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May 2009: It Starts With Wine

January 7, 2016
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Before this project begins, the kind and benevolent people at Moe’s Southwest Grill have asked me to tell you something. Since in theory, it can win you a couple hundred bucks worth of food, I thought I’d pass it along.

A new Moe’s is opening today in Glenmont. If you are one of the first 50 guests in line before the doors open at 11 a.m. you’ll win free burritos for a year. The address is 380 Feura Bush. God knows what time you have to show up to win the prize. It’s good for one burrito per week from the Glenmont location. So now you know. I love burritos. But the thought of eating 52 of them in a year is daunting.

But enough about me. On to cataloging the first month of the first year of the FLB. For a refresher of what this project is all about, you can read more about it.

Now, let’s dive in.

Here’s the key to reading the below summaries:
Bold: Fundamental Beliefs. Core Ideas. Still hold true today.
Gray: Outdated ideas, naive assertions, blog maintenance, and other non-essential posts.
Red: Fundamentally sound, but could be updated to reflect current thoughts.
Purple: Wine posts. Apparently none of them are a good fit for this blog.

Green: Hyper local posts about the Capital Region.

May 1: Fussy Manifesto
Short and to the point. I am not a snob. A fussy person will just insist that whatever it is, it is the best of its kind that it can be, and will not settle for less.

May 1: Grilling v. Barbecue
An early miss by getting mired in definitions. I’d prefer to put this one behind me. But I wrote it and I have to live with it.

May 4: Make Your Own Damn Sauce
The gateway recipe to actual cooking. Jarred sauce is gross. Homemade sauce can be quick and easy, and doesn’t have to be fussy. Just cook something. [In retrospect, the garlic press was a bad idea. And I neglected to advise readers to taste and correct.]

May 6: Real Deal Diners
In 2009 Metroland readers picked Denny’s as their favorite breakfast. This killed me because I discovered that the most amazing diners in Capital Region were the ones a bit rough around the edges.
 

May 7: Be Brave, Bold Wino
A how-to guide on finding good values at the wine store: Overall, the best deals will come from wine regions you have never heard of, and all manner of foreign sounding grape varietals. Be adventurous, and you will be rewarded.

May 11: James Bond is a Saboteur
Martinis should be stirred. Always. SHAKE cocktails that use fresh citrus, eggs, or other ingredients that could settle. STIR cocktails that are made entirely of spirits, or simple two-ingredient combinations.

May 12: One is the Loneliest Number
Another wine buying tip. Never buy just one bottle of a wine. Buy two. On the first bottle, you may notice, “ooh, this would go incredibly well with duck confit” or “this would be perfect with puttanesca.” On the second bottle, you can make it happen.

May 13: A Slice of New York
When a NY slice is perfect, cheese, sauce, and crust blend together seamlessly. The crisp crust is on the bottom and the burnished golden cheese is on the top. But when you take a bite, there is no clear delineation of where the yeasty part of the crust ends and the cheese begins. The sauce fuses heaven and earth into a tasty amalgamation of umami.

May 15: How Do You Like Your Meat?
I have a rule: Always order hamburgers one degree of doneness below the desired temperature. Example: I enjoy my burgers medium rare, so I order them rare.
If it’s not right, send it back. There is no mistaking rare for medium.

May 18: The Case for Cases
Buy wine by the case. Just like you know what Juicy Fruit gum tastes like, you will know the taste of your house wine. At that point this wine can be used as a yardstick for measuring other wines. “I like it, but it’s not as good as X.”

May 19: I Hate S’Mores. Seriously Hate.
I liked toasted marshmallows, but couldn’t fathom why anyone would take such a glorious thing and sully it with crap chocolate and a sandy cracker.

May 20: Call Me Mr. Bitter
Back in 2009 the bitters situation was tragic. This is a treatise all about the importance a drop of these can make. And my frustration at their absence in Albany and the country as a whole.

May 21: Sweet Sweet Tubers
The technique I still use to this day for cooking sweet potatoes. It produces an almost custardy flesh and light papery skin. So easy. So amazing.

May 22: Local Food, Imported Film
I learned that the Honest Weight Food Coop was more than just a store, but also a major force for education in the community. The movie made me want to visit more local farms.

May 22: 100g of Pure Indian Joy
Whoa. Six years later, and this recipe is for chana masala is still a staple in the Fussy home. MDH spice blend is the secret to this easy and delicious vegan main dish.

May 24: The Elephant in the Room
The blog format changed to its current format. The original had a certain appeal, but it had too many problems.

May 24: Cappuccino Try-Outs
In 2009 it was impossible to get a reliably good cappuccino anywhere in the Capital Region. It was a dark time. But I came up with a plan that would get me closer to something worth drinking.

May 25: It’s Summer. It’s Hot. You’re Thirsty.
The Tom Collins is an amazing drink. When done right, it’s a sparkling lemonade spiked with gin. If you don’t think that’s amazing, I’m not sure we can be friends.

May 26: Don’t Trust the Machine
Oven thermometers. They are important. Use them. And if you’re concerned about food safety, you should use a digital tip-sensitive thermometer too.

May 28: The Profussor is In
My first attempt at answering questions was awkward, at best. But I did chuckle when I reread, “I think Plato had something very different in mind.”

May 29: There is No Martini Glass
Martinis are served in Cocktail Glasses. If another drink that isn’t the Martini is served in a Cocktail Glass, why would any sensible person think it should be called a Martini? They shouldn’t. So stop. Ok?

May 31: Making the List
When I arrived in Albany, a shocking number of wine lists were criminally bad. This was a guide about how to look at wine lists to simply assess the overall quality of the wine program.


I think I know why the blog was slow to pick up steam. Man, that’s a lot of wine posts. I love ‘em, but they just never took off. We covered a lot of ground in that first month. It feels much more balanced between cooking, restaurants, drinking, and food issues than it does now. And in part that was on purpose. I was working from a plan, and trying to keep this growing archive of posts in balance.

Maybe that was a good idea. You know, except for the wine part. Next week, we’ll recap June.

One Comment leave one →
  1. January 7, 2016 1:07 pm

    I agree with you on s’mores. I can’t stand the things. At some point I want to do a post on my blog of overrated popular foods. S’mores will be on the list for sure.

    I use your sweet potato recipe all the time. I love its simplicity, and it really does make for a fantastic sweet potato.

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