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AskTP – I May Be In Trouble

December 13, 2016

Egads! I’ve let this feature go to seed. It’s time to do some trimming. This might take a while. And while I’m not prepared to officially decree this to be Ask The Profussor Catch-Up Week, it may take several posts in order to get through the pages of questions that have gone without answer for months on end.

The commitment I made many years ago was to answer any question that was posted to the comments section of this blog. My only stipulation was that questions needed to include proper punctuation.

Well, there are questions that need answers. And many are dying on the vine. Before we get to them, please don’t forget, that the links embedded before every question all go to the same place. I like to call it the link of the day. If you find this frustrating, please don’t click on them. Getting back to the original post should be just a quick Google search away.

Now without any further ado, onto the questions.

Daf wanted to know about my co-judge at the Schenectady JCC cooking contest:
Is the Israeli restauranteur’s place in this area? I miss some of the NYC options for Israeli food!

Nope. He was visiting from Israel. It may not be Israeli, but I’m already hearing good things about the new iteration of Phoenicians on Fuller Road where The Deli Warehouse used to be.

Jessica R. asked a question to get an answer to a previous question:
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?

Frankly, I’m not sure if I had answered it in the past. But I can certainly answer it now. I have never, ever been to Duncan’s Dairy Bar. And I feel terrible about it. I think once I tried to go. I remember being in the parking lot, however something didn’t work out. Maybe it was closed. Or the wait was impossibly long. I’m truly eager to go and check it out.

Steve N. has some thoughts on the region’s best bread:
Daniel, you’re selling us short. Have you forgotten about Perreca’s? I would argue their bread is world class. It’s that good.

Actually, this inspired me to get out to Perreca’s and buy a loaf. Yes, it’s quite good. Once again, this is an issue about being happy with what we have, versus trying to find the bread of one’s dreams.

EPT can’t be expected to have read every post on the FLB:
Did you EVER have a knockout meal during restaurant week?

Yes. Just not in the Capital Region. But the meal I had at One Market during San Francisco’s restaurant week a million years ago, got me to fall in love with the place and got me back in the doors for many more full priced meals. I had to have that braised and glazed pork shoulder over faro and grapes. See? I still remember it all these years later.

Zena, Goddess of Fire isn’t afraid to ask servers the hard questions:
I try always to remember to ask if the salad dressings are made in-house. Is it so hard to make?

This is so important. If you don’t ask, there’s no way for the kitchen to ever find out that these small things make a big difference. Salad dressing is easy to make. And every place should make their own. Period. And with good oil to boot. Soybean oil should be scrapped entirely. If you wouldn’t use it at home, you shouldn’t pay a premium for it when dining out.

Mr. Dave reveals some more of his secrets:
Did I ever tell you I used to work at Peaches & Cream (or Peaches Cafe or whatever they are calling it these days…) 20 or so years ago? That place is bizarre. Everything about it is bizarre.

I don’t think so. But that’s fascinating. Although not entirely surprising.

Burnt My Fingers asks for a simple pickles to pickles comparison:
The fried pickles seemed like a very upmarket twist on what they sell at Smashburger. How would you compare the two?

I couldn’t. I’ve never had the fried pickles at Smashburger. Actually, I have only been to one Smashburger once, and left entirely unimpressed with no desire to return.

K dares to dream the impossible dream:
My fiancé is also a Floridian and whom has stated numerous times there is no place to find a Cuban sandwich (a real one) in the Capital District. Every visit to his hometown in North FL has to include a true Cuban sandwich at his (and now my) favorite spot. Any thoughts on where to find one in the area?

Nowhere. But the closest you will find is Carmens in Troy. At least they were importing Cuban bread from a bakery in New Jersey. If you’ve been away from Florida for a while, this might scratch the itch. Otherwise, I’d suggest you wait for the next family trip.

LorreS asks a couple of questions, but the second one is easier than the first:
Why do vegan chefs need to do “fakes” ? Why would a vegan chef even try to do something like a Cubano without even going as far as using Cuban bread?

Cuban bread is made with lard. Without the lard, it isn’t Cuban bread. So, even if you made the sandwich with fake meat, you couldn’t make a vegan version of a Cubano without compromising on the roll. So that’s easy. As far as why vegans make fake foods? Well, I guess it’s because most people aren’t born vegans, and sometimes people miss some of the dishes they sacrificed to a higher ethical standard. I can’t blame them, and some of these vegan versions can be delicious.

Keep on Guessing wanted some clarification of my sampling at Henry Street Taproom:
I have not had the opportunity to try the Farmers Market Bowl, what was your concern with the pasta, as I would be curious to analyze when I do consume it?

Oh man, it’s been a long time, and I can’t find my notes. I’m a big fan of homemade pasta too. But sometimes it can be too thick and clumpy. If memory serves, that was the mode of failure here. Hopefully, your experience will be better.

EPT asked of my adventures in Rhode Island:
Fond memories of Providence, especially Water Fire, have you been?

