Natural Oasis Vegan Ethiopian Buffet


The aroma of Berbere is heavy in the air. It is a modest space, tables, chairs, a buffet table.


On the wall, Ethipian prints have been hung and framed. Couples, friends, sit quietly as they enjoy the delicious food.

This is my first Ethiopian Buffet. The food, is vegan, satvic, delicious. The food is local and organic. Hot injera is folded in a basket beneath a cloth napkin. It is a simple spread. Rice that looks to be seasoned with saffron, collard greens, lentils, cabbage and beets.

Despite the simplicity, the buffet is aromatic, complex.

I pull apart the spongy injera bread and scoop up a pinch of Gomen (collard greens). I scoop and scoop, each bite is refreshingly mild, balanced and mysteriously savory. Delicious.

Sated, I lean back watching Ohm tinker away at the piano lining the far wall. Natural Oasis is a welcoming tot friendly establishment. One of the bonuses when it comes to vegetarian Ethiopian food, is that it is baby friendly. The food at Natural Oasis it is not spicy, making the perfect meal for beginning and emerging eaters.


Natural Oasis is so much more than a restaurant, it’s a community wellness center. Just through the front doors, you’ll find a herb shop, where you can pick up Ayurvedic products, tinctures, teas, and other wellness products.


Upstairs, you can receive Ayurvedic treatments, take a Kundalini Yoga class, get a massage, and be treated with herbal medicine.


Rochester, New York is a suburban city, with its fair share of chain restaurants and food options, but if you know where to look, you’ll find a vast and diverse selection of local restaurants and alternative offerings. If you’ve never had Ethiopian food before and you’re curious, go to Natural Oasis. If you’re a vegetarian or a vegan in search of a new place to eat, go to Natural Oasis. If you love Ethiopian food, but always order the same items on the menu (guilty as charged), try the buffet at Natural Oasis and feel free to explore. If you live in or are passing through the Rochester area and are in search of a healthy plate of food from a locally owned establishment, go, go, go, to Natural Oasis.

Natural Oasis’ Vegan Ethiopian Buffet is open Monday through Saturday from 1pm-4pm and 5pm-8pm.


Are there hidden health food or Ethnic restaurants in your neighborhood that you’d like to shout out? Let us know about them in the comments section!


Natural Oasis Vegetarian and Ethiopian Cuisine

288 Monroe Ave (near Alexander Street)

Rochester, NY 14607

(585) 325-1831


A Riotous Good Time at the National Museum of Play


The moment, we stepped through the glass doors, he was off.

20130422-200956.jpgFlip-clop flip-clop, sticky fingers and a nose pressed against a 1,700 gallon aquarium.

Flip-clop, flip-clop, climbing, problem solving, exploring, a toddler sized puzzle.



Eyes wide, finger pointing, at a wide mouthed, wild eyed, golden pony aboard a Victorian carousel.

Ohm moved non-stop for over three hours. He explored through his nap, and played through lunch.


The National Museum of Play in Rochester, New York is an extreme kiddie wonderland.

On a recent visit home, after dragging my poor 20 month old all over the Rochester/Buffalo region to visit relatives, old friends from high school and my best college buddies, I made sure to plan a special trip for Ohm. I guess I shouldn’t say plan. I didn’t actually have to do anything except show up, pay the admission fee and ta-da! The perfect afternoon found us.

I’d heard people sing the praises of the National Museum of Play, I’d listened to the proclamations of greatness, but I honestly wasn’t expecting much more than a few brightly colored rooms of engaging fun to fill the space before nap-time.

I stand corrected.

Rochester’s National Museum of Play is a world class museum, with more nooks and crannies and educational programs to experience than one has time to explore during one visit.

Priding itself as being the only collections-based museum in the world dedicated entirely to play. The National Museum of Play is massive. After three hours and consequently missing nap-time, we only saw about a quarter of the offerings.

Full of stimulating hands-on exhibits, Ohm was off and engaged from the onset. Wiggling out of my hand, he ran ahead of me, capitalizing on every opportunity to twist,  turn, press buttons, and climb anything and everything.


We ducked into toddler playrooms, where he socialized with the other kiddies and played dress-up.


Attracted like a moth to the shiny golden ponies, we took a turn on the beautiful working carousel from 1918.


It was all-aboard, as we chugged along the track through a simulated village on the kiddie passenger train.

There were science displays, collections of old fashioned teddy bears and dolls. There were tea-party sets and pianos to play.


20130422-200626.jpgThe National Museum of Play is truly an experience. Home to the world’s largest and most comprehensive collection of dolls, toys and games, one can enjoy a life-sized doll house then walk down memory lane at a 1980’s style arcade full of vintage video games.


This is a place to  build memories.

We didn’t make it to the indoor butterfly garden, or to the life sized Bernstein Bears exhibit, or to the American Comic Book Heroes display. There just wasn’t enough time.


We did make it to the life sized Sesame Street exhibit, featuring the characters, scenes and experiences from the show.

20130422-200721.jpgOhm got to meet his best friend Elmo, drove Cookie Monster around in a taxi and screamed in mortal fear at a ten foot tall big bird (those eyes were creepy).



We played supermarket in the life-sized simulated Wegmans Supermarket, where kids push mini carts down tiny isles, where they can grab their favorite food. The piece de resistance, is when they get to send their purchases down a conveyer belt where they can scan and bag their items. Ohm was focused. When he realized it was time to leave, he almost had a meltdown. I had to distract and trick him to get him to leave mini-supermarket land.

20130422-200409.jpg Luckily there are plenty of distractions. 


Story Time is announced over an intercom and occurs several times a day.

A 1950’s style dinner near the lobby serves up tasty soda shop style snacks and meals.

Ohm and I had a ridiculously good time at the National Museum of Play. If you live near the Rochester, New York area or are traveling through with a child, this is a stop you MUST make.


The National Museum of Play

One Manhattan Square

Rochester, NY 14607


Monday–Thursday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Friday & Saturday, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Sunday, noon to 5 p.m.

Age 2 and older: $13

Under age 2: FREE

Have you visited the National Museum of Play? What did you think?

Rochester, New York's Annual Lilac Festival


Rochester, New York has been nicknamed the “Lilac Capital of the World”, one visit to the annual Lilac Festival and you’ll understand why.



Rochester is lovely in the spring. Perhaps nowhere, at this time is she lovelier than in Highland Park, where as April transitions to May, the park morphs from rolling green hills to the grand stage for the famous fragrant lilac bush displays.


Established by mere coincidence in 1898, when 3,000 people turned up at Highland Park to view the picturesque assortment of lavender, rose and cream colored lilacs; Rochester’s Lilac Festival is a source of city pride and tradition.

What began in 1892, as a showcase of 20 varieties of lilac bushes arranged by horticulturist John Dunbar, has grown into an internationally renowned spectacle paying reverence to no less than 500 lilac varieties. Lilac loving visitors flock to Rochester crossing cities, states and continents, to experience the beauty of Highland Park’s famous lilacs first-hand.




In addition to lilacs, you’ll find music, entertainment, child-friendly activities, horse carriage rides through the park, food, lilac wine tasting events, lilac soaps, perfumes and other lilac inspired products.

If you want to be swept up in the romance of the spring season, Rochester’s Lilac Festival is the destination for you.