by Pete Burakowski

Fueled by transportation along the Great Lakes and the Erie Canal, manufacturing, and milling, Buffalo saw astronomical financial and population growth throughout the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

Along the way, some of the greatest American architecture was built (like Frank Lloyd Wright’s Darwin D. Martin House and Louis Sullivan’s Guaranty Building), Buffalo became home to the largest number of millionaires per capita in the country, communities of hard-working blue collar families were born, and Buffalo’s waterfront earned the reputation as one of the most dangerous and vice-ridden in the world.

It’s one thing to read these stories in a book. It’s another to walk Buffalo’s streets and see for yourself where history was played out. Buffalo Tours helps you do the latter.

With dozens of tours with titles like “Crime & Scandal,” “Gold Medal Grain Elevators,” and “Splendors in Stained Glass,” Buffalo Tours offers fun, informative looks at each aspect of Buffalo. Like to have a pint with your tours? They even have a series of happy hour walks that begin and end at local pubs.

The Buffalo Tours schedule runs through October and the tours are a bargain – most are either $10 or free!

http://www.preservationbuffaloniagara.org/page/buffalo-tours/

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by Matt Steinberg

My family and I had lunch recently at Chef’s, my favorite restaurant in Buffalo, and one of the city’s landmarks. Open since 1923, Chef’s has served generations of Buffalonians understated but exquisitely prepared Italian fare like lasagna, veal parmesan and chicken cacciatora. However, on your first visit, one of your party must order their signature dish, spaghetti parmesan. Pasta doesn’t come with simpler ingredients or preparation – a plate of lightly sauced spaghetti covered in mozzarella, then baked, and served with a cup of their famous tomato sauce for dipping. I’m not sure what the secret is (I sure can’t replicate it at home), but decades of practice has perfected their technique. Combined with a loaf of warm bread, a meatball or sausage and a glass of wine, this is a classic (and filling) meal that I order almost every time I go. Aside from it’s delectable dishes, Chef’s is also where many of Buffalo’s movers and shakers congregate to make deal or just share a meal, so you never know what CEO, media type or ballplayer you’ll see in the dining room. One caveat – reservations are highly recommended any time, but are an absolute necessity whenever the Sabres or Bandits are in town; without one, you won’t get in.

For more information, check out www.ilovechefs.com, or take a trip to the corner of Seneca and Chicago Streets and taste it for yourself. This trip was my son’s first experience, and judging by the smile on his face, it won’t be his last.

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by Melissa Barrie

Jersey Boys is not just your average musical. It is the biography of Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons; from their beginning as blue-collar kids on the wrong side of the tracks to becoming one of the greatest sensations in pop music history, selling 175 million records worldwide before they were 30. The show traces the rise and fall of their careers while satisfying your craving for jukebox hits such as “Sherry,” “Big Girls Don’t Cry,” “Rag Doll,” “Oh What a Night” and “Can’t Take My Eyes Off You.”

Enjoy this Tony, Grammy, and Olivier Award winning musical at Shea’s April 21st- May 9th. Ticket prices range from $22.50-$127.50 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 Matt Steinberg

Spring has come early to Buffalo, with sunshine and 60° temperatures the norm now. And with the onset of spring comes the opening of the Buffalo Bisons season. Today is Opening Day at Coca-Cola Field, as “the Herd” take on the Pawtucket Red Sox at 3:05. Baseball has a 125 year history in Buffalo, and Buffalonians have seen many major league stars-in-the-making. The Bisons had a rough year last season (as did the parent club, the New York Mets), but are bouncing back this year and are aiming at a return to the International League playoffs. And the game itself isn’t the only reason to come downtown this summer – there are promotions galore at the ballpark this year. There’s a pre-game party and post-game fireworks at every Friday home game, Father’s Day giveaways, celebrations of Irish, Hispanic, Polish and Italian heritage, the annual Independence Day celebration with the Buffalo Philharmonic orchestra (and more fireworks, of course), appearances by Dora the Explorer and the Famous Chicken, and much more. Tickets are still Buffalo’s best entertainment value – the best seats are only $11 each! Major league quality action at very minor league prices. For more information, check out their website at www.Bisons.com.

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by Karen Huefner
Upon completing my final essay in graduate school, I pretty much vowed that my schooling days were over. That was until Wine School came into my life. Gone are the days of sitting in the back of class, doodling in my notebook waiting for 9th period to end. At Wine School, it’s chair closest to the teacher, arrive ten minutes early and ask as many questions as I can.

Bacchus restaurant located in downtown Buffalo on Chippewa Street offers Wine School every other Wednesday for those who want to have an intimate lesson on a grape’s most valued byproduct. Taught by a certified sommelier, each class touches on a specific type of wine from a specific region. The class I attended focused on Pinot Noir’s of California. Mmm…

There were 12 of us in the class and they sat us at a table right in the main dining room. With a set of wine glasses in front of each of us, we had a chance to sample 4 wines ranging in price and taste. Mike, the sommelier, gave a down-to-earth approach to the lesson and gave us a blow-by-blow as to what makes a Pinot Noir a Pinot Noir. It was fantastic!! The wine tasting also includes two food pairings. The leg of lamb and sea bass they served were incredible and the wine truly complemented the food beautifully. Mike answered everyone’s questions and provided personal suggestions and tips on wine buying. The class lasted about 2 hours and for a girl who used to only drink Riesling, I was rather impressed and left eager to sign up for the next one! Something different to do on a Wednesday night, especially if you time your trip to Buffalo right!

For more information, go to the Bacchus website. Salud!

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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 www.marypoppins.com

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 www.dreamgirlsonstage.com

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. (www.shrekthemusical.com)

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. (www.youngfrankensteinthemusical.com)

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! (www.wickedthemusical.com)

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. (www.broadwaywestsidestory.com)

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

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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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