Sidebars: When in Buffalo, eat wings

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It being summer vacation season, I’m going to take a respite from the normal routine of this column and share with you some tidbits from our family vacation in July. It starts back in the spring of this year when Amy and I discussed over dinner one night with the kids where they would like to go for summer vacation. Niagara Falls became the consensus destination.

While mildly excited to witness one of the Seven Wonders of Canada, I was silently but wildly excited about its proximity to Buffalo, N.Y. Wearing my best poker face, I agreed that the kids’ idea was a great one and we would go. I promptly excused myself and locked myself in the bathroom while my heart jumped for joy. Niagara Falls is only about a 30-minute drive from Anchor Bar in Buffalo, birthplace of the ubiquitous Buffalo wings, a reigning American staple.

Visiting this place was on my bucket list, as it should be for any self-respecting wing fan, and I couldn’t believe I was going to be so close to it. I thought I had to play it cool for a while and devise and hatch my plan with Amy at the opportune time. This is not because she wouldn’t want to go if I flat out asked her, but because I didn’t want her to think I was any crazier than she already thinks I am. I buckled and brought it up right away.

After consulting a few friends who had visited the falls, we learned that the drive there is a relatively easy one – about nine hours. We also learned there really isn’t much to do of cultural substance other than viewing the falls, unless we wanted to take the kids to a bunch of tourist traps and casinos and spend a fair amount of our already deflated American dollars in Canada. So, on the front end of our trip we built in four nights in Toronto, a cultural and culinary gem. (I must give kudos to Assistant U.S. Attorney Barry Glickman here. He recommended The Sultan’s Tent in Toronto for Moroccan food, a fine choice complete with a belly dancer who was actually skinny. The look on my 9-year-old son’s face was priceless as she came by our table.)

sidebars Anthony Vaiana wears Buffalo’s answer to the “Wisconsin cheesehead.” (Photo submitted)

On our first afternoon in Niagara Falls the topic of dinner came up, and we naturally (or unnaturally) drove to Buffalo. The bar was a relatively easy find and was bursting at the seams with nostalgia. Amy shared with the host how our romantic destination really turned out as my quest for wings. He chuckled and told her she was not the first spouse to make that comment and promptly seated us.

The Buffalo wing story begins in 1964 when some buddies of Dominic Bellissimo came to his bar shortly before midnight one evening with hearty appetites. He asked his mother, Teressa, to whip up something special for them. She had a mountain of wings in the kitchen that she commonly used for soup stock. She threw them in the fryer, made up a secret sauce (that tastes like mixed Louisiana hot sauce and butter), then tossed the wings in her concoction and served them to the hungry boys. The word spread around town like wildfire about those wings and the rest is history. For obvious reasons, she is now referred to as Mother Teressa.

The bar and restaurant have an expansive menu, mainly Italian influenced. Apart from the usual pub fare, they offer a variety of pastas, pizzas, pies, and, of course, cannoli for dessert. The wings, deep-fried, are flavorful and meaty but really pretty standard. Amy and the kids enjoyed a medium batch while I went for the hot ones. The hot variety was essentially medium wings with a hint of Tabasco sauce. Not very creative, I know, but not at all disappointing. This visit was more about the destination than the food anyway.

One particularly enjoyable aspect of the evening was sharing it with my family. My son, Anthony, has already developed a respectable palate for spicy wings. My 12-year-old daughter, Angelica, has sampled a few spicy wings in the past, but she’s never really made a meal on them prior to this night. Aurelia, my 14-year-old daughter, never even tried a Buffalo wing in her life prior to this visit. She liked them and ate her fill. It was pretty cool to share her first wing experience with her, especially at the place where it all began.

I give Anchor Bar four gavels. Not because of the quality of these wings (more like a 3 or even a 2½ rating), but because of the contribution to American cuisine that one idle night in 1964 produced at this very location. So plan that romantic trip to Niagara Falls with your spouse, significant other, or family members. The falls are stunning. So is the detour. Anchor Bar, 1047 Main Street, Buffalo, NY 14209. 716-883-1134.

Fred Vaiana and Jennifer M. Lukemeyer practice at Voyles Zahn Paul Hogan & Merriman in Indianapolis. Vaiana is a 1992 graduate of the John Marshall Law School in Chicago. Lukemeyer earned her J.D. from Southern Methodist University in 1994. The opinions expressed in this column are the authors’.


