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The Best Dozen of 2015

December 29, 2015
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What is December without a year-end listicle or two? Every year there are some posts that inspire people to share them on Facebook or Twitter. Some folks will still email stories. Others will post links to them in blogs of their own. I have no idea why they do it. Maybe I’ve tapped into the zeitgeist. Perhaps they reveal something wonderful that was hidden in plain sight. Or it could be that my argument was so outrageous, it couldn’t be ignored.

Whatever the case, it warms my heart every time a post gets passed along. It truly does. When stories get shared, it helps me know that the blog is doing something right.

The FLB is also a stimulus-response machine. When I see certain types of stories resonate with readers, it’s more likely that another post will appear along those same lines. And conversely, when I hear crickets every time I write about wine, I’ll need to have something awfully important to say if I’m going to post a wine story.

So the following is less of a self-congratulatory lap around the last twelve months, and rather a reflection on what worked. Maybe you’ve read all of these. Maybe their time has passed, and the stories are no longer relevant. Or perhaps you missed one of these the first time around, and might be interested in giving it a read today.

There was one story I wrote in 2015 that totally eclipsed them all.

The Unexpected Dangers of Farming
Over three thousand Facebook shares? That still is a shocking number to me. But the truth of the matter is that nobody else was sharing Joshua Rockwood’s side of the story after his farm was raided by police and he was accused of animal cruelty. So his supporters, when trying to set the record straight, had only one place to turn to share a bigger-picture take on the unfortunate events of February 2015. Fortunately, the farm was able to crowdsource enough money to prepare a legal defense, and I have every confidence that things will work out. I’m just glad I was able to help.

The Best of the West Cider Donuts
Four hundred facebook shares is still remarkable. But these Fussy Little Tour results are always popular, and the apple cider donut tours have really gotten a reputation. This year’s tour took us to some beloved, and amazing places off most people’s radar north and west of Schenectady. The donuts of this grouping may have been the strongest showing of any tour to date. If you can’t stop at five places, this rundown can help to narrow the field.

Constructive Criticism for Wine & Dine
This post may not have been shared as many times, but it was still the third most-read piece on the blog this past year. And it was a guest post from Deanna Fox. She really knocked it out of the park on how the annual Wine & Dine for the Arts event in Albany could be made better. The argument, and the thirty comments that follow, are definitely worth a read if you missed it the first time around.

The Difference in Italian Delis
Remember what I said about the popularity of Fussy Little Tour results? 137 people shared this on their Facebook walls. This was really an eye opening tour for me, since I had totally missed a few key points of the Italian mix sandwich. All the versions we had over the course of the day were totally different. And there were beloved places that fell short. I’m really looking forward to trying this again in another sub-region of the Capital District.

Burger Fee Fi Fo Fum
You know what else is perennially popular? Posts on national chains. Chipotle got a lot of coverage in the blog’s earlier years. But this was the rundown from the press tasting that I was invited to attend. We were given a shocking amount of food to evaluate. The shock and awe campaign must have been effective, because I came out of there with a positive opinion of the place. Afterwards it won the All Over Albany burger tasting, even though my personal preference was for the juicier patties from Burger 21.

Three Years in Troy
The first time I met Vic Christopher, he had a giant project beard and he was covered with construction muck, as he was renovating what is now the Lucas Confectionery Wine Bar. The rest is history. This post was about the Wine Bar’s third anniversary and how Vic and Heather turned this one idea into an empire of cool, and helped to revitalize downtown Troy. The Trojans are a mighty proud (and social) people. So writing a glowing story about a beloved institution is a sure fire way to get attention. It’s true.

Five Totally Different Tavern Pies
Score another victory of the Fussy Little Tour results. This one put tavern pies up against each other. Sure, the pizza snobs may like to look down their noses at the doughy, saucy, cheesy pies that are served with beer on metal trays at our neighborhood watering holes. But these pizzas–and yes, they are pizzas–can be delicious. Especially that amazing cheese one from Hill Street Cafe. And now I know about the glory of Ralph’s double-pepperoni pie too.

Nice, Good & Reasonable: Found
It took me years to find something that approached the restaurant of my dreams in the Capital Region. But I argue that I found such a thing in Peck’s Arcade. Yes. That’s Vic & Heather’s fancy restaurant in Troy. And as I mentioned, they have a posse. As does the city. Justifiably so. That’s what helped bring this post to over seventy shares on Facebook. But the video in the post probably didn’t hurt either.

The Chronic Sonic
One of the big food events that went down in 2015 was the opening of our first Sonic Drive-In. And people went batshit crazy. For week, if not months, you couldn’t actually pull your car into the drive-in because there was such a demand for their anachronistic car hop service. People were wondering what the appeal was all about, and why our fellow citizens might be in such a frenzy. Amazingly, it kind of turned into a referendum on the culture of the Capital Region, and I thought the columnist from the newspaper had missed a few key points.

A New Era for the FLB
At the end of January, I came out. Before then I was secretly in training. But this was when I announced that I would be Albany’s very first Community Ambassador for Yelp. This was my dream job when I moved to the Capital Region eight years ago, but it just didn’t exist out here at the time. It’s now my main paid gig. The blog continues, but the freelance writing had to go on hold. Anyhow, this post spelled out the plan for moving forward.

The Farm to Pizza Box Business
I got to meet Farmer Gordon for the first time back in March with friend and chef Ellie Markovitch. He showed us all the work that goes into the long slow ferment for his pizza crust. We tried a couple of pies, and I learned more about what he was trying to accomplish. The more I listened, the more impressed I became. If 9 Miles East Farm isn’t on your radar, you should read this.

Pics From an Upstate New York Dinner
Closing out the top dozen is this photo-rich post, with pics courtesy of chef John Ireland. When I asked chefs to think of menus using locally sourced ingredients that would be part of an Upstate New York cuisine, chef Ireland informed me that he would be making the menu for a private dinner. The news sadly did not come with an invitation. But he promised to send pictures. I’m thrilled at the response this story received, and the conversations it has started about what it means for the future of our culinary destiny.


Thank you all for helping to make this the best year yet for the FLB. I’m looking forward to more great things in the year ahead. I already have one idea for something fun in the new year. But you’re just going to have to wait.

One Comment leave one →
  1. RogerK permalink
    December 29, 2015 11:40 am

    Thank you Daniel, for your very informative and entertaining blog postings, and a Happy, Healthy, and Productive wish for the New Year to you.

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