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February 2010: Good Things

March 10, 2016

Today is Thursday. That means we’re doing Throwback Thursday, FLB-style. In January I hatched this questionable idea that each week in 2016, I’d look back to a month of posts from the past. The goal 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.

There’s even a color coded key to help make sense of it all.

You know who else is celebrating Throwback Thursday? Slidin’ Dirty. They’re bringing back the first four Nine Pin 26er Ciders today. So if you are playing the crazy 26er game, and you thought you had already screwed it up, consider this your hail mary. If you aren’t playing along at home, now’s your chance to get in on it. The only reason I mention this is because I’m going for my 26er badge. Why? I’m not quite sure. But it seemed like a good idea at the time.

Looking back to the past, in February of 2010 I seemed to focus a lot on the good things. Why I was feeling so sunny in a cold and dreary February remains a mystery. Maybe I was still all aglow from participating in the Times Union’s wing tasting. But I covered my favorite all-American activity, Albany’s marvelous taverns, the best Valentine’s Day plan, an amazing French butter, great wings, mind changing chardonnay, legit Cuban sandwiches, and my deep respect for pizza parlors.

So how did it break down day by day? I’m glad you asked.

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Gray: Outdated ideas, naive assertions, blog maintenance, and other non-essential posts.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

February 1: Ask the Profussor – Für Elyse
The big question was about the appeal of Chipotle. This looks like it’s the first AskTP in the modern style. That’s where a link precedes the question, which is then put in italics, and is followed by the answer. Except here, I’m still linking back to the original question instead of lazily pointing towards the link of the day.

February 2: The Mass Market Rejects Farmed Atlantic Salmon
Man, I was obsessed with farm raised Atlantic salmon in those early days. Here I cover the news that Target had walked away from this inferior product. And to drive the larger point home, I named names of fancy restaurants that were still using the fish that wasn’t good enough for America’s favorite mass discount retailer.

February 3: Super Bowl Gorging
I talk about the importance of gorging on this holiday. But this year my celebration would be different. I’d be leaving the house and spending time with my wife’s colleagues. Let’s just say that this was the last time that happened.

February 4: It’s Freezing
A chest freezer. It’s critical. Here’s what was in my freezer several years ago. Including what I felt good about and what products caused me a minor bit of shame.

February 5: Judging Wings
Amazingly, despite my history of writing unflattering things about the Times Union, I got to participate in a wing judging at the newspaper. Out of seven wings, The Ale House came in first. Bomber’s came in second. It was all the way back in 2010 when I realized it would be a good idea to use medium spicy wing sauce as the standard for evaluating wings.

February 7: Manly
I used the Super Bowl as an excuse to write about wine. There’s a perception that wine isn’t manly. That’s ridiculous. So I tried to both smash this belief, while at the same time ironically suggest I was manly just for drinking beer. I’m really, really not that manly.

February 8: Ask The Profussor – Didn’t We Just Do this?
Seriously, what gives? I’ll tell you. This was the day after the Super Bowl, and I couldn’t bring myself to write a full post. So I answered a few questions and went to bed.

February 9: Albany’s Marvelous Taverns
I almost forgot about California’s Hofbräus. They aren’t quite the same as Albany’s Taverns, but they fill a similar niche. These old and classic haunts are important to our history. Even as our local food continues to evolve and improve, these dark, cozy, neighborhood places continue to top almost everything with red sauce and cheese. Especially if it can be fried first. What’s not to love?

February 10: Lobsters of Love
Speaking of love, the best thing you can do for Valentine’s Day is prepare a lobster dinner at home. For those who thought they might not have the chops for it, this was a helpful guide from cheese selection, to wine pairing, all the way through to dessert.

February 11: I Can’t Believe It’s Butter
Pamplie. It’s the French butter that eats like a cheese. Back in 2010 I was watching my cholesterol too. Funny how I slipped back into old habits of keeping the fridge stocked with two butters, one for cooking and one for eating.

February 12: Long Island Potatoes
Even with current Long Island real estate prices, there are still farms out there growing potatoes. That’s where Long Island Vodka sources its core ingredient. That’s kind of amazing. I evaluated this vodka, and disagreed with the tasting notes on the bottle.

February 14: The Chardonnay That Changed My Mind
Far Niente on the Wine Train. I was going to guess Kistler on South Beach. Both were mind blowingly good. But this post was about the one on the train. This great wine gets a bad rap because there are so many bad versions of Chardonnay made with pictures of animals on the label, just because people will buy them.

February 15: Another Mega Meat Recall
I lament the news that 5,764,000 pounds of meat were recalled. That’s a lot of meat.

February 16: Skittish About Salad
I was anti-salad. I was especially anti-salad during an upstate New York winter. And if you have ever read Jeffrey Steingarten’s brilliant essay, “Salad the Silent Killer,” you might think twice about routinely eating it with every evening meal.

