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.

I started my lease for my new apartment back on July 15th, so I could at least start moving some stuff into my place prior to my trip to the Midwest to visit friends and family. Unfortunately, I think I only got four or five car loads of packed materials over there prior to making the long drive back to North Dakota. It was probably not the ideal way to do things, but compared to how much more stuff I moved after coming back from the Midwest, I’m a bit glad that I did start my lease two weeks earlier (although it bit me for an additional half-month’s rent). I only just turned in our keys to the old place Wednesday of this week, which was cutting things far closer than I would have anticipated. Granted, our lease was up to expire on the 15th, but being that we both Holly and I had at least two weeks overlap between our old and new leases, there wasn’t any good reason to be out of the apartment early’ish. Oh well.

Elmwood living has been a nice and fairly interesting change in my lifestyle since I have moved down there. The apartment is situated on a rather busy corner of Lexington and Ashland, just a block or so off of Elmwood Avenue itself. I’m not even a 50′ walk across the intersection to a nice lil’ pub/bar called The Place, which inadvertently disappointed upon my first visit there, Wednesday of last week. They had just had their draft feed lines cleaned that day and the keg pressures were all out of whack; you couldn’t get a decent glass of beer out of any of them! Just a tall glass of head…unless that’s the part of a draft you appreciate. Then that would have been your night to make a killing there. Instead, I then ended up having a couple bottles instead and a club for some dinner. I probably could have done without the beers with the size of that sandwich! I ate about half of it before I was too full to finish. I definitely need to stop in there again (and more often), but as of yet haven’t quite gotten back over there.

My dear friend Rob casually tossed out the thought of hitting another bar that night (as The Place closes at 10pm during the summer season when many of the locals like to visit outside of town for beaches and such, so it was explained), so we walked a mere two blocks from my place where we ran into the Thirsty Buffalo. To be honest, I don’t remember a terrible lot of the our excursion there. We promptly took ourselves a couple of seats at the bar, both ordered a tall glass of what I personally thought was some foul beer (Brooklyn Lager, but it tasted to me like it was soaked in birch chips or something), and after that continued the night with mixed beverages to err on the safe side (we couldn’t see drafts from our seats, and I wasn’t about to keep asking between glasses what they had to try out). Lordy, I was expecting them to come out in the typical lowball (or similarly sized) glass that I’ve come to expect from every other bar; goodness no, they came out in a solid 12oz glass, and they came out strong. Our bartender must have been pushing those drinks at least 1/3 to 1/2 Crown in my whiskey 7’s. Tasted wonderful, but they took me out in an awful hurry. Between four of those and a free round of shots with the bartender, she pretty well did us under for the night. I’m definitely tempted to go back there to give the food a try (on a night when I could use a bite), and guaranteed to go back to get some more of those lovely-strong whiskey 7’s.

Both bar visits left me in rough shape Thursday. Very rough shape. I had to hold off on any more alcoholic excursions until after finishing moving the rest of my items from the old apartment and getting it cleaned out and turned back over to the landlord. So to celebrate that occurrence, I figured I’d treat myself out to Nektar just last night, a bit further down Elmwood from my place. They have a lovely riesling that was just dry enough to my liking (too many of the rieslings I try are on the slightly too sweet side) so I indulged in a few glasses of that with an appetizer and just enjoy the atmosphere. The restaurant apparently does not really pick up until around 9 or so, so coming in at 7 I was able to enjoy the atmosphere a little more and chat it up with the bartenders there. Brian apparently is a seasoned veteran in the establishment and lives nearby, so he was able to recommend a couple choices for places to shoot some pool at. Four glasses of wine and an order of stuffed peppers later, I was set to relax for the rest of the evening. Unfortunately, the banana peppers lost so much of their kick during the making I imagine, so the stuffed peppers weren’t nearly as hot as I would have liked. They were very good regardless of that situation, however. Again, I’ll likely be returning there in the future to try out some more of their food menu…they’ve got calamari and octopus on their menu!