Thursday, March 28, 2013

Good Humor

We all know a Margie.  

With the economy still suffering, most of us can relate to the struggle of the single, just-fired-from-her-dollar-job mother at the heart of Good People, showing at the Cleveland Play House through April 14. 

Feeling out of luck, Margie becomes obsessed with the idea that Mikey, a former high school flame who has become a successful doctor, could help her find a job. A glimpse inside Mikey’s upscale life has Margie asking herself why he achieved the “American dream,” while she is still stuck in their hometown the rough Southie neighborhood of Boston. 

At one time or another many of us have asked ourselves that question. That authenticity is why Cleveland Play House Artistic director Michael Bloom lauded Good People as one of the best American plays of this century. It's also why Margie’s curt one-liners had the opening night audience roaring in laughter while her emotional fits had audience members stopping to ponder how the circumstances we are dealt effect the outcome of our lives. Here’s three reasons you might enjoy the play, too.  

Photo by Roger Mastroianni
Bingo!: The funniest scenes are at the bingo hall. As a non-winning number is called out, Margie and her friends — her wacky landlord, Dottie, and lifelong friend, Jean (known as “Mouthie from Southie”) — throw their hands up and scream out a barrage of curse words not meant to be uttered in a parish. Outside the church, the one-liners keep rolling, matter-of-factly, one after the other. When Margie’s boss, Stevie, fires her explaining that he can’t have unreliable employees, she snaps back with, “It’s a dollar store, who do you think is going to work here?”

Quirk factor: Each character's odd habits adds personality and makes us laugh. Dottie hawks her kitchy, obviously handmade bunnies at bingo tournaments. Margie launches into flustered tirades filled with plenty of f-bombs and s-words followed by a sweet “pardon my French” and has a habit of “busting balls” with wry comments such as, “I expected pillars” when seeing Mikey’s house for the first time.

Teachable moments: The play offers so many rich lessons that the Play House turned it into an educational program for kindergarteners through fourth-graders, Margie and Mike. Everyone can relate to Margie’s struggle. The play challenges our tendency to judge people who are below us, and forces us to think about how our futures would change if we weren’t given opportunities. Could you say that you would be in the same spot you are today without money or help from your parents or mentor? I certainly don’t know if I could. 

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Easter Eats

Dreading overcooked ham, bland potatoes and watery green beans for Easter dinner again this year? Start a new tradition with our roundup of Easter brunches that will satisfy your stomach and fill up the kids before the egg hunt begins. 


Sans Souci
24 Public Square, Cleveland, 216-902-4095,, noon-5:30 p.m.
So you weren’t able to escape for a European retreat during spring break, then head to Sans Souci for a dose of the French countryside. The special Easter brunch menu includes lobster and boursin quiche ($18), Ohio City truffle and rosemary pierogies ($9) and slow braised lamb with rosemary polenta ($24).

House of Blues
308 Euclid Ave., Cleveland, 215-523-2583,; $36, children (6-12) $18; 11 a.m.
For brunch and a show, head to the House of Blues Gospel Brunch with the Stan Moore Gospel Ensemble. It’ll have your feet tapping as you traipse the buffet.

1515 W. Third St., Cleveland, 216-902-5255,; $50, children $20; 11 a.m.- 4 p.m.
Too tired from egg hunting to read menus? Look no further than Muse’s four-course prix fixe Easter meal. Begin with roasted butternut squash soup, follow that with braised pork belly, lobster ravioli and wrap up with a dessert bar.


Bon Vivant
12706 Larchmere Blvd., Cleveland, 216-862-8931,; $15, children $8; 11 a.m.-3 p.m.
Join George Foley on the piano for a live musical performance and visit the Easter Bunny himself when the clock strikes noon. With entertainment and an affordable price, this brunch is difficult to resist.

Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar
28869 Chagrin Blvd., Woodmere, 216-896-9000; $36.95, 
children $17.95, 11:30 a.m.-3 p.m.
Known for its exceptional food during the later half of the day, Fleming’s will welcome brunch-goers this Easter, offering premiere dishes on its prix fix menu such as baked brioche french toast with a walnut crisp. A savory appetizer and dessert will accompany your entree, and don’t leave before trying a blood orange mimosa or a Scottish beauty off the Easter cocktail menu.

