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Margaret McCormick
Syracuse, NY
I'm Margaret McCormick and in my past life I was the Food editor at The Post-Standard in Syracuse, NY. I love food, words and my home turf of Central New York. This blog combines my loves.
Interests: travel, cooking, baking, cookbooks, locally grown produce, locally made products, locally owned restaurants and specialty food stores.
Recent Activity
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I could have simply bought blueberries somewhere for my Blueberry Maple Jam. Instead, I seized the moment and headed out to Critz Farms, south of Cazenovia, to pick them fresh. It took about an hour and a half to pick a couple quarts plus a pint -- more than enough for jam (and more for my freezer stash). I had the place to myself on a mostly sunny Friday afternoon, and headed to the back of the rows to "pick forward." It as there I hit the Mother Lode of perfectly ripe, purplish-blue berries. It was relatively cool out, with... Continue reading
Posted Aug 15, 2014 at Eat First
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Antique hunters by the thousands will be drawn to Madison County this weekend for the annual Madison-Bouckville Antique Fest. We'll be among them, hunting for our favorite old and vintage things -- and lining up for a table at Ray Brothers Barbecue. We visited the new barbecue restaurant -- or "RBQ,'' as they call it -- in June, shortly after it opened, and enjoyed some of the best pulled pork and barbecued chicken we've had in Central New York. It's sure to be crowded during Antique Fest weekend, but there's a small bar, about 50 seats inside and a huge... Continue reading
Posted Aug 13, 2014 at Eat First
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Clayton - courtesy of www.visit1000islands.com Alexandria Bay gets all the attention -- and the crowds. Clayton, a quiet village down the road and down the St. Lawrence River, in the Thousand Islands, is undergoing a Renaissance and enjoying a surge in new businesses -- and visitors. There's a new hotel, the Thousand Islands Harbor Hotel. The Thousand Islands Inn, home of what many believe to be the original recipe for Thousand Island Dressing, is under new ownership and starting some new traditions -- but not ready for overnight guests this season. There's a distillery and a couple wineries nearby, an... Continue reading
Posted Aug 6, 2014 at Eat First
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Courtesy of Sampling Syracue Food Tours At the start of the July 19 Sampling Syracuse Food Tour, Kate Gillen said she had three goals: Keep the group entertained. Immerse us in downtown Syracuse history. Moderately fill our bellies. She succeeded on all three counts. Kate launched Sampling Syracuse Food Tours in October 2012. By the end of last year, she had taken hundreds of visitors, representing 21 states and 14 countries, on walk-able, eat-able tours of downtown Syracuse. That's impressive! Full disclosure: Kate invited me take a tour, which normally costs $40, and I accepted. The tour starts at Kitty... Continue reading
Posted Jul 24, 2014 at Eat First
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A lovely take on antipasto salad, at Pascale's Italian Bistro (800 Nottingham Road, Syracuse; at Drumlins Country Club). The only thing missing was olives. When the weather gets hot, things like soups and stews lose their appeal -- and things cool, green and crunchy gain appeal. We grow salad greens in our garden box at home and love stepping out the kitchen door to snip lettuces and arugula -- the ultimate in fresh salads. At restaurants, the first menu items we turn to, usually, are the salads. Here are a few excellent salads we've known and loved in our dining... Continue reading
Posted Jul 1, 2014 at Eat First
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Garden update, East Side of Syracuse, June 25, 2014: No sooner had the pole beans sprouted and started to take off, something dug them up. Bam! Gone. Fortunately, the six San Marzano tomato plants in that small plot are untouched and coming along nicely. I see red sauce in our future -- supplemented with tomatoes from one of our local markets. We do not have enough space for a sauce garden. Two kinds of cherry tomatoes (super-sweet reds and pear-shaped golden tomatoes) are also coming along well in the elevated garden box Robert built last year. The garden box is... Continue reading
Posted Jun 25, 2014 at Eat First
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It's that time of year. Everybody wants to pick strawberries - or pick up a quart or two or three of fresh-picked strawberries at a farm stand. Did you know there's a place where you can pick or purchase strawberries for your shortcake -- AND help an excellent cause? Clear Path for Veterans is a not-for-profit organization that serves service veterans, military members and their families. Educational, support, health and wellness and other programs are offered at the Clear Path facility, off Salt Springs Road in Chittenango -- which has a two-acre U-Pick strawberry field. The field was empty at... Continue reading
Posted Jun 18, 2014 at Eat First
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Caprese salad skewer; beef slider on pretzel roll - Photo courtesy of Small Plates You've probably heard of a "pub crawl:" That's when a group of people visit several pubs or bars and have a drink or two at each. But have you heard of a "dish crawl?" That's when a group of people meet up for a progressive meal with multiple stops in a specific neighborhood. Dishcrawl is a food tour operator that makes its debut in Syracuse Wednesday (June 18), in the Armory Square neighborhood. Three restaurant stops are planned, according to Dishcrawl Syracuse Ambassador Betsy Bell. The... Continue reading
