A Double Dose of Central NY for RUSH and 13.1 miles later...THE GRAND FINALE!

Filet Mignon
2010/10/11 22:50:12
I made my way up to Central NY this past September, first for an extended Labor Day weekend with my girlfriend to visit my family and to see the Canadian prog-rock band, RUSH, at the Great NY State Fair.  What better chance to sample some regionally correct Roadfood?  The second trip was a solo one as I had planned to run the Delta Lake Half Marathon in my hometown of Rome, NY and it would be my first half-marathon!  Now, on with the show!

Wednesday Sept 1st - Dayna and I took the train up to Syracuse and just relaxed with a nice cookout of burgers, dogs, my sister's potato salad and family and friends. We also caught the Syracuse episode of Man v. Food where they featured Dinosaur Bar-B-Que, Heids and Mother's Cupboard.
Thursday Sept 2nd - After a good night's sleep I logged a 15K run around my sister's neighborhood and rested for a bit before Dayna and I met up with my friend from college, Shawn, whom I had not seen in almost 20 years!  It was great to catch up with her and we made plans to run together in Seneca Falls this October in the "It's A Wonderful Run" 5K.  Now, l had driven by Mother's Cupboard numerous times when my sister lived in the Eastwood section of Syracuse and I had always thought that it was closed.  When I found out after the MvF show that it only serves breakfast & lunch and closes at 1:30pm, we hightailed it over there in time to enjoy a late breakfast.  Not a big place and with a dirt/loose gravel parking lot, this spot serves up some HUGE meals!

Follow the rules!  There was a line out the door to get a table but seeing as it was just the two of us, we opted for the counter stools.  Score!

I love all of the little sayings on the menu.

Any place that serves S.O.S. needs to be on my list!

Adam Richman after finishing the Frittata challenge.  On the show they said it was 6lbs of food.  I couldn't believe he finished it all, especially with the huge pile of home fries included in it.

They start out with a load of rough cut potatoes...

...let them sit for a bit.  This is key.  I watched the cook put them on the flat top, sprinkle on some salt & paprika and then leave them alone!  He didn't move them around or keep turning them.  BTW, on the right side of the griddle is either a half or full frittata.  Insane!

This is the end result.  Some of the crispiest, creamiest, most flavorful home fries I have ever tasted.  I would go so far as to call them addictive and we only had a half order!

My foot-wide Blueberry pancake.  Crisp-edged and spongy, soft in the middle, these didn't need any syrup but I made good use of that rapidly melting butter and I managed to polish off the whole thing.  Somewhere under there is a dinner-size plate, I swear!

Dayna's Vegetable Omelet (made with egg substitute per her request).  This was very tasty and filling.  Between the two of us, we couldn't finish it, just too much food! The vegetables inside were cooked down yet had a slight crunch to them which we both liked.  

After Mother's we went back to my sister's house to relax for a bit and then drove to a drop off spot where we caught a shuttle bus to the Great NY State Fair.  The buses were $1.50 each way and much easier than driving in the extra heavy fair traffic and dealing with the parking!  Billy and the produce become fast friends!

So much food to choose from, but what to eat, what to eat?  Spiedis?  Salt Potatoes?  Chicken with Bob Gibson's red sauce?  Wait, we're not Alabama!


Off to the Dairy Products Building

To check out this year's butter sculpture.

Welcome to Dairyville!  My name is Bill and I'll be your tour guide in the world of buttery goodness!

Hot beef sundae?  Love the idea, but not what I was hunting down on this day.

An obligatory stop at the Rainbow Milk Bar for...

a cup of chocolate and a cup of white.  These were so cold and so fresh that I bought a couple more.  Quite refreshing on a hot day.  Ron Burgundy had it wrong!  Milk was a GOOD choice!

Chicken Riggies?  Nope.

I saw this sign and for a moment pictured ill-tempered children being cast off in an auction!

My goal for the day was to make it to Baker's Chicken Coop, a fair fixture for 61 years!  I do love Cornell style BBQ chicken whenever I have the chance.

As you can see, Dr. Baker's influence on the chicken was extensive.

I'm ready for my dinner.

The chicken was very moist and the skin had that perfect balance of crispy/slightly charred texture, but the flavor wasn't imbued with the intense marinade/barbeque sauce I had expected and had come to know at Brooks' House of Bar-B-Q in Oneonta and at the many fire house chicken barbeques of my youth.  It was more charcoal-y than anything.  The salt potatoes with melted butter were everything I could want and the roll made a nice mini sandwich stuffed with the chicken, potatoes and drizzled with some of the melted butter!

I wished that I had brought something to carry this in, but alas it was not to be on this evening.

Part of my excitement of Roafooding at the fair stemmed from a RF Digest post that Bruce Bilmes had put up.  It said that the Anchor Bar of Buffalo was going to be selling their chicken wings at the fair.  These two spots were supposed to be selling them.  I found the New York Cafe in the Horticulture Building around 6pm, but no wings in sight and many of the other items sounded like a marketing person's version of what the dishes should be.  They had a NYC pizza that didn't sound like what I have come to know as NYC pizza.  I couldn't find a garbage plate anywhere and the place seemed empty-ish and sad.  

So we moved on in the Horticulture building and I was fascinated by this beehive with the queen bee in the middle (with the pink dot on her) while the others surrounded her.  I think I knew a few "queen bees" in college!

Mmmm...MAPLE!!!  Maple candies, cream cotton candy, syrups, etc...

Naturlly, I had to try to the maple ice cream and it was a deliciously creamy soft serve with a justly assertive maple flavor!

And of course, being me and knowing full well that donuts aren't just for breakfast anymore I totally had to have this maple cream donut.  Now we can't even get fake maple donuts in NYC, let alone one topped with REAL maple cream!  I believe that THIS is what Willis was talkin' bout!

I wish I had room for one of those spicy sausage sandwiches with peppers and onions.  Love the Gianelli!

Our reason for coming to the Fair.  Dayna managed to score 2nd row seats to see these three guys:  LEE (Geddy)

LIFESON (Alex) I thought I was going to strangle the guy who got in the way of this perfect close-up shot!

and PEART (Neil).  Better known as RUSH!!!!!!!!!

This was part of a short video piece RUSH has filmed in advance and it shows the guys trying to play each other's instruments in a comically awful way!

Love the t-shirt and it shows the sense of humor the band has and their ability to laugh at themselves.

