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Brenda's Bites

Posts from March 2014

Break the Chain: Local Restaurant Week is Served Up All Next Week

An Event of Gastronomical Proportions

Stash your tight jeans in the back of the closet and tune up your knife and folk, food fans.
Would you believe next week we are once again celebrating the Spring version of Local Restaurant Week, running from March 31 through April 6?
Here’s the dish from organizer Christa Hobart:
“Local Restaurant Week is a biannual event that celebrates the vital role our local independent restaurants and vendors play in contributing to Western New York’s cultural identity and regional economy.”
And that’s just for starters, she said.
“For diners, it’s also an opportunity to sample new foods and experiences at our local independent restaurants. With features starting at just $20.14, diners have a great reason to skip the usual national chains and give local independent restaurants a try. Of course, the money diners spend at our locally owned independent restaurants stays right here in WNY and helps make our community stronger,” Hobart noted.
  • Includes 200 participating restaurants: casual, fine dining, ethnic and eclectic
  • $8 million annual local economic impact
  • Local food service industry is the region’s second largest employer
  • Local independent restaurants contribute immeasurably to our regional culture
  • Encourages participating restaurants to support local vendors
Additional Helpings:
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Celebrating the Feast of St. Joseph
If all that St. Patrick’s Day celebrating left you green around the gills, you may not be ready for the next celebration.
Just two days after the wearin’ and drinkin’ of the green, many Italian-American families St. Joseph's Day, on March 19, a unique tradition celebrated with food and donations to the needy.
In Christian religions, St. Joseph is known as the spouse of the Virgin Mary, mother of Jesus. Through his intercessions with the Lord, Sicilians were saved from famine.
I’ve seen many celebrations with people from all religions and ethnicities that celebrate the day by creating a big altar--S t. Joseph's Table—covered with food contributed by everyone dedicated to the saint.
Adorned with bread in the shape of a cross, other typical dishes include typically include meatless recipes: minestrone soup, pasta with breadcrumbs, fish, lentils, stuffed artichokes, breads, sfinge (think of a ball of puffed fried dough with powdered sugar), honey balls, and fava beans and an orange.
Why fava beans?
They’re considered lucky because the fava bean crop thrived while other crops failed during the drought. Many feast tables are decorated with a stalk of lily blossoms, votive candles and a lace cloth.
Many area restaurants, churches and community centers will be feeding the masses on the 19th: Gigi’s Cucina Povera, Templeton Landing, Ilio DiPaolo’s, Frank’s Sunny Italy, Militello’s, Tappo, The Armory, Sinatra’s among others.
Several celebrations benefit needy families in the community.
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Gangway for Gluttony: Cruising for Foodie Adventures on the Water
One of the best things about vacations is eating and drinking whatever want whenever I want. Earlier this month, we embarked on a Royal Caribbean cruise out of Ft. Lauderdale. We headed to Belize and Cozumel, praying for warm weather and sunny skies and lots of quality food choices.
I started out with dessert for breakfast, feasting on a delicious platter of candy—dark chocolate, cocoa sticks, sweets drenched in rich fudge, to name a few. Goes great with that morning cup of Joe!
Each day and each meal, we had a veritable cornucopia of choices, many with a creative flair.
Some of my favorite dishes included the seafood salad, a pair of unusual soups: banana rum and roasted peach and another uncommon breakfast item: kippers and potatoes with rye toast and eggs.
We checked out daily the smorgasbord of choices as well. While not a buffet fan in general, I was pleasantly surprised by the wide range of choices in the ship’s dining rooms, including an array of ethnic choices—Indian, English, Japanese, Italian. We discovered that the food reflects the ethnicities of the passengers and crew, who hail from all corners of the globe.   
The ship is a virtual floating city, which had me wondering how many pounds of food the staff produces to feed some 5,000 hungry crew and passengers. I got my food-stained hands on some fun food facts:
-125,000 meals are prepared per week, including 60,000 appetizers, 84,000 main courses 69,000 steaks, and 90,000 desserts
-13,000 pounds of beef, 8,000 pounds of chicken and 1,400 pounds of lobster are consumed each week
Also consumed per week:
-86,400 eggs
-1,500 pounds of coffee
-600 pounds of berries
-18,000 pounds of potatoes & 18,000 slices of pizza
-8,000 gallons of ice cream
-8,500 cans of beer
-11,500 cans of pop
-2,900 bottles of wine
A full running track circles the 12th deck and an enormous fitness center is available on the ship. It happens to be located on the 11th deck, also the location of the ship’s largest dining room. Someone has a sense of humor!

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