Life is a Combination of Cupcakes and Pasta!

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On every refrigerator, overshadowed by some silly magnets, photos of our furry friends and occasional family recipes from mom and grandma, lies an old sticky note telling you to “Take That Dream Vacation NOW”.

Mine goes something like this:

1. Go to a locals-only Italian town.

2. Learn how to make pasta from scratch.

3. Drink Red Wine. Lots of it.

So when I heard that The Pasta Peddler was moving to Hertel I took it upon myself to pay the store owners a visit and give them a warm “Hello Hertel” welcome.

And boy, am I glad to have done so!

What started as a hobby almost twenty years ago in Eric’s father-in-law Mike’s basement, has come a long way to become The Pasta Peddler we know today – proclaimed by many as the finest artisan pasta available in Buffalo.

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This is only one of the many feathers in his cap, for his wife offers a delectable selection of cupcakes and other baked goods – Wait For It – at the same store, making the location on Hertel a joint venture between The Pasta Peddler and Blackbird Sweets.

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What makes them unique though are their future plans, as the owner very enthusiastically informs me about the possibility of a not-for-profit winter market (thanks to a big and spacious retail space), and a pasta-making class in the near future which hopefully would involve some wine drinking as well!

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He already had me when he used two of my favorite words in a sentence: Wine and Pasta. But throw in some Buffalo knick-knacks scattered around the store, a tiramisu flavored cupcake aptly named “Hertel”, reclaimed wood counters from Buffalo Reuse, a la monferrina pasta machine (its like the Hermes of pasta machines), the fact that he is a fellow NoBo resident and Buffalo Believer, I am more than happy to buy pasta from him for the rest of my life! And I am sure, so are you.

So stop by the store and show them some Buffalove! Do not forget to try the raviolis and the dark chocolate salted-caramel “Blackbird” cupcake, you will thank me later.

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The Pasta Peddler and Blackbird Sweets are celebrating their move to Hertel with a grand-openeing on September 27th, 2014.

MEAT.

In Buffalo, the crisp air can roll in without much notice and the glorious summer can abruptly feel like fall. Yesterday it was 87. Today it’s 63.

I’m ok with that though. It usually means football season has begun, fall beers are on the shelves, and our weekly food habits begin to shift. In our house we’re already starting our regular fall routine of making homemade sauce, chilis and stews. You know, the hearty foods to help bulk us up for the winter.

It also means our weekly quota of chuck roast and ground beef will increase exponentially. Cue Johnny’s Meats – quite possibly my favorite place out of them all on Hertel Ave.

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Maybe its because they’ve been around for 60 years, or that my family has been customers for nearly as many. Maybe it’s the specialty italian sausage. It could be the old school look and feel of the meat market or the culinary knowledge of its butchers. It’s probably a little bit of everything that makes this place the best for meats in all of Buffalo, not just North Buffalo.

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So stop in. Get the meat that will give your sauce the flavor you’re looking for. Ask them for some recommendations. Try something new. Like any great butcher shop, these guys know their meat, know what to use, when, how and why.

I can smell the sauce already. Enjoy! And of course, go Bills.

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In The Meadow…

We can build a snowman in December. By my calendar it’s still summer, I’m talking about the Meadow Cafe in Delaware Park.

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It’s a healthy lunch and juice joint, a people watching paradise and an oasis for the park’s devoted exercisers. You may remember it as the Juicery.

They really did a great job recreating the once popular spot, with tons of tables and chairs nestled both in the sun and the shade, great food and juice drinks, water bowls for the dogs, and flower lined views of Buffalo’s greatest park.

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AdirondackI had a spectacular morning posted up on an Adirondack chair with my son watching the walkers, runners and cyclists. My friend Ben jogged passed us three times, each offering a funny smile and an increasingly tired expression. I chatted with my friend Rachel and met her year and a half old puppy, Penny. Some other folks gave some thoughts about having kids and another kind person offered musical babysitting services.

Just another Buffalo Sunday in the Park.

But possibly the most fun I had was piecing together the fragments of conversations overheard as people whiz by and trying to make a story out of them. Based on what I heard from four different groups of folks, here’s some advice:

If you want that kind of person in your life..to..build you a boathouse..then the ..burr under your saddle..is..you’re going to have deal with New York State.

So that’s how I passed the time today. Hope you’re having as much fun as I am!

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Starting Point: Hertel and Parkside

Friend, fellow blogger, and ad community all-star, Katie Krawczyk, recently started a series focusing on various Buffalo neighborhoods.

To my great delight, Hertel was one of the first!

Check it out at 43North’s website. And if you don’t know about 43North, be sure to surf around their site as well. Some pretty great stuff going on over there…

Cheers,

Charlie

Frank Lloyd Wright’s Darwin Martin House: Beyond The Architecture

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The drive to Parkside, Buffalo’s first suburb designed by Frederick Law Olmsted, a hop, skip and a jump away from Hertel, is bound to leave you astounded. And rightly so, because the sight is one of magnificent opulence. Pardon me, “organic” magnificent opulence.

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For it is in this historic neighborhood, at the conjuncture of Jewett Parkway and Summit Avenue that Frank Lloyd Wright’s celebrated Darwin D. Martin house stands in all its glory.

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Completed in 1907 (yes, nineteen-o-seven), the six historic structures spread over a sprawling 29,000 square feet exemplify Frank Lloyd Wright’s philosophy about organic architecture, and his now-famous quote “form and function are one.”

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But there is more to the Darwin Martin House than meets the eye. Behind this perfect-prairie facade lies the dedication and hard work of volunteers – almost 400 of them. They could be serving as your docents or chaperones, helping you pick out a souvenir from the beautifully curated pieces of the museum gift store, or simply fluffing the cushions in the main living room (Frank Lloyd Wright cushions, pretty big deal!).

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As a new volunteer at Darwin-Martin House myself, I can first-handedly vouch for the appreciation that the board and the staff has towards all of their volunteers. Be it the Director of Volunteers agreeing to chat with me for the blog, proudly beaming when telling me that her volunteers are the face of this organization and the most rewarding aspect of her job; or the Director of Retail Operations giving me a tour of the gift shop, narrating the story of every single art piece or souvenir that he offers in the store – it does not take long for one to realize why 400 people devote their time to this Buffalo monument (after all we do have a lot of options).

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So next time when you are on the tour, look beyond the architecture. Stop by the museum store to chat with the retail-store volunteers, ask your chaperones and docents for their stories. I promise you will not be disappointed!

Special thanks to Angela Laviano-Hamister and Joseph Incao for their precious time and cooperation.

Pictures: DarwinMartinHouse.org

Frank Lloyd Wright’s Darwin Martin House is currently in Phase V of an expansive restoration project estimated to cost $50 million, out of which $40 million has already been raised.