Skip to content

September 2009: Restaurants & Criticism

February 4, 2016

Hi. My name is Daniel. And this is the fifth week I’ve written an FLB TBT. It’s a work in progress, to be sure. This week we’ll try making a few of the color coded sections a little more readable. My intentions here aren’t to torture my dear readers who have been supportive of this blog for years. Really, I just want to take a look back to see where it’s been, chart the arc it took, and see which ideas have stood the test of time. which ideas have stood the test of time.

We’ve learned a lot so far. The blog started with a bang, and then I took a vacation.

It was in this fifth month that I really started to dig into restaurants. I got to express my thoughts about the low bar for what it takes to have a good restaurant, the three common traits of great restaurants, and the one problem with most restaurants. The topic of criticism also played a large role. I wrote about how critics can be tastemakers, I celebrated the arrival of starred reviews for less expensive restaurants, and I revealed my ultimate goal for the blog. There were plenty of posts about hot sauce, and I flew off the handle on yogurt.

So how did it break down day by day? I’m glad you asked. But before we jump into the daily summaries, you may want to refresh yourself with the color coded key, which has changed just a little bit from FLB TBTs of the past.

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Gray: Outdated ideas, naive assertions, blog maintenance, and other non-essential posts.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

September 1: Ask The Profussor – The First 100
Even early on in the blog, I let a month slip by between answering reader questions. But this was a good chance to celebrate the milestone of my first 100 posts. In this fifth month, I was still linking back to the original comments. It was a helpful thing to do, but it took time, and so few people clicked on them that I eventually abandoned the practice.

September 2: One Thing
“If a place does just one thing, and does it incredibly well, in my mind it is an incredible place.” This is my modern day justification for loving places like Ralph’s Tavern. Find the one thing a place does well, and love them for that (if you can).

September 3: Critical Mission
I beseeched the food critic at the Times Union to move away from being a reflection of the region’s culinary desires, and to use her platform as a way of shaping those desires. “Tastemakers have an impact. Tastemakers can change people’s opinions and open people’s minds to new experiences. Tastemakers can raise the standards of a community.”

September 4: Not By The Hair Of My Ginny Gin Gin
I came into a bottle of Tanqueray Rangpur and played around with it a bit. It’s light and limey. Good stuff. But it doesn’t replace the classic Tanqueray.

September 5: Frank’s Wild Years
Frank’s Red Hot and butter is the classic flavor of buffalo wings. Period. I love buffalo wings. I love buffalo everything. So I go through a lot of Frank’s Red Hot. You should too.

September 6: Two of a Kind
Celina Ottaway and I disagree on a lot of things. But we agree on the joy that cheap wine can bring. She turned me on to two from René Barbier, a red and a white. These were my notes. But I enjoyed both of them, and publicly thanked Celina for the recommendations.

September 7: Summer Wanes
I noted that summer was on the way out, and announced last call for those joys of summer like watermelon cocktails and pinot grigio. Even back then I looked forward to the arrival of fall for stews, braises, and hearty bean dishes. Also cider donuts.

September 8: They Found Me, Marty
People found the FLB by searching for all kinds of things on the Google. I do wish I were still getting traffic from searches like “cocoa on cappuccinos wrong”.

September 9: They Call It A Doggy Bag
The portions are too damn big. Restaurant leftovers are different than other leftovers. They’re actually far worse. “When the [restaurant] leftovers are as good or better than the food served at the restaurant, it does not speak very well of the restaurant.”

September 10: Chinese Cuisine, Pakistani Style
Just like Americans have taken Chinese food and made it their own, so have the people of Pakistan. And it’s delicious. I discovered this sub-genre of Pakistani food at a restaurant on Wolf Road, which has long since closed. But it remains available in our region at other places today.

September 11: Drink In The Fall
The Jack Rose Cocktail is fantastic. And that was before we had good applejack available from Harvest Spirits. But this was all about Eric Felten and his thoughts on the drink.

