Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Food Find

While working on a piece about eating your way around Little Italy that appears in this month’s issue of Cleveland Magazine, I made my first visit to Murray Hill Market. The combination mini-grocery store, gourmet shop and prepared-food heaven has been open since January. It’s a pretty place, a revival of the old corner store (there was one in this beautifully renovated and restored building in 1922) only with more and better food. On one side of the space, shelves and coolers are packed with staples (do pints of Jeni’s ice cream fall in that category, I wonder, they have every single flavor), a small selection of fresh produce, and specialty imports and artisan products. The area to the right is the source of all the enticing smells that fill the room. This is where proprietor Michele Buckholtz, a fast talker with the boundless energy of a kid on a sugar high, preps and cooks. The area is so small and equipment challenged that it barely qualifies as a kitchen. Yet somehow she manages to turn out an impressive array of restaurant-quality, made-from-scratch dishes.

There’s a cooler filled with deli meats, sold by the pound, and a variety of salads, a pasta of the day, and a changing lineup of sides. Two bites and I was hooked on the Tuscan potato salad. She roasts the turkey and prime rib that go in her sandwiches; prepares a different soup or chowder daily, such as vegan minestrone, black lentil with ginger, chilled cucumber and melon, beef noodle, chicken Florentine; and gets creative with her sauces and spreads (the spicy Sriracha mayo is a condiment that’s easy to love). She does some classics, including veal picatta and eggplant parmesan; international things like Israeli couscous, Lebanese green beans and tomatoes, Cuban rice salad with roasted corn.; and brings play and pizzazz to specials (a random sampling from the past couple of months includes corn cakes with toasted cumin seeds and cilantro ricotta, burgers stuffed with scallions and Gorgonzola, and an Asian Philly). A few tables outside for immediate gratification. But this stuff is made and packed to travel.

I was surprised to learn that David Budin helps out here. I know him as a musician and a writer with a quirky sense of humor. It seems he’s also a fine cook. Isn’t that too many talents for a single person? Among his creations is the most excellent pastissimo, a combination of tortellini, artichoke hearts, red peppers, black olives and mayonnaise blended with a generous measure of pesto. His other job is to post the specials on the Market’s Facebook group page, which he does, with great detail and the occasional one-liner.

Once I discovered how wonderful Murray Hill Market is, I really regretted waiting so long to get there. Don’t make the same mistake. Your tastebuds will thank you. And if you bring home two of Michele’s amazing porchetta sandwiches (pulled pork slow topped with sauteed kale, toasted garlic and shaved Pecorino Romano), and share with somebody else, they’ll thank you too. They might even mention what a great person you are in their next status update.

No comments: