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Big Chuck

January 28, 2013

Local foods worthy of national spotlight

Well, President Barack Obama’s second inauguration is over, and we can all breathe a sigh of relief and satisfaction.


Because Chobani yogurt was served at the inaugural banquet. Yes, sir, there it sat, right alongside slabs of aged Cooperstown Cheese. And from all reports, both the local yogurt and cheese were big hits.

If you watched any of the inaugural activities, you saw Sen. Chuck Schumer virtually flitting from one event to another. And he was an excellent salesman. New York yogurt and cheese, New York wines, New York chocolates, New York apples, New York honey. Heck, the only thing missing was a “garbage plate” from Nick Tahou’s place in Rochester!

And speaking of local foods, what is it about Utica? I had a long dialogue with my listeners on my radio show last week about favorite foods that started in the Empire State. The list was long and mouthwatering: hot wings in Buffalo, spiedies in Johnson City, the scrumptious Beef on Weck from western New York, Edmeston’s Greek yogurt, Oneonta’s own Brooks’ House of Bar-B-Q’s, the Finger Lakes’ ice wine, Heid’s Hots from Syracuse, Michigan franks served in the North Country and so many more.

But it always kept coming back to Utica?

Ever have a tomato pie? Many say it doesn’t get any better than the ones they began serving up in Utica in the 1960s. We know it, of course, as the “upside down” pie served at Oneonta’s Depot restaurant. But Utica claims it as a native son (native pie?).

And chicken riggies? Again, Utica. This creamy, spicy pasta dish is so popular that Utica even holds a “Riggiefest” in its honor each year. So far it has raised more than a third of a million dollars for Utica charities. That’s a lot of riggies!

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