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Lessons from Leaving

May 9, 2019

Thank you for all your kind words and thoughts yesterday. I’m going to miss you too. For what it’s worth, I think I’m getting better at leaving. After all, I’ve got a lot of experience.

The first big move I remember was when I was six years old and the family was leaving Brooklyn and relocating to Miami. Going off to college is also a big move, and not everyone goes out of state, so let’s count the move to Philadelphia as number two. Then once college was over, I went back to Miami for a hot minute before packing up my worldly possessions and driving to Berkeley for move number three. By big move number four I picked up a wife and a son, and the three of us drove from Berkeley to Albany.

If you don’t count the several month sabbatical in New Jersey, that makes our pending Albany to Ann Arbor relocation, big move number five.

Today, I want to talk about the preparations I made for move number four. Because while it may have sounded good to eat all the foods I was going to miss one last time before leaving the Bay Area, it had disastrous consequences. And it’s a mistake that I won’t be repeating.

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The Next Chapter

May 8, 2019

When there is good news and bad news, which one do you like to hear first?

Really, news is news. The same piece of information is going to be good for some and bad for others. I think we’ve talked about this before on the blog. Very little is black and white. Most things are varying shades of gray.

The one thing I regret is not being able to reach out to everyone who is near and dear to me, and tell them this news in person. And at last night’s Yelp event I did not want to draw attention away from Dinosaur Bar-B-Que nor spoil the fun of the festive occasion.

For such a cranky old man, I’ve got a bigger heart than one might expect. And there are so many of you that mean a lot to me. However, as an old man, I don’t tend to talk about feelings much. Still, at some point one just has to rip off the bandage tape, and it’s better to do it quickly in one clean yank.

So here it goes. The Fussies are leaving Albany and moving to Ann Arbor.

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How To Steam Your Tortilla

May 7, 2019

Want to get me fired up? Let’s talk about wraps. Yesterday’s post about burritos, included a mention of making sure to steam your tortillas if you are making them at home. Today’s follow up post was originally going to be called “Cold Tortillas: A Crime Against Humanity”

As I started writing, it all felt very familiar. That’s when I remembered, we covered this subject before. The original post was called Bad Wraps and if you haven’t read it, it’s worth familiarizing yourself with why this is such an important issue.

But if you’re at home and want a wrap, you probably don’t have the stand alone tortilla steamer that is pretty much standard issue at every taqueria on the west coast. Sure, some places will warm up the tortillas on the griddle. Heck, one of my favorite tacos gets dipped in a cauldron of simmering fat before being griddle warmed. But at home, it’s unlikely you have the griddle space for a large flour tortilla.

And I can’t think of anyone besides Mr. Dave who might have a pot of simmering fat in which to dip tortillas. Actually, my friends at Field Notes might. Actually, I could see a bunch of my chef buddies doing something like this. Josh, if you’re reading this, maybe there’s hope for a tacos al pastor night?

Anyway, if you’re not a chef, here are a couple simple tricks to up your wrap game at home.

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Taco Taco Burrito Burrito

May 6, 2019

Life can be hard. Happiness can be fleeting. And that’s fine. But these are reasons why it is important to look for joyful occasions to celebrate whenever one can. Yesterday was Cinco de Mayo. For some, it’s an excuse to sit around and drink margaritas and beer all day.

I actually had a bottle of tequila and another bottle of mezcal set aside for the occasion. And I had plenty of limes. But there was no drinking for me. There’s a lot going on the work and family fronts, so I needed to keep my wits about me. And on top of that, today I’m seeing the doctor for my annual check up.

Despite months and months of moderation, and a bit of semi-regular exercise, I’ve fallen off the wagon for the past several weeks. Hopefully, it’s not enough to completely derail my progress. But we’ll see.

Still, I couldn’t let May fifth slide by without some form of acknowledgement, so Little Miss Fussy and I had a very moderate lunch at my favorite local taqueria. And then for dinner, we made our favorite quick and easy burritos at home. In total, that was two tacos and two burritos over the course of the day. But that’s only half the story.

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Albany’s Regional Chinese Story

May 3, 2019

There is a lot about the food history of the Capital Region that seems to be lost to time. Maybe that’s a poor excuse, because the reality is that I’ve never fully committed myself to doing the hard, time intensive research required to answer the questions about our unique regional foods.

You know, like how did our regional form of fish fry come to be a long narrow strip of haddock served in a hot dog bun? And more importantly, who was the genius who started putting raspberry melba sauce alongside deep fried mozzarella? Someone should get to the bottom of these culinary curiosities.

However, over the past ten years, there are changes to the regional culinary landscape I have witnessed with my own eyes. By documenting some of these on the FLB, it feels like being an observer to history in the making. Not history with a capital H. But history, nonetheless.

Yesterday, I had a marvelous lunch with Albany Jane. We went out to Fairy Sichuan and got the beef tendon chili hot pot (SH6 – 干锅牛筋) and a plate of sauteed Chinese broccoli (SV1 – 清炒唐介兰). Everything was fantastic, except for the continued weirdness of serving hot tea in plastic water cups.

She was the perfect person to help confirm the story I’ve been forming about the modern history of regional Chinese food in the area. The meal we had just enjoyed was so far superior to anything that was remotely available in the Capital Region twelve years ago. But this didn’t happen overnight.

So, how did we get here?

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Emily L Eats Colombian

May 2, 2019

While the blog has been around for ten years, I’ve been here for just about twelve. Still, there are so many places in the Capital Region I have never been. Some of those places are classics which have just never appealed to me for one reason or another. But the food scene in these parts continues to grow and evolve, and the pace of new places opening is faster than my ability to visit them all.

In yesterday’s post I started to list some of the countries that are now represented in the international culinary landscape in and around the Capital Region. It was a partial list, to be sure, and there were many omissions.

Colombian food was conspicuously absent.

As it just so happens, our frequent guest blogger Emily L recently filed a story about her adventure to Moliendo Cafe. And even though I haven’t been, Emily’s write up is giving me the hunger to visit. Not that I’ll order as much food as she did with the professor. Fortunately, it doesn’t sound like I’ll have to twist her arm to make a return trip. But I’ll let her tell you all about it.

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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.

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