Monday, December 28, 2015

Countdown: Your Guide to a Rockin' New Year's Eve

First Night Akron
If staying in and watching the ball drop on TV will have you snoozing on the couch long before midnight, check out our list of the top parties that will have you jammin' in the New Year with fireworks, live music and plenty of Champagne. Whether you’re looking to mingle and meet or celebrate with the kids, we’ve got a party for you.


First Night Akron: This is a citywide party you’ll want bring the kids to. Visit the Akron Art Museum’s 16 foot-long Lite-Brite, grab some old-time candy and roasted nuts at the Peanut Shoppe, tune in to local musicians such as folk rockers Shiver Timbers at the Akron Civic Theatre, wander through the ice sculpture garden and wrap up the year with fireworks at midnight. 6 p.m., $10, children 10 and under free; Various locations. 

NYE Get on Up Dance Party: Hosted in Tangier’s cabaret, Akron’s funk band Get On Up will have partygoers on their feet to dance in 2016 with throwback '80s faves. Indulge in an appetizer buffet and Champagne toast at midnight. 8p.m., $70, discounted tickets after 10p.m.; Tangier, 532 W. Market St., Akron, 

Masquerade Ball: Don a mask and add some intrigue to your New Year’s Eve with this ball that has it all: a meal at the Hard Rock Cafe, jazzy pop covers by Final Say and hilarious stand-up from  Cleveland comedian Pete George at Club Velvet. 4 p.m. dinner, $35, $75 VIP, Club Velvet $20-$35;

Canton’s NYE Party: If your idea of a good time is more sophisticated and less flashing lights and confetti, dress up and feast on a full buffet, a midnight helping of sauerkraut, live music from Kerosene and Karri Fedor, and, of course, noisemakers and a Champagne toast. 7:30 p.m., $50 preorder, $60 at the door; Fieldcrest Estate,1346 Easthill St SE, North Canton, 330-966-2222,

Noon Year's Eve at Cleveland Metroparks Zoo

Music Box Supper Club: Lace up your boots for Honeybucket’s foot-stompin', whiskey-swiggin’ bluegrass party at the concert hall. Admission includes a midnight toast and an after-party with DJ Terkalerk. Alternatively at the supper club, kick back to some throwback with Steely Dan Tribute Band, and fill up on a $30 food and drink voucher. Steely Dan $50, Honeybucket $20-$35; 1148 Main Ave., Cleveland,

Beachland Ballroom & Tavern: What better way to start a new year than with old favorites? The Beachland Ballroom & Tavern rings in 2016 with the sounds of ‘70s with Grateful Dead Revival band Into The Blue. Admission includes hors d'oeuvres and a toast. 8p.m., $15, 15711 Waterloo Road, Cleveland,

Cleveland Pops New Year's Eve Celebration: Before you pop the cork on the Champagne, let the Cleveland Pops score your holiday with a lively Broadway Revue by vocalist Connor Bogart O’Brien. Stay for a balloon drop at midnight. 9p.m., $46 -$112, Severance Hall, 11001 Euclid Ave., Cleveland,

Vault's New Year’s Eve Masquerade Ball: Nestled under the Metropolitan at The 9, the Vault’s Masquerade Ball is the most exclusive party in Cleveland. General admission gains you access to Cleveland’s most glamorous party scene. For a little extra, join the after-party in Hush Speakeasy, with an indulgent chocolate bar and an open bar. 9 p.m., $110, $160 VIP; 2017 E. Ninth St., Cleveland,

Baz Luhrmann's Deco and Dance New Year’s Eve: Bust a move on the dance floor with contemporary beats by DJ Himiko Gogo & DJ Road Chief, bowl a few games and sip a Sacred Heart cocktail inspired by Romeo and Juliet. Inspired by the films of contemporary film director Baz Luhrmann, the event features video installations and decorations in the style of The Great Gatsby, Moulin Rouge and Romeo and Juliet. 9 p.m., $5, Mahall's 20 Lanes, 13200 Madison Ave., Lakewood,

Lago’s New Years Eve Masquerade Ball: Attend this premier party to welcome 2016 in style: admission to Lago’s masquerade includes live music from DJ Flaco Flash, an open bar and a buffet of Lago favorites — including Salerno Family Meatballs. Black tie is optional, but this 21-plus event is classy, so expect suits and gowns. 7p.m., $185.62–$561, 1091 W. 10th St, Cleveland,

Graffiti: A Social Kitchen — New Year’s Eve Bash: If you’re craving great food and a vibrant, laid-back atmosphere, head to Graffiti: A Social Kitchen. Nosh on a buffet spread of mini tacos, pasta, salad and more. Sip on a complimentary glass of Champagne and stick around after dinner for the DJ and dancing. 5p.m, $30, 1261 W. 76th St, Cleveland, 

Jumpin’ Family Noon Year’s Eve: Skip the late night and bounce into a fun-filled Noon Year’s Eve at the Jump Yard. Inflatable toys and an arcade are sure to keep your youngster occupied, while the DJ, ball drop, a sparkling toast and party favors satisfy your inner kid. Look out for appearances from the Snow Queen and Patriotic Hero. 10.a.m.-2 p.m.; $5, $10; 13700 York Road, North Royalton,

