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The Driving Force of Summer

July 6, 2015

The fried chicken of Montauk may be off the menu for this summer. It’s still too early to tell. But my cousin who I usually see out on the eastern part of Long Island made the trip early this year, and I missed my window to see him in East Hampton.

That’s not to say I can’t drive out to see the rest of my family there later this summer. But man, the calendar is getting packed.

I’m very lucky that so much of my family lives within driving distance. That makes the summer the season of the car. And we’re planning to put it to good use. Starting with three back-to-back-to-back trips. Of course, two of those are day trips, but it’s still a notable amount of time behind the wheel.

It all began yesterday.

Utica is kind of awesome. The parts that I saw were more decrepit than what I was expecting. Maybe there is a nicer side to the city that I was missing. But, man they’ve got the Italian-American classics down. Chicken riggies, hats with sauce, and Utica greens were all fantastic. And we followed lunch with a variety of treats from the bakery I could find that was open late on Sunday.

Why don’t more places use hot cherry peppers in their cooking? Man, those things really woke up the flavor in food.

Dessert made me think that I should really order even more fun stuff out, should I find myself in a promising bakery that’s really remarkably inexpensive. Somehow, I bought a ton of treats for four kids, three adults, and a small bag to bring home, for just over $20. It was fantastic. But I wish I bought more.

Rural Pennsylvania isn’t without its charms either.

Today is the big drive down to the intersection of Altoona, Bedford and Johnstown. There will be frozen custards, pierogies, kielbasa, pancakes, pinball museums and more. Usually, when I go on these week long trips, someone gets my weekly share from the CSA as a gift. But this year, no such luck since I have a CSA share buddy.

Sadly, I’m going to miss the Troy Pig Out this year as we’ll be driving back from the PA farm. But that’s the breaks. I’ll just have to try and get some pulled pork and ribs while in the Keystone State.

And as soon as we get back, I’m off to the Berkshires for another quick day trip. And all of this is just the start of the summer driving. We’ll have an excursion to Delaware, more time in Pennsylvania, hopefully a trip to Rhode Island, and a downstate adventure is likely too.

Where will I fit all the critical summer food events? It’s going to be hard. But I’ll do my best. Please stay tuned, and I’ll let you know.

What’s this summer driving you to do?

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