About Meg Vaidya

A larger than life young professional/grad student; who does not let her work consume her. When i am not working as an electrical engineer and web researcher/analyst; i can be found wandering about every nook and corner of Buffalo or writing about my latest Buffalo expedition or reading at Spot or cheering on the Sabres or Bills :) Want to know more; follow me on Twitter @megvdy.

Corner Table in a Cafe

You know the warm, fuzzy feeling that you get in a local cafe?

Yeah, the one that comes every time your barista steams the milk for someone’s cappuccino, or steeps a mug of <Insert your favorite here> fragrant herbal tea, or better still, takes out a fresh batch of oatmeal raisin cookies from the oven right when you step inside.

You get the picture, right?

Daily Planet is all this, and even more.

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This beautiful little (actually, not little) gem is conveniently located on the corner of Hertel and Parker, close enough that it was a two minute drive from my house on North Park yet far enough that it seemed tucked away in a quiet corner of the city.

A large (and I mean large) cup of green tea and a corner table by the window later, all my writing paraphernalia spread in front of me – I was ready to write about this new addition to our lovely ‘hood.

Except I walked out of the cafe almost three hours later, with three words in my diary- Daily Planet Coffee!

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Writer’s block, you ask? Oh no! Bloggers don’t have that problem (because we are not aiming for that Pulitzer Prize, nor are we scared out of our wits of “that” New York Times critic).

It was a heady concoction of the soothing jazz tunes, conversations overheard from the next table, the aroma of peppers and fresh mozzarella being sautéed together and my server’s slightly off-center grin- that I forgot what I came in for.

I spent those three hours, tucked away in a corner table, slowly savoring my green tea, watching the evening advance into night fall with soothing jazz being played in the background.

Best three hours I have spent in quite some time, I would say.

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Hertel: Holiday Edition

Off we went, me and my trusty cafe-au-lait (skimmed milk please) from Spot- to take in the sights that Hertel Holidays had to offer.

Wasn’t I cold, you ask?

Parts of Buffalo were buried under seven feet of snow a few weeks ago and made national news- of course I was COLD!! But if you know Buffalo, you should know that the cold never bothered us anyway! And my sentiment was echoed by all the people who came out.

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While some came to see their neighborhood all decked out in christmas lights, others were drawn by the carolers Fa La La, and some just wanted a glimpse of the man in red- our very dear Santa Claus.

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From the usual staples we have come to expect from Hertel-the ever gorgeous window displays at Room, Mr. Morgulis sharing stories through his Buffalo-themed art, North Park Theater‘s marquee shining in all it’s glory, to some new feathers in Hertel’s cap- a new chocolatier on the block, a very hip decor store, and newly restored stained glass windows of Shea’s North Park.

FullSizeRender-8FullSizeRender-12FullSizeRender-13It was a celebration not just of the holiday season, but of all the people-from the ones who call this lovely neighborhood their home, to those who made this their second home by establishing their businesses here- who bring your Hertel and my Hertel to life.

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Happy Holidays!

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.

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.

Summer on the Avenue

Lately I have been spending most of my weekends in Rochester, which left me feeling distanced from Buffalo. Now don’t get me wrong, I love Rochester; but I love Buffalo more!

So when I finally ditched the Flower City for Queen City, I decided to spend the whole day Hertel-Hopping.

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It all started on the beautiful flower adorned patio of La Tavola. They had me at their beautifully crafted cocktails, but their food was an absolute home run too. And the fact that all the patio flowers were from their next-door neighbor Floral Explorations, it was an icing on the cake.

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Once well fed, it was time for a leisurely stroll on the avenue. And strolling and shopping come hand in hand. Now, don’t stop reading already. I am not going to talk about skater dresses and accordion-pleated skirts (I mean I can..but I won’t).

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On that note, enter Second Reader Book Shop. Now if you are anything like me (translation: book nerd), this place is absolute heaven. Like the name suggests, they sell pre-owned, vintage and collectible books. Buffalo, New York City, Frank Lloyd Wright, comic books from 1950’s, vintage Mustang poster books- you name it, they got it. And I can personally vouch for their collection because some of my very prized possessions were bought here.

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With a bag of books on my arm and a warm smile on my face, I moved on to New Buffalo Graphics. Now if you have not heard of this place; you, my friend, are missing out. Designed by Michael Morgulis, it is the ultimate destination for Buffalo-themed prints and posters. And for the most part, most of his art is lovingly and proudly created at the back of this very store.

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After all the shopping, it was time to quench the thirst. And Caramici’s offered a perfectly cold beer on a beautiful patio with a public piano. I enjoyed my beer, watching the hustle and bustle on the avenue serenaded by the melody of a pianist.

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And then I decided to venture out to Buffalo’s soccer mecca, mes Que. Traditionally a Bills and Sabres fan, I do not really follow the sport. Nonetheless, watching all the soccer enthusiasts, decked in their respective jerseys, cheering for their teams was fun. And the beers only made it more interesting!

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That concluded my Hertel-Hopping. Needless to say, I had a very nice time- all within two blocks of my house.

After all we only get 99 days of summer, gotta make the most of it.