It's one of those cravings that builds up every now and then. Sometimes called buffalo wings, spicy fried chicken wings with the occasional drumstick thrown in every now and then. I've tried wings around the country and as with many foods places that have a unique appreciation for a certain food, often also have the best examples of that food. Sure, it's possible to stumble across an amazing example in the middle of nowhere, and I have, but if you want a safe bet, upstate New York is the innovator and still the place to go for a great example of wings. I've had great wings in New York, Texas, Colorado, California... Prepared in many styles from traditional buffalo wings style to Asian style.
Wings are a great example of how opposing forces in a food can really make that food work. Wings are just a laundry list of opposites shoved together, beginning with the sauce. This is really the basis for the flavor of the wings, the combination of vinegar (sour) and cayenne (hot). Often restaurants serving wings will provide options for how hot you want your wings to be. This is one area where we've seen significant push in the area of food challenges, with many establishments offering flavors like "Thermonuclear Meltdown". These flavors were not meant to be enjoyed, rather to show your ability to handle the heat. The true price really being paid over the next couple of days.
Another element of opposition to be found in wings is the texture. While dripping with the sauce, the wings should also retain a bit of the crispness they've gained during their bath in the deep fryer. It's a subtle thing, but something often not present on wings that have been all too often sitting too long in their sauce.
Wings are typically served with blue cheese dressing and celery sticks to help take a bit of the edge off of the spiciness of the sauce. This also provides options for flavor combinations... go ahead... dunk that wing n the blue cheese!
Some of my favorite wings? Certainly there are a number of great places in upstate New York. I also frequented a good wing place in the Park Slope area of Brooklyn. There is also a place in my heart for some wings I had in Grand Junction, Colorado. I'll always remember these wings. They brought them out covered, put down the plate, and lifted the cover. The spicy aroma burned the nose and made the eyes water, a sign of good things to come.
I recently stopped off at a local franchise of Wing-Stop. My expectations were not very high, but I had been craving some wings and thought I'd give it a shot. In the end, I was pleasantly surprised. Perhaps I caught them on a good day or before the slide that inevitably happens with franchises, but the wings were quite good. I do think they could go ahead and throw in some blue cheese and celery without an extra charge, but overall a decent experience.
I had the Original Hot and the Hickory Smoked BBQ flavors. Both were very good, with my preferences being the original hot. I look forward to heading back to try some of the other flavors.