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  1. Mr Smith, while most reading these posts are too busy making money or cranking out what passes for justice in our legal-techocrat order,I have often attempted to resist your cynicism, well thought out cynicism I admit. Please know that I give up, I can resist your logic no more. From Locknarian Platonic Guardians, through the incorporation doctine, to substantive due process, to Roe, to the latest demands that all states redefine the foundational stone of all civilized social order, the history of America's fall from Grace is inscribed on the dockets of the judiciary. From the federal judges' apostasy of a kind that would have caused John Jay to recommend capital punishment, to the state judges' refusal to protect the sanctuary of the state constitutions, seeing in them merely a font from which to protect pornographers, those who scream "f*ck the police" and pemubras and emanations following the federal apostates, it has been the judiciary, by and large, that has brought the Experiment in Ordered Liberty to an end. The Founders had great and high hopes that they had designed the third branch to save the Republic from such a time as this ... rather the third branch has allowed itself to be used to drag the Republic into rat infested sewers from which no nation has ever returned. Save me from tomorrow:

  2. Especially I would like to see all the republican voting patriotic good ole boys to stop and understand that the wars they have been volunteering for all along (especially the past decade at least) have not been for God & Jesus etc no far from it unless you think George Washington's face on the US dollar is god (and we know many do). When I saw the movie about Chris Kyle, I thought wow how many Hoosiers are just like this guy, out there taking orders to do the nasty on the designated bad guys, sometimes bleeding and dying, sometimes just serving and coming home to defend a system that really just views them as reliable cannon fodder. Maybe if the Christians of the red states would stop volunteering for the imperial legions and begin collecting welfare instead of working their butts off, there would be a change in attitude from the haughty professorial overlords that tell us when democracy is allowed and when it isn't. To come home from guarding the borders of the sandbox just to hear if they want the government to protect this country's borders then they are racists and bigots. Well maybe the professorial overlords should gird their own loins for war and fight their own battles in the sandbox. We can see what kind of system this really is from lawsuits like this and we can understand who it really serves. NOT US.... I mean what are all you Hoosiers waving the flag for, the right of the president to start wars of aggression to benefit the Saudis, the right of gay marriage, the right for illegal immigrants to invade our country, and the right of the ACLU to sue over displays of Baby Jesus? The right of the 1 percenters to get richer, the right of zombie banks to use taxpayer money to stay out of bankruptcy? The right of Congress to start a pissing match that could end in WWIII in Ukraine? None of that crud benefits us. We should be like the Amish. You don't have to go far from this farcical lawsuit to find the wise ones, they're in the buggies in the streets not far away....

  3. Moreover, we all know that the well heeled ACLU has a litigation strategy of outspending their adversaries. And, with the help of the legal system well trained in secularism, on top of the genuinely and admittedly secular 1st amendment, they have the strategic high ground. Maybe Christians should begin like the Amish to withdraw their services from the state and the public and become themselves a "people who shall dwell alone" and foster their own kind and let the other individuals and money interests fight it out endlessly in court. I mean, if "the people" don't see how little the state serves their interests, putting Mammon first at nearly every turn, then maybe it is time they wake up and smell the coffee. Maybe all the displays of religiosity by American poohbahs on down the decades have been a mask of piety that concealed their own materialistic inclinations. I know a lot of patriotic Christians don't like that notion but I entertain it more and more all the time.

  4. If I were a judge (and I am not just a humble citizen) I would be inclined to make a finding that there was no real controversy and dismiss them. Do we allow a lawsuit every time someone's feelings are hurt now? It's preposterous. The 1st amendment has become a sword in the hands of those who actually want to suppress religious liberty according to their own backers' conception of how it will serve their own private interests. The state has a duty of impartiality to all citizens to spend its judicial resources wisely and flush these idiotic suits over Nativity Scenes down the toilet where they belong... however as Christians we should welcome them as they are the very sort of persecution that separates the sheep from the wolves.

  5. What about the single mothers trying to protect their children from mentally abusive grandparents who hide who they truly are behind mounds and years of medication and have mentally abused their own children to the point of one being in jail and the other was on drugs. What about trying to keep those children from being subjected to the same abuse they were as a child? I can understand in the instance about the parent losing their right and the grandparent having raised the child previously! But not all circumstances grant this being OKAY! some of us parents are trying to protect our children and yes it is our God given right to make those decisions for our children as adults!! This is not just black and white and I will fight every ounce of this to get denied