Friday, August 28, 2009

Hike it out, b****.

It is a soft, rainy morning with only a scant amount of sunlight. It is nearing the weekend. The neighborhood is in a collective deep sleep and the day has not the wherewithal to rouse them.

Aaaaand....Scene.

It has probably been about eleventy billion years since I posted last, Twitter has really been my only link to some of you for a while now. It's been really hectic, and I'm still settling into my new life as a cohabitant.

Early August was for a trip to the Adirondacks. The weather was mostly beautiful, but I think it rained more than any of us would have liked. The Adirondacks are a beautiful place to be. It smells good, it looks good, and most of the tourists/hikers/cyclists that are there are just so glad you're there right along with them, that you're part of it too - you know what they know.


The view from our condo balcony

The plan was to hike two high peaks this year, but my foot didn't seem to want to let that happen. A couple of months ago I was diagnosed with plantar fasciitis which is not fun to have at all. I have a brace that I am supposed to wear at night that stretches my foot out, and there are exercises I can do as well. It started happening when my running regime got above three miles or so. Needless to say, this made hiking difficult and I was too much of a puss to go the distance. I turned back from our first hike (Blueberry Mountain - not a high peak) about a half mile in. I went to a farmer's market instead.

I hiked to Marcy Dam with Jeff and then turned around while the rest of the group went on to Avalanche Lake (and got caught in a rainstorm). This hike ended up being about 5 miles for me, and it really wasn't all that bad - hence the phrase "Hike it out, bitch." was born. Walking that distance over rocky and not-so-flat terrain actually helped with my poor inflamed plantar.

We left the Adirondacks on a Friday. The following day was the Pedal to the Point cycling tour. I had every intention of doing the full 175 miles (100 on day 1, 75 on day 2) but when we ended up getting home at 2:00 am and I woke up at 5:00 am- I figured doing 100 miles of cycling in 90+ degree weather with no shade on three hours of sleep was a noble enough cause. I called Jeff from Sandusky and asked him to pick me up.

That night, I slept better than I ever have in my life. So you heard it here: If you want to sleep better than you ever have, just ride 100 miles on a bicycle! It's that easy, liketotallysweartogod.

(Ask me about my odd calf tanline later!)

Aside from that, it's been deliciously routine as of late. I have been spending a lot of time with my best friend. We cook, we bike, we do all that stuff that makes some people roll their eyes and feign nausea. Such is my life, and I can't complain. I am planning a tattoo, another century ride, and a trip to Columbus. I will post my review of Etna in Little Italy later - But I will tell you all that you should really check out this place. It's inexpensive and like nothing else I've ever had. Also, the house wines are 5 per glass.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Yeah, flipmode! Flipmode is the GREATEST!

Sadly, I didn't win the makeover. That's okay though, I'm sure the gal that won it will have a lot of fun and it'll be good to see the results. Doing little pamper-y things for yourself like that is a Good Thing(tm).

My brain is on vacation mode. We're going to be leaving for the Adirondacks on Friday and I can't wait. We'll drive halfway up (about 4.5 hours) and stay in Syracuse and go the rest of the way on Saturday.

We plan to do two high peaks in one day, but I suppose that depends on the weather. (it looks kinda rainy)

Then on the 15th I am going to be participating in Pedal to the Point, a two-day 150 mile (or 175 mile) cycling tour from Berea to Sandusky (Day 1) and back (Day 2). I have to be in Berea at 5:30 in the morning on Saturday, which should be interesting.

Oh and I caved and got a Twitter account.

I have to go to work now! Have fun!

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Finally, a good trade occurs in Cleveland.

I left work a little early yesterday feeling "disappointed and zoned out" (to quote one of my favorite animated series). It's been a stressful couple of weeks and I've been riddled with insomnia because Eponine and Mitters still hate each other. (E & M are our cats)

I hopped on to check my e-mail and saw that Jeff was logged on Google Chat. I asked him what he wanted to do that night, and he told me that he'd probably be agreeable to whatever I suggested. (Why do you do this, guys?) The conversation went something like this:

Me: I know, let's go to L'Albatros ;) (smiley is large, bold and red to convey the sarcasm intended)
Jeff: Now that you mention it, I kind of want to go...
Me: (several emoticons expressing shock)
Jeff: What?
Me: ...Okay.
Jeff: 7:45!

I'm sure I just won the lottery there, as I don't know how many people can say they've suggested a restaurant like L'Albatros to their significant other (sarcastically, no less) and actually had them want to go there. Seriously, I had every intention of going to IHOP or Mi Pueblo. I just didn't want to cook, that's all!

A good trade, if you ask me.

While I have yet to go to any of the other Zack Bruell restaurants, Bruell and his minions of yum have impressed me once again with my second visit to L'Albatros.

Our first visit was on opening night, and there weren't that many people there. From my very first toast point full of the Chicken and Foie Gras Mousseline, I wanted good things for L'Albatros. "Fly! Fly and be successful!" I probably thought to myself that night. The wait staff was unrehearsed and unversed with the menu but it was charming. We loved every last bite of the food and were anxious to go back.

Seven months later, we returned. The restaurant was packed, inside and out. Our first visit caught a glimpse of a fledgling, wobbly and unsure. Last night we observed L'Albatross in flight, spectacular and energetic.

We opened our meal with a drink. Jeff got the L'Albatros, the house special made with mint, pineapple juice and absinthe. The drink has a spicy, licorice taste to it and a beautiful aesthetic quality, being poured into a slender glass with muddled mint leaves swirling about. I had the "One of a Pear", which is made with Grey Goose Pear, pear nectar and champagne. Mine was a sweet little thing of a drink that seemed to compliment everything that crossed over our table. I nursed it so it would last the length of our meal.

We ordered the Pork Rillettes ($7), which came in a hinged glass jar with too few toast points. When we asked for more, we received nearly triple the quantity given when the plate arrived. This was an extremely generous appetizer that could have easily been someone's lunch entree. It was served with tiny gherkin pickles and pickled onion on the side.

Jeff ordered the Chicken Breast ($16) with carmalized fennel, goat cheese, and potato mousseline (Translation: the best mashed/whipped potatoes ever). We'll be trying to recreate those potatoes unless Mr. Bruell wants to add it as a side (and then I'll just order them to go and say I made them)...

I (once again) had the Hangar Steak and Frites ($21) and was not disappointed. The steak was cooked as I asked (that's not as common as I'd like in restaurants) and melted in my mouth. For all I know, those fries are the best in Cleveland, if not the world.

We were sincerely too stuffed for dessert (thanks to the Rillettes) but I was sad to notice that the Pineapple Tart Tatin was missing from the menu. Next time, we'd like to sit on the patio.

If you haven't gone to L'Albatros, please go. If you've been already, go again.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Guys, I'm totally listening to "Legend of Zelda" techno.

