First time at the Ralph

There’s so many experiences I’ve had in Buffalo that are irreplaceable.. however, upon my departure I’d like to reflect on a few of my favorites.

When I first moved to Buffalo it was the start of the 2008-09 Buffalo Bills season.. my cousin got us tickets to go to the home-opener vs. Seattle. I remember.. my first Bills home game… I could’ve cried I was so excited. We got there as early as we could.. if I remember correctly it was around 9am. Before the game we bought blue and red body paint. I spent the better part of two hours painting a hand-painted Trent Edwards jersey on my cousin’s torso. I will never forget the reaction we got all afternoon. Strangers, fellow tailgaters, everyone wanted to take a picture with my cousin. Humbly, he looked incredible. That’s when I truly learned about the deep-bond all Buffalo fans had with one another. The legend was undeniably true.

And then it rain… I learned really fast about Buffalo weather.. u-n-p-r-e-d-i-c-t-a-b-l-e. It was a beautiful sunny day (I was wearing shorts) and all of a sudden it was torrential downpour in the middle of the game, promptly ruining our fantastic body paint.

Another lesson? You can never rain on a Bills fan’s parade… when they’re winning. Buffalo beat Seattle 34-10 and it was announced that Tom Brady tore his ACL during his season opener… something all Bills fans celebrated. The rain? God was crying with joy.

I’ll never forget the feeling and the excitement as the Bills went 5-1 at the beginning of the season and the true depression when it all fell apart. I had been an insane Bills fan all my life… but living and breathing it everyday.. it made it different.

I remember getting into my first fight with my now boyfriend.. The 2009 season opening day at New England. The Bills lost 25-24 in a true nail-biter. I was so distressed from the game that I refused to answer his calls/texts. After, I calmly explained to him that after a loss like that, talking to someone? Definitely out of the question. He 100% understood. I’m pretty sure that’s why I fell in love with him– a Buffalo guy.

I could go on and on about Buffalo sports. I’m forever a loyal fan.

Bittersweet

I’ve spent my entire life wanting to live and breathe Buffalo culture… The best decision I’ve ever made in my life was leaving sunny Florida for snowy Buffalo. My dream was to graduate Canisius College and make a home here, hopefully obtaining a full time job with some Buffalo company.

Things never work out they way we hope.

The worst part? It’s not like I didn’t get a job, couldn’t support myself and had to move home… I got a job, just not in my beloved city. In less than one month, I will be moving to New York City. The city that everyone dreams about living in and “making it there.” The problem? That dream wasn’t mine.

It’s so hard to sum up my Buffalo experience.. I actually don’t think it’s possible. There’s so many things I still haven’t done, so many places I still haven’t been..but somehow I’m going to have to say goodbye. A few things I’m certain of? I will never meet better people then the people I’ve met and made connections with, I will never find a town more passionate about their professional sports teams, I will never eat better food, and I’ll never give up on Buffalo.

A promise? I’ll be back.

For now, I’m putting my Buffalo-plan aside, but not my BuffaLOVE. Anyone know of a good Buffalo bar in NYC….?

 

Buffalo Bar Crawl

20+ bars and nightclubs in Buffalo for just $10!

Although I’m not a huge fan of the Chippewa scene, the Buffalo Bar Crawl is something you shouldn’t miss. Over 3000 people participate in this event.. meaning there’s no lack of a party!

This year Buffalo Bar Crawl teamed up with Buffalo Dining Cards to offer a “deck” of cocktail cards to bar crawl attendees. These decks are only $10! The Buffalo cocktail cards is a deck of playing-card style gift certificates, each worth $10 off you next bar tab at 50 of Buffalo’s finest drinking establishments. Each deck also come with two bonus cards, which includes a gift certificate for a free order of french fries at Jim’s Steakout (another Buffalo favorite).

If you’re looking for something fun to do this weekend… this is it! It’s a Buffalo experience you don’t want to miss! It’s this Saturday and tickets are still available! 

Go to the site to purchase your tickets and check out the bars being featured this year (along with drink specials!)

http://www.buffalobarcrawl.com/bars.html

After all, Buffalo is a hockey town with a drinking problem!

Dyngus Day.. Buffalo style

I’ve never celebrated Dyngus Day, nor even heard about it until I moved to Buffalo. I can confidently say now that it is one of my favorite holidays. Just a quick overview of how Buffalo celebrates this Polish holiday…

First of all, Dyngus Day is defined as: “historically a Polish-American tradition, Dyngus Day celebrates the end of the often restrictive observance of lent and the joy of Easter. Over the decades, Dyngus Day has become a wonderful holiday to celebrate Polish-American culture, heritage and traditions.”

Did you know!?! Dyngus Day Buffalo Official Festival Halls are located in the Historic Polonia District, Cheektowaga, Depew, South Buffalo and Black Rock. Dyngus Day Buffalo 2012 is one of the largest and most unique ethnic celebrations in the United States.

