Friday, January 4, 2013

Krystal's Favorite Buffalo Things - 2012

Here is year two of Krystal's "Favorite Buffalo Things" (Oprah style). The following list includes memories, food, drinks, places, meals, attractions, etc...that I experienced in 2012. 

There are 29 categories - one for every year I've been alive. The list is in no particular was whatever came to me first!!

Enjoy the list!

1.) Favorite wine - Vineland Estates Sparking Riesling. During the 2012 Ice Wine Festival in Niagara on the Lake, my boyfriend and I had the chance to try this champagne for the first time. We fell in love with this. I know it's not "Buffalo", but it's close enough and I consider Niagara on the Lake our close friends!

2.) Favorite meal - Black Rock Kitchen & Bar. The meal was grilled shrimp over soft polenta with roasted cioppolini onions and Gorgonzola cheese. Throw in a lump crab and cucumber salad to start, some local Flying Bison brews and the best atmosphere in Black Rock, and it left me inspired and excited about Buffalo food. 

3.) Favorite menu item - Falafel Bar's mushroom hummus - it's a meal in itself topped with mushrooms and caramelized onions and served with warm pita bread. Perfect anytime of the year!

4.) Favorite dessert - Lake Effect Icecream's Loganberry was my favorite last year, and I can't help but put the local artisan ice cream shop back on my list this year. This summer they introduced "The Aud" a beer infused ice cream with chocolate covered peanuts. It is absolutely outstanding and is "Buffalo sports" in a scoop!

5.) Favorite cheap eat - I was absolutely honored to be selected as one of the "foodies" this year in the Buffalo Spree's November edition of Buffalo "cheap eats". In that issue, I gave my top five list, but there was one that without a doubt stands above the rest...Cantina Loco! It is the hot spot for dinner/drinks with friends after work, with family for a fun night out, and with a date. The $4 veggie quesadilla is outstanding (and loaded with veggies and cheese). The $28 pitcher of margaritas may not seem cheap, but believe me, it's an extra large pitcher that will fill a lot of glasses! 

6.) Favorite concert spot - I continue to be impressed with the work that has been done at Canalside. The venue change for Thursday in the Square (to Thursday at the Harbor) and the Buffalo Rocks the Harbor concert series have been my favorite summertime way to spend an evening. The generous space down at Canalside allows for comfort and many options. You can stand next to the water, bring a chair to sit on the grass or get up close if it is a band you really enjoy. I am excited to see what is next for Canalside in 2013!

7.) Favorite local shop - Tea Leafs WNY - As someone who starts pretty much everyday with a cup of tea, this store is a little bit of heaven to me. With probably close to 100 (or more) different loose leaf teas available for purchase, owner Sydney Hoffman has expanded the perfect niche shop, located on Main Street in Williamsville.

8.) Favorite blog - Angela Keppel's "Discovering Buffalo, One Street at a Time". The blog tackles one street in Buffalo per post and explores the history of the street, its name and more. Angela, a local urban planner, has a great passion for Buffalo and its history, and I love learning more through her eyes. Stay tuned for an upcoming post about Angela's blog and other local blogs that I enjoy reading.

9.) Favorite fundraiser - Ride For Roswell - 2012, was my first year participating in the event, and I cannot get over how well run and just beautiful the event was. I participated in honor and memory of my Grandma Sondel, who passed away in 2001 from pancreatic cancer. It was the first time I'd been on a bike in over ten years, and I was terrified with the amount of people participating that things wouldn't turn out well. Every aspect of the event is run perfectly - from food for riders, to stations to hydrate, road guards at nearly every turn, and the whole general flow for the event. Outstanding event, that raised over $3 million dollars for one of Buffalo's greatest resources. I am already looking forward to 2013's event in June!

10.) Favorite hidden gem - H.H. Richardson Complex - At around 59 acres, the complex can hardly be called "hidden" but many people don't know about the rehabilitation work going on at the complex to make it a functional space again. I had the chance to tour the inside of the complex over the summer for the first time, and it has become my Buffalo obsession of 2012. Every aspect of the building is fascinating and the architecture is so deliberate and beautiful. I am thrilled to begin docent training in January - March to learn about the building more and be able to share my passion and love for it with others in 2013. Stay tuned for dates :)

11.) Favorite "family" activity - Rotary Rink ice skating - If you haven't had the chance to go downtown to check out the ice skating rink, it is something you need to do this winter. If you own your own skates, there is no fee to skate around. Skate rentals are $2 for children and $3 for adults. There are a handful of free skate rental days as well, so check out the Buffalo Place website for more details! 

