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Philrad's Phoodie Thread


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It's been a while since I posted in this thread so it's high time that I add another report!

 

This report is from the 2013 Taste of Buffalo food festival that touts itself as one of the largest foodie fests in the country. The premise is simple - you buy tickets 2 for $1 and then each stand has samples of their food (or drinks) that you can purchase that may range from 2-8 tickets. Admission to the event is free.

 

Once the festival is over, they open it up to voters to see who or what wins for various categories (overall best in taste, most original, favorite kid's choice, etc). While I did not text in my votes, I did take photos of everything that we ate.

 

Please note that we didn't try everything at the festival - only what sounded good to us at the time. I prefer trying the more unusual, hard to find items while Michael prefers to stay with the more traditional fare.

 

So without further adieu I present our samplings from the 2013 Taste of Buffalo!

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It's only for one weekend a year and it does bring in heavy crowds when the weather is nice!

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First on the list was the Caribbean Experience with it's jerk chicken and tropical curried chicken. Michael and I ordered one of each and then realized that we both ended up with the curried chicken. While the chicken was tasty and moist, this place lost points because they didn't get the orders right. Beans and rice were also a bit dry so I mixed it in with the chicken sauce. Score: C+

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Next up was a sample from one of the four food trucks: Black Market Food Truck with an interesting sandwich called a Banh Mi which consisted of braised pork, fresh cucumber and pickled carrots. Good flavor, but this could have used a bit more between the bun. Score: B-

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Next up from the Jewel of India was Saag Paneer which consists of spinach with cubes of Indian (paneer) cheese over rice. While it looks disgusting, it was actually quite good! Score: B+.

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Next stop was to hydrate at one of the beer tents. While I wouldn't normally grade a beer tent at a festival, I gave this one an A because not only did they have the standards of WNY - Labatt Lite, Labatt Blue, and Labatt Blue Lime, this year they featured local beers - Rusty Chain and Buffalo Kolsch 716. Didn't try the Kolsch mainly because Rusty Chain is so awesome that I couldn't bring myself to drink anything else!

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Trying to keep cool inside the beer tent. Unusual for B-Lo to have temps in the upper 80's. Notice the beer sign and ticket prices for each. $4 for a Rusty Chain is not bad at all!

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This is what they call the Bleu Heron Burger from The Riverstone Grill. Bleu cheese, bacon jam and onion tangles. This is Top 5 material...OMG good! But not as good as last year's winner: The WTF burger from The Roaming Buffalo food truck, which I was very disappointed wasn't at this years ToB. Score: A.

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From the same place, I present to you: Jim Beam molasses smoked bacon! Not bad, but the bacon wasn't as crispy as I prefer. Michael loved it though. Score: B+

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Next up are BW's BBQ: BBQ Moink Balls. Basically a meatball wrapped in under-cooked bacon. I didn't care much for this despite it sounding good. Totally lacking in the flavor department like someone just threw some frozen meatballs in a pot of Ragu and then wrapped them in soggy bacon with a toothpick. Score D-

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While I normally don't eat selections from chain restaurants at the festival (of which there are only a couple), I couldn't resist what Joe's Crab Shack offered: Great Balls of Fire. These appetizer nuggets consist of jalapenos, shrimp, crab and cheese. Normally I shy away from seafood mixtures as they are normally really fishy tasting which I don't like, but these were very mild and tasted extremely fresh. Spicy, but not too spicy. These things were AWESOME! Score: A+

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And this my friends is what Anderson's Frozen Custard stand call the " Salty Caramel Bacon Sundae!" Every time someone ordered it, the crew would all holler "BACON" and ring a bell! Definitely an A+ for best overall stand and the sundae was good too. I don't care much for sweets, but it was a good balance of sweetness with the saltiness of the bacon. Michael went nuts as he loves sweets and has confessed before that he "loves bacon so much that he could eat it on ice cream". I think he thought he had died and gone to heaven! Score: A+

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While Michael was eating the sundae, I opted to try some more Indian cuisine from Delhi Chaat. The dish was called Samosa Chaat and all I know is that it consisted of a pocket of meat fried in a wok with oil and then topped with chick peas and three different kinds of unique sauces. While I have no idea what the ingredients were and was a bit skeptical about the chick peas, this dish was freaking amazing! I was just in awe at how I could taste the balance of flavor in every bite. Sweet, sour and spicy all rolled into one! This ended up being my favorite dish at ToB. Michael on the other hand took one look at it and wouldn't even try it. Bottome line is that I really dig Indian food and need to get to more Indian restaurants in the future! It's too bad that a lot of people were steering clear of this stand as their food was outstanding. Score: A+.

