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The Mayo Wars Come to Flavor Town

August 15, 2016

When it comes to food packaging and labeling, small changes in language can mean a big difference to the product within. We all know that Kraft American Singles aren’t cheese, they are a processed cheese product.

In the past 100% juice was likely to have been made from concentrated grape or apple juices regardless of what the color, words, or images on the label may have implied.

And while this practice has encountered legal challenges, it’s still perfectly okay for Dunkin’ Donuts to sell a blueberry donut, that doesn’t have a speck of blueberry in it. Despite the apparent presence of blueberry specks throughout the interior, those “flavor crystals” are made from sugar, corn syrup, corn cereal, corn starch, hydrogenated palm oil, artificial flavor, red 40, green 3, and blue 1.

It’s been almost a year and a half since I wrote about Just Mayo, Deception, and Unilever. I found it to be amusing that Unilever, such a master actor in the field of deceptive product packaging, was taking issue with a relatively small vegan mayo maker, Hampton Creek.

Well, recently the food giant decided to try and tackle the neophyte head on.

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Back to the Land

August 12, 2016

Before we say goodbye, there is still a chance for you to come to the Tour de Italian Deli Subs 2.0 tomorrow. I’ve had a couple of responses, which is great. And the tour will be going on rain or shine, with or without you. However, future summer tours may pivot away from Italian subs if community interest seems to be waning.

Saturday is the tour. Sunday, I’m out of here.

It’s time for the annual summer trip down to the farm in Pennsylvania. Mrs. Fussy actually offered me an out this year. She said that I could stay at home and rest my back without the chaos of the kids. I would be spared the arduous multi-hour car ride too.

And i have to say it was tempting. I was thinking about how much I might be able to read. All the hot pads that I might enjoy. And all of those meals I could cook without regard to the desires of anyone else. Plus, I owe a few people lunches, and a week without kids in the summer would make those a lot easier to schedule.

But I’m turning her down. I’m going, voluntarily, to spend a week with my in-laws. Part of me can’t believe it myself. So I thought I’d try to explain why.

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The Mystery of The Albany Caprese

August 11, 2016

This blog is a reflection of my life. It is. That’s just how it works. I have experiences with food out in the world, those spark ideas, and then things rattle around in my head until I can get to my keyboard and expunge them.

Except of course for the ideas that just fade away. One of these days I’ll have more discipline to write down some of the more interesting thoughts that emerge from energetic conversation about food with people.

But because I’ve been spending more and more time with the Yelp gig, a lot of my current thoughts revolve around those activities. If I’m finding the blog to be a little too Yelp-centric these days, I have to imagine that other people have felt the same way too.

And it’s not like I don’t have other ideas floating around. I’m sitting on a story about two mayonnaise alternatives. Obviously, I’ll have to come up with a better hook for that piece, but it’s coming.

However, today’s rant is another Yelp-inspired tale, and it’s all about the dreaded Caprese salad.

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The History and Purpose of Tours

August 10, 2016

My hope from the beginning was that I would not simply be preaching to the choir. So it always fills me with great joy to have readers who question what I’m doing here.

On Monday, I announced the slate of businesses Saturday’s Tour de Italian Deli Sub 2.0 will visit. My biggest concern about the tour is its incredibly long name. Sure, it’s a mouthful, but so are the subs we’ll be evaluating that day. So perhaps it makes some kind of cosmic sense.

However, EPT had other concerns. I have to believe that if he’s raising these issues, there are other people in the wings who have similar questions. And I really can’t remember if I’ve ever talked about the purpose of doing these tours. But even if I have, I’m happy to spend some time diving into it further, because there is more going on this Saturday than simply stuffing my face with Italian meats and cheeses.

First, let’s repost EPTs comment in its entirety.

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The Enchanted City: Trial By Combat

August 9, 2016

Have you visited The Enchanted City?

This is the annual steampunk and fairy-themed street festival in Troy, where the city is transformed into a magical place populated with all kinds of fanciful characters. Some are kind, and others maybe less so. But there is something for everyone over the course of the event.

Last year through Yelp I helped to organize a kind of Victorian culinary stroll. Local restaurants were challenged to create Victorian-themed bites that they sold for a mere pittance, and were then judged by a roving band of Yelp Elites. Marla Ortega at The Illium Cafe won with her duck pot pies.

This year, the festival is getting bigger, and the culinary challenge is increasing as well. Thanks to my role with Yelp I will once again be involved, although metaphorically I’ll be wearing both of my hats. In actuality, I’ll most likely once again don my powdered judge’s wig.

Beyond the spectacle of it all, there will be something very exciting happening with local food.

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Tour de Italian Deli 2.0

August 8, 2016

If you missed the first Tour de Italian Deli last year, this Saturday you’ve got another chance to bust your gut sampling some of the region’s best Italian subs.

We had nominations at the end of July, and I heard from a bunch of people who were slightly confused about this summer savory tour. Yes, we’re going to Italian delis. But we’re going there to check out their sandwiches. I guess here we call them subs. Other places might call them hoagies or grinders. The idea is to find out which of the beloved Italian delis you should visit when you’re in the mood for a sandwich.

In 2016, the Tour de Italian Deli Subs is headed to Schenectady.

Last year’s tour was a tremendous success. We had enough people that we were able to break up into three teams. One explored the Italian mix, another explored each shop’s specialty, and the third was hard core, eating a chicken parm sub at each of the five stops.

Who knows what the turnout will be this year. Hopefully we’ll have more, but feel free to invite your friends. The greater variety of sandwiches that can be evaluated, the deeper the learnings. So what’s the slate of Italian delis we’re going to visit? I’m glad you asked.

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Parsley Toast

August 5, 2016

First, I have to say, thank God for the microwave. Those are hard words for this long-time microwave hater to utter. But I have this clay filled plastic pouch that you put in the devil-box for 45 seconds. And when I lay down upon it, I get a few moments of comfort from whatever the heck I did to my back.

If it weren’t for the injury, the most used appliance in the kitchen these days might be the food processor. When you have a CSA, you need to try and reduce the volume of the fresh produce as quickly as possible. Grilling is great. Sautéing greens works like magic. And chopping is so effective, it feels like cheating.

I found myself asking Mrs. Fussy to run out and pick me up another cabbage, just so I could chop up some green onions into a new batch of slaw. And while I admit that the slaw thing will never take off, I wonder how people would respond to the idea of parsley toast.

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