Friday, August 28, 2009

Angry Indians

No this isn't a post about the Tribe's disappointing season. It's too late to get angry (besides Andy Marte -- remember him? -- hit a game-winning homer last night on a 3-2 count with two outs in the ninth).

But Forbes recently released its list of Angriest Baseball Players (most ejected since 2000) and there was a decidedly Cleveland feel to the whole thing. Topping -- or should that be blowing his top off -- the list was former Indian Milton Bradley. Remember, Bradley lit Eric Wedge's fuse back in 2004 after not running out a fly ball in spring training. "Game Boy" was barred from training camp after the incident and promptly traded to the Dodgers. News reports at the time said L.A. was hoping the change of scenery would be good for Bradley. Um, no. He was ejected 17 times since 2000, including the 2007 incident in which he tore a knee ligament when his manager (former Indian) Bud Black tossed him to the ground attempting to restrain him.

Other Indian cameos on the Forbes list?

#5 Torii Hunter -- "In 2002, Cleveland Indians' pitcher Danys Baez hit Hunter with a pitch; Hunter picked up the ball and zinged it right back at him."

#3 Gary Sheffield -- "As a member of the Detroit Tigers last year, he felt that Cleveland Indians' pitcher Fausto Carmona was throwing at him. After Carmona walked him, Sheffield trotted to first base, then made a bee-line for the mound, inciting a melee and eventually getting tossed."

Still, I'll take Albert Belle against the field — or a photographer or a locker room thermostat or ... you get the angry, scowling picture -- any day of the week in the category of all-time angriest.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

A Real Nice Guy

I recently had some phone time with TV celebrity Guy Fieri. You’ll be able to read what he had to say in that exclusive interview after Labor Day when it’s posted on the Fabulous Food Show website. But I have some impressions and stories about the host of Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives that won’t make it into the official q & a so I’m going to share those here.

Let’s start with the fact that on a personal level I didn’t expect to like Mr. Spiky Hair. His over the top on camera persona is not my cuppa tea. So it came as quite a surprise that I did. He’s a really warm, friendly, articulate person, and exhibited no Prima Dona behavior which I can’t say about many of the big names I’ve encountered over the course of my career. I’m going on record with this next statement: Guy Fieri is a nice guy. And I’m not the only one in town who holds this opinion.

“He was genuine, he was kind, he was generous with advice, a good listener, and hilarious.” Those are chef and baker Heather Haviland’s words. The two met last month when he was in town filming at Lucky’s Café, her place in Tremont. On the Sunday morning Fieri was there, she reports, he charmed her mom, was gracious with hovering fans and apologized to the approximately 100 hungry brunchers who had to wait outside until the cameras were done rolling. He took time to look at the Urban Learning Garden adjacent to the café and hear about the kids involved in the food growing project.

Michael Symon, who has a thing for Heather’s sausage gravy, came and the three of them whipped up some of the luscious creamy stuff together. Hope that bit makes the editors cut, because Heath says they laughed their asses off and I want to see that. The segment is scheduled to run on October 12. “We had such a good time together and by the time he left," she repots, "it was like we were old friends.”

Fieri told me he loves Cleveland. His aunt lives in the area and he comes to see her with some regularity. “This is a great city,’ he said, “with great chefs and great restaurants. Wait till these shows air- Cleveland will get all the attention it deserves.” He’ll be back for appearances at the Fabulous Food Show on November 14, and said he’s looking forward to it. Now that I know the man behind the character, I am too.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Former Intern named Meet the Press fellow

Recent John Carroll University graduate and recent Cleveland Magazine intern Andrew Rafferty has been awarded the first NBC/John Carroll University/Meet the Press Fellowship. What's that mean? Well, he's headed to NBC's Meet the Press for a nine-month stint, where he will be exposed to the roles of editor, reporter, producer and correspondent.

The program was created in honor of legendary Meet the Press moderator Tim Russert, who attended John Carroll. It will be awarded each year to one John Carroll University graduating senior motivated to pursue a career in political journalism.

Though Andrew was great before he signed on to become one of our interns last fall, we'd like to think we may have helped him on his way.

There's also one other thing we know about Andrew. He is one hell of a beer pong player, evidenced by this story he and fellow intern Matt Beargie wrote for our December 2008 feature package about beer.

Listener Supported

If you read our August issue story about singer-songwriter Chris Castle, you know he's the sort who is bucking the music industry machine. To that end, he's asking fans to pre-order his 20-song Songbook Vol. 1. He's cutting out the middle man by distributing the CD himself. If his Hollow Bones in Monotone is any indication, you're going to want to hear this. But you better act fast, the cut-off for the pre-order special price is looming.

