Saturday June 6, 2015
- My niece, Maddie, had a choir recital that I had missed in May, however, her violin recital was coming up and I wasn't going to miss that! Especially since she called me on my birthday in May and played "Happy Birthday" to me on her violin! Of all the gifts I received, that one was the most special of them all! She's getting really good! Once again, I took the bus from NYC to Syracuse and when I arrived, my sister had picked me up at the station with Maddie and her friend, Kayla, who was staying over that night. They were singing along to a Taylor Swift song in the car and I thought, "Maddie isn't old enough to know Taylor Swift!". She is and somedays it's hard to believe she is no longer a toddler. Kelly (my sis) said we'd be stopping at the "Taste of Syracuse
" festival. Lots of live music and local restaurants selling some of their signature dishes as well as offering samples of their food for $1.00. And we managed to find a parking spot at a lot across from the original Dinosaur Bar-B-Que. Score!
Walking to the festival, we passed the art deco inspired Niagara Mohawk (power utility company) building.
And even saw an old timey fire truck go by.
It was a very hot day and the festival was packed so we didn't stay too long but took in some tasty eats.
The first stop was the Dinosaur Bar-B-Que
tent for a $1 sample of their incredible bbq beans.
These were thick, rich and loaded with flavor. Even in this small sample I found some green pepper, sausage and a shred of pulled pork, I had added what I thought was their BBQ sauce to them but it was actually their Wango Tango habanero based BBQ sauce and it lit my mouth on fire. So good! Even the chalk dinosaur on the table is breathing fire when I set my sample of his belly for its close-up.
Next up was a sample of a local favorite dish...Chicken Riggies from Dominick's Restaurant
These were pretty good though being a rib-sticking dish, perhaps not the ideal choice on a hot summer day.
I made sure we stopped at Eva's European Sweets
for a sample of their pierogi with sautéed onions and sauerkraut. Very comforting and delicious.
After all of this filling and hearty fare, we needed to cool off and what better way than some fresh squeezed lemonade? Getting a lemonade from a stand shaped like a lemon just feels right.
Exactly what we needed!
While considering a late lunch, my sis suggested we head over to Dinosaur Bar-B-Que
. Okay, twist my arm! I've haven't been to the original in years and was eager to see how it has held up. Usually, it can take an hour or more to get a table here, but given that so many people were at the festival, there was only a 5 minute wait!
As much as I love the Harlem and other locations, the Syracuse Dinosaur is a biker bar that became a restaurant (and still has that biker feel as well as a loyal biker clientele) whereas the other locations are restaurants attempting to recreate that biker vibe.
Love that neon.
So many live music acts over the years.
Love that wall mural...
...and the miniature recreation of the Dino (though it is missing the hogs!).
My two meat plate of ribs and pulled pork with mac & cheese, greens and cornbread. he ribs were tender and had a good bark on them. The pulled pork was smoky and soft. The mac & cheese was on point and had a hint of spice to it and the greens were limp with a hint of crunch. Some of the other locations now serve mini corn muffins but this one still gives a block of cornbread, which I love. Our waitress was great and when one of my fellow diners had dropped her cornbread, she went and brought back another block for her. I've heard talk online that the food and service have fallen off here in recent years and maybe people have had bad experiences here and there, everything was just right on this day and I gave me great comfort to know that it is just as good as it had been during my youth.
After dropping off the girls and some takeout Dinosaur for Dennis (my brother-in-law), Kelly and I stopped at local legendary supermarket Wegmans
(West Taft Road Liverpool, NY location) to do some grocery shopping.
Had to pick up some salt potatoes for dinner later this weekend.
Skyline Chili, anyone? Looks like I'll never need to visit Cincinnati, right?
One of my favorite racks at the store. Hard to find candies. Chuckles, Zagnuts, Mallo Cups, Skybars, Smoothies and Bun are just some of the ones that aren't sold in the bigger outlets. In addition to this I can get my Spiedie and Cornell Chicken marinades (Salamida's, Lupo's, Chiavetta's) here, have a beef-on-weck for lunch and the service is always great.
