New York: Eats and Treats

With our crossover into Ontario, we finally left New York behind. We’ve seen quite a bit already, and had some great food. I figured I’d post some highlights for those of you that might care about such things.

Depot Deli and Lakefront Restaurant
Cooperstown, New York

I previously mentioned the delicious sandwich I had at the Glimmerglass Opera Festival the first night. The next day in Cooperstown we started the day at the Depot Deli. We ordered bacon, egg and cheese sandwiches on Texas toast. They were a good start for the day – just a quick meal to get us going before our tour.

For lunch, at the suggestion of Jackie from the BHOF, we dined at the Lakefront Restaurant, at a table with a lovely view overlooking Otswego Lake. After looking over the menu, we decided we had to give their Bacon Wrapped Jalapeno Poppers a try. They are typically drizzled with a crab based sauce, but as I have a mild sensitivity, we got that on the side. Sriram said it was delicious. I enjoyed the peppers on their own.

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After the appetizer, I had the Cranberry Waldorf Chicken Salad Croissant (chicken salad with apples, cranberries, and walnuts served with lettuce, tomato, a side of potato chips and a pickle), and Sriram had the Roasted Beet Salad (spinach and kale with apple, cranberries, goat cheese, candied walnuts, and a fresh orange vinaigrette). They were both delicious. If you’re in the area, I would definitely recommend stopping in.

Dinosaur BBQ
Syracuse

The highlight of the day was certainly dinner. Our stop in Syracuse (on our way to Buffalo) was specifically to go to Dinosaur BBQ. The wait for seating was more than an hour (the place was packed), but we were told there were tables around back in the “Boneyard” which was essentially an outdoor bar with some shared picnic tables. We lucked out in getting a shared high top table to ourselves and looked over the menu. We decided on a combo plate to share. While waiting for the food to arrive, I checked out the variety of sauces – knowing I’d likely try them all. The choices were Wango Tango, Devil’s Duel, Garlic Chipotle Pepper Sauce, and Sensuous Slathering.

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When our order arrived it all looked fantastic. The combo consisted of pulled pork, smoked hot-link sausage, mac and cheese, black beans, and corn bread. We split the platter between us and each had a ridiculous amount of food.

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Everything was absolutely delicious, and as predicted, I tried all four sauces. Wango Tango was good, while Devil’s Duel and Garlic Chipotle Pepper Sauce had the most heat. The Sensuous Slathering was OK – it was sweeter than the others. My favorite turned out to be the Devil’s Duel.

It was a great stop, and easily the best BBQ I’ve ever had.


Top of the Falls

Niagara Falls

As mentioned in the Niagara post we lunched at the Top of the Falls restaurant. We got off to a good start with the loaded fries appetizer. Alison and I were both intrigued by the Barreled Over Burger. The menu’s description read, “Be adventurous! Gorge yourself with our signature burger hand-stuffed with WNY favorites! Angus Beef, Yancey’s Fancy Buffalo Wing Cheddar Cheese, Candied Bacon, Sweet NY State Apples, Lettuce, Tomato, Onion, Brioche Roll.” Despite it’s description turned out to be a bit of a dud – it mostly tasted like a plain burger, the “stuffing” was so limited. And despite the claim that it came with a free souvenir photo, we were never offered one, and forgot about it until it was too late. Sriram had the Beef on Weck and said it was quite good. But, despite it not being the best meal, the view was wonderful, and as that was mostly the point of eating there, I’d still recommend it to a friend.

The Anchor Bar
Buffalo

For dinner we journeyed back to Buffalo and The Anchor Bar – home of the original Buffalo Wing. I wasn’t sure if I was amused or frightened by our “greeter.” Probably both.

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As it was really crowded with an extended wait for tables, we opted to hang out in the bar with it’s fun and chaotic design and hoped for seats. We lucked out pretty quickly and settled in. We were intrigued enough by the Spicy Hot Chicken Wing Soup to each order a cup. It was really good, though more mild in flavor than the description implied. Still, it was hearty, and after a long, cold, damp day at the Falls it was a great way to warm up, so it definitely hit the spot.

After soup we shared a large order of wings (hot) and onion rings.

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The rings were very good, a little thicker than I prefer, but crispy and tasty with a nice dipping sauce. The wings more than lived up to their reputation. The heat was just right and they had perfect crisp. We agreed that they were indeed the best buffalo wings we’ve ever had.

If you like wings, it is more than worth the stop.

Duff’s Famous Wings

Buffalo

The next day we were up for more wings at Duff’s simply because we were there. I got my wings boneless this time round, and based on this warning, I ordered the medium.

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The sauce seemed a little tangier than the Anchor Bar, but it’s impossible for me to make a 1:1 comparison between Duff’s and the Anchor Bar because I got boneless wings at Duff’s, and it’s just not the same. Still, they were delicious, but despite the warning, I was very quickly asking for a side of the medium hot for more heat. But my tolerance is probably higher than most, so Duff’s probably has it right.

