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Brenda's Bites



Time to Fly the Coop: The 2014 Wing Fest is this Weekend!

Here’s a trivia question for you to chew on: What does Bill Murray have to do with the National Buffalo Chicken Wing Festival? The festival was inspired 13 years ago by a movie Murray starred in, “Osmosis Jones.”
Murray’s character was a big junk food and chicken wing eater whose goal was to attend the Festival, which didn’t exist at the time. Buffalo News columnist Donn Esmonde wrote a piece saying that he was shocked that such a festival didn’t exist in the birthplace of the spicy appendage.
Local businessman Drew Cerza, now better known as the Wing King, took the chicken by the horns and created the Festival.
Would you believe it’s this Labor Day weekend:  Saturday, August 30, from noon - 9:00 and Sunday, August 31 from noon until 7:00 at Coca-Cola Field in downtown Buffalo?
You may have seen 30 tons of wings being delivered at the ballpark Wednesday for the 13th annual festival.
Here’s a rundown of this year’s schedule:

Saturday, August 30, 2014

ALL DAY Kid Zone – Play all Day
1:00PM Amateur Creative Sauce-Off
1:30PM Amateur Traditional Sauce-Off
2:00PM Heavenly Chillbillies Blues Band
2:30PM Dennis George – QuizMaster
3:00PM The Healthy Zone Recipe Challenge
3:30PM Bobbing for Wings
4:00PM Amateur Wing Eating Championship
4:45PM Dennis George – QuizMaster
5:15PM Restaurant Awards Ceremony
6:00PM Buffalo Buffet Bowl Eating Contest
7:00PM Heavenly Chillbillies Blues Band
9:00PM Closing Ceremonies

Sunday, August 31, 2014

ALL DAY Kid Zone – Play all Day
12:30PM Baby Wing Competition
1:00PM Dennis George – Quizmaster
1:30PM Miss Buffalo Wing Pageant
2:00PM Bobbing for Wings
2:30PM College Wing Eating Competition
3:00PM Hot Buffalo Wing Eating Contest
4:00PM Dennis George – Quiz Master
5:00PM United States Chicken Wing Eating Championship
6:00PM Heavenly Chilbillies
7:00PM Closing Ceremonies
 
Even the sports networks are getting in on the action. ESPN 3 will be broadcasting the Wing Eating contest Sunday at 3. And USA Today recently featured the fowl fest in things to do this holiday weekend.
Over four million wings (237 tons) have been sold since the festival began in 2002. The festival has drawn more than 795,000 people and served over 4.2 million wings during the last decade. Local charities have received in excess of $270,000 since the festival began.
I’m looking forward to judging the Healthy Zone Recipe Challenge. It’s not a wing, but different recipes inspired by Buffalo’s famous food. Can’t wait to see what flavor combos the contestants create!
 
Please join me Sunday morning on “Brenda’s Bites,” 10:30 – 11am on ESPN AM 1520. My guests this week are Joanne Gogos from The Plaka Restaurant in Kenmore, Julie Blackman, Farers & Artisans in Snyder and Stacey & Aaron Siegel, along with Susan Swiatkowski discussing a gala dinner to benefit the Olmsted Parks.
Bon apetit!
 
 
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Independence Day Fun Food Facts

Who doesn’t love an Independence Day that falls on a Friday?
I know I do and a big part of the USA’s birthday celebration this long weekend centers on food for my family, friends and me.
Thought you might enjoy chewing on some food facts as you fire up the grill and proudly fly the red, white and blue:
  • Our fellow Americans consume 20 billion hot dogs a year. More   are eaten in July than any other month of the year, which is why it’s no surprise that July is National Hot Dog Month. On the 4th, the biggest hot dog day of the year, 155 million hot dogs will be eaten, enough to stretch from Los Angeles to Washington, D.C., more than five times!
  • Iowa leads the pack when it comes to the state that consumes the most dogs and pork sausage on July 4th; it’s no surprise that the billions of pounds of cattle and calves raised in Texas means most of our beef hot dogs, streaks and burgers come from the Lone Star State.
 
  • Nearly half of the baked beans we eat come from North Dakota, big producer of dry and edible legumes annually.
 
