Search

Kat Eats

Tag

syracuse

SYRACUSE — Searching for the Winning Omelet…and Finding it at Stella’s.

Once upon a time, there were four omelets. The stinkbomb, the nostalgia, the ideal, and the winner.
The stinkbomb was disgusting.  I made it in the microwave when I was eight years old. I was curious: I wanted to know what beaten eggs mixed with random food would smell and taste like. It turned into a fluffy, yet smelly mess and I couldn’t eat it. I did not want to eat eggs for a long time.
It later grew on me to try scrambled eggs. Then I tried different variations of eggs, such as fried egg sandwiches in my college’s dining hall, and of course, omelets. I fell in love with vegetable omelets while at Quinnipiac University at the Acropolis Diner. I always think back to this omelet; for me, this is the nostalgia. The juicy vegetables mixed in with the fluffy eggs made my impression of omelets spark.
Then came the ideal. This was the omelet i saw on the internet. Chef Jacques Pepin explains how to make the ideal on the Travel Channel show “No Reservations:”

Crack open some eggs. Do it on a flat surface so the yolks don’t break. Put them in a  bowl with some salt and pepper. Break yolks with a fork. Beat them so there are no egg     whites left. Add fillings such as fresh chives. Pour mixture in frying pan coated with     butter. Make sure eggs that are solidifying get pushed around with a fork (did you know eggs cooked at high temperatures can toughen them?). Fold over when a crust starts to form. Plate when it gets just a little brown.

Compared to the nostalgia omelet, Jacques’ omelet is too soft. The nostalgia omelet is light, fluffy and just a tad brown.
The winner comes from Stella’s Diner, tucked away in the Northside section of Syracuse at 110 Wolf St. This diner won not only Best Diner this year in the Syracuse New Times, but also in Table Hopping.
The menu at Stella’s lists its omelettes (spelled the French way, where the dish originated in the mid-16th century) on the first page. The 14 omelets listed ($5.69-$6.59) take me on a culinary trip, including omelets such as the San Francisco, (broccoli, spinach, tomato and Swiss), and the one I found most unique: the New Orleans: onion, peppers, sausage, Cheddar and Creole sauce. I chose the “New Yorker” omelet (broccoli, mushrooms and Cheddar cheese).
This omelet is a winner: I’ve tasted tough, browned omelets before and omelets too soft for me. My “New Yorker” was a bright yellow half-moon pouf filled with broccoli and mushroom pieces cooked just right: not too tough, not too soft and just a tad brown. As I took each bite, I could clearly pick out the soft, yet textured green broccoli pieces from the meaty, gray mushrooms. What really surprised me was the sharpness and texture of the cheddar: I was not expecting it to taste so sharp and look so stringy versus gooey.
With tax and tip, I paid around $11 for my meal. Considering the large portions, not bad.
Omelets at Stella’s are a must. It is my winner. This omelet is no stinkbomb, and packs the punch of the omelet-to-try in the Syracuse area.

The winning omelet.

—-

Stella’s Diner

110 Wolf St.

Syracuse, N.Y.13208

HOURS:

5 a.m. – 2:30 p.m. (Mon. – Tues.)

5 a.m. – 9 p.m. (Wed. – Sun.)

(315) 425-0353

http://www.stellasdinersyracuse.com

(Note: the preceding is a food essay I wrote back in January, 2011 and am posting now.)

SYRACUSE — The Mother’s Day Meal that only cost me $11!

Yes, tonight my Mother’s Day dinner cost just $11.

All thanks to my dear foodie-food-blog friend, Nandini. (Check out her blog by clicking here. Amazing recipes especially for you vegetarians out there!)

So how did Nandini and I pay about $11 each for a huge feast, including an alcoholic beverage for each of us?

LivingSocial.com.

Nandini had bought a deal a few months ago through LivingSocial Syracuse for The Mission Restaurant right in downtown Syracuse.

The deal was this: pay $15 for $30 worth of food at The Mission Restaurant.

We both had meant to go for dinner together awhile back, however, our schedules have been extremely busy this semester and haven’t gotten together as much as last semester.

But this weekend was the weekend! And with coupon in hand, we headed over for a feast of fresh, delicious and most certainly delectable Pan American food. This was my second time to The Mission, with the first time only having an appetizer.

A view of the side of the restaurant from outside during late afternoon.

Here’s some history about the beautiful building the restaurant is in: according to The Mission’s menu, the building used to be the Syracuse Wesleyan Methodist Church and was built in the 1840s. This building also was “an important 19th century way-station on the Underground Railroad.” There is actually a “cramped tunnel” in the basement of the building.

The inside of The Mission.

