March 2010

by Susan Braun

If you love music and want to contribute to a good cause, here’s the perfect opportunity. The Buffalo Philharmonic Chorus Ensemble Singers, the Buffalo Niagara Youth Chorus and the Ohio State University Chorale will hold a musical fundraiser to benefit their respective organizations at Shea’s Performing Arts Center. The performance, entitled A Choral Kaleidoscope, will commence at 7:30pm on April 14th, 2010.

The Buffalo Philharmonic Chorus (BPC), under the musical direction of Doreen Rao since 2008, is the principal guest chorus of the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra (BPO). The Chorus was first known as the Buffalo Schola Cantorum when it was organized in 1937; however, in 1992, the name was changed to The Buffalo Philharmonic Chorus to reflect its close association with the BPO. The BPC has 100 auditioned members and is considered the premier choral group of its kind in Western New York.

The Buffalo Niagara Youth Chorus (BNYC) got its start in 1988. It’s mission is to provide talented young performers with the opportunity to perfect their vocal abilities in a challenging environment. Members of the chorus range in age from 9 to 18 and come from school districts and private schools all over Western New York. They strive for excellence by achieving self-discipline, confidence, and respect and enjoyment of quality choral music. The BNYC includes a Preparatory Choir, a Concert Choir, a Chamber Choir and a Pop, Broadway and Jazz Ensemble.

The Ohio State University Chorale is the flagship ensemble of the OSU mixed choirs. It’s comprised of 48 members who participated in competitive auditions to be accepted into the Chorale. The Chorale performs on campus and in the community and occasionally tours. In July 2008, the Chorale sang at the Lucerne International Choral Festival in Switzerland.

The evening promises to be filled with comedy as well as music. All tickets are $12.50 and can be obtained through Ticketmaster at 1-800-745-3000 or at the Shea’s Ticket Office at 650 Main Street, Buffalo, NY, 14203.

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by Susan Braun

Visiting the Broadway Market in preparation for Easter has been a tradition in Western New York for more than 100 years. Although it is open all year round, this is the busiest time of year for the market which extends its hours on the days leading up to Easter. The aisles are filled with throngs of enthusiastic shoppers. Many of the businesses at the Broadway Market are well-known to regular shoppers because they have been owned by the same families who pass them from one generation to the next. Seasonal food and craft vendors are also on the scene at this time of year. Cakes, pastries and other baked goods, candy, meats, fish, butter lambs and prepared Polish foods abound. You can have a cup of coffee, eat a piece of poppy cake and listen to live musical entertainment. Bring your kids to visit the Easter Bunny and see how many marshmallow peeps they can consume in one minute at the second annual Peep Eating Contest at 1:00pm on Saturday March 27th. For more information about the Broadway Market and all the Easter-related events taking place there, visit or call 716-893-0705.

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By Karen Huefner
The Food Network’s Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives caught my attention from day one. While some of us don’t want to admit it, some of the best local food joints are the tiny neighborhood hole-in-the-wall establishments that ooze charm and character. Those two qualities are exactly what I found when I bellied up to the counter at Lake Effect Diner – a recent stop for Guy Fieri and his “Triple D” crew. This old-fashioned dining car-style diner offers a hearty menu of homemade classics. Not being a regular consumer of this type of fare, I felt that in order to get an authentic experience I was going to have to opt for a meatloaf and mac-n-cheese entrée. That was until I opened the menu, and the chocolate chip pancakes were staring me straight in the eye. I don’t typically break the traditional dinner boundaries by ordering breakfast in its place, but today was the day.

With my first bite of the triple stack, my decision was confirmed as a positive one. The pancakes were incredible. Extremely moist and not overly-chocolatey (which is typically a downfall of adding chocolate chips to pancakes). The best part of the entire meal was the side of maple butter positioned at the top. Between the butter and the natural sweetness of the pancakes, no syrup necessary! The pancakes were THAT good that I needed to call our server over to ensure the compliment got back to the line cooks. She revealed that they cut their batter with a bit of 7Up to keep them fluffy – go figure! The side of ham I ordered was equally as tasty with just the hint of honey to tickle the tongue. I topped the meal off with a cup of Lake Effect’s coffee and my experience was complete.