34205 Chagrin Blvd., Moreland Hills, 216-464-3700,
Straddling the line of casual and upscale, Flour’s a la carte Easter brunch brings an Italian twist to classic foods. “You’ve got the flair of young chef Matt Mytro and old school Paul Minnillo,” says general manager Brian Lachman. “They find a beautiful happy medium.” See for yourself when your eggs benedict ($13) comes out topped with mortadella.

3355 Richmond Road, Beachwood, 216-831-5599; $32.50, 
children (4-12) $16; 10:30 a.m.–2:30 p.m.
From fresh-made waffles with Ohio maple syrup and blueberry compote to individualized vegetarian quiches, chef Jonathon Bennett is giving everyone a reason to join the festivities this Sunday. “This is a Jewish neighborhood, but there’s no doubt we’re celebrating Easter,” says fronthouse manager Mimi Hargate.

Table 45
9801 Carnegie Ave., Cleveland, 216-707-4045; $ 42, 
children (6-10) $17; 10:30 a.m.-3 p.m.
With Zack Bruell and Tom Schrenk behind the food, and with entertainment by the Cleveland Institute of Music Jazz Trio, brunchers won’t be able to tell whether the flavors or the rhythms are making them sing this Easter. They’ve got all the classics, but the raw seafood bar is taking over the score.


100th Bomb Group
20920 Brookpark Road, Cleveland, 216-267-1010; $38.95, 
children $15.95; 10 a.m.-4:30 p.m.
Located across from Cleveland Hopkins International Airport, 100th Bomb Group combines elegance with historic memorabilia. Indulge in traditional pasta or elaborate seafood and decadent desserts while the kids choose from simpler options and enjoy a sweeping view of flight arrivals and departures.

Cleveland Airport Marriott
4277 W. 150th St., Cleveland, 216-252-5333; $32.95, seniors $25.95, children (3-12) $13.95; 11 a.m.-3 p.m.
If you’re looking for luxury and a reason to dress up, head to the Cleveland Airport Marriot’s County Ballroom. The buffet-style brunch satisfies an eye for glamour and an appetite for anything from stuffed lamb to green bean casserole. You may need to wear the suit with a little extra room.

Luxe Kitchen & Lounge
6605 Detroit Ave., Cleveland, 216-920-0600,; 
a la carte; 10 a.m.-4 p.m.
Luxe Kitchen & Lounge jazzes up traditional ham with a pineapple and cherry glaze ($17). If you’d prefer a hearty breakfast food, try the mushroom and goat cheese omelet ($10) with baby kale and blistered tomatoes. 

1137 Linda St., Rocky River, 440-799-4292,; $26, children $8; 11 a.m. Saturday
Tip off the Easter Bunny and his friends on good hiding spots for eggs this Saturday at Market. Their brunch is complete with kid-friendly foods such as pancakes and scrambled eggs. For fun of a more adult nature, hit up the famous MKT bloody mary cart.

SB Eighty One
24481 Detroit Road, Westlake, 440-835-3559; $25, 
children (12 and under) $11; 10 a.m.-noon
Can’t seem to please all the relatives joining you for brunch this Easter? Avoid that headache by heading to SB Eighty One. There, your frisky uncle can hit the dance floor, while the kids can enjoy classic breakfast fare at the buffet. Even grandma can feel at ease while feasting on a sensible lemon rosemary chicken.

Wine Bar Rocky River
1313 Linda St., Rocky River, 440-799-4300; $25, 
children (under 12) $10; 10 a.m.-2 p.m.
Forgo a loud, noisy buffet in favor of Wine Bar Rocky River’s cozy, natural setting perfect for an Easter morning with the family. The three-course prix fix menu includes choices such as wild mushroom quiche or a basic scrambled eggs breakfast for the kids. Try the fresh pear juice or blood orange juice at the unlimited mimosa bar included in the $25 price.