Big Bang Cleveland NYE Party: Check out the new Big Bang Dueling Pianos bar and jam out to fun covers from Journey to Silento. Depending on your ticket, you and your crew can skip the line, or even have a table waiting for you.  The $400 VIP option gets you apps, a bottle of Champagne and a space for you and your squad to spread out. 5 p.m., 1163 Front Ave., Cleveland,

Ritz-Carlton New Year’s Eve Celebration: Put on the Ritz this year with a swanky soiree where you can try a selection of bar bites, Champagne and cocktails, and take in live entertainment. 9:30 p.m., 1515 W. Third St,, Cleveland,

Thistledown Racino: Break it down with live music from The Benjaminz, King Lou and DJ Haz Matt at Thistledown Racino. Enter into a New Year’s Eve Drawing with a Total Rewards Card, or visit any of the casino’s bars for $2 champagne from 8:00pm to 2:00am. 8 p.m., 21501 Emery Road, Cleveland,

New Year’s Eve at Noon, the Children’s Museum of Cleveland: The last New Year’s celebration in the Children’s Museum of Cleveland’s current location, New Year’s Eve at Noon features noisemakers and a family-friendly DJ dance party. 10 a.m.-2p.m., free for members, $8 children and adults over the age of 1, 10730 Euclid Ave., Cleveland,

Popcorn Ball: Trade in the bright lights of Times Square for the salty aroma of fresh popcorn at the Chagrin Falls popcorn ball drop, where a giant ball of — you guessed it — popcorn made by the Popcorn Shop is dropped in the city triangle at midnight. Slurp free warm and cold beverages, and tide over hunger at restaurants that are open late. Money raised goes to the Chagrin Township Hall Renovation Fund. 9:30 p.m., $25 adults, children free with an adult, 83 N. Main Street, Chagrin Falls,

Noon Year’s Eve at the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo: Experience an ice-carving demonstration, meet new critter friends at the Wild Animal Show, or make an eco-friendly craft. Enjoy music and dancing leading up to the ninth annual ball drop at the stroke of noon. 10 a.m.-1 p.m., free with zoo admission, 3900 Wildlife Way, Cleveland,

Ciroc the New Year: Mix it up at the Barley House, with an all-inclusive package featuring music by Cleveland-based DJs Kosher Kuts & Thaiger, a midnight Champagne toast, finger food buffet, open bar, party favors and confetti drop. advance $75 women, $85 men, $100 day of event; 1261 W. Sixth St., Cleveland, 

Additional reporting by Katherine Blubaugh

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

My Go-to Christmas Recipes

This Christmas marks my second as Cleveland Magazine's food writer and my seventh as a chef. As such, my family turns to me often for menu suggestions, shopping lists, recipes and techniques. So when that email comes — the one with the subject line "Christmas menu ideas" — I'm usually left straddling a line somewhere between exasperation and terror, anticipation and a sense of pride. I want to bring my gourmet flair to the meal, but despite the myriad Christmas cookbooks and grandma's recipe collections available online, trying something new is a gamble: Surely that four-out-of-five-star review for caramelized onion biscuits means something is wrong with it.

Yet here is the best tip I've picked up through the last half-decade of pulling off elaborate holiday dinners for upward of 20 people with a range of preferences and dietary restrictions: You can spend two days in the kitchen whipping up maple gastriques, herbed leg of lamb and brunoised parsnips, and the family will still scan the table for your aunt's lumpy mashed potatoes and the HoneyBaked Ham your mother in law bought. Meanwhile, you've missed out on the last four bottles of wine, your nephew's newest magic trick and at least one tenner slipped from grandma's wallet and into more available pockets.

In fact, it's tradition and time together that everyone really wants.

Here, then, are my tried-and-true picks for updated favorites that will warrant heaping helpings of seconds but won't bind you to the kitchen.

If You Like Sweet Potato Casserole, Try:
Sweet Potato Classic
Adapted from's Gourmet Sweet Potato Classic
Serves 8

Marshmallows are nixed in favor of a more sophisticated crumb topping, while eggs and cream create a smooth, custardy potato filling.

4 sweet potatoes (I like the pale white ones rather than ruby sweet potatoes or yams), peeled and quartered
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 cup unsalted butter
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 cup white sugar
1/4 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup butter, softened
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour (use oats ground in a food processor for gluten-free version)
3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup pecans, finely chopped

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and butter a 9-inch square or 10-inch round baking dish.
Add sweet potatoes to a large pot of heavily salted water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook until potatoes can be easily pierced with a fork, about 15 minutes. Drain, allow to cool and finely mash.
Mix the mashed potatoes with the salt, 1/4 cup butter, eggs, vanilla, cinnamon, sugar and heavy cream and transfer to the prepared baking dish.
In another bowl, mix the 1/4 cup softened butter, flour (or oats), brown sugar and pecans. Using a fork, blend until the mixture is the consistency of wet sand. Sprinkle over the sweet potatoes.
Bake 30-40 minutes, until topping is crispy and golden. Allow to cool slightly before serving.

