Sunday, September 19, 2010

Rochester: Wegmans, Gate House Cafe, Openface, and more

On my first night in Rochester, my student hosts and a fellow applicant found out that I had never been to Wegmans, the Northeastern grocery store that is so much more than a grocery store.  So, we went to the original Wegmans in Pittsford (near Rochester), and soon after walking in, I understood why so many people (including my friend L) love Wegmans so very much.  It's like Whole Foods meets Andronico's meets Rainbow Grocery meets Christmas lights.  Big, bright, pretty, tons of beautiful food everywhere, great bakery section and prepared food section, a tea bar, etc etc.

Dinner on Thursday night (with the other applicants and some current students) took place at the Gate House Cafe in Rochester.   One of the hosting students started us off with a round of appetizers, including spinach dip, eggplant fries, some falafel, seared tuna, and Zweigle's White Hots (the local hot dog) in puff pastry.  The eggplant fries were forgettable, but everything else was great, with the fluffy falafel being unexpectedly tasty.

Cheesy spinach dip and pita
 All of the Gate House's burgers and pizzas are named after local celebrities.  After hearing plenty of recommendations for the burgers - though their pizza is great too - I ordered "the Fagan," which is a burger with sauteed mushrooms, Swiss cheese, and au poivre sauce.  I specified Kobe beef instead of regular beef, and while I don't have a direct comparison, this was a pretty great burger.  Very juicy, very tender, and nicely seasoned.  Interestingly, the bun was square instead of round.

This picture makes the burger look way smaller than it actually was.

For dessert, three fellow applicants and I shared the tiramisu and the lava cake; the latter was particularly satisfying.

Lunch on Friday was ordered in by the MSTP from Openface Sandwich Eatery, which seems to be one of the best-known lunch places among the med school community.  I had picked an open-face turkey sandwich with mixed greens and turkey soup, and a side of gingered carrots.  There were plenty of more exciting options, but I was in a hurry when making my choice, so I stayed on the simple side.  The bread was quite good  - a little more robust than most white sandwich bread, and I think it was brushed with a little butter and toasted.  The carrots were, in fact, very gingery.  It was nice to have a relatively balanced lunch before running off to more interviews!

On Saturday I flew back to SFO via Chicago O'Hare.  Gate B6 at O'Hare may now be my favorite airport gate ever, because directly facing it is a large Vosges Haut-Chocolat stand.  Not feeling inclined to spend $7.50 on a chocolate bar, I instead bought a single chocolate-caramel marshmallow, which turned out to be worth every penny of the $2.50 it cost.  Behold:

Pretty chocolate store!
Upon arriving back in Palo Alto at East Coast dinner-time, I was fortunate to be fed at the home of E & M, who dished up a simple yet perfectly flavorful plate of sauteed corn, caramelized onions, and chicken breast.  Thanks again!  It was precisely what I needed after a week of exciting but very un-home-cooking-ish food :-).