Tag Archives: grocery shopping

Grocery List: November 9, 2014


Whether or not I write a full-on review of last night’s dinner at Laci’s Tapas Bar (I’ve written about it in the past), it’s worth noting that restaurant’s importance within the dining fabric of Syracuse.

The vast majority of restaurants fail, regardless of how good the food is. A restaurant built into a Victorian home in a gentrifying city neighborhood seems like a dicey venture. Yet, there is Laci’s, packed to the gills on a Saturday night in November.

The phrase “labor of love” seems trite, but I’m not sure what else one would use to describe Laci’s. We went with some friends that had never been before, and found ourselves discussing the importance of a restaurant like Laci’s while waiting for dessert. Each serving hits its mark, but is distinctly different from the other delivery to the table. Very little of the flavors are repeated from dish to dish. Things you wouldn’t expect to like envelope you when you try them. You push yourself to try them, and then find yourself wanting another order. For instance, The Wife ate bacon-wrapped jalepeños last night. Jalepeños. Most days, I can’t get her to eat anything hotter than cayenne pepper, but there she was chowing down. The kitchen is first-rate and that should be noted.

But, it’s not just the back of house that carries a restaurant. Everyone there has a personality. Jordan, our waiter, spent the evening joking with us, and periodically one of the owners (Laura, the La of Laci’s) stopped by to give us a hard time. And, as is so difficult to find in restaurants, there is a very apparent symbiosis between the front and back of house.

As we drove away, The Wife said to me, “We spent $100 on dinner tonight, but I don’t mind that. I feel like I got something for my money. We can’t do that all of the time, but I felt okay signing the slip because, I don’t care if I spent $20 or $60 or $100, I want to feel like I got what I paid for.”

It has me thinking about what is important in our communities as far as food goes. I think the local food thinkers and writers (myself included) talk about about the importance of using local ingredients and supporting local agriculture, but maybe we need to look at things from a more macro level. What is important to Syracuse and Central New York’s food palate? Who are the people shaping that palate? Why is what they are doing important? I would argue that Laura Serway and Cindy Seymour have done more in these areas since Laci’s opened its doors — as entrepreneurs, restaurateurs and community leaders — than some have in their lifetime.

I think it goes beyond a list of what foods or places make Syracuse a good food town, and making people feel good about living and eating here. It’s about the Syracuse’s food legacy and future, and those that hold the key to what’s next.

That is the discussion that we should focus on in this community. People, not actions, dictate the future of any subject or area. Let’s draw the spotlights their way so we can better understand our community, its needs and those that are fulfilling them.


Grocery List: November 2, 2014

2014-11-02 at 08-39-17

My lead-lined stomach has always served me well. It has seen me through 37 years of too much garlic, too much olive oil,  way too much vinegar, far too many meals at McDonalds, and that time when I went to the Indian restaurant and said to the waiter, “I’ve never had Indian food before, so what would you recommend?”

I’ve had stomach viruses in the past, but they have generally manifested themselves as…how can I explain this…as sitting stomach viruses.

Friday night brought on  something new. I noticed that while handing out candy on Friday night for Halloween that I could not get warm. What I thought were fever chills were proven wrong after the thermometer said 98.3 degrees. At this point, I’ll could eliminate from the possible illness list was Ebola.

At 7:30 p.m., The Kid and The Wife were home and I turned off the lights (Side Note: It was an awful night. Our neighborhood is usually a six bagger, or I need six bags of candy to get through the night. This year, I had three unopened bags left plus a bunch of loose M&Ms.), covered myself in a blanket and fell asleep on the couch.

Now, conventional wisdom says that if you get the urge to vomit, that you should. Release the poison, right? I spent the better part of Friday night into Saturday morning fighting this urge. All the telltale signs were there. Salivating. Your throat expand. The feeling that everything you have consumed for the past 15 years was now collected in your esophagus ready to be reintroduced to the world through the same orifice that it entered. Depending on how you look at it, I bravely or stupidly fought it off. The resulting loss of Saturday, where I spent the day huddled in a blanket and consuming only Pepto-Bismol and Cheerios (though not necessarily at the same time), was more than a little annoying.

It’s Sunday and I feel human, though strong food smells are still throwing me off. The samples station at Trader Joe’s was doing “Szechuan Beef and…” I don’t know what. I saw the those three words on the chalkboard and immediately went the other way.

Grocery List: October 25, 2014


Mr. DeLong. I blame him.