Dayna and I at our seats before the show.  This was really an awesome concert and they played their album, Moving Pictures (1981) in it's entirety for the first time!  A three hour set and every concert-goer was going bananas!

We ended the night with a couple of slices from the Twin Trees pizza booth.  A Syracuse favorite for many years.  Normally, I would think this much cheese is too much but with Twin Trees it always worked for me.  The crust is chewy, crisp and substantial and holds up to the mantle of cheese and sauce.  Not fresh mozz, but the grated kind and the sauce has a slight sweetness to it.  I could have downed a couple more slices, but good judgement at that hour took over and I decided I didn't need it right before going to sleep!

Coming up next on the CNY RF Channel...fun at the Strong Museum in Rochester and bar-b-que on the Genesee River (finally!)

post edited by billyboy - 2010/10/14 03:10:12
Double Cheeseburger
Re:A Double Dose of Central NY for RUSH and 13.1 miles later... 2010/10/11 23:47:01
Amazing, as usual.  And may I say that I (heart) butter sculptures!  That Cornell chicken makes my mouth water...  Chris
P.S.  Just an observation as a fellow Rush lifer: it does not bode well for a band to finally reach the state fair circuit...
Bruce Bilmes and Susan Boyle
Double Chili Cheeseburger
Re:A Double Dose of Central NY for RUSH and 13.1 miles later... 2010/10/12 00:19:27
ayersian  it does not bode well for a band to finally reach the state fair circuit...

It's the equivalent of Hollywood Squares for rock bands.
Re:A Double Dose of Central NY for RUSH and 13.1 miles later... 2010/10/12 05:12:50
Great report,,,,,enjoyed the sights!
Filet Mignon
Re:A Double Dose of Central NY for RUSH and 13.1 miles later... 2010/10/12 08:39:07
@ayersian and Bruce, NOOOOO!!!  Honestly, it had never crossed my mind at the time and when I told Dayna what you had posted she said, "It made me sad when I found out they were playing the Fair!"  
Double Cheeseburger
Re:A Double Dose of Central NY for RUSH and 13.1 miles later... 2010/10/12 09:03:44
Great report!
Filet Mignon
Re:A Double Dose of Central NY for RUSH and 13.1 miles later... 2010/10/12 09:32:17
Thank you ... Breakfast looked superb.  Good home fries are becoming a lost art.
Filet Mignon
Re:A Double Dose of Central NY for RUSH and 13.1 miles later... 2010/10/12 09:46:05
All of the food looks so wonderful I'm not even going to tease you for being a Rush fan.  :)
Filet Mignon
Re:A Double Dose of Central NY for RUSH and 13.1 miles later... 2010/10/12 09:47:49
NANCY!!  Bite your tongue, young lady!
Re:A Double Dose of Central NY for RUSH and 13.1 miles later... 2010/10/12 09:53:38

P.S.  Just an observation as a fellow Rush lifer: it does not bode well for a band to finally reach the state fair circuit...

After that come the cruise ship gigs ala REO/Journey/Styx...
Great job, Billy.  Is the "Charlie's" stand in the early photos a seasonal or year-round business, or does it operate solely for the fair?
Re:A Double Dose of Central NY for RUSH and 13.1 miles later... 2010/10/12 10:05:05
Another outstanding report on my hometown!
The 25 cent milk looks the exact same as it always has. Wow, what memories for me.
A co-worker of mine just returned from a wedding in Syracuse. she brought me a bag of Terrell's Dinosaur Bar-B-Que Potato Chips. A little piece of home right here in my cubicle.
Re:A Double Dose of Central NY for RUSH and 13.1 miles later... 2010/10/12 10:12:13
may I ask you Ny'ers, what are Salt Potatoes?
I'll take 2 deep fried raviolis too, please.
And don't knock the State Fair level, Cruise Ships=County Fairs.
Bruce Bilmes and Susan Boyle
Double Chili Cheeseburger
Re:A Double Dose of Central NY for RUSH and 13.1 miles later... 2010/10/12 10:27:57
After that come the cruise ship gigs ala REO/Journey/Styx...

And, finally, the lounge at the Ramada.  With one original member filled out with members of local bar bands.
Actually, some state fairs are a cut above.  I think NY's is one of those - the free concerts have the likes of Culture Club and Young MC; the pay concerts are not has-beens.
billyboy, do you think you just couldn't find Anchor or were they a no-show?  Is Bob's Walk-Away Sundae still there?  Not that they were particularly good but I always remembered their incessant blaring - "How can you say you've been to the fair if you haven't had a Walk-Away Sundae?"  It's so stuck in our brains that even today Sue and I paraphrase it in all sorts of situations.
Filet Mignon
Re:A Double Dose of Central NY for RUSH and 13.1 miles later... 2010/10/12 11:07:18
Friday Sept 3rd - We made our way to Rochester with my family to spend the afternoon at the Strong National Museum of Play and for dinner at the Rochester location of Dinosaur Bar-B-Que.  Finally!  The only location I hadn't been to yet.  On our way there along the NYS Thruway, we passed the Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge.  I was hoping we might spot some bald eagles along the way, but no such luck.

Center City, we have arrived!


I really wanted to have lunch here as they offered some local favorites such as Zweigle's hot dogs, wings with Sal's Birdland Sassy Sauce (mustard based) and a Great Plate (not "Garbage"!).  From what I understand Bill Gray's is a Rochester based chain.  Have any Roadfooders been there?  How is the food?  Being that we had my 5 year old niece we opted for the food court (Pizza Hut and Subway for lunch on this day, Roadfood will have to wait for dinner).  


Words I try to live by every day!


Someone DID tell me how to get here!  My sister snapped a nice pic and my niece and I sitting on the stoop and the mock-up of the neighborhood sure brought back some childhood memories for me.

These were some of my favorite stories as a child.


My sister and I had a Raggedy-Ann and Andy doll when we were little.  I love this artwork.

Our next stop was the Wegman's Super KIDS Market.  My niece and I went shopping and I thought it was great idea that they could only pick 5 items for their carts (to avoid kids taking everything in sight and also for them to put some thought into what they actually wanted) and then scan them at the register, ring up the sale and place them back on the shelf.  They could do this as many times as they wanted and we had such fun!


There was a whole wing on Comic Book Heroes and the evolution of comics, themes and their relation to the world at large over the years and villains that was really neat.  Sorry, many of my shots didn't come out so well.