12.) Favorite community moment- I had the chance to participate in B Team Buffalo's "City of Light" event in December which decorated over 50 houses in Buffalo's Old First Ward. The extreme dedication to the City of Buffalo that the B-Team Board members (and all members and volunteers that day) was uplifting and inspiring. In addition to decorating houses, a carnival was held, giving out gifts to the local children, and dinner was served for the entire community. These type of events continue to give Buffalo its name "City of Good Neighbors" and I was thrilled to participate in it this year.

13.) Favorite "car ride away" trip - East Aurora, NY - The City of Buffalo is full of hundreds of things to do throughout the year, but on top of that, we are positioned in the state just a car ride away from so many other things. Take East Aurora for example (a 25 minute car ride) - the Main Street is filled with fun shops and restaurants where you could easily spend an afternoon...but add in the historic Roycroft Campus and you have a day filled with history too! If you head out there make sure you stop at Vidler's 5 & 10 and stop at Firefly Cupcakes for a sweet treat!

14.) Favorite outdoor spot to exercise - Canalside strikes again! What could top FREE outdoor Zumba, Pilates and Yoga classes all summer long? Working out while looking at the waterfront and getting to watch the sunset as class wraps up is definitely one of my favorite memories in 2012. If you aren't one for fitness classes, jogging along the water or walking is the perfect activity - filled with so many great sights to see (just don't stop at the ice cream stand afterwards!). I'm already looking forward the classes in 2013.

15.) Favorite local athlete - Jenn Suhr. This summer, while it was a beautiful one in Buffalo, I spent a lot of time in front of the television watching the London Summer Olympics. I followed pole vaulter Jenn Suhr's story closely and couldn't wait to watch her represent WNY and America in early August. She took home the gold and also has a silver medal from the 2008 Olympics. It was definitely a proud moment for Buffalo, and brought a tear to my eye!

16.) Favorite festival - I fell in love with the Glen Park Art Festival in Williamsville. While it's not a very large festival, the two day affair highlights local artists and has a full lineup of local musicians. Glen Park is absolutely beautiful to visit in the summer. I took my boyfriend's seven year old son to the event this year (just the two of us), and we had a blast. It was fun bonding time, and we walked away with some cool Buffalo items (and an ice cream cone from Sweet Jenny's)!

17.) Favorite "quick bite" to eat - Peking Quick One in Tonawanda. Tucked away in a plaza on Somerville Avenue (the street I grew up on) it was a hidden gem until this past year when many bloggers and food critics started reviewing it! If you want authentic cuisine

18.) Favorite "Buffalo" tour - I had the pleasure of checking out a handful of different Buffalo tours throughout the year, but I absolutely fell in love with Open Air Bus Tours. My favorite one was The Whirlwind Tour that captured many of Buffalo's architectural gems. 

19.) Favorite Buffalo political race - I might get a lot of flack for this one, as I'm not a seasoned political writer or expert. In fact, I usually make it a point to NOT talk about politics. That being said, I really enjoyed watching the race for Erie County Comptroller. Growing up, I knew the name Stefan Mychajiliw as a public relations professional (and often commented on how I wanted his job in the Ken-Ton Schools) . When I heard he was running for the position, to say I was surprised was an understatement. While I'm aware he has very little "experience" for the position, I thought his campaign was a fun public relations story to watch unfold. I'm going to be watching his new position closely and am interested to see what he can accomplish in the position. I think he can offer a lot to the City and I'm looking forward to seeing what is next!

20.) Favorite Buffalo inspired food - I had the chance to try sponge candy ice cream this summer when I took a Buffalo Bites food tour on Elmwood Avenue. The ice cream was made at Watson's, and it was incredible. Watson's did a great job incorporating the flavors, and it is the perfect indulgence on a warm Buffalo day!

