The end of the food series is here and by now, it should be no surprise that New York State is home to a wild array of cuisines. From the pizza, hot dog, and street meat-laden streets of New York City to the overwhelming amount of Italian food on Long Island, it has certainly been a journey. No matter which part of New York a traveler decides to visit, they're bound to be greeted with enough iconic dishes to please their foodie hearts. When it comes to Upstate New York, however, the region's most iconic dishes are a bit more specific... and very different.
Not only does Upstate New York feel entirely different from its southern neighbors but the food scene is entirely different, too. While things such as pizza and heroes can still be found throughout, Upstate has a vibe that's altogether a bit more rustic, more local, and not as grab-and-go as the rest of the state. Ready to find out what we mean? Here's part III of how you can eat your way through New York.
Beef On Weck
In all fairness, Beef on Weck sounds like something that should be avoided at all costs (not unlike that garbage plate we'll get to later on). This dish is quite the contrary, though, as it's been a staple in Upstate New York for decades. At the base of the dish sits a kimmelweck roll, to which sliced roast beef and horseradish are added. It sounds simple, but it's delicious in its homestyle nature.
Here we go again: sausage and peppers is to Long Island what Bilinski sausage is to Upstate New York. This Italian chicken sausage can be purchased in grocery stores throughout the region, and it's so popular that even Food Network gave it some national attention. The fun thing about this sausage is that it's flavored with unique ingredients such as spinach, garlic, and fennel, which make it stand out from the rest.
The most obvious iconic Upstate New York dish, specifically belonging to Western New York, is the buffalo wing. The original location of this dish's creation, The Anchor Bar, is still thriving in Buffalo, and many people make the pilgrimage each year to check out where their favorite appetizer originated. It's worth the trip, and Buffalo has its own iconic foods that vary from the rest of the Upstate region.
Chicken 'Riggies' - AKA rigatoni - is a dish that can be found all over Upstate. The dish starts with the same rigatoni pasta and marinara sauce and can differ from that point on. Essentially, to make Chicken Riggies, a dish needs to have chicken in some form and both sweet and hot peppers. Most of the time, the tomato sauce has a creamy base but this can vary from location to location. The dish is filling but delicious, especially if the chicken is marinated or seasoned with a spice blend prior to being cooked.
One of the things that many people make the connection between is the garbage plate and Upstate New York, especially in college towns. This dish sounds horrible but, in reality, it's absurdly indulgent and just as delightfully unhealthy as it sounds. Traditionally, the plate starts with either baked beans or macaroni salad, fried potatoes in some capacity, and chili, although some variations offer a burger, hot dogs, or even fried fish instead. The most iconic location associated with this bizarre dish is Rochester but it's become synonymous with late-night eats and college cram sessions.
Pie a la mode is one of the most popular desserts in Upstate New York but in the Finger Lakes region, grape pie takes the cake... well, the pie, in this case. If you're thinking that this is like peanut butter and jelly sandwich without the peanut butter, you'd be somewhat correct - throw in a crust and some crumble topping, and you're spot on. Nevertheless, it's sweet, slightly tart, and satisfying.
The strangest thing about melba sauce is the fact that Upstate New Yorkers will eat it with practically everything, including mozzarella sticks. What's even stranger is that this 'sauce' is actually more of a jam that's made with raspberries, currant jelly, and sugar. What it has any business doing with a mozzarella stick is still a bit unclear but hey, don't knock it until you try it.
Festival food is popular throughout Upstate New York and if there's anything that has a reputation, it's spiedies, AKA marinated meat. This meat can be cooked in any manner but for festivals, it's most commonly grilled, and it can also be served in a number of ways. The most popular way to eat it is just plainly on a roll but skewers are also popular (and less messy).