This wondrous holiday includes one of the greatest Buffalo fesitivites…

The Dyngus Day Parade: the annual Dyngus Day Buffalo Parade begins at 5 p.m. at Corpus Christi Church and makes its way through the streets of the city’s Historic Polonia District. Exploring some of Buffalo’s oldest neighborhoods, with a drink in hand, of course! You’ve never seen a Polish celebration quite like the one Buffalo produces.


Buffalo Restaurant Week

One thing I love about Buffalo? Local Restaurant Week! I’ve never lived in/heard of a city that puts such an effort into supportive local businesses in the area. From March 26 to April 1st, restaurants around Buffalo offer special menus for the low price of $20.12. The participating restaurants are among the most popular, prestigious and delicious restaurants in Buffalo.

This year I decided to try the Scotch and Sirloin.. a restaurant I have not yet been to. Dinner for one included 1) soup 2) unlimited salad bar 3) coffee/tea 4) choice of: 8oz sirloin, chicken teriyaki, pork chops, salmon, shrimp scampi, or beef kabob. 5) sundea

And everything was delicious! I had the 8 oz. sirloin that was cooked to perfection and my boyfriend had the chicken teriyaki which he thoroughly enjoyed.

A reason I enjoy this part of the year so much? Ordinarily, I would not have the time/money/opportunity to try out a new Buffalo restaurant, just on a whim. Restaurant week makes that possible!

Just another reason why Buffalo is special.

http://localrestaurantweek.com/local_restaurant_guide.html

Mario Party

HOLY CRAP!!!! The Buffalo Bills

have signed Mario Williams…the biggest free agent signing in franchise history… wait, are we talking about the BUFFALO bills?

Honestly, my hopes weren’t too high in Buffalo when Williams came to town, as Mario Williams is the biggest defensive free agent on the market…Despite all my doubts, Mario Williams liked what he saw. After dining at Tempo (one of my favorite Buffalo restaurants EVER), Williams even met his fiancé at the airport so she could approve of the Queen City.
“Super” Mario went to One Bills Drive and the celebratory news broke that Mario Williams signed a six year contract worth $96 Million, $51 Million guaranteed (making him the highest paid defensive player in the NFL).
Holy shit. Did we just actually spend that kind of money? Maybe, Ralphie is getting senile in his old age… or maybe he just realized it’s about time the Bills make some headlines and maybe, just maybe, win a Superbowl.
Bottom line: this is HUGE for the Buffalo Bills franchise. We finally have that guy on the outside that will put pressure on the quarterback. We finally have a guy that will bring consistent pressure, and collapse the pocket–the last guy who did that was Bruce Smith.
The Buffalo Bills are now a relevant topic in the NFL now, and people who have forgotten about the Bills will soon remember come September.
Mario Williams, welcome to Buffalo, and get ready to circle the wagons.

All about my Bills, like Stevie

Alleluia! We can all relax!

Re-signing Stevie Johnson was a priority this off-season, and CEO Russ Brandon and GM Buddy Nix finally took care of it.

Despite the arrogance and immaturity Stevie has displayed on the field, he’s a great receiver.. and ultimately, he wants to be a Buffalo Bill, something not a lot of players can scream about.

Stevie’s new contract is five years, $36.25 Million–$19.5 Million guaranteed–$24 Million over the first three years… if you ask me, that’s money well spent.

My favorite part about signing Stevie? The reaction of Fitzpatrick.. check out the photo below! Talk about team pride and clarity of a strong relationship this QB and WR have..

Love, love, love this quote from Stevie… “This is where I started in Buffalo. They took a chance on me. I’m not doing them any favors, they did me a favor by picking me. This group is the only group that I’ve known. Why leave now? You’ve got guys turning that corner and we may get things back this next year. There’s a lot of promise here and I love working with these guys.”

Buffalo loyalty. That’s what it’s all about.

2012 is looking very promising.

Bills Mafia.

It’s all about the experience

I’ve had little to no experience with Mediterranean food.. and when propositioned to go to a Mediterranean restaurant I wasn’t too thrilled with the idea. Once again, I was proved wrong.

Mezza, located in my favorite Buffalo area (Elmwood Village) is the perfect place if you’re looking for a delicious Lebanese/Mediterranean meal. Again, I was not even remotely accustom to any of the menu choices; but despite sitting at the bar, my friend and I received excellent service. The bartender explained their entire menu to us, complete with recommendations of her favorite dishes.

We started out slow with their blackened steak & onion flatbread pizza, which was incredible… so we decided to take a risk and order Sembousik (deep fried pastry puff stuffed with minced beef, pine nuts, and onions) and Kab Koobi (kibbi stuffed with minced beef, pine nuts, and onions). Both of these dishes were recommendations and both dishes were beyond delicious!

