Friday July 11th, 2014
- I took the bus from New York City to Utica, NY to watch and cheer on my friends at the 37th Annual Boilermaker 15K Road Race in Utica, NY. Going Greyhound makes for much more cramped quarters, but the cost is about half of an Amtrak ticket and given the regular delays on the train during my last few trips, the bus is certainly more reliable. My sister and her family had a full plate this weekend so dinner on this evening was the only chance to see them so I borrowed mom's car and headed out to Sylvan Beach, NY to meet them at Eddie's Restaurant
Even after 35 plus years, I never get tired of looking at this dessert case.
Maddie and Uncle Bill (aka Silly Uncle Billy) goofing off before dinner.
I always love to start off a dinner here with a locally brewed Saranac soda and the Black Cherry Cream was a winner with me.
Maddie's Spaghetti & Meatballs.
My Giant Beef BBQ sandwich with scratch-made mashed potatoes & gravy and a pickle. I'm pretty sure there were more pickles on the plate but my mouth was faster than the camera! Slow roasted slices of beef simmered in it's own juices made for one very moist and richly flavored sandwich. Not sure how the BBQ part of the name came about but it is a darn good sandwich and that bread holds up, right to the last bite. Those mashed potatoes and gravy were definitely homemade.
Maddie's Apple pie. Not a huge fan as their apple pie tends to be sweet and I like more of a sweet/tart balance.
Kelly's Red Velvet cake. Tasty but I thought the texture was too dense which I think may be a by-product of moisture getting in from the refrigerated case.
My Chocolate Cream pie, which I would have no problem eating every day of the week and twice on Sunday!
Dennis's Fresh Strawberry pie, which was the sleeper hit for me. I'm not a huge strawberry fan and when I saw this in the case I thought, "Whoa! Way too goopy for me!". Boy, was I wrong. The "goop" was just enough to hold the fresh strawberries together. And check out the bottom of the pie, just a whisper of a crust on it. The focus really is on the strawberries. And they only make this on Fridays when strawberries are in season. I spoke to the waitress and she said all of the pies are still made in-house by Helen, the 86-year old pie lady who has been making them for decades. She comes in every day and make the crusts, lugs around the cart with the pie tins and has just brought on an apprentice to help her with the fillings but she loves coming in and doing her job and it clearly shows.
Love that nighttime neon! Saturday July 12th, 2014
- I had actually registered for the Boilermaker but since I couldn't run it, I had agreed to meet a guy who wanted to run and transfer my bib to him at the race expo later today. I headed out early for breakfast and made my way to the Riverside Diner
in Marcy, NY. I had heard that they offer a very good Gimbrotta/Giambotte/Gymbraut/Giambrotta/Giambotta/etc... The spelling depends on the place and even here they have Gimbrotta on the hand-written menu and Giambotta on the on-line menu. There may not be a consensus about the spelling but most everyone agrees that it is a very tasty, filling dish. A kissing cousin of the Fretta/Frittata/Frettata of the Syracuse area, if you will.
A small place, but big on flavor.
Love the local ads in the front doorway.
And the staff picks as well as some of the menu favorites.
I picked up a copy of the local paper on at the counter to read about the race while my food was cooking. The Utica O-D turned me on to many local spots over the years that have since become stand-bys and "must visits" for me when I am in the area.
My half order of Giambotta (eggs, potatoes, Italian sausage, onions, peppers, sautéed greens (escarole) and mozzarella). For $1 more, I had them add roasted long hot peppers, which was a good move. They added just the right amount of heat and flavor. It's not online, but the menu at the counter offered "Hard Crust Italian Toast" which I excitedly ordered. After so many breakfasts with flimsy buttered toast, finding a place that offers good quality, locally baked bread was a real treat. Crusty outside, soft inside, thick-cut and with actual flavor! It seemed like there were an awful lot of potatoes in this and it turned out that the cook had accidentally mixed in a small bowl of home fries that one of the waitresses had ordered for her snack and they didn't charge extra for it. Thanks!
The two consistent ingredients in this dish seem to be mozzarella cheese and greens. I had this dish quite a bit in my college days but this was my first time in at least almost 20 years and it was as good as I remember. Not sure if it has traveled out of the Utica/Rome area. Would love to hear from anyone who has tried this dish (with this name) anywhere else.
