Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Tuesday's Tidbits

Remember a while back, I did this almost weekly.  Well, today is the return of Tuesday's Tidbits (and hopefully less one post weeks).

Sushi anyone?  Thanks for the pic Amanda!
I first want to give a huge THANK YOU to Cleveland City Council for passing legislation to allow food trucks downtown.  Also, the passing Healthy Cleveland will ban trans fat in restaurants and further limit smoking in public.

There is still time to purchase tickets for Thursday's Market Under Glass to benefit Harvest for Hunger.  Over fifty local restaurants will be participating.  This is a wonderful opportunity to try new places and revisit familiar favorites.  Tickets are $85 in advance or $100 at the door.

Having a hard time deciding what to eat tonight?  Head down to Tremont and stop by Lava Lounge or Ty Fun.  Tonight, 10% of all purchases will benefit Arts in August.

Speaking of Tremont, it's almost Farmer's Market season!

The third C-Town Chowdown will be held on May 22 from 11-3 (ugh...conflicts with the brother's college graduation for me).

On May 9th, celebrate Momocho's fifth birthday!  Check out Cleveland Foodie's write up for all the details.

Beer lovers, rejoice!  On May 13-14 the IX-Center will be hosting the International Beer Fest.  Cleveland Food and Brews and The Brewer's Daughter have more information and chances to win tickets too!

The May 16 Dinner in the Dark at The Greenhouse Tavern is SOLD OUT!  However, they will be holding a special DitD on May 23 at Amp 150.  Also, mark your calendars for the June 20 at The Flying Fig.

Check back next week for more May events and announcements!  The last week of May is a great week for Cleveland Foodies!!

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

Monday, April 18, 2011

A Palate of Spring Flavors

One thing I have come to love about Cleveland bloggers is the sense of community and friendship.  Through reading each others blogs and tweeting back and forth, we develop new friendships and sometimes strengthen existing ones.  After a month or so of tweets, emails, and schedule coordinating, I joined my longtime friend CLEgal, and two "blends" Alicia and Brad for dinner at Palate along with our significant others.

Chicken liver pate and The Chancellor

Duck confit and pork belly
Since opening in late December 2010, Palate has been near the top of my "Restaurants I must try" list.  I have read great reviews of Jeff Jarrett's culinary creations and knew I must experience them for myself.  What was even more exciting about our visit this past weekend was the opportunity to try Palate's new spring menu which was released earlier last week.  One great thing I must say about Cleveland chefs in general is their dedication to using the freshest seasonal ingredients available.  After a round of drinks, we decided to order a few small plates to share.  We ordered the chicken liver pate, wild mushroom bread pudding, braised pork belly, and duck confit.  The pate was the best for a group to share and the presentation was only a preview for some of Chef Jarrett's other unique platings.  The pate itself had a nice smooth texture and a savory flavor which paired well with the sweetness of the black currant jam served with it.  While I am usually not a huge bread pudding fan for dessert, the wild mushroom bread pudding was excellent.  I love mushrooms and there was nothing bland or dry about this bread pudding.  My favorite of the four small plates was the duck confit in a hoisin glaze plated on top of Asian slaw with peanut sauce.  I am beginning to wonder if I have extra umami taste receptors since I love almost all Asian inspired flavors.  The duck was so tender it practically fell off the bone and the slaw had that perfect balance of sweet and savory I have come to love from Asian style food.  Unfortunately, I did not get a chance to sample the pork belly (I think I was too distracted with the duck and bread pudding) but the few fingerling potatoes and mushrooms served with the pork pleased my palate.      
Pancetta wrapped pheasant

For my entree, I went with the pancetta wrapped pheasant breast with zucchini and bacon ragout, oyster mushrooms, and french onion puree.  The deciding factor for me was I never had pheasant and I always love to try something new.  To describe pheasant, I would say it is somewhere between chicken and turkey.  Mine was very moist and flavorful and the french onion puree really brought out the natural flavors of the bird.  The pancetta added a nice subtle crunch to the dish while the zucchini and oyster mushrooms emphasized the idea of a spring garden inspired dish.  My only complaint on the dish was a clove of garlic that made its way under one of the breast pieces.  Overall, I would order this again and recommend it to an undecided diner.  My boyfriend ordered the flat-iron steak with mac and cheese and brown roasted cauliflower.  He said it was an enjoyable dish but found the steak sauce a bit on the salty side.  Also, he was more impressed with the flavors of the cauliflower (and I will agree since I had a taste) in comparison to the mac and cheese.  After dinner, Chef Jarrett came to our table.  We all had a great time chatting with the chef about the menu, Michael Symon's visit to Palate, and local restaurants in general.  He also is very involved with Dinner in the Dark, an event which I plan on attending in the future.

I also had two of the featured libations.  The bacon melonball martini was a fun liquid play on prosciutto wrapped cantaloup.  It's electric green appearance is pleasing to the eye while the sweet smoky flavors from Midori and bacon infused vodka are pleasing to the palate.  While I did enjoy this drink, I loved the cucumber loco which is Palate's take on a cucumber margarita.  Maybe it was the cool and refreshing flavors or maybe it was the fact I love anything with Patron.  Another thing I must note would be Chef Jarrett's Iron Chef-esque plating designs.  Even though no one at our table ordered one, our server showed us the spring garden salad which is served in a small metal bucket.  I also marveled at CLEgal and CLEguy's dirty bon bons which were served in a terra cotta flower pot garnished with a gummi work and fondant flower.  Overall, Palate is a much needed addition to the Strongsville restaurant scene which is dominated by familiar chains.  I would highly recommend visiting Palate next time you are looking for a great dining experience.

