Food, Fellowship and the Flag


If you could have seen the sight I had from the Main Stage at the Lewiston Jazz Festival you would have an idea what I am talking about.

As far as the eye could see, on Center Street, the main street of Lewiston NY, people were everywhere. If it was a surface, they were sitting on it…bag chairs, railings, and even window boxes (awkward) provided a base to listen to amazing music and chat with friends. Those without any surface were standing; either trying to find a place to listen or they were trying to move to a place where they could listen to conversation.

Everyone was eating. And, they were drinking.

Local restaurants sold their signature dishes on the street and outside vendors served up everything from brick oven pizza (from a portable brick oven with visible flame) to sushi. There were IPO beers and local wines, red and white sangria and the most delicious Mojito’s that had so much mint you felt like you are getting your daily dose of fiber.

It was noisy, not always easy to navigate and there was zero personal space.

The cacophony of retail, music and conversation would be harsh if heard without context. It was just plain loud but few people seemed bothered. Actually, they seemed invigorated by it. The louder the sound, the more intimate the conversation.

Have you ever noticed how a shared pizza pie or a cold beer act like a binder, providing commonality until conversation can get to shared experience?

And, Western New Yorkers play that game better than anyone I know. We can meet a stranger but know that our Godmother taught their nephew in grammar school in record time. We love the connection.

As I stood on the Main Stage I knew the folks were anxious for the headliners to start their show. I was the last thing between the community service announcements and the music which brought them all together in the first place.

Who could have blamed them for being impatient with the lovely practice of honoring the flags of the two countries sitting side by side?

But honor them they did, standing at attention as I sang the Canadian national anthem. “Oh Canada” their “home and native land” stood just a mile or so behind me. Many Canadians come to our little piece of New York State heaven for this festival as they pour here every day to enjoy the retail and the strength of their dollar.

Clap clap clap. They are sweet with their recognition that I sang their beautiful song with few errors.

Then, as they continued to stand, hats removed and many covering their heart, I began the Star Spangled Banner. I waved my hand as a request for them to join in and to my surprise and delight, they did.

Oh, if you could have seen the view from the stage of bodies everywhere, stopped for just a minute to sing a song that binds us just as an egg binds a meatball, you would have had shivers.

If you could have seen their faces, rapt with pride and a sense of belonging, you would have truly appreciated how food, fellowship and the flag truly represent needs we have as humans to survive not only physically but in our hearts and minds, as well.



Brunch Is Back! Town Hall – Lewiston NY

20130324-201513.jpgThis pretty and delicious drink is the perfect testimony that brunch has come a long way from the long silver chafing dishes filled with dry scrambled eggs, over cooked potatoes and bowls of fruit cocktail fresh from a can.

Town Hall, an upscale bistro in Lewiston, opened during the USA Today/Rand McNally Best of the Road mega food tour last June. Their addition gave us all yet another option for dining on Center Street. I love talking to folks from around Western New York talk about Center Street like they would talk about Chippewa or Hertel or Maple. People know that a drive over bridges and down a hill takes them to shops and restaurants like nowhere else in the area.

Lewiston may not have won best of the road but being named one of the 10 Best Small Towns in America was not a coincidence.

We made 11:30 AM reservations for Brunch and I’m really glad I did. When I arrived the bar was already busy with folks waiting for friends to arrive or to just hang out after church. The tables were filling up and we were seated at one of the booths along the side. The high backs made for a private dining experience although the room is not large and the noise level pretty high.

Brunch is back in a big way all across the country. My son and his friends go to brunch almost every weekend in New York City. Silly mommy thinks it’s for the delicious food at reasonable prices where, in reality, the fact he calls it “Drunk Brunch” should tell me that the reason is the inexpensive drink specials.

Town Hall brings that party theme to Lewiston. A friend of mine told me about the $1 Bloody Mary’s and Bloody Caesars so I was ready. Unfortunately, New York State does not allow beverage service until 12:00 PM.

What to do?

Sydnee, our capable, busy and very sweet server told us about their brunch specials so we decided to enjoy some sliced cinnamon rolls slathered with a not too sweet cream cheese frosting and sprinkled with a little powdered sugar and a cup of coffee while we waited to order our adult beverages. It’s the first time I have ever ordered an appetizer at brunch. Very civilized.