I love Andrew Bird, guys. Seriously.



There are four songs so far and it seems like a new one has been added every day or so - Who knows how many there will be, but they're all freaking awesome. (Here's a link to all of them)

We have less than two weeks until we go to the Adirondacks. If you haven't been to that area, I really do suggest you go sometime. I had lived for so long in the same city (Columbus) and we didn't really travel when I was growing up, so going to the Adirondacks for the first time was amazing. When we entered the area, I had a silly thought. I remember thinking something like, "Hey, it smells just like Christmas here!" or "I had a candle that smelled like this once". The whole area just smells nice and clean, it's great.

Last week we went to Sergio's Sarava in Shaker Square. The food was very good, I thought. Jeff's dish was distinctly Brazilian, I got steak and french fries (can't help it).

We spent Saturday in Columbus and I saw my Mom for the first time in seven months or so. It was wild. We both looked very different. Mom had a recent stay in the hospital, and had just gotten home a few days prior. We took her several Cleveland presents (mostly from the Shaker Farmer's Market) including one tortoiseshell kitty named Fran. (Three cats was too many for us)

It was a good weekend, and the weather (mostly) cooperated. We'll be moving in a month or so, still staying in Little Italy. Hopefully we'll have a place large enough that we can entertain people.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Golly, I don't know what to say...

Hola, Muchachos y Muchachas...

Yo soy C---

*clears throat*

Sorry about that (well, I'm not) but I do have a bit of completely awesome news.

I just found out on Sunday that I am a finalist in the Dish, Make Me Over! contest being run over at Tricia's Dish. So, I would like to kindly ask you and yours to go and vote for me once again. I promise you have an incentive to do so (other than because you like me so much)...

When you do cast your vote, check out the weekly giveaways (porque...)

Now through 7/30, anyone who answers with my name to the "How did you hear about Tricia's Dish?" question on your giveaway entry form will count as vote(s) for me for as many entries you are eligible for {ie: If you enter a giveaway and get 2 bonus entries for Tweeting about it & becoming a subscriber, I'd get 3 votes}...right now, there are 5 giveaways on the site with 5 more being added before the end of the Summer Makeover Contest, so each of youse guys will be able to "cast a vote" each time you try to win a prize for yourself!!

What I'm in the running for:

- A full makeover
- Custom made outfit
- Shoes
- A photo session

Which is completely awesome for someone as fashion-challenged as me!

I didn't want to double post you on Sunday, so I waited. Check out Tricia's Dish even if you don't vote for me, she's got some really kickin' giveaways!!

PS: Please vote for me!

Sunday, July 19, 2009

If You're Not Part of the Solution, You're Part of the Precipitate.

Prepare to become addicted.

Yeah, I played with that thing all morning. Thankfully this is my last night alone in the house, so I won't have to resort to such things.

Yesterday my friend Jen and I hung out a bit and I showed her the "East-siyeeeed" (specifically, Little Italy). We went to the West Side Market and picked up some very nicely marbled strip steaks, corn on the cob and potatoes to put (as I am so fond of saying) all up in my grill. I also picked up some Spicy Lime-Cilantro noodles from Ohio City Pasta to make when Jeff gets home.

The steaks were fantastic. I seasoned them simply with some applewood smoked sea salt and white pepper. The potatoes were quartered and wrapped in foil with some whole garlic cloves (which got all melty and wonderful) with the same salt and pepper, and a little olive oil thrown in to boot. The corn was also grilled, and I set aside a few whole cloves of garlic to puree in with some butter to put on the aforementioned corn (do this, it's seriously awesome).

This was one of the most stereotypical meals one could ever make on a grill, but man was it worth it.

We'd also gone to watch the bocce tournament, which was incredibly fascinating. I never knew people took the game so seriously. There were many cigars. We also went to Little Italy Wines where they had six wines you could sample for a buck per pour. I got five, Jen had three. The one I kept going to again and again was a red dessert wine made with concord grapes called "Foxy Lady"*. It went for 10 bucks so I decided to pick up a bottle. Yum, it's like grape juice for adults and it's not too sweet at all. Surprisingly I didn't find it dessert-ish and had some with dinner.

*Fun Fact: Foxy Lady is made in the Finger Lakes region of upstate New York. Sort of close to where we'll be in a month or so!

We met a couple while sitting on the back patio, and the man just so happened to be a non-denominational minister. He wrote his name down on a wine label and asked me to give him a call "when the time comes". Yeah, Jeff'll get a real kick out of that one!

I also watched Run Fatboy, Run this afternoon while doing laundry. My neighbor said it was one of the funniest movies he'd ever watched. Now, I did think it was hilarious in spots but also found it to be very touching. Maybe it's because I'm dating a runner. Maybe it's because I'm trying to become a runner myself. It's actually a pretty good movie, and I'm actually very willing to watch it with Jeff if he wants to.

Oh, and something else about that link I posted in the beginning. You can cut/paste melodies just by right clicking and selecting the appropriate command (Copy or Paste).

Por ejemplo: 73992,8,8458,8192,8456,8194,32776,264,8448,264,10,73984,8200,8202,8456,32776

y uno mas:
65536,65536,66816,65536,69764,0,0,16912,0,0,2114,0,640,0,67648,0

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Somebody you once knew might never swim.

The sound of bocce balls colliding at the Alta House can be heard clearly from my house - the Cipullo Bocce Tournament is going on this weekend in Little Italy. The sun has only now decided to come out, and it looks to be a cool autumn day.

You heard me. What is this, hmm? The mildest July in a while, at least as long as I can recall. It made the cycling tour tolerable last week, but it's kind of weird. I expect to be miserably hot in my sans A/C house!! Wait, why am I even complaining?

Jeff comes home tomorrow night from the Great Lakes Relay. I'm almost tempted to have him ask the downstairs tenant if I got into anything bad this weekend. My neighbor (We'll call him "Buddy") is a nice guy... But he seems to be awfully fond of lying about things, or at the very least exaggerating. On several occasions, he's texted me when we've been on vacation to inform me that the 40+ year old woman that works in the lab with Jeff is having loud sex in my apartment. This wouldn't happen. Then he told me she had 3 or 4 people with her. Nothing against this woman, but this stuff just wouldn't happen with her.

I wonder what Buddy would say to Jeff if he asked what I did this weekend....

"Why yes Jeff... She was whoring around all weekend! (whisper) But don't say anything. She's a sweet girl, just misguided and lonely." Details may follow.

Before parting, we went to see the Bowerbirds at Beachland Tavern. A local band went on first, and we missed them due to eating dinner at Jackie Chen's which was okay, but not as good as (and not to be mistaken for) Richie Chen's on Cedar. The second band was Megafaun, and they were my favorite of the evening.