And you can see such history when you walk into The Mission. Beautiful peach colored walls with a deep blue ceiling which has intrinsic designs. Gorgeous stained glass windows line the perimeter of the restaurant, giving the restaurant lots of natural lighting. What I learned at the end of tonight’s meal, which I didn’t know until tonight, was that there is a balcony above the kitchen if you look up, where the restaurant’s office is. The waiter told us you can only access the office/balcony by ladder, and then told us how everything in the office was transported up there through using the ladder. I actually asked the waiter too if he peers out over the restaurant while he’s up there and of course, he replied with a “yes.”

When Nandini and I walked in we were told we would have a 35 minute wait. We decided to head to the bar and get margaritas. Nandini got a regular margarita on the rocks with a salt rim for $5.50. For $6, I got a strawberry margarita:

Mmm, mmm, good. I must say it did get a little watery towards the end, but that does happen with a lot of frozen drinks. And hey, it was a warm day out today, in the 60s/70s! Hooray! The margarita had a light strawberry taste with a hint of tequila peering in, which was good. I got a sugar rim as well, which was delicious!

We were then seated probably about 15 – 20 minutes later, in a really cute circle booth in a corner of the restaurant. We were greeted by our friendly male waiter who gave us fresh-made Tostaditos and Salsa (chips and fresh-made tomato salsa). What Nandini and I both loved about the chips was that there were no signs of oil at all on the chips, meaning they were either baked or really, really well – drained. The salsa melted in your mouth with the fresh chunks of ripe red tomatoes, onions, herbs and spices and what I thought was a lemony-type taste in it as well. It was the perfect start to the meal.

We then perused through the menu and found a side dish we decided to share as an appetizer. I have had plantains before: fried plantains my friend made for me one time and then a fried plantain steak sandwich at TGI Fridays that was so obsessively-good. But never have I had the following side dish: fried green plantains with mojo.

I’ve also never seen plantains presented in such a way: these looked like potato latkes to me. This appetizer was savory versus the expected-sweet: the plantains had a rich texture and with the seasonings and salt on top, was perfectly balanced with the mojo sauce on the side: a tart vinegar-like dipping sauce with several seasonings and spices on it. These also weren’t greasy at all, even though they were fried. These were only $3, and if you want to try a great non-meat appetizer, this is definitely for you.

Thinking about what to eat I thought about my friend Jessica who was with me the last time I was at The Mission. I credit her for introducing me to pulled pork at Mexican restaurants, and I have been eating pulled pork at these types of places ever since. I remembered she had a burrito the last time we came with the ‘Puerco Pibil’ filling: “Yucatan style shredded pork with achiote and orange,” according to its menu. I decided to get this $11 burrito, and get vegetarian black beans inside it. There was a choice of salsas to choose from to put on top of the burrito as well: I chose Tomatillo Serrano: “Tangy green salsa with bits of blackened tomatillo. Bold heat.” I love tomatillo salsa: I love the refreshing taste of the green tomatoes and I love the spice the fruit gives off when you eat that kind of salsa.

While unfortunately the picture I took of my meal didn’t come out, this burrito was honestly one of the best I have ever had in Syracuse. The pulled pork was outstanding: it melted in your mouth and I actually felt like I was eating at a barbeque joint versus a Pan American restaurant. The chef at The Mission knows how to cook meat, that’s for sure! The beans gave the burrito a nice, rich flavor as well, with the salsa on top being the slight kicker. I say slight because it wasn’t as spicy as I thought it would be. The salsa was a little bland, I’ll admit, but I overall enjoyed the burrito. And of course I got my new obsession guacamole on the side. The Mission’s guacamole was rich, filling, creamy and very flavorful. I saw a sign on the way into the restaurant that you can get its guacamole to go anytime when you come in, so if you’re looking for the fresh stuff, definitely stop by.

Nandini let me try her $11.25 Tres Queso enchilada, which had Monterey Jack, Mexican cotija and queso blanco in a tomatillo sauce. The picture of her enchilada came out:

The cheese in the enchilada was outstanding: while it appeared rich and creamy it was actually very light, tangy and flavorful.

The Spanish rice that came on the side of our dishes was very good too. It had just the right amount of spice in it. My dish, unlike Nandini’s, came with something that looked like cole slaw on the side. It was actually ‘cabbage salad,’ and had an amazing spice to it, which Nandini told me was cumin seeds. Tasting the cabbage salad reminded me of eating Nandini’s amazing Indian cooking. (Again, please check out her blog!)

Once we finished our entree-feast, we perused the dessert menu. We ended up splitting the $5 Banana Bread Pudding.

I’m a huge fan of banana bread, so pudding of the bread? Yes, please!

Banana Bread Pudding at The Mission, $5

It was made with macadamia nuts and Mexican chocolate, served warm and topped with rum-caramel and chocolate sauces and fresh whipped cream on the side.

