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June 2009: Who’s To Blame

January 14, 2016
tags: ,

Mrs. Fussy laughed out loud when she read the first FLB TBT post. I think she said something like, “It looks like a box of crayons threw up on your blog.”

Of course, she was referring to the color coding of the posts. Because truth be told, this is less of an indexing and more of a visual glossary with a monthly summary. The goal here is to try and remember some of the things I’ve written in the past, try to see the arc the blog has taken over time, and attempt to identify the few posts that are still relevant today.

As a reader, some of this may be interesting, or none of it may be interesting. To try and make it more reader-friendly, I’m moving the monthly summary to the top of the post, right after the jump. And should you decide to scroll down past that, don’t bother yourself with anything but the posts that are in black boldface type. Those are the ones on big topics that I consider to be the tent poles of this project.

So, if the first month of the FLB was exquisitely balanced, albeit with too many posts on wine, what did the second month look like on the blog?

It takes a lot to launch a new blog. In its second month, I posted on the FLB every day except for Saturday, June 6. Damn, that’s commitment. But I wanted to grow an audience. I loved my independence and I was unafraid to call out the major players locally.

Like the Times Union. This month was when I first raised the idea that the paper bore some responsibility for the state of the food scene. Not only did the critic’s food picks not have any sway on the paper’s readership, but the Times Union adopted what seemed like a capricious policy for deciding which restaurants can get starred reviews.

This was also when I introduced the feature of “When Cheese Came into My Life” which nodoby ever really read. But that’s okay. Looking back, I dreamed of building an audience. And now, amazingly, I’ve got one.

Now let’s dive into the posts.

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Gray: Outdated ideas, naive assertions, blog maintenance, and other non-essential posts.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.

June 1: Vodka Farm
I stumbled into Harvest Spirits in the early days when all they had was vodka. I didn’t know Derek or Colin. I just loved their vodka, which was surprising, because most vodka is terrible.

June 2: One Book Shall Outfuss Them All
Before Christopher Kimball was on TV, he had a magazine. And that magazine spun off a cookbook. It was my bible for a long time. But now it’s over twenty years old, and I’ve moved on.

June 3: Abuela’s Frijoles Negros
It’s embarrassing that I don’t know this recipe by heart at this point. But to this day, these black beans are still a family favorite. Every time I cook them, I pull up this post to make sure I’ve got my measurements right.

June 4: Junk in a Box
Before I really started trying to avoid Yellow 5 I had a soft spot for Kraft Mac & Cheese. But then I switched to something less brightly colored. And now the kids have failed to get a taste for this classic. So it’s out of our lives, even though the brand will soon get the junk out.

June 5: It’s Fair to Compare
And it begins. After getting my feet wet on the blog, I take a first stab at why food isn’t better at Capital Region restaurants. This volley is aimed at the Times Union for capriciously creating two tiers of restaurants and only awarding stars to the top tier (which included Olive Garden).

June 7: When to Pass on a Glass
I love the idea of wine by the glass. However, too many places don’t have enough turnover for the number of bottles they offer by the glass. Go for a bottle, a glass of bubbly, or skip the wine entirely.

June 8: How Dyson DeMara Orders Wine
Over ten years ago I had a private wine tasting class, which was really cool. The dude who taught it decided what wine he wanted to drink from a restaurant’s wine list BEFORE choosing what food to pair with it. That’s a very different idea, but it makes so much sense.

June 9: The Profussor is In – Round Two
More questions and more answers. I’m still grouping them by post, and I for one find the format hard to read. Funny from a guy who is now writing these impossible-to-read summaries.

June 10: Sorry Salmon
“In my opinion a chef that tries to pass off farmed salmon as a gourmet ingredient on a fine dining menu is abusing the trust of the restaurant’s patrons.” While now there is some better farmed salmon, I still don’t eat it.

June 11: One Mighty Pan
All about cast iron skillets. “If you don’t have one of these in your kitchen, you should. And hopefully you are not dissuaded by the care and feeding required of the cast iron. Whatever it demands from you it returns tenfold.

June 12: Sour Nix
Sour mix is awful. “By using sour-mix the bar is telling you that it really doesn’t care about the delicate balance of cocktails. They are just going to make sweet things that will get you drunk.”

