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AskTP – Marching Orders

March 6, 2017

Maybe Ask the Profussor turns into a quarterly feature? I don’t know. What I do know is that I still enjoy answering reader questions. I also know that it does take more time than just venting about whatever issue du jour strikes my fancy. And these days, I’m finding that I have less time to pursue blog related activities with my Yelp and family responsibilities.

The struggle is real. As is the struggle of writing a food blog in an increasingly unsettling world. The latest outrage from this weekend was regarding the Sikh man who was reportedly told “go home to your country,” before being shot in his own driveway.

At the very least, authorities have caught one of the people they think is responsible for some of the bomb threats against America’s Jewish Community Centers. So that’s something. And the FBI is investigating the murder of an Indian man in a Kansas bar as a hate crime.

None of this changes the fact that I’m sitting on a heap of questions that I’ve committed to answer. And I’m not going back on my commitments. Just so long as a question is submitted with proper punctuation, it will eventually get answered. The answer may not be timely. It may not even be accurate. But the loop will be closed. Also, don’t forget to check out the mystery link of the day. Yes, I know all the links go to the same place.

Now, without further ado, onto the questions.

Danielle M. Kuehnel validated my thoughts on DD before shifting into vegan mode:
I love that you just dissed DD, because most of the time I feel like I’m the only person who just doesn’t feel it. Also, speaking of Berben & Wolff, have you tried their chicken wings? They are–without a doubt–absolutely spectacular, but I guess only if you’re into the boneless type (which I happen to be a reluctant fan of). I wanted to buy some in bulk, but still haven’t heard back from them. Maybe you could do a bit of exploring when you’re there?

The wings are still on my “to eat” list and now may be moving up even higher thanks to the new restrictions I’ve imposed on my diet. I’ll try to remember to ask about bulk purchases. And between you and me, I would also like to approach the owners about participating in a Yelp event later this summer. We’ll have to see how that goes.

Jon in Albany liked what he read about the Carpi sub with one exception:
Sounds like a good sandwich. Why wouldn’t they add the cheese you wanted? Seems easy enough to do and then increase the price a little.

My best guess is because it was one of the younger staffers. On the Tour de Italian Deli, a woman behind the line had suggested aged provolone in the first place. Her idea was that it could be weighed out and added to the price of the sandwich. So clearly it just depend on who you get.

Mr. Dave posting as just some guy named Dave seemed to already know the answer:
What sort of ‘nduja? I was thoroughly unimpressed with the La Quercia offering. I’ve tried a couple of other brands too. I’ve made it myself based on some Italian recipes and it turned out better than those I’ve bought.

It’s the LaQuercia, which I haven’t had myself. And it’s not on the new diet. Neither are grilled cheese sandwiches. Otherwise, I might be hitting you up for a sample of your homemade product.

boya3706 read about the mutton flap and had one question:
But where did you get it from?

Would you believe me if I said Walmart? Yes, I broke my prohibition of buying meat from this mass merchandiser. But I did it largely based on a previous insight offered by Burnt My Fingers about the realities of lamb production.

omaxwell also known as Burnt My Fingers was wondering about the year ahead:
So, your top two posts were about tasting tours. Does that give you any ideas for planning 2017?

It’s true. The tasting tours result in posts that are tremendous resources to the culinarily curious. But they also get shared a lot because invariably they validate some people’s favorite places. Granted, other people are indignant that their favorite spot didn’t do better in the contest. And others still are resentful that their pick for best whatever wasn’t even included in the exercise. That said, I’m not doing this for pageviews. So, once again, we’ll shoot for four tours over the course of the year, with spring being earmarked for burgers, summer for ice cream, and fall for cider donuts.

Maria C. called the question about New Year’s Eve bubbly:
But what will you be drinking, Profussor? (We’re going with Bollinger). Regardless, here’s to a happy and healthy 2017 to you, yours, and all my fellow fussy readers.

