Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Victory at Waterloo

If you're not a Collinwood regular — and there's plenty to attract food and culture explorers of all stripes to this up and comer of a neighborhood — then this Sunday is the perfect time to get acquainted. R+ D Sausage, a veritable institution for 25 years in what is now called the Waterloo Arts and Entertainment District, is hosting a meat and greet from noon to 3 p.m. The buy local Got Sausage! event is meant to promote the area, the shop and the kind of traditional culinary arts that are oh so Cleveland.

There will be live entertainment, cooking demos and, of course, samples to taste. Presiding over it all will be master of cured meats and stuffed casings, store owner Joe Zuzak. Originally from Croatia, he makes a pan-Eastern European array of options: Slovenian bratwurst; Polish krakova, Hungarian hurka (rice ring); and sunkarica, a Balkan style bologna. He smokes his own bacon — used across the street by Chef Brian Doyle at the Beachland Ballroom, a great spot for Sunday brunch — cottage hams, pigs feet and pork loins. It's worth a trip just to step inside and catch some smells.

Zuzak's the real thing, not a trendy copy. Alenka Banco, who works with the Northeast Shores Development Corporation, describes him as devoted to his craft, authentic and involved in a labor of love that is now considered cool. He's watched and survived the neighborhood's changes and the future looks good. But his business and the others on the surrounding blocks could use a little extra love right now — they've been hurt by being in the middle of a construction zone. The streetscape improvements will be wonderful, when done, but until then it's a bit of an orange barrel obstacle course. Don't be daunted. Good things await the intrepid visitor.

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