If You Like Stovetop Stuffing, Try:
Savory Sausage-and-apple Dressing
Adapted from Jasper White's Country Sausage and Sage Dressing
Serves 10

Using a rustic loaf rather than white bread ensures this savory, fragrant dressing, which is safer baked outside of the turkey cavity, can hold its liquid.

2 loaves rustic bread, such as French baguettes or sourdough, cut into 1-inch cubes
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 pound seasoned pork sausage (not links)
1 large yellow onion, large diced
4 stalks celery, medium diced
2 Granny Smith apples, cored and large diced, skin on 
1/2 bunch Italian flat-leaf parsley, destemmed and roughly chopped
bunch fresh sage, destemmed and roughly chopped
4 eggs
2-3 cups chicken stock
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
pinch red pepper flakes
6 tablespoons unsalted butter

Dry out the bread cubes by toasting about 1 hour in a 250-degree oven (or dice bread up to two nights before and leave out on a baking sheet).
Heat olive oil in a large skillet. When shimmering, add the sausage, crumbling into bite-sized pieces. Don't overstir, allowing the meat to brown.
Remove sausage from the pan, leaving the drippings. Add onion and celery, stirring to coat. Season with salt and pepper and cook about 2 minutes. Add apples and red pepper flakes and cook 2 minutes more.
Combine vegetable mixture and reserved sausage in a large bowl, then add bread cubes and herbs.
In a medium bowl, whisk eggs into 2 cups stock. Slowly pour over bread mixture, tossing as you go. The mixture should feel slightly spongey but not mushy. Add more stock if needed.
Butter a large baking pan and fill with dressing. Pinch off small chunks from the remaining butter and sprinkle over the top.
Bake at 350 degrees for approximately 1 hour, or until a golden brown crust forms.

If You Like French's green bean casserole, Try:
Green Bean Gratin with Bechamel
Adapted from The Pioneer Woman's Green Bean Casserole
Serves 8

Crisp-tender green beans introduce texture into this old standby, while a bacon-and-cream-sauce base keep the mixture cohesive and delicious.

2 pounds green beans, trimmed and halved
4 slices bacon, diced (it's easier when bacon is slightly frozen)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 yellow onion, small diced
1 pint fresh button mushrooms, sliced
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
4 tablespoons all-purpose flour
3 cups whole milk
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 cup grated Parmesan
1 cup panko breadcrumbs

Bring a large pot of heavily salted water to a boil, then add green beans and cook until bright green, about 3 minutes. Drain and plunge the beans into a salty ice water bath to stop the cooing process. Drain again and set aside.
In a large, dry skillet, cook the bacon until crispy. Remove from pan and place on a paper towel-lined plate.
Add onion, mushrooms and garlic to bacon drippings and cook until onions are translucent and the liquid from the mushrooms has been evaporated. Remove from heat.
In a medium saucepan, melt butter. Sprinkle flour over the butter as you whisk, then cook for several minutes until sandy blonde.
Slowly pour in milk, whisking constantly. Add salt, pepper, nutmeg and Parmesan, stirring as the cheese incorporates. Remove from heat.
Combine the bacon, mushrooms and onions and beans in a baking dish. Add bechamel sauce and gently toss, then top with panko crumbs.
Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes or until golden brown.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Photos: A Six-Year-Old Boy Saves Christmas in Cleveland

Six-year-old CJ DeJohn was born with half a heart, but on Dec. 17, he showed Cleveland just how big a heart he really has when he became chief of police for a day and solved a crime that saved Christmas.

The Lakewood boy was born with hypoplastic left heart syndrome, a rare disease which slows or sometimes prevents development of the left side of the heart. The Special Wish Foundation granted him his wish of becoming a police officer for a day, and made his dream come true of wanting to help others.

CJ, dressed in a uniform with a badge and hat, began his crime-fighting journey at Tower City Center where crowds of families and onlookers gathered. The little hero sat on a bench while being serenaded by Mrs. Claus and Tower City's Toy Soldier. Near the end of the performance, Fox 8 News interviewed CJ and the DeJohn family posed for photos before riding off in a colorful train.

CJ and his sister take a ride in Tower City Center
The family then took a pit stop at the new Cleveland 3rd District Police Headquarters to break for lunch, where CJ spoke with his fellow police officers about their "cool belts" and bad guys.

CJ rides on a policeman's motorcycle 
CJ went on a scavenger hunt around the city and found clues that led him to catch the Crump, a Grinch-like criminal, who was trying to destroy Christmas. Along the way, CJ discovered a series of clues that led him to his next destination including a small toy soldier, a key to the city, a basketball, a baseball, and a plush guitar, leading him to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum.

Moondog and CJ bond at the Quicken Loans Arena
CJ's work paid off as he apprehended the elusive, maniacal Crump at the Rock Hall. CJ told the Crump to stop doing bad things. When the Crump asked for forgiveness, CJ gave it to him. The crowd erupted into applause.

