Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Dog Story

The season of over-indulgence is upon us. Imbibing more than is perhaps wise happens all too often and the price as most of us know is a fuzzy-mouthed, head-hurting, slow-starting morning after. There are various traditional, somebody-swears-by-them cures. The Mexican approach is a bowl of menudo (tripe soup, find it Saturdays and Sundays at Mi Pueblo 12207 Lorain Avenue). Other favored ways to ease your suffering include quaffing pickle juice, a hearty helping of prairie oysters, or a plate of extra greasy eggs, bacon, and buttered toast. But a couple of local guys have another solution. Chris Pinta and his brother Scott created a hair of the dog beverage that doubles as an energy drink. They call it Hot D Wake Up Juice . I met them at the Fabulous Food Show a couple of weeks ago and brought some home.

Appropriately bottled in a medicinal looking amber glass jar, it’s got everything you’d expect in a Bloody Mary mixer and none of the junk found in many commercial brands. Looking to combine ingredients that make you feel better as well as buzzed enough to get moving, they added caffeine, cocoa, and taurine. To make their tomato-based formulation taste good the recipe also includes honey, red wine vinegar, and ginger. For sass, there’s horseradish, cayenne, hot sauce, and black pepper. It’s got enough going on that even if you don’t stir in any spirits, it will surely lift yours.

My days of going overboard in most things are behind me, and I almost never drink enough to cause next day repercussions. So I was not in need of a remedy or a kick-me-up when I paired my Hot D with a splash of Absolut Citron for a round of late Sunday afternoon cocktails. While I can’t comment on its healing properties, I can say that it went down nice and easy, and may have fueled the raucous outbursts of football fans in my living room. Maybe not.
Belly up to the bar to try it at Southside in Tremont, Three Birds, Great Lakes Brewing Co, Garage Bar, and Johnny's Bar. Bottles are on the shelves at Minotti's, Heather's Heat and Flavor, P'zazz, Sappell's, and Simones Beverage or can be ordered online . Cheers!

Friday, November 21, 2008

Gramophone: Cleveland Orchestra second best U.S. Orchestra

The U.K.'s Gramophone magazine ranked the Cleveland Orchestra as the second best U.S. orchestra behind Chicago, but ranked seventh overall. The orchestra typically ranks in the top five in the world, so this isn't necessarily cheery news as we expect to be near the top of any list of great orchestras, but it's not really bad news, either.

The ranking of orchestras was done by classical music critics worldwide.

While the rankings are based on performance and individuality, there is a major difference between Chicago and Cleveland. The Chicago Symphony is on firm financial ground, actually producing a surplus this year. The Cleveland Orchestra is struggling financially. We reported last year that the plan to expand its donor base with residencies in Miami* and Vienna was not going as well as planned. The last I heard, speaking with someone who keeps a close ear on the financial position of the orchestra, we can expect a deficit again this year.

It's remarkable that the orchestra, through reputation and a devout following and support in this town, has remained one of the premiere orchestras for so long. Cleveland is a much smaller city than any of the top-ranked American symphony orchestras. This latest report says we can still see one of the world's best orchestras playing in University Circle.

*In the above photo, the orchestra is rehearsing in Miami's Adrienne Arsht Center (then called the Carnival Center for the Performing Arts).

It's a Wrap

There's a trend emerging at our offices. Some co-workers have dubbed us the Secret Scarf Society, while others just stare wondering what we are thinking. But regardless of how many comments and odd looks we get, a lot of us have been sporting bright, colorful scarves around the office to keep warm. Some of our favorites? Target's Merona line has plenty of colors from pink (shown on the right) to turquoise at a nice price ($12.99), too. For a little more variety, Gap's fine-knit ruffled scarf  (shown in yellow on the left for $29.50) can liven up any outfit we wear. And that's no secret. 

Still on the holiday hunt for gifts? Check out our A to Z Shopping Guide for ideas. Also, sign-up for our style newsletter. Full of advice from our style expert to fashion-related events and cool items, next week's will feature places to go for great deals on Black Friday. 

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Debbie Brooks @ Peter & Co. Jewelers today

Celebrity handbag designer and two-time Olympic artist Debbie Brooks will be on hand at Peter & Co. Jewelers in Avon Lake tomorrow to unveil artwork designed specifically for the presidential inauguration of Barack Obama. But don't worry, Brooks didn't forget about the upcoming First Lady — she will also unveil a handbag (we guess similar to the ones above) for Michelle Obama. With almost everything the trend-setting Michelle wears flying out of stores, be sure to snag your piece of history now. 

