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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
Smith Market is a whole foods/natural foods store with a focus on locally sourced produce, meats and provisions It's a work in progress in Utica's Bagg's Square neighborhood and it's coming together beautifully. The market is located in the former Smith Sprayers building and it has a chic, industrial vibe. It had its grand opening on October 27, but we were in Utica the weekend prior and stopped in to check it out, on the recommendation of David Iannicello, of Syracuse Salt Company. Smith Market has a big space to fill and looks to be just getting started. Provisions include... Continue reading
Posted Oct 29, 2018 at Eat First
If your schedule revolves around cheese, you’ll want to add the Little Falls Cheese Festival to your planner -- for next year. I made the 65-mile trip from Syracuse to Little Falls (Herkimer County) for the fourth annual Little Falls Cheese Festival on Saturday (July 14, 2018). The festival, typically held on the second Saturday of July, was created to celebrate both cheese and the history of cheesemaking in Little Falls. Before leaving, I filled a small cooler with ice packs. It was hot and humid and I knew I would want to purchase some "souvenirs." Three blocks of Main... Continue reading
Posted Jul 17, 2018 at Eat First
We all make deals with ourselves: Spend a couple hours cleaning and you can kick back with a movie. Work an extra hour today and you can clock out an hour early tomorrow. On Thursday, I traveled to Ithaca to work on an upcoming food story for The Syracuse New Times. And rather than rush back, I made a deal with myself to enjoy some time in and around Ithaca, to make a couple local food stops and get back to my blog. It has been a while! Focused on work, I've felt unmotivated and uninspired to put time into... Continue reading
Posted May 17, 2018 at Eat First
Chef Challenge Syracuse is a series of hyper-local "Chopped''-style events designed to bring Central New York's top restaurant talent and lovers of local food together. Organizers aim to put CNY on the map as a "foodie'' destination. The events are similar to Food Network's "Chopped'' in that participating chefs/restaurants receive a "mystery box'' of seasonal produce and pastured meats from Grindstone Farm, Pulaski -- then have a relatively short time frame during which to produce a four-course meal for about 25 guests utilizing the contents of the box. At some restaurants, guests are invited "backstage'' into the kitchen as meals... Continue reading
Posted Jan 31, 2018 at Eat First
Whether it's cooking, baking, tree trimming, hosting family and friends, writing cards into the night or doing double-duty at work in advance of holiday time off, it's easy to get run down this time of year. We all know it's important to eat healthily, stay physically active and get plenty of sleep, but we tend to burn the proverbial candle at both ends. No one wants to spend the holidays sniffling and sneezing or in bed with the flu. I'm taking a preventive measure, thanks to Carly and Dave Dougherty at Food and Ferments, in Truxton: Fireside Tonic. Fireside Tonic... Continue reading
Posted Nov 21, 2017 at Eat First
I was happy to see recently that the little diner near the railroad tracks and Heid's, in the village of Liverpool, is open again -- and called Maggies (sic) Trackside Diner. For a long time, this was the home of the American Diner, which served up Conservative politics along with eggs and bacon and earned a reputation as "maybe the most politically incorrect diner in the Empire State -- and possibly the nation'' (Fox News). The American Diner closed in July and its replacement, Maggies, debuted in late August. I stopped in on a recent Sunday, newspaper in hand, and... Continue reading
Posted Sep 24, 2017 at Eat First
The greens in this salad bowl are from the Brady Faith Farm, an urban farm on Syracuse's South Side. So are the "snacking carrots'' I've been nibbling before supper instead of chips and pretzels and other not-so-healthy, munchy-crunchy snack foods. They're tiny carrots plucked from the ground while they're young -- and sweet. The Brady Faith Farm is a project of the Brady Faith Center, a Catholic mission that serves people in need on the city's southwest side. Staff members and volunteers have transformed nearly six acres of vacant land in the 2000 block of Onondaga Creek Boulevard into a... Continue reading
Posted Jul 11, 2017 at Eat First
Burgers and beer go together like eggs and bacon, wine and cheese, peanut butter and jelly. Burgers and beer are even better if the burgers are made with local, grassfed beef and the beer or beers are local craft beers. In Central New York, burgers and beer don't get any better than those at the seasonal Burger and Beer Nights at Greyrock Farm, near Cazenovia. This is the second summer for Burger and Beer Nights at the farm. The events are a way to celebrate the growing season, the community, local brews and Greyrock's grassfed beef (raised, slaughtered and butchered... Continue reading
Posted Jun 20, 2017 at Eat First
