Today is a lazy day. It’s a hundred bajillion degrees outside, and a whopping 84 in the house. How am I supposed to move off this couch? I’ve been awake for 5 hours but have accomplished approximately nothing besides eating and sweating in my pajamas. After deciding approximately 2 hours ago to remain in my vegetative state until I absolutely have to get up and shower for work, I picked up the July/August issue of Buffalo Spree and turned to “The Best of WNY 2011.” It turns out that our culinary instincts have steered us down the right roads, indeed; the very same restaurants that we have visited and enjoyed in this area first, before all others, crop up repeatedly in this section of the magazine. The Blue Monk, Pearl Street Grill, Gin Gin, Spot Coffee, and even the Old Pink for drinks. And based on a quick Google maps search, it turns out there’s a great little bakery just a block and a half from our new apartment that boasts a whole wheat cinnamon roll! Breakfast will never be such an easy decision once we move…
There was no better way to sample even more of what Buffalo has to offer than to attend Taste of Buffalo, the annual two-day food festival that brings the area’s restaurants downtown for some long, hot hours of gorging and drinking. And gorge and drink we did. Along with my partner, my housemate, and our landlord/neighbor/friend, we ate our way through ticket after ticket of delicious munchables. My first stop was Bravo Pizza & Grill for a small sampler of lobster bisque. Though it was incredibly hot and I was wearing a black shirt, I couldn’t resist sampling the bisque – and I’m glad I did. The bisque was pleasantly “fishy,” creamy, and had a little kick of spice probably added with some red pepper. The creme brulee that my partner tried was also creamy and had a nicely caramelized top on it. I also liked that they included some take-away menus at their booth. My next stop was at Polish Villa for a cheese pierogi, its sauteed dough crispy and flavorful and its smooth filling kicked up a notch with a slightly sweet addition to the cheese and herbs. The sauerkraut pierogi was good as well, and my tummy welcomed the rich treat. Though I didn’t have one, all three of the boys had a smoked chicken stuffed banana pepper from Hog Wild BBQ. I tried a bite and it was gooooood – cheesy and spicy enough to make me hiccup! We all agreed that the heat overshadowed the flavor a bit, but I did enjoy the subtle smokiness that went into the dish.
At this point, we all decided to stop and take a break to cool off. I had my first taste of the famous Anderson’s ice cream, and let me tell you, I plan to go back for sure. I tasted the white chocolate and raspberry truffle ice cream, and it was both thick and light at the same time. I am picky about ice cream – I can’t eat it too often, it can’t be too sweet or feel too fatty in my mouth – and this ice cream takes the cake of some of the best I’ve ever tasted. I tend to like places that make their own creams and custards, and I am impressed by Anderson’s ice cream. I didn’t like their pineapple upside down cake flavor, which my partner chose and I thought was far too rich, but their dessert is certainly to be admired. Yum. I ate the whole bowl.
Following Anderson’s, we headed over to 31 Club’s booth for some absolutely delicious samples. I tasted their gazpacho shooter with lump crab meat, which was (unfortunately for me) served spoonless. It was hard to get over the fact that I was basically drinking soup with small chunks, but the gazpacho was a chilly tomato bomb! The crab meat was hard to detect over the flavor of the tomato and cilantro, but it was great nonetheless. Jonmark tried their full-sized arancini: two fried balls of risotto and veal with both red and white sauces. To. Die. For. The white sauce in particular was incredibly full-bodied, yet, I’m glad I didn’t get one for myself despite my mouthlust for it – gorging would have been limited for me afterwards since the dish was so filling (according to my partner). After this, I had to take a break for a while and let my stomach chill out, so I insisted that Jonmark and I go taste some Glenora wine samples. Glenora wines, to me, always strike a nice balance between sweet and dry. My tongue never gets caught on my palette from a super dry swallow, and I also never gag over the disgusting taste of alcohol. I tasted the riesling, the pinot noir rose, and their pomegranate, and enjoyed each one. The pinot noir rose is my new favorite blush wine, particularly since it wasn’t overly sweet like many blushes I’ve had. This one could definitely be eaten with any meal – you wouldn’t have to pick between red or white!
My tummy warmed and full of samples, I ventured over to the Red Osier booth to taste my first ever beef on weck. I adored the deep flavor of the roast beef with the salty contrast and crunch of the caraway seeds. My partner, who admittedly didn’t like the beef on weck he tried from Pearl Street Grill, loved the taste of Red Osier’s weck. This is a sandwich I want to explore from more infamous locales like Schwabl’s as well. Our last savory culinary venture was at Papaya, where we had calamari fried in panko. Though there were a few booths boasting calamari, I prefer fried seafood done in Asian-style locations because I prefer panko to more traditional flour frying methods. I love panko, and it turns out so crispy and a bit blandish for a great compliment to seafood. The calamari from Papaya was yummy for sure! Jonmark and I ended our part of the culinary adventure with an entire bottle of water, a 10 oz. glass of wine each (I had the pomegranate and was still in love), and a bowl of refreshingly crisp watermelon sorbet from Sweet Melody’s. What a day!
Funnily enough, we came back from Taste of Buffalo and suited up for the beach. Stuff your stomach, put on a swimsuit and get half naked…good idea. At least we waited half an hour to swim! Another hilarious outcome of the day was the horrible stir fry I made for dinner as a result of the canned stir fry sauce with chicken Jonmark bought…it smelled like dog chow. Gross. At least the memories of all that good at the festival was enough to get us all through the night.