I hit the local food trifecta on Saturday. I toured a family dairy in Vernon Center, bought wonderful Italian bread and a pusty from a bakery in Rome, and topped it off with a terrific lunch at Teddy’s, also in Rome.
This is a pusty. Don’t be alarmed by the nickname, be amazed by the pastry.
A pusty, you ask? Yes. To be more precise, and perhaps a bit more enticing, it is actually called a pasticciotti. It is an Italian pastry filled with pudding or custard. It’s a dense dessert that is perfect with a cup of hot tea. I love the chocolate pudding variety, and the pusty I bought at the B & L Italian Bakery on James Street was a real treat.
I’m not sure why I had never ventured inside B & L before. I used to frequent Aquino’s Restaurant, which was just across the street before moving out to Floyd Avenue, when I worked at the Daily Sentinel newspaper. The pizza was always delicious and it was fun to watch the numbers flying as patrons placed bets on everything and anything they could imagine.
B & L has been going for 30 odd years, the woman inside told me. In addition to the bread there are Italian cookies, rolls, and other pastries. And, of course, the pustys.
Whenever we visit Rome we tend to eat or at least stop at The Franklin Hotel to buy bread and goodies. This time around we stopped at B & L and later drove down Black River Boulevard and visited Teddy’s, where Wife L and I met Niece N for lunch. It had been a long time since we were in the strip mall where Teddy’s is located. So long ago that we remembered when there was a thriving Blockbuster video store there, instead of the ugly Dollar General store and a pool store. (Side note 1: I’m glad I never bought Blockbuster stock. Side note 2: Why does every Dollar General store look like it was yanked from a 1940s-era Moscow slum?)
Teddy’s has undergone quite the transformation. Wife L remembered when it was a narrow eatery where she would order greens and a grilled cheese sandwich early in the morning after visiting numerous establishments like Casa Bogey’s nightclub and DeMatteo’s bar, down on East Dominick.
Now, it’s a full-size restaurant with booths and tables, a nice bar in the back corner, and warm, rich colors all around.
I had the delicious Italian panini, which consists of salami and capicola topped with Wife L’s favorite greens, roasted red peppers, and provolone cheese. The sandwich was incredibly flavorful, with the garlic mayo adding a nice finish. I didn’t really care for the sweet potato wedges; the thick cut didn’t do it for me. Niece N enjoyed one of the specials, a hearty chili served with garlic bread. Wife L went the burger route, opting for the bacon cheeseburger and a side of fries. She deemed it worthy of our past favorite burger, the one served up at Abbott’s Village Tavern in Marcellus. I remain undecided until more evidence is gathered.
Teddy’s is well-known for its chicken riggies, and it also serves a variety of salads, seafood, pasta, and steaks. It will be a hard choice next time we visit Rome.
The processing area for Stoltzfus products. The dairy welcomes visitors and school groups.
The third leg of our local food trifecta was an open house at Stoltzfus family dairy, where we were invited into the dairy’s processing building where cheese, cheese curds, yogurt, and Creamline milk are produced. The pristine machinery served as the backdrop for the Stoltzfus patriarch who discussed his family’s operation. You can buy Stoltafus products at some area stores. They are looking to expand into others, and they sell directly from their self-serve coolers Monday through Thursday.
I love doing this kind of thing. Wife L thinks it’s weird. But I came away amazed at how hard these folks work and how much they need to know about agriculture, food production, and marketing.
Our tour guide explained how the milk they use comes from their three family farms within 10 miles of their Skinner Road dairy. The milk comes on Monday, and by Thursday their products are on their own trucks being delivered to stores. They produce between 6,000 and 8,000 cups of yogurt a week. They don’t homogenize their milk, they only pasteurize it. They believe it’s a better-tasting, more natural, healthier product.
Their fluid milk comes with the cream on top. You need to skim it off or give your bottle a good shake to disperse it. I sampled the milk and thought it was creamy and smooth. We bought horseradish cheese curds, a sour cream and onion farmstead cheese, and a couple of yogurts. I loved it all. The cheese was creamy and smooth; it doesn’t have the bite to it like an aged cheddar, but I really enjoyed it. The cheese curds were packed with flavor; and I enjoyed my yogurt that was much smoother and milder than my other favorite, the locally produced Chobani Greek yogurt, produced in New Berlin.
Stoltzfus Family Dairy is on Skinner Road, Vernon Center.
I’m glad I discovered this new option and found another outlet for locally produced goods. It does mean something to me to know exactly where my food is coming from, and I was very glad for the chance to learn about the process and meet just a few of the people who make it happen, right here in CNY.