What I Did This Summer In Central NY - Part 2 or It's Getting' Hot (Ham) Up In Here!! Friday September 13th, 2013
- My annual trip to Rome, NY for the running of the Delta Lake Half Marathon took on a new meaning for me this year. I wasn't in shape to run it as I hadn't been training but I didn't want to miss it so I chose to volunteer on the sidelines. My first stop was at the local Nice-N-Easy convenience store where I procured some tasty, regionally-made 1000 Islands "River Rat" cheese curds.
These were garden herb flavored and while they didn't squeak they made for quite a delicious snack.
I spied some pasticciotti (aka pusties), a local Italian pastry specialty at the register so I picked up a chocolate and a vanilla. The girl at the register said they came from a bakery in Utica, NY but I forget the name. Honestly, these were not very good. Notice how the filling in the vanilla looks chunky? It should never be that way. And the chocolate filling had a flavor that was off-putting to me. Many convenience stores carry pusties, half moon cookies and slice of tomato pie from local bakeries at the check out counter. More often than not I have been disappointed with these offerings and have found that it really is best to get them at the source when they are at their peak of freshness. It had been quite some time since I had bought any at a convenience store and apparently I had forgotten why!
Dinner on this night was at Teddy's Restaurant
and based on this list I knew that dessert would be in my near future.
I was in the mood for Chicken Riggies and fortunately they were able to provide me with a 1/2 order. An excellent dish but very filling and stick-to-your-ribs and I ended up bringing half of this home.
I snagged a bite or two from my mom's coconut cream pie...
but I knew from the moment I saw the dessert board that blueberry pie a la mode and I had a date and it was everything I had hoped for. Buttery, flaky crust and a perfectly sweet filling chock full of fresh blueberries. No need for a doggy bag with this one!
I swung by the local Stewart's Convenience store to pick up the daily newspaper for my mom and for a quart of my much loved Byrne Dairy chocolate milk. Always a good choice. Saturday September 14th, 2013
- This day was the beginning of my hot ham/bbq ham sandwich smack down. While I didn't try as many as I would have liked I did put a respectable dent in my ongoing list of places to try (and I even found a new-to-me spot that's coming up in the next installment!). My first stop was Cinderella's Cafe
in Sylvan Beach, NY.
I opted to sit outside on the patio so I could people watch but it was pretty quiet. It's a busy town in the summer but business and the amount of vacationers drops off quite a bit after Labor Day. I started out with a Creamsicle-like Saranac Orange Cream soda.
The menu lists the hot ham sandwich as being on a toasted kaiser roll but this buttered and grilled Texas toast was just fine. And those homemade potato chips were perfect.
This was by far the thickest cut hot ham I've ever had. There was some chew to it which was a good thing. The combination of the warm, spicy ham, melted Swiss cheese and that crispy buttery toast was aces with me. I had never had it with cheese before but now I may have to rethink how I order if this is available elsewhere!
Stop #2 was at Eddie's Restaurant
, just a short walk down the street and within eyeshot of Cinderella's.
They've spiffed up the place a bit and added a bright, shiny new sign in front.
At Eddie's I ALWAYS make room for a slice or two of their fabulous homemade pie.
When dining alone here I opt to sit at the old counter which is part of the original lunch counter restaurant. My mom remembers coming here as a kid and this was all they had. Now they can seat over 100 I believe.
Hot ham! Mmmmmm...
I spent many a Friday evening in the right side of this line as a kid, my face inches from the glass of the dessert case, dreaming of which pie I would be getting for dessert.
My hot ham on a roll. I don't think this roll was toasted but it was really fresh so no biggie there. The huge pile of warm, thinly sliced, spicy ham was just wonderful and they had some (homemade?) barbecue sauce that I tried on it which elevated it even more. An amazing sandwich. Love the placemat underneath with ads for local businesses.
A slice of chocolate cream pie was in order. I had to get back to Rome pretty soon so I ordered it to go. I only regret doing that as this picture in the takeout container doesn't do it justice. Rich, creamy and an excellent homemade crust.
Before heading out I walked over to the shore of Oneida Lake to take in the view and saw this guy scanning the beach with his metal detector. I haven't seen anyone using one of those in decades!
Not long after I got back to Rome we hopped in the car and drove north to Boonville, NY to visit our aunt and uncle at their cabin in the woods.
