For Christmas last year, one of the gifts I bought my sister was about the restaurant history in Rochester, New York. We grew up in a western suburb, that was mostly rural at the time we lived there. Farms, farm stands, and the smell of cabbage permeated the air in the fall. Fresh tomatoes, corn, peas, and fruit were a given and part of our everyday diet, especially in the summer. I remember going to a Farm Market on Latta Road and getting 13 ears of corn for a dollar. Fruit was more expensive and we were allowed only “so many” plums or peaches. But, they were eaten with delight and appreciation.
There were several restaurants mentioned in the book, Rochester Eats by Karen Deyle (2007), that our family frequented regularly or for special occasions. But, the ones I remember most are Bosdyke’s where we ate with my parents’ friends and I was allowed to have a glass of wine with dinner! They had great food and were run by a family of the same name as the restaurant. The owners and their children (adults) were great hosts and visited every table. Buckman’s was another place that had delicious, albeit expensive desserts. They offered homemade donuts and an old-fashioned ice cream parlor where you could order, “the kitchen sink.” We never ate one of those, but it was fun to watch the families around us who ordered one!
I’ve written about Sibley’s bakery before and have obtained the recipe for their Chinese Marble cookies from the author of this book. I just made a batch on Saturday. You can read more about the cookie in my previous post. I still love the taste of them – maybe because it takes me back to my childhood.
Every Friday night we had a fish fry at Critics Restaurant in the mall. My mom was a school teacher and Fridays were the ends of the workweek for both she and my dad who worked in management at Bausch and Lomb. It was a time to relax over a good meal that they didn’t have to cook, go to the bank, and go grocery shopping. Fish Fries seem to be ubiquitous as each state or town claims to have this Friday night tradition. I really don’t know about that but I do know that they were (and still are) popular in Rochester, New York on a Friday night.
As I’ve gone back to visit my parents over the years, most of these establishments are gone. Streb’s Steak House is another place that we frequented for special family dinners or even prom dates with groups of friends. My sister and I both had prom dinners at Strebs before the dance. Streb’s is gone. The building no longer stands, as other development has taken over Ridge Road as far out as Brockport and beyond. The Ridge, as locals used to call it, was rural farmland after passing route 269 headed west. Not anymore! There is development almost the whole way out.
I mentioned grocery shopping on Friday night. This post would not be complete if I didn’t mention the fabulous Wegmans Food Markets that we shopped at the Ridgemont Store on Ridge Road in Greece. At the time, it had a cool arched roof that looked like the shape of a rainbow. I remember being able to wander away from my parents to grab certain staples or pick a treat for the week. They used to have big oak pickle barrels where you could fish out a large dill pickle (think regular-sized cucumber). It was fun and tasty! Wegmans has a special place in my heart and I always try to visit one of their many stores when visiting Western New York. Aside from the busy chaos that can exist in their stores, I wish we had one here. I found a great timeline story about this Rochester-based supermarket this morning. You can see it here.
As you can tell, I have many great memories of food growing up. Most of our family’s traditions revolve around food in some way. I didn’t even mention the hot dogs – Zweigle’s hot dogs are on the menu for dinner tonight. We brought some back frozen from our trip to New York in March. Time for a little taste of Rochester!
Ciao. Mangia bene!