I was supposed to write about the Great Albany Cupcake Off, and I put it off. For two weeks. And now it’s two weeks past, and lots of other local bloggers wrote some great posts. You don’t need to hear my deeper thoughts, other than Woo-Hoo to Fluffalicious.
However, as much as I enjoy a good cupcake, I’ve never been much of a dessert person on a whole. There are certain desserts I love, but I’ve never been one to “save room for dessert” at the expense of what I deem a delicious meal. So, while I slacked off on writing about the cupcakes, I’m trying to make up for it by writing about the FUSSYlittleBALLOT.
Those of you who do not (and have never, nor plan to) live in the Capital Region may want to stop reading, particularly if you’re not a foodie. However, for those of you 518-based followers, I urge you to read on DESPITE whether you are a foodie or not.
Some of you are already familiar with Daniel’s quest to bring awareness and better food to the Capital Region. He started off as a vociferous Yelp-er that I, admittedly, was annoyed by at first. “Yeah, okay, we get it. The SF Bay has better food. The Pope is also Catholic. Move along.” It wasn’t until he launched his blog that I began to understand what he was really trying to do. This was, also, when my own palate was beginning to evolve more, I was beginning to care more about food in general – taste and quality, as well as sustainability – and when the restaurant scene in Albany truly began to improve. We were on an upswing, and it was time to ride the wave.
Anyway, a part of his quest was the FUSSYlittleBALLOT. He was sick and tired of seeing the likes of the Olive Garden, SUBWAY, and Pizza Hut winning key categories in the TU’s Best Of poll. Sometimes it makes sense to choose a chain. It does not make sense, in this region, to choose one for Italian, sandwiches, or pizza. Or, for that matter, a number of other categories (these are just among the most egregious). So, his idea was to create a slate for readers to vote in the poll, to lend the best local joints some credibility. The catch – the slate may not always represent what you, personally, would vote for.
There are some areas I had to vote my conscience. I could not, for example, vote for Roma’s for best butcher. I’ve never been there, nor do I really have a reason to go there, though that is beside the point. I voted for Cardona’s, because they’re the only area butcher (that I know of) that is completely transparent about where they source their meat. This is huge for me. If I am not going to buy locally/regionally butchered meat (such as from Honest Weight, or from one of the farmer’s markets), I go to Cardona’s. The meat isn’t local, but they make a point to use humane/sustainable producers, and they’re also a local, family run institution. As the old adage goes, two out of three ain’t bad.
However, in most cases I kept in mind the Greater Good. Case in point: For best sandwich, I voted for Andy’s, even though I really truly think Genoa is better. But I would have no problem with Andy’s winning, particularly if it beats out Subway. I like Andy’s. They’re my second favorite place to get a sandwich. They’re local, they’re an institution, and they’re also among my favorite places to get coldcuts (I like Cardona’s for convenience as I do other shopping there, and I like Oscar’s best because they SMOKE THEIR OWN but they are decidedly NOT convenient).
All I ask is that you read Daniel’s slate and you take it under consideration when you submit your ballot (and I think you should submit a ballot). The region has a lot to offer that is so far beyond Walmart America. I for one am tired of the homogenization of this country, and this is one (admittedly very small) way to throw some rocks at Goliath.