 

Thanks for reading!!

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  • 2 weeks later...
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That Samosa Chat is great stuff, but I usually call it Samosa Shat, for obvious reasons. That Jim Bean Bacon looks absolutely amazing!

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^Interestingly enough, I did not see any this year. Last year, one of the local restaurants had parmesan garlic wings and they were undercooked and not good at all. I wondered if the lack of wings at ToB is because of the wing fest that they have on Labor Day weekend where it is all pretty much chicken wings & nothing else.

 

I hope to attend this year, but Labor Day is usually when we go out of town to either visit relatives or travel to a theme park. I have suggested staying home this year in order to attend, so if we do I'll make sure to post a report!

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Last year's garlic parm wings - one of the worst things I ate at the festival. You can even tell that they are not fully cooked and crispy....yuk.

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^ I agree!

 

And if I recall, that food stand was not at ToB this year.

 

My next phoodie installment is from this years Taste of Williamsville. The town of Williamsville is a quaint Buffalo suburb with a chic little downtown area featuring restaurants, shops and upscale housing. This was the first time I had ever heard of this festival so I figured why not check it out?

 

While not nearly as large as Taste of Buffalo, Taste of Williamsville is very similar in that you purchase vouchers (in this case coins versus tickets) to sample the foods from the local area restaurants. $1 = 1 coin with most items costing between 2 & 6 coins.

 

The nice thing about this is that any unused coins that you have can be refunded for cash whereas you cannot cash in your unused tickets at ToB. Not that I had any left after either event, mind you.

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Not food, but if you're into classic cars, they had about 20 of these on display.

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Saw this sign and am figuring out how I might be able to make this...how can you go wrong with beer, bacon and boobs! Am I wrong in saying that even gay guys like boobs? ;-)

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All the food was inside these tents...and despite what you see in this photo, it was quite crowded!

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First up was a tasty dish called 'Chicken Rockefeller' from The Gate House Grill which consisted of chicken breast stuffed w/bacon spinach and swiss topped w/white cheese sauce - very rich & quite tasty!

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Next up, I sampled a fish taco from the Applewood Café which had Alaskan Whitefish, roasted corn and avocado with fire sauce. It was okay, but not nearly as gonzo as my fish tacos pictured in one of my previous postings. It just seemed bereft of seasonings and spices to me. The fire sauce & avocado just didn't quite cut it for toppings.

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The Eagle House had an odd pairing of samples: Welsh Rarebit w/ Crostini toast & potato pancakes with your choice of sour cream, salsa, or applesauce. I chose the salsa and it was a great combination! You could definitely tell that the pancakes were made with fresh ingredients & it was probably the best food that I had at the festival. I had never had Welsh Rarebit and while the name sounds exotic, think Velveeta cheese served in a cup with white toast to dunk in the cheese - that was pretty much this version of Welsh Rarebit. Not horrible, but not really what I was expecting.

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Of course, it wouldn't be a phoodie update (or a Buffalo event for that matter) without alcohol would it? Each of the four corners of the giant tent had beer, wine and malt beverages. This was my first time trying Sam Adams out of a can...not too bad! I hear that a lot more microbrews are starting to go to cans to appeal to a broader market as well as keep the beer fresher longer. I thought it tasted just as good as the Octoberfest out of the bottle. The concoction on the left is a 'Jam Jar Sangria' which was made with local wine - very refreshing on a warm day!

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Michael tried the bread pudding from the Pizza Plant which claimed it was "award winning". Michael said it was very bland compared with his homemade bread pudding....and they had ran out of the toppings that were advertised on their sign.

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I ended out the day trying a Cajun shrimp mac & cheese from 'Paring's Wine Bar'. It was just bland in taste and definitely needed more Cajun & other spices. It was forgettable enough for me not to even take a picture of it.