Billy at the bridge next to the Genesee River heading into the Dinosaur.





I really liked the feel of this place and the location on the river was just great, although it was a pretty rainy, overcast day, so no dining outside today!  I went for the Pork & Brisket Plate with beans, cajun corn and cornbread.  The meats were moist and smoky but a bit fattier than I usually like and overly sauced.  The beans were thick and rich as usual, the corn was buttery with a nice spicy kick and I could have inhaled half a pan of that sweet cornbread!  

My niece and I split this slice of Peanut Butter pie which was very rich!  While I had a good time with Dayna and my family, the meat just wasn't up to what I had hoped for on this day.

After the jump...biking around the lake after an 8 year break, jelly buns, half moons, getting Travelin' Manned, bbq sandwiches, tomato pies, bad ice cream and greens & chicken riggies in Old Forge! What can I say?  Rome is where the heart is!

post edited by billyboy - 2010/10/12 18:28:19
Filet Mignon
Re:A Double Dose of Central NY for RUSH and 13.1 miles later... 2010/10/12 11:31:14
Bruce, if Wayland Flowers & Madame ever showed up at a RUSH concert then I'd KNOW the golden days were over!  You're right, the pay concerts do get some good, current acts.  RUSH didn't have an opening act and almost every seat was sold!  RUSH fans are die hard and loyal to the core!  Not sure about the Anchor Bar.  The Fair magazine they were giving out listed two places as serving the wings.  The one I went to didn't have any I could see.  I think they were listed on the menu but the place just looked really tired.  Not very clean, hardly anyone there.  Could have been due to the fact that it was later in the day.  The 2nd spot was near the concert venue, but I wasn't able to check it out.  I guess a trip to Buffalo is necessary!  I've not heard of Bob's Walk Away Sundae.  Is it ice cream or a savory sundae?

Brad, not sure about Charlie's.  I've never eaten there. I always seem to find something else that draws me in.
Gregg, that breakfast was so huge and so filling but worth every calorie!  There wasn't a single bite that I didn't want.  Definitely in my Top 5 home fries of all time!

Scorereader, the milk is a must-stop for me whenever I go to the Fair.  Every time I drink it I think, "This is what milk is SUPPOSED to taste like!"  Enjoy the Terrell's!

Bill, salt potatoes are small (creamers, I think) potatoes that are boiled in heavily salted water and served with melted butter.   I don't think they are something that many people make at home on a regular basis but they usually have them at the Fair and at summertime cookouts and clambakes.  I don't recall ever going to a clambake that didn't have them.  Decadent, but so worth it!
Buffalo Tarheel
Double Cheeseburger
Re:A Double Dose of Central NY for RUSH and 13.1 miles later... 2010/10/12 12:02:20
Great report and outstanding pictures, as usual.   Always nice to read about your culinary and other adventures any place.   You asked about Bill Gray's.  It is a Rochester chain with a location in Buffalo.  They have outstanding burgers, hot dogs, and similar fare.  The one in Buffalo has an Abbott's Ice Cream as part of the restaurant and so allows for a wonderful dessert.
Bill Voss,
I'll do my best to explain salt potatoes.  They are a New York state specialty, pre-salted potatoes that you boil and eat.  If anyone has a better explanation, feel free to chime in.
Filet Mignon
Re:A Double Dose of Central NY for RUSH and 13.1 miles later... 2010/10/12 12:03:47
That looks like a pretty terrific museum for some little ones!
Re:A Double Dose of Central NY for RUSH and 13.1 miles later... 2010/10/12 12:10:10
thanks, BT. I was envisioning something like a salt encrusted baked potato instead.
I found this through googling:
 York Staters: Tastes of the Region #7: Salt Potatoes
other upstate dishes explained too :)
Re:A Double Dose of Central NY for RUSH and 13.1 miles later... 2010/10/12 13:26:11
bill voss

thanks, BT. I was envisioning something like a salt encrusted baked potato instead.
I found this through googling:
York Staters: Tastes of the Region #7: Salt Potatoes
other upstate dishes explained too :)

Hey Bill, 
Thanks for the link.  I never knew NY had a salt lake.
 "Water taken from the Onondaga Lake was boiled down, or set out in the sun for evaporation in huge bowls. As most of the workers were Irish they brought along their potatoes for their meals and would place the potatoes in the boiling vats to cook giving you the famous salt potatoes"
Then I did a little research.
"In many parts of the world salt was a highly valued commodity. However, in the region now known as Central New York, the native peoples, the Iroquois, knew nothing of its properties. Unknown to them a source of salt was bubbling out of the ground on the shore of a small lake in the center of their territory. The bitter tasting water to them represented evil.

In 1654, when the first Europeans arrived, they saw not evil, but another source of wealth in the New World. The French Jesuit priest, Father Simon LeMoyne, was shown to springs by the Onondaga Iroquois leaders. He wrote back to his superiors of the discovery. "We arrived at the entrance to a little lake in a basin half dried up, and taste (sic) the water from a spring of which the people dare not drink, as they say that there is an evil spirit in it that renders it foul. Upon tasting it I found it to be a spring of salt water; and indeed we made some salt from it, as natural as that which comes from the sea, and are carrying a sample of it to Quebec." (1) The French returned to the area in 1656 to build a mission on the shores of the lake and began to produce the first salt that would later supply an entire nation and create a city known as the Salt City."
Cool!  I knew there was a massive underground city, but never heard of the lake.
Every year one of my suppliers has a cookout catered by Dinosaur BBQ.  And salt potatoes are a menu staple.  If anyone is wondering what they taste like.  They taste exactly like potatoes with salt on them.
post edited by joerogo - 2010/10/12 13:30:06
Filet Mignon
Re:A Double Dose of Central NY for RUSH and 13.1 miles later... 2010/10/12 15:57:56
...and we're back from the commercial break!  My sister, her husband and my niece headed back to Syracuse, Dayna stayed with a friend for a couple of days in Rochester and I headed to Rome, NY with my mom for the weekend.  Part of my plan was to take a bike ride around Delta Lake to scope out the course I would be running in two weeks.  I hadn't been on those roads in a number of years and my recollection of the hills I would be facing was foggy at best.  The second part of my plan was to spend the latter half of my free day in Utica to check out some tomato pies, jelly buns, half moon cookies, chili dogs and bbq sandwiches!  Droool!!