21.) Favorite "sight" - I had the chance this summer to get on the water in friends boats and also aboard The Spirit of Buffalo sailboat. Whether on water or land, the Buffalo Lighthouse always makes me smile. You can enjoy it while sitting at The Hatch, or anywhere along the waterfront. It is just beautiful and I think I've photographed it from every angle possible! Check out the "Around Buffalo" tab for some shots of it through the years.

22.) Favorite not-for-profit - In its first year, Special Spaces Buffalo was able to makeover bedrooms for a handful of Buffalo children fighting diseases. The organization is solely run on donations and volunteer help and we are planning a fundraiser for them in early 2013 to fund a room makeover for a beautiful young lady. More information will be coming soon, stay tuned!!

23.) Favorite concert of 2012 - I attended a handful of free concerts throughout the year, but my favorite was O.A.R. at Artpark on August 1st. Fun venue, good crowd and great performance by one of my favorite bands. Only downside, getting out of that place is a mess!

24.) Favorite Lovin' On Buffalo moment - 2012 was a wonderful year for Lovin' On Buffalo. I had two newspaper articles written about the blog, was featured in Buffalo Spree in November and  was nominated for "Best Local Twitter Feed" in the Artvoice Best of Buffalo awards. The last one was quite a surprise to me and I couldn't be more thrilled. Social media is not only a passion of mine, but part of my job description, so to be recognized by the community (all write in votes) for this is truly awesome. While I didn't win, I had a blast at the awards ceremony with my boyfriend and am hopeful I'll be nominated again this year!

25.) Favorite "new" restaurant - I checked out so many wonderful restaurants during the year and it's impossible to list a favorite, but here's my top 3: Liberty Hound, Pan American Brewery & Cantina Loco. Each has been a great addition to the food scene in Buffalo and each offers such a different, but great atmosphere. If you haven't checked any of them out yet, make it a point to in 2013!

26.) Favorite Buffalo connection - This year, I met so many great people who really are making a difference in Buffalo. If I had to pick one I'm glad I can call a "friend", it is Robyn Zimmer, creator of the Embrace The Difference line of jewelry. Robyn's line of jewelry (I received a piece of the line for Christmas thanks to my boyfriend!) is not only gorgeous but is benefiting charities throughout WNY. Of course, there is a two degrees of separation story there too, I found out my boyfriend taught Robyn's children at Amherst High School! There's ALWAYS a Buffalo connection!

27.) Favorite street - Well Elmwood will always be my favorite street, but this past year I really got to know Hertel Avenue better. They have great restaurants, fun shops and I can always find a parking spot! Plus, The Cheesy Chick (my favorite Buffalo food truck) spends a decent amount of time on Hertel!

28.) Favorite "12 Missions in '12" Moment - I had a great time providing support to as many charities as I could in 2012. It was a lofty goal, and while the last two charities will have fundraisers that had to be pushed to early 2013, I am really proud of all I was able to accomplish. I especially LOVED dropping off the hygiene bags to Catholic Charities. The staff was so appreciative and they made me take a picture! I know they will go to good use and I'm excited to drop off a few more boxes I have put together in the past few months!

29.) Favorite Buffalo customer service moment - If you are from Buffalo you are either a Wegmans shopper or a Tops shopper. For me, it's Wegmans and I can't get enough of their customer service. They are active in social media and anytime I need something always respond back quickly. However, there were  two other occasions where I needed something and they went above and beyond. In March, my boyfriend and I were looking for small cannoli shells and they didn't have any on the shelves. A bakery worker took them out of boxes they use in the bakery and personally wrapped them up so they wouldn't break. We didn't ask her to go to all the trouble, but it was outstanding. Later in the year, one of my favorite types of sushi was not on the menu for the day, and when the sushi chef noticed me walking away they asked if there was something else they could make for me. I told them what I was looking for and they prepared a fresh roll for me within a few minutes. It was the best sushi I've had and a wonderful, wonderful customer service moment!

PHEW! 2012 was a great year for Lovin' On Buffalo and I can't thank all of our dedicated readers enough for all your support throughout the year. Here's to 2013!!

1 comment:

  1. I love this post! Thanks for sharing so many great ideas; I plan to check out a number of them for sure when my boyfriend and I move to Buffalo in a few months.

    Also looking forward to your list of favorite local bloggers! I subscribe to a few Buffalo bloggers but I'd like to find more. :)