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Ristorante Lombardo April 30 wine dinner to celebrate Niagara Wine Country vintages

Niagara WIne Dinner-page-001

By Andrew Z. Galarneau

While Michael Chelus of Nittany Epicurian was writing about Western New York wine for the New York Cork Report, he came to the conclusion that Niagara and Lake Erie wines included some under-appreciated specimens.

So he decided to talk to local chefs about how those wines could be shown off in their best light. The result is a wine-pairing dinner at Ristorante Lombardo on April 30 featuring some of the best Arrowhead Spring Vineyards and Leonard Oakes Estate Winery have to offer.

If people like it, there may be more, he said.

The dinner is 6:30 p.m. April 30; call 873-4291 for reservations. It's $85 plus tax and tip. The menu is below:

preserved lemon, baby pea shoots, Maggie’s round cheese
with SAUVIGNON BLANC RESERVE, Leonard Oakes 2012

ricotta, mushrooms, amarena cherries, brown butter
with PINOT NOIR BARREL #44, Arrowhead Spring 2012
& BLAUFRÄNKISCH, Leonard Oakes 2012

fennel, toasted coriander seed, burnt orange
with RIESLING RESERVE, Leonard Oakes 2012

goat cheese polenta, blackberry gastrique
with ESTATE SYRAH, Arrowhead Spring 2010
& ESTATE SYRAH, Arrowhead Spring 2011

Florentine herb crust, Capezzana olive oil, pee wee potatoes
with ESTATE MERITAGE RESERVE, Arrowhead Spring 2008
& ESTATE MERITAGE RESERVE, Arrowhead Spring 2010

nut brittle, wildflower honey
with VIDAL ICE WINE, Leonard Oakes 2012


Owners of East Aurora's Medici House opening Theas, an Ethiopian restaurant, next door

By Andrew Z. Galarneau

Named after a type of Ethiopian wolf, Theas will offer Ethiopian cuisine at 634 Main St., in East Aurora.

Opening April 21, it'll be next-door neighbors to Medici House, the former Tantalus, longtime flagship of East Aurora restaurateurs Laurie Kutas and John Rooney. 

After cooking Ethiopian at home for years, and getting it during their travels to Washington, D.C., Toronto and other destinations, they decided it was time to offer the African cuisine to the Southtowns.

Rooney said nothing will change at Medici House. The pair has long harbored dreams of an Ethiopian place, and with two Ethiopian places open in Buffalo, it seemed like the right time. "We felt that the community is accepting it, so it's probably our time," he said. "We're not getting any younger, either." 

Theas will offer lunch and dinner seven days a week, 40 to 50 seats, and a full bar, he said.

The menu will be vegan and vegetarian intensive, with extensive vegetable, greens and legume offerings in addition to meat dishes, Rooney said. (He noted that Theas is already fully reserved for the opening day, April 21.)



Watch how paper-thin dough for every Balkan Dining Bosnian pita is made to order



By Andrew Z. Galarneau

The pita is the most remarkable item for sale at Balkan Dining, a little Bosnian place in Tonawanda, at 687 Kenmore Ave. It starts with a sort of handmade phyllo dough that is made fresh for every pita, whether it's stuffed with spinach and cheese, spiced beef and onion, mushrooms, or potato.

News photographer Sharon Cantillon captured the dough-making process in the skilled hands of Aida Hamzic. Check out the whole article here.

What will one cost you? Twenty minutes of your time, for it to bake - and a measly $5.


BreadHive, cooperative bakery selling sourdough, real NY bagels, sets April 12 open house

BreadHive sourdough

By Andrew Z. Galarneau

Buffalo has a long history of hippie bakeries, including Yeast-West Bakery, a cooperative bakery whose popular whole-grain bread and other products found welcome buyers from the Lexington Coop to Tops supermarkets before closing in 1996.

Last week, loaves of crusty hearthbaked sourdough bread started appearing on Lexington Coop shelves, along with displays at Snyder’s Farmers & Artisans and Guercio’s & Sons. BreadHive has brought the cooperative bakery back, buoyed by local consumers’ increasing willingness to seek out local, organic food.

“We’re offering something people are very interested in – ‘authentic’ bread that tastes really good,” said partner Allison Ewing. A grand opening, offering a peek inside their operation at 123 Baynes St., samples, and drinks, starts 5 p.m. April 12.

BreadHive’s products are available at those retail locations, or through buying a bread subscription. Those start at $20 a month, for a loaf a week, which customers pick up from the bakery. It’s about six blocks north of Five Points Bakery, which has been setting a new standard for handmade bread on the West Side since 2009, albeit entirely made from whole grain. BreadHive will use some white flour, but mostly whole-grain, and it's all GMO-free, unbleached, unbromated flour, said partner Victoria Kuper.

Ewing, from Atlanta, Emily Stewart, from Nashville, Tenn., and Kuper, from Rochester, sought to tap into the community’s cooperative bakery history before starting their business.

“Early on in our process we made a point to round up as many members of Yeast-West Bakery, and sort of pick their brains,” said Ewing. “What was successful? What would they do differently?”

After research, they decided to incorporate as a cooperative, offering shares to partners. So far, 29 people have invested $1,000 or more for a minor share in the bakery, which includes a year’s worth of bread, and a small return on their investment, among other things. (There is room for more investors, if you’re interested, Ewing said.)

The flagship product is sourdough bread, fermented with wild yeast overnight before it’s baked, in the pain de levain style. You can’t find anything like it in city limits, and East Aurora’s Elm Street Bakery is the closest outlet with that sort of bread, Ewing said.

