Saturday, August 15, 2009

Local Flavor

When I talk about our recent move to Syracuse, the first question I usually get from those who have been here before is: "Have you eaten at Dinosaur BBQ yet?" As a matter of fact, I have, but not in Syracuse. They opened a second one in Rochester and Sarah made sure to take me there the first time I went for a visit. The original Dinosaur BBQ is on our list, but having been to one already it has not been a high priority. You should come visit us so we can take you and have an excuse to go ourselves.

In the meantime, Central New York has a number of other local delights to offer. Dinosaur BBQ is famous outside of Syracuse. The others are not as well known, but they are delicious. I know because proud residents have pushed each of them on me in the past few weeks.

Thanks to Dave Hauver, who (if I remember correctly) has family in the area, I had already tried spiedies. They're cubes of meat, marinated in a special spiedie sauce, cooked on a spit, and served in a bread roll. It's one of those local loved foods that has a big following here but rarely appears anywhere else. Local grocery stores sell ready-made spiedie marinade, and there is even an entire festival devoted to this food. Unfortunately, Sarah and I just missed it this time around, but if we're still here next year we'll have to check it out (Dave, we'll make sure to let you know in advance so you can join us).

Sarah had also already introduced me to snappy grillers, often called coneys or white hots. They're white hot dogs made from veal and pork. Sarah's family sent them to her while we were living in Georgia. Like the spiedie, I only encountered the snappy grillers outside Central New York because someone who had grown up with this food loved it enough to personally carry it across state borders to share with others.

Then there are the salt potatoes. I met these things at an airgun show that I was helping Sarah's dad to run. More specifically I was selling the tickets (that's right, I can now honestly claim to have "sold tickets to the gun show"). The cooks selling the food used my presence at the door as a way to advertise their wares. It worked out pretty well for me.

The cook really wanted me to eat some salt potatoes so others would ask for them (he'd already fed me snappy grillers and some Hoffman hot dogs). I'd never heard of them and at first thought they were a strange kind of french fry. Fortunately, Sarah realized my error and stepped in to suggest that I really ought to taste these things. She was right. It's certainly not the healthiest food I've eaten, but it was excellent. The recipe involves small white potatoes cooked in salt water and covered in butter. The food is popular enough locally that, like the other foods I've mentioned, salt potato kits are sold in the grocery store. Some of the out-of-state attendees at this particular gun show make it a point to always bring a bag home with them.

I won't be eating the salt potatoes very often, but I'll keep snappy grillers in the fridge for a rainy day. Spiedies will be tough to make without a grill, but it's nice to know the sauce is available in stores when that time comes. It's right next to the Dinosaur BBQ sauce.

I am going to enjoy eating in this state.

Saturday, August 01, 2009

Slow Progress

Today is picture day in our apartment. That is, Sarah and I have been putting our pictures on the walls, something we can do now that the furniture is in place and we can be reasonably certain we won't be changing the layout any time soon. Like everything else in this move, Sarah and I have too many pictures. When we lived on our own, neither of us was particularly shy about decorating. They were different styles, of course, but we both managed to fill our walls. My walls tended to have more dragons and more movie posters, while hers had more lighthouses and more Tiggers. We both had pictures of friends and family (and in a few cases, art BY friends and family). We found a workable compromise at the last place without TOO much difficulty. Most of the Tiggers and the movie posters were put aside until we would move into a place with the wall space for them. This is not that place, they're staying packed for another move.

Picture day has not been very much fun. Gratifying, yes, fun, no. The dining room is complete except for one clock that's going to require a stepladder to put up. The entrance way, the hallway, and the guest bedroom are all set. The living room is killing us. But we'll get there.

The rest of the apartment is coming along, too. Some of Sarah's excess furniture has been returned to her father and more goes back tomorrow. We've filled three boxes with donatable goods (in addition to what we cleared out before we left Atlanta) which should leave the apartment this week. We seem to be finding places for everything else. This apartment is a tight fit, but clearly we needed to trim some of our excesses anyway. We still have more boxes sitting out than we'd like, but we're happy it no longer feels like we're living in a storage closet.