A Classic Birthday Buffalo Brewery Tour

We have visited a lot of Buffalo’s craft breweries but never organized a proper brewery tour – until a few weeks ago. To celebrate Cody and his brother’s birthday, as well as a friend’s upcoming move, we rented a big yellow school bus and hit some of our favorite breweries.

1. 12 Gates Brewing Company

It’s still weird that 12 Gates is in an industrial park. However, I’ve never received bad service here and our brewery tour was no exception. We were the only group in the taproom, so I didn’t feel bad about tasting some new brews. The Coffee Porter on nitro was everything I wanted it to be on a cold, rainy day.

Coffee Porter on nitro at 12 Gates, Buffalo, NY

2. Flying Bison Brewing Company

I don’t have a go-to beer here, so I usually branch out a little bit more than other breweries. This time, I tried the Bisonberry Kolsch, which was refreshing after the creamy porter.

Stained glass logo at Flying Bison, Buffalo, NY

We ordered pizza and had it delivered here, which is, according to the Carbone’s delivery driver, totally fine. The pizza was delicious and tasted great with the beer.

3. Community Beer Works

Alpaca Porter and beer list at Community Beer Works, Buffalo, NY

I can’t get over how welcoming CBW’s new space is. It’s the perfect mix of good beer, repurposed industrial space, games and natural light. We stayed here for a drink (I had an Alpaca Porter) and a few more friends of friends joined our group.

4. Resurgence Brewing Company

Resurgence’s beer isn’t my favorite, but their space is an awesome place to end a brewery tour. Morgan, Shannon and I split a flight while watching a few intense games of giant Jenga. My personal favorite was, of course, Vanilla Cappuccino Pumpkin Ale.

Pumpkin Ale at Resurgence, Buffalo, NY

It was nice to visit some oldies-but-goodies, especially with Buffalo getting so many new breweries in the coming months.

I wouldn’t have changed anything about the breweries we visited or the order we visited them in. Coming from the Northtowns, we didn’t have time to fit all the breweries downtown or in South Buffalo. There are so many good options north of downtown I really didn’t feel like we missed out.

Tamales and Tequila for Day of the Dead

Medina is getting cooler by the day, from the annual Farm to Table Dinner to the renovations and other goings on at Mustang City. One of my favorite Medina staples is the annual Day of the Dead celebration at Mariachi de Oro. Over the last few years, the restaurant brought traditional Oaxacan food, drink and music, along with a marigold-topped ofrenda, to a small crowd gathered at the restaurant. This year, Mariachi de Oro recruited the help of multiple other Medina businesses to bring the celebration to the entire town.

The party started with crafts, snacks and stories at Main Street businesses. Cody and I weren’t able to make it to Medina for this part of the celebration. We arrived on Main Street late enough to find a parking spot but still in time for hot tamales. A party tent protected the second half of the festivities from the rain. We walked into the tent and were immediately greeted by a lively celebration.

The tent housed a huge ofrenda, community alter, sand painting by artist Antonio Cruz Zavaleta, delicious food and dance-worthy mariachi music. As per usual, the tamales lived up to our incredibly high expectations. To be honest, they were one of the biggest reasons we drove an hour in the pouring rain to celebrate Día de los Muertos.

Mariachi Band Zelaya at Day of the Dead, Medina, NY

Sand Painting at Day of the Dead, Medina, NY

After taking in mariachi band Zelaya and colorful, swirling skirts of dancing family members, we headed to Shirt Factory Cafe to sample their Day of the Dead menu. I’m not a huge tequila fan, but I am up for almost anything in the name of a cultural experience. My cucumber-tequila concoction and a flight of 123 Organic Tequila gave me a new appreciation for the liquor.

Day of the Dead at Shirt Factory Cafe

medina-ny-day-of-the-dead-2018-2-min

We ended our night out with huge slices of pizza at Avanti, which is definitely not Mexican but is incredibly Medinian.

