Earl Grey Shortbread

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Over the last year, I’ve come to really love and appreciate good butter. It started with some encouragement from my friend Charlotte in DC, and intensified in London where I had access to a large variety of European salted butters. In roughly the same time period, I started making earl grey shortbread: a cookie that shows off everything great about butter. This is such a fantastic and adaptable recipe that I’ve made it multiple times (which is something I usually never do with such a long list of things to be making) with different flavor combinations. I usually prefer these with lavender icing, but I went with rosemary-cardamom this time––I had gotten a lot of rosemary in my CSA (more on that soon!) and it smelled too fresh and beautiful not to use.

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The flavor of these––the combination of earl grey, rosemary, and cardamom––is autumnal and floral without being dark: an almost-wintery white chai. And the texture is assuredly that of shortbread, but even a bit cracker-y… that is, until the icing soaks into them later. Make these this fall––and all winter long.

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Posted in Food, Recipe, Written by Matthew | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

Neighborhood Finds

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Some people forget that a great way to find vintage treasures is not only from visiting a consignment store, but also from going to local garage and estate sales. I recently visited an estate sale on Norwood in the the Elmwood Village and found some truly unique finds. I bought two items from the estate sale- one being a vintage 1960s maxi dress with a turtle neck and a great pattern (bottom photo), and the other being a mustard yellow cardigan labeled as “Grandpa’s favorite sweater” (middle photo). The dress fits me perfectly and is one of the most unique dresses I have personally ever seen. The sweater was also a great find even though it’s a men’s cardigan. It’s extremely comfortable and the perfect color for Fall.

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Earlier in the summer I took a visit to my hometown and visited some really cool vintage boutiques in NYC as well as Brooklyn. Although we stopped in many different stores and markets, the only purchase I made was from the Williamsburg location of the Artists & Fleas Market. I bought a purple patterned jump suit with a simple belt on the stomach (top photo). The jumper fits great, has an interesting textile print, and was only $40. I can always find unique pieces at Artists & Fleas for a reasonable price in the Williamsburg area, while supporting local craft and clothing vendors simultaneously.

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Sour Cherry Tart

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!

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But as gorgeous as these local sour cherries may be, the crust is the most important part of any pie.

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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.

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Posted in Buffalo, Food, Recipe, Written by Matthew | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments

Valle of Mexico

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.

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Local Consignment & Vintage Markets in Buffalo

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

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Osteria 166

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.

prochettaOur 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.

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#EndlessApps at TGI Fridays

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?

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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.

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