Friday, July 27, 2012

Scary Meal at The Carriage House Restaurant

Courtyard at The Myrtles

Scary Meal and Scary Prices at America's Most Haunted House

This small, quaintly decorated restaurant next to The Myrtles Plantation promised a pleasant meal, but we were very disappointed.

The service though friendly was slow, uninformed and dismal, despite the fact that we practically the only customers.

Our server failed to fill our water glasses and brought out the wrong vegetables with our meal even when we were the only table of customers in the restaurant. Service was slow and inept.  We were served a rectangular brick of fried grits cake that was sodden and tasteless, then we realized that wasn't what we ordered.
Mahi mahi, asparagus & grits cake

When they brought out the "grilled asparagus" it was three paltry pieces of limp asparagus and the new potatoes were glorified hash browns.

Our sensation salad had little or no dressing. The blackened mahi mahi was flavorful.

Wine glasses were small and underfilled despite the full charge of $8.50 for a glass of red wine. The fried green tomatoes were topped with crab meat and a balsamic reduction which was nice but the mound of mayonnaise heavy tartar sauce underneath each slice was not. The bread pudding though sweet and tasty had very little whiskey sauce. We asked for extra and it was brought out cold in a plastic cup.

Pricing way out of line

Their prices are those of a higher level of service and better quality dining establishment.  And when our bill arrived there was a gratuity already added to our ticket and a place to add a tip!  We had to ask that the gratuity be removed from the total so that we could select our own tip amount.  This was not mentioned on the menu that a gratuity was included.  We were only a party of two.  There was no excuse for this.
The Myrtles

Hollywood has gone to his head

The owner of the restaurant spoke with us as we left and he boasted that the Hollywood crowd filming a Danny Glover movie at Angola was on their way over for a late dinner and that they dine frequently there.  They probably don't know any better and there aren't many decent choices in the area.  And their expense budgets don't care where they eat!  The owner owns a gas station down the street and this is his new venture.  He should keep to pumping gas and what he knows!

We were very disappointed and do not plan to go back.
Carriage House at Myrtles Plantation on Urbanspoon

Questionable Walmart Practice: Cigarettes Merchandised Next to Infant Formula

Walmart display cigarettes next to baby formula in Amherst, NY

Walmart displays Marlboro cigarettes next to Enfamil baby formula:

Above picture taken at a local Walmart in Western New York

Juxtapositions can be hilarious, ridiculous or just plain stupid.  This one hits all three.
And look at the exorbitant prices on both of these products!  Nearly a $100 for a carton of cigarettes!  Wow, AND it debilitates you for life!  What a deal.

Questionable merchandising

Is Walmart saying that smoking is just as ill advised as using baby formula, so here buy both?  Or Are they merchandising this way because those who purchase cigarettes frequently purchase formula also?

Formula display at Harvest Foods
I wrote a post on my pawannabe blog about a similar merchandising strategy at Harvest Foods grocery store in Marksville, LA, have a look at it here.   They display their baby formula on the counter directly in front of the liquor.  This comes under the "Just Sayin'" heading for me.  The definite hmmmmm, sidelong glance, "what are we telling the shopping public here?"

I could write a dissertation worthy article here on these topics, but I won't.  I will leave the viewing pleasure to you, dear reader, of these various current and retro merchandising strategies.

More funny WNY advertising

Vintage Retro Ads remind us of how much our views have changed

Look at these vintage magazine ads. Now NYC is banning over sized sugary sodas being sold.

And not long ago they were marketing 7 Up and cola to mothers for their infants and putting captions under babies commenting on their mother's smoking habits.  WOW!

How about the "More Doctors Smoke Camels...", good one, huh?

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Sole Margaritas: tasty but pricey


Sole on Elmwood is a fun, light stop for a Margarita. I dislike dark bars and emporiums.  And in BFLO it is too easy to get depressed due to the dreary weather, the last thing you need is a dark place to drink your Margarita.

