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November 2009: Thankful For Exposure

February 18, 2016
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You’re still here? I thought that because it was Thursday, you would have had the good sense to stay away. After all, this is the seventh week in a row that I’m pursuing the FLB TBT project. It was a bad idea in the first place, but now I’m committed.

Perhaps I’ll reconsider after I complete week twelve and I’ve made it through the first year of posts on the blog. Because the idea here is to see where the blog has been, how it got here, and what we missed. In doing so, I’m hoping to reveal what has changed, which ideas are still relevant today, and find a bit of inspiration for posts that still need to be written.

While this exercise is useful for me, it seems to drive people away. Maybe it’s the color coding, but I think the key is intuitive, and I’ve made the colors themselves much less jarring (thanks to reader input).

In November 2009 I broke away from my computer and started doing things in the real world on behalf of the blog. Most notably, I was invited to my first media event for the opening of Albany’s first Chipotle. This led to a lot of extra exposure for the FLB, including mentions in the big local pop-culture blog and even a hit in the major local paper. Of course being a judge in the All Over Albany Tournament of Pizza didn’t hurt either, especially after the winner was announced and the judges participated in an online video interview. Man, this was a fun month.

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.

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Gray: Outdated ideas, naive assertions, blog maintenance, and other non-essential posts.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

November 1: Dollars and Scents
Following up on the argument that good wine doesn’t need to be expensive, here’s a comparative analysis of the cost per drink of wine to cocktails made at home. It also explains what you get when paying $50 for a bottle of wine instead of $12 from the bargain bin.

November 2: One Day, Three Lunches
On a trip to DC I wanted to eat all the things. Part of that involved eating three lunches in one day. If it weren’t for the long cooking times of the Korean Fried Chicken at Bon Chon, It might never of happened. But this day of overindulgence has indeed lived on in our family’s lore.

November 3: Mushroom Technique
Marcella Hazan had a technique for cooking mushrooms which goes against conventional wisdom, and produces a marvelous and silky result. It’s something I continue to lean upon whenever I want to wow people who eat mushrooms. For the sake of full disclosure, my kids don’t eat mushrooms.

November 4: Chipotle Answers
I had the best Chipotle meal of my life when being served samples supervised by a corporate chef at a private media tasting. There I learned some of the details about how Chipotle makes its food. If you were ever curious what cut of steak the brand uses, this post had the answer.

November 5: We’re Not in Texas Anymore
Texas Pete’s hot sauce remains the hot sauce of choice for Mrs. Fussy. She uses it on her Cuban black beans, which I think is nuts. But it’s good stuff. Interestingly, it’s not made in Texas.

November 6: White Pizza
The 2009 AOA Tournament of Pizza chose a white pizza for the semi-final round. Amazingly, back then the Marino’s pizza seemed bland against the pie from Pasquale’s in Albany. Maybe we got a bad pie, or maybe they forgot the salt, because that white pizza with ricotta, broccoli, and garlic is totally delicious.

November 8: Crazy Week, Crazy Awesome
With all the excitement over the Chipotle opening and the All Over Albany Tournament of Pizza the FLB enjoyed a bunch of coverage via social media in the newspaper. That brought new readers to the blog, and I was excited to get the exposure.

November 9: Troy in Winter
With the memory of California farmers markets still fresh in my mind, the summer farmers market in Troy failed to excite me. Winter was a different story. Witenagemot Farm had some amazing potatoes, and I shared some of my other favorite purveyors of winter storage crops.

November 10: The Best Pizza in Albany?
The Tournament of Pizza finals should have been a magnificent thing to judge. But both pizzas were lacking in important ways. Still, one was better. Mostly because the other was more deeply flawed. But sometimes that’s just how it goes.

November 11: Buffet Rules
“Good buffets are filled with food that does well in chafing dishes. That would include braised dishes. Roasted meats, held under warming lights. Dishes like quiche that are designed to be served at room temperature. Soups and stews. Essentially anything that does not degrade the moment it is cooked.”

November 12: Chocolate Malts
While my grandfather was sick, I recalled him teaching me all about his favorite treat: chocolate malts. “To this day, I am shocked and amazed at how many establishments try to pass off a beverage made with vanilla ice cream and chocolate syrup as a chocolate malt (or heaven forbid should malt powder be unavailable, a chocolate milkshake).”

November 12: Pigging Out
Lest one were to think that I lived a life of dainty eating, I graphically explored some of my favorite moments of excess. Like this one, “Raf once brought over a lobe of foie gras encased in rendered goose fat. The two of us sat down with some baguettes and a bottle of pommeau and polished off our bounty.”

November 15: Broad vs. Deep
Here’s a highly philosophical problem. If you pursue a broad knowledge of something, you sacrifice depth. But if you delve deeply into a subject, it will adversely impact your ability to have a broader understanding of the landscape. It’s an ongoing struggle for me.