For the past week or so, I’ve been fiddling with WordPress code in an attempt to set up a new website. Some of the stuff is over my head. I cannot figure out how to set up the cute little tiles on the page that would direct one to a featured article or recipe. It’s in the template and it’s one of the reason I elected to use this particular theme. But, two journalism degrees later, I find myself staring at the 13-inch screen on my MacBook Pro with no idea what to do.

It’s Mr. DeLong’s fault.

You see, my guidance counselor was the one that said, “If you want to be a sportswriter, go to a good journalism school.” Never once did it cross his mind to say, “Listen dumbass, newspapers are dying. In 15 years, you won’t even be a subscriber. Start paying attention in class and do something useful like computer programming or software designer.”

So, instead, I’m writing my weekly grocery list post and thinking about how to deal with these stupid sliders on the page of the Al Dente 2.0.

Seriously, who encourages someone to “follow their dream” and do what interests them?

Thanks Mr. DeLong. Thanks a lot. The least you could do is figure out my website issues.

Grocery List: October 19, 2014


“You’re aging right before my eyes.”

The Wife and I watched a lot of television before The Kid came along. We were series regulars to about a half-dozen shows. After The Wife gave birth, the regularity with which we watch television was shattered. That’s okay because, well, I don’t feel too bad about it. I couldn’t really declare a loyalty to a television show, since our viewing patterns were messed up.

A couple of years ago, we got into Anthony Bourdain’s CNN show Parts Unknown, and it became appointment television for us. The storytelling is as good as it gets, while the cinematography is amazing. And, on more than one occasion, I’ve found myself wanting to hop on a plane to eat exactly what Bourdain ate. Aside from that, Tosh.0 and Key & Peele have become the only shows that we watch regularly.

I noticed a disturbing trend this fall. The Wife and I watching a lot more PBS, and for the children’s programming. The Wife, a history teacher with a particular interest in immigrant history, likes Henry Louis Gates’ show Finding Your Roots. The desert of decent television on Mondays has led us to an old standby: Antiques Roadshow. I’ve found myself DVR’ing Nova and Frontline more. I usually end up watching Newshour 3 to 4 times a week. As I write this on Saturday night, The Wife tells me that I’m aging right before her eyes. Why? A 1978 edition of The Lawrence Welk Show“Salute To Our Senior Citizens” — is on our 50-inch Panasonic plasma television.

I’m beginning to get worried. I’ve always had a bit the curmudgeonly old man in me, yelling at kids on my damn lawn. But, I’m concerned that I’ve slipped into my middle-aged years a little quickly.

My exact age never really bothered me. My 30th birthday was pretty anticlimactic; I thought 35 was worse, because I had moved into a new demographic grouping (from 25-34 to 35-44). The idea of getting older doesn’t really appeal to me too greatly. For a long time, I was the youngest person in my office. Now I’m somewhere in the middle to high range on the chart.

On Friday night, The Wife and I went to Lewis Black’s show at The OnCenter. We were expecting a 30 to 50 year old crowd, but it was more of a 60+ set. We found ourselves one of the youngest in the crowd by a couple of decades. It was strange.

So, maybe I have nothing to worry about. Maybe I am still young.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, one of Lawrence Welk’s singers is doing “Among My Souvenirs.”

Grocery List: September 21, 2014


NOTE: As you read this, I am either in Binghamton or driving to or from there. This will be my third Walk To End Alzheimer’s event of the fall, leaving two more on the docket. It also means that time is running short for you to get in on The Chain Challenge.

I usually fill my Sunday grocery list post with something opinion driven, but as I sit here writing this I’m drawing a blank. So, there’s the grocery list.

Enjoy your Sunday. Spend time with your family. Eat an apple. Visit one of the local farms. Watch football. Make a donation. Heck, take a nap. Just enjoy the day.

Grocery List: September 14, 2014

2014-09-13 at 10-58-46

NOTE: I’m in Utica — New Hartford, actually — for a Walk To End Alzheimer’s event. This post was written on Saturday when I actually went grocery shopping.

The past week has been about restructuring and rebuilding here at Al Dente HQ. The roofers finished their work on our house. It looks good, but there were some unanticipated issues that led to an additional few thousand dollars in work. The seven roofs meant that we needed a second dumpster. All of the aluminum fascia had to go because the jackasses that owned our house never sealed the rafters with wood. Therefore, the aluminum was rusting from behind. We needed both wood and aluminum to finish that. Plus, we had some rotted wood at the base of the roof that needed changing out. That said, if you are in need of a roof, Al Dente wholly endorses the work of Pidgeon Roofing.

