Wednesday, February 23, 2011
Michaud is preparing an Italian inflected pasta-centric tasting menu that’s paired up, plate for plate, with Jonathon Sawyer’s distinctive French-inspired, locally flavored fare. My sneak peak at the particulars for the family-style, six-course feast made for a seriously mouth-watering read: Ohio chevre salad/shrimp with guanciale and zolfini bean ragout; salt roasted sea bream with sauce menuiere/capon ravioli alla Genovese; pan braised quail/ rabbit porchetta. The extraordinary beverages — wine, beer, cocktails, grappa, and cheeses — some making their Ohio debut straight from Michaud’s own affinage (aging cooler) are alone worth the $97 per person price.
Chefs from different restaurants and different cities joining forces to create one-of-a-kind eating experiences has become something of a trend, here and around the country. I posted a piece last July about what I called a staycation dinner at Moxie featuring a Turkish chef from NYC.
This is quite a match-up. The James Beard Foundation named Michaud “Best Chef, Mid-Atlantic region” in 2010. Last week, Sawyer, already crowned by Food & Wine Magazine, was among the semifinalists for Beard’s “Rising Star Chef of the Year” award. With a duo like that there’s no doubt it will be a meal and night to remember, and one that provides conversational fodder for a long time.
I’ll be there. Forks lift off at 7 p.m. Reservations and prepayment required.
Monday, February 21, 2011
Raab announced the name of his book on Sirius/XM's Mad Dog Radio following the Cavaliers' Feb. 11 win over the Los Angeles Clippers to snap the team's 26-game losing streak. We wondered at the time if Raab was just having fun, but it appears the title is real.
The book will be released Nov. 15, 2011 and is available for $17.15, according to Amazon's pre-order page. If you want to keep up with Raab's constant antagonizing of LeBron James and the Miami Heat in the meantime, follow him on Twitter at @Scott_Raab.
Two little words never fail to get our stomachs growling: Restaurant Week. Why? First, it means an entire week of discount dining at some of the best area restaurants. Second, it’s the perfect excuse to visit that eatery you’ve been dying to try (or maybe just sample something new at your favorite downtown spot).
Starting today through Sunday, Feb. 27, the fourth annual Downtown Cleveland Restaurant week is in full swing with more than 40 participating Cleveland restaurants including The Greenhouse Tavern, Chinato, Crop, Mallorca and XO. Deals range from $15 lunch specials and $30, three-course, prix fixe dinners. Depending on the restaurant, deals may apply to the cost per one diner or two diners. So there's a plan to fit any budget. For a full list of participating restaurants and menus, visit the Downtown Cleveland Alliance here.
And as if our appetites weren’t whet enough, new this year are featured tasting and education events at different restaurants throughout the week. Be one of the first 20 table seated at Bricco tonight, and you’ll receive a complimentary copy of The History of PlayhouseSquare, or head to the Corner Alley from 4 to 6 p.m. for a vodka tasting at the Martini Bar. There is also a sake tasting, champagne special, and a dessert and martini buffet. For full details, check out the event listing here.
If you’re one of those diners that avoids the downtown rush because you hate to pay for parking, you’ve got no excuse this week. Several lots are offering $2 parking after 5 p.m. to Restaurant Week diners. Just be sure to print your parking voucher off the DCA website.
Wednesday, February 16, 2011
Though it was most recently an event center, I used to go there to make deposits and withdrawals. Signs that it was once a bank are still in evidence: the vault door opens into the kitchen and a raised seating area is set off by the half wall and grill work that delineated the tellers’ booths.
Together all these unusual architectural details create a truly unique backdrop for eating, drinking and socializing. Turn left at the top of the stairs and you’re in a spacious dining area. Go right for a lounge outfitted with couches, banquettes, hi-top tables and a bar.
Owner Mike Adams, a lawyer by training, is manager and schmoozer in chief. Jill Vedaa, a talented young chef I’ve been following since I discovered her in 2006 at Saucy Bistro, is in charge of everything related to food and beverages. I am so excited to see what she’ll do now that she has a chance to run the show.
