Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Hungry in 2010

I hope everyone had a very Merry Christmas filled with family, friends, and food.  As we now look forward to they new year, I would like to take a moment to look back on 2010.  I would love to do a Hungry in Cleveland Best of but since the blog is only 4 months old, I figured this would be a better option.  2010 had its fair share of downtime.  We prayed for the earthquake victims in Haiti, trapped miners in West Virginia and Chile.  We looked on in horror as oil spewed into the Gulf of Mexico devastating beaches and wildlife, and felt betrayal as a wannabe "king" took his "talents" to South Beach.  We mourned the passings of Tony CurtisLena HorneGeorge Steinbrenner, and Cleveland Indians legend Bob Feller to name a few.

However there were moments of joy and celebration.  We saw hope for the Browns when the New Orleans Saints went to and won their first Super Bowl. We cheered on victorious Americans in the 2010 Winter Olympics, and "honked" our vuvuzelas while watching the World Cup.  We may have caught a bit of "Bieber Fever", went goo-goo for Gaga, and fist pumped along with the Jersey Shore.  Through it all, we remained Hungry in Cleveland.

2010 welcomed many new places to the ever growing Cleveland food scene.  The East Fourth Street Neighborhood welcomed Zack Bruell's fourth Cleveland restaurant, Chinato, and  Zinc.  Around the corner on Prospect, R. J. Bolands and the Caddyshack Lounge offered more options for a pregame drink before heading the "The Jake" or "The Q".  Zdara added a bit of Mediterranean flair to the Warehouse District.  Tremont became more of a foodie destination with the additions of Bac, Istanbul Grill, and the reopening of Dante.  East-siders rejoiced when the second Melt opened in Cleveland Heights.  Dim and Den Sum took to the streets parking throughout the city for lunch and late night eats.  Little Italy welcomed Mia Bella and Washington Place Bistro and Inn to the family of great places to "mangia mangia!"  The every growing and changing Detroit-Shoreway neighborhood added Roseangel and Battery Park Wine Bar, along with the reopening of the legendary Big Egg.  In the suburbs, Deagan's Kitchen found a home in Lakewood, Rocky River welcomed Market, and Palate will be opening its doors in Strongsville this week.  I cannot wait to see what 2011 will bring, especially in Ohio City with the opening of Dim and Den Sum's Restaurant and the addition of Market Garden Brewery.  Happy New Year!!!

Until next time...follow your heart, fulfill your hunger.

Monday, December 20, 2010

For the Holidays, You Can't Beat Home Sweet Home!

Merry Christmas Week all!  Hopefully, the tree is trimmed, gifts are bought and maybe wrapped, and your holiday food plans are coming together.  Christmas is a season rich in family traditions, and my family is no exception.  My family's ethnic background is Hungarian and Slovak.  Our main Christmas meal is on Christmas Eve before heading to Midnight (ok, 10 p.m.) Mass at St. John's Cathedral.  I would have to describe the meal itself as a nice blend of both old and new traditions.  The menu changes slightly with each year by taking a bit of the old and adding in something new.  Dinner starts with a traditional bowl of mushroom soup, which is made from dried mushrooms and sauerkraut juice.        

Nana would be so proud we are carrying on this tradition, despite the jokes and comments from the sour taste.  To counter the sour soup, we have the oplatky wafer with honey on it.  Oplatky are Christmas wafers usually with an image of the Nativity on them.  They are very similar to the Communion wafers used during Catholic Mass.  We also have shrimp cocktail with our homemade "octopus sauce".  Octopus sauce has nothing to do with octopus, it is just a name I came up with as a little girl for the shrimp cocktail sauce Nana made for Christmas Eve.  We have shrimp because Christmas Eve was my late Uncle Jack's birthday.  Growing up, Nana would prepare whatever my mom and uncle wanted for their birthdays, but Uncle Jack had limited options since Catholics would not have meat on Christmas.  
The main dish is always some form of breaded fish.  In past Christmases, Nana would deep fry ocean perch, however our new tradition is making an oven-fried tilapia, coated in panko and herbs.  I am looking forward to going to the West Side Market with my brother Friday morning to get the fish.  We also would have homemade french fries, cole-slaw, and bobalky which are little bread balls cooked in either sauerkraut or honey and poppyseed.  For dessert we have Christmas cookies and Malley's chocolates.  Overall, that is my traditional Cleveland Christmas, and I would not trade it for anything, even and Italian Christmas Eve with the seven fishes.

