Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Shop and Stay

Fresh Butcher Cafe Deli offering tastes of their sausages
Used to be that going to the farmers market was a Saturday occurrence  But now you can find one somewhere in the Greater Cleveland area any day of the week.  The Tremont Farmers' Market happens every Tuesday from 4-7 p.m. in Lincoln Park. Like their counterparts in other communities, the gathering features local growers and producers selling all kinds of good things to eat  eggs, meats, jams, granola, pies and bread, cheese and fresh fruits and vegetables that increase in variety and abundance as the summer season progresses.

  This market makes it appealing to hang around after your shopping is done. There's music, chef demos, chair massage, yoga on the grass and   when I was there a couple of weeks ago    a contingent of skilled and wannabe hula hoopers working on their moves. Food trucks set up shop and there are some picnic tables for sit down eating. I had a fantastic blue-crab salad from Zydeco Bistro (more on this one and the chef who keeps it rolling next month) and watched hot little pies with the crust bubbled and the cheese browned come out of a wood-burning oven hauled in by Scott's Fire & Ice.

In fact, there's a good reason to spend the entire afternoon or evening in the neighborhood. Numerous area businesses roll out the red carpet, in the form of deals and discounts, every Tuesday. Specials  include price breaks on manicures, pedicures, and cuts at Addictions Salon and Spa, Cappy Hour at Civilization coffee shop, taco and beer specials at Lincoln Park Pub, a $5 pour at Press Wine Bar, $5 cheeseburger and fries at Prosperity Social Club, and $1 off all specialty sundaes at Tremont Scoops. See the complete list on the market's website.

This is a great example cross-promotion and entrepreneurial solidarity. And of course the real winners are us  every Tuesday.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Cleveland Museum of Art Celebrates Solstice with Style

As darkness fell across the Cleveland Museum of Art grounds Saturday evening, the museum's 1916 building became a canvas for moving images that served as a reflection of who we are as a city: our downtown skyline, magnificent parks and steel being forged on a factory floor. It was just one masterstroke in a night filled with them, as University Circle's anchor cultural institution played host to 5,000 people with its annual Solstice summer celebration.

Billed as the city's signature summer party, the event lives up to the claim. The merger of music from around the world, striking video imagery and a museum filled with masterworks and other pieces dating from antiquity, creates a place of discovery — a mash-up of past, present and future. It also doesn't hurt that Solstice never forgets that, at its heart, it's a party.

Those who purchased tickets for the 8 p.m. entrance time were welcomed by harpist Edmar Castaneda, whose ethereal sound created a perfect garden party vibe on the main outdoor stage and set the tone for the lineup of innovative musicians to follow: Red Baraat, Burnt Sugar Arkestra and the night's outdoor-stage closers, The Crystal Ark.

Visitors were welcome to roam the museum during the party and get a glimpse of the new north wing.  Featuring more than 400 pieces, it's home to the museum's pre-Columbian, Native North American, Japanese, Korean and textile collections. The north wing opens to the public this Sunday, June 30.

As 10:30 p.m. rolled around and night fell across the grounds, the party hit another gear. After sets on the atrium stage from Beatmatrix and DJ Rekha, the incomparable DJ Afrika Bambaataa offered a scorching finale befitting the kickoff to summer.

If you were ever looking for just one more reason to become an art museum member, the ability to get a discount when tickets for next year's party go on sale, should be enough to push you over the edge.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Sun Salutations

It may not be as warm as we'd like it this month, but the atypical weather isn't stopping yogis from celebrating the beauty of the sun. This Friday, Free Akron Yoga will be hosting its 4th Annual Summer Solstice Festival at Howe Meadow where participants will perform 108 sun salutations with the rise of the sun.

"It's an opportunity for a very high-energy community of people to come together and celebrate the longest day of the year," says Nancy Holland Myers, co-founder of Free Akron Yoga and co-director of the festival. "The whole idea behind yoga asana is to use breath and use movement to arrive at a quiet meditative state. There's a certain point where it becomes so fluid we literally stop thinking about the to-do list, our iPhones and what happened last Thursday.”

Photo by Litsa Varonis

The gates will open at 5:15 a.m. for visitors to park and register for free with the celebration beginning at 6 a.m. As participants arrive, they will tread down a path lit by luminaria into the field where the festival takes place.

"We hope to circle the entire practice area with luminaria and the effect will be this sweet, kind of cosmic glow," says Myers. "It's going to be magical."

