The Pick of Destiny

I fell down a rabbit hole called Game of Thrones this week, and didn’t crawl out of it until yesterday, which means I didn’t leave the house all weekend in order to review a new restaurant. That also means I’m now an expert on the fantasy land of Westeros, and considering making people call me the Lady of Winterfell. It also means I was at a loss on what to write for this week’s blog, until I remembered I had a topic and some photos in my back pocket. No dragons, though. Pity.

But look, I have this under control. I’m not going to move back into my parents’ house and invite you over to play Dungeons and Dragons, I promise! Much more in the vein of what you know me for, the new section of the Carousel Mall in Syracuse, rechristened Destiny USA, is now open, and over the past few months, I’ve had a chance to sample some of the wares there. The shopping, I love unabashedly. The new BCBG store has enjoyed so fairly lavish attention from my credit card, and the Off 5th Outlet holds untold treasures, like the dress I wore to the Miss America Homecoming a couple weeks ago.

The new restaurants, meanwhile, ehhh…You know I don’t get too worked up about chain places. So far, Cantina Laredo, The Melting Pot, Gordon Biersch, PF Chang's, and Toby Keith’s I Love This Bar are open. Thanks to a really terrible food poisoning episode many years from The Melting Pot in Dupont Circle, I’m not of a mind to eat there again, so my first and second visit included Cantina Laredo.

I’ll present you first with the positive: they make tableside guacamole, a Mexican restaurant traditional that I adore, and the end product isn’t setting the world on fire or anything, but it’s entirely serviceable:

It could have used jalapeno and lime, for my tastes, but I think we’ve established that my tastes are adjusted to bold flavors and fair hit of spice.

As for the rest of the menu, I don’t have any standouts to recommend from my two visits. I’ve tasted the ceviche, carnitas tacos, and one other dish I can’t recall. I’m not kidding – I can’t even remember what else I ate. Not a shining recommendation of the food, I realize. The thing I don’t understand about insipid chain Mexican restaurant food is that a lot of really good dishes from South of the border are really simple. Get quality limes, chiles, garlic, a pork shoulder, and some corn flour (masa), maybe a little cotijo cheese, and you have a stunning dish. Of course, many dishes, like moles and posole, are very complex, but to make a good taco, you don’t need to recreate the wheel. I guess what I’m trying to tell you is: this place is overpriced and not all that great. If you need a margarita, hit it up. Otherwise: skip it.

They’re just tacos, man

During our last visit, we had an idea to try the Toby Keith behemoth, but the wait was an hour and half, at 2 p.m. That’s right, not even lunch or dinner time, and the line was out the door for food that can’t even be all that special. You guys, it’s Toby Keith. I didn’t realize he could still pull those kinds of crowds.

So we hit up the much less…congested…choice, Gordon Biersch Brewery Restaurant, a chain I’d enjoyed before in Washington, DC. And you know what? We enjoyed this meal quite a lot, for a chain. The food was tasty, just enough out of the ordinary to pique the interest, the service was solid, and it was clean and almost posh in the dining room. I know: wonders will never cease.

We ordered very predictable dishes, if you’ve been reading my posts about lunches with my parents for any amount of time. Mom went for the artisanal grilled cheese, which brought some avocado mayo along to liven up the ride. Dad bit on the classic pulled pork, and was pleasantly surprised by the subtle tones of its BBQ sauce. Natch, I chose the farmhouse burger, because BACON JAM. So, yeah. No surprises from us.

The artisanal grilled cheese, which is a hilarious term – I need a job naming dishes for restaurants – put gruyere cheese up against bacon and a very light, tasty avocado mayonnaise for all the flavor of the ultimate comfort food, elevated ever so slightly. Mom loved it.

The pulled pork was relatively straight forward: juicy, tender, braised/smoked pork and a bit of a dry, ordinary slaw. But the BBQ sauce dressing the meat was really nice, made with GB’s marzen lager, which is a bit sweet, but had the effect of lightening up the sauce so it wasn’t cloying or sweet. In addition, and unlike a lot of pulled pork sandwiches, the sauce was administered judiciously, so that the entire sandwich didn’t fall apart after the first bite. Well done, Gordon.

