Buffalo

Tuesday, January 10th, 2012 | Posted under New York State

I know that many of you wouldn’t think of Buffalo, New York as having much to see, yet I was impressed by its stately architecture. For those of you who are architecture buffs, this post is for you.

In case you didn’t know, Buffalo once rivaled New York City as THE city in New York State. It was a place flush with lots of money due to its strategic position as a transportation hub on the Great Lakes, and the fact that it wasn’t far from commercials centers like New York City and Boston. Back in the day, Buffalo had a whole lot of swagger, and you can see that through so many of the buildings throughout the city.
First off, they’ve got their own Statue of Liberty. Well, sort of….
on top of a building in downtown Buffalo

There are more than one of these, and I have to admit that I thought they were a little freaky. I’m used to the Statue of Liberty having its own island, so it’s just a little jarring to see it on top of a building.
I would say that the most beautiful facade we saw was for the Prudential Building also in downtown Buffalo. The facade is made of this gorgeous copper. The pictures are much better than anything that I could describe.




While this isn’t the best pic of Buffalo’s City Hall, I do think it’s rather impressive.

Buffalo’s notable architecture isn’t limited to downtown. For those of you familar with the very prominent American architect, Frank Lloyd Wright, you may have heard of Darwin D. Martin House. It’s one of his seminal designs from the Prairie School era, and it’s considered one of his most important works.

So here’s the kicker re: Darwin D. Martin House. In order to see the inside you’ve got to take a 2 hour tour of the house. 2 HOURS?! That’s the “in-depth” one, but even the basic tour is still one hour. Uh, no…we walked around the outside.



From the outside we could see Wright’s attention to detail in the design.

A side door


windows

Since we didn’t go on the tour, I did get a chance to see some of the interior shots in the visitors’ center. This kitchen could rival anything that we have today. Darwin D. Martin House was completed in 1905. This looks straight out of the 60’s.

This is just a taste of Buffalo’s built beauty. I won’t even show you some of the gorgeous houses we saw. Husband J and I were jokingly considering trading in our apartment for a house.
Like I said before: Buffalo is more than just wings!

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Anchor Bar vs. Duff’s: The Buffalo Wing Showdown

Thursday, June 16th, 2011 | Posted under New York State, On the Road


I definitely was not going all the way to Buffalo and not eat what it’s known for: its wings! I do enjoy most spicy things, and wings are most definitely on the list. Our hosts, The Profs, made sure we got to try two of Buffalo’s most famous wing joints: Anchor Bar and Duff’s.

To be quite honest with you, I’m not really sure which I liked better. Is that bad? Let me tell you about each, and let you know what I thought their strengths were.
Anchor Bar claims to be to the originator of the Buffalo wing, and it’s located right in downtown Buffalo. While they are known for their wings, they also make a range of what I would call “bar food” and Italian dishes. I would say come here if you’re in a “wings plus” mood.

We had (Guess!!)….
Wings!

Fried Fish and French Fries (in Buffalo called a Fish Fry)


Onion Rings

Totally healthy, right? HA!
Since Husband J was with us, we had to go easy with the spice. We only got them with medium sauce. Between me and you, I didn’t think it was very spicy. The wings themselves were good. Perfectly crispy and lightly spiced with tender meat. Score one for Anchor.
Fish and chips or a “fish fry” is actually a very popular dish in Buffalo. On almost any Friday, restaurants all over the city, regardless of cuisine, will offer fried fish to their customers. Buffalonians will search high and low for their favorite fish fry. Thanks to The Profs for letting me know about this local tradition. I actually really like Anchor’s fried fish. It wasn’t breaded but actually this all-compassing crust. Most definitely fried fish I could eat on a regular basis, as I am not a fan of heavy handed breading.
We were prepared for lots eating on this trip, and the next day we made our way to the original Duff’s location in Amherst, New York, a suburb of Buffalo.

I don’t know if it was because it was a Sunday afternoon or because it was a totally different style of restaurant, but Duff’s felt decidedly different from Anchor. There was a much smaller menu, and it was really focused on wings with maybe a few other things. You could also tell that this place had more locals. Because of its name and downtown location, Anchor tends to attract more tourists, at least that’s my impression.
So we had…..
Big surprise, right? Medium wings
Medium Mild wings

Also some of you might recognize someone who came to Duff’s relatively recently:
President Barack Obama
The President stopped at Duff’s after he made a speech on the economy here in the Buffalo area.

