It’s no secret that I have a love affair with sour cherries. As August rolls around every year, I make a point to get to one of Buffalo’s many farmers markets and stock up on them. A week ago, I bought as many as I could get my hands on and turned them into jam, martinis, and pie. This post is about perhaps the most satisfying of the three: the pie!
But as gorgeous as these local sour cherries may be, the crust is the most important part of any pie.
I know that everyone and their mother has their own recipe for pie crust. My mother and I routinely bicker about which crust recipe to use––she insists on using an old vegetable shortening recipe from her Polish mother which I have taken to calling the “depression era crust”––and I’ve really taken to the more recent Foolproof Pie Crust from Cook’s Illustrated. I made it for the first time during the Thanksgiving season a few years ago and it hasn’t failed me since. Its secret ingredient, vodka, allows the crust to roll out so smoothly and without cracking while still baking into flaky buttery perfection.
Much has already been said about the newly opened Valle of Mexico in South Buffalo. In short: the food is fantastic and authentic, and the service and availability of menu options leaves something to be desired. We decided to give it a try a few nights ago, and what transpired was without a doubt the most surreal––terrible, uncomfortable––restaurant experience any of us have ever been through. The food we ended up being able to try was really great––but was it worth it? In order to give an idea of how our nearly two-hour long ordeal transpired, below is a rough timeline of events. You might notice that the emphasis is not on the food we ate––that would be because it played a shockingly small role in our night.
6:25 pm: We arrive at Valle of Mexico. About four tables are occupied, and we are asked where we would like to be seated. I point to the only table left with more than two seats (we were a party of three) which happens to be in the corner by the window.
6:31 pm: A busser (?) comes out of the kitchen and asks where we plan to sit. I motion again to the corner table and he clears the table of dirty dishes and sets down a few menus. The table is not really clean, but we sit down anyway.
6:40 pm: Our waitress––the same woman who first greeted us––comes over and asks what we’d like to order. We’d figured out our orders by that time, so we order the following: a triple order of vegetarian tacos ($7.50), two tacos al pastor ($5), one carnitas taco ($2.50), one carne asada taco ($2.50), and an entreé order of mole poblano ($12). We tried to order a variety of drinks, but most were out of stock so we ordered a few mango juices ($3). A couple that had entered after us had already been seated and somehow received chips and salsa while we had not, so we also asked for those.
Since the summer is nearly half way over now, I thought it’d be a good time to share some local fashion news, along with some of my most recent purchases. I’ve spent a majority of this summer enjoying local thrift markets and consignment shops in Buffalo and have found some really great pieces.
Vintage Camel Brown Dress
First off, I got a blue and white pleated dress from one of the Elmwood Village’s greatest assets, Anna Grace. The dress has a cut out (tie) back and adjustable straps. It also features great box pleats and a unique pattern. Being my concentration of fashion is on textile patterns, the cohesive pattern on this dress is one of the first things that caught my eye.
Image Captured by Anna Grace
Living in the Allentown area, I’m always looking for consignment and thrift shops nearer to my location. One of my favorite shops in the Allentown area is Black Cat Vintage. This boutique is a great consignment shop that gets new items in regularly and is also extremely affordable. Recently I’ve bought three dresses from Black Cat Vintage, all of which were in perfect condition and under $20. Two of them are longer vintage dresses, and the other is a royal blue, short corduroy dress. Black Cat Vintage is also great to check out during the M&T First Fridays in Allentown while visiting the art galleries.
Black Cat Vintage Corduroy Dress
Posted in Buffalo, Fashion, Written by Megan
Tagged allentown, anna gracee, buffalo ny boutique, buffalo ny fashion, elmwood village, silo city event, silo fleas, vintage clothing buffalo ny, women's clothing
Last week, a friend of mine had people in town for a visit and invited me out to dinner with them. I suggested that we try Osteria 166, an Italian “pub-style” restaurant that opened up in Downtown Buffalo last summer. By the end of the meal, we were really glad to have gone there: everyone was pleased with what they ordered, and we all felt that it was really well valued.
Our table of our four started off the meal with a round of drinks and two appetizers. We decided on the House Burrata & Charred Breads ($9) and the Stuffed Pepper Risotto Cakes ($8). The risotto cakes were quite good. Appearing as though they were giant mozzarella sticks, they were stuffed with rice, sausage, and herbs, and perfectly breaded and fried. The most memorable part of the dish was the accompanying pepper cream sauce. The roasted and sharply spicy flavor of the sauce completed each bite of risotto cake and frisée. The burrata, on the other hand, felt incomplete––merely average. It took some effort to get into the (not so) creamy ‘house-made’ ricotta center, and the “stewed tomatoes” tasted as though they were straight out of a can. The small jar of sea salt on the the table became absolutely necessary to bring out the flavors in the dish. On a more positive note, we all received a free glass of house (Frontera) wine due to checking in on Yelp––and for people trying to dine on a budget, free wine is never a bad thing.