One Red Door
49 Village Way, Hudson, 330-342-3667; a la carte; 10 a.m.-5 p.m.
You’ll want to reserve your family’s place in the cozy One Red Door this Easter. The elaborate brunch menu features a la carte specials including lemon ricotta cheese pancakes ($12) for breakfast enthusiasts or the lamb special for those with a meatier appetite. Be sure to visit the bloody mary bar for specialty drinks.

Blue Canyon Kitchen & Tavern
8960 Wilcox Drive, Twinsburg, 330-486-2583; $36.95, 
children (8-12) $15.95, (3-7) $9.95; 10 a.m.-3 p.m.
Venture out to the Blue Canyon for their reservation-only buffet, featuring a variety of breakfast meats and dishes, or choose a made-to-order breakfast delicacy. Try the maple sage turkey breast at the chef-carved station or indulge in oysters at the raw bar. Four or more mimosas or bloody mary’s ordered per table receive a $2 discount per drink.

Creekside Restaurant & Bar
8803 Brecksville Road, Brecksville, 440-546-0555; a la carte; 
8 a.m.-1 p.m.
Enjoy a full breakfast menu featuring specials chosen by the chef. Don’t miss out on the coconut hummingbird torte ($4.50) and beginning at 11 a.m. the orange honey mojito ($8).

8001 Rockside Road, Valley View, 216-524-9404; a la carte; 
10 a.m.-2 p.m.
Enjoy comfort and class this Easter at Lockkeepers’ plated brunch event. Quality Italian options dominate a menu that lets guests dictate the style. A more casual hand-rolled pizza ($10.95) is as celebrated as the sophisticated lobster risotto ($27.95). - By Alexis Parisi and Emma Gasperak

Krivosh Corners

   A new music venue and watering hole came on line in Lakewood a couple of weeks ago. Called Vosh, it's  part of the former Bonne Bell complex of buildings, and is the third neighborhood venture for Mickey Krivosh and his family. The converted warehouse shares a patio, a kitchen and a chef, with Georgetown, the adjacent restaurant formerly known as Three Birds that he bought in 2011, and is across the street from Around the Corner, a popular West Side saloon and cafe he opened almost 40 years ago. With this newest addition to their collection of places to eat drink and socialize, the Krivoshs — dad, mom Patty, and a son, daughter, son-in-law, and cousin — have kind of cornered the market on good times at this end of Detroit, right on the edge of Rocky River.

  The club, spacious and stylish, is a fine example of how to re-purpose urban space and reuse materials. People now sip cocktails and dance in a former truck bay where big semis once pulled up. The long elegant wooden bar and shelves displaying bottles behind it,  a large gas fireplace and mantel, oak trim, doors, and mirrors once graced the Lakewood Country Club. A marquee salvaged from a local movie house that spells out the word Detroit decorates one wall and brings back memories for many. Stools and hi-tops are scattered about the sprawling space and an area of regular tables and chairs takes up a large corner. The floors gleam — an interesting polished and textured surface made with epoxy. There's a stage for the bands that will play every night of the week, a mix of local and national jazz, blues, big band and Motown acts. One of the nicest features of the renovation, to my mind, are the garage door style windows that overlook the lovely Georgetown courtyard.

  Chef Gregg Korney, a talent who was laboring in semi-obscurity out in Olmstead Falls at the now closed Quince, has created an appealing menu of creative snacks plates, salads- among them crispy spiced shrimp with pickled vegetables and chicken and veggie egg rolls, and what he calls "substantials"- larger portions of heartier bar food fare including a blackened fish sandwich and bacon wrapped meatloaf with white Cheddar tater tots.

Shrimp at Georgetown. Photo by Nathan Taxel
He's also revamped the offerings next door. I sampled a few of his dishes and was impressed. Loved a dish of blue foot shrimp, pineapple and paper thin slices of black and watermelon radishes in a cucumber coriander vinaigrette. 

    Mickey invited me to be a guest at a Vosh opening event. There was a crowd, but it didn't seem crowded. The place had a good feel and I think it's destined for success. I know I'd go back on my own dime.And I think the investment he's making in the area, which is also where he grew up and now lives, is worth a round of applause.  Better yet, show support by coming out and enjoying yourself.

