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It’s My Party And I’ll Fly If I Want To

December 6, 2017

Happy birthday to me!
Today I’ll be attempting to treat myself well.

What does that mean? Glad you asked.

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Must Haves for the Holidays

December 5, 2017

I hear we’re celebrating my birthday today. Really, I don’t turn over another year until tomorrow. But tomorrow I’ll be on a plane. Two planes actually. I wonder if Southwest Airlines give you a free drink or something on your birthday.

Part of me feels like by crossing time zones and zig zagging the country on my birthday, that I’m trying to run away from time and inevitability. But it’s just the function of the difficulty of airline travel these days. Especially when departing from a small airport like Albany International.

At least my birthday doesn’t fall on Chanukah, which begins the evening of December 12 this year. December birthdays can be a drag. Little Miss Fussy celebrates hers between Christmas and New Year’s Eve. That might be even worse. A birthday in the doldrums while most everyone is traveling or taking the week off.

One thing is clear though. The holidays are approaching. And yesterday I heard some grumblings about the outrageous prices resellers are asking for the hot, new, “must-have” gifts for the season.

So let’s talk about presents, because for the most part, we all have too much stuff. And I’m sure you won’t be surprised when I reveal that the answer is consumables and thoughts around food.

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Bringing Back Beans

December 4, 2017

Winter in Albany is feeling shorter and shorter all the time. Maybe it’s because the climate is changing. Maybe it’s because I’m getting older and time seems to speed up. Maybe it’s because I’m just getting used to it.

Call me crazy, but it seemed to turn colder earlier and snow more when we arrived to the region about ten years ago. Winter was long. And coming from over a decade in California, and the better part of my life spent in Florida, I had no context for winter at all, much less an upstate New York winter.

As time has marched on, I’ve found ways to celebrate winter, and make it a joyful time of year. Seasonal cooking is a big part of that. And in the fussy household, it begins with beans.

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A Half-Baked Idea

December 1, 2017

Food bloggers typically work alone. Sure, sometimes they collaborate with others. But writing is a pretty solitary activity. Of course, some are drawn to the form because of that and have no interest in spending time with others. But I love getting together with passionate food lovers, even if I disagree with them on some fundamental points, because it can make for interesting debates and scintillating conversation.

That was just one reason why I loved being a judge for All Over Albany’s Tournament of Pizza. Beyond getting to eat all of the best loved pizzas throughout the Capital Region in multiple rounds of blind tastings, I was able to do it in the company of Albany Jane, Jon in Albany, J+R of Chopsticks Optional, Deanna Fox, and others.

Then, a couple years ago, the annual tradition came to an end. It had run its course. We found that the same two pizza shops just kept on rising to the top. Marino’s in Schenectady and DeFazio’s in Troy.

Me? I love both places, for different reasons.

But today isn’t about me. It’s about us. The old judges of the TOP. Because we’re older. And over the years there have been about as many life changes as one can imagine. I attended the wedding of J+R, went to Albany Jane’s baby shower, and got to help the Fox family celebrate Chanukah.

Last night, we tried to get as many of us together for a reunion of sorts. Naturally, there was pizza. But when left to our own devices, what would we get?

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Right Sized Eating

November 30, 2017

The secret is out, thanks to Deanna Fox, whose latest Eat This on All Over Albany covers the Galaktoboureko at the Blue Ribbon in Schenectady. She explains all about the thickened Greek custard sandwiched between a few token layers of phyllo dough on AOA.

What I wanted to talk about today was how I came to find this treat hidden in plain sight at one of Schenectady’s most popular diners. And then how I came to finally get to try it.

Because for some reason, nothing is ever easy for the Profussor.

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On Muffins

November 29, 2017

Comedy is funny. I’m not sure how much of it truly stands up over time. Some of the early George Carlin stuff about farts and the words you can’t say on television still get a laugh out of the kids. And really, that’s why I’m listening to comedy anyway. It’s for the kids.

Naturally, I’m happy to let them listen to comedians who are totally inappropriate for children. I figure all the sexy stuff just goes over their heads. And they know that the words they learn listening to comedy in the car stay in the car. They aren’t for school. Or grandma. Or the rabbi.

Lately we’ve been listening to Mike Birbiglia. A lot. And he does this bit about sleepwalking. Part of it has to do with a trip to the doctor where he’s told he can get a muffin. If you want to skip ahead to 2:50 in the video below, you can hear him talk all about the muffin.

This is the reason that muffins have become a running joke in our house. Which is funny, because we don’t really eat muffins in our house. But recently, we came into a variety pack of muffins from a local bakery.

That’s when I realized it’s been years since I’ve eaten a muffin. I had forgotten all about them. So biting into one, was like eating a muffin for the very first time. And I was surprised by my initial reaction.

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The Great Chef Shuffle of 2017

November 28, 2017

Chefs. I love them. I love chefs like my mom loves rabbis.

Chefs are important. Restaurant owners, listen up. Chefs know food. An owner may have a very clear vision about how the culinary direction of the restaurant. And that’s fine. But it’s important to find a chef who shares in that vision. Then it’s important to give that chef the freedom to work.

I’m convinced that one of the big failings of restaurants, both in the Capital Region and beyond, is when chefs are micromanaged and constrained from putting their best food on the plate.

Chefs have personalities. Chefs have ideas about food. When I walk into a restaurant, I don’t want to be presented with twelve different chicken dishes. I want the very best chicken dish the chef is able to produce on that day. Don’t ask me what I want on my burger, let the chef wow me with a combination of well considered flavors and textures that will knock my socks off.

Well, there are some big changes with some big chefs in the Capital Region lately. I don’t know if it’s sun spots, or maybe it’s the coming of winter. But the news of these moves is exciting, because it is hopefully a sign of good things to come.

Let’s start close to home, and then get further afield.

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