Back from Vacation!

      Haven’t had a chance to blog since returning from our little vacation, as soon as we got home we got pounded with orders!  Things are back to normal now and the website has been updated with some of the latest products we have.  We have also started expanding the toddler section and there will be more added this week.

    Nicole and I went to freakin’ Disneyland.  I haven’t been in over 20 years.  The bad part was Nicole had a brutal cold the whole time.  She was a trooper though and made the best of it.  We had time to hit up Magic Kingdom and Epcot.  Both were equally cool, however Epcot was more enjoyable because there were less kids.  The weather was really nice as well compare to here in Buffalo.  One thing I won’t miss about Florida?  Bad Beer.

Bottling Weekend for Batch 1

    This weekend was bottling weekend for my first batch of home brew.  Last Thursday I made my way out to the home brew store to get some bottling supplies.  I really only knew the basics for what I needed when I walked in there so instead of making it a terrible experience from forgetting things or buying the wrong things, I asked the guy at the counter for some advice.  He actually took the time to bring me into the back to show me a few things about bottling.  If you are in Buffalo, NY and want to get into home brewing, I highly suggest going to Niagara Tradition Home Brew Supply.  After watching him show me a few things, I was introduced to a few cool gadgets that make things easier, one being this:

This thing is awesome.  You basically fill the bowl portion with about an inch of sanitizer, place the bottle on the thing in the center, and push down.  It projects a forceful spray of sanitizer inside the bottle.  This made it very easy to sanitize 2 cases of bottles in minutes. 
    I used the auto-siphon which was recommended to me over using a bottling bucket.  Its a lot better for the beer.  Starting the siphon was a bit of a challenge for me because I had never used one before.  I ended up blowing the tip off my filler wand and sprayed beer all over, but hey, you live and learn.  Once I got the siphon going it was super easy.  

Ignore my pants, It’s Sunday, a day where normally we have things to do but this particular Sunday was a total day off so I was in no hurry to get dressed.

After a while, I got the hang of it and set up a little bottle stand.  This allowed me to cap while the siphon slowly filled the bottles.
    The bottle capping device was fairly easy to use.  Again, I’m no expert so the first 5 minutes I looked like a cave man.
    Overall my beer had a nice color and smelled good.  I now have to keep the bottles in a 65-70 degree environment for 6-7 more days before moving them to the basement where they will be in a 50-60 degree environment.  I hope its good.  The guy at the brew store said that if he knew this was my first brew he would have advised against me trying to brew a beer this complicated, but its the type of beer I love, so its the one I want to be good at making!

In a little over a month, I find out if I’m any good!

Week 8 Weight Watchers

     Week 8, the weekend following Easter.  Last weekend I drank a ton and ate more than normal, although I stayed within my point allowance.  I thought for sure I was going to gain some weight but I didn’t!  I broke even.  So next week I should hopefully lose some more, now that there is no holiday weekend.
      This weekend is bottling weekend for my home brew.  Its tough to remain optimistic about my first batch, for some reason I still feel like its not going to go well.  I have to hit up the home brew store when Nicole gets home because I need bottling supplies.  I’ll be sure to snap some pictures of the process.  Also this weekend Nicole and I are going to tackle a few things in the back yard as we prepare it for the fence we are putting up.
More pictures to come!

Yesterday’s Brew

   Yesterday I took off to spend the afternoon brewing my first batch of beer.  I’ve been reading, watching videos, checking out forums, etc to prepare for my first run.  Everything seemed to go smoothly, my only worry through the entire thing was that I didn’t contaminate anything and that everything was sanitized.

    In the end my wart was really really thick, almost like caramel sauce.  I started to freak out a little but continued to follow the instructions and put the wart into the fermentation bucket after cooling it, topped it off with water, and closed it off with lid and airlock.  I then became obsessed wondering weather or not I messed it up.  After texting with a friend of mine and then posting in some forums, everyone agreed that it would be OK, but that next time I could stray from the recipe and add more water to the wart.  I have to say, the best part about my first experience doing this, is the smells that come from the pot while you are cooking.  The hops smell amazing.
   This afternoon I finally saw the airlock start to bubble which means I have fermentation!  I’m a little more at ease now that its reached this stage.  Now I just need to worry about it tasting good.  Baby steps.  If I mess up or it’s terrible, I’ll definitely be trying again.

New Storm Door

    Today after work, I installed the new storm door.  I had never installed anything like this before, but for the most part it was pretty easy.  I was able to find a video online from the window company itself.  The video was simple and easy to follow so I had no real problems.  We don’t get the screen for like 2 weeks because I took a chance on a 400 dollar door, marked almost half off at Home Depot because it was labeled “slow moving”.  I asked the salesman what this had meant, and he said that it was because the door was returned and the box had been opened.  He said there would be a risk of missing parts but that the door company would mail me any parts that were missing for free.  I went for it. The door was too sweet to turn down, and without the discount it would have been just out of our price range.  When I got home, there was an insane amount of things missing including the screen.  I called the window company and they mailed me out everything.  They said the screen would take longer because it was a big item and needed to be on the Home Depot truck.  Today I got all the parts I needed to install the door so I went at it (I ran a little late, my apologies to any neighbors that read this).

