Ken and Laura do Carbondale PA and vicinity...
...but not Simpson. More about that later.
I had originally planned this as a stop on the way to visit a retired co-worker in Binghamton, but it turns out he is coming in to Queens next week and we are having a reunion at Belmont race Track.
But, as my wife likes to say, I had a "bee in my bonnet" about heading up to Carbondale anyway, so I decided to take a one day roadtrip on Saturday. My wife figured that spending most of the day in an air conditioned car was better than doing the gardening in the hot sun and decided to join me.
Roadfooder and local NEPA star Joe Rogo made some great suggestions for additional stops even though we weren't able to hook up.
In just about 2 hours door-to-door we were entering the first of Joe's suggestions, Catalano's Deli, at 150 South Main in Scranton. I love places like this. Local Deli, people shopping for the day, not for the week or month. Friendly atmosphere. When you enter you are greeted by a huge stack of wrapped Italian hoagies on the counter, at only $3.50 each. People were buying baskets full. We bought 2 ourselves and had them the next day. Excellent quality bread and meat. Terrific deal for $3.50.
We also got 10 slices of thier bakery pizza, most of which my son devoured when he got home from work that night. My wife and I got to have a couple slices each though, and they were great. Sweetish homemade sauce and good quality dough. We had a nice conversation with (I think) Paul Catalano. He came up to us when he saw my wife looking over the cannoli shells and gave her some tips on cannoli making, although in the end we took his recommendation and bought some ready made ones (delicious, according to my wife and daughter).
Then it was a 5 minute drive to lunch at the Glider Diner. They are noted for the thier hot open face sandwiches. We worked well as a team here (hardly ever happens) in that we both couldn't decide between the Hot Porketta or the Hot Roast Beef, so we ordered one of each and shared. Outstanding, with a nice pile of home made mashed potatoes to soak up the excess gravy. We loved the 1950's-era decor too. http://www.gliderdiner.com/
Then it was on to Olyphant and Bosaks Meats (another Joe Rogo suggestion), 524 Burke ByPass. Very clean and wonderful smelling meat store. We bought a large kielbasy here. We had a slice of it by the car and thought it was great, great flavor and not fatty at all. I think this is on the menu for tomorrow night for grilling if it doesn't rain.
It was time for Ken to do his beer shopping, and after asking around, consensus led us to Clause's Beverage in Carbondale. I was able to get a case of Stegmaier Gold and Stegmaier Amber. I can buy 1000's of micro Beers in NJ, but I still love those old regional PA brands that are only sold locally. Another bonus was that they had Utica Club Beer, which I haven't seen in maybe 20 years, so I bought a case of that also. I'm set.
No luck on getting any Crystal Club soda (made famous by The Office) though, the guy at Clause's said it's been very hard to get.
Here's where things went a little haywire. Our next stop was to be Petrosky's Pierogies in the town of Simpson, just north of Carbondale. But my GPS never heard of Simpson. The I tried the same address (601 Main) in Carbondale, but that just kept sending me in a loop looking for 601. I stopped for directions, but was given the most convoluted instructions I've ever heard. My wife (correctly, as usual) reminded me that here we were searching for Pierogies 120 miles from home when there are 2 perfectly good pierogie stores within 5 miles of our house. Right. I suspended the search and headed to the next stop, Carwanna's Lunch at 54 Salem Av in downtown Carbondale.
Walking into Carwanna's was like walking into the 1920's, it appears that nothing has changed here since then. Tin ceiling, old wooden booths, the whole nine yard. Thier chili dogs may have been the best I've ever had. Terrific chili, not spicy at all, rather on the sweet side, covering a stubby locally made hot dog split lengthwise, all in a short rectangular fresh baked roll. Of all the food we had this day, it's these Chili dogs I am craving most right now. The two extra we brought home are long gone.
We wanted to take our daily walk at this point, but downtown Carbondale ddn't look very interesting at all, plus it was over 90 degrees, plus, um, nature was calling (no facilites in Carwanna's) http://carwanna.com/gpage1.html
So even though we thought we could eat no more, we rallied for our next stop, Windsor Inn, in nearby Jermyn, home of what they claim are the world's 2nd best Chicken Wings (#1 being you-know-where in Buffalo, which is a dubious claim in itself). We sat at the bar (disappointing draft selection) I had an overpriced Harpoon Ale ($6, hey, this is Carbondale, not Manhattan) and my wife had a soda (Bless her, no $7 wine for her on a hot day). We ordered 20 wings from a not very helpful bartender. World's 2nd best? Maybe Carbondale's 2nd Best, if that. They were Ok, but not more than that. And small too. We finished about 10 of them and took the rest home. Our eating was done for the day (well, until about 9 that night, when the 2 remaining dogs called us).
Good husband that I am (sometimes) we made a totally wifey stop at American Candle on the way home and were back in Scotch Plains unpacking our food loot from a great day in NE PA by 8 PM.
Northeast PA is one of my favorite food destinations anywhere.
Thanks again Joe for the suggestions, and hope to catch you next time.