Let me preface this by saying that I’ve never really been a chicken wings fan. I don’t like hot wings because I don’t like spicy food. Most of the time there doesn’t seem to be enough meat on the wings to justify the effort it takes to eat them properly. And of course the cost of wings has drastically inflated from the days when one could go to a bar on a Monday and get wings for 10 cents each.
Yet, here I am, talking about not only chicken wings, but possibly the best chicken wings in the Syracuse area. That might be hyperbole, or it could be because I haven’t eaten wings in a lot of places across the area, though I’m not a novice. And truthfully, a part of me isn’t sure whether I’m justified in defining the best wings.
So I offer two things.
One, I went a second time specifically to order the wings because I had a craving for them and that’s never happened before.
Two, my friend Steve, who I’ve gone with both times, proclaimed them the best wings he’s ever tasted, and he has had a lot of chicken wings.
The first time we went, we were actually heading for a different place in the Westcott area because others had told both of us independently that they had the best wings in town. We showed up at 2PM on a Saturday… and they were closed! I mean really, you’re a pizza and wings joint and you’re closed on Saturdays until 4PM? Scandalous!
Thus we were forced to look for a different place to eat, when he said that he’d heard of a place called Dorian’s Pizza and Deli (or maybe “gourmet pizza and deli”, as it seems they have two separate websites lol) at 534 Westcott Street and maybe we should try it out.
We went there only to find that we were going to be the only customers in there for a while. There were two guys in there; one a tall friendly guy, the other guy short who’s the antithesis of loquacious. Steve ordered a slice of pizza and the hot wings; I ordered the garlic teriyaki wings because all I had on my mind was wings. To be fair, there’s a lot of things they had on the menu besides pizza and wings. They have a major assortment of sandwiches, soups, and even pasta. They even have combination meals.
The inside will remind you of a bar; that’s actually where I thought we were going, but it’s not a bar. They have some tables in there and, well okay, a bar where you can sit and eat your food. They serve soda and some bottled beer, and they have a big screen TV… but that’s about a close to it being a bar as you can get.
They call out your order and you go get your food. I looked at my wings and immediately noticed how big they were; yeow! As you can see in the picture above, the color was wonderful and I found myself salivating because the aroma was enticing; that’s never happened before as it pertains to wings either.
Let me just say this; I felt really good eating these wings. I didn’t get the same type of euphoria I get when I’m consuming chocolate but this was pretty close. The wings are definitely a meal unto themselves; ten large wings was plenty of food. The first time Steve also had pizza and he admitted it was too much food later on but the second time he just had the wings and he said that was enough; and that they were still the best wings he’d ever had.
I can’t tell you about the hot wings because I’m not a masochist. My wings… all I might have wanted was a slight bit more salt but they were great without it. I have no idea how they put the combination together but the garlic wasn’t too hot and the teriyaki isn’t too sweet; it just works.
There you are, a recommendation for a place that’s kind of out of the way unless you know the Westcott Street area well. I know I’ll be going back again; give them a shot!
The picture you see below is of my mother and I. Next month Mom will turn 77 years old. These days that may seem young to some folks these days but unfortunately it’s not. My dad didn’t make it to his 71st birthday, and I think about that one almost every day.
Mom lives by herself and for the most part does very well. She still drives but never goes too far from where she lives. She stopped driving on highways many years ago, which means that if she wants to go further than 15 miles it involves one of her friends taking her or my driving up to see her. That’s problematic sometimes because I don’t live close, and when I’m working out of town I may not get to see her for a month or more.
In many ways I’m lucky that she doesn’t have major health issues. She had some episodes years ago based on her high blood pressure, and I not only got her off the medication she was taking (which was excessive) but I put her on the road to eating better by teaching her how to read labels. On that front she’s doing well.
On another front she scares me. Like most older people she does have some problems with memory, and she has problems staying focused here and there. We don’t talk every day (I know, bad son), but whenever we do talk she often begins with “Did I tell you…” When she begins with that she’s never told me. Other times she’ll start telling a story that she’s told many times over the past few years; sometimes I stop her, other times I let her go.
The focus thing is bothersome because sometimes it makes me think she doesn’t care about anything going on in my life. We’ll start talking about something she’s asked me about, I’ll start telling her, and suddenly she’ll break out with something else that has nothing to do with what we were talking about. And I’ll get upset; just telling it like it is.
