Sunday Vegetarian Brunch at Dicky’s

March 9, 2011 by in Ellwanger-Barry, Featured, Restaurants
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On Sunday, Ben and I decided to check out the new vegetarian brunch at Dicky’s.  Dicky’s had advertised it on their facebook page as starting at 10 AM, but I wasn’t terribly surprised that we were the first to arrive to brunch at 10:30, considering the standard Dicky’s crowd seem to be the “stay up late on Saturday night” types.  We sat down at our favorite table, and then went up to the buffet to find an assortment of breakfast items: different flavors of bagels, cut into eights, with cream cheese on the side, yogurt set next to granola and honey, fruit salad, a warmer containing something that looked like it might be eggs, and another warmer with potato pancakes.  We filled up our plates, grabbed a cup of coffee, a satisfying espresso roast, and went back to our table to start round one.

Dicky's Vegetarian Brunch - Round 1

We were immediately struck by the healthfulness of it all.  The egg-looking dish turned out to be a delicious curried tofu packed with fresh parsley.  It had a pleasing texture and flavor, and paired well with the potato pancakes.  The fruit salad was great, although its hard to prepare a bad fruit salad.  The potato pancakes were the best I had ever had.  They were thick without being undercooked, and crispy without being oily, prompting me to ask the very attentive proprietor about who had cooked them.  He answered that Peter, of the now gone-but-not-forgotten Mission Cafe on Monroe Ave had finally been talked into going in with Dicky’s on a vegetarian brunch effort, and this brunch was the first of many to come.  He also told us to stick around for the stroke of noon, when the law would allow him to bring out the $5 bloody mary pitchers, $3 mimosas, and “adult coffee.”

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Ben had a meeting with one of his real estate clients at 11:30, so we couldn’t stay and wait for them to bust out the bloody marys, but we did still have time to do a second round at the buffet.  This time, a warmer that had been empty on the last pass had been filled with brown rice, and separately, black beans.  I took some of each, piled on top of one another, and added salsa, sour cream, lettuce, and cheese.  There was also a squash dish: “Its butternut,” said Peter the cook, as he shuffled the buffet items and accepted my compliments on his potato pancakes.  We each took a warm up on our coffee and sat down to round two.  The rice and beans were simple and filling.  What can I say?  I’m not a huge fan of brown rice, so it was the only thing I wasn’t crazy for,  and I did wonder if I had simply missed the burrito wraps, or if there really weren’t any out for what seemed to be a plethora of fillings.  The butternut squash on the other hand, was excellent.  It was mashed coarsely, and accomplished the main prerogative of any butternut squash – to be both sweet and savory without loaded with sugar and salt.  Again, well done Peter.

Dicky's Vegetarian Brunch - Round 2

All in all, I’d say this is a brunch worth keeping an eye on.  I wasn’t crazy about the $8.95 price point, but considering the ingredients (eggs are a higher margin product than the tofu we were eating) it wasn’t altogether unreasonable.  I just wasn’t sure I really ate $9 worth of breakfast, and for that price some more options would have been nice.  Still, its great to see a vegetarian brunch happening in Rochester, especially so close to my neighborhood, so its something I definitely foresee myself continuing to support.  Next time I will get there later to check out Dicky’s take on the bloody mary… $5 a pitcher seems like a pretty good deal.

Rochester is #1 in America for Easy Commuting

March 2, 2011 by in Rochester Metro Area
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Rochester Traffic Jam by Matthew Emisse

Rochester has been racking up accolades from major publications like Forbes and CNN over the past few years for our affordable housing, quality of life, and resilience during the current economic crisis.  This month, a new study out by Kiplinger’s ranks Rochester as the best city in the nation for commuting.  The report gave statistics on commute times, distance, hours wasted, time wasted and even calculated a yearly congestion cost per commuter.  Rochester’s average commute was a mere 18.7 minutes, and the congestion cost was $273 per year.  That’s more than $100 less than the next closest city.

As it turns out, Kiplinger’s reporter, Susannah Snider graduated from Rochester’s own University of Rochester.  With first hand knowledge of upstate winters, Snider was sure to point out that winter driving here can definitely impact your commute time.  For most locals however, the occasional 10″ snow storm doesn’t even make us late for work.

This glowing report is fresh on the heels of a Forbes report that Rochester is the 4th most affordable housing market in the country.  Newdigs blog contributor, Jason Schwingle, wrote about this in a November 1 blog post.  All this positive attention is a welcome change for a town that spent the last three decades enduring waves of Kodak layoffs and shedding manufacturing jobs.  As America turns the corner of our current recession, Rochester seems poised for a great recovery.  And we’re not the only ones who think so.  CNN Money just ranked Rochester the #4 best recovery bet for housing markets.

Should Renters Still be Allowed to Vote?

March 1, 2011 by in Politics
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Sounds like a crazy question, doesn’t it?  When our constitution was originally written, there were plenty of people still without the right to vote.  After a few centuries of amendments and public outcries for equality, we’ve finally extended the right to vote to all citizens… even if they’re too lazy to actually make it out to the polls.  Well, Judson Phillips, president of prominent Tea Party group, Tea Party Nation thinks we’ve gone too far. According to Phillips, we should reconsider our nation’s policy of allowing people to vote who do not own property.

Here’s the full quote, from Tea Party Nation Radio:

“The Founding Fathers originally said, they put certain restrictions on who gets the right to vote. It wasn’t you were just a citizen and you got to vote. Some of the restrictions, you know, you obviously would not think about today. But one of those was you had to be a property owner. And that makes a lot of sense, because if you’re a property owner you actually have a vested stake in the community. If you’re not a property owner, you know, I’m sorry but property owners have a little bit more of a vested interest in the community than non-property owners.”

You're lucky you own a house, SueLooking around my neighborhood, there are a lot of very civic minded people working to strengthen our community. When I stop to consider who among them owns property, I realize that a good portion of my neighborhood’s do-gooders are in fact renters. Given the Tea Party’s anti big-government stance, I can see how it might benefit them to have all of the nation’s recipients of social services barred from choosing their elected representatives.

On the surface this sounds like the perfect way to ensure that only older, rich, conservative people can vote. In Rochester, and around the country however, home ownership trends are shifting. With the crash in home prices signaling the end of homeowner’s equity-ATM, people are finally starting to realize that a home is not an asset by default, and are considering renting again. Many people who bought a home, raised a family and sent kids to college are realizing that shoveling the driveway and paying $500-$1000 per month in property taxes is not how they want to spend retirement. For $1,000 a month you could have a fantastic 2 bedroom apartment in the heart of one of Rochester’s cultural districts, and never worry about another leak or snow storm.  Thus, while renters are often perceived as less wealthy, or younger than land owners, that’s just not always the way things actually are.

Phillips and his tea-baggers (snicker) need to know that renters are not second class citizens. Renters cut across every demographic and socio-economic level. Otherwise, who’s renting these places? Robbing renters of their right to vote would not only be morally reprehensible, but it would undermine over 150 years of common-sense legislation, and the American belief in a representative government.  Truly, the notion is just silly, which is why I’m not terribly worried that Phillips will get his way.