Friday, May 11, 2012

Crawfish

I had crawfish for the first time last weekend at the Crawfish Fest in Clinton Square. They've always kind of freaked me out because it basically looks like people are eating really large red insects, but I figured it was about time to give them a shot for real ("Shot for real" meaning NOT at a Chinese buffet).

Overall, I was surprised at how good they were. Fairly spicy and flavorful. They don't necessarily taste like catfish, but they're within that same kind of realm. And yes, I went so far as to suck the heads out. It looks gross as all hell in there and I'll refrain from posting a picture online, but there was actually a ton of flavor inside.

Crawdads aren't something I'd normally seek out - even after trying them now. It strikes me as more of a novelty thing when they're by themselves. It was a nice little appetizer though (split 3-ways between a few of my buddies). The corn and potato were fine, but the boiled garlic was awesome and nice to pick at after the meal was over.

I'd get them again, but have no problem waiting until next year to do so. 'Til then, sign me up as a shrimp lover and a crawfish liker.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

5th Annual Crawfish Festival

Like crawfish? Then you'll love Operation Southern Comfort's 5th Annual Crawfish Festival which kicks off this Saturday, May 5th and runs from 11 AM to 7 PM in Downtown's Clinton Square. Admission is free and there will be plenty of live music and tasty crawfish on hand. Other food includes: gulf shrimp, corn, potatoes, jambalaya, red beans and rice, beignets, blooming onions, cajun wings, deep fried crawdaddies, and cajun curly fries (for a full vendor list, click here).

Donations will also be accepted (cans or boxes of nonperishable food) which will benefit the food pantries at St. Joseph the Worker and St. Lucy's churches.

Operation South Comfort is an all-volunteer organization based in CNY that was organized for the people of the Gulf Coast to help rebuild homes damaged by Hurricane Katrina in 2005. More information about the Crawfish Festival can be found at crawfishfestcny.com and more information about Operation Southern Comfort can be found at operationsoutherncomfort.org.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Cuse Mob!

In an effort to support local business, Syracuse First is launching its Cuse Mob! this Saturday, May 5th at Noon in a yet-to-be-named location.

Mob-goers will all wear the color orange and each bring $10 cash to "mob" the business by making a purchase. In the days leading up, Syracuse First will give clues as to where the event will be taking place.

You can RSVP for Cuse Mob! on Facebook and stay up-to-date on their website for clues and guesses at syracusefirst.org/blog.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Pasta's Daily Bread



If you've never had it, you should probably go now. Pasta's stretch bread along with their spicy hot tomato oil is without a doubt one of my favorite foods to eat in Syracuse. My typically reaction after my first bite is usually not of how amazing it is (and it is amazing), but why on Earth I had to wait so long between my this and my last visit.

You can find these two delectable things, as well as other goodies like raisin pecan bread, foccacias, cheeses, homemade pastas and sauces at Pasta's Daily Bread in Armory Square, located across the street from Pastabilities.

Bonus: I've got chunks of day-old stretch bread in the freezer stored for the next time I want to make croutons.

Double Bonus: I've also found that their spicy tomato oil is an excellent addition for pizza sauce.

More info on hours, location, and menu can be found on their website at www.pastabilities.com/bakery.htm.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Reviews

April Fools! I hope I didn't scare anybody.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Review: Byblos Mediterranean Cafe

Name: Byblos Mediterranean Cafe
Address: 233 N Clinton St Syracuse, NY
Phone: 315-378-3333
Neighborhood: Downtown
Website: www.byblossyr.com
Menu: View Menu
Cuisine: Lebanese, Mediterranean
Restaurant Hours: Tuesday to Friday 10 AM - 3 PM, 4:30 PM - 9 PM, Saturday 11:30 AM - 9 PM
Parking: On-street
Accepts Credit Cards: Yes
Takes Reservations: No
Take-Out: Yes
Waiter Service: Yes (for dine-in)
Outdoor Seating: Yes (weather permitting)
Delivery: Yes ($2 delivery charge, $25 minimum)

Welcome to Byblos Mediterranean Cafe, Syracuse's 1st Lebanese restaurant. A fairly new addition to Downtown's growing and diverse dining scene, Byblos is a family owned and operated business that proudly serves authentic and homemade Lebanese and Mediterranean specialties.

Since opening in the Spring of 2010, Byblos unique-to-the-region food has been a popular spot for take-out with the Downtown lunch crowd and has been featured at the Taste of Syracuse as well as 9 WSYR's program, Bridge Street.

