Dreaming of a White Christmas in Syracuse and Rome, NY

Filet Mignon
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2012/12/31 10:27:48 (permalink)

Dreaming of a White Christmas in Syracuse and Rome, NY

Welcome to my Central NY Christmas 2012 Trip Report!!  My Uncle Joe made this for me in his wood shop and my mom gave it to me a couple of years ago for Christmas and it's still one of my most favorite gifts!

Wednesday December 26, 2012 - Dayna and I arrived in Syracuse on Christmas Eve and began prepping for the family dinner, wrapping gifts and spending some quality time at my sister's home.  We awoke Christmas morning to freshly fallen snow and the White Christmas I had hoped for!  The next day I began by having breakfast at HEID'S in Liverpool, NY.  

Nothing quite like a mixed double, potato salad, a pickle and a Byrne Dairy chocolate milk to start the day.  Or as Samuel L. Jackson might say, "The cornerstone of ANY nutritious breakfast!"

A Mixed Double is a frank and a Coney in one roll.  

Topped with some house made mustard, chopped onions and sweet pepper relish, this was a joyous mess to eat.  I do prefer the bun to be buttered and toasted (as many local places do) but I forgot to ask if they do that here.  It definitely helps it to hold together right through to the last bite.

And in a switcheroo of sorts I went to Mother's Cupboard to have breakfast for lunch!  

Love it when restaurants have local "for sale" flyers posted.  Always feels like a harbinger of good food to come.

Thanks Mom!

I've tried a number of menu items but today was the day I went in for the half frittata.  


A whole mess of home fries getting all nice and crusty on that well seasoned flat-top.  I sat at the counter and watched cook and co-owner, Peter, bust out insane amounts of food and at least 4 orders of the full 6-lb frittata.  The sound of his spatula flipping, moving, scraping and clanging was somewhat hypnotic to me.  

I managed to make it through slightly less than half of this half frittata before finally crying "uncle"!  Everything really came together nicely in this dish.  The broccoli is pretty standard in frittatas and frettas (the slang name) in this region as is the pepperoni.  The two things I would change would be to switch out the yellow cheddar for swiss and maybe bacon instead of sausage.  I liked the taste of the sausage but I prefer mine to be really crusty on the outside and this was a bit rubbery.  And the Italian toast was a perfect complement to scoop up any loose bits that fell from my fork.

Thursday December 27, 2012 - While my girlfriend, sister and brother-in-law went to see "Les Miserables" I was able to spend some quality time with my niece at a place called WonderWorks at Destiny USA (formerly known as Carousel Mall).  A great place for kids big and small, it was an interactive experience where we could play with a giant Connect Four game, make life size bubbles, look at Dali-esque art, run across a floor piano like the one in the film, "Big" and lost of other cool hands-on experiences.  

One of my favorites was posing in the spacesuit...

and making our names on a giant Lite-Brite board!  My niece and I went to the food court for a drink and some Teddy Grahams for a snack while we waited for the rest of the family to get out of the movie.  We had a really great conversation and it's wonderful to see how much she has grown and is becoming a little lady.  She's 7 years old but some days it feels like only yesterday I was holding her as a 9-month old baby when they adopted her and first brought her home from China.

We HAD to stop at Gertrude Hawk Chocolates in the mall to pick up some of their half off Christmas candies.

The peanut butter Smidgens are dangerous!  I've been a huge fan of these for many years and I could easily eat a couple boxes of these without batting an eyelash.

And the dark chocolate coconut custard ones are quite good too!

The family was mulling the idea of eating at the food court or possibly at Stella's Diner (a family fave) but I casually suggested checking out The GEM, which is the new incarnation of Doc's Little Gem Diner, which had closed down after a fire but has since been re-opened under new ownership and I've heard good things about it.  I love a snowy night!  (Apologies to Eddie Rabbit.)  Score! 

Yep.  So true.

Another good sign is seeing local ad space on coffee mugs.

I had been following a blog on the Syracuse.com website for some time:  http://blog.syracuse.com/...d_the_winners_are.html  The judges recommended the Cheeseburger Breakfast which sounded good to me.

The home fries were not in the same league as Mother's Cupboard but they were tasty.

I'm not usually a big fan of eggs on burgers as I feel it covers up the flavor of the beef, but it really worked here.  The beef was substantial and juicy and the runny egg provided a rich, creamy sauce that just made sense.  The cheddar and bacon were pluses too.  I don't know who supplies their buns but it was really fresh and toasting it definitely helped it hold up to all of the hefty toppings.  Good call, GEM!

My sis had the meatloaf & gravy with onion rings.  Classic diner comfort food.  

Dayna had the barbeque burger (medium rare) and they did a proper medium rare with lots of pink juices flowing forth.  The crinkle cut fries, while not fresh cut, were just what I would have expected at a diner and were pretty good.  

Dennis had the meatball & sausage casserole with spaghetti and the meatball was well seasoned and I like the texture.  Definitely more than just ground beef going on in there.  My niece had pancakes and seemed to really like them.

The old Little Gem Diner made their own pies and while the new GEM does not, they wisely get them from Geddes Bakery, a local place in North Syracuse.  I've had their pies before at other restaurants and was looking forward to this.  Dayna's apple pie was good, though not the best I've ever tried, but clearly homemade.

Kelly and Dennis split a slice of Oreo cream which I didn't try (Sorry Cliff!  I've let you down!) which they liked.      

