BULLETIN | Buffalo’s Pitt Petri to close Jan. 28

Pitt PetriThe logo of Pitt Petri, a Buffalo institution that is set to close Jan. 28

Sad news from the Queen City this morning: Pitt Petri, the venerable Delaware Avenue emporium will close its doors on Jan. 28 after a poor holiday shopping season, The Buffalo News reports.

The store, founded in 1924, offers the best in home goods and has been housed registries for Buffalo brides for as long as anyone can remember. Among the store’s signature items is a chip-and-dip engraved with a running Buffalo. We’ve given these as wedding gifts over the years, substituting the Buffalo for monograms. Among the other wonderful things the store offers are Leonore Doskow silver (Mrs. F. gave me a monogrammed belt buckle as a 27th birthday present), beautiful magazine racks and dishes engraved with wedding invitations.

Pitt Petri’s fortunes have been lagging for several years. The Williamsville outlet closed in 2009 and late last year, the Petri family announced plans to reduce the size of the Delaware Avenue location. Those plans changed after the holidays. Merchandise is on offer for 50 percent off through the closing.

Buffalo women across the land will shed tears in their wine tonight.

MAPS | USGS bonanza online, courtesy of U.N.H.

WestchesterA detail from the 1891 U.S. Geological Survey map of the Harlem, NY-NJ Quadrangle that shows southern Westchester County.

As you may have guessed from various posts over the two years I’ve been operating ejforbes.com, I love maps.

The affinity for cartography is a trait inherited from my mother, who is obsessed with atlases, maps and where things are, were and will be. Given that most of her life — save for stints in Europe and Jamaica in the 1960s and 1970s — has been spent in Morris County, New Jersey, it seems fitting that she hung a giant school-room map of the county in our den about 10 years ago. Also in her collection is a soil map of Sullivan County, New York, where we own a home; a vintage Sullivan topo that includes our pond there; and a 1921 road map of New Jersey.

Topos are always fun — don’t you want to know the elevation of Amherst, N.Y.? I do. I was delighted by the recent discovery of a massive online archive of U.S. Geological Survey topos. The maps, housed by the University of New Hampshire’s Dimond Library Documents Department, cover all of New York and New England.

Here’s a little gallery of historic topos of places that interest me:

WHEELS | The Sunbeam Alpine is a real beauty

AlpineThis 1967 Sunbeam Alpine Series V is similar to one I saw in Buffalo over the Labor Day holiday.

Driving north on state Route 5 on Saturday afternoon, en route from my in-laws place on Lake Erie to dowtown Buffalo, Mrs. F and I beheld a beautiful sight: A 1960s Sunbeam Alpine convertible that was painted racing green. It was a gorgeous vehicle.

The classic Alpine of the 1960s has its roots in a 1953 version that revived a marque used by Sunbeam in the 1930s. The Rootes Group, which manufactured the Sunbeam brand after the war, opted to redesign the two-seated coupe in 1956. Designers Kenneth Howes and Jeff Crompton produced a lovely design that closely resembled the Ford Thunderbird. Aimed at the U.S. market, the Alpine appeared in five series through 1968. About 70,000 Alpines were manufactured.

A V-8 variant, the Tiger, was produced between 1964 and 1967.

A search on eBay motors yields four Alpines for sale, including the lovely green 1967 model pictured above. Bidding is up to $5,100.

Here’s a video I posted earlier on NorthTowardHome that captures a portion of an early Alpine ad:

CLIP | Conversation with A.R. Gurney, 2009

EATS | Ted’s Hot Dogs, another Western New York classicg

TedssignThe sign outside the Amherst, N.Y. location of Ted’s Hot Dogs.

Long have I heard glorious tales of Ted’s Hot Dogs, the iconic Buffalo food stands. My wife, my in-laws and food celebrities around the world have raved about the place. Alas, in the six years I’ve been shuffling off to visit Mrs. F’s family, I’d never been there. I’d never experienced the char-grilled wonder, nor had I washed it down with Loganberry. I was empty, lost and hungry.

Then, at last, fate intervened. On our recent trip to Buffalo, Mrs. F. and I ran an errand in close proximity to the Amherst location. Embarrassed that she had not shared the culinary riches of Ted’s, Mrs. F. treated me to lunch. And what a lunch it was.

