Bits, Bites, and Booze - WeEatCNY's Guide to Holiday Food Gifts

The holiday shopping season is upon us and big box retailers are bustling with the crowds swiping cards, everyone looking for the season’s hot new item, and Amazon packages delivered by the millions. While that might be great for some, we looked to stay a little closer to home and shop a little smaller this year for our friends and family. We have loved being involved in the local food web for the last 15 months and met wonderful chefs, mixologists, and restaurateurs, sharing their hard work through our social media accounts and blog posts. But we haven’t done our due diligence and shown everyone the great artisans we have here. Salts, spice rubs, sauces, sweets, and spirits, we have a thriving group of craftsmen and women that are making delicious items that we love. So we thought, what better way to celebrate these great food makers, than putting together a guide to help YOU go and support them?

We are thrilled to bring you our 1st Annual “WeEatCNY Local Holiday Gift Guide” with 11 of our favorite local artisans making those great bits, bites, and booze! Now, we’re not going to just tell you who these 11 are and give you a little bit of their backstory, we’ve got 3 recommendations for you from each, to help jump start your holiday brain and pick out the best gifts to give! So read through 11 of the many local small businesses you should get out and support this holiday season and beyond, then click the button at the bottom of the story to download our recommendations for what to get at these great spots!

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Salt City Battle Chefs - Who Will Reign Supreme in the Syracuse Cuisine Scene

What happens when you take two seasoned chefs, put them in a restaurant kitchen, provide them with secret ingredients, and give them one hour to create something amazing?  Well, when you add in the consummate host, Chance Bear, we can tell you that you have one fantastic time! This is exactly what we experienced Monday night when we visited The Ridge in Chittenango for the Salt City Battle Chefs throw-down.  After watching many seasons of Iron Chef on the Food Network, it was exciting to see something similar a little closer to home. John D’Amore (aka Chef Broccoli) of Strada Mia 313 and Jason Jessmore from The Chef & The Cook battled it out to create two dishes using the secret ingredients: strawberry grouper and chioggia beets.

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Food EventsKatharine Johnson
Kasai Ramen - More than Just Noodles and Broth

Not many Syracuse restaurants have future patrons chomping at the bit for when they are going to open their doors like Kasai Ramen. Through the last few weeks, we’ve been at Kasai Ramen three times - once for a private tasting/photo event, once for a pop up dining event, and most recently for the Farm to Fork 101 “All Hallows Eve Dinner”. During our tasting, people were continually coming to the door and looking to see if it was open. People who hear us talking about our amazing experience with Kyle and his team always ask two questions, “When is it opening?” and “Have you seen the menu?” Our response hasn’t changed, “It’s not opening soon enough.” and “Yes, we can’t say anything about it, but we can tell you that it is going to be epic and we will eat there all the time.” While we can’t reveal all of the menu items, we can show everyone more of a sneak peek of the deliciousness that they have been serving through all of these visits!

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Falling for Syracuse - The Season's Opening Weekend of Fun

Our Friday nights are usually date night since our children spend the night with my mother-in-law, but this weekend she was out of town. It’s been a little hectic around here since we are back at school and it often feels like we barely see each other during the week. The kids have been exhausted at night and our family dinners have been a lot more quiet than usual. While we love our Friday nights to ourselves, it was pretty nice to have some family time this weekend. So, of course, with discerning palates in mind, we took advantage of the incredible weather and all Central New York has to offer. We are often asked about family friendly restaurants and activities, so we crammed as many as we could into the weekend!

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The Chef & The Cook - Dualing Menus with Choices for Every Palate

The running joke with my friends is that I rarely leave my ten mile radius on my off time. A trip to Baldwinsville seems so far away (it really isn’t), but we ventured outside our little bubble to visit our friends at The Chef & The Cook on a date night. Chris interviewed Deanna Germano on Episode 5 of WeEatCNY: The Podcast while the restaurant was still in its construction stage. Actually, we ended up sitting at the very table where the conversation took place! It’s wonderful to see how far Deanna and her partners Mark Germano and Jason Jessmore have come in just a few months. 

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XO Taco - Hugs and Kisses for Your Taste Buds

One of my new greatest enjoyments is seeing an influx of new restaurant openings in the Greater Syracuse area. Not one to want to get into a rut of going to the same places over and over again, as we have been often accused of doing, the opportunity to see the excitement of patrons trying new ideas from chefs and restaurateurs  really makes me happy. The nervous buzz from the wait staff and passion from the owners checking in with every guest, adds to the excitement of the guests. On Thursday night, we were able to be those excited guests.

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Official Chef Challenge - Giving Chefs a New Culinary Challenge

Back in January, Chris got an email inviting us to a Chef Challenge event taking place at the Lincklaen House in Cazenovia. The premise was simple: a mystery box of produce and meat from local farms was being delivered to the restaurant and the chef and his team were challenged to create a 4+ course dinner experience. Being avid fans of Chopped on the Food Network, we were intrigued to experience this for ourselves.

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Kindred Fare: A Spirited Cookery

We had a family wedding in North Carolina this year and missed our annual trip to Nantucket. While we had a fabulous time touring Asheville and visiting with our family, it was one of those jam packed long weekends where you are too busy to actually sit back and decompress for a little bit. One of my favorite parts of our trips away is that moment when you are sitting at a new restaurant and everything is different. There aren't any familiar faces and you can look at the environment with fresh eyes and feel like you are truly getting away from it all. When we can't get away for an extended period of time, trying to venture outside of our typical ten mile radius gives me that same feeling. 

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Summer Fun at Newly Opened Citronelle

We visited Citronelle on their opening night. Chris and I usually wait and give restaurants a little time to settle before we visit, but the anticipation was too much for us and we had to check it out. We followed the progress of the new space on Instagram, and the pictures do not do it justice! We spent a good portion of our time looking up and admiring the glass ceiling and the beauty of the space in general. 

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