applicious

October 1, 2012

IMG-20120930-01521Yes, Microsoft, please do add this ‘word’ to my dictionary because after picking 21.5 pounds of apples this weekend, I have a feeling the next few weeks will be very ‘applicious”.

The last weekend of September may have been the busiest of the month, if you can believe it. Between the Critical Mass Bike ride and the Akron Marathon, everyone but me was doing something athletic (Although I did go swimming. Twice. And when I swim next to floaters, my speed feels fast). 

Instead, I ate A LOT at the first annual “Potluck in the Park” hosted by Neighborhood Progress Inc. (NPI). Stephen used to work for the org and invited me to go (and make our lions share of  acorn bread) and the event was simply fantastic. As a registration table volunteer, I was in aIMG-20120929-01509we of the sheer number of people who came and how many amazing “chefs” live in Cleveland.

Nearly everyone brought food that was locally sourced, even though that wasn’t a ‘requirement’ and while I’m not either, it was great  to see an array of vegetarian and vegan dishes. And there was a great showing of educational tables offering tips on gardening, crafts and free non-disposable water bottles. If you missed out, man o’ man, you missed out on one of best events Edgewater Park has ever seen.

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Prior to eating two giant plates of the best homemade veggie lasagna and jambalaya ever, I spent the afternoon in Ohio City and Tremont, picking out a gorgeous reclaimed wood farm table from the Dredger’s Union closing sale and watching an episode of the 1961 show “Route 66” in the basement of a church. I don’t think I neeIMG-20120930-01526d to explain the awesomeness of the first activity, so on to the bizarre church experience: A friend sent an email earlier in the week announcing the episode that would show Tremont as it was in the early 60’s. Always interested in the history of place, I signed up for the free event.  Stephen and I were the youngest people by 50 years, except for the Pastor who was convinced he knew me since we’ve both lived in South Jersey and Pittsburgh! We had to leave early, because the film started late, but I cannot wait to see the end. Why doesn’t programming like this exist on TV nowadays?Oh, and Tremont was cool back then, too 🙂

IMG-20120930-01520On Saturday, I wished I lived on the West Side, because after spending the day there, we returned to Tremont and resided at Lava Lounge for hours, celebrating Juliana’s 29th birthday. On Sunday, I was happy to be an EastSider, as we awoke early to roadtrip to Eddy’s farm on Caves Rd for Pick-Your-Own-Apples. Amazingly, this is one of the few area farms with apples still left to pick after the severe weather we had earlier this year. There, we picked four different types of apples and sampled grapes straight from the vines. I had never done this before and it was an enlightening experience for sure. I have ever ever ever tasted grapes so, well, grapey! Amazing. I think I need to start growing grape vines. Not even for wine. Just for grapes. YUM.IMG-20120930-01524

IMG-20120930-01527As usual, Sagree was prepared with a thermos of tea, a book and plenty of blankets to lay on under the shade of the apple trees. One of the greatest things about living in Cleveland is that in minutes you can be in the heart of the city, out in the country where the landscape is stunning, or on a beach!

We tried to make a quick stop at Patterson’s for apples fritters, but that was impossible as the line to the counter was 40 people deep. Luckily, Ivy and Danny were kind enough to pick up some for us as we dashed off to pick out carving pumpkins and then ran off to Euclid Beach.

IMG-20120930-01518Prior to May, I had no clue Euclid Beach existing. Since May, I’ve been there practically once a week! It’s a fantastic city resource and used to be even better prior to 1969 when an amusement park sat on the site. Unfortunately, the Humphrey family’s park stopped being profitable in the mid-60’s and so it closed down just as nearby parks like Cedar Point were gaining traction (the advent of the interstate and Cleveland’s race riots helped shut down the  Euclid Beach amusement park as well).

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This weekend, the annual event remembering and celebrating the park occurred and once again Stephen and I were one of the youngest people by decades. I took a walking  tour of the grounds and it was so wonderful to hear anecdotes from people who remembered certain rides from their childhood. And of course, being a design freak, I loved the old postcards and token’s from big band shows and arcade games.

IMG-20120930-01515In between all of these things, I of course studied, feel asleep while studying, did laundry, shopped online, painted my nails a yummy fall color from Zoya and made the first apple dish of the season!