Saturday Sept 4th - So, I haven't ridden a bike on any kind of regular basis since 2002 in Boston when I rode to work every day.  The last time I was even on a bike was when I visited my friend, Julia, in San Francisco in 2007 and we rode through Golden Gate Park.  A 13.1 mile ride over hilly back roads should be a mere bag of shells (to borrow a phrase from Ralph Kramden)!  I packed my helmet before heading upstate and made sure Harold's (mom's husband) bike was in working order and off I went.  About 20 minutes into the ride, I hit some rain and pulled over to say hi to my friend, Norma, while I ducked under a tree to wait it out.  She makes the best caramel corn and homemade pickles I have ever tasted and she even let me help with the pickling and canning a couple of weeks later!  Once the rain let up it was sunny skies all the way and I headed back out on the road. I pulled over by the Delta Lake Dam for a few shots. What a beautiful day for a ride! 

I got the idea for this shot from Neil Peart's book, The Ghost Rider.  In it he traveled through Canada, California and Mexico, taking shots of his motorcycle against the various backdrops in his journey.

Aah, a road I have traveled many, many times since I was a wee lad in short pants.  The ride was a tough but ultimately satisfying one.  A couple of times I had to dismount and walk a bit as my legs weren't used to all of that uphill climbing but I made it through the whole ride and had a better sense of what I would be facing in two weeks.  My only regret was not taking more pictures of the beautiful views of the lake and the cornfields I passed along the way.  

I was inspired to make my way to Holland Farms Bakery & Deli and the Patio Drive-In after reading cecif's report from Utica in February of 2009.  Link:  http://www.roadfood.com/F...88634&high=holland
If you're not sure where Holland Farms is located, just look for the billboard with the twin cow's heads!


Jelly buns?

And half moons?  Oh, Holland Farms, you know me all too well!

I walked in (no live musicians on this day unfortunately!) and ordered a couple of half moons with a chocolate base, a jelly bun and picked up a Byrne Dairy strawberry milk.  The half moons can come in a chocolate cookie base or a yellow (white/vanilla) cookie base.  

I've always been partial to the chocolate base variety as to me the texture is closer to a moist brownie than a cookie. This was good, but not as moist as the ones I had from the North Star Orchards in Westmoreland in 2008.  To clear up any confusion, a black & white cookie and a half moon are NOT the same thing.  They may look similar but the one notable difference is the frosting/icing dichotomy.  Black & whites have icing which is a shiny, solid shell on top that cracks when the cookie is broken into pieces.  A half moon has a soft frosting that you could run your finger through and lick off.  I prefer the half moons but I don't think one is better than the other as it really is a matter of taste (and probably what you grew up eating).

The hood of my mom's car made for a fine table, however, I made sure to bite into this over the pavement and assumed the proper stance lest I wear the massive amounts of confectioner's sugar that coated this beauty.  This was a very fresh bun and elevated only by the intensely flavored jelly inside.  The last time I had a jelly filled pastry this good was when Wanderingjew brought Allie's Donuts in Rhode Island to the Western MA meet-up in May of 2009.  

And to wash it all down!

No rest for the hungry.  The Patio Drive-In was just 1/2 a mile down the same road and I was most definitely looking forward to a chili dog and some homemade pie!

There was no joy in Mudville as Billyboy struck out and was "Travelin' Manned"!  Their menu said they should be open on a Saturday at this hour (around 2pm), but it was Labor Day weekend so they may have gone away.  (Billyboy says in a Chris Farley Show-esque aside: Call ahead! Stupid!  Stupid!  Why didn't you think of it before?)

With a heavy heart, I moved on to my next stop, Roma Sausage & Deli on Bleecker Street.  I've never been here before but I have had their tomato pies courtesy of my sis and her husband and they are fantastic!  I tried to come here in July but arrived just after they had closed for the day.  My goal was to do a tomato pie "smackdown" a la wanderingjew as there are about a dozen places that serve it but there wasn't enough time or stomach space!  This isn't a restaurant but an Italian provisions store: cured meats, cheeses, pasta, sauces, homemade sausages, tomato pies, etc...

When I walked in I had the intention of just getting a couple of slices but they were all out and only had small whole pies left for $8.  One look at this and I was sold!  On the counter they had about 4-5 boxes of these pies ready to go.  
Utica tomato pies are traditionally served at room temp and consist of three ingredients: dough, sauce and cheese.  The dough is a light, chewy, spongy bread similar in texture to focaccia and the edges where the sauce doesn't cover tend to get very crispy.  The center of the pie can get a bit wet from the sauce and there is no crispness to it, just as an fyi.  The sauce is most times just crushed tomatoes, although some places will add oregano, basil or others herbs/spices to it.  The cheese is parmesan, romano or a blend of both.  This was a staple at almost every single birthday party, office party and get together I remember from when I lived here.  They are mostly found in Italian bakeries, certain pizzerias and some grocery store bakeries (Price Chopper comes to mind).
Roma's just uses crushed tomatoes with no seasonings.  There were nice, big chunks of tomato on this and it had a bright, slightly sweet taste to it that I couldn't get enough of.  I especially loved the nuggets grated cheese that had seemingly been dropped onto various parts of the pie.  Biting into one of those was a salty, savory, nutty blast that was a perfect counterpoint to the sauce.  

Once again, mom's car made for a perfect dining experience.  I want you all to know that I tried so very hard to make it home without digging in to this but when I opened it before I got to the car all hope was lost.  I tucked in and was transported back to my childhood.  The funny thing is as I was busy "hoovering" about 5-6 slices (hey, they ARE cut small so it wasn't that many!  ), I would get a knowing look from the other people coming and going and phrases such as "Couldn't wait, eh?" and "I know!!  Right?" were uttered and one older gentleman kept watching me eat and we eventually had a conversation about where to eat in Utica and Rome while he told me he was up from the South for his mom's funeral and was picking up some pies for a gathering at the family home.  I gave him my condolences and wished him the best for the rest of his stay.

The next tomato pie stop was at Napoli's Italian Bakery & Deli on the corner of Culver Avenue & Bleecker Street.  I had heard good things about them and I believe they had also won a "Best of Utica" award for their tomato pie this year.  

