Farm to Table Fairytale in WNY

“Okay, I feel like I’m in a Hallmark movie.” – @chessabond

Any second, Reese Witherspoon was going to walk in to the party donning a stunning makeover from her neighbor and lock eyes with the strapping man who moved back to his hometown to care for his Mother and run the family farm while building houses with his bare hands and donning a dirty-yet-clean unbuttoned plaid shirt with his best jeans for the night.

Farm to Table, Medina NY

Now the exterior scene is set for the 3rd Medina Farm to Table dinner that shuts down Main St. every summer and fills the air with laughter, music, and wine bottles popping.

We’ve told you once, we’ll tell you twice- Beau and I hail from Niagara County originally and take it pretty seriously when something incredible is happening up in ‘the country’ towns. It’s equally important to pay attention to our hometowns if they are making an effort to preserve and start something new in order to thrive and grow. We truly never knew about this humble, delicious event until we met up with Scott and Alix of the Shirt Factory Cafe (and boomerangs of WNY, who host the blog In a DC Minute). We had followed one another for a while on social and when the two took over the Shirt Factory Cafe in Medina, they invited a small handful of influencers out to test an upcoming Toast Bar they’re releasing and to talk about how Medina is changing. (see our visit to their cafe here!)

After conversing about childhood, hometowns, farms, city life, teaching, food, social media, and the interesting fact that Buffalo is pretty behind regarding the use of their micro-influencers…Scott and Alix invited us to the Medina Farm to Table Dinner that was developed this year by Zambistro (the original inception restaurant of the event), Mile 303, Mariachi de Oro, Sourced Market & Eatery, and Shirt Factory Cafe. All are local Medina restaurants collaborating to put on a 200 person dinner in the middle of the Main St.. The Orleans Renaissance Group hosts the dinner and it typically sells out in under 2 hours. You can get your tickets next year at MedinaAlive.com

Lobster & Corn Hush Puppy, Zambistro

Okay, so you’ve been to a farm to table event. So have we. But not like this. Medina literally shuts down their street and lines up two huge, long tables which are set with wine glasses for pairings, silverware, simple yet stunning Joanna Gaines-style fresh flowers, live music from Dark Road Duo and Road to Azure, and an entourage of servers delivering food to you as chefs and winemakers stand by your table to share the ingredients and design of each course. There are 200 people here- more than your usual event- and each restaurant serves up a different course which ultimately proves the massive collaboration. We were seated with Scott and Alix who graciously and brilliantly gave us the history and connections of all the owners, chefs, building owners, and family involved. We needed a map! Another influencer, Francesca Bond- a writer for Step Out Buffalo, The Buffalo News, and her own blog Vintage Lillies – sat across from us. To our immediate right were total strangers who became friends by the end of the first course.

Corn, Beets, and Some Berries Walk In To A Bar, Mile 303

Everyone was so damn friendly and happy, how could this not be a movie? All proud (and rightly so) of their town, this event, and having visitors come in to see what it is all about. The scene was perfect since Medina has kept their original buildings and did not fully give in to urban renewal. The canal sat within feet of us and we noticed that almost all of the storefronts were occupied whether it was restaurants, barber shops, paint studios, or the local lady who sews anything you require. Of course we found one degree of separation or at least the knowledge of one anothers’ town- like the older gentleman diagonal from me who lived on a road in Newfane across from my childhood home, the gal who grew up in Albion and knows the old cobblestone homes of the Bacon Family on my maternal side, and retired teachers who knew some people we name-dropped from Lockport and Medina. The beauty of strangers sitting side by side as the sun glistened atop architectural peaks at sunset.

Mariachi de Oro

The food was incredible. Fresh, delicious, beautiful. Almost all ingredients used were also from the local Canal Village Farmer’s Market in town. (*squee!* we love it!) We had no idea this town boasted such a culinary surprise. Wine pairings were collaborations with other Niagara and Orleans County makers like Schulze, Chateau Niagara, Leonard Oakes, Freedom Run, 810 Meadworks, and Liten Buffel. Hearing from local owners and Scott himself, the returning generation is working toward reviving this town little by little and opening their doors and arms to any and all who are curious to explore.

