Wednesday, May 30, 2012

The Cheesy Chick Food Truck

This past winter, on a few occasions, I bought a loaf of bread and cheese and made grilled cheese sandwiches for my meals for a few nights in a row. I'd usually enjoy it with a cup of tomato soup. While I don’t recommend doing that on a regular basis, it was my comfort food on a cold Buffalo night. 

Fast forward to early 2012 when I heard that
The Cheesy Chick, Buffalo’s grilled cheese food truck, was going to be opening. I was pretty sure it would be an instant hit. The first few weeks the truck was out and about in Buffalo, I wasn’t anywhere near it. Then, on an unsuspecting afternoon, they were outside the Canisius College Student Union, right down the street from my work. It was a gorgeous spring day out, so I walked down with one of my co-workers.

The menu includes a handful of specialty sandwiches along with a build your own option featuring different breads, cheeses and extras. Depending on the time of year they also have soup, salad and pasta salad available along with chips. For dessert their options vary and to date I've seen their cannoli dip and the nutella panini. 

I wanted to try a little bit of each so I ordered the Billy Goat sandwich (artichokes, red pepper and sundried tomatoes with goat cheese grilled on Italian bread), a serving of the pasta salad ($3.00), and some of the cannoli dip ($2.00).  

It only took about 5 minutes for me to get my order after I placed it, and the staff was friendly, making conversation while I waited. The sandwich, while a little smaller than I thought it would be, was outstanding. It was loaded with goat cheese and the combination of the veggies was delicious. I am used to ordering items with goat cheese and having them skimp on it, but not here. It was great! The pasta salad was tasty, and the cannoli dip (served with graham crackers and topped with chocolate chips) was the perfect finish to my meal. I have been craving it since, and wish they would make it a permanent menu item!

The specialty sandwiches are in the $5 range, and build your own options start at $3.25. Sides and desserts range from $2 - $3. 

I had the chance to speak with owner Alexis Andrzejak after my visit, and was thrilled to find out she is a fellow Kenmore East Alum, and grew up just a few blocks away from me! Alexis began her "career" as a teacher, jumping from school to school, but because of budget costs throughout WNY, never landed a permanent position. As she thought about her future, and didn't want another year of uncertainty she decided to get into the food truck business. 

A little over a year ago, when food trucks were starting to hit the scene in Buffalo, she began putting together the idea of a sandwich/panini truck. After jotting down many ideas, she found one common thread; CHEESE! As the year progressed, and a few more food trucks opened up,  she knew now was the time to get the truck going. She had always dreamed of owning her own restaurant, and the food truck was an option that worked for her! 

The Cheesy Chick has been operating for just about three months, and Alexis said the response has been overwhelming! She has gained hundreds of new followers on
Twitter and Facebook, and while they found their groove, patrons were extremely understanding, and had so many positive things to say. Other local food truck owners have been extremely helpful to the Cheesy Chick crew, offering pointers and being a resource when needed. 

"The best part about Buffalo is the people. I've traveled to many different places, but you can't find the people here anywhere else." Alexis told me. "This is a great place to live, raise a family and run a business. I love the four seasons Buffalo has to offer too. There is really something for everyone."

This summer, you can expect new items on the menu including a buffalo chicken wing and stuffed hot pepper grilled cheese sandwiches. More items are being taste tested and planned as well. 

The Cheesy Chick also offers catering and party options to make your next function a success.  
To find out where the truck will be, follow them on Twitter and/or Facebook, where they post their upcoming schedule for the week. They are typically at the First Niagara Center on Tuesdays and the Larkin Building every other  Thursday. New venues are being added in every week. This summer The Cheesy Chick, along with four other food trucks, will participate in the Taste of Buffalo for the first time! Alexis is excited to be part of such a huge event in Buffalo and is looking forward to seeing everyone come out. 

All of the food trucks in the area offer a unique flavor, and if you are a lover of grilled cheese you need to find out when they are coming to your part of town! Enjoy!

For more reviews of The Cheesy Chick, click here:
Cheesy Chick (Mobile Food Truck) on Urbanspoon

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Buffalo Summer Concerts 2012

The summer concert season in Buffalo will kick off in less than a month. The past two weeks have been filled with concert announcements, and more local venues will add to the list soon. One of the best parts of summer in Buffalo is the abundance of FREE and low cost shows featuring well known acts. 

