Category Archives: New York

The other CIA

We’re always looking for interesting things to do both when we’re traveling and when we’re at home.  A few years ago, I got my husband, who loves to cook, a gift certificate for a one-day class at the Culinary Institute of America.  Yes, I am an amazing wife. ;)   He took a Vietnamese and Thai Food class and absolutely loved it!  A coworker of mine who grew up near Hyde Park, NY (where the CIA is based) told me about it.  This friend of mine has celiac disease and therefore can’t eat gluten.  He took the Gluten-free Baking Class and thought it was great.  (He also has a blog about gluten-free living.)

The CIA has locations in Hyde Park, NY, St. Helena, CA and San Antonio, TX.  They offer a range of classes from 1 and 2 day classes to Boot Camps (typically 4-5 days).  The classes cover both cooking and baking.  They also have classes geared towards kids and teens.  Around the holidays, they have special holiday baking classes where you get to take home everything you bake.  You can check out their current weekend classes here and their boot camps here.  So if you or someone you know is a food enthusiast, this could be a fun gift to give.

Note:  We’re still without power from the utility company in the aftermath of Irene.  Luckily, we do have a generator, but I may not be posting as much until we get power back.

Leave a comment

Buffalo, NY – Locally Owned Businesses

Today is my final installment on Buffalo, NY.  I hope that it has made you at least consider visiting Buffalo or branching out if you’re visiting Niagara Falls.  Here is a listing of a few locally owned businesses that you might want to check out:

  • Fowler’s Chocolates and Watson’s Chocolates – Both of these candy companies have been around a long time – Fowler’s since 1901 and Watson’s since 1946.  Fowler’s was a standard fundraiser for us when I was in school.  And Watson’s was recently featured on Food Network’s “Kid in a Candy Store”.  Make sure you try some sponge candy.
  • AndBuffalo – This web site features t-shirts that would make any Buffalonian proud.
  • Fisher Price (636 Girard Avenue), Vidler’s (676 – 694 Main Street) and Toy Town Museum (636 Girard Avenue), Explore and More (300 Gleed Avenue) - Head out to East Aurora for a step back in time.  East Aurora is a quaint town where several toy companies made their home, most notably Fisher Price.  The Toy Town Museum pays tribute to this past.  You can also visit the Fisher Price factory store.  Although the prices are not much, if at all, cheaper than other toy stores, you can find things there that you can’t easily find in other stores.  And Vidler’s is an old-time 5 and dime store.  Explore and More is a hands-on museum for younger kids.  This is also the town where the Millard Fillmore House is located.

Picture of Vidler's courtesy of the Town of East Aurora


Picture of the Toy Town Museum courtesy of Cultural Niagara

Picture of Explore and More courtesy of their web site

  • Simply Gourmet (5 Lake St, Hamburg, NY) – This is one of my parents’ favorite restaurants in the town of Hamburg.  It is open from 7 AM – 5 PM daily and features gourmet styled breakfasts and lunches.

Simply Gourmet picture courtesy of their Facebook site

  • Boston, NY – This is my hometown.  It has grown a little since I was a kid, but it still has only real traffic light and 2 blinking ones.  This is where George’s Hotdog Stand and Nick Charlap’s are located.  You may also like to check out the Boston Place Gift Shop (7935 Boston State Rd, Hamburg, NY) and Three Girls Cafe (8373 Boston State Rd, Hamburg, NY – my parent’s favorite restaurant in town).  The location of these stores are in Boston, NY even though the mailing address is Hamburg, NY.  I’m including the mailing address so you could find it using a GPS.
  • Dancing Goat (located about an hour outside Buffalo at 11 West Buffalo Street, Warsaw, NY) - This shop is owned by my sister-in-law.  It is a yarn shop and in a cute rural town.  It’s a perfect stop if you’re heading out to Letchworth Park.  Her on-line store can be found using this link.

Picture courtesy of The Dancing Goat

  • Amusement Parks – Fantasy Island (Grand Island, NY), Darien Lake (9993 Allegheny Rd, Darien Center, NY), and African Lion Safari (1386 Cooper Road, Flamborough, Ontario, Canada) - If you’re looking for a little adventure, check out one of these sites.  Fantasy Island is an amusement park and is the closest of the three to Buffalo.  It costs $24.95 for adults, $19.95 for kids under 48″ tall, $16.95 for seniors, and kids under 2 are free.  Darien Lake is the amusement park I remember going to the most as a kid.  It is larger than Fantasy Island.  Admission is $42.99 for adults and $29.99 for kids and seniors.  You can get discounted tickets at Wegman’s grocery stores ($36.99 for adults and $26.99 for kids and seniors).  African Lion Safari is located in .  It is a drive through safari where the over 1,000 animals roam free.  Admission is $26.99 for adults, $27.95 for seniors, $24.95 for kids (3-12) and kids 2 and under are free.  Note that prices are in Canadian dollars and you will need a passport to see this location.