All the things! Arugula, a fried egg, and bacon jam – all of these things make me happy. Hell, even that tomato slice was welcome. The burger was hand-formed, too, which I never expected from a chain. It was loosely-packed, and therefore still juicy, and even the fries were sprinkled with parsley and chopped garlic to make them unique. Again, the slaw did nothing for me – should have thrown some avocado, or mustard seeds, or something in there to spruce it up – but everything else on this plate brought a smile to my face.

I’m not going to score Gordon Biersch on the BHS scale, as chains aren’t normally in my purview, but if you have to eat at one in Syracuse, this is a decent bet. I’d rather send you to Kitty Hoynes, BC Restaurant, Dinosaur BBQ, or even Zebb’s, but if you’re at the mall and you don’t want to leave when hunger strikes, Gordon will treat you right.

I’ll be in Watertown this weekend for Easter with the fam, and back in The Cuse Saturday night see my high school friend Jason star at Judas in Salt City’s production of Jesus Christ Superstar. I haven’t seen that show in years, and I can’t wait, but I also kind of hope I can convince my comrades to grab dinner downtown before the show. You know I can be convincing. What else, for the Mother of Dragons? ;) My hunger is big; my personality is bigger!


alLUREing Staten Island

Back in January, when Miss New York Mallory Hagan was crowned Miss America 2013, one of the first things my parents and I realized with glee was that New York would have to host a homecoming celebration for her, and we would get to go. That realization came to fruition this past weekend, in Staten Island and Manhattan. Not only did we witness the homecoming of the first Miss New York to become Miss America since Vanessa Williams, more than 20 years ago, but we saw a selection of Broadway talent, and a special appearance by Ben Vereen! It was a really special event, and I’m so delighted that we were able to attend with our current Miss Thousand Islands, Lonna McCary. I also met four former Miss Americas, and hobnobbed with other state titleholders and former Miss New Yorks – it was a glitter-forward weekend, to be sure.

Moi, with Susan Powell (1981), Ericka Dunlap, (2004), Kirsten Haglund (2008), and Mallory Hagan (2013)

As per usual with Miss New York events, our base of operations was in Staten Island, this time at the Hilton Garden Inn, which is sporting a posh new rooftop bar and club called Above. Lonna and I ventured up there after dinner Friday night, met Miss America 2004 Ericka Dunlap, who is a total spitfire, completely undoing every misconception one might have about pageant girls, and danced with some of the other state titleholders. I even discussed hair and wardrobe with Mallory. Color me a fan girl.

Earlier in the evening, Lonna, my parents, and our pageant board members Stan and Deltra ventured over to the Dongan Hills neighborhood of SI, the same block at which we dined last spring at Carol’s Café, to try Max’s Es-Ca. I had noted it when we visited Carol’s, and looked it up later on my beloved Urbanspoon, deciding it warranted a second look. Turns out, I have good instincts, and Carol is in very good company, sharing a block with Max.

Our waitress, Victoria, was super fun and very attentive, welcoming us into the warm, mod, Tuscan interior. The Euro chic décor is sleek and comfortable at once, with a contemporary wall-mounted fireplace on the back wall, and to drive home the European feel even more, our table was set with a carafe of water and a plentiful basket of assorted homemade breads. To go along with the bread, a really delicious olive oil dipper besieged with slivers of garlic, roasted perfectly to coax out the most sweetness and savory flavor.

If you’ve already clicked on Es-Ca’s menu and glanced at the starters, you’ve probably guessed what I insisted on as an appetizer: the spicy tuna tartar. Honestly, I just wish a little tartar elf would come to my house three times a week and make this for me. No matter the configuration, I just love it. Es-Ca’s was less spicy than I anticipated, and very citrusy, with bright, clean flavor coming from the gorgeous, raw, brunoised tuna, tomatoes, and avocado. The housemade fried flour tortilla chips made excellent partners for the lovely disc of fish, and while this was less complex than versions I’ve enjoyed in Austin and Hilton Head, it was no less delicious.

The appetizer special last Friday night also put its citrus foot forward: crab and artichoke-stuffed portabella mushroom with lemon garlic sauce hit all the yummy notes: earthy, tart, and rich with tons, and I mean it, of fresh-picked crab. Usually crab-stuffed items are mostly breading with a little lump or flaked crabmeat, but this mushroom and Deltra's stuffed shrimp were packing plenty of shellfish goodness, in this case expertly balanced with the lemony artichokes and portabella.