I decided to make a master list of summer shows at as many of the local venues that I could come up with. I will add to it as more get released. If you would like something added to this list, drop me an e-mail at, and I'll make sure it gets up. 

If you only have time for one or two concerts this summer, I highly suggest getting down to one of the Buffalo Place Rocks the Harbor concerts. They have a tremendous atmosphere with a gorgeous view of Buffalo. 

In no particular order, here is my list of summer concerts (click on the links to be directed to the full schedule):

Thursday In The Square
- my top pick is Matthew Nathanson on August 23rd, but there is no way I'll be waiting that long to get down there. 

Buffalo Place Rocks The Harbor 
- I kind of had a thing for LL Cool J in high school. While I can't remember the last time I dusted off my CD and played selections from G.O.A.T., I think this concert will be a fun way to close out the summer (Sept 1). Local band moe. is a great bet too (June 30th)!

Artpark Tuesdays in the Park
- While they added a fee for these shows this year, you really can't beat $5 presale, $10 at the door.

Wednesdays at Artpark
- Last summer O.A.R. played while I was on my road trip down south with three of my best friends. I was really excited to see they will be back again this year for another FREE show on August 1st. Counting down the days!

Darien Lake
- While these concerts may be out of your summer price range, they offer a great selection (heavy on country). I'll be there to see one of my favorites Dave Matthews on July 3rd!

Hard Rock Concert Series, Niagara Falls
- I went to see Our Lady Peace last summer, and while it was a pretty crazy experience, it was free, and it made for a lot of stories to tell with my boyfriend. 

Labatt Canal Concert Series, Lockport
- While I've never checked out a summer concert at this venue, I've heard good things, and if anything, it's a good excuse to go to Lake Effect Icecream! The summer schedule includes Tea Party, Eddie Money, Theory of a Dead Man, and more!

M & T Plaza Event Series - These concerts are great if you work downtown. Enjoy music on your lunch hour from 12-1pm. 

Get outside this summer and enjoy one of the many perks of living in Buffalo!!

Two shots from summer concerts I went to last year:

Hard Rock Niagara Falls featuring Our Lady Peace, July 2011 (right) and
Buffalo Place Rocks the Harbor featuring Great Big Sea, August 2011

Last update 5/26/12

Friday, May 25, 2012

Cantina Loco in Buffalo

If you know me, you know Mexican isn't my first, second or third choice of cuisine to eat, let alone pick to go out and order at a restaurant.  So when my boyfriend suggested Cozumel for dinner last night, I wouldn't say I was thrilled, but I think my exact words were, "I'm willing to branch out for the sake of blogging." It didn't hurt that one of the Buffalo dining cards was to Cozumel, and they have a nice patio, so off we went. 

When we arrived there weren't any tables available on the patio so we started the wait list and walked over to the outdoor bar. Before we could even order a drink, the hostess let us know a table was opening up, so we were seated. The hostess quickly brought over some awesome chips and salsa and the wait began. We sat for 15 minutes, as every server passed us over, waiting on their other tables. Finally my chef boyfriend said, "Let's go", so we let the hostess know and walked out, hungry and angry. 

Cantina Loco, just down the street on the corner of Elmwood and Allen, was somewhere we had both been wanting to try out since it opened, so we walked down. They had a waiting list of about 45 minutes, but we found a spot at the bar and quickly ordered two margaritas ($6.00 a glass). The margaritas really hit the spot on the warm Buffalo night, and if I wasn't driving home, I would have suggested ordering a pitcher. Next time! 

When two seats opened at the bar, we sat down and asked bartender Viktoria if we could order food. As we looked over the menu, we ended up ordering four items to share; Tamales ($6.00), the Veggie Quesadilla ($4.00), the Carnita and Chicken burritos ($6.00 each). 

Our tamales and quesadilla came out first and to be honest, we could have had just those two things and been full. The quesadilla (my pick) was enormous. It was the size of the entire plate, cut into 8 pieces, each piece topped with a jalapeno. I was convinced the bartender thought we meant something else, because there was absolutely no way that plate could only cost $4.00. The quesadilla was delicious, cooked perfectly, with cheese oozing out and the vegetables filled with flavor. When our bill came, I was stunned to see it did in fact only cost $4.00. This menu item is by far the best deal in the city, probably in Western New York! The tamales were great too, and my boyfriend said they were the best he's had! 

