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Elements video: Spiced Beet Salad

Use star anise to spice up roasted beets for a salad that can't be...beat.

Firing Line, Buffalo's answer to 'Chopped,' to crown champ Sunday

A field of six up-and-coming Buffalo chefs have been narrowed to two competitors, who compete Sunday for the title of Firing Line champion. Remaining tickets ($32) are on sale here for the event at Artisan Kitchens, 200 Amherst St.

Starting at 2:30 p.m. Sunday, the chefs will vie for the judges' nod as a watching crowd noshes on snazzy hors d'oeuvres. 

Rounds one and two, on Nov. 7 and 14, produced finalists Donald Cook of Sample, and Teddy Bryant of Lloyd taco truck, of all places. (Check out video wrap-ups of the first two rounds here.)

While Bryant may be slinging tacos at present, his deep resume includes a stint as sous chef at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas. Cook came to Sample from five years cooking in New York City, including the Michelin-starred Rouge Tomate.

On Sunday, the first challenge is preparing a dish in 20 minutes, with chefs allowed to bring some ingredients.

The second and final round is a market basket challenge, with chefs allowed 40 minutes to create a dish from a surprise array of provisions.

Their efforts will be evaluated by a panel of judges, including restaurant critics Julia Burke and Andrew Galarneau, and Chef Steve Gedra of the highly rated Bistro Europa. The event is produced by Feed Your Soul Productions, which also produces Nickel City Chef, which begins its fifth season in February with tickets going on sale Jan. 4.

 

Food trucks serving shoppers Saturday at Eastern Hills Mall

Eight of Western New York's mobile cantinas are gathering for a "food truck rodeo" from noon to 4 p.m. at 4545 Transit Road. That's eight different presents you can cross off your list, and it benefits Meals on Wheels, appropriately enough.

Alli Suriani at Buffalo Eats has the rundown - with great pictures of various food truck offerings - so you can decide if it's worth the schlep.

Mediterranean restaurant to open downtown

Rachel's Mediterranean, at Main Street and Richfield in Williamsville, is opening at Delaware and Chippewa. 

The downtown location will be located next to Starbucks, filling the space left by Chez Ann in the City, which moved to stylish new digs a block north on Delaware at the corner of Johnson Park.  

Cousins James and Danny Elkhouri were working on the new location on Wednesday. It is not open yet. 

Rachel's Williamsville location delivers, and the restaurant is popular among workers in suburban office parks.

This will be the third Rachel's, the other is in the Commons at the University at Buffalo's North Campus. 

-Jill Terreri

Ambrosia to head down the block

Ambrosia is leaving its perch on the corner of Elmwood and Hodge and heading less than a block away, taking the place of another restaurant.

Plans to move Ambrosia into the space occupied by Nektar were approved Tuesday in City Hall by the Planning Board and the Council's Legislation Committee. 

Stavros Malliaris owns both Elmwood Avenue restaurants but the rent is too high at Ambrosia, he said, and he will close Nektar. Malliaris is expanding the building that houses Nektar, at 451 Elmwood, to accommodate Ambrosia, which will continue to serve breakfast, lunch and dinner at the new location. A 1,000-square-foot addition will be built where Nektar's patio is, he said. 

Malliaris is still working out the timeline for the move. 

Another new restaurant won approval in City Hall on Tuesday, when Kaiann Johnson told the Planning Board and Legislation Committee of her plans to open a Jamaican-American restaurant in University Heights, where Fast Frank's used to be.

Johnson plans to open in mid-December. The restaurant is at the corner of Main and Winspear. 

-Jill Terreri

The N.Y. Times was actually nice to Guy Fieri

Pete Wells, the New York Times' chief restaurant critic, has been criticized himself this week, for teeing off on Guy Fieri's new 500-seat restaurant in Times Square. Wells wrote his review of Guy's American Kitchen & Bar as a series of questions to the television star, highlighting the distance between the tasty American food he's known for celebrating, and the culinary acts committed in his name. 