The Crump begs forgiveness of CJ, 
CJ saved Christmas and his wish showed everyone what kind of city Cleveland is.

"This gives him a little hope," said Capt. Keith Sulzer. "Everybody's pitched in and I think it's the little things we do that make us a better place. It's a big city but we act like a small city that all these people would come together for this."

The S.W.A.T team and CJ pose for a photo. 

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Guilty Pleasures

If you're anything like us, you're still working on your Christmas list, and New Year's Eve is still just a twinkle in your eye. So here's our gift to you: the perfect event for your rapidly filling calendar.

At 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Dec. 29, Bistro 185 is hosting their Pre-NYE Guilty Pleasures Champagne Dinner. Five courses with all the premium, pre-resolution ingredients you crave are paired with five distinct champagne pours for $80 (plus tax and gratuity).

Read on for more on this decadent dining experience, plus a recipe from sous chef Kevin Moore.

Course 1: Caviar and roasted marrow board with pickles, jams an dips paired with
Larmandier-Bernier Latitude 1er Cru, Extra Brut

Course 2: Seared scallops with foie gras sauce and butter-poached fungi paired with
Domaine Bott-Geyl Cremant D'Alsace

Course 3: Veal sweetbreads with corn pudding*, red onion and pickled mustard seeds paired with
R.H. Coutier Tradition
* recipe follows

Course 4: Lobster endive shoots, vanilla and pomegranate seeds paired with
R.H. Coutier Rose

Course 5: Dry-aged beef carpaccio, toast, truffle and quail egg paired with
2013 Dashe Late Harvest Zinfandel

Call for reservations.
Bistro 185, 991 E. 185th St., Cleveland, 216-481-9635,

Bistro 185 Corn Pudding
5 eggs
1/3 cup butter, melted
1/4 cup white sugar
1/2 cup milk
4 Tablespoons cornstarch
1, 15.25-ounce can whole kernel corn
2, 14.75-ounce cans cream-style corn

Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. In a large bowl, lightly beat the eggs. Add melted butter, sugar and milk. Whisk in cornstarch. Stir in corn and creamed corn. Blend well. Pour mixture into buttered casserole dish. Bake 1 hour.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Weekend In Review: One Year Since Tamir Rice's Death

It was a sobering sight as hundreds gathered at the Cudell Recreation Center to mourn the loss of Tamir Rice, a 12-year-old boy shot in the abdomen by Cleveland police officer Timothy Loehmann exactly one year ago on Nov. 22, 2014. As the Rice family gathered under the pavilion, local and national activists filled the grounds of Cudell to show support, holding signs that said "Black Lives Matter" and "Justice For Tamir." 

"Words can't describe the pain we felt the day that we lost you," said LaTonya Goldsby, Tamir's cousin, in an open address at the start of the vigil. "This last year we have tried to mend our broken hearts, trying to rebuild from the hole that was left behind."

Tamir's mother, Samaria Rice, thanked everyone for their support. During a moment of silence, 15-year-old Tajai Rice, Tamir's sister, released 12 doves — one for every year Tamir was alive.

"This year has been such a whirlwind for us," said his great aunt Michelle Thomas. "I just want to thank you, Samaria, for sharing him with us like you did. He brought joy into our lives, and she raised Tamir to be the kindest, most helpful, sweetest young man."

In what was the most emotional moment of the event, kids gathered at the front of the pavilion and everyone present joined in unison to sing, "This Little Light of Mine."

It was one of more than 40 events taking place nationwide over the weekend in honor of Tamir's life. Here in Cleveland, the weekend began Saturday morning when more than 70 people – including councilman Matt Zone and several members of the Rice family — came to the Cudell Recreation Center for a project where guests engaged each other in thoughtful conversation as an effort to heal and streamline everyone's intentions for the weekend. There was also an address from Subodh Chandra, Rice family lawyer, at the Martin Luther King Jr. Branch of the Cleveland Public Library continuing to ask for the removal of Cuyahoga County prosecutor Timothy McGinty. And on Saturday evening, a town hall at the Clark-Fulton Public Library, led by Elle Hearns, central regional field coordinator of GetEqual, Goldsby and Michael Nelson, president of the Cleveland chapter of the NAACP alongside local and national activists reminded the public that Tamir's death is not an isolated incident but one that's part of a national systemic problem of racial injustice.

"The fact that a 12-year-old boy was murdered basically by a drive-by [from] the state-funded police shows that this country has no moral conscience when it comes to black folks," said Ryan Brown, a local community organizer. "When they say, 'We don't want another Ferguson,' what I hear is, 'We don't want black folks building community and standing up for themselves.'"

The culmination of the weekend's events takes place at 1 p.m. today when the Rice family, friends and supporters march from the Free Stamp to the Justice Center to hand-deliver more than 200,000 signatures to McGinty's office asking for his removal from Tamir's investigation.

Community members peacefully come together at the Cudell Recreation Center. Those in attendance included members of the Rice family, councilman Matt Zone, and local and national activists.

