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Movie on brew-crazed city, smoked beer coming to Buffalo

A homegrown documentary about the beer-loving city of Bamberg, Germany is having its North
American premiere in Western New York next week - accompanied by appropriate beverages.

The film explores the 900-year brewing history of the Bavarian city, known for
its rauchbiers, which have a smoky flavor from the fire-dried barleys used in their brewing.
There's 10 breweries in the city of 70,000 residents, which stands out even in that beer-crazy

"Bamberg: A City Built on Beer" is a 90-minute film with English subtitles, with a trailer
available at It's showing in Rochester's The Little Theatre on Sat., April 2,
then April 7 in Buffalo, in Cole's, 1104 Elmwood Ave.

There's only about 100 tickets for the Coles event, warned organizer Willard Brooks. He's
part of a crew of craft brew evangelists who are getting the film shown in North America for
the first time. "Among beer geeks, Bamberg is known," said Brooks. Now everyone else has a chance to catch up.

Brooks pointed out that some of Buffalo's own Flying Bison beer uses malt from Bamberg - so Buffalo's drinkers are already enjoying the Bavarian taste, whether they know it or not.

The screenings are just two of the Bamberg related events coming up:

   April 2: Film screening at The Little Theater, 7 p.m. Tickets $10, reserve at 585-232-3906.

   April 5: A special Bavarian style pizza (Zwiebelkuchen) paired with a Franconian-style
Kellerbier on tap at the Pizza Plant, 5110 Main St., Williamsville. For more information: call

   April 6: Dinner at Pearl Street Grill and Brewery, 76 Pearl St., with a presentation by
Buffalo brewing historians Dave Mik and Peter Jablonski on historical Buffalo beer styles.
Filmmakers will be present. Special Bavarian Helles beer on tap. Presentation begins 7 p.m.
For more information: 856-2337.

   April 7: Coles hosts a 7 p.m. screening of "Bamburg: A City Built on Beer" with a buffet
dinner and Bamberg beers. Beers on tap from Schlenkerla, Mahr's, and Spezial. Tickets $25,
including a buffet, three Bamberg beer pours, and the film screening. For more information:

   April 8, 9: Food and beer of Bamberg at the Blue Monk, 727 Elmwood Ave., at Friday evening
dinner and Saturday lunch. Call Blue Monk for details: 882-6665.

   April 9: Film crew appears at the Buffalo Science Museum's annual Beerology event. Good
news: Bamberg beer will be on tap. Bad: Event is already sold out.

Recipe: Nancy Parisi's Curried Mashed Sweet Potatoes

Nancy J. Parisi, the News' March Cook of the Month, uses this simple potato preparation as a nest for other menu items, and as a burst of orange on the plate.

Curried Mashed Sweet Potatoes
3 pounds raw sweet potatoes, rinsed, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes
1 cup plain yogurt
1 tablespoon curry powder, or more to taste
Salt and pepper to taste.

Wash, peel, and cube sweet potatoes into 1-inch cubes.

Carefully drop the cubes into salted, boiling water that is high enough to cover sweet potatoes by about two inches (a medium-sized saucepan, 2 quarts, should be perfect). Reduce heat.

Boil until a fork can go into the potato cubes easily, approximately 15-20 minutes.

Drain sweet potatoes and place them back into the pan and replace back on burner on low heat.

Add one cup of plain yogurt. (Or more, if you want a looser consistency.) Add curry powder, and salt and pepper.

Mash until the sweet potatoes are smooth and blended well. Keep over low heat until ready to serve.

Serve as a side or as a nest for another vegetable, or an accompanying meat. Serves 4.

Recipe: Martha Stewart's Yogurt and Blueberry Pie with Granola Crust

Mart_Yogurt and Blueberry Pie w Granola Crust_art_0813_r1

Here's a simple recipe from "Martha Stewart's New Pies & Tarts," featured in today's Buffalo News.

Inspired by a beloved breakfast treat—yogurt parfait—this recipe borrows the main components (granola, yogurt, and fruit) and transforms them into a delicious dessert. The pie is not too sweet, but you can adjust it to your preference by drizzling as much honey as you like.

Yogurt and Blueberry Pie with Granola Crust

Makes one 9-inch pie

for the crust
1½  cups plain granola
¼ cup sugar
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
for the filling
1 cup plain yogurt
8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
3 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
for the topping
5 ounces (1 cup) blueberries, picked over
Mild honey, such as acacia

1. Make the crust: Preheat oven to 350°F. In a food processor, pulse 1 cup granola with the sugar and cinnamon until fine crumbs form. Drizzle in butter, and process until combined. Add remaining ½ cup granola, and process until combined but mixture is still crumbly.
2. Transfer to a 9-inch pie plate, and press mixture evenly into bottom and up sides. Refrigerate until firm, about 15 minutes. Bake until crust is golden and fragrant, about 10 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
3. Make the filling: Place yogurt in a cheesecloth-lined sieve set over a medium bowl; let drain at least 30 minutes. Discard liquid.
4. With an electric mixer on medium-low speed, beat cream cheese until very smooth. Add sugar and vanilla; beat until smooth. Add strained yogurt, and beat on low speed until smooth.
5. Pour filling into prepared crust, and refrigerate until set, 6 hours or up to 1 day. Just before serving, arrange blueberries on top, drizzle with honey, and cut into wedges.

How did you cope with your farm subscription (CSA) vegetables?

