Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Say [Mascarpone] Cheese

Mascarpone is a gift from the food gods. It’s slightly sweet, rich and buttery, silky and smooth. I discovered the fabulousness and flexibility of this Italian double or triple cream cheese late in my cooking life and started using it only about five years ago. I’m not a very skilled baker, but with mascarpone, I’m now able to make one cake that always pleases and impresses my guests. I can’t tell you anymore about what goes into it because I’m submitting the recipe to a contest sponsored by the Wisconsin-based Crave Brothers Farmstead Classics Cheese.

There are separate competitions for chefs and home cooks, and three categories: appetizers/side dishes (includes salads), main dishes and desserts. Each will have a first place winner that receives $200. The Grand Prize winner will be awarded an Apple iPad 2. You have until January 13, 2012, to submit your recipe. It’s not essential, but they’re encouraging entrants to include a one-minute (or less) video demo of your recipe for the Crave Brothers website. Send recipes and videos by email to or by mail to Crave Brothers, Attn. Alise, W 11555 Torpy Road, Waterloo, WI 53594. photo of Strawberry cheesecake courtesy of Crave Brothers

Of course, they’d like you to use their award-winning mascarpone (but it’s not a requirement). Order it online. Other brands are available at many stores around town. Or you can make it yourself. More like yogurt than a real cheese, mascarpone is a cultured dairy product.

Start with really good local cream, stir in tartaric acid, watch the curds form, and drain. It really is that easy. Leener’s, a do-it-yourself fermented food supply store in Northfield, sells the acid in 2-ounce packets. They also include it in a soft cheese kit that has starter cultures for chevre, crème fraiche and fromage blanc. If you’re into this sort of thing, or know someone who is, the kit makes a nice gift. (So does Crave’s Chocolate Mascarpone Pie basket which contains the ingredients to bake one.)

I’m thinking the holiday season, with its requisite entertaining frenzy, is the ideal time to perfect a winning recipe. But don’t get your hopes up. I want that iPad and am in it to win it with my cake.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011


Cocktails made with beer are a hot new trend. They’re serving a fine one at Amp 150, the bar and restaurant at the Airport Marriott. I had an opportunity to taste it at the start of a private dinner I attended a few weeks ago.

The purpose of the gathering was to introduce some members of the media to the new team: Executive chef Jeff Jarrett and food and beverage manager Nathan White. The take-away message and good news was that these two are continuing the commitment to keep a local focus when it comes to ingredients and products. And that was perfectly expressed in the refreshing drink that kicked off the evening.

It’s called The Rockmill, after the brewery in Lancaster, Ohio that supplies saison, a Belgian beer the bartender uses in combination with St. Germain, an elderflower liqueur, and fresh lemon juice. Matt Barbee, founder and fermentation master of Rockmill Brewery (pictured below), is in a truly unique position, and I mean that literally, to make this traditional farmhouse ale.

The former horse ranch owned by his family where he works his magic with organic yeast, hops and malt is located upstream at the source of the Hocking River. His water is not just clean but has a mineral profile remarkably similar to what’s found in Wallonia, the region of Belgium where saison was perfected. Since water is the main ingredient in beer, his stuff has an authentic edge that others can’t match.

Barbee also does a witbier, a dubbel, and a tripel. The production is small and hands-on. His beers were the only spirits selected for this year’s Maxim holiday gift guide. When I spoke to him last week, he was in a truck driving to Cleveland with his first delivery to all of Heinen’s grocery stores. Bottles are also sold at Grady’s Fine Wines in Rocky River. In addition to Amp 150, the beers are served at B Spot, Greenhouse Tavern, and Buckeye Beer Engine.