The super easy recipe prompted me to start last night after moving my table into the kitchen and rescuing an antique Singer sewing machine from the curb. I got it from the Glucose Design Group, an organization that is putting together a website and documentaryIMG-20121001-01542 on the impact packing your own lunch can have on your health. I found them at the Potluck and tasted this yummy concoction of apples, cinnamon, honey and orange juice and was in love.

I’ve eaten about half of it between dessert, breakfast and lunch. That’s probably not the “bring your own lunch” impact they were hoping for! 🙂

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Foodie Thursday

September 20, 2012

I know, I know, the common term is “Foodie Friday” (in fact, I just wrote about a great Foodie Friday event that happens weekly!) but today, was definitely a food-centric day!

This morning’s early arrival to work was made sweeter (literally) with a french toast bagel and hazelnut cream cheese by Panera.

Quite frequently, different building product representatives will provide us with lunch in exchange for an hour of our attention. We also get Continuing Education credits, which are necessary for obtaining and maintaining architectural licensure. Basically, we win, a lot. Occasionally, we get people who’d rather feed us a breakfast and learn or cookies and learn and so working a stone’s throw from Little Italy and a brand new Panera Bread is perfection.

Cleveland Connects

And the day only got better from here. Stephen and I attended the third ‘Cleveland Connects’ live broadcast from the IdeaStream studios tonight, sponsored by PNC and The Plain Dealer. In exchange for participating in a discussion amongst the city’s brightest local foods champions, audience members were treated to a catered spread by Nature’s Bin, out of Lakewood.

The event was perfectly time with the Mayor’s Sustainabiity Summit and the non-profit Project for Public Spaces’ national conference at the West Side Market this weekend. Fittingly, tonight’s topic was about placemaking and the role urban farms and restaurants play (can, or should play) in rebirthing Cleveland neighborhoods.

IMG-20120920-01430 Moderated by the Chief Editorial Writer at The Plain Dealer with a special presentation by the Senior Director of Markets for PPS in NYC, the conversation between giants like Great Lakes Brewing Co.’s founder, farmers and CDC leaders brought issues and solutions to the table.

Clearly, the best practices of the future hearken back to a time when people did shop at local butchers and grow tomatoes in their backyard, but those were days well before we became accustomed to quick and easy access to things like Folgers and Wonderbread.

Pat Conway reminded us that in the 1880s there were 3000 breweries in America, and less than 300 in the 1980s. He suggested that microbrews – not unlike boutique coffee shops, chocolates, clothing, etc – were an essential component in placemaking, which is certainly true of Great Lakes on West 25th – soon to be rebranded “The Market District”. ***

IMG-20120920-01446 After so much talk about food, I was uber curious what everyone’s next meal was going to be? How many people emerged from the talk at close to 8pm and thought to themselves “let’s grab a bite at Rascals?”. Hmm.

IMG-20120920-01438 Earlier in the day, during lunch naturally, I was scanning Cleveland.com’s pages for Thursday happy hours. Of course, Thursday is the new Saturday night for many people, and so specials abound, but one in particular caught my eye: Thursdays at Sterle’s. Just east of Downtown, on E.55th and Superior, this old Slovenian Hall stands out like a tree on the Great Plains. Not unlike Empress Taytu, a gem of an Ethiopian restaurant, this place is bordered by some of the city’s poorest. But that’s what makes Cleveland Cleveland – the strong immigrant populations that fight for their right to honor their heritage against the grit.

IMG-20120920-01445 Even though I had never heard of Sterle’s, I knew it would be the perfect dinner spot. From 7-10pm and for under $10 a variety of schnitzel and pretzels can be loaded with authentic picked beats and sauerkraut. $5.50 flights of beer – from seasonal local brews to German Pilsners – compliment the hearty fare. Earlier in the night, 12 drafts are discounted. While our server, Josie, was perfectly sweet, overall the service was lacking and confusing. It took us a while to place our orders and when my “veal schnitzel” arrived, my bun was meat free, as though she had been a bit too eager to grab it from the kitchen. She brought us popcorn in apology.

IMG-20120920-01449 Despite the less than attentive service and the average food certainly not the best Eastern European fare I’ve had, but since I lived there and am half Hungarian, I’m really a tough critic!Thursdays at Sterle’s is a winner in my book for the entertainment value alone. From late summer through October, polka bands and djs rock the stage and people dance! Everyone dances! Tonight, we were treated to the Chardon Polka Band, a charming group of young men who were really talented and played music far from the polka you might imagine. After all, Sterle’s slogan is “not your Grandma’s schnitzel”.

