Dear lord, I keep trying to sneak in here to blog away, and something is always sneaking up to keep me occupied.

Camping was amazing up in Wellesley Island State Park. I stopped in Rochester to pick up Cori, and grab some lunch with Greg and Kelly at The Distillery. After some delicious eats, we were off to northern New York state!

It may not suffice as a legit vacation1, but a 3-4 day weekend kicking back with an awesome young lady is a very good substitute. We setup camp Friday afternoon and just took it easy for the rest of the day. Once I figured out how to put the tent back up again, that is. It’s been a few years!

Cori rocked it on the food front. I had brought bacon, eggs, pork chops, chicken breasts (to marinate with sesame & ginger dressing), and some sausages and a couple chicken burgers of varying styles (cheddar/broccoli/bacon, polish, feta/spinach, respectively). I had asked Cori to take charge of bringing some marinated veggie concoctions, and boy did she. Gallon bags of eggplant and onion, mushrooms and peppers, green and yellow sliced squashes, and balsamic-marinated portabellas. And that wasn’t including snacks! Dear lord…apples, peanut butter and caramel dip for said apples, gallon bag of mixed berries (*drool*), ingredients for caprese (*drooling even worse*), and I’m sure I’m missing something else there. Regardless, I was thoroughly shocked at the additional smorgasbord that was coming along.

Saturday, we checked out the Autumn Festival that goes on in the park every fall apparently. It isn’t anywhere near the size of the Ellicottville Fall Festival that I’ve already been to, but it was a quaint little festival nonetheless. Not much to see (besides some alpacas and calves), but the $5 boat tour of the nearby islands was worth the fare!

Sunday ended up as a ~5-mile hike in the park and an afternoon trip for delicious alma mater foodies from Cori’s college years. And some lawn chairs. The wooden bench was wearing at our asses in the evening. Anyhoo, late lunch/early dinner ended up being at The Bagelry, which is essentially as the name implies: a bagel deli of sorts. Delicious, open-faced bagel sandwiches at an expectable price range. We dined on those while enjoying the riverfront nearby, followed by a short tour around the hotspots of her college years in the area. Half-dozing, we got back to the campsite well after sunset.

Monday we spent gobbling up the rest of the eggs, berries, and another helping of our daily bacon before closing camp. We hit up Alexandria Bay to take a boat shuttle out to Boldt Castle, in the middle of the St. Lawrence River. Wandering around for a few hours on a self-guided tour of the castle undergoing restoration was pretty amazing. Still awesome to see what kind of structures have been and are still being built in the last century!

Heading back out, we splurged on a lunch with apples & Nutella (not sure how Cori missed me mentioning that the first afternoon), caprese, and some salad with the leftover marinated chicken. We ate like royalty that weekend, I swear! And to top it all off, her parents’ invited me to stay over for dinner upon returning to Rochester: chicken parmigiana with homemade sauce, homemade spaghetti, salad, garlic bread, and baked marinated squash (that we didn’t even touch all weekend). Omilord was I spoiled! After trying to relax and digest all that food, it was indeed difficult to muster the willpower and energy to drive all the way back to Buffalo after that weekend.

I didn’t even stay in Buffalo that long. Cori procured us tickets to go see Andrew Bird over at Harro East in Rochester, so off I went immediately after work on Wednesday for that show! Following up a modestly long performance by Dosh and Bird, some food was necessary. An unexpected drop in at Jay’s Diner hit the spot! Some awesome clam chowder2 set the meal off right. I can’t even remember what else I got; the chowder was the best part!

A necessary crash at the Bed & Breakfast was necessary before hitting the road and driving right back to Buffalo. So much back and forth in just a week! Thankfully, it’s only an hour drive; anything over two hours would quickly become a bit miserable to deal with, uffda.

So here I am, finally trying to finish out this week. I’ve got a Chinese dinner night in planned for Friday3, followed by documentation of Rachel’s lopping off of her hair for Roswell Park on Saturday morning, some linguine alla carbonara with fixings for dinner, and then off to the Buffalo Philharmonic to see the ‘Dead Russians concert’, as Cori likes to describe it. Sunday is supposed to involve a trip out to the Great Pumpkin Farm’s Fall Festival over in Clarence with Nicole, Kate, and likely some other social media-ites, before finally sending Cori back off to Rochester. It’ll be a modestly busy but enjoyable weekend!

I’m not even going to bother with dumping my photos to my blog from the camping excursion. I’m still trying to play catchup with the pictures I took from Nicole’s birthday wine tour as well, so just go check my flickr stream if you really want to see what turned out.