Next up, I drove over to Roma Sausage & Deli
on Bleecker Street in Utica to score a half sheet of my favorite tomato pie. I arrived around 12:15pm so I figured they'd still have some left. When I walked in I spied about 8 boxes behind the register. Score! Or so I thought... I heard a couple of guys walking out saying they would try the other location and asked them what had happened. They said that the pies behind the counter were pre-orders and that Roma was out unless you had already called in advance. D'oh! Travelin' Manned!! Sort of. I forgot how popular this place is on Boilermaker weekend and I didn't have time to race over to their other location as I had a number of other commitments to which I needed to attend.
At Expo I was able to transfer my bib to a guy from Elmira, NY who had a tough but ultimately good run. As I was leaving I caught this kid busting out some pretty decent Neil Young covers.
I may have missed my tomato pie but there was no way I was heading back to NYC without at least ONE trip to Voss BAR B Q
They've added cole slaw, pasta salad and White Hots to the menu. Next summer...
I had to get a shot of this cheat sheet for the staff that they use when interpreting the shorthand on the order tickets.
I MAY have gone a wee bit overboard with the ordering! Ham BBQ sandwich, Turkey BBQ sandwich and Mexi-Burger, naturally, but the hot dog ATW (All The Way) may have been too much. I love their Honest John's hot dogs and especially with chili, cheese and onions. However, the combo of mustard, kraut, relish, onions and pickles didn't work for me and got in the way of the dog rather than enhancing it.
Traditionally, my friends and I have a big pasta dinner the night before the race. This year, not all of us were running, some had out-of-town and family commitments so it ended up begin my friends Lori & Danny and myself. We headed out to DiCastro's Brick Oven
in my hometown of Rome, NY for dinner.
Lori & Danny. Lori was one of the co-stars along with her friend, Franzi, from Germany, in a trip report of mine from 2012: http://www.roadfood.com/F...zi-in-NYC-m704897.aspx
On of the great elements of DiCastro's is that they have books of photos from Rome, NY spanning many decades and they end up spurring on many conversations from diners who remember so many of the long gone places where they used to live and work.
They also have old milk bottle from the various dairies that were so prevalent in the area and my mom has told me before how many of these bottle she recognizes as the "milk door" that received so much use 50 years ago is still present next to the front door on my grandparents' house.
An appetizer plate of mixed arancini (rice balls). These were great and came in four flavors: pesto, cappy (capicola) & provolone, sausage & greens and spinach. They were all pretty big hits with the table.
A full order of their Italian Style Greens. A misfire for two reasons: 1 - a half order would have been more than enough, considering how much food we ended up getting. 2 - Danny and I both noticed that these greens were gritty. Escarole comes from the ground, so like any leafy green, it must be washed thoroughly before cooking. These had not been and it was a shock to me as I have been eating greens for almost 30 years and have never experienced grit before. the flavor was on point but we quickly lost interest due to the texture.
Danny & Lori said we had to get the House Pizza and I'm sure glad we did! At first glance I had thought there was too much cheese on it but the combination of mozzarella, marinara sauce, sausage, greens, meatballs and roasted red peppers, along with a slightly charred crust really blew me away.
We skipped dessert at DiCastro's so we could swing by Vescio's Franklin Hotel
for some of their amazing pastries. I love the food here even though my family aren't big fans. But we all agree on their baked goods. Definitely worth going out of your way. Lori & Danny were kind enough to pick up dinner so I returned the favor by getting dessert.
Lots of chocolate and vanilla pusties. The woman behind the counter is pretty no-nonsense and has been working there for decades so make sure you know what you want if it's really busy.
I picked up two chocolate, two vanilla and a pair of sfogliatelle to take home to the family. I think my favorite part of this night was getting to spend time with Lori & Danny in their new house, break bread with them and see how much they love Rome. They've been a real positive, driving force in promoting Rome as a great place to visit, do business and live and their energy really has rubbed off on so many others. Thanks so much for all you do for Rome! And I had the pleasure of meeting Mr. Mike Colangelo Sr. and his wife, Jackie. Mike is a wonderful photographer and has really captured the beauty of my hometown and has also used social media (Facebook) to create a wonderful page called People and Places of Rome, NY to give people a place to talk about the wonderful things happening in our city. Keep up the good work, man!
That lovely sfogliatelle cross-section.
