Taste of Buffalo satisfies all appetites
Under a blue sky, with temperatures what they should be in mid-July, hundreds of thousands of people ate and drank and listened to music in between noshing at the 2019 Taste of Buffalo.
Perhaps the only problem vendors mentioned was running out of food, because the visitors ate it all.
Sponsors were happy, saying the crowds were large and the weather was perfect and there were new and different foods available. That reflects the burgeoning local restaurant business and the continuing increase in the number of local breweries and distilleries.
Some vendors, like Batavia's Eli Fish Brewing Company, came from a little farther away. Brittney said the brewery saw some loyal customers.
"Our banana pepper pierogies have been flying out of here," she said. "They are banana pepper ricotta inside the pierogi and then on top is beef brisket and our balsamic barbecue, all made in house. We smoke everything in house and they're awesome. People have come back and told us that they got more tickets just to come back and get another pierogi on their way out."
If you're wondering, the brewery is named for a guy who couldn't make it as a brewer in Batavia nearly 200 years ago.
Taste Communications Chair Erin Collins said there was a lot of food guaranteed to raise blood pressure, cholesterol and A1C, but there were also the required healthy options.
"It's all about balance, right? You can eat your mac and cheese, but we have every restaurant at the Taste offers one menu item that is a healthy option," Collins said. "It's lower in fat, sodium and cholesterol and there are some really delicious things that are on the menu there. My favorite thing that I have tried so far, I think, lemony cheesecake bites from Cheesecake Guy. Believe it or not, is a healthy option."
Collins was watching carefully because she was chair of the 2020 Taste.
Rita Escalante of Cali Eats was in the Rookie Row on Delaware Avenue, as she gets her restaurant set up in North Buffalo. Escalante said her California food is not your typical Mexican restaurant.
"The difference where everybody always is, like, you're a Mexican restaurant. I'm like no, we're a tacqueria, which is mainly tacos," Escalante said. "We don't do the extras, like the enchiladas, which we do do, but we don't do the sitdown where you have like rice, beans and enchiladas on top. Our's is just mainly, somebody wants an enchilada, I can get them an enchilada."
Escalante said if they had it on sale, people wanted it. Not far away, Sweet Life Dessert Experience was successfully raising customers' sugar levels.
"We have waffles, crepes and we also have brownies and our specialty is waffles, of course. It's just a sweet space that every kid, every old person, every young person of any age could walk in here and enjoy them self, at any time."
The line out front suggested they were. Other vendors had an opportunity to reach out to customers who aren't their usual base. David Drost of Black & Blue Steak and Crab said people bought a lot of his pork bellies.
"Bacon comes from pork belly, but when you create bacon, you brine it, then smoke it," Drost said. "We get a fresh pork belly. We slow braise it in the oven and then to order, we just pan fry it, served with a carrot and ginger puree and a little bit of fresh brussels sprout slaw."
Taste visitors ate the entire available supply. Down Delaware, Elmhurst Dairy was offering milk that wasn't from cows. Heba Mahmood said it was all natural.
"We don't use any chemicals in our products. They are completely natural. They do not have any gums, emulsifiers, coloring agents or preservatives," Mahmood said. "We start with raw ingredients. If you come visit our facilities, we have warehouses packed with hazelnuts and oats and cashews. They are real raw ingredients that we start with. So by no means chemical."
The company started as a regular dairy farm for nearly a century.