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April 2010: The Best Ballot

March 24, 2016

Until future notice, this will be the very last FLB TBT. This brings us through April 2010 and that’s the complete first year of Fussy. Now let’s never speak of it again. I knew it was a bad idea in the first place, but hey, sometimes good things can come out of bad ideas. And although I was encouraged to hear last month that some people actually enjoyed this experiment, they were in the minority.

Personally, I think it was a great reminder to see where the blog has been, how it got here, and what we missed. Clearly, a lot has changed. Some for the better. Some for the worse. There were a few ideas from the past that are still relevant today. I kind of thought there would be more, but that points to just how much change has gone on over the past several years.

In April, the blog was dominated by the FUSSYlittleBALLOT which was my attempt at trying to highlight some of the great local businesses in the Capital Region that were being overlooked year after year in the Times Union’s Best of the Capital Region readers’ choice poll. Since this was a brand new effort, it began with an introduction, then the ballot itself, followed by a bit more explanation, and a pitch to help spread the word about this effort. There were also some important donut and pizza posts, along with my first real experience with Downtown Albany’s Restaurant Week.

So how did it break down day by day? I’m glad you asked. And the color coded key below will hopefully help to make sense of it all.

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Gray: Outdated ideas, naive assertions, blog maintenance, and other non-essential posts.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

April 1: A Café Should Know Better
Do you remember website banner ads? Well, apparently they were still a thing back in 2010. Because The Daily Grind had one on the Table Hopping Blog featuring a picture of an espresso and cappuccino. The only problem was that the ad featured perhaps some of the worst looking espresso drinks I’ve seen. For shame.

April 2: Double Golden Harvest Farms
I was an early fan of Harvest Spirit’s Cornelius Applejack. And it took a Double Gold medal in the San Francisco World Spirits Competition. That was awesome, if not surprising. That place makes great stuff. I haven’t been out there in a while. That’s a shame too.

April 4: Beating the Bakers
There’s a competitive streak that runs through my family. This is the tale of when I entered an office bake-off and beat the two most serious bakers that I knew at the time. The remarkable thing about this accomplishment is that I don’t bake.

April 5: A Beacon on a Hill
I presented an outline for creating a utopian Best of the Capital Region Readers’ Choice Poll results. “If we could only agree to put aside some of our minor squabbles about whether The Ale House, Ralph’s or Bomber’s has the best wings, our 2010 winner wouldn’t be the identical plonk you can get in almost any state across this great nation.” This post laid the strategic underpinnings of the…

April 6: FUSSYlittleBALLOT
There is nothing little about the first FUSSYlittleBALLOT. It was a bit too ambitious for a first attempt and covered almost every single category on the Times Union’s questionnaire. But these weren’t my favorite places. Instead, I relied on external sources combined with some trusted advisors. Remember when we had a Best Chinese/Japanese/Korean category? It still makes me shudder.

April 7: Voting For a Change
Why were Wegmans and Trader Joe’s on the slate when they didn’t have a presence in the Capital Region? Well, “Recapturing the ‘Best of the Capital Region’ designation from the Times Union for local businesses is just one reason to participate. The ballot also represents an opportunity for voters to make a statement, showing certain out-of-state businesses they are welcome, and possibly tipping the scales for a local groundbreaking.”

April 8: I Try To Be My Best
Clearly I bit off too much in this first outing by trying to come up with picks for every category. One problem was the debates over those businesses of secondary or even tertiary importance overshadowed the main objectives of this project. Here I defend some of those choices, while trying to still keep this effort afloat.

April 9: Share the Love
Lots of FLB readers were supportive of the FUSSYlittleBALLOT, and that was great. However, we were only going to move the needle if FLB readers were able to get their friends, relations, and colleagues on board. So in the spirit of reader service, I wrote an appeal that anyone could copy and paste, and hopefully send as an email.

April 11: Chocolate Bliss
“Ganache is one of the best things you can do with high quality chocolate” and it’s ridiculously easy. Here’s how.