When noon rolled around Sydnee quickly visited all of her tables where the people were just as anxious as us to order one of the interesting beverage options. Check out their menu online to see their brunch offerings. We ordered a Bloody Mary and a drink called a Berries and Basil. It was a wine glass filled with lemon juice, sparkling wine and simple syrup with sliced strawberries and mulled basil. It was refreshing in a sort of wine mojito way. If you like mojito’s and basil you will enjoy this drink. The Bloody Mary was well made and the size you would expect for $1. Still, you could not drive if you spend $5 so it is a great value.

There are a lot of breakfast/brunch/lunch options on the menu and they are all reasonably priced. I also appreciated the portion sizes. They were perfect not just at noon but all day long. I had a hard time deciding what to have. I waffled (not on the menu and you won’t miss them) between the Lobster Frittata ($10) and the Eggs Benedict ($8) and eventually chose the Duck Hash ($9)

20130325-065152.jpgServed in a cast iron casserole dish, the combination of duck confit, potatoes, onions and a poached egg topped with a Tabasco hollandaise was the perfect choice. Duck confit? That takes two days to prepare and I thought the duck had good flavor. The dish had a great balance and the poached egg was cooked just right so that when I put my fork into the yoke it ran happily to over the spicy potatoes and onions.

We also had the Pulled Pork Quesadilla ($8). It was a crispy tortilla filled with slow roasted pork, Chipotle BBQ sauce, peppers and onions with Jack cheese I liked the crunch and flavor. It was not too spicy and I would not have minded more heat.

When we ate every last morsel on our plates we decided to order another beverage sampling. The BLT was surprisingly good. Usually when I get one of these funky drinks I love the first few sips, like the next few then regret the order. The flavor of bacon in a beverage is unusual and not unwelcome. It was a pretty presentation and good to the last drop.

20130325-070043.jpg I ordered the French 75 with vodka. Had I known the original was made with gin I would have had it that way. It was a light wine spritzer with vodka, lemon juice, simple syrup and sparkling wine. It is the kind of drink I would enjoy on a summer day over ice.

If you go, be sure to make a reservation and remember that it may be noon somewhere but it’s not until 12:00 PM in Lewiston.

Have a yummy day!

Lewiston NY: One Of The 2012 Best Small Towns in America



My friend Mary Lesa posted something on my Facebook wall yesterday. My beloved home town was included in the 10 Best Small Towns in America..

Lewiston NY was ranked fifth on the list. Our town participated in the 2012 Best of the Road contest and rallied together to host the Road Bros in what turned out to be an epic visit.

Small towns can be quite amazing. It is difficult to explain unless you experience it. When you walk into your local cafe someone will know you. Your local pubs are filled with folks to clink your glass. The food you eat in local restaurants are not only prepared by your neighbors but they are likely family recipes passed from generation to generation.

To my friends in Lewiston and Youngstown, feel free to comment on this column and plug your restaurant or shop. Let’s build some momentum for Shop Local Saturday.

“Like” my Facebook page and give yourself a shout-out to let folks know why it’s not only fun but smart to shop locally.

I will feature as many as possible so come on, play!

Have a yummy day!


Lewiston: Let’s Keep This Ball Rolling!

20120717-181825.jpgThat fateful day, January 27, 1991 when Scott Norwood kicked that ball into the air during what is now referred to as Super Bowl #1(or the wide right game) we were convinced we were going to win. Nope and the rest is Buffalo Bill’s and WNY history. Our psyche has been knocked around for a long time, and ever since Johnny Carson joked about all of the snow we got during the Blizzard of ’77 we started thinking as if we were nothing but a bunch of losers. 20120717-181836.jpg

Hell, everyone knows Dallas Star Brett Hull was in the crease during Game 6 at the Arena in June of 1999…but we’re not bitter…well…maybe just a little.

20120717-181843.jpg“Baby” Joe Mesi, the undefeated heavy weight boxer from Tonawanda, referred to as Buffalo’s Third Franchise, ended up losing his chance at the big fight due to that last hit…I guess it always does…that ended his career…we just can’t win!

Lucy ALWAYS lifts the football and Charlie Brown ALWAYS tries to kick it anyway.