The restaurant sits along North Clinton Street next to Darwin and across the street from the Post Standard building. The owners have done a wonderful job in refurbishing the building (before and after pics) and it's spruced up the stretch of buildings and quaintness of the street quite a bit.

What's inside? A clean and tiny little cafe where you can find a large variety of homemade and authentic delicacies like baba ghanuj, hummus, falafel, spanakopita, kibbeh, kabobs, and fattoush, as well as Turkish coffee, herbal teas, and yogurt drinks. There's also some lesser traditional but just as delectable offerings on the menu like Mediterranean-style pizzas, soups, salads, and pita wraps.

Beyond that, they do made-to-order food here too (kibbeh nayyeh, for example), so if you are familiar with Lebanese cuisine and don't see it on the menu, Byblos may still have what you're looking for.

Mind you, it's tiny inside. Maybe 3 small tables consisting of about 8 seats total, so it's best to call if you have a large or even medium sized group. If you're one of a few people there, as I was on this occasion, it's fairly cozy and homey, but I could imagine it being a different story if the room was busy or even half full. Take-out is a little more common, but dine-in is also an option (there's table service if you go that route). Bottom line: plan ahead if you go during typical dinning hours. If the weather is warm (which if this past "Winter" was any indication, should be quite often), a few tables are available outside along the street too.

The order...

Gyro entree w/ grape leaves, tabbouleh, and baklava: $16.99
Total Money Spent with Tax & Tip: $20


Their dining week menu roped me in.


Clockwise from the bottom: Kronos gyro meat served over rice pilaf with a side of tzatziki sauce, grape leaves, tabbouleh, baklava, and pita triangles.

Not necessarily a traditional gyro (which is on the menu - I've had that here before and it was awesome), the gyro entree is more of a build-your-own style gyro. I loved it. Especially the customization. Layering thin strips of juicy meat with extra-soft rice on top of pita pieces and topping it all off with creamy tzatziki sauce was an excellent and even fun entree. Hidden in the picture, but not to go unnoticed was their rice pilaf which was outstanding: buttery, fluffy, and contained tiny bits of peach colored vermicelli noodles. Delicious even on its own.

Homemade grape leaves were a new try for me. I opted for the "meatless" over the ground lamb. It had a nice flavor and spiciness with rice and chopped herbs snugly rolled inside warm, steamed grape leaves. For anyone who's been following this blog, you know that I can be overly picky sometimes. That being said, I suppose I couldn't get around the texture of these. A little too wet and leafy for me. Good flavor, but I don't know if they're my thing. Several reviewers online have raved about them, so take my first impression with a tiny grain of salt.

Their tabbouleh was outstanding and really brightened up the meal - both visually and flavor-wise. It's a minced salad of sorts containing parsley, cracked wheat, tomatoes, onions, and mint in an extra-virgin olive oil and lemon juice dressing. I thought it may have been a tad overly lemony for my liking, but none the less, it was incredibly fresh, very delicious, and a great side salad for the meal.

Lastly, if that wasn't enough, the baklava stole the show. Easily one of the best desserts I've had in a while. Flaky layers of phyllo dough stuffed with crunchy walnuts and drizzled with a sweet honey-based syrup. It was phenomenal. Dare I say, despite everything else in the order being very good, I could just go back for their baklava over and over again and be totally happy.

Additional notes...

- Free Wi-Fi

- Their current special, Shawarma, a Levantine Arab mean preparation, is available in wraps and as an entree. More info here.

- The restaurant gets a lot of ingredients from Samir's Imported Foods on E Genesee St as well as from family gardens during the summer.

- For catering details, click here.

- I did spy a hookah, but if you're curious about it, you may want to inquire within.

For a tiny sliver of Downtown that contains Darwin, Lao Village, Dinosaur, and Byblos, you get an outstanding range of cuisines with great food all within a few feet from one another. It's definitely an area that Syracusans should be proud of and Byblos only enriches that.

Everything tasted fresh, homemade, and most importantly: healthy. Your taste buds will notice it within the first bite. There's plenty of the menu to enjoy if you new or are experienced with Lebanese cuisine. And if you're a vegetarian, I'd rank it fairly high as one of the better vegetarian-friendly places in Syracuse.

Again, it may be a small place, but who's going to worry when you have such fresh, authentic, and delicious food in front of you.

My rating of Byblos Mediterranean Cafe:


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