They didn't have any whole pies so I opted for a couple of slices from the refrigerated case.  I liked this but not as much as the one at Roma's.  The sauce here does have some oregano and possibly other spices which, for me, gets in the way of the tomato flavor.  The crust is crispier and not as chewy and I prefer more of a contrast.  In all fairness, I did eat this right out of the case and I think I should have waited a while for it to come to room temp.  I would like to go back and try a freshly made half pie to see if there is a significant difference.  Nonetheless, still worth a return trip.  As a funny post script, over the course of the weekend I found out that I am the only one in my family who actually likes tomato pie!  Like Chicken Riggies, many people either love them or just don't get the appeal at all.  Oh well, more for me!

Pasta Hats - I haven't had hats in years and don't remember much about them.  Can anyone from CNY shed some light on them?  I do seem to remember local restaurants serving Hats with Broccoli.

In a continuation of the Sesame Street theme, this next stop was brought to you by the letter "L"!  

Since I couldn't get my "frank" on at the Patio, I had to console myself with a plate of CNY goodness at Voss' BAR B-Q in Yorkville, NY!

The prices have gone up a bit since my last visit and they close at 9pm instead of 10pm but everything else is pretty much the same.  No phone, no website, they give you a letter and call it out when your order is ready and a nice, clean well-maintained bathroom (I'm still floored by that in a seasonal, mostly take-out place!)

Love those Honest John's!

My favorite place to eat, the red runner alongside the shack.

A Mexi-Dog (chili, cheese and raw onions), fries and a turkey bar-b-q sandwich with extra sauce.  Honestly, I really wanted to order twice this much and I could have finished it all but I had more stops to make and was meeting mom and Harold for dinner in a few hours.  I never, ever tire of that sauce and that chili!  Not a drop of sauce or bite of food was wasted.  Anything that fell on the plate was greedily mopped up by the last bits of the buttered and griddled roll I had saved for last knowing full well of the spillage that would take place.  If I still lived in CNY I would be here twice a week.  I think one day I shall order a plain dog just to see what it tastes like au natural.  The fries were not fresh cut but good as always and brought to another level after a dip in that BBQ sauce.  


Look at the crust on that dog!

Too much sauce is never enough!

To balance out the spicy/savory food I had just eaten, I made my way towards Rome and pulled in for a pit stop at a place that also sells bbq sandwiches and ice cream.  I had been here a number of times in college but couldn't recall my take on it, so a revisit was necessary.  I don't usually like to post negatively about something but after having this mint-chocolate chip ice cream cone I firmly believe in two things: 1.) mint chocolate chip ice cream should NEVER be that shade of green, and 2.)  it should NEVER taste like mint flavored toothpaste!  I'll keep the name of the place out of it but if anyone is curious I can send them a PM.   

We had plans to go to Teddy's for some Chicken Riggies and pie, but they were closed for the holiday weekend and we ended up at a local steakhouse and the meal was just okay. No pics from that meal. 

Sunday Sept 5th - everyone met up at mom's house in Rome and we made our way up to White Lake to visit our aunt and uncle at their summer home and then off to Old Forge for some browsing and dinner.  We had a great time catching up with family and could stay all day but they had plans so our first stop was at the Moose River Trading Co. on Rte. 28n in Thendara, NY.  A really neat shop if a bit pricey that sells all manner of Adirondack clothes, furniture, books, etc...

I thought this nightstand was great but it might look a bit out of place in my NYC apartment!

We pulled into Old Forge, parked in a lot and stopped at Nathan's Bakery (permanently closed - owner Alan Nathan passed away in April of 2014) just off of the main drag.  My brother-in-law had been here before and said the cinnamon-sugar donuts were really good.  I had never been here before so I just had to find out for myself!

We arrived at Nathan's around 3pm which is not the best time for optimum freshness at a bakery.  There weren't any cinnamon-sugar donuts left and only a few other varieties available.  This was a bagel of some sort though I've never had one that looked or had the texture of this one.  It was a bit on the doughy, heavy side.

A Long John with custard in the middle. Very good.  I'm sure it's even better first thing in the morning.

And a cinnamon bun.  Equally as good but again better first thing in the morning.

A picture of the "sexy moose".  I wonder how moose parents explain this to their little moose children.  She's just working her way through Forestry school?

A shot of the sign by my namesake restaurant...

and a trip to Old Forge Hardware, a really fun store that I could spend all day (and all my money) in!

They had a couple of sweet but very shy doggies at the store.  It took a few tries but they finally managed to sit still long enough so I could take this shot!

Dinner was at Frankie's Taste of Italy on Rte. 28 in Old Forge, NY.  I was last here in the fall of 2008 for my mom's wedding weekend and I was curious to see if it still held up in my mind to what I had remembered.

Frankie's doesn't take reservations so people just show up when they open.  We were the second car there and by the time they opened at least a dozen other cars had arrived!

I started out with a cold pint of Saranac Root Beer.  Crisp and tasty.

I ordered an appetizer of the Green Anthony (sauteed escarole with proscuitto, supressata, sweet roasted peppers and onion - description from Frankie's online menu).  I think it was covered with melted provolone cheese.  Amazing!  Salty, sweet, earthy with a slight crunch from the greens yet they were wilted to where they almost melted in my mouth.  The meats provided a lot of flavor and these were some of the best greens I've had in a while.  

My Chicken Riggies (spicy).  I ordered these with the spicy peppers and boy they weren't joking.  These were H-O-T HOT!  At first I was concerned as the dish didn't seem to be coated in sauce as many versions can be.  The sauce here is a white wine marinara and not a cream based sauce as many places employ.  It was lighter than I have had before but full of flavor and a big winner for me.

For dessert I went with a double scoop of the gelato (Torrone & hazelnut) topped with a pizzelle cookie.  Very creamy and the flavors stood out.  It made a nice end to a perfect day.  Dayna and I headed back to Syracuse with my sister, Dennis and my niece as we had to catch the train back to NYC the next day. 

