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Slow Food Buffalo Niagara holds first meeting Oct. 1

A local offshoot of the local food movement group Slow Food USA invites interested folks to its first meeting, Oct. 1 at the historic South Buffalo pub Gene McCarthy's, 73 Hamburg St., at 8 p.m. 

From the release:

"The national focus of Slow Food USA is to spread awareness of the importance of eating locally grown and produced foods. Slow Food Buffalo Niagara will host its first public meeting Oct. 1, 8 pm, at Gene McCarthy's restaurant located in Buffalo's First Ward to discuss the local focus of Slow Food Buffalo Niagara and how it fits into the national Slow Food USA agenda.

SFBN will answer the questions: What is Slow Food; What is the history of Slow Food in the country and region; what is the SFBN focus as a chapter; and how to get involved.

The meeting will be hosted by the SFBN board members and will feature a live Skype-discussion with Slow Food Denver leader Andy Novak who has helped to see that all Denver-area public schools have a school garden."

Celebrity 'Men Who Cook' serve meal to benefit Crisis Services

Buffalo State College President Aaron Podolefsky and Dennis Black, University at Buffalo vice president, are two notables among a cast of 20 who'll be dishing up dinner Oct. 2 in the Statler's Golden Ballroom.

The event, Men Who Cook, benefits Crisis Services, which operates a 24-hour crisis hotline, outreach programs and other services.

Restaurants involved include Left Bank, Ilio Di Paolo's, Vera Pizzeria, Joe's Deli and Redlinski Meats.

It's Oct. 2, 6-9 p.m., Statler City, 107 Delaware Ave. Ticket prices are $55, $100 per couple. Buy tickets online at by Oct. 1, or at the door.


Bacon recipes: Frisee salad with lardons, Asian bacon buns

Jeff Biesinger is a big-time fan of makin' bacon, as featured in today's Buffalo News. He cooked up a couple of dishes that show off bacon's meatier side. Here's his notes.

Frisee Salad with Lardons

(From The Odeon restaurant in New York City, via

 ¾ pound lean slab bacon, cut into ½ -inch dice

2 cups diced baguette (½ inch)

1 tablespoon white wine vinegar

8 large eggs

Peanut or vegetable oil

3 large shallots, thinly sliced

Salt and freshly ground pepper

2 large garlic cloves, chopped

¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

Two 1-pound heads frisée, leaves torn into bite-size pieces

In a large skillet, cook half the bacon over moderate heat until just crisp, 4 to 5 minutes. Transfer the bacon to a bowl and repeat with the remaining bacon. Pour all but 2 tablespoons of the bacon fat into a small glass measuring cup.

Reheat the bacon fat in the skillet. Add the diced baguette and cook over moderately high heat, stirring a few times, until crisp, about 4 minutes. Transfer the croutons to a plate to cool. Toss in the bowl with the bacon.

Bring a large skillet of water to a boil. Add the white wine vinegar. Break 1 of the eggs into a small cup and slide the egg into the water. Repeat with 3 more eggs. Simmer over moderate heat until the whites are firm and the yolks are soft, about 3 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the poached eggs to a large platter lined with paper towels. Repeat with the remaining eggs. Keep the poaching water at a low simmer.

Measure the reserved bacon fat into a large skillet. Add enough peanut oil to equal 1/3 cup. Add the shallots, season generously with salt and pepper and cook over low heat until softened, about 3 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Whisk in the red wine vinegar and remove the dressing from the heat.

Return the poached eggs to the simmering water to reheat for 30 to 40 seconds. Bring the dressing back to a simmer over low heat. Add the frisée to the bacon and croutons in the bowl, add the hot dressing and toss well. Season with salt and pepper. Mound the salad in serving bowls or on plates and top each with a poached egg. Serve at once.

Make Ahead: The eggs can be poached up to 2 hours ahead. Refrigerate and bring to room temperature before reheating. Place in a saucepan of simmering water for 30 to 40 seconds, drain, pat dry and serve.


Asian bacon buns

(Inspired by Momofuku)

1 seedless cucumber

2 tablespoons kosher salt

2 tablespoons sugar

½ cup oil-cured chiles (recipe below)

1 package Chinese “lotus leaf” buns*

½ pound slab bacon

Hoisin sauce

Sriracha chile sauce

Mix salt and sugar. Thinly slice cucumber, and toss with mix to coat. Let sit 5-10 min. Check for salt; if too salty, rinse well and dry.

Cut slab bacon into matchbook-sized chunks about ¼ - 3/8 inch thick. Fry slices until heated through and crisp.

Steam “lotus leaf” buns according to package directions (microwaving 45 seconds under damp paper towel works great).