Deja Joseph and Tajai Rice bond over the loss of their brothers through an art project as part of a day of healing on Saturday at the Cudell Recreation Center.

Mothers who've lost their loved ones due to incidents involving law enforcement came to Cleveland over the weekend to show support for Samaria Rice, including Tressa Sherrod, mother of 22-year-old John Crawford III who was shot in a Wal-Mart in Beavercreek, Ohio, on Aug. 5, 2014; Deanna Joseph, mother of 14-year-old Andrew Joseph III who died on Feb. 7, 2014, after being ejected from the Florida State Fair by police; and Krystal Brown, widow of 38-year-old Marlon Brown who was run over by a police officer on May 8, 2013.

One year later, people still seek justice for the death of Tamir Rice.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

First Glances: Sarita

When the venerable Players on Madison closed this October after three decades, longtime executive chef Anthony Romano and business partner Sandy Smith purchased the space for their own concept, a polished and likely soon-to-be-favorite neighborhood spot called Sarita.

It was a move Romano says he'd been contemplating for years, prompted by regular half-serious offers to sell from retiring owner Gary Lucarelli. Sarita opened to the public Saturday, Nov. 14 after an overhaul of the interior space.

Gone is the 1980s-esque wall art, muted wallpaper and neutral chairs and linens. In its place is a bold and minimal black and white concept splashed with red, a tie-in with Sarita's logo (shown above on the restaurant's awning). The space is comfortable and clean, though loud due to the openness of the two distinct dining areas and a painted tin ceiling that, while full of needed character, reflects and amplifies bar chatter.

The menu, divided into "this," "that" and "the other" categories broadly defined as appetizers, small plates and entrees, is expansive with nearly 40 total options with wide appeal, such as crispy, fluffy Navajo fry bread — akin to fried pizza dough — with two kinds of pesto ($4), sweet and savory stuffed dates wrapped in prosciutto ($10) and horseradish-crusted grouper ($29) with chanterelle mushrooms, mashed potatoes and a garlicy vinaigrette.

Horseradish-crusted grouper at Sarita, a Restaurant
Serious diners may find this new spot a bit too safe, and regular diners may struggle with the prices for an average night out, but Sarita has at least two standouts going for it.

Firstly, the service is astounding. Most new restaurants can aim only at keeping up with an opening-night crush while struggling to train overwhelmed servers and cooks. Because much of the staff are holdovers from Players on Madison, however, Sarita felt from Day One as if it were already a well-oiled machine (rapid menu changes based on customer feedback notwithstanding nor unwelcome).

Secondly, the olive oil cake ($7). Sure, there's a flourless chocolate cake that will likely sell well because, well, chocolate. But if you take one risk with your visit to Sarita, make it this cake. Citrusy, with a luscious scoop of cinnamon ice cream, just the right amount of crumb and a lingering aftertaste that reminds you the cake is made with olive oil, it was far and away the most impressive dish of the evening.

Sarita, 14523 Madison Ave., Lakewood, 216-226-5200,
Mon-Thu 5-11 p.m., Fri & Sat 5-12 p.m., Sun 5-10 p.m.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Westlake Teen Stars in First Project Runway Junior Competition

Photo by Barbara Nitke
Victoria Cohen is bringing spunk to the first-ever season of Project Runway Junior on Lifetime. The show will host a dozen fashion designers ages 13 to 17 as they vie for a $25,000 cash prize and a feature in Seventeen Magazine by showcasing their design skills in front of a panel of judges that include host Tim Gunn, Kelly Osbourne and Aya Kanai, the executive fashion editor of Cosmopolitan and Seventeen Magazine. Despite the national spotlight her designs will have when the first episode airs at 9 p.m. Nov. 12, 17-year-old Westlake native Victoria is more than a reality TV star: She's showed her designs at Cleveland Fashion Week 2015, studied at School of Rock, toured with her band Rockapocalypse and launched her own graphic T-shirt line PUNX. "A really big part of me is self-expression," she says. We chatted with Victoria about her local roots, how they inspired her and pushed her to the fashion stage of New York City.

CM: How did you get into fashion design?
V: I've been watching Project Runway since the very first season when I was 6 years old.  I always sketched and I always wanted to be a fashion designer, but I never really did anything about it.  But then I heard that Cleveland had a fashion week. The summer before, I started making T-shirts. I called the director and she reviewed some of my work and then they said that I could show, so I started working on my collection. That is when I really knew that I wanted to be a designer.

CM: Do you see the potential for a fashion industry in Cleveland?
V: When I go to New York, it's draining, and it's like a competition. In New York, a lot of people kind of get faded out but I feel like if I were able to bring a fashion scene to Cleveland, it would definitely catch a lot of attention because the people who will succeed and who have the passion — they're gonna shine. I identify with Cleveland. It just feels like home to me.