Their Margarita's (on the rocks) are served with a generous amount of salt and are a tasty, well balanced mix of tequila and lime. I like the bright, airy atmosphere at the front of Sole.  There's great people watching on Elmwood.

Light, airy atmosphere important in Buff
The Margaritas are good but small for the $7 price tag.

The chips and salsa are a good side to the ritas.  The guacamole made a table-side at Sole is a specialty here.  I recommend it.  They smash the avocados for you and include the amount of lime juice and and cayenne that suits you.  But it's so large that it becomes dinner!

Menu at Sole

Sole' on Urbanspoon

Hanna's Frosty Treats needs to clean up!

Hanna's on Colvin left me frosty.

This street side ice cream place had been recommended to me.  And I was hoping for something special.  They offer soft serve ice cream, chocolate and vanilla, and Perry's hard ice cream--standard fare.

I tried a hot butterscotch sundae.  The sauce was warm and very sweet, but there really was too much of it.

Grimy Trash Cans

Hanna's could be a fun, inexpensive place to get the kids an ice cream.  However, their trash cans are so filthy on the outside you don't even want to touch them to put your trash in.  The bench with concrete "feet" contributed to the city street grimy feel.

Hanna's Frosty Treats on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Mezza: Nightlife and Lebanese fare

Mezza late night

We went to Mezza's on Elmwood for a late dinner on a weeknight.  The atmosphere was lively in the bar area and the sidewalk cafe was hopping with hookah smokers.

(The inside wasn't smoky though, so this was good.)

The service was friendly and accommodating, though our waitress couldn't answer all the questions we had about the chicken shawarma.

Mezza's menu

The food took a while to come out and we were starting to wonder, but this could have been because the nightlife was more the focus at this time of the evening.

I ordered falafel, but sadly they were out.  This did tarnish my experience initially, but I selected the Chicken Shawarma Wrap with a side salad of their Traditional salad with feta.  They make their own dressings for their salads including the Pomegranate that I had on the House salad and the lemon, sumac and mint that my husband had on the Traditional Fattoush (salad).  The lemon dressing on the Traditional salad was quite lemony and acidic, as the waitress warned us.  I preferred the pomegranate dressing.

The Chicken Shawarma Wrap was in a grilled pita and was quite tasty and very well priced at only $8 (including the salad), and I had enough to bring home the other half for lunch the next day.  There was a pickle tucked inside which was a surprise!  The chicken was grilled chunks not the shaved shawarma off of a spit that I became accustomed to at Baton Rouge Lebanese restaurants and as I had recently in Cairo.

Riding camels in Giza
Oh, did I mention my trip to Cairo?  Yes, I was in Cairo in June, please see my blog for more photos, and had some delicious street side chicken shawarma that was carved off of the spit right outside and the chicken was juicy and full of herbs, garlic and spices.  It was messy and wonderful as street food should be.

Mezza's was a good experience, our food was tasty and well prepared.  We enjoyed it and will probably return.
I would like to try their falafel next time.

Mezza Restaurant & Lounge on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Zumba rocks at BAC!


Zumba Fitness with Laurie Lou, otherwise known as the zumba fitness ninja at BAC (Buffalo Athletic Club) regularly packs over 70 people into the aerobics studio for her high powered Zumba classes!
(Better come early to get a good spot.)

Laurie, who has close to a cult-like following, is a high octane spark plug!

I'm 4'11" and Laurie seems to have an inch or two on me, but she busts it when the music comes on.

I have Zumba-ed before, but this girl Z-U-M-B-A-S !!!!!

I like to stand in the front and pretend that I am just half as cute as Laurie!  
But sometimes I sneak in the back when I am late and still love the class.  
But really I think that I burn more calories when I stand right behind my zumba fitness ninja.  
And my Nike Plus Fuelband, that I use to measure my Nike Fuel and my calorie burn, agrees.

Here's an article on avoiding injuries during Zumba.

