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February 25, 2010

Comments

Michelle Shopped

woot woot! first of all, i'm thrilled to have found your blog! congrats on the grow great grub win...my sweetie (an ex-seminarian) grew up in syracuse, we are both avid foodies and i totally hear your frustration on this...whenever we visit his sis in marcy, we always check the local farmer's markets there and have made the drive to ithaca's and cazenovia's (wanting to check out cooperstown's one of these times)...as for those breads, i used to buy yummy breads (the choc-cherry and an apple pie one were two of my faves) at a bakery in vermont that since has closed -- as a baker, my suggestion to the bakers would be to make those breads once a week, in smaller batches and perhaps in smaller sizes (rolls, petit breads at lower prices) to entice folks to buy/try them (naturally have plenty of samples and suggest a good cup of joe to go with it)and get them hooked...also some places have frequent buyer cards -- like maybe have a "specialty bread" frequent buyer card, where you buy say 10 breads and then get one free...hope to catch you this spring when we're over your way!

Jennifer BB

Hi Michelle--thanks for stopping by! Thanks for the recommendations--all good. The next time you come through the 'Cuse drop me a line, it would be great to meet up.

PSM

Jennifer - Here's my take: what sort of advertising has Pasta's done to promote their new products??? I had no idea it existed until you posted this. I don't think the problem is a lack of local interest... I think it's a lack of local foodie communication networks.

.... if only there were an Edible Syracuse magazine to highlight such new, dynamic and tasty looking products......

Stefanie Noble

I agree with PSM and I think a lack of strong communication networks is what keeps a lot of things from gaining momentum (local art, local music, local food). I posted something on the PACNY listserv about that a few weeks (months?) ago. Although things do get some publicity, it's usually to the same set of people all the time; preaching to the choir, essentially. More connections need to be made.

Megan

I agree with the above two posters regarding communication and also want to add that Syracuse is a "Foodie" town for some of us, it just depends on what your definition of "Foodie" is. We have our local favorites and specialties, new and old, which people do line up for on a daily basis and also happen to be corn syrup free; they just tend to come wrapped in a white and red paper bag (Columbus Bakery bread), a white quart container with a flower on it (Wake Robin Yogurt), a bottle with a dinosaur on the label (Sensuous Slathering Sauce), served with a pickle or birch beer (Heid's red hots or coneys), or in a 5 lb. potato sack with a packet of salt (Hinerwadels' salt potatoes), just to name a few. There ARE wonderful, special, unique flavors and foods to be had here in Syracuse. However, we need to be cautious that we don't judge a community because they don't wish to purchase a bread (desert?) made with chocolate and cherries on a regular basis. Maybe the "foodies" here are already satisfying their sweet tooth on other local, corn-syrup free, treats, such as the delicious, home-made seasonal ice cream from Gannons, the wonderful half-moons from Harrison bakery, or the amazing chocolate offerings at Hercules or Sweet on Chocolate. While I certainly would love to see more people in this community choosing to spend their food dollars locally, whether on value-added products or on whole-foods, I just wanted to remind your readers that there are many offering for "Foodies" here in CNY and that many of your readers, and many more of your non-readers, are enjoying them each and every day.

Jennifer BB

Right on Megan! We're on the same page--which is why I ask how we can become MORE of a foodie town. I'm still wanting to give people the room to define "foodie" any way they want because I don't want to equate foodie with fancy.

But maybe the word "foodie" is problematic in our city for that very reason. People often say to me "this isn't a foodie town", "people won't eat that", or some other variation on the same. As if we don't appreciate food (and that is perhaps my definition of foodie--one who appreciates food). I guess I'm weary of us selling ourselves short about what folks might be interested in. And as you and I have discussed often, wouldn't it be great if Syracuse could model how to honor food that is both egalitarian AND artisanal?

Dave S

"Foodie" town? (Yuppie town? as the term could as as well have been in the recent past).
Syracuse lacks a critical mass of $/people.

BJ's has Heidelberg breads.

Jennifer Ward

I think foodie-ism is directly proportional to city size/number of foodie outlets. There are so many people who are seriously "into" food in Syracuse, they're just hard to find, and more concentrated in small communities. Syracuse is transient, and full of cafeteria- /Dunkin' Donuts-eating students. (As much as I love them!) The foodie-ness I encountered while living there was much more raw and passionate than what you get in bigger cities where it's all about the "latest" restaurant. I'm in D.C., and miss the regional farmer's market something fierce! There's nothing here but yuppie Whole Foods and Dupont Farmer's market...blech! Even their Edible magazine went belly-up! (Obviously I just need to dig deeper...)

Andrea

Syracuse IS becoming a foodie town. As a recent transplant from Colorado, I've been impressed by the farmer's market, local intiatives with Syracuse Grows, Slow Food CNY, and CSA-CNY, among others. Food is one of CNY's great resources! These organizations, as well as the farmer's market and existing foodie programs need to be supported and encouraged.

