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Alicia Explores the Southtowns: Hamburg Bites satisfies

HAMBURG — With a pamphlet in hand, I wandered the sidewalks of the village of Hamburg and explored restaurants I have never been to, and items from places that I have been. After having so much fun at the fall session, when I heard that the Hamburg Bites Progressive Dinner was back again this season, I immediately marked June 10 off on my calender.

The event was sponsored by the Village Business Advisory Council and orchestrated by Denise Fenton of Main Street Ice Cream and Cindy Barrett of Comfort Zone Café.

The progressive dinner, or “safari supper” as it is called in the United Kingdom, is a mobile event in which participants travel around to experience delicacies at a variety of restaurants. A slew of Hamburg’s local establishments were involved, in the local event.

Ticket-holders were given pamphlets which listed items available to eat at the participating venues and vouchers for a drink, appetizer, two entree bites and dessert.

New this year, Hamburg Bites incorporated more options for vegetarians, vegans and those with dietary needs such as gluten sensitivities. I definitely appreciate the art of vegetarian cuisine, but in all honesty, I tend to lean more toward the carnivorous side.

A friend of mine met me at the parking lot in front of The Sun’s office and we walked deeper into the village where Hamburg Bites was just beginning.

We decided to start out with our appetizer at August Bistro & Bar. The moment I saw that filet mignon was an option, my mind was made up.

The portion was smaller than the pistachio encrusted shrimp option, but the tenderness of the meat made it worth its size. Stuffed with gruyere cheese, wrapped with minced jalapeño and wrapped in bacon, I relished in the flavor and washed it down with a dirty Hendrick’s martini. Not many bars carry the rose and cucumber-infused gin, so when I learned that August Bistro & Bar has it in stock, I could not resist.

We moved on to Mammoser’s Tavern to use the first entree voucher. Who would have thought that barbecue sauce would complement scallops wrapped in bacon so well? Seated outside on the patio, progressive dinner participants enjoyed their food and conversation under the summer sunshine.

The next stop was Mason’s Grille 52, a place I have always heard of but have never been to, since starting my position at The Sun.

Balsamic chicken, which was topped with onion jam and roasted red peppers, was delectable. It was finished with crumbled bleu cheese and set over grilled flatbread.

Afterward, we stopped at Ten Thousand Vines to grab a flight of wine with our drink voucher. Last year, participants were able to pick and choose from the various types of wine; a little bit of red, a little bit of white. But to save time and confusion, the local winery had more limited options, this time around. I chose my preferred wine: dry reds.

Clearly, the progressive dinner was succeeding in its purpose. My friend was so amazed by the malbec that was offered, she instantly found the bottle and purchased it from the winery.

Dusk fell on the village of Hamburg as we topped off our progressive dinner with dessert: a salty caramel pecan brownie sundae from Main Street Ice Cream. After working nearly half a decade at an ice cream stand, I consider myself a connoisseur when it comes to ice cream.

The vanilla ice cream was perfect and the warm caramel blended perfectly with the fudge. The pecans (which I have missed from the days I would snack on them in the ice cream stand of my hometown) were salty and brought out the sweetness of the brownie. What really made this sundae was the homemade waffle bowl that it was served in. I ate the entire thing.

We walked down Buffalo Street to my car and made our drive back to the our homes in the West side of Buffalo. Full, happy and content with a successful culinary excursion.
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