Mom ordered the penne with vodka sauce and Caesar salad, loving both. I don’t groove on the Caesar, but she declared it the best one she’d ever had in a restaurant, extolling its balanced flavors and chopped up croutons that integrated so well with the lettuce, dressing, and shaved parmesan. I did taste her pasta, which again, was simpler than other restaurants’ versions, but expertly executed. The sauce was savory, light, creamy, and well-seasoned. The pasta was that perfect al dente that I can never seem to achieve at home – not so chewy that “to the tooth,” gets stuck in your teeth, but nowhere near the flabby, insipid mess you get if you cook it even a minute too long. Neither of these were particularly inventive or original, but both were the best versions they could possibly be.

Miss Lonna went for the mesclun salad, because the goat cheese was too good to resist. Topped with chicken, this mix of spring greens, walnuts, tomatoes, craisins, creamy balsamic, and yes, goat cheese, was fabulous. And Lonna was right, the cheese was the clutch ingredient, adding a ton of personality with its tangy, piquant creaminess. It was huge, too, a $10 entrée capable of providing two meals to someone having already sampled an appetizer. Again, the key word here was balance. The dressing was mellow, the perfect seasoning to bring the salad to life without overpowering any ingredients with vinegar. I would love that recipe.

Paella was the name of the game for me, and holy cow, was it good! The sheer amount of seafood in the this gargantuan dish of rice, chicken, chorizo, green olives, lobster, peas, clams, and shrimp made its price tag of $28 unbelievable. This amount of food – enough for at least three dinners – probably should have cost $32, even $42, in most urban restaurants. I don’t know how Max is doing it, but the quality and quantity of this dish were insane. And everything was insanely fresh, as well. I also liked the good balance of saffron and paprika in the rice, though I would have loved the crispy, charred bits that you get on the bottom when its cooked the traditional Spanish way. The chorizo in the dish was killer – fresh and spicy – it may have even been made in-house, which leads me to marvel, again at that bananas $28 price. And, to drive home how good the service is at Es-Ca, Victoria also brought me a bowl in which to throw my empty shells – classy!

Dad had a very unique fettuccine dish with filet mignon, shrimp, cherry peppers, corn, arugula and shrooms. The sauce on this was very light – just garlic and oil – and let the steak, shrimp, and vegetables assert their personalities, again, in that perfect balance we were coming to love. The filet was tender as can be, and those big, dynamite shrimp sang with the piquant fire of the peppers. Rich and luxurious in flavor, but not heavy, this dish was simply fabulous.

I will reiterate that the portion sizes were mammoth, but I’ll also admit that dessert seemed…obligatory. We just knew they would be delicious, and we couldn’t deny ourselves. And so the lemon sorbet, crème brulee, gelato, and fried ice cream were delivered by a still-cheerful Victoria to our gluttonous corner of the dining room. Dad’s lemon sorbet was served in a frozen lemon shell with a cookie spoon, and it was gorgeous. My ball of ice cream was covered in a thin sheet of banana cake,. The fried crispy and drizzled with caramel sauce – equaling a banana bready, sweet, deep dish that I savored. A home run.

There wasn’t a thing wrong with this meal. The atmosphere was warm, the service was spectacular but not formal, the portions were large, and the food was expertly crafted. The vote around the table was unanimous: 10 on the BHS scale. If you find yourself in Staten Island, maybe for this July’s Miss New York Pageant, a Hurricane Sandy fundraiser, or to see a show at the St. George Theater, make your way over to Dongan Hills and try Max’s Es-Ca. You will be well fed and well taken care of, just like these people:

Mom and Stan have their eyes closed; that seems about right.

Upon return to Max’s, I will be sampling the filet mignon bruschetta, because, yum, and also the tortellini carbonara. You guys know I’m a sucker for carbonara, and now that I’ve sampled the precision cuisine cranked out at Max’s, I don’t fear the same kind of alfredo trickery I’ve fallen victim to on many such pasta outings. Check back with me next Wednesday for a new review, and follow me on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram! My hunger is big; my personality is bigger!

