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Recipe: Jasmine pickled peaches with star anise, from 'Smoke & Pickles'

By Andrew Z. Galarneau

Here's a relatively simple recipe excerpted from Edward Lee's "Smoke & Pickles," featured in today's Buffalo News.

Picked Jasmine Peaches with Star Anise

Makes 2 quarts

You need to flavor your pickles, but it’s a hassle to strain out or remove loose spices that you don’t want to eat. Using tea bags is the perfect solution—they are packed with flavor. You can steep the pickle liquid just like you would a cup of tea; then, when the pickles are ready, you can just toss out the tea bags. Of course, use only high-quality tea.

This pickle screams for a nice, fatty pork dish, but it’s great with the gaminess of lamb and goat too. Or serve it with an aged sheep’s-milk cheese and some crusty bread for a refreshing version of a cheese plate.

2 pounds slightly underripe peaches

1 cup champagne vinegar

1 cup water

1½ cups sugar

1 teaspoon kosher salt

4 star anise

2 Serrano chili peppers, sliced in half

3 jasmine tea bags

1. Peel the peaches with a vegetable peeler. Slice into wedges, discarding the pits. Pack into a large glass jar or other heatproof container.

2. Combine the vinegar, water, sugar, salt, and star anise in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar and salt. Pour the hot liquid over the peaches and add the peppers and the tea bags. Cover with a tight-fitting lid and refrigerate.

3. Remove and discard the tea bags after 1 day. The peaches will be ready after 2 days, and they will keep for up to 3 weeks.

(Excerpted from Smoke & Pickles by Edward Lee (Artisan Books). Copyright ©2013.)


Daniels, fine dining gem of the Southtowns, to close Sept. 14

By Andrew Z. Galarneau

Daniel Johengen, chef-owner of top-rated Southtowns restaurant Daniels, is retiring after dinner Sept. 14.

“It’s just time,” said Johengen, whose Hamburg restaurant (174 Buffalo St., Hamburg,, 648-6554) has consistently been rated among the best in Western New York. “We’re old and tired. I’m not that old, I’m 58, but we’re tired. It’s been 23 years.”

Since 1990, Johengen and his wife Debbie have worked together to serve customers. “It’s been a great run,” Johengen said. The Johengens’ son and daughter are getting married in coming months, too. “We just decided it was time to take it easy.”

The couple thought they had a buyer for the business and the property, he said, but it fell through. They’re still done. “We’re still pursuing plans to sell the business and the property, and move on with our lives.”

There’s only a few tables left. “I’m not totally booked every single night but we’re getting there.”

What will the chef do on Sept. 15, after a life of cooking 14 hours and more a day?

 “I don’t know yet. Everybody asks me that,” Johengen said. “I’ve spent 23 years just getting ready for the next day at 5 o’clock. That’s all I’ve been doing for 23 years. So I don’t know.”

“Decompress for a while, and go from there.”



Seven new microbreweries planning to join WNY craft beer scene

By Andrew Z. Galarneau

If you dig craft beer, check out Janice Habuda's article in today's Buffalo News about the expanded options available for quenching your thirst. You might already know about the four microbreweries already filling glasses and growlers, but what about the seven planning to start serving by 2014?

From the Woodcock Brothers in Wilson, up near Lake Ontario, to Mazza Chautauqua Cellars, today's expanding local options for craft beers are good news for beer drinkers who aren't satisfied with Coors Light. Prosit.


Chef Ross Warhol leaves Athenaeum Hotel's Bloom, will head Texas kitchen

By Andrew Z. Galarneau

Chef Ross Warhol and the Athenaeum Hotel have parted ways. The talented young chef, whose cooking duties at the Chautauqua Institution hotel expanded this year to include the two-night-a-week Bloom, cooked his last meal there on July 27.

Bloom, conceived as an ode to Chautauqua County farms and food producers, will remain open for several more nights before the Institution season ends, said Athenaeum general manager Bruce Stanton. "We are open, but under a revised schedule," he said. Bloom will be open two more Saturdays, Aug. 10 and Aug. 17, with other kitchen staff stepping up to cook the meals.

Warhol said he will be taking over the kitchen at Pelican Club, a private room associated with the Gaidos seafood restaurant, on the Gulf of Mexico in Galveston, Texas. Warhol said he'll have free rein in the kitchen, and is looking forward to the challenge of being open five days a week year-round.

"I plan on coming back," Warhol said. "My heart's in Buffalo, and it's where I want to be when I open my own spot."


Luxe era over at Mike A's restaurant; lower prices, international menu coming

By Andrew Z. Galarneau

Buffalo chef Mike Andrzejewski's shot at world-class dining in the Lafayette Hotel is over. With the departure of Chef Edward Forster, who was responsible for the menu at Mike A's at the Lafayette (391 Washington St.,, 253-6453), Andrzejewski decided it was time to end the experiment.

"I'm trying to make Mike A at the Hotel Lafayette a considerable bit more accessible and fun, as well as increase customers and business," Andrzejewski said. 

Lunch will be emphasized more, as well as the bar and lounge food program "that will feature a more bold and international feel and comfortable pricing," the chef said.

Prices are going down. Andrzejewski's draft menu has starters (pork belly, potato terrine, marrow bones) from $6 to $17, entrees (skate wing, whole crisped chicken, dry aged duck) from $19 to $29, and steaks from $30 to a dry-aged $45 T-bone.

Mike A's will be closed Monday, Aug. 5 and Tuesday Aug. 6. Then its hours will be 11:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m. for lunch Tues.-Fri. and dinner 5 p.m.-10 p.m. Tues.-Sat., he said.



New West Side building to give Bistro Europa's fans more room

By Andrew Z. Galarneau

Steve and Ellen Gedra, the husband-and-wife team behind Bistro Europa, have purchased a West Side building they hope to open as a restaurant in 2014.

This morning their corporation closed on a deal to buy the Golden Key Tavern, 367 Connecticut St., and associated buildings, Steve Gedra said. They plan to tear out and rebuild the interior and kitchen space for a restaurant with 50 table seats and more room at the bar.

The name’s going to change too. “We inherited someone else’s dream,” Gedra said. “We’re going to build ours now.”

Bistro Europa will stay open until it’s time to fire up the new kitchen, Gedra said. They’re hoping that will only take a year, but “you know how that goes,” he said.

The Gedras’ tiny Elmwood Avenue restaurant has 28 seats, but might turn away as many people on a busy night. The chef-baker duo has cultivated a loyal following with traditional and original compositions of fresh seafood, nose-to-tail heirloom pork, and inspired uses of local produce, with spot-on Americana for dessert.

The property extends from 365 to 369 Connecticut, including some apartment space, Gedra said. Longer-term plans include a banquet room, he said, and a retail store to sell items like Gedra’s charcuterie and Ellen’s breads.