In the interim, I think it’s very much time for some sleep…the clock just passed midnight…


1I still haven’t taken my two weeks off this year yet. It’s starting to wear on me…uffda.
2Not just a modest cup of it either, a whole bowl was necessary after the deluge we ran through after the concert!
3Presuming that it doesn’t get sidetracked or derailed by anything else immediately upon arrival…*raises a brow*

Firstly, errrr, ummm, wow, my “Archives” link to the right is horribly broken. I need to do something about that. But anyhoo…

This past week has been a more interesting one for a variety of reasons. Last Saturday’s opening concert of the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra was fantastic. The pieces weren’t quite as aurally powerful as last year’s opening pieces, but what they lacked in symphonic power they made up with in fantasy! Gil Shaham put on an amazing performance with Pablo de Sarasate’s Carmen Fantasy for Violin and Orchestra, opus 25. It was such a beautiful and lively piece, and watching Shaham literally playing with his solo on the violin was just mind-blowing. I completely forgot how fun it is to watch these superb musicians have fun with their music. He looked like a little kid as he was playing: the excitement in his face, his bodily motions and just the way the music came out. Simply superb!

Sitting in row L was a perfect view of the stage, and I kid you not it feels like the perfect seat. I look straight ahead at the conductor’s podium, about as close to dead center as I can be. Thankfully, this is the seat I have for the other nine concerts in the season. As a perk for opening night, I was sitting next to a spouse to one of the second violinists. She’s originally from Idaho, so we shared a little reminiscence of the Midwest and talked about how life has been in Buffalo since we both came here. Her husband has played with the BPO for the past 30 or so years, so as she stated she’s been “spoiled” by attending nearly every concert for free. Can you see how green my face is right now??

I finally went down to the Elmwood Farmer’s Market last Saturday as well. I was pleasantly pleased with the selection of items down there, albeit I was disappointed to not see Niagara Landing (at least I don’t recall seeing them) in order to acquire some of their blueberry wine that I got to try at the Taste of Buffalo over the summer. I did get to pick up some leeks, homemade pasta, fresh apples and a loaf of Polish placek. I know I’ve had the placek somewhere before, but I really couldn’t remember where.

All in all, Saturday was a wonderful day!

Since then, I’ve been trying to hurriedly keep making dinners each night from scratch. I sort of gave up on that tonight from the stress load. The rest of the nights it turned out well, however. Spaghetti with chicken meatballs turned out better than I thought it would (for completely lacking bread crumbs, I had to sub crushed crackers instead). I’m getting much better at making veggie fried rice. Expeller-pressed peanut oil seems to make a world of difference (plus I love the smell), cutting my onions much coarser adds a world more flavor, and the bags of mixed frozen vegetables is an easy fix to getting that “mixed veggie” style to the fried rice without cutting up a bunch of random vegetables. I’ve even got hulled sesame seeds in bulk to sprinkle in, on, or over when I’m done! Tonight was supposed to be turkey and leeks in cream sauce, but that will just have to wait for Friday night now, as I do not think I’ll have the time for that tomorrow evening before the Ben Folds with the BPO concert.

  • October 2nd – Just found out about. Reeeeeeally want to go.
  • Completely undecided yet. Have to find Soundlab first.
  • October 3rd – BPO Opening Night. *drools* ‘Nuff said?
  • October 17th – BPO’s Rachmaninoff piano concerto. Looking forward to this!
  • October 21st – Andrew Bird featuring St. Vincent. Omgomgomgomgomgomg… Seriously, yes, I’m giddy about this one. As pumped about this as I am about the BPO opener, if not moreso.
  • October 27th – The Get Up Kids. Been a fan of them since around 1999 I think? Unfortunately haven’t listened to any of their new music since, but I’m really curious to see them in concert.

    In other random stuff, football party plans appear to be flopping for Sunday. I will have a person over, maybe another two. Maybe I should plan for something a tad earlier, although I thought everyone in this town was all about the spontaneity? *sighs* I suppose it is a home game; that didn’t help.

    Forethought man, forethought!

  • I had an absolutely fantastic weekend. One of which I haven’t experienced in a long time, probably since my college days back in Fargo. I need more weekends like this!