If you love local food, here are 10 Syracuse- and Central New York food-focused accounts you'll want to follow. Warning: You'll want to lick the screen! Editor's note: Today's blog post is a collaboration with For five more Syracuse- and Central New York-food-focused Instagram accounts worth a follow, CLICK HERE. 1. @feedmecuse Reasons you should follow: This duo (a vegetarian and a carnivore) seek out all the best eats to be found in the Salt City, from sushi at Secret Garden to Sunday brunch at The Mission Restaurant to beet salad at Empire Brewing Company to soft serve ice... Continue reading
Posted Jun 5, 2017 at Eat First
Photo courtesy of David Haas - Tubbert's is one of those long-gone Syracuse restaurants that stirs wistful memories in Central New York residents of a certain age. Old newspaper articles on the restaurant -- and family members with fond memories, including my Aunt Dorothy (Sarvay), of Cortland -- paint the picture of a large, rambling restaurant, housed in a stately mansion on Court Street, at North Salina Street, in Syracuse. The restaurant was destroyed by fire in the 1960s. Tubbert's was open for lunch and dinner and was a well-known dining destination. Before his name was on cake mixes... Continue reading
Posted May 3, 2017 at Eat First
When the newly expanded and relocated Good Nature Brewing opens its tap room to the public later this month, it is certain to be a magnet for lovers of craft beer -- and especially craft beer made with local ingredients. The new facility, on five acres outside the village of Hamilton, will allow co-founders Carrie Blackmore and Matt Whalen to brew more beer, can beer and welcome far more visitors than their small tap room in downtown Hamilton currently allows. It will also allow them to serve food. So it's fitting that the brewery with a focus on "farm to... Continue reading
Posted Apr 11, 2017 at Eat First
You know you're from Syracuse/Central New York when (among other things)... You have a sense of loyalty to Byrne Dairy, the hometown brand. You down a Byrne chocolate milk with a Hoffman hot dog at Heid's, on occasion. You consider the appearance of Byrne's pale green mint milk in March to be a sure sign of spring. You know the words to the catchy Byrne Dairy milk advertising jingle ("Byrne Dairy Milk is mighty fine / chock plum full of vitamine"...). You know that Byrne got its start bottling milk during the Great Depression (1933) and still sells milk in... Continue reading
Posted Apr 9, 2017 at Eat First
Our Winter CSA from Main Street Farms ended in February, but we are still reaping the benefits. Vegetables like carrots and beets keep for a long time, and we loaded up on onions and potatoes at our final Saturday pick-up at the Central New York Regional Market. All that's left to do until spring, then, is cook! Here's a look at some of the things we have made and enjoyed with our winter bounty. (We never did try the kohlrabi, but there's always next year. We will DEFINITELY sign up for the winter CSA again.) Note: Now is the time... Continue reading
Posted Mar 14, 2017 at Eat First
Winter CSA share, Main Street Farms, Week One 'Tis the season for cookies and candy and rich meals. But vegetables can be in short supply. That's one of the reasons we decided to sign up for the Winter CSA offered by Main Street Farms, in Cortland. Main Street Farms offers a "market style'' CSA that runs six weeks -- every two weeks from December to February. In Syracuse, pick-up is at the Central New York Regional Market, where Main Street Farms owner Allan Gandelman and his team set up each week. While there, we can pick up our favorite yogurt... Continue reading
Posted Dec 13, 2016 at Eat First
Photos courtesy of Matt Peirson and Simple Roast Coffee (Facebook) It has been a busy year for Matt Peirson. In the last couple months alone, he purchased a business property in Auburn, married the love of his life and said so long to his job in "corporate America." In the next week or two, he will take Simple Roast Coffee Company to the next level, opening a double-window, drive-thru "coffee hut" on Grant Avenue (Route 5), in Auburn, near the Movieplex Theaters and Tractor Supply Co. The small building, which now wears a fresh coat of green paint, was formerly... Continue reading
Posted Aug 9, 2016 at Eat First
My mother's mother had a teeny-tiny garden in Olean, NY, where lily of the valley, peonies, bachelor's button and rhubarb grew in the spring. Growing up with a grandmother and mother who loved rhubarb and loved to make rhubarb pie, I thought everyone had an appreciation for the red- and green-streaked vegetable. Yes, vegetable. Not so. It's so tart and fibrous some people just can't get their head and taste buds around it. Rhubarb is sometimes called pie plant, because it is so often used in pies. I use it to make muffins and coffee cake and simmer it with... Continue reading
Posted May 19, 2016 at Eat First
If you're among the thousands of drivers who travel along Route 5 near Elbridge, you've no doubt been watching the big, red, contemporary barn-like structure taking shape across the road from Tessy Plastics. That's Bailiwick Market & Cafe and it brings to Elbridge a combination of many things under one roof: a cafe serving breakfast, lunch and supper; ice cream parlor with soft serve and (eventually) homemade hard-pack ice cream; coffee bar and drive-through (coming soon) serving Cafe Kubal coffee; local goods marketplace featuring locally produced foods and locally made art; and, most important of all, a community gathering space.... Continue reading