My Favorite Sunday Funday this Summer

Everyone has a different idea of the perfect summertime Sunday Funday. For some, it’s a wine tour, or an hours-long brunch, or enough time and energy to deep clean the kitchen. While I love all of those things, they aren’t my idea of the perfect Sunday.

This summer, my favorite Sunday caught me by surprise. Everything about it was last minute, which made it that much more special.

AHTC’s Summer Sizzler

Getting up at 5:30 am probably isn’t most people’s idea of a good time, but I’m willing to wake up just about any time of day for horses. I just never outgrew the horse-crazy phase. On this particular Sunday, I arrived at a (super duper casual) horse show at 6:30 am with zero expectations.

I rode possibly the sweetest, prettiest paint, Trent, who I’ve come to love but didn’t really know all that well a few months ago. The weather was perfect, my parents stopped by to see us ride and our performance wasn’t too shabby either. It also doesn’t hurt that Trent receives a compliment about how cute he is approximately once every three minutes. I know they’re not talking about me, but positive energy is positive energy.

Trent at AHTC's Summer Sizzler

Buffalo Brewing Company

After the show, I headed home way earlier than I thought I would. Cody and I couldn’t let the rest of what had turned into a beautiful day get away from us. We’re slowly getting to every brewery in Buffalo and decided to check another off the list. This time, we opted for Buffalo Brewing Company.

Beer garden at Buffalo Brewing Company

1842 Vienna Lager at Buffalo Brewing Company

Their small tasting room and shaded outdoor space offered a lovely breeze that kept us comfortable. We ordered inside before claiming a spot in two of the beer garden’s Adirondack chairs. The tap room was out of the 1856 Cran-Raz Wheat, so I went with a pint of the 1842 Vienna Lager. Cody chose a couple of the brewery’s IPAs, as per usual. All were good! I loved how each beer’s name commemorated an event in Buffalo’s history, reminding me of how LyonSmith incorporates English history into their beers’ names.

Outer Harbor

Until this particular Sunday Funday, I had never been to the Outer Harbor. Terrible, I know. After a couple of beers, we hopped on the Skyway for a nice pre-dinner bike ride on the Wellness Trail. Because of construction, the trail is currently a little short, but there are plenty of ways to bike around the peninsula.

Bike ride on the Outer Harbor Wellness Trail

Wind sculpture at Wilkeson Pointe

The fresh air, the unexpected nature of the day and dinner on the grill when we got home made this, hands down, one of my favorite days this summer. It wasn’t super special, but it included so many of the things I love about Buffalo and life, all wrapped up under a cloudless blue sky.

No Bad Choice at Ellicottville’s Steelbound Brewing

After a weekend of camping at Allegany State Park with Cody’s family, we stopped at the new Steelbound Brewery on our way through Ellicottville. Camping with the Jones clan means almost constant eating, so we were not hungry for a meal, although everything coming from the kitchen looked great.

Steelbound Brewery, Ellicottville, NY

Taps at Steelbound Brewery, Ellicottville, NY

We ordered two flights, mixing and matching Steelbound’s huge draft list. Cody went with 8 IPAs (which wasn’t even all the IPAs on the list) and I went for a more eclectic combination. I enjoyed everything, from the Blueballs (their much, much juicier answer to ECB’s Blueberry Wheat with 600 pounds of blueberry in every batch) to the Fat Porter.

Flight at Steelbound Brewery, Ellicottville, NY

Flight at Steelbound Brewery, Ellicottville, NY

For a new brewery (they opened in May of 2018), these guys have very impressive beer and a huge distribution network. They’re really embracing their tagline (“Where Buffalo meets Ellicottville”) with lots of Bills references and a big presence at this year’s Buffalo Beer Week.

If you’re heading to Ellicottville for Fall Fest, doing some last minute camping or hitting the slopes this winter, it’s definitely worth stopping at Steelbound!

Root & Bloom: Vegan Comfort Food in the Comfiest Space

I am by no means vegan or even vegetarian, especially when cooking for myself. I do love my Oh She Glows cookbook, but most of the time, I find vegan recipes more complicated and intimidating than their conventional counterparts.