By the time the burritos came out, my stomach was full, so I only took a few bites of each burrito, but they were both extremely tasty. The entire meal made me a Mexican food convert, and I'm already looking forward to going back. 

There have been a handful of times in the past year where I've tried somewhere new and been positively giddy the rest of the night: Blue Monk, Black Rock Kitchen & Bar and Betty's. Add, Cantina Loco to the list. What started out with disappointing service at Cozumel, turned into one of the best dining experiences I've had. 

The restaurant itself has an upscale rustic feel to it with awesome Edison bulbs along the bar, and wood accents throughout the restaurant. There are less than 20 tables (plus the seating at the bar), and while it is small, I didn't feel cramped. The large bar, lined up with more tequilas than I could count, and a slushie machine I wished I had, is the perfect place to enjoy happy hour with co-workers or a fun night out with a date or friends. The three bartenders were working hard, and interacted with the customers making it a fun and enjoyable night for everyone. The service was outstanding (a word I rarely use), and we really appreciated all the "check ins" from our bartender.

We left with half of the quesadilla and chicken burrito, and a new favorite "hot spot" downtown. I've mentioned Cantina Loco today to pretty much anyone who would listen, and I am so happy with the quality of the "newer" restaurants in the area.

In addition to the restaurant, they have a small take out area which could be a dangerous place if you live in the Elmwood Village or Allentown. With the low cost of menu items and extremely high quality of food, I have a feeling I'll be getting back down there soon. 

If you go to one new place this summer, make it Cantina Loco. 

For more reviews on Cantina Loco, click here:
Cantina Loco on Urbanspoon

Monday, May 21, 2012

Roswell Park in Buffalo

In my 29 years, I've been "touched" by cancer in too many ways. My Grandma died of pancreatic cancer, and I have dozens of other family, friends, co-workers and neighbors who have passed away from lung cancer, breast cancer, skin cancer, and the list goes on. 

While we all face the tragedy of cancer on a daily basis, we are extremely fortunate in Buffalo to have Roswell Park. For over 110 years, Roswell Park has led the charge world wide to research and find better treatment options for those with cancer. 

In 1898, Dr. Roswell Park established what would later be known as Roswell Park Cancer Institute. It was the first institute to focus on cancer treatment and research in the world. Research initially started in three rooms at the University of Buffalo's School of Medicine, but they quickly outgrew the space. A dedicated group of Buffalonians raised money to expand the facilities, and in 1901 The Gratwick Research Laboratory was opened on Elm and High Street. The building was named after Mrs. William Gratwick who donated $25,000 towards the new facility. 
In 1904, Dr. Park stepped down as Executive Director, but remained the Chairman of the Board of Trustees for many more years. The Institute has changed names a few times throughout its history, but there is no better name for it than Roswell Park. Dr. Park's vision and passion for cancer research and treatment have helped millions, and continue to bring us closer to a cure.

When I spoke with Heidi Findlay at Roswell Park she told me that one in every two men, and one in every three women will be diagnosed with cancer in their life. Quality is not just something they talk about at Roswell Park - it is something that they have over 100 years of data to back it up with. Data shows their care is better than other cancer providers meaning improved quality of life and in many cases, a longer life expectancy. Their cancer "research" (which some critics may consider "guinea pig" research) is the most advanced treatment available for patients to consider with their physicians.

Besides the overwhelming success they have had with cancer research and treatment options, locally they are one of the biggest employers in Western New York. They employ approximately 3,400 people, and have had a tremendous impact on the local economy.

While I could write for hours about their big accomplishments through the years, I do want to note that Roswell Park developed the first chemotherapy program and pioneered the use of various tests, therapies and treatment options for cancer. Earlier this year, Roswell Park announced the creation of a vaccine that had the potential to kill cancer cells and prevent relapses. While the vaccine is just beginning its trial phase, this could potentially change the treatment and care for patients with cancer. 

Roswell Park is a not-for-profit public benefit corporation. They receive funding from scientific grants in the public and private sectors, government investments, income from care provided, and philanthropy. While monetary donations are always needed, Roswell Park is looking for donations of blood and platelets, which are urgently needed everyday.

Many types of cancers can be prevented with just some simple (and obvious) lifestyle modifications: Don't smoke, eat a balanced diet, and exercise regularly. The staff I spoke with also said its important to know your family medical history and take advantage of all the screenings available at the appropriate ages, or younger if there is a history of cancer in your family. 

