Food Porn: Taste of Buffalo 2009 (Day 1)

Like many of the half a million people that attend the Taste of Buffalo, this wasn’t my first time.  I have been stuffing my face with delicious food and fighting through the crowds for at least the last 7 or 8 years in a row.  In the past, my trip revolved around the various fried foods, desserts, and familiar dishes I’ve had at restaurants before.  Last year and this year the true enjoyment of this monumental event came from eating dishes and restaurants I’ve never tried before…

As Alli and I got ready for this year, we printed out the list of restaurants and dishes being offered as soon as it hit the internet.  We sat around like kids on Christmas Eve getting excited about the extreme variety of dishes from the 61 restaurants that were going to be lining Delaware Ave and Niagara circle in downtown Buffalo this year.  We plotted out our best path and how much money we would need.  We attacked this event like we were George Patton, and the Taste of Buffalo was the Axis Powers.  (Alli edit: Donnie, that was a super lame metaphor).

Now, this Food Porn won’t be a proper write up because I actually believe that you can’t get a true idea from a restaurant at one of these festivals.  Sure they are all preparing food right there and it’s fresh, but the preparation has to be shorted and everything is being mass produced as fast as possible.  So clearly some quality could fall by the way side.  Regardless, this is a running list of everything we had during our FIRST Day at 2009′s Taste of Buffalo (that’s right we went both days).  *Descriptions under each picture*

photo

We started (and ended) our day with Alli’s choice for best dish of the day, Cecelia’s Fried Ravioli with Red Sauce.  Yes, it was so good we ate it twice.  Why Cecelia’s has decided to not have this as a regular menu item is beyond us (it used to be, but since their menu change it has been MIA).  Sure it is a pretty straight forward dish, but the crispy shell of the Ravioli combined with the sweet red sauce and the creamy ricotta filing….I could eat an entire bowl of this stuff.  Hopefully enough people will start requesting it at Cecelia’s and they will put it back on their menu (ppllleeassee!)

photo-1

The Como was serving some Broccoli Parmesan, basically some broccoli/cheese covered in red sauce.  It wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t exactly great.  The broccoli was somewhat slime-y (as to be expected) and the cheese had melted into a big blob.  The textures weren’t very appetizing.

photo-2Fiamma Steak is on my short list of places I am dying to go to, but can’t afford at all (along with Oliver’s, Hutch’s, and Friar’s Table).  So we had to try their Tenderloin Slider, because until I strike it rich or finally have enough money to eat here on a regular basis, this is as close as I am getting to their steak.  Let me say, the steak was perfectly tender and fell apart as we ate it.  The bun was somewhat overwhelming and took away from the tiny piece of meat, but still delicious with caramelized onions and a spicy pepper spread.

photo-3

Alli has an obsession with Cheddar Beer Soup, and had to stop at Eddie Ryan’s to try their 3 ticket sample size.  (Alli edit: another of my favorite items of the day, it really is a fantastic soup…it has a nice smooth texture and the beer  just give’s it a nice kick….not too runny but not too thick….if you love cheese in soup form, this is most definitely for you).

photo-4

Here at Buffalo Eats we love Pulled Pork and we love Nachos, so how could we pass up Pulled Pork Nachos from Merchant St Smokehouse.  Now we’ve had Pulled Pork on top of Cheese Fries, we have had Pulled Pork on top of Potato Skins but this might have been my favorite cheese/pulled pork/starch combination yet. (Alli edit: the pulled pork on fries was my fave but this was damn good as well).

photo-5

This is my (Donnie B) choice for best dish of day 1 at Taste of Buffalo, the fried chicken at Garris Bar-B-Que.  Pictured above was the Garris Sampler which consists of Fried Chicken (the big piece), Hush Puppies (the ball shaped items) and some Catfish Nuggets (top right).  The Fried Chicken was the most succulent chicken I have ever had and he batter was phenomenal-incredibly crispy and full of flavor- it was the kind of chicken that doesn’t have nor needs any side sauces, or even any salt and pepper…it was perfect as is.  They have most definitely peaked my interest into trying their restaurant.

photo-6

Would it surprise anyone to say that we had these Lamb Lollies from a restaurant with a title that invokes upscale like Wi Tini’s?  The lamb was honestly cooked to a perfect medium rare (a hard thing to find at a food festival) and was matched with a lovely side sauce of ginger and apricot.  I really want to visit this restaurant now, and after looking at their menu I actually feel that maybe I can afford a meal.

photo-7

We stopped at Orazio’s Restaurant for the Pasta con Vodka Sauce originally, but when we saw the Steak and Dandelion Sandwich on their menu, we changed our minds.  We had no idea what dandelion’s tasted like prior to this dish….but now we know it’s like a broccoli/spinach hybrid and actually very nutritious (see: Dandelion).  Combined with some cheese,  olive oil, and garlic, we were extremely impressed.

photo-8

I’ve never been to Torches, but I passed the restaurant once when going to Saigon Bangkok, and from the outside alone I could tell it was a restaurant I’ve wanted to try (and it has developed a pretty good buzz in it’s relatively short time being open) .  When I later went on their website and checked their menu, I was surprised that their Nickel City Mac and Cheese was the item that really stuck out to me.  I was excited to see that this dish was one of their offerings at the restaurants very first year at the Taste of Buffalo.  The Nickel City Mac and Cheese contains: Blue Cheese Alfredo, Sun Dried Tomatoes, Fried Chicken (and this time for the Taste of Buffalo) some crumbled Goldfish crackers.