However, if someone else is going to cook without animal products for me, I’m all in. While Paige was home last month I recruited her to go check out Root & Bloom, one of Buffalo’s newest restaurants and its first vegan-only eatery.

Good Vibes Only

Any business that uses “Gazebo” as part of their address probably knows a thing or two about creating a unique atmosphere. Walking off of Elmwood and into the hidden, tree-lined courtyard Root & Bloom calls home feels like stepping into a secret garden. I’m not sure there’s any way to truly capture the airy space in photographs, but I sure tried.

Root & Bloom | Gazebo in Elmwood Village | Vegan Restaurant

Root & Bloom | Gazebo in Elmwood Village | Vegan Restaurant

I just couldn’t get over the layers of the space: macrame, linen and copper on wood, lace against bark, wrought iron over pavers and brick peaking through leaves. I have a feeling that each year will lead to a cozier feel. It just seems like the kind of place where beautiful knick knacks are accepted with open arms.

The staff was friendly and when we stopped in on a Thursday night, the dinner crowd was lingering, continuing to chat over their empty plates. There was absolutely no pressure to move along or order dessert, just conversation and an itty bitty kombucha-fueled buzz.

Root & Bloom | Gazebo in Elmwood Village | Vegan Restaurant

Root & Bloom | Gazebo in Elmwood Village | Vegan Restaurant

The Dinner Menu

Root & Bloom serves both brunch and dinner. We thought about squeezing in Sunday brunch as a family, but a weeknight dinner gave Paige and me an opportunity to wander down Elmwood before and after dinner.

The dinner menu features vegan staples (cashew cheese, tofu and jackfruit) blended into dishes even the most committed carnivore would recognize: tacos, BBQ sliders, and mac and cheese. While everything looked delicious, we both chose the Ricardo: corn tortilla tacos filled with fried avocado, pico de gallo, cabbage, pickled red onions, mango rice and a habanero lime cream drizzle. Paige chose to wash her tacos down with chia citrus water, while I went for Bootleg Bucha’s blueberry lavender variety.

Root & Bloom | Vegan Restaurant | Fried Avocado Tacos

Everything was absolutely delicious, and the serving size made us glad we had parked a few blocks away!

The restaurant’s indoor space will open this fall, so Buffalo can continue to enjoy the creative vegan menu during Buffalo’s colder months. I’ll definitely be going back for more for three reasons:

  1. Brunch (no further explanation needed).
  2. A robust weekend specials menu and the Saturday night Uprooted series.
  3. The gazebo’s Instagramable aesthetic means both 1 and 2 are constantly popping up in my social media feeds!

Quick Trip: 24 Hours in Rochester, NY

How many things can you fit into a single day in Rochester? A lot.

My friend Mary lives in Rochester, and while it’s not far, we’ve spent months trying to find a few days that we were both free. When we found a full 24 hours without work, family obligations or weekend trips we already had scheduled, we jumped into full planning mode.

I picked a few places on my Rochester bucket list (almost all involving either coffee or beer) and Mary put together a perfectly designed itinerary. She also instructed her poor boyfriend not to eat or drink anything we ordered until I was done photographing it.

First up was dessert before dinner at Scratch Bakeshop‘s new location in the Neighborhood of the Arts. Just like the other small businesses in this stretch between University and Atlantic Avenues, Scratch has the cutest decor, high quality products and a friendly vibe. We opted for a mix of desserts, including vegan options, which were amazing!

24 Hours in Rochester, NY | Scratch Bakeshop | Neighborhood of the Arts

24 Hours in Rochester, NY | Scratch Bakeshop | Neighborhood of the Arts

It wasn’t on the original schedule, but Three Heads Brewing is literally across the street from Scratch, so… we stopped in for a flight before dinner.

