Tag Archives: Rochester

New York Wine & Culinary Center

New York Wine and Culinary Center
Rochester might seem like your standard blue collar city with not much sophistication and little in the way of culture. But if you assumed that, then you’d be dead wrong. There are endless summer arts festivals, jazz festivals, it’s home of Eastman Kodak and the Memorial Art Gallery, and a tiny movie house plays indie films on the reg. The newest addition to the little-city-that-could is the New York Wine & Culinary Center in Canandaigua.

The New York Wine and Culinary Center features all New-York-sourced food and wine (i.e. you won’t find any rice on their menu here because there is no rice produced in NY – did I just blow your mind?), and they expose visitors to said food and wine in a variety of ways: classes in their beautiful professional kitchen; food demonstrations in a lecture-style classroom setting; a tasting bar where you can experience flights of seasonal wines, beers, or liquors; and a restaurant upstairs that puts it all together for you.

The space itself is beautiful: all dark wood and sophistication. You won’t find any steel-countered surfaces in their professional kitchen – in addition to being functional, it’s also aesthetically pleasing. And situated on beautiful Canandaigua Lake, on a good day the view is spectacular.

On the night I went with my family, it was drizzling and cold outside (I’ll give you that against Rochester, the weather never does seem to cooperate), but the interior of the space was warm and inviting. We went straight to the bar where the tastings are held and each of us ordered a flight: one dry red wine flight, one vodka flight, one white wine flight, and one beer flight. The bartender was ridiculously knowledgeable about every single drink he put in front of us and after I expressed particular delight in a wine from Coyote Moon Vineyards, the bartender said, “Would you like to meet the wine maker?” The winemakers happened to be in town doing a demonstration at the culinary center (this is the type of special event they hold all year round) and filled me in on their winery and a specialty tomato sauce they sell at the vineyard. If you’re ever doing a wine tour in the area or happen to be out near Clayton, NY take the time to stop in and meet the lovely Randazzo family.

The next stop was the bar upstairs for another glass of wine (do you love how specific I’m being by telling you I had “wine”? It was so good I forgot what kind). We settled into a giant wooden table and stayed for dinner. The first course was a cheese plate, followed by a delicious entree of Long Island flounder and scallops over leeks fondue and seasonal vegetables. For dessert we had apple fritters that I’m still dreaming about: apple rings deep fried in the lightest, crunchiest batter imaginable with sweet, smooth vanilla ice cream. Is there any dessert more New York than an apple?

If you’re in the Finger Lakes region, make a point to visit the culinary center. It’s incredible to see a place this innovative and committed to local food and wine thriving in an area that isn’t usually known for its culinary ingenuity. Take a class on making truffles, taste the New York wines (of which there are HUNDREDS), gaze out over beautiful Canandaigua Lake, or just eat your face off in the upstairs bistro. Whatever you do, you won’t be sorry you did it.

New York Wine & Culinary Center is located at 800 South Main Street, Canandaigua, NY. Call 585.394.7070 for more information or email info@nywcc.com

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ROCH! And things that I will eat when I’m there.

Rarely do I find myself this excited to go to a location in April that is currently experiencing snow… but Rochester is my home. I get to see my weirdo-but-awesome family, meet the newest dance girl baby, and indulge in some of this… Okay… LOTS of this.

It’s a garbage plate. And I can’t wait to bury my face in it. Have a happy weekend, kids!

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We Are Family

Did you ever have a totally rotten day where everyone seemed to be against you, and your brain stopped functioning like a normal human’s, and also you found your 4th gray hair? And then you got home to your humid apartment with a stank cat and almost cried the minute you walked in the door? And then you noticed a package on the table from your amazing, very-soon-to-be sister-in-law with 2 of the most beloved cookbooks of your hometown?

No? Well. I’m sorry for you then.

Thanks for making my terrible day soooo so much better, Steph! I cried anyway, but out of happiness.

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Comfort Food

I know everyone has their own version of comfort food, and that there are also standards in this food genre: PB&J, mac and cheese, hot chocolate. All the warm fuzzies you cave to when your day isn’t going quite as planned.

I am the proud owner of a beautiful new tart pan (thanks, Aunt Cheryl!!) and was planning on making some sort of apple tart with a thin layer of cheesecake-y goodness as the crust (bear with me, it’s still in the brain-stages). But last night was colder and darker than I thought it would be, and when I got home I found out an apartment in my building had been broken into (don’t worry, Mom, I’m fine). I needed my own version of comfort food and a snuggle in my bed with an old movie. Good thing I just got back from Rochester and the fridge was stocked with it.

I took this opportunity to plug one of my favorite cold-weather spots in Rochester. If you’re ever in town you have to stop by this place cause it’s the freaking best.

Schutt’s Apple Mill 1063 Plank Road, Webster, NY. This is the kind of small-town spot that hasn’t changed in the twenty-five years I’ve called Webster “home.” They may have added a few new products and removed the rabbits (why, Schutt’s, why?!) but the bins of apples, gallons of cider, and oh-my-god-good donuts are exactly the same. I’ve tried dozens of different ciders in New York City and none of them holds a candle to Schutt’s cider.

