Monday, August 25, 2008

Beets and homemade sauce

First of all, my thanks to Whitney for the beet recipe she suggested. I haven't tried it yet, but I definitely will. The lovely dish of beets seen in the picture is an appetizer I shared with a good friend at Lolita, an awesome restaurant in Cleveland owned by Iron Chef himself Michael Symon. And yes, we are total nerds for taking pictures of our food, but I don't care. The guys behind us were taking pics of their steaks, so there.
This dish was sooo good - honey, beets, mint, orange zest, ricotta cheese and almonds. I was so inspired, I tried to replicate at home with my CSA beets. Yeah, that didn't go so good but if you can cook beets correctly (I obviously can't) then I would recommend this dish.
Last week was all you can pick tomatoes and my neighbor/co-share owner went all out. I made tomato sauce from scratch this weekend and it turned out great!! Used a bit for a zucchini and eggplant lasagna we made tonight. Cooking Light comes through again!

Local Favorites

So far, we have mostly discussed local foods in terms of produce grown locally and used in homemade dishes. This is, of course, at the core of the local food movement. However, I think it is also important to highlight food businesses that are locally owned. So, here are a list of some of my favorite Buffalo-centric food outlets (minus restaurants):

Spar's Sausages (If you have never been to this delightful little shop on Amherst St, near Grant, you are seriously missing out. They have a great selection of Hungarian delicacies in the grocery part of the store, and a wonderful variety of homemade sausages.)

Fowlers Chocolates (I know there is a big debate about the best of the local chocolatiers, and we do have great selection between Parkside Candies, Watsons, Choco-Logo, Niagara Candy, etc but I think Fowlers just tastes creamier and richer somehow).

Costanzo's Rolls (How on earth they make these taste so good is beyond me, but roast beef just isn't right without them.)

Federal Meats (Great customer service. Wish they had more free-range and grass-finished products.)

Sweet Tooth (My vote for the best desserts in town.)

and it wouldn't be Easter without a butter lamb from the Broadway Market (and I am not even Polish).

What are some of YOUR favorite local spots to bring home treats for your table?

Thursday, August 21, 2008


With my last cooking experiment going so well (see my post about the caramelized tomatoes), I decided to cook up a special dessert using some local peaches. It was delicious, and very easy. The peaches were incredibly flavorful and fragrant, particularly compared with the usual well-traveled supermarket variety. Here is my recipe for baked peaches (serves 2, but can easily be altered for however many servings you need):

2 ripe, firm peaches
4 teaspoons maple syrup
1/3 cup plain Greek yogurt (thicker and creamier than usual yogurt--Fage brand is available in the natural foods section at Wegmans)
Pecans to taste (optional)
Cut the peaches in half.

  1. Remove the peach stones.

  2. Drizzle one teaspoon of maple syrup over each peach half.

  3. Bake at 350 degrees until peaches are warm and slightly soft, about 10 minutes.

  4. When peaches are done baking, top each half with a dollop of Greek yogurt.

  5. Sprinkle with pecans.

  6. Enjoy!

Does anyone else have any recipes for light, summer desserts using local fruits that they would like to share?

Monday, August 18, 2008

Ann's Intro

I'm Ann M, this blog's very delinquent contributor. This is my first time blogging (ever) so bear with me, please. My job is to write about the CSA I belong to in the southtowns and suburban markets. I belong to the Thorpe's Family Farm CSA in East Aurora, 655.4486 (no site).

They offer both veggie and fruit shares. While convincing my husband it was a good idea to spend a lot of money up front for a weekly veggie share neither of us were sure we would eat, I invited our neighbors to split a large share with us. This not only cuts down on the cost but we also take turns with the weekly pick ups.

I'll be upfront and admit that we don't always eat what we get. Most weeks are better than others, but I feel just as bad throwing away uneaten food, no matter where I got it (am working on building a compost bin right now - that's a whole other blog!). However, what we do eat is....beautiful, delightful, satisfying...just looking at my bowl of veggies on the counter makes me happy. But it is work - or at least, I look at it that way and that could just be me being anal. The share gets picked up every Tuesday and I immediately start to process it: stuff gets sorted in appropriate places (fridge or counter); lettuce gets cut, washed and stored in a bin loosely covered by a dishcloth (this seems to work better than keeping it in my salad spinner container); then I figure out what to do with it.

This is where the fun stuff starts. The cookbooks and most importantly (and I wouldn't be able to live without these -seriously) are my cut out Cooking Light recipes. They have saved my veggie lovin' behind many a time. Interestingly, I was a vegetarian for about 10 years (still eat mainly veg) but am using my veg cookbooks more now than I did when I was meatless. The key to my CSA sanity is organization (if you couldn't tell) and I make my weekly dinner menus based on what I got in that week's share. The Thorpes are good people - they email you every Monday to tell you what to expect in that week's share and give you recipes, too!!

