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Mac's drive-in

Mac's drive-in

Week before last, I was in NYC on business. It struck me how everyone looked so well-dressed, successful, good-looking, and fit. It’s not like this is news to me – after all, I lived in Manhattan up until two years ago. I guess being a country girl is starting to shape my perceptions of the world, because it all seemed so pretentious. There’s so much going on, that in order to garner attention each store, restaurant, and person needs to stand out from the crowd in some new, clever, and garish way. customers_recieipts

Then I came home and over the weekend, my husband and I found ourselves traveling through Waterloo on route 5/20 around dinner-time, when I spotted the vintage red and white Mac’s Drive-In sign, so out of curiosity, we pulled in. The place is proudly stuck in time from the day it opened, 49 years ago. It actually features bellhop service, but we decided to get out of the car to see what the place was like inside. Two words: fun and fried. I ordered fish and William ordered shrimp, accompanied by real potato-ed french fries the joint claims are homemade. Dessert – two honeybuns- come with each dinner and while I was intently surveying the food prep, watched a teenage line cook pull a Pillsbury dough canister out of the fridge and squeeze two pieces into the deep fryer. When they were done, he scooped them out and covered them with a stream of honey from a plastic bear. Utterly disgusting, but still, I was compelled to try one, and yeah – it was yummy, although there’s no way I could bring myself to eat both. If you go, try the root beer, it’s excellent.

Fried fish dinner

Fried fish dinner

In comparison with my recent experience in the big city, this place seems like the real deal. The kind of place urban New Yorkers seeking comfort food are endlessly trying to emulate.

fish dinner

fish dinner

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Joe and the fish

Joe and the fish

My friend Joe is an avid fisherman. This is a pic he took of a landlocked salmon he caught in Skaneateles Lake a few weeks ago.

“As you can tell from the picture of the fillets – coming out of the cold Skaneateles water in April, the meat is as pink as an Alaskan run true Atlantic Salmon. As with any good piece of fish, the secret was in the handling of the meat, not so much the recipe – I caught the fish at 5:30 am, put the fillets immediately on ice for 12 hours and broiled it that night for dinner with nothing more than a hoisin/soy sauce glaze for 10 minutes and it was fabulous. I brush the glaze on before I put it under the broiler, which acts to protect the meat from burning, and again halfway through cooking it. The two fillets with a side of steamed asparagus were more than my wife and I could eat. Just for kicks, we also drank a bottle of Salmon Run Riesling with it from Keuka Lake and called it dinner!”

salmon fillets

salmon fillets

ramps2

This morning before work, my designer Melissa and I took a walk with the dog out back, through the alfalfa fields, on the edge of some scraggly moist woods. Melissa has an even more valid claim to being nature-girl-turned-designer than I do – I grew up in the NJ ‘burbs, but she is a true country girl, raised right here in central NY. She spent childhood summers catching crayfish and nightcrawlers for her dad’s bait business.

Later that evening (for my dog’s second daily walk) I went to the same place and pulled a handful to use for dinner in conjunction with freshly-harvested asparagus, the first of the season (which happily grows unassisted-remember, I’m a citiot – in a plot in my yard). I sauteed the minced wild leeks (also called ramps) with garlic and olive oil, added the fresh asparagus, and then some cooked spinach and cheese ravioli to coat. The asparagus was sweet and tender, not woody and slightly bitter the way it can be from the store. Delish!

sauteed asparagus and ramps

sauteed asparagus and ramps

ravioli with wild leeks and asparagus

ravioli with wild leeks and asparagus

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