Sampling Buffalo’s Farm to Table Restaurants

Originally published in Forever Young magazine, August 2013

The Western New York area is filled with beautiful farms that produce a stunning bounty of vegetables, fruits, livestock, dairy, and more year-round. What you may not realize is that the restaurant industry is taking note and capitalizing on consumers’ desire to enjoy the seasonal harvest by passing the freshest local ingredients on to its diners. There is a growing number of farm to table dinner options in our area, and the late summer and early fall are primetime for their menus to shine. Farm to table restaurants are those with a desire to serve locally raised and sourced items that have menu items featuring ingredients from nearby farms, while farm dinners showcase local ingredients in a meal served right on the premises of a farm.
 

Bistro Europa

Located on Elmwood Avenue in the Elmwood Village, Bistro Europa is a cozy and eclectic Buffalo restaurant specializing in European favorites with a focus on local and seasonal, sourcing a spectacular amount of ingredients from local farms. Owners, Steve and Ellen Gedra, prepare nearly everything from scratch, in-house. Some local farm partners include Weiss Farm, Dan Tower Farm, T-Meadow Farm, Painted Meadow Farm, Oles Farm, Singer Farm Naturals, Winter Farm, and Native Offerings. The restaurant focuses on simple and delicious dishes, from pierogi and bolognese to the ever-enticing sticky toffee pudding. Small plates range from $3-17 and entrees begin at $20.

For $150, Bistro Europa pairs with Oles Farm to host farm dinners with everything used in the meal besides the salt coming from the farm. Past menus included three starters, seven options served family style, as well as beverages and dessert. Transportation to and from the farm is included as well.

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WNY Sandwiches: Banh Mi from Black Market Food Truck

Originally published in Buffalo Spree magazine, August 2013

Banh Mi
From: Black Market—Mobile (thebmft.com)

Contains: House-baked baguette, various proteins (coconut beef, braised pork, lemongrass chicken, smoked trout, tofu, caramel beef, and more), cilantro, pickled carrots and onion, cucumber, white bean pâté, chili aioli
Price: $7 (can vary depending on the protein included)

The Black Market Food Truck’s Vietnamese banh mi sandwiches are an addictive medley of hearty and refreshing. And here’s where it gets interesting: the base of the banh mi is constant, but the protein always changes. Each time you visit the truck, you will find one of an array of banh mi sandwiches on rotation. In addition, vegetarian and vegan versions (such as the tofu banh mi) are offered. The coconut beef is braised and paired with toasted coconut for a rich and zesty vibe, while the lemongrass chicken is bright and invigorating. Read the rest of this entry »

Best of WNY: Restaurants, drinks and more

Originally published in Buffalo Spree magazine, July 2013

For the eighth year running, Buffalo Spree has published a WNY Best Of list, highlighting new and old favorites around the city and suburbs of Buffalo. I wrote the following entries: BEST NEW BAR, BEST NEGRONI, BEST PLACE FOR A DRINK AFTER WORK (SUBURBS), BEST INDIAN and BEST SUSHI.

Haven’t heard of some of these spots? We challenge you to try them all!

BEST NEW BAR

Més Que
A welcome addition to the local bar scene because of its unique theme and warm space, Més Que is a real, live soccer bar. Its name means “more than” in Catalan, and it has successfully become more than a standard Buffalo bar. With beer choices ranging from Munich’s Hofbräu and Staropramen to Amsterdam on tap, the bar has a plethora of drink options, including Buffalo’s own Flying Bison. A rotating menu of craft cocktails and an array of tapas-style munchies—cheese, charcuterie, panini, pizza, and more—keep the crowd going during long matches. It’s the kind of place where a steady stream of friendly folks gather to throw back a few, take in a game, and make new friends.

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The Workshop Partners with Lloyd Taco Trucks

This Sunday, Oct. 6, at 6:00 p.m., Chef Edward Forster, founder of The Workshop Buffalo, will team up with Lloyd Taco Trucks for his second pop-up restaurant offering in a to-be-announced location on Elmwood Avenue in the Elmwood Village. The first 100-150 people to arrive will have the chance to purchase a special dish within the theme, “Beet It,” prepared by Chef Forster via Lloyd the III. The dish will be pork based and feature products from Oles Farm and Leonard Oakes’ apples and cider. The cost is $10, cash only. The exact location of the event will be announced about one hour before the start time via social media.

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In the Field: Busti Cider Mill

Originally published in Buffalo Spree magazine, June 2013

Tucked into a wooded area amid the picturesque farmland of Jamestown, Busti Cider Mill makes apple cider with all the right ingredients: local apples, an unhurried process, and years of experience. Owned by husband and wife duo Bob and Judy Schultz, the cider mill itself dates back to 1890. Although it is originally from Syracuse, it made its way to Sanborn, New York, where the Schultz family saw it and acquired it about thirty years ago. Bob says the roof of the building it was in had collapsed: “It was sticking up through the roof and it looked interesting. I liked old machinery, and it was old.”

Bob rebuilt the mill with his son over a period of about a year and a half. “We opened in 1983 with the first pressing, and we’ve been going ever since then,” he says. Due to the mill’s size, they needed to install a foundation first and then construct the rest of the building around it.

With seventeen acres of land to work with, and already selling pumpkins each fall, Bob thought it would be interesting to grow apples. Today, the Schultzes produce around 5,000 gallons of cider annually, depending on the weather and the crop yield. They use a variety of juice-grade apples to make their cider, relying on what is in season at the time of pressing.

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Fox Run foodies share edible pleasures

Originally published in Forever Young magazine, June 2013

Food has a remarkable power to bring people together. It serves as a comfortable starting point between strangers and makes an easy introduction to a new culture. It takes family functions from ordinary to memorable, effortlessly connecting generations with shared favorites or illuminating ancestral tales of the past. At Fox Run, a retirement community in Orchard Park, N.Y., food is one important part of residents’ lives, as it always has been.

Darwin Schmitt, a retired engineer and food lover, took to cooking from a young age and worked in restaurants waiting tables as a young man. He likes to try new recipes and tweaks them to accommodate smaller portions, but he always records his changes, he says. One of his famous recipes is crème vichyssoise glacée, which he has made for a crowd at Fox Run, making him somewhat of a soup aficionado.

“I like to try different things,” Schmitt says. “Right now I’m into Indian. I like to identify the spices they use.” Schmitt is never shy about exotic and diverse food, yet one of the recipes he makes most often is for banana nut muffins.

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Al fresco: best picnic spots

Originally published in Buffalo Spree magazine, June 2013 

Sushi at the Japanese Garden

To set the stage for a serene Japanese spread, order takeout from Kuni’s (226 Lexington Ave., kunisbuffalo.com), and make your way to the Japanese Garden, located along Hoyt Lake behind the Buffalo History Museum. Try wasabi shumai, the Sashimi 21—the chef’s selection of thinly sliced sashimi, avocado, and capers topped with yuzu-marinated onions and jalapeños—and a small sushi combo. Don’t forget to order some house green tea.

It will be easy to find a peaceful place to enjoy your dinner at the picturesque garden. Sit on a blanket, s ip tea, and take in the serene surroundings that provoke deep relaxation from even the most impervious souls. Lush greenery and magnificent rockery complement one another and provide an atmosphere of romance ideal for an unhurried evening filled with quiet conversation. Unwind after your meal and listen to the lake, enjoy the shade of tall trees, and watch the ducks paddle softly among the lily pads. After a while, you might forget that you’re in Buffalo, but once you remember, you’ll appreciate the garden keepers’ thoughtful Japanese trappings even more.

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