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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
Thanks, Dave! This is one of my favorite projects each year.
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It's not too early to talk holiday gift giving, is it? Wegmans has had Christmas on display since before Halloween. The annal Buy Local Bash is coming up Nov. 25. Some local retailers have already hosted their holiday open houses. So, no. It's not too early. The holiday season is upon us. My annual, food-focused, buy-local holiday gift list includes salt, chocolate, coffee, tea, wine, barbecue sauce, tableware, a dining discount card and more. Got a hard-to-shop-for person on your list who doesn't want any more "stuff"? Give the gift of a local food experience. Read on. Note: There's no... Continue reading
Posted 4 days ago at Eat First
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Several restaurants have opened in downtown Syracuse in the last year or so and we're slowly getting around to checking them out. For my birthday earlier this month, I mulled the options and went back and forth over a few before finally settling on A Mano Kitchen & Bar, knowing that my partner would like it, as well. The restaurant is owned by Anthony Fiacchi and his son, Alex Fiacchi, who is also the restaurant's executive chef. Alex Fiacchi has worked on farms in Italy and in some of the finest restaurants in Philadelphia and has a deep appreciation for... Continue reading
Posted Oct 29, 2019 at Eat First
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Chef Sarah Hassler (background) and Farm to Fork 101 founder Mark Pawliw (back, left) speak to Commonspace residents at a community dinner in August. If you've attended a Farm to Fork 101 event in Central New York, you're familiar with Mark Pawliw. He's the founder of the series of pop-up dinner events that shine the light on locally grown and sourced food and serves as a conduit between farmers, chefs and diners. He also works in the restaurant industry and is the coordinator of cooking events at the Wegmans Demonstration Kitchen in the Art and Home Center during the New... Continue reading
Posted Oct 17, 2019 at Eat First
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Open house attendees visit the vegetable garden at Truxton Academy Charter School during an open house earlier this month. As August winds down, there's no denying the hint of fall in the air. Branden Brown, co-owner of Trinity Valley Dairy, is looking forward to this year's corn maze adventure on the farm and the deluge of families that will come out to navigate it. He's also excited about the start of the school year. Two of his children will be attending Truxton Academy Charter School. The school -- New York State's first rural, agriculture-focused elementary charter school -- will welcome... Continue reading
Posted Aug 26, 2019 at Eat First
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Clockwise from top left: Mahogany tomatoes; a Parisian carrot; lettuce leaf basil and a handful of white currants, all grown at Fresh Herbs of Fabius. Like many farmers, Ken and Elizabeth Nevius grow a lot of produce for chefs. They started out growing herbs exclusively -- hence the name of their business, Fresh Herbs of Fabius -- but before long branched into microgreens, heirloom vegetables and some fruits. They started out on a small plot of land at their home in rural Fabius, in southeastern Onondaga County, and have since expanded to five acres of tiered growing space on the... Continue reading
Posted Aug 15, 2019 at Eat First
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The Syracuse Food Truck Association launched in 2015 with three members: Nick Sanford of Toss & Fire Pizza, Dennis Souva and Cindy Baker of The Chicken Bandit and Pat Orr of PB&J's Lunchbox. In four years, the organization has grown to include nearly 30 mobile food entrepreneurs. In Syracuse, it has been a bit of a rocky road for them. In the past, the city used a lottery system that gave the trucks standing locations on city streets. At one point, expensive licensing and permit fees drove many of the trucks out of the city. Fortunately, Syracuse Common Councilor Michael... Continue reading
Posted Jul 31, 2019 at Eat First
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Cooperstown Cheese Company display at the Little Falls Cheese Festival. Do you like to fill your leisure time with food-related activities and pursuits? Check here regularly for Central New York- and Upstate New York-focused ideas and itineraries. And feel free to leave ideas for future visits/posts in the Comments, below. Destination: Little Falls Cheese Festival The line was so long at the Jake's Gouda stand at the Little Falls Cheese Festival that it would have taken 15 minutes or more to get a sample and make a purchase. That's not a complaint as much as an observation: the annual celebration... Continue reading
Posted Jul 16, 2019 at Eat First