Sam McNulty and Andy Tveekrem of Market Garden Brewery in Ohio City, which also pours Barbee’s brews, are cooking up a special Nose-to-Tail beer dinner for Tuesday, Nov. 29. I love the collaborative spirit behind this event. Executive chef Michael Nowak of Bar Cento, another of McNulty’s dining and drinking establishments, and his team are in charge of the food side, turning a pasture raised heirloom breed pig from Tea Hills Farm into four fabulous courses (out of five, counting a non-pork dessert). Guests will get to meet the brewers and be among the first to sample something new from Rockmill. Tickets are $45. Reservations are required: 216-621-4000. Glasses are raised at 6:30 pm.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Ohio Knitting Mills' Pop-Up Shop Opens

Venturing to find vintage vêtements for your fashionista friends this holiday season? Look no further than the Ohio Knitting Mills’ Pop-Up Shop (a 2011 Best of Cleveland winner) located on the corner of West 28th Street and Lorain Avenue in Ohio City.

“Three generations of one family ran the mill from 1927 to 2004, when it finally shut down its production operation,” explains Steve Tatar, current president and creative director of Ohio Knitting Mills.

“I met the owner of the business, Gary Rand, who revealed a very, very large collection of historic sweaters that his father and grandfather had been saving since World War II. He kept one or two of everything they made from the 1940’s up through the 1970’s," Tatar says. "It became this tremendous collection of more than 5,000 sweaters.”

The holiday shop will have an assortment of these one-of-a-kind sweaters, skirts, vests and shirts on-hand ($48-$188). “We’ll have accessories (starting at $20) too — hats, gloves, scarves and mittens that we’re making here, out of our historic fabrics,” Tatar says.

The pop-up shop also has finds for those who prefer to hang their art rather than wear it. “We’re doing a project with the Cleveland Public Library to promote their vast collection of historic images of the region,” says Tatar. The 18 x 24 inch full-color posters ($20, featured above) will showcase an array of advertisements celebrating the city’s heyday. There are four different images available, including an ad for the seminal Cleveland Industrial Exposition of 1909.

New threads are in the near future for OKM, too. The company has designed a capsule collection of men’s shirts for spring 2012, which they will be offering exclusively at the Cleveland store before going national with the newly knitted numbers.

“You know, I think it’s time to put the Ohio Knitting Mills name on new goods,” Tatar suggested. “Let’s continue the tradition. Let’s continue to make amazingly patterned, colorful knitwear and really own it — own the brand.”

And you can own it too, when the OKM Holiday Pop-Up Shop opens this Friday at 6 p.m. for a special unveiling party, hosted by partner Twist Creative Inc. Don’t dawdle though, OKM will be closing up shop on Jan. 8.

For more info on OKM, holiday shop hours and online store, visit

Thursday, November 17, 2011

“Cosmic Collisions” Hit Natural History Museum This Weekend

The universe began with a bang, and the hits just keep on coming.

“Cosmic Collisions,” the newest planetarium show at the Cleveland Museum of Natural History, opens Saturday and will showcase collisions within our universe from all points in time: past, present and future.

The show features supercomputer simulations of the collisions of galaxies, asteroids, comets and solar particles, as well as the collision between the Earth and a Mars-sized object that most scientists believe ultimately formed our moon.

Jason Davis, the astronomy programs coordinator at the natural history museum, says the simulations “are as accurate as we can get to the science.”

The American Museum of Natural History in New York City produced the show and made it available to all museums with the equipment to project it. Thanks to an extensive upgrade in summer 2010, the natural history museum is well capable.

Viewers will take in the awe-inspiring story of how our moon came to be and see how the Northern Lights are caused by solar particles’ collisions with the Earth’s magnetic field. The audience can also travel through space after the show, if they so choose. The planetarium operators can zoom viewers to any planet, star, or galaxy in their database.

“It could be as simple as a trip to Pluto, or as complicated as [a map of] the mass of the universe,” Davis says. “If asked to, I could show them every galaxy ever discovered.” Even though a large number of them will simply be data points, just seeing the vastness of the universe we live in is eye-opening.

Wednesday evening shows keep visitors a little closer to home. On clear Wednesday nights through December, the museum invites planetarium attendees to go up to the telescope dome after the show to gaze upon Jupiter and four of its brightest moons, the same four first discovered by Galileo more than 400 years ago.