Also, it’s worth noting that you should pick up some cheese curds while you’re here. Cheese curds are the solid parts of sour milk, and they’re totally edible and insanely delicious. When I said to my friends, “I love their donuts! And cider. And the cheese curds!”, everyone made a face. I thought I’d explain.

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ROC City Part 3: Wegmans

The Wegmans in Pittsford, NY

“What is it… a grocery store?” Wegmans is hard to describe. It’s more than a grocery store: it’s a destination. I was 13 (okay, 20) before I realized it’s called a plastic bag, not a Wegmans bag. If you need to grab a quick delicious lunch, you pop into Wegmans for a sub, a soup, a slice of pizza, a cookie cake, whatever. Need a new toothbrush? A kumquat? Fiddle head ferns? A bouquet of flowers for your mom’s birthday? A prescription? A place to drop the kiddies while you do your weekly grocery shopping? A DVD? An endless array of gummy worms, chocolates, or peanuts in bulk? A pint of Ben and Jerry’s at 3AM on a Tuesday? (no? me neither…)

You can literally find all of these things at Wegmans. And everyone is nice! And helpful! And there are ten people waiting to answer every question you might have about how to prepare a piece of their fresh produce, or a slab of amazing fish, or the endless Wegmans brand products they offer. No, they did not pay me to write this. They don’t need MY help. They are one of the very few American companies to NEVER have had to lay off a single employee. Did you hear that? Not a single employee.

When you ask an upstate-ex-pat what they miss most about home, they might tell you they miss the Garbage Plates, or the breakfast spots, or the festivals… but you can be absolutely certain that they will tell you they miss Wegmans. Everyone does.

A cookie cake from their phenomenal bakery

*Update: I had no idea this aired last night, but if you don’t believe me… Wegmans is getting press on Letterman. Look!

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ROC City Part 2: The Strawberry Waffle

Rochester has a great deal of history, especially in the downtown area. The George Eastman House is here, complete with a museum on the long and storied history of Eastman Kodak. The Mt. Hope Cemetery is the final resting place of Susan B. Anthony and Frederick Douglass. And one of my favorite areas of the city, Highland Park, was designed in the 1880’s by famed landscape architect, Frederick Law Olmsted.

May kicks off an entire season of outdoor festivals in Rochester, beginning in early May with The Lilac Festival in Highland Park, which is home to over 400 varieties of lilacs.

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After strolling through the seemingly endless lilac bushes, you might work up an appetite. And by “might” I mean “will.”

And what will you eat?! Where will you go?! The answer, my friends, is The Highland Park Diner.

Established in the 1940s, this diner has changed hands many times (and even did time as an OTB parlor… sick, I know) but still serves up the tastiest waffle topping I have ever inhaled calmly and daintily enjoyed: strawberries and sweet cheese.

Stay tuned for an upcoming post in which I try to discover the magic behind the sweet cheese… it’ll be blog gold, I promise.

*Update: in my haste, I forgot to take a picture of the inside of The Highland Park Diner and it is admittedly one of the coolest things about the place. According to a few pieces I found on the web, diners such as this one were made in a factory and then transported by rail to the site, hence the long and narrow shape that would fit on a train track. Sweet, huh?

Thanks to Roadfood.com for permission to use this photo.

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ROC City Part 1: The Garbage Plate

Growing up in Rochester, New York, I never really understood why so many people would want to voluntarily call it home. It snows 9 months out of the year (yes, it snowed on Mother’s Day… that’s May 9, people), one of the greatest forms of weekend entertainment is a trip to Wegmans grocery store, and you can’t go out for a meal without running into your kindergarten teacher or your first boyfriend. However, now that I am a mature woman of twenty-COUGH, I see all the beauty that lies in The Flour City. That’s right. The food.

How could I have ignored the fact that the city I grew up in is famous for a flour mill, Genesee Beer, and Garbage Plates? Oh yeah, and Kodak… whatever.

This week, I’m going to share some of my favorite Rochester, New York treats in an homage to my hometown. It’s no New York or Boston, heck it’s not even Minneapolis, but it’s where I was born so it’s alright with me.

The Garbage Plate at Empire Hots

On the menu:
The Garbage Plate
Bread and butter (the requisite side dish)

This is how we do math in Rochester, NY. Don’t let anyone tell you different:

One plate / (macaroni salad + homefries) + 2 cheeseburgers + (finely ground beef sauteed with hot sauce and spices) + sauteed onions + ketchup + mustard = The Garbage Plate

Derivatives include substituting burgers for red hot dogs, fried fish, eggs (breakfast plate, duh) or the popular white hot dog, a Rochester special made from pork.

If you ever travel upstate, and yes this is the REAL upstate, you have got to go to the original Nick Tahou’s Hots for a Trash Plate. If you value your life and would rather not be shot, or if you simply want a Plate after dark (Tahou’s closes at 8PM because of all the crime they experience) go to Empire Hots in Webster, NY. It might not look pretty, but your taste buds will be singing a different tune.

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