Coming up in Part 2...two weeks later Billy returns to CNY to tackle his first half marathon, amazing biscuits & sausage gravy (and then some!) in Vernon, NY (git a rope!), running into old friends and a great slice thanks to RFer Nino, carbo loading the night before the race with friends, Travis Bickle's younger brother, the half-marathon man and the post race meal at Teddy's!  Stay tuned!

post edited by billyboy - 2016/09/11 17:41:33
Double Chili Cheeseburger
Re:A Double Dose of Central NY for RUSH and 13.1 miles later... 2010/10/12 16:24:44
Billyboy, thanks for one of your best reports ever! I just love reading about your stops and eating adventures.
Yet, on this report what clicked most for me was that cold glass of milk at the dairy exhibit. It brought back a memory of a family trip we took in the 60's to Cooperstown. The Farmers Museum had an outdoor dairy exhibit and each kid got a free glass of cold milk. That milk on a hot day might have been the best glass of milk I ever had (must have been, since I still remember it).
Thanks for the memory, glad to see upstaters are still proud of thier delicious milk. I hardly ever have milk as a drink anymore but I think I'll go pour myself a cold glass right now...
Double Cheeseburger
Re:A Double Dose of Central NY for RUSH and 13.1 miles later... 2010/10/12 17:06:20
Great report as usual. I went to the fair 3 times this year. the bands I saw for free were Styx, Blue Oyster Cult and Kansas.
For those of you that think the nys fair is for bands that are on the way down, Aerosmith was also there and they were paid a million dollars for playing at the grandstand. Not my taste, but the biggest draw was Justin Bieber, he drew 16,000 fans
smokestack lightning
Re:A Double Dose of Central NY for RUSH and 13.1 miles later... 2010/10/13 00:28:20
Bruce Bilmes and Susan Boyle

ayersian  it does not bode well for a band to finally reach the state fair circuit...

It's the equivalent of Hollywood Squares for rock bands.

True enough. But sadly it pays very very well....
Re:A Double Dose of Central NY for RUSH and 13.1 miles later... 2010/10/13 09:11:15
Billy, until you mentioned your mom's car I thought you'd visited Holland Farms, Patio, and Roma on your bike ride!
I like the picture of Ann and Andy visiting Michael Hoffman.
Re:A Double Dose of Central NY for RUSH and 13.1 miles later... 2010/10/13 11:46:15
billyboy, Wow!  What a trip.  I am starting to get cravings for Voss' BBQ Sauce.  
Re:A Double Dose of Central NY for RUSH and 13.1 miles later... 2010/10/13 12:47:57
and well you should.
Buffalo Tarheel
Double Cheeseburger
Re:A Double Dose of Central NY for RUSH and 13.1 miles later... 2010/10/13 19:41:21
bill voss

and well you should.

If this were Facebook, I'd put a "like" marker on that comment!
Filet Mignon
Re:A Double Dose of Central NY for RUSH and 13.1 miles later... 2010/10/13 19:46:29
Billy, I would happily share a Utica tomato pie with you.  That looks scrumptious.  I also very much like your taste in bakery goods.  And you were not kidding about being a Rush fan if you read a book by one of them.  :)
Filet Mignon
Re:A Double Dose of Central NY for RUSH and 13.1 miles later... 2010/10/13 22:08:53
Well Nancy, I'd share it with you though I don't know how "happy" I'd be!  hehehe!!  It really is one of my favorite things to eat when I visit CNY.  I think you and I may be two donuts from the same fryer!  My girlfriend got me hooked on Neil Peart's books a few years ago and I really love his writing!  
Filet Mignon
Re:A Double Dose of Central NY for RUSH and 13.1 miles later... 2010/10/14 03:07:38
Friday Sept. 17 - "Better, Stronger, Faster" or "The Running Man makes good on his promise when he said "I'll be back!"  So I was riding the rails to Rome solo on this trip with all of my running gear tucked into my luggage.  Nervous, anxious and excited all at once, race day couldn't come soon enough. Once the train pulled into the station, my friend Norma was there to pick me up and we stopped at a local farmer market so she could buy some cucumbers that would become her well-loved sweet pickles in a matter of days!

As my mom had to work late, I borrowed her car and made my way to Vernon, NY.  On the way I stopped at a local favorite, Ferlo's Bakery in Rome.  I can't believe they have been around for 114 years!  As fate would have it and since I didn't call a BAKERY ahead of time and I went at 5:00pm, I was "Travelin' Manned"!  On the next trip for sure!

Yes, I took this shot while I was driving, but I was very careful.  Where was I headed?  Glad you asked!

On train ride upstate, I called my friend Dave, the owner of The Only Cafe, to see if he would be open.  He was glad to hear from me and said he could make some biscuits & sausage gravy and grits.  Great, just great!  I still had a few hours of torture left on the train while visions of his food danced in my head!  I love the neon here, especially the EATS sign.  Now if you were driving by and didn't know what is inside, you might keep going as the building itself doesn't stand out.  However, you would be doing yourself and your stomach a HUGE disservice as Dave is a pretty amazing guy and his love for the food he makes and likes to eat comes through in every dish that comes out of his kitchen. 

Dave's place is filled with all sorts of personal memorabilia he has collected over the years and most of it has an accompanying story.  I have a feeling that Barney Fife came running out mere seconds after this picture was taken.  "Andy, looks like we got ourselves a scofflaw here!"

Billy(boy) and the (Hand) Jive Bars.  Dave gave this to me before I left and it's basically a Twix under a different name.  

This brewery was one a few in Utica, Ny that existed for over 100 years.  I read it was 1833-1942 (except for Prohibition, I think...)  Long before my time though.

I thought of wanderingjew and the coffee milks of the recent Rhode Island meet-up when I saw this Autocrat coffee syrup

I had no idea such a game even existed!  Love it!  Although I can't figure out why the jar of gefilte fish is smiling.  Is he blissfully unaware that he is FILLED with GEFILTE FISH?

Some reading material to accompany my dinner.  MAD, when it was still MAD and not yet a portable billboard!

While I was looking around and talking to Dave while waiting for my meal, I popped in the kitchen as the aroma coming from the oven was incredible! He had a few phone calls and walk-in customers order pizzas to go.  Dave makes his own crust from scratch and this thin sliced sausage & mushroom pie had my stomach growling.  I could have gone for a few slices of this bad boy.  Patience Bill, patience.  Next time. 

Dave brought out this beautiful hunk of steak for me to photograph and minutes later he turned it into this...

A shaved steak sandwich with browned onions, sauteed mushrooms, tomatoes and possibly mayo (not sure what the sauce is inside).  It comes tucked in a pocket bread made from the same dough he uses for the pizza.  I have had this bread before and it is fantastic.  Nutty from the sesame seeds and with a slight sourdough tang, it makes a great base for everything.

I started off with a crisp Boylan's Creme soda.