Here’s the thing though. I know that memory is a dicey thing. Goodness, I have some issues of my own. There are people I’ve known for years that, every once in a while, I can’t remember their name for a few seconds. Actors and actresses from favorite movies or TV, singers of songs, I’ll remember all the details except their names. There are things in my house that one day I suddenly notice, ask my wife about and she’ll tell me it’s been there for years.
So, I keep telling myself that I have to learn patience. Mom doesn’t have anything like Alzheimer’s; she’s just getting older. I know it’s not personal; she loves telling all these stories about me when I was a little boy. It’s embarrassing sometimes, especially when we’re out and she starts telling strangers these stories, but I’m learning to just roll with the punches. I know I’m not the only person with a mother that does this sort of thing.
But it’s hard to deal with. Age is a scary thing because we see what’s going to happen to us here and there. Even if we live a long time we’re not gonna get out of this alive. How healthy will we be? Things can happen in an instant and our lives immediately change. If it happens to our family members and our friends, it’ll happen to us.
Of course we can work our brain muscles, if we want to believe scientists. I’ve started playing Sudoku over the last 9 months and I’ve gotten pretty good. I used to work crossword puzzles and I might get back into it. I play a couple of versions of Scrabble on Facebook. And I exercise, my way, to work on keeping my body at least a bit healthier than the norm.
I also have to remember one other thing. When I talk to Mom she says things are going well. She enjoys watching TV and her DVDs. She’s eating, which is a big thing for me. I wish she’d eat more but she now weighs what she weighed in high school, so who am I to take that away from her (because it’s not going to happen for me lol)? She enjoys the little girl and the baby across the street. And she goes to the hairdresser every other Wednesday with her one friend, who drives.
In a way, I guess that’s the best thing to wish for our parents as they get older, and as we have to deal with them. Mom pretty much doesn’t have a care in the world; I wonder when I’ll attain that kind of peace.
My name is Mitch Mitchell, and I live in Liverpool, NY. Come July of this year I’ll have lived in central New York for 40 years, though I’m a bit older than that. This is my home, and I can’t conceive of living anywhere else. I love this area more than any other area I’ve been to, and I’ve lived in and visited a lot of places. At this point in my life I can’t imagine living anywhere else, and I hope I’ve shown that in most of the articles I’ve written on this blog.
As a military kid, you move a lot. You move onto a new airbase and you’re immediately welcomed by lots of other kids. If you’re not a jerk, you’ll have friends for as long as any of you are around, because people move all the time.
When that kind of life is over and you move to a place where people grew up with each other and have already established their friendships, it’s hard to break into. I went to Liverpool High School for two years. I met lots of people; you go to a school of over 3,800 kids and try not meeting anyone. Most of the people I could take or leave; not that any of them cared. When I graduated, almost all of my friends were people who had moved to the area around the time I did. Even almost 40 years later, those are the people I talk to most often from that period.
I went to college in Oswego; love Oswego with a passion. Many people complain about the weather; trust me, when you’ve lived in Limestone Maine for almost 5 years weather in Oswego means almost nothing; almost that is, since cold winds coming off a great lake are a different matter. Still, when all was said and done most of the friends I made from there lived in other places. I had a few friends, one whom I’d actually met in high school, Scott, who went to a different high school, and is still one of my best friends ever; go figure that one out.
For many years I worked in central New York and that was fine, but I can’t say that I made lots of new friends. I guess the pattern was already set for me from previous years. I don’t count people I work with as friends unless I do things with them, which was rare. I certainly can’t say I don’t have any good friends locally; that would be a lie. I treasure all of those folks, more than they might ever know.
When I decided to go into business for myself in 2001, I thought that I’d finally have the opportunity to know more people locally and make more friends via networking and such. I also thought I’d be working with more people locally, thus establishing a base locally would be the way to go.
You know what’s interesting? Almost no one locally cares all that much. This is one of four blogs I write. The other three blogs rarely have anyone locally that even sees them, let alone comments on them. The same with this blog. For that matter, when I was writing a newsletter on leadership and a newsletter on health care, and when I started marketing my book… almost no one locally ever subscribed or saw the stuff or bought the book. I used to speak all over town and never got paid, whereas I’ve spoken in 8 other states and got paid for all of them.
Then there’s this blog. It’s initial intention was to highlight things and events in the area that maybe no one else had done. I’ve mainly done restaurant reviews, but I’ve talked about many other things also. I’ve even interviewed some local people doing great things in my opinion. But other than the one post I wrote about something bad that happened to my friend Kelvin, which has garnered lots of attention, almost nothing else has interested almost anyone (except for Phil; thanks Phil!).