Still life of a chocolate pusty.
And the vanilla pusty, ready for its close-up, Mr. DeMille!
Yeah, like I wasn't going to get some chocolate milk to wash down those pusties! Stewart's
makes a fine version. Sunday July 13th, 2014
- RACE DAY!! My mom, Harold and I were able to camp out in a median on the race course right across from the Utica College campus, my alma mater. The sun was shining down in lovely streaks and it looked to be a beautiful, if muggy day for a run.
Right at the 7-mile mark. 1.5K would be much easier in mid-July!
The elite runners, flying down the course. I had plenty of signs ready and was able to see many of my friends as they ran by and throw some support (and hugs!) their way.
After the race, we stopped for breakfast at Seymour's Diner & Grill
in Westmoreland, NY.
Like many diners/grills/cafes in the area, they are only open for breakfast and lunch most days and only serve dinner on Friday nights.
They are also the home of Seymour's Wild Hogs B-B-Q which I believe mostly does catering, though there are a few BBQ items on the diner/grill menu. They do offer a pulled pork and brisket sandwich on the lunch menu and BBQ ribs on the Friday dinner menu. Roadfooder foodcarnie
had posted a few months back that he has tried the BBQ here and liked it.
Love the seating layout in here.
I went for The Redskins Roni 'n Eggs (so named for the Oriskany High School Redskins, one of many menu items named for local high school sports teams) which is sautéed pepperoni mixed with scrambled eggs, plus home fries and toast. I had been checking out this menu for months and this item was on my mind. Sadly, I was not a fan. It was scrambled eggs with some pepperoni mixed in but I never got the impression that the 'roni had been sautéed. I had hoped it would have rendered down a bit and gotten browned and crispy around the edges, like rendered bacon, but that wasn't the case. The potatoes were actually hash browns and not home fries, which isn't a big deal to me but these hash browns didn't have much flavor. I think some salt & butter in the griddling process would have added some depth to them. The raisin toast was okay but didn't really stand out.
The side of Breakfast Greens was not what I had expected and quite good. It was almost as if they were somewhat fried and some fried onions had been mixed in. Totally different than any greens I have ever had in the region but pretty great in their own right.
There was a farmer's market next door and I scored a couple of jars of homemade jam. One for Mom and Harold and one to take back to NYC. That Black Raspberry was terrific. Monday July 14th, 2014
- My plan was to hit a couple of shops for pusties and then an Italian market for some tomato pie. My friends had been telling me to check out Cafe Divino
in Rome, NY for their pusties. Travelin' Manned!! Many places in the area tend to be closed on Mondays so it's always good to abide by the Roadfood Rule and call ahead!
I was also TM'd at Rocco Gualteri's Market
which has great Italian provisions and also carries tomato pie and pusties from local bakeries. Closed on Mondays too!
No worries. My next stop was over to Bill's Variety
, also in Rome, NY. Now, I know what you're thinking. Billyboy, Roadfood at a variety store? Really? Yup. I've been coming to this store for decades. Usually after church on Sundays: stop at the Home Bakery for freshly made doughnuts and then to Bill's so we could buy our Sunday papers and Grandma could play her lottery numbers.
Thanks to the advent of Facebook I was able to amass a HUGE list of local places to find pusties. One name kept coming up: Sweet Temptations By Rosemary
. She just started selling them online and doesn't have a B & M (brick & mortar) shop but local stores do carry them. Bill's Variety is one such store. I had emailed Rosemary and she said she delivers them early in the morning. I got there just before 12 noon and snagged the last three pusties!
Pretty simple list of ingredients.
Apologies for the quality of these last few shots as I took them on the Greyhound bus on the way back to NYC. And for the fall apart nature of the pusties. I had been carrying them in my messenger bag for some time.
Upon first bite of each one, I knew I was in the presence of pusty greatness. These were some of the best ones I have ever had and I couldn't stop thinking about them the whole ride back to NYC. They were so fragile and delicate that they were tough to photograph while the bus was moving. The last time I witnessed that much jiggling was around Hour 10 of a "Charlie's Angels" marathon! I'd say I couldn't stop eating them but they only lasted from Utica to Amsterdam (the next stop).
The Passion of the Pusties has begun!!
Still more to come...
post edited by billyboy - 2014/11/08 14:55:06