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AskTP – The Big One

April 11, 2016

Oh dear. Is answering questions still something that happens on the FLB? You betcha .

One notable thing from the Throwback Thursday posts was just how active the comments sections were at the beginning of the blog. Maybe that was because I was bringing a new voice to the Capital Region food scene. Maybe it was because I wasn’t fully articulating my arguments. Or maybe it was because I hadn’t as thoroughly exhausted all of those arguments as I have by now.

That’s just one reason I am thrilled to see some new voices coming into the Albany food blogging scene. Did you read Melinda’s piece on local bagels? It’s great work.

But dammit, I still occasionally pull out something unexpected. There are still sometimes questions. And those questions demand answers. Will they get timely answers? Probably not. But answers are answers. So today, I’m excited to bring back Ask the Profussor for a special lightning round where we tackle the last four months of neglected queries.

Ericscheirerstott wanted to know my opinion on cookware:
What is you opinion on uncoated aluminum omelette pans?

I think all omelette pans should be well seasoned French steel. However, if you are strong enough to make a proper omelette in an american cast iron skillet, more power to you.

Shawn suggests the unthinkable:
Hot dog warmed in a microwave, have you tried it? That is my preferred method if I don’t have a pan or grill already going.

I think if I were lacking a pan or a grill, I’d rather fill a pot with scalding hot water from the tap and let the fats in my hot dog come to temperature the way God intended.

David Nardolillo had a suggestion for a tour that I don’t hate:
I think it’s time for a fresh look at what we’ve got locally. A FussyTourdeBrewery? We’d have to chip $$ in for safe transportation, but it would be fun.

Oddly, when David suggested this, I hadn’t quite been bitten by the beer bug. But this is sounding like a pretty good idea. If you’ll forgive a moment of shameless self promotion, Yelp is giving away a pair of tickets to Hudson Valley Hops today. That might be a place to try and hone down which breweries should make the tour.

boya 3706 was looking for clarification on one of my recent comfort foods:
Wait, you add mayo to boiled potatoes? I’ve never heard of them prepared in any way other than just add butter. Is there a recipe or is this just a big blind spot of prep for this dish I’m missing?

I’ve got no idea if this is a thing. But it’s kind of like hot potato salad that you make in your mouth.

Dave is confused about the love of kale:
I have been on the anti-kale bandwagon for quite a while. Not because I have any especial hatred for kale, but because the craze seemed so horridly arbitrary. Why not Swiss chard? Collards? Beet tops? Escarole? Why ignore other healthful greens because of kale? And let’s be honest, kale isn’t exactly an entry level green in terms of taste and texture. The kale craze may have put untold thousands of budding greens lovers off their cud forever. A shame. Like I always say, can we stop pretending to love things? Like kale and Troy?

I blame the t-shirts. “Eat More Kale” became a battle cry when Chick-Fil-A tried to force the small shirt producer to cease and desist. The big brand lost. The little guy won. So maybe Chick-Fil-A is to blame for the whole thing. Maybe you should boycott them and their kale-promoting ways.

LorreS was curious if I ever took creative license with my hash:
Have you tried mixing some acorn or butternut squash into the hash? I never knew how delicious this could be until I had it at Wellington’s on a recent Sunday morning.

You bet. Beets too. Sweet potatoes. Whatever. Onions. Oil. Potatoes. And whatever else is laying around. That’s a hash. Top it with a poached egg, a bit of hot sauce, and some sour cream if you’re feeling decadent. That’s a plate full of happiness right there.

Steve N. might be interested in a little fine dining history:
Did you happen to see my Yelp review of 15 Church? When I was there 2 weeks ago, they were featuring a pasta dish that had corn in it. I can forgive a chain for serving out of season veggies and fruits. But one of the supposedly best restaurants in Saratoga is doing it.

Once upon a time, the best of the best restaurants were famous for having out of season produce. The reason was because they would have the height of season produce flown in at the peak of freshness from the other side of the world, at great expense. So back in the day, it wouldn’t be unusual to see a tomato salad on the menu of a top tier restaurant in February. But over time, styles change. And I think for the better.