And my eagerly anticipated dinner:  two fried eggs with grits, biscuits & sausage gravy.  Now I've tried biscuits & gravy in the Northeast before (which isn't saying much, I know) and I've never tried them in the South, but this whole dish was just amazing.  The gravy was peppery and studded with chunks of sausage, the grits were creamy and smooth and the eggs were just right.  The real surprise (read: treat) here lie within the biscuits.  these were soft and fluffy yet there was some hot, spicy, slightly sweet and chewy action going on too and I just couldn't put my finger on it.  Dave gave it away:  crystallized ginger!  Huh?  What?  He said he used to put pecans in the biscuits but he had a customer who was allergic to nuts so he was experimenting with something different.  It sounds so out of place yet it worked so well.  It brought a real complexity and layers of flavor to each bite.  I had scraped that plate clean.  
Before my food came out two women and a man sat down at the table next to me and they all ordered the same exact meal as me, to which I replied, "Hello, my name is George.  I'm unemployed and I live with my parents!"  Okay I didn't REALLY say that.  It was for The Travelin' Man's benefit!  When he gets it, I'll reveal where it's from.  We got to talking about the area, food and a host of other things.  They said they love Dave's food and come here frequently.  When they saw me taking pictures and I told them it was for Roadfood and his Facebook page they replied, "So, you're the one!".  

When I had grabbed a soda out of the case, I spied this pie in there and of course had to get a slice for dessert.  Breaker, breaker, BB, CTD and CK, you "pie-bandits"!  You're gotcha ears on?  This is 'ole Cledus tellin' ya to blow by any smokeys you see and hightail it up there for some pie! Call ahead as he doesn't always have pie on hand but he might make one if ya ask real nice-like, ya hear?  A very rich and delicious lemon pie with a topping made from confectioner's sugar and crushed lemon stick candy.  I would never dared write this in my diary for fear my dreams would never have come true!  
As Dave and I were talking he showed me a book about the history of the Catskill Mountains and the resorts there he had found while browsing through a bookstore on his birthday one year.  While flipping through it he found a picture of his mom and his aunt when they were teenagers at one of the resorts and now the book is part of his collection in the cafe.  He gave me a ziploc bag of those tasty biscuits for the road and I brought up some of my food writing books to add to his collection.  I truly cannot say enough wonderful things about Dave, the cafe and his food.  It's always a surprise when I go, I always learn something new about him, find something in the cafe I hadn't seen before and am constantly wowed by the food that he obviously cares so much about.  

Saturday Sept. 18th - I logged a short 2.5 mile run early in the morning to keep my legs fresh.  Nothing too long to tire me out for the race tomorrow nor too late in the day as suffcient rest for the legs is important.  I had plans to see a number of friends today but I managed to squeeze in a couple of Roadfood stops along the way.  My first lunch was at Big Daddy Sandwiches in Rome, NY.  

I grabbed a Mello Yello as I hadn't drank one in years.  I still prefer the slightly bitter taste of Squirt but this was a fine substitute.

I also ordered a small turkey sub with lettuce, onions, mayo and oil.  I took some flak a while back for my review of this as many people though it was too much lettuce and not enough meat.  Honestly, the shot I submitted for the review was not one of my best and maybe folks still think this should have more meat, but the ratios in this totally worked for me and nothing dominated any other ingredient.  The bread was soft and fresh as always.  I forgot to ask where they get it.  Next time.  This was a taste of my high school years. and maybe part of my love for this place and the sandwiches is inextricably tied to my youth but I still stand by it.  I wouldn't say that someone should drop what they're doing and drive there right now but if you're in the area I think you'll like it.  

I added on a side of macaroni salad, a staple of many Central NY eateries.  It was okay and perhaps a bit bland.  I do prefer their potato salad.

Lunch No. 2 came as a result of a post that Roadfooder nino had made back in August.  He was passing through Rome and came upon Luigi's Pizza on North James Street which is across from Big Daddy's.  Nino said he liked it so on my list it went.  Growing up here I remember this place as Roman Pastry, a great donut shop with excellent headlights, taillights and half moons, then as O'Scugnizzo Pizza which made tomato pies.  Guess what kind of establishment this was at one time?  (Fill 'er up?)  My first experience eating in a former gas station!  

I wasn't sure what I wanted and menu on the wall the pies on the counter didn't really stand out at first.  

Until I spotted the Chicken-Bacon-Ranch pie.  I had the guy behind the counter warm up a slice for me.  As I waited for it I saw a guy I thought I knew but wasn't sure so I didn't say anything to him.  When I left to eat this on the hood of my mom's car (again!) I saw the counter guy outside and asked him if they man inside was John D. When he said yes I had to go back in and say hi.  I hadn't seen John in years and his dad used to live in my old neighborhood so I used to see him all the time when I was a kid and his wife and my mom used to carpool to work for years.  We shot the breeze for a while and his wife, pat came by and it was nice to spend some tim with them.  Oh, the pizza. This was an amazing slice.  The crust was both chewy and crisp, the grilled chicken was moist, the bacon was chewy, thick and had a nice smoky presence and the creamy ranch just really made for an excellent binder that brought both bird and pig together in harmony.  I could have knocked back two more of those but friends awaited and my pre-race carbo load dinner was just a few hours away.  John said Luigi's is one of his favorite places and I'll have t make a point of coming back on my next visit.  

After catching up with some dear friends and their kids, I made my way to dinner, but not before getting caught up in a Central NY traffic jam!

Dinner was at La Roma Pizzeria & Restaurant on Floyd Ave in Rome, NY.  

One of many in Rome and I'll have to return try the pizza.  Maybe a "pizza smackdown" is in order?

When I arrived Betsy, her husband Pat and their two boys were already inside.  Betsy ran the Boilermaker 15K in Utica, NY in July and met Doug and I at the post race party.  I had played Little League with Pat and their boys were a delight.  It was so nice to come home and spend time getting to know old friends again.  I tucked into a very tasty dish of spaghetti & meatballs. Their sauce is thick, rich and just bit sweet, exactly as I like it.  The meatballs were really good too.  As we were leaving my uncle and his girlfriend came in to have dinner and I said I'd see them tomorrow as they cheered me on from the sidelines.  I said goodnight to Betsy, Pat and the boys and headed for home to get a good night's sleep.

On the way home I almost gave myself whiplash when I saw that they were opening a Five Guys Burgers & Fries.  Not a lot of new places open up here and when they do it's not usually a place I love.  Yes!!

