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Monday, December 19, 2016

That's All, Folks ... Sort Of

Where it all started - a labor of love
Regular readers of this blog may have noticed that I've been posting less frequently, of late. There's a reason for that.
After a long period of reflection, contemplation and soul-searching, I've decided to stop writing The Rochester NY Pizza Blog. Well, sort of. Allow me to explain.
When I started this blog in 2009, it seemed like a fun way to document something I wanted to do anyway, which was to try every pizzeria in the Rochester area. And it's been that, for sure.
It's also been far more successful, in terms of readership, than I ever expected. When I started, I wanted to attract readers, certainly, but I was amazed by how many I eventually got. I was especially gratified to receive thanks from readers for helping them find good pizza around here. Even more than trying new pizzerias, communicating with my readers has been the most rewarding aspect of writing this blog.
But over time, the blog took on a life of its own. It was no longer simply a log of my pizza-related activities, that I did for fun, but an entity that needed to be maintained on a regular basis.
I've never lost my love of pizza. I love it as much as ever. But if writing the blog was always a labor of love, lately it's become more labor and less love.
Even as my enthusiasm for the blog itself dimmed, I remained determined not to let the blog slide into dormancy. I've seen too many blogs that started with a flurry of posts, and then petered out. So I always strived to keep posting regularly.
Eventually, I'd covered probably over 90% of the pizzerias in the Rochester area. But the beast I'd created had to be fed. So I started revisiting places. Searching out new pizzerias, always. Trying different types of pizza (Buffalo chicken, white, etc.). Traveling farther.
And I tried to go to restaurants that serve pizza. Weekday lunch dates with friends, and family dinner outings, began to be driven by whether the restaurant offered pizza.
I created a to-do list of places to go to. A new pizzeria opened in Webster? OK, have to go there. Haven't been to this place in three years? Add it to the list. It got to the point where I wasn't going to the places I loved anymore, because I felt as if I needed to get to places to write about.
So, for a while, it was fun. But the fun's diminished over the years, and I've reached the point -- in fact I reached it some time ago, I've just not acted on it until now -- where I've been putting more into the blog than I get out of it. And so I think it's time to call it quits.
Now let me be clear, I am not complaining, I'm not whining, and I'm not saying that this has been tough on me, or anything like that. It's been fun, I have no regrets, and I've been glad to write this blog. I'm just explaining why I'm ending it, now.
But, back to that "sort of" that I mentioned earlier.
The post you're reading right now is not the last blog post I will ever do. I still have one more review in mind, and I think you'll want to read it. I'd also like to do, if not a farewell address, an essay encapsulating some of my thoughts on what I've learned over the past seven-plus years. And there may be a few loose-ends kind of stuff. To name one example, I owe a book review to a publisher that sent me a free review copy of a book. And if the mood strikes me, I'm not ruling out an occasional review or other post in the future. I'm just not going to make any particular effort to keep posting on a regular basis, or to keep searching out and reviewing new places.
I do plan to keep the Facebook page going, at least to report on local and national pizza news. Openings and closings, interesting news items, that sort of thing. I intend to keep up with the pizza scene, for my own benefit, so if I see something of interest, I'll pass it along.
So I'm not going to get all weepy here and say goodbye. I'm not going away. I'll still have a web presence. But to be honest, it already feels like a weight off my shoulders not to feel as if I have to keep writing blog posts or reviewing every new pizzeria that comes along. I look forward to maintaining contact with my readers, and I urge you to send me any pizza news you have, recommendations, inquiries, and so on.

Buon appetito!

The Rochester Pizza Guy

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Book Review: Refreshed

I have received the occasional review copy of a book from time to time, and one of the more diverse, eclectic catalogs comes from Schiffer Publishing. They're very strong in history, military history in particular, which I love. But Schiffer offers books on an array of subjects, from animals to woodworking.
That includes books on food and cooking. A recent new issue, Refreshed: Lighter Simpler Comfort Food, caught my eye, and I accepted a review copy.
The book's author is Jim Bailey, who goes by the moniker "the Yankee Chef."  This is his second cookbook, following up on The Yankee Chef: Feel Good Food for Every Kitchen.
Bailey comes from a family with deep roots both in cooking and in New England. Some of those regional influences come through in dishes like New England style lobster fried rice, hot cross buns with cranberries, and traditional corn pudding.
That said, this is not a New England cookbook as such. The focus here is on comfort food, with a particular emphasis on lightening up the ingredients a bit.
If you recoil at the idea of "lite" cooking, fear not. Bailey's recipes don't suck the life out of these dishes; they simply avoid heavy, fat-laden cooking. No "weird" ingredients, no lack of seasoning, and no lack of flavor. Maybe the occasional egg whites instead of whole eggs, a light touch with cooking oil, and the use of skim rather than whole milk. But there's butter, there's meat, and you could easily substitute the full-fat ingredients, if you're so inclined.
The book is well illustrated, with full color photographs throughout, and each recipe begins with a brief introduction by Chef Bailey. The recipes are logically and clearly laid out, and are simple yet informative. Occasional sidebars offer tips on ingredients and techniques. The chapters cover breads, soups, vegetables, grains, fish, meat, poultry and desserts.
There's a lot of good stuff packed into these 272 pages, and something here to please just about any palate. This volume would make a welcome gift for any home cook, or a good addition to a home kitchen bookshelf.

Refreshed: Lighter, Simpler Comfort Food, by Jim Bailey
Schiffer Publishing 2016