Picture of Fantasy Island courtesy of Martin's Fantasy Island

Picture of Darien Lake courtesy of TripAdvisor

Picture courtesy of African Lion Safari

Leave a comment

Buffalo, NY – Festivals and Fairs

Buffalo has a summer filled with fairs and festivals.  I talked about the Allentown Art Festival in a previous post.  Here are several others you won’t want to miss.

  • Erie County Fair – We always knew that the summer was coming to a close when the Erie County Fair started.  It is one of the largest county fairs in the country.  People come from all over the state for the fair.  Some of the things that my kids liked the most were the rides, pig races, chainsaw art, and horse pulls.  Admission is $10 for adults and kids under 12 are free through the support of Tops Market.  You can get discounted tickets for $7 if you purchase them ahead of time online, at the Fairgrounds Event Center Box Office or at any Tops Market.  There are additional charges for the rides.  You can either purchase an all-day pass or pay for them using tickets.

Erie County Fair picture courtesy of WikiMedia

  • Eden Corn Festival – (typically the first weekend in August)  The Eden Corn Festival is a fair to celebrate the “season of corn”.  Admission to the festival is free.  You can either pay for rides using an all-day pass or by the ride.

Legislator Dixon at Eden Corn Festival picture courtesy of Erie County

  • Hamburg Burgerfest – Did you ever wonder why hamburger are called hamburger when there is no ham in them?  Legend has it that in 1885, Frank and Charles Menches created hamburgers at the Erie County Fair when they ran out of their grilled sausages.  When asked what this new sandwich was called, they named the hamburger after the town they were in – Hamburg, NY.  Burgerfest celebrates this every year.  Burgerfest is a much smaller affair than the Erie County Fair and the Eden Corn Festival.

Picture of Burgerfest courtesy of The Hamburg Sun

  • Dyngus Day Celebration – Buffalo has strong Polish roots.  Dyngus Day is a Polish celebration that takes place on Easter Monday.  Girls try to tickle boys they like will pussy willows while boys try to spray girls with water while listening to polka music.

Picture of Dyngus Day Celebration courtesy of Dyngus Day Buffalo

  • Perry Chalk Festival – A little further outside of Buffalo in Perry, NY is the annual Perry Chalk Festival (this year on July 9th).  Chalk artists from all over come and create art on the sidewalks.

Picture of the Perry Chalk Festival courtesy of The Daily News Online

  • Ellicottville Championship Rodeo – About 30 – 40 minutes outside of Buffalo, Ellicottville hosts a rodeo every summer.  They even have a kids horse race where the kids race their stick horses.  It costs $15 for adults, $8 for kids 5 and over, and kids under 5 are free.

Picture of the Ellicottville Rodeo courtesy of the Olean Times Herald

Leave a comment

Buffalo, NY – Historic Sites

It seems only appropriate on the Fourth of July to talk about the historic sites in Buffalo.

  • Presidents – There are several presidents who have connections to Buffalo.  Millard Fillmore and Grover Cleveland lived in the Buffalo area.  The Millard Fillmore House is located at 24 Shearer Ave, East Aurora, NY.  And William McKinley was assassinated when he was in Buffalo to attend the Pan-American Exposition and subsequently Theodore Roosevelt was inaugurated in Buffalo (one of the few presidents to be inaugurated outside of Washington, D.C.).  The inauguration site is located at the Ansley Wilcox House at 641 Delaware Ave.

Millard Fillmore House picture courtesy of About Famous People

Ansley Wilcox House picture courtesy of the National Park Service

  • Old Fort Niagara and Old Fort Erie – Located at 2 Scott Avenue, Youngstown, NY, Old Fort Niagara is the oldest continuous operated military site in North America.  It played a significant role in the French and Indian war and as a loyalist base in the American Revolutionary War.  Admission is $10 for adults, $6 for kids (6 – 12) and kids under 6 are free.  Old Fort Erie is located 350 Lakeshore Rd, Ontario, Canada.  Fort Erie was the first fort built by the British during the French and Indian war.  It is located directly across the Niagara River from Old Fort Niagara.  Admission is $12.25 for adults, $7.95 for kids (6-12) and kids under 6 are free (prices are in Canadian dollars).