“Cosmic Collisions” premieres at noon this Saturday, with shows at 2 and 4 pm following. It runs through December 31. For complete showing information, click here.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Milk and Potatoes in Cleveland Heights

When he got pink-slipped by corporate America in a downsizing frenzy, Keith Logan embarked on a journey that involved cross-country travel and soul searching to discover what he wanted to do next. He found his passion and purpose in making good things to eat. The result is Sweetie Fry. There are just two options on the menu at this little corner spot: ice cream and french fries. It’s a clever choice since just about everybody in America loves one or both. In all kinds of flavors and variations that display his natural flair for culinary creativity, they are each made in small batches to the highest standards with the finest ingredients Logan can get his hands on. And they are equally, irresistibly delicious.

Logan gets his milk and cream from a local producer and uses an ice-cream-making process that, he explains, is superior to the standard approach because it intensifies the taste of whatever he adds to the butterfat. According to him, nobody else in Ohio does it this way. He learned the method from some acknowledged experts and perfected his technique at home until opening on Lee Road in October. After sampling many of the options on his chalkboard, which often change, I can verify that he’s doing something very right. His vanilla bean and butter pecan are the best versions I’ve ever had. The caramel pear is amazing, more so with a drizzle of his salty caramel sauce. Maple bacon, laced with bits of candied pork, will be my downfall because I live dangerously, conveniently close, and he keeps late-night hours.

If the ice cream doesn’t become an addiction, the fries will. It’s a seven-step, labor-intensive process involving some pretty high-tech equipment. And it’s the sauces on the side that take these tubers (Idahos waffle cut or strips, and orange sweet potatoes) to the next level: hot and sweet chipotle, barbecue mayo, Indian masala and toasted sesame. Then there are what Logan refers to as the entree options: baskets of fries tossed with shredded Parmigiano Reggiano and truffle oil (heaven); topped with chili and cheese (haven’t tried … yet); or paired with Tabasco and crumbled gorgonzola (didn’t think I’d like this but found I could not stop my hand from picking them up and putting them in my mouth). Order at the front counter, take a seat, and when they’re ready, Thomas Hathaway, a man who used to sell peanuts at the ballpark, gives you a hearty booming shout-out to retrieve them at the pick-up window in back. They come in a paper cone tucked in a cute metal holder with dipping cup attached.

Then there are the desert fries. These batter-based babies are in a class all their own. Reminiscent of funnel cakes but far superior to the greasy stuff sold at fairs and carnivals, they’re dusted with cinnamon and maple sugar. While chatting and sampling with Logan, I suggested we try dunking them in ice cream, something he hadn’t thought of before. Definitely a good idea and better as the ice cream gets soft and melty.

There are eight tables plus a little one for the youngest customers. Logan wants Sweetie Fry to be a neighborhood hang-out, a place where everyone (and that includes toddlers, high school kids, and adults of all ages) feels at home. He warmly welcomes each person who walks in the door and feels like he’s investing in the community as well as his business. Logan clearly likes what he’s doing, and his favorite part is watching the look of pure pleasure on people’s faces when they try his creations. Stop in and make his day. 2301 Lee Road, Cleveland Heights

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Raab, Izrael Talk LeBron at Happy Dog

Last night, The Happy Dog was the scene of a debate of sorts between Esquire writer Scott Raab, author of The Whore of Akron: One Man's Search for the Soul of LeBron James (read an excerpt here), and writer and culture critic Jimi Izrael, a supporter of LeBron's right to leave town. Plain Dealer columnist and WCPN 90.3 Sound of Ideas host Michael McIntyre moderated the event, which was dubbed The Derision but felt more like a good-natured debate between friends.

Raab started the evening by reading an excerpt from his book — a scene in which he meets Izrael at a black barber shop in Cleveland Heights, where Raab grew up, and the men discuss James' legacy in Cleveland, centering on race.

