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May 1, 2019

Yesterday’s post about Peeps was surprisingly popular. I had no idea.

For the record, I couldn’t bring myself to try the sour watermelon ones. Mostly because I started with the “Pancake & Syrup” flavor and then went on to “Party Cake”. After those two, I was done. Dear God, those things are sweet and squishy. I couldn’t stomach the thought of a third.

On Facebook there were plenty of suggestions of what to do with the leftovers. I’m less into the idea of wasting “food” for the “entertainment” of watching Peeps “joust” in the microwave. However, the notion of melting Peeps down in butter and creating some kind of cereal bar treat, is oddly compelling. Actually, doing it with popcorn might be even better. As it so happens, Peeps Popcorn Balls are a thing.

Of course, more than one person suggested turning them into s’mores. And if you don’t remember how I feel about s’mores, perhaps you haven’t been reading the FLB since the beginning. And that’s okay. But for those who have, I’ve got some surprising news, because the title of today’s blog post is not a typo.

Today the FLB officially turns ten years old. Where does the time go?

Over that period there have been nearly 2,800 posts, which translates to 2,346,826 words about food, beverages, and life in the Capital Region. I suppose some of those words have to do with the nine months we were on sabbatical in New Jersey. But still.

Before moving on with the rest of today’s post, I want to say thank you. Thank you for reading. Thank you for caring. Thank you for your comments. Thank you for helping to spread the word. And thanks to all the lurkers out there who quietly enjoy the content on their own terms.

Like all things, the FLB will not be with us forever, but it never would have lasted this long without the support and continued readership and engagement of the local community.

Which isn’t to say that everybody has read every post. I mean, not even my mother or my wife has read every single post. And while I have written almost all of them, except for a few guest posts thrown in along the way, even I can’t always remember what topics have been covered and which ones have been missed.

So it shouldn’t be surprising to learn that there are some people out there who don’t know about my hatred of s’mores. My strong feelings on s’mores were first published on May 19, 2009. Which made it my eleventh post ever. Today, you’re reading post number 2,797.

When I go back and look at the posts from the first month of the blog, I’m struck by the consistency of my opinions on food and wine. Sure, over time I’ve softened my positions on some things. There has been some growth. I’ve become less of an ideological purist when it comes to food. In some ways my mind has been open to other possibilities.

While I’m still opposed to the “martini” glass, I’m still a believer in oven thermometers. The Tom Collins will always be an amazing summertime drink. I continue to buy the same brand of chana masala spice mix. My technique for cooking sweet potatoes remains unchanged. NY Style pizza slices are still my favorite way to enjoy the baked treat of dough, sauce, and cheese. Diners continue to hold a special place in my heart. As far as I’m concerned, a gin martini remains redundant, and even today I get angry at James Bond for ruining how they are made.

Stir your Martini and your Manhattan. We are not savages.

On the other hand, so much has changed over the past ten years, it’s not even funny. I think back to the review I wrote for the new coffee shop in Scotia. Ten years ago, without a doubt, it would have been the very best coffee shop in the Capital Region by a mile. These days, it’s still very very good, and I have high hopes that one day soon it will be right up there with the best of them.

But a decade ago there wasn’t one single place to get a reliably good cappuccino in the Capital Region. Nor was there a spot for a grassfed hamburger. Not one. And today, Josh Coletto’s Nighthawks in Troy is in the running for the best hamburger in all of New York! Cheesecake Machismo hasn’t changed, but now it’s officially recognized as having the best cheesecake in the entire state.

Cocktails have improved with Speakeasy 518 and Hamlet & Ghost churning out talented bartenders that have spread the gospel around the region. There’s legit Mexican food. Ala Shanghai inspired Hu’s House to open and now we have more than one Shanghaiese restaurant in our neck of the woods. And that opened the door for other regional Chinese cuisines like Sichuan, which is currently having a moment.

Afghanistan, Yemen, The West Indies, Vietnam, Thailand, and more are now available. The food of the Philippines has been struggling to get a foothold in the region. People keep asking for Ethiopian food, and Aneesa from Tara Kitchen has put together a few recipes for a stand at the Schenectady Greenmarket.

Old timers will tell you about the fall of Lark Street, but I don’t believe it. It’s home to Berben & Wolfs, Savoy Taproom, Pint Sized, and Stacks to name a few. Is it as vibrant as it once was? No. But that’s because we no longer have just one strip of activity in the Capital Region, we have growth and vitality all over the place. Schenectady is on the rise. Watervliet remains wonderful. Saratoga Springs is full of gems. And there are even some amazing stories about the places in between.

I say all of this because part of me feels like the work of the FLB is done.

When I moved here, I thought one of the big problems of the area were Albany’s cheerleaders. These were people who carried on about how great the restaurant scene was in the region, when there wasn’t anything all that special about it. My opinion was that the food was overpriced for what it was, and someone needed to speak up and demand improvements.

Today, I see those improvements. I see them in places like Lost & Found. I see them in The Cheese Traveler. I see them in Peck’s Arcade. I see them at Malcolm’s. And even some places that were here back in the day, like The Placid Baker, have improved their craft over time. But the list goes on and on and on and on.

The main thing now, is for people to get out there, enjoy the goodness that we have, and spread the word. Because spending your money at local businesses is great and important. But just as important, and maybe even more so, is to help them grow their business by telling others about the things you know are good.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. May 1, 2019 9:08 pm

    Work done? Don’t pull an AOA on us! (With all due respect to Greg and Mary.)

    Just look at the backwash on Yelp or the comments on any Table Hopping post and you will see there is a horde of nattering negativity-sayers still wanting to bring down culinary innovation in the Cap District any way they can.

    Check back with us in 10 more years, then we’ll talk about this “done” thing.

    • May 2, 2019 9:01 am

      I echo this ^

      Bravo to ten years as well! I hope for 10 more years to come.

    • llcwine permalink
      May 2, 2019 9:58 am

      I agree with both of the above ^ ^^…there is too much just beginning to happen here in the Capital District for you to be done! Your pen (keyboard) has made a tremendous impact on the area, and will continue I hope for many years ahead!!!

  2. OCtG permalink
    May 2, 2019 1:52 pm

    As a member of your “X-files”, blogs on hiatus, I know how tough it is to keep it going.
    Although my “OneCheesetoGo” has gone dormant I do give thanks to you and others like you for giving me inspiration and assistance in getting into the online community.
    It takes commitment and a clear mission to make it happen and to keep it going.
    I commend you for that.
    Your many words have mattered.
    Most significantly, I even agree with you on most things “pizza”.

    Keep at it.

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