This summer on June 23rd, I will be participating in my very first Ride for Roswell event, as part of my "12 Missions in '12" campaign. I will be biking 20 miles in honor of and in memory of all the people I know who have lost their lives to cancer. It has been a personal goal of mine for years to get back on a bike and do this event. In high school I was in a biking accident and refused to get back on a bike since. My boyfriend finally convinced me last summer when we spent the day on Toronto Island and toured the island on bikes. I am looking forward to making a difference for Roswell Park, and conquering this fear of mine. If you are interested in making a donation on behalf of my ride you can make one online
here. Any donation would be greatly appreciated and celebrated by me for the rest of the year! I'm also looking for team members for Lovin' On Buffalo's team, and if you are interested, drop me a message at

Roswell Park should be considered a place of FIRST resort when you hear the word cancer, and a place of HOPE to beat cancer. 

"Cancer is a word, not a sentence!" - John Diamond

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Betty's in Buffalo

If I wasn't in a partial food coma after my experience at Betty's last night, I probably would have stayed up to write this blog then. It was that good. I walked out of there absolutely giddy with joy about the experience I had with the food, my boyfriend and our waitress Sarah!

Betty's is located on Virginia Street in the City, not far from Elmwood. It is nestled among residential properties and since I've never eaten there before, and really wasn't too familiar with it other than a few people suggesting it recently, I'm calling it my "hidden gem" find of the year. We were promptly seated in the bright and colorful dining room and given some time to look over the menu. 

I appreciated a more limited menu since I'm somewhat indecisive when it comes to making dinner selections, but even so, everything looked so good I was having a hard time narrowing it down. I wanted an appetizer, soup, salad and an entree. So, like anyone who is extremely hungry would do, I ordered them all. 

My boyfriend and I split the chicken quesadillas and a cup of the cream of asparagus soup. For my entree I selected the Roasted Veggie Yummwich and my boyfriend ordered the Chicken Pot Pie (both entrees were served with a side salad). 

The quesadillas came out first and the plate offered a generous portion served with a side of fresh homemade salsa and sour cream. They were absolutely delicious. To be honest, I probably could have eaten the quesadillas with a side salad and been full, but on we went! The cream of asparagus soup came highly recommended by our waitress, and she couldn't have been more right. She even split a cup into two smaller cups, so my boyfriend and I could each have our own sample. The asparagus were cooked perfectly - not too mushy and not too "al dente" for me, and it had so much flavor! The soup came out with some fresh bread and this awesome whipped butter with garlic and pepper in it. We quickly went through what was on the plate, and our waitress brought us another! 

By the time my salad came with (with awesome yogurt tahini dressing), I was quickly filling up and didn't know how I was going to eat any of my actual wrap. The salad was great, offering more "unique" toppings including pickled onions and sunflower seeds. 

When my wrap came out it came with a big scoop of pasta salad too. For $9.75 I thought this meal was an incredible deal. The wrap was great and had a lemon garlic mayo and about eight different kinds of veggies. The veggies were cooked a little al dente and it gave the wrap a little crunch, which gave it a very fresh taste. I'm one of the probably few people who isn't a big fan of feta cheese, but the pasta salad was a Greek pasta salad. That being said, I did enjoy it. 

I had a big bite of my boyfriend's pot pie and decided that when we come back, I'll probably get that. It was served with a side of cranberry sauce and out of everything we ate, this was the only thing I didn't really care for. It was extremely tart for me.

As our meal wrapped up, we chatted with our waitress Sarah about Betty's. Sarah started working there in May 2011 as a way to make some extra money for college. "The atmosphere here is the best in Buffalo, and I've worked at a handful of restaurants. The owners put so much care and detail into Betty's and hopefully that comes through in the food and service."

The walls at Betty's are currently full of staff artwork. Throughout the year local artists are featured and all the artwork is for sale. 

Betty's is also well known for its breakfast, Sarah told me. "When I was looking for a job, I googled, "Best breakfast in Buffalo" and this place came up. It really is. It's not just the food, but the comfortable atmosphere in here when you come in for breakfast." 

As for what Sarah recommends to her customers, "You had to ask me that! Can I give you an item per meal? For dinner the veggie risotto, for lunch the chicken salad sandwich, appetizer the chicken quesadilla dipped in the lemon garlic dressing, and for breakfast the chorizo wrap, which is usually a special."