June 13: How Cheese Came Into My Life: The Early Years
What kind of stories should the blog run on Saturday? Nothing. Weekends are dead around here. But I didn’t know that when I slated this serialized personal history of cheese to run every Saturday. For what it’s worth, I think this is a great story of how I came to appreciate good food.

June 14: Hearty Grains
The secret to making great brown rice is to boil it and then let it steam inside the pot.

June 15: School of Fish
I still remember doing the research to write this post. It was infuriating. Now it’s all outdated. You want to eat good fish, find a fishmonger who you trust who deals extensively with sustainable seafood.

June 16: One Wine Four Cups
How to conduct a wine tasting at home. “I remain convinced that the best way to taste wines is with a structured vertical tasting… This will prove that indeed you can taste the subtleties of wine you may never have noticed before.”

June 17: Cherry Lie
“Maraschino is actually a real thing. And yes, before Prohibition it was what the eponymous cherries were soaked in. But today, this storied Italian liqueur has nothing to do with the bar garnish that sits in between the olives and pickled onions.”

June 18: Food Versus Restaurant Food
As I explore the problem of local restaurants, I wonder if the chefs are culpable. “Perhaps the chef is so well trained they can make a delicious meal using industrial ingredients. That is fine. I’d happily eat it, and admit my enjoyment. But on some level I would still feel robbed paying a fine dining tariff for the experience. And to me this is the critical flaw of the local food scene.”

June 19: What If Nobody is Listening?
In the early days of the blog, I dream of having a larger audience. But then I look at the Times Union and see that the food critic there has little to no influence on the readers of the paper. The proof text? The Best of 2009 survey results.

June 20: How Cheese Came Into My Life: The College Years
The second installment of the series nobody read. This is the one where I made fondue out of velveeta and beer in college… and it was really quite good.

June 21: Are You Going to Eat That?
There are two insanely delicious things that I’m concerned people may be throwing in the trash. The first are the “oysters” of meat found in roasted birds. The second are Parmigiano-Reggiano rinds, which are totally edible.

June 22: On the Rocks
We said goodbye to one of my favorite cocktail writers. Eric Felten’s weekly column, “How’s Your Drink” ceased publication in the Wall Street Journal. At least for the time being I had John and Dottie. Little did I know what was in store for them.

June 23: Burger Chain Gang
I long time ago, I resolved only to eat one burger a month. During that period, I came to realize that In-N-Out burger was good, but not more than good. Then I had my first bite of Five Guys and realized really great burgers could come from a chain.

June 24: Italian Goddess of Fussy
“Her name is Marcella Hazan. And her book is Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking. There are no photos. It is not Italian-American meals in thirty minutes or less. It is thoughtful. It is thorough. It is incredibly fussy.”

June 25: Seeing Value in the Wine List
“The value on a good wine list may not be quantitative at all. In a good wine program, the beverage director or sommelier has assembled a list of wines that you yourself could not buy anywhere for any price. Many of the best wineries produce small quantities of wine that never makes it to retail shelves because of the complexities and perils of distribution. Instead it goes directly to restaurants.”

June 26: Dare to Compare
Steve Barnes spoke up in the FLB comments section defending the Times Union’s policy of offering stars to some restaurants and not to others. But I countered with a recent example of how this policy becomes problematic.

June 27: How Cheese Came Into My Life: Living in California
California was a food lover’s paradise. Fresh goat cheese was everywhere. It was hard not to be inspired by all the deliciousness. Also, Montbriac > Cambozola.

June 28: The First Rule of Wine Pairing
“Rule number one: Know thyself. Ultimately, there are two ways to pair wine and food. You can pair wine and food that are similar to each other, or you can pair wine and food that offer complementary contrasts.”

June 29: Cocktail Glass Smash
The shapes of wine glasses serve a function. The only function of the cocktail glass is to fool people into thinking they have a greater quantity of booze. They are awful awful glasses.

June 30: The Upper Atmosphere
When I think of high-end restaurants with truly exceptional atmosphere, one comes readily to mind above all others. Postrio, in San Francisco.

One Comment leave one →
  1. enough already! permalink
    January 15, 2016 9:10 am

    I think the color coding is a nice idea, but how about just the headings? To me the green and purple are extremely hard to read much more than a few words of.

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