Ah, hello summer! Time for some vacation travel and exploration of local and regional food treasures.

My family took our annual trip to my sister’s place in Cape Cod, stopping by my brother’s place in the Finger Lakes region of upstate New York. While there, we admired his patch of Wrigley Spearmint, a thing that most Gerhard households have, as our mom was from Chicago and father from Louisville. We had to have mint and it may as well be Wrigley Spearmint, right? We picked a bunch to make fresh mint tea at The Cape.

While in their home and enjoying their wonderful breakfast, my brother asked if I have ever had a Spiedie (pronounced speedy).

“A what?” I asked.

“A Spiedie,” he replied.

“Well, no, I have not. What is that?”.

He then goes on to describe this sandwich which originated in Binghamton, New York and is quite popular in this region. It was all about the “speedy” marinade, he says. As we were getting ready to leave, he rushes out to the store and brings back two bottles of “Spiedie” marinade, which was actually “Salamida Original State Fair Spiedie Marinade Sauce,” the proper buns and some cherry tomatoes, which he said would be a good accompaniment. Very cool.

So we headed to The Cape with our new stuff. Upon arrival, I began researching the sandwich. Turns out that it is so popular in Binghamton that they even have a festival, the Spiedie fest and Balloon Rally, every August (since 1983).

OK, so what is a Spiedie? Well, it is simply 1-inch cubes of meat (chicken, beef, lamb or pork) marinated in Spiedie sauce for at least 24 hours, then skewered and barbecued. Those are then typically served on a piece of Italian bread or a roll or bun. The bun or piece of bread is actually used to pull the meat cubes from the skewer. It is drizzled with a little fresh Spiedie marinade, then sprinkled with freshly chopped mint.

You knew I was gonna work barbecue and mint into this, didn't you? That is it. Super simple, easy and regionally as popular as anything. Purists say that there should be nothing else on these. They know immediately if you are an out-of-towner if you ask about condiments and things like onions, lettuce, etc.

The Speidie marinade is basically an Italian Dressing with vinegar, oil, salt, pepper, garlic and spices.

So we tried this, making our own Spiedies, and they were fabulous. We used the traditional italian roll. We will try again with Italian bread, as well. My brother Tim recommends adding cherry tomatoes to the mix on the skewer, which, I agree, is a great idea.

Personally, I would add my trifecta of onions, peppers and mushrooms on a separate skewer and serve the freshly-grilled vegetable kabobs on the side. If you read my column last week, you know that fresh veggies are needed to maintain a healthy diet.

I did learn that I should use metal skewers, as the cubes of meat will slide off easier than the bamboo skewers that I used. I also learned that, while I love a good char or grill mark, maybe taking them off the grill earlier is better. Small chicken cubes only take a few minutes per side to cook on a hot grill.

Corkscrew cooks for Healthy Medina event at Medina City Hall

I had the pleasure of stopping by and watching Corkscrew Saloon Chef Ryan Marino and his recently-retired father, Mike, grill up some amazing chicken with veggie-loaded fried rice (cooked on a flat top) out in front of City Hall last week for the Mayor’s annual Healthy Medina event, where Corkscrew and other local vendors put on a healthy informative lunch for city workers.

While there, Ryan was telling me about their upcoming event on July 25, a “Patriot’s Bourbon & Cigar Dinner,” with portions of the proceeds benefiting Fallen15.org, a charity that helps Gold Star families.

My column next week will be about this upcoming dinner.

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