Anyway, The Profs and Husband J thought that Duff’s wings were fresher in general, and you could tell the attention that they put into each plate. We got medium and medium hot. Honestly, I didn’t really see much of a difference in the spice levels. We all agreed that the medium tasted spicier than the medium hot! Err??? I did have major issues with was the fact that the medium hot tasted like the wings were doused in vinegar. It was so tart that I was actually smacking my lips! Uhhh…no. Not a fan of that.

So you’re in the Buffalo area, which one should you choose? Ask yourself what kind of experience you want.
Ambiance: Do you want more of a bar atmosphere with the possibility of live music that could be compared to a Hard Rock Cafe (at least on Saturday night anyway)? Anchor Bar. Duff’s was more low-key and definitely for the locals.
More than Wings?: Anchor Bar. It’s got a full menu.
Cleanliness: Duff’s. Anchor was fine, but the floors were a little scruffy when we went that night.
Spice Variety: Duff’s. Duff’s has at least six gradations of heat for their wings. If you can take spice like me, I would flirt with the hot.
Which is the best? I’m not sure. Sorry to be wishy-washy, but these are still some of the best wings I’ve ever tasted. You won’t go wrong either way.
Anyone been to Anchor Bar, Duff’s or both? What are your thoughts?
Anchor Bar
1047 Main Street
Buffalo, New York

Duff’s (the original location, there are multiple)
3651 Sheridan Drive
Amherst, New York

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Rediscovering Niagara Falls

Wednesday, June 8th, 2011 | Posted under New York State

I hadn’t been to Niagara Falls since I was about four years old, which is essentially a very, very, very, very long time ago. 🙂 Just kidding, but I’d only been to been to this part of Wesern New York once before, and I had no recollection of what Niagara Falls looked like. I was grateful and excited that The Profs, our friends and hosts, had decided to take us there as part of our weekend in Buffalo.

The Profs, Husband J and I made our way from where we parked towards the falls, and the water on the Niagara River changed from virtually calm to this:

It was surprising to see the change, but it only got even more busy and downright dangerous.


If you’ve ever gone white water rafting then imagine Level 6 hard core rapids. Crazy. Mind you, we haven’t gotten to the falls yet….

We finally made it to the fall themselves, and there are some things that you should know. First this is the U.S. side pictured below.



Lots of mist!
There are two sides for viewing the falls. One is actually across the border in Canada. Since I decided not to bring our passports (more on this in another post), we kept ourselves in the U.S. The two sides are very different though. The U.S. side is actually a national park. Based on my observations and from what The Profs mentioned, the Canadian side is much more developed with lots of hotels, restaurants and entertainment. The U.S. side allows you to get a little more up close and personal to the falls so that you can see how the water flows downward. The Canadian side seems to offer a better overall view, especially of the Horse Shoe Falls.
The Canadian side of the Falls as viewed from the U.S. side



This is what I mean about seeing the water descend. Cool, ain’t it?

What’s all of that white, hazy stuff in the background? Well, that’s mist. The impact from the water falling so hard results in rather thick mist that floats upwards. Sometimes it felt like it was raining. Really…
There’s more to do at the falls than just stand there and gawk. 🙂 You can take a boat ride on the Maid of the Mist to try to get as up close and personal with the falls as possible. Husband J and I thought about it, but we weren’t really in the mood (signs of becoming old fogeys perhaps?). I think we’ll try next time especially if it’s warm. It was relatively cool that day.
I’m smiling because I’m not wet with water from the falls. 🙂

There’s an opportunity to walk behind the falls and explore the Cave of the Winds. Yeah, we declined that one, too.
The people dressed in yellow are standing in line to descend into the falls. Those are The Profs on the right walking ahead of us.


Check out the Maid of the Mist! Apparently those people get so drenched that they give them head to toe rain ponchos for the quick tour.


