of meatballs from Venda Ravioli in Providence, RI.

Klab has an interesting idea about what it means to promote a business:
You wrote about their ice being the best thing going for them. Yet you admitted that they skimped on the ice in your drink then they also skimped on your requested side of extra ice since there wasn’t enough in your drink. How can you seriously promote this place if the one thing you think makes them worthy failed you?!

I saw the post as more of an indictment than a promotion, for all the reasons you listed.

Attila Szendrodi got LorreS up in a huff with these questions:
13 months into the Capital Region and I’ve yet to find a real good pizza. Best of the bunch were DiFazios (love, love, love the wood fired char but why is the crust so thick?) and, even with the weird square pseudo-pan style, Testo’s. No place around seems to be able to make a true, thin crust, fold in half NYC style pizza. Also, what is with the strange sizing? Pizzas are small, medium, and large. Is it some Capital Region thing to label them as 6-cut, 8-cut, 10-cut etc..?? I never know what to order because they all have their own interpretation and I never know what it truly means.

DeFazio’s uses a thick crust to hold up the toppings. This beloved shop makes a topping-centric pie with great high quality ingredients. The sizing is a regional peculiarity to be sure. Is it uniform to the inch? No. But it doesn’t take too long to get the hang of it. Some of these regional variations are special and should be embraced as our culture grows ever more homogenous, and ever less interesting.

LorreS is getting all philosophical on Attila:
Why do people constantly attack Albany as a culinary backwater for not having their favorite foods? Thousands of other cities and towns around the world do not have these foods. Honestly people – come to a mature understanding that what you learned to love at home is not going to offered everywhere.

Maybe because everyone else is doing it? I’ve said before that Albany is a place with an inferiority complex. And as such, it measures itself against others. And I think this is where that mindset begins. But I agree, that the better approach is to find out what Albany does well, and seek out those things to enjoy on their own terms.

Stanford Steph continues to have a lot of love for her favorite New York winery:
Very glad you got to taste the Keuka Spring selections. Now when will you get west to the tasting room?

When the kids are done with college? But hopefully sooner.

Irie mahn has some interesting ideas:
Again, food is about survival, not pleasure – TV and media did a pretty good job getting you to think that way – feeling hungry? eat…and move on with life, theres [sic] people that dreams about a nice meal, here we stand and argue about WHAT we going to eat for pleasure. Thats my 2 cents and im [sic] out.

You know what else is about survival? Sex. Thankfully our brains are wired to take some pleasure in the routine acts of survival so that we’re not just simply living and dying on this small piece of rock hurtling through the vast emptiness of space. I like to take pleasure where I can find it, and if that comes in the things I have to do every day just to live, all the better.

Jack C. asks a question with a hotly contested answer:
Also, out of curiosity, where is the best pho in town?

My pick is Saigon Pearl in Albany.

Eric T. went to The Enchanted City and was… well… enchanted:
Seriously, those duck confit pot pies were amazing. I’m seriously regretting I didn’t buy a few extra to take home with me! Was it my imagination that the crust inside the tin (as opposed to on top of the whole pie) was cornbread?

Man, that would have been brilliant. I hadn’t been regretting it, but now I am. My thoughts on that bottom crust was that it was texturally different from absorbing some of the duck fat and gravy. However, I’m relatively sure it’s based on the same dough. Of course, I could be wrong.

Roger K. wanted to see me rocking the steampunk judge look:
So where’s your honor’s picture?

Somewhere on Yelp, I’m told.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. October 8, 2015 10:14 am

    Just back from Boston, as it happens, or more correctly Dorchester, home of cheap lodging and Vietnamese restaurants. Can heartily recommend Pho Hoa for pho and Bahn Mi Ba Le for bahn mi (but don’t get their combo, which is not as good as the single meat options, especially the “dried pork”).

    Also, don’t laugh, the Boston Convention Center actually has pretty decent catered food.

  2. Eric T permalink
    October 8, 2015 12:08 pm

    And what’s wrong with Tour della Deli?

  3. October 11, 2015 12:13 pm

    The wig was a superb idea.

  4. October 13, 2015 9:02 pm

    I’ve had the pizza at F&A, don’t waste your time. Apparently mountains of toppings is their thing. The pie I had, had so much cheese it was almost inedible. It was disgusting. And the crust is nothing special, it’s flavorless and spongy.

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