I came to the conclusion that this year would be more about quantity than quality, and as luck would have it, I found a stash of one of my favorite value sparkling wines at a state store in Altoona, PA. So I bought a few bottles of Domaine Ste. Michelle Blanc de Noir, which did the trick.

Jack C. has found no magic in his beans:
I think since I’ve lived in places with really hard water, I can’t ever get them soft enough. I soak them overnight, cook them for 5-6 hours, and still get mostly crunchy beans. I guess I need a pressure cooker or something?

Water always wins. It’s the universal solvent. Eventually even the oldest stiffest bean will succumb. You may just need to cook it until the whole bean disintegrates. And that’s okay. Maybe not ideal. But still okay. One of my favorite vendors at the Schenectady Greenmarket sells beans that were dried in the pod. Those are a bit labor intensive and cost a bit more than dried beans at the supermarket. But they are also delicious. No pressure cooker required.

David Nardolillo couldn’t stay the course for the 26er promotion:
Kudos to you for sticking with it. You are a better man than me. Did the quality of the new releases get better as the promotion went on? I bailed out about a quarter of the way through on the 26ers after realizing that I was a much bigger fan of their original lineup of flavors.

It’s the funny thing about taste. Some of the ciders I enjoyed the most, other people hated. And some of the ones I despised, were beloved by a contingent of fruity cider lovers. The reason I saw the promotion through was because I had made a commitment. And even though I wasn’t crazy about most of them, I liked the idea of greenlighting our local cider maker’s creative flights of fancy.

enough already! has a suggestion for a tour:
Have you thought of doing a tour de hummus (or falafel)?

Tours have a very specific focus. They are designed for foods that are best consumed on site. Secondly, they focus on foods that have some kind of connection to place. In the past, I have conducted a tasting. Hummus might be a good food for this kind of treatment. It’s very transportable, and I think the evaluation would be even stronger if five different versions could be seen on the same plate. Falafel, given the importance of its deep fried crust, would be better suited for a tour. But I might need more convincing that there’s a strong falafel culture in the Capital Region.

AddiesDad found himself in a very similar boat:
Funny, I made a triple batch of Marcella’s Ragu before the holidays, and had the same problem. It took FOREVER, and it didn’t seem as good to me as a single batch. I seem to recall that when making recipes with a lot of liquid like a ragu, you don’t necessarily need to increase the liquid components to the same degree as the solids? Do you have any sense of that?

Oh man. Now that you say that, it sounds eerily familiar. You are probably right. Maybe I could reach out to one of the surviving Hazans and see if they have any insight.

Burnt My Fingers had a question for my mom:
I have just one question: what does your mother do with the meat from the chicken, after she makes the soup?

I’m pretty sure she uses it for chicken salad.

David Nardolillo puts aside the frivolity for something important:
Serious question: what do you think the fare should have been?

Talking to people who know the cab zones around Albany, they seemed to think the fare should have been under ten bucks. Ten to fifteen would have been fine. Even twenty would have been fine for a clean black car, but this was a broken down minivan with a side door that wouldn’t open. At least the driver wasn’t smoking, nor did he pick up other passengers along the way. So in this town, maybe that was worth the premium.

Debra found an article that said something different from what I had reported:
This article says they are selling the sauce. Did they get it wrong?

As it turns out, only the headline of the story says McDonald’s is selling the Big Mac special sauce. The body copy speaks of the free giveaway. So, it’s more a case of imprecise language I think than anything else.

Burnt My Fingers encountered what he thought was the worst suggestion I’ve ever made:
Oh, man, that’s crazy. Probably the worst thing I’ve ever heard you propose. Just follow the recipe on the Frank’s website: 1/2 cup sauce to 1/3 cup butter. If you want it spicier add a bit of cayenne. Tabasco? Crystal? Vinegar? All together? SAD!