I’ve only had the opportunity to try selections from the lounge side menu, and I liked every bite and sip I sampled. The husband and I shared bruschetta topped with roasted squash, fried sage, and shaved parmesan. It’s a winning combo and taste was great-my only gripe was that the toppings fell off in the trip from plate to mouth- maybe those cubes of squash should be smashed into a spread. Homemade ketchup made an order of sea-salted fries disappear fast. We gave the ribeye carpaccio with blue cheese wasabi cream and a scoop potato salad the same treatment. But best of all was a bowl of mussels and chick peas in tomato fennel broth, served with crostini made from Stone Oven’s olive bread. I’d like to mention the excellent glass of malbec I had and the two unusual microbrews my partner downed, but we were having such a good time that I neglected to note down the requisite info- a serious professional lapse for which I apologize. But let it suffice to say that there are some great choices on the beer and wine lists.
The regular menu promises adventuresome Latin/Asian inspired fare, suitable for grazing or full on feasting; duck confit taquitos with ancho lime cream; shrimp fritters with sriracha tartar; short ribs chimichurri; cumin crusted pork chop; hanger steakand malanga mash.
Adams and Vedaa what Rockefeller’s to be the kind of a place come often and regularly, early and late. I think they’ve got all the right ingredients to pull it off. I know I want to head back there soon and I predict other’s will feel the same after a first visit. No website yet. But here’s what you need to know: 3099 Mayfield Road, Cleveland Heights, 216-321-0477. Tuesday-Saturday dinner only. Tuesday-Thursday dining room 4-10 PM, lounge till 11, Friday and Saturday dinning room till 11 and lounge till 12.
Friday, February 11, 2011
The idea of the movie first took shape when Brooks decided to explore his long-held passion for film and moved to L.A. After meeting writer and director Paul Brown in a screenwriting class, Brooks decided he wanted to try to write about his family’s story.
“I never thought I would write this story, but it was actually Paul that talked me into it,” Brooks explains. After describing the tale to Brown in class, Brown asked where the story came from and was floored to find it was a true story.
“I said, wait a minute, this is a real story?” Brown remembers. Though it was painful for Brooks, the men worked together to craft a screenplay based on the Douglass’ life.
Brooks even raised $2 million in order to finance filming. “All this energy was created around a story that had real emotional power,” he says.
For more information on the film and to request a screening in your area, visit www.heavensrainmovie.com
Wednesday, February 9, 2011
Zack Bruell and his team at Parallax in Tremont are holding their first ever sushi and wine class. It’s a three-part series that begins Feb 21. On consecutive Monday nights, from 6-8 p.m., participants learn the basics of wrapping and rolling vinegared rice with slices of raw tuna, salmon, eel and octopus. Carmen Paponetti, the restaurant’s sushi chef will lead the hands-on sessions, and everyone eats their own creations. Drinking is also involved. General manager and certified sommelier Damir Terzic offers pairing guidance and his pours will focus on new world wines. Feb. 21 is for sparkling wines, Feb. 28 features whites and March 7 is all about the reds.
$135 per person (plus tax and gratuities) gets you the whole shebang — three evenings out with food, wine and guides. Reservations are required and space is limited. 216-583-9999. Could be a nice thing to do with someone you love, (assuming they aren't squeamish about uncooked seafood), or an opportunity to acquire some new skills for future wooing.
Tuesday, February 8, 2011
Friday, February 4, 2011
Thursday, February 3, 2011
"It was a special moment that happened as a result of an unfortunate circumstance," says Liz Stover, programming coordinator of the University Musical Society in Ann Arbor, who was part of the audience.
Stranded in Ann Arbor, their Chicago concert canceled, the orchestra members joined the local chapter of The Classical Revolution, which plays chamber music every Wednesday night.
"It was so wonderful to see these professional musicians from one of the nation's best orchestras getting down and dirty in a beer and pizza joint without some of their own instruments," says Stover.