Listen to Bruce Drennan on our podcast

If you haven't checked out this month's Cleveland Magazine podcast, yet, you should: It's worth a download. We have an interview with sportscaster Bruce Drennan, who appears in our November issue.

He talks about life in federal prison and his meteoric rise back to the limelight as the face of Sports Time Ohio.

Listen here.

We have more than 5,500 listeners each month. If you like what you here, you can subscribe to the podcast for free on iTunes.

Gravy on My Mind

I am about to give everyone who reads this the absolute, hands down best bit of advice for how to make the prep for Thanksgiving dinner easier. Much easier. Cook a turkey this week. I’m not cracked and I’m not suggesting that you serve guests old, reheated bird.

Real gravy starts with pan drippings. In the normal sequence of events, you don’t get those until the bird is done and pulled from the oven. While it’s resting, you’re not. Instead of relaxing with a glass of wine, you’re at the stove. You need at least one burner for the roasting pan (two if it’s large) and another to warm the stock. That creates a bottleneck if you’ve got other things to heat up at the last minute. Eveybody’s laughing in the living room while you’re in the kitchen whisking, stirring, and handling pot logistics.

My method offers an alternative. Make the gravy in advance and freeze it. Mine, I'm happy to announce, is already done and in the “can.” On T-Day, I’ll defrost, add freshly cooked, chopped giblets, and warm in a covered saucepan. I’ve been doing this for a decade. It started as a way to keep my brother-in-law, a man who does not believe there’s a role for him in the clean-up department, from taking on this job and trashing my kitchen in the process. “Thanks for the offer of help,” I’d say with a sweet smile, “but the gravy’s all taken care of. Why don’t you uncork more wine instead.” Now it’s a necessity. We Taxel’s deep fry and smoke our turkeys these day. (We do both because they are so good we can’t decide which we like better). The problem is neither of these techniques produces the essential pan drippings. So here, now, are my instructions for what I call Make-Ahead Gravy.

-Roast a small turkey or a bunch of turkey parts now. Use the meat for sandwiches- turkey reubens are a favorite- and the bones for stock.
If you do parts, choose a mixture of thighs with skin, legs, necks, and wings (total 4-6 pounds). If you get a whole bird, boil giblets separately, chop fine, and set aside in a small bowl.
-When done, set pan with drippings aside.
-Slice off the meat you want to eat. Put bones and remaining parts plus additional 1-2 lbs turkey thighs into a large pot. Cover with cold water, 8-10 cups. Add 2 onions peeled and quartered, 2 carrots peeled and sliced in chunks, 1 stalk celery, sliced, and salt and pepper to taste. Bring to a boil, lower heat, and simmer, covered 1 hour. Skim off fat, strain, and discard meat, bones, and vegetables. The liquid is your stock.
-Using pan drippings and the turkey stock you just made to prepare gravy according to your favorite recipe. Basically you make a roux by whisking flour into hot drippings, brown a bit, slowly add stock, stirring constantly to prevent lumps. Flavor and season just as you normally would. Around here we like to toss in a healthy splash of bourbon. If you have giblets, add them.
-Cool and store in freezer.

The payback for this extra, early effort- no last-minute rush; everything arrives at the table at the same time; less kitchen mess; more fun for the cook.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Marrying a Catholic Priest

In May 2007, we published an Experience about a woman, Linda Marcin, who fell in love with and married a Catholic priest.

We've recently added the ability to comment on articles on ClevelandMagazine.com, and I was surprised to find a note at the end of that story since it was put online before readers could respond publicly.

The reader, who only identified herself as E. Mary, left a pretty powerful message. Here it is:

Linda, I recognized right away that moment when you looked up and saw Phil with that incredible tenderness. I had the same experience with my priest. It was a moment of intense prayer and I have been falling in love with him over the past year and a half and cannot tell anyone. Thank you for your story. Phil, what do you think now about your call to the priesthood? Did you not hear God clearly? Is it possible to serve for a season? Can't God call you to pastor for awhile and then to raise a family? Why do we say that it is all or nothing? A priest in his traditional duties for life? God called me to be a mother and now a social worker...to me there is a season for everything. E.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Activist Ed Hauser dies

Local activist Ed Hauser, who pushed doggedly to make the beautiful, underappreciated Whiskey Island a county park, and who attended countless government meetings, politely but stubbornly asking questions no one else was asking, died Friday of a heart attack. He was 47.