So, I figure that it’s now 2015, and it’s a year where I have to make some massive changes in my entire life. One is going to be the focus of this blog, for two reasons.
One, because for almost 2 years I was traveling back and forth to Memphis, I wrote very few articles on this blog. Since it’s focus was Syracuse and central New York, and since I wanted to have pictures for the posts, and I was out of town and thus missing lots of stuff, I felt like I didn’t have anything to write about. Thus, it wasn’t visited much before, and it was visited less after that.
Now I’m home, though I have no idea how long, but I’ve realized that it doesn’t matter all that much. Sure, I’m still going to write about local stuff; I love my area after all, the good and the bad.
But it’s time to change things up a bit. So, instead of it just being a blog about local stuff, I’ve decided to make it my personal blog as well. It’s always risky when someone decides to change the focus of their blog, but in this case there’s no risk whatsoever. This blog’s ranking is tanking, few local people seem interested in reading about things in their area and even fewer are commenting on it. So there’s nothing to lose.
Years ago, before I started blogging, I used to write these stories about my trips and escapades and send them to people via email. Many people loved those stories back in the day. These days fewer people are reading their personal email, so I haven’t made the effort in writing those stories.
But I have escapades and adventures that I’d like to talk about, without having to put everything into a video that no one locally is ever going to watch anyway. For instance, I didn’t have a place where I could talk about going to Orlando for a wedding, and then going to Universal Studios to see the Harry Potter stuff; that was 8 hours of an adventure that I didn’t get to talk about anywhere.
I didn’t get to talk about going to San Diego and all the things that happened to me there. I didn’t get to talk about going to New Orleans and the things that happened to me there. The trip to Louisville, the trip to Tunica Mississippi & the casinos, meeting Jerry Lawler and seeing Rick Flair, visiting the Memphis Botanical Gardens and Beale Street and my first gay parade. The new fangled Detroit airport and the chocolate store at the Chicago airport and my first ever foot massage at the airport in Philadelphia. I did write about the overnight I spent in the airport in Washington DC, complete with video at least.
There’s lots of stories and thoughts I have that I don’t really have another place to share them on. My I’m Just Sharing blog was initially for that purpose, but it’s got a more specific purpose overall and putting stories and thoughts there that are of a more general topic just won’t work.
Thus, that’s what Syracuse Wiki will be for, a combination of personal stories and thoughts I want to share and different items about central New York life that I want to share and… well, we’ll see after that.
Of course, if all goes as normal almost no one will see this anyway, so it’s got a chance to be an anonymous blog; I can live with that also.
First, let me say this. Last Sunday I met Heather Saffer, a former winner of Cupcake Wars from Rochester and the creator of a new frosting called Dollop Frosting, which is being sold at all Wegmans now. She was nothing but lovely and nice and I even got a picture with her as she was exhibiting her frosting at Wegmans in Dewitt. That part was nice and I’m glad I got to meet her. I even bought some frosting, a flavor she calls hot chocolate, and my wife and I will be trying to figure out what we can use it on.
Now for the rest of the story. I heard about the frosting exhibit via Twitter from one of my local blogging buddies, who obviously knows of my love for frosting… okay, I love sweet things. He included her name on the tweet and she stopped by saying she couldn’t wait to meet me. Well, we all knew I was going after that.
As I mentioned earlier, the event was held at Wegmans in Dewitt, which I hadn’t been to in a few years, since I live in Liverpool. The parking lot was packed, and I thought to myself that this event was going to be packed, and hoped I’d get the opportunity to get close enough to meet her.
I walked in and had to get my bearings. I immediately went to the bakery area, where I didn’t see her, and asked someone where the frosting presentation was. The person I asked didn’t know anything about it. I decided to head to the service desk, thinking that in a store so large she could be almost anywhere.
I went to the service desk and asked where the frosting event was taking place. The person behind the desk had no idea what I was talking about. She asked the other folks behind the desk if they knew anything about it and they said no. She then picked up the phone and called someone, who eventually came to the desk and said she hadn’t heard of anything going on in the store but would make a call. The first person she called knew nothing. The second person she called knew something about it and said it was in Aisle 17B.
