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Brenda's Bites

"Fowl" Times in WNY! Wings, Wings and MORE Wings!

Labor Day weekend may signal the unofficial finish to summer but for many fowl fans that date means it’s time to consume chicken wings of every size, taste, and style.

The 15th annual National Buffalo Wing Festival runs this weekend from noon – 9pm on Saturday and noon – 7pm the next day at Coca-Cola Field in downtown Buffalo.

The weather looks fantastic for this feeding frenzy, which Wing King Drew Cerza says has brought 860,000 people flocking to Buffalo; 4.5 million wings have been served and more than 200 eateries have dished out the fowl appendages over the past 14 years.

A couple even got married at the Wing Fest a few years ago! I wonder if either has since flown the coop.

If you think this is the same old Wing Fest, thing again. Cerza says there are many new features this year:

-VIP Party Deck, includes free samples and beverage, mug and seating
-5K Chicken Wing Run on September 4th at 11am
-Cooling Zone and Rest Place

Portions of proceeds from the National Buffalo Wing Festival are donated to several local charities.
National Buffalo Wing Festival has raised more than $325,000 for local charities over the past 14 years!

This year’s beneficiaries are the Alzheimer’s Association, Meals on Wheels and Food Bank of WNY.

More details on the Wing fest are available on the “Brenda’s Bites” podcast at www.espn1520.com. Cerza was a guest on the August 23rd show.

And speaking of wings, congrats to the new owners of the Anchor Bar on Maple Road near Sweet Home in Amherst.
The new place is spacious, bright, clean and sleek and features some of the same fun memorabilia—license plates, photos of well-known wing lovers, cycles—as the iconic original location on Main Street in Buffalo.

A ribbon-cutting took place on the 30th. With the proximity to UB and the heavily populated Northtowns, this Anchor Bar should be anything but foul.

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Recap: Record Number of Eateries Dished at the 2016 Taste of Buffalo

Organizers say nearly a half million  hungry people converged on Delaware Avenue and Niagara Square this past weekend at the 33rd annual Taste of Buffalo.
If you’re still recovering from your food coma, as am I, here are the winners from the nation’s largest two-day food festival. The judging took place by a panel of representatives from the local media, political, and business sectors.

Chair's Choice (chosen by 2016 Chair Jen Mitri): Deep Fried PB&J, Stack Burger
Children's Choice (chosen by Casey Mitri): Mac & Cheese, Fat Bob's Smokehouse
Pat Sardina Memorial Award for Best Comfort Food: Nani's Meatballs, Osteria 166
Lou Billittier Memorial "Rookie of the Year" Award: Jerk Corn, Curly’s Grille & Banquet Center
Best Overall Item: Deep Fried PB&J, Stack Burger
Best Meat Item: BBQ Ribs, BW's Barbecue
Best Seafood Item: Scallop Ceviche, Oshun
Best Dessert: Peanut Stick, Paula's Donuts
Best Red Wine: Cabernet Franc 2012, Hazlitt Vineyards
Best White Wine: Riesling 2013, Spring Lake
Best Sandwich: House Smoked Brisket Slider from Savor
Veteran Award: Chrusciki Bakery
Independent Health Foundation's Healthy Options:
  • First Place:  Sorbet with Fresh Fruit Topping, Sweet Melody's
Of the winners, I wholeheartedly agree about the Deep Fried PB&J from StackBurger. It was the quintessential comfort food, especially good because the peanut butter and jelly melded together in warm, gooey goodness. The shell offered just enough crunch.
So bad for you but so tasty! Some of the other memorable dishes for me included: 
Corn on the cob with coconut and spices from Curly’s, Beef and Veggie patties from Caribbean Experience; Black rice rolls from Sun; Thai tea smoothie from The King & I; Ceviche rom Oshun; Pesto slider from The Cheesy Chick Truck
A few of my Entercom colleagues were lucky enough to be selected as judges as well. Here are their favorites:
Susan Rose: Shrimp Po Boy - Flaming Fish food truck; Fried PB&J – StackBurger; Snow crab legs - Joe's Crab Shack 
Jud: Fried PB&J from StackBurger; Creme Brule from Bravo; everything at Chiavettas
Sue O’Neil: Hot pepper pizza and fried dough with Nutella from TC Wheelers; Pancake strawberry sundae from Andersons; Fish Taco from Oshun
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Audio Blog: Taste of Buffalo '16!

A record-setting number of eateries is setting up shop downtown for the annual Taste of Buffalo, which is serving up local flavors from eatreies, food trucks and breweries all over Western New York.  Listen in as Brenda 'bites' into it all!

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TGIF is Sweeter than Ever: June 3rd is National Doughnut Day!