Posted May 12, 2016 at Eat First
Spring is here. It's time to lighten up our wardrobes, menus and beverages. If you're a red wine drinker in the winter and a white wine drinker in the summer, it's time to bridge the gap and drink the pink. By that I mean dry Rose from the Finger Lakes region. This is the season the pink- and cherry- and salmon-hued wines are released and celebrated. There are plenty of new choices each year, as more and more Finger Lakes winemakers embrace this style of wine and put their best red wine grapes into it -- Cabernet Franc, Pinot Noir,... Continue reading
Posted Apr 26, 2016 at Eat First
I've never met a chip I didn't like. And I also love salsa. I almost always have a jar or two of Primo and Mary's salsa on the pantry shelf. It's a great local product created by Tina Conte McPherson, of Cazenovia, who works tirelessly to develop her recipes and products and sell them at local markets and in stores. SalsaCuse (all-natural premium salsa) is one of Tina's newer products. I hadn't tried it yet and thought about opening a bag of chips -- but decided to go down a healthier road and make some Southwest-style stuffed peppers with it.... Continue reading
Posted Apr 3, 2016 at Eat First
I've been to Ireland several times and never had anything resembling what we in the States commonly call Irish Soda Bread. We did enjoy hearty brown soda bread everywhere we went -- with no raisins, no caraway seeds and, I'm guessing, no sugar. It's wonderful -- even more so slathered with that amazing Irish butter. So maybe this recipe should be called Irish-American Soda Bread. Whatever you call it, this bread is easy to make and uses ingredients you are likely to already have on hand. There is no kneading and no need to run out and buy buttermilk, unless... Continue reading
Posted Mar 16, 2016 at Eat First
These are blackened haddock tacos with Southwest slaw, a recent Friday lunch special at PB&J's Lunch Box on James, the recently opened storefront version of Pat Orr's popular PB&J's Lunch Box food truck. PB&J's is perhaps best known for Pat's signature grilled peanut butter and jelly sandwich, a gooey, slightly crunchy delight, thanks to the addition of chopped pecans. The sandwich earned Pat the Judge's Choice award in September at the first food truck competition at the New York State Fair. The "brick and mortar'' location is at 989 James St., in the Imperial Gardens apartment building. It's tucked a... Continue reading
Posted Mar 9, 2016 at Eat First
I'm not usually a fan of brown liquor. But add some cream and vanilla and a hint of caramel and I'm in. Blame it on Tina Conte McPherson, of Primo and Mary's Salsa, for getting me hooked on Black Button Distilling's Bespoke Bourbon Cream. Black Button is a craft distillery (with tasting room) located a stone's throw from Rochester's Public Market and Rohrbach Brewing Company. Its products include gin, vodka, whiskey, bourbon and moonshine (corn whiskey), made in small batches from local grain. It even makes a limited-edition lilac gin, in honor of Rochester's famous lilacs and Lilac Festival. Black... Continue reading
Posted Feb 19, 2016 at Eat First
A small, storefront restaurant and take-out operation offering a fresh take on the iconic Central New York fish fry is earning positive word-of-mouth and bringing diners to Solvay. The Fish Friar opened in late fall on Milton Avenue, across the street from the Solvay Diner. Owners Joel Canino, Giovanni Giardina and Brad Vinciguerra have created a destination for fresh fish -- plus unique side dishes -- that's simply but elegantly prepared. If you like fish fry, or fish prepared more healthily, check it out. THE VIBE: Clean and industrial. The sleek, stainless steel order counter and open kitchen area feature... Continue reading
Posted Jan 18, 2016 at Eat First
Photo courtesy of Robert Poormon A reader of my food stories in the Syracuse New Times reached out to sing the praises of Basil Thai Cuisine restaurant in Phoenix, Oswego County, and suggest I check it out. That was more than a year ago. I heard more enthusiastic reviews and made a mental note to check it out when out that way. But I'm rarely out that way. After Christmas, craving something fresh and flavorful, we made our way there. The restaurant is about 25 miles from our home on the east side of Syracuse and a couple miles north... Continue reading
Posted Jan 6, 2016 at Eat First
So many cookies, such little time... Each holiday season, I like to try at least one new cookie. This year I settled on Maple Pecan Refrigerator Cookies, a new (to me) cookie that I made for an annual cookie exchange with friends this past weekend. The original recipe appeared in Parade Magazine in 2012. This cookie is grainy and crunchy, like pecan sandies, with a texture similar to shortbread or sable cookies. It's also very buttery. The recipe appeals on several levels: One, it's a refrigerator cookie, which means you can make the dough ahead and slice and bake the... Continue reading
Posted Dec 7, 2015 at Eat First