P.S.: In case you missed Chris on Channel 3's Good Company the other day, you can check it out here:

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

New Kid on the Cyber Block

There’s a terrific new website for those who are passionate about cooking and eating local food. The person behind the stories, recipes, and tips is my friend and fellow writer Marilou Suszko . She’s also the author of a delightful cookbook that celebrates the state’s bounty: Farms & Foods Of Ohio: From Garden Gate to Dinner Plate. She first met many of the growers and producers she writes about during the year she did her research for that project. I like the way she talks about these people and her relationship with food. Her style is warm, personal and welcoming. You get to know her too.

Marilou’s an experienced culinary teacher and the kitchen expertise she shares is really helpful. I followed her advice for how to grill corn on the cob and it turned out great- in fact the best I’ve ever done. (The secret’s in the soak- it takes a lot more time than I thought).

A gang of urban deer that have claimed my Cleveland Heights ‘hood as their turf, have left few tomatoes on the vines in my garden. If those remaining fail to ripen – a possibility that seems more and more likely thanks to too many cool summer nights- then I will definitely try the intriguing recipe she’s put up for Green Tomato Cake .

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Love Actually

You read about them, you even commented about them. Now you can meet Cami, Jenny and Carrie — the Board of Love — tonight at Touch Supper Club in Ohio City from 5-8 p.m. The BOL is hosting a magazine release party with $2 drink specials and $5 appetizers. (Then let us know how it went — pictures welcome.) Don't be shy. They're not.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Putting the Out into Dining

In my line of work it’s not unusual to eat good food in beautful places. But last harvest season, I had one of the more memorable meals of my career. It had all the trappings of an elegant evening: wines thoughtfully paired with each course; crisp white linens, fine china and flowers on the table; candlelight and live music. The menu was a masterpiece of sophisticated culinary creativity featuring a mix of local farm fresh and artisan ingredients with rare and pricey things like truffles, saffron, wild boar and antelope. But I was on a farm, not in a restaurant, seated beside the barn along with 19 other guests and within sight of the woods where we had foraged for the wild ginger and puffballs, a type of fungus , that were washed, chopped, and tossed in a bowl minutes after we found them.

The occasion was a Plated Landscape dinner. The brainchild chef Ben Bebenroth, this is the 4th year he’s setting up a kitchen in fields and gardens. His idea is to give people a fun first hand taste of what eating locally and seasonally really means by bringing them where ingredients are actually grown and made. Bebenroth, who also runs Spice of Life Catering out of a Lakeseide Avenue building, is passionate about forging a deeper connection between eaters, the wild and wonderful paces where food comes from, and those who do the hard work of coaxing it into being.

Our hosts for the event I attended were Tom and Wendy Wiandt of Killbuck Valley farm in Burbank, Ohio. They raise oyster, shiitake and lion’s mane mushrooms and gather other varieties from their own 46 acre certified organic forest. Meeting them- along with their kids and dog- learning about what they do, and hanging out at their place only added to the night’s many pleasures.

The food was extraordinary, the setting charming, the spirit friendly, and when darkness wrapped itself around our gathering something kind of magical took hold. I have thought about it many times during the intervening months. There are four more Plated Landscape dinners scheduled for 2009 and my problem is I can’t decide which to attend.
-Urban Garden eating in Chef Karen Small’s Backyard, Tremont 8/9
-Heirloom Veggies at Muddy Fork, Wooster 9/20
-Fall Fungus Forage at Killbuck Valley Mushroom, Burbank 9/27
-Goat roast and Goat cheese at Mackenzie Creamery, Hiram 10/11

Each is sure to be an unforgettable experience. Reservations are required (216-432-9090). Make yours. I have no doubt you’ll be glad you did.
Photos courtesy of Barney Taxel

Saturday, August 1, 2009

We're Winners!

Don't you feel like a winner?

Cliff Lee pitched a complete game four-hitter in his Philadelphia debut. In fact, Lee had half as many hits at the plate as he gave up.

And when my 11-year-old heard about the trade of Victor Martinez, the team's leader, he asked, "Are they just selling the team?" Silly boy, no they're just selling us out.

But the experts say the Indians were trade deadline winners.

ESPN's Jayson Stark said: "But of the teams that spent July selling off, nobody reeled in the quality haul of prospects the Indians did."
Buck Showalter agrees. (Hey Buck, how'd you like to manage this team next year if you like 'em so much?)

At least now I understand why Eric Wedge wasn't fired earlier in the year ... he's got a dugout seat to watch these "winners" for the rest of the season.