Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Magic Trick

This bit of number play came to me in an email. Since we’re all in the holiday mindset, I thought I’d share the fun and let others enjoy the game. Print and bring out when there's a conversational lull at your New Year’s Eve gathering. It takes less than a minute to do, always works, and is sure to amaze.

Eating Out Age Calculator
1. Pick the number of times a week that you would like to go out to eat.It must be more than once but less than 10.

2.Multiply this number by 2

3. Add 5

4. Multiply it by 50.

5.If you have already had your birthday this year add 1758. If you haven't, add 1757.

6. Now subtract the four digit year that you were born.

You should have a three digit number. The first digit of this was your original number - How many times you want to go out to restaurants in a week.The next two numbers are YOUR AGE ! ------ (Oh YES, it is !)

THIS IS THE ONLY YEAR (2008) IT WILL EVER WORK, SO SPREAD IT AROUND WHILE IT LASTS. (This is urban legend not fact but definitely adds to the wow factor).

If you're the type who simply must know how the rabbit gets in- and out- of the hat, go to Logic Nest to read an explanation for what makes this calculation accurate every time.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Paris in Cleveland

Back in the fall I did a walk through of what had once been That Place on Bellflower. The old restaurant was long gone and what remained was a badly decayed- albeit still charming- shell of two connected brick carriage houses with various add-ons. The structure I saw was gutted and a mess. Even some of the floors were ripped out down to the dirt underneath. It was hard to believe, despite all Zach Bruell told me, that it would soon be transformed into a beautiful French style brasserie. But he did it. I visited a few nights ago and was knocked out by the transformation.

L’Albatros Brasserie and Bar in University Circle, which just opened for business, is lovely. The space manages to retain its vintage feel and still be stylishly contemporary. The candle glow atmosphere was intimate, welcoming, and warm- the fire burning brightly in the hearth in one room didn’t hurt. And the food is terrific. I wanted to eat every single dish on the menu of French comfort food. What I did try- pork rillettes, a frisee salad with bacon lardoons and a poached egg, duck confit, and skate wing- was lick the plate good. I can’t wait to go back to sample his cassoulet and bouillabaisse. Also had some amazing cheeses, a customized selection picked out just for me and the husband by the on-staff fromage expert who can tell you stories about where each cheese comes from and who made it.

Bruell’s timing couldn’t be better. Within days of my meal there I got a dining trend report for 2009 from a food industry magazine. According to these expert forecasters approachable, affordable classic French bistro cuisine is going to make a big comeback in the U.S. Looks like Bruell is on the cutting edge- as he has so often been in his long culinary career- and putting Cleveland right there with him. Better yet, he’s putting wonderful food on the table once again. When you need a break from your own kitchen during this upcoming week of holiday festivities, check out what’s happening in his.

Friday, December 19, 2008

It's A Miracle!

Head on over to Ohio City today for its 3rd Annual Miracle on 25th Street holiday charity event to benefit Providence House. Visit any of the participating restaurants or shops, make a donation and you will be privy to all sorts of specials and discounts.

Just a few specials for you charitable souls include:
- Buy one appetizer and get one free at the Flying Fig
- Free chips and salsa at Johnny Mango
- $2 off your first glass of vino at Market Avenue Wine Bar
- At Lelolai, 5% of your order goes to Providence House (but apparently only after you pronounce Lelolai correctly.
- There's $2 Magic Hat #9 & Dog Fish Head IPA craft brews at Touch Supper Club AND $2 draft beer, $3 Well Liquor mixed drinks and $4 Absolut and Jim Beam drinks at Garage Bar

For a full list of participating venues, check out Ohio City's Web site at www.ohiocity.com

AND don't forget to vote for your favorite restaurants for our annual Silver Spoon awards at www.clevelandmagazine.com/silverspoon

So Kerry Wood called Cleveland Magazine

The phone rang from an Unknown number. The voice on the other end was shocking.

"Hi this is Kerry Wood..."

Holy cow! How did Kerry Wood get my direct line? Why is he calling me? This is so cool.

"...and I'm very excited to be a new member of the Cleveland Indians family."

I'm excited, too. It's nice to see the Dolans pay for a big-name free agent. If Pronk turns it around, this could be our year.

"I'm looking forward to playing in front of the passionate fans at Progressive Field this summer, and I hope you will be there, too."

Slow down, Kerry. Let me get a "hello" in at least.

"I want to make sure you heard about our new extended payment plan which allows you to pay for your season ticket plan over the next six months. Time is running out to take advantage of this great opportunity. Call us at 216-420-HITS. Thank you for your time and I'm looking forward to seeing you soon at Progressive Field."