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Garlic scapes are the twisted green stalks that grow from the bulbs of garlic plants. You've probably seen them at farmers markets, in tangled piles held together with rubber bands. At $2 a bunch (or something like that) they're a good value. Stuff them in a plastic bag and they'll keep for a couple weeks in the refrigerator. Garlic scapes aren't as strong in flavor as garlic itself, though they are lightly garlicky. A farmer suggested thinking of them and treating them as you would scallions. Trim the stringy, somewhat bulbous end of the scapes and finely chop the tendrils... Continue reading
Posted Jul 8, 2019 at Eat First
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Opening day haul, Downtown Syracuse Farmers Market Visiting a local farmers market should be part of everyone's weekly routine this time of year. Why go to a grocery store stocked produce from thousands of miles away when you can go to a market and get purchase fresh produce, in season, sometimes picked just hours earlier? You'll also find eggs, meats, cheeses, yogurt, honey, maple products, plants, baked goods and so much more. Garlic scapes, Haas Farms, Bayberry Plaza Farmers Market Farmers have weathered a wild rollercoaster ride this spring. It's important for us to support them. At the Bayberry Plaza... Continue reading
Posted Jun 27, 2019 at Eat First
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It's the best time of year to visit Crazy Daisies. The flower farm on Kasson Road, off Route 175 near Marcellus, has annuals, perennials, vegetable plants, herbs, succulents, hanging baskets, container gardens and much more to strike your garden fancy. Crazy Daisies also has a Garden Cafe with a focus on fresh, local fare. So the question becomes: Shop for flowers first or grab a table on the porch first and have a bite to eat? On Saturdays and Sundays, brunch is served from 9:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. The menu is fairly simple, with things like French toast (made... Continue reading
Posted Jun 11, 2019 at Eat First
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The 200 block of West Water Street in downtown Syracuse is usually lined with cars parked on both sides. On May 19, the street will be closed to traffic to accommodate an enormous tent housing a series of tables set for dinner. Defi Cuisine Corp., a restaurant at 208 W. Water St., will celebrate its first anniversary with a five-course “long table’’ dinner that day. Chef-owners Cody Dedischew (on left, below) and Nick Salvetti have received a special permit from the city for the street closure and hope to welcome 200 guests to the table. The public is invited to... Continue reading
Posted May 2, 2019 at Eat First
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It seems like every restaurant in Central New York has a fish fry on Fridays -- or a seasonal fish fry on Fridays during the Lenten season leading up to Easter. And then there are the fish fries served at churches, American Legion posts, fire departments and so on. Standing apart from the sea of seasonal fish fries is the baked fish dinner offered during Lent at St. John the Baptist/Holy Trinity Church, on the North Side of Syracuse. Each Friday during Lent, baked fish dinners are served in the church's Parish Center or available to go. On April 5,... Continue reading
Posted Apr 9, 2019 at Eat First
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I am not a bagel expert, by any means. Growing up in an Irish-American Catholic family, bagels were not a common bread option at our house. I still remember the first time I had a bagel, at the home of a Jewish family who lived in our neighborhood. The exterior had a kind of sheen to it and the interior was dense and chewy. They ate their bagels untoasted, sometimes with lox and cream cheese, all totally foreign to me and my developing taste buds. I had no preconceived notions when I visited Water Street Bagel Co. for the first... Continue reading
Posted Apr 5, 2019 at Eat First
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It was sleeting sideways when I visited Kasai Ramen for a late lunch in late January -- perfect weather for a pot of tea and bowl of steaming hot ramen. I am not super familiar with ramen. I know that it's a staple of college life and sometimes the subject of jokes. Some people call ramen "College Soup.'' Open the dry noodles, add boiling water, wait for them to cool down a bit and presto! -- instant dormitory dinner. I also know that ramen is a Japanese cousin of pho, a broth-based soup with meat, noodles and other ingredients that's... Continue reading
Posted Feb 12, 2019 at Eat First
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It's easy to fall into a pattern of frequenting the same restaurants or types of restaurants all the time. I'm on a mission in 2019 to try new places, new-to-me places, places that might be off our collective radar in Central New York. First stop: La Patria Cafe, in Syracuse's Hawley-Green neighborhood. It opened in mid-October in an old house on Green Street, a few doors from Thanos Imports and across the street from Laci's Tapas Bar. You might remember it as the home of Laci's Lunchbox and 83 & Company. Aren't the lizard door handles cool? Owner Clara Cadena... Continue reading
Posted Jan 17, 2019 at Eat First
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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 EatLocalCNY.com. 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