Archives For Chicken Wings

On a normal year I spend the first weekend of the NCAA Basketball Tournament in Las Vegas. I traditionally travel alone but upon landing west, am greeted by a group of guys that I grew up with in Niagara Falls, NY. Now what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas, but specifics withheld, the three days are usually filled with lots of sports, casino chips and the occasional alcoholic beverage (read: bottle).

However, 2016 would prove to not be a normal year. I’m 30 and most of the fellas in my group are at least a year or two older than me. They also all live back in Western New York. So while I’m still single and relatively care-free, my boys are now proposing, closing on houses, having kids or taking care of their young ones.

And this year, essentially all of those things happened at once, creating the perfect storm to cancel our annual Vegas excursion.

But, I’ve grown so accustomed hanging with the guys for March Madness, and we’re so used to seeing each other that we quickly decided something had to serve as a placeholder for Vegas until 2017. With a founding trip member and their wife was expecting a baby that weekend it was decided that we’d rent out a suite in North Buffalo, set-up three TVs, stock up the kitchen and bar and enjoy all of the Cinderella stories and buzzer beaters we could handle.

Perhaps keeping with the Vegas spirit, not many details of this trip will be publicized either; however I documented a modicum of it on Instagram. The fun began after an all-nighter Wednesday night, with a first-class Delta flight to the 716.


Of course I represented for my Syracuse Orange – who advanced to the Sweet 16 after thumping both Dayton and Middle Tennessee State.

And when in Rome… well, you know. On Thursday’s menu: La Nova pizza and char-grilled barbecue hot chicken wings.


Friday’s menu: Breakfast pizza from La Nova (highly recommend) along with spicy Bloody Marys that lasted until our early dinner: a huge fish fry with the fixings from WNY-staple Wegmans.


On Friday night, the trip’s itinerary took a turn: snow and rain were projected to hit New York on Sunday, the day I was supposed to fly back. I’ve become all-too-familiar with delays in-and-out of the tri-state area. In the interest of not spending all day Sunday at the airport or getting stranded in Niagara Falls, I proactively called Delta to have my flight bumped earlier. The airline was not as accommodating as they should have been but they did switch me to a Saturday flight.

That plane departed at 5:45 am. I found this out at about 1 am. So, I did what anyone else on vacation would do: I called my buddy Shawn who was working downtown at a nightclub, took a cab to meet him with my luggage in tow, hung out, grabbed food at Elmwood Taco and Subs (ETS!) and then Shawn drove me to Buffalo Niagara International Airport.


Sure my weekend wasn’t spent in Vegas, but most importantly it was spent with my friends. And besides, with the eating, drinking and sleeping habits that ensued, I don’t think my body could tell the difference anyways.

How did I spend my #LaborDayWeekend2015? Well, given that it’s the last time before Christmas I’ll get to visit my family in Niagara Falls, I traveled back to Western New York. This trip was a bit different from past years; my colleague in Scranton Danny had NEVER BEEN to Buffalo before. So Saturday I hopped on a bus from Port Authority headed towards Scranton. He picked me up at the bus stop in the Electric City, and we drove up I-81, across 690 and the New York State Fairgrounds in Syracuse (Go Orange!) and over to I-90 where we drove to Niagara Falls.

After dropping off our bags on Saturday night we headed to downtown Buffalo for a few drinks and so Danny could experience the piece of Heaven that is a Jim’s Steakout Chicken Finger Sub (medium, lettuce, tomato, blue cheese on wheat).

On Sunday, we went for a jog from my house to the scenic campus of Niagara University, spent some time at the pool and then drove back to Buffalo for the National Buffalo Wing Festival.
wing
It is everything we thought it would be, and then some. We tried wings from WNY’s big three: Duff’s, Anchor Bar and La Nova. There were pubs serving up the deep fried (or in some cases, dry rubbed) delicacies from across the country and even from across the pond – a wing spot from England was there!

Duff’s is without question my go-to.


After a few hours of stuffing our faces, we were off to see THE Niagara Falls. I grew up about 10 minutes away from the rapids.


Still pretty gorgeous. We followed up our visit with a trip to Hard Rock Cafe in Niagara Falls. My buddy Vinnie is the OM there so we said hello to him and partook in our first Oktoberfest (Samuel Adams) of the season.

Then we returned to my house, where my Mother had prepared my favorite meal: Chicken Francese with a side of my Mom’s patent homemade pilaf. YAS.


Labor Day, sans a run, was rather Labor-Less.


For the most part, the same could be said for Tuesday (I took an extra day, sue me!)


Another highlight of the trip: Tuesday night. My Dad and I went to one of his favorite watering holes, Stadium Grill on Hyde Park Blvd. We downed a few beers and watched the Yankees game together.

I flew back early Wednesday morning so I could interview a one Justin Bieber.

The trip home was everything I wanted it to be and then some. Next up on the #RalphieOTRA itinerary: Scranton for Mohegan Sun Pocono’s Oktoberfest and Atlantic City for Miss America – all in the same weekend.