Brian Feltner and The Help will play an acoustic set, creating a peaceful, meditative environment during the practice. Afterward, participants can sample breakfast-related food and drink from Miss Julie's Kitchen and KC Coffee Co.

Nancy Holland Myers
Photo by Lynn Keller Photography

Before the business of summer ensues, Myers encourages people to take a break and head to the picturesque Howe Meadow to welcome the season in peace.

“By doing 108 sun salutes in a beautiful setting like the Cuyahoga Valley National Park, we have that sort of double-dip opportunity to be fully present in our bodies in one of the most beautiful places around."

For more information, visit

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Local Eating Connections

   Conversations about local food typically focus on fresh fruits, vegetables, meats, eggs and cheese from nearby farms. But there's more to building a local, sustainable, integrated food system. One important idea is to create a supportive economic community that keeps dollars circulating close to home. To do that we need to utilize and consume more of what's produced in the region where we live and work. And these days Cleveland is blessed with a wealth of amazing culinary and beverage entrepreneurs. I have blogged about two of them  Cleveland Whiskey  last February and Luna Bakery Cafe in September, 2011  and this past weekend they came together in an unexpected and delicious way.

photo by Barney Taxel
   We're fans of the whiskey and try our best  demand is intense  to have a bottle of it in the house at all times. And, truth be told, we like to indulge in a bit of after dinner sweetness, especially on the weekends. Bridget Thibeault, pastry chef and Luna's co-owner,  decided to make a special batch of her signature macarons spiked with the brown spirit distilled downtown (and aged at warp speed in a patented process) for Father's Day. When I saw an announcement about this on Facebook, I immediately emailed the husband suggesting he might want to pick some up on the way home from the studio.

   As the still life arranged on our kitchen counter reveals, he did. One bite of the light, crisp, airy cookie sandwiches-two rounds of meringue united by the alcohol-spiked butter cream filling- confirmed this was an inspired synergy. Tom Lix, Cleveland Whiskey founder and CEO, take note. This is a whole other delivery system for your product. Planned as a limited edition treat through the end of June, I hope we don't have to wait a year for more. Perhaps, if customer demand is strong,  Thibeault will consider baking them with some regularity.

  Meanwhile, Thibeault has been busy authoring a new book. Cupcake Decorating Lab: 52 Techniques, Recipes, and Inspiring Designs for Your Favorite Sweet Treats is now available on Amazon.

   In another expression of local and successful symbiosis, startup ice cream makers Jesse Mason and Helen Qin of Mason's Creamery, have a Cleveland Whiskey version. It's one of their many unique and unusual flavors. Spoonable spirits, great concept that totally worked for me.  Try some for yourself- they're scooping this week at the Downtown Farmers Market in Public Square Friday and the Kamm's Corners  Farmers Market Sunday.

 Also, Accent, Scott Kim's University Circle restaurant (my rave review appeared in the magazine last month) is hosting a blind taste test between Cleveland Whiskey’s Black Bourbon and a competitor's. Take the Cleveland Challenge at 6:30 p.m. July11. Stay for dinner; there are lots of exciting dishes on the summer menu.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Dad's Day

He fixes our cars, computers and makes life's problems easier to tackle. Reward dad's hard work with a brunch, dinner or themed event this Father's Day weekend. From ball games to brews to antique cars, make this weekend a truly memorable one for dad.

Courtesy Stan Hywet Hall & Gardens


Cleveland Indians Play Catch!
Take dad out to the ball game. The Indians play the Washington National's at 1:05 p.m., and after what we hope will be a win, go out and play catch on the grassy field. Sessions will be 15 minutes and filled on a first-come, first-served basis. Proceeds benefit Cleveland Indians Charities, which creates programs to teach young people how to play baseball, develop life skills and learn responsibility. $15. Progressive Field, 2401 Ontario St., 216-420-4200,

Morton's the Steakhouse
Treat dad to a juicy steak at Morton's, where he will get a three-course meal with choices of salads, sides, entrees and desserts. Entrees include mouthwatering double-cut prime pork-chop, center-cut filet mignon, braised beef short rib, chicken bianco and honey-chili glazed salmon filet. $69. 1600 W. Second St., Cleveland, 216-621-6200,


Children's Museum of Cleveland
Kids can make music with dad by using drums to lead a parade around the museum at noon. At 3 p.m., race dad through the obstacle courses, play with a parachute and score winning goals in soccer. All events are free with paid admission or memberships. $7. 10 a.m.-4:45 p.m. 10730 Euclid Ave., Cleveland, 216-791-7114,

