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Driving Through Deliciousness

June 24, 2019

Today, my daughter is an only child. But it’s not just for today. It’s for the next three weeks while her brother is at sleep away camp. Yesterday, I was tasked with the drop off outside Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.

Because we’re gearing up for the move, I made the trip by myself. Besides, Little Miss Fussy wasn’t thrilled about the prospect of spending over twelve hours in the car over the course of two days, for the sake of her brother’s summer fun. Although, I did try to tempt her with promises of listening to the full Hamilton soundtrack multiple times on the drive home. And, of course, the assurance our adventure would be fueled by all kinds of deliciousness.

Still, her answer was no.

So yesterday, left to my own devices, I turned a six hour and twelve minute drive into a seven hour and twenty minute one. What made it a little easier is that there were a lot of stops. All told, fourteen hours elapsed from the time I set out, to the time I finally arrived home. But every stop along the way was filled with deliciousness.

Waking up, I had some inkling of what might be ahead, so I ate the lightest breakfast ever. I laid down a good probiotic base with a little kombucha, and followed that with just one piece of whole grain toast with butter.

Lunch was at the camp’s cafeteria. While there were a lot of choices, none of them were particularly appealing. However there was a small kosher vegan section, and it was serving a spinach and tofu scramble. I figured it might be wise to eat some vegetables. As it turned out, that plate was surprisingly delicious.

But I had my eye on a sandwich in Harrisburg.

One of my Yelp friends lives out that way, and she has been delighted with how many great Vietnamese places have been opening up in and around the city. I was most interested in having a banh mi. Part of me was thinking about doing a banh mi tour of the area, but I had a long drive ahead. So I had to stop at just this one. The grilled pork filling was fantastic, but I’m still on the hunt for that elusive and shatteringly crispy crust of a proper rice flour baguette.

I took my Vietnamese iced coffee to go for the ride out to Old Forge.

It had been years since my last visit to the self proclaimed “Pizza Capital of the World.” Almost everyone who writes about the pizza from this town acknowledges there are two distinct styles, the red and the white. They even go so far as to explain the white is a double crust pie. But then most go on to detail the red pies of the region. But the white is where it’s at. However, on Sundays my favorite spot Arcaro & Genell’s is closed. So I went to Salerno’s Cafe instead. As it turns out, this was the spot where I had my very first taste of the form with Albany Jane so many years ago. The white is a unique treat, somewhere between a calzone and a grilled cheese sandwich. One cut of the white and an iced tea set me back a mere $3.50 at the bar.

This was a good snack to take me to my next snack on the New York side of the border.

Binghamton is synonymous with spiedies. If for some reason it’s not for you, let’s change that right now. These marinated and grilled skewers of meat are sold everywhere around that area. The best places to get spiedies don’t actually have spiedie in their name. I learned this the hard way. Sharkey’s was the first place I fell in love with the form. However, I was told that I needed to check out Lupo’s S&S Char Pit. It was also brought to my attention that Lupo’s serves the original lamb spiedie, although most spots rely on the more modern interpretation of using either pork or chicken. While the lamb spiedie sandwich was truly delicious, my heart still belongs to Sharkey’s with its ancient skewers of meat and plain sliced bread with which to eat it.

Do you know what’s in between Binghamton and Albany? Oneonta!

Yes, one could stop in Oneonta for cold cheese pizza. But if you’ve been eating for hours and can only have one thing, you have to go to Brook’s. Sitting alone at the counter, I ordered a half chicken a la carte, with a request for it to be thrown back on the grill to crisp up its skin. That paired with an unsweetened iced tea, and I’m in my happy place. Which was important, because the thought that this might be my last taste of Brook’s before leaving for Michigan got me a bit verklempt. Either that, or maybe it was the emotions of my son being so gown up and independent. Regardless, it was a fantastic meal. I picked that chicken clean.

When I finally arrived back home, I poured myself the last glass of ouzo from the bottle, and went to sleep. It was an incredible day. All road trips should be like this. Truly, it was the road trip of my dreams, but one that nobody in my family would ever have any patience to endure.

The secret is sticking to small dishes at each place and staying away from sides. Those sides will get you every time. Now I want to marinate some lamb in Lupo’s spiedie marinade. The only problem is that we’ve already given away our grill. Maybe I can bring the marinade to Michigan and introduce some of the classic New York flavors to the people of The Great Lakes State.

One Comment leave one →
  1. June 24, 2019 3:25 pm

    Andrea Nguyen says the authentic bahn mi roll is made with only wheat flour and has a lot of kneading. Just saying. My experiments so far has never got past 10% rice flour.

    Love the sesame bun on the lamb spiedie from Lupo’s. Bookmarked. Brook’s BBQ? Never heard of it.

    Still sorry you did not make it all the way to Utica on Saturday. My report on the day coming soon.

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