The entire waitstaff we encountered was fun, friendly and you could tell they loved where they worked. Our waitress Sarah has been my favorite waitress of the year so far, and I really appreciated all the trouble she went to to make sure our meal was great (and she didn't know I was there to blog until after the meal was over)!

Owners Carroll Simon and Doty Hall have something truly special going on at Betty's! If you were out of the loop like me, you need to make the time to get over there soon. 

For more reviews on Betty's click below:

Betty's on Urbanspoon

Friday, May 11, 2012

Merge Restaurant in Buffalo

When it comes to my food choices, some would say I’m the “anti-vegan.” I love a good steak or burger, and I have a pretty solid obsession with pulled pork. There was even that year or so where whenever I went out to eat somewhere new, I mostly ordered ribs because I needed to see who had the best. Don’t get me wrong, I try to balance those splurges out with healthy options, and considering heart disease runs prominently in my family, it’s very important that I do. But still, when I’m planning on where to go out for dinner, I’m not going to be the one who suggests a mostly vegetarian restaurant.

That being said, I was excited to check out Merge Restaurant on Delaware. When I walked in, I instantly felt relaxed after a busy day. My first impression was that this place was all about community, and I couldn’t have been more right.

The atmosphere inside Merge is hip and trendy, and I really felt comfortable. We were promptly seated, and our waiter gave us some time to look over the menu and explained a few of the items. We were seated near a small stage that was absolutely adorable; a great spot for musicians to perform! I enjoyed the local artwork on the walls, and overall thought the style was unique for the Buffalo restaurant scene, and I really appreciated that.

As for the food, we ended up ordering the smothered sweet potato fries with spiced lentils, spinach and cheddar cheese to share. For my meal I ordered the farmhouse quiche; farm fresh eggs, farmers market vegetables and a side salad” and my boyfriend had the spaetzel and sausage; mineo and sapio Italian chicken sausage, carrot spaetzel, gruyere, roasted garlic swiss chard, garnished with crisp New York State apples. 

The smothered sweet potato fries were pretty good, although I could have used a little bit more flavor, and some dipping sauce for it. It was a unique use of the lentils (to me anyway) and while it wasn't my favorite part of the meal, my boyfriend and I quickly finished the plate.

My quiche was outstanding and tasted so fresh. The side salad went perfectly with it, the portion size was just right for me, and it left me full. I only had a bite of my boyfriend’s spaetzel and sausage, but it was very tasty and he really enjoyed it.

The meal was a nice change from what I normally eat, and I really got caught up in the freshness of everything. I’d definitely recommend the food and thought the prices, while they might be a little higher than some local establishments, is worth it for the use of organic and local produce and products Chef Kate Elliott purchases. 

The owners, and sisters, Eliza and Sarah Schneider really turned the space into a great community gathering place, and have opened my eyes to healthier and more diverse meal options.

They are open Tuesday – Saturday and have lunch and dinner hours (lunch 1130-3, dinner 5-10). They also offer later hours Thursday – Saturday. You can find them online and they also have Facebook and Twitter pages.

If you are looking for something “different” from the typical Buffalo fare, or if you are a vegetarian, vegan, or need gluten free food options, you need to spend a few hours inside Merge! You will have a new appreciation for food when you do!  

For more reviews on Merge, click below:

Merge on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Buffalo Food Trucks: Pizza Amore, The Wood Fire Way

Sometimes the best ideas come to you when you are sitting around your backyard with friends and family enjoying a great Buffalo night! That’s where the idea for Buffalo’s newest food truck, Pizza Amore, came from. Owner David Perri built a brick oven in his backyard because he wanted to do something different for his daughter’s graduation party. It was an obvious hit (we love our pizza in Buffalo), and they started having more parties throughout the summer. One weekend they went to a get together at a friends home, and someone commented, “Why don’t you go home and put that oven on wheels and bring it here!” As David told me, “It was all downhill from there!”

Pizza Amore is a family run food truck business. Dave and his wife have four children, and they are all involved in the food truck operation. Other family, and friends of his older children have jumped on board to get things off the ground as well.

Pizza Amore, was almost “King David’s Pizza”, but a friend suggested Pizza Amore, David added “The Wood Fire Way” and the name has stuck!

The pizza food truck offers a variety of different personal sized pizzas. They offer the typical cheese and pepperoni pizza (owner David’s favorite) for $5.50, and various specialty pizzas for $6.50. The cost also includes a can of pop or bottle of water, and tax is also included. When I made my first stop at the truck parked outside of The First Niagara Center on May 2nd, they had a list of specialty pizzas including buffalo chicken, margarita, white, and veggie, to name a few. To be honest, I wanted to buy two different ones, but settled on getting the veggie one!