Monday, March 25, 2013

An Eggcellent Tribute

For the Manolio family, January has always meant more than just the start of a new year.

Since 1957, January was for planning the year’s eggshell Easter display. January was for blueprint making and for deciding what colors to paint the eggs. January was for poking small holes in and collecting eggshells: from family members, from Perkins restaurant and, eventually, from the Sidewalk CafĂ©.

This year is different. This year, Ron Manolio won’t be decked out in his red jacket and blue scarf, cheerfully greeting Eggshelland’s visitors. This year is the final Eggshelland, themed "A Labor of Love" as a tribute to Ron.

Photo courtesy of Mark Manolio
Right after Ron passed away last August, Betty Manolio explains, her children said, “We’ve got to do another (Eggshelland).”

The idea for Eggshelland came from Ron, who was as active within the community as he was around the house. “Everybody knew him,” Betty says. “He was the heart of Eggshelland, and I think we’re doing the right thing.”

A tradition that has persevered through a house move, hail storms, snow squalls and frozen ground, Eggshelland first featured about 750 eggshells but grew to include as many as 50,000. A display that started because few people decorated for Easter, has now received media attention from CNN, the Today show and Cleveland Magazine, and has been featured in a documentary.

Photo courtesy of Mark Manolio
Each year, the Manolios — children, in-laws and, eventually, grandchildren — convened to place eggshells painted diligently by Ron on square, wooden pegs positioned perfectly in the yard, often with help from neighborhood kids.

The eggs in the Manolios’ lawn have formed many recognizable shapes: Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, the house with balloons from Up, and even the Cleveland Indians mascot after their 1997 American League Championship Series win.

“We were going to do the Browns, but they never did anything,” Betty jokes.

Photo courtesy of Mark Manolio
This year, about 2,000 eggs read "Thank you all and goodbye" below a depiction of Ron’s face. In total, the display — which includes two Eggshelland staples: a 45-foot cross and the mascot bunny — boasts almost 20,000 eggs. Located at 1031 Linden Lane in Lyndhurst, it can be viewed now through April 5.*

Over the years, Betty says, parents who visited brought their children, then those children grew up and brought their children.

“I know people enjoy it — it’s a happy thing and it’s a good symbol of Easter,” Betty says. “It’ll be sad (that it’s the final Eggshelland), but it’s time. We had a good 55 years.”

Photo courtesy of Mark Manolio
*Update, 3/28: Eggshelland will stay up through April 5, the Friday after Easter. The Manolios are extending its run past April 1 because of the wintry weather earlier this week.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Nedly: A Fond Farewell

Ned Whelan (right), with Michael D. Roberts
Edward P. “Ned” Whelan, Cleveland Magazine’s leading writer of the 1970s and 1980s, died Wednesday night of injuries sustained in a fall at his daughter’s home in Arizona. Today we’re publishing a tribute to Whelan by Gary Diedrichs, his former co-worker at Cleveland Magazine and The Plain Dealer.

We have also added Michael D. Roberts’ 1987 tribute to Whelan, “Arrest That Man, He Stole My Watch!” to our online archive. For more thoughts on Whelan, please see our Thursday post and links to his work, Roldo Bartimole’s remembrance (“Ned Whelan: He Could Tell the Truth”) and obituaries from The Plain Dealer and Crain’s Cleveland Business.

I am tempted to speculate that gangsters Shondor Birns and Danny Greene or other infamous subjects of Ned Whelan’s reportage missed his company so much, missed their game of cat and mouse, predator and prey, and saw their chance to nudge him down those dark stairs in Arizona. Then for old time’s sake he could join them at the Theatrical Grill in the Sky.

Even people who knew they shouldn’t, liked this guy. Loved him even.

Me, too. I recall that day I was feeling silly and ignored in my three-piece suit, in the middle of the Plain Dealer City Room. No cubicles then, no soft whir of computer fans: manual Underwoods clack-clacking all around me, a sea of desks, the occasional shout of “Boy!” to signal that a page was ready to be run to the hub of editors. It was near 7 p.m., lunch time for my shift on my first day as a reporter at Ohio’s largest metropolitan daily.