CM: How do you think your time on the show has influenced you as a designer and do you feel like your art has changed from it?
V: I think [designing] is definitely a part of my identity but being on the show, I think I found another side of myself. I don't ever want to be identified as just one thing. I have lots of ideas and I think I just need to take time to really define them. I think being on the show helped me find who I was and see kind of all of my creativity, rather than just 'I am this designer'.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Restaurant Weekend

The ill-named Cleveland Restaurant Week, which admittedly may sound better than Cleveland Restaurant Fortnight, is winding down. Your last chance to score a $33 three-course prix-fixe meal at some of the city's best restaurants is this Saturday, November 14.

The good news is, there are more than 50 participating restaurants to choose from, so it's a great chance to try out that special-occasion spot you've been nervous to take a chance on. The bad news is, you'd have to eat out four times a day starting Nov. 2 to try all the deliciousiousness.

With only four more nights to chow down on the cheap, we thought we'd help you out with a few of our perennial favorites. See Cleveland Independents for the full roster, plus menus and Open Table reservation links.

At the brand-new Alley Cat Oyster Bar in the Flats:
Course 1: Mediterranean Bisque with rouille (a red chili sauce), Parmesan cheese and toast points OR shrimp dijon with an herb-roasted beet salad made with pistachio, arugula and lemon vinaigrette
Course 2: Saffron mussel risotto with peas, grape tomatoes and preserved lemon OR walnut-crusted chicken thighs served with mashed cauliflower and green beans OR fried catfish with hush puppies, fries, cole slaw and tartar sauce
Course 3: Coconut cheesecake or a chocolate terrine
1056 Old River Road, Cleveland, 216-574-9999,

At eclectic Bistro 185 in Collinwood:
Course 1: Half-order of potato pancake and smoked duck appetizer OR a half-order of gravlax and potato pancake OR calamari misto OR bistro fries
Course 2: Wild mushroom pappardelle pasta with fresh herbs OR fried chicken and waffles OR a salmon special (preparation varies)
Course 3: House-made dessert selection
991 E. 185th St., Cleveland, 216-481-9635,

At modern Italian Flour in Moreland Hills:
Course 1: Beef carpaccio with olive oil, capers, lemon zest, reggiano cheese and arugula OR a local green salad tossed with shredded carrots, tomato, radish, baby cucumber, sunflower seeds and roasted shallot vinaigrette
Course 2: Manilla clams with spaghetti, chili and white wine OR a tagliatelle bolognese OR porchetta alla romana made with roasted pork loin, pork belly, smoky potato purée and a warm French bean salad
Course 3: Cereal milk panna cotta with caramelized banana, cocoa nibs and strawberries OR pumpkin budino accompanied by salted caramel, graham cracker and vanilla whipped cream
34205 Chagrin Blvd., Moreland Hills, 216-464-3700,

At inventive Luxe Kitchen in Detroit-Shoreway:
Course 1: Sweet peppadews stuffed with walnut-honey whipped goat cheese and golden raisins topped with aged balsamic OR spinach salad with pickled red onions, toasted pecans and gorgonzola dressing OR fig and goat cheese fritters drizzled with lavender-infused honey
Course 2: Italian crusted chicken with spicy sausage puttanesca, penne, shaved Parmesan and fresh basil OR pan-roasted grouper over lemon-steamed jasmine rice with olive and tomato tapenade OR crispy pork belly served with smashed parsnip and potatos, cherry chutney and pomegranate coulis
Course 3: Vanilla panna cotta topped with port-macerated cherries oR warm zucchini bread a la mode with a pumpkin-caramel drizzle
6605 Detroit Ave, Cleveland, 216-920-0600,

Friday, November 6, 2015

Avant Garde Arts & Craft Show Unwraps Unique Holiday Gifts

There are no potholders, stockings or dollies at the Avant Garde Arts & Craft Show. Founder Becki Silverstein knows shoppers are after something more special. "People want to show their uniqueness in a way that reflects their style and tastes, while also supporting their local community," she says. Started in 2011, the 14 annual Avant Garde shows are now home to more than 100 local vendors. Kick off the holiday shopping season early by stopping at one of these shows: Nov. 7 in Canton, Nov. 14 and 15 in Rocky River and Nov. 21 in Strongsville. For more show dates, visit If you need another reason to browse the whimsical bazaar, a portion of the show's profits go to different local charities, including North East Ohio Make-A-Wish and Cleveland Animal Protective League. We introduce you to five of the fun crafters you'll spot at the show.

Tiny Star Accents: Creator Cassandra Blasé's love for her home, her pets and comic books drives the vision behind her rustic and homey signs.  From the inspirational to the downright nerdy, her creations speak to all kinds of shoppers — especially ones born in Ohio. "I'm Ohio born and raised, so I want to do a lot more with Ohio."  Her hand-painted wooden signs also include varieties for animal lovers and signs with comic-book favorites Spider-Man and Transformers.
Buy This: "Ohio" sign for $15

Cleveland Candle Co.: Here's your chance to truly find your own scent. The company offers an in-house candle bar at its Mentor store. "You can actually sit around a bar top and build your own candles together," co-owner David Gin says. Those not able to make the trip out can choose from new holiday scents that will be debuting in December.
Buy This: 8 ounce fresh apple candle, $12

