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AskTP – May Days

May 19, 2016

It’s been so long since I’ve sat down to write an Ask the Profussor with just a reasonable number of questions that I’ve forgotten what it feels like.

The commitment I made at the start of the blog was that every question asked in the comments section of the blog would receive an answer, just so long as it included proper punctuation. It may not be a good answer, or a timely answer. But questions are important and they should be encouraged.

Some of the features on the FLB have come and gone. Ask the Profussor has been here since May 2009, if in a slightly modified format, and hopefully it will continue until I hang up the guns and ride off into the sunset.

Don’t forget to check out the mystery link of the day, which is included at the start of every question. It’s mostly there to help break up the page visually, but it’s also something I think you’ll find interesting.

Now without further ado, onto the questions.

Masticating Monkey starts us off with a big one, which I’ll try to answer as simply as I can:
I just wonder why it’s so hard for places out here to get things right regularly. Peck’s Arcade has shown so far that it can be done here, and people clearly appreciate that, but why is it so rare otherwise?

One answer came from the community. Steve N. suggested, “If being great were easy, EVERYTHING would be great. Every movie, every song, every comedian, and yes, every restaurant too. It’s rare because doing something exceptionally well, consistently, is hard, and it takes (rare) talent, focus, and dedication.”

I like that answer. But there are a few other things going on here too.

Months ago I spoke to Vic about Peck’s Arcade and its shitty hours. Four days a week? But he sees that as very important to the success of the place. And it’s not about creating demand. It’s about staff and performance. His team can push out four services at full intensity and peak performance, knowing that it’s just four days. That never occurred to me.

But one shouldn’t ignore the fact that the owners aren’t from here. They bring a different sensibility to the notion of what a restaurant should be. And that’s very important. The places that are not trying to be everything to everyone will always be the best of the bunch.

llcwine has a much easier question to answer:
Daniel, street corn during Pesach? It’s not wheat…no leavening….so I guess it’s ok…

The good news is that corn is now totally okay for a greater percentage of people who observe Passover. I’m just hoping that we can still get corn-syrup free versions of Fox’s U-Bet during the holiday next year. But for now, I’m celebrating the rule change.

Mark was eager to share some more hidden knife sharpening spots:
What? You haven’t heard of Dixon’s Shoe Repair, 257 New Scotland Avenue, just up from Academy Road? Quality sharpening and very reasonable. A very nice man owns the place. Go, drop off your knives, then go get a cup of coffee for a minute. Come back and the knives are sharpened.

No! I had not. Thanks for sharing the tip. It’s certainly easier than driving my knives all the way out to Schenectady. I’ll look forward to seeing how good a job they do on my blades.

Jessica R. must have never heard me speak, since I can’t pronounce anything right:
Also, my husband and I have a disagreement on how Schuyler is pronounced. He says “Sky-lar”, I say “Shoe-ler” Which is correct?

I can’t say which is correct, but I say “Sky-ler”. So, you’re both half right by my book, for whatever that’s worth.

Burnt My Fingers may be offering to be my manservant:
I am mystified by folks who turn up their noses at buying prepared meals from Blue Apron or Whole Foods and then search out knife sharpening services. You don’t pay somebody else to put your pants on for you, why should you pay to have someone else sharpen your knives?

I don’t pay someone to put on my pants, but now that you mention it….If I ever became stupid stinking rich, my first household employee would be a driver. And if I didn’t need his services, he could drive my knives to the sharpening shop. But I’d never turn up my nose at Blue Apron or Whole Foods. My only complaint about those operations are that they are expensive for what you get.

MikeH has some common misperceptions about wine:
Sipping wine after mowing the lawn? That’s just crazy talk.

Only in America. Wine doesn’t need to be sipped. It can be gulped, especially light refreshing ones like gruner veltliner. Sure, it’s bonkers to drink a big red zinfandel after a mow. But as long as you’ve got a nose full of grass, why not add some cat piss to that and enjoy a nice sauvignon blanc? Or what about a simple vino verde? Wine doesn’t have to be fancy or pretentious. It can just be something you drink whenever.

Debra notified me of a mistake:
Isn’t the New Orleans Holy Trinity rounded off with celery, not garlic? I seem to remember years ago Chef Emeril Lagasse using peppers, onions, celery?

Dammit. I hate that. Of course the Trinity is Peppers, onions, and celery. It’s what I used in my dish. I don’t know why I typed garlic. I’m going to blame exhaustion. Usually, I blame the kids. But this was all on me. As a side note, should you ever find a mistake, please do let me know.

Chef Paul was pleased with one of my rants, and requested another:
APPLAUD !!!!!!! Next up: Soup in a bag. Why? WHy? WHY????

Thank you. Soup in a bag drives me bonkers too. I’ve added it to my list of posts to write.

Mr Dave used a question mark, so I’m running this comment again:
You know what? When you are ready to go to The Bears let me know. Maybe we can cobble together a suitable merry band. I can’t let you have at the place without a voice of reason in the room…

For real? That would be awesome. Maybe we could even get Albany Jane out. But with all due respect, I think it’s a riot to imagine you as “a voice of reason.” In my own defense, I’ve been feeling a lot more appreciative lately of the Capital Region’s unique charms, like its reportedly oldest pizzeria, and its unique take on the form.