Edwardsa could very well be a spammer, but a question is a question:
I’m wondering if anyone has sampled Athletic Greens for their green drink? I’m seeing that most either taste disgusting or cause my stomach to churn.

Oh dear god, no. If it tastes disgusting or making your stomach churn, for all that’s good and holy, stop.

LorreS was sad about my condiment choice:
*screechy voice* You’re going to ruin tater tots with Frank’s? [sad face]

I wouldn’t dream of doing such a thing. I raised up tater tots to their pinnacle of existence with a combination of Frank’s, butter, and a homemade blue cheese sauce.

enough already! thinks I can predict the future:
Will you be taking on any food issues in the near future? Your yogurt column was well done.
Thank you, but I have no idea what the future holds. Most likely, more whining about beer menus. But I’ll try my best to keep it more interesting.

Mr. Dave asks a simple question, on a subject where simple questions can’t exist:
Have you tried good imported Belgian Lambic or gueuze? Or are have “craft beer” pedants been feeding you “American wild ales?” I’ve tried a couple American sours and they taste like homebrew that’s gone bad. Little respect for the style with awfulness disguised as complexity/novelty.

I have no idea what you mean by a good imported Belgian Lambic. I’d probably say yes. The beer snobs would likely say no. But I get where you are going with this question, and I’ll hold judgment on this style until I drink more from abroad.

David Nardolillo also asks a simple question on a complicated topic:
I am an enthusiastic drinker of craft beer, and appreciate the reflections and suggestions of many voices in our local community, but I do not hear much about people participating in double-blind taste tests, in which the identity of the beers selected for the taste test are unknown to the tester. Why does this not happen here?

Blind tasting is interesting. It can be great for smashing the false idols of the hype machine. But I’m a firm believer that where something comes from and how it is made matter as much as the sensory pleasures it provides. And these things are lost in a blind tasting. Don’t forget the lessons of The Pepsi Challenge. Blind tastings are no panacea.

LorreS feels for the teachers:
Can you imagine being a teacher and having to do 6-10 talks a week? And having to make sense all that time? Or if you’re a K-12 teacher even more talks than that? It’s like doing 6-10 shows a week – and it’s harder than Broadway because each show has to be different.

Me? I love to have an audience. Let me at ‘em.

Dave asks a question that’s probably better for Google:
What local breweries also serve food?

I have no idea. Rare Form has treats from The Cheese Traveler. Shmaltz has food brought in from some strategic partners. C. H. Evans has its own restaurant, as does Brown’s. Some of the other local places may have food or not.

Angelos is incredulous at the longevity of a Capital Region institution:
Why is Bombers still a thing? Seriously, nothing is good at any location.

I still hear good things about the pulled pork french fries, and one of those wing sauces just recently got some major online love.

Albanylandlord doesn’t understand all the fuss about soft serve:
Does anyone know what goes into soft serve? Are some of these places making there own and others doing it the prepurchased industrial route? Everyone making their own?

Mostly it’s thickening agents, gums, and emulsifiers. Pretty much all of it is purchased. But what a shop purchases, and how it is processed, can have major differences in texture and flavor. We’ve experienced this directly, so we know it to be true.

Burnt My Fingers was wondering about the Throwback Thursday posts:
Maybe I’m in the minority on this. How’s your traffic on Thursday compared to other days?

You are not alone. Thursdays have been taking a hit on traffic, and that’s just one reason I stopped the feature. The other was that it was harder to write than I expected.

Randal Putnam thought for a moment that I had an ounce of guile:
Did you post the Lorraine comment to distract me from giving you the business? If so, well played! If not, thanks anyway for sharing your thoughts.

I’m the worst poker player you’ll ever meet. If Lorraine’s comment helped me to dodge a bullet, then that was sheer luck. Maybe I owe her an ice cream cone, or a pint of sour cream, or something.

