Crystallized ginger biscuits & gravy, grits and fried eggs and Lemon Pie at The Only Cafe in Vernon, NY. Quite possibly my most favorite Roadfood establishment that I have visited. The combination of amazing, inspired food, a terrific one-of-a-kind owner in Dave Furer and an atmosphere that is parts library-garage sale-museum of curiosities makes me eager with anticipation when I know I'll be stopping in. Dave doesn't have a menu, he just makes batches of foods that he likes to eat! Both of these won me over on this most recent visit as did the smoked pulled pork, green chile and salt potato stew, blueberry rhubarb crumble, homemade tequila & green chile pralines and the shaved steak sandwich on his homemade sesame bread on previous visits.
In recent emails Dave told me he had been experimenting with a short rib pizza as well as whipping up a batch of Hoppin' John and the green chile again! I can't to return just to find more books, photos and hear some great stories of his youthful adventures in NYC.
Chicken, bacon and ranch slice from Luigi's Pizza in Rome, NY. A small, unassuming place that on the inside didn't stand out at first but I was blown away by the tender grilled chicken, smoky and still crispy bacon, creamy ranch dressing and chewy/crispy crust. And this was reheated! Being that it was once a gas station and I ran into old friends from the neighborhood only added to the whole experience.
Chili-Slaw dog from Rahway Grill in Rahway, NJ, the "Syd's Dog" from The Garage in Millburn, NJ and an Italian Hot Dog from Jimmy Buff's in East Hanover, NJ. The spicy-cool dog from Rahway was a real winner for Chris Ayers and I as was the meaty, fairly HOT Syd's Fog at The Garage but for me that Italian Hot Dog is like that first kiss in high school, I'll always remember it. I'll never see her again, but I'll always have Jimmy Buff's! SAnd nothing says NJ quite like that t-shirt. John Fox, Benzee, Screenbear and Coney Island Lou sure do put on one seriously awesome hot dog tour and I look forward to my three-peat this fall!
Pulled pork, ribs, Syracuse style salt potatoes and beans at Dinosaur Bar-B-Que in Harlem, NYC. Another old favorite of mine, on this trip in the fall, my friend and running coach Doug and I were craving some Dino so we made our way to the new location. I was excited but concerned since they had moved, Would the food be as good? Would they be working out the kinks or perhaps the focus had shifted? My fears were baseless as everything in these picture was top notch, Smoky tender pulled pork and meaty, soft ribs that released their meat with just a slight tug. The salt potatoes drowning in melted butter weren't as rich as a Rockefeller as the saying goes but more like one of their less stuffy ne-er do well cousins that you rather be hanging with anyway. And those beans! I seem to be the lucky as I get a batch that is studded with shreds of pulled pork and chunks of sausage every time. I know my bar-b-que travels are limited to say the least, but when a place does so many things, so well, so consistently, I'm sold. The unveiling of the plaque in my honor will be this Saturday for any of you who would like to attend!
Everything Bagel with Maple-Walnut-Raisin cream cheese from Murray's Bagel's in Chelsea, NYC and a Chocolate Egg Cream from Gem Spa in the East Village, NYC. Part of the NYC Nosh Tour in November, these two really stood out to me. My go-to bagel flavor most Sundays (nothing says NYC to me quite like a Sunday morning bagel and truth be told I can usually be found at their sister spot, Leo's in the Financial District). After all of the rich food we consumed earlier in the day, the egg cream was a very light and refreshing respite. The soda shop atmosphere may not be there, but watching the denizens of the East Village go by on the street more than makes up for it!
Pecan Pie and Apple-Cranberry Pie from an orchard whose name I forget at the moment (the player to be named later, so to speak) a few miles from Craryville, NY (on the MA/NY border). I first sampled a Peach Pie from this place in late July and was just in love with the flaky, buttery crust and juicy, ripe peaches. After helping friends move over Thanksgiving weekend in NH, I was treated to an amazing holiday dinner and these two beauties were the perfect end and as it happens the last apple pie of the season! Whew!
Steak For Three and German Potatoes at Wolfgang's Steakhouse in TriBeCa (Triangle Below Canal Street), NYC. I went here with my girlfriend's family recently and it was as delicious as always. When the waiter grabs the steak with the tongs and holds it against the hot plate and you hear it sizzle, something special is happening. My apologies for the photo of the potatoes but everyone was eager to dig in! Although it may looked burned, I assure you nothing was and this rich meal was well worth every penny (fortunately I didn't pay!).
Creme de Menthe Whoopee Pie and a Chocolate Chip & Fresh Mint Scone from Zuzu's Cafe in Seneca Falls, NY. Wanting to get into the holiday spirit and find something unique and interesting to do, I signed up for the "It's A Wonderful Run 5K" in the Village of Seneca Falls, NY on December 11, 2010. It's believed by many that Seneca Falls was the basis for Bedford Falls in the Frank Capra-Jimmy Stewart film, "It's A Wonderful Life". The townspeople really get into the spirit of things and from the pictures below it's easy to see how in character this area becomes every Christmas! The hotel on the main street is named the Hotel Clarence.
When I saw this Whoopee Pie I thought, WWbbD? Along with the just as excellent scone and a very good peppermint brownie I had lined up some post-run rewards to split with my family. There were people caroling along the route, giving us high-fives and even a pair of guys blasting Pink Floyd's "Run Like H*ll" from their porch as they cheered us on! Karolyn Grimes, the actress who played Zuzu in the film, is on hand every year for autographs and recounting stories of working on the Christmas classic. She even officiated the start of the race by saying her famous line, "Teacher says, every time a bell rings an angel gets its WINGS!". My sister came with me and we ended up meeting a 93 year old man and his daughter. She had brought him there to see the Hotel Clarence as he had been a bellboy there when it had first opened and they had a lovely time. Even jolly old St. Nick had time for a photo op with one of his biggest fans. A truly fantastic day and definitely put me in the right spirit for Christmas!
Hope you all had a wonderful holiday and a very Happy New Year! To all of the Roadfood journeys yet to be, I look forward to sharing them with you.
"Eating is an adventure, enjoy the ride!" - billyboy, 2011