Laurie Lou and Buffchic after class
Fuelband reading after class

Chicken Sandwiches and The Beef

Tasty chicken sandwiches 


Chick-Fil-A in Alexandria is a pleasant fast food stop for a chicken sandwich.  We sometimes stop in at the one on MacArthur Drive after visiting our vet, Dr. Warren Joubert.

The restaurant atmosphere is lively and pleasant.  I like the fact that they have free wi-fi.  They offer chicken sandwiches on whole wheat bread, which I like.  The staff brings condiments around and they are pathologically friendly.

Now here's the beef

Please keep your politics out of my chicken sandwich.

Recently, Chick-Fil-A president, Dan Cathy, has been vocal about his ultra right wing perspectives regarding marriage and family
"When the head of a major fast food chain underscores his support for traditional marriage, lefty heads explode. Dan Cathy, son of Chick-fil-A founder S. Truett Cathy, told the Baptist Press July 16, that the conservative restaurant chain is, in fact, still conservative.
In response to a question pertaining to the franchise’s support of the traditional family, Cathy replied “guilty as charged.” The president and chief operating officer continued, “We are very much supportive of the family – the biblical definition of the family unit. We are a family-owned business, a family-led business, and we are married to our first wives. We give God thanks for that... we know that it might not be popular with everyone, but thank the Lord, we live in a country where we can share our values and operate on biblical principles."

First of all, I do not consider these views "conservative."  Being conservative denotes being cautious and respectful of resources.  These are not attributes that I associate with Mr. Cathy's opinions.

Asparagus field
Secondly, we are all part of a family.  Your family, my family, our family.

We are all part of one human family.  How we define, create or nurture our family relationships may be different, but we all arise from and are part of a family.
Those who wish to engage in "non-traditional" family arrangements do not spring up from a plowed field like asparagus.

(And personally, I am uncertain about the use on "non-traditional" family as a good term to use here, but I will use it for the moment.)
To step forward and advocate that your definition of a family is inherently superior to other peoples families and family origins is to misunderstand what family is.  I find Mr. Cathy offensively self-righteous.

I respect Mr. Cathy's right to run his business along his own ethical guidelines rooted in biblical ideology, just as I would respect a restaurant owner who wished to run his emporium by guidelines of the Koran.
But please, Mr. Cathy, make and sell chicken sandwiches and stay out of politics.
Chick-fil-A on Urbanspoon

Garlic Sausage overlooking the Falls at Horseshoe Landing

We enjoyed the world class view while snacking on garlic sausage and beer.

Garlic sausage & beer overlooking the Falls.

Incomparable view of Niagara Falls

This casual patio area pub spot over looks the horseshoe falls at Niagara Falls, Ontario.  And this value-priced spot has the best view of the Falls that we've seen.  We were so close to the spectacular Canadian side of "da Falls" that we were surprised we weren't covered in mist.

Get the Garlic Sausage

We took our waitress's suggestion and selected the garlic sausage in a bun to share.  The garlic sausage was delicious with just the right amount of seasoning.  This greasy treat was perfect with lots of mustard and relish.

The beer selection though limited includes a tasty "red" beer that I particularly enjoyed.  The service here was friendly and fast.  Our waitress even politely shooed away groups of tourists taking photos at the railing in front of our table so that our view would not be obstructed.
Rainbow over the Falls

This was the perfect spot for a quick snack overlooking the horseshoes falls and the rainbow seen here was a bonus!

Horseshoe Landing Patio on Urbanspoon

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Zetti's Pizza is a guilty pleasure

My favorite gooey cheeze pizza at Zetti's
A slice of cheese pizza and a Diet Sprite is a guilty pleasure at Zetti's Pizza and Subs on Elmwood.
What more is there to say about a single slice of cheese pizza that needs two paper plates to hold it up!  Hot, cheesey goodness!

Zetti's Pizza and Pasta on Urbanspoon

Kayak Tour of grain elevators on Buffalo River

We did the Paths, Peaks and Paddles kayak tour on a Monday evening in July on the Buffalo River.
Life jackets--check.  Ready to kayak.
This was a three hour tour of the Buffalo River, that fortunately did not involve us getting stranded on a desert isle with the Professor and Maryann!