photo-9

This might turn into an annual item that we purchase at the Taste of Buffalo…a Red Velvet Cupcake from Williamsville’s Village Desserts.  It was delicious last year and was just as good this year, and while it can be a little difficult to manage with the huge amount of butter cream frosting on top, it’s well worth it.

photo-10

This was one of the most interesting/creative menu items at Taste this year….Red Osier’s (located in Stafford, NY) Roast Beef Sundae.  Basically a classier version of KFC’s Snacker Bowl: mashed potatoes, roast beef, gravy and topped with cheese and a cherry tomato.  Very creative but a little too much to eat (much more than a ‘taste’ size).  It was good, but nothing outstanding.

photo-11My love of stuffed peppers continues, and at Taste on day 1 I tried Amici’s 4 Cheese Stuffed Banana Pepper.  It was one of the best deals of the day, 3 tickets for a large pepper.  However, while good, the 4 different cheeses didn’t stand out as much as I hoped.  I prefer my pepper filling to have a bit of a stronger taste, or maybe something else inside to give it a crunch, and neither of those came across in this pepper.

photo-12Along with stuffed peppers, Cannoli’s are also been sliding up that list of my favorite foods (and Ricotta cheese in general, something I would have sworn against last year even though Alli has been pushing Ricotta on me since we met).  This is Sweet Melody’s version, which I have to give them credit for preparing each one fresh to order (from filling the pastry to sprinkling the sugar/chocolate chips).  Sure it might piss some people off that would take a little extra time to get through the line, but it says something to their dedication of quality and freshness of their desserts.

photo-13

This might be tied with Torch’s Mac and Cheese for most anticipated menu item I had going into today.  I have just learned about Ms Goodie’s Junk Yard Dog from a follower of Buffalo Eats twitter.  Thank you to @CatherineLeach for that recommendation because I normally would have had no idea this item even existed.  A Junkyard Dog is fried Catfish, Cole Slaw, and French Fries wrapped in a Pita.  While this monster (another amazing deal at Taste) was extremely unique and delicious, I would love to go and get a fresh order to get a true experience.

photo-14

While this looks kind of disgusting to some, this was another one of my favorite items for the day, a bowl of Chicken and Sausage Gumbo from Chester’s Cajun Grill.  Not the best gumbo I’ve ever had, but I would place it ahead of Cafe 59′s and behind Kentucky Greg’s (Food Porn coming soon).  This gumbo was packed with food…piles of Chicken and Rice and a two large chunks of sausage.

photo-15

The last item in this incredibly long Food Porn was another favorite of both Alli and I.  This is Niagara Cafe’s offering of Pastelillos (or Fried Beef Pattie), which was amazing.  The fried outer shell was fantastic, crispy and full of flavor (Alli edit: It was so good I could have just eaten the shell with nothing inside) and the meat inside was top quality spicy ground beef.  Now I’ve had the Jamaican Beef Pattie at NY Style Pizza on Allen, but it has nothing on this.  Sure Niagara Cafe is located on Niagara St. in the West Side of Buffalo, but I think more people should get over any reservations about that area and try out some truly excellent Latino cuisine.

After this long posting, the only thing left to say is how much I love that my city hosts this event every year.  Second only to Chicago’s annual food festival in terms of visitors and vendors, this year’s Taste of Buffalo was even bigger then last year with over 60 different restaurants showcasing almost 200 different entrees.  I wish I could try everything possible and had unlimited funds and an unlimited stomach, but unfortunately I do not have either of those things.  Check back tomorrow for Day 2 of our Taste of Buffalo Experience.

6 thoughts on “Food Porn: Taste of Buffalo 2009 (Day 1)

  1. Dougy Fresh

    I wish i friggen went it looks like you ate so much damn good food man! Anyway i am watching No Reservations right now and during commercial they keep giving previews of this upcoming season (which starts tomm, well today not since its 215am) and they just showed Buffalo, him and Nelson eating beef on weck at a restaurant. It was awesome he said it was awesome food, awesome people, said he really loves this town and then did a shot saying “cheers to Buffalo”. Im sure you know that by now but it was effin sweet

  2. how much money did all of this cost you? i am impressed by the quantites of food here. nice to see you tried out something from orazio’s.

    also, has anthony bourdain said anything bad about culture or the food on his tv show? he seems like a mellow type of guy.

  3. pete

    who’s the chick in plaid with the tattoos? she has boy’s hands but she’s food porn for sure, i’d give her my cannoli any day, extra cheese.

    • Alli Suriani

      That ‘chick’ is me…the other writer on this site….and I definitely DO NOT have boys hands…maybe the camera angle is bad but my hands are rather small and covered in pink nail polish…how the hell do you get boys hands from that?

      Thanks but no thanks on the cannoli.

  4. Phil

    I’m having heart palpitations just looking at the “Junkyard Dog”.

    The girl in the pics, I’d like to take her out to dinner! :D

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes:

<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>