I leave you with a picture of the creek in downtown Williamsville. The Creekview restaurant is located to the left and while I have not eaten there, I hear the food is quite good. Their stand was the one where we had the beer and Sangria, but I was too full to try their food samples...maybe next time!

Thanks for reading!

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  • 1 month later...

First I want to thank Robb for the multiple image uploader...love it!

 

 

Labor Day weekend, the partner and I took off for a week at Myrtle Beach. Being that the rates go down substantially after Labor Day, we had the weekend free to hit up some parks on our way down.

 

We were going to go to Virginia and stop at KD with our Platinum Passes, but with I-305 still being down, I suggested that we go to Knoebels and Hershey instead. We had talked of staying local and doing the Wing Festival in Buffalo on Labor Day weekend, but we ended up having awesome wings at a place called Aroogas near Hershey where they had three wing sauces that had won awards at previous Wing Festivals in Buffalo.

 

We were also finally able to hit up Troegs brewery in Hershey and was very impressed with the size as well as the food and drink offerings. My hometown brewery, Southern Tier has been expanding during the past couple of years, but I would one day like to see it expand to the size of this brewery - it was quite impressive!

 

Now on to the food and drink...

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Of course, if one visits Knoebels, one has to include a photo of the iconic Phoenix.

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This is the Cesari's pizza that we waited an hour for. Next time, we'll skip it and have something at the International Marketplace. BBQ chicken on left, cheese in center and pepperoni to the right. Good, but not great.

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Troegs Brewery in Hershey. If you are visiting the park, I highly recommend a side trip to this place as it's right down the street from the park!

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It reminds me of Southern Tier brewery except it's quite a bit larger and has more food offerings.

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This little delicacy is Maple Jalapeno Popcorn! Yes, it sounds weird, but it went amazingly well with the beer that I sampled. They also had some with rosemary and sea salt, but one heaping bowl of this combined with beer samplings more than filled us up! I would definitely like to go back and try more items from their menu.

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One side of the beer menu

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I started with a HopCyclone that was over the top with hoppiness (loved it) and then settled in on the sampler.

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Three down with three to go!

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All done! I thought it clever that it had all the beer names and descriptions below each of the snifters. The only one I didn't care for was the wheat as I just don't care for wheat beers - this one had the faint taste of banana, which I thought was quite original. My favorites were the double bock and the Perpetual IPA.

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Next up was a place we stumbled upon by out hotel outside of Hershey - Arooga's.

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Michael got six boneless hot ranch and six regular hickory smoked bbq. They were good, but I just can't do the boneless wings as they are not even close to being as good as the traditional bone-in wings.

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I ordered six Kangaroogas (on right) which won an award at the Buffalo Wing Festival. It is their own hot sauce blended with habanero, jalapeno, cilantro, honey, diced celery and carrots. While good, they were nowhere near as amazing as the gems on the left. The 'Almost Everything' wings is a combo of hot, ragin' Cajun, hickory smoked BBQ with garlic and herbs mixed in for good measure. I bought a bottle of this sauce as well as their hot sauce to bring home with me. These wings were fricking amazing and I would highly recommend a visit if you are in the Hershey area. I will most likely post this in Chuck's thread of places to eat near theme parks. A huge menu with diverse options, but the wings were really awesome...this coming from someone that was raised on Buffalo wings! I thought it cool that they also had a wing flavor called Coal Cracker - an obvious nod towards Hersheypark and their log ride. I definitely plan on a return trip to this place to sample more of the 30+ wing flavors they have.

 

Thanks for reading!

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  • 4 weeks later...

Just caught up on a few I missed. I absolutely love potato pancakes. I think I'll have to make some tomorrow! Also, the wings looked really good!

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  • 3 months later...

Well, it has been a long while since I last posted in this thread, so I decided being that we're into the very heart and soul of winter, that I would start doing some more foodie updates.

 

Being that it is basically a cold, miserable day here in Western NY, I spent most of the morning day coming up with dishes for us to eat before and during the Super Bowl (and more than likely, days ahead).

 

Anyone hungry?

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This is what we woke up to this morning after rain yesterday. At least we got out of that zero degree for a high BS!

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I have never made spinach dip before, but thought that I would give it a whirl. Yep, this picture already screams: NASTY!