To assemble: Open bun, brush with hoisin or sriracha.

Lay down a few slices of cucumber. Insert bacon. Top with a few oil-cured chiles, if using. Serve.

Makes 12.

* Available in the freezers at Ni Hoowa Supermarket, 3175 Sheridan Drive, Amherst

Salty Oil-Cured Chilies

(adapted from Zakary Pelaccio's "Eat With Your Hands")

Start with a couple cups of spicy chiles (Thai bird, etc. I like to mix some colors)

Thin slice them and liberally salt them (Kosher salt); put salted peppers in something so they can drain for an hour.

Rinse and put the salted sliced chiles in an empty jar.

Heat enough oil (grapeseed or other neutral oil) to cover the chiles, to 325° or so.

Pour the hot oil into the jar and let it chill for a few hours or overnight.

You serve the chiles with farmers cheese. (Wegmans has big tubes that you need them to cut so you don't end up with 5 pounds.)

The cheese and chiles go on dinner rolls. Pepperidge Farms are the bomb but Wegmans brand work if that's all they have.

- Jeff Biesinger

Recipe: 'Man steak' with thyme-zinfandel salt, from 'Charred & Scruffed'


Man steak for charred and scruffed cookbook story Credit Simon Wheeler
Photo: Simon Wheeler

Here's a recipe from Adam Perry Lang's Charred & Scruffed, featured in today's Buffalo News.

"Man steak" is a British term for a cut that American butchers are not generally familiar with. A piece of top round sirloin is an acceptable standin - as long as it's at least two inches thick. Have a butcher cut you one.

(Excerpted from Charred & Scruffed by Adam Perry Lang with Peter Kaminsky (Artisan Books). Copyright © 2012. Photographs by Simon Wheeler.)

Man Steak with Thyme Zinfandel Salt

Serves 6 to 8

Nothing says barbecue like a beautifully done steak. This one is a very big steak. I’d seen it in Texas, but it wasn’t until I got to England that I came across the name “man steak,” no doubt because it is big, like an Englishman’s appetite. It’s somewhat haphazardly cut to include a few muscles in and around the rump, and it doesn’t look like any recognizable steak. When you see a T-bone—or a rib eye or a shell steak—you know what it is right away. With the man steak, what I keep visualizing is an oversize hunk of meat on Fred Flintstone’s grill. If you cook it right and baste it lovingly, let it rest, temper, and baste again, the result is an intensely flavorful crust and a juicy, toothsome interior.

One 6-pound “man steak,” or top sirloin at least 2 inches thick 

¼ cup Four Seasons Blend

1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper

An herb brush

Basic Baste

Board Dressing

Thyme Zinfandel Salt for finishing

1. To make the Four Seasons Blend

Makes approximately 1 cup

1 cup sea or kosher salt

2 tablespoons freshly ground black pepper

2 tablespoons garlic salt

1 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Combine the salt, black pepper, garlic salt, and cayenne in a small bowl. Transfer to a spice grinder or clean coffee grinder and pulse to the consistency of sand. Store in an airtight container for up to 1 month.

 2. To make the Basic Baste

Makes approximately 4 cups

Fat baste

1 ¼ cups extra virgin olive oil

10 tablespoons (1 ¼ sticks) unsalted butter

½ cup rendered fat from the meat being cooked (optional)

1 tablespoon soy sauce

1 tablespoon granulated sugar

2 tablespoons grated garlic (use a Microplane) or garlic mashed to a paste

1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves

2 tablespoons grated Spanish onion (use a Microplane)

2 teaspoons sea or kosher salt


2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper

1 teaspoon red pepper flakes

¼ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice

¼ cup white wine vinegar

Combine all the ingredients for the fat baste in a 2-quart saucepan and bring just to a simmer; remove from the heat. For the best flavor, refrigerate in a tightly sealed container for 1 to 2 days (reheat over low heat to melt the butter before using).

Whisk the lemon juice and vinegar into the fat baste before using, or reserve it to add later.



Preheat the grill to medium-low.

Season the beef all over with the seasoning blend and black pepper, then lightly moisten your hands with water and rub the seasonings into the meat. Allow to stand for 10 minutes to develop a “meat paste”.

Put the beef on the clean (unoiled) grill grate and cook, without moving it, for 1 minute. Turn, grabbing the bone portion with your tongs, baste with the herb brush, and cook for 1 minute. Turn the steak, baste with the herb brush, and continue to cook, turning the meat every 2 minutes or so and basting each time you flip it, for 17 more minutes. The meat may stick and tear a bit, but this is OK, even desirable—the sticking and tearing is what I call “meat scruffing”. The surface should begin to crust after scruffing. (For newer grills, where less sticking and tearing occurs, or for increased surface area, score with a knife.) Transfer the steak to a large platter and allow to rest for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, clean and oil the grill grate.

