Tag Archives: Pastabilities

The CNY Food Box

2014-10-30 at 07-24-21

Some months ago I asked you, dear reader, to help me create a Syracuse centric food box that I could send to my friend Allison in Arkansas.

Time passed, Allison went through a job change, summer became fall and at some point, my brain fell out of my head. I totally forgot about this until one day and envelope with Cavender’s Greek Seasoning and a bag of fish fry coating, suitable for shrimp, catfish, Jacques Cousteau and other ocean creatures, arrived in the mail. I’ve documented the Cavender’s. I’m going to use the fish fry at some point when I set up a better deep-fry situation outside. I’m not allowed to deep fry things inside of the house and I’m actually okay with that fact.

So, in return I finally got off my butt and assembled my return offering. The Upstate New York box, I decided, left things too wide open. No, it needed to reflect Syracuse. After all, Upstate can mean at least three different types of hot dogs (Hoffmans, Zweigel’s, Sahlen’s for starters) Croghan Bologna, Buffalo Wings and Rochester Inferiority (or whatever they are noted for). Central New York can involve Utica greens, speedies and Grandma Brown’s baked beans. It needed to be narrowed to the four walls of the space I know best.

We’ve covered why Syracuse is a great food town in the past and I appreciate everyone’s suggestions. So, here’s what I finally settled on:

****

Allison:

This is the best of Syracuse that did not require overnight shipping, a ton of packing material or dry ice, and would not tip off drug-sniffing dogs. That meant that Hoffman’s hot dogs, Stewart’s Ice Cream, and Cafe Kubal coffees are off the table. It’s also illegal to ship beer to your state (imagine that…damn Baptists), so no luck there. Given my luck with shipping glass lately, Salamida’s State Fair Barbecue sauce was also off the table. So, what do we have:

Buckwheat honey: Buckwheat flowers grow at higher elevations in New York and the honey generated from their pollination is pretty tasty. It has a flavor and consistency closer to molasses. It also has antioxidant and antiinflammatory properties, so if one of the boys is a pain in the ass, you can squeeze some on them and it should take care of things. I got this from a local Mennonite farmer at the Central New York Regional Market who grows tomatoes the size of my daughter’s head.

Flour City Pasta: I lied. This isn’t Syracuse-centric. I make my own rules. Anyhow, it’s made in Rochester but the owner is in Syracuse every Saturday selling pasta. It’s all natural artisan pasta. This is their Rasta Pasta blend. The pasta is made with semolina flour and sweet potatoes, carrots, thyme, limes and cayenne pepper. Grilled chicken over this with some garlic butter, or shrimp and a lime-cilantro cream sauce might be good here.

Pasta’s Hot Tomato Oil: This is a Syracuse institution. They just began bottling this within the past few years. Prior to that, you bought it at the restaurant or bakery in to-go containers. Anyhow, a little goes a long way here because there is a spice here. Serve it straight over pasta, mix it with a good refrigerated marinara or alfredo, or just dunk a baguette into it. Mike might even like a shot in his coffee in the morning. It’s shelf stable so it should keep for a while.

Dinosaur Bar-b-que Cajun Foreplay: If you ever visited Syracuse, I would take you here. It’s the landmark Syracuse restaurant: barbecue stand run by biker turned to-go counter turned biker bar turned full-service restaurant turned national chain. They have two in NYC, one is going to open in Chicago, but why bother. The original is the original. Anyhow, it’s a Memphis-style BBQ joint and this is their dry rub. I throw it on just about everything — meat, eggs, small children.

If I was better at packing boxes or had the extra scratch to throw around, you might have received some barbecue sauce or a Syracuse Crate.

Enjoy it. I’ve never mailed anything, knowingly, to Arkansas.

JP

Top 10 CNY Restaurants (2014 Edition)

Photo May 02, 6 22 55 PMAbout 18 months ago, I wrote a list of my top 10 CNY restaurants. These were not necessarily the restaurants that I thought were the best, but the one’s that I would go to if I had to build a permanent rotation of places to dine.