"It's late in the book," Raab said. "And it's the only time I try to face, head on, that issue."

Once Izrael took the stage, the early part of the debate was more a continuation of their conversation from that barber shop.

"A lot of people of color saw [The Decision] as a young man who had agency over his life," Izrael said. "That's something uncommon to black people."

"When I left Cleveland, I didn't inflict a severe emotional and economic wound on the town," Raab countered. "I didn't disappoint anyone."

Though Raab and Izrael disagreed, they were clearly chummy. This wasn't a knock-down fight by any means. As the night went on, those in the crowd proved to be the most outwardly passionate — be it for or against James. Raab and Izrael came off as pragmatic and reasoned by comparison.

An early questioner asked if The Decision hadn't happened, did Raab think people would still be as upset?

"The only circumstances under which LeBron would have left that I would not have been angry would have been after bringing a championship home," Raab answered.

A common theme in the crowd's questions was whether we as a culture take sports too seriously. One person made the comparison to the reaction of Penn State students to the firing of Joe Paterno.

"I know on one level it's only sports," Raab said. "People get worked up about seeing a painting or listening to music, but sports really does take on a meaning way out of proportion to its actual bearing on our lives."

Some questions were less reasoned, traveling to the outskirts of hypothetical sense: What if James had scored more points in a particular game? Is the lockout his fault? Would it have been any different if our NBA team was the Akron Cavaliers instead of the Cleveland Cavaliers?

Ultimately, McIntyre brought the discussion back around to Raab and his book.

"You said in the book that you were searching for the soul Lebron James." McIntyre said. "Did you find it?"

"No," Raab said. "I'm not calling him a soulless spawn of satan. The title and the subtitle — I wouldn't take any of this s--t too seriously."

The event benefited Ohio City Writers, a nonprofit youth creative writing center, of which Izrael is a board member.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Scott Raab talks LeBron, his book on our podcast

Scott Raab feels our pain. A native Clevelander, Esquire writer-at-large and author of The Whore of Akron: One Man's Search for the Soul of LeBron James, Raab joined us for our November podcast to talk Browns, LeBron and his book (listen to the interview).

"I was hoping to write the happy book about our homegrown Moses leading us all finally to the Promised Land," Raab says. "I saw very quickly, as a credentialed journalist going to Cavs practices and games, that there was a level of dysfunction that was extraordinary ... From my point of view, the relationship between the media and LeBron, LeBron and the media, the team and LeBron. It was so screwy. It was so out of wack." 

The Whore of Akron will be released Nov. 15, and if you want to see and hear Raab in person, hit the Happy Dog Monday, Nov. 14, for "The Derision" where Raab will face off against Ohio City Writers board member Jimi Izrael, who has a very different opinion about LeBron's decision to leave Cleveland. Raab will also be at Visible Voice Books Thursday, Nov. 17. 

Holiday Shopping Pops Up in Gordon Square

A new gallery has popped up on the Cleveland art scene, but it may not be there for long. Double Feature, an eclectic pop-up gallery, is set to open today in the Gordon Square Arts District on the city's West Side.

Double Feature’s two-room space will play host to an array of fine art, a unique shop and various events throughout the holiday season.
The gallery is run by four friends, who came together through involvement with other artistic ventures around Cleveland, namely Ctownartparty. The group wanted to create a space that showcased local and national artists in a fun and casual environment, according to founder Rachel Hunt.

“We saw that there was this gap where we felt there weren’t a lot of emerging national artists being exhibited in Cleveland,” she says. “So we really wanted to start integrating national and local art, and to frame it on the same wall.”

With its attractive layout, foot traffic and established arts organizations, the newly renovated Gordon Square is a good fit for the small gallery. The four partners hope to return the favor by attracting new people and young talent to the up-and-coming area.

Double Feature already has a number of events planned for its two-month residency, including participation in Gordon Square’s “Bright Night,” children’s art workshops with local artists, and a holiday sweater show.