"Were you struck by how very far from awesome the Awesome Pretzel Chicken Tenders are? If you hadn’t come up with the recipe yourself, would you ever guess that the shiny tissue of breading that exudes grease onto the plate contains either pretzels or smoked almonds? Did you discern any buttermilk or brine in the white meat, or did you think it tasted like chewy air?"

I don't think it'll hurt his business a bit. The people drawn to Guy's when surrounded by New York City's dining choices are not the people who make decisions on where to eat by reading the Times.

Reviewers offer opinion (gut-level reaction) and analysis (larger conclusions argued from facts), so when you have a place that seems like a good example of the darkest excesses of American eating, why not swing away? It was fun to read, and I read reviews for sport.

As a restaurant reviewer who has sat on his couch wishing I was smart enough to land a megamillion-dollar gig enthusing about delicious dishes across America, I can well imagine that nothing helps you limber up your smiting arm like a dash of envy. Getting the opportunity to point out the Grand Canyon between Fieri's television persona and the food sold in his name would be deeply satisfying. 

I don't think the reviewer's a snob. Pete Wells enjoys deep-fried American glories like everybody else. He pleads for basic nachos standards of excellence, a cause I also stand behind: 

"How did nachos, one of the hardest dishes in the American canon to mess up, turn out so deeply unlovable? Why augment tortilla chips with fried lasagna noodles that taste like nothing except oil? Why not bury those chips under a properly hot and filling layer of melted cheese and jalapeños instead of dribbling them with thin needles of pepperoni and cold gray clots of ground turkey?" 

That's right, the caviar-scooping, truffle-sniffing top critic for the Times yearns for a "properly hot and filling layer of melted cheese and jalapeños" on his nachos. There ain't an Applebees customer that would argue.

From reading reviews other than the Times, it's the consensus that Guy's cooks and serves food that varies from decent to despicable, while presenting itself as a temple to blue-collar excellence.

But at least Wells doesn't use the review to argue that Guy Fieri himself is a pox on America.

The first real large-caliber assault on Guy's was five weeks ago, by Joshua David Stein in the New York Observer. Its opening paragraph, the first count of its indictment, notes that the television presenter was born Ferry but changed his name to "the more ethnic-sounding Fieri."

Wells aimed at the food. Stein goes after his soul.

"In January of 1968, the beginning of a year when the world caught on fire, Guy Ferry was born in a hospital in Columbus, Ohio. And in that moment, though America would not realize it for years to come, she had welcomed into her heartland perhaps her greatest homegrown besmircher, the seed of her undoing. A baby then, now a middle-aged man, Ferry would go on to gain weight, change his name to the more ethnic-sounding Fieri, frost the tips of his hair blond, wear his sunglasses on the back of his head, become a Food Network star and open, at the beginning of September, Guy’s American Kitchen and Bar in Times Square, a restaurant that would be indicted for crimes against humanity, if only that crime fell within the Department of Health’s purview."

Then it gets nasty.

UPDATED:

Yea verily, for something there is about Fieri that draws out the biblical in others, including Gawker commenter DivanRex:

"His head and his hairs were white like wool, as white as snow; and his eyes were as a flame of fire behind sunglasses; 
And his shirts like unto fine paisley, as the Beatles wore in 1968; and his voice as the sound of much chrome trim clanging; 
And he had in his right hand seven mewleries: and out of his chin went a sharp two-edged goatee: and his countenance was as the Thunderbird shineth in its retro glory. 
And when I saw him, I fell at his feet as insensate. 
Guy's American Revelations, 1. 14"

 

- Andrew Z. Galarneau

 

 

Recipe: Burmese Golden Egg Curry, from 'Burma'

Here's a relatively simple Burmese dish that simmers hard-boiled eggs in a sauce of tomatoes, chiles, garlic and shallots. It's from Naomi Duguid's "Burma," featured in today's Buffalo News.

Golden Egg Curry

Serves 4

Burmese egg curry is a beautiful way of presenting eggs. They’re first boiled, then peeled and fried in medium-hot oil. The smooth whites blister and firm up into an attractive golden crust. Only then are eggs cut in half and added to a sauce—here, a light tomato-based sauce that’s mildly chile hot.

