Five More Foods I Wish Would Migrate South from Central New York
Nick Tahou's 'Red Hot' Garbage Plate
Photo by Eugene Peretz
I've been a little homesick lately. Maybe that's why I was so excited when the announcement came about Hofmann Hot Dogs coming to Texas. Don't get me wrong -- my favorite thing about living in Houston is hands-down the amazing variety of food. I have never lived in a city so diverse from a culinary standpoint, and I love that you can get a great meal here at any price point. I do miss my hometown favorites, though, and while you can find the occasional Upstate New York product hanging around (Dr. Konstantin Frank wines at Spec's downtown, Dinosaur Bar-B-Q "Wango Tango" Sauce at H-E-B), I still find myself hankering for items I can't find here once in a while.
With an upcoming trip to New York, I have been making plans to visit my favorite people and my favorite food spots. I also plan to pick up some grocery-store staples to cook up while we tent-camp our way through the Finger Lakes in July.
Here are a few things -- dishes, products, stores -- that I wish would mosey on down to Texas so I could have them on a regular basis.
A late-night trip from my college -- SUNY Geneseo -- to Nick Tahou's was a rite of passage for any student on our campus. I grew up not far from Rochester, so my first garbage plate was consumed well before my college years, and I enjoyed taking newcomers to eat their first one. I haven't had one in years, but with my upcoming trip to New York I think it's about time to resurrect the tradition. I prefer a White Hot Garbage plate with fries and baked beans, but if you are a macaroni salad lover, I hear theirs is terrific.
What is a garbage plate? It's a combo plate of a protein and two sides, all covered in mustard, onions and Nick Tahou's hot sauce. For a protein you can choose a hot dog (red or white), a burger (with or without cheese), Italian sausage, fish, grilled cheese, ham or fish. I've never known anyone who chose anything other than a hamburger, hot dog or sausage. You can choose two sides (home fries, French fries, baked beans or mac salad) and the whole thing is covered in the condiments, including the beefy Nick Tahou's hot sauce. Sound disgusting? It is, in the absolute best way possible.
As much as I love H-E-B and enjoy the occasional trip to Whole Foods, I am very brand-loyal to Wegmans grocery stores. In fact, I often get off the NYS Thruway a stop earlier than I need to so I can swing by Wegmans in Geneva on my way home to Seneca Falls. I love their bakery, they carry tons of craft beer and there are so many delicious ready-to-eat lunch options I hardly know where to start. One of my college roommates was from Long Island, and he would eat approximately five Wegmans subs a week (made with delicious DiBella's bread). When he visits upstate, his first stop is always Wegmans for a sub.
This leads me to the next item on my wish list...
A good sub is hard to find. I didn't even know that was possible until I moved out of the Northeast, but for whatever reason subs just taste better when I'm home. I've dabbled in Jimmy Johns (we have those, too, of course), but DiBella's are the best submarine sandwiches I've ever had, and I miss them. They're great for picnics and day hikes; my husband and I usually split a large sub and some fruit and wander around any one of the beautiful New York State Parks -- Letchworth, Taughannock and Watkins Glen are at the top of our list.
I don't love Rochester, New York-based Zweigle's brand hot dogs quite as much as Hofmann hots, but they are a decent runner-up. They make reds and whites (I love the spicy white hots) plus Italian sausage and deli meats. Someone told me they saw these at H-E-B before, but I think that's as likely as a unicorn sighting. If I'm wrong, please do tell me -- I'll pick up a package today.
Side note: Though they're not an "Upstate New York" product, I do miss New England rolls. They are readily available in the Northeast, but I can't find them anywhere here in Houston. Anyone have a lead on these? I'd love to find them.
The. Only. Italian. Sausage. Period. There is no better Italian sausage on the market than Gianelli. I've tried them all, from brand name to store brand, and nothing comes close. A few weeks ago a friend called me from the grocery store back home, asking me what to make his girlfriend for dinner. The hot Italian sausage is hot, and the sweet Italian sausage is sweet -- delivered as promised, every time. I have never eaten another brand of sausage that really delivered perfect flavor and texture every time. The sausage is rich without being greasy or fatty, and the spices are perfection. Now I want a sausage, peppers and onions sandwich.
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