They provided a tandem kayak for us, as we had reserved earlier in the day, life jackets, help getting into and out of the kayak and an informative tour all for $30 each.

Buffalo: home of Cheerio goodness since 1941

We learned why Buffalo smells like Cheerios. As we paddled past the General Mills grain silo, we suddenly smelled what I described as a warm Cheerio donut smell, if you can imagine that!
This is why Buffalo smells like Cheerios

This explains all the Buffalonians I see wearing T-shirts that say things like, "My city smells like Cheerios."  It's all making sense now.

General Mills grain silo

Clinton Brown was our historian for the guided tour.  He narrated our kayak tour on the architecture and the social and industrial history of Buffalo Creek and Buffalo River as we paddled along dwarfed by these enormous grain silos, many of them empty, rusted and forgotten.

Clint's narrative was informative and entertaining.  He has an optimistic view of Buffalo's future that is tempered by a respect of the city's gloried past and its more recent decades of decline.  Clint is an architect who supports and participates in historical and architectural restorations in Buffalo.

The kayak tour was a blast!  We were virgin kayak-ers and I was nervous at first about getting in and out of the kayak at the dock, but they assisted us and we stayed out of the drink.  My arms were a bit tired at the end of the evening.  And I was a bit glad to see the dock as dusk closed in.  But we enjoyed the evening on the river and we learned a lot. 

Homemade Pizza & Growing Herbs in Boxes

So this is what you get for the going to the grocery store hungry:
a homemade pizza with fresh basil.
We went to Price Rite grocery on Elmwood hungry, happened to see a whole wheat pizza dough in a bag in the refrigerated section and a light bulb went off.
Homemade pizza & salad with feta cheese
We used a bruschetta sauce with chunky bits of tomato and a mix of three cheeses to make the pizza. 
Basil growing in cardboard box

Fresh basil leaves from my porch herb garden were layered under the cheese. Next time improvement: I will put the basil on top of the cheese, as they do at Romeo & Juliet's Cafe.  It is more visually appealing.                                                   

I grew herbs and lettuce in cardboard boxes lined with plastic bags on my patio this summer as I saw the idea in Birds and Blooms magazine. 
The cardboard boxes are inexpensive and eco-friendly containers.  They have worked well, and though I could have decorated the boxes I didn't and the herbs are just as happy.
Parsley and basil growing in cardboard box
Radicchio on a balcony rail pot


Saturday, July 21, 2012

Romeo & Juliet's Bakery on Hertel Ave-Italian done right.

Romeo & Juliet's Bakery and Cafe
Romeo & Juliet's on Hertel has that classic Italian mom and pop restaurant aura that you only experience occasionally.

The service here is friendly and prompt.  Our favorite waiter, Bob, has a great sense of humor and is extra cute when he speaks Italian!

You can dine in the bakery area (where you can eye your dessert choices) or on the restaurant side inside or on the sidewalk cafe area.

The Insalata de Juliet is a delightful mix of spinach and green leaf lettuce, cucumber, marinated artichokes, pine nuts, grated Parmesan and sesame seeds tossed in a sesame oil dressing.
Insalata de Juliet
The "small" Margherita pizza with basil on top is on a thin crispy crust with just the right amount of cheese and sauce.  It definitely is enough for two people.

Dave's, my favorite man person, favorite drink here is the Italian strawberry soda seen here on Romeo & Juliet's iconic place-mat.  It is a light and sweet refreshing carbonated Italian soda--I don't order it because I fear that it could be addictive.
Italian strawberry soda

We moved over to the bakery side for a chocolate chip cannoli after our salad and pizza for $2.50. Their cannolis are crisp and light with a creamy filling that is the right balance of sweet and cheesey-goodness.

Romeo & Juliet's cannoli

The bakery case

Romeo & Juliet's Bakery Cafe' on Urbanspoon