Cleveland loses Hauser at an awful time. He was asking important questions about two huge public projects that may each cost $500 million: the medical mart/convention center and the port relocation.

In our May issue, columnist Michael D. Roberts wrote admiringly, "Hauser is a pain — a persistent, nagging, unyielding pain. On the medical scale of one to 10, he would rate a 10. What makes him so painful is that he challenges the way the town and its dysfunctional government work."

Friday, November 14, 2008

A Modern Classic

We don't fall in love easily. But once we saw this classic sheath dress from Talbots we fell ... hard. With modern updates such as velvet piping and soft boulcé material, this dress evokes images of Audrey Hepburn. In either black (pictured) or bittersweet (a dark chocolate color) we might have to treat ourselves to an early Christmas present.

For more holiday ideas, check out our A to Z shopping guide

Put-in-Bay: The Key West of the Great Lakes

I just came across last week's New York Times story about Put-In-Bay.

Of course, we gave an extensive guide to the Lake Erie Islands this July in the magazine. If you've never spent significant time out there, think about it when planning 2009's vacation.

Here's part of our Island Guide.

In any case, it's always nice to see out-of-towners enjoy our jewels as much as we do.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

She Sees Dead People

THIS JUST IN: Mary Ann Winkowski, the inspiration for the CBS drama Ghost Whisperer, is coming to Joseph-Beth Booksellers at Legacy Village in Lyndhurst Dec. 1 to share tales of her supernatural-tinged life and sign copies of her book, Ghost Whisperer: The Spirit Guide. We talked to the North Royalton resident last fall for a story that ran in our January 2008 issue, following the release of Mary' Ann's When Ghosts Speak: Understanding the World of Earthbound Spirits. Read our interview with her here, and mark your calendar for Dec. 1.

Book Battle, Food Fights, and Cook Ups

My son Nathan and I are fighting over Andrew Carmellini’s new cookbook, Urban Italian. He likes it so much that he keeps threatening to steal it from me. That was after I refused to just give it to him. No doubt he was very surprised by this response. My habitual approach to anything he or his two brothers asks of me is “Yes.” Besides, I am in general not a big fan of cookbooks. I have some of course, but far fewer than most food writers and many food enthusiasts. And I turn to them only on occasion, being more of an intuitive cook than a follower of instructions. But I definitely want to keep this one around.

Not only is it beautiful, entertainingly readable, and nicely organized, but the recipes are exactly what he promises- the kind of food you can make with easily accessible ingredients and a reasonable investment of time. There are plenty of things- though certainly not all of them in my opinion- that can be reproduced with the hours and energy left over after a long day of work. And the dishes are the kind of simple, homey food I love to eat: lamb ragu, tomato risotto, ziti with tuna, red onions and cannelloni beans; escarole Calabrese with lots of garlic and spicy sopressata. I’m eager to try some of his uncommon and inventive variations on iconic preparations: strozzapreti with sausage, grapes and red wine; pork arrosto with Italian plums and grappa; meatballs with cherries.

Scattered throughout the pages are flashes of humor and lots of personality. In a recipe for short rubs braciole, the instructions read: “1 clove garlic, sliced Goodfellas thin.” Chapter intros are full of stories about people and places and headnotes can be chatty: “Some people think they don’t like calamari but that’s because they’ve only had the beer-bar version- the kind that tastes like a chew toy.” Carmellini, a Cleveland transplant to NYC, is coming home for the Fabulous Food Show, this Friday, Saturday and Sunday (November 14-16) at the I-X Center. Click here to read my interview with him. He’ll be signing copies of his book at the Celebrity Autograph Pavilion on Friday afternoon at 1 PM.

Stick around for the first Sous-Chef Competition Finale at 6:30PM hosted by the celebrity we call our own Michael Symon . I was one of the judges for the preliminary and semi-final rounds, and I can tell you this- the competitors-all working right here in Cleveland restaurants- were an impressive bunch. I predict these seconds in the hierarchy of kitchen command are destined to be dining room stars in their own right. This final round in the friendly food fight should be fun to watch. I’m also looking forward to catching Kris Kreiger of Chef’s Choice Meats give a lesson in how to make a turducken. He’ll unveil the mysteries of the famed 3-part poultry on the Marketplace Stage at 3:30 on Sunday. That’s just one of an entire weekend’s worth of free and interesting cooking demos at the show courtesy of local experts. My advice? See as many as you can.