A robo-call from Kerry Wood? Boo. I sure hope he pitches 9th innings better than season ticket plans.

The reason for the season

Ice storm? Tanking economy? Holiday stress?

Take your mind off things with this (slightly blue) video, a tribute to the Great Lakes Brewing Co.'s finest creation -- made all the finer by its scarcity.

For a radio-safe version, try this.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Big Chuck Schodowski

Have you listened to December's podcast yet? We have an interview with Chuck Schodowski. He talks about old times, including how he got the nickname "Big Chuck."

It's well worth a listen this month. We taped it live at Great Lakes Brewing Co. while sipping Christmas Ale this month. Frankly, every workday could be improved by some Christmas Ale.

If you dig our podcast, you can subscribe FOR FREE at iTunes. We do a new show every month and it usually includes additional interviews and behind-the-scenes information about the things in the magazine that month. We have 5,500 loyal listeners. Just search for "Cleveland Magazine podcast" in your iTunes search bar.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Records and bird poop

Awesome Phil Dawson on breaking the franchise record for most field goals in a season (Thanks Philadelphia Inquirer):

"There's an old saying back in Texas that says, 'You know that white speck on top of chicken poop? It's still chicken poop.'"

Fill up your remaining pre-Christmas free days

Positively Cleveland has a really cool list of things to do around town before Christmastime.

I totally want to do the candlelight tour of the Hay-McKinney Mansion.

Desserts are a Piece of Cake

This is entertainingest time of year. There are parties, dinners, and spontaneous gatherings. Desserts are needed, sometimes on short notice. I’m all for spending half a day baking something wonderful but I don’t always have the time to actually do it. However, I like to wow everyone at my table as much as the next person or be the guest who impresses with my fabulous and of course homemade contribution to the meal. In fact, because I’m a food writer people kind of expect me to do it. Luckily I now have a fantastic solution, actually two solutions, courtesy of the folks at Miceli’s Dairy, a three generation family owned Cleveland company. Working on an assignment, I got a pair of recipes from them for fast, easy, no-cook chocolate desserts that are turning out to be real lifesavers. Stock your fridge and pantry with the necessary ingredients and you are just 10 minutes away from deliciousness. In the seasonal spirit of giving, I’m sharing the recipes tweaked with my own variations and suggestions. Let’s just hope we don’t turn up at the same potluck.

Chocolate Creams
1/2-cup lowfat ricotta cheese
2 tbsp mild flavored honey
2 tbsp cocoa powder
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
Combine all the ingredients in a food processor and process until smooth. Scoop into small dessert dishes or martini glasses and serve. Makes 2 servings

Cannoli Cups
1 1/2 cups Whole Milk Ricotta Cheese, well drained
3 Tbs. Sugar
1 1/2 tsp. Cinnamon
1 1/2 cups coarsely chopped dark or milk chocolate (4 to 5 small bars)
Maraschino cherries chopped up for garnish
Chocolate cups
Set aside 1/4 cup chopped chocolate. In another bowl, combine all the filling ingredients and mix well. Refrigerate, covered, until ready to serve. To assemble, fill pastry bag with mixture and pipe into cups. No pastry bag? No worries- just spoon it in. Sprinkle with remaining chopped chocolate and top with cherry pieces. Note: Chocolate cups may be purchased at any specialty chocolate store. Pre-baked tartlet shells or filo dough cups can be substituted. Serves 4-6

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Market Kitchen

I just got a copy of the West Point Market Cookbook (The University of Akron Press, $29.95). I had to wait for the second printing because the first run of this newly published volume sold out almost immediately. It’s a collection of “secret” recipes for the prepared dishes and baked goods that have made this fancy food store an Akron destination for 71 years. Author Russ Vernon, who retired two years ago, ran the business, taking over from his father. The book attests to the fact that he’s been putting his free time to good use.

Some of the recipes are so Ohio and definitely hearken back to a bygone era. That’s part of their appeal. Think Hollandaise Sauce, Ice Box Cake, Monkey Bread, and ham loaf. Others, like fresh fig salad and grilled wild salmon with honey wine sauce are for a more contemporary-minded crowd. Suggested wine pairings are a nice touch. Longtime customers will surely be pleased to get the step by step instructions for preparing the Market’s memorable mac-and-cheese made with mascarpone, Gorgonzola, and fresh spinach, and their Original Killer Brownies. The pages are nicely laid out and feature charming illustrations. The forward by local writer David Giffels is the most literate, engaging, and entertaining cookbook opener I’ve ever read.