The Bowerbirds were also remarkable. Both bands had amazing melodies and musical talents, but we walked away with a Megafaun CD at the end of the night.

Brad and Phil Cook (brothers), along with Joe Westerlund make up Megafaun. These three tall, mountain-men like individuals create a folsky, unique sound that reminds me a little of my childhood. When I was little, my mother and aunts would get together on Sundays and sing folk songs and old gospel tunes in beautiful harmony - and that's what seeing Megafaun felt like to me. Both bands are definitely worth a listen.

It seems that the tournament is in full swing now (or about to be) - So don't even think of getting a parking space down here. Fuhgeddaboudit.

I hope everyone has a great weekend. As for me, I am going to hang out with a friend this afternoon. Barring catastrophe, we're going to go to the West Side Market and then traipse about Little Italy for a while. (weather permitting)

If the rain holds out, we might have to get all up in my grill.

I think I may go to Presti's for breakfast.

PS: Etna was reviewed in the PD. I should go again to check it out. (Really, I'm craving L'Albatros though). In another ADD moment, I think I want to buy this book.

Game on!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

These could be tweets, but they're not.

Jeff and I have been cycling fiends. We rode in the ABC Ride with the Akron Bicycle Club on Sunday. Jeff rode the 100 mile route and I did the 62 miler. Both were very intense, but quite fun. The nice thing about a good cycling tour, is that you sleep EXTREMELY well the following night or two. (Sadly, my bib number was not 666. Would have been cool too, since a stretch of the course was on "River Styx Road")

We made chocolate no-bake cookies the other day (these are the perfect accompaniment to a bowl of popcorn on movie night). I can't bring them to work anymore because people eat them all. You should make them, because they're EZ-PZ.

I haven't been posting a lot, because things have been kind of crazy. My mom is in the hospital, and should be coming home in a few days.

I solemnly swear that I will try to post more (gee, this sounds awfully familiar)...

Jeff is running in the Great Lakes Relay and is leaving on Thursday. If anyone fancies a bike ride or a night out this weekend, let me know!

We're looking for an apartment in Little Italy and parts beyond - Something close to Case.

I'm going to be cool like K & J and post some music videos of a band that everyone should check out. They are Woodpigeon, and as I've said before we found their CD in a resale shop in Canada for two Loonies. They're probably one of our favorite bands.

I am looking to fulfill a secret lifelong dream. I'm looking for an indie/rock band to join. Crazy, huh?

Oh yeah, the videos!





Wednesday, June 24, 2009

The Power of Melt Compels You

Two weeks ago, Jeff and I went for Round 2 at Light Bistro. I won't post as lengthy of a review since I regrettably cannot recall everything that everyone had. I'd really like to hit up a happy hour sometime, it sounds like it'd be really good. K & J - yes, you must go!!

Melt found its way to our computer earlier this week, and thus we found our way to Melt last night. June is coming to and end, and so is their June special sandwich - The Pig Roast. Pulled pork, fried sweet potato, slaw and cheddar-jack cheese. Mmm. Jeff got the platter with the roasted garlic corn on the cob and I just ended up getting the fries with mine. The sandwich was amazing, and easily the best thing I've ever eaten at Melt. Do yourself a favor and make a special trip for this sandwich. The corn, which Jeff was gracious enough to let me sample, was almost as amazing as the sandwich.

"We're going to make corn on the cob like this" I said to Jeff. (Note I didn't ask!)

We are going to be doing some more cycling tours this summer, you should definitely come along. We're looking at the ABC (Absolutely Beautiful Country) Ride and possibly the Sweetcorn Challenge (VERY hilly) which will both lead up to the 175 mile (100 mile day 1 + 75 miles day 2) Pedal to the Point in August.

We will be going to the Waterloo Arts Festival this weekend (yay!)

Pick of the Week: "Sweetfire" goat cheese from the Shaker Square Farmers Market. Get it!

Monday, June 15, 2009

The Devil Went Down to Burton

This is a short post, mainly because we're currently making pizza and preparing to go see Up at Shaker Square....

But Jeff and I rode in the Sunday in June tour in Burton, Ohio yesterday. Jeff rode the 62 mile route, and I took the 50. Do you know what my bib number was?

666.

Booya.

Also, as soon as my name goes up - check out the "Dish, Make Me Over!" post at Tricia's Dish. If people vote for me, I could get a makeover and I think we can all agree that I need one REALLY BADLY. (Amirite?)

I will post our second review of Light Bistro tomorrow!

Edit: Holy crap, I'm a feature here! Go go go!!!

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Where does she get those wonderful toys?

Holy man-tights, Batman... Where have all the cowboys gone? For that matter, where has all of my time gone???

Once again I find myself making an apology for not posting! Let's see, where to begin...

Jeff and I went to the Beachland Ballroom Prom two weeks ago and had a pretty rockin' time. Since our reservations for L'Albatros fell through (read: were not made), Jeff picked out Light Bistro for dinner.

Light Bistro was one of the best restaurants I've ever been to. We're actually going again tonight because Jeff's parents are visiting Cleveland to celebrate his birthday (which isn't until next week). Here's a rundown of what we ate!

Bonus Appetizer - Bacon wrapped Dates stuffed with almonds and Valdeon cheese

These were fantastic, and I was sad when they were gone. The bacon was perfectly smoked and salty, while the cheese had an amazing texture and I loved it, despite it actually being blue cheese - ew ew ew ew (normally) . The almonds provided texture and the obvious nuttiness - and I can't even begin to say enough nice things about dates. I love them. Put them all together in a warm, crispy little baconified date-mummy and you've got something magical.

~

First Course(s) - PEI Mussels with Lemongrass, Coconut Milk and Lime / Shredded Apple salad with Manchego cheese, walnuts, and citrus vinagrette

I went with a first here, and tried the mussels and I'm very glad that I did. 10-12 PEI mussels came in a little bowl with a lot of coconut milk. There was so much, I wished that I had been given a spoon to drizzle more of it over the mussels - there was a good bit left in the bottom of the bowl at the end. The limes were grilled, and this changed the timbre of the lime's flavor. I enjoyed eating the limes - with and without the mussels!

Jeff had the Apple/Manchego salad, and I wished I had gotten this. The idea however, was to share our courses and that's what we did. This salad was almost fun to eat, and I can't exactly explain why. It was light, crispy and subtle. I told Jeff that I want to buy a shredder so that we can recreate the salad. I don't have my shredder yet, but I did make a similar salad using Geauga County smoked cheddar cheese I bought from Zagara's and walnuts. I made the vinagrette myself, but it was less subtle and not as good.