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But lets start adding some different ingredients. First we'll sauté some mushrooms, onion, & four cloves of garlic along with some sage, Cajun seasoning and ground pepper thrown in for good measure.

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For an added kick, I chopped up three Peppadew peppers. These things are awesome! Sweet and hot at the same time!

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Here are the cheeses that I will use. I'm trying to be health conscious despite it being Super Bowl Sunday. But don't worry, there will be plenty of unhealthy choices later in the report. I won't spoil, it but it is a favorite here in Western NY! ;-)

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I haven't mastered the art of caramelizing onions, but these didn't turn out too bad.

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After I mixed all of the ingredients, I felt that it was still a bit too bland so I added a dollop of these three seasonings.

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Final product! This will be all set to go in the oven around 5:00.

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To not feel guilty about the other part of the feast that I will be cooking later, I cut up some veggies to snack on in the meantime.

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And what would the Super Bowl in Western NY be without WINGS! I currently have eight of them marinating in the fridge in brown sugar, ketchup, more sautéed onions/garlic and some liquid smoke. Once these bad boys are cooked, I will be moving on to some curry wings...and of course, traditional Buffalo hot wings with some more of my special seasonings and spices.

 

Much more to come!

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^Stupid me got caught up with cooking during the SB that I forgot to take photos of the food when it came out of the oven! I am planning on doing some curry wings and Buffalo wings in the next week or so, so I will definitely post some photos of how they turn out. The spinach dip turned out great and I may use the leftovers in lasagna or manicotti later this week.

 

 

In the meantime, how about a quick trip to Germany, Oktoberfest and Amsterdam for some culinary delights?

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As they say...when in Rome. Or in this case, when in Munich - one must visit the Hofbrauhaus for a Hofbrau draught and giant brezel. This thing is a meal in itself and nicely soaks up the copious amounts of beer one tends to drink while in Germany.

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If you're heading over to Oktoberfest, don't forget about the giant fish on a stick (steckerlfisch) that you can gnaw on before boarding one of their out of control flat rides on the midway.

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Hey, stop staring at my beer!

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Post Oktoberfest meal back at the hotel. And who says the party stops once you leave Oktoberfest?

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If you visit Amsterdam, chances are good that you might have a couple of these during your visit.

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Especially if you visit this place.

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I feel like a VIP!

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True classic Dutch food - Bitterballen. It's basically deep fried beef or veal mixed with beef broth and seasonings which create a thick ragout. They're awesome!

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The Sig Other got this open-faced variety plate which was very good!

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If you are in Amsterdam near the train station - you MUST get the fries here. They are of the Belgian variety (hence the name and the pissing statue logo) and they are without a doubt the best fries I have ever tasted in my life.

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Mmmm...Belgian fries loaded with salt and mayonnaise!

 

(Defibrillator not included).

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  • 4 weeks later...

^Those fries are probably the most delicious thing I have ever eaten & I'm not a big fry person.

 

And now that I've had those, it's even harder to chow down on American fries now as most just plain suck - and you get them with about every meal that you order in a restaurant anymore. I usually just pay the extra buck or two and order a side salad or look for any other option. I even tried to make some just like that at home...while they were better than most restaurant fries, these one's were just unreal.

 

Even though I rarely eat at fast food places, I still love McDonalds fries even though they can't hold a candle to Manneken Pis!

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  • 1 month later...

Time for a quick update...

 

If anyone is from the Pittsburgh area, they obviously know (and have probably ate at) Primanti Bros. They're somewhat famous for their burgers in which they top with French fries and their homemade coleslaw.

 

When I first heard of this I thought that it sounded completely disgusting (I don't like coleslaw), but a friend that had visited said that the slaw is homemade and not like your typical coleslaw. Hearing that and knowing that there is one conveniently located just off I-79 between Pittsburgh and Erie, we decided to stop for lunch on two separate trips during the last couple of months.

 

Overall, I was not impressed with the Pitts-Burger - which is supposedly their biggest seller and what put them on the map. The burger seemed overcooked, chewy and had a rather funky flavor. On the other hand, the partner got the sandwich with pastrami and cheese and it was AWESOME!