Also, education is huge! People need to understand why organic and local food is important. Second, is keeping prices low! Syracuse Real Food Co-op, for example, is a good thing, but way way way overpriced right now to make a sizable dent in the overall population. The farmer's market, on the other hand, has much more competitive prices and much better fresh foods. Also I recently heard about Paradise Market, which is open all weekend instead of just Saturday morning: http://eatfirst.typepad.com/eat-first/2010/02/at-paradise-market-you-wont-go-hungry.html

Michael

Hey, just gotta jump in on this great conversation! Thanks for getting it started Jennifer.

Edible Syracuse is coming! Not as a separate mag but as part of Edible Finger Lakes. We've got some great stories planned for our spring issue to keep you foodies happy. More on that soon!

Jennifer Ward-Edible Chesapeake didn't go belly up. It was a very successful magazine. It's just being retooled. Believe me, the DC/Baltimore/Delaware area is about to get rocked by Edible Communities in a big way.

So, here's my question for the future of Syracuse foodie-ism. Where are the chefs? Consumers drive a movement for sure, but professional chefs could take the reigns and make Syracuse a foodie town by emphasizing creative cooking using fresh, local, seasonal ingredients. Everyday passion by city folk for getting the best quality ingredients will make Syracuse a foodie town and chefs need to show people the way. Some chefs in the city have jumped on board and are up to great things, but there's a huge opportunity here for expanding the conversation. Everyone is a foodie, some just need more help realizing it.

Elizabeth

Heidleberg bread selections are delivered to The Syracuse Real Food Co-Op. It is delish. I just drived their dinner rolls.

Margaret McCormick

This is a great subject and thread... Syracuse is my hometown, so I'm a bit biased. It's a fantastic food town with a wonderful array of locally made foodstuff to spend your food dollars on. I just watched "Food, Inc.'' and am thinking about how my partner and I can do more to eat local. I avoid using the word foodie, not because we aren't a foodie town, but a lot of people seem to read the word as elitist....Anyhow...
One chef taking the reigns, as Michael says, is Finger Lakes chef Edward Moro, who is opening his own restaurant in Skaneateles very soon. He plans to credit his local purveyors/sources on his menu; hopefully diners will in turn seek them out on their own. Alicyn Hart, of Circa in Cazenovia, does the same... and grows much of her own produce. And Paul Midgley, who ran a couple New York-flavored restaurants at the state fair this year and has plans to open his own place, with an emphasis on locally sourced ingredients, wine and beer. There are others.
I think the key in restaurants, like "Food Inc.'' suggests, is to ask where the food you are eating comes from. Consumers spark change.

Alex Zorach / RateTea.net

The "never" response is so familiar to me...I used to work at a bakery. The owner of the bakery who was also the main baker was all into experimentation. He not only was constantly trying out new recipes, but he encouraged his employees to do the same. He told me that at least once a week, I should try doing a small batch of something (anything) differently--he said I could do anything and encouraged me to develop my own intuition about what would work and what wouldn't.

The sad thing was that there were a lot of amazing breads and sweets that were developed that didn't sell. It's always sad when you have to appeal to the masses. But at the same time, there were a lot of encouraging breakthroughs...we would periodically come up with some awesome new creations that would go on to become best-sellers.

The good news though is, there are things you can do to encourage experimentation by your customers. It's not just baking but it's also sales.

Whenever we had a new product, we'd prominently display samples and prod people to try them. We'd also make a point of responding to customers by pointing out new products...if someone was going to buy a whole-wheat bread and we recently developed a new whole-wheat bread, we'd draw it to their attention. Sometimes you need to put out extra effort, but the new products will catch on in the end!

Karol

I think there's a lot of pride in keepin it real in Syracuse, to the point of too much pride, sometimes. A good mix of outside influence blending with the homegrown traditions potentially could spur positive change and awareness of how much better food tastes when it doesn't have soybean and other low-quality, unhealthy oils, corn syrup, chemicals, etc. But this is a challenge all over the US. Sometimes people do feel insecure when they realize they need to exercise and eat more veg, but you don't need to be elitist to love your body and soul and your community. So continued finding of common ground between old-school and new can make it happen. And I agree with Michael that forward-thinking chefs are needed, not just in the upscale lakes communities but in the ethnically and economically diverse center city, too, so we don't have to use gas anytime we want to dine well.

Oh, and about Pasta's: I love their bread, but don't you think the display situation there speaks volumes? Displaying loaf after loaf of the same product sends a message that they're more a white loaf warehouse than a variety bake shop. I think it would be nice if they stored all those loaves out of sight, and made the display more about variety, and that would encourage people to stop and browse and think about what they wanted, and let themselves be tempted by color, texture, smell, rather than being slammed with the zillion loaves of the one thing. But again, this may be some Syracuse tradition of warehouse/factory aesthetic that needs to be re-thought.

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