~

Second Courses - Sweet Potato Ravioli with Rustic Ratatouille and Nutmeg Cream / Grilled Peach Barbequed Quail with Merguez sausage, Cous cous and Peaches

Once
again I found myself with entree envy, seeing Jeff's dish. That's why I'm starting with his. At dinner, I described eating the ravioli like "eating a pillow" - sadly enough the mental imagery doesn't transpose well. This entire dish, its texture and flavors almost seemed to ask to be eaten. I think that's a little strange to say, but I'm going to 1-up it here by saying that this dish was like clearing four lines in Tetris - everything just fit and you just score. Celebration ensues, and you just hope you can do it again in the near future.

Sadly this menu item is going away very soon, it's on their Fall/Winter menu and they're about to premiere their Summer menu. Get it while you can, it's completely worth it.

My entree was also very good, but paled in comparison to the ravioli. Perhaps I lack the knowledge of how to properly eat a quail, or maybe it's that I can't grok the price of quail in Cleveland, but I felt the need to eat this dish very slowly because of how small it was. I did feel like I was missing out on parts of my dish because I didn't want to sit there in a gaudy pink taffeta dress and pick at the tiny thigh bones of the quail as if I were dining at LB's Rib Shack. The peach was not noticable in this dish, not really even in the 5-6 little cubes of peach on the plate. I know that subtlety is part of the art in some dishes, but the peach in this entree needs a bigger voice - or the entree needs a new name. I wouldn't get this again, but it still doesn't mean I didn't enjoy every last bite - it was not what had been advertised, though.

~

Third Courses - Strawberry Panna Cotta / Apple and Pear Cobbler with Cinnamon Ice Cream

I'm not going to describe much about the cobbler, only because most cooked fruit really isn't my bag, baby. It was good, but not my thing at all. The panna cotta however, was just about as perfect as any panna cotta could aspire to be, I imagine. Truthfully I'd never had the dish before, and I'm afraid I wouldn't like it as much - having Light Bistro's rendition be my first impression. The strawberries were drizzled with a balsamic reduction and everything sat on butter cookie crumbles. I hope they keep this on their summer menu, it does really seem like a summery and refreshing dessert.

~

And now, PROM! Our favorite band was the Helper T-Cells (like last year). We danced and played with silly toys on the tables... We were prom king and queen! Hooray for the slightly nerdy people! Woo! We still have our little grass hats (it was a luau theme) and we might actually hang them somewhere in the house.

This weekend proves to be a busy one. Jeff and I are riding in the Sunday in June bicycle tour sponsored by the Cleveland Touring Club. Jeff is riding the 62 miler, and I am riding 50. This will be my longest ride yet, so we'll see how that goes.

I have also opted to do the century loop on the first day of Pedal to the Point in August. The loop will be named after my company's late CEO - so a lot of people on the cycling team have committed to doing the loop on at least one day of the tour. If I only do the century on the first day, I will have a total of 175 miles in two days. (several thousand calories)

Jeff and two more kitties joined my Little Italy apartment two weeks ago and we're doing well. My cat doesn't like Eponine (Jeff's youngest cat) but they're basically polar opposites in personality. It'll take time, and possibly fake cat pheromones to fix it all. It's getting better, but I'd be lying if I told you it wasn't a little heartbreaking to stress out my old kitty this way.




Wednesday, May 27, 2009

I'm still alive

After several weeks with a dead computer and a few days with an infected one (that I fixed... hooray for geek cred) - I am back in the good graces of the internet.

Everything has happened (isn't that what everything does?) in such magnitude that I can't even recall the proper chronological order for said everythings. Does that make sense? Of course it doesn't, you don't gotta lie to kick it.

The Cavs have lost (again) and it's looking a little grim for the playoffs. We spent the evening at La Dolce Vita after having pizza at Pizza Bogo which is actually a very good/interesting pizza place. Their Hawaiian pizza has mango on it, in addition to pineapple. Yummy.

Oh! Here's an everything that should make you want to get all dressed up and have pre-marital sex... It's time for the Beachland Ballroom Prom! Yes, this very Friday will be the time of your life. Put on that taffeta dress and pick at a garden salad, it's prom time! - Music by Living Stereo, Saint Ohio, Helper T Cells, and Good Morning Valentine. Here's hoping for more yo-yo antics as well. I'll be there, dressed as Princess Peach of Super Mario Bros. fame (unintentionally, my dress was 11 dollars at the Unique Thrift Store).

It seems that they're offering dinner this year, but we'll likely be going to L'Albatros (yay!) or somewhere equally tasty. I hope the weather is nice, a seat on the patio could be good!

More updates to come. I've been really busy and promise to post lots more, now that I'll have real internet!

Monday, May 4, 2009

Eating Little Italy, Part II

My hands still faintly smell like iron from the chains on the swings at Brush Park in Little Italy. I took the liberty of ordering some gelato from Presti's before walking down the hill to the park. The sun was still out and the breeze was faint enough to make sitting outside in a tank top tolerable. The gelato wasn't very good this time, so I didn't finish it. The views however, were spectacular. There's something picturesque about pre-dusk, edifices and verdure appear to be over-saturated in color and the sun shines in its brightest of bright effort before retreating beneath the horizon.

Friday night was for eating Little Italy. A friend and I went to Restaurant Etna (a location formerly occupied by Valerio's) on Mayfield. Valerio's moved to Battuto's former location farther east on Mayfield Rd.

Mount Etna is an active volcano on the east coast of Sicily, southern Italy. It is the largest active volcano in Europe and the largest of the active volcanoes in Italy. (via Wikipedia)

We started with the house Cabernet ($5 per glass) which was fairly bland for a cab. The wine list is extensive there, so I'm sure my frugality was my undoing. I was saving my money for further drinks, so I ate light with an antipasti plate - anchovies, soppressata, sun-dried tomato, olives and peccorino cheese, ($8.50) and a house salad ($2.50). Anne had the Ravioli Tre Formaggi ($13.50) which looked good, but she wasn't a sharer (but she ate my tomatoes!).

The menu is currently vast and a little hard to look at - but the server did apologize. To their credit, they'd only been open for a few days at that point. I'm actually very excited to go again. Peppe (the chef) was very excited that I knew him and brought us some Sicilian Tiramisu at the end of the meal - it's not as sweet and was absolutely wonderful (and gratis). Be sure to say hello to him if you go to Restaurant Etna. It is inexpensive, and a nice addition to Little Italy.

Jeff ran the 1st annual Derby Dash 5k in Ohio City, which was one of the most unorganized races I've ever been to. The course was short, and they got Jeff's time wrong. They tried to give him the 3rd place cash prize (he placed in fourth) and didn't initially give him the age group award. He did win a raffle though, and got some stickers, a pint glass, and a shirt (an XL, wtf). We ate lunch at the Great Lakes Brewery, and it was delicious.