This was one of the best desserts I have ever had in Syracuse as well. I must point out though that the warm bread was not really a pudding-type texture in my eyes. However, I’ll admit , I haven’t had a lot of bread pudding to know what the texture should be, so I could be wrong. The two strongest flavors of the dish were the rum-caramel sauce that heightened my taste buds, and the macadamia nuts, which brought out the savory in the dessert.

After eating all of this food, the bill came out to around $34 for the both of us, including tax. Using the LivingSocial deal Nandini had, we each spent about $5 on the meal including tip, and then $6 previously at the bar.

Thank you, Nandini, for showing me the true-story wonders of not only LivingSocial.com, but The Mission.

And a HUGE Happy Mother’s Day to all of the mother’s in the world today, especially my mom. I love you very much and am so grateful and thankful for you.

—–

The Mission Restaurant

304 East Onondaga Street
Syracuse, NY 13202-2085
(315) 475-7344

Hours:

Monday: 11:30 am – 2:00 pm | Tuesday thru Thursday: 11:30 am – 9:00 pm

Friday: 11:30 am – 10:00 pm | Saturday: 5:00 pm – 10:00 pm | Sunday: 5:00 pm – 8:00 pm


SYRACUSE — My Cinco de Mayo 2011 dinner.

Happy Cinco de Mayo everyone! I know it’ll be over as of this time of night…But what was I thinking about all day today? Guacamole.

It’s honestly my latest obsession in food.

And this obsession started when Chipotle came to Syracuse.

Photo courtesy of avocado.org

Look at the picture to the left of the California Avocado Commission’s ‘Guacamole Auténtico.’

Avocado fans: looks delicious, right?

Guacamole consists of avocados, of course, but there are many variations of the delicious, creamy, flavorful dip. Tomatoes, lime juice, onions, cumin, you name it, it could be in guacamole. And hey, the calorie count for the bowl to the left is good – 170 calories per serving!

When I think of guacamole lately, I haven’t thought just about the delicious, fresh ingredients, but the health benefits of avocados too.

One of my best friends, who happens to be an amazing CNA (Certified Nurse’s Assistant), told me that avocados burn off fat in your belly! This excited me even more about eating avocados. While yes, they are creamy and to some, may be considered “fatty,” according to LIVESTRONG.com‘s article on “Food That Helps You Lose Belly Fat,” avocados contain healthy monounsaturated fats, and have potassium, fiber, folate and vitamins A & D. The article also says avocados keep you feeling fuller longer! And some belly fat just may burn off too.

Here are some other facts from Avocado.org:  avocados are sodium and cholesterol-free and have only five grams of fat per serving! Also, the avocado is also known as the “Alligator Pear” due to its pear shape and green skin.

But guacamole also makes me think of Mexico, as guacamole is of Aztec origin. Which leads me to now yesterday, Cinco de Mayo. I’ll admit, I don’t usually celebrate this holiday every year.

But this year I decided to have a little solo celebration. And tonight, I thought I’d learn a little bit more about this day and why it’s so important.

According to HuffingtonPost.com, “Cinco de Mayo commemorates the Mexico’s surprising victory over the French — then said to be the world’s most powerful army — at the Battle of Puebla on May 5, 1862. Still, the holiday is often confused with Mexican Independence Day, which is actually Sept. 16, and receives limited recognition throughout much of Mexico, despite acknowledging the country’s heritage.”

So on May 5, back in 1862, Mexico won victory over the French. And on this day, many celebrate the holiday by heading out for some margaritas and/or eating some Mexican food.

Me?

I decided to head to one of my favorite quick Mexican food spots: Chipotle.

I went tonight to the location near SU. The line was very long, but very well worth the wait.

Here’s my burrito bowl that I had: carnitas (pulled pork) with pinto beans, chipotle-lime rice, cheese, medium-hot salsa and of course, the star of the show, guacamole. The carnitas was especially tender tonight which made the bowl extra delicious. The guacamole and salsa were the overpowering flavors over the rest of the bowl’s ingredients, however. It was a delicious, filling entree.

Tonight's burrito bowl.

When I’ve been going to Chipotle lately I’ve been getting a side of guacamole on the side with some chips. Unfortunately, tonight, the location I went to ran out of chips as of 9:30 p.m. So, instead of getting chips and guac tonight, I decided to walk to the corner store down the street to get some Nacho-flavored Combos, hoping they’d make up for my lack of chips and guac:

My nacho-flavored Combos I bought.

While unfortunately these combos tasted just like the regular cheese combos and didn’t have much spice to them, I love Combos, so I definitely devoured those too tonight.

Now I really wanted a margarita tonight to wash this all down. Because the Chipotle by campus doesn’t have a liquor license yet to sell margaritas-in-a-bottle, I thought the corner store might have a margarita cooler-in-a-bottle that I could have.

