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Exploring Buffalo

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I saw a friend of mine recently who asked what I had done over the weekend, and I replied with “visited Buffalo”.  To which she replied “to shop?” and I said “no”.  Confused, she asked what we could have done then.


I love Art Deco and old buildings, and Buffalo has lots.  We frequently stay at the Hyatt Regency as it is right downtown and easy walking distance to everything.  Really the way Buffalo was laid out (think spokes on a wheel) makes it easy to explore.  As do the signs in the downtown core which explain the architectural features of the city, past and present.  So late Friday afternoon, we walked around.

The Hyatt is built around the old Genesee Bank

The Hyatt is built around the old Genesee Bank

We explored City Hall, going to the very top (for free) to walk around the observation deck.  Inside there were murals that traced historically the development of Buffalo and highlighted key events.  I loved the interior of the City Hall lobby with its soaring Art Deco decorations, the elevator banks with their distinct doors and even outside the inlay at the top of the building with its geometrical shapes.


Elevators on the main floor of City Hall.


Ceiling in the elevator area of City Hall.


View from the top of City Hall. You can see the how the streets have been laid out.


The ceiling outside at the entrance to City Hall.

Right outside City Hall there are numerous examples of period architecture ranging from pre 1900 to current.  We walked around a lot Friday, finding pockets of restaurants and historical homes.  There is a Mansion Row with stately homes, next to brightly coloured houses.  We had a drink in the Hotel Lafayette, whose Pan American bar  boasted a hunting room with a fireplace big enough to fit at least 5 people standing up.  We continued wandering around downtown and Allentown for the afternoon before stopping for a patio drink. For dinner, we went to West Chippewa where it seemed the nightlife was and chose a bar with local/state beers on tap.  This is a goal when we travel to try as many local brews as we can, and Buffalo offers many beers from NY state.

The Prudential Building.  Intricate terra cotta facade

The Prudential Building. Intricate terra cotta facade

Hard to see but there are two Statue of Liberties at either end of the roof.

Hard to see but there are two Statue of Liberties at either end of the roof.

Saturday was for the typical Canadian Buffalo visit – Target and Trader Joe’s! We wandered around more, swam in the hotel pool and then went to Pearl Street Brewery for dinner.  Pearl Street has created a Brewery District in Buffalo (one bar was the Pan American at the Lafayette) where their own microbrews can be found.  Dinner was not as memorable as our previous visit there unfortunately, but as always the beers were good.

We always try to visit a museum when travelling.  The Albright-Knox Art Gallery , found across from the University, was a great way to spend Sunday morning.  Did you know that if you have an AGO contributing membership that you get in free as part of their reciprocal benefits? Or visit the AKAG on a Sunday when it is also free!  We loved wandering around the building and exploring the exhibition Overtime: The art of work.

Last on our visit was walking around the neighbourhood of Elmwood Village and brunch.  This neighbourhood was bright, friendly and had numerous shops, restaurants and green spaces and really felt like a small town.  We decided on brunch at the Blue Monk because of their extensive beer list.


We really enjoyed exploring Buffalo.  We heard that there is a beer festival in the summer, maybe a return trip?


Pizza and Pinot Night for week 4

I have a lovely person that I follow on Twitter and Instagram (@WaterLilyTO), who introduced me to pizza and pinot night. Though I love making pizza, busy nights do have us calling for delivery, though I am jealous of her drool worthy homemade pizzas.  So now because of her, when we have pizza, we automatically open a bottle of pinot.

IMG_0298Château des Charmes Paul Bosc Estate Vineyard Pinot Noir from 2007 was chosen to compliment a jalapeño/chorizo pizza. @WineGuyTO had the following observations: The initial impressions on removing the cord were a wonderful, earthy nose, great colour already moving to a brick red.  The first sip was full of complexity, earth and dark fruits.  As it opened up (considerably), it had softened to notes of dark cherry and had a relatively long finish.  There was a surprising amount of tannins for a 7+ year old Pinot.  The second day, the tannins were much softer. As we always buy bottles in pairs, I can’t wait to revisit this wine again in another five years.


Wine Wednesday with our friends at Bodega Norton!

Next up in our “Drinking Down the Cellar” challenge (week 3) is a favourite of ours, Bodega Norton.  We opened the ’06 Reserva Malbec, of which we have plenty of thanks to @WineGuyTo thinking ahead, as we enjoy it so much.