There were only a few people ahead of me when I arrived, but the team working was set up like a well oiled machine and they were cranking out pizzas. All the staff was friendly, and I got my pizza quickly. I think it was the longest car ride back to my office smelling the pizza with an empty stomach! The toppings included broccoli, mushrooms and yellow and orange peppers. I appreciated the selection of the toppings. The pizza itself is among some of the best wood oven pizza I have tasted locally (and that’s a tall order for me. I absolutely love the pizzas at Siena on Main Street in Williamsville). The dough was airy and light, the sauce and the toppings had great flavor, and I really enjoyed it. The pizza filled me up, and for $6.50 I thought it was a great deal!

The Perri family has been busy! Besides getting the food truck going, they have been working on opening a restaurant on Grand Island. They are almost there and are planning on opening by Memorial Day in the Dunkin Donuts plaza on the Island (the restaurant will be located at 2024 Grand Island Boulevard, Grand Island).

While Pizza Amore, is a newbie on the food truck block, they certainly have customer service and quality down! David said the response so far has been fantastic and he is fortunate to be back in Buffalo doing what he loves. After living in various parts of the country, Dave commented that, “There is nothing like Buffalo; the hometown sports, the people and of course the food.”

You can check them out online, and follow them on Twitter and Facebook to see where they will be next. I promise it will be worth the trip!


For more reviews on Pizza Amore, click below:
Pizza Amore (Food Truck) on Urbanspoon

Saturday, May 5, 2012

One Year of Lovin' On Buffalo

Today officially marks the ONE year "birthday" of Lovin' On Buffalo! I've had such a great time spreading the word about Buffalo and Western New York, and have met a lot of interesting people along the way. 

In year one, we kicked off our "12 Missions in '12" campaign, received some nice local media coverage, and posted 73 blogs about Buffalo. I tried over 20 "new" (well new to me) restaurants, was able to help spread the word about more than 10 not-for-profits in the area, and pointed out a bunch of great spots for Buffalonians and visitors to check out. 

I've been fortunate enough to receive some great feedback from the community through comments on the blog, emails from strangers and conversations with friends and family. 

It's truly been a year of Buffalove for me, and I cannot say thank you enough for all your support, kind words, and story ideas! Buffalo has been the "City of Good Neighbors" to me for my 29 years of existence, and I am so thankful that I have an outlet to give back to the community. 

So what's next for Lovin' On Buffalo? I guess, with a great first year under my belt, I have some high expectations for the coming year. 1.) Double the amount of blogs posted, 2.) Continue to work on "12 Missions in '12", 3.) Try out at least 20 more restaurants and 4.) Create a project for 2013 to help additional not-for-profits!  

Here's to another great year of Lovin' On Buffalo!!!

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Book Review: "Buffalo Gals" by Amy Strychasz

At the beginning of the year, I made one of my “BuffaloResolutions” to read at least five books that were either written by someone from Buffalo or about Buffalo.

The first book I chose to read was, “Buffalo Gals” by Buffalo girl AmyStrychasz.

The book centers around the life of Marshall Sullivan, a young girl who just graduated from college and has little direction on what to do next. She finds a job to hold her over and pay the bills, and as the story unfolds we get to watch Marshall grow up, find love, make new friends and figure out what to do next. The story covers the span of a year, starting when she graduates from college.

The book had an incredibly nice flow to it, and the writing style is easy to follow. I absolutely loved all the Buffalo references. Whether it was because she loved Elmwood, attended a Sabres game, or frequented some of the local bars on Chippewa and beyond, I felt like all the characters in the book were extremely relatable and easy to fall for.

Along the way, Marshall falls in love, and I found myself turning the pages quickly to see what happened next with her relationship. When I had to put the book down (because it was past midnight and I had to get up for work in 5 hours), I found myself thinking about it, and looking forward to getting a chance to read it more.

I finished the book in just a few days, but found myself wanting more as it ended. I felt like I needed more of a resolution in the end, and I didn’t expect it to end the way it did. The author has mentioned on her website the possibility of working on a sequel to the book and I am hopeful she will, because I’d like to see what is next for Marshall Sullivan and the cast of characters we were introduced to in the book.