September 13: One Hot Rooster
Sriracha. I loved it. These days, it’s no longer as central to my life. But in this post I told the story of when I first clued into the brilliance of this hot sauce. I didn’t put a date on it at the time, but it was back in 1991.

September 14: Albany Asian Arrival
We had some small Asian markets in the past, but the opening of a Asian Supermarket was big news. It was also very very exciting, and filled me with hope for the future of the Capital Region.

September 15: The Health Food That Isn’t
What the hell happened to yogurt? It had been a while since I had scoped out the yogurt aisle at a grocery store, and I was disgusted at what I found. The conclusion at the time was that perhaps I start making my own.

September 16: Value in Moderation
“I beg you, and I am not often inclined to beg, please do not conflate quantity with value.” So I came up with three good reasons how a restaurant meal could provide value, when the portion sizes are modest: Restaurant quality ingredients, time intensive preparations, and specialized restaurant equipment.

September 17: Recipe For Success
Compelled by the post Value in Moderation, I came up with examples for how those three things play out at a bunch of popular, if expensive, places: Blue Bottle Coffee, Peter Luger, and Bourbon & Branch.

September 18: Great Grenadine
If you want great grenadine, you’re going to have to make your own. Luckily it’s not that hard. I’ve learned to concentrate pomegranate juice with sugar, and then adding a splash of juice right from the bottle to provide brightness and acidity.

September 20: The Great Wine Lies: Peaking
“First and foremost is the problem with the very notion of peaking. It implies that there is one moment in time when the wine is at its best. And the fear that has been drilled into people is, ‘What a shame that you opened that lovely bottle of wine, and never got to taste how lovely it could have been.’” Don’t let fear overshadow your enjoyment of wine.

September 21: Food For Thought: Fair Trade Coffee
I saw a movie on coffee and learned something interesting about a roaster in the middle-of-nowhere Massachusetts. “Dean’s Beans, isn’t even a coffee company. It’s a social justice organization that just happens to use coffee as a vehicle for its work.”

September 22: The Sneetches
“Regardless of the reason, the Times Union has started treating less expensive restaurants as legitimate players in the area’s culinary landscape. And after two years living in the region, I believe this is for the best.” Bravo! Maybe all that chiding had made a difference.

September 23: Ask The Profussor – In Which The Profussor Reveals His Ultimate Goal
What was that goal, you ask? “My goal is nothing short of having the FLB being the most influential food blog in the region. I have a big hill to climb, I know. But I think I can do it with your help.” Are we there yet?

September 24: Is All Natural Yogurt All Natural?
I reached out to Dannon about their claim of “All Natural” yogurt when the milk used to produce the product came from cows treated with synthetic growth hormones. And they responded back. Naturally, I was dissatisfied with the answer.

September 25: Cocktail in a Bottle
Pimm’s No. 1. If you haven’t heard of it, you should. But it’s more of a spring and summer thing.

September 27: Music Sounds Like Music
Wine tastes like wine. And much like a casual listener can’t be expected to hum the viola part to a symphony after listening to the orchestra play a few measures, it’s unreasonable to think that a casual wine drinker should be able to pull out specific flavor components from a wine. And that’s okay.

September 29: That Famous Sauce Mr. McIlhenny Makes
“I love Tabasco sauce. I love everything about it. I just do not go through as much of it as I do Frank’s and Sriracha.” Actually, these days, I’m probably going through more Tabasco than anything else. It’s amazing how tastes change over time.

September 30: Feeling Full
We needed a better language for talking about hunger and satiety. So I created a six point scale. One was hungry. Six was Cheesecake Factory Full. My argument is that we should all strive to leave restaurants “sated” rather than “full”.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. February 4, 2016 12:58 pm

    The colors are much improved. Very readable now. Thank you.

  2. enough already! permalink
    February 4, 2016 3:02 pm

    Thanks from me too, Daniel, for the color improvement. Will you be taking on any food issues in the near future? Your yogurt column was well done.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: