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Picking Fights With New Friends

October 17, 2016

The Seventh Annual Tour de Donut was on Saturday, and it was a great day out. Holy cow, Saturday was gorgeous. It was a perfect day for driving around back roads through the countryside. If the leaves weren’t at peak, they couldn’t have been more than a day or two off.

Those who went on the tour already know the outcome. It was pretty much a slam dunk. Those who didn’t are going to have to wait another day for the official results. It’s not because I want to torture you, it’s just that my in-laws are visiting from Pennsylvania and I didn’t have time to go through all the scoresheets and give you the full analysis.

I do have a story from the tour, although it has nothing to do with donuts. Or fall. Or apples.

Actually, it’s all about a fight I had with a brand new friend I met on the tour. Who, I’m pretty sure, will still be friends with me after today. At least I hope so. But I’ve got to get this off of my chest.

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Fussy Little Bar Fights

October 14, 2016

What do normal people get into fights about in bars? Part of me thinks it’s manners, but that can’t be right. There are often spirited disagreements over sports. Maybe some are about romantic entanglements?

I remember once witnessing a bar fight in a seedy Oakland Irish pub where the bartender walked a dude into a door jamb before throwing him out into the street. If memory serves, the offense there was that this jerk was screwing around with somebody’s hat. True story. Shitty story. But true story.

My bar fights are different. Not that I go out to bars all that often. But last night I popped into Slidin’ Dirty for two reasons. One, to get my 26er card punched. The other was to try Chatham Brewing Company’s Same Day Series beer of the month. They do this crazy thing where they put the beer into kegs, and drive it to bars that very same day, where it is tapped immediately and enjoyed as fresh as fresh can be.

Anyhow, I may have gotten into a teensy little fight about fresh mozzarella.

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View From Judges Table: Chowder

October 13, 2016

Wow. It’s Thursday already. It’s amazing how quickly a week flies by when it contains two holidays. Of course, yesterday was Yom Kippur, which meant I spent the day fasting. Just Monday I was writing about the important work done by The Food Pantries of the Capital District. Let me tell you, spending a day without food makes that work seem even more urgent.

Even after a large break-fast meal of carbs, fat, and caffeine, the lingering effects of effectively just skipping two meals is palpable. And that was with an energy conserving nap in the middle of the day.

So please, check out what they are doing, and think about what you can do to help.

Today, I’m still playing catch up with relatively recent stories. I never did get to tell you what it was like behind the scenes at Troy Chowder Fest this year. In the past I had heard stories from my food blogging friends about the perils of this event. Fortunately, I did not experience any of the ills as my friends did in year’s past. And I think that may be largely attributed to one thing.

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The 7th Annual Tour de Donut

October 11, 2016

We’re going donut picking, again. The next Tour de Cider Donut is just days away. We’ll get to the when and where in just a minute, but first let’s talk about the what and why.

Upstate New York is in the heart of apple country. Those might be fighting words for our friends in Washington State, and they may have a point in terms of tonnage. But in the fall, I can’t imagine a better place to be than the Capital Region. There are orchards and country stores all over the place, and most of them sell apple cider donuts.

These are a quintessential treat of fall. The only problem is that most people go to the same place year after year. And that’s fine. Family traditions are important and meaningful things, so I’m not going to try and change your rituals of the season.

However, there is a greater diversity in apple cider donuts than most people realize.

As a regional food lover, I am curious to know which orchard, or bakery, or farm stand makes the very best one. So, to answer that question, these Fussy Little Tours were born back in 2010. Since then the FLB has led intrepid groups of eaters around the region in search of tasty treasures.

Now fall has graced us with its presence yet again, so this is the time to circle the wagons and head north. Not too far north. But there is a band of orchards around the 43rd parallel, east of the Great Sacandaga Lake, that we seem to have missed over the past six years. Thanks to some good input during the planning stages, our route is once again a good bit different than what was originally proposed.

Let’s take a look at the plan.

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View From Judges Table: Harvest

October 10, 2016

Ever wonder what it’s like to judge a food competition? I think the 2009 All Over Albany Tournament of Pizza was the first time I officially became a food judge. But since then I’ve been lucky to serve as a judge at a number of food festivals and charitable events. And it’s always a lot of fun.

But it’s also a lot harder than it looks. Not only because you are asked to sometimes eat a large quantity of not-that-great food. Judging culinary contests is tricky because it can be hard to weigh the tradeoffs of nonparallel strengths and weaknesses.

For example, if one pizza has great crust, weak toppings, and a solid sauce, and the other has great sauce, a weak crust and solid toppings, which is the better of the two?*

Apparently, I’m running a bit of a backlog, and this week is extra busy thanks to Yom Kippur on Wednesday. So today I’m going to play catch up by bringing you the tales of last week’s Harvest Evening Celebration at Revolution Hall in Troy.

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7th Annual Tour de Donut: Nominations

October 7, 2016

October 15. Mark your calendar. Save the date. It’s the Saturday after tomorrow. And that’s when I’ll be leading another group of brave eaters out into the wilderness to try five different apple cider donuts.

I can’t even believe that after all these years there are still more cider donuts in the Capital Region that we haven’t evaluated.

But before we engage in this annual fall rite, it’s customary to call for nominations of where we should go. As usual, I have some thoughts on the matter. And I’ll caution, once again, this isn’t a democracy. So there’s no point in rallying people to endorse any particular comment. I’ll take them all under consideration.

However, on this tour we’ll only be going to places where we haven’t been before. So first, let’s brush up quickly on where the Tour de Donut has taken us in the past.

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Say Uncle

October 6, 2016

Let’s see if this works. Maybe if I create a mantra at the beginning of this post, I’ll successfully achieve a modest goal. Okay. Here it goes.

I’m going to keep this short.
I’m going to keep this short.
I’m going to keep this short.

Last night I organized an Official Yelp Event at Uncle Sam’s Chocolates in Latham. It’s a Schenectady institution, famous for butter crunch, that has opened an Albany County outpost. We had Albany Distilling Company there, Barkeater Coffee Roasters, and Hudson-Chatham Winery too.

For two hours, anyone who had a Yelp profile (complete with profile picture) and who submitted an RSVP request for the event, had free rein over all of the delicacies on display in Uncle Sam’s cases.

There’s only one thing that could go wrong.

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