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Fussy Through the Ages

December 30, 2015
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I did say that there would be listicles. The problem was that I was up too late drinking beers at the farm and didn’t leave enough time for a proper story about food and preparing for New Year’s Eve.

Usually, New Year’s has been a low key affair down on the farm. This year, I think it’s going to be a low key affair back in Albany. The event that The Hill at Muza is hosting sounds wonderfully low key, but I think we’re going to stay off the roads.

Anyhow, yesterday I shared the top stories that were written last year. But one of the interesting things about the FLB is that there are a handful of posts that continue to have a long and fruitful life for years and years thanks to the magic of the interwebs. Some make sense. One was my attempt at writing a clickbait article, which totally worked, but felt dirty. Most of the others are just strongly held opinions that have been connecting with people for years.

The most popular post, though, has been pulling in readers since 2009.

The Secret To Oddly Tender Chinese Meat – 2009
This post is a juggernaut. It cannot be stopped. It cannot be contained. It describes, poorly, the technique of velveting meat. It’s a great trick for turning cheap, tough cuts of beef into flavorful and fork-tender strips of protein. But most people haven’t heard of velveting. And many people turn to Google as they wonder how the meat in their Chinese take-out is so impossibly tender.

3 Reasons Not To Trust Dunkin’ Donuts – 2009
My prevailing theory is that people are actually addicted to these donuts. That’s the only plausible explanation as to how otherwise reasonable people continue to buy sweets at this ubiquitous chain that’s both significantly more expensive and significantly worse than its independent competitors. So here’s a post designed to make people look a little closer at their morning eating decisions. If one person has been convinced, it’s been worthwhile.

Post Screws Around With Grape-Nuts – 2013
I can’t tell you how pissed I was to discover that soy protein was added to Grape-Nuts back in 2013. It drove me away from the brand. Fortunately, after this post, the original four-ingredient formula eventually made it back to the shelves, and I was able to write a follow-up story.

Lindt Truffles are Disgusting – 2013
Dude. They totally are. Sure, they may be sweet. And they may taste creamy. But that’s not cream. That’s vegetable oil. This is not the product of skilled chocolatiers. This is supermarket chocolate at its worst. Eat it if you must. But don’t for a second think it’s the real deal.

Hard Truths About Hard Cider – 2012
Jeremy Irving of Remarkable Liquids has a powerful spiel about how you are being lied to by mass market hard cider brands. I’ll paraphrase, but he says it’s just like drinking alcoholic apple flavored soda. Granted, he has a vested interest in the category. I don’t. But I’m all about integrity. And dammit, most of what’s labeled cider is a travesty.

Would You Like any Cream or Sugar? – 2010
This post brought one of my first big traffic spikes when it was featured in Freshly Pressed. That was cool. Lots of new people flooded to the blog, and they left a ton of comments. Not that many happened to stick around for our daily escapades, but that’s okay. Somehow the residual effect of that has been a post on coffee that keeps on giving sage advice about the role the cream or sugar can play in balancing a less than optimal cup.

The Strange Pizza of Old Forge & Beyond – 2014
Friends are sometimes hard to differentiate from enablers. Albany Jane came with me for an eating tour through the wilds of Old Forge, Pennsylvania. We ate a lot of pizza. Including a quick stop at two different joints in New York on the way home.

Martin’s Potato Rolls Change for the Better – 2014
Not all food news is bad. For a while Martin’s potato rolls were made with Yellow #5. I haven’t codified a list of hated food colors, but Yellow 5 is right up there towards the top. Fortunately, I discovered that it’s now gone! That was great news, and I was happy to sing it from the rooftops.

Is All Natural Yogurt All Natural? – 2009
The quick answer is no. But since “All Natural” has no official meaning, the quick answer proves to be irrelevant. Food labeling is horrendous. It’s not that the information on it is incorrect, it’s just incomplete and misleading as hell. So let the buyer who has the time and attention to read the fine print beware.

Dunkin’ Drives me Nuts – 2011
Sure, I suggested in the past that Dunkin’ Donuts is up to some shady dealings. But amazingly, despite my appeals on this little corner of the internet, the donut giant hasn’t folded up shop and left the Capital Region. Perhaps the answer was a stronger statement? So, I found myself arguing how Dunkin’ Donuts is terrible at everything it does. Which is absolutely true.

The Thing About Olive Garden – 2013
Chains have a strong and long appeal when it comes to blog posts. This was a great post to get to write. It answers the question, why do food snobs snub a restaurant like Olive Garden when the food tastes pretty good and it’s a fine place to eat.

Challah French Toast Pancakes – 2014
Advertising works. For most of the year, I had a square image on the top right corner of the blog with a picture of this recipe and a link to the story. My hope was to create a whole new category of breakfast treats. I’m still kind of bummed that they haven’t caught on yet. But one day. Mark my words.

That’s a dozen right there. And amazingly, we’ve got stories represented from each year since the blog began back in 2009. This has been a helluva project. At one point I was able to keep all the posts I’ve written filed away in my own personal memory banks. But as the blog expands, and as I get older at the same time, I’ve started to lose track of what topics have been covered.

Well, in the new year, I think I’m going to try and find a solution to that. We’ll have to see how it works.

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