Archive for April, 2011

Chow Chocolat

As many of you probably know, Chow Chocolat has opened another location on Elmwood near Breckenridge. While their downtown Main St. store has been open for years, foot traffic at that location is most likely lacking – a situation they tried to fix with a short stint in the Galleria Mall. (Very short: it probably wasn’t the most organic location for such a shop.) However, their new storefront within the Elmwood Village is a natural fit. The chocolatier fits in seamlessly nearby an art gallery, a gift shop, a gastropub, a soon-to-open organic café, and the rest of the strip. And while Chow Chocolat does part of its business as a premium, artisan purveyor of handmade chocolates, the interior of the new Elmwood location is beyond welcoming; it wouldn’t be hard to spend hours inside. Having just opened within the last week, it feels a bit sparse – maybe unfinished. According to the employees there, more and more desserts, drinks, and items are being brought in every day (something that I can personally attest to). In short, Chow Chocolat is doing nearly everything right and has made an immediate impact within just single-digit days.

The atmosphere is perfect, but what about the food – the sweets? Succinctly: they’re either unique creations that can’t be found elsewhere in Buffalo, or, best-in-class versions of items found elsewhere within our city. Over the course of three visits within the last week, this claim has only grown stronger. On my first visit, my cousin and I sampled a pistachio custard ($4, served in an able-to-be-brought-home plastic cup) and a box of 9 bonbons ($12).

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White Bean Hummus

I remember the first time that I made hummus; it was sometime during fall 2008 – made on a whim during a football game. I found a recipe online, toasted some pita chips, and set the finished dish on the family room table. Unfortunately, I didn’t like it. It was too dry (probably my fault), too strong (the combination of the beans and the cumin)… The pita chips were gone long before the hummus.

My sophomoric tastes didn’t last long. After all, hummus is delicious, really – and its variants just as good. Whether eating it plain, spiced, with roasted red peppers, or with some other amalgamation of flavors, hummus is healthy, versatile, and convenient.

One of my most common lunches is a hummus wrap; I make mine with a whole-wheat tortilla shell, greens, pickled red onions, and sliced tomatoes. And because all of these ingredients last for a week or so in the fridge, it’s easy to assemble a quick lunch in the morning with no fuss. Or, served with grilled pita chips or crudites, hummus can be a go-to appetizer, made from ingredients on hand.

Ingredients on hand: like the great northern beans I had in my pantry. A quick search on Google confirmed my belief that hummus could be made with any white bean (like cannelloni or the traditional garbanzo); from there, I went by taste. After draining and processing the two cans of white beans, I added leftover roasted red peppers, a squeeze of lemon, various spices, and olive oil. The result was near-perfect; a few quick additions of salt and paprika were all the dip needed.

The finished hummus lasts about a week in the fridge (but probably won’t make it that long). For a nice presentation, drizzle with extra-virgin olive oil and sprinkle with smoked paprika. Serve with grilled pita, flat bread, in wraps, with crudites, etc., etc.

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