Despite an inclination to bring in outside artists, the founders emphasize that the gallery is “quintessentially Cleveland,” from its prices (the most expensive piece being $2,000) to its feeling of community.

“It doesn’t matter who you are,” says Hunt. “You can buy art and be a part of the art scene. You’ll feel like you’re welcome to just kind of hang out with us on Friday nights like you would at somebody’s house.”

Join the friends of Double Feature in celebrating the gallery’s opening tonight from 8 p.m. to midnight.
1392 W 65th St, 440-263-2254

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Past Meets Present in Paintings of Fu Baoshi

Faced with political turbulence and the growing fear of westernization, post-war China looked toward painters such as Fu Baoshi for peace of mind. As one of the modern masters of the east, Fu Baoshi merged classical Chinese motifs with contemporary references to reveal a multi-faceted culture, one that was in touch with history yet cognizant of emerging philosophies and new ways of living.

“The act of moving a stagnant tradition entails imparting life, dynamism and an affecting quality to painting,” the artist once said. “[It’s] injecting warmth to enliven something that had long been frozen and hardened.”

He began his career copying subtle landscapes and semi-religious figure paintings from Chinese antiquity and giving these scenes a modern touch by including elements from contemporary poetry, as exemplified in Beauty Under Banana Palm (below), on view through Jan. 8 at the Cleveland Museum of Art, as part of a retrospective titled Chinese Art In the Age of Revolution, Fu Baoshi (1904-1965).

Drawing on his experience as a young artist-in-residence at Musashino University in Japan and his tenure as art history professor at Nanjing, Fu Baoshi merged the pale, spacious compositions of traditional Chinese literati painting with new Japanese forms of ink application.

In time, he developed a style all his own, spreading the brush bristles and applying strokes with respect to pressure and direction. He applied his texture-stroke not only to traditional landscapes, but to scenes of industrialization emerging in neighboring lands — surprisingly modern scenes, such as Irkutsk Airport, which depicts Chinese planes landing at a Soviet airbase in the winter of 1957, and Gottwaldov, a Czech cityscape enveloped in smog, evoking the shadow of urban life (top).

“Fu explored new subject matter related to revolution, socialist reconstruction and industrial development, which testified to his ongoing attempt to transform Chinese painting to serve new political needs,” says exhibit curator Anita Chung.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Something New for Canton

Downtown Canton got its first real chef-driven farm-to-table restaurant in July. It’s called Lucca. The husband and I had dinner there recently with people who supply some of the kitchen’s fine local ingredients. At the table were Mindy and Phil Bartholomae of Breezy Hill Farm in Homeworth, who raise an A-to-Z assortment of fruits and vegetables on their 23 acres, which includes three high tunnels so they can harvest year-round. The other couple was Jean Mackenzie and Jim Zella of Mackenzie Creamery, the award-winning artisanal goat cheese producer in Hiram (they had organized the get-together). It was a lovely evening of good food, good wine and great conversation in a pretty, contemporary setting.

Josh Schory, who put in time at Charlie Trotter’s in Chicago, was at the stove. He's young, just 29, and this is his first restaurant, owned in partnership with his father, who stopped by to introduce himself. Josh decided to name it after his favorite town in Italy and wants to reproduce the fresh, simple, seasonal dishes that are eaten in this part of Tuscany.
After sampling a variety of appetizers, salads, and a couple of entrees, I can happily report that he captures the spirit of this cuisine and infuses it with Ohio flavors and his personal style.

Bread from nearby Hazel Artisan Bakery dipped in an excellent imported olive oil whetted our appetites for a buffet of shared starters: fried calamari, lightly coated with semolina flour, with roasted garlic and lemon aioli; crispy flatbreads with Prosciutto di Parma, goat cheese and pear jam; and littleneck clams in a fennel pollen butter broth that had us begging for extra bread to sop up every last drop.