Of course, I HAD to pick up a pair of half moons cookies, this time with a vanilla cake base. Not sure why they are colored orange & blue. I'm guessing for Syracuse University, though the shade of each color is off. Nonetheless, they were both winners in my belly, uh, book. Sunday June 7, 2015
- Time to hit up a pair of places that have been on my "to-do" list for some time. First was Harrison Bakery
, a Syracuse staple since 1949.
They even have outdoor seating for those who want to dine "al fresco" and take lots of pictures right after they leave the bakery (such as someone like myself!).
So many half moons!
A decent half moon but a bit too dry for my taste. These would be perfect with a cup of coffee or a cold glass of milk.
Ah yes, the donuts. They looked mighty good on their website and I knew I couldn't leave with out a few...
Okay, okay, a half dozen. Clockwise, from top right: peach cobbler, headlight, peanut, Boston Cream, taillight, peanut butter & jelly. The only one that was a bit of a letdown was the headlight. The chocolate and cream on top were fine but the texture of the yeast donut was too dense and chewy. Sadly, I didn't get around to trying the peach cobbler so a return visit is in order. The others were top notch and it was a neck and neck race between the PB&J and the taillight for "best of box". I must say that the young lady who waited on me was really great and was very helpful narrowing down my donut choices.
Second, was Niki's Quick Cup Diner
, just a few blocks up the street. It should have been easy to find as I had mapped it out the night before but I drove by it...twice! I had decided to give up and pulled into the Brooklyn Pickle sandwich shop to have lunch there but I was Travelin' Manned as they were closed on Sundays. Just as I was about to leave, a police officer pulled up only to discover the same. I asked him if he knew where Niki's was located and he replied, "You mean the Quick Cup? It's right there across the street." Sure enough, this tiny nondescript diner was right there! Easy to miss, so I told myself. I thanked him and was on my way.
A tiny family run spot, I made sure to snag a seat at the counter. I think that is the owner at the griddle and her daughter waiting on tables. I did see other people in the back that I think may have been there owner's parents and the young girl's brother.
Lots of omelets, but CASH ONLY.
And a good selection of Frettas.
I resemble these remarks!
"So many places have plaques commemorating "something" that happened here. Nicki's is different. They've got "nothing"! It'll be great" - George Costanza
I went with the Loaded Fretta (Italian sausage, pepperoni, mushrooms, broccoli, peppers, ham, potatoes and eggs) and I opted for melted Swiss cheese on top. It came with Italian toast that was generic grocery store quality bread. The fretta was missing broccoli which I love but for some reason I didn't ask about it. This was a HUGE plate-wide fretta, fast and very filling. All of the ingredients came together nicely. At $9.65 (plus $1.25) for the cheese, it was the priciest fretta I've ever had and they didn't offer a 1/2 size on the menu. I'd come back for it again, however, there are still more on my list to try in the Syracuse area.
To assuage some of my guilt at the donuts and that big breakfast, I decided to meet my friend Shawn for a run in the Old Erie Canal State Park
. We've known each other since college and reconnected through Facebook and running and I was looking forward to getting in a few miles on the trails with her today. However, our signals got crossed and we went to different points of the Erie Canal Trail and they didn't connect so we agreed to meet up on the next visit.
It's made up of different sections and was a major route of commerce in the 19th century.
Going from Buffalo to Albany.
It was a gorgeous day for a run and while there were other people on the trail, it was so peaceful and quiet. It reminded me of the fields and trails I used to run along as a kid and the farms I ran past in Vermont at a half marathon in 2011. A welcome respite from the noise and grittiness on NYC.
I could have spent all day here.
The old canal.
The sounds of the water running by was the best soundtrack to run to.
I wonder how many barges came through here over the years?
While looking for a restroom and a place to refill my water bottle, I found this footbridge that led to a playground and picnic area. I found the restroom but no fountains. Luckily, a group was setting up for a big cookout and offered me a couple bottles of water. That walk through the trees was a nice opportunity to cool down and stretch. Monday June 8, 2015
- The whole family went to Maddie's violin recital. One half was the school band performing and the other half was the string section. Maddie was great as was the whole school. So happy to see her engaging in activities that she loves. Her she is with the string conductor.
After the recital, we headed over to Vicky's Tasty Treats
in Liverpool for ice cream. I've been coming here for almost 10 years and it has been a local institution since 1972 and is still run by the same family. Just a little seasonal soft serve shack, they dish out some great summertime treats.
