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Pasta, I Love You

April 19, 2017

Is it just me, or does it seem like more and more people are deciding to give up more and more things?

You’ve got the vegetarians who have given up meat.
The vegans who have given up all animal products.
You’ve got the paleo crowd, which I’ve never understood.
You have the carb avoiders.
The gluten-free.
Surely there are still people who are pursuing low fat diets.
And I’m just as sure that there are still calorie counters.
We can’t forget the teetotalers, they’ve been around for ages.
Going sugar free is having a moment.
And recently I heard some people talking about giving up caffeine.

Egads.

That’s hardly an exhaustive list. And ultimately, you have to do you. But life is hard, ruthless, and short. I advocate for taking pleasure where you can find it. And one thing that is quite clear coming out of the Passover holiday is that noodles are one of the loves of my life.

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For Want of a Bone, a Day Was Lost

April 18, 2017

In theory, tonight after sundown I could enjoy some of the fun from Albany Craft Beer Week. But tonight, I’m going to celebrate the end of Passover with my family. I think it might be a big meal of pasta with bolognese. It may even be the last of the bolognese I made over the winter from Bella Terra ground beef.

More importantly though, it means that it will be another year before you have to hear me gripe any more about missing out on bread, beer, and whiskey.

But before we close the chapter on this year’s holiday season, I did want to share with you the story of the lamb shank. Mostly because at the end of it, you’ll likely have a new technique for cooking a leg of lamb.

That is, of course, unless you’re Greek. And you’ve already known this for years, but for some reason, have been holding off on sharing the secret with me and the gang.

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Dreams of Bread & Beer

April 17, 2017

Originally this post was called Chametz Dreams, but I figured that wouldn’t quite have the same popular appeal. We’re in the waning days of Passover. There has been no toast or beer for days. And no whiskey either.

Yesterday I was going to make a leg of lamb for Easter, but the idea of cooking a seven hour roast when the outside temperatures were hitting over 80 degrees was met with intense consternation by Mrs. Fussy. So instead I banged out a quick matzo brie dinner for the family.

Things could be worse.

Still, I’m longing for the day when I can join the rest of the world in its pursuit of grainy pleasures. On the plus side, in this time of want, I’ve been able to carefully construct my dream event that’s all about bread, beer, and bourbon. That said, I’m still stuck on the sidelines for the first couple of days of Albany Craft Beer Week.

But let’s start with the positive.

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Albany, Cocktails, and Culture

April 14, 2017

Egads, things are bleak. Missiles launching at Syria. Bombs dropping on Afghanistan. Warships heading to North Korea. Russia is in a tizzy. Putin may have thought the Donald might have been preferable to Hillary, but I bet he’s reconsidering that right about now. And I’m guessing he’s not the only one. Although for what it’s worth, she would have attacked Syria too.

Smoke ‘em if you got ‘em.

Last night I found myself eating little fried bits of rendered brisket fat. I also somehow started writing little peacenik diatribes on the Facebook pages of relative strangers. Over dinner, I explained some of the fundamentals of war to the children, and what differentiates a war from a military action or conflict.

It could drive a person to drink. Coincidentally, I had planned about talking about cocktails today anyhow. So yesterday’s show of American military spending and technology turns out to come at a convenient time for the FLB.

So if you feel like a drink and you are in the Capital Region, where do you go for a good cocktail?

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The Potential Danger of Kitniyot

April 13, 2017

Even if you aren’t Jewish, which is most you, there’s a real reason why you should care about this technical detail about kosher for Passover dietary observances. Why? Well, consider the following question.

What is the best part of Passover?

It’s not matzo. That’s available all year anyway. Same goes for matzo ball soup. You can get that any time you want at a variety of places. Most people hate gefilte fish, and anyhow, that’s perpetually on supermarket shelves. Matzo crack, that toffee and chocolate coated matzo confection, is a compelling answer, but again there’s no reason that needs to be a once a year treat.

The answer can be found in the Passover section at the Kosher Chopper off Central Avenue in Colonie just off 155. Presumably, you can find it elsewhere too. Do you know what I’m talking about yet? Here’s a hint. It’s easy to find because of the bright yellow caps.

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Playing Games With Eggs

April 12, 2017

Spring is a time of rebirth. This is one of the reasons spring festivals involve eggs in some form or another. Easter has the egg hunt. Passover demands the presence of an egg on the seder plate. In Bosnia they have Cimburijada which I understand means, “The Festival of Scrambled Eggs,” at least that’s what I read on the Internet.

So this is an obvious moment to look at eggs themselves for a moment.

Shopping for eggs has always been an infuriating experience. There are just too many modifiers attached to eggs, which attempt to describe the farming practices used in their production. And some of them are completely meaningless.

My hunch is that most people imagine their eggs coming from birds, with fully intact beaks, that run around outside, are allowed to perch, spread their wings, and engage in other chickeny activities, all while being fed a diet free of junk food, supplements, GMO grains, rendered cows, and/or bird feathers.

If you know of any eggs like this, where you can get them within a week of being laid, and cost less than $6 a dozen, please let me know. Mostly because I’ve recently learned one of the secrets of the egg industry, which undermines my affection for the eggs I have been buying from Stewart’s.

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The Birds & The Bugs

April 11, 2017

Food. It’s all about the food. Except for when it isn’t.

Years ago I was criticized for only evaluating restaurants based on the output from the kitchen and not paying appropriate attention to the physical trappings of the experience. It’s never been true. I’ve always payed attention to the details.

I asses the weight, quality, and design of the utensils. I care deeply about the choice of glassware and the occasional but unfortunate presence of seams on its stems. I see dust in places where people never think to look. Seriously people, it’s hiding in plain sight.

Right now, the weather is finally warming up, so I wanted to take a few moments and talk about eating outside. Mostly because the promise of outdoor dining is so lovely. But in my experience, especially in the Capital Region, it leaves a lot to be desired.

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