    Tomorrow is Friday, I am ready to relax and see plenty of this…

It’s so beautiful.

Back from a busy few weeks.

   The past two weeks have been pretty crazy with work and lots of birthday’s, plus the insanity of trying to get our house in “ok” condition for guests, mid remodel.  Ive been tearing apart the foyer, rewiring everything and getting ready to drywall it, so it’s been a constant battle against the dust from the plaster.
   My parents spent the weekend here for my mother’s birthday.  It’s always fun when they come down because we do so many cool things.  My stepfather and I have a love for beer so every time he comes down we try to plan a stop somewhere for a tasty brew.  A bar in my neighborhood had a Dogfish Head Tap takeover this weekend so we were able to get down there for lunch and have a pint.  We caught the Sabres game on Friday night at the arena and watched the Sabres beat Boston for the second time in a row.  On Saturday night we went to one of the better restaurants in Buffalo, “Prospero”.  Nicole and I had eaten here last year and we were both in agreement that this was perhaps one of the best restaurants in the city.  It was amazing Italian food.  My stepfather wanted to bring us out to dinner to celebrate my mom’s birthday, so I could not think of a better place.  I was able to get reservations three weeks in advance but even with this much of an advance, we could only get in at 8pm.  On Saturday, we got a call from the restaurant reminding us that they had a prefixed menu on Saturdays.  I totally didn’t know anything about this and it was not on their website.  Sightly annoyed I had to inform my mom that we were not going to get Italian.  Don’t get me wrong, the specials on the menu were still good, but it was sort of a bummer that we wanted Italian food and we were told the day of the dinner that we couldn’t get it.  Its not like I would have been able to get reservations anywhere else with that short of notice.
    I took an afternoon nap Saturday, while Nicole and my Mom put back some wine and called “Prospero”.  I’m not sure exactly what they talked about, but the place was going to make my mom a pasta dish, just for her!  The restaurant is a class act, I highly recommend trying to get reservations there if you can.
   Now that everything has slowed down, I should be able to get more posts up.  I have some things I want to talk about this week, including a new Jazz Bar in Buffalo that we went to and my review of “Spotify”, a new service that I am in love with.  That’s right, what has two thumbs and is legitimately paying for music?  This guy.

Some Random weekend pics..
Center ice Friday Night, my mom’s xmas present for Henry.

Sunday afternoon Mikkeller IPA’s at the Monk.  That’s right, one of those IPA’s is Nicole’s :).

Beer Review: Southern Tier Harvest Ale

    It’s that time of year when breweries release their Autumn beers.  I decided to go ahead and try the Southern Tier Harvest Ale.  This brewery is hit or miss with me.  Some things they do well, other things they don’t.  The Southern Tier Harvest Ale fails at being a decent Autumn beer.  The appearance of this beer is deceiving.  The beer pours nicely with a nice Auburn color and creates a nice head that lasts.  The problem I had with this beer is that it lacks flavor.  I found that the level of carbonation was good but there was no balance.  With very little aroma, I think that the reason this beer falls short is because it is simply too light.

Rating:  4/10
ABV:  6.70

Restaurant Review: Cole’s Restaurant

    Buffalo has really started to gain a reputation for having great beer.  It is becoming common to see more and more restaurants carrying excellent beer, continuously changing kegs as they are kicked, and exchanging them for other excellent beers.  Its something that I love about this city.  This weekend Nicole and I went to Cole’s for dinner.  This wasn’t the first time we have eaten there, but I hadn’t done a review on it yet for my blog.  So Saturday we decided to head down for some dinner.  One thing Cole’s has been consistent with is carrying amazing beer.  The owner of Cole’s also owns the Blue Monk and keeps the beer selection different at both places.  While the Blue Monk is mostly Belgian Beers (which are not my thing), Cole’s carry’s more of a variety, and for me, a decent selection of different IPA.

Even more great choices in bottles.

Lost Coast Indica IPA from California for me and the North Coast Bro Thelonious for Nicole.

    We arrived at around 6:30 pm on a Saturday night.  It was busy but we still didn’t have to wait for a table or anything.  The dining room is split in half, one side has an open front that goes out onto the Elmwood strip, while the other side is super dark and pub-like.  The hostess tried sitting us in the dark section but we had to insist on sitting on the other side or else I wouldn’t have been able to take any pictures.  It was not a problem at all, and in minutes we were sitting in the other section.  They had done some remodeling since the last time we had eaten there.  One thing we noticed were the bizarre lights along the wall of creepy monkeys reading books (or maybe they were supposed to be menus?).

A little disturbing…

     For an appetizer we had ordered chicken, jalapeno, and cream cheese Wonton in some sort of sweet chili sauce. The concept of this dish was pretty awesome, but it fell short on substance and in the end, you were left with a fried shell that was overcooked and too crispy, with little filling.

For dinner I had ordered a Black and Blue burger.  I’m not sure why I ordered this.  I was in the mood for a burger, but every time I actually eat a burger, I don’t enjoy it much.  Don’t get me wrong, this burger was good.  The burger itself was super thick, almost to the point where I couldn’t fit it in my mouth (insert “Thats what she said” joke).  It was cooked to the temperature that I had requested and the fries were perfect also.