They are two of our favorite people and have been a huge influence on me and the type of person I am for many years. Many of their kids and grandkids stopped by as well so it was like a mini family reunion. They built this cabin a number of years ago and installed the pond as well. I could spend all day just sitting on the log bench out here listening to the birds and the trees. Sometimes it's good to get out of the city and reconnect with nature just to recharge the old batteries.
They own much of the land up here and have built a series of cabins of different sizes that they rent out to hikers, campers and snowmobilers. An enthusiasm for the outdoors is well rewarded in these parts. So I took a short hike down the path to the other cabins.
Past the signs...
And across the bridge...
Ahh, the sounds of the stream!
Hypnotic and relaxing.
They do have bigger cabins down the trail a ways but this is the most rustic one. Just two twin beds on the ground floor, a full or queen in the loft and a reading writing desk. That's all. The have a shower/bathroom house down the trail. No TV, no internets. A fire pit and the sounds of nature to lull you to sleep. My kind of camping! Now if I can just (con)vince my city friends to come camping with me...
And Mr. Bear to greet you in the morning as the sun rises!
It's always wonderful to spend time with our aunt and uncle and after we parted ways we headed out to dinner at a local restaurant near this hotel. Swampwater Slushy? Sounds like the name of a lost Lynyrd Skynyrd song. Actually, the list of ingredients for this drink sounds like they were cribbed from a Scorpion Bowl at Kowloon's. The Boondocks
is a big hit with ATV and snowmobile enthusiasts. The interior has a faux rock wall and tiny stream running through the dining room. The staff were nice enough but the food was just ok. I wanted to like it more than I did.
We passed Mercer's Dairy
on the way up here so we all had made a mental note to save room for ice cream. As a kid we had a Mercer's convenience store down the street that sold their ice cream but I had always assumed that it was the only place. I never knew there was a whole dairy up here. Score!
Something about the simple designs and the writing on these half gallons brings me back to my childhood. I love that there aren't any cartoon characters or commercialized tie-ins. They let the ice cream sell itself.
Plus, they sell local cheese curds as well as Buffalo wing cheese and spread. Now all I need are some crackers.
And they are fully stocked with Saranac sodas.
Black Raspberry Ripple? Butterscotch Ripple? Yeah, baby.
Any place that is THIS dog friendly gets major points from me.
Apparently, Mercer's is the home of "wine ice cream". I've heard that it is quite good but not being a fan of booze being IN my desserts I didn't think to ask for a sample. F\However, flavors such as Port, Chocolate Cabernet, Red Raspberry Chardonnay and Cherry Merlot do sound intriguing.
I went for a chocolate and nut coated waffle cone with two scoops: Adirondack Brownie and Butter Pecan. Creamy, lot of great intended flavors and not just sugary sweetness that can plague lesser ice creams. I was just perusing their website and apparently they carry many local NY State based items such as Amish butter, Croghan Bologna, Lowville Cheese Curd, Holland Farms half moon cookies, cheese and spread from the Adirondack Cheese Company (as seen in the case above) and even Spiedies from Lupo's in Endicott, NY. This region was a HUGE dairy/cheese producing area about 100 years ago and thankfully there are still some places still putting in the hard work for our enjoyment.
My niece and I enjoying our cones on the big chair outside. They have a few picnic tables in front as well. Sunday September 15th, 2013
- Race Day!! I was here at Lee Town Park the day before as my friend Betsy was watching her son's soccer game and we had a chance to catch up. I'd be seeing her at the race as she was running. I had to come by before the race to take a photo of this...
The Little League field where I used to play ball. If you build it they will come...
Playing right next to a cornfield was just normal for me but looking back on it now I realize how awesome it really was. I don't think the scouts were ever going to draft me based on my skills but I sure had a lot of fun.
Off to the Town of Western about 5 miles from my mom's house and just around the bend from Delta Lake where I grew up fishing and camping.
And the quaint town library.
I don't think I ever realized it until this day but the water station where I was assigned was directly across this street from this historical landmark.
And the current owner of the homestead is really into the history of the place. He has had it restored to its look when Gen. Floyd lived there and he even dresses up as him as part of his care taking of the house. A very cool story here: http://www.generalwilliam..dhouse.org/welcome.html
The Mile 2 marker for the half marathon.
The runners should be coming by very soon!
Plenty of water for my friends. So many times family and friends have gotten up super early to stand by the road, cheering me on and handing me water to keep me going. It just felt right to be there for my friends and let them know I knew they could do it.
Chris Neiley was a member of the Roman Runners who passed away recently and this was a way for the club to honor his memory.