If you’re looking for a nostalgic dining experience back to a time when life was as simple as pancakes and coffee, swing by Lake Effect Diner next time you’re in town.

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by Susan Braun

Shea’s Performing Arts Center has just announced its 2010-11 M & T Bank Broadway Series. A quick glance at the schedule indicates that the up-coming season has something for everyone. Here’s a quick rundown.

Disney and Cameron Mackintosh kick off the season October 14-31, 2010 with a new touring production of the Tony®-award winning musical, Mary Poppins. You can learn more about the play at

A new stage production of Dreamgirls will arrive December 14-19, 2010. This play tells the story of Effie White, Deena Jones and Lorrell Robinson, who form an R & B trio in the 1960’s known as The Dreamettes. Starting as back-up singers, the three soon find themselves front and center as musical superstars. The show alludes to the lives and careers of The Supremes and the rise of Motown Records and features hits such as “One Night Only” and “Listen.” Visit

Look out for Shrek the Musical to be onstage February 22-27, 2011! An ogre, a princess with a mind of her own, a donkey who talks non-stop, a nasty short-tempered guy and a cookie are just a few of the “characters” you’ll come across in this Tony® and Academy® award winning musical. (

Young Frankenstein is next onstage March 22-27, 2011. This new production is based on the Mel Brooks film of the same name and is a hilarious interpretation of the story of Dr. Frankenstein’s attempts to create a monster. The music and lyrics were written by Mel Brooks who co-wrote the play. (

Back by popular demand, Wicked will be in town April 27—May 22, 2011. The New York Times recently named Wicked “the defining musical of the decade”. We all know the story of Dorothy and her red shoes, but did you know that long before Dorothy arrived on the scene, a girl with emerald green skin and another who is beautiful and popular met in the Land of Oz and became the Wicked Witch of the West and Glinda, the Good Witch? Come see Wicked and find out how it all happened! (

It’s been more than 50 years since West Side Story opened on Broadway and yet, it is still timely today. The musical is set in 1950’s New York, against a backdrop of rivalries between 2 street gangs of different ethnic and cultural backgrounds. The members of the Sharks, led by Bernardo, are all first generation Americans from Puerto Rico while the Jets, led by Riff, are all from working-class families who consider themselves the “real” Americans. The story revolves around Tony, a member of the Jets, and Maria, the sister of the leader of the Sharks who meet and fall in love. Musical theater changed dramatically after West Side Story originally opened because it used a romantic story filled with memorable music and dancing to comment on social justice issues. Don’t miss West Side Story on stage June 7-12, 2011. (

Season tickets for the 2010-2011 M & T Broadway Series are on sale now. For more information and to order tickets, visit , stop by the Shea’s Ticket Office at 650 Main Street, Buffalo, NY 14203 or call 716-847-0850.

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by Karen Healy

When the big green awning saying “Penzeys” went up at 783 Elmwood Ave. local cooks rejoiced. No more shipping charges, no more internet orders, no more taking chances on spice mixes, now the reknowned spice merchant has a shop in the Elmwood Village and you can buy your Northwoods Seasoning Mix any time you want.

After several months of waiting, breath bated, I was finally able to visit the newly opened store. What fun! The large and cheerful space is well laid out and your herb and spice needs are easy to find. I browsed the collection of salad dressing mixes and barbecue rubs, each mix accompanied by a large jarful just for interested sniffers. Bakers will be happy to see high quality vanilla and vanilla beans, whole star anise, and wonderful baking mixes like pumpkin and apple pie spice. Grillers have rubs galore to choose from. There are chili and taco mixes, barbecue sauce mixes and curries for cooks of all experience levels to try, and everything is sold in jars or in bulk, which is very inexpensive for such high quality spices.

I left clutching my favorite Italian Sausage seasoning and a new chili powder, secure in the thought that I can go back anytime and try the five spice powder without even a second thought.

I have one worry though. If I stop buying through the mail, will I stop getting the catalogue? Those recipes are always really fun to read….must consider sending my sister a regular gift through the mail…

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by Denise Drews

This weekend in Buffalo, everyone is Irish. It’s parade time and, boy, I DO LOVE A PARADE!