I started to believe this wasn’t going to be what I was thinking it was going to be and I was right. At the end of the aisle there was Heather and a guy whose name I never asked (shame on me) putting frosting on pretzels or on a spoon and in a tiny paper dish. They had a little sign and some of the frosting tubs and that was pretty much it. I did the meet and greet and less than 5 minutes later I was on my way back home; no event, no presentation. That was kind of a downer.
Why did I expect a presentation? Because I did some research on her before I went and saw that in the Rochester area there were stories in the newspapers about some of the stores she visited and mentions of her giving talks on winning Cupcake Wars, and I thought the same was going to happen at Dewitt, our largest Wegmans store in the area. As I was leaving I thought about the wide dichotomy between the Wegmans in Penfield doing a full press release on her and the employees in Dewitt not even knowing she was in the store; isn’t that kind of sad?
Oh well, I got some frosting and got to meet a very nice person who I hope does well as time goes on. Still, I lament the lost opportunity for a local Wegmans to highlight someone relatively local who won a national competition that led to a product being sold in their stores. During the short time I was there I noticed people were surprised to see someone passing out samples of frosting, and not many people at that. This could have been big, should have been big.
Hopefully someone will learn from something like this and make changes so they don’t miss great opportunities to highlight themselves and their guests. Both would have benefited and I’m thinking a lot more people would have shown up to glory in the stories of a champion.
At least that’s how my mind is going to see it.
A couple of weekends ago I finally came back to town for good (for a while) and my wife came home the same day, although a bit later. We had a great Saturday together before she had to leave early Sunday morning. She called her friend, who was going to meet us for breakfast, and the friend recommended Little Gem Diner. I was overly elated; it was on!
I remember Little Gem from back in the day, from my mod 20’s to early 30’s, when it still looked like it was contained within an old steel paneled oversized trailer. I remember going there mainly for lunches and most of the time ordering the meatloaf special, which came with mashed potatoes and gravy and a side of corn, and after I’d taken my first couple of bites I’d mix the entire thing together; hey, that’s how I roll.
So we went to Little Gem Diner on Spencer Street, and strangely enough I couldn’t remember how I used to get there, and that’s probably because of all the road changes over the years. Good thing for GPS. To say it looked much different on the outside would be an overstatement. No more steel (probably tin?) paneling, a new sign, and fancy car and an expanded visage caught my eye. I just smiled as I got my pictures and then went inside.
Seems that we beat the crowd, which meant we were immediately seated; there’s never anything depressing about that. I decided to order a traditional breakfast, 2 eggs, an english muffin and some bacon… with a couple of additions. I asked for the meal with a hamburger because they offered one and I asked for some sausage gravy so I could pour it over the entire thing. My wife ordered a fritatta.
When they came both plates were teeming with food galore, way more food that either of us were going to consume. I sectioned off a portion, which turned out to be probably less than half, and my wife portioned off even less, and yet for both of us it was still a whole lot of food. And good food it was; truthfully, I’ve found few places that can mess up breakfast (though there are a couple), and this was great. By the time we were ready to leave, totally full, it seemed like we had two full containers of leftovers (which my wife turned into 7 separate meals later on; that woman has talents). I also saw one of my local buddies on the way out; even better.
Still, now that I had been to Little Gem I realized that I wouldn’t be satisfied until I went for a daytime meal of some sort. In this case, three days later I found myself back at dinner time, around 8:30, which turned out to be lucky because unlike the old days when they stayed open all night, now they close at 10PM, which is probably both smart and safe. And, like the old days, I ordered the meatloaf dinner, which came with the same accoutrements as it did back then. I know there’s a different cook and a different owner so I didn’t expect it to taste the same, and I was correct on that. Yet it was all still pretty tasty. And of course I mixed it all together after the first few bites; some things never change.
I didn’t order dessert on purpose because these days I track my calories more. However, I did “try” by asking if they had anything with peanut butter in it. The lady said they didn’t but people were always asking them for it; something to think about guys. lol However, they had a lot of pies and cake on hand, so if I’d really wanted to I could have found quite a few things to eat.
This time I sat in the area where the stools and platform used to sit in the old design, but things are much cleaner than in the past I must admit. I almost decided to go for the french fries instead of the mashed potatoes because I remember that, other than McDonald’s fries, I used to think they were the best in town. Oh well, maybe another day.
All in all it was a wonderful experience. I know I’ll be heading back one day, and I’m glad it’s there because at the right times of the day you should be able to go in, sit right down and have a nice meal, as they have lots of choices. If there are a lot of other places like Little Gem I’m going to have to find them, but for now this is one of my favorite places.