Jeff and I got the sweet potato fries to start, and they were freaking amazing. They were shoestring cut sweet potatoes with honey, sage and thyme. We both also got the Old World Burger (smoked cheddar, bacon, fried onion straws and barbecue sauce on a pretzel roll) which has to have been one of the best burgers I've ever had. Jeff received a coupon for a free pint (for running in the race) and since he doesn't imbibe, I went for the Edmund Fitzgerald Porter. I really liked it a lot, and if I had another 30 minutes to finish it, I would have (I'm not an avid beer drinker, honestly - but it was extremely good. I'm just slow).

We went to brunch at the Beachland Ballroom and it was also very good. There are so many things I would like to try (including half of the cocktail menu)! K & J, we thought for a moment that we saw you. I think we were wrong. We have both gotten haircuts since the last pictures were posted.

Speaking of Beachland... The 4th annual Prom is on May 29th! Put on your best formal dress and be there! Only $5!

We have made more progress on the "Garden of Piggy Street". Pictures coming soon.

Until next time...

Bonus video: Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald - Gordon Lightfoot

Monday, April 27, 2009

Triangle Man hates Person Man: Film at 11

Calvin (the RTA bus driver) is one of those people that makes living in Cleveland all the more awesome. Riding the bus can be a pretty banal event, but this man makes it a little more enjoyable. As I walked to the 9th and Euclid station tonight, I hoped that I would get to be on Calvin's bus.

A fun side fact about the creator of Calvin and Hobbes - Bill Watterson lived in Chagrin Falls. I bet you already knew that, though. Just like everyone sees the arrow in the FedEx logo. It's like hearing a five year old internet meme from your own mother, I'd wager.


I can has popcorn?

In the above picture, Calvin is attacking Chagrin Falls. (secret-ninja-jeff-edit)

Anyway, Calvin (the busdriver) likes to ask trivia questions over the loudspeaker. He encourages people to shout out the answers to his questions and it actually makes riding the bus FUN. You can see people who were previously scowling start to smile when they realize they know the answer to the question. For the duration of a few city blocks, you can feel like a genius in front of several strangers.

Jeff and I had lunch at a sushi place that (dare I say) rivals Pacific East. It's called Aoeshi Cafe and it is right next to the Cedar Lee theatre. Don't be put off by the plain decor or the styrofoam cups your water comes in, this sushi is amazing. We had the Mexican Roll (spicy tuna with crunchies) and our ever favorite, the Spider Roll (softshell crab, avocado and either daikon radish or lettuce). It's cheap, too. I was brave and tried a raw quail egg on top of citrus tobiko (usually flying fish roe). I wouldn't eat it again, but it was interesting.

Please check out Aoeshi Cafe. I didn't get the feeling that it was traveled much during the afternoon hours - not so sure about the evening. It's really good and if you're lucky you can sit on the futon (woo!).

Random photo of the day regarding something I probably talked about weeks ago:

Jeff and I at the wedding we attended in Columbus (like, a while ago)

The garden in the back of my house has been completed. I'd still like to do more to the patio, and there's quite a bit of cleanup left to do... But this is basically what it looks like at the moment. We filled (read: Jeff) about 10 yard waste bags full of mulch and debris that had been back there. I don't think there had been a garden in years.

I didn't plant as many herbs as I'd like, we'll see how the Dill and Thai Basil do first. I'm hoping to host a little shindig there this summer! (The patio is basically awesome, but cluttered now)


This used to be a crappy pile of mulch and dead pokeweed!

Kudos to my partner in foliage for thinking of the path formation.


Concord grapes grow on our patio walls!

Seriously, the patio will start to smell like a vineyard before too long. Some of the local gents here actually make very good wine, I'm hoping to get my hands on a Cabernet before long.


Oh god now you kind of know where I live...

I really like my street. There are a lot of nice people that live here, and the Alta House is amazing. If I could raise 200 bucks to get a bocce team together, I totally would for this summer. Yep, my little corner is about to get very busy, and not in a hooker-y way.

Come up and see us sometime. That reminds me, anyone up for a bike ride some weekend in the near future? We can ride the EUCLID CORRIDOR!!! (and wave to Calvin)

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Marsey-doats and Doesey-dotes

What's up, blogpies? (See Alexa, it's like groupies but for the BLOG!! Get it? Huh? Huh?)

*listens to the crickets chirp*

I understand that some of you might not get that joke, and that's okay. It's like a secret club that speaks in some sort of crazy moon code like those sillies in the Dr. Scholls commercials.

Are you gellin'?

Instead, it's blogging.

Are you bloggin'? I'm bloggin' while I'm joggin'.
(cuts to an S&M fanatic)
I'm bloggin' and I'm floggin'... *whip cracks*
(cue lumberjacks)
We're bloggin' when we're loggin'!

Had enough? I thought so. You get the idea. No, I did not use a rhyming dictionary. You can't prove that I did. Stop looking up rhyming dictionaries.

There's a question that I really do not like to answer, though I realize that technically you can never be wrong. There is no such thing as stupid questions, people...Just stupid music.

I always cringe when I'm asked "Hey, what do you think this song sounds like?". It gives me the ickies and I don't really know why. I mean, I can pretty much say whatever I want. But it reminds me of some psychological test where you have to point to a picture of a cat, dog or bird when you're asked what fire makes you think of. *

*not a real test

If fire makes you think of cats, you're clearly insane and oh by the way - you should probably run because here come the burly men in white coats to commit your crazy kittycrisp lovin' self.

A slightly worse subquestion is "Who does $BAND sound like?". I stink at that sort of thing, honestly. I will tell you that starting around 4:28 in You Are The Blood covered by Sufjan Stevens sounds like what Enya would sound like if she candy-flipped and DJed at a rave. Starting at 7:40 it kind of sounds like the background music of a Tom and Jerry cartoon. Around 8:01, it starts to sound like Edvard Grieg's Piano Concerto in A minor. (OPUS 16, Y'ALL). 9:17 and on reminds me of something that would be in a Batman movie.

I told you I stink at it, or that I have a VERY odd perception of what things sound like. The next time someone asks me this question, I'm just going to say something random.

Better yet!! I'll use a Chuck Norris fact generator and instead of Chuck Norris, I'll say the name of the artist.

"I don't know, but I heard Colin Meloy once partook in a pissing contest outside of a bar. His opponent drowned."

Yeah. Just like that.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Eating Little Italy

I'll be the first to admit that I am a VERY BAD resident of Little Italy. I've hardly eaten anywhere here. I've been to La Dolce Vita a half dozen times (way more than that for drinking) and I went to Trattoria Roman Gardens once about two years ago. I've had drinks at Maxi's, La Dolce, Valerio's and Guarino's as well.

Well, at some point I hope to change that (gradually). Tonight, I ordered takeout from Guarino's (because it's right across the street and I am admittedly feeling VERY lazy tonight). I got the cheese ravioli and some cheese toast. This was a nice little treat. I wouldn't do it on a regular basis because it is a little expensive ($15 for the ravioli, $3 for the toast) for a solo evening meal and it beats the hell out of Qdoba or Chopstick (a horrendous little Chinese place on Euclid and Mayfield).