Something strange happened to me today. First, and I think it is so much of my WNY brainwashing, I was fully prepared to lose the Rand McNally Best Of The Road contest. I cannot say it was based on rational thought, maybe perhaps, simply based on trying not to be too disappointed. It’s sort of like talking yourself out of getting the Schwinn Stingray bike with banana seat when you can only hope for the girly bike with the streamers coming out of the handle bars (too specific?).

I have never been a part of something so special in such a short amount of time. We moved forward so quickly we did not have time to over think the process. I think we were very successful and should feel like winners. Mike and Brian had a blast and fell in love with our small town.

‘Okay…so, we lost. We are not going to “get on the map” on their GPS. We are, however going to be on the Travel Channel on July 25th at 8:00 PM. It may only be for a minute but who cares? The winners will not likely get much more time than we do. How do we keep this momentum and build on it?

We have such an opportunity. What are we going to do with it?

It’s not an end. It’s a beginning.

Lewiston – what’s next?

Have a yummy week!

Best of the Road #LewistonBest Videos and Media Coverage

1 Comment

I got a Tweet the other day and wanted to be sure to share this video with everyone. Just as Lewiston is competing for Best Food in a small town in America, Brian and Mike – The Road Bros are competing for the best judges. We watch and share their videos and they get closer to their quest.

Remember, get ready to set your DVR for the Travel Channel July 25, 2012 at 8:00 pm to see Lewiston shine on national TV.[youtube=]

And, just like washing your hair(wash, rinse, repeat) please WATCH, SHARE, REPEAT).

Here are some more links:

This is a great post about the Welcome Rally at the Silo For a great summary of the judging day in Lewiston check out this blog:

Come to Lewiston!

Joshua Maloni of WNY Papers Niagara Frontier Publications did a great job covering the Road Bros!

And more stuff!


Notoriety – Lewiston Porter High School – Fantastic Job!!!

Have a Yummy Day!

#LewistonBest A Little Review of Best Of The Road


20120629-063717.jpgJuly 2, 2012: This just in: Hey Jude…great recap.  Folks can visit after this epic trip is over for more coverage.  Until then, don’t miss our updates on Cheers, Mike

Did last week happen? Did The Road Bros Mike Shubic and Brian Cox actually come into Lewiston NY and eat and play their way around town?

Lee Simonson (the volunteer organizer of the volunteers-not an oxymoron, if you think about it), Tim Henderson (the guide for the CBS camera crew, contracted by the Travel Channel) and I met with Brian and Mike Wednesday for lunch to discuss the schedule for the rally and the following day. As the Road Bros official guide I fine tuned the schedule (14 hours in five minute increments-the accountant in me) and did my best to get the Bros to as many places as possible given the time constraint.

Rally food at the Silo:http: // Haystack: seasoned rib eye steak with melted mozzarella and toasted hash browns on a hoagie roll with mayo; Haystack Sundae:
Thursday June 21, 2012 20120629-075751.jpgOrange Cat: Iced coffee with toasted marshmallow, caramel and chocolate Milano syrups; chocolate peanut butter brewed coffee

20120629-070338.jpgTommy George’s Villa Coffee Shop: mixed eggs, pancakes (with a smile), corned beef hash, Italian toast

20120629-070531.jpgMangia Cafe: Tomato tart with caramelized onions, with a garden salad and homemade balsamic vinaigrette dressing.
Salmon croquettes with freshly made tomato cucumber salsa with organic spinach, with olive oil/lemon dill dressing
Chicken Waldorf sandwich on multigrain bread with fresh fruit
Roasted red pepper quiche with fresh fruit salad


20120629-070931.jpgVillage Bake Shoppe: “Mile High” apple pie topped with caramel and walnuts, Hello Tracy cookie bar which is similar to a hello dolly but with a chocolate cookie crust, coconut and chocolate chips.


The First Timer: 1/3 rack ribs, 1/4 smoked chicken, pulled pork, brisket, smoked turkey, and house rubbed chicken wings.
They had a flight sampler of 5 of our drafts.