Did you know today is a “Hole-y Day”?
National Doughnut Day is celebrated annually on the first Friday in June?
This sweet tradition dates back to 1917 when 250 Salvation Army volunteers, led by Margaret Sheldon and Helen Purviana, were looking to provide comfort to U.S. troops fighting on the front lines in France during WWI. They decided to prepare doughnuts; some were fried in the soldier’s helmets!
Nicknamed the “Doughnut Lassies,” the women are credited with popularizing the doughnut in the U.S. In 1938, The Salvation Army celebrated the very first National Doughnut Day in honor of the Lassies.
The original doughnuts didn’t have holes, but were the size and shape of walnuts. That’s how the name was created.
Many area shops are offering sweet deals on this first Friday:
  • Dunkin' Donuts: Get a free doughnut of your choice at shops worldwide with the purchase of any beverage
  • Paula’s Donuts: Free donut with beverage purchase
  • Entenmanns: Visit Entenmanns on Facebook for their sweepstake contest. The company will donate $1 to the Salvation Army, up to $35,000!
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Ladies and Gentlemen, Start Your Grills!

This month is chock full of wonderful food-based celebrations: Memorial Day,
originally called “Decoration Day,” is the second busiest grilling day in the U.S.
The first? Independence Day!  Labor Day clocks in as the third-busiest grilling
As you chill and grill, ponder this from the foodie front:
The holiday weekend falls during National Barbecue Month. May also happens
to be National Hamburger Month.
Many of us will be throwing down the grilling gauntlet and dishing out everything from apps to sides to entrees and even sweet treats on the barbie.
My favorite grilled dishes are salmon, eggplant, corn on the cob and peaches,
which caramelize beautifully on the grill and taste delicious over ice cream or
with a dollop of freshly whipped cream for a luscious end-of-meal treat.   
As you’re breaking bread –and buns –during the long weekend, you can nosh on these tasty tidbits:
  • President Lyndon B. Johnson was the first to host a BBQ at the White House. The featured menu item was Texas-style barbecued ribs.
  • Burgers and hot dogs are the first and fourth most grilled foods; steak snares the number two spot with the always popular chicken taking bronze.
  • The most commonly grilled side dish is corn, followed by other vegetables, and potatoes.
  • Hickory barbeque sauce is most favored, then mesquite, honey, and tomato based. In homemade barbeque sauces, garlic is almost always found in the recipe, as is brown sugar.
  • After aluminum foil, the preferred barbeque tools are long-handed tongs, clean brushes, and spatulas.
On this holiday weekend, let’s take time to thank the men and women who have served our country and those who wear the uniform today. I salute them today and every day and never take their sacrifice for granted.
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A Kosher Story for the Ages: Passover Food Traditions

One of the most important festivals on the Jewish calendar wraps up today, April 29, as Passover 2016 is celebrated in style.
Passover (Pesach) celebrates the deliverance of the Jewish people from slavery in Egypt 3500 years ago.
Like most religious customs across the faith spectrum, Passover involves several food traditions, including eight days of eating restrictions – mainly no wheat – and two feasts called Seders.
Here are a few things to nosh on:
 Jews from Iran and Afghanistan whack each other with spring onions. The custom takes place before the traditional song Dayenu. The origins of this are unclear but it’s possible that it started as a way to mimic the whips of the slave drivers.
Coca Cola actually make Kosher for Passover coke. Normal Coke is off limits because of the corn syrup used.
Horseradish symbolizes the bitterness that the Jewish people felt at their enslavement.
 A piece of matzo is broken off during the Seder meal and hidden in the house for the kids to hunt down after the meal. When they find it, they bargain to get a small gift in return for handing it back.
 Most families will pour an extra glass of wine for the Prophet Elijah. It remains there until after the meal when the door is opened and a prayer said to represent the coming of the Messiah.
Source: Metro.co.uk
And this additional nugget from an economist friend in Washington, D.C., Elliot Eisenberg:

“Part of the Passover celebration entails placing unleavened bread, bitter herbs, and other items which allude to or are symbolic of the holiday, on a platter. Assuming all American Jews celebrate and share the platter with another celebrant, the platter content will cost $50 million. Freedom isn’t cheap, Jews enjoy eating!”
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Dishing Up Local Restaurant Week