  • My family and I crave corn on the cob slathered in BBQ sauce and thrown on the grill. Florida, California, Georgia and New York in total produced most of the sweet corn. Nice to know the Empire State gets in the mix.
 
  • Nearly all of the ketchup was made in California, but I much prefer hot sauce, mustard and relish on my grilled goodies.
 
  • The Sunshine State leads in watermelon production. Nice to know the home state of the Miami Dolphins is good for something!
Source: National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) and National Hot Dog & Sausage Council.
If you’re not a carnivore and prefer a grilled carrot nestled in a roll (don’t knock it till you try it), here are some other meatless alternatives that you can toss on the grill:
 
  • Pineapple rings, topped with cinnamon and sugar
  • Portobello mushrooms, with their meaty flavor and texture, these ‘shrooms make a nice stand-in for a burger
  • Eggplant, similar to Portobello mushrooms in satisfaction
  • Sweet potatoes or yams, terrific with butter, honey and cinnamon drizzled over them

Coming up on “Brenda’s Bites” this Sunday from 10:30 – 11am on WWKB Radio AM 1520 (ESPN):

-Lee Federiconi, owner of Lebro’s Restaurant on Campbell Blvd in downtown Getzville
-Ann Hackett, 2014 Taste of Buffalo chairperson and Chuck Incorvia, a Taste vendor and owner of Sweet Melody’s
Feel free to contact me with guest and topic ideas—716-843-0651.

 
 
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Time to Plan the Gluttonous Graze at the 2014 Taste of Buffalo

Thirty-one years and going strong, the annual city food festival that has become a signature summer event is on deck.
The nation’s largest two-day Taste of Buffalo returns to Delaware Avenue and Niagara Square on July 12 (11am – 9pm) and July 13 (11am – 7pm); for the first time, the new lawn-fete style beer tent in Niagara Square will be open until 11pm on Saturday. Nearly a half-million hungry patrons are expected to converge on the downtown streets whether it’s rain or shine.
“Fun by the Forkful” will feature 60 eateries, including 17 new restaurants, Coco-Cola, Labatt and Flying Bison beverages. The pricing is consistent from year-to-year: all items are priced between a buck and $4.
A trio of popular food vehicles:  Lloyd’s Taco Truck, RNR BBQ and Frank’s Gourmet Hot Dogs. If you want to wet your whistle with some vino, seven wineries will be pouring some of their best from regional vineyards.
“You won’t leave hungry with more than 220 culinary specialties, ranging from Asian to barbecue to Italian to vegetarian to desserts,” said Ann Hackett, 2014 chairman.
Live local music acts will be on hand for the two day feeding frenzy. By the way, it’s possible to attend the festival and still eat a healthy diet. Did you know the Taste of Buffalo is the only food fest in the U.S. that requires all participating restaurants to offer a healthy menu item?  Those samples are lower in fat, cholesterol and sodium.
What else is new this year? The Family Freebie: buy $50 in pre-sale food ticket at vouchers at tops and receive 4 free nonalcoholic beverages when redeemed for tickets at a Taste tent.
My Taste advice: Wear elastic pants and map out your plan of attack by downloading the guide and map at www.tasteofbuffalo.com.
 
Coming up on Brenda’s Bites this Sunday, 10:30-11am, on WWKB AM 1520: Leslie Zemsky talking about all the great food available in Larkinville and Illya Lasting scoops us with news on his two ice cream places: Route 16 and Route 20 Ice cream.
 
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How Sweet It Is! Friday, June 6th is National Doughnut Day

Here’s another reason to love Friday. June 6th is National Doughnut Day, celebrated annually on the first Friday in June.
Many area shops are offering sweet deals on this auspicious occasion:

If you say “Happy National Donut Day” when you order, Tim Hortons will serve up one free doughnut with any purchase.
Same deal at Dunkin’ Donuts if you purchase any beverage.
Check Paula’s Donuts website for a free doughnut coupon with the purchase of a cup o’ Joe. The company plans to donate 50 cents to the Salvation Army for every dozen doughnuts sold on the 6th.
Tops has a BOGO special: get a free six-pack of doughnuts for every six-pack purchased through Saturday.
As you munch away, here are a few crumbs of dougnut to trivia to chew on:

The Salvation Army established the first National Doughnut Day in 1938 as a fundraising effort during the Great Depression.
 