While they unfortunately didn’t have this either, I decided to get something completely different. I got Twisted Tea, and decided to try the “Sun Brewed Style” version.

My Twisted "Sun Brewed Style" Tea. Ooh La La. 🙂

I remember having Twisted Tea back in senior year of college and remembering how awesome it was. This hard tea tonight had that tea flavor, which was good, but it did like sun-brewed tea-soda in a way, which I don’t think was as favorable as the other Twisted Tea I’ve had before.

Overall, my Cinco de Mayo was very well-spent.

Again, happy Cinco de Mayo everyone! I hope you had an amazing time celebrating too and had some guacamole and maybe a margarita too! Please share with me what you did on this holiday!

Cheers.

SYRACUSE — AmeriCU presents: Downtown Syracuse Dining Weeks!

When you hear the phrase “dining week,” what do you think of?

The food, the experience, the prices?

Next Tuesday, Feb. 15, starts 11 days of dining around downtown Syracuse for $25 for less. And get this, each of the 22 restaurants will have 3 course meals at these prices. This is a steal!

AmeriCU presents its annual “Dining Weeks in Downtown Syracuse” from Feb. 15 through Feb. 26.

Here are the restaurants participating, from the list provided in the Syracuse New Times and on Downtown Syracuse’s website:

1. Ale ‘N Angus Bar, 238 Harrison St., (315) 426-9672

2. Anthony’s Pasta Bar, 126 E. Genesee St., (315) 422-4669

3. bc Restaurant, 247 W. Fayette St., (315) 701-0636

4. Bistro Elephant, 238 W. Jefferson St., (315)475-1111

5. Bittersweet Wine & Dessert Bar, 127 W. Fayette St., (315) 474-9463

6. Black Olive Mediterranean, 316 S. Clinton St., (315) 399-5599

7. Bull & Bear Pub, 125 E. Water St., (315) 701-3064

8. Byblos Mediterranean Cafe, 223 N. Clinton St., (315) 478-3333

9. Dinosaur Bar-B-Que, 246 W. Willow St., (315) 476-4937

10. Empire Brewing Company, 120 Walton St., (315) 475-2337

11. Kitty Hoyne’s Irish Pub, 301 W. Fayette St., (315) 424-1974

12. L’Adour Restaurant Francais, 110 Montgomery St., (315) 475-7653

13. La Taqueria Fresh Mexican, 409 S. Clinton St., (315) 422-8811

14. Lemon Grass, 238 W. Jefferson St.,(315) 475-1111

15. The Mission, 304 E. Onondaga St., (315) 475-7344

16. NAMU, 215 Walton St., (315) 475-0220

17. Opus Restaurant and Lounge, 218 Walton St., (315) 701-1351

18. Pastabilities, 311 S. Franklin St., (315) 474-1153

19. PJ’s Pub & Grill, 116 Walton St. , (315) 478-3023

20. Prime Steakhouse, 101 E. Water St., (315) 299-8047

21. Sakana-Ya Sushi Bar, 215 Walton St., (315) 475-0117

22. Syracuse Suds Factory, 320 S. Clinton St., (315) 471-2253

If you are looking to get out in the next few weeks and try some restaurants downtown that you haven’t tried yet, are looking to take a date somewhere, are heading out with friends for a nice meal, or heck, just want to head out solo (solo eating is fun!), then I most definitely recommend this. $25 is a great price for 3 courses and there are many varieties of food to choose from, including sushi, Mexican, French, and hey, some desserts may be in your future!

One catch to this dining week, however. Beverages, tax & gratuity are not included in the three-course meal, so look to spend a little extra if you want some beverages.

Also, please check out the Downtown Syracuse website for links to some of the restaurants official dining weeks’ menu’s!

Looking for another way to learn about the restaurants for next week? Check out the AmeriCU Dining Week blog, which features behind the scenes looks at some of the restaurants listed!

Downtown Syracuse is also having a Photo Contest for best culinary photography. Here is the listing from the website:

AmeriCU Dining Week Dish Photo Contest – Show off your culinary photography skills!  Take photos of the dishes you eat during AmeriCU Dining Week and post them to our Downtown Syracuse Facebook page wall to be entered in our photo contest.  Winning entries will receive the delectable prize of gift certificates to AmeriCU Dining Week participating restaurants.”

All of you photographers out there, get ready for a fun filled dining week!

There is also a Diner’s poll. Here’s what the website says:

Diner’s Choice Poll – Let your taste buds be heard! Visit our website during AmeriCU Dining Week and let us know what your favorite Dining Week dish was and where you had it by voting in our poll. The People’s Choice for best dish will be announced at the conclusion of AmeriCU Dining Week.”