I'll most likely be running this race again in 2014 and I'm mulling over doing this challenge but a thick, dairy-rich chocolate shake (and Stewarts' shakes are REALLY good!) sloshing around for 6.1 miles? Not so sure.
The shore of Delta Lake. After I had finished my duties at the water table I headed back to the park where I met many of my runner friends who were not running this years for a number of reasons but who were also volunteering to be part of the day and support their friends and families, I love these people! I was on finisher's medal detail and had the honor of placing Betsy's medal around her back as she crossed the finish line! I posted this on my Facebook page not long after the race and I also wanted to share it here as it was my favorite moment of the race, the day and of the trip:
In almost 4 years of running I've seen much beauty, grace and inspiration while out on the course. Today while volunteering at the Delta Lake Half Marathon in Rome, NY I witnessed one of the most beautiful, touching moments to date. I was giving out medals at the finish and a woman crossed, utterly exhausted and spent. Her family was there to greet her and they told her someone else had come to watch her finish. She turned and saw a woman who had lost all of her hair (I'm guessing from chemo) and she froze for a second then began to shake and sob and she hugged her so tightly. It was then that I began to cry and remembered that for as much as I love the solitude and the clarity that running gives me, the support from the people I love is the fuel that keeps the fire burning inside. For everyone who has ever stood in the extreme heat, cold, rain, snow, sleet, driven/ridden hundreds of miles (sometimes while sick) just to catch a fleeting glimpse, dragged themselves out of a warm bed early on a Sunday morning to be my personal cheering section, held back on their own run to keep pace with me, come back out on the course after finishing to encourage me to dig down and finish strong...I stand on your shoulders. Thank you so much!!!!!
After the race I made a beeline to Voss Bar B-Q
in Yorkville, NY.
A bbq ham and bbq turkey sandwich, slathered in lots of their homemade BBQ sauce. Never gets old.
And some red birch beer to wash it down.
I saw these kitties being sweet in the window next door to my second stop. Roma Sausage & Deli
in Washington Mills, NY. I was very close to being Travelin' Manned
here as I had initially planed to go to their original location in Utica, NY but I called before leaving Rome and they were closing before I would get there but the owner told me that this second location would still be open and they had plenty of tomato pie left. Whew! Crisis averted.
Roma makes their own meatballs, sausage, tomato pie and also carries an extensive line of Italian provisions (meats, cheeses, olives, pastas, sauces, etc). They also have locally made Terrell's potato chips in stock!
Ready to eat on the hood of the car. Just as good as the original location. Three or four slices later and I was ready to move on to my next stop. Helpful hint
: I still had some tomato pie left over so I packed it in Tupperware to take on the train. I had stacked one layer on top of the other which I found was not a good idea as the bottom crust on the top layer became soggy from touching the sauce on the bottom layer. Wax paper next time or single layers in small containers. Nonetheless, it was still pretty darn good and it didn't last all the way to Penn Station.
I did finally get Travelin' Manned
as I was looking for a bbq ham sandwich spot called The Other Guys and after driving for a bit I called them only to discover that the phone number was disconnected.
So my next stop was Charlie Boy's
in New Hartford, NY.
A small regional chain, I had just heard about them while researching where to go for my beloved hot ham sandwiches.
They offer a Jumbo Hot Ham and a Ham Bar-B-Que sandwich. What to do??
A pretty clean, spiffy, seasonal place with outdoor patio seating only.
Charlie Boy is the original owner's son.
Is it just me or do these mascots look aged?
I couldn't decide so I went with a ham bar-b-que. Really good. The sauce is a dark, thick, sweet sauce. Not much kick to it but it paired well with the thinly sliced ham and the buttered and toasted the roll which is a huge plus in my book.
And of course a Jumbo hot ham on a long roll. Really, really loved this one. Lots of spicy kick from the pickled hot pepper relish. I do wish they had buttered and toasted the roll a bit more but a minor quibble. I swiped it through some of the extra bbq sauce on my other sandwich and it got even better. Can't wait to come back next summer.
Heading back to Rome I drove by the Oriskany Battlefield
site and thought, "42 years and I've never even been here!". I made amends on this day. There was a park guide on site but I just wanted to walk it and take it in by myself. Central NY has a lot of history connected to the Revolutionary War. The war really tore the region, alliances and even families apart. The Native Americans and colonists had to choose allegiances, sometimes pitting members of families against one another. It's hard to imagine that so many people lost their lives here. It's so beautiful. I'll let the signs do most of the talking.