“Hi,” said Edward J. “Ned” Whelan, sticking out a hand. I knew who he was. Big-time City Hall reporter, scourge of the Carl B. Stokes administration. “Wanna get lunch?”

At Cleveland Magazine, where I joined him in 1974, we all called him Nedly. Now that he’s gone, people say he was the best reporter on two feet—and they’re right. When he had his story, he would walk by with a cat-like swagger, eyes twinkling, a Mona Lisa smile—then disappear into his cramped office (we all had cramped offices) and begin furiously two-finger typing on newsprint copy paper. Every once in a while, he’d let out a whoop. Occasionally, he’d emerge with that same smile on his face to hitch up his trousers and shove his unruly white shirt and the tip of his rep tie under his belt.

He loved to joke about the East Side/West Side divide and Cleveland’s ethnic goulash. He loved to tease. Sometimes he’d try to get a rise out of Diana Tittle, my fellow associate editor. I remember one time he made a crack about her love life. He got quiet and maybe even blushed a little when she shot back, “And, yeah, Nedly, I bet you’re the kind of married guy who only does it on Saturdays.”

If so, that was because he wasn’t around home much during the week. After work, we all hung out and we drank. I don’t mean to romanticize, because later in life Ned stopped drinking for good, but there were so many nights when we trolled the bars of downtown, looking to meet people who could tell us things. Ned knew so many more people than I did, and he could charm them better, too. We went our separate ways only to spot each other across the bar at the Theatrical close to closing. I’d go over to where he was, and he’d introduce me to the prosecutor, the detective, the indicted. We’d all laugh and joke around and set another warm contact on the back burner, just in case.

A few times he asked me to follow him home and come inside for a few minutes, to blunt the understandable spousal displeasure at yet another night of mining for journalistic nuggets.

For one of our annual salary issues, the staff was looking for a new angle. Marilyn Chambers, the early porn star, was in town to promote a book. Someone, not Ned, had the idea of putting her on the cover of Cleveland Magazine, with a cover line like “Marilyn Chambers made $100,000 last year. How did you do?”

Chambers readily agreed to the photo shoot, and, oddly, most of the male editorial staff wanted to be there, including Ned. Afterwards, she posed for a souvenir photo. We editors were wearing suits and ties, but we beamed like fishing buddies who had just landed the biggest walleye in the lake. Marilyn wore only a gold chain around her waist and a really come-hither expression.

I framed that photo and hung it in my house in Ohio City. Ned stopped by one Saturday with his two kids. His daughter spotted it. “Daddy!” Ned whisked her away in a hurry, admonishing, “No, honey, that’s not daddy … that only looks like daddy.”

That’s how I prefer to think of Nedly. He’s not gone. It only looks like he’s gone. —Gary Diedrichs

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Ned Whelan (1943-2013): Definitive Chronicler of 1970s and 1980s Cleveland

  Whelan with fiance Hedda Dempsey.
More than any other writer, Edward P. “Ned” Whelan, Cleveland Magazine staffer from 1973 to 1987, crafted the definitive profiles of Cleveland’s most controversial political figures and most infamous criminals. Whelan, whose career ranged from The Plain Dealer to public relations, died last night at age 70 in Arizona, where he was visiting his daughter.

When Cleveland Magazine was new, the brash upstart in a two-newspaper town, Whelan’s work -- aggressive, deeply reported, with an eye for character and human frailty and hubris – played a key role in establishing us as a force among the city’s media.

Whelan’s work on the Cleveland Mafia has no equal. For more than a decade, he chronicled its power struggles, rages and lethal decline. His Mob articles are the original source of every retelling of the tale, from history books to documentaries – and they even became a reference for the mobsters themselves. When hit man Ray Ferritto hunted down Irish gangster Danny Greene in 1977, he used a picture of Greene from a Whelan story to identify him.

“When it comes to coverage of the Mob, he became one of the foremost authorities anywhere in the country,” says Rich Osborne, who worked with Whelan at Cleveland Magazine from 1979 to 1984. “He knew them very well. They told him things they wouldn’t tell anybody else.”

