January 2010

by Carolyn Batt

Last week, I went to a cooking lesson at Delish! I’m not much of a cook—but I am a big eater, so the thought of attending a class and watching someone else cook, while I reap the benefits sounded most appealing to me.

The cooking lesson is taught in a casual, class-type setting, with four dishes being prepared. Classes are offered Tuesday-Friday with different themes, ranging from “Cooking with Beer” to “Sushi & Summer Rolls.” Those attending are offered the opportunity to purchase wine or beer while they relax and learn how to cook interesting dishes. Questions are welcomed and the recipes are prepared step-by-step in front of you before a generous sample is extended to each “student.”

The class I attended was “The New Vegetarian Cuisine” that I brought my boyfriend to. There was a mixed crowd—several women were on a “Girls Night” while several other younger couples like us were also present. The classroom/kitchen has seating for approximately 20, making it an enjoyable, intimate experience.

The chefs prepared complex dishes such as Artichoke, Asparagus, & Mushroom Quinoa Risotto that were interesting to see prepared and even better to taste.

Attending a cooking lesson at Delish! was one of the more off-beat things that I have done recently in Buffalo, but I would definitely recommend it to anyone—especially if like me, you want the experience of learning how to cook a meal, without ever leaving your seat.

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by Karen Huefner

When an occasion comes about that involves a dinner out, I always try to check out a restaurant I haven’t been to. Buffalo is blessed with a diverse array of culinary experiences and while I have my favorites, it’s fun for my tastebuds to venture into something new. This time the occasion was a friend’s birthday and she was in the mood for Italian. Instantly I’m thinking about Sinatra’s, Chef’s, Ilio DiPaolo’s, DiGiulio’s, etc. but was craving something different. I had heard of San Marco Ristorante but didn’t know much about it. Did a little research online and thought it was worth a try.

You know a good Italian meal is in your future when you can barely make out a lick of English from the gentleman who answers the phone! San Marco Ristorante is located northeast of downtown Buffalo. San Marco’s quiet, understated interior allows diners to fully focus on the stellar northern Italian cuisine. The coziness of your first step into the restaurant is so welcoming, which is a feeling that carries over to the staff as well. Our waitress was the absolute sweetest thing and was so helpful with the menu. She read off the list of specials and San Marco’s had a lobster ravioli appetizer that I couldn’t get out of my head. She knew I was crazy about it, so before I even asked, she offered to turn that appetizer special into an entrée for me. When the plate was set down before me, I was in awe. It was eight very plump lobster ravioli covered in a blush cream sauce and sprinkled with baby shrimp. It was this seafood lover’s dream! Couple that meal with a glass of their house Reisling and I was smitten.

If you’re looking for an upscale Italian dining experience while you’re in town, San Marco’s is worth the visit. Grazie!

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by Erin Collins, Special Events Coordinator
at the Buffalo Museum of Science

The Christmas decorations have been taken down and St. Patrick’s Day is still two months away. For Buffalonians, that means winter. It’s easy to fall into a weekend pattern of food, couch, sleep, repeat during these cold post-holiday weeks. Don’t let it happen! Take advantage of Western New York’s many outdoor activities that are perfect for this time of year.

Kissing Bridge in Colden, N.Y. is a great place to prevent cabin fever. A short, scenic drive from Buffalo, skiers, snowboarders and even those less adventurous will find something to do there. I ventured down with friends and family last weekend to take advantage of KB’s “2 for 40 on Route 240” promotion. From 4 until 10 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays, two night passes are only $40 when purchased together. For $20 each, you and a friend can hit the slopes and enjoy a night of winter fun.

While some of my companions that night were avid skiers, I am not. In between tumbles and trying not to break a leg, it really was fun to get out of the house and breathe in some fresh, crisp air. (Or gasp below-freezing air while trying to catch my breath on a ten-degree night). In all seriousness though, nothing beats the view from the ski lift at KB. Looking down on lush, beautiful pine trees covered in sparkly, white snow as puffy flakes fall down around you makes the challenge of skiing totally worth it.