I hope you all will check out one of the restaurants! I definitely will be checking out some restaurants on this list. Which ones will you check out, Syracuse? Leave a comment below and let me know! 🙂

I’m very excited about this and I hope you are too.

Kat

SYRACUSE — RAW FOOD at Green Planet Grocery!

When you think of “Raw Food” what is the first thing that comes to mind?

I think of raw meats, fish, vegetables and fruits.

My last post was about different “Green” food items. This post will talk about a “Green” grocery store: Green Planet Grocery. It recently opened just off of Route 5 in Fairmount, N.Y. My friend Deandra told me about the supermarket and how they have a Vegan Raw Food Cafe there as well. She was telling me the other day about their Raw Food Nachos that were AMAZING, and I was immediately very curious about this “Raw Food” and what it’s all about.

What is raw food? Here are some bullet points about it, from the website http://www.thebestofrawfood.com :

“We call food raw if it is:

  • Uncooked – never heated above 42 C/118 F degrees.

and preferably:

  • Unprocessed – as fresh (or wild) as possible
  • Organic – no irradiation, preservatives, pesticides or GMO.”

Raw food is food that is uncooked and is very fresh. And chef Mariesa Pitonzo from the Raw Food Cafe stresses that in her blog Eye of Raw, where she writes in her bio page the following about herself and her transformation to the Raw Food Diet:

“My raw transformation has completely changed my life.  With in the first three weeks of my transformation, I lost 15 lbs and gained so much energy. I did this by eating many different foods, the only difference is that they are healthier for the body and contain so many enzymes that your body wants and needs!

So why not cook your food? Cooking your food kills all the enzymes and nutrients that it has to offer. Your body needs nutrients to function properly, different nutrients and vitamins affect different organs in your body. The enzymes are whats going to help the digestion process. I highly stress buying local organic fruits and vegetables so that you can get all of what your food has to offer you. If local is not available, still buy organic. This not only produces more nutrients, it is pesticide free and better for your consumption.

The benefits of being RAW: High Energy, you will be the weight your body desires to be, (never count a calorie again!) no brain fog, you will be chemical free, the list can go on and on.” — Mariesa Pitonzo on EyeofRawFoods.com

Deandra and I hopped in the car yesterday and drove over to try some of the “Raw Food” chef Pitonzo had to offer! I was extremely excited about trying something new and completely different from the average grocery store food.

Once we walked in, we were greeted by friendly staff at the cashier counters and headed straight over to the Raw Food Cafe, which is straight ahead as you walk into the Green Planet Grocery. Chef Mariesa was cooking up a storm in the cute kitchen they had in the cafe. The whiteboard had the Raw Food menu of the day, which included the entree, an Antioxidant Salad, and the assortment of smoothies you could get.

Antioxidant Salad (half size), $5.99, Raw Food Cafe @ Green Planet Grocery

We both decided to try the Antioxidant Salad, which certain was full of antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetables, including Asparagus, mixed greens and herbs, a raspberry and kiwi salad dressing, pomegranate seeds, poppy seeds, pumpkin seeds, and more. The half salad that we each got was $5.99, but you could get a full sized for $8.99.
Wow!! What a salad…What I really loved about the salad were the different flavors I had in my mouth. Between the sweet, yet creamy dressing (which Mariesa said she used things such as coconut oil and EVOO in it) , the actual fruits in it, the raw veggies and different seeds on top, it certainly filled me up for the afternoon.

"Green Machine" smoothie (small): Raspberries, Blueberries, Kale and Spinach, $3.99

The smoothie very much impressed me as well. I am a HUGE fan of smoothies, especially ones with lots of yummy fruits in them. While Deandra got an AMAZING smoothie called “Chocolate Banana” that had frozen bananas, almond butter and cocoa bits in it (it was a filling, delicious dessert-type-of-drink!), I got a “Green Machine” smoothie, which was DELICIOUS as well! I have heard this name for a smoothie before, with the “Green Machine” smoothies from the “Naked” juice brand. But this smoothie I had was great: For $3.99 I got to choose two fruits and two vegetables to make my “Green Machine.” I first chose raspberries and blueberries for my fruits, because I LOVE those two fruits dearly, and I know that blueberries especially have high antioxidants. Mariesa chose Kale and Spinach for me as my two vegetables, and my smoothie turned out delicious. While Mariesa said the fruits would overpower the vegetables, they didn’t at first for me: I tasted the leaves of the kale and spinach. But later, as I took sips, I tasted the berries and enjoyed my smoothie immensely.

Walking around the store afterward with Deandra, I also found a DESSERT made by Mariesa in a refrigerated case: a vegan, raw, gluten-free and soy-free Chocolate Lavender Cheesecake. One slice is $5.99.
Chocolate and Cheesecake = LOVE!!!

But lavender? In a dessert? This was new to me. I was once again, quite curious.

