With the massive menu of the Taste of Buffalo festival only a memory now, allow us to suggest a few more focused taste sensations that Western New York’s adventurous eaters may consider before summer runs out.
• Consider broadening your stand-up eating repertoire to include kabobs, cabbage rolls and cheese pies from ethnic church festivals.
• Wine lovers might consider a day of education, immersion and eating in Niagara County wine country, with fine food and wine arranged by Trattoria Aroma.
• Fans of locally sourced cuisine and Chautauqua day trippers might consider arranging a day around a visit to Bloom, chef Ross Warhol’s ambitious culinary showcase at the Athenaeum Hotel, on the grounds of the Chautauqua Institution.
Starting this weekend, there’s a lineup of church cooks who want to feed your yen for the exotic, in a setting where $20 usually goes pretty far, if you stay out of the beer tent.
Besides the churches offering Polish sausage, Greek chicken souvlaki and more at Canal Fest of the Tonawandas through Sunday, there’s more ethnic eats to be enjoyed in coming weeks. Besides the Italian Festival, on Hertel Avenue on Aug. 1-4, which you probably already knew about.
If that waterfall wasn’t enough to get you to Niagara Falls, Armenian specialties like lamb shish kabob, rice and bulgur pilaf, and baked cheese pastries called boreg are enough reason for a trip. Church cooks feed the faithful and strangers alike at a post-church celebration set for Sunday at 1 p.m. at St. Hagop Church, 322 Ninth St., Niagara Falls. For more information: 285-3044.
The Lebanese Festival, July 26-28, is held at St. John Maron Church, 2040 Wehrle Drive, Amherst. 5-11 p.m. Friday; 2 to 11 p.m. Saturday; 1 to 5 p.m. Sunday.
Count on kibbe, the wheat and seasoned meat pie, stuffed grape leaves and tabouli, the classic Lebanese salad of parsley, tomato and cracked wheat. Also: spinach pies, beef and chicken shish kabob, and lots of Lebanese pastries. For more information: 634-0669, www.stjohnmaron.org.
How about spit-roasted lamb and pork, fresh from the fire at Serbfest, July 27-28. It’s held noon-10 p.m. at St. Stephens Serbian Orthodox Church, 177 Weber Road, Lackawanna. $1 admission over 18.
There’s cevaps, skinless sausages crisped over a grill; sarma, stuffed cabbage; and an array of dessert specialties from tortes to crepes. For more information: 823-2846, www.saintstephenlackawanna.org.
It’s safe to assume you can get some decent pierogies at the Dozynki Polish Harvest Festival held Aug. 16-18 by Corpus Christi Church, 199 Clark St. 6 to 9 p.m. Friday; 2 to 9 p.m. Saturday; 1 to 8 p.m. Sunday.
What you might not expect is the hugely popular Polish pizzas, available in kielbasa, pierogi and golabek (cabbage roll) versions. Beat the heat with chlodnik, cold beet and cucumber soup, and try the placek or other Polish baked goods and desserts.
For more information: 896-1050, dozynki.corpuschristibuffalo.org.
Farm to table
One of the area’s original practitioners of the farm-to-table dinner, Dave Cosentino’s Trattoria Aroma has set two 2013 farm dinners in Niagara County wine country, at the Eveningside Winery in Cambria.
The dates are Saturdays, this week and Sept. 14. It’s $156.24 a seat all inclusive, but dinner is just the beginning.
Transport leaves the Aroma restaurants in Buffalo and Williamsville at 2 p.m., returning at 9 p.m.
At the Cambria vineyard, attendees can expect wine and barrel tastings and “a walk through the vineyards with winemaker Bryan Calandrelli.”
Then there’s local craft beer, a multi-course dinner with restaurant quality settings by Trattoria Aroma, and live music. Order tickets through aromabryant.com.
Farmers in Bloom
Getting to Warhol’s table takes a pilgrimage. If you’re the kind of diner who recognizes the name Rene Rezdepi, there’s a good chance you’ll find the 90-minute drive from downtown Buffalo worthwhile.
Rezdepi’s seriously local cuisine, in which he makes the most of the natural bounty of his native Denmark, has earned his Copenhagen restaurant Noma honors as one of the world’s best.
At 25, Warhol is the Athenaeum Hotel chef who has spent winter vacations training at some of the world’s top kitchens. So far, he has mostly served hotel guests.
On Friday and Saturday nights through Aug. 24, Warhol finally has a dining room where he controls the agenda. It’s called Bloom, and showcases Warhol’s craft with Chautauqua County ingredients, including some Warhol grew himself.
A full review is coming in the July 25 edition of Gusto. But after my recent visit, it’s clear that Warhol is going farther and finer than locavores have seen before in Western New York.
The chef-churned butter, made from Lapps Dairy Farm cream and cultured for 18 hours, delivers herbal notes that might make you wonder why there’s not a “butter course” beyond its accompanying sweet wholemeal biscuit. Then an amuse bouche of squash blossom arrived. The chef had picked it an hour before service, stuffed it with Green Heron shiitake mushrooms and served it expertly fried.
That was just the free stuff. A $120 seven-course tasting menu includes wine and beer; three course meals average $89. Prices include tax and tip. Call (800) 821-1881 for reservations.
Notably, diners can now enjoy complimentary valet parking at the hotel, eliminating one annoying hurdle.