Es-Ca on Urbanspoon


I’ll Have Miss Kitty Fix You Up

…Keeping the St. Patrick’s Day themed content rolling right along, this week, I met Big Hungry Patti, owner of the fabulous Shades of Orange kids art studio in Syracuse, for lunch in Syracuse’s Armory Square at Kitty Hoynes Irish Pub and Restaurant. I’ve brought you a few reviews from Armory Square, namely, the superb BC Restaurant and Bistro Elephant, but hadn’t ever stepped foot inside Kitty’s until this week. Frankly, I’ve eaten in a few chain Irish pubs, was really unimpressed with them, and didn’t think this spot would offer much more, until I saw it featured on Diners, Drive-ins and Dives last fall. Guy may be a little overwhelming and a lot shouty, but he sold me.

I’m not going to beat around the bush with my shillelagh stick, this was a fabulous meal. I don’t know how Irish it was. I had intended to get something much more traditional, like bangers and mash or corned beef, but the specials menu hatched a diabolical plot to divert my best intentions: pork belly. PORK BELLY! So yeah, I love bangers, I love lamb burgers, I love corned beef. But I don’t love any of those more than I love pig. It’s not my fault, you guys. BBQ pork belly with champ and delicious, buttery, pan-sautéed fresh veggies is a plate of food I cannot resist. And you know what? I’m glad I didn’t, because it was major.

Have we talked about pork belly enough by now that you know what it is? Basically, it’s what you make bacon out of, but if you buy the whole belly, you can braise it, smoke it, or apply a dozen other treatments to coax out different textures, flavors, and outcomes that can hit the notes of other cuts of pork while keeping enough fat content to avoid that dry pork chop fate. These two colossal slabs of belly were slathered in a BBQ sauce that I’m assuming was fortified with a beer of some kind, because it wasn’t cloyingly sweet like so many. And the texture of the meat was everything…tender, juicy, porky…like the thickest piece of bacon you’ve ever had, but without the salt cure. The champs, which are Ireland’s answer to mashed potatoes, were perhaps a tad smoother than I prefer mine, but the minced scallions gave them a very mild hint of the something-something they needed to be above average. And while the green bean, summer squash, and red bell pepper mix was perhaps pedestrian, it also was well-executed, well-seasoned, and well-portioned, so that I didn’t feel completely stuffed when I neared the end of eating.

Patti was craving grilled cheese, so she went with Naughton’s Irish Toastie sandwich. And once again, Kitty’s took something that should have been pretty ordinary: grilled ham, tomato, basil, fresh mozzarella, and cheddar, on sourdough, and made it really, really good. The bread was thick cut and the ham was super high quality, tender, and complete with just a mere whisp of smoke flavor that sang with the milky, fresh mozzarella and somewhat more substantial cheddar. Patti, who is a total character, and whom I should feature in more posts, exclaimed, “It’s Naughton delicious. I want to live in this cheese!”

Alongside her sandwich, a cup of the soup of the day, chicken with white bean, was served. Again, I expected a run-of-the-mill bean soup, which doesn’t usually ring my bell. Oops: DING! The broth was enriched with ham, and was velvety, complex, and very deep. The whole of this dish was so much more satisfying than you would ever expect from a grilled cheese and ham sandwich with chicken soup. You just have to go and try it yourself. Patti said she hasn’t been to Kitty Hoynes in years, but will be making more of an effort to return in the future. So will I, Patti, so will I.

I couldn’t help it, I had to get dessert. Nevermind that I have to put on a cocktail dress this Saturday for a party with Miss America. I laugh in the face of calories! It wasn’t even that I was still hungry, but our food was so good, I just wanted more. Sometimes I worry about how greedy I am.

I’m almost relieved to tell you that this carrot cake was solid, but not especially remarkable. It was good, dense, moist, spicy but not overwhelmed by any one spice, and graced with delectable cream cheese frosting. Carrot cake is my favorite cake, and I would order this again, but it’s not in the farthest reaches of the upper echelon of cakes or anything. Thank God, because I didn’t feel pressured to eat the entire thing.

I’m not sure I’ve ever given this high a score to a joint after just having lunch there, but I’m going for broke on this one and giving Kitty Hoynes a nine on the BHS scale. The only drawbacks were the interior temperature (my hands were so cold, it was tough to eat) and our sort-of aloof waiter, who didn’t refresh our drinks often, and wasn’t in our dining room that much at all. The interior was very homey, authentically pub-like, and not too slick, like so many “modern gastropubs.” I just absolutely loved it here, and I recommend you hightail it to Syracuse for your own taste of Ireland post haste.