Maid of the Mist post-drenching

I was really glad to go back to Niagara Falls and to reacquaint myself with this gorgeous site that’s right in my home state.
By the way, all of those hotels remind me that this area was a hot honeymoon spot for years. Married folks, would you have honeymooned here? 🙂

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Buffalo is More than Just Wings!

Tuesday, May 31st, 2011 | Posted under Family and Friends, New York State

Hi, all!

I’m back from a great weekend in Western New York, and all I can say is: “What a great start to the summer!” According to our friends, The Profs, we must have brought some great weather with us and that allowed us to see a large swath of Buffalo and neighboring Niagara Falls. We actually joked that it must have been fate for us to come this weekend because the New York Times had a 36 Hours in Niagara Falls feature this past weekend. Perfect timing! In addition to seeing quite a bit of Buffalo itself, we also indulged in a lot of eating (A LOT). The Profs also have a lovely community of friends, and we were able to meet some of them.
Here are some highlights from the weekend, and I’ll be sure to share my thoughts about Buffalo in the coming week(s):
Fabulous modern art at the Albright-Knox Art Gallery


Buffalo is chock full of gorgeous architecture.

Soo many wings this weekend! These are from Anchor Bar.


Niagara Falls (the US side)

By the way, we didn’t get a chance to go to Toronto 🙁 , but that’s for another post.
How was your weekend?

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Where to Next? – Wings, Waterfalls & Family

Thursday, May 26th, 2011 | Posted under Canada, Family and Friends, New York State, Personal

Hey, all!

For those of you who are new to the blog (HHHHHIIIIIII + Thank you!), Where to Next? features where I’ll be going next. With the Memorial Day holiday weekend coming up here in the U.S., I’ll be heading off to Buffalo, New York! Yes, y’all Buffalo!
I know some of you are like “What?!”, but I’m going to find a way to make sure that I learn as much about Buffalo as humanly possible. I can’t believe that I’m going to be getting on a plane and flying for an hour, and I’ll STILL be in my home state. I know Californians are probably used to that, but we NYers are not. Given the geography of the Tri-State area (i.e., New York City + suburbs, New Jersey and Connecticut), if you even drive an hour you’ve most likely reached another state. Many (not all, but many) people from New York City do not venture to see the northern parts of New York State (“upstate” as well call it here) much less know much about it. I know before my last job, which required some knowledge of New York State politics and geography, that I was pretty ignorant of the rest of the state. True confession. 🙁
This will be a new adventure for me. I’ll be visiting a friend in Buffalo and her husband, who for the sake of this blog, I’ll call The Profs. I’m very excited to see their beautiful home.
What else do I want to see in Buffalo?
Wings, baby!!
Did you think that I would travel all the way to the birthplace of the BUFFALO wing and not try some?
We’ll be making a stop by Niagra Falls. I went there last when I was about 4 years old (i.e, I don’t remember it), so this will be totally fun for me.
After a visit to the falls, Husband J and I will be driving up to Toronto for a very quick overnight stay. We’ll do some wandering, but most importantly we will see some of my family. For those of you who don’t know, if you are a member of the English-speaking Caribbean diaspora, you will mostly likely have family in one of several places:
New York City (ding, ding, ding!)
Miami
London, and…..
TORONTO
I’ve been to Toronto twice, but both times I was very young. I actually have two aunts and several first cousins there. I haven’t seen some of them in 20 years. That’s right…20 YEARS! That’s bad. Part of this has to do with the fact, that this is my father’s side of the family. I’m not very close to my dad, so unfortunately that’s affected my relationships with his side. It’s too bad because I look like my father’s family. Apparently, I am related to half of the Black people in London, so if you see someone walking around there that looks like me, it’s probably one of my many cousins (I haven’t met most of them either). 🙂
Either way, I am totally excited to get out of New York City, see another part of my state and reconnect with my family for a bit. Also this is Husband J’s first time to Canada…EVER! We both get a kick of the fact that I’ve dragged him half way around the world, and he’s never been to our neighbor up north. 🙂
Does anyone have any recommendations for Buffalo OR Toronto, especially for lunch or breakfast in downtown Toronto? The recs can be for sights to see as well. I’ll be spending most of my time right in downtown Toronto, so recs in that area would be great. THANKS!
U.S. residents, are you doing anything fun this upcoming holiday weekend?

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