One of many things I love about Cleveland is how we exemplify the idea of a Melting Pot.  At Christmas and many other holidays, age old traditions are celebrated and made new again.  And now I will take this moment to ask you: What are your family Christmas/holiday traditions?

Until next time....follow your heart, fulfill your hunger.        

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Pot Luck = Jackpot!

Tis the season for office holiday parties!  My place of employment is no exception.  Every place seems to have a different take on the workplace celebration ranging from extravagant feast to a simple at home dinner.  Here, we do a pot luck lunch and for the past three years, I have had the joy of organizing it.  Since my place of employment has a very diverse group of people, one could only imagine the variety of dishes brought to a pot luck.  I enjoyed everything from traditional Indian and Korean dishes, to Southern corn bread, and a Russian fruit cake which I was told took about three weeks to prepare.  I have to thank fellow blogger The Daily Balance for my contribution,orange spice holiday cookies.  They turned out AH-MAZ-ING!!!!  Nevertheless, no one leaves hungry from our holiday pot luck.  So now I ask you What is your "go-to" dish for a potluck or are you one to try something different?

Until next time...follow your heart, fulfill your hunger!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

A Hidden Gem on Detroit Ave.

One great thing about Cleveland and it's surrounding suburbs would be the wide variety of small businesses and restaurants.  Lakewood would have to be the epitome of this statement.  Driving (or going for a nice run) up and down Madison and Detroit Avenues, one cannot help but be distracted by the large number of storefronts ranging from boutiques to bakeries to bars to restaurants.  When most people think of restaurants in Lakewood, two more then likely come to mind Melt  and Three Birds.  However, Lakewood is filled with hidden gems and I was lucky to finally try one this past weekend, that being 56 West.

Located on the corner of Detroit and Westlake Ave, 56 West is one of those places you may pass by unless you are specifically looking for it.  I have heard nothing but good things about it and was very excited to finally try it.  The menu is fairly simple, mostly being entree salads, sandwiches, and burgers but their is an option for everyone including vegetarians.  Also, the names of all the dishes are quite fun (i.e.: "The Italian Lover", "Pure Pleasure", and "One Hot Chick").  Since I was feeling creative, adventurous, and a bit indecisive, I went with the Build your Own Burger option.  This ended up being a veggie patty on a whole wheat bun, with chipotle honey glaze, wildgreens, tomato, Vermont Cheddar, bacon (yes, I love bacon on veggie burgers), and avocado.  I have had my fair share of veggie burgers/back bean burgers, and I am going to say this particular one is one of my favorites.  Upon asking our server (who was very friendly and helpful), I found out it was a puree of veggies, with black beans and quinoa.  Quinoa is a something I have been hearing more and more about.  It is a grain with a higher protein and fiber content in comparison to rice and wheat.  I have been finding it to be a good alternative to using rice in recipes too.  Maybe a future blog will be 101 fun delicious ways to enjoy quinoa.  (Ok, maybe 10.  This one will take some research).  Anyways, the veggie burger was excellent and it would be safe to say it is my new standard for comparison.  The portion size also was great.  I like a sandwich/burger where the main ingredient is not hidden under the bread.  The veggie burger and other toppings were overflowing from the just right size whole grain bun I chose.  Instead of getting fries with the sandwich, my boyfriend and I shared the bucket of fries which included housemade ketchup infused with cinnamon (fabulous) and roasted garlic aioli.

I also must note, 56 West has a nice selection of craft beers to enjoy with your meal.  I personally opted for the seasonal favorite being Great Lakes Christmas Ale.  Another point to mention, the dinner was very reasonably priced.  I would highly recommend checking out 56 West especially if you are not sure what you have a taste for.  The variety and high quality of the food along with wonderful service and very reasonable prices truly makes this one of Lakewood's hidden gems.

Question of the Week:  What are some other neighborhood favorites you cannot get enough of?

Until next time...follow your heart, fulfill your hunger.