I’m heading down to Staten Island and Manhattan for Miss America’s Homecoming this weekend. I procured a sick dress, so I’m pretty excited. This is the first time my parents and I have been down there since Hurricane Sandy, so I’m eager to see how SI is doing, and you know I’ll find something interesting to eat. Meantime, hit up the comments, below, and share your favorite Syracuse eats. My hunger is big; my personality is bigger!

Kitty Hoynes Irish Pub & Restaurant on Urbanspoon


Rant on the Avenue

As The Bloggess says, this isn't a real post. My real posts are positive, supportive of local businesses and mom and pop shops, and the culinary bounty of Upstate New York. A real post wouldn't tell you where not to go, but would give you all sorts of ideas about day trips, and make your mouth water. And I'm sorry about that.

This post makes me feel guilty for writing, but I feel like we need to discuss declining restaurants, and why work ethic and a passion for feeding people wonderful food - feeding their very souls - is so important, especially in a family-owned business.

On Wednesday night, I had the misfortune of eating at Nirchi's on the Avenue in Endicott with a large group of colleagues. We had just finished a day of grueling plannings meetings, and needed a good meal, strong libations, and some laughs to properly recover. Now, back when Nirchi's first opened their fine-dining location on Endicott's Washington Avenue in 2001, I was a big fan. The calamari was a standout, with one of the lightest, airiest breadings I'd ever tasted, and they were one of the only local joints doing risotto, which was white hot in the early aughts.

A decade and change has taken its toll. Once a place for special occasion meals (Shawn and I had a very romantic Valentine's Day dinner there once) and work dinners, Nirchi's has failed to invest back in itself. The dining room, always dark, is now dated and somewhat shabby, and much-loved menu items like seafood risotto and angels on horseback are no longer available. I can see Robert Irvine, from Food Network's Restaurant Impossible, tearing this place to shreds with glee, harping on the burgundy lace curtain panels and lack of seasoning in the dishes.

I ordered the fettucine carbonara Wednesday night, on the recommendation of the waitress. I had been waffling between that and the chicken marsala, but she said the carbonara was very popular, so I heeded her advice. I didn't expect it to be authentic carbonara, which is pancetta and copious amounts of black pepper, sometimes graced with onions or peas, first mixed with the al dente pasta, and then doused in beaten eggs and pecorino romano cheese. The heat from the pasta "cooks" the eggs gently, forming a sauce without scrambling them, and the black pepper represents coal, which is where the name carbonara comes from. Most restaurants forgo the delicate egg tempering process and cheat the dish with cream, which allows for more consistent results. But Nirchi's version was so off the mark, I barely finished half of my portion. They're using proscuitto instead of pancetta, which doesn't allow for the rendering process to infuse the whole dish with the cured pork flavor, and pre-made alfredo sauce, which was far too runny. In addition, the cook either rinsed the pasta before mixing it with the sauce, or didn't allow the pasta and sauce to cook together for a minute or two before plating, because the sauce slid right off the pasta with no adherence whatsoever. This is the first rule of Italian cookery, and something you can pick up in 30 minutes of watching Rachael Ray or any other pedestrian chef on the Food Network.

It was not, as the menu states, "unforgettable." I shall forget it as soon as this post is published.

You can even see in the photo how separate the sauce and pasta are. Moreover, the calamari our table ordered was greasy, with none of the etheral crunch this dish used to carry. Even the spinach and artichoke dip was an abomination, and the sure example of laziness in the kitchen. The canned artichoke chunks were left whole instead of being chopped up in order to meld with the spinach and sauce, which in this case was broken, leaving huge puddles of grease in the dish. Ugh. My UK colleagues ordered seafood dishes, as they are so often wont to do, and I pitied them, as the crabcakes smelled so foul and looked so bland, I would have sent them back.

I don't know if the issue at Nirchi's is that at some point they lost their chef and let a less experienced line cook simply take over the recipes without any oversight, or if the ambivalance about fine cuisine in the Southern Tier has engendered malaise in some of our older establishments. It's the same question I have about Fireside, up in Black River, or Donoli's in Apalachin. Clearly, these places were once vibrant, thriving restaurants, and they're now serving crap to disenfranchised fools who don't care enough about what they put in their bodies to demand better quality.