Subscribing to a local farm's vegetable harvest through a community supported agriculture (CSA) program sounds brilliant at first. Support local farmers, get impeccably fresh organic vegetables, everybody wins, right?

Until vegetables you're not used to cooking start arriving, week after week. What do I do with kohlrabi when I've never seen it before? How can I get my kids to eat chard? What can I do with all these cooking greens before they rot?

If you've been a CSA subscriber, you've probably figured out solutions. Please share them with me and News readers, as I research a story on making the most of your CSA membership. There's a bumper crop of farm subscribers in Western New York this year, so there are going to be lots of first-timers.

Send me an email at with your story. Any problems you faced? Tips you can share? Recipes that came in handy?

Not everyone's contributions will appear in the story, but they'll all help me understand how cooks are trying to make the most of their CSA experience.

Irish soda bread contest for St. Patrick's Day

If you're baking a bit o' bread for St. Paddy's Day, the Buffalo Irish Center offers a chance to see how your loaf stacks up.

The center, at 245 Abbott Road, will accept entries for its soda bread contest between 9 a.m. and 10 a.m. tomorrow morning, March 17. Entries should be wrapped in clear plastic, with a removable label containing the baker's name, address and phone number.

Judging will be based on taste, texture, appearance and other factors, and winners will be notified by phone later in the day. First, second and third place prizes will be awarded, courtesy of The Tara Shoppe. For more information, call 627-5966.

Beers & meads & ciders oh my: Top home brewers honored

Here's the list of winners in the Amber Waves of Grain, New York State's largest home brewing contest.

Buffalo-based clubs Sultans of Swig and the Niagara Association of Homebrewers took numerous AWOG awards. Nearly 100 contestants entered more than 400 beverages in the competition.

Best in show, the top beer of the bunch according to trained beer judges, went to Dan Cassetta, of the Niagara Association of Homebrewers. Best in show for mead and cider went to Mary Lee, of the Sultans of Swig.

Novel nibbles: Register Edible Book contest entries by March 29

The WNY Book Arts Center hosts another local edition of the International Edible Book Contest on April 1.

The contest's goal is merging the worlds of food and books in a work of art that plays on both, limited only by the creativity and culinary cleverness of the artists. Last year's entries included "Booklava: An Edible Odyssey," printed on phyllo leaves, then baked with a baklava base, and "Essay on the Essays of Francis Bacon," sporting covers woven out of bacon, with scallion hinges and omelet filling.

Here's pictures of last year's entries in Buffalo, and others from many editions of the globe-spanning contest

Entries need to be registered by March 29, by filling out a form on the group's website. There's a limit of 40 entries. The finished works should be delivered to WNYBAC, 468 Washington St., between 2 and 4 p.m., April 1.

Entry is $5, which includes two tickets to the event. Otherwise, it's $10 ($5 for WNYBAC members and children).

Judging takes place by 7 p.m. Then everyone gets a chance to taste the tomes.

A guide to WNY's community supported agriculture (CSA) farms

Thinking about subscribing to a local farmer's crop? 

Over at Buffalo Spree, Christa Glennie Seychew has an updated 2011 list of the community supported agriculture (CSA) farms around Western New York.

Six years ago, it was just Porter Farms and Native Offerings - now there's 11 on the list. Some are already fully engaged, but you can read through them and decide which farm fits you best. How far are you willing to go for your share of the harvest?


Spring WNY Restaurant Week starts Mar. 28

Don't be surprised if reservations at Ristorante Lombardo, Oliver's and other local favorites are hard to come by the week of March 28 through April 3.

Western New York Local Restaurant Week isn't a secret any more, and the chance to try a new place for $21.11 will bring out the hungry in droves. The list of participating restaurants here includes more than 140 Buffalo-area places, from Wilson to Varysburg. There's also a group of Rochester-area places listed, broadening the event's horizons in its third year.

There could be more restaurants listed before March 28, too. Lots of the registered restaurants haven't yet posted the details for their $21.11 offers, so you'll have to check back. But it's never too early to get the numbers punched into your speed-dial.

CORRECTION: The price of Restaurant Weekend offers was previously listed as $20.11. The standard offer is actually $21.11.

The best dinner you'll never have, by 'Modernist Cuisine'

Nathan Myhrvold, the ex-Microsoft zillionaire who's spent millions creating a 2,400-page, copiously illustrated cookbook that threatens to set a new standard for food geekery, invited some people to dinner last month.

A dinner you won't ever experience, because it's creayted by a lab, not a restaurant. 

Joining a group of A-list chefs and food world figures was J. Kenzie Lopez-Alt, intrepid Serious Eats Food Lab writer. He posted photos of 30 courses, with notes, including numerous winning dishes and one loser.

Some of the results can be "truly stunning," Lopez-Alt wrote, "like a 'pea butter' made by running a pea puree through a high-powered centrifuge that exposes it to forces 4,000 times greater than the force of gravity."

The forces cause all of the particulate matter (mostly carbs, with a small percentage of fat) to sink to the bottom of the centrifuge tube while the emerald-green pea juice floats on top. Scrape out the matter, emulsify it with some extra pea fat, season it with salt, and spread it on toast, and you end up with something that's got the texture and meltability of butter, with the bright flavor of fresh peas. It's incredible. Of course, a commercial centrifuge will also run you around $20,000.

One day, perhaps, Modernist Cuisine will offer tickets, like the Russian space program occasionally sells seats on orbiting spacecraft.

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