    Friday night was originally slated for watching the Presidential Debate on television. There was a marginal chance that a friend and I were going to catch up over food and beers (that was a bit overdue for a couple years) instead. Being that she was a medical student in addition to having other commitments, I really wasn’t expecting it to come through. Surprisingly, she did manage the time in and we had a nice time catching up at Tully’s. I am quite pleased with the Irish Egg Rolls there, especially since I only recently took to trying sauerkraut, not even a week or two ago.

    I never did get to watching the debate that night, although I did listen to some snippets of it on the drive back home from Tully’s. I had plans to watch the remainder of it when I returned home, but Holly had the TV otherwise occupied watching something else. Leaving the TV relegated to her since the debate was being recorded on the DVR, I settled into retiring for the night.

    Saturday was a mildly loaded day from the start. I had plans to see Choke with another friend at the Amherst 9 in the afternoon. It was a well-spent seven dollars, thoroughly enjoying the majority of the film. It might come off a little awkward to those who haven’t read the novel, but I feel one could thoroughly enjoy it otherwise if nothing else for all the quick wit and comical situations positioned through it.

    The remainder of Saturday was reserved for the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra‘s opening night performance at Kleinhans Music Hall. What really enticed me into opening night was the guest artist, Itzhak Perlman. I think it’s been somewhere on the order of a decade since I last saw him perform, and I hard recall it even back from those days. Anyways, I had a mild dilemma on my hands as Holly had come down with a rapidly developing cold that morning and hardly felt in any condition to go to the performance come late afternoon. An hour and forty minutes prior to concert time (I was planning to be there an hour ahead of time), I bounced the idea off my crazy-busy friend from Saturday night as a random thought as I have very few acquaintances that would be interested in attending such a performance. Much to my surprise, she agreed to after only minor hesitation. I could only imagine how much of a wrench I threw into her busy plans for the weekend after these two nights!

    The opening night concert was fantastic! The opening number (Hector Belioz’s Roman Carnival Overture was just the thing to set the opening night: something to keep me enraptured with shivers up my spine and emotional movement with the music! The applause demonstrated just how good the piece was. The second piece was 23 minutes of the Roman Festivals composed by Ottorino Respighi. Every movement flowed together beautifully and kept me as thoroughly entranced as the first piece even though it was nearly three times the duration!

    Itzhak Perlman’s guest performance came in the third piece after intermission: Max Bruch’s Violin Concerto No. 1. As can be expected, Itzhak did a marvelous job with his piece. Unfortunately, I felt the piece just didn’t have as much luster and flair after listening to the two pieces before intermission. However, all in all the entire concert was well worth the ~$100 a seat I paid for it!

    Upon departure from Kleinhans, it was decided we should really eat some dinner. I was introduced to a much talked about tapas restaurant on Elmwood, ¡Toro!. It was my first experience in any sort of a tapas bar. A bit on the pricey side, but the food was delicious:

      Toro Calamari, crispy with hot peppers, olives & shaved parmesan…no sauce – This is probably some of the best calamari I’ve had to date. Unfortunately, the few places I tend to eat it at have only been Chinese or eastern-Asian restaurants of not the highest quality.
      Tuna Package, Panko crusted, sushi grade Ahi tuna over spicy cherry-chipotle salsa – This was my first time eating essentially raw tuna, and it was far more pleasant than the smoked salmon I had in a Wegmans salad roll (far too chewy, the texture was just wrong). The sauce on this tuna was right up my alley…it reminded me of a hot chipotle and barbeque blend.
      Cassoulet of Duck Confit, with orecchiette pasta, cannellini beans, leeks & roasted peppers in a rich broth – This was my 2nd favorite behind the calamari, being a wonderful blend of ingredients, I could hardly pick them out individual bites of this dish. I will have to get Holly to try this…I hardly think she’s discern the peppers of the beans out of it!

    So between good food, a little bit of whiskey and a lot of catchup of life and other things, we burned the evening away until midnight. It’s not often I get a friend (or more) that are comfortable just running with the night like that. I miss those dear friends from Fargo to whom I still talk to (and will get to see over Christmas, thankfully).

    The whole weekend has done a marvelous job of distracting me from the looming doom of the financial bailout on Wall Street (just saw that the proposed bill is in writing, all 110 pages of it) and the painful drama of the Presidential campaigning. Shoot, here it is Monday already, and I haven’t gotten the chance to watch the debate yet. It has been a good weekend that I can look back on and smile about. Hopefully I will make more over this year…I have not had enough of them since moving to Buffalo. Between five more BPO concerts, and season tickets to the Bandits again this year, I think I shall if I play my hand right.

    Let me see what I can make out of this week going into it on such a good note! *wink*