During WWI, Salvation Army volunteers, “Sallies,” offered pies to the soldiers but realized they weren’t practical to make on the road. Donuts could be made on a camp stove.
 

The original doughnuts didn’t have holes, but were the size and shape of walnuts. That’s how the name was created.
 
Wonder how “Munchkins” were named at Dunkin’ Donuts? “Munchkins” after the Wizard of Oz characters, figuring the kids would opt for the holes while adults would choose the whole treat.
 
Just a reminder: The “Brenda’s Bites” radio show is heard every Sunday from 10:30 – 11am on ESPN 1520 on the AM dial.

This Sunday, our guests are Lou Billittier and John DiSciullo from Chef’s Restaurant talking about their new “Garage Pizza” and Jerod Thurber from Leonard Oakes Winery. If you have guest or topic suggestions, drop me a line at balesii@entercom.com or call me at 716-843-0651.

Thanks and cheers!
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National Hamburger Day Served Up Next Week

Mark your calendars for National Hamburger Day on Wednesday, May 28th. I think it’s fair to say that the unofficial Burger Day may be happening even sooner—this Monday on Memorial Day.
As you prepare for the unofficial start of summer, let’s fire up the barbie and chew on some fun facts about this American staple:
Did you know…
  • Hamburgers are the most popular food to grill at 87%, followed by steak 83%, chicken 78%, and hot dogs 76%?
 
  • The 4th of July is the largest barbeque holiday, followed by Memorial Day and Labor Day.
 
  • Why is it a “ham” burger? The answer is simple: the first hamburgers were made in Hamburg, Germany.
 
  • Americans reportedly placed the first cooked beef patty on a roll at the St. Louis World's Fair in 1921.
 
  • Ranking #1 among all restaurants with 26,000 stores in 119 countries, McDonald's serves billions of hamburgers worldwide. McDonald's has sold 12 hamburgers for every person in the world.
 
  • On average, Americans eat 3 hamburgers a week.
 
  • 60% of all sandwiches eaten are hamburgers. THAT leads to another question: I don’t consider hamburgers a sandwich. Do you?
Just a reminder: The “Brenda’s Bites” radio show is heard every Sunday from 10:30 – 11am on ESPN 1520 on the AM dial.
This Sunday, our guests are Ted Hawley from New York Craft Malt and Athena Tsembelis and Vivian Klentos will discuss the upcoming Greek Festival .
If you have guest or topic suggestions, drop me a line at balesii@entercom.com or call me at 716-843-0651.
Thanks and cheers!
 
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Putting Mom First On the Busiest Restaurant Day of the Year

Unless your mom or other significant ladies in your life work in the restaurant industry, this Sunday should be a day of pampering and relaxation for the family matriarch. Be prepared for a lot of company as Mother’s day is the busiest day of the year in the industry, according to the National restaurant Association.

Saving as you splurge on Mom this Sunday doesn’t have to be mutually exclusive. Here is a list of local and national places that are offering some deals that I think mom would approve (well, maybe not the Hooters offer):

Free Entree For Mom w/Drink Purchase At Hooters
**Mom must be accompanied by at least one paying adult
Buy Any Meal, Get 1 Free For Mom At Boston Market
Bonefish Grill: Purchase $50 in gift cards, and get a free $10 bonus card. Stores will open an hour early on Mother’s Day (10 a.m.) for any Bonefish fanatics.
Boston Market: Buy any individual meal, and get one individual meal for Mom free. (Valid with any Individual Meal, Whole Sandwich, Whole Sandwich Combo, Salad Bowl or Market Bowl. )
Carrabba’s Italian Grill: Mothers receive $10 off any entrée on their next visit with the purchase of an additional entrée.
Dairy Queen: Any mom who gives birth on Mother’s Day can email a copy of her baby’s birth certificate to DairyQueen@piersongrant.com by noon Eastern Time on Saturday, May 31 to receive a free DQ cake. Requests must include the mother’s full name, email, phone number and complete mailing address.
KFC: Snag a free family-sized cake (in rich double chocolate chip or sweet lemon) with the purchase of a 10-piece meal or larger.
Olive Garden: For every $50 in gift cards purchased, receive a $10 bonus card to redeem with two adult entrees. (Bonus card redemption dates: June 30 – August 10, 2014.)
Seattle’s Best Coffee: Score a $2 coupon plus an iced coffee recipe to surprise Mom with breakfast in bed by going here.
Starbucks: Buy one, get one free Teavana Oprah Chai on Mother’s Day at the coffee chain.
TGI Fridays: This ought to get Mom excited: Friday’s is discounting wine to half-priced bottles
Source: ABC News & Gannett
Just a reminder: The “Brenda’s Bites” radio show is heard every Sunday from 10:30 – 11am on ESPN 1520 on the AM dial.
This Sunday, our guests are Frank Dispenza, owner of the Dispenza Meat Market in Ransomville, and Maura Crawford, owners of Coco Restaurant in downtown Buffalo.
If you have guest or topic suggestions, drop me a line at balesii@entercom.com or call me at 716-843-0651.
Thanks and cheers!
 
