Olivia’s Top Three: Celebrate Food

Hi everyone!

Last week, I didn’t get around to doing a “top three” because of the holiday.

We had a three-day weekend and wanted to go home for Independence Day, but our ancient, dilapidated Buick was old and grumpy and reluctant to start, and definitely would not have weathered the trip.

So on Thursday afternoon, after working from 6-3 so we got a full day in, we went and successfully navigated buying a grown-up car that has air conditioning, brake lights, all four windows, etc, and then we bought 40 chicken nuggets to celebrate and drove the five hours home.

It was worth it to get to see the whole family, however briefly (I think that the five of us+Rick+Ben’s girlfriend were all under one roof for less than 12 hours), and we got a few crucial things like marriage counseling and fingerprinting for work checked off the to-do list.

Anyway, this weekend looks to be a nice one, with good weather all around, which is a welcome change.

My first pick is the Taste of Buffalo food festival, a huge celebration that’s one of the largest in the United States. We went to this last year, and to my surprise Rick was insistent that we go again.

After that, I want to check out a Buffalo classic, Shakespeare in the Park. It’s the last weekend for Romeo and Juliet, and I’m really disappointed we haven’t made it yet.

Finally, in Delaware Park on Sunday, Buffalo is hosting something called Buffalo’s Largest Picnic. I LOVE picnics and I love that this is just a little bit out there. Plus, any meal made up of cheese, wine and fruit can’t be bad, right??

I also haven’t gotten a chance to explore Delaware Park, which was famously designed by Frederick Law Olmstead, and I’m excited to see more of that.

Here’s to a relaxing weekend full of nice weather and good food!

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Public Espresso: Yes Please

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Public Espresso, a niche little coffee bar located in the Lafayette Hotel in central Buffalo, was on my weekend bucket list last week, and I’m so glad we made it.

I had a cappuccino, which was perfect; I often drink sugar in cappuccino, but the milk was so sweet and perfectly steamed that I didn’t need it here.

Rick had a Colombian pour-over. This is far from plain drip coffee; it was made in a sort of single-serve Chemex beaker and served on a little tray with the glass pitcher of coffee and a cup. My family loves coffee, and Mama even roasts her own organic fair-trade wholesale beans, which we grind fresh, but Public Espresso made the best cup of coffee that I’ve ever had. It was incredibly flavorful and not bitter at all.

We also had an oatmeal cookie (not sweet, but good) and a homemade Oreo from Butter Block, which again was delicious and not overly sugary. They also source pastries from Elm Street Bakery here in East Aurora, which is one of my all-time favorites.

The Hotel Lafayette itself is beautiful and full of architectural details, and thanks to the lobby there is plenty of seating and tables, even though the coffee bar itself is just a bar. I will be back, and I 10/10 recommend Public Espresso!

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#NYCin3Words: Ten Dollar Cookie (also: chocolate world)

It was a long, long week, so last night, I turned to chocolate. 

Namely, Max Brenner’s Chocolate World, a fairly well-known restaurant that was on my NYC bucket list and that I’d never visited.

chocolate worldLet me clarify something about this restaurant for you: THERE IS CHOCOLATE PLUMBING ON THE CEILING.

So that’s very exciting. What was not exciting was the fact that everything was slightly overpriced, namely the chocolate-chip cookie for $9.95, which only in New York would be seen as even somewhat acceptable. This reminded me of the #NYCin3Words hashtag, which has been trending for a couple of days and is worth spending a little time scrolling through. It’s always interesting to see what people have to say.

max brenner chocolateAnyway, back to the restaurant review.

Max Brenner was interesting, a little too touristy (lines were out the door the entire time we were there, and the wait sans reservation was about 90 minutes), and a little too expensive for my taste.

chocolate towers yumHowever, the fondue-for-two, which we split among three, was fantastic. Not least because it involved these “chocolate towers.”

fondue for twoIt was “European,” which apparently means it did not come with peanut butter or “tutti-frutti cake,” and delicious. There were even marshmallows and a little burner thing on which to roast them.

instagram chocolate pots yum foodMmmm.