(*Optional: Use an Herb Basting Brush to tie a bunch of herb sprigs (rosemary, sage or thyme, or a combination, or other herbs, depending on what you are cooking to a dowel, the handle of a wooden spoon, or a long-handled carving fork.  The herb brush flavors the baste, releases oils into the crust as it builds, and eventually becomes a garnish for the Board Dressing.)

Put the steak back on the grill and cook, turning and basting it every 4 minutes, until the internal temperature registers 115°F on an instant-read thermometer for rare, 25 to 35 minutes.

Meanwhile, make a basic Board Dressing. Combine 6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley, and sea or kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste. You can improvise here, adding grated shallots or garlic (use a Microplane), finely chopped chiles, chopped scallions, and/or other chopped herbs, such as rosemary, thyme, and sage. 6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley, and sea or kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste. You can improvise here, adding grated shallots or garlic (use a Microplane), finely chopped chiles, chopped scallions, and/or other chopped herbs, such as rosemary, thyme, and sage.

Mix the herbs into the board dressing, then slice the meat, turning each slice in the dressing to coat. Then pour the resulting board juices over the meat and finely chop the tip of the herb brush and mix the herbs into the dressing.

Season the steak on both sides with the thyme salt, transfer to the cutting board, and allow to rest for 10 minutes.

To serve, slice the meat ¼ inch thick, turning each slice in the dressing to coat, and arrange on plates. Pour the board juices over the meat and finish with a sprinkling of the thyme zinfandel salt.

How to make the Thyme Zinfandel Salt

Makes approximately 1 cup

1 cup sea or kosher salt

1/3 cup zinfandel

1 tablespoon dried thyme

Combine the salt and wine in a bowl, stirring until slushy.

Spread the salt mixture out in a thin, even layer on a parchment-lined dehydrator tray and dry in a dehydrator at 105°F for 12 hours. Alternatively, spread the mixture on a parchment-lined baking sheet, put in a convection oven set at the lowest setting, prop the door ajar with the handle of a wooden spoon, and let dry completely, about 12 hours.

Finely grind in a spice grinder or clean coffee grinder and dry for another 2 hours.

Transfer the salt mixture back to the grinder, add the dried thyme, and pulse to the consistency of sand. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 month. 




Designed dishes: Glimpses from Mike A's at the Lafayette's tasting menu

Mike A's at the Lafayette, reviewed in today's Gusto section, presents its 10-course tasting menu ($125, $175 with drink pairings) as carefully composed plates that are meant to taste as good as they look. Here's a few examples of the dishes that earned Mike A's the News' top rating, 10 out of 10.

The "Scallop Crudo, Beef Fat Nam Pla, Finger Lime" surrounded slices of soft scallop with an arrangement of crunchy wax beans, shaved radish and broccoli stem. The orange strip is heirloom tomatoes transformed into a sort of fruit leather for adults, with concentrated tomato flavor. The sauce is Thai fish sauce caramel, whose sweet umami notes quietly support the fresh seafood.


A close-up shows the cluster of finger lime "caviar" perched on each scallop slice.


(Much more after the jump.)

Continue reading "Designed dishes: Glimpses from Mike A's at the Lafayette's tasting menu" »

Trader Joe's may be coming to WNY in late 2013

Fans of the eclectic Trader Joe's grocery stores launched a public campaign months ago to draw the retailer to Kenmore. 

The Kenmore Village Improvement Society announced this morning its mission was successful. Then Trader Joe's said no store was planned for Kenmore.

The News' Maki Becker explains the confusion:

Melissa Foster, president of the Kenmore improvement group, put out a press release today saying Trader Joe's is coming to Western New York leading many, leaving the mistaken impression it would be coming to Kenmore.

"We're thrilled to have played a role in attracting Trader Joe's to the area," Foster said.

But according to a Trader Joe's spokeswoman that there are no plans for a Kenmore store.

There was no immediate word from Trader Joe's about whether there are definite plans for a store somewhere else in Western New York.

Why are people so excited? The variety of packaged foodstuffs, for one. Trader Joe's is known for its array of fresh and frozen specialty items, mostly house brands. It's also earned a reputation for well-valued house wines, though the famed "Two-Buck Chuck" specials are mostly history.

A Rochester location is set to open in Oct. At present, the closest Trader Joe's might be Albany. Here's a detailed visitor's report.

(Note: An earlier version of this item said the store was slated for Kenmore.)