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Mountain Home Magazine

First Come, First Served

Aug 31, 2015 05:38PM

Need a new party game? How about asking your guests to list their favorite New York foods? I was prompted to list favorites by a rather odd circumstance.

I was playing tour guide and took a new friend on a tour around the Corning/Elmira area. There was a bit of snow on the ground and the temperature hovered in the low twenties. Up we went to the top of Harris Hill for the primo view of the valley. There was the sign pointing to the Soaring Museum, and my passenger got very excited. I had been there many times, but I was excited that it was open on this winter day.

While my friend examined all the fascinating exhibits, I started checking out the gift shop—also fascinating. I found the Official 2014 New York State Travel Guide, and I don’t think too much has changed. The I (Heart) New York full-color booklet has a section on “New York Food + Drink Favorites,” and I immediately started reading, especially the “Food Firsts and Claim to Fame” section. Here it is for your perusal and edification—fascinating reading:

Thousand Island dressing, Jell-O (have you seen their museum yet?), pie à la mode, beef on a weck, Buffalo wings, spiedies, the garbage plate (you’ll find this in Rochester), ice cream sundaes (Ithaca claims this delish dish), Saratoga’s seasonal peppermint pig, potato chips, and spring water. And here’s a bunch from the Big Apple: baked Alaska, black and white cookies, Bloody Mary (made with gin I’ll bet, way before vodka arrived)—but wait, there’s more!

Delmonico steak, eggs Benedict, Waldorf salad, lobster Newburg, New York pizza, Reuben sandwich, egg creams, chocolate egg creams (I’m getting wildly hungry), Coney Island hot dogs (my dad’s favorite), Long Island duck—all of those from the New York City area.

Now we’re heading back to the Finger Lakes, so how about these: Vinifera grapes—stellar stuff from the Finger Lake’s Dr. Frank; and grape pies from the Naples, New York, area; first mass-produced cream cheese from Chester; Oswego’s Bold onions; salt potatoes (Syracuse area); and King Kullen, probably the first supermarket (Queens). They listed restaurants that made their mark—Moosewood in Ithaca, Anchor Bar in Buffalo, the Culinary Institute, and Dinosaur Bar-B-Que in Syracuse. (Those are their choices. Don’t blame me or send me nasty e-mails.)

Thanks to the New York Times Heritage Cookbook for this “different” but very New York recipe:

Cheesecake With Beer

Here’s a recipe that’s fun to make and easy, too, especially now that cracker crumbs come in a box. The little alcohol in the beer disappears in the cooking, darn it. It’s used for taste.

  • 1 1⁄2 c. graham cracker crumbs
  • 1⁄4 c. unsalted butter, melted
  • 4 8-oz. packages cream cheese (lower fat is fine)
  • 1⁄2 c. freshly grated cheddar cheese
  • 1 1⁄2 c. sugar
  • 1 tsp. pure vanilla
  • 4 large eggs
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1⁄4 c. heavy cream
  • 1⁄4 c. beer
  • 1⁄2 c. pineapple preserves

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees. Mix the cracker crumbs with the butter. Press the mixture over the bottom and sides of a buttered, nine-inch springform pan.

Beat the cream cheese until soft and creamy. Add the cheddar cheese and gradually beat in the sugar.

Add the vanilla. Beat in the eggs one at a time and then the egg yolks. Continue to beat until the mixture is smooth and satiny. Fold in the cream and beer.

Spoon the pineapple preserves, if used, over the bottom of the prepared pan. Pour in the cheese mixture. Bake about 1 1⁄2 hours or until set. Turn off the oven heat and allow the cheesecake to remain thirty minutes in the oven with the door ajar.

Cool the cake on a rack. Chill thoroughly before serving. If pineapple preserves were not used, the cake may be topped with a fruit glaze. This recipe yields about eight servings.