Burnt My Fingers also believes that beer menus should be special:
If you serve a burger or mac and cheese, you probably take some care to make it your own rather than exactly like what could be ordered down the street. So why not bother to do the same with the beer that accompanies it?

Amen, brother.

Burnt My Fingers apparently also tried to reach out to Jim Leff at some point:
Ok, I’ll bite. What did Jim Leff send you? (All I got was some advice on BBSs and a lousy FB friendship.)

He sent me The Chowhound Passport!

Mr. Dave reminded me of his own subversions of the Times Union Poll:
Ha! You are playing a dangerous game recommending me. If by some miracle I got that top spot, I would deal with the influx of followers by tweeting wildly inappropriate nonsense… Don’t you remember my history of attempted subversion of the TU polls? #VoteKurgerBingForAllCategories

I had totally forgotten. Maybe that was because #KurgerBing never started trending. Time to redouble your efforts? Regardless what Mr. Dave does, I still think you should vote for the Ridiculous Food Society of Upstate New York as best local Twitterer.

Albanylandlord had a good idea with one major flaw:
You got me thinking about what food lessons could be taught to first graders in one or a few lessons. I think that was a good one. Maybe a side by side with a DD plain donut would have helped?

I do like where you are going with this line of thinking. But it would also mean that I would not only have to step foot into a Dunkin’ Donuts, but also that I would give them money, and ultimately let kids eat that crap. Even for the purposes of science, I think that’s too much to bear.

Zena, Goddess of Fire was curious about how I stumbled upon the skim milk issue:
Where do you find this stuff??? In a stoopid way it made me laugh – but this is, I agree, positively ridiculous.

I have my sources. It helps that we have a reporter for The Consumerist right here in our very midst. But it’s important that I try to stay up to date on all the ridiculous food news.

Burnt My Fingers is curious about his own disappointments:
I of course did an immediate search of my own reviews, and found three pages of reviews in which “disappointed” appeared. However, in every case it was a scenario where I had high or positive expectations and the establishment did not meet them. That’s different than saying it didn’t suck, right? (That was a question.)

Yes, it’s different. And I fall into the same category. I’m still not sure if it’s much better. Whether or not I’m disappointed by something is ultimately less relevant than my expectation and the specific failure to deliver upon it.

Albanylandlord starts to unpack some more flaws in the least favorite phrase:
I hate “You won’t be disappointed”. How do you know what I will feel about my future visit???

And what’s to say someone’s disappointment is well placed? You can have a great meal and still be disappointed by the service, decor, or price. The overall experience could be good, but you could be disappointed by the dish you ordered. The wine list might not have been up to par with the rest of the establishment, and that could leave you feeling flat.

Burnt My Fingers had a suggestion about my warm dan tat plan:
I missed out on the CNY menu at Hong Kong Bakery, so would love to experience more of what they’re getting good at. Why not simply meet for a leisurely weekday afternoon banquet, and conclude with the dan tat? (That was a question.)

Because part of me would like to maximize the number of people who could get in on this warm egg custard thing. Lowering the barriers to entry is important. Doing it on a weekday afternoon, and participating in a meal first, kind of raises the stakes, so to speak.

Reba’s idea is starting to sound more like a viable plan:
I like the idea of afternoon bubble tea and hot custard tarts! Maybe some other similar afternoon meet-ups under $5 on different days rather than as a tour?

Maybe these FLB outings don’t need to be so complicated. Actually, the blog will be celebrating its birthday on Sunday, May 1. Perhaps warm egg custards aren’t such a bad idea.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. April 11, 2016 10:22 am

    My husband and I do periodic regional brewery tours, though we haven’t done one recently. It’s become somewhat of a tradition to do one on Tulip Fest Saturday so we can get out of dodge. However, this year is the once every few years it lands on Derby Saturday, so if we do this we’ll have to be strategic. I’m feeling like a trip to the HV breweries is long overdue.

  2. April 11, 2016 10:57 am

    I am beyond envious of your Chowhound Passport. Use it well.

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