Not only have I been, but I met the creator of Water Fire on a recent visit to the Providence Art Club.

Mr. Dave berated me many months ago, and I’m just getting around to my defense:
What do you mean first salad of summer? This should be one of your last salads of peak lettuce season… Aren’t you Mr. Seasonal? Good salad greens are a spring food…

I don’t grow food, and I don’t buy lettuce at farmers markets. Maybe I should change that, since you know, I am Mr. Seasonal. My salad consumption is driven by the arrival of my CSA share. But you make a good argument for celebrating spring with local farmers market greens. Maybe in 2017.

Burnt My Fingers asks in a roundabout way if I’ve softened my stance on HFCS:
have you tried the new house brand ice creams at Price Chopper? Man those are good. And cheap! I tried the caramel turtles and chocolate chip mint and took home a tub of each for $3 total. The secret to the rich flavor and unctuous mouthfeel? Our old friend HFCS, returned from the doghouse. Of course there’s good, cheap and healthy and 2 out of 3 isn’t bad. Would look forward to your comments when you’re back on the ice cream part of your diet.

No. I haven’t.

-R offered well wishes and some criticism on the results of the Times Union poll:
Congratulations Daniel. Kristi on the other hand…sigh. Can the world be more vapid?

Thanks. Yes. The world can be more vapid. For example, I’m answering questions about food when people are being slaughtered in the streets of Aleppo.

Daniel Naylor also had his jab at the latest Times Union Readers’ Choice poll:
“Best bar to find politicians/lobbyists: Jack’s Oyster House, Albany.” Who cares? What merit does this serve? Anecdotal evidence from the past year suggests this place has slipped in quality. Does it really matter that I may be sitting next to someone who works at the capital?

I think the paper struggles to find a way to keep Jack’s alive. And I get the impulse. It’s the oldest restaurant in the Capital Region. It’s a classic. But it clearly needs some work. Not necessarily updating, because it should stay true to its roots. However, there is room for Jack’s to be a better version of itself. That said, there are always people who are into politics and government who will get a kick out of seeing the local figures in action. It’s easy to take them for granted, because we live in Albany.


Okay. That’s it for today. I’m far from catching up, but it feels good to get a chunk of these done. More answers will be coming soon. Thanks for your patience.

8 Comments leave one →
  1. December 13, 2016 11:54 am

    So your response to my two questions (which I can’t remember asking, it was so long ago) are no, I haven’t tried that? Wrong! You are our canary in the frozen dessert aisle, Profusser. You MUST try these things, and then you can warn us off if you like.

  2. December 13, 2016 4:00 pm

    Perreca’s opens at 4 am most days. I still have it in my head to go there with a stick of butter and a knife in my pocket right at 4 one morning and get a loaf moments out of the oven. I can only imagine how tasty that bread is straight out of the oven.

    • December 13, 2016 4:06 pm

      Make sure to stop at The Cheese Traveler the day before so that the best bread can have the best butter. And then don’t forget to call me the night before. Those loaves are big. I’m here to help.

      • buffsoulja permalink
        December 13, 2016 7:57 pm

        me too

  3. Trusted Commenter permalink
    December 13, 2016 4:20 pm

    Oh good grief, so obviously untrue that people are born innately non-vegan. They’re born vegan and then conditioned to crave fat and sugar, so that some vegans retain a longing for what they ate in carnivore days. I’d love to see the research that shows there’s a racial memory of meat (cooked medium rare in butter, perhaps) genetically imprinted in the womb. And I suppose watermelon and fried chicken are biologically determined preferences? Can’t believe a 21st century person comes up with this stuff.

    • December 14, 2016 11:46 am

      If we were born vegan, we would have no incisors. Just like cats don’t have molars, because they are born carnivores. We have both incisors and molars, and are therefore omnivores.

      I’m not decrying a vegan diet – it is not one I would choose but I respect it and have many a delicious, satisfying vegan dish (both “fake foods” as well as in their own right), but to pretend that we didn’t evolve to eat meat (*and* vegetables, and yes, more of them than the former!) is just flat-out ignoring science.

      This isn’t to say we couldn’t (or shouldn’t) strive to evolve, as a species, to eat even more of a plant-based diet: there are a lot of arguments to be had for that. But our current genetic makeup does factor in meat as a diet staple.

      • Trusted Commenter permalink
        December 14, 2016 4:58 pm

        “Our current genetic makeup” doesn’t give us a dietary need for meat, and it gives us a physical conformation that already had evolved out of carnivorism by the time our species started walking. We’re physically designed to not eat meat, pointy teeth notwithstanding. (Good luck ripping up a raw carcass au naturel with your human incisors!) Here are some details: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sH-hs2v-UjI . I don’t care what everyone eats but I can’t stand it when people that should know better get browbeaten into mythological genetic and dietary theories by the FDA and the Beef Council.

  4. December 14, 2016 11:41 am

    Come on, now. Everyone who knows anything knows that the Power Players have long since abandoned Jack’s for 677 Prime.

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