I'll have another post about Chopstick someday, just don't go there. Please trust me, the staff is rude and the food might be good if I was 12 years younger and a pothead. In my opinion however, there is no libation that could make this stuff taste even remotely Chinese.

Growing up with San Georgio pasta and a jar of Prego makes me really like the restaurants that very obviously make their own pasta and sauce. The sauce with the ravioli wasn't acidic at all, I felt like I could eat the sauce on little bits of garlic toast for a good while (I kind of did that with the garlic toast).

The inside of Guarino's is really charming, it's essentially a house. The bar has a piano across from it, covered in family photos. The dining rooms look like something out of a really touching Norman Rockwell picture. I would definitely suggest it for a dinner with the folks, or for one of those really sappy romantic dinners. You know the one I mean, where you gaze lovingly into each other's eyes and say;

Girl: I love you.
Guy: I love you more!
Girl: No, I love you more.
Guy: Aw! You're cute.
Girl: No, you're cute.
Guy: No...You!

Not that I uh, know anything about that sort of ordeal. Nope, nothing at all. *whistles*

It was a nice dinner. If I hadn't been in gym clothes I might have actually sat down and had a drink or two.

On another subject...

I don't know how many of you (or if any of you for that matter) ride the HealthLine (aka the #6 bus), but it has gotten crazy lately, what with the fare evaders and all. You have the option to purchase a single pass at any of the stops along the Euclid corridor. You also have the option to buy the pass on the bus, but rumor has it that this is going to disappear soon. If you have a weekly pass, you only need to activate it once. It prints your start date and the expiration date for you.

Keep your pass on you, however. Every single morning and evening the Transit Police appear on the buses at random and ask you to present your farecard. If you can't, you are escorted off the bus and given a ticket for $76.00. You have two weeks to pay it, or you'll get a warrant. When you are ticketed, they check for previous warrants and you can be arrested if you have them.

Every single day, I see at least one person sitting at a stop next to two or three Transit Policemen. Lately, I've seen people in cuffs (this means they tried to run). I talked to one of the officers who told me that people have started to physically fight the officers and will subsequently be arrested. This morning, I saw a lady surrounded by officers (she was cuffed) bawling her eyes out, pleading for them to tear up the ticket.

You'll most often hear people cry "bullshit" about the penalties, but I find it very hard to feel sympathy. The people getting ticketed/arrested are not homeless people trying to get down the way, they're people like you and I - except that they're not paying their fares.

It's two freaking dollars for a one way ticket, people. Pay your fare.

I suppose the sense of entitlement isn't a new fad but it really annoys me. Maybe I'll panhandle one afternoon, raise two dollars and get a one way pass. Then, I'll panhandle at Public Square and get another one way pass and go home - just to prove a point. I guess the point would appear that anyone can (and should) panhandle so they can afford the bus...That's not the point I want to make, so nevermind.

I've even felt so annoyed by this little dance that I witness every day that I'm motivated enough at this point to write a (dun dun dun...) LETTER TO THE EDITOR (god i'm old now). Who knows.

On a musical note (haw), give a listen to this Jeff Buckley song, Je N'en Connais Pas La Fin. (I like it more than I like Hallelujah)

Do you like free stuff? Go here and check out Trumpets in the Snow. (Made of some former members of To Be a High Powered Executive) You can even download their album for free.

Monday, April 20, 2009

When I Grow Up

Sometimes I can't decide between posting daily and having little to say, versus posting less frequently with more to say. I think the latter grants me certain liberties in talking your ear off apoetically - also it means I can make up words like "apoetical".

The weeks and weekends have been far too busy to recall in fantastic detail but I'll do my best. We've started a lot of things at work that keep me busy and push me to the brink of madness. I am realizing that what I currently do is not something I care to do for any great length of time. A couple of years ago, I told Jeff that what I really want to do is "make something with my hands" but I don't really know exactly what that is. It's harder to make a living this way, it's something I've thought about for a long time.

I've had recent thoughts about becoming a personal trainer, though I'd like to be in a little better shape to do this. I'd also like to be a writer, I've thought about writing a children's book for some time now. The most amusing part about writing is that after I work all day, the last thing I often want to do is sit in front of a computer. I think I'd like to sit quietly soon, and read something.

Jeff and I saw Sunshine Cleaning this evening at the Cedar Lee Theatre, it was a great movie - and you really can't beat $5 tickets and free popcorn. I have to say that being able to go on a date on a weekday is really cool, though it may seem pedestrian to most people. We dated for nearly two years while living miles apart and as time went on it became harder (emotionally) to do. Imagine consolidating all heartfelt, face to face conversation and interaction into one or two days on a consistent basis for 22 months!

Jeff ran in a track meet at Baldwin-Wallace on Saturday and placed fifth out of twenty or so runners. He ended with a time of 15:55. The weather was nice, but a little too warm for his liking, I think - for running anyway. We went to Panini's in Coventry and watched the Bluejackets game (boo) and ate hamburgers. Sunday, we made a Turkish stew with lamb, apricot preserves and other yummies. We got the recipe out of this month's Gourmet magazine (I got a free subscription when I registered for the Pedal to the Point). It's a pretty neat magazine and it seems to have some good recipes. I will post the stew recipe and other recipes we find interesting at another time.

I picked up a bottle of the Rose wine suggested by the magnificent partners in crime over at Sensory Overload from Whole Foods - It's really tasty! Someone has to come and help me finish it, though. Any takers?

Oh! We stopped by Music Saves and the new record store on Waterloo and picked up a mystery bag of CDs. Jeff and I have amazing luck buying CDs and falling hard for the newly found artists. Jeff wrote a journal on Last.fm about it, actually - and I take great pleasure in his confession that I "1 upped" him by discovering Woodpigeon at a discount/used record store in Hamilton, Ontario. Woodpigeon is one of his favorite bands now.


Songbook is the CD I found at Cheapies for a few bucks - what a find!!

Regrettably I am not Blogger savvy enough to post mp3s here, but your mission (should you choose to accept it) is to listen to Woodpigeon sometime this week. Bonus points if you buy an album or individual mp3!

Dear readers, I would really like to hear your stories of interesting (and enjoyable) music finds. What did you find, and how did you find it/them? Have you ever bought a CD just because the cover art looked interesting? Dish, dish, dish!

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Last night was the science fiction movie with you and me...

I dread the return of colder weather. Just as we have an "Indian Summer" in the later weeks of Autumn, I submit to you - dear readers, that we also have a Spring equivalent. What do we call our dreaded cold snap in the early weeks of Spring?