Besides the food and the fact that I’m looking for an opportunity to go back (especially on Thursday for 1/2 off drinks and appetizers!)… my experience at Mezza was clearly classified by the excellent customer service my friend and I received. I believe that’s what makes a restaurant experience an experience. That’s why I love privately owned restaurant’s, the employees and owners care about the experience their consumers have.. they do not hide behind a corporate label. That’s another reason Buffalo is such a special city.. there’s an experience around every corner.

Vera Pizzeria

In Italian “vera” means true—and if you’re looking for true Italian pizza, Vera Pizzeria, on Elmwood Ave., should be your first choice. It’s no secret that Buffalo is home to many different and delicious pizzerias; however, Vera Pizzeria is that classic Italian-Italian choice that you don’t want to miss. Fresh ingredients, such as san marzano tomatoes and buffalo mozzarella, top the brick-oven cooked pizzas. Everything is made fresh–their sausages, sauces, dough, etc. No matter what you prefer, a traditional Margherita pizza or looking to try something new, like the Fennel Taleggio pizza with caramelized onions, fennel, Tallegio cheese, topped with toasted hazelnuts and pecorino romano, Vera Pizzeria has your perfect, Italian pizza.

Besides the fantastic pizza, Vera Pizzeria sets itself apart from others with their house-conceived, handcrafted cocktails. For example, Blood and Sand, blended Scotch whisky, sweet vermouth, Cherry Heering and fresh-squeeze orange juice, described as “sweet and tangy, with a long smoky finish.” I can promise you, you cannot cocktails like these anywhere else.

It almost seems foolish to call this place a pizzeria, with their fresh ingredients, handcrafted cocktails, friendly wait staff and a classic atmosphere—Vera Pizzeria is much more than that. It’s the newest Elmwood hot spot that you don’t want to miss.

Vera Pizzeria is open 5 p.m. to midnight Monday through Thursday and 5 p.m. to 2 a.m. Friday and Saturday.

Make the most of your Mondays

Let’s face it.. Monday’s are dreary. It’s a day no one looks forward to. However, Cecelia’s Ristorante on Elmwood has created a way to make Mondays worth surviving.

If you’ve never been to Cecelia’s before.. you’re missing out. This quaint little Italian joint located in the heart of Elmwood is best known for two things.. their delicious, fresh Italian food and their creative, exquisite martinis. Known for their famous stuffed banana peppers (Taste of Buffalo winner), Cecelia’s exclusive Italian dishes are always delicious. Their menu is always changing and they always have unique specials featuring their freshest ingredients. For those looking to enjoy something simple, Cecelia’s pizza’s are to die for. Even their classic “Margherita” rivals the most exclusive Buffalo pizza options. Two of my favorite dishes? The “Cecelia” featuring chicken (or veal) layered with prosciutto, provolone, fresh mushrooms–topped with their house Marsala wine sauce — to die for! It’s the perfect balance of salty & sweet (one of my favorite combinations). And the Fra Diavolo for the seafood lover, juicy Tiger shrimp and scallops in a savory marinara sauce with fettuccine. Incredible.

Cecelia’s is also open for lunch Mon-Sat 11am-3pm offering mouthwatering soup and sandwich options for the perfect weekday lunch. The best part? Sunday brunch at Cecelia’s.. a delicious Raspberry mimosa and egg’s benedict sound like a great beginning to a weekend tradition.

Clearly, Cecelia’s is already a great place to have a romantic night out or enjoy a fresh lunch/brunch. But aside from all the appetizing food choices, Cecelia’s offers something distinctive, making it the place to be any night of the week.

Cecelia’s Martinis! Cecelia’s has an extensive list of the most impressive and flavorful martinis. Whether you’re looking for something traditional, like the All Bleu (Bombay Sapphire Gin and dry vermouth, garnished with 3 bleu cheese stuffed olive) or something more flamboyant like the Italian Ice (Smirnoff Vodka, Blue Curacao, Chambord Raspberry Liqueur with a splash of Limoncella and Sweet and Sour) every martini is worth trying! My favorite is one I discovered on a mere whim… The Oatmeal Cookie Martini (Baileys, Butterscotch Schnapps, Jägermeister and Goldschlager). Not only has this become my favorite martinis of all time, but also my favorite dessert! With the always friendly bartenders and a rustic Italian atmosphere, Cecelia’s is the perfect place to go out with your girlfriends for drinks.

What about Mondays? On Mondays (from 5-8) Cecelia’s offers TWO FOR ONE martinis and HALF-PRICED appetizers. What could be better than that? The deal (only offered at the bar) brings in people from all over Buffalo and Cecelia’s bar is always packed on a Monday evening. Regardless of the incessant crowd, there’s never a lack of service and the atmosphere isn’t altered. You will be impressed by how well Cecelia’s can make delicious food, drinks and still, during a busy evening, deliver great customer service.

Don’t dread Mondays anymore… Cecelia’s makes it all worthwhile.