I thoroughly enjoyed it. Please watch my video below to find out more about the cheesecake! I’ll tell you this: it was very chocolately and decadent, yet tasted very healthy and fruity. The pomegranate seeds gave it that extra kick of deliciousness!

While I am not a vegan or vegetarian ( I love eating meat!) I really enjoyed trying all of these new ways to prepare food, and you could definitely try them out too!

Check out Mariesa’s website:  http://eyeofrawfoods.com/

And if you want to check out Green Planet Grocery, here’s their information:

3514 W Genesee Street
Syracuse, NY 13219
Phone: (315) 488-7777

SYRACUSE — Cupcakes & Smiles

Ever since I have moved to Syracuse this past summer I have been on the lookout for a cupcake store.

Chocolate Lava Explosion cupcake from Cupcakes & Smiles, $2

These little cakes first appeared in an American cookbook in 1826, according to Scientific American. While we may never know the name of the first “cupcake” cook, according to them, they write that the “cup” didn’t refer to the cake’s shape, but referring to a downsized English pound cake.

Cupcakes have been all the rage, with stores introduced in the city (NYC!) such as Magnolia Bakery (the Sex and the City ladies went here on the show) and Crumbs Bake Shop. Both of these two places pack the punch of a great cupcake: the cake is not too dry and not overly moist, the frosting is not überly sweet where you want to stop eating, and you get your money’s worth.

I love exploring neighborhoods. I’m fascinated by driving to different places and seeing what there is to offer. One day I decided to drive further out on Route 5 than usual. I discovered a Super Wal-Mart, a Cheeburger Cheeburger, an Edible Arrangements and a store called “Cupcakes and Smiles.”

“Cupcakes and Smiles!” When I googled “cupcakes” in Syracuse this place came up. This was a place that I needed to go try.

Which brings me to two days ago.

After I picked up some groceries, I took my friend Avantika down the road to get a cupcake (or two!) from “Cupcakes & Smiles” in Camillus, N.Y. She had mentioned in the grocery store to me how she wanted something sweet, and I immediately thought of this place, just down the road.

We pulled into the plaza and walked into the cute little store front.

I was surprised. There was a huge glass case that greeted us when we walked inside. However, it didn’t look like many cupcakes were inside it. Thinking about going to places such as Magnolia and Crumbs, their cases are stuffed with cupcakes. While it was a Saturday afternoon, I was curious as to why they didn’t have tons more cupcakes in the case. But the amount they had was certainly alright for our short visit.

The cupcakes there are $2 per cupcake, which I have seen at places like Magnolia and Buttercup.

From their website, they say the following about their store: “Cupcakes & Smiles is a from scratch bakery that provides gourmet cupcakes, cookies, cakes and wedding cakes. All of our baked goods are preservative free! We bake fresh every morning! We also bake for speciality dietary needs such as gluten, dairy and vegan!”

Taking a look at the board of the different flavors they had, I saw two cupcakes that really struck my eye: “Cookies & Cream” and “Chocolate Lava Explosion.” I ordered both, and paid $4.

When I got home, I opened my small white box and tried the “Cookies & Cream” first. I split it with Avantika. The only other similar cupcake I have had that I could compare this one to is the “Cookies and Cream” cupcake at Crumbs, which is a large chocolate cupcake topped with their vanilla cream cheese frosting with crushed chocolate sandwich cookies mixed in and a whole “sandwich cookie” on top. I loved the one at Crumbs. Unfortunately, the “Cookies & Cream” at “Cupcakes & Smiles” didn’t have the same effect on me. The cupcake was more dry than I expected, however I’ll give it credit for having a nice crunch on top with the vanilla frosting. I unfortunately do not recommend trying this cupcake.

Now the one that completely blew my mind (in a good way!) was the “Chocolate Lava Explosion.” First of all, I have never seen a “lava” cupcake before. I have seen chocolate lava cakes before, but this was different from the rest. When you put your fork through this cupcake you will find the chocolate, gooey lava in the middle dripping out. This was DELICIOUS: the lava was light, airy and filled with sweet chocolate. The cake was nice: not too dry, not too overly moist and not super sweet either. The frosting was very nice too: not overly sugary. I DEFINITELY recommend this one if you check this place out.

If you want to check this cupcake bakery out: they are open Monday thru Sunday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Cupcakes & Smiles
5380 W. Genesee St.
Camillus, N.Y. 13031
315-488-1291

http://www.cupcakesandsmiles.com

SYRACUSE — Restaurant/Food Suggestions?

Hi everyone!!

Welcome to my new blog, KAT EATS SYRACUSE. Join me as I take you on my food adventures throughout Syracuse, N.Y. through pictures, video and text! Please leave me a comment if you have any restaurant/food suggestions I should try/review!!