The hot dogs were glorious, lovingly grilled over charcoal and topped in my case with mustard. A special hot sauce is also available, as are relish, onions and ketchup. For sides, we opted for both french fries and onion rings, each of which were rendered perfectly. Liquid nourishment was in the form of Aunt Rosie’s Loganberry, the raspberry-flavored pop that’s a tradition in Southern Ontario and Western New York. The soda has its routs in Crystal Beach, the popular Lake Erie resort.

Chicken breasts and hamburgers were also available, though we didn’t partake of them. While it’s difficult to do, I have to rank Ted’s above Stewart’s, the New Jersey chain I’ve written about previously. I would, at some point, love the chance to eat Ted’s hot dogs with Stewart’s root beer. That would be a barbecue match made in heaven. Ted’s does serve Mug root beer, but that doesn’t compare.

I strongly recommend Ted’s to all my readers and though I was deprived of it for ages, it’s a must for any trip to Buffalo.

2351 Niagara Falls Blvd.
Amherst, NY 14228
(716) 691-7883

4878 Transit Road
Depew, NY 14043
(716) 668-7533

6230 Shimer Road
Lockport, NY 14094
(716) 439-4386

North Tonawanda
333 Meadow Drive
N. Tonawanda, NY 14120
(716) 693-1960

Orchard Park
3193 Orchard Park Road
Orchard Park, NY 14127
(716) 675-4662

Tempe, AZ
1755 E. Broadway
Tempe, AZ 85282
(480) 968-6678

2312 Sheridan Drive
Tonawanda, NY 14150
(716) 834-6287

7018 Transit Road
Williamsville, NY 14221
(716) 633-1700

BULLETIN| Maps section goes live on ejforbes.com

View Lower Hudson Valley in a larger map

Our map of the Lower Hudson Valley, a work in progress.

It occurred to me recently that I didn’t have the grasp of Google Maps that I probably should. So, messing around last week and this week, I’ve knocked together maps of a few of our favorite places.

Included on these guides to the North Country, the Hudson Valley, Buffalo and Cape Cod are some of my favorite dining destinations, both formal and informal, gin mills of repute and disrepute and suppliers of good gear, be it sporting goods or clothing.

More maps, including guides to Old New York, New Orleans and Sarasota, will be in the works shortly. Feel free to add your own favorite haunts to these and let me know if there are any obvious omissions.

To get to the maps, navigate to the last button on the site’s main navigation bar.


GREAT HOUSES | Darwin Martin House, a Wrightsian masterpiece

DMHThe Darwin Martin House, designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, is one of Buffalo’s many architectural treasures.

During a recent sojourn in Buffalo, Mrs. F and I did something we should have done ages ago. We visited the Darwin D. Martin House, located just a few blocks from where we were married on Jewett Parkway in the city’s Parkside neighborhood.

Designed by Frank Lloyd Wright and built between 1903 and 1905, the Martin house complex includes a carriage house, a conservatory, and two residences: the Martin House and the Barton House. Commissioned by Darwin D. Martin, an executive of the Larkin Soap Company, one of the corporations that made Buffalo an economic force in the early 20th century, the complex is considered one of the most important projects of Wright’s early career. Indeed, the two houses and the restored carriage house, conservatory and covered purgola that connects the conservatory to the Martin House, are shining examples of Wright’s signature Prairie style. Wright referred to the project as his opus and viewed its execution as near-perfect. In contrast to its neighbors — Buffalo is chock full of all manner of late Victorian and early 20th century residential architecture — the Martin complex is remarkable for its low profile, use of brick and distance from the excesses of late 19th century design.

We took a tour of the complex, which is still in the process of being restored. A huge number of leaded-glass windows need to be replaced and much of the interior of the Martin House needs considerable work. The Martin House Restoration Corporation, the not-for-profit organization that operates the property as a museum, needs to raise upward of $9 million to complete the project, which would include significant wood and tile work, restoration of the kitchen and the replacement of countless leaded-glass windows. Complete furnishings are also sought, we were told.