Old Fort Niagara picture courtesy of Wikimedia

Picture of Old Fort Erie courtesy of

  • Buffalo and Erie County Naval and Military Park – This site is located at One Naval Park Cove and is the home to the USS Little Rock (cruiser), USS Sullivans (destroyer) and USS Croaker (submarine).  Admission is $9 for adults, $6 for kids (6 – 16) and kids under 6 are free.

Picture of the Naval Park courtesy of Classic Buffalo

  • Lockport Locks – If you want to learn about the Erie Canal, you should visit the Lockport Locks.  It is located at 210 Market St, Lockport, NY.  You can take a cruise down the Erie Canal as you learn about the history of the Canal.  The cruise costs $16 for adults, $8.50 for kids (4 – 10) and kids under 4 are free.

Lockport Locks picture courtesy of Lockport Locks

  • Genesee Country Village and Museum – I loved visiting this museum as a kid.  We went to it on a field trip when I was in elementary school.  It is a living history museum with demonstrations of how people lived in the 19th century.  It is located 45 east of Buffalo at 1410 Flint Hill Rd, Mumford, NY.

School House picture courtesy of Genesee Country Village


Leave a comment

Buffalo, NY – Food

Who doesn’t love Buffalo wings or as I like to call them…wings?  Buffalo was settled by a range of ethnic groups, including German, Irish, Italian, Polish, and English which has resulted in a wide variety of food.  Here are a few you shouldn’t miss:

  • Wings – This is the food that is probably best associated with Buffalo since it was first prepared in Buffalo at the Anchor Bar located at 1047 Main St.  Another place that is popular for wings is Duff’s Famous Wings.  Duff’s has several locations, so check out the web site to find the one closest to you.

Anchor Bar Wings - picture courtesy of Buffalo Chow

The Anchor Bar - picture courtesy of Buffalo Chow

  • Beef on Weck – My mouth is watering just thinking about Beef on Weck – a roast beef sandwich on a salted kaiser roll.  You have to try it when you visit Buffalo.  And one of the best place to get Beef on Weck is Schwabl’s.  This restaurant has been in operation since 1837!

  • Hot dogs – Yes, you heard me right – hot dogs.  There are 2 places that are outstanding for hot dogs – George’s Hot Dogs Stand and Ted’s Hot Dogs.  Every kid in my family worked at George’s (some only for one day).  My first year working at George’s was George’s last year of running the operation himself.  His kids now run it.  George was quite a character.  I can still hear him saying “Hi-ya, hi-ya, hi-ya” as people walked in the door.  George’s is located at 5808 Herman Hill Road, Boston, NY.  I have to mention Ted’s, even though it pains me to do so since they are competition for George’s.  Ted’s has several locations in the area and I hear they have good hot dogs although I didn’t eat there.


Ted's Hot Dogs - picture courtesy of Buffalo Chow

  • Ice cream – If you like ice cream, you should try Nick Charlap’s ice cream.  Charlap’s has been making ice cream since 1965.  Nick Charlap is grandson of one of the original owner of Charlap’s.  Nick Charlap’s has 3 locations, the most recent is with Antoinette’s on the Hill in West Seneca (1203 Union St).  Antoinette’s makes candy so it’s a fantastic combination.  The original Charlap’s is located in Boston, NY (7264 Boston State Rd) and is decorated like a 1950s diner.  In full disclosure, Charlap’s were always very kind to our huge family.  Several of my siblings worked there.  And they allowed us to purchase milk at discounted prices.  They also gave us the change over ice cream for free.  You may wonder what I mean by that.  Well, when they are changing the flavor of ice cream that they are packing, there are about 3 tubs that are a mix of the 2 flavors.  They knew that we had a lot of kids and not a lot of money and they were kind to us.  The Charlap family is a very kind and generous family who made our summers more enjoyable with their delicious ice cream.

    Nick Charlap's picture courtesy of Buffalo Eats

    Nick Charlap's Ice Cream picture courtesy of Buffalo Eats

  • Sponge candy – Sponge candy is mostly made around the Great Lakes.  Think of it like hardened cotton candy covered in chocolate.  You can find it in almost every candy shop and many grocery stores.

Sponge candy picture courtesy of Buffalo Candy

Oh man, all of a sudden I’m really hungry…

Leave a comment