Spring 2016 edition features more than 200 eateries

Stash your skinny jeans and yoga pants in the back of the closet and tune up your knife and folk, food fans.
Would you believe next week is the Spring version of Local Restaurant Week, running from April 11th – 17th?
Here’s the delicious dish from organizer Christa Hobart on the deals starting at $20.16:
“All of WNY has a lot on its plate during Local Restaurant Week.  Grab your family or friends and make reservations at that restaurant you've been meaning to try,” Hobart suggested. 
“It's a great excuse to go out and experience something new.  Not only will you get a chance to savor the flavor, you'll be supporting the vibrant local independent restaurant scene in our own backyards.” 
Here are some quick nibbles about this spring edition:
What’s new? Many Restaurants offering Vegetarian LRW Menu options
  • Restaurants have to offer at least one Menu item for $20.16 OR $30.16.  But no one offers just one
  • Includes more than 200 participating restaurants from  casual, fine dining, ethnic and eclectic
  • 16 first time participants
  • $8 million annual local economic impact
  • Encourages participating restaurants to support local vendors
Additional Helpings:

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Filling Your Baskets With Sweet Traditions

Do you eat the ears first on a chocolate bunny?
It is ears first, say 89% of Americans, according to the infoplease website.
Nearly $3 billion worth of candy is enjoyed during the Easter holiday in the U.S., which ranks as the second most important candy-eating occasion of the year for Americans, who consumed $2.26 billion worth of candy in 2014. Adults prefer milk chocolate (65%), to dark chocolate (27%), but not me.
I will always opt for the robust dark flavor, which happens to contain antioxidants as an added bonus.
If you think you’re seeing Peeps everywhere, it’s no illusion. As many as five million peeps are made each day in preparation for the holiday. Some 63 years ago, the process took 27 hours to create that marshmallow treat, now it takes six minutes!
Yellow Peeps are the most popular flavor; pink, lavender, blue, and white follow.
This season is a big consumption time for jelly beans, but they did not become an Easter tradition until the 1930s. They were probably first made in America by Boston candy maker William Schrafft, who ran advertisements urging people to send jellybeans to soldiers fighting in the Civil War.
Very Cherry remained the most popular flavor of Jelly Belly beans for two decades until 1998, when Buttered Popcorn moved into first place. In 2003 Very Cherry moved back into top position by a mere 8 million beans.
It takes 7 to 21 days to make a single Jelly Belly jelly bean. Who knew!
The first jelly bean was created by an unknown American candy maker in the 1800s. An 1861 advertisement recommended sending jelly beans to soldiers fighting in the Civil War.
And would you believe that enough Jelly Belly beans were eaten in the last year to circle the globe more than five times!
Additional sources:  National Confectioner's Association, jellybelly.com
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Food For Thought on Valentine's Day 2016!

When it comes to fun food facts, Valentine’s Day is filled with sweet talk of every variety, dating back centuries.
Here are a few to keep you warm as you enjoy V. Day  on a frigid Sunday this year:
In America, the pilgrims sent confections, such as sugar wafers, marzipan, sweetmeats and sugar plums, to their betrothed. Great value was placed on these gifts because they included what was then a rare commodity, sugar. Chocolate manufacturers currently use 40 percent of the world's almonds and 20 percent of the world's peanuts.
During the 17th century, a hopeful maiden ate a hard-boiled egg and pinned five bay leaves to her pillow before going to sleep on Valentine's eve. It was believed this would make her dream of her future husband.
According to legend, lentils, honey, oysters, bananas, and chocolate are culinary aphrodisiacs. Both Hippocrates and ancient Egyptians thought lentils would aid in male potency.  No wonder those little legumes are still popular.
Along the same lines, Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of love, popped out of the water on an oyster shell.  Oysters also rank high in zinc, a key element in testosterone production.  Even nutrient-rich bananas are among the foods offered to fertility gods in India.
Montezuma is said to have imbibed in 50 cups of chocolate a day so he could take care of his harem.
Does the name “Cadbury” ring a chocolate bell? Richard Cadbury invented the first Valentine’s Day candy box in the late 1800s.
In Japan, women are expected to give chocolate and other gifts to men on Valentine's Day. This tradition was started as a marketing campaign by Japanese chocolate companies. Men are expected to return the favor on March 14th, commonly known as White Day.
When it comes to the restaurant industry, many capitalize on one of the biggest annual dining-out occasions in the U.S. Industry analysts say this year should be particularly beneficial since V- Day falls on a Sunday and President’s Day follows on Monday.
Source: Corsinet.com
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Taste of the NFL: Party With A Purpose

The Taste of the NFL is a strolling food and wine event held on the eve of Super Bowl. This year chefs from each NFL city will host the extravaganza in the San Francisco Cow Palace. There is also an NFL player (either current or alumni) seated at each food station. Famed local chef and restauranteur Mike Andrzejewski is preparing Pork Shiu Mai with Soy Ginger Dip and Napa Salad, pairing it with a Russian River Valley Pinot Gris.
Speaking of pairings, Hall of Famer and former Bills lineman Joe DeLamielleure will join Mike as the Bills representatives. Money raised from the event supports food banks throughout the U.S., including here in Western New York.
Here is my interview with Mike A:
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