The added hot sauces aren’t to make the buffalo sauce hotter. It’s to create a deeper, rounder red pepper flavor. The vast majority of the sauce if Frank’s and butter. The other sauces add depth and complexity. It’s true.

Buffsoulja learns that absence doesn’t always make the heart grow fonder:
What happened to Victory Cafe btw? I haven’t been in years.

The Victory Cafe was sold. It’s still the Victory Cafe, but now it’s Dawn’s Victory Cafe. With any ownership change, a place changes. Debbie’s was no longer Debbie’s without Debbie. And the Lark Tavern might still be the Lark Tavern, but without Tess it’s not really the Lark Tavern. Change is the universal constant, not to be confused with water which is the universal solvent.

Once again the great Mr. Dave isn’t fooling anyone by posting as simply “dave”:
You have that Quackenbush rum on your reco list??? That invalidates the rest of the list because that stuff is disgusting…

Are you speaking of the white rum or the aged rum? Is it Barbancourt 15? No. No, it’s not. But I enjoy the Quackenbush for what it is, a modern distillation of a classic Capital Region spirit. I also really enjoy the Coal Yard unaged rye, because it’s like an eau de vie of grain. That is clearly not for most people. But man, I love grain. And getting all that grain in a glass is a rare treat.

arosoff sounds like she wants to undersign the Declaration of Wing Excellence:
Where do I sign my John Hancock?

Right in the comments section of the post.

S wanted some insight into different blue cheese sauce recipes:
How does this recipe compare to the Ruck’s? I’ve had to cut down on my visits since the prices skyrocketed over the last couple of years, but I miss the blue cheese that accompanies their wings constantly!

My blue cheese is nice and thick like the Ruck’s. I’m thinking they use a different blend of herbs. -R seems to think the sauce has a ranch flavor to it, and I suspect that’s from the herb blend. I’m not sure. The Ruck does keep their chunks of blue cheese a good bit bigger than mine. But fundamentally, I think if you are trying to replicate the Ruck’s dip, this recipe would be a good place to start.

Steve N. asked a question that I’m going to answer with another question:
Anna’s is Neapolitan style pizza? Um, no.

Out of curiosity, how would you classify it? For what it’s worth, they are now using flour from Napoli. My hunch is that the shop’s main influence are pies in a Neapolitan style. Whether or not the pizza achieves that goal is a fair topic for debate.

KingOfBeacon might need to have his ketchup taken away:
Without ketchup what would I put on a hot dog?

I’ve always been a mustard, relish, and sauerkraut kind of guy myself. But I’m not opposed to creative toppings. Want a bacon wrapped hot dog? Go for it. Fancy turning it into a banh mi like experience with pickled carrots and daikon? That’s strange, but all right. Miss the tubesteaks of the windy city and require a salad with neon relish and celery salt to scratch the itch? No problem. Heck, smother that frank with chili and cheese for all I care. Ketchup? Ketchup is where I draw the line.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. Steph permalink
    March 6, 2017 12:02 pm

    I think you’ve got something funky going on with your links there, just as a heads up. Or maybe you just really, /really/ hate ketchup?

    • albanylandlord permalink
      March 8, 2017 2:19 am

      Oh I’m pretty sure that was intentional… The link of the day.

  2. KingOfBeacon permalink
    March 6, 2017 1:02 pm

    I gotta be me ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

  3. March 6, 2017 1:43 pm

    I’ve only visited once, but Steve is right. Even if you aren’t adhering to the rules, which can also be a source of heated debate, I wouldn’t call Anna’s Neapolitan pizza. Wood fired pizza, Neapolitan inspired, or just pizza works. Pizza nerds also use NEOpolitan, neo-Neapolitan and Nearlypolitan as descriprions of variations from the strick classic Neapolitan pizza rules, which aren’t necessarily followed by well known pizza places in Naples.

    Anyhow, the pizza size, texture, rim and bake time at Anna’s aren’t in the “Neapolitan” style. This topic was just written about in Pizza Today.

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