Notes: Initial impressions upon pouring a glass were the nice deep cherry colour.  The nose at first was muted due to the temperature and lack of aeration, even though it was poured through an aerator.  However, after an additional hour of opening up in the glass, he got notes of plums and dark berries. On the palate the wine is very dry with lots of tannin remaining, with flavours of dark chocolate, with the berries being almost jammy maybe due to the expression of the plum. At 14% ABV there is a lot of punch in it without being overly hot. The finish is long and is quite enjoyable.  We will definitely be cellaring the rest for a minimum of 3-5 more years to allow the wine to mature and have the tannins mellow, additional structure and complexity to become evident.


We paired this tonight with striploin streak but it would equally good with any barbecued meats, spicy pastas or some dark chocolate.

DDTC Week 2 :Baco Noir

This week has been cold.  The cold where you just want to huddle under a thick blanket and cuddle. So I was looking for a wine that had body to it. A friend brought us a bottle of Sandbanks Baco Noir (2013) and I was hoping it would work, as this is our first wine from this winery but our friend says it was a surprise favourite for him. We love finding new wines from Ontario and are looking forward to our next visit to Prince Edward County to explore more.


@WineGuyTO tells me that this wine initially doesn’t have very strong aromas,  but it was a little on the cool side.  On the nose there is a jammy-ness that becomes more on the palate. Twenty minutes in,  there was a toasted nuts on the nose.  The flavours we got were plum and red fruits,  not the wild cherry the bottle says.  The colour is dark red,  almost purple. The sweetness is balanced by acidity; overall a typical Baco.  He paired this tourtière and found that it complemented the wine, as the saltiness of the pork mixed with the beef makes the wine taste more full bodied.

Really we could have sat on this wine for at least 2-3 years,  but that would not help us fulfill drinking down the cellar!

Drinking down the cellar

@WineGuyTo and I have a problem of sorts; we have a lot of wine.  So much we has ever moved some to our ‘off-site storage’  (i.e. my parent’s house).  Though we really enjoy wine, we really need to drink down the cellar as we are running out of room!  So we decided on two things: not buying any wine for a year (not something @WineGuyTo is happy with),  and a 52 week bottle of the week. The latter will be profiled each Wednesday for # winewednesday,  so watch my twitter feed for a new post each week.

Welcome to week 1! Tonight’s dinner was steak,  so we pulled out an Australian version of a Bordeaux, Wynns Coonawarra Estate Cab Sauvignon Shiraz Merlot from 2000.  It is showing surprising longevity for a generally widely available bottle of juice!


The colour is a deep red verging on opaque,  not showing as much brown around the edges as I would have expected.  The fruits are still very much present though the tannins have mellowed nicely. At 13% there is plenty of alcohol to balance the fruit.  All in all,  a very pleasant surprise!


Look at that colour on the cork! There was minute crystallization as well.


Thanks to @WineGuyTO for the tasting notes.

I also fell in love with the ceilings of Italy

As with my previous post on the doors of Italy, I was also enthralled with the ceilings.  We visited many churches and museums over the three weeks, and they all continued the beautiful Renaissance artwork into the ceiling.  My favourite was in the Uffizi on the second floor in the second hallway.  Each ceiling represented a topic of which the de Medici family felt that they were important in and demonstrated their accomplishments (for example, literature, sea-going, art).  In each fresco would be the relevant family members’ portrait, different flora, fauna and images related to the topics.  Enjoy 🙂 IMG_2550 IMG_2547 IMG_2543 IMG_2529 IMG_2479 IMG_2478 IMG_2459 IMG_2454 IMG_2453 IMG_2447 IMG_2446 IMG_2415 IMG_2315 IMG_2314 IMG_2310 IMG_2306 IMG_2292 IMG_2290 IMG_2554 IMG_2552 IMG_2551


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I fell in love with the doors of Italy

We did a lot of walking while in Italy and I was captivated by the doors.  Each one was unique, from the door knocker to the style.  Below is a gallery of the different doors from Rome, Cinque Terre, Pisa and Tuscany, both exterior and interior. Be forewarned! This is 3 weeks worth of door pictures.  Enjoy 🙂

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