 Takeaways: Max Brenner’s is okay. A restaurant devoted to chocolate is fantastic. I can’t afford to drink in this city. Also, I’m happy to have crossed something off the bucket list. 

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Summer Essentials

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What else comes to mind when you think summer essential? You say beaches, I say sunscreen. You say concert, I say sunscreen. You say picnic, I say sunscreen. This is my life, people.

Also, after forgetting to apply on #FieldTripFriday and getting a little toasty, I’m so over the peeling. Blergh.

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I’m trying to bring these back. Who’s with me?!

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I read dozens of books a year, but summer is when I read most of them. I can finish a novel in two or three days (depending on how much I’m working), while at school I’m lucky to read a book every week or two. (This is my latest read and it’s great)

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I recently discovered Aldi—I’m living with access to good shopping for the first time ever—and it’s so fantastic and cheap and produce-filled. In the evenings when it’s too hot to move the boys and I have been turning on soccer or Food Network, creating a wind tunnel with fans and ice blocks and eating cherries and raspberries (and chocolate ice cream) by the handful (not the ice cream, we eat that with spoons).

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Reasons I’m Proud of Working at Taco Bell

Yesterday, I updated my resume, and in order to make room for this summer’s internship I had to make the difficult decision to take last summer’s job at Taco Bell (referred to herein as the Taco Palace) off of my resume entirely. Even though it’s by far the most menial job I’ve had, I was sad to remove it, because I am damn proud of that summer. Here’s why.

It was incredibly hard work. 

I have led a pretty privileged life–I never experienced homelessness (or poverty aside from the typical life of a family on a tight budget), I grew up in an intact family in a nice area, I was given an excellent education, and so on–and I’m not ashamed to admit that working in fast food was the most difficult job I’ve had.

Working on your feet all day is hard. Being treated as expendable is hard. Black polyester, honestly, is not my outfit of choice. Working 11 or 12 or 15 days in row because of when the work week changes is really, really hard. Driving home at 2 a.m. is hard; getting up the next day to get to work at 10 a.m. is even harder. Having days on end when you go without touching a computer because you’re too exhausted when you get home is hard; taking half-hour breaks where you sit on the curb is hard.

I saw some of the most beautiful sunsets over the mountains on those breaks, though; I always wanted to get a good photograph but never did because of the telephone wires and highway blocking the view.

It showed me I was on the right path.

I’ve always been a little bit insecure about the decision to go to college. It meant a considerable amount of debt, for a career that I know will never make me rich. But after spending 30 hours a week making tacos for the masses, I knew that I needed to have a career in which I was fulfilled, even if I never made any more than minimum wage.

It taught me more sympathy.

I don’t think I’ve ever treated service workers poorly, but life is definitely different on the other side of the counter. I was fortunate to work in fast food for a few months to earn money to pursue a dream, but some were doing this for the foreseeable future, to pay for cars and babies and hospital bills.

Politics aside, the lives of those surviving on minimum wage look different close-up.

I got to see a whole lot of humanity.

I even wrote an essay about this for my English class. (PR alert: I received an award for the best composition in the college. You can read it here.)

I learned how to fill that unforgiving minute.

One of my favorite poems says that if you can fill that unforgiving minute with sixty seconds’ worth of distance run, yours is the world and all that’s in it. If I can work on a line making a taco every 15 seconds for hours on a busy Friday night, I know hard work can get me anywhere I set my mind to.

During my interview, I told my supervisor that I was looking for a good, honest summer job to help put myself through college. I certainly got the opportunity to do good, honest hard work, and that’s not something to ever be ashamed of.

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Linking up with Erica Jacqueline for Listed Tuesdays.

listed tuesdays

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