24 Hours in Rochester, NY | Three Heads Brewing | Neighborhood of the Arts

For dinner, we headed downtown to try Fifth Frame Brewing Co.,a brewery and roastery that opened last fall. Who knew that beer and an egg sandwich would taste so good at 8 pm? Actually the welcoming staff at Fifth Frame know this; “comfort food with unwarranted but welcomed riffs” is what they’re all about. Their Half & Half, an espresso oat stout, was amazing.

24 Hours in Rochester, NY | Fifth Frame Brewing, Co.

After dinner and drinks, we headed to Mary’s to watch dramatic TV shows and get a good night of sleep.

The next morning, we bundled up to venture to Turning Point Park and walk off some of the giant cookie and cake slice we consumed the day before. The boardwalk over the water was so pretty, if wind-whipped. We didn’t make it far, but I’ll definitely be back in warmer weather!

24 Hours in Rochester, NY | Turning Point Park

After our minimal exercise, we needed coffee, so off to Glen Edith Coffee Roaster‘s Park Ave Neighborhood location we went. There were way more people doing homework than I would have expected for a Saturday afternoon, but the cozy, quiet vibe was great. As was the coffee, of course.

24 Hours in Rochester, NY | Glen Edith Coffee Roasters | Park Ave. Neighborhood

24 Hours in Rochester, NY | Glen Edith Coffee Roasters | Park Ave. Neighborhood

Our last stop was the Rochester Public Market, which was surprisingly busy for a cold February Saturday. I can’t imagine how crazy this place gets on nice summer days. There was lots of fresh produce at really good prices and I was impressed with the number of fish and meat vendors as well!

24 Hours in Rochester, NY | Public Market

24 Hours in Rochester, NY | Public Market

24 Hours in Rochester, NY | Public Market

The newer buildings make it obvious that this market is a big piece of Rochester’s plan for the future, and they compliment the shops that hint at the age of the Public Market. It’s been operating in its current location since 1905.

Although my trip was short, I really enjoyed everything we were able to fit in. Thanks for hosting Mary! I’ll be back in warmer weather to try more coffee, more beer, more hikes and other items on my bucket list.

34 Buffalo-Made Gifts for Your Christmas List

Alpine Made
Lemongrass Goat Milk Soap – $8.94
Pretty and practical, pair this Lemongrass Goat Milk Soap with a soap dish or other cute bathroom accessories for grandma or aunts.

Aléthea’s Chocolates
Sponge Candy – $21.95
Choose light, dark or a mix of both. Does this need any more explanation?

Locally Made Baked Goods
Try Schwab’s, Becker Farms, Butter Block, Breadhive, Ohlson’s Bakery, or my personal favorite, The Bread Basket. Cookies, pies and cupcakes are always welcome at the holiday table!

Banky Girl Creations
Team Pizza and Wings Tee – $25.95
What Buffalo girl isn’t a fan of pizza and wings?

Blue Table Chocolates
4 Month, 12 Piece Subscription – $60
Every month, Blue Table Chocolates will send “a variety of flavors, including [the] special flavor of the month” to the chocolate-lovers on your list. Who won’t love this gift?!

Born in Buffalo
BFLO Beer Taps – $21.99
No Buffalo beer lover’s wardrobe is complete without one of these BFLO Beer Tap t-shirts.

Buffalo Beer Mug Co.
Growler Cleveland – $7.50
While you may not know too many history lovers who are also beer fanatics (or beer lovers who are also history fanatics), this is the gift for them.

Buffalo Canvas
Canvases and Custom Framing
Create an ultra-personalized gift with a oversize canvas or custom framed print. The folks at Buffalo Canvas can turn your images into pretty much anything you can imagine!

Buffalo Made Co.
Buffalo Made Flag Print – $10.00 to $24.00
This simple artwork is perfect for Buffalovers and it looks great with or without a frame!

Buffalo Outdoors
Button-Up Long Sleeve Textured Henley Shirt – $12.99
This classic Henley comes in 7 colors, perfect for the practical guys on your list.

Buffalovely
Trump Can Eff the Eff Off Mug – $14
For your friends who are having a hard time adjusting to the current administration.