My chocolate cream was just right and that crust was wonderful. 

Saturday December 29, 2012 - We drove to Rome, NY on Friday to have Christmas with my uncle and their families and had an absolute blast with them!  The next day we took Mom out for lunch as it was her birthday and one of her favorite spots is the Delta Lake Inn.  A big storm came in which made for some truly beautiful photos.  This place had had many owners and names over the years but my family has shared a number of great meals here since it has been the Delta Lake Inn.  Fun fact: In print the area is known as Delta Lake but informally most residents will tell you they live in Lake Delta.  

You can't tell from this photo but the reindeer on the sleigh are moving their heads up and down.  

And a perfect snowy winter shot of the dam (from our table) where I would go fishing as a boy, go for walks with my Grandma and where I have been running past in the Delta Lake Half Marathon for the last 3 years ("Best half marathon by a dam site!").  I didn't get any shots of the food as the family isn't as into the RF thing as me and I didn't want to intrude on Mom's birthday with the camera.  
Dayna and I split our meals.  We each started with a cup of soup.  Hers: shrimp & crab bisque.  Thick, rich and brimming with shellfish flavor.  Mine:  cream of broccoli with ham.  Ham was a new twist for me in this soup but it really worked and lent a smokiness to it.  I do wish there had been more broccoli in it though.  Dayna had the Bourbon Steak sandwich: open-faced grilled steak with fried onions and bourbon sauce on toasted bread.  Dayna ordered it medium and it came out well-done but we both really liked it anyway.  I had the Steak & Greens sandwich: open-faced grilled steak with Italian greens (sauteed escarole) with melted mozzarella on garlic-buttered French bread.  This was amazing!  Steak & greens is a classic Central NY sandwich that I never tire of.  Ever.  And as if this wasn't good enough, there were pickled cherry peppers and roasted long hot peppers on it which brought a lot of flavor AND heat to the sandwich.  I'll be back for this one.  I managed to try a couple of bites of my Mom's Chicken Salad Ciabatta with cranberry sauce, sliced apples and brie cheese.  Yet another winner.
Our waiter, Mark, was very chatty (in a good way) and just great.  He spoke to my niece and not just to her parents and that meant a lot to all of us.  We were so full that we skipped dessert but they gave Mom a piece of cheesecake to go as we sang Happy Birthday to her. 

No trip report is complete without a doggy picture.  This is my niece's puppy, Daisy.  She a mix of King Charles Cavalier Spaniel and poodle and she is a love monster!  This was the best shot I could get of her as she wouldn't sit still for me!

A Billyboy Christmas tradition going back as far as I can remember is a jar of Turkey Joints from Nora's Candy Shop under the tree from Santa.  Naturally, I had to stop at Price Chopper, the local grocery store, to pick up a few jars to bring back to NYC.  I gave one last night to our friends Doug & Marisa, for watching our kitty, Magik, while we were gone.  Turkey Joints are a sugary "bone-like" outer shell covering a chocolate and brazil nut "marrow" center.

Making our way back to the train station in Syracuse, we had time for one last stop at Columbus Bakery on Pearl St.  

Loaves ready to go.

Aside from Ferlo's Bakery in Rome, NY, this has to be one of the most bare bones bakeries I have ever seen.  All they make here is bread.  No pastries, cookies, etc...

They've expanded into a deli next door with sandwich specials and other items featuring their freshly baked bread.  One thing to note though is that while they do have one 2-top table in there, the place really is just set up for take-out.

Meatballs in a heel?  I know where I'm coming on my next visit!

And some flat bread for the road which is already gone!

That's all for this trip and for 2012.  Hope to see many of you and break bread with you in 2013!!
"Eating is an adventure, enjoy the ride!" - billyboy, 2012
The 411:
1.)  HEID's
      305 Oswego Street
      Liverpool, NY 13088
      Ph# 315-451-0786
      Website:  http://heidsofliverpool.com
2.)  Mother's Cupboard
       3709 James Street 
       Syracuse, NY 13206
       Ph# 315-432-0942
       No website
3.)  WonderWorks
       Destiny USA
       9090 Destiny USA Drive
       Syracuse, NY 13204
       Ph# 315-466-7700
       Website:  http://www.wonderworksonline.com/destiny/
4.)  Gertrude Hawk Chocolates (multiple locations in NY, NJ and PA)
       Destiny USA (formerly Carousel Mall)
       9090 Destiny USA Drive
       Syracuse, NY 13204
       Ph# 315-466-0311
       Website:  http://www.gertrudehawkchocolates.com/home
5.)  The GEM
       832 Spencer Street
       Syracuse, NY 13204
       Ph# 315-314-7380
       No website
6.)  Geddes Bakery
       421-423 S. Main Street 
       North Syracuse, NY 13212
       Ph# 315-437-8084
       Website:  http://www.geddesbakery.com
7.)  Delta Lake Inn
       8524 Fish Hatchery Road
       Rome, NY 13440
       Ph# 315-533-7710
       Website:  http://www.deltalakeinn.com
8.)  Nora's Candy Shop
       321 N. Doxtator Street
       Rome, NY 13440
       Ph# 315-337-4530
       Website:  https://www.turkeyjoints.com/catalog/index.php
9.)  Columbus Bakery
       502 Pearl Street
       Syracuse, NY 
       Ph# 315-422-2913
       Website:  http://columbusbakingco.com
post edited by billyboy - 2012/12/31 21:28:25

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