Claddagh Irish Pub
Go Irish this Father's Day with this brunch and barbecue dinner buffet. Made-to-order omelets, whole bread and meat stations are offered for brunch, while grilling stations break out for dinner. Ribs, chicken, steak, corn-on-the-cob, pulled pork, clams and baked potatoes are just a few items on the menu. $24.95 adults, $9.95 children, four and younger free. Brunch 9 a.m.-3 p.m., dinner 3-7 p.m.  Legacy Village, 25389 Cedar Road, Lyndhurst, 216-691-0534,

Lake County Captains
Fireworks and superheros and a jersey auction are just a few of the ways to celebrate your super-dad at this weekend's games. Plus, the first 1,500 men to pass through the gates will receive a free Captains baseball hat. Ticket prices vary. Fri. & Sat. 7 p.m., Sun. 1:30 p.m. Classic Park, 35300 Vine St., Cleveland, 440-954-9467,

Mitchell's Fish Market
This restaurant and bar says fresher fish would still be in the ocean. A special of Surf & Turf of charbroiled rib-eye and fresh lobster tail, plus sides, will be served to all dads on Father's Day. $34.99. 11:30 a.m.-10 p.m. 28601 Chagrin Blvd., Woodmere, 216-765-3474,


Avon Heritage Duct Tape Festival
Duct tape is a staple in all dads' toolboxes, so take them to this free festival honoring Avon's claim as the "Duct Tape Capital" of the world. Carnival rides, fair food, duct tape crafts and live entertainment, as well as a parade featuring floats and characters made of Duck Tape brand duct tape and a fashion show are all part of the lineup. Fri. 4-11 p.m., Sat. 11 a.m.-11 p.m., Sun. 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Veteran's Memorial Park, 3701 Veteran's Memorial Parkway, Avon,

Hyde Park Prime Steakhouse
Bacon-wrapped twin filets, horseradish-crusted salmon, crab and lobster omelets, and lemon caper chicken are part of this three-course brunch menu, in addition to the regular dinner menu. Dine on the Main Street patio, in the fireplace room or one of three private dining rooms, while enjoying a glass of their more than 35 selections of wine. $27.95. Mon. 11:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m. 21 Main St., Westlake, 440-892-4933,


Savor a drink with dad at this wine boutique and bar Friday and Saturday. Choose from their wide selection of wine or try a Father's Day special including a beer flight with four different beers and a choice of a braised beef sandwich or crab cake sliders. $8 for beer flight, $17 for flight and entree. 2287 W. Market St., Akron, 330-794-5754,

Buca di Beppo
Free is always better. All dads receive a free cannoli with a reservation at this Italian restaurant that serves family-style meals. Need something to wash down dinner? Try wine or sangria.  Print a coupon and make reservations on Buca's website. 16677 Southpark Center, Strongsville, 440-846-6262,

Fleming's Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar
Signature eggs benedict, baked brioche French toast with a walnut crisp, prime rib with a trio of sausage, and egg strata will be offered on the three-course brunch menu special. Make a glass of their award-winning wine a part of the day, and all fathers also receive a $25 dining card for future visits to the restaurant. Brunch $36.95. 4000 Medina Road, Akron, 330-670-5200,

Mustard Seed Market & Cafe
For guests looking for a little variety in their Father's Day brunch, check out the Mustard Seed Market & Cafe. Creme brulee French toast, made-to-order omelets, bison meatloaf and southern-style slaw are just a few of the selections on this Sunday's menu. $10.99 kids 12 and under, $21.99 adults. 10:30 a.m.-3 p.m.; 3885 W. Market St., Akron, 330-666-7333,

Stan Hywet Hall & Gardens
Is your dad a bit of a gearhead? Check out the 56th annual Father's Day Car Show at Stan Hywet. More than 350 classic, antique and collector automobiles will be on display against the backdrop of this nearly century-old estate. A mobile video game truck will also be available with car-themed video games to keep kids entertained while dad checks out the interiors of his dream cars. $12, $9 members, $5 kids 6-17, $4 youth member, kids 5 and under free. 9 a.m.-4:30 p.m. 714 N. Portage Path, Akron, 330-836-5533,  

 Additional reporting by James Bigley II

Man of Stainless Steel

 As far as I'm concerned, Douglas Katz is a Cleveland Heights hero. He swept in just like the guy with the red cape to rescue the two vintage  dining cars first relocated to Lee Road by Steve Presser years ago. There have been various other owners and operators in the ensuing decade, but nobody got it quite right. If any one can succeed here it's Katz, skilled in both food and business, with a genuine respect for the real estate, the neighborhood and Presser's original vision.