C Designs
Home Sweet Home Card – $4.50
Frame literally any of C Designs’ cards for a cute collection of accents perfect for a kitchen or bathroom!

Christopher Hyzy
B is for Buffalo – $29.95 (hardcover)
Christopher Hyzy’s book of gorgeous aerial photography was available last Christmas, but if it’s not on the coffee table already, it should be.

Fern Croft
Small Arrangement – $55
Not every gift needs to last forever. Make your Christmas host’s day with a fresh flower arrangement that arrives just before guests.

In The Buff 716
Christmas Ornaments – $11.99
If your wrapping paper and ribbon is just as important to you as what’s inside, consider topping packages with these metal Buffalo ornaments.

Indie Twenty
Onyx Triangle Necklace – $23.00
This necklace is perfect for jazzing up basics throughout the rest of the winter, and everyone from coworkers to nieces will appreciate it.

Inspired Buffalo
Blue Whale Pillow by Michael Clarke – $29 to $43
This throw pillow is the perfect accent for a beachy living room or nautical lake house.

Jess C Jewelry
BUFFAL❄VE Necklace
You can find this necklace (and tons of other adorable Buffalo jewelry) at local shops, or contact jesscjewelry@gmail.com.

Keng Creations
Beam Candle Holder – $40
Add this candle holder to a mantle or centerpiece for a natural accent that isn’t too rustic.

Kitch Studios
Christmas Tea Towel – $11
Pair a cute tea towel with gourmet cookies, a bottle of wine or homemade jelly and you have an easy, affordable gift.

LaCott Fine Art
Elephant Print
Laura’s alcohol ink elephants are gorgeous and will make any animal lover smile. Find her at various maker fairs and festivals this season to pick out the perfect one.

Niagara County Produce
Hot Pepper Relish
Pair this unique condiment with a tea towel for the perfect office gift.

Nickel City String Art
Cactus String Art – $20
Do you have a friend who likes plants but can’t keep them alive? This is for them.

Oxford Pennant
Get Lost Pennant – $25
This wanderlust-inspiring pennant is at the top of my Christmas list. Literally any of Oxford Pennant’s wares make great gifts.

Papercraft Miracles
Blueberry Muffin Stationary Set – $5.00
Stuff stockings with this adorable stationary set or get a few for an easy Secret Santa gift.

Pencil Sketch Paper
Buffalo Stampede Wrapping Paper – $15
Wrap your gifts in this, and frame the extras for other Buffalo fans.

Pretty + Grit
Balance Double Ring – $45
This double ring from brand-new Pretty + Grit is simple, but not too simple.

Rise Collaborative
“You Belong” Sweatshirt – $34 to $48
When you buy this super cute sweatshirt (which also shares a really powerful message), you can choose to donate either a hat or a sweatshirt to Buffalo’s growing refugee population. These sweatshirts are preorder only, so head over to Rise’s website by 11/29.

Rosie Furniture & Lighting
Rosie Idea Box
Find the folks from Rosie at Yuletide in the Country on December 2nd and 3rd to shop their entire collection.

Sadler Garden Collections
Planter with Cameo Cutout – $35.99
These planters are an upgrade from the typical hanging basket that gardeners will put to good use come spring.

Silo City Art
Autumn On The Lake: Original Watercolor Painting by Jill Carere – $65.00
Add to an art aficionado’s collection without breaking the bank.

Three Stories Coffee
Burundi Single Origin 12 oz – $14
This new coffee roaster has tons of options to choose from, with every variety available in light or dark roast as well as whole bean or ground.

Wild Skin Cares
The Basic Box (includes Day Oil, Hydrating Cleanser and Facial Toner) – $61.20
Spoil your mom or your girlfriends with this luxurious skin care kit. All you have to do is pick the skin type of your recipient and Wild Skin Cares does the rest.

Wood by Bri
Buffalo Business Card Holder – $18
Know a recent college grad who loves Buffalo? Order them this cool wood business card holder.