Monday, November 10, 2008

LeBron player of the week

LeBron James took player of the week honors after averaging 34.5 points on 47 percent shooting. He also pulled in an average of 9.8 rebounds in his four games this week. This is the 14th time James has won the award.

If you're looking for some sports distraction from the Browns, head to Gateway for a game on Tuesday versus the Bucks, Thursday versus the Nuggets or Saturday versus the Jazz. Tickets start at $10.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Sorry, Mentor

When I was a student at Mentor High School, we had one of the worst football teams in Northeast Ohio. I attended nearly every home game. After I graduated, the program became successful.

Well, last night, I went to the game.

Mentor fell to Strongsville in the regional playoffs 17-3. They rushed just 19 yards after averaging 216.5 yards a game during the regular season. It was the first time they were kept out of the end zone since last year's state title game -- which I also watched live.

Sorry, Mentor. I didn't realize I was a football jinx.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

'Tis the season

A welcome sign from Dave's Supermarket in Ohio City:

Friday, November 7, 2008

Just Add Water

At first look its as thin as a sheet of paper or even one of those Shrinky Dinks you used to play with when you were younger. But just add some water and it becomes a fully functional (and may we say fashionable) vase. Designed in 35 different colors, patterns and shapes, Vazu Flower Vases based in Cleveland, are also fairly inexpensive ($3.99 to $9.99) and can be reused numerous times. If only someone would send us flowers ...

*Looking for other cool items? Check out our A to Z shopping guide.

**Be sure to head over to Room Service in the Detroit Shoreway tonight and tomorrow for its Made in 216 event. 18 local designers will be showcasing everything from furniture to jewelry.

Sign of the times

Taken at the Browns game last night.

Brady Quinn was 23 of 35 passing, with 239 yards and two touchdowns. He wasn't the reason the Browns lost to Denver, 34-30 -- the defense was.

For more on the Browns' starting quarterback, see Kim Schneider's January profile of him and tackle Joe Thomas here.

Update: Someone just reminded me of the sign's irony: Quinn is a McCain supporter.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Too much candy?

Did the kids bring home more candy than they should be eating?

Dr. Laura Adelman, a Twinsburg Pediatric Dentist, is offering $1 a pound to buy up that candy. Sounds like she pays better than the tooth fairy.

Stop by her office tomorrow (Friday, Nov. 7) from 2 to 4 p.m. Kids can bring up to 5 pounds of candy.

Her office is located off Route 91 at 9945 Vail Drive, Suite 5 in Twinsburg, OH.

National Men Make Dinner Day

Don't forget...Today is:Get ready for some high-quality Kraft Mac and Cheese, ladies. For more info, click here.

Happy Feet

A car full of new shoes? How can any woman resist? That's the thought at the grand opening of DSW at Crocker Park tonight. One lucky customer will win all the shoes she can throw into a Smart Car in 15 minutes. Just think how many pairs of stilettos, ankle boots and cute little flats that can add up to and how happy your feet will be. And to top it all off, the winner will also have a chance to score the actual car at DSW's Eaton Town Center store in Columbus Nov. 20. Registration for tonight's event starts at 5 p.m. followed by the drawing for the winner at 8 p.m. 
(Photo courtesy Hakimsalleh from Flickr)

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Dinner Dates

At last we now know who our next president is, and can look ahead to something besides the election. I’ve got a few delicious dates inked in my November calendar.

The first is the November 21 fundraiser called Dames Dish for Thanksgiving hosted by the local chapter of an international organization I belong to, Les Dames D’Escoffier . Proceeds from the Monday night event will benefit local urban farming projects and food education initiatives that help young people make the connection between field and fork. The Thanksgiving themed tasting fest at Trevarrow Kitchen showroom in Parma- a place that prompts a burning desire for new appliances, faucets, cabinets and countertops- will feature a Mediterranean style turkey from Matt Harlan of Lolita, a locally sourced bird prepared by Karen Small of The Flying Fig and a gobbler with Low Country flavor courtesy of Paul Jagielski of Henry’s at the Barn.
But all side dishes and desserts, and there will be lots of them, are being made by our group’s members who are women involved in the food, beverage, and hospitality industries. Many are kitchen pros- pastry and restaurant chefs, cookbook authors, culinary instructors and caterers so the offerings are guaranteed to be excellent. Then there’s me. I am being forced out of my comfort zone and away from the table and the keyboard- my regular workplaces. I have high expectations for myself. However, just in case my stuff is not quite as fabulous as what my sister Dames do, I’m not going to tell you what I’m making. I hope you'll come out for a good cause, great food, and wine too! Tickets are $50. Make reservations with Angela Williams at 216-831-3767.

