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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Katharine Johnson
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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Katharine Johnson
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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Chris JohnsonXO Taco
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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Katharine Johnson
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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Katharine Johnson
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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Birthday Celebration

It feels like it takes forever to arrive, and then my favorite season seems to fly by! The multiple sports schedules and the end of the school year seem to be a hectic lead in to summertime and it is nice to finally have the summer months to relax our schedules a bit and have some fun.

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Katharine Johnson
Community Over Competition

Yesterday was Pay It Forward Day and it had me reflecting on all the kindness we have witnessed over the past months. Chris and I started We Eat CNY as a way for us to expand our horizons and do something fun together. Our Friday night date nights were our time to reconnect after a long week and documenting them was our inspiration. It was also a way to break us out of our rut. We tended to go to the same few restaurants and stay close to home, all the while feeling like we were missing out on something. With two young children and working full time during the week, we were often too tired to think of where we wanted to go out for dinner. So, we decided to be more adventurous and start paying closer attention to the restaurants in the area and where we would visit. By expanding our culinary horizons, we also expanded our social circle and discovered a whole new group of people who have brought a new sense of community to our lives.

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Fork & Cork: The Sherwood Inn with White Birch Vineyards

It's no secret that Chris and I love food; we love to shop for it, prepare it, order it, and share it. I have always felt an affinity with food and never found it intimidating. A voracious reader from a young age, cookbooks were in my hands as often as a good fiction book. I remember fondly sitting with my grandfather when he was cooking dinner one night when I was around nine and declaring rather resolutely that the tomatoes from the garden would be that much better if I sprinkled them with sea salt before bringing them to the table. The milestones of my life are often marked by meals and more often than not, I can't  remember what I was wearing on any given day but I can tell you what I ate. That's just how it is with food. Wine, on the other hand, is a relatively new experience for me. I enjoy drinking wine, but have very limited knowledge about it. There are so many varietals and regions, and people who love wine often seem to be speaking a foreign language. I live in fear of someone handing me a glass and asking me to discuss the tasting notes or guess the region it's from. There is so much information and I want to learn, but the entire process is rather intimidating. So, when Chris and I were invited to attend the five course wine dinner at the Sherwood Inn featuring White Birch Vineyards, I was excited to dip my toes into the water and learn a little more about local wine in a more intimate setting.

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Chili Cook off at Lincoln Middle School

Since we started We Eat CNY, Chris and I have been amazed by how we have been embraced by the food community here in the Syracuse area. Last weekend, we were visiting Owera Vineyards and struck up a conversation with the woman sitting next to us. This happens more frequently now that Chris is taking pictures of our food and drinks and I am rearranging plates, glasses, and napkins so he can get the best shot. While we explained our situation, the woman exclaimed that she follows our Instagram account and loves seeing the foods we feature and checking out the restaurants in the area. The woman happened to be LaJuan White, the principal of Lincoln Middle School in the Syracuse City School District. As a SCSD teacher myself, we immediately connected and our mutual love of food gave us lots to talk about. LaJuan told us about a Chili Cook Off that was taking place at her school and invited us to attend. Her friend Michele Ragussis, a finalist on the eighth season of Food Network Star, was going to teach students and their parents how to make chili. The chili would be donated to feed the homeless through We Rise Above the Streets, a local non-profit, and the families would get to keep the electric skillets, cooking utensils, and containers used so they could cook chili at home. Chris and I were honored to be invited and excited to attend the event.

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