Nicole was in the mood for a Reuben and that is what she ordered.  Her Reuben looked pretty awesome and I have to admit, I was jealous.  I should have ordered that also.  You can’t beat a good Reuben.  She was happy with her selection.

 
   Another decent visit to Cole’s with some good quick food and beer.  If you are new to the area and are reading this, I suggest a visit.  For new students that have just moved to the area going to Buffalo State, its right down the street from school on Elmwood.  Here are a few other pictures of the interior.

Salute!

Coles on Urbanspoon



Bambino Bar and Kitchen

    Downtown Buffalo on Franklin St., in a building that was once a restaurant called “Duo”, is now the home of a new and exciting place to eat: “Bambino Bar and Kitchen”. This 4500 sq foot building is impressive and at the very top is a wonderful rooftop bar that can make waiting for a table an easy experience for anyone, especially if if the weather is nice. We were given an hour wait at around 7:00pm Saturday night so we had a cocktail on the roof and really enjoyed ourselves. Having just recently opened, there were things about the restaurant that I would normally criticize heavily, but this time I will be forgiving. Although there were many negatives about this place that would normally prevent me from going back, the positives at this place were very strong, particularly the food. The limited selection for drinks on the roof was a negative for me. If you wanted a standard club drink or bad beer you were all set up there, but anything else and you were out of luck. I played it safe and had a Gin and Tonic and Nicole tried to order a Tom Collins (old school) which they failed at due to lack of ingredients. The bartender made a variation of one that was pretty bad. We ended up getting approached by the hostess telling us our table was ready. The hour wait had turned into about 25 minutes which was O.K. by me. Our friends had arrived and we all sat at our table.

It was time to order a real drink and I started off with a Southern Tier IPA and Nicole had ordered a beer that was made with artichoke liqueur which was strange. She loved it as it resembled more of a Belgian style beer in taste and sweetness. The drink selection on the menu consisted of local and regional beers along with really authentic Italian cocktails. The food menu was very diverse and they had some really different choices. From bone marrow appetizers to wood-fired pizzas and other entrees, there was plenty to choose from. With pizza being my specialty, I’m always first to try a restaurant’s pizza. I ordered the Prosciutto pizza and Nicole had ordered the Potato Pizza. We started off with a Caprese salad that was out of this world. Whats so great about a Caprese salad? It’s just mozzarella cheese and tomato right? Bambino Bar and Kitchen makes all of their mozzarella cheese, homemade, in the restaurant. It was amazing. I had low expectations for the pizza mainly because I’m so picky. I expect a lot from a pizza, in fact, I’m a pizza snob. I actually feel that its arrogant to put a pizza on a menu that is sub par.  Its embarrassing to me. Wood-fired pizzas are the latest craze. Everyone is doing them and most places I have been do them terribly. Not Bambino. Both of our pizzas were made with incredibly fresh ingredients and bursting with flavor. They were absolutely delicious.

The only major problem with the place was the service. Again, this is a new place. Our server seemed to be the most experienced and we often saw her directing a very young staff which often took her attention away from her own tables, one of them being ours. By the time we sat and finished eating, we had been sitting there for over 3.5 hours. This wasn’t because we were getting multiple drinks and really soaking it all in, in fact, we passed on ordering desert because we didn’t want to end up waiting another hour. The service was excruciatingly slow and everything took forever but because the place just opened, there will be kinks, but the food is outstanding and I highly recommend coming here if you are ever in Buffalo, NY.

Bambino Bar and Kitchen on Urbanspoon

Bambino Bar and Kitchen
297 Franklin Street
Buffalo, NY 14202
716-240-9851 

The weekend has arrived.

    Nothing real exciting today to post.  Coming back from vacation Nicole and I have been swamped with work and haven’t had much time to do anything all week.  With all of that, along with wrapping up things before closing on the house, its been an exhausting week but its finally over and the weekend is here!  I haven’t had a beer all week and have been dieting so I am excited to kick back and relax this weekend.  I put on some access weight in California so I’m trying to shed it off as quickly as possible.  Drinking and eating nonstop for a week will definitely change your shape a bit.
    Tonight Nicole works late so I’m going to make some dinner here and am going to try out new recipe, something Vegetarian.  Stay tuned for that, I’ll have some pics and the recipe up soon when I decide what it is I’m going to make.  Saturday is supposed to be gorgeous here in Buffalo.  We are going to dinner with some friends to a new restaurant that opened here that I’m excited about trying, “Bambino Bar and Kitchen”.  The restaurant is described as, “”Urban tavern meets updated Italian comfort food – bold flavors marry perfectly with a mix of hearty to healthy items (gluten free/whole wheat pizza and pasta). Small Plates, cured meats, imported cheese, salads, sandwiches, wood fired pizzas, and entrees priced from $12-$18.”.  I don’t know about you but I think I can enjoy all of those things.  I’ll have some pictures and a review of this place posted this weekend along with a few reviews for some new beers I will be tasting.  Everybody enjoy the weekend and be safe! 

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