Billyboy doing his best Travis Bickle impression! Actually I shaved the 'hawk and 'stache in an attempt to be more hard core although I think I'm might be about as intense as the Stay-Puft Mashmallow Man!  I'm fairly sure my mom was convinced I was but one step away from joining a knife gang when she walked in the door and saw her #1 son sportin' this do!

Sunday Sept. 19th - RACE DAY  The Delta Lake Half Marathon was organized by a local group called the Roman Runners and I had found out about it by accident while doing a Google search for, what else, food!  My friend's dad had told me about the great brunch he had at the Delta Lake Inn so when I looked it up the half marathon also came up as a hit and piqued my interest.  The two ladies near me in this picture kept a steady pace and we talked for quite a bit.  As it turns out they grew up a few towns over from me and now live in Sherrill, NY, not far from The Only Cafe.  When I mentioned that I had eaten there a couple of days before they said, "We love Dave and his food!" Small world. Mom, Harold, my uncle and his girlfriend were waiting for me here around the 2 mile mark and cheering me on.  The big hills came right after this corner...

And I made it through the hills and I'm at the 8 mile mark here right across the street from my old elementary school.  The people on the side are old friends and their son was handing out water which was most welcome.  Only 5.1 miles to go.  Just down the street is the neighborhood where my mom lives.

And Billyboy finishing strong with water bottle in hand and to the sounds of Michael Jackson's "Thriller" on the iPod.  I ran by the old apartment where we first lived, my grandparents' house, the neighborhood where both my mom and dad grew up and I did walk it out a bit down the same stretch of road where my grandma used to walk every day before she became sick.  In think she and my dad would be proud to see me finishing this and I know they were watching over me and smiling.  The last mile, though downhill, was tough as I got up in my head and kept saying t myself, "Where is the d*mn finish line?"  

After crossing the finish line!  I came in at the very back of the pack, but I finished and there is something so tangible, so concrete about reaching that goal.  I was very happy.  The one mistake I made was stopping after the finish to talk with mom and Harold and some of the other runners.  What I should have done was kept walking as I talked to them.  After they left and I went to walk back to the car, my legs had tightened up and they were sore.  A 10 minute free massage later at the after party and I was feeling much better.  I was able to catch up with Betsy and some of the other runners for a bit before heading home.  It was very sweet that mom and Harold drove down the course to meet up with me at 5 different points in the race and mom even had a bottle of water ready for me to replenish with. 

A sweet boxer was there to greet us at the end of the run!!

We started in Delta Lake State Park and that's where it all ended!

My first medal ever!

I'd run it again just for this t-shirt!  When I got back to mom's I iced up my knees, used a massage stick on my calves to work out any kinks and then rested for a bit.  My sister had a nice big ham dinner waiting for us in Syracuse and I planned to leave a bit early to possibly work in a trip to Heids in Liverpool but all I could think of was getting up there and resting on the couch and digging into that meal.  Two plates of ham, mashed potatoes, butternut squash and biscuits later, mom piloted the Starship Hyundai Sonata and guided us back to Rome while I slept.  

Monday Sept. 20th - before I had to catch my train back to NYC, mom and I stopped at Teddy's Restaurant for lunch.  They recently expanded and have twice the space.

I started out with a cup of really good broccoli soup that had big chunks of soft cooked florets in it. 

And for the main event, their huge portion of Chicken Parmesan.  Crispy, juicy and smothered in red sauce and mozzarella cheese, this is exactly what I had wanted.  

I, maybe unwisely, went for a slice of hot Caramel Apple Pie a la mode.  This was really, really good but I totally didn't need it.  A bit overstuffed at this point.  

Mom had a light and creamy slice of Coconut Cream Pie.

I think the nicest part of this trip was just sitting with my mom at the platform just behind this clock waiting for the train to arrive.  It was very quiet, a cool breeze and the promise of fall was in the air.  A far cry from the craziness of Penn Station or even the dignified, controlled chaos of Grand Central.  Just two people, not exactly "waiting for godot", chewing on some gum and enjoying the moment.  It was good to be home. 

That's it for this trip.  More eating/running adventures to come before the year is out, I'm sure. 
"Eating is an adventure, enjoy the ride" - billyboy, 2010
Re:A Double Dose of Central NY for RUSH and 13.1 miles later... 2010/10/14 05:13:00
Great report...love that Italian food...well hell,you're in Rome...also want that roll the steak sandwich was on!!!
Re:A Double Dose of Central NY for RUSH and 13.1 miles later... 2010/10/14 09:20:33
Re:A Double Dose of Central NY for RUSH and 13.1 miles later... 2010/10/14 09:57:11
Some really interesting stuff.  A lot of that looks like home, for me, but have never seen the cold tomato pie thing.
That looks likeit would go really well with some beer and a football game.  :)
Filet Mignon
Re:A Double Dose of Central NY for RUSH and 13.1 miles later... 2010/10/14 11:09:12
You should never, ever apologize for loving lettuce.  :)  Wonderful finish to a wonderful report billy!
Ralph Melton
Double Chili Cheeseburger
Re:A Double Dose of Central NY for RUSH and 13.1 miles later... 2010/10/14 11:51:20
I really enjoyed this report. Thank you very much.
Re:A Double Dose of Central NY for RUSH and 13.1 miles later... 2010/10/14 13:32:04
Don't panic ! They haven't done a first (or 2nd, or 3rd) farewell tour yet! (Have they?)
Filet Mignon
Re:A Double Dose of Central NY for RUSH and 13.1 miles later... 2010/10/14 13:43:32
@Play27, nope.  No opening act and the stands were packed.  RUSH fans are die hard!  Perhaps you were thinking of Celine Dion.    Is her heart STILL going on? 
Double Cheeseburger
Re:A Double Dose of Central NY for RUSH and 13.1 miles later... 2010/10/14 14:56:41
quote about George is from Seinfeld in the episode where he does everything opposite  from his normal behavior
Re:A Double Dose of Central NY for RUSH and 13.1 miles later... 2010/10/15 17:27:46

@Play27, nope.  No opening act and the stands were packed.  RUSH fans are die hard!  Perhaps you were thinking of Celine Dion.    Is her heart STILL going on? 

Nope, I was thinking Fleetwood Mac, Rolling Stones, The Who, et al. Neil Peart Rocks! Trees, man, trees!