While the rest of Buffalo spent this past weekend devouring the (mostly) local food offered at the Taste of Buffalo, we decided to expand our horizons and try out TGI Fridays new “endless appetizers” promotion: a decision made after the commercial promoting it came on for a third time at Founding Fathers late last week. On Saturday night, we trekked down to Fridays’ downtown Buffalo location with our friend Thomas, who soon leaves to spend a half year in Argentina. After all, what better way to spend one of your last nights in Buffalo than a night out at Fridays complete with a midnight stroll along our city’s premier nightlife destination, Chippewa?
None of us were really sure what to expect when walking into Fridays, having not set foot in the restaurant chain in the last decade. At about 10:30pm, the restaurant was around one sixth full, surprisingly becoming more popular as the night went on. It seemed like the patrons consisted of either young adults preparing for a night out on the Chip Strip or probable tourist families having a late dinner before retiring to their downtown hotel. We were seated after a minute’s wait and immediately brought menus and ice water by our waitress, Stacey.
Posted in Buffalo, Food, Review, Written by Matthew
Tagged #endlessapps, boneless wings, downtown buffalo restaurant, endless appetizers, food satire, friday's mozzarella sticks, mozz sticks, tgi fridays, tuscan spinach dip, wny eat
Last summer, Megan and I were living on Elmwood in the apartment that houses the clothing boutique Atelier and that used to be the home of Can Can Candy (later Dandy Candy). Over the course of the last year, Can Can Candy moved out and was replaced by another boutique called Karl, which opened after we moved out and was closed by the time I returned home. Earlier this year, the Bavarian Nut Company moved in and has set up a shop selling bubble tea, macarons, and (of course) a variety of nuts. We stopped by on a recent weekday and really enjoyed what we tried––and hope that it stays open for more than a summer!
Upon walking in, we noticed that the shop is set up much more efficiently than its previous incarnations. The Bavarian Nut Company’s store makes good use of its small space, with a bubble tea counter toward the back, a macaron case beside that, a small counter with nut samples and gifts near the door, and two long wooden benches along the side of the store. It was organized and clean, and we enjoyed looking around at the other options while we waited for our teas. Similarly, the only employee who was working while we were there was extremely pleasant and helpful: she gave us ice water while we waited, talking a bit about the store and explaining the menu options we asked about.
We ordered two teas: a Taro Milk Tea and a Passion Fruit Fruit Tea (both $3.75). Each were handmade; the process took a little over 5 minutes altogether. While we waited for our teas to be made, we tasted some of the nuts being sampled––including hot and spicy almonds, glazed pecans, a mix with cinnamon, etc. The glazed pecans in particular made a lasting impression on me: they tasted like a condensed version of pecan pie.
Posted in Buffalo, Food, Review, Written by Matthew
Tagged bavarian nut co buffalo, bubble tea, buffalo ny dessert, elmwood village, glazed nuts, macarons, taro tea, the bavarian nut company, wny
For our inaugural post of the summer, Megan and I picked a restaurant that seems to fly under the radar within the WNY food scene even though we’ve heard unanimously good things about it. We headed over on a recent weekday evening and ended up having a relaxed, enjoyable, and–more than anything–tasty meal.
When we arrived at around 7:30pm, the restaurant was almost completely empty: no one was there aside for one couple finishing their meal. Eventually, our server/waitress came into the dining room and told us to choose a seat. This encounter was indicative of the service throughout the night: exceedingly relaxed and informal––a bit more like a cafe than a full-fledged restaurant… which would make sense, given the name.
The interior design of Ming Cafe follows suit: it is pleasant and cozy. There aren’t any thrills, and if there were they wouldn’t be necessary. The restaurant is (amazingly) BYOB, and the same glasses given for water (which was never refilled) are to be used for wine. After we opened our own bottle of Malbec, we settled in and poured over the menu––taking our time.
As an appetizer, we ordered a plate of Pan-Fried Dumplings ($8). While the dish normally comes with 6 dumplings of one kind, we asked if we could get three tofu and spinach and three pork; this was not an issue. The dumplings arrived at the same relaxed pace, but they were worth the wait. They appeared to be homemade and carefully fried, with a thicker dough that usual. We really enjoyed the texture of them––crispy on the outside while thick enough to still be pillowy inside––as well as the fresh, tasty, and simple filling. They reminded us a bit of a Chinese pierogi (in a great way).