November 16: One Minute Per Guy
Believe it or not, but I’m not generally one to complain to the management at a restaurant. But after a bad experience at Five Guys I wrote a note on their website. Quite literally, five minutes after I clicked submit, I got a phone call from the regional manager. It was an impressive display of customer service. You can read the letter which generated such a fast response at the end of this post.

November 17: Extreme Carryout
Why did some beloved pizza places not fare so well in All Over Albany’s Tournament of Pizza? Well, one commenter describes it as the Tournament of Extreme Carryout. And he wasn’t wrong. Some pies hold up better to the rigors of travel. And that’s okay. It was also in this post that I started pontificating about tavern pies.

November 18: Ice Cream Season
Winter is really the best time to eat ice cream. Why? The hot hot summer is the worst time ever for ice cream. Here’s the proof:
1) It melts like crazy.
2) You have to eat it really fast to prevent it from melting like crazy.
3) If it melts on you, you will be sticky.
4) Those flimsy paper napkins are no good at all for getting off the sticky.
5) Even if you wet them in the water fountain.
6) If you eat it too fast, your eyeballs might freeze.
7) Frozen eyeballs really sting.
8) It’s freaking swimsuit season, do you really need those calories?
9) Two words: carbon footprint.
10) Did I mention ice cream melts like crazy?

November 19: The Most Delicious Split Pea Soup in the Known Universe
This post has a link to the recipe that helps me make it through winter every. single. year. I love this split pea soup. Even the kids eat it up. Man, it’s great. Thus the hyperbolic title of the post.

November 20: A Spirits Question from the Discussion Board
At one point the FLB facebook page had a long neglected discussion board. It’s now closed. But I was asked a simple question about some of my favorite spirits. I gave a much more complicated answer about the taxonomy of the spirits that I had on hand at that moment in time.

November 22: It All Began at Hattie’s
My two favorite wine writers featured an experience at a Saratoga Springs landmark in their WSJ wine column. And even though the markup on this wine was significant, I could still see the value in the wine list.

November 23: Bird Eating
Thanksgiving got cancelled because of illness. So instead of turkey, I was eating chicken. Specifically the slow roasted chicken from The Cook’s Bible. And I couldn’t have been happier. Man, that’s a great chicken.

November 24: The Centerpiece of Thanksgiving
It’s the stuffing. This post has a link to the stuffing recipe my Aunt N makes every year. It’s a family favorite, and I gorge on it for days afterwards.

November 25: Hunting and Gathering
In preparation for Thanksgiving one has to do a bunch of shopping. Mine took me all over the area from shops large to small. I’m a savvy shopper. This post tells the story of how I saved money by buying opportunistically (even when I had a shopping list).

November 26: It Wouldn’t Be Thanksgiving
The beginning of my annual tradition of posting Alice’s Restaurant by Arlo Guthrie on Thanksgiving. Deep down, there’s still some part of me that’s a hippie. But I think that’s okay.

November 27: How Do You Like Them Apples
I had a dream. Actually, I had a few. One of them was to recreate the great American spirit of applejack. Amazingly, back in 2009 I learned that someone else was making that dream into a reality. Naturally, I had to be there.

November 29: Some Good News
Ever been curious about Beaujolais Nouveau? This post spells out why it’s so loved, why it’s overrated, and how to get the stuff that’s actually worth raving about.

November 30: Good Things WIth Bad Raps
I love my slow cooker.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. kingofbeacon permalink
    February 18, 2016 12:27 pm

    Also, to add to why ice cream is better in Winter than Summer – “It’s so hot, milk was a bad choice”

  2. February 18, 2016 12:59 pm

    The burger landscape has changed, and I credit Five Guys for that. No other chain understands the essence of what a great burger is more than Five Guys does. None. Five Guys may be slipping as they grow ever larger, but the burger world is a much better place today because of them. Their influence is indisputable and undeniable.

    Oh, and In-N-Out is overrated. You were correct to point out that Five guys eats their lunch (pun intended). Any burger chain that is about toppings and sauces doesn’t cut the mustard. Double Double Animal Style is the most overrated burger, at the most overrated chain. And that’s no secret. Plus their fries are utterly pedestrian.

    • David Nardolillo permalink
      February 18, 2016 6:17 pm

      Steve, I totally agree with you about In-N-Out, especially the fries, but a couple years ago, Jeff Janssens included a little nugget about In-N-Out’s secret menu in a blog post –you can order the fries extra crispy, which apparently is the way to go. He included a link to a pretty comprehensive secret menu with things that were new to me. ( Armed with this information, I think I’ll give In-N-Out another try when I am on next out on the West Coast.

      The concept of a secret menu for a place like In-N-Out is a little weird to me. Why make the best things to eat at a restaurant invisible to the novice (and potential repeat customer).

      • February 18, 2016 8:04 pm

        In-N-Out’s secret menu is a joke. It’s marketing schtick. It’s a gimmick.

        To be fair, the food there is very good, but not worthy of the cult following it engenders. As I said, it’s overrated.

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