Necklascarf: Wearing a scarf has never been easier with the Necklascarf, which combines a magnetic necklace clasp with a vibrant statement piece. Entrepreneur Terri Brewer wanted a product that would appeal to women who found infinity scarves too bulky and complicated scarf knots frustrating.  In addition to being stylish, the pieces give back too. Her designer fabric is cut by Vocational Guidance Services, a nonprofit that helps educate and train people with barriers to employment, and sewn by Esperanza Threads, a nonprofit that teaches low-income individuals and immigrants industrial sewing skills. Helping make the trend more approachable is fulfilling to Brewer too. "I just delight in seeing women that come to shows and put these things on and get a big smile on their faces," she says.
Buy This: Patterned Necklascarf, $36
BootEmUp Designs: Bev Burkhart's boot jewelry takes your favorite cold-weather footwear from simple to eye-catching.  Made by hand, the jewelry combines durability, beauty and versatility: tough enough to withstand Ohio winters, each piece is also wearable as a necklace or even as a belt.  The Columbus-based artist loves sharing her passion for boots. "When people put the boot jewelry on, they have a sense of pride about themselves: they pose differently," she says. "It's so incredibly amazing to watch how this transforms people."
Buy This: Flowered piece, $27.50

Dream In Color Jewelry: Artists Sarah Friedenberger and Erica Speer's desire to break away from more traditional gemstone jewelry lead them to create steampunk-style pieces with found objects such as keys, gears, and typewriter parts. "We are recycling objects that tend to get thrown out," says Sarah. "Our motto is 'find your missing piece', and that's exactly what we want our customers to do." So find unexpected creations such as a wire-wrapped skeleton key that takes form as an owl pendant created from watch parts.
Buy This: "A Piece of Time," $40

By Katherine Blubaugh

Thursday, November 5, 2015

There Will Be Film: Russos Return to Boost the Local Film Industry

Photo by Jeff Downie
Joe and Anthony Russo won’t be coming back to Cleveland anytime soon to direct another blockbuster like Captain America: The Winter Soldier. Instead they are hunkered down in an editing bay to finish Captain America: Civil War one day; while the next day they are in a writers' room working out the details of the next two sequentially shot Avengers films.

The brothers who grew up on Cleveland’s East Side have, however, made time to come back and host a symposium on local filmmaking at the InterContinental Cleveland Hotel at noon Nov. 6.

Tickets start at $150 each and doors open at 11:30 a.m. The annual fundraiser for the Greater Cleveland Film Commission focuses on what film production means to our city.

A study by Cleveland State University indicates that since 2009, the film tax incentive has generated a $300 million economic impact on Northeast Ohio, and created 1,100 full-time equivalent jobs. The Avengers and Captain America: The Winter Soldier both took advantage of the credit and aesthetic locales from Public Square to the Cleveland Museum of Art.

For the Russo Brothers, it’s personal.

“It’s something very close to us and we want to do everything we can to encourage filmmaking in Cleveland, because we love shooting [here],” says Anthony. “It’s another step in the process of us trying to help develop and deepen and broaden the film potential in Cleveland.”

Like Daniel Plainview in There Will Be Blood, they see a region of untapped potential. In Cleveland’s case, it’s a low cost of living and the richness of sites that look great on the silver screen.

During the luncheon, one of the major talking points will be how competitive the industry is. To remain competitive, Plainview erected oil wells. The Russos are only asking for a soundstage.

“We would love to see a permanent studio and production facility developed in Cleveland,” Anthony says. “Most people probably don’t realize how much of a movie is shot on a stage.”

If the region had one, Captain America, Iron Man, and Spider-Man would have all been here last summer.

“We knew we could have taken Civil War to Cleveland if it had a studio,” Anthony says. “But it didn’t, so we had to go to Atlanta.”

At least we have the Nicolas Cage movie, Dog Eat Dog, shooting here until the end of November. WKYC caught up with one of the film’s producer’s, Mark Burman, fawned over the city.

"I'm telling you Cleveland is the next Louisiana," Burman told the news outlet. " People are wonderful here."

“To me it still feels like it’s moving in the right direction,” Anthony adds. “[The film commission] is building on the successes they’ve had and figuring out how to expand and move forward. That’s a great place to be.”

By John Hitch

Friday, October 16, 2015

Samaria Rice is Working For Tamir

Photo Credit: Sheehan Hannan
"Since the senseless shooting of my son Tamir Rice, I have had many sleepless nights and days," said Samaria Rice during a morning press conference in front of the Justice Center. "It's almost a year now — no justice, no peace."

The announcement came in response to Prosecutor Timothy McGinty's decision to release two reports — one by a Colorado prosecutor and one by a retired FBI special agent — last Saturday that called the shooting of 12-year-old Tamir Rice by officer Timothy Loehmann "objectively reasonable."

On Nov. 22, 2014, Tamir was playing in the park with a toy gun that had the orange safety tip removed when a 911 caller alerted police to a black male who was “probably a juvenile” carrying a gun that was “probably fake.” But when the dispatcher failed to relay all of the information, officers Frank Garmback and Timothy Loehmann responded to the call. Video shows the officers driving onto the grass within 5 feet of the boy and firing on him within two seconds of arrival. Now, one year later, Samaria is still waiting for McGinty to present his investigation into her son's death to a grand jury.