So there you have it, folks. My simple rant is that I cannot abide by a chef who permits insipid, low quality, lazy, poorly prepared, under-seasoned food to be sent out from his or her kitchen. Food is not difficult, you guys. Salt and pepper are not exotic ingredients. Carbonara is a ten minute dish, and one I can whip up in my kitchen and be ready to serve to guests in no time. I make a better spinach artichoke dip when I'm hungover, and my job is not cooking. If you believe, like I do, that professional cooking is a calling, then you won't condone laziness out of your local restaurants. Nirchi's needs a new dining room, and a new chef, stat. They have a huge company right up the street with business travelers galore asking where to eat - in this market, you just can't afford to be falling behind.

Next Wednesday, on a yummier note, stop on by for a fun taste of bar food in Syracuse! My hunger is big; my personality is bigger!

Nirchi's Restaurant on Urbanspoon


The Pipes are Callin'

I’ve posted to you before about Watertown’s Northcountry Goes Green Irish Festival, held every March at the State Office Building, but we’ve never covered Binghamton’s St. Patrick’s Day equivalent: Parade Day. Binghamton holds its St. Patrick’s Day parade earlier than most, a few weeks in advance of March 17. This is a strategic decision, allowing the parade to attract bagpipe bands from New York, Philadelphia, and Boston, that would have otherwise been booked to perform in their own cities. Binghamton’s parade is large, and the hullabaloo around it, even bigger. Downtown Binghamton turns into a very chilly Cancun on that one Saturday each March, with festive attire and drunken revelry ruling the day.

This year, our Parade Day crew included Shawn and me, Melinda and BLD, and two of BLD’s work friends, Tonia and Steve. We met lots more friends along the way, of course, but this was our core group. Of course, a day-long odyssey of alcohol consumption and frigid city transversing requires a plan of attack. We had planned to begin our day at Zona and Co Grille, but instead ended up at the Binghamton Club for an hour or two before venturing outside to see some of the parade. At the Binghamton Club, we enjoyed the Irish-themed buffet and some kick-off beverages. I really loved the Bing Club’s corned beef and cabbage, which was tender and flavorful, and their roasted parsnips, but the potato soup was a little bland, and the steak and kidney pie looked dried out.

Then we ventured out and about to watch the parade and cavort on State St, in the one block sanctioned for outdoor drinking. It was insane out there, and more than a little freezing. Once we were all nearing frost bite status, we hightailed it into Zona for some heat and more beverages, meeting up with Kate and Tom, some random Russian dudes, and our friend Josh, who was sporting the biggest flat Stanley I’ve ever seen. And no, that is not an anatomy joke.

After a good stay, and several adult beverages, at Zona, we hit the de riguer Holiday Inn for a spell. All of the pipe bands go to the Holiday Inn to perform in the ballrooms after the parade, so it’s a popular spot. Not my particular favorite, but that may be because I didn’t go to high school here – it’s kind of the homecoming spot everyone hits.

In fact, Shawn and Melinda got separated from the group at one point when they were watching the bagpipes, and there was some very frantic texting while we were trying to retrieve them. But most of mine said something like, “Where the heck are you? I’m starving and want to move on.” I know this is shocking information. Who, me? Want food?

So back to Zona we trod, and this is what I ate:

Mmmmm, cheesesteak. Looking back on it now, that is a LOT of food, and I probably put that whole board down in, maybe, eight minutes? My appetite is not to be messed with under the best of circumstances, and copious Labatt Blue Lights and cold temps are not the best. This was a little sloppier than the version Shawn got in January when we reviewed Zona, but no less delicious, with tender steak and those resplendent fries. The place was packed with wall to wall people, and for a new, fledgling business, Parade Day must have been a godsend.

I’m happy to report that our group kept everything in line and behaved like grown-ups. No shenanigans were had, despite carousing from noon until around 11 p.m. or so. After dinner at Zona, our group returned to the Binghamton Club for some wind-down bowling and restful rehydration, which was just what the leprechaun ordered. While some use Parade Day as an excuse to drink to excess and get crazy, I look at it more like a first glimpse of a summer BBQ, cavorting with friends for a day-long bacchanal of fun. So, how did you spend Parade Day, Big Hungries? Did you bust out a special outfit, like my epic Poehler/Fey 2016 T-shirt, or make your own corned beef and cabbage? Did you come out and watch the parade, or enjoy festivities from a quieter locale? Share your tales in the comments, below.

My hunger is big; my personality is bigger!