Sunday, July 12, 2009

Tasting Buffalo

Yesterday the Family and I made our annual trek into downtown Buffalo for the Taste of Buffalo festival. For those not from 'round here, this is a two-day food festival at which dozens of restaurants and purveyors of food set up shop and offer small sample-sized portions of their menus. Or rather, it used to mainly involve sample sizes; nowadays, many of the participating venues are offering either full-size portions or something between "sample size" and "full size". The result is that we came home much more full than we have in the past.

There's something of a balancing act to Taste of Buffalo. On the one hand, you want to try new things because you can attend year after year and never eat everything. On the other hand, you have old favorite dishes that you want to have year after year. So it was that we had the same slices of white pizza that we've had the last three years, and the same Caribbean Jerk Chicken that we've had the last eight years, and the same Italian ice for the Daughter and the same Anderson's ice cream for us that we've had for the last however-many years. But on the other side of the ledger, we had one joint's fried calimari (The Wife and I love us some calimari), another joint's ribs, and yet another joint's roasted turkey legs. (Of course, the turkey legs may not count as we always have those at the Sterling Renaissance Faire, and as fun as they are, a turkey leg's pretty much a turkey leg.) We also had the Chicken Wing Soup from Danny's, which The Daughter continues to pronounce as not quite as good as my Chicken Wing Soup. Huzzah!

The other thing different this year was the weather. In years past, Taste of Buffalo has tended to land on the first really hot weekend of the summer, but for some reason, this summer is stubbornly cooler than usual. (Fine by me; I hate hot weather.) Yesterday, though, the weather started out downright cruddy, with storms barreling through Buffalo during the first couple hours of the festival. We went down an hour later than usual, and we still got rained on quite a bit, despite our umbrellas. The rain stopped after we'd been there about an hour, and then it was merely overcast for a while, and eventually that, too, cleared on out. The nice effect of the weather was that it kept the crowd size down. The Taste can be immensely crowded when the weather is good, so it ended up being a lot nicer to attend yesterday, once the poor weather had vanished. It certainly cut down on a lot of the dumb behavior of Taste attendees. I also didn't notice any homeless people, who are usually haunting the peripheries of the Taste for begging purposes. Also, the last couple of years, one particular street corner has been the haunt of a fire-and-brimstone preacher dude, but I didn't see him, either.

In other thoughts, when I was looking for someplace to refill the water bottles we'd brought with us, I ended up inside Buffalo City Hall for the first time. I was of two minds of what I saw of the interior of the building: it's impressive enough, but it's really dark and grim in there, isn't it? Wow. The main interior has very high ceilings of stone and marble, with not a whole lot of light coming from the electric fixtures hanging from those ceilings. It was nice to see that big new building going up, though; they're erecting a new Federal courthouse in downtown Buffalo. New construction in downtown always makes me happy, even if directly opposite the new building is the Statler Tower, which is to be auctioned in August after the last owner, some Brit who sailed into town with lots of promises of spreading money around, ended up leaving without spreading any of that money. Oh well, life goes on in Buffalo, doesn't it?

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