Friday, August 27, 2010

Falling Hard for Capes

Every fashion season I find something new to incorporate into my wardrobe. By new I mean a style or article of clothing that I have never really worn before. This summer, shorts became my "something new". Of course I have worn shorts before but never really as a fashion statement. This was odd and definitely new because I have some what of a love/hate relationship with shorts but this year I went for the love. I wore them often with everything from tanks and sandals to sequin tops and sky high heels. Shorts for the first time became my "go to" piece for day or night.

This fall I am going mad for capes and plan on wearing them from the first brisk fall day well into the frosty winter months. Capes are basically coats with armholes instead of sleeves and are perfect for providing just enough warmth on a chilly fall afternoon or as a layering piece to wear over chunky sweaters, blazers, and with elbow length gloves. Borrowed from the fashion era's of the 1960s & 1970s, capes are a chic alternative to the basic coat. Two of my favorite fall cape looks are: 1) worn with black skinny jeans, an over sized chunky sweater, opera length leather gloves, and laced up leather booties and 2) worn with a mini skirt the same length as the cape, dark opaque tights, and chunky heeled booties. Both looks are super hot and I can't wait to sport them this fall. What new fall trend do you plan to incorporate into your wardrobe?

Fashionably yours,

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Dinner Party

Imagine walking into a party alone. There's nobody you know. That's how a Dinner With Strangers begins but the awkwardness doesn’t last more than 30 seconds thanks to your host Danielle DeBoe. She’s got a special talent for making everyone feel comfortable and kick starting chit chat. That’s part of the magic formula that’s turning her bright idea- bring together small groups of people who’ve never met to share food and conversation- into a runaway success. She held the first Dinner in March, and told me she’s received over 400 requests since then to get on her guest lists which are selected from among all who “apply” for an invite.

The multi-course meals, held in different locations around town, are a creative approach to networking and socializing. Modeled on something she experienced in Paris, they’re a contemporary riff on the "salons" of the past. Think of this as facebooking in 3-d.

DeBoe is a big civic booster and proprietor of Room Service, an eclectic furniture, housewares, and art/craft boutique. We included her among Cleveland Magazine's 2010 Most Interesting People. These unconventional soirees are her way of creating an expanded sense of community and adding more coolness to Cleveland . Couples are welcome but the evenings are perfect for singles. Going solo is not required but is encouraged. Groups of friends who want to hang together need not apply.

I attended a Dinner With Strangers on a Sunday night in July and had a wonderful time. I started out sitting across from an architect and his wife, the woman who created City Prowl, and between an auctioneer and her partner. Mid-meal, Deboe had those of us with trays at our place settings pick them up and move to new spots. This put me beside a plumber who grows vegetables and herbs in his loft apartment. On the other side of the table was a lawyer, with a sideline as a food blogger, who told me that she agreed to end a long distance romance and move here only after her sweetheart, now her husband, gave her a copy of my book Cleveland Ethnic Eats. Apparently it helped convince her that this was a city with its own special charms. By the time the event, held in the walled garden of Chartreuse, a graphic design studio on the west side, was over I had a pocket full of business cards, had done a bit of contact matchmaking, passing along some names and information, and had an exchange that could lead to more of the same with the potential to blossom into a friendship.

Food is the centerpiece at these gatherings. Every dinner has a theme, echoed in decorations done by DeBoe, and the menu is always unconventional and full of surprises. It provides the group with a common and bonding experience that prompts interaction. Cost is are kept to an affordable $30 and is BYOB to share.

My meal was all about BBQ but there were no burgers or potato salad in sight. Instead we dined on pulled bourbon braised beef cheek with watermelon and sour apple tartare, sweet potato and radish slaw; three kinds of pickles presented with green tomato jam, pig trotter rillettes, duck chicharron + hot sauce, and tiny cornbread crackers; candy onion beets with rootbeer BBQ sauce, beet greens and jowl bacon. For dessert there was peaches and cream mousse on blackberry lemon verbena scented pie crust, a sun tea roll up, shaved caramelized white chocolate, and corn coulis. All was the work of Ryan Santos, a self-taught chef with a very individual and quirky approach. Since he doesn’t have a restaurant to call his own, this is the only way to taste what he can do, and the unconventional setting, more intimate and friendly than the kind of upscale dining room where this type of stuff is normally served, adds a dash of playfulness and adventure.