In other news, I spent some time restructuring my Pinterest page.


Rather than just dumping everything on to one board, I separated things into different boards based on genre and ingredients. There are now two different boards for Meatless Monday. One is full of my recipes and the other is called Meatless Monday Bloggers. Al Dente is now part of the Meatless Monday network of bloggers who have taken the challenge.

The hope for all of this is to build up my traffic as I look at building a new online home for Al Dente in the coming months. Stay tuned.

Grocery List: September 7, 2014

2014-09-06 at 16-46-07Sunday marks the first Walk To End Alzheimer’s event of my fall. As this posts, I’ll be behind the wheel of a 2014 Chrysler Town & Country minivan with Quebec plates screaming up I-81 or US-11 towards Canton, N.Y. The minivan is a rental, but it has SiriusXM radio, so there’s at least that.

When I first started working at the Alzheimer’s Association, we had 12 walks that took place in our 14-county region. We would start after Labor Day and run nonstop until Columbus Day weekend. We have since pared that down to five, scheduling them in a way that we don’t have more than one per weekend. My personal record was 33 consecutive days of work in 2004 or 2005. I don’t remember which year.

So, my Sunday posts may be late or nonexistent depending on the week. I went shopping today, plugging my list into the Wegmans app. I should review that app at some point, as it is pretty awesome (compared to apps from other supermarkets).

OH! Speaking of Walk To End Alzheimer’s, I’m closing in on the $1,100-mark for The Chain Challenge. With just about $400 to go to meet my goal and trigger the splendor of my having to eat at The GoldenRedOlivePondoOutbackLobsterGardenRosaCorral, I encourage you to make your donation by clicking the link above or the square graphic to the top right. No contribution is too small in the fight against Alzheimer’s. The strength in our cause is not necessarily in the dollars, but the numbers of people who want to see the end of this disease.

Grocery List: August 24, 2014 (UPDATED)

2014-08-24 at 11-26-18Something felt weird when I walked into the house a few minutes ago. I couldn’t quite figure it out, but something clearly was not right.

I brought all of the groceries in from the car and began putting things away, wiping my forehead frequently along the way. My leg brushed up against one of the lower cabinets in my kitchen and slid across the door. It hit me.


The Wife and I come from very different schools of thought on using the central air. She believes that the breeze from nature, a passing car or a neighbor farting is enough to naturally cool the house. Open go the windows, off goes the air con and on go the sweat glands on my neck.

Me? I think that the A/C should go on in May and turn off some time in October. Every once in awhile, when the heat and humidity are low and the wind is strong, windows are fine. The air in the house gets stale and needs a refresh. That’s fine. Otherwise, the gentle whirr of the condenser is all the comfort I need.

I quote from the wise and learned Drew Magary of Deadspin:

I have two women in my life – my wife and my mother – who have an inexplicable aversion to air conditioning. My wife hates turning on the AC in the car or in the house at night. She says, “Let’s do windows!” Then she opens the windows and turns the AC off. “See, isn’t this fresh air nice?” Meanwhile, all my major organs are shutting down, I’ve turned our Sealy Posturepedic into a makeshift waterbed, and I’m experiencing the third stage of heat stroke. Hey lady, it’s five million fucking degrees out there. CRANK THAT SHIT. We’re not on a fucking NOLS trip, okay? This is fucking CIVILIZATION.

My primary issue is that I sweat like a monster. Liquid pores out of me as if I were one of those zen fountains that mid-level managers kept on their desks during the early 2000s. This entire screed would have been posted already, if not for the fact that the runoff from my forehead is stinging my eyes.

So, why not stake my royal claim as the man of the house, declare this my castle and turn the air conditioning on? All of the windows in the house are open, which means I would have to go upstairs to close them. Now, this may sound like laziness, but our upstairs is always very hot. The moment that the air con is turned off, our second floor transforms itself into a South American jungle sans animals.

Discomfort may just win out over certain death.

I’ll cut her some slack today. She went out this morning and bought coffee and bagels for breakfast. Drove out to Bruegger’s in Liverpool and everything. She’s a nice lady, The Wife is. So, I’ll cut her some slack and leave the windows open, but she may need to borrow a wet-dry vac later to clean up after whatever is left of me.

UPDATED 5:19 P.M.: Rather than turn the A/C off completely, The Wife kicked up the temperature to 81 degrees. After chatting with The Neighbor and coming inside, the air con kicked on. I braved the upstairs to shut the windows. All is right in the world.