Friday July 8th, 2011
- I made my way to Rome, NY to meet my family, spend some quality time with them over the weekend and run the 34th Annual Boilermaker 15K Road Race in nearby Utica, NY. My mom's husband picked me up at the train station and we headed for my childhood home. It was great to see my mom and just relax for a few days. We headed out to local favorite, Nicky Doodles
, for dinner. They have tables inside but on a warm summer's night it's great to sit at the umbrella tables outsider and people watch. Sitting at the next table over was my elementary school principal and his wife and we had a really nice talk for a bit.
In addition to serving Hofmann hot dogs, bbq and hot ham sandwiches they also offer an homage to that Rochester, NY classic, the Garbage Plate with their Doodle Dumpster plate.
I started with the Nicky Doodle Dog (a Hofmann hot dog, mustard, onions and spicy Doodle sauce). I really liked this. The Hofmann dog had a great snap to it and the flavor was really assertive as I have come to expect. The buttered and toasted bun split-top bun held up nicely to the slow burning, cinnamon scented meat sauce. This had a somewhat pebbly texture closer to what I guess a loosemeat is rather than a wet sauce. I did wish there was a sweetness to it to balance out the boldness of it but I'd get it again in a heartbeat.
Next up was a Hot Ham BBQ sandwich. One of my most favorite things to eat when in Central NY. They butter and toast the roll for this sandwich as well. The hot ham is a spicy ham a that also is warmed up on the flat-top and then drizzled with their red BBQ sauce. I do like this sauce but the gold version labeled PORK in the pic below is the real winner for me. It is at turns spicy, smoky, sweet and addictive.
Mayo/mustard potato salad that was very good. Not as god as Grandma's or my sister's, but very good nonetheless. Before I tucked into this I took about three pictures, trying to capture it perfectly to which my mother let out a sigh and said, "Oh Bill, it's just POTATO SALAD!" I think she was concerned that people at the other tables would stare and whisper in hushed tones about her crazy, shutterbug son who lives in the big city!
The Doodle is also know for their hard pack and soft serve ice cream. I was about three second away from ordering a cone of hard ice cream when I spotted a sign for a sundae with a shot of pure New York State maple syrup poured on top. This creamy concoction below is the V.V.S. F.F.A. (Vernon Verona-Sherrill Future Farmers of America) sundae. From what I have read and have been told, this local chapter of the FFA had gained quite a bit of recognition for their maple syrup production. If this sundae is any indication, the accolades are well deserved. I spoonful of ice cream whipped cream mixed with that syrup was the pure essence of what I love about growing up in Central NY. The crushed honey roasted peanuts on top just put this over the edge for me!
An article from the Syracuse.com website about the local FFA chapter: http://blog.syracuse.com/.rms/2011/01/post_37.html Saturday July 9th, 2011
- I headed out early in the morning for a quick 4 mile run to keep my legs fresh, rested for a bit and then made my way to the Boilermaker Expo in Utica to meet my friends Doug & Marisa and to pick up our race packets and runner's bibs. The local community really does come out in force for this event all weekend long and the pride that they show for this race is nothing short of amazing!
Every time I see this clock I think, "Wow, I'm really going to be running this in less than a day!"
We had discussed lunch plans the day before but hadn't really come up with where to eat. On my way top the Expo, I snagged a parking spot in front of my most favorite tomato pie connection, Roma Sausage & Deli
on Bleecker Street in East Utica. I thought maybe we coukd come back here for a pie after the Ecpo but a nightmarish flashback of getting "pie blocked" last year caused me to walk in at 1:15pm. I spied a lone box of pie on the back counter and asked the man when they closed. He said 3:00pm and that pie might be the last one for the day. So what if I have to lug it around for a few hours? The pie hadn't even made it past the register before I made short work of two slices and was in crusty, tomatoey, cheesy bliss. I don't think it's possible for me to ever tire of this.
You how when a campfire goes out and there is that one last ember that is just faintly glowing, fading ever so slowly? This pie was so fresh that it had that slight warm glow radiating from it. The edges were crispy/crusty, that tomato sauce was so sweet and the pecorino/parmesan was just salt and nutty enough to balance it all out. I met up with Marisa & Doug about 10 minutes later and we all made short work of this pie. We did walk around the Expo with it for a bit and were made offers by various people for a slice. One man even offered $10 for a slice but was told that the price went up to $20 a slice when he suggested I get rid of my Red Sox cap!
It's official! I'm ready to do this thing!
The grounds of the Boilermaker Expo. There were a number of tents set up with sponsors selling their wares, other races promoting their events and food vendors. We picked our goodie bags with our complimentary Boilermaker pint glasses, lotions, Larabars, sunscreen, race program and other swag.
Of course I had to get in line to try this. I don't usually go in for cotton candy but this was a game changer. Really bold maple flavor. The people giving out samples were also selling maple candies, butter, fudge, etc...
Being that the F.X. Matt Brewery is a major sponsor of the race, they had a tent set up promoting their line of beers. Those Saranacs and their root beer go down quite smoothly!
Cabot Creamery had a table as well so I snagged a couple of snack size cheeses and played around for a bit. Running is definitely hard work and it helps to bring a playful attitude and sense of humor and fun to it!
I saw this guy walking around the Expo and had to find out more about this shirt. If you can eat a 3lb serving of the local specialty, Chicken Riggies, at Cafe Bella Mia in North Utica in one sitting (no time limit) you win this shirt. Maybe I could have back in the day but not now!
More to come...!!