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Taste of Buffalo Celebrates 25 Years – What Did You Think?

There were so many exciting changes this year at the Taste of Buffalo, I was anxious to listen to the bands, watch the cooking demos and taste all of the wonderful food. I had so much fun on Saturday that I went back the next day; the turnout for both days was pretty incredible. The heat and threat of rain didn’t seem to deter anyone from attending the Taste. I saw many people who either watched the cooking demos (to get away from the crowds) for a while or sought shelter on a nice cool patch of grass while eating. Visitors seemed to be in good spirits.
I arrived Saturday morning around noon and crowds were steadily pouring in. I mapped out all of the food I wanted to try, but I have to admit that I didn’t get to everything. My day started with the chilled seafood cocktail from Fiamma. Hands down one of my favorite dishes at The Taste. I went for seconds and couldn’t get enough of the marinated and tender seafood (this dish included scallops, calamari and shrimp) with some crunchy vegetables. It reminded me of ceviche, so I couldn’t go wrong. My fish taco from Ava Cado’s was crispy and fresh, wrapped in a flour tortilla with traditional toppings – I thought it was a good way to start the day. I then indulged in a pork sample from the “The Other White Meat” competition, artichoke gratinee from Bings, the jerk chicken from Moobays and the very refreshing and fruity gazpacho from JP Bullfeathers.
On Sunday I was downtown again armed with sunblock and an empty stomach. I sampled the warsaw salad at Polish Village which was surprisingly good. I had to get something from Village Desserts, and this year I chose the creamcicle cupcake which lived up to my expectations. I would have picked this as one of my favorite desserts next to the Kheer (rice pudding with pistachios) from Kabob and Curry, and the chunky monkey from Craftsmen Cafe – it’s a cookie that is good for you… how could you go wrong? Some other notable snacks were from Tandori’s – the best vegetarian winner was the vegetable fritters which were crispy on the outside and spicy and rich on the inside. The Saag Chanan was incredibly flavorful with spinach, chickpeas and spices and the Naan bread complimented in perfectly. I ended the day with the oyster shooters and bruchetta. Washed down with delicious wine samples, I would say that I ate very well that weekend.
With my belly full I decided it was safe to try out the wineries before watching the Bohemian Hostess’s (Shayna Raichilson-Zadok from Hell’s Kitchen) cooking demo. I love wine and was intrigued by the local vineyard booths I was about to visit. I normally go for the drier wines like Cabernet… I sampled the Cab-Merlot at Casa Larga, then I tried (and ejoyed) the Lilac Hill, which is a blend of Muscat and Riesling grapes (incredibly fruity and fresh for a hot day). I made my way through several of the winery stands and got to sample all the great flavors our local vineyards had to offer.
I was able to catch two cooking demonstrations at this year’s Taste. On Saturday I watched Shayna from Steel Crazy Café demonstrate how to cook kid friendly foods. She made crepes – many of us were able to sample the caramel apple, peanut butter and jelly. My favorite was the nutella with chocolate sauce and berries! It was incredibly rich and delicious. What I liked about her presentation, as well as the presentation by Duo, was that you really got the sense of passion they had for cooking and you really saw that you could do this at home with your family. Shayna is a new mother so those who feel like they have no time on their hands with work and family can rest assured that they can make these recipes at home. The presenters were engaging and it was fun to watch.
On Sunday the chefs from Duo on Franklin street were presenting (photo). Duo has been around for a short time but has made a big impression on the Buffalo area – if you haven’t been yet I definitely suggest stopping by for lunch or dinner. Every Thursday and Friday they have a live DJ, which makes it a fun and festive atmosphere. The chefs were of course engaging and fun and we were served a generous portion of Veal Saltumbucca with procuitto. Normally this dish is paired with lemon and sage with a fried egg, but today it had a nice homemade red sauce. They demonstrated making homemade pasta and we sampled beet pasta which was very fresh. The chef mentioned that if you cannot make your own pasta, wonton skins work well and you can stuff them with any ingredients you wish, don’t be afraid to be creative!
There was plenty of time to stop and listen to the bands at this year’s Taste. We heard everything from Latin Jazz by the Orengue Latin World Quintet to Against All Odds. I ended my day on Sunday listening to The Alison Pipitone band. My taste in music is very eclectic, so while I was there I didn’t hear any music that didn’t make me stop what I was doing and listen. I saw an 80 year old woman dancing to Alternative Rock; it goes to show you that music really does reach everyone.
I’m looking forward to the 2009 Taste of Buffalo and hope it will be as big of a success as this year!
So my questions for you, faithful readers of Buffalo Rising, are: What were your favorite dishes? Least Favorite? What would you like to see more of? What would you change?
What restaurants would you like to see at next year’s Taste of Buffalo? Did you enjoy the music and cooking demonstrations? I look forward to hearing about your experiences.
For more information on this years Taste of Buffalo and for a list of winners please visit tasteofbuffalo.com.

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