And Buffalo celebrates St. Patrick’s Day with not one, but two, parades this weekend! Here is some information on both of them.

Saturday, March 13 at noon: The Valley Community Association’s 17th Annual “Old Neighborhood” St. Patrick’s Day Parade will kick-off at the Valley Community Center, located near the junction of South Park Avenue and Elk Street. This parade retraces the original 1913 parade route, winding through Buffalo’s historic Valley and Old First Ward neighborhoods.

This year, the crowds along South Park Avenue, Smith Street, Elk Street, Hamburg Street, and O’Connell Avenue can expect the biggest “Old Neighborhood” parade yet, topping last year’s count of 60 contingents. There will be something for everyone – Irish dancers, marching bands, floats, clowns, classic cars, radio stations, police and fire department vehicles, unions, dignitaries, family clans, and more.

Following the parade, there will be a grand Irish “Hooley” at the Valley Center that will feature both inside and outside bars, live Irish music by “Blackthorn,” Irish dancers, and plenty of food and refreshments.

Sunday, March 14 at 2 p.m.: The larger of the two parades takes place on Sunday and runs up Delaware Avenue from Buffalo’s art deco City Hall. Each year, thousands of people flock downtown to carry on a Buffalo tradition.

Leading up to 2 p.m., excitement and anticipation fill the air, as enthusiastic crowds await the signal of the Grand Marshal. Then a roar goes up, as bagpipers, local dignitaries, Irish dancers, high school marching bands, Civil War reenactment groups, fire trucks, Irish-American philanthropic organizations, and many others march proudly by.

With Irish tricolor flags lining the parade route and children and adults sitting in lawn chairs along the curb, it’s a fun, colorful scene.

I’ll be on the Taste of Buffalo presented by Tops float, so if you see me, give a Shout Out!

I hop you go out and celebrate this wonderful time of year! After the parades, I always like to go and eat some corned beef and cabbage. Please share your comments on who has the best corned beef in town!

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by Jennifer Starkey, E-Marketing Manager, Niagara Tourism & Convention Corp.

…has ended. Well, not really the biggest war. That would probably have to go to our 4-year superbowl loss. Eek, we won’t go there. Last night was the premier of Food Wars Buffalo on the Travel Channel.

Yesterday, I went to Duff’s to watch the show with some friends and a huge crowd. I came in and sat at the bar near two men who were from New Hampshire. They were going on and on about how much they loved Buffalo, the people, and especially the food and of course the wings. I didn’t say a peep.

The owners of Duff’s and their family were there along with Drew Cerza (the Wing King) who also runs the National Buffalo Wing Festival. I was being introduced as the ‘hero’. HA! A hero for being the deciding vote for Duff’s? That’s not really hero status in my book, but hey, I’ll take it. It is a Buffalo brawl after all.

The show began at 10pm and there I was larger than life on national t.v.. It was kind of surreal. And, fyi, the camera REALLY does add 10lbs. At least I hope….. Anyway, as soon as the announcer said Jennifer Starkey and I was shown, the two New Hampshire guys turned to me and did a quadrupal take. I smiled and waved. haha. They thought it was so funny that I just let them go on and on about the show before it began and didn’t say a word.

The show was hysterical and so dramatic! Far more dramatic than it was during the filming. We love our wings. We have the best. But, really Duff’s and the Anchor Bar are buddies. They are in competition a lot, but they work together for the betterment of Buffalo.

I was nervous watching the show. Picture it. The votes were tied. Andrew, a food critic for the Buffalo News, sided with Duff’s. Rob Ray, former Buffalo Sabre, sided with Anchor Bar. The two super fans from each place were split. Inside Duff’s, Drew takes my hand and has me stand up in front of all of the Duff’s fans. On t.v. the camera zooms to me, also the only female on the panel.

My heart is beating like crazy as I’m standing up in front of everyone. When it was filmed, I was so nervous I almost forgot which plate letter I wrote down. I say, “I chose plate…” COMMERCIAL. They went to commercial!! It was like going on a roller coaster. You prepare yourself for the drop and then it just stops there for a few seconds.