A caprese salad, with multicolored roasted beets standing in for the tomatoes, fresh pulled mozzarella, arugula and toasted pine nuts, was next for me. The husband and I shared my succulent grilled herb-crusted lamb chops, which came with housemade gnocchi in a cheddar sage sauce, and his simple but tasty linguini tossed with roasted garlic, toasted walnuts (a nice touch), arugula, basil and pecorino romano. The six of us passed around and polished off a nicely conceived cheese board to finish.

I’m always glad to discover a spot like Lucca, with a dedication to scratch cooking and local sourcing, in one of Northeast Ohio’s urban centers. Admittedly, its a longish drive from Cleveland just for dinner, but not out of the question, especially if you want to support a business like this. But if you’re in the area or live nearby, you'd be foolish not to take advantage of such an exciting and admirable addition to the area's dining options.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Answer This!

Christopher Farah was pretty concerned with how his movie, Answer This!, was going to do in its Cleveland premiere at the Cedar Lee Theatre last Friday.

"I have no problem saying that I am absolutely scared sh-tless," he told us a day before the screening. "I hope I make it out of there alive."

Farah, who wrote and directed the movie, isn't concerned because of the movie's content. He is concerned because of its sole setting — the dreaded University of Michigan.

"There really is a kind of weirdly personal rivalry between Michigan and Ohio," says Farah, who has also directed several shorts for the comedy website Funny or Die

The movie combines the world of pub trivia — a world with eccentric, outsized characters fit for a Christopher Guest mockumentary like Best in Show — with the world of academia. It's a combination that Farah thinks is perfect.

"The trivia world is obsessed with little facts," Farah says. "And sometimes, the academic world is, too. I wanted to explore that."

The movie is about something else, though. It's about a grad student who loses sight of why he hasn't moved on. He focuses too much on the big picture while losing sight of the small things — the trivial things.

Farah and his brother Michael, who is one of the movie's producers, are natives of Ann Arbor, Mich. Chris earned a bachelor's and master's degree from the University of Michigan. They get the OSU-Michigan rivalry.

"To me, [the Cleveland screenings] are the ultimate test," Farah says. "When you get an OSU fan to say, 'I really like a movie made about Michigan,' you know you've done something right."

Answer This! is showing at Cleveland Heights' Cedar Lee Theatre until Thursday, Nov. 10.

To test your own useless knowledge, check out trivia nights at these local bars: Becky's Bar on Thursdays, The Fairmount in Cleveland Heights on Mondays and the Parma Tavern on Wednesdays.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Gavin DeGraw's "Sweeter" has an Edge

On Gavin DeGraw’s fourth studio album, he has done some evolving.

“The record as a whole, I think it’s just a little bit sexier than anyone’s ever heard before,” DeGraw says.

Sweeter was released in September, and Sunday he's performing at PlayhouseSquare's Palace Theatre, where he is co-headlining with American Idol winner David Cook.

DeGraw's first single from the new album, “Not Over You,” has gotten steady radio airplay, and it currently sits in the top 50 of Billboard’s Hot 100. Co-written and produced by Ryan Tedder of OneRepublic, the track is another example of how DeGraw’s style has changed.

“Every album I’ve made prior to this record I’ve always wrote alone. This particular album I thought it was important to just change it up a little bit,” DeGraw says. Having multiple producers helped mold the sound of this record, too.

On the title track and “Radiation,” locals will be happy to hear DeGraw pulled some inspiration from Akron natives The Black Keys by embracing a raw, edgier sound.

“There’s moments of romance on the record, but I also think that there’s moments of just straight up sex and masculinity,” DeGraw says. “Some of the things that really aren’t played within the so-called singer-songwriter realm. That bullsh-t safe term called singer-songwriter.”

On some of the tracks where he does get a little edgier, DeGraw said some people will say, “Holy sh-t, are you sure that’s Gavin DeGraw?” But that’s what he likes about it because that’s him, too.

He’s not a singer-songwriter — he’s an artist — and he’s unwilling to be pigeon-holed, he says.

