Crowdsourcing an Upstate NY Food Box

Okay boys and girls, I need some help.

My friend Allison from Little Rock, Ark. said she is going to send me a food box with her favorites from The Razorback Natural State. I want to send something in return that gives a good flavor of Upstate New York.

The obvious challenge is that it cannot be perishable — so, Wake Robin cheese, bread from one of the great bakeries, and Hoffman’s hot dogs are out. I could do salt potatoes, but that 5 lbs. bag takes up a lot of space (LITTLE KNOWN FACT: On a trip to Las Vegas, I once packed 10 lbs. of hot dogs and a bag of salt potatoes into my checked luggage for my cousin.). Here’s what I am thinking:

But, I’m not sure what else. I want to send her a bottle of Finger Lakes wine, but there are rules about such things. I could do coffee from Cafe Kubal or a salumi from Side Hill Farmers…

So, dear readers, help me fill the box. What am I missing? What is uniquely Central/Upstate New York that needs to be enjoyed in Little Rock?

I’ll share the results with you after I send it along and I’ll let you know what Allison sends this way.

UPDATED 5/3, 10 a.m.

I kind of stepped in it. And, like most other times I stepped in it, I didn’t mean to step in it.

I’ve changed some of the text. It originally said something to the effect that I could send Cafe Kubal coffee but every town has a good roaster and/or purveyor of coffee and I don’t know if my friend Allison is loyal to a Little Rock outlet. Then, I get this Tweet:

That’s not at all what I meant, though I should have articulated myself differently. OF COURSE, Cafe Kubal is unique. If it weren’t, I would not have written my screed about the airport. Its owner, Matt Godard, has talked a lot about preserving the barista-customer interaction and the experience of the handcrafted beverage, and the pour-over itself is a little bit of art in one’s day.

The CK experience is awesome, but I cannot afford $936 to fly a CK barista and gear to and from Little Rock, Ark. for her to have a CK pour-over (that’s with a checked bag; the barista would leave SYR at 6 a.m., connected in ATL and arrive in LIT at 10:50 a.m. They would have a couple of hours on the ground, then a return flight that takes off at 3:10 p.m., goes through ATL again, and arrives at 10:38 p.m.).

CK is unique to this city and should be appreciated as such. It’s part of this city’s food fabric. I changed my wording above so it didn’t seem like I was implying anything else.


So, here’s what has been suggested:

  • Margaret McCormick, fellow St. Bonaventure alum and author of the Eat First blog, suggests Ballard’s Jerky and squash seed oil from Stony Brook Oils.
  • Melissa, a former co-worker and a San Francisco aficionado, suggested something from F. Oliver’s.
  • Brian Moritz, my former college roommate and author of the Sports Media Guy blog, made a good point. While a cliche, there is nothing more Upstate than Anchor Bar wing sauce. He seconds the F. Oliver’s.
  • Lea Nordhaus, whose maiden name is Pavente, had the unfortunate distinction of being mistaken for my sibling for many years. Anyhow, she thirded (is that a word?) the F. Oliver’s and thinks I need to offer something up from Kandied Kernel.
  • Candy Johnson, a former teacher at my (and Lea’s, for that matter) alma mater thinks I need to include some maple syrup. Turns out that I know a guy that makes his own.
  • Down beneath in the comments, I’ve heard chicken barbecue sauce including Chiavetta’s and Brooks. I know I can get the former, but I have to search for the latter.
  • Speaking of chicken, a Facebook commenter said I should track down some of the Cornell/State Fair chicken barbecue sauce.
  • Also in the comments, Buck’s seasoning was suggested. Totally forgot about that.
  • The Syracuse Reddit has offered up salt potatoes, Terrell’s potato chips, Turkey Joints candy, Speach Family Candy, Chocolate Pizza Company, Grandma Brown’s Baked Beans, River Rat Cheese, Croghan balogna, maple sugar candy, half-moon and Italian cookies.
  • The Upstate NY Reddit mentioned some of these things, but one commenter said I should send Stewart’s Shoppes ice cream “even if it melts.”
  • Speaking of cold, a commenter on the Syracuse Reddit thinks I should just suck it up, grab some dry ice and send bags of Hoffman’s hot dogs and coneys. It has crossed my mind.
  • Mark Strong, known by his Twitter handle PhoManCho and Proof Is In The Eating blog, says that I should abandon the Salamida’s spiedie sauce for Lupo’s. That’s easy enough. He also thinks I should send sauce from Sal’s Birdland or Country Sweet, as well as  New Hope buckwheat pancake mix and cornmeal from Gianforte Farms.
  • A few votes have come in for Kriemhild Dairy butter and Lune Chocolat, both which could be easily acquired on my next trip to Manlius for rations at Side Hill Farmers. 

Keep the suggestions coming.


19 thoughts on “Crowdsourcing an Upstate NY Food Box”

  1. Ditto on F. Oliver’s. I am partial to their farmstand strawberry balsamic vinaigrette.

    Kuse Mix (karamel and cheddar) from the Kandied Kernel. I know it’s not a long-standing Syracuse thing, but it is rather addicting and delicious!

    Last thought – something from the Wegmans label? Not quite sure what, though.

  2. I would go with Lupos marinade for Spiedies but that’s a personal preference. Sauces from Country Sweet or Sals Birdland. Cornmeal from Gianforte farms makes amazing polenta. In addition to the buckwheat pancake mix from New Hope some buckwheat honey would be great, very distinct flavor. I buy from Harvey Gardiner at the market every two weeks.

  3. Kriemhild dairy farm butter. It is frozen so it would probably ship fine. Lune chocolate. Something made with apples, does anyone do a good chutney? Apple vodka from Beak and Skiff? Or spirits from Adirondack distilling out of Utica. A jar of Dulce de leche from Henry’s farmstand in Chittenango. It’s made from goat milk and very tasty. Hard cheeses might ship fine as well, particularly if you include the butter. Meadowood Farm and Three Village cheese both have some great choices. Local beers? Madison county is building quite a name for itself…but most brewers aren’t in bottles yet, only growlers. I’m from the south and think your instincts about avoiding BBQ are good. Dino might be the exception, but it would be the rub not the sauce. Of course, I think you should spring for overnight shipping and send her some bison meat from our farm, Empire Buffalo!

  4. When I worked for Mailboxes Etc. (now the UPS Store), we were overnighting hotdogs almost daily around the country. Too bad you can’t include a Wegmans (specifically between the hours of 1 AM and 5 AM – glory hours). You could certainly include Cafe Kubal’s new cold brew bottled coffee without diminishing the CK experience. Is it sad that after reading the list the first thing that came to mind were Turkey Joints?

  5. You do realize you can make salt potatoes from any potato by boiling in salt? It’s not a special potato lol. How about a recipe for them and a little of the history of salt city on the back? 😉 I put sour cream and steak seasoning on mine so I’d say some of the spice but that’s probably not a universal. 🙂

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