Local Foods: Mid-State and Western New York Edition

oswegoFoodI recently visited a friend in Oswego, New York. I’ve been there several times and always been impressed with Ontario Orchards when we’ve shopped there for produce – they have a really nice array of locally-grown and -produced foods. But I’ve never been able to bring home any of the local fare because I never want to check luggage. (Ok, except the last time I was there I brought home 10 pounds of onions in my suitcase…)

I drove on this trip, though, so I had a whole trunk to fill with goodies. See after the cut for details of the salt potatoes, pretzels, beans, pasta, cider, and cheese I bagged.

saltPotatoes Hinerwadel’s salt potatoes are really just small white potatoes, but I bought them because “salt potatoes” are a regional dish I’ve not seen elsewhere. This bag has 4.5 lb of potatoes and a packet containing almost a pound of salt. You boil the potatoes in the very salty water, then drain and roll them in melted butter and chopped garlic. I remember German friends complaining that American potatoes didn’t have enough flavor to make good salt potatoes, so I assume German settlers brought this tradition here…which is interesting, since today, most of the European stock you encounter in local food is Italian.

nyPretzelsMartin’s Pretzels are hard, thick, Bavarian-style pretzels, and still made by hand. They were very tasty – like wheat that still remembered growing in a field – and not too salty. I wonder where their wheat comes from? You can use softer wheat to make pretzels, so it seems feasible that it came from New York, as well.

nyCiderThe Black Bear Farm Winery hard cider was the only disappointment in the lot. The flavor was not terribly interesting and this bottle was almost completely flat. I’m not sure if that’s the way it’s made or if this bottle lost its fizz during the long car ride home.

nyNoodlesMorriga’s pasta, on the other hand, was fantastic. Very hearty with good tooth and flavor. It would be my staple pasta if I lived in town. It’s egg pasta, so it’s especially well-suited to rich, heavy sauces with meat or cheese – perfect for surviving a notorious Oswego winter.

grandmasBeansGrandma Brown’s beans were another satisfying find. I’ve only had the split pea soup so far, but it was very good. Not overly salty, and with discernible bits of bacon (though I do usually prefer my beans to be vegetarian). Nothing fancy, but locally produced (so far as I can tell) and cheap – $1 for a 16-oz can.

I also picked up some NY Sharp Cheddar Helluva Good brand, both sharp and xxx-sharp. I passed on the one labeled “mean-n-nasty.” 🙂 My sweetie made his signature mac and cheese with Morriga’s radiatore and the xxx-sharp cheddar, and it was fantastic.

Two things I didn’t buy were local apples (remember, this is the region of New York where apples and cities have the same names: Rome, Cortland, etc.). Non-organic apples burn my mouth, and besides, it’s a point of Michigander pride not to eat out-of-state apples. I also didn’t get any sauce or salad dressing from Canale’s – I’ve eaten at the hometown restaurant, and it’s fine stuff, though not worth hauling across four states.



  1. Robyn M. said,

    June 22, 2008 at 7:30 pm

    I positively adore the notion of a “mean and nasty” cheese. Yeeesssss….

  2. Lisa said,

    September 28, 2009 at 6:26 am


    Do you know that you can order many of these items online at tasteofcny by Ontario Orchards of Oswego, NY? You have a very nice blog!


  3. March 8, 2012 at 3:48 pm

    I have just learned about syracuse salt potatoes. Tried it last night, loved it and blogged about it here – http://www.theblackpeppercorn.com/2012/03/syracuse-salt-potatoes/

    Happy I found your blog. I am now on the lookout for salt potatoes in a bag

  4. September 6, 2012 at 1:27 pm

    Where did you see the mean-n-nasty cheese sold? We found a place up North in Potsdam but no closer! Would love to know if it was closer tome you saw it….

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