Flipping through the cookbook reminded me of a conversation I had with the late, great and always hungry journalist Johnny Apple in 2006. It was one of the last interviews he gave before he died. Sitting in a Seattle hotel room, he reminisced about growing up in Akron. His family owned the local Acme Supermarket. But Apple was a connoisseur from an early age. He gleefully confessed to me that when he had some money to spend, he’d sneak off to the West Point Market and buy wonderful things to eat. His parents, he admitted, would not have approved.

Vernon will be autographing books at the Market (1711 W. Market Street, Akron) on Saturday, December 13 from noon-3 pm. A signed copy would make a great gift for anyone who has some West Point memories of their own.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Party like it's 1933

If you've gotten your December issue of Cleveland Magazine, you've seen our tribute to the 75th anniversary of our reinstatement of beer.

Well, Great Lakes Brewing Company is following suit with what sounds like an awesome party. Maybe it's just because there are never enough opportunities to swing dance to Big Band music or meet nice girls in flapper dresses, but I don't know how we can pass up this invitation...

Great Lakes Brewing Company Celebrates 75th Anniversary of the End of Prohibition

December 5, 1933: The 21st Amendment to the U.S. Constitution is ratified, thus repealing the 18th Amendment of 1920 and bringing an end to 13 years, 10 months and 19 days of the prohibition of alcohol in America and Great Lakes Brewing Company is celebrating the 75th Anniversary of this momentous occasion in history!

Great Lakes Brewing Company
2516 Market Avenue, Cleveland
Across from the Historic West Side Market

A Legal Anniversary Celebration Complete With:

Prohibition Menu Specials All Made With Alcohol!!!!
§ Spicy Tomato Bisque with Burning River Pale Ale: $6.00
§ Mixed Greens Salad with Edmund Fitzgerald Porter Scallion Dressing: $7.00
§ Flank Steak with Eliot Ness Amber Lager Demi Glace, Veggie Valley Mashed Potatoes and Seasonal Vegetables: $16.00
§ Apple Tart with Bourbon Sauce: $5.00

Drink Specials
§ Keep The Glass Special: GLBC Pilsner Glasses
§ Prohibition Pils On Tap

Plus: Prohibition Propaganda and Decorations, Big Band Music, Flapper and Depression-Era Costumes!

Guests are encouraged to dress up like it's 1933!

Friday, December 5, 2008 (11:30 AM - 1 AM)
Saturday, December 6, 2008 (11:30 AM - 1 AM)

galleria gifting

There’s a cool holiday store open just for the duration called " Tis the Season" at The Galleria downtown, on the Lower Level next to Crooked River Books (Monday - Friday 10:30 to 5:30). What makes it interesting to me is that everything is artisan produced, most are locally based businesses, and all have a culinary theme. The shelves are stocked with gourmet foods, wine, and unique accessories for kitchen and table.
Deby Cowdin has brought all these folks and their wares together. She’s the creative brains and kiln firing brawn- along with husband Scott- behind From the Blue Bag, a North Olmstead based company that collects bottles and turns them into functional fully tempered dishware. The name refers to the plastic bags commonly used for recycling. Each of her Grey Goose trays, Jagermeister dishes, or Disarono Liqueur platters (pictured here) equals less trash and more conservation of resources, making them gifts that are positively green as well as attractive, useful and out-of-the ordinary.

Among the products are jarred sauces from St Aubyn's Pride and Garden Vineyard Grove’s wine jellies. Both are women owned ventures and having personally tasted what they make, I can say that I would never give these to anyone as a present. That’s because the stuff is so good that no matter how generous my intentions, I’m sure I’d end up keeping all purchases for myself. Hopefully, there are others out there with a more generous spirit than mine. My favorite from St. Aubyn’s line is the caramelized balsamic onion chutney. Every single version of Garden Vineyard Grove jelly I’ve tried- and there are quite a few I have yet to dip into- is astonishing. But so far it’s a tie for most loved between Pinot Noir Smoked Cherry and Riesling Tarragon.

Other things you’ll find that are likely to generate some oohs, aahs and appreciation when unwrapped include trivets and serving trays crafted from wine corks by Herm Waltemate; bowls, martini and cocktail glasses, decanters, and utensils artfully decorated with beads and wire from Collectable Serving’s ; scented gel candles molded inside bottles that once held beer, wine, liquor, and condiments; hand painted aprons, maple cutting boards made from recycled wood, wine bottle lamps, toffee and specialty coffee. Although the general rule of thumb is don’t shop hungry, in this case it wouldn’t hurt to come feeling a bit peckish since store staff are offering samples every day.