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Brenda's Bites Radio Show Takes Air Sunday on ESPN 1520!

I’ve had the pleasure of dishing up news on the local food scene for the past five years here on the WBEN website.
What fun it is to exchange ideas with fellow foodies and talk with some of the many talented chefs who love to cook, create and make the dining experience in Western New York one of the best things about living in this area.
While the column will continue on the WBEN website, I’m thrilled to announce that we will also be talking about those same foodie topics on the radio.
The “Brenda’s Bites” radio show will be heard every Sunday from 10:30 – 11am on ESPN 1520, found at 1520 on the AM dial.
This Sunday, our guests are Christa Hobart, event organizer of Local Restaurant Week, and Bob and Dan Syracuse, owners of the Pizza Plant Restaurants.
If you have guest or topic suggestions, drop me a line at balesii@entercom.com or call me at 716-843-0651.
Thanks and cheers!
 
 
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Food for Thought: New Restaurant & Festival on the Scene

Lots of Downtown Doings


“I gotta fall in the love with the building,” proclaims John Stage, owner of the wildly popular Dinosaur Bar-B-Que.
Make no mistake about his affection for the former Universal Pictures storage facility on Franklin Street, a bone’s throw from the theater district in downtown Buffalo.
Stage, a New York City native, has been searching for a suitable location for his restaurant for 10 years. As the city, and the downtown area in particular, continues its rebirth.
Open daily with a staff of 120, Stage’s restaurant has been one of the most in demand for as long as I can remember. Dinosaur Bar-B-Que is huge in Syracuse and Rochester, drawing in thousands of hungry people in search of quality food served up in a casual setting.
At the Buffalo location, Stage said he has four BBQ pits and cooks every dis fresh, which “eliminates reheating.”
When my husband and I visited on a busy weeknight evening, we perused the surprisingly large menu, ranging from Small & Shared Plates to Pit Plates and Sides to Custom ‘Que, Combinations and Sandwiches. 
After Dan and I chowed down on the filling appetizer—shrimp boil, deviled eggs, fried green tomatoes and wings--he dug into a Brisket & Chicken Combo while I was intrigued by the Smoked Broccoli Reuben, made with smoked broccoli, BBQ sauerkraut, melted Swiss and mayo.
I’m still dreaming about that sandwich! I also enjoyed the Black-Eyed Greens on the side.
If you fancy some suds to wash your ‘que down, there are 18 beers on tap, including five local Buffalo beers.
Welcome to downtown Buffalo, John Stage and company. So glad this Dinosaur isn’t extinct!
 
This Saturday is National Grilled Cheese Day, reports our friends at Yelp. Several downtown eateries cheese it up the right way: big, gooey cheese-filled sandwiches melted with everything from apples, spinach, tomatoes among the countless combinations. The Melting Point, Fables Café and Blue Monk all got rave grilled cheese reviews.
 
And, let’s raise a glass to the Buffalo Wine Festival, happening this Saturday from 1 – 4p.m. and 6 – 9p.m. at the Buffalo Convention Center. Regional vino from 30 NYS wineries will be available to sample.
 

Click to view imgae gallery in Blog post page.

 
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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:
www.LocalRestaurantWeek.com
 
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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.
Bravo!
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