The new venture, which opened at the end of May, is called The Katz Club Diner, and it's everything you want a real diner to be, and then some. The side devoted to eating is all silvery shine, with a traditional long counter and stools, and opposite, along the windows, are tables with comfortable chairs. I'd describe the three meals a day menu as New York City deli meets roadside diner (the kind always owned by Greeks on the East Coast). Of course, because it's Douglas, the ingredients are largely sourced locally and stuff is made from scratch.

   The choices are many. You can start the morning with omelets, pancakes, corned beef hash, or my personal preference lox, eggs, and onions with home fries. Coffee is from top shelf local roaster Rising Star. Bacon and sausage are made in house, as are the muffins, danish and Pop-Tarts you can buy from the coffee counter just inside the entrance.  Lunchtime offers all the sandwich classics: from tuna melt and reuben to burgers and dogs. Dinner options are heavy on all American home-style faves such as meatloaf and mashed potatoes, roast turkey with stuffing, and nightly specials: brisket on Wednesday, liver and onions on Saturday, spaghetti and meatballs on Sunday. I enjoyed the house's clever twist on chicken a la king, the creamy '50s concoction comes over a waffle.

  I watched one teen tuck into a bowl of mac 'n' cheese with a side of onion rings. The guy seated next to her was having a cheeseburger and fries. Clearly, health or nutritional balance were not factors for them. But for those who do care about such things, there's oatmeal, granola,  salads, fish, vegetarian and even vegan dishes.

   And then there are the Jewish staples such as matzah ball soup, stuffed cabbage, noodle kugel and latkes. If you don't have a blood relative or a dear friend to make these things for you, Katz's kitchen is the next best option. On the beverage side the list includes the requisite shakes, malts and floats ( plus a few spiked adult versions) but this East-Coast-born girl was tickled to see the drinks of her childhood on offer such as phosphates, egg creams and a lime rickey.

   The second dining car is another world entirely. It's a dark, swanky lounge with a '40s feel. You have to dial an old rotary phone at the entrance to get buzzed inside. There will be no toddlers with crayons or kids spooning up banana splits. This is the alter ego for the family friendly space on the other side of the door. Here, Sinatra reigns. Grown-ups will relax.  Ice will be shaved, cocktails will be shaken and small plates served.

   I've only eaten at Katz Club twice. But it's in my neighborhood, and I drive by often. Whenever I do, the parking lot is filled. This bodes well for our little metropolis on the hill. Thank you to our very own Man of Stainless Steel.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Art for Dudes by Dudes

After regularly visiting art shows with his fiancee, Mathias Noble King says he realized there were only two or three vendors selling "dude-oriented stuff."

"I was finally like, Why don't I just make a show that collects all of these guys I've met throughout visiting all these other craft shows and call it Manly Mart?" he says.

Once he pinned down a location for the show, Mahall's 20 Lanes in Lakewood, King also found 17 male vendors to display their creations June 8. "They are selling everything from vintage to handmade items," he says. The manly wares on sale include cycling bags, books, furniture, watches and more.

One of the vendors, Nate Mucha, owner of A Hot Mesh, a design and alternative printing firm, will be rolling out a new brand, The Manly Gent, which includes goods for guys such as tasting journals, wearable items, posters and other products.

"If you have the meat journal, for example, as you find different kinds of meats, you can place them on the scale we have and make notes about it," Mucha says. "That way the guy has like a little address book of meats he has tried."

Although the event is named Manly Mart, King hopes to draw in the opposite sex, too. "I thought that saying it was a dudes-only vendor show would actually attract more ladies to buy the stuff for the dudes in their life," he says, especially with the show being right before Father's Day.

Photo courtesy of Alex Catanese
Visitors to the free show, running from noon to 6 p.m., can also enjoy bowling, drinks and food as well as music from Cholly and Plumjam.

"I know people want this to happen next year, so I want it to be an annual thing," King says. "Vendors are pretty excited, and everyone seems pretty enthusiastic about it."

Thursday, June 6, 2013

In the Mix

Strobe lights, loud music and plentiful mixed drinks transform the usually clean-cut atrium of the  Cleveland Museum of Art into a nightclub for one evening every month.