The Martins lived in the main house until a reversal in family fortunes forced them to abandon it in 1937. They were also forced to dispense with Graycliff, their equally remarkable Wright-designed summer residence in Derby, some 20 miles south of Buffalo. The house lingered into disrepair through the middle part of the century, having been divided into apartments. The purgola and conservatory were demolished in the 1960s. The property’s luck turned in 1967, when it was purchased for use as a president’s home by the University at Buffalo. That plan, however, never came to fruition and the home sat vacant until its transfer to the Martin House Restoration Corporation in 1994.

On the whole, I’ve never found Wright’s early work to be all that accessible or even livable. In contrast to the work of Gustav Stickley, the Rochester furniture designer and architect who lead the Arts and Crafts movement in the 1900s and 1910s, Wright’s early stuff seems almost alien. Pictures of the Martins inhabiting the space did help me envision the place, but it’s remarkable how clearly the architect broke with just about every convention. It’s definitely worth seeing and, to me, is one of Buffalo’s more enviable attractions. Get there when you’re next in town.

Darwin D. Martin House
125 Jewett Parkway
Buffalo, New York 14214
(716) 856-3858

TASTES| Weber’s adds a bit of WNY to any sandwich

Weber'sWeber’s Horseradish Mustard is a Buffalo staple.

Not long after Mrs. F. and I started dating, she introduced me to the full range of Buffalo delicacies. Bison dip, Fowlers’ sponge candy, LaNova, Spot coffee and Weber’s mustard were just a few of the Western New York staples on her list.

Weber’s, manufactured by Heintz and Weber since 1922 in Buffalo, is a distinctive mustard that adds, I think, to any sandwich. Its horseradish flavor, to warn you, is a bit more than strong. If you do like horseradish, you’ll adore Weber’s. George W. Bush, 43rd president of the United States, is apparently a fan.

The company, still owned by members of the Weber family, offers a range of mustards and relishes. They can be found at your local Wegmans, or should you live in an uncivilized part of the world like us, you can order them from BuffaloFoods.com or MadeInBuffalo.com.

BULLETIN| Tim Horton’s, at last, arrives in Gotham

The Times reports the wonderful news today that Tim Horton’s, the venerable Canadian donut shop, will be operating 13 locations in the Big Apple by Monday.

The stores will replace 13 Dunkin’ Donuts locations, including one next to the New York Stock Exchange and one at Pennsylvania Station, the paper reports.

The chain, which operates in American markets near the frontier, including the Buffalo metro area, is the No. 1 coffee seller in Canada. Their products, which include fairly palatable soups and sandwiches, are roughly comparable to DD’s. Instead of Munchkins, for example, there are TimBits.

Tim Horton, a legendary player for the Toronto Maple Leafs, opened his first donut shop in Hamilton, Ont. in 1964. He was killed in a car crash in 1974.

This news is nothing short of fabulous. Canadian and Buffalo expats across the tri-state area are breathing a sigh of relief at the news that, at last, they will have emigrated to a civilized place.

Expect a full report next week.

TASTES| Chiavetta’s, a Western New York staple, is perfect for barbecue

Chiavetta'sChiavetta’s, a Western New York barbecue marinade, is a favorite of in Western New York households.

As we do on many summer evenings, last night we enjoyed grilled chicken breasts marinated in Chiavetta’s, a barbecue sauce that’s ubiquitous in my wife’s native Western New York.

The sauce, invented more than 50 years ago by Tom Chiavetta and his family and a staple at benefit barbecues across the Buffalo region, is a fall-back marinade for chicken in our household. While the recipe is a closely guarded secret, it’s based largely on vinegar, garlic and a blend of spices are a bit hard to discern under those two strong flavors.

Until I started courting Mrs. F., I’d never encountered this marvelous sauce which yields a remarkably tasty and tender chicken. While I’ve only ever tried it on chicken and pork, it’s allegedly lovely on stakes and seafood too.

To purchase Chiavetta’s, visit your local Wegman’s (For metro-are Buffalo expats, there’s one in Woodbridge, N.J,), or Madeinbuffalo.com.

For more, on Chiavetta’s marinade and other products, visit the company at Chiavettas.com

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