Even if you’re like me and skiing involves more time picking yourself up than gliding down the trail, you can still relax at one of KB’s four bars and restaurants when you’ve had enough snow up your back. From gourmet pizza and fish fries to fireside fine dining, there are many options to choose from when you need to take a rest. If you’re not a skier but don’t want to miss out on the fun, weekends at KB feature live music by local bands. So take a drive down to enjoy the atmosphere and spend some time at one of Western New York’s most scenic places.

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by Peter Burakowski, Communications Manager
for the Buffalo and Erie County Historical Society

One of my favorite parts of town is the Old First Ward, which is the area surrounding the winding Buffalo River. With its soaring grain elevators, old brick factories, and the smell of Cheerios wafting from the General Mills plant, it transports me to a time before my own – when Buffalo was a bustling transportation center and the eighth largest city in the country.

It’s here that you can also find my favorite bakery – Mazurek’s. While there are dozens of great bakeries around Buffalo, none has a hold of my heart quite like this place. Located on South Park Ave. near the corner of Hamburg St., this shop has been run by the Mazurek family since 1933, and today it’s in the masterful hands of Jack Mazurek and his wife, Carol.

What do 77 years of baking tradition equate to? Magic. Out of the bakery’s massive brick oven come flaky turnovers, rich pastries, and soft, crusty breads. The fruits of the deep fryer are no less impressive, as the doughnuts have a perfect balance of a chewy center and a hint of crunch on the outside.

While Mazurek’s does good business from its surrounding neighborhood, it also is somewhat of a culinary Mecca. Members of Western New York’s Polish, German, and Irish communities routinely make the pilgrimage from the suburbs to pick up authentic ethnic classics like kluski noodles, kuchen, and soda bread.

If there’s a holiday coming up, then it’s ‘go time’ for Mazurek’s. On Fat Tuesday, the day before Lent, Mazurek’s cranks out paczkis – a type of plump jelly-filled Polish doughnut – in epic quantities. As many as 140 dozen of these fried treats will go out the door as Western New Yorkers gorge themselves one last time before fasting. And if you get an itch for a rye bread during the Old First Ward’s colorful St. Patrick’s Day Parade, I hope you don’t mind waiting in line.

If the quality and the history aren’t enough to lure you to Mazurek’s, try the prices. On my last trip, I got four doughnuts, two hard rolls and a pastry heart for $4.60. Not bad, eh?

My family has known about Mazurek’s for three generations – my grandfather even used to work there as a child, scrubbing the floors – isn’t it time you checked them out? Mazurek’s Bakery is open Monday to Friday, 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., and Saturdays from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Find them at 543 South Park Ave. in Buffalo.

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by Denise Drews

This past Friday I attended the opening night for the performance Yankee Tavern (playing January 8 – February 7) at the Kavinoky Theatre.

I’ve been to Kavinoky a few times in the past and truly like the atmosphere. I’ve always enjoyed their performances. Joe Demerly, the Kavinoky’s marketing director, does a great job with publicizing the shows and his introductions before a performance – he makes you feel like he truly appreciates the audience.

It is nice at times to get out and about in our theatre community to witness firsthand a live performance. It is a bonus for me to share my experience with visitors when the question is asked: Do you know anything about it?

This play is based on conspiracy theories from the 9/11 attacks on the United States. Inside the walls of a crumbling New York tavern, a young couple find themselves caught up in what might be the biggest conspiracy of all. Steven Dietz’s acclaimed dramatic thriller is a fierce, funny and ultimately mind-bending work of theatrical power that grips you until the final word. The Palm Beach Arts Paper describes it this way: “Dietz is a master of smart dialogue and wily storytelling. He draws us in with characters that intrigue, but the stories they spin can do a number on our beliefs and leave us shattered…Here’s a toast to Dietz and his play, which should work its way through the nation’s new play network with the staying power of a juicy conspiracy theory.”

The tavern setting (for which I must compliment the set designer) reminded me of my youth. My grandmother worked at a similar place on Main Street near Virginia Street in Buffalo, and as a little kid I remember assisting her with different things in the kitchen. There were customers who frequented the bar area and knew how to tell stories. The character of Ray reminded me of a few of those guys.