Have a wonderful night!

Kat

SYRACUSE — GANNON’S ISLE

Photo courtesy of strathmorebythepark.org

GANNON’S ISLE:

1525 Valley Drive, Syracuse (Valley), NY // (315) 469-8647

4800 McDonald Road (Shadybrook Plaza), Syracuse (Onondaga Hill), NY // (315) 475-1250

—–

A few nights ago I was craving an ice cream sundae.

It was very warm out this week, and as I sat in my apartment, I started to dream about ice cream. I wanted it. It was the mission of the evening. But where to get it? I had a choice to make.

I had tried a place with three of my friends before in the Hawley-Green district that was amazing, but this time I wanted something different, something new that I haven’t tried yet.

Which then suddenly, an article from Syracuse’s newspaper, The Post-Standard, came to me. I had read this a few months ago:

Ice Cream Dream: Gannon’s Isle of Syracuse prepares new flavor for Strathmore homes tour (with video)

I remember watching the video of how they made their ice cream and thinking, “Wow, this place looks really great, I HAVE to try it!” Another friend of mine had told me about it too and how great it was.

This past Thursday was the perfect opportunity to try it.

I picked up Avantika and headed to one of their two locations: Onondaga Hill’s location. I had driven there before exploring the area a few weeks back and I discovered the Gannon’s Isle location happened to be there. I turned on my “Sacred TomTom” (as my mom and I call it) and Simon (the British male voice) led us there.

The drive to Onondaga Hill is very peaceful: once you leave the city vicinity of Syracuse, you enter a world of luscious trees and lots of hills. Because it was so dark outside as well (we went around 9 p.m. that night), we were wondering if we would actually find the place.

Lo and behold, we pulled up to Shadybrook Plaza on McDonald Road. The parking lot was PACKED.

This location of Gannon’s Isle is a very cute sized location: not too small, not too big. A white picket fence surrounds the building, as the line to get into Gannon’s took up the entire picked fence when we got there. It was an exciting experience.

There were lots of families and groups of friends there, getting their ice cream and eating outside. There are a few benches and picnic tables outside and there are also a few tables outside the deli in the plaza, where we ate. We also found people eating their ice cream in their cars, which is another great place to eat ice cream.

Avantika and I waited on line for a little while. The line was moving fast, but it was just a long enough wait for us to figure out what we wanted. We both knew we wanted a sundae.

The atmosphere inside Gannon’s is great; you are directed to walk in one side of the building and leave through the other, for good traffic flow.

The decorations made me smile very wide. The animated characters on the wall of different ice creams (in the picture above as well) on an island are so adorable. This is a very family-friendly atmosphere.

Avantika got a single scooped sundae with chocolate chip ice cream, hot fudge, nuts and whipped cream. She absolutely loved hers, and it looked fantastic.
I decided to try one of their named ice cream sundaes versus the make-your-own. I tried the “Oreo Explosion”: crushed oreos with hot fudge, nuts, whipped cream and the ice cream of your choice. Going along with the Oreo theme, I got their Oreo Cheesecake ice cream.

WHAT A SUNDAE.

My sundae cost around $6, which was well worth the money spent. It came in a huge bowl, with my ice cream filled to the top and their thick hot fudge spread all over the sundae. Every bite I took tasted of oreos and fudge. Mmm. I cleared my bowl on this ice cream very quickly, and I didn’t feel overly full either: many times if you get a large ice cream like that you may end up feeling really full afterwards. I felt very comfortably content.

Gannon’s Isle, has two locations for you to check out, one in Onondaga Hill, where I went, and another in the Valley.  According to their website, they have over 200 rotating homemade ice cream flavors for you to try. Their website also tells the story of how the Gannon’s Isle locations came to be: siblings Eileen and John Gannon have been making ice cream at their business since 1982.

If you’re in the mood for some ice cream today, definitely check out Gannon’s Isle at one of their locations. It’s well worth the trip.

SYRACUSE — Attilio’s

Photo courtesy of syracuse.com

ATTILIO’S : 700 NORTH SALINA ST. SYRACUSE, NY 13202

(315) 218-5085

Lunch Hours: Monday through Friday, 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.

Dinner Hours: Monday through Thursday, 5 p.m. to 10 p.m.

Friday and Saturday: 5 p.m. to 11 p.m.

Sunday: 5 p.m. to 9 p.m.

Bar is open between lunch and dinner.

http://www.attiliosyracuse.com

A great dining experience is not only about the food, but the complete experience that goes along with it. From walking in the door to sitting at the table, to that first meet and greet from the waiter to when you leave the restaurant. If you have a warm, inviting experience, it will make you want to go back there again and again.
I found this especially at Attilio’s last week.