Cleveland’s most powerful political figures, from Ralph Perk to George Forbes, felt the sting of Whelan’s caustic wit and the glare of his merciless eye. “He’s looking better than ever,” Whelan wrote of Mayor Perk during his 1974 U.S. Senate run, “his white boots gleaming, his once singed hair now coiffured and his ego swelling with the helium of senatorial dreams.”

Michael D. Roberts, Cleveland Magazine’s former editor, penned a tribute to Whelan after he left the staff in 1987. “He was always near the major stories in town, delving and probing, testing this politician or that issue,” Roberts wrote. “Whelan embraced every article … as if it were the most important story in the world. This passion was the key to his success.”

Sitting in the office next to Whelan’s provided an advanced education in the craft of reporting. “His attention to detail was like no one I’d ever worked with before,” says Osborne, who often overheard him on the phone with sources. “[It was] not only the very specific questions he asked, but his ability to weasel information out of people was phenomenal. He charmed it out of them.”

The payoff came in the stories. Osborne recalls Whelan’s 11,000-word profile of Cleveland businessman Hans Fischer, which builds to a tragic climax. Whelan’s ending describes “what time the sun rose that morning, where [Fischer] walked through the house, from the bedroom to kitchen -- every single detail, so you were in the story with him,” Osborne recalls. “His ability as a writer to tell a story in a compelling way was like no writer I’d ever worked with before.”

We plan to publish a more lengthy tribute to Ned Whelan in the May issue of Cleveland Magazine.

To read some of Whelan’s vast body of work, please follow the links to our online archive below.

“Ralph Perk’s Flight to Washington,” May 1974

“The Bombing Business,” April 1977

“The Life and Hard Times Of Cleveland’s Mafia: How Danny Greene's Murder Exploded The Godfather Myth,” August 1978

“The United States of America vs. Hans Fischer,” October 1979

“George Forbes: An Obsession With Power,” November 1986

“Top Gun” (Dick Jacobs profile), March 1987

Drink Local Drink Tap to Celebrate World Water Day With Film Premiere

Erin Huber is rich, but not in the way you'd think. The executive director and founder of Drink Local. Drink Tap., a nonprofit that connects communities to local clean water sources, says her wealth doesn't come in the form of money, but rather from having clean drinking water.

Since being featured as one of our 2012 Most Interesting People, she has been working with Laura Watilo Blake and Tom Kondilas to produce a documentary about her journey to share the wealth of water with St. Bonaventure Primary School for orphans in Mulaji Village, Uganda, by installing a new well in the village.

The documentary,
Making Waves from Cleveland to Uganda, will have its world premiere tomorrow, on World Water Day.

The celebration will begin before the film is even screened. At the Greater Cleveland Aquarium from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., local students will be led on a guided tour of the aquarium, stopping at eight stations for hands-on learning about fresh water. The stations will engage students in activities such as the Cuyahoga Soil and Water Conservation District's
Family Feud-style game, which will test their knowledge of facts about watersheds, runoff and other water-related facts. All the while, the students will be carrying two-liter jugs of water similar to those that children in Africa have to carry for several miles to bring water to their villages. 

"It’s a way to think about and remember that there are other people searching for heavy, unsafe water on a daily basis just to survive," explains Huber.

Drink Local. Drink Tap. will engage adults with its World Premiere FUNdraiser at Tower City from 6:30 to 10:30 p.m. The event includes a guest photo-op area, West African dancers and sustainable seafood donated by Pier W catering. The Terminal Tower will be lit up blue to commemorate the event. Once the festivities quiet down, there will be a screening of the recently completed documentary. Check out the trailer

"We hope that people will understand how wealthy they really are in Cleveland to have the water wealth of the Great Lakes," says Huber.

Memories are what fills Huber's bank account. One of her fondest memories is of a child in Uganda who said, "Miss Erin, you brought us water and water is life. You brought us life."  