Tonight, I grilled orange, yellow, and green peppers and corn from the CSA, threw in a CSA tomato, some mushrooms, goat cheese, and salsa and grilled me up a mean quesadilla. While I follow recipes pretty religiously, the CSA gives good opportunity to be creative. I love to cook, I love to eat, and I love to support locally-owned family farms. Next week, I'll share more recipes and pics!


Hello everyone and welcome to my first post. I'd like to start things off by saying simply, I LOVE FOOD!!!! My name is Brian and I will be bringing you tips on do it yourself projects and restaurant reviews/interviews. I guess I should give everyone a little background information on myself. I'm a fairly new addition to Buffalo, and so far I love it here! I'm originally from Portsmouth, VA, which is sandwiched between Norfolk and Virginia Beach. Until recently, I spent most of the last 10 years working in restaurants both as a bartender and a server. I've worked in all different kinds of places from seafood restaurants to bakeries to fine dining. Since moving to Buffalo, I've worked at Le Metro on Elmwood (before it became Mode) and the Buffalo Chophouse. Because of this background, I've chosen to bring you the local restaurant reviews. I plan on keeping my focus on all the great places to eat that are locally owned in the city. There are just SOOOO MANY great places here--plus it gives me an excuse to go out and eat at a bunch of new places. In addition to this I will be bringing you updates from my first try at a garden, and other do it yourself projects as they get going. This is going to be a lot of fun on my end!!! If anyone has a particular restaurant that want to learn about or a special project they might need help with, please let me know in the comments of my articles or just shoot me an email. Well, I look forward to bringing you all as much info. as I can so have fun, and eat great local food.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Out of the Fire and Into the Frying Pan

Ahh, tomato time. Ripe, red, fresh tomates are dropping from vines all over Western New York, ready to be eaten fresh with a bit of salt, sliced on sandwiches, chopped up into salsa, or cooked into sauce.

As I have mentioned before, I am not a frequent cook. I think the last meal I cooked was possibly Thanksgiving dinner. Maybe Christmas. Anyway, it's been awhile. This is mostly because I married a fantastic and enthusiastic cook, but partly because I tend to work long hours and don't always have the energy to make an effort to pull something together when I get home.

Well, last week I picked up half a dozen slightly underripe, local tomatoes and decided to try a new dish from scratch. The recipe I chose was Baked Pasta with Caramelized Tomatoes from Susan Herrmann Loomis's French Farmhouse Cookbook. It is a great cookbook if you like simple, homey foods and interesting anecdotes and background on each dish and the regions they come from. I should point out that nowhere in the recipe is the pasta actually baked in the oven--this is all made on the cooktop. This makes it great for a summer night when you don't want to heat the house by turning on the oven. Here is the recipe:


6 good sized, slightly underripe tomatoes, cored.
1/4 cup olive oil
3 cloves garlic, peeled, halved and green germ removed
1 cup loosely packed flat leaf parsley leaves
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
10 ounces dried pasta, such as fettucine
1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese

1. Cut the tomatoes in half horizontally.

2. Place the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. When it is hot but not smoking (when small ripples move over its surface), add the tomatoes, cut side up. Cook, shifting tehm slightly in the pan to avoid scorching, until this skin is slightly bubbled on the bottom and has a golden spot on it, about 4 minutes. Turn the tomatoes and continue cooking until the cut side is golden, about 6 minutes. Shake the pan two or three times to move the tomatoes around so they don't burn.

3. While the tomatoes are cooking, finely mince the garlic and parsely together.

4. Turn the tomatoes again, so the cut side is up. Working around teh tomatoes, scrape up any browned bits from the bottom of the skillet. Sprinkle the tomatoes with the garlic and parsley, and season them genrously with salt and pepper. Reduce the heat to medium and cover the skillet. Cook the tomatoes until they are tender through and the garlic is tender, about 10 minutes, shaking the pan occasionally to prevent the tomatoes from sticking. The juice from the tomatoes will turn a deep caramel color but shouldn't burn.

5. While the tomatoes finish cooking, fill a large pot 2/3 full with salted water and bring it to a boil. Add the pasta, stir, and cook until it is al dente, about 10 minutes. Drain, reserving 1 cup of the pasta cooking liquid. Return the pasta to the pot, pour half the reserved cooking liquid over it, and toss so the pasta is thoroughly moistened.

6. Arrange the tomatoes around the edges of a large warmed platter. Deglaze the skillet with the remaining pasta cooking liquid, scraping up any browned bits, and pour that over the pasta as well. Toss so the liquid is well blended with the pasta. Transfer the pasta to the center of the serving platter, so it is surrounded with the tomatoes. Serve immediately, with the Parmesan cheese alongside.

Serves 4-6.

From start to finish, dinner took me just about an hour. I served the tomatoes along with a roasted pork tenderloin with the Wegman's balsamic vinegar marinade. A delicious and fairly simple fresh feast.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Grassroots Gardens of Buffalo

Tomorrow night is a very exciting evening for Grassroots Gardens of Buffalo which is a local community gardening organization that provides support for over 40 community gardens primarily on Buffalo's East and West Sides. Tomorrow night is Weenie Wednesday in the Gardens at Ms. Triggs' garden at 595 Sycamore. It is going to be an awesome time with free food and beverages. (people are encouraged to bring a dish to pass as well)

Here's the Details:

Grassroots Gardens Weenie Wednesday in the Gardens

Ms. Triggs' Garden 595 Sycamore

Starting around 6pm

Food and Beverages provided

This is a great event and it brings together gardeners from across Buffalo. I looke forward to seeing everyone there tomorrow evening!

