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Forget wings and weck - Toronto writer eats the good stuff in Buffalo

Having worked in serious kitchens for a decade, Ivy Knight writes about the Toronto restaurant scene and Canadian food from a cook's point of view. With her husband Kerry, she writes for the Globe and Mail and the Toronto Star, and lots of other publications, plus Swallow Food, their own site.

So with the Greater Toronto Area as her oyster, she doesn't lack the opportunity to tickle her taste buds. Count her among those celebrating Buffalo's attractiveness to culinary tourists.

"I’ve been to Buffalo half a dozen times and I’ve never once eaten chicken wings there. I’ve had fluke crudo, Tamworth chops, Bourdain’s last meal (a dish containing foie & pork belly), steak tartare, wild oysters from Martha’s Vineyard, 11 month old prosciutto … but not a single chicken wing."

Of course, one recurring problem tourist attractions is, how can you get the locals to recognize what they have? Unless you're the Louvre or the Pyramids, it's the locals that pay the bills in slack times. Which made me think of Niagara Falls. How it's not unusual to meet someone who grew up 30 minutes away, and has never bothered to go see the mighty waterfall.

Elements video: Use potato chips in a Spanish omelet

In this week's Elements, standard potato chips are used as the filling in a Spanish potato omelet, or torta. Suggested by world-renowned chef Ferran Adria in his highly accessible cookbook "Family Meal," using potato chips makes a torta much simpler. Regular torta recipes require frying sliced potatoes in copious oil before draining the slices and proceeding with the dish.

Live chat with News Food Editor Andrew Galarneau

Come on by at noon to swap recipes, hunt for hard-to-find ingredients, and recommend your favorite restaurant dishes. Plus whatever else foodish is on your mind.


Recipe: Pasta con Sarde from 'St. Joseph's Day Table Cookbook'

Here's Mary Ann Giordano's recipe for Pasta con Sarde, from "The St. Joseph's Day Table Cookbook," featured in today's Buffalo News. It's a classic Sicilian pasta that includes fennel bulb, sultana raisins, sardines and toasted pine nuts. It's sometimes garnished with bread crumbs, said to evoke the sawdust of St. Joseph's carpentry workshop. 

Pasta con Sarde

1 small onion, diced

1 fennel bulb with fronds, diced

Olive oil

2 tablespoons capers

1 cup sultana raisins

2 pounds perciatelli pasta, or penne

3 quarts tomato sauce

1/2 cup toasted pine nuts

1 can sardines

Parsley and bread crumbs for garnish

Sauté the onions and fennel in the oil until translucent. Add the capers and the raisins. Continue to sauté for 3 minutes, and reserve. Remove sardines from water, chop roughly, and reserve.

Cook the pasta according to package directions and heat the tomato sauce, which should be on thin side. Spread a little sauce on a serving platter. Heap the pasta onto the platter, cover with sauce, and top with the fennel, raisins, nuts, and sardines. Stir slightly. Garnish with breadcrumbs. Serve hot. Try not to put this dish in the oven, as it dries out easily.

Louie's Texas Red Hots proposed for Elmwood Avenue house

A Clarence woman is proposing to build an addition on the front of an Elmwood Avenue home for a Louie's Texas Red Hots.

Lori Labonte has applied for a city permit for the project, which would add a 755-square-foot addition and a 200-square-foot patio to the front of 1049 Elmwood. (That's on the east side of Elmwood, just south of Bird Avenue, across Bird from Mister Pizza.)

Check out some drawings of the proposal.

A public hearing on the proposal will be held at the Common Council's Legislation Committee meeting at 2 p.m. March 27 in Council Chambers in City Hall.

--Aaron Besecker
Follow me on Twitter: @BeseckerBN

Review: Korean BBQ at Woo Chon Korea House, and other area Korean hits

My first review points to Woo Chon Korea House (402 Evans St., Williamsville), the only place in Western New York that I know of serving Korean barbecue. While I mentioned it's a favorite of my children, it's also known as one of the world's great drinking meals. If you get to huddle with buddies around a table, picking off meat with chopsticks while throwing back shots of soju, a clear 40-proof liquor, between bites, you may agree.