DeBoe and Santos are doing Dinner With Strangers monthly. There’s one scheduled for August 29th at the Sculpture Center. If there’s no space for you be sure to become a FB friend so you can keep up-to-date on what the pair is planning.

Monday, August 23, 2010

3 Reasons to Party at the Rock Hall Ball Sept. 3

It's been 15 years since the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum opened its doors at the end of East Ninth Street. And like any teenager looking to blow off a little steam, the museum is throwing a huge party to celebrate on Sept. 3. The evening's dress is rock-inspired attire, and costumes are welcome (so pull those Kurt Cobain cardigans and Thriller jackets out of mothballs, kids). But if you're the sort who likes to leave costumes for Halloween, don't sweat it. There are really no right or wrong answers here. (The Rock Hall also sent out some inspiration for rock-influenced attire via its Twitter feed earlier today.)

Of course, the litmus test of a good party is the music, and over the years, the Rock Hall has had a knack for hosting musicians just before they rocket to mainstream stardom. Remember when you saw John Mayer play there? No? Sorry about that. Well, certainly you were there for Alicia Keys, right? You had never heard of her, so you skipped that one? Hmm. Well, don't make that mistake this time.

Which brings us to reason No. 1 ... Eli "Paperboy" Reed

"... a soul singer who conquered both street corners and punk clubs with a mix of grooved-out rave ups and slow-burning ballads." — Rolling Stone

Reason No. 2 ... Foxy Shazam

"Foxy Shazam are a totally insane band from Cincinnati, famous for their on-stage antics (plenty of acrobatics, extended horn solos, the occasional eating of cigarettes) and the manic machinations of frontman/fashion plate Eric Sean Nally, who is every bit as crazy as his pencil-thin mustache and page boy haircut dictates." —

Reason No. 3 ... DJ Tommie Sunshine

"Tommie Sunshine is one of those artists that fit into a multitude of categories: producer, DJ, remixer, songwriter. Yet despite his long list of talents, he is best known for and most talented at creating dance remixes of popular songs." —

Tickets can be purchased here and come in Vinyl ($15) and Platinum ($65) levels. Tell them we sent you by using the AMVIP code and get $5 off a Platinum-level ticket (enter the code in the "special offers" box after selecting how many ticket you would like). We'll see you there.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Pedal in the Park

Get acquainted with the scenery and the growers in Cuyahoga Valley National Park while getting your daily dose of exercise on Sunday, August 29. It’s the 1st Annual Farm ‘N Barn Bike Tour. There are three-levels of people-powered trips; a 12 mile route that starts at 10 AM; an extended 32 mile version that rolls out at 8 AM; and for the fittest and most ambitious, also leaving at 8 AM, a 52 miler. Expect a mix of flat paved trail and somewhat challenging hills.

All trips, which begin and end at Sarah’s Vineyard on Steels Corner Road in Cuyahoga Falls, make stops at rehabilitated working farmsteads scattered around the Park. They are part of The Countryside Initiative a project that aims to bring back the small scale agriculture that was once part of life in the Valley. You can find out more about this pioneering program in an article I wrote for Cleveland Magazine .

There will be refreshments and mini-tours at every farm and a lunch cookout at the end of the ride. As an added perk massage therapists will be on hand to help pedalers who need some hands on help after the work-out.