My phone starts going crazy. 23 texts. Yes I counted. “Who is it?” “If you picked Anchor Bar we can’t be friends.” “I hope you picked Duff’s.” I told you it was a war.

The show came back on and the roller coaster jolted. “I chose plate…….A!” Duff’s wins!!!

So the biggest question has been why I chose Duff’s. Well, I always order my wings the same. Flats only, medium, extra sauce. Anchor Bar’s wings had some strong qualities, they were meatier but more mild. Duff’s wings were a little crispier and spicier with a thicker sauce. It was a hard choice but I went for the heat and chose Duff’s. I do encourage everyone to try both though. Anchor Bar was the original afterall! Just because I was the deciding vote on t.v. doesn’t mean I have ended the war. On the contrary, I may have only added fuel to the flame.

And, hopefully Anchor Bar doesn’t put a photo of me in their entrance with a Do Not Enter sign.

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by Susan Braun

What better way to celebrate the first day of spring on March 20th than to attend the opening of the Botanical Garden’s annual Spring Flower Show on the very day? The show will include thousands of colorful spring bulbs and plants. Come feast your eyes on and breathe in the fragrance of tulips, daffodils, hydrangeas, crocuses, primroses, and hyacinths. Admission to the flower show also includes a visit with the Easter Bunny on selected days and admission to Farmer Brown’s Petting Zoo where you can see baby chicks, lambs, rabbits, and goats. This year the Botanical Gardens will be open from 10 to 5 every day and on April 1, 2, 3, 5 and 6, they’ll remain open until 8pm.

Some special events are scheduled in conjunction with the Spring Flower Show. M & T Bank is sponsoring the Dress Your Easter Best Weekend and Contest April 2-4, the annual Easter Egg Hunt on April 3rd and Dollar Admission Day on April 11th.

For a preview of the Spring Flower Show, consider attending Paradise under Glass on March 19th between 6 and 9pm. Wear your tropical finest, listen to great music and munch on food from a variety of well-known Buffalo restaurants. Beer and wine will also be available.

For more information about all of these events, visit or call 716.827.1584 x 305.

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by Susan Braun

Have you heard about the Buffalo Hiking Group? This is a fairly new group founded by Chuck Saia and Chris Henning. It includes people who live in the Western New York area who like outdoor sports such as hiking, backpacking, trekking, snowshoeing, and camping. Membership is free and all are welcome. The group, which hosted one “Historic Waterfront Hike” on each day of the Powder Keg Festival, February 27th and 28th, attracted about 70 participants on Saturday and another 30 or so on Sunday. We joined in the fun on Sunday when the sun was shining brilliantly and the temperature was a balmy 37°!! We met on the corner of Erie Street and Marine Drive, across the street from Erie Basin Marina and headed out on a 3+ mile hike that lasted about 3 hours and included stops at many historical sites such as the Commercial Slip, the DL & W Terminal, the Swannie House, the Edward Cotter Fireboat and Father Conway Park (formerly the Ohio Basin). At each stop, Chris and Chuck provided interesting facts about the history of each of the places. For many, the highlight of the hike was gaining access to the RiverWright (Lake & Rail) Grain Elevator along the Buffalo River. When we arrived at the elevator, we were met by Rick Smith who provided some background on the history of the elevator and allowed the hikers to enter the elevator for a quick look around. Great fun was had by all!!

According to Chuck, “We’re always excited to extol whatever we can about Buffalo and the surrounding area. We’re hoping to have another Urban Historical Hike over the summer. We also plan to become involved with the Old First Ward’s ‘River Fest’ on June 19th, hopefully providing a little hike of history around the area and guided tours of the grain elevators.”

The next scheduled hike is April 17th at the Iroquois National Wildlife Refuge. They’ll be going on two different nature hikes led by Nature Guides. Chuck indicated that the group usually tries to do something once a month. So far it’s proven to be a great way to make new friends and get the word out about all the wonderful places to see and things to do in and around Buffalo! You can check out their events on Facebook (search for Buffalo Hiking Group), or on the web at

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