 

Second trip and I got the cappicola and cheese and that was extremely tasty. The sig-other got an Italian sub this time around which was also delicious.

 

I would recommend the restaurant to anyone passing through the area or if you are looking for a good sandwich in downtown Pittsburgh or are passing through the area. I have heard that nothing beats eating at the original, but it is much more convenient for us to hit one of the one's right off the interstate.

 

Enjoy!

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Welcome to Primanti Bros!

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Here's a look at the sandwich menu. They also have pizza and other menu items in addition to their signature sandwiches. Interesting in that I have never seen kielbasa spelled kolbassi? WTF?

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Here is half of the pastrami & chees with half of the Pitts-Burger. Which one would you rather eat?

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Here is the Pitts-Burger, which indeed was the pits. Very disappointed with this highly touted burger.

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Second visit which yielded a very tasty hot Italian sub.

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I actually wanted to try the "kolbassi" but they were out so I went with the cappicola and cheese...which was a very wise move. Delicious!

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^ Thanks!

 

I think Primanti's is good, but that Pitts-Burger was just a little too funky for my taste. I did see some people getting the pizza and that looked pretty good, so I may try that the next time we're down that way.

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^Completely agree about the funkyness of their food, so I have never bothered to stop at Primanti Brothers. Last time through the town I went to a place called Big Jim's for a huge veal cutlet parm hero. Even with a GPS the place was difficult to find at night.

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I definitely prefer Primanti's roast beef and cheese (or the pastrami and cheese like your friend got) sandwich over the Pitts-burger. I feel like the fries-slaw-meat combo works better with sliced deli meat over a ground beef patty. The one in the Strip District dowtown is better quality than the suburban outposts too, usually.

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^ I think you're right...deli meat is definitely the way to go when you order one of these sandwiches, although I think they would be even better if they toasted the bread.

 

 

Now even though I tend to not go to many chain restaurants, I admit that there will be a some in the next couple of installments. This is only because the menu options were unique or the food was just so damned good!

 

Our next stop is a quick one to Jack Astor's in the Walden Galleria Mall in Buffalo. Primarily known in Canada, they do have a few stores in the US including this one in a very large, overpriced mega-mall near the Buffalo-Niagara airport. Think of JA along the same lines of a Ruby Tuesday or Applebees with a better draft beer selection.

 

I found the chicken tenders on the menu to look intriguing so ordered those and washed them down with a couple of beers for lunch. While the seasonings had a bit too much salt for my taste, I did enjoy the strange blending of dipping sauces which got away from the way too often used honey mustard, ranch, barbeque or (God forbid) ketchup.

 

Although I am not a huge fan of chicken tenders, I did like the fact that at least Jack Astor's was trying something unique and different that other similar chain restaurants don't offer.

 

Menu

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For about $8, you get a bowl of chicken tenders with three dipping sauces & three shakers of seasonings. I liked the Korean BBQ with a very slight mix of the Thai Chili seasoning the best. Hot, sweet and slightly smoky flavors made it easy to wash down with a cold beer!

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Here we have the names of all of the sauces and seasonings. Definitely unique so I will give them credit for doing something different!

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I have heard that nothing beats eating at the original,

 

Yeah, it's a really interesting scene late at night. During the day the original location was overrun with tourists though. The food is not gourmet, but it can be pretty good if you get the right thing.

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  • 3 months later...

Time for the 2014 Taste of Buffalo!!!!

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Upon arrival, the place wasn't too crowded. Must have had something to do with the passing rain that we had earlier in the day because things definitely picked up as the day progressed.

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This year, I will start with our least favorite and work our way down to the top tastes.

 

This dessert won the award for 'Best Dessert". It was plainly called "Peanut Stick", but it just reminded me of a Little Debbie Donut Stick rolled in crushed peanuts. It was okay, but I am not a big dessert person and this just seemed like wasted stomach space. We ate less than half and pitched the remains.

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Michael would undoubtedly argue with me here, but this is his Smore's sundae from Anderson's. Again...not into desserts so I let him have at this one.

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Next up - beef on weck ravioli. For those not familiar with beef on weck, it is a Buffalo-born roast beef sandwich on a dipped au jus kummelwick roll (topped with caraway seeds and sea salt) with a spread of horseradish and/or mustard.