Sriram opted for the fried bologna sandwich and noted that it tasted like bologna, so I guess they got that right.

Other than some delicious Saranac Sodas (a creamsicle and a rootbeer) that we picked up at Dinosaur BBQ for the road, that was it for New York. Stay tuned for more sites and adventures and the next “Eats and Treats” installment.

The Best Laid Plans

Welcome to our official adventure – our first post from the road.

As our road trip is destined to take us all the way to the Pacific Ocean we thought it fitting to begin our trip at the Atlantic. Living in the Boston area left us many choices for where we could “start.” We contemplated heading to Maine and beginning our journey at Acadia National Park (or ARcadia as Bostonians like to call it – we love to put those R’s where they don’t belong after dropping them from everywhere they DO belong). While we love Acadia, it seemed a bit silly to drive 5 hours out of our way just to “start” our trip. We also contemplated Plymouth, MA for historical reasons, and a handful of other locations.

In the end, it came down to what was relatively close to us, with a good view of the ocean. Wollaston Beach in Quincy ended up the winner, due to the addition of a nice view of the Boston Skyline (a great suggestion from my friend Sharon). In the morning we loaded up the last items for the car and headed to the beach. After a quick “starter” photo, we filled the gas tank, zeroed out our trip meter and set out on the highway, with Born to be Wild playing on the old iPod.

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We made a few pit stops on our way out of town (including a trip to Dunkin Donuts for a Boston Crème Donut for the road), and therefore didn’t truly get going until around noon. Our destination? Glimmerglass State Park in upstate New York, where we had a reservation for the night.

We arrived at camp around 4pm. We’d lucked out with the traffic and it was mostly smooth sailing to the site. Still, it had been a long day of travel. We were hungry and a little tired, but we decided to set up camp before heading out for the night. Our well-thought-out packing system was already in shambles (many things had already spilled over into the back seat), so we’ll definitely need to make strategic changes as we go, but for the time being we’d have to leave well enough alone.

The campsite we were assigned was good – big enough, close to the bathrooms without being too close, and a good space away from other campers. My only complaint was that the campsite was all gravel. A glance at some of the other sites indicated the same. I have no idea who thought of that, but if there’s one thing I have proven over time it’s that if there is a sharp piece of gravel standing straight up, my foot is 100% sure to find it. This campsite would prove to be no exception. Didn’t matter what shoes I had on, it still wasn’t fun.

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Setting up our tent went pretty smoothly. We were glad to have traded out the wooden stakes that came with our tent for metal spikes from REI. We passed on buying the mallet to pound them in with, but might grab that yet (maybe two so we can both work at the same time). Since we were only planning to spend the night we inflated the air mattress, put the pillows, sleeping bags and blankets into the tent and considered camp done. Here’s a shot of our “tent.” Instead of a traditional tent we went with a canvas tee pee from the Sheridan Tent and Awning Company.

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With camp finalized, we headed out to the Glimmerglass Opera Festival a few miles down the road. It wasn’t exactly what we were expecting. We thought the grounds were more expansive and that we’d be able to explore for a bit, so we arrived early. That mostly wasn’t the case. The grounds were lovely, but small, and the dining options amounted to a concession stand (albeit it one with some of the best concession sandwiches I’ve ever had – I had turkey with avocado, cranberries, walnuts and sprouts).

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After eating, there wasn’t much to do until show time. A chill had set in, but we were warned that it would get really hot inside the theater. I was looking forward to it. That also turned out to not be the case. Despite the promise of the theater being hot, it was extremely cold inside (unusually so, I was told by regulars). We retreated to the car at intermission to add some extra layers to try to warm up and were much more comfortable for Act 2.

The evening’s performance was that of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Carousel. Despite being a big fan of theater, I had very limited knowledge of the show going into it. I assumed I’d know some of the music, but was actually surprised at just how little I did know. June is Busting out All Over almost doesn’t count, as I’ve typically heard it in parody form; which left only You’ll Never Walk Alone. The show was wonderfully acted and beautifully sung (and the ballet in Act 2 was fantastic). But, I’ll admit it, I didn’t like it. I typically like Rodgers and Hammerstein productions. I love Oklahoma, and think Cinderella is magnificent. The Sound of Music practically goes without saying (though for those most familiar with the movie, the stage production can seem a bit disjointed). I was fully expecting to love the show. I just didn’t. It wasn’t the dark content that turned me off, I was just…bored. I found it slow, and the plot not nearly deep enough. Despite the content, I found it superficial (the show, not the performance). Still, as mentioned the singing was beautiful, and despite not really loving the show, the finale moved me to tears. So, well done to the cast of Carousel.

We returned to the camp site to retire after a long day. It was a cold night. We started with just blankets, then spread out sleeping bags, and then finally relented to full sleeping bag use for comfort. I was still a little chilly so it didn’t make for the easiest night. However, it rained quite heavily through the night and we stayed dry. It was nice to get the waterproof test out of the way so early.

We’re off to Cooperstown next to take in the Baseball Hall of Fame – stay tuned.

We welcome comments and questions.