Jessica R. took me on a walk down memory lane:
Do you remember when we first met at the Times Union Wing tasting Contest? That was both the worst and best wing tasting…got to try three from each place, all were sorry from being delivered and sitting there.

Of course! The sitting was brutal, to be sure. But the worst part for me was that they were all ordered mild. Mild! I found it amazing that there were any wings which were able to be even remotely tasty. But Bomber’s and Towne Tavern still stick out as notable highlights.

Tom may not have seen one of the tabs at the top of this blog:
How about starting an essentials for the local eateries, so people know what to steer towards or avoid?

The #518Recos tab was kind of designed to do that. Of course, there is also Yelp. But maybe I need to tighten up the #518Recos section a bit.

Jack C. was elaborating on the strength of his Field Goods subscription:
We love our Field Goods subscription… The frozen options during the winter are awesome, though. Fresh kale in February? Heck yeah! We have so many frozen blueberries, though. I need to make some blueberry pancakes…

Winter greens are the best. As far as frozen blueberries go, I like just tossing them in a bowl with some plain yogurt and dark maple syrup.

Susie Wagenheim Rosenberg is part of the counterculture:
This year I am a member of Soul Fire Farm, which links fantastic, land-loved produce and eggs with social justice issues. I’m just going to have to have company every week, now how’s that for revolutionary?

Every week? That’s amazing, and quite revolutionary. If you want to send The Fussies an invitation, just let me know and I’ll PM you our mailing address.

Jenna L. was up for being a guinea pig:
At home we drink 100% Tierra Farms as we like to support the local, organic and fair trade but we haven’t given up the DD while on the go. Maybe this will help us make the switch?

You sound like a great candidate for one of the cards. Congrats! You’re a winner. I’ve been delinquent in getting these cards out to people. But you will definitely be one of the five.

Burnt My Fingers was curious to learn more about Israeli cooking:
Good work. How about the recipes for the winners? (Also the beet couscous and the kibbutz salad.)

Thanks. I put in the request to the event organizers. We’ll see what happens.

Bob Gumson may indeed be blind, but he’s been observing the area’s food culture for awhile:
I must have led you to reminiscing about Celina when we met at SJCC for the Iron Kef. How do I find out about your foodie meet-ups? Are there Albanians willing to give a blind guy a ride?

There was definitely some synchronicity. And as it turns out, I had recently bumped into Celina at Troy Kitchen. The foodie meet-ups like the PJ’s pizza in the park are largely being coordinated over on Yelp. Events are planned in Yelp Talk, and then posted in Yelp Events.

Depending on the date, and your relative location, we can always see about arranging transportation. I know that LorreS sometimes takes the bus to join us, and will catch a ride back. The important thing isn’t the ability to see, but rather the ability to eat. The more mouths we bring to the table, the more foods we all get to try.

LorreS must have felt her ears burning, because she weighed in on millet:
Millet gets along very well with garlic and Dr. Bragg’s amino acids (why don’t they just call it soy sauce?)

That’s good to know. I may end up doing a full post on this, but I toasted it in olive oil in a 50/50 split with white rice, and cooked it in chicken stock. I tried a few flavor profiles, but soy and garlic wasn’t one of them. My hunch is I’ll be eating a lot more millet in the future, so I’ll give it a try. On soy sauce, I’m pretty sure soy sauce needs to be brewed or fermented. And apparently liquid aminos aren’t.


Wow. That was fun.

Now all I have to do is get through Tavern Time tonight and a quick trip to NYC this weekend. It’s going to be all family all the time, so once again there will be a thousand unfulfilled food dreams. But that’s how it goes.

8 Comments leave one →
  1. May 19, 2016 11:19 am

    Schuyler: Not being from around here I thought is was Shoe-ler as well. it is definitely Sky-lar, being named after Albany native Philip Schuyler and his family for the most part.

  2. May 19, 2016 1:49 pm

    Put me on the list for Bears old!

  3. May 19, 2016 3:37 pm

    “You know what? When you are ready to go to The Bears let me know. Maybe we can cobble together a suitable merry band.”

    OOH OOH OOH PICK ME!

    I’d love to be part of that merry band. I’ve never been to The Bears. It would be fun.

  4. Fuddley permalink
    May 19, 2016 3:52 pm

    I’m up for a run to the Bears as well

  5. May 19, 2016 5:03 pm

    Ha! I didn’t mean to start local food weblogger-Con at the Bears… I just didn’t want the Fuss-person to trash the place without sensible adult supervision…

  6. David Nardolillo permalink
    May 19, 2016 5:40 pm

    Daniel, your pronunciation of Schuyler is correct, at least as the American pronunciation goes. Akum Norder did a fascinating piece about correct Dutch pronunciations a few years ago, which suggested the Dutch pronunciation of Schuyler might be a little different than what we use: http://www.timesunion.com/entertainment/article/You-say-RENseler-I-say-renseLAR-4149714.php

  7. phairhead permalink
    May 20, 2016 5:59 pm

    I’m in for an evening @ The Bears!

  8. May 23, 2016 11:00 am

    Did you miss my question on whether you have been to Duncan’s Dairy Bar in Troy, or did I miss the AskTP when you answered it?

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