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Gathering Round the Table

   Self described foodies like nothing better than to entertain themselves and others with talk about what they ate, how it was prepared, where ingredients came from, and who cooked it. Television has recast food and the people that slice, whip, and braise it as star attractions in an endless line-up of shows that run the gamut from heated contests to step by step tutorials. Another- and to my mind truly bizarre and disturbing- manifestation of our era's obsession with eating are the competitions to determine who's the best at stuffing their pie hole  Winners- those that do it  the fastest  and consume the largest quantity- are celebrities, however briefly.  A local newspaper recently ran a piece that featured a guy who's claim to fame is that he can down 24 chicken wings in three minutes. Only in a land of plenty would such antics even be possible.
   But this isn't a land of plenty for all. There are among us people who are hungry, who can't buy good food close to home, who don't even know what it means to have a healthy diet. For far too many of our neighbors the question on a Saturday night is about what they can afford to serve and not whether or not the restaurant they've chosen has a chef with a Beard award or sources its pork locally. Sadly one of the most powerful determinants of which side of the line you're on is race.  These issues will be addressed in discussions on the Case Western Reserve University campus next month.  

Fried chicken
The Race, Food & Justice conference is a collaborative, 2-day gathering  April 25-26 that will look at policy, problems, programs and potential. The event kicks off Thursday night with a screening of Soul Food Junkies, a documentary that explores the history, social significance and impact of this iconic America cuisine in and on the African-American community. Speakers at the Friday sessions include Erika Allen, Chicago and National Projects Director for Growing Power,  a highly regarded multi-city project focused on urban land use,  sustainable agriculture, and empowering low-income residents and people of color to be part of creating viable food systems for themselves and their cities; Malik Yakini, founder and director of the Detroit Black Community Food Security Network, which operates a seven acre farm; and Mistinguette Smith, founder and director of the Black/Land Project, an effort to collect stories and understand how people of color think about, talk about, and feel their relationship to farmland, urban spaces, and green places. There will be lectures, q & a time, and break-out discussions.
Rid-All participants
  Environmental Health Watch, Growing Power, Rid-All Green Partnership, a Cleveland farming initiative, and CWRU's Social Justice Institute have come together to create this opportunity. It is free and open to the public but space is limited and tickets must be reserved in advance. If this is a conversation you want to be part of, I urge you to get yours now. And even if you don't attend, it serves as a reminder that there's a dark and complex side of what we call the food movement and how  important it is that everyone have a place at the table.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Liquid Education

    It's March, the month that belongs to the Irish. Drinking is the way many honor the country, the culture and the land's favored saint. But after the parade, and when the green beer's gone there's another, better way to get in the spirit, or perhaps I should say into the spirits.

   On Thursday, March 21 Parnells — a genuine pub in Cleveland Heights, run by a genuine Irishman —  hosts the final event in a series known as Dr. Drink's Traveling Apothecary Show, Whiskey Class. The teacher is Joe DeLuca, barman extraoredinaire, alcohol authority, poet of potation and libation showman. He's also the founder of Beverage Resoures, a consulting firm, and vice president of the Cleveland Chapter of the United States Bartender's Guild. And he knows his stuff. I've attended several of his "traveling shows." In addition to having a good time, I'm always impressed by the depth of breadth of his beverage knowledge and his entertaining way of sharing it.

Of course, it doesn't hurt that encounters with Dr. Drink are always accompanied by glasses of adults-only goodness. And the upcoming evening is no exception. For this short study of the Water of Life, he focuses on distillers who are coloring outside the lines, using nontraditional ingredients and methods.

Participants will sample OYO Wheat whiskey, distilled in Columbus; Jim Beam Devil's Cut, made by extracting the bourbon from the wood of the barrel it ages in; Bernheim Wheat, a new small-batch product from Kentucky; Dead Guy Whiskey, from beer brewer Rogue; and Maker's Mark 46, long-aged and mellowed with French oak staves in the cask.

Attendees are sure to learn something (which can be used to impress friends), have a few laughs, and go home with a bit of a glow. Cost is $30 per person and reservations are required.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Locavore Lesson Plan

When Laura Adiletta left Cleveland in 2009, she had no idea she would make a return under such delicious circumstances.

Or that she would bring 33 high school students from Marianapolis Preparatory School in Connecticut  with her.

This week Adiletta is taking the students on a tour of the city as she teaches them about sustainable foods.