Register online. Once you pay your fee ($30-$40) you’ll receive a detailed map. Visit four farms and earn $5 back in the form of tokens for use at the Countryside Farmers Market. This time of year vendors offer an astonishing array of good fresh things to eat . Which reminds me: the day before the ride, Saturday August 28 from 9 AM-Noon is the annual tomato tasting at the Farmers Market. Sample around 30 varieties- I promise you’ll be amazed.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Fab Fall Shoes

Here I am entering week four of my "no new summer shoes" challenge and interestingly enough forgoing summer shoe splurges have not been as difficult as I envisioned. I mean sandals are just little strips of leather glued to either a flat sole or platform heel, right? Well not really, but I have to find some sort of comfort in this process. Summer shoes definitely have their appeal however true shoe lovers salivate at the thought of a great pair of fall shoes or boots, especially the boots. As summer quickly moves along I find myself counting down the days to fall and the end of my shoe buying ban so that I can shop for shoes again. The problem is the selection of fab fall shoes and boots that have already hit the retail scene. It has been a true test of wills as I speed fast the shoe department of my fave stores so that I am not overcome by the temptation to stop, look, try, and then buy. As a new fashion mag arrives in my mailbox or online retailers alert me of more fall shoe fabness, my must have list keeps getting longer and longer. Right now here are my top five fall shoe must haves: 1) Ugg Australia 'Lynnea' ankle boot, 2) Sam Edelman 'Sanford' knee boot, 3) Steve Madden 'Harllem' boot, 4) Stuart Weitzman 'Ironlady' bootie, and lastly 5) Christian Louboutin Point-toe pumps. As my shoe list grows, I'm sure the money that I saved by not buying summer shoes will be well spent as I stock up on fall foot luxuries.

Fashionably yours,

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

The Mall by the Hall

Mayor Jackson is throwing a party- actually a whole month of them- and you’re invited. Really.

Show up at Mall C, on Lakeside Avenue next to City Hall, on Tuesdays in August from 11AM to 2 PM to join the get-togethers. The summer series is called Beats and Eats. It started at the beginning of the month and there are three more dates for the mid-day merrymaking.

Leave the brown bag lunch at home but bring dancing shoes.

No charge for the music. Local high energy rock, reggae, funk and Afro-beat bands give live performances. Here’s the line-up:
August 17: Out From Under
August 24: Carlos Jones and the Plus Band
August 31: Mifune
Carlos Jones and the Plus Band

Vendors selling a mouth-watering variety of foods are on hand so there’s no excuse for leaving hungry. Options include bbq ribs, wood-fired pizza, soul food, and fresh salads. The Dim and Dem Sum truck will be parked there every week. Don’t miss their PBLT sandwich, made with pulled pork and thick slices of bacon piled on a soft bun along with tomato jam, lettuce and spicy mayo.

Local artists and craftspeople are also setting up shop. Jewelry hounds take note- good op for scoring new beads and baubles.

If you’re not in walking distance, you can get there free on RTA”s B-Line Trolley.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Cleveland Buckeyes film, seen for the first time

This rare film, never before seen by the public, shows the 1946 Cleveland Buckeyes, our city's Negro League baseball team, playing at League Park the year after they won the Negro League World Series.

The film was donated to the Western Reserve Historical Society a few years ago as part of the collection of Josephus Hicks, a prominent local photographer, author and probation officer who died in 1998 at age 90. The WRHS has given Cleveland Magazine permission to post it online.

That's Parnell Woods, the Buckeyes' captain and third-baseman, running onto the field and tugging his cap between the 43 and 46 second marks, according to his son, Jeffry Woods. Quincy Trouppe, all-star catcher and player-manager (who briefly joined the Indians in 1952), sits in the dugout in catcher's gear early in the clip, then stands by home plate wearing #10 and watching opponents score on a base hit.

Update, 8/12: The light-skinned player sitting next to a post early in the video is pitcher Sam Jones, according to Negro League historian and author Larry Lester. Jones later played for the Indians and became the first black major-leaguer to pitch a no-hitter in 1955. Later in the video, backup catcher Tommy Harris, wearing #38, walks onto the field.

(Thanks to Bob Zimmer, founder of the Baseball Heritage Museum in Cleveland's Colonial Arcade, who helped put out word about the video to historians.)