February 17: What Makes a Great Wing
For me, it’s all about the sauce. But when you start looking at the wing, that’s about fat and skin. Yes, vegetable and blue cheese matter, but not as much.

February 18: Sit Down and Have a Cup of Coffee
Plastic lids and paper cups ruin the experience of drinking coffee. “In the name of efficiency, you are missing out on a potential source of deep pleasure.” Stay in, and ask for your coffee in a proper cup. The difference is amazing.

February 19: Of Rust and Nails
One of the great simple cocktails, especially if you have a good mixing Scotch on hand. If you don’t, I recommend the White Horse.

February 21: Open That Bottle Night XI
This was the first OTBN without John and Dottie. But I kept the flame alive. Although now I’m realizing that in 2016, I didn’t write one word about OTBN. Back then we opened the very last bottle from the Lazy Creek Vineyards we used to know.

February 22: The World’s Great Sandwiches: The Cuban
This sandwich is deceptively simple. But the key to a great one is balance. However, even if the balance is perfect, if the sandwich is on the wrong bread you still don’t have a Cuban. Lots of places in Miami get it wrong. The chances of finding a good one in the northeast is somewhere between slim and none.

February 23: The Impact of Food Critics
We have excellent calamari and a ton of sushi places. I don’t think that just happened by chance. I think local business owners and consumer demand were shaped by what the major daily newspaper writes about. Calamari and sushi were memes before memes were a thing.

February 24: Learning to Relax: Polenta v. Cornmeal Mush
Cooking can be a fussy affair. Polenta demands to be stirred. A lot. But if you take the same dish and call it cornmeal mush, you can take some simple shortcuts to make it less labor intensive. And it’s delicious.

February 25: Respect the Pizza Parlor
Don’t disrespect the pizza parlor. These are noble institutions. “Pizza is good food… Good food doesn’t always have pretty surroundings and genteel service. Good food doesn’t have to come on plates either – think barbecue.”

February 26: Important Liqueurs: Drambuie
I really only use it by the spoonful in a Rusty Nail. But that cocktail is such a large part of surviving the upstate New York winter that this ingredient has become an indispensable part of my home bar.

February 28: More Than Just the Liquid in the Bottle
Opening up an old bottle of wine can also create a portal back to the past. “As we drank the wine, we talked about what we were doing in 2001. For starters, we got married. We were living in the best apartment ever….With the kids in bed, and our conversation shifting to all manners of topics, for a few hours it was almost like being back in 2001.”

6 Comments leave one →
  1. March 10, 2016 10:21 am

    I remember writing my comments to the restaurant critic post. Damn, that was awhile ago.

  2. March 10, 2016 11:24 am

    This series drives me up the wall, and I try to avoid you on Thursday (as well as stay off Facebook for the same reason) but for some reason I’m here and Jon in Albany made me click on the restaurant critic post.

    You missed the chance to point out that what most people get in sushi restaurants in the Cap Dist is not nigiri sushi but “sushi rolls”–a way to use up old or refrozen or inferior fish by seasoning it heavily, combining it with random ingredients and giving it a wacky name.

    I recently had my first meal with the Albany Sushi Meet-Up, supposedly a discerning group, and 90% of our meal consisted of sushi rolls.

    • March 10, 2016 11:46 am

      Can you elaborate on why/how this series drives you up the wall? Be brutal. You can’t hurt my feelings. And I’m eager for feedback, especially since I am trying to figure out what to do with this effort.

      • March 10, 2016 6:43 pm

        It’s just too much inside baseball. Many of your posts are related to a specific time and place–what’s happening with local foods right now, what mischief is Big Corn up to this month, what current food trends are admirable or laughable–which gives them an automatic “good until” date.

        I generally don’t enjoy going back and dusting off these archives unless there’s an immediate current need (in which case I’ll use the search box–just recently did that with the egg creme recipe).

        But maybe I’m in the minority on this. How’s your traffic on Thursday compared to other days?

    • snoissea permalink
      March 10, 2016 2:52 pm

      Please forgive my naiveté.

      For years I was under the impression that “sushi” was a slice of raw, high quality seafood perched atop sticky white rice, and served simply with soy sauce and wasabi and maybe pickled ginger on the side.

      I never understood the sushi craze, and why people were eating all of those crazy, saucy, elaborately plated rolls, that had little to do with raw fish.

      Otis, I think it would be fun to have you head up an UYE, somewhere in the area that’s serving real sushi, and doing it well. I’m sure there are others, like me, that would like to learn more about it.

      • March 10, 2016 6:49 pm

        I have not experienced many of our local sushi places because of the very thing that makes them popular, i.e. the roll-ness. The best I’ve found is Sushi Tei in Guilderland. Check it out and stick to the nigiri.

        I don’t think sushi lends itself to an UYE because they can only make it so fast. The more people came, the more difficult it would be. Maybe we just meet there for lunch one of these days.

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