“I’m not going to be romantic every time,” DeGraw says. “Sometimes I’m just going to get real with somebody and be like, ‘Yo, this is how I’m feeling.’"

Gavin DeGraw performs at the Palace Theatre Sunday, Nov. 6, at 7 p.m. He is co-headlining with David Cook. Tickets are $10-$45. DeGraw photo credit: Patrick Fraser

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Cooking Local

Vermillion author Marilou Suszko has a second cookbook on the shelves. The Locavore’s Kitchen: A Cook’s Guide to Seasonal Eating and Preserving was released earlier this year by Ohio University Press. It’s a nice follow-up to her first cookbook Farms & Foods of Ohio.

Suszko is my friend, and we’re collaborating on a book about the West Side Market, to be published next year. She even included a recipe from me, potato pancakes, in The Locavore’s Kitchen and titled it with my name. So, of course, I’m inclined to review her latest work. And I was really hoping I’d have a favorable opinion, otherwise things could be … well … awkward, to say the least. Luckily, I do.

This is a fine collection of appealing, doable recipes plus useful insight and tips from someone who really knows her way around the kitchen. Suszko’s ideas about what it takes to produce great dishes and memorable meals are inspiring. I often refer to her as a domestic goddess. Because although I pride myself on cooking from scratch, she’s way “scratchier.” It’s not uncommon for this very busy writer to find time to make her own butter, ricotta, crème fraiche and sauerkraut. One day she tried to convince me how easy it is to produce your own ginger ale. So in this book, she provides instructions for turning vegetables into pickles, milk into yogurt, fruit into jam and herbs into pesto. She gets you excited about infusing vinegars, drying chiles to grind into powder and coiling up some cider syrup. Suszko is also a good writer, adept at explaining the intricacies of how to achieve the perfect pie crust or cook grass-fed beef for optimum flavor.

She says the book is meant for beginners and not necessarily people like me with years of stove time under my belt and a longstanding practice of buying local ingredients. And it definitely meets the challenge of equipping novices with a wealth of valuable information about how to choose, store, use and preserve what our farmers provide. Even so, I learned many things flipping through the pages, from the subtle differences in flavor and texture of 11 varieties of squash to the definition of a slump (not the kind that often hits around 4 in the afternoon, but a sort of puddingy cobbler prepared on the stovetop with a steamed top that’s sort of like a dumpling).

Right now the only thing left in my garden is kale. And now that the nights have gotten cold, it should be sweeter than it was a month ago. So I’m excited about bringing it for Suszko’s kale and sausage sauté soon. I also have three red cabbages I harvested last week that are destined to be braised, as per her instructions, with apples, red wine vinegar, brown sugar and baking spices. And busy as I am working on that new manuscript, if I find some sugar pumpkins (the kind you puree not carve) at the farmers market this weekend, I feel like I must try her recipe for spicy pumpkin ketchup. The woman just makes you want to start chopping and stirring. I can’t think of a better recommendation for a cookbook.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

E. 4th’s Maron closes Envy, nightclub & problem tenant

Cleveland Magazine’s November issue has been out for about a week now, and Ari Maron, my latest profile subject, has already made one part of my new article about him obsolete.

Maron says Envy, the troubled nightclub on West 25th Street, has closed. Maron, Envy’s reluctant landlord, bought out the club’s liquor license and lease.

Maron’s company, MRN Ltd., owns most of East 4th Street and drove that block’s resurgence as a nightlife spot. Now, Maron, 33, is trying to bring a similar approach -- creative landlording based on ideals about cities -- to Ohio City and University Circle. Lots of high-profile tenants, such as Crop Bistro, have moved into the Maron family’s properties near the West Side Market lately.

Envy, a tenant MRN inherited on West 25th, threatened to upset the budding new resurgence. A man was shot to death outside the club in September.

Now, Maron intends to tear the former Envy down to create parking for a planned international traveler’s hostel. The Plain Dealer has the full story here.

To read “Urban Active,” my profile of Maron in the new issue, click here.