"Cleveland Winter" is the term I'd expect from most anyone I'd ask.

Just as the frost kills the early blooms and causes the forsythias to recoil in horror, it seems to do the same to you and I. When it's warm and sunny, we peek our heads out from our turtle-necked sweaters and peacoats to smell the air and gaze at the clear blue skies. The cold transforms us once again, like the idealistic forsythia - except that we retreat to the comforts of our coats and scarves, only looking up enough to make eye contact with the crosswalks and entryways we shuffle so expeditiously into to escape the snow and wind.

I cannot wait until we bloom once again.

Jeff participated in the Fools 25k Trail Run at the Cuyahoga Valley National Park on Sunday. He handily won the race with a respectable time of
1:45:22. Running may not be too fascinating a sport for most people, but I really do love going to races that he's in. I'll stop fawning over him here before I turn into a puddle of treacle - but it is pretty darn awesome to see him run.

To celebrate, Jeff and I went to Mekong River off of Lee - a place we've been to a few times before. Jeff seems to be a great fan of Thai/Cambodian food, since we do cook those sorts of things quite frequently. I won't lie, I sometimes think he's cheating on me with Sriracha. (a burning love - literally)

I ordered Paradise Shrimp (a dish in a yellow curry with pineapple, shrimp and too many green things I didn't care for) and Jeff got the Cambodian Curry (a beef stew-like dish with potato and yam). After having a few bites of Jeff's dish I was instantly jealous. We decided immediately that we had to try and duplicate this at some point.

Later in the evening, Jeff brought Eponine over to meet Onyx since we're moving in together at the end of May. (Did I forget to mention that?) I really wish my batteries would have been charged, because some of their encounters were so funny. They didn't fight, but they did hiss at each other a few times. Onyx hissed loudly and Eponine mostly sounded like she was deflating. It was cute. They were mostly scared of each other and should be fine once we're all settled in here together. Onyx still has to meet Francesca. Fran is a fairly laid back kitty, so we'll see what happens.

And now, it's time to expand your minds and musical tastes. I present to you... Elvis Perkins.



His debut album, Ash Wednesday has a somber and soulful timbre - Perkins himself admitted that a large part of the album was shaped by the passing of his mother - a passenger on the ill-fated American Airlines Flight 11 from Boston to Los Angeles on September 11, 2001. Elvis Perkins' father passed away in 1992 due to complications of AIDS. (via Wikipedia)

Don't listen to him because doing so gives you a particularly sad story to tell your friends when asked - listen because the music is rich and meaningful.

Perkins et al recently released a new album (titled Elvis Perkins in Dearland) that seems to have a sunnier disposition, not that there was anything wrong with the previous album. Amazon has samples of all of the tracks, so check them out!

Jeff bought the album, but I haven't listened to much of it yet. We discovered Elvis Perkins when seeing Okkervil River perform in Columbus about 2 1/2 years ago. He was one of the openers and I instantly decided that I liked him a lot. Perkins grew on Jeff a little slower, I think.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

On the Wings of a Bird

Ladies and Gentlemen, tonight I had an evangelical experience. I didn't put a Billy Graham sermon on my iPod, no...

I went to see Andrew Bird in concert tonight.

People were dancing in the aisles, shouting and crying - it was almost as if one was in attendance of a glorious, profane tent revival underneath the gilded ceilings of the Allen Theatre.

Andrew Bird's sock monkey was in attendance, sitting behind him at center stage. I remember seeing him two years ago in Columbus. A fan at his show the previous night (Detroit) had given him the sock monkey, smartly dressed as Bird himself would be onstage, complete with a tiny violin and case with a camouflage strap. He hadn't named the monkey yet, though some in the audience suggested that he name him Dr. Strings - to Mr. Bird's amusement.

The show took place two years ago at the Great Southern Theatre in Columbus, Ohio. It was my introduction to Andrew Bird's music and has since been one of my favorite concert experiences.

When I learned that he would be performing in Cleveland, my attendance was compulsory. I anticipated the show from the moment I bought the tickets, and sat at work today in child-like glee as I waited for work to be over. I watched the clock when I was at the gym, giving myself enough time to change and meet Jeff outside.

Andrew Bird's music is sultry and lustful at times, and can give you a giddy and cavalier feeling like the glass of wine that preludes a sumptuous meal that you've fasted for in anticipation of its arrival. It can be fun and endearing, and has the tendency to remind one that (at least) for the duration of the concert, you know you're exactly where you want to be.

It's not evangelical because Andrew Bird is keen on Jesus (because I'm pretty sure he's not) but the songs you hear are likely to evoke reactions and emotions you might not always express in polite company. Even I shouted the name of a song I wished that he'd play, and I never do that.

(Yes, he played it in his encore.) see "Why" on YouTube

I laughed, I cried... I bought the t-shirt.

...And I saw Andrew Bird.

* Bonus video action ahoy! (this one is pretty awesome too)

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Jesus is Crackers


Happy Lenten, folks. I suppose I'm going to burn in hell for all eternity for implying that Jesus is crackers (nevermind that it's true) but we're going to hit up a fish fry tomorrow anyway. I wonder if the bread the fish with Jesus... 

We headed out to The Spot last night and saw a delightful band called Kiss Kiss. They've started to limit how many non-students can go, you actually have to be with a Case student now. Thankfully I can walk up to security, fake my best Captain Morgan pose and say "Why yes, I am dating a Case grad student!!" (I'd only do that in my mind). They were pretty fun to watch. At the end, they brought out a couple of cymbals and had random folks beat on them for a while. 

After that, we walked home and fell asleep. 

I didn't get to mention the other day that I had my first civilized meal in my own home since I've lived here. I have now been in Little Italy/Cleveland for six months and until last week, I didn't actually have a kitchen table. We ate on the floor (I didn't have a couch, either). I made sweet potato gnocchi (courtesy of Ohio City Pasta) with chicken and cream sauce. The sauce went a little something like this: 

1 c heavy cream
Nutmeg
Cinnamon
Fleur de Sel
Cracked pink and black peppercorns
Ginger
Garlic

I didn't locate a recipe, I just thought of things that taste good with sweet potato and made it savory. Absolute heaven, let me tell you.

Our new addition with food all over it


The money (chicken money) shot

We're going to be visiting the West Side Market again soon, I hope. I've been eyeing the squid ink pasta at Ohio City Pasta and the pink sea salt next door. (The fleur de sel is amazing, though).

I have told a grand lie, loves. Kiss Kiss has grown on me since I started this post. Give 'em a listen.





Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Dear Blogger, please excuse my tardiness...

What a long, strange trip it's been.

Jeff and I haven't really been in Cleveland a whole lot lately. We were in Washington DC for a few days and then we visited Columbus for the annual St. Patrick's Day party at his parent's house. According to Jeff's Dad, he's had the celebration every year since 1978.