"I would like for [McGinty] to step down and allow an independent prosecutor to take over Tamir Rice's case," Samaria said.

Photo Credit: Sheehan Hannan
Samaria's lawyers delivered the request for removal to McGinty prior to the conference in an eight-page letter that cited two separate incidents this past year in which officers were quickly indicted on murder charges in South Carolina and Baltimore. If McGinty refuses to step aside for a independent prosecutor, Samaria's lawyers requested that he publicly state whether he will seek an indictment in the case.

"When a tragedy like this happens, people want justice," said attorney Jonathan S. Abbey, who is one of three lawyers representing the family. "What is justice in a situation like this? Justice in a situation like this involves accountability, it involves holding people responsible and accountable for what they’ve done. Justice involves impartiality, it involves holding people responsible for the wrongdoing that they committed. We are concerned. We are upset. We are frustrated. We are angry because we feel justice is not in process and not in motion in this case."

Cleveland Magazine's story "For Tamir," which will appear in the November issue, is available online here.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Cleveland Community Police Commission Starts Up with First Public Meeting

The members of  the Cleveland Community Police Commission. ( Photo by Sheehan Hannan)
The Cleveland Community Police Commission held its first public meeting last night at St. Paul’s Community Church on the West Side.  Eleven commissioners were in attendance at the meeting in the church’s gym, seated in a row opposite a mural on the wall — a cross, modeled after the one outside the church, a rainbow of light exploding from its center. The 13-member commission, which was mandated by the city’s consent decree with the Justice Department, was sworn in Sept. 8. Here's a snapshot.
  • The program focused on bias-free policing and the civilian complaint review process. Ronnie Dunn, a professor at Cleveland State University, presented his research on the Civilian Police Review Board. For more on Dunn and his research, read my profile from April.
  • Absent were representatives from Mayor Frank Jackson’s administration and Division of Police brass, with the exception of Office of Professional Standards Administrator Damon Scott.
  • Taking the microphone, Scott expressed frustration with the commission’s decision to ask Dunn about the inner workings of the Office of Professional Standards rather than asking the department directly. After a brief verbal tug-of-war with co-chair Rhonda Williams, he calmly explained the civilian complaint procedure. Scott also clarified how the Office of Professional Standards handles complaints by minors, a question posed by commissioner Dylan Sellers. A guardian must file a complaint on their behalf; they cannot file on their own, he said. Scott may give a presentation at a later meeting.
  • There was a healthy City Council contingent. I spotted council members Matt Zone, Zack Reed, Brian Kazy, Dona Brady and Brian Cummins. Charles See, a member of the consent decree monitoring team and the head of the Lutheran Metropolitan Ministries Community Re-Entry Program, popped in for the latter half.
  •  Co-chair Mario Clopton said afterward that the Jackson administration has been very supportive. Police chief Calvin Williams has even shared his personal cellphone number with the commissioners, Clopton said.
  • The representatives from the three police associations — Steve Loomis of the Cleveland Police Patrolmen’s Association, Lynn Hampton of Black Shield and Timothy Higgins of the Fraternal Order of Police — were mostly silent. Higgins and Hampton asked Dunn a few clarifying questions during his presentation. Beyond introducing himself at the beginning of the meeting, the usually outspoken Loomis stayed silent, though he appeared to be taking copious notes. For now, the more activist commissioners seem to be in the driver’s seat, headlined by the three co-chairs: Williams, Clopton and Craig Boise.
  • The commission is obviously still in its infancy. The group has not approved a set of comprehensive bylaws yet — something Clopton said he hopes the group will complete by the end of October. When ratified, the bylaws will be publicly released on the commission’s nonexistent website. After a suggestion from councilman Joe Cimperman at a City Council Safety Committee meeting earlier in the day, the commission will soon be setting up social media accounts. Notably, the commission doesn’t seem to have a city email address yet either, instead giving out a Gmail address.
  • There’s also no word on what the commission’s budget will look like — whether there will be an allowances for staff or office space, in particular. Currently, the commission relies on two volunteers to take meeting minutes: one from the Cleveland Foundation, the other from the city’s Community Relations Board. “We’re all our own researchers right now,” said Clopton.
  • Councilman Cummins said he hopes the commission will get the resources they need, though he prefers public funding over private — both of which are options outlined in the consent decree. “I’m very concerned about your capacity as a commission, given the fact that you all have full-time jobs and commitments,” he said, emphasizing the need for a full-time staff. “If we have to rely on private funding, I really question and am concerned about the sustainability of the commission’s work.” He is committed to finding sufficient funding for the commission within the city’s budget, he said. 
Future meetings will alternate between the East and West sides. All are from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m.. Scheduled so far:
  • Oct. 28 at Elizabeth Baptist Church
  • Nov. 11 at Cudell Recreation Center
  • Dec. 3 at Trinity Cathedral
  • Dec. 17 at West Side Community House