"It’s one of the only places you can go for a happy hour, to hear music, and be in this spectacular space," says Charity D'Amato, founder of the design studio Chartreuse. "It’s not just a bar you’re going to ... it is this large museum with very recognizable works of art that you can go and sort of hang out with."

The art museum hosts Mix events the first Friday of every month, each with a different theme ranging from masquerade balls to the apocalypse. All in one night, guests can cut loose on the disco-ball-adorned dance floor, unwind at the cocktail bar and peruse the galleries of centuries-old works as they please.

"It's about getting people into the galleries in a relaxed setting,"says Aaron Petersal, director of membership and visitor experience at the museum.

Since the museum started hosting the event last October, it has steadily been growing, now drawing more than 1,200 people each month.

The theme for the next event on June 7 is Mix: Connections, highlighting the relationship between the CMA and the Museum of Contemporary Art Cleveland. To show how modern artists are influenced by those of the past, you’ll get to see contemporary artist Kate Gilmore’s work compared to her inspiration, Jackson Pollock. Gilmore’s work is currently on display at MOCA, but there will also be a live rendering of her performance art piece Hold on Her at CMA.

Get the best of both museums with a free trolley that runs all night. Take in electronic artists Radio People at MOCA and check out other artworks on display as part of the museum's own WtF (Welcome to Friday) series. Keep the music going back over at CMA, where DJs Charles McGraw and Darrick Grant will spin funk and soul records until 9 p.m.

The connections theme trickles into the cocktail menu with custom blends such as Rusty Nails, a Scotch-based drink to pair with a piece on display at the museum by Damian Ortega titled Controller of the Universe, featuring carpentry and gardening tools suspended in mid-air.

D'Amato attended one of her first Mix events in November and has been back for a few times since then. "It was just a cool way of gathering young professionals who are interested in art on a Friday night and kicking off the weekend," she says.

Members to either museum can attend the happy hour for free.  Tickets are $8 in advance or $10 at the door. Call 216-421-7350 or visit for tickets.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Creating a Cleveland Candyland

   I got wind over the weekend that Jeff Campbell had all kinds of exciting news so I gave him a call Monday morning to find out what's happening. Campbell is the man behind Campbell's Sweets Factory, a West Side Market merchant ( with three stands: Campbell's Popcorn Shop, Grandma Campbell's Cupcakes, and Juice Garden),  better known perhaps as the creator of the diabolically delicious Dichotomy Corn, an addictive mix of cheddar and caramel "dust" so good that one Yelper gave it what must surely be the ultimate endorsement: "I'd slap my Grandma for a bag of their Dichotomy popcorn." Turns out that his business is not just booming  it's expanding in all directions and on both sides of this river- split city. The guy's got so many deals and projects in the works that he's had to hire a personal assistant just to keep him organized, on task and on time. The PA didn't start for a few days, so Jeff was still answering the phone and he had plenty to tell me.
  The company just signed a lease for a double storefront space in Lakewood, right next to Melt, on the corner of Warren and Detroit. The confectionery will open in September and be much like the Campbell's shop on West 25th Street: shelves filled with bags of popcorn in 25 different flavors; trays of treats like chocolate covered covered pretzels, Oreos and even jalapenos; and glass fronted cases stocked with truffles, Buckeyes, cookies and cupcakes. A third spot, with the same distinctive look and product, is scheduled to open in University Circle in March.
   Campbell, who lives in Slavic Village, is in negotiations to purchase a building on Fleet Avenue for a larger and much needed production facility, now that his stuff is being sold in many Giant Eagle supermarkets. He's also talking with the neighborhood CDC about the idea of  fostering what he calls a "European Culinary District" along the street. which is currently getting a major upgrade, making it a home for a variety of small food businesses. I think that's a great idea, given the neighborhood's ethnic past , a way of going forwards by drawing on what was best from the past.

      But there's more. "I've acquired the lot next to my house," Campbell tells me, "and I'm trying to buy more along Spafford Road because I want to plant 300 dwarf apple trees so we can use our own local fruit for our caramel and candied apples."  Actually being able to do that is at least three years away, but Campbell likes to think big and has a vision, a vision he attributes to his father, Amos. "This was my dad's dream. He loved the confectionary business. You can still see a video of him demonstrating how to pull taffy on YouTube.  Now we have 25 employees, and eight of them are family, including my wife and I. He'd be so happy to see what we're doing."