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It’s never been a better time to be a socialite! Check out this week’s earlier post for great events happening in our city this weekend!

***Hey you! Interested in PPS and growing our city’s public spaces? Check out these articles!***

What Public Spaces Like Cleveland’s West Side Market Mean for Cities

http://blogs.smithsonianmag.com/design/2012/09/what-public-spaces-like-clevelands-west-side-market-mean-for-cities/

The great outdoors: five public spaces vital to cleveland’s well-being

Cleveland Public Square during the July 4th Celebration

http://www.freshwatercleveland.com/features/fivepublicspaces092012.aspx

Discover! AsiaTown

September 9, 2012

chinatown1jpg-75ee1a75466f943a Although the street sign along Superior may read ‘ChinaTown’ and vacant, industrial lofts dominate the streetscape, AsiaTown is a true gem of a Cleveland neighborhood with diverse offerings.

The first two M+artys (meeting + party, a new networking concept for small businesses and their supporters launched this year in Cleveland) were held in the AsiaTown Center plaza this past Spring. The Center also plays host to numerous festivals and openings, including a photography exhibit debuting this Friday featuring the family of a friend of mine, Lisa Wong.

IMG-20120903-01307 Of course, the real draw year-round is the super market, where you can find inexpensive, delicious taro filled sesame buns and vegetables like bok choy  changsha squidand chinese eggplant.

Last weekend, after a scintillating trip to Toronto and the best dumplings in this Hemisphere (read about all the adventures here!), Stephen and I were inspired to create an ethnic meal of our own, above.

changsha eggplant With a recipe in tow for Sichuan Style Eggplant (I lived in Changsha, capital of the Hunan province, where I had the most amazing garlic smothered eggplant and squid and where spicy food is also king. If you’re interested in reading an article about eating ‘beyond white rice’, which I wrote for the Philadelphia Inquirer’s Travel Section after my first stint in China, click here!), we took to Asia Food Co. and began a very atypical grocery searching trip!

seaweed In Toronto we dined on seawood, right, a myriad of dumplings and scrumptious eggplant. Stephen had never had the vegetable and fell head over heals for the melt-in-your mouth dish so naturally, this dish was a first priority, but when we saw the leafy bok choy and piles of seaweed begging to be tossed on a stove, we couldn’t resist!

The meal was so delicious we vowed to create Steve’s World Cuisine, a concept IMG-20120903-01295restaurant that may or may not exist for my own personal gain 😉

If you endeavor to make such a scrumptious meal on your own, do go to AsiaTown and pick up some authentic Sichuan Peppercorn, chili paste and fresh ginger and of course eggplant!

***THE RECIPE IN PHOTOGRAPHS***

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chili paste and ginger

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Bok Choy and Ginger

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  seaweed, chili paste and garlic

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The yummiest eggplant this side of the Pacific!!!!

FEASTING, NOT FASTING

August 17, 2012

feast musican crowd When it comes to Lent, the Catholic tradition of giving up gluttonous materials like wine and chocolate, I am a total failure: read, I always eat meat on Fridays in March. However, when it comes to the Roman Catholic celebration ‘The Feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin’, which happens to correspond to my birthday, I’m all for practicing my faith!

An amazing perk of living and working in University Circle is its proximity to Little Italy, and so while the district is part of my daily commute and a routine lunch stop, nothing compares to the liveliness of Mayfield Rd. this weekend.

While the prices are steeper (Presti’s keeps it under control, FYI), if you consider that you’re paying for the atmosphere of street performers and live music, you can view this event as your well worth-it weekend splurge on entertainment and nourishment 🙂

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The actual Feast began on Wednesday (my bday! / India’s Independence Day) of this week. This and last year my office packed the streets to enjoy the fabulous food, including stuffed hot peppers and Cassata cakes that WILL make you swoon.

Following the mid-morning mass and solemn funeral procession (that many mistake for a parade), the Little Italy district swells with vendors of all sorts, locals and out-of-towners alike.

There are rides all weekend for kids and entertainment throughout the day until midnight, especially at La Trattoria on E123rd and Mayfield Rd, where an open air nightclub pops up.

feat_poodle Plan a trip tonight, where you just might run into Cleveland Socialites like us, live on the scene 🙂

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For a complete schedule of the events happening today and tomorrow, including the fireworks spectacular on Saturday, check out the Holy Rosary Church’s website.

To learn more about Cleveland’s own Little Italy, check out: http://www.littleitalycleveland.com/