An artist's rendering of the battle (at the base of the monument).
Such beauty in these rolling hills and such sacrifice.
I wasn't really sure where to put this picture so I decided to shoehorn it in here. I did take this shot after leaving the Oriskany Battlefield
and before I reached my mom's house. Over the weekend we tried to locate some Amish families by the roadside selling baked goods but they usually just sell Monday through Friday. The reason why I point this out is that over the past 5 years or so there has been a massive influx of Amish families relocating to Central NY from Pennsylvania. From what I understand based on talking to the locals, a lot of "hydrofracking" (slick water hydraulic fracturing of rocks to extract natural gas) has been taking place in Pennsylvania and the Amish have not been happy with it happening in their communities and there is a lot of available land in CNY so it just made sense to move move this way. Many of these signs, pole barns, buggy sightings and roadside pies, cookies and breads have been spotted in increasing numbers recently.
After a relaxing nap, I suggested to my mom that we have dinner at Nicky Doodles
in Rome. Of course, part of this was so that I could add one more hot ham sandwich to my list! Mid September and they're already starting with the pumpkin!
Mom's onion rings were pretty good.
This definitely goes in my Top 5 Hot Ham sandwiches list. The ham was moist, yet crusty and had a nice kick from the red pepper flakes and the bun had a perfect balance of toasty/charred goodness. In the back is a small cup of their "Gold" bbq sauce which is mustard based and worked oh so well with the ham.
I am destined to NEVER be able to take a good picture of this sign!!
No matter as the sundae is awesome. That pure maple syrup and those chopped honey roasted peanuts get me every time. Monday September 16th, 2013
- My friend, Lori, recently moved back to Rome with her husband after about 20 years away and has since become a HUGE booster for shopping and eating local whenever possible. She had mentioned a really good bakery to me but I didn't remember the name. A quick text later and mom and I were headed to Risen Bakery
for lunch. It's housed in a building that used to be the home of Rome Electronics and the exterior still has an industrial feel to it. There were many factories and industrial buildings that closed in the late 1980s and early 1990s. It nice to see that some are being repurposed with quality businesses.
While I wasn't crazy about the cream of broccoli soup my ham & swiss with honey mustard on a freshly baked, seeded roll was simply amazing. I could have easily eaten another one. Really, really good bread truly does elevate a sandwich to new heights.
Mom ordered a half turkey sandwich on freshly baked, seeded bread. I forget exactly what was on it but I tried some and it was quite good. This was one crazy sandwich as the "half" sandwich came on a half loaf of bread. When she brought out the full loaf and cut it in half and began assembling it my jaw hit the floor. Mom had to take half of the half home as it was so huge!
I picked up some locally made peanut butter fudge for the road and it was really good.
More Amish butter...
and cheese curds. I think I need to make a trip to the Lowville Cheese Store! I hear the Lowville Diner up that way is pretty good. Make it two fer.
An old phot of the Rome train station from the early 1900s.
It really is a beautiful station but sadly it is not manned at all (and it was closed for a while some years ago) as Rome really isn't a destination anymore.
A picture perfect chocolate pusty from Risen Bakery
. One can tell by the lack of of the telltale "button" on the top that signifies a vanilla custard version.
Aside from the "handfuls of heaven" at Florentine Pastry Shop in Utica, this chocolate pusty was one of the better versions I've had in some time. Note
: be mindful not to break it open over your shirt or shoes, lest you end up wearing some of the filling!
Whew! A very busy weekend indeed. Lots of sights and great food. I think I may turned INTO a ham after that smack down.
Don't touch that dial! On deck...killer chicken parm (again!), a bowling alley patty melt, a trip back in time for pumpkin picking with the family, greens (no eggs) and wicked good hot ham, LOTS of pie, Fifi's AMAZING sauce and a visit with Gumby and RFer Lexi's
brother at his one of a kind cafe in Vernon, NY!!! The 411:
1.) 1000 Islands "River Rat" Cheese
2.) Teddy's Restaurant
3.) Cinderella's Cafe
Sylvan Beach, NY
4.) Eddie's Restaurant
Sylvan Beach, NY
5.) Mercer's Dairy
6.) Roma Sausage & Deli
Washington Mills, NY
7.) Charlie Boy's
New Hartford, NY
8.) Oriskany Battlefield
9.) Nicky Doodles
10.) Risen Bakery
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