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Alone In Utica

October 10, 2017

Friday I left home. I just hopped in the car, and I left.

No wife. No kids. Just a tank full of gas, a couple of bags, and a dream of meeting up with regional food bloggers to learn about beef and veal production in New York. Hey. You have your dreams. I have mine.

Oddly, I packed a lot of shoes. Usually I just travel with the sandals on my feet. But I needed boots for a rainy day on farmland, closed toed shoes for kitchen work, and a pair of sneakers now that I’m all into sweating for fun. That’s four pairs of shoes. For me. To cover a time span of fewer than 48 hours.

What have I become?

The shoes were not the only strange thing about this trip, because usually I travel with the family, and we’re in a rush to get wherever we are trying to go. Which means there’s never typically time for culinary adventures on the road. This time, I had no such restrictions. And I found myself passing through Utica. Twice.

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Discovering a NY Feedlot

October 9, 2017

Regardless of your thoughts about the holiday or the accuracy of its history, Columbus is popularly credited with the discovery of America. Except, of course, he did not discover it. The land was already inhabited. Still, he learned something that challenged the perceptions of his community at the time.

Ultimately, it changed the world in profound ways.

This past weekend I had a big discovery of my own. Of course, my big discovery doesn’t even rate on the same scale as crossing an ocean on a wooden boat five hundred years ago, and stumbling upon uncharted lands on the other side of the world.

While what I’m going to share may not change the world, it certainly changed me, and my perceptions of conventionally produced beef. And this was because the New York Beef Council organized a tour of a few farms in Central New York.

Including one of the largest feedlots in the state.

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Simple, Delicious, and Economical

October 6, 2017

Judging food competitions is a fascinating experience. It is always a challenge to compare several different dishes against each other, all with different strengths and weaknesses, to see which one comes out ahead.

The exercise forces the evaluator to think about what precisely is most important when determining the dish with the best taste. Is it the one that’s most properly seasoned? Or maybe the one with the deep and satisfying aroma? Or perhaps the one with the most intensity of flavor?

One of the great things about the Yelp job is that I’m able to get members of the Yelp Elite Squad onto these judging panels, and they can have this experience for themselves. Which is good, because I can’t make judge everything.

This weekend is both Troy’s Chowderfest and Schenectady’s Wing Walk. I’ve judged both of these in the past, and they are both fun events in their own way. However, this weekend I’m going to be somewhere near Canandaigua, touring beef and veal farms, and talking with farmers.

At least I was able to serve as a judge in last night’s Harvest Evening Celebration in support of The Food Pantries for the Capital District. And I’m happy to report that my three favorite dishes all won awards. Today, I’d like to do two things. Tell you a bit about each of those three dishes, and give one general piece of advice for those who didn’t win.

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The Edible Profussor

October 5, 2017
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Despite the fact that I write a daily food blog, in my heart of hearts I’m on old media guy.

Really the last part of the sentence can be read accurately in a variety of ways. Back in my ad agency days, I was a media guy. Which meant I busied myself with trying to find the right audience for my clients’ messages. As the Internet became a place where consumers would spend more time, the media world broke into two camps: old media and new media.

Old media comprises the realm of television, radio, outdoor, and print. New media was the bright and shiny world of web based advertising, mobile, and search. Anyone remember Second Life? That would be new media too. Although I suppose some people might make a case for categorizing some bleeding edge media vehicles as “emerging media”.

As far as I’m concerned, I still love sitting down to a crisp folded newspaper. And peeling off the sections one at a time, while I drink a cup of black coffee, reading a curated selection of the most important news of the day.

I would much rather read with certainty about what happened yesterday, than keep refreshing a screen for a correspondent’s best guess about what just happened. One is satisfying and most often correct, the other feels dirty and is most often later corrected.

Along with newspapers, I have a love of magazines. One of the magazines that I’ve followed for a long time is a beautiful one all about food, called Edible.

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Confessions: The Good & The Profane

October 4, 2017

It’s been some time since I’ve formally confessed on the blog. Or at least it feels like it has been.

Here’s the deal. I’m a pretty straight shooter. Like most people, I try to do good things. But I don’t always succeed. And when I fail, I feel the need to share those failures. It’s kind of cleansing to let all that guilt and shame out into the blogosphere.

Never forget, this blog was first and foremost is a mental health project for yours truly. The fact that it may also be useful, is a happy accident of fate.

Right. So what did I do this time? Well, let’s back up for a hot second and review some of my thoughts on what it means for food to be good.

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Happy Hour Dreams

October 3, 2017

Making dreams come true. That’s part of my job description. It’s a pretty cool job. And maybe—technically—that part isn’t codified anywhere in the roles and responsibilities of the Yelp Community Ambassador. But it is what I do.

Of course, my dreams typically revolve around food. I’m sure you are shocked.

One of my dreams has been to visit IL Faro for its happy hour specials, ever since I heard that one of the items on the menu is a meatball slider. In the Fussy household, we are always on the lookout for a good meatball. And I’ve been known to put a meatball on a bun myself from time to time. It’s a real treat.

But thanks to my grueling work schedule these days, most of my eating out centers around work events. Between doing things like judging  food competitions and organizing Official Yelp Events, and trying to maintain a healthy diet, there isn’t much room for eating out.

Which is why I was thrilled that I could make my own dream come true, and organize last night’s Official Yelp Event: Happy Hour at IL Faro. So not only did I get to finally try the meatball sliders, but I got a bite of everything on the happy hour menu, including some samples of the new fall cocktail menu, and some delicious beers and wines.

Here are some of the highlights.

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October 2, 2017

Today’s regularly scheduled post will have to wait. Awakening to what some are calling the worst mass shooting in modern American history kind of puts a damper on the day. Reports are still coming in. What I heard so far were fifty dead and two hundred injured.

But the injured number is much much bigger. Because psychological injury is absolutely injury. It’s just as real. It’s just as painful. And its effects are just as long lasting.

On top of that we have what looks like a compounding catastrophe in Puerto Rico, and an escalating crisis with North Korea. Really, those are just the top stories of today.

Of course, life goes on. And this is a big week. There is a Yelp event tonight, a CSA pickup on Tuesday, Wednesday is Sukkot, Thursday is the Harvest Evening Celebration in support of The Food Pantries for the Capital District, and Friday I’m off to meet some New York State farmers who raise cows for meat production.

Regardless of what happens with world events, our family will be having a bar mitzvah in a couple of weeks. It will be very good to be surrounded by old friends and close family who are scattered around the country, even if just for a few days.

Hold your loved ones close. Call your family in far away places. Reflect on those lives cut tragically short, and those forever impacted by recent events.

Hopefully we’ll be back to writing about food tomorrow.