Sunday, January 20, 2008

The Anchor Bar and the Queen of Wings

In Buffalo everyone has a favorite wing place. I was torn, there were a couple of places the locals mentioned but we only had time for one place. Where would I go for wings on my last night in Buffalo? I had to get an expert opinion. I decided to take this question to The Wing King.

On Food Network, Bobby Flay hosts a show called "Throw Down". He travels the country and challenges people to a cook-off of their award winning dishes. In the first season he challenged the "Wing King of Buffalo" and lost.

With the help of my roommate I was able to track down the Wing King and get his number. The phone rang and a woman picked up. It was the Wing King's wife. I explained to her that I was a life-long wing lover and was in Buffalo in search of the best wings the town had to offer. She said that the Wing King had "just stepped out" ( the Wing King is a very busy man). She was happy to help me and informed me that the Wing King would send me to Duff's, a local favorite. I thanked her and told her to give my regards to the King.

In the end the decision was out of my control and our coaching staff had it's heart set on Anchor Bar. I was okay with that. I figured that everyone real wing fan had to make the trip at least once.

On October 3, 1964 Frank Belissimo, owner of the Anchor Bar (Buffalo, NY) had some friends over after hours and served them up a special dish. They were fried chicken wings dipped in a mixture of Frank's special hot sauce and butter. The wings were a hit and the rest is history.

Almost 44 years later, I had finally arrived at the birthplace of my favorite food. The building is a lot bigger than I ever imagined. The walls were covered in license plates and vintage motor cycles were proudly hung on the walls surrounding the bar.

I had a split a bucket of 50 wings with my teammate. They were big, meaty wings, fried to perfection. The sauce was comfortably spicy and didn't over power the taste of the chicken. Initially I was afraid that the sauce would be too buttery, but to my surprise the consistency of the sauce was thinner than typical wing sauces.

Although it may be hard to admit, the wings alone were not anything spectacular. They were better than the average wing of course, but had nothing that set them apart from all the other good wings I've had. My trip to the Anchor Bar was symbolic, more of a formality for me, I had to try the original.

Now that I've tried the original the next step is finding the best. I've heard of a chain called Quaker Steak and Lube that has boasted "America's #1 Buffalo Wing"... My quest continues.

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