Tuesday, January 15, 2013

A Surprise Visit to Buffalo

Seven years ago this month, I moved to France.  To be completely cliche, it was a dream come true. During my six months as a student, I traveled, practiced my French, wrote in my journal at cafes while sipping espresso, studied, learned to love cooking, and my passion for food was born. It wasn't always the perfect ideal I had imagined, but it was a wonderful experience.

Now, what on earth does France have to do with a visit to Buffalo? Well, I began the program knowing none of my fellow students, but I quickly bonded with Joseph and Nate. We became rather inseparable and dubbed ourselves "The Trio." We still remain close friends despite our scattered geographical locations, and this weekend, Joseph, my husband, and I finally made our first visit to Buffalo to surprise Nate and his fiancee, Kate!
We had the best time in Buffalo, and Nate and Kate were great tour guides. The city was not at all what I imagined, with inviting local shops and restaurants, parks, striking architecture downtown, and plenty of character. Best of all, the weekend was unseasonably warm, in the 60s each day. In January. In Buffalo!

I had the largest mug of coffee I've ever been served at Spot Coffee in Elmwood Village. Old Editions Book Shop was heavenly with endless shelves of used books.  Breakfast sitting outside of Ashker's Juice Bar was light and refreshing.We sampled beautiful made-to-order cupcakes at Zillycakes.   A short drive over the Canadian border brought us to magnificent views of Niagara Falls, enjoyed over cups of Tim Horton's coffee for the full Canadian experience.

We devised a plan for a "wing crawl" Saturday evening, eating as many wings as we could manage while imbibing the local favorite, Labatt Blue. My favorite wings were hands-down the Hot wings at Duffs, crispy and saucy, inducing just enough mouth tingle. I could have eaten those bad boys all night. Before heading home, we spent our last couple hours playing with their puppy, Stout, at a dog park overlooking the expansive Lake Erie shoreline.
The best part of the weekend was catching up with friends who are like adopted family.  Thankfully we'll get to see them all again (and to eat more wings) in July for Nate and Kate's wedding! And if you've ever wondered if Niagara Falls is worth the trip, my vote is an unequivocal "yes."

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