On the ride home after the show I ended up questioning myself on some of the theories, so that means the characters did a good job and had my attention. All and all, I enjoyed my evening.

Ticket information can be found at www.kavinokytheatre.com.

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by Melissa Barrie

Just because it’s cold outside doesn’t mean you have to hibernate – enjoy one of the many winter activities that Buffalo has to offer. My top ten include:

Labatt Blue Pond Hockey Tournament
Held on the last weekend in February, this tournament (pictured at left) has expanded into 112 teams battling for bragging rights on the icy shores of Lake Erie at the Erie Basin Marina. This year the event also coincides with the brand new Buffalo Powder Keg Festival – a list of possible events include snow volleyball, a chili cook-off, curling, and snow soccer.

Sledding in Delaware Park
Take your sled and enjoy the winter wonderland at Delaware Park.

Ice skating at Rotary Rink
Bring your own skates and skate for free at Fountain Plaza downtown, or rent skates at $2 for children and $3 for adults.
Hours: Tuesday – Friday 11:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. & 5:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m.
Saturdays 11:00 a.m. – 10:00 p.m.
Sunday 11:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.

Tobogganing at Chestnut Ridge
Get your wooden toboggans out and head to Chestnut Ridge Park, one of the only parks in the country with toboggan runs. They’re finally open this year after a four-year hiatus.

Tubing at Colden Tubing Company
Western New York’s largest downhill tubing park. Enjoy unlimited night tubing on Fridays 5-9pm for $15!
Hours: Friday 5:00pm – 9:00pm
Saturdays 10:00am – 9:00pm
Sundays 10:00am – 6:00pm

With so many great ski resorts in this area to choose from, how will you make up your mind? Start here.

Enjoy the winter weather while taking a snow shoe hike. Snowshoe rentals are available during the winter at Tifft Nature Preserve and the Beaver Meadow Audobon Center.

Attend a Buffalo Sabres Game
Or a Buffalo Bandits game, or support your local college team for that matter. There are plenty to choose from – search here . Don’t forget about the NCAA Basketball Tournament here March 18th-21st!

St. Patrick’s Day Parade
Celebrate the last Sunday of winter with the annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade held on Delaware Avenue. This year it falls on March 14th – more information can be found here.

If you’re not in the mood to brave the cold weather, take in a performance at one of our many local theaters.

What would your Top Ten things to do in Buffalo during the winter include?

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by Maria Costello – Public Relations Coordinator at Artpark

If you’re longing for the days when summer barbeques took place every weekend…during these dog days of winter – the food is the closest you can get.

Located in Lewiston, just seven miles north of Niagara Falls, The Brickyard serves up the best BBQ around! I recently visited my favorite pig out spot with some family visiting for the holidays. This place has such a great atmosphere, their menu is extensive and the prices are more than reasonable.

We had to start out with some of the wings. These are not your traditional Buffalo wings- in fact they don’t even have a “hot, medium or mild” option. These wings are slowly smoked in a wood-burning smoker giving them such unique flavor that dousing them in hot sauce would be a crime (and not very tasty). We picked the “House Rub” option- you could also go with “BBQ” but we will get to that later. The House Rub is a dry mixture of different spices and sugar that gives the wings a spicy, with a hint of sweet vibe: Amazing!

When it came time to order, I fell back on an old standby. I almost always order “The Traditional.” This is a combo platter featuring three of the Brickyard’s finest smokehouse samplings – St. Louis style ribs, sliced brisket, and pulled pork. The ribs were meaty, the brisket tender, and the pork just melts in your mouth. The house barbeque sauce takes this plate to the next level- sweet with a bit of a kick. This platter comes with your choice of two sides. I chose the mac n cheese and the beans (baked beans, there aren’t many veggie choices at this joint). Needless to say, I had left-over Brickyard for lunch and dinner the next day.

The Pub area of the restaurant turns into quite the night spot on weekends. With more beers than you can shake a stick at, I’m not surprised. Imports, local beers, and at least 15 drafts you’re bound to find something you like.

My family and I had a blast, ate a ton of great food, and caught up with old friends. The Brickyard is definitely worth the trip.

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