Posted Jun 13, 2014 at Eat First
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Photo courtesy of Fayeteville Farmers Market An hour and a half into opening day Thursday of the new Fayetteville Farmers Market, Alambria Springs Farm sold out of its artisan sourdough breads. Mountain Grown Farm had exhausted its supply of asparagus. Kriemhild Dairy Farms was running low on eight-ounce containers of meadow butter. Excitement has been growing for weeks -- months, really -- about the new farmers market setting up shop Thursdays at the Towne Center at Fayetteville. And customers came out in droves. More than 20 vendors offering early spring greens, eggs, cheese, yogurt, grass-fed beef, bison, lamb and turkey,... Continue reading
Posted Jun 5, 2014 at Eat First
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It's only Monday, but I'm already looking forward to the debut of the Fayetteville Farmers Market at Towne Center at Fayetteville on Thursday. I'm sure I will want to share to share some highlights from the new market. But first, let's have a look at some of Saturday's haul from the Central New York Regional Market. We left the market with Wake Robin Farm yogurt, cheese curds and granola, two dozen clams and a pound of halibut from the fishmonger in Shed A, vegetable plants and other items. But I went to the market, really, looking for one thing in... Continue reading
Posted Jun 1, 2014 at Eat First
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We can get anything we want, pretty much year-round, from somewhere on the planet. Blackberries and raspberries in December. "Fresh" corn in March. Tomatoes (minus real flavor) all winter. Along about March, the asparagus from South America and California calls out at the supermarket -- especially after months of broccoli, potatoes and beets. But local asparagus is so worth waiting for. Be patient and hold out for it and you will be rewarded with the taste -- and true arrival -- of spring. I've been hearing from friends in western Onondaga County that Tim's Pumpkin Patch has amazing asparagus. You've... Continue reading
Posted May 21, 2014 at Eat First
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If you slept in or dilly-dallied and went to breakfast during the first hour of the Cazenovia Farmers Market on Saturday, you missed your chance to take home a loaf of bread from Rise, a new bakery that's making a splash in the community. Rise team members Jasmeen Barnes and McKenzie Houseman showed up at the market bright and early with 75 rustic baguettes, boules and hearty rye, raisin and kalamata olive loaves. They flew off the shelf in an hour. Bam! Gone! Just like that. Lesson learned: Arrive EXTRA early for best selection at the Cazenovia Farmers Market. It... Continue reading
Posted May 12, 2014 at Eat First
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Pizza is different things to different people. Sometimes it's a thick crust, sometimes a thin crust, sometimes a REALLY thin crust. Sometimes it has meat on it, sometimes it doesn't. Sometimes it's a white pizza -- hold the sauce, please. Sometimes it's fun to take pizza "South of the Border,'' with salsa and other Tex-Mex toppings and flavors. Cinco de Mayo (the Fifth of May) is a celebration of Mexican culture and heritage. It's also an excuse to drink Margaritas, gorge on chips and salsa -- or make this thin-crust South of the Border-style pizza with Central New York accents.... Continue reading
Posted Apr 29, 2014 at Eat First
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I've been thinking about gnocchi - dreaming about it, really -- ever since enjoying the world's lightest, pillowy homemade gnocchi at a trattoria in Haddonfield, NJ, last fall. The search for the right recipe took me all over the place, but eventually to Food52.com, where I found a recipe for ricotta gnocchi and successfully turned out five dozen of the little pasta stand-ins. I considered serving the gnocchi with a creamy pesto sauce, like the restaurant did. Then I saw fellow CNY food blogger Mark Strong's post on working to perfect his homemade vodka sauce -- and decided to serve... Continue reading
Posted Apr 19, 2014 at Eat First
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Photo courtesy of Lune Chocolat Seventy percent of the millions of pounds of candy purchased for Easter is chocolate, according to a recent survey. Most of that chocolate is mass-produced bunnies and eggs. Not that there's anything wrong with, say, a Lindt bunny or Reese's peanut butter egg. We've nibbled he ears off many a drugstore bunny. But Central New York's artisan chocolate makers are busy at work on hand-crafted, once-a-year treats to fill Easter baskets, gift bags and boxes. So, hop to it and buy some LOCAL chocolate! The shops included below produce chocolate on a relatively small scale.... Continue reading
Posted Apr 10, 2014 at Eat First
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Drink where you live. I've lived in Central New York all of my life. As a food writer and blogger with an emphasis on things local and seasonal, I'm interested in "locapours'' to go with our local food -- but I am by no means a wine expert. I like wine with food. I like dry(er) reds, whites and Roses, but can't always come up with a word or words to describe what I like about wine. I like to chat and learn and pick up tips from others, and that's what nudged me to participate earlier this month in... Continue reading
Posted Mar 31, 2014 at Eat First
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Courtesy of Small Potatoes Sales and Marketing Do your homemade cookies fly off the plate? Could they -- or your spicy pickled peppers -- be made commercially, without sacrificing quality? If you have ever thought about bringing a homemade food product to market -- or your friends and family keep telling you should bottle, bag, box or can something you've made -- you should get to know Martin Butts, of Small Potatoes Sales and Marketing. He's on a mission to show people how they CAN get their product out there -- and HOW to do it. In the last five... Continue reading
Posted Mar 13, 2014 at Eat First
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Summer is coming. Eventually. It's gotta be. We're looking forward to warm days on the veranda and in the yard. Until then, there is the open-pit fireplace in the S2 Bistro at the Scotch 'n' Sirloin. Cozy tables for two ring the fireplace. Sit there for a while, and you'll wish you were wearing short sleeves. Also, there is the food. In case you've been hibernating the last six months, Yann Guigne, former chef and co-owner of L'Adour Restaurant Francais (RIP) in Syracuse, has joined the Scotch as executive chef. His French touches are making a mark on the bistro... Continue reading
Posted Mar 5, 2014 at Eat First
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A recurring item on the menu at The Copper Oven, a seasonal, wood-fired pizza parlor at Cayuga Ridge Estate Winery, in Ovid, is the 26-Mile Pizza. All of the ingredients, including veggies, cheeses and finishing oil, are sourced within 26 miles of the restaurant. I found myself thinking about this pizza after receiving a sampler pack of Greenview Kitchen sauces, a brand owned/made by Giovanni Food Company, of Syracuse. The Greenview line includes an organic pizza sauce. The presence of an Italian-style cheese from the Finger Lakes makes this particular pie more like a 50-Mile Pizza. Let's de-construct the whole... Continue reading
Posted Feb 17, 2014 at Eat First
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Classic Cherry Mini Cheesecakes; photo courtesy of 83 & Company, Syracuse Unless you've been hibernating or living under a rock the last few weeks and months, you've probably heard that The Cheesecake Factory, a chain based in Calabasas Hills, CA, is opening a restaurant at Destiny USA in Syracuse. The buzz hype about yet another chain restaurant at the mall got me thinking about local establishments that make fresh, artisan cheesecakes by hand. If you think about it, just about everything you want to eat is available from an independent, locally owned business. When you support a locally owned business,... Continue reading
Posted Feb 9, 2014 at Eat First
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Photos Courtesy of The Sweet Praxis If you've had the good fortune to visit Paris, you've seen macarons -- and maybe even come home with a small box or two of them in your carry-on. They're hard to resist, decked out in a spectrum of colors and piled on plates, calling out from bakery windows. In Syracuse, at places like the Central New York Regional Market, Cafe Kubal, LoFo in Armory Square and the Syracuse Real Food Co-Op, some lovely, locally made macarons have no doubt caught your eye. They are the signature product of The Sweet Praxis, an artisan... Continue reading
Posted Feb 2, 2014 at Eat First
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Photos courtesy of Ossie's StrEATery How cold is it? Cold enough that the water line to Roy Osborne’s food truck froze this week – adding a kink to his opening week plans at Pioneer Business Park, in East Syracuse. Even if that hadn’t happened, subzero is too cold to be working in a food truck – and too cold for people to want to come out. Temperatures in the twenties will seem positively balmy compared to this frigid snap. Besides, the extra time allows Osborne to think about the special events he’ll drag his trailer to in the months ahead... Continue reading
Posted Jan 24, 2014 at Eat First
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I stopped at the Chittenango Travel Plaza on the New York State Thruway recently. Not for the restroom, not for a coffee and not for an I LOVE NY fridge magnet from the gift shop. There’s a new Taste NY storefront inside the plaza. You might not know it, because there is no signage to announce its presence as you approach the Chittenango Travel Plaza (a k a rest area), between Exits 34 and 34A, driving west on I-90 towards Syracuse. The Taste NY program was launched by Gov. Cuomo to spotlight the state’s food industry, grow the marketplace and... Continue reading
Posted Jan 13, 2014 at Eat First
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It wouldn't be Christmas without taking a new cookie for a test drive. We love cookies that call for a lot of butter (the more, the merrier!), are thin, crispy and crunchy, go well with coffee and tea -- and Champagne or Prosecco -- and look pretty on a cookie plate. This recipe qualifies on all counts. I adapted the recipe, which was originally conceived as a "drop cookie,'' to make it a "refrigerator cookie.'' You can make the dough in advance and slice and bake the cookies the next day or several days later. The dough freezes well and... Continue reading
Posted Dec 20, 2013 at Eat First
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Think local, buy local: There is so much food goodness in Central New York! Today, I give you the Second Annual Eat First #CNYfood Holiday Gift Guide. Better Brittle, the sequel: Better Brittle, the West African-style peanut brittle made in Syracuse by Christiana Kaiser, has been called "peanut perfection.'' It's thin, crispy and crunchy --- not dense and sticky, like traditional peanut brittle. I featured it in my 2012 Eat First local food gift guide and I'm featuring it again because there has been a major development in the Better Brittle world. Christiana has collaborated with Michael and Emily Woloszyn... Continue reading
Posted Dec 9, 2013 at Eat First