Graduation is officially over, and even those of us who remain in Oswego or plan to return soon have in some way or another moved on. For me, a few things sealed the deal and made me realize it was really over. The first was walking at graduation – it really didn’t hit me until then. And when I didn’t return to school the following Monday, things seemed a bit odd. Finally, I moved out of my first apartment, traveling an incredibly difficult 200 miles to one of the most Western areas you can get to in New York: Buffalo. Admittedly, there were a few times when I thought about just going home–namely when my radiator hose exploded and we were still lost at 1 o’clock in the morning–but we got here nonetheless. The past few days have been rough, as settling into any new place is, I imagine, but we’ve still managed to enjoy a bit of solace: food.
As always, I am a firm believer that food is a comfort, solution, ice-breaker, and friend-maker. Our Buffalo food adventures have been just that: real adventures that have gone beyond the practical and entered the sensational. Our first food adventure was led by and shared with our new housemate, Lucas. He took us to a little restaurant called Fuji Grill on Maple St., which is basically right down the street from UB North. Fuji Grill is in an awfully unassuming locale–it sits next to a gym and a Chinese take-out place–but the interior was impressive indeed. The decorations were just beautiful and the atmosphere was quiet; it was my kind of restaurant. Once we sat down, all bets were off. There were so many kinds of sushi to choose from that it took the three of us twenty minutes to select just three rolls. After diving into our warm sake, we settled on our selection: a Buffalo roll, which had a sort of lobster salad on top; an Angry Dragon roll, which had more fruity green sauce than “angry” sauce but was loaded with a delicious sweet/spicy pepper flavor; and a Dream roll, which was unique because each piece was adorned with a slice of lemon on top. Each roll was so different, and the flavors definitely complimented each other. Even the wasabi was snappy, and the yellow ginger was a welcome change from the pink of most take-out sushi places. Lucas, Jonmark, and I enjoyed a really nice time over our sushi and sake, and I definitely plan to go again. Things to try: the Fuji roll, miso soup, and their specialty sushi rolls.
Our next food adventure was to the Tea Leaf Cafe, another locale on Maple St. near UB North campus. This shop had a pretty unique vibe–Asian-inspired foods and drinks plus the rock station?–but it was pretty cool. Jonmark and I sat on one of the couches sipping our cold teas and people-watching out of the front windows. The sticky drips down the side of one of the leather couches was, well, gross, but oddly welcoming as well. I tried bubble tea for the first time since my very first attempt in Binghamton 2 years ago, and I must say, delicious and fun!! If you’ve never had bubble tea before, here’s a breakdown of TLC bubble tea: tea + flavor + optional ice + large tapioca bubbles that are like sophisticated gushy snacks. My best move was covering the top of my straw with my finger and thrusting it into my beverage, spearing a bubble in the bottom hole of my straw and uncovering the top so the bubble flies up the straw! My tea had a mellow lychee flavor, and Jonmark had a bit-too-sweet passion fruit; both were delicious. We chatted and laughed as Jonmark got used to his bubble tea and we relaxed after a long week of packing and moving. Things to try: red bean bubble tea, taro bubble tea, guava bubble tea, ca phe sua da, aloe vera juice, chocolate chai, yuanyang, and some of the teas from their selection. And we can’t forget the desserts, too!!
I just didn’t think it would be right to complete a discussion about foods in Buffalo without having my partner, Jonmark, put in his own two cents! The night after we ventured to Tea Leaf Cafe, we ordered two pizzas from Via Veneto for dinner:
I can usually tell what type of city a place is by the pizza that it produces. Oswego, for example, has a distinct deficit of good pizza, which seemed to have been remedied closer to when we left as a new “New York” style pizzeria had just opened up. This was honestly some of the best pizza I had eaten in Oswego. Prior to that, the best pizza was a greasy, cheap, mediocre pancake-like concoction which would then be topped with the most “economical,” un-melting excuse for cheese; these things would be sold with at least a two thousand percent profit, adding insult to injury. So for me, moving to a larger city, at least from a culinary standpoint, was exciting. And Buffalo certainly did not disappoint; If a city has good pizza, that to me says the community as a whole is very alive and vibrant, with many things to do and people who care about the area. Buffalo certainly seems to have a plethora of pizza options, many of which even offer to overnight their pizza anywhere in the country. The place we decided to dine was located a few blocks away; since it offered rather good specials, we decided to try and see what they had. The offerings were quite good, and we decided to go with a standard mushroom pizza and another with half anchovies. The pizza had great cheese, what was obviously homemade sauce, and the whole order was provided by a small old Italian man who probably had not changed his business model since roughly the 1940’s. While the bars on the windows were rather disconcerting, things like that can be adjusted to; and overall the pizza, is very good and worth the effort. Really, it just warms my heart to find places that care that much about the process that goes into the product.
The pizza was, admittedly, very good. I had never had anchovy pizza before, and I loved it! Though you can see the little fishy bones poking out from the dark, very fishy-smelling anchovy bits, you don’t notice them because they get buried in the thicker texture of the cheese and dough. And while I thought the fishiness would be overwhelming, really, it just tasted like ultra-salted tuna with more of an umami kick. Very, very good. Mmmmmm. I now love the anchovy when, once, I turned up my nose at my father as he sat on the couch eating kippers and crackers.
And so began our Buffalo food adventure. As Lucas recently said, if you come here for the food, you’ll be satisfied. If not, well…
Each of the locations mentioned has a website that anyone can peruse for their enjoyment. Does anyone have a place in Buffalo where they absolutely love to eat? Does anyone have a food they dare me to try here in Buffalo?