Pyramid haywire hefeweisen
Flying bison 716 kolsch
Brickyard strawberry blonde
Leinenkugel summer shandy
Flying bison aviator red

20120629-071424.jpgApple Granny: crab and cheddar haddock, chicken wings, beef on weck and awesome blossom

20120629-071502.jpgThe “view” of Lewiston from the lawn of the Niagara Falls Country Club

20120629-071648.jpgHibbard’s: BBQ beef with coleslaw on a Kaiser roll, chocolate custard, black raspberry custard

20120629-071834.jpgMacri’s Italian Grille: Veal parm, gnocchi, mascarpone asparagus ravioli /oil garlic roasted pepper pine nuts and rolled lasagna filled with egg meatball mozzarella

20120629-071937.jpgAt Grandpaws Pet Emporium…even the pets eat well in Lewiston!

20120629-072058.jpgThe Lewiston Choraleers entertained and brought a tear of pride to this foodie’s eye…

20120629-072255.jpgDiCamillo Bakery: Peanut sticks, Romano pizza

20120629-072358.jpgD’Avolio: Mike sampled Milanese Gremolata Olive Oil mixed with Sicilian Lemon White Balsamic Vinegar. Brian sampled Garlic Olive Oil mixed with Fig Dark Balsamic Vinegar. Brian also sampled Manzanillo (from Spain) Extra Virgin Olive Oil.
They both sampled the air popped popcorn drizzled with our White Truffle Oil and White Truffle Sea Salt.

They both went away with 2 party favors: Manzanillo EVOO & 18-Year Balsamic Vinegar

Manzanillo- Robust Intensity! A huge, green olive center coupled with strawberry characteristics balance the perfect amount of bitterness & the delayed, desirable pungent finish in this Intense Manzanillo!

Milanese Gremolata- Gremolata is a traditional Italian herb condiment consisting of fresh lemon zest, minced garlic, Italian flat leaf parsley and a hint of mint. The herbs and citrus zest are typically crushed together in a mortar to release their pungent essential oils.

Garlic Olive Oil- Actually gives off the flavor of slow roasted Garlic. Since garlic and olive oil are almost always used together in Mediterranean cooking, you can use this in just about anything. This is great to mix in with pasta or mashed potatoes, to drizzle of steaks before grilling or to just dip with bread.

20120629-072534.jpgHops N Vines: Mojito with freshly muddled mint


Casa Antica:
Veal chop Florentine: cut veal chop stuffed with perschutto asiago cheese and spinach. Topped in a balsamic reduction sauce with sautéed Portabella mushrooms and onions. Served over roasted potatoes and fresh vegetables.

Chilean sea bass:Served in a lemon caper white wine sauce. Over home made spinach fettuccine and fresh spinach.

Rissotto asparaci e capesante:Pan seared scallops served over a creamy risotto with sautéed asparagus and onions.

Banana peppers:Stuffed with Genova salami and pecorino cheese topped with our famous three cheese cream sauce.

Arancina:Our award winning rice balls are stuffed with aborio rice ground beef mozzarella cheese and snow peas. Two rice balls per order one in our house red sauce and the other in our Gorgonzola cream sauce.

Involtini di melenzane: Breaded eggplant rollatini stuffed with ricotta baked and topped with melted mozzarella and marinara sauce.

Upon ordering you will receive our complementary dips and breads: Our olive paste, eggplant caponatina, and spicy vegetable dip. These spreads are accompanied with our home made Italian bread baked fresh daily, homemade pizza bread and our garlic knots.

20120629-073026.jpgCarmelo’s: Dined with Rich Tilyou from T-Meadow Farm ( and Jonathan Oakes ( from Leonard Oakes Winery; and volunteers Leandra Collesano, Lisa Ohanessian, Zach Collister and Jude Russo Caserta (

TEAM ROAD BROS: Butcher’s Supper
Road Bros Cocktail: Steam Punk hard cider/Hudson Valley Baby Bourbon
Starters: Butcher’s Plate: assortment of T-Meadow cured meats; Farm Stand Salad: Peggy’s Herbs/David’s Asparagus/Coulter’s Strawberries
Main Course: T-Meadow farm Suckling Pig: Carolina BBQ sauce
Sides: Cayuga Pure Organics: Faro Risotto; Hurtgam Farm Braised Chard; Roasted Root Vegetables in port jus

20120629-073139.jpgWater Street Landing: Banana Cream Puff Pastry: Puff pastry dough, French vanilla ice cream, hand whipped cream, sliced bananas, baked meringue