Another event I’m excited about is the Big Night Dinner at Michaelangelo’s . The restaurant’s very talented chef /owner Michael Annandanno is pairing up with friend and fellow Little Italy chef Valerio Iorio (Valerios’s) to recreate the menu from the poignant 1996 cinematic comedy The Big Night. Book a table for Monday November 24 and get a starring role in this local production.

In the movie, which also provides the musical soundtrack for the evening at Michaelangelo’s, actors Stanley Tucci and Tony Shaloub play immigrant brothers running an Italian restaurant in New Jersey circa 1950’s. The problem is that Chef Primo (Shaloub) is a culinary artist in a red sauce world. He doesn’t care about pleasing customers. So it’s no surprise that business is bad. Hoping to generate some positive word of a mouth, an associate promises to get the famed band leader Louis Prima and his entourage to come into the restaurant. Annandono and Ioria serve the dishes that appear on screen in the definitive scene when the brothers set out the 7-course feast they’ve prepared for their celebrity guest. Those who reserve a seat will dine on roast suckling pig, baked sea bass, risotto, and the labor-intensive il timpano, a combination of meat, pasta, eggs, and cheese layered in a pasta "drum" and baked. This is likely the closest most of us will get to having a silver screen moment, and the meal in the lovely dining room of Michaelangelo's promises to be extraordinary. Call 216-721-0300 for reservations.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

It's about time (part 2)

For all the worries about huge problems with voting, most reports from around the state say it is going rather smoothly.

I was able to get in and out in under 20 minutes this morning in Cleveland's Tremont neighborhood.

If you haven't headed out to vote yet, make sure you're prepared. Polls close at 7:30 p.m., which means you must be in line by then. Read Cleveland Mag Senior Editor Erick Trickey's advice here on how to make sure your vote is counted.

Monday, November 3, 2008

It's About Time

We've been waiting for 24 games and the time has finally come: Brady Quinn will get his first NFL start. This season. This week. Against the Denver Broncos. On national TV — no less. After Derek Anderson's less than stellar performance in yesterday's crushing loss to the Baltimore Ravens, Romeo Crennel finally made a decision most Browns fans can agree with. It wasn't that long ago when we sat down with Brady Quinn and Joe Thomas to get their point of views on everything from rookie camp to sitting the bench to each other. Get yourself familiar with our new quarterback here.

(Photo courtesy Cleveland Browns)

A Joe Tait story

When reporting my story on the fall and rise of Cleveland sports radio and television personality Bruce Drennan, I had a bunch of great stories from Joe Tait that didn't make the article. Here's one that got cut out in one of the later edits:

Joe and Bruce used to cover the Indians from 1980 to 1982 on WUAB television. Well, before a game in Chicago, two Tribe players were caught with a marijuana joint. Among them was that day's starter, Lenny Barker. They were just arrested, no one was found guilty or anything. The station called them up and had a meeting about how to handle it on the air.

They all agreed Joe would make a statement. Joe gets on the air and says something to the effect of: We all know what happened, but these guys are innocent until proven guilty. We don't have any more information than you saw on the news. Until something comes out, we're just going to focus on baseball.

Bruce chimes in: OK, Joe! And a good baseball game it will be. I bet Barker comes out smoking tonight!

Joe turned bright red. Bruce had no idea what he just said. Joe tried to hold it in, but he was in hysterics.

If you haven't read the November piece on Drennan, host of Sports Time Ohio's All Bets Are Off, we tell the story of his gambling leading to jailtime, and his rise to the face of the Cleveland sports network STO. Check it out here.

High-Class Junk

Whenever you see a sign like this one (on Route 422 in Warren), you have to pull over to investigate.

Unfortunately, after wandering around the back, it did not appear this junk is notably high class.