‘Eh, the drive is far.’ Oh boo hoo, people. You’ll miss out on a lot of things in WNY if you have that mentality still. If you stop and think about it, we have so many towns and communities within a small radius that are hidden gems and are begging to be polished and history to be re-learned. Our renaissance isn’t just in Buffalo- it’s in our whole region of Buffalo Niagara. The trickle effect of success is seeping out beyond the downtown walls and incredible. 

Berry Chocolate Cake, Shirt Factory Cafe

We’ll be talking about the Medina Farm to Table Dinner for a while. That’s how memorable and fun it was. We are so glad we have teamed with Scott and Alix and look forward to the next adventures we can uncover in Medina…and within other towns. We are glad to have met the charming Francesca Bond who is a young lady going places with her writing and immense experience at such a young age. We are glad to have met the locals of Medina, swap travel stories, escape a wine fiasco, and give a standing ‘O’ to the chefs and servers at the end. Keep exploring and keep learning- it’s how our part of New York is going to thrive.

Chicken 3 Ways, Zambistro

The perfect blurry night selfie with Scott and Alix

Buffalovebirds’ Valentine’s Day Go-To Guide

Oh, love is in the air! Whether you have a lovebird, celebrate the single life with your buds, ignore the day all together, or give in to every cheesy aspect of this Hallmark holiday- we compiled an ultimate guide for you to ham it up this weekend. We have picked unique ideas for you to swoon your lovebird!

Friday evening celebrations:

Go back in time….at Kleinhans Music Hall, an evening of dinner & dancing! Catered by Olivers, complimentary champagne, and music by Jim Tudini Big Band with Bobby Militello. Begins at 7pm, call Lauren at (716) 242-7825 for details. Take the romance back to the 1930s!

The Buffalo Vampires Masquerade Ball comes alive at dusk at our home in the Hotel Lafayette this Friday from 8pm-1am. For a bloody good time, hang with the vampires on this evening of love. This ball goes to charity- every canned good you bring, you receive 1 raffle ticket for prize drawings. Music, custom fangs, magicians, dark artists, jewelers…maybe some garlic??? $20 until 2/13, $25 at door. Taxis available.

NIGHT LIGHTS at the Gardens
Night Lights at the Botanical Gardens (photo on buffalogardens.com)

Swoon among the flowers and lights…this is the last weekend for the Botanical Gardens’ ‘Night Lights’. Illuminated with interactive, the lights glisten among the gardens and give a romantic vibe to set the mood. Wednesday & Thursday: 6-9pm…Friday & Saturday 6-10pm. Tickets only at the door: adults: $10, senior/student: $8, kids 3-12 $5, under 3 are free. Bands perform on Friday & Saturday evening.

Wine up with your lovebirds or pals and take the Niagara Wine Trail ‘Be Mine With Wine’ weekend! Pairing 3 tastings with chocolate from chocolatiers from around WNY, the tickets are good 2/14-2/16 so you can enjoy the celebration all weekend. Check out the event page to see who is paired together! An event not to be missed!

Want to be really clever? Revisit an old classic: ‘Casablanca’. Playing at The Screening Room at 5pm & 7:15pm on Friday…7:15pm on Saturday…consider this your on-a-budget and thoughtful date (only $6!). Enjoy a glass of wine and popcorn with your lovebird. Tickets available at door. (credit cards accepted) A group of friends going? Call to reserve for groups of 5 or more.

Take a stroll through Tifft Nature Preserve, five minutes outside the city, for a Valentine’s Day Full Moon Stroll. From 6-7:30pm, walk under the moon with your loved one and enjoy hot cocoa in the cabin afterward. $6, $2 for snowshoes if needed, call 716-825-6397 to reserve a spot (limited!).

In the Niagara County region and want to stay close to home? There is a beautiful moonlit stroll happening at Wilson-Tuscarora Park, too. 6:30-8:30pm, hear stories of moon lore and nature at night. Call 716-285-0516 for details and reservations.