 

This version had the roast beef and horseradish inside the pasta, but it lacked any type of sustainable flavor or real horseradish kick. They need to just stick with the regular beef on weck, in my opinion.

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Last year's big thing was bacon on everything...this year it was arancini which is a deep fried ball of risotto or rice.

 

This spinach arancini won the Chairman's Choice although I am not sure why. The sauce was fairly bland and the rice inside seemed dry and flavorless for what looked like a sizable portion of herbs mixed throughout.

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Next up was a "dill brined" fried chicken sandwich and biscuit. An interesting concoction, but other than the dill pickle/carrot on a toothpick on the side, I couldn't really taste much dill on the sandwich itself.

 

The chicken was moist, but the sandwich needed some type of sweet and/or spicy condiment on it to make it more flavorful.

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It certainly wouldn't be Buffalo without wings!

 

These one's were not your traditional hot Buffalo wings, but instead smoked and grilled with a very sticky, sweet barbeque sauce. They were okay, but I am used to my wings being nice and crispy - these one's were not crisp enough. I loved the smoke flavor, but they needed to be charred just a bit more for my liking.

 

"Mindless Plug": The best, best, best smoked/grilled BBQ wings in Buffalo (and possibly the world) came from the old Lafayette Tap Room (RIP). I certainly hope that someone can revive that classic somewhere in Buffalo someday!

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Here is another arancini...caprese arancini. This one had mozzarella cheese, marinara sauce and some balsamic drizzled over the top. Not bad, but it needed just a little something to push it over the top - even a few more drops of balsamic on top would have helped.

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Beer break!

 

Same offerings as last year, Labatts Blue (in the back) and local favorite: Flying Bison Rusty Chain (front).

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Next up...Sun Restaurant's Burmese chicken curry and black rice. Not bad, but it tasted like an offering from a Jamaican restaurant that I had sampled in past years.The chicken melted in my mouth, but it could have used a smidge more curry flavor.

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Loved this name: The Snooty Crostini from the Snooty Fox Lounge!

 

Crostini bread with banana pepper cheese spread and sirloin. If this would have been fresher, this may have taken my #1, but it was lukewarm and had a slight stale taste to it.

 

Very original flavor with the banana pepper spread to give a little heat and the sirloin was like beef on weck...mildly spicy and very tender.

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They didn't have as many food trucks as I was hoping this year, but this hot dog came from Franks Gourmet Hot Dog Truck.

 

Called the 'Holy Moly', this one was a Sahlen's (local beef dog) covered with Sriracha, cilantro and guacamole. Great blend of flavors...and of course...food truck.

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Frank also offered a "Big Mac' type of dog complete with special sauce, pickles onions on & sesame seed ___. They offered a standard kraut dog with mustard as well.

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Time for the Top Three!

 

I was very tempted to put this one at #1 because it was so freaking awesome, but because of it's overall simplicity, I had to rank it at #3.

 

From Kabab and Curry restaurant, this is a ginger kabab. Described as "filet chicken marinated in ginger, garlic and house spices & freshly grilled"...for a skewer, this thing exploded with flavor! You can also get it mild or spicy, so of course, I opted for spicy. OMG...not only was it juicy and flavorful, we had to hit the beer tent again after this one because my mouth was on fire! It was like eating a healthier version of an extra hot Buffalo wing!

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Coming in at #2 is actually the food in the back.

 

The front was a cup of "drunken shrimp" which consisted of two shrimp in green olives, onions and some type of tequila sauce. To me, the sauce was bland and it wasn't nearly as "drunken" as what I had hoped.

 

From the same restaurant (Manhattans) was a real gem: Pistachio encrusted chicken on a stick. While the pistachio flavor was mild, they covered the chicken with some type of spicy/sweet sauce which completed the flavor barrage.

 

This one was really close to the ginger kabab, but I will give this one a slight nod only for the strange ingredients!

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#1: The Riverstone Grill's Wild mushroom & mushroom gorgonzola risotto balls!

 

A perfect blend of cheese, rice and deep fried goodness. The flavor mix was not overpowering, but had adequate blends of flavors to make it my #1 taste from B-Lo in 2014.

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#1 is making me very hungry...again. Time to go eat! ;-)

 

Thanks for reading!

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