The shoulder patches commemorate the Buckeyes' 1945 championship. The second part of the film shows the crowd at League Park, a few years before it closed for good.

To read Dave O'Karma's May 2006 Cleveland Magazine article "The Forgotten Championship" -- the definitive history of the Buckeyes' 1945 season and Negro League World Series victory -- click here.

The Indians will honor Cleveland's forgotten champions tomorrow at their Negro Leagues Turn Back the Clock/Heritage Weekend game. They'll be wearing authentic 1946 Buckeyes jerseys -- just like the ones in the film -- during their game against the Minnesota Twins, who'll be wearing the uniforms of the 1906 St. Paul Gophers.

The celebration will include appearances by Negro League players Joe Caffie and Ted Toles, as well as two Negro League historians, former Indian Jim "Mudcat" Grant and Sean Gibson, grandson of Hall of Famer Josh Gibson. Fans can check out a display of Negro League artifacts and commemorations on the scoreboard before and during the game.

Film courtesy of The Western Reserve Historical Society, Cleveland, Ohio.

(To link to O'Karma's article, use this shortcut: To link to this post, use this shortcut:

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Cooley's Farm

Where others saw nothing but a sprawling parking lot behind the Airport Marriott, Ellis Cooley, Executive Chef of the hotel’s Amp 150 restaurant, saw potential. The far end of that asphalt field was bordered by a long, narrow strip of grass and weeds. He piled on 40 yards of good soil, planted seeds and seedlings, and now thanks to seriously hard work, loving care, the right combination of sunshine and water, and what he considers a kind of magic, the guy’s got himself a flourishing quarter acre farmette. It’s supplying his kitchen with an astonishing amount of hyper-local produce. Not bad for someone who’s the first to admit he was a total novice when it comes to partner with Mother Nature to coax food out of the ground.

I was amazed and frankly charmed by what I saw when I went out for a look. There’s no picturesque meadow that would prompt you to bust out singing tunes from Oklahoma but there are rows and rows of corn that really look “high as an elephant’s eye.” He’s just started putting it in a puree with yellow Aji Amarillo chiles to use in a scallop dish, and told me he wants to do a smooth corn pudding with :juiced” kernels; corn tarts; salsa; and tamales grilled Mexican style. Like everybody else with a backyard garden, Cooley has zucchini in abundance. Get it julienned, sautéed and served with toasted almonds, preserved lemons and pecorino cheese; in the rabbit cacciatore; or grilled for a salad made with fresh oregano, red grapes and a feta cheese vinaigrette. Of course where there’s squash, there are squash blossoms, and he planted in stages to insure a steady supply throughout the summer. At the moment, the flowers are getting stuffed with house made ricotta and crème fraiche and are served with green tomato jam (made from the garden’s bounty as well).

Around ten varieties of heirloom tomatoes are flourishing in his parking lot plot, along with sweet potatoes, Anaheim chiles, fennel (he roasts, tosses with figs for a salad and puts on the plate with Walleye); the lemongrass that goes with his mussels; green peppers for shrimp and grits, and braised Hungarian ones to complement a smoked and grilled pork chop. Some of this stuff will likely soon show up in jars as pickles and preserves too.

Jeremy Lisy, a chef who traded in stove work for soil toil, has helped Cooley every step of the way, donating the plants along with bushels of free advice. Lisey has two greenhouses and acreage near Pymatuming, and his company KJ Greens is a wholesale supplier to a number of area restaurants Lisy’s fruits and vegetables supplement what Cooley's able to grow, and they get a special shout out on Amp 150’s menu.
The same farm fresh goodness is available to home cooks too. Call Lisy to find out how to order and where the nearest pick up spot is located. (440-339-4639).

Management’s been supportive. What Cooley’s doing fits in well the larger goals of the hotel to be a green operation. And manpower comes from the kitchen crew-nobody’s obliged to help but there are some willing to volunteer. The beneficiaries are of course all who dine here. Unless you’re harvesting ingredients from your own backyard, it doesn’t get any fresher-or more delicious- than this.