April 12: Menu Muddle
Perhaps this post was a bit of a stretch. And I think I got a few things in here wrong. But what I tried to do was break down a menu by looking at the fancy sounding ingredients. The goal was to determine if the ingredients were truly special, or if they just sounded special.

April 13: Donut Discovery
All Over Albany published a piece about the best donut shops in the region. It was an eye opener. Little did I know that years later I would be tasked with updating the AOA story with a fair bit more rigor in the form of The Best Dozen feature.

April 14: Ten Days
With only ten more days to get ballots submitted to the Times Union Best of the Capital Region poll, I try to rally up support with a summary of all the positive motion the effort had made to date. Holy cow, a lot of energy went into this project. The support was amazing.

April 15: More Trouble With Soy
In which I learn all about hexane. Also known as the nasty solvent used in all kinds of food manufacture, from exotic flours to the most humble cooking oils. I’m not concerned about the safety of food. But I do want to limit its use. So, it pays to get smart about how your food is made.

April 16: Cocktail Menu Mishaps
You can’t have a “classic” sidecar made with blood orange juice. There’s nothing classic about it. Here I take classic cocktails and show menu descriptions of them done right, juxtaposed with menu descriptions of where they are done wrong. And I name the names of the establishments, so you can be better informed.

April 18: Four Donuts and a Hot Dog
With the help of some friends and my son, I conducted a blind tasting of four boston creme donuts. And when we were done, I took the boy out for his very first hot dog at Famous Lunch.

April 19: I’m From Brooklyn. You From Brooklyn?
Lorenzo, the owner of Paesan’s Pizza wasn’t too happy with me. But I had a chance to talk to him, and explain why I wasn’t thrilled with his pizza. In the comments section, you’ll see a response from him about the history of his business in Albany. It’s both enlightening and infuriating.

April 20: Love and Judgement
There’s a difference between loving a business and it being the best of its kind in the region. Back in 2010 I loved Crisan. But all those years ago, Mrs. London’s was totally the best bakery. It didn’t capture my heart like the sunny Lark Street cafe. However, on pure technical terms, Mrs. London’s was just a little bit better.

April 21: Revolution is in the Airwaves
I started watching Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution. It was promising at the time. But his revolution sadly seems to have fizzled out. Or if it hasn’t, it’s a lot slower than I would like it to be. The school lunches in my relatively affluent suburban school district are embarrassing.

April 22: Restaurant Weak
I went through the Downtown Albany Restaurant Week menus to see how many might be worth eating. There were precious few that looked appealing at all, but I highlighted the bright spots.

April 23: French Toast Technique
French toast can be prepared a variety of ways. Personally, I prefer it custardy. It’s not hard to do. In this post, I explain how you can make it at home.

April 24: Ask the Profussor – The First 300
300 posts is a lot of fussiness on one year. Who would have thought that it would only be a drop in the bucket. Apparently I missed a big milestone, because yesterday was my two thousandth post. Whoa.

April 26: Give It Away
Chipotle gave me some stuff, so I passed it along to readers. And we had some fun in the comments section as part of the process.

April 27: Albanians Demand Bad Pizza
The comment that Lorenzo left was so telling that I expanded on it. But I also realized that while the Albanians of the past demanded bad pizza, there had been an influx of people who actually want good pizza. Ultimately, the people of Albany will have the pizza they deserve.

April 28: Ask the Profussor – Playing Catch Up
This is me getting behind on my question answering responsibilities. Taking a closer look at the format of this post, I still had not moved to the link of the day model, and was still linking each question back to the original comment. What a PITA.

April 29: Is It Safe?
I eat for pleasure. I eat for flavor.
I don’t want safe food. I want delicious food.

April 30: Restaurant Week Recap
Even after reading through all the menus to determine the best choices, the restaurants delivered an underwhelming experience. And it’s a real shame because this should be a chance to knock the socks off of people, so that they return as full paying guests. But that’s clearly not how most kitchens execute this promotion.

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