Since I posted that list, much has changed in the CNY food scene. One of the restaurants, Circa, has closed. Last week Gentile’s, loved my many in this area, shut its doors. A new version of The Krebs is open in Skaneateles at the end of August.

As we approach fall and begin our CNY hibernation (coming out only for food and SU basketball), I thought I would update the list. These are not necessarily the best restaurants in town or really even my 10 favorites. This list represents the permanent rotation of the area’s 10 best restaurants that I would go to exclusively (in no particular order):

  • Moro’s Table, Auburn [website]. The alpha and the omega. If money were no object…
  • Asti Caffe, Syracuse [website]. The best red sauce restaurant* in Syracuse.
  • Pastabilities, Syracuse [website]. Great for lunch. Good for dinner. The second best red sauce in town*.
  • Dinosaur Barbque, Syracuse [website]. Their bad days are a lot better than my good days. Remember, it’s not the 10 best, but the 10 that I would go to exclusively if forced to pick.
  • The Mission, Syracuse [website]
  • Otro Cinco, Syracuse [website]
  • Zabroso, Oneida [website]. The past three restaurants are distinctly different takes on Latin-American/Spanish food. The Mission is Mexican/Pan-American; Otro is a Spanish/Mexican hybrid; and Zabroso is Spanish. All three are wonderful.
  • Laci’s Tapas Bar, Syracuse [website]. Eclectic and fun. One of the area’s best dining experiences.
  • Ironwood, Manlius [website]. Good pizza. Good beer. Really, I’m easy to please.
  • The Restaurant at Elderberry Pond, Auburn [website]. An impossible car ride to get there, but farm-to-table begins and ends there.

*Angotti’s is not the best restaurant in town, nor is it the best red sauce restaurant in Syracuse. But it has long been a gathering spot for my family. It’s like my kitchen away from home. It doesn’t make this list because it transcends this list. And because I can almost always get a table.

Darwin, Syracuse, N.Y.

There’s this spot across from the Clinton Street entrance to The Post-Standard building that is a revolving door for restaurants. As a kid, I remember going there for dinner to a place called Renee’s Brown Baggers (it was the first time I had carrot-raisin salad…who does that?). As a high school intern for the long-gone hj magazine at the now defunct Herald-Journal, I would get lunch from Our Father’s Pizza — cleverly named by the Jesus-loving (nothing wrong with that), proselytizing (that’s my problem) owner that slung the dough. (Look, no hungry overweight 17-year-old wants to talk about whether they have accepted Jesus Christ as their Lord and savior when there is pizza on the line.)

A couple of deli’s later, it is now Darwin. Monday marked my second visit in the past week to the spot near the corner of Clinton and West Genesee Streets. Partially owned by Terry Riley, he of the highly underrated Riley’s with it’s new menu every day, Darwin has limited hours, a limited menu and limited space. But, they do so much with so little. Continue reading Darwin, Syracuse, N.Y.

Pastabilities, Syracuse, N.Y.

(Source: Syracuse.com)

Syracuse dining week is really a misnomer. The Salt City’s celebration of restaurant eating spans two weeks in the dead zone of February. Now, in most years the snow keeps people at home. In 2012, the manufactured science of climate change means sun will blind your February Friday sundown drive and a pleasant walk down West Fayette Street in 43-degree weather.

The deal is that you can eat at some of the area’s better restaurants on the cheap, typically a three-course dinner for $25 or less. Saturday evening’s dinner was planned as a last outing before the in-laws/babysitters go snowbird to the secessionist south for a month, but turned into an excuse to get together with some friends.

It’s not often that I am pleased to wait 90 minutes for a table, as I was on Friday night. First, it meant that dining week was working. It was getting people out of the house and down to a good restaurant like Pastabilities. Second, it meant that I had a chance to visit an old haunt from a long time ago. There’s a special wing of my liver devoted to the hours and dollars spent at The Limerick Pub and Irish Conference Room. Continue reading Pastabilities, Syracuse, N.Y.