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

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Hot Dog Happiness

With Tribe season in full swing and summer a few months away, I find myself craving a certain food a little more so then usual.  I will shamelessly admit, I love hot dogs.  Off the grill, at the game, or even broiled in the oven on a cold Cleveland winter day, it really doesn't matter.  I remember my first foot long way back when at Cleveland Municipal Stadium at age 4.  Hot dogs remind me of childhood summers.  Those long carefree days of playing outside and swimming until my fingers pruned up.  Last summer, I was introduced to a place that would have made me one happy little girl, The Happy Dog.

A restaurant that serves only hot dogs (or veggie dogs for my vegetarian readers) and tater tots sounds simple right?  Now, factor in over 30 different topping options and a plethora of dipping sauces and you have combinations to satisfy even the pickiest of eaters.  For $5.00 you start with a quarter pound all beef dog and then let your imagination and taste buds go crazy.  There are suggested combinations offered, but I love any place that lets me create my own meal.  I have been there many times and do not think I have had the same combination twice.  In the mood for something hot and spicy?  Top your dog with Happy Dog's own chipotle ketchup or Momocho's habanero sauce.  If you ever wondered how a peanut butter and jelly sandwich crossed with a hot dog would taste, get Marcela's grape jelly and  chili sauce with chunky peanut butter on your frank.  You also can add the chips right on the dog too.  From cheese whiz to smoke gouda, there are cheeses for any palate too.  For $2.50 you get a giant bowl of tater tots with as many dipping sauces as you wish.  This is the perfect way to try new sauces you may have considered for the dog but wanted a taste first.  Personally, I recommend sharing the tots.  Aside from such a generous portion, you want room for dessert which will also take you back to childhood summers.  The Happy Dog's desert menu consists of frozen treats which you probably bought from the ice cream truck such as orange push-ups and Good Humor bars.     

Now what to wash this nostalgic meal down with.  The Happy Dog will make any craft beer lover happy boasting over 75 different brew choices.  If craftbeer is not your thing, you can also opt for a PBR tallboy or other domestics.  Yes, there are non-alcoholic options too.  The Happy Dog also hosts monthly beer dinners with a 5-course meal for only $25.  The next one is on April 12 at 7:30.  On the weekends, local bands take to the stage at The Happy Dog.  Be sure to check their Facebook page to stay up to date with acts coming and other fun events.  

The atmosphere of Happy Dog is fun a laid back.  What would look to be just another corner bar is gaining recognition throughout Cleveland and will be featured on Food Network's "The Best Thing I Ever Ate" thanks to Iron Chef and hometown boy Michael Symon.  It's a great spot to meet with friends for a fun meal and good beer.  Just ask my kickball team.

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

Monday, April 4, 2011

Take Me Out to the Ballgame!

It's TRIBE TIME here in Cleveland, Ohio!  If there is one thing I love as much as food, it is Cleveland sports especially the Indians.  Win or lose, I love enjoying a game at "The Jake" (yes I refuse to call it by its newish name).  While enjoying Opening Day this past Friday, I notices there were quite a few new options at the concession stands throughout the ballpark.  Food at the game has come a long way from hot dogs, peanuts, and crackerjack, although you can still enjoy those classic favorites and so many more!

This season, Food Network has teamed up with eight Major League ballparks, one being Cleveland, to serve gourmet grub at the games.  Head over to section 172 to try he Food Network steak sandwich.  If you do, let me know if it is worth $12.50.

For vegetarian and gluten free fans, check out the "spuds and suds" stand located in section 164.  Here you can feast on veggie dogs, tofrurkey Italian "sausages", and some gluten free ballpark treats.

If you are looking for something not so healthy, go to the APPetizer Store in section 154.  This stand is a deep fried food lovers dream and a cardiologist's worst nightmare.  Fans can feast on funnel cakes, deep fried cookie dough, fried twinkies, chicken and waffles, and fried shrimp to name a few options.

Each month, Cleats, located in section 164, will be offering a burger of the month created by Tribe players. 

If you are craving a twist on nachos, head to the Market Pavilion and enjoy pulled pork nachos.

For beer lovers, there are two new brew options aside from the $7.75 drafts you get from the beer guy.  If you are looking for a blast from the past, or a cheaper beer option, go to "Your Dad's Beer" located in section 119.  For $4.50, you can enjoy a 12 oz can of PBR, Stroh's, Blatz, Genessee, or Schlotz to name a few.  There is also a beer stand featuring local brews from GReat Lakes, Hopping, Frog, and Buckeye Brewing Company.

If you still crave the classic ballpark favorite like I do, even hot dogs come in a variety of options.  Super dogs, kosher dogs, and foot longs with up to 14 toppings are available throughout the park.  Also note this season's Dollar Dog nights: April 15 against the Baltimore Orioles, May 13 against the Seattle Mariners , June 17 against the Pittsburgh Pirates, July 29 against the Kansas City Royals, August 26 against Kansas City again, and September 23 against the Minnesota Twins.  Make sure those dogs are topped with Cleveland's own Bertman's Ballpark Mustard!

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