Serve with rice or bread, a crisp salad, and a condiment like Crispy Shallot Dried Shrimp Relish or Tart-Sweet Chile-Garlic Sauce.

4 large eggs or extra-large eggs, preferably free-range

1/3 cup peanut oil or unroasted sesame oil

1/8 teaspoon turmeric

2 small shallots, minced

2 teaspoons minced garlic

¼ teaspoon Red Chile Powder, or to taste

2 medium tomatoes (about ½ pound), finely chopped

2 teaspoons fish sauce

½ teaspoon salt, or to taste

2 or 3 green cayenne chiles, seeded and sliced lengthwise into 3 or 4 strips each

Place the eggs in a saucepan, add cold water to cover, bring to a boil, and cook at a medium boil for 8 minutes. Drain the eggs and cool in cold water. When the eggs are cool enough to handle peel them.

Heat the oil in a wide heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Add the tumeric and stir to dissolve it. When the oil is hot enough to sizzle when a drop of water is dropped into it, add the peeled eggs and fry until golden and a little blistered all over: cook on each side in turn, then try to balance the eggs on their ends to cook the tips. Frying the egg is a fun little task, quickly done, and it makes them very attractive. With a slotted spoon, lift the eggs out of the hot oil and onto a plate. Cut them lengthwise in half and set aside.

Pour off all but 2 to 3 tablespoons of the oil (the oil can be used again for stir-frying). Heat the oil remaining in the pan over medium heat, add the shallots and garlic, and fry briefly, until translucent.  Add the chile powder and tomatoes and, stirring frequently to prevent sticking, cook at a strong simmer until the tomatoes have broken down into a softened mass, about 10 minutes.

Stir in the fish sauce and salt, then taste and adjust the seasoning if you wish. Raise the heat to medium-high, add the chile strips, and stir. Place the eggs cut side down in the sauce and cook until the oil sizzles, about 3 minutes. Serve hot or at room temperature.

(Excerpted from Burma: Rivers of Flavor by Naomi Duguid (Artisan Books). Copyright 2012.)

Frozen turkey drive next week at area restaurants to benefit St. Luke's

Three local restaurants are inviting people to drop off frozen turkeys and non-perishable food items next week for St. Luke's Mission of Mercy.

From Sunday, Nov. 11 to Sun., Nov. 18, donations will be received during business hours at:

Soho Burger Bar, 64 West Chippewa St., 998-2977

Acqua, 2192 Niagara St., 874-5400

Templeton Landing, 2 Templeton Terrace, 852-2260

For more information, call 852-2260.

Explore tastes of Italian Alps at Ristorante Lombardo on Thursday

On Thursday, Chef Michael Obarka of Ristorante Lombardo (1198 Hertel Ave., 873-4291, ristorantelombardo.com) is offering a one-night menu celebrating the food and wines of the Alps.

It's $100 a person, plus tax and tip, starting at 6:30 p.m. Here's the menu:

1st Course
Fonduta Valdostana
(ready upon arrival)
with Morgex et de La Salle, Prié Blanc, 2011, Valée d’Aosta

2nd Course
Pumpkin Ravioli
brown butter, mascarpone, pepitos
with Abbazzia di Novacella, Sylvaner, 2009, Trentino

3rd Course
Squab
cider turnips, pomegranate seeds, frisee
with Ezio Voyat, Le Muraglie Rosso, v.d.t., Valeé d’Aosta

4th Course
Short Ribs Sauerbraten
spaetzle, sauerkraut
with Foradori, Sgarzon, Teroldego 2010, Trentino

5th Course
Chesnut Budino
with Suavia, Recioto di Soave, Garganega 2006, Veneto

 

Get your lentilberry on: Exploring the Amy's Truck menu

Ben Tsujimoto at Buffalo.com explores the menu of Amy's Truck, one of Buffalo's best-loved vegetarian friendly diners.

Check the truck's calendar to see where the wheeled version is taking Amy's creations to sites outside the University District. Veggie Wet Shoes, loaded cheesy fries with vegetarian chili, is there of course. But there are meat-lovers specials too.