It’s the perfect summertime read; sitting out on your patio with a glass of wine or at the beach enjoying the sun. If you love reading and are looking for something new to check out this summer, support a Buffalo girl and pick up a copy todayI promise it will be time well spent reading!

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Unique First Date Ideas In WNY - Krystal's Picks

I was in a relationship for a long time. About ten years to be exact, so when that relationship ended and I was thrown into the dating world for the first time in my adult life, I was kind of lost on where to start. A few friends suggested I try online dating, so I gave it a shot.

I had no clue what I was really looking for, but I knew I wanted someone who loved this area, and loved exploring it as much as I do. Besides that, my only pre-requisites were that they were a Buffalo sports fan and that our first date included more than just dinner or drinks or a cup of tea.

I went out on a lot of first dates in the past few years, and to be honest, a lot of good ones. With the exception of someone wanting to take me out to Mighty Taco on a first date, (I respectfully declined) I can honestly say I didn’t have any horrible experiences! It can be hard to put yourself out there, but I’m so glad I did because I’ve definitely found a keeper!

A few days ago, while I was reading the book “Buffalo Gals” by Amy Strychasz, I started thinking about first dates and thought a great blog post would be about unique first date ideas in Buffalo and WNY.

First dates can be awkward. They are filled with all the basic “getting to know you” questions, and sometimes dinner or drinks where the focus is solely on that can be difficult. I am an active person, I like exploring and I like being on the go, so I came up with my top five list of unique first date spots for all your singles out there looking for a great date idea!

In no particular order…

1.)    The Buffalo Zoo – I went to the Buffalo Zoo on a first date and it was a great time. I hadn’t been to the Zoo since I was little, and walking around, on a gorgeous summer day, and exploring the Zoo was a perfect way to get to know someone. It made for a bunch of laughs and honestly, I learned a decent amount about the guy I was walking around with (and the animals)!

2.)    Niagara Falls – My boyfriend, Geoffrey, suggested Niagara Falls for our first date, and I have to admit I was a little nervous about it all. We met up outside The Hard Rock CafĂ© on the American side and walked across the border and along the Falls on the Canadian Side. How many times can you say you needed your passport for a first date? It is an incredibly romantic place for a walk, and a first kiss in front of one of the 7 Wonders of the World isn’t too shabby either!

3.)    JP Bullfeathers on Elmwood – Yes it is a place to eat and get drinks, but when I went on a first date there we played darts and then took a walk down the Elmwood strip. Nothing like a little friendly competition on your first date. The drink prices aren’t bad either, and the food is pretty good! Split a couple appetizers and a few beers, play some darts and enjoy.

4.)    Niawanda Park – Pack some snacks and enjoy the water, or walk up to Mississippi Muds or Old Man River for some ice cream. There is a really nice path along the waterfront to walk on, or if you are really adventurous, bring your bike or roller blades! Maybe you will even get lucky and your date will have a boat! 

5.)    Albright Knox Art Gallery – it’s the perfect year round place to visit. Even if you aren’t a lover of art, it’s a fun place to check out and it's always interesting trying to decipher art pieces! If it isn't snowing out or too cold, you can always follow it up with a walk down by my favorite place in Buffalo, Hoyt Lake!  

If you aren't as adventurous as me, and prefer dinner or drinks, here are my choices for top five restaurants to check out on a first date: Toro Tapas Bar, Black Rock Kitchen & Bar, Cecelia's, Encore and if you share a common love of beer, Blue Monk! 

I figure I should follow up the "where to go" list with some places I don’t recommend going to on a first date. First of all, I don’t recommend your first date be to one of the awesome summer festivals in Buffalo. Check those out with your friends and family instead! Odds are you are going to run into about 20 people you know at every festival you check out. It can make for awkward moments introducing who you are with! Since I'm a huge sports fan and my world kind of revolves around the Bills and Sabres, I'm not big on taking someone to a sporting event early on in a relationship. And guys, please don't offer Mighty Taco as your first date meeting place. Don't get me wrong, I love Mighty, and I'm sure you do too, but splurge for Cantina Loco instead!

I feel like I could keep rambling on about places to go, but this gives you some great options, especially some summer date options! There are so many great, romantic and fun places to check out with a date, so if you find yourself in a dating rut or need some adventure in your life, shake things up and get out and explore Buffalo and WNY with your next "first" date!

Don't forget to report back to me on how things went! Happy dating!