Monday, August 11, 2008

Must read: Wednesday's "Dining In" serves up some news on Wegmans

I try to pick up the New York Times on Wednesdays because it is on those days that the "Dining In" section is published. I like "Dining In" because it covers food-related stories from a variety of perspectives: profiles on chefs and farmers, reports from New York's Greenmarket and other markets throughout the country, local and national food trends, and, of course, a fair share of recipes.

Last week's offerings (I know, I'm late) included an article on how Supermarkets are adapting to demands for locally grown food. It seems like the increase in gas prices and the growing awareness of "local food politics" have created a perfect storm for local growers, many of whom sell directly to supermarket chains.

Our own local giant was featured in the write up and, for those of us keeping track of this sort of thing, comes across as a leader of the pack:

Wegmans Food Markets, a 71-store chain based in New York with locations in
Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Maryland and Virginia, has been buying from local farmers for the last 20 years. Today it has 800 farmers and has also experienced
a 20 percent increase in sales of local produce over the past year. “There’s a
real emotional connection with local,” said Dave Corsi, vice president for

Mr. Corsi said that in order to buy from local farms, the chain had
to stop acting like a chain. “We don’t control these relationships centrally —
the produce manager in each store does this directly,” he said. “We only guide
the stores.”

I didn't know much about Wegmans' local food practices beyond the fact that they do a good job of carrying it. I was pleased to learn that the relationship between grower and buyer seems to remain as human as possible (you can learn a bit more about the Buffalo-area farmers on Wegmans' website) and I'd like to know more about the effect this sales increase will have on their non-local produce sales. It wasn't clear if Wegmans cut--or will cut--the amount of non-local produce it buys in light of these new figures.

Also mentioned in the Times article is Wal-Mart's recent steps towards buying local food. This development sort of makes my head spin since the corporate culture runs opposite to what I appreciate about eating (and buying) local but hey, I guess it's a good development?

Anyway, check it out and cheer for the last line of the piece: "'It’s going to be a way of life,' said Matt Seeley, vice president for marketing of the Nunes Company, which sells Foxy brand vegetables. 'I don’t think there is any turning back.'"

PS: Give Hawthorne Valley Farm a high-five for milling their own flour. Dante Hesse, also mentioned in the same piece, is a HVF alum.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Pushing for More Local Farms

The Buffalo News has a great editorial in today's paper about growing local farms. You can find it here. I am pleased to say that fromw hat I have heard from various members of the community I get to work with regularly, I think we are about to see a significant increase in lcoal food opportunities. The prospect is very exciting, and I look forward to seeing what we can accomplish by planning and working together.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

A Cookout, Not a Rainout

I had the opportunity to briefly stop by the Massachusetts Avenue Project's local foods cookout tonight at their Growing Green project site on (naturally) Massachusetts Avenue. As I was pulling up. thunderclouds were rumbling ominously and the wind was starting to kick up, but there were numerous tents covering people, and everyone enjoying the delicious looking food seemed undeterred by the threat of rain. Then it started to pour. To use a Midwestern colloquialism, it was a real gullywasher. And no one left. The diverse and lively crowd was too busy munching ears of buttery corn, laughing, and enjoying each other's company. It reminded me of what I love about Buffalo--our toughness in the face of adversity, and our real sense of neighborliness and conviviality. The only downside was that I didn't get to stay long enough to sample anything.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Eating Local in Normandy

I recently finished reading On Rue Tatin by Susan Hermann Loomis, and I want to recommend it to anyone looking for an entertaining memoir. Loomis writes about her experiences transplanting her husband, toddler, and herself to Normandy, France to renovate an old convent. Loomis is a cook and a food writer, so much of the book talks about her experiences of eating local in Normandy. A nice perspective from another country, and good recipes, too. Her descriptions of the local farmer's market shows the universal appeal of reaching out and making those connections between grower and consumer.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Be Vocal Eat Local Week

It is Be Vocal, Eat Local Week through August 8. There are a few special events to highlight this week to raise awareness and give you a taste of what is out there.

Buffalo First and the Massachusetts Avenue Project (MAP) are hosting a party on Tuesday, August 5 featuring all local food and drink. The event will be held at Flying Bison Brewery. Tickets are $10, and include all of the food you can sample. The Growing Green program will have fun activities for kids, so bring the whole family.

MAP is also hosting a cookout on August 7 from 6-9pm at their Growing Green garden, located at 389 Massachusetts Avenue. You can tour their urban farm and meet the young adults who are cultivating the gardens through the Growing Green program.

You can also get a list of restaurants participating in Be Vocal Eat Local Week at