Right in the heart of Little Italy in Syracuse, Attilio’s was a surprise find for myself and 6 of my friends celebrating our friend Avantika’s birthday. While we were first going to check out another restaurant, the wait time at the first place was a little long, so we looked into other options.
Walking around North Salina Street, we came across Attilio’s as it was right near where we parked. We walked in and checked out a menu and found everything on the menu to be delicious sounding and at reasonable prices. Attilio’s had no wait and set up a big table for us to sit at.

Once everyone in our group was situated at the table, we were greeted by our waiter. He truly made our experience what it was. He took the time to greet us, bring us water and bread and tell us the specials of the night.

The wine list at Attilio’s is very nice. When you walk into the dining room, there are two cases that were behind our table that had several different wines in them. There was a huge champagne bottle on top of the case to look at.

Avantika and I tried a glass of the house Cabernet wine. This wine was very nice, dry with a hint of oak in it, which I love.

The bread there is AMAZING. One of the things I love about eating at Italian restaurants is the bread– it’s a staple of the experience. Their bread in particular was light with a very fluffy dough- and a nice light taste as well. The bread wasn’t too heavy to keep you from eating your meal. The bread also comes with an plate with four different mix-ins with olive oil: garlic, herbs, sweet pepper flakes and cheese. You mix them yourself at the table and then the dipping plate can be passed around. The oil mixture there is DELICIOUS!

Going around the table, I heard several pasta dishes being ordered from the menu, including:

  • Red Pepper Penne: “A vegetarian delight! Pan seared penne pasta with grilled bell peppers, goat cheese, fresh basil, sauteed in a walnut-oil garlic sauce.” $16
  • The Original Chicken Riggies: “This dish was created in 1955 by Francesco Nesci. Imported Rigatoni pasta sauteed with sliced chicken breast, Bermuda onion, hot cherry peppers, tossed in a plum tomato and fresh basil sauce.” $18

I studied the menu carefully. While I kept thinking about getting a pasta dish, it came upon me to try their Veal Parmigiana. I haven’t had veal in awhile and I really wanted to try theirs to see how it was.

  • Veal Parmigiana: “A lightly breaded veal cutlet topped with Attilio’s marinara sauce and Grande mozzarella cheese.” $20

$20 is a good deal on Veal Parmigiana; you not only get free bread and oil mix with your meal, but you get a choice of salad or soup as well. I decided to try their Caesar Salad for an additional fee, which was well worth the money.
Their Caesar Salad was wonderful. With a Caesar Salad, you have to be careful about not having too much dressing but not having too little dressing either. This particular salad was a perfect mix of romaine leaves and dressing. Their dressing was a beautiful blend of creaminess and there were two lemon wedges on the side to squeeze on to your liking. I LOVE LEMON, so I squeezed both on. It gave the salad that extra kick. I would definitely recommend getting the Caesar there for the small upcharge!

Attilio’s timing of food was perfect as well: a few minutes after the salads and soups were taken away from our table, the main courses came right to our table.

What I look for with veal dishes is a nice, beautiful tender veal. A lot of times if you overcook veal it can get very tough and hard to eat.

The veal most certainly was beautiful at Attilio’s. The batter they used to bread and cook the veal was outstanding: a nice fresh fluffy batter with nice seasonings. The veal was very tender, melt in your mouth veal. The portion was a very wonderful size as well: two huge pieces of veal with a nice sized bowl of rigatoni on the side (you can choose your pasta with your meal). Their sauce was delicious: a nice sweet, tomato sauce blended with the mozzarella cheese on top. I could sure eat some more right now! My plate cleared very fast; I ate my whole meal and actually did not feel full either. This was exciting, because that meant I could try their desserts!

Dessert time comes around and there are a TON of delicious choices….Key Lime Mousse Pie, Banana Cream Pie, Chocolate Cream Pie, Tartufo (one of my favorites to get out at an Italian restaurant!) and another favorite, Tiramisu.

My friend Jessica and I shared the Tiramisu and it was incredible. It was a nice sized piece of cake with a great blend of the coffee flavors and ladyfingers. My friend Sarah tried the Key Lime Mousse Pie, which was a HUGE hit at the table, the lime flavor was outstanding and that is a pie I would love to try again. The Banana Cream pie was amazing as well, the fresh taste of bananas with the pie crust and cream…YUM!

But as I said before, it wasn’t only the food that made the experience. Our waiter was outstanding. He checked in on us throughout the night to see how our food was. He took the time to sing “Happy Birthday” to Avantika with us. He took the time to personally split our checks, including doing the math of how much we would each pay to cover Avantika’s meal and wrote it on each check. He gave us little chocolate candies as well at the end of our meal.

This was an unforgettable night, and if you’re driving through North Salina Street in Little Italy, I would definitely recommend Attilio’s.

Blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