But close behind are the New York style bagels, presently only available at Farmers & Artisans. The partners know that advertising New York style bagels means they will have to face the challenge of satisfying the pickiest bagel eaters in town. “Bring it on,” Stewart said.

Fermented then boiled, the bagels are labor intensive, but that’s what it takes. “I lived in New York for several years before coming here, and I definitely mourned the loss of a really great, traditional style New York bagel,” said Kuper. “When we were doing test batches we’d bring them around, and people would just bite into a chewy outer crust and soft, chewy interior, and they would breathe a sigh of relief and start telling me about their childhood in Brooklyn.”

Photo: BreadHive sourdough, by Anna Miller


Restored Ulrich's 1868 Tavern expects to welcome diners, drinkers again in late May

Sal Buscaglia works on restoring Ulrich's

By Andrew Z. Galarneau

After extensive repairs designed to highlight and preserve the building’s historic details, Ulrich’s 1868 Tavern is on track to open in the second half of May, said Salvatore Buscaglia, who is opening a new restaurant in the historic building.

“I haven’t subcontracted out any of the work,” said Buscaglia, who is a finish carpenter by trade.

Buscaglia, owner of Snooty Fox Lounge on Delaware Avenue, will run the restaurant at 674 Ellicott St. He's leasing the space from owner Tom Eoannou, and has undertaken extensive repairs to plumbing and other building systems. The restaurant should seat 100 on the first floor, in the dining room and restored bar, he said.

Polish sausage, sauerkraut, burgers, healthy salads, pastrami and Italian classics will be on the menu, he said. Plus potato pancakes, of course.

There will be beer, as befitting the city's oldest tavern. One of the upgrades will be a new chilled 10-line draft beer system. "We're going to get it done right," Buscaglia said.

Above: Buscaglia works on a light fixture. Photo: Mark Mulville / The Buffalo News




Artisanal food center Mercado Revolution takes Indiegogo route after Kickstarter drive falls short

By Andrew Z. Galarneau

After seeing its $150,000 Kickstarter pledge drive reach about three-fifths of its goal, Mercado Revolution is not giving up. Organizers have downsized its fundraising goal and relaunched it as an Indiegogo campaign.

Pledges will go to the project whether it reaches its $70,000 goal or not. It probably will, since by Monday, it had reached about $40,000, with 10 days left.

Proposed as a gourmet food court populated by local artisanal foodmakers and local restaurants, Mercado Revolution was announced with a Kickstarter funding invitation March 4. Before time ran out, 425 backers pledged $89,780 of its $150,000 goal.

Local partners announced so far include Lloyd taco trucks, Lake Effect Ice Cream, The Pasta Peddler, and The Bavarian Nut Company. Plans also include a pastry shop by Chef Monica Amtower, formerly of The Inn at Little Washington and Cafe Boulud, said Mercado spokeswoman Nanette Tramont. Local blogger Alan Bedenko said he will be part of an authentic Neapolitan pizza effort.

Creator Jeremy Horwitz plans to use the pledges as “initial seed money that will be combined with owner funding and funding from equity backers and banks to reach the total cost of the project, which is estimated at between $1 million and $1.5 million,” said Tramont.


A glimpse inside Thai House, serving up Burmese and Thai gems in Depew

Owno koksware at Thai House by Sharon Cantillon

By Andrew Z. Galarneau

Thai House (5246 Transit Road, 601-7865, gives Asian food fans a terrific choice in Depew, as I detailed in yesterday's review.

Here's a photo gallery from News photographer Sharon Cantillon that gives you a glimpse inside the place, and color photographs of some of the dishes in the review. Above is the owno koksware, chicken soup with noodles, coconut milk and hardboiled egg.


BuffaloEats: First look inside Oshun, new downtown seafood bar from the owners of Shango Bistro

By Andrew Z. Galarneau

Donnie Burtless took a look around the new downtown seafood joint that Jim Guarino is building at 5 E. Huron St.

Named after the voodoo goddess of the sea, the 125-seat place will feature an oyster bar and a seafood-centered menu. It'll be about twice the size of Guarino's Shango Bistro.  

Construction is under way for a contemplated opening in June.

Here's Burtless' report, in words and pictures.


Another sign of spring: Dug's Dive opens on Buffalo waterfront

Dugs dive open 2014

By Andrew Z. Galarneau

The waterfront is waking up from its frostbitten slumber. First the seagulls were back, screeching atop parking lot lampposts. Now Dug's Dive (1111 Fuhrman Blvd., 821-9600) is back in business for the season. "We're open," as of 11 a.m., said owner Tucker Curtin. He recommends the lobster dog, but there's a fish fry, clams and oysters too.

Here's the menu.


Black Rock Kitchen chef brings talents to revamped Dockside Bar in North Tonawanda

Chef Dunbar Berdine at Black Rock Kitchen &#3

Chef Dunbar Berdine helped make Black Rock Kitchen a destination.

By Andrew Z. Galarneau

Dunbar Berdine, the chef who shaped Black Rock Kitchen & Bar into an Amherst Street fixture, has left for North Tonawanda.

He’s running Dockside Bar & Grill (153 Sweeney St., 693-3600), across the street from Remington Tavern, the Mark Hutchinson and Paul Jenkins place. Dockside is closer to the canal, and its menu is closer to the casual end of “upscale casual.”

It opened March 14. There’s a jumbo Hawaiian prawn cocktail on the menu, but also a fish fry. Most of the menu will be standards, but there will be daily entrée specials. His fried chicken should be a regular, he said.

Owner Jason Sheppard hired him to run the kitchen, as a year-round place, Berdine said. One thing customers should notice is freshly prepped basics like french fries, Berdine said.

“One of the things we got away from was doing things out of the freezer,” he said. “It’s not that place any more.”


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