Amidst the Coronas and pepperoni, three basses played an arrangement of Rachmaninoff's Vocalise, and other orchestra musicians performed the eloquent sounds of Mozart's horn quartet. World-renowned pianist Pierre-Laurent Aimard, who performs with the orchestra at Carnegie Hall this weekend, played Brahms. Snowstorms may cause stress and schedule conflicts, but maybe getting stuck in Ann Arbor was really a blessing in disguise.
Wednesday, February 2, 2011
However, the concept has morphed into something snarkier, a them-versus-us insult adopted by a self-important subset of diners. Apparently they believe that going to a nice restaurant and spending a lot money on a weeknight gives them some kind of bragging rights. In conversation and online these culinary cognoscenti set themselves apart from less savvy and sophisticated customers.
That was apparent in a post titled “When Vulgar Amateur Diners Ruin Dinner.” It was written by Washington City Paper’s assistant managing editor Michael E. Grass. He gets his shorts in a knot about a group of women sitting next to him in a restaurant who are inconsiderately loud. When they also have chocolate martinis with food, their status as rank amateurs is confirmed. It’s a nasty bit of euphemism and reveals more about what's wrong with him than the ladies he labeled.
His attitude of superiority irritated me. I’m a paid eater. But there aren’t many in my line of work anymore. Which makes most everyone else, including Grass, an amateur. And you’ll often find me in a restaurant on Friday or Saturday nights. As a reviewer I want to get a firsthand impression of what it’s like when the dining room is packed and hectic. If a place can deliver a good experience under those conditions, and many do in this town, it’s a measure of overall skill and ability. But I'm also there even if I’m not on the job. Like all you non-professionals, I enjoy going out at the end of a long work week, indulging my taste for good food and drink knowing I don’t have to get up early and get to my desk the next day. I don’t mind being with the amateurs. Actually I’d rather sit beside them than a bunch of foodies snapping pictures of every course with their cell phones, madly texting and tweeting their whereabouts and trying to impress each other by telling stories of the incredible meals they had someplace else. On a Thursday.
Tuesday, February 1, 2011
Mayen, one of our 2011 Most Interesting People, says her colorful designs with unique silhouettes and details suit various women: “I’m had soccer moms in Kansas City buy my pieces and Vietnamese fashionistas in New York. I’ve sold to indie retro girls in London and army wives in Kuwait.” And, of course, there’s been no shortage of love from Clevelanders.
The Yellowcake shop is on ice for now as tonight’s looming winter storm has pushed the opening to Friday afternoon. But Mayen let us in for a taste of what she’s serving. Here’s a sample of our favorite items.
Fabric pom pom, small: $8 or two for $15, large: $14 or two for $26
I love the color of these fun little (and some not-so-little) outfit embellishers, especially this time of year when we could all use a bright pop in our lives (the two-tone pink and purple is my favorite). Different hardware on the backs of each pom pom means you can opt to clip one in your hair or add one to an outfit or purse for a little extra pizzazz.
I've recently become obsessed with hats. Maybe I've watched too many episodes of Mary Tyler Moore with her iconic hat tossing. I've been on the hunt for a new hat to make that transition into spring, and this one will do the trick.
Luxe coat, $288 (marked down from $388 for the pop-up shop)
If you’re like me and see a whole lot of black when you look in your closet, this lightweight pink coat might be just the piece you need to make your look pop. The belted style is Yellowcake’s best-seller and is the first Mayen made for the line. Although the Luxe coat comes in many colors, this pink stands out in the shop and is sure to do so on the street as well.The Yellowcake shop opening on Friday at 4 p.m. includes appetizers from Bricco, so get there early to snack while you browse. On Saturday, the shop will likely be open noon-10 p.m. Sunday is still up in the air, so call 216-236-4073 to check hours. Downtown Cleveland Alliance has more information about hours, but note: The shop is only open until the 13th, so get your slice of Mayen’s fashions while you can.