But there's more Korean around here worth checking out. Arirang (1416 Millersport Highway, Amherst) is the other full-service Korean restaurant, with an extensive menu of Korean stews, soups, noodle dishes, seafood and meat, in addition to Japanese dishes. Their barbecue dishes are mostly cooked in the kitchen and served on a hot iron platter, fajita-style.

Koreana (1010 Niagara Falls Blvd., Amherst) is dishing up soups, stews, and hearty homestyle dishes from warmers, but doesn't have a full kitchen. (The pork kalbi is my favorite.) Seoul Garden (2298 Niagara Falls Blvd., Tonawanda), offers great values in stir-fried dishes and stews. (Try the stir-fried pork with kimchi and tofu.)

Last, the best eats on the University at Buffalo's Amherst campus might be Korean Express, a little jam-packed room in the Commons area, not far from the Burger King. Buffalo Eats contributor Ann Marie Awad agrees, so that about settles it for me. (The pork katsu, a crispy cutlet, with kimchi fried rice and extra sweet-spicy gochujang sauce, is tough to beat.)

Please send any restaurant review suggestions to - and thanks for reading.

Buffalo's next food truck: creative grilled cheese from 'The Cheesy Chick'

Ben Tsujimoto of catches up with Alexis Andrzejak of The Cheesy Chick, who expects to debut her takes on classic grilled cheese and Buffalo favorites in late March. If so, she'd have the first new truck on Buffalo streets since the city started permitting food trucks last month.

Andrzejak expects to offer sandwiches from $3.25 to $6, including an apple-bacon-cheddar number, and the Lucky 7, an Italian combo that's probably best eaten outside anyway, since it's loaded with sausage, pepperoni, sopressata and four cheeses - ricotta, parmesan, mozzarella, provolone.

Read the story here.

Bistro Europa's love of lard celebrated on Gourmet magazine's site

Prominent Manhattan food writer and Buffalo restaurant scene booster Regina Schrambling featured Bistro Europa Chef Steve Gedra's pig fat fixation in an article for Gourmet Live, the famed food magazine's web site.

At Europa, 484 Elmwood Ave., diners get whipped lard seasoned with lemon zest and red wine vinegar instead of butter with the basketof house-made bread. “We kind of force it on our clientele,” Gedra told Schrambling, adding: “It’s like with kids—they think they don’t like it and then they try it. You gotta educate ’em.”

Rich Tilyou, of T-Meadow Farm in Lockport, turns up as well, describing why leaf lard - from the fat around a pig's kidneys - is particularly good for baking. Catch the complete article here.

Video: Braising rabbit with Ristorante Lombardo's Michael Obarka

Following up on last week's Taste feature on rabbit, Executive Chef Michael Obarka of Ristorante Lombardo uses a brace of cast-iron skillets for better browning before braising rabbit with carrots, onions, celery, garlic, tomatoes, green olives and more.

Here's the video, posted to Facebook. Here's a chance to get your cooking tips right from the chef, with an interesting glimpse inside one of Buffalo's top kitchens.

Lloyd taco truck asks fans to help fund second rig

Think of it as the biggest tip jar ever.

Lloyd taco truck entrepreneurs Chris Dorsaneo and Pete Cimino are asking fans to help fund their expansion to a second truck with free-will donations. If they collect $12,500 in pledges by March 29, they're buying a second truck. The Kickstarter money would be about 15 percent of the total cost, and they'd raise the rest themselves.

The Lloyd guys are using Kickstarter, a site that helps coordinate crowd-funded ideas. By March 2, the "Mission Lloyd Dos" total was up to $4,176.

They're offering rewards ranging from a free taco, bumper sticker, and a chance to sign the new truck ($10 donation) to a catered Lloyd event for 50 people at your address ($2,000.)

There's even a "Speed Pass" for $500 - "never wait in line at any of our trucks ever again."

In a release, Cimino said “we get requests to bring the truck to new locations on a daily basis. We wish we could satisfy our fans’ Lloyd cravings more often, so we are asking them to kindly support the cause and pledge at whatever level they are able.”

Go to to donate.

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