So many kids and their families have been getting their licks here for over four decades.
The Mexican Sundae is pretty good though I think I may have to try the Tortuga on my next visit.
Today, it was all about the Boston Shake. I had read an article recently about Central NY foods and this was on it and it piqued my curiosity. A shake TOPPED with a hot fudge sundae? Who's been reading my diary?! I went with a peanut butter shake and a vanilla soft serve hot fudge sundae on top. Very thick, rich and incredibly decadent. Totally worth it. I may have to try a coffee shake with a salted caramel hot fudge sundae next time. Tuesday June 9, 2015
- Up and at 'em early for breakfast this morning in Jamesville at Ruston's Diner
. Located in a blue collar area just southeast of Syracuse, this little diner does a brisk business with worked at the local quarry and with many regular old timers who come in the same time each day for the same meal and to hold court with one another about the issues of the day. Th topic of the day was the recent prison break from Dannemora in the North Country and everyone at the counter had an opinion on it. I was, by far, the youngest guy at the counter on this particular morning.
The nearby quarry.
The S.U. Orangemen and many local business cards advertising their services.
Homemade pie? I'm on it!
A pretty extensive menu. I love the ads for local businesses in the menu and that they offer HOT Gianelli Italian sausage as a breakfast meat. It's a great local product.
I went with the 1/2 Fretta, but I don't think I asked for cheese this time. This was another good one and they didn't skimp on the broccoli or the pepperoni.
For the voice of toast a homemade biscuit was one of the options and it was a doozy! Griddled and buttered, this slightly sweet baking powder biscuit is exactly what I grew up eating as a kid. The guy next to me had a bacon, egg and cheese on a toasted hard roll with a side of crusty looking home fries with onions. Think I already know my order next time!
This "to go" slice of Strawberry Rhubarb pie was un mistakably homemade. A bit tart and a bit sweet, it was perfect and that crust was just right with the edge being a bit more baked and had a slight crunch to it.
Mom, Harold and I had lunch at Jake Hafner's Restaurant & Tavern
before heading to the bus station.
I've been coming here with my friend Doug for years and it's always been a reliable place for a good meal and good drinks.
"Dogs are not our whole life, but they make our lives whole" - Roger Caras This was the quote of the day for me!
And they put out a proper beef-on-weck. The beef is roasted in-house and I believe the buns are baked here too (not entirely certain of that second point). It come with chips and a side of warm aus jus and lots of pungent, sinus-clearing horseradish! And they asked how I wanted the beef. I replied, "Medium" and this was just right. I thought there was a bit too much caraway on the roll but a minor quibble.
I couldn't pass up another piece of strawberry rhubarb pie. I believe they get their pies from Geddes Bakery. When in berry season... This was alright but not in the same league as the one from Ruston's.
And finally, a shot of my niece's dog, Daisy. She is quite a sweet little playful Cavapoo (King Charles Cavalier Spaniel & Poodle mix) and love having her belly rubbed! The 411:
1.) Taste of Syracuse
2.) Dominick's Restaurant
1370 Burnet Avenue
Syracuse, NY 13206
3.) Eva's European Sweets
1305 Milton Ave
Syracuse, NY 13204
4.) Dinosaur Bar-B-Que
246 W Willow St
Syracuse, NY 13202
4979 West Taft Road
Liverpool, NY 13088
6.) Harrison Bakery
1306 W Genesee St
Syracuse, NY 13204
7.) Niki's Quick Cup Diner
1513 W Genesee St
Syracuse, NY 13204
8.) Old Erie Canal State Park
Canalway Trail- Old Erie Canal State Park
East Syracuse, NY 13057
9.) Vicky's Tasty Treats
664 Old Liverpool Rd
Liverpool, NY 13088
10.) Ruston's Diner
6293 Jamesville Toll Rd
Jamesville, NY 13078
11.) Jake Hafner's Restaurant & Tavern
5224 W Taft Rd
Syracuse, NY 13212
Don't touch that dial! The newest episode from early July 2015 in the Utica-Rome area is coming up!
post edited by billyboy - 2015/07/23 15:33:44