Anyway, here's some of what we saw:


The Smithsonian Castle



Inside the National Cathedral


A Peruvian Court Dress at the Kennedy Center


The gate into Chinatown



The Capitol Building

I have a lot more of our pictures on my Flickr page. Jeff also took a lot of pictures. Check them out if you have the chance.

After a wonderful bike ride when we arrived, Jeff took me to Kanlaya Thai Cuisine in Chinatown. The food was amazing! I had pineapple chicken that was actually in a hollowed out pineapple half. I had a couple of the cliche "umbrella drinks" and sloppily professed my undying love to Jeff - it was true but I'm sure anything I may have regretted saying could have been blamed on the alcohol - right? We spent the evening doing a crossword puzzle until I fell asleep.

The next morning we ate convenience store muffins and yogurt and headed out to the Metro and around DC. We walked around all day, and stopped back in Chinatown to eat at Tony Cheng's. This restaurant had Mongolian food on the first floor, and Chinese food on the second floor. We went upstairs and ended up having one of the best Chinese meals either of us had ever had. I ate the Kung Pao chicken with an egg roll, rice and hot and sour soup. My meal ended up costing about $13.00. (Amazing!!)

We considered visiting Madame Tussaud's wax museum but balked at the $19.95 admission fee. I settled for photographing Whoopi in the lobby and we moved on.


Whoopi Goldberg acting as a DC panhandler

In the late afternoon the sun disappeared and it got a bit colder. We visited the Lincoln Memorial and enjoyed a free concert at the Kennedy Center. After getting back to the hotel, we decided to check out a mexican restaurant and went to La Lomita Dos.

I wasn't as impressed as I have been with certain restaurants in Cleveland and Columbus.

Por ejemplo...

We ordered the "Chorizo con Queso" from the appetizer menu, only to find it was not chorizo...It was SMOKED SAUSAGE!! Yucky. The rest of the meal was good, but it took forever and a day to get the check. It was overpriced for generic mexican food, but there was a Mariachi band and that made things a little better.

On our last day, we visited the National Cathedral. This was one of my favorite sightseeing trips. My first few minutes in the cathedral were filled with quiet awe - I'm pretty sure that I stared with my mouth agape at times. Religious or not, there's an energy about that place.


This picture reminded me of Grace Cathedral Hill by The Decemberists.

And yes, I did pay 25 cents to light a little white candle! (The suggested donation was $1, shh)

On the way out of DC we had lunch at Satay Club where I had a very inexpensive and very filling lunch (General Tso's, hot and sour soup and potstickers) for $7.95. Yum!

It was an amazing trip, altogether. We found out a lot about ourselves and each other, we're stronger and (if possible) we love each other a whole lot more now. The first trip we took together was to DC, almost three years ago, so it was a little nostalgic too. We saw Ozma in DC at the 9:30 Club. I fell asleep during The Rentals set. Nothing against the band, I was just VERY tired. I had to tote around a cute guy with a broken arm, jeez...

I hereby vow to post a bunch more starting today. We went back to Columbus for a wedding last week and had a great time, but I sorely missed my city and have wanted to be home. I missed you, Cleveland (and your bloggers!)!

Friday, March 6, 2009

Oodle Doodle

Why does the first nice day of the year make us feel like kids?

I could have stood outside all afternoon today to watch the "adults" tunefully walking along as if bemused by happy memories of a first love. There was a man on the corner of 9th and Euclid playing a saxophone.

"B flat! B flat!!!" I wanted to say, as he slunk through a rendition of the Pink Panther theme. I kept my thoughts and timbre to myself and continued watching people go by.

I didn't want to go back. Not today. I wanted to ride today. At various points during my day, I considered feigning illness and tried very hard to think of a plausible one.

Ebola? No.
Food Poisoning? No.
A Cold? No.

Oh well. I made it. I survived the day, practically unscathed. I'm getting little bruises on my calves and shins from clumsily banging around the gym at work. I'm lucky to have a man who loves me, bruises and all. Aristocratic people in the Victorian era wore white makeup (hooray for lead poisoning) so they wouldn't appear sun-tanned as their hired help. Personally, I feel very honored to have my scrapes and scars. I earned them, and they all have their own stories.

(Coming soon, the story of the Lake Erie Bikeway curb romance!)

Tomorrow is a day for shopping and being outside whenever possible. The air is so heavy now, it seems to touch the asphalt and make everything smell wonderful. I wish that I could open up my windows, but I'm afraid to remove the plastic just yet. With a little cautious optimism, I just might do that tomorrow.

Music Suggestion of the day: A Northern Chorus
(They broke up, but one of my very favorite bands)

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Egg Love

Egg Song

For my fellow bloggers to celebrate their love of eggs.

Bicycle! Bicycle!

You know those buttons at the crosswalks you press to activate the crosswalk? (For those of you not in Cleveland - ours talk...) I have the strongest desire to karate kick one to activate it.

Jeff and I are hitting up the West Side Market this weekend and going to India Garden again. Any ideas/recipes to make? We had such luck making this amazing lemon pasta with chicken and cream last time.

DC is next week and I feel like a kid getting ready to go on summer vacation. I don't even want to work tomorrow, but if I didn't I know that'd be a little obvious that I wasn't sick. I skipped on the gym tonight in hopes to go on an evening ride (I was going to attempt the Euclid Corridor) but someone has my floor pump and I have a flat. I have a 2008 Specialized Dolce road bike that is my baby. I won't ride it to work in the Spring/Summer since it would totally break my heart if it got stolen. I'm looking for a bike in the $50 to $100 range to get to and from work. It's not that I'll miss riding the HealthLine... Boy, do I have some stories about that bus.

Tonight, I am being a lazybutt and ordering pizza/soda because it just feels like one of those nights. Sorry Alexa... I wussed out on the anchovies this time. I was going for a sure thing.

Columbus has a neat little cycling group that rides on Sunday nights and they were really fun. It was all ladies, and we'd go for a short 15 mile ride through the city. It was a little less fanatical than Critical Mass (I just signed up for Critical Mass here, though) but we looked out for each other. It was a good time. I left the group really quickly, because I moved to Cleveland really quickly. That's a story for another post. I really miss riding my bike. I am so anxious for touring season (Coming soon!).

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

These are a few of my favorite things...

I suppose that no matter where you live, you've got your "favorite" places to eat/visit. Every person in every city in every part of the world has their own favorite things. I've been thinking about this since I posted about India Garden and the like.

A fellow blogger posted about the Rockefeller Garden here in Cleveland, and it made me think of the Franklin Park Conservatory in Columbus. Cleveland's COSI is the Great Lakes Science Center. I suppose if I were to post every experience comparison between Columbus and Cleveland here, it'd be a pretty long post at some point, maybe when I've had a little