“The title of the course is Taste of Cleveland," explains Adiletta, who is also a chef at Vanilla Bean Cafe in Pomfret, Conn.  "So not only will they get a taste of the food and the stuff that’s growing around Cleveland, they’re also getting to experience the culture that really makes Cleveland unique.”

A few places on their packed itinerary include the Flying Fig, Greenhouse Tavern, and Spice Kitchen & Bar, where they will be treated to chef-led talks and tours. They’ll also get right into the source of their meals by visiting the Culinary Vegetable Institute in Milan, Ohio, and West Side Market’s urban farm.

 Adiletta's history with Cleveland (she graduated from Case Western Reserve University and also worked as an editor at Cleveland Magazine) influenced her decision to use it as an example for her course, but the city's emerging focus on sustainable food also caught her eye.

“I’ve been following the local food in Cleveland for years, really ever since I started cooking,” she says. “I jumped on the opportunity to highlight Cleveland and the food scene that’s brewing there.”

Many of the students Adiletta will be taking around the city are international, so this trip is an opportunity to show those kids there is more to American food than drive-thru fare.

“I want the kids to ask where their food is coming from,” she says. “I want to be an ambassador to American food culture and say we’re not all about McDonald's hamburgers.”

The  local food education doesn't stop with the students. Adiletta and her students are using social media to engage with the community about what they learned. Follow along through Twitter with the @eatloCLE handle and #eatloCLE hashtag and a website made for the trip,

Friday, March 8, 2013

Wine Times: Class By the Glass


Lora Workman's passion for cabaret began when she started going to shows with a friend who was a fan of the classic art form. After her friend's untimely death, she felt compelled to take up cabaret in his honor.

Workman has morphed into a champion of art form  in our region, going on to create the Cabaret Cleveland Project to promote advancement and awareness of cabaret.  Her latest performance, Class By the Glass, hits the 14th Street Theatre for a third time at 8:30 p.m. this Saturday. While Workman and other local artists perform a humorous musical routine, audience members can enjoy wine, appetizers and dessert.

Playing off of the opening of Sister Act at PlayhouseSquare, Workman’s cabaret will explore the concept of religion and the effect it has on our lives through playful song and light-hearted comedy in What A Fool Believes.

“It’s about the religions we grew up with, and we change the songs to fit around our stories,” says Workman, who studied cabaret at Baldwin Wallace and in New York and Italy. “We’re all about the comedy part of it because we’re making fun of ourselves, our own religious upbringing, other people and other things.”

The Pope’s resignation came at the perfect time for Workman's performance. She hints that the audience might get the chance to hear the Pope’s side of the story.

"We’re going to break the fourth wall and go out into the audience and engage them,” Workman says. “We love to hear people laugh. It means we’re doing something right!”

Known for her choreography, Workman has been involved in shows at the Beck Center of the Arts, Cassidy Theatre and the Huntington Theatre. She also teaches students in the weeklong Cabaret Intensive , July 28-August 2 at Baldwin Wallace University, that culminates with an evening performance.

For more information on Class By the Glass visit

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

It's Good to Go Wild

Sandor Katz calls himself a fermentation revivalist. The author, educator and bacteria wrangler, aka Sandorkraut, is a one man band for the benefits of eating and drinking live culture foods, things such as sauerkraut, pickles, yogurt, sourdough bread, miso, wine and beer. Fermenting foods by relying on wild, naturally occurring micro-organisms that break down sugars and starches is an ancient technique. It creates flavor, is a reliable method of preservation, and provides important health benefits.

Dr. Katz's Pickles, fire foor and drink. Photo by Barney Taxel

Katz isn't just an authority or an advocate. He's more like an evangelist and his gospel is grounded in a microbial view of the edible universe. He'll be teaching and preaching Thursday, March 14 from 5-8 PM at the Root Cafe in Lakewood. The lecture will focus on the practical DIY process of transforming ingredients through fermentation and the positive benefits of eating them as well as the historical and cultural significance of the method.

Copies of his latest book, The Art of Fermentation, will be available for sale and Katz will be happy to sign copies after the program. Cost is $10 at the door and pre-registration for the event is recommended.