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I always do the proper thing. (Well, almost always.) In the case of winery visits, I always send a thank you note to let the owners know how much we appreciated their hospitality, with an invitation to host them for dinner and a wine tasting if they are ever in Buffalo. I’ve had a few take me up on it in the past, including Dyane Savino from Domain Drouhin. After o…

If you love food – eating it, cooking it and tasting it, right where it’s grown – a trip to the Culinary Institute of America (CIA) in Hyde Park, N.Y. may be your perfect getaway. “The CIA is the Harvard of cooking schools,” explained Kenneth Jones, a student chef from East Aurora. It’s also a gastronomical mecca for people who love to dine and an outlet …

A garden is much more than a collection of plants. For young people in the Massachusetts Avenue Project’s Growing Green program, a garden is a way to develop job skills and learn about food justice. For individuals served by Grassroots Gardens, another local not-for-profit organization, a garden builds community and can help them heal from tragedy. And, for the neighborh…

Trends in home décor come and go, but there’s always been an interest in creating artful table settings. People are as invested in setting a beautiful table today as they were in the late 18th century when the aristocracy turned table-setting into a form of artistic expression. An eye-catching table adds to the ambience of a gathering as much as the company and what’s…

Keeping up with the hot new restaurant openings in Buffalo has practically become sport. Here’s a scorecard of this summer’s places to try before your foodie brother-in-law beats you to it. Dobutsu 500 Seneca St., Buffalo The scoop: Due to open this month in the trendy 500 Seneca Street building, this new concept by the much buzzed-about owners of Toutant is a dep…

On our final days in Walla Walla, Washington, we visited three wineries: Gramercy Cellars, Corliss Estates and Figgins. One of the first Washington State Syrahs I ever tasted was from Gramercy, so I knew it would be a great place to visit; they have amazingly good Syrah and Cabernet. Here is a list of our favorites, all of which I bought to add to my cellar. 2013 Joh…

By Kimberly LaRussa Walking into MaryRuth Rera’s home in Amherst, you’re first greeted by the amazing aroma of dinner cooking. Next comes Rera’s infectious smile. Her down-to-earth personality belies the experiences she’s had as a private chef who was once unsure of her path. Many years ago, Rera was trying to find herself. She worked various 9 to 5 jobs that…

Chances are you didn’t make it outside much during the relentlessly wet and unseasonably cool Western New York spring. Now’s your chance to make up for it. Here are some events to get you out the door and in a summer state of mind. BBQ and Blues Bash June 16 Grab a lawn chair and head down to the historic Cobblestone District to get your fill of great BBQ and stel…

By Doug O'Neil Season after season, theater-goers make the trip up to the Stratford Festival in Ontario to get their dose of Shakespeare and other theatrical fare, but increasingly, food has been taking center stage. Our writer lifts the curtain on the local culinary scene in Stratford. The play’s the thing,” said Hamlet, who could have been speaking of Stratford…

The locale: With about 650 year-round residents, it’s a little over two hours southeast of Buffalo. The scoop: Nicknamed the Wine Village and the Cradle of Aviation, Hammondsport makes many travelers’ bucket lists because it’s the personification of quaint, with an authentic village square and accommodations that make it the perfect home base for visiting scores o…

Round and round it goes, where the meat raffle wheel stops nobody knows. But when it does, the hooting and hollering begin. Winners run up for “pick of the table” or whatever item might be up for grabs during that round. Part gambling, part game of chance and a little bit of lottery all rolled up in one, meat raffles are big in Buffalo. Undoubtedly you’ve come int…

Before he started grilling some of WNY’s favorite hot dogs for a living, Dennis McNaney was an industrial arts teacher. But when his position at Maryvale High School was eliminated in 1980, it left him at a crossroads. Despite months of searching, things weren’t coming together. But Dennis had noticed that Red Top – a Hamburg hot dog stand on the lake – was for …

By Jessica Kelly It’s been a challenge in the last year or two to keep track of the many wonderful restaurants popping up around Western New York. Along with new approaches to food, many of them are also re-thinking dessert. Here’s where to find some of Buffalo’s best new sweet treats. Sticky Toffee Pudding The Black Sheep Restaurant & Bar 367 Connecticut…

When I was in grammar school I walked home for lunch, and my go-to repast was a cup of Lipton’s chicken noodle soup, a ham sandwich on white bread and a glass of milk. Times have changed since the 1960s: parents serve an entirely different lunch to their kids — especially when mom is a nutrition expert. “When I pack their lunches, they have a protein, a grain, a v…

By Tim Fenster Most everybody has pondered opening their own restaurant, usually after a particularly satisfying home-cooked meal, but there are good reasons few of us ever will. Restaurants require tens (if not hundreds) of thousands in start-up costs, an incredible amount of work to maintain, and are difficult to keep afloat; studies show about 60 percent of new re…