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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'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 5 days ago 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
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Albany has a Penzeys. Buffalo has a Penzeys. West Nyack has a Penzeys. Long Island has a Penzeys. Syracuse? No Penzeys! Penzeys Spices is an upscale retailer of spices, based in Wauwatosa, WI. It has 67 retail outlets in 29 states, as well as online and mail-order shopping -- which is a good thing, since we here in Syracuse are completely Penzeys-deprived!!! I've been ordering from Penzeys online for years -- the quality of their spices is excellent and their prices are reasonable. Orders over $30 are shipped for free and I love how they include a sample-size spice or... Continue reading
Posted Dec 2, 2013 at Eat First
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Kale is everywhere these days, having its moment on menus and in the culinary limelight. At our house recently, broccoli had a moment, when both of us came home with big green bunches of it. We could have blanched it and stuffed it in the freezer for later use. Instead, we enjoyed it as a side dish and came up with a couple recipes to spotlight it. There are worse things to OD on, right? Broccoli is a good source of protein, vitamin E, vitamin A, Vitamin C, calcium and iron and an excellent source of fiber. It's versatile, and... Continue reading
Posted Nov 13, 2013 at Eat First
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Bread: It's the staff of life. But I wanted something a little out of the ordinary to go with our Roasted Squash Soup. Organic multi-grain baguette? Nope. Cornbread? Not the right partner. Homemade yeast bread? That would be lovely, but not on a weeknight. Popovers? Yesssss! Into the Recipe Vault we go. There’s something old-fashioned and comforting about popovers. In the realm of breads, popovers are peculiar: brown and crisp on the outside, moist and eggy on the inside. Think of them as hollow, free-form rolls. As their name suggests, they "pop over'' the pan they're baked in and tend... Continue reading
Posted Oct 18, 2013 at Eat First
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Photo courtesy of The 317 (Three One Seven), on Facebook If you haven’t stepped out and about to dine in downtown Syracuse lately, you will find some new restaurant options -- including an Indian restaurant on Harrison Street and a new occupant at the former P.J. Dorsey's site on Walton Street in Armory Square. Let's take a look: • The 317: The restaurant formerly known as Parisa closed this summer and reopened in September as The 317. Chef and co-owner Chance Bear is in the kitchen, creating classic and new American dishes “with a twist,’’ like seared scallops with bacon... Continue reading
Posted Oct 11, 2013 at Eat First
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Here is the church. Here is the steeple. Open the doors and see all the… WINE! Eremita Winery is located in the former Reformed and (later) Presbyterian Church, which stood vacant for years, in the village of Lodi, Seneca County (Seneca Lake East). The church dates to the 1870’s. Owner Josh Parker, a native of the Utica area who previously worked as a construction project manager in Florida, purchased the building in 2010 after seeing it advertised online. He is restoring and repurposing the building in increments, putting reclaimed materials and his own design and construction skills to use. He... Continue reading
Posted Oct 4, 2013 at Eat First
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During winter, a cluster of trees on a small hill in DeWitt is covered with tarps and burlap. It took us a while to figure out that the trees beneath the protective wraps are fig trees. Figs and fig trees are native to the Mediterranean region and the Middle East – and not exactly common in colder climates like Central New York. But Faraj Aouad, owner of Omar’s Beauty Salon, on Thompson Road, patiently persists in growing them here. Faraj, a native of Lebanon, says he started with three trees (bearing common black and white figs) and now has 15... Continue reading
Posted Sep 23, 2013 at Eat First
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Photo courtesy of Neil Miller, Farmshed CNY Adams Acres in Jamesville is Central New York’s only certified organic apple orchard. That makes it the PERFECT venue for Farmshed CNY’s next harvest and community event. Farmshed CNY will host a U-Pick Organic Apple Party on Sunday (September 22), at Adams Acres. It’s an opportunity to get to know – and pick – the many varieties of organic apples available at the farm and to sample some of Central New York’s finest local foods and farm products. After last year’s crop devastation and widespread apple shortage, this looks to be an excellent... Continue reading
Posted Sep 16, 2013 at Eat First
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Chef Stephen Landon at last year's EnvIRONmental Chef Cook-Off at Baltimore Woods Take four local chefs. Give them a surprise local ingredient to create entrees around, add the bounty of the local harvest and an array of locally produced meats, cheeses, wines and other ingredients donated by the producers – and what have you got? The EnvIRONmental Chef Homegrown Cook-Off, a delicious fundraiser for Baltimore Woods, Marcellus. The third edition of the popular event takes place Sunday, September 8. It features returning chef-champs Chris Kuhns of Phoebe's and Joelle Mollinger of Joelle's French Bistro vs. chef Chance Bear of Parisa... Continue reading
Posted Aug 28, 2013 at Eat First
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If you don’t mind a little dust and construction, you can now sample wines at DeWitt’s first winery. Greenwood Winery, at 6475 Collamer Road (Route 298), opened to the public several weeks ago. Construction of a bar and bistro, adjacent to the tasting room and wine-processing building, will soon begin. DeWitt’s first winery? A winery in the suburbs? It’s not as strange as it sounds. Grapes are now being grown in an estimated 80 percent of New York’s counties. And wineries are popping up all over New York State: along Lake Ontario, in the Thousand Islands, near Watertown, on the... Continue reading
Posted Aug 20, 2013 at Eat First
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After two years of design and construction, Flame is open for business on East Fayette Street in Syracuse. It's a good bet this restaurant will catch fire when droves of students return to the city and the fall semester at Syracuse University begins in a few weeks. Flame is the creation of sculptor and artist Tash Taskale, a native of Turkey who studied art in France and at Syracuse University and lives and works in Central New York. One of the most visible examples of Taskale’s work is “01101,’’ a large, galvanized steel sphere, made from thousands of welded steel... Continue reading
Posted Aug 12, 2013 at Eat First
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Today is National Zucchini Day, also known as “Sneak Some Zucchini onto Your Neighbors' Porch Day," because home gardens tend to be overflowing with zucchini this time of year. Our garden isn’t overflowing with zucchini, but we happily accept donations (especially of small- and medium-size zucchini and yellow squash) and buy it at farmers markets. At three for $1, usually, zucchini can’t be beat. National Zucchini Day is not to be confused with National Zucchini Bread Day (April 24). Here are a couple savory ways to get your zucchini on. Zucchini Boats 1 cup brown or regular rice, cooked 3... Continue reading
Posted Aug 8, 2013 at Eat First
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Most of us are in denial that school starts in a few weeks, the days are getting noticeably shorter and the year is almost in its final quarter. Alicyn Hart is already looking ahead to 2014 – and thinking about what it holds for her and her restaurant. Hart, executive chef and owner of Circa New American Bistro/Market in Cazenovia, has decided not to renew the three-year lease on the space at 76 Albany St. (Route 20), that Circa has occupied since 2006. In the seven years Circa has been there, her rent has doubled, Hart says. It’s ironic, she... Continue reading
Posted Aug 2, 2013 at Eat First
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Cheese selection - Muranda Cheese Company The Finger Lakes Cheese Trail stretches south nearly to Pennsylvania and west almost to Keuka Lake – that’s a lot of ground and miles to cover. With determination, a good map or GPS and a growling stomach, you could hit up all of the trail stops in one day – with little time to linger or explore other places, like the region’s wineries, which tend to be clustered together. The Finger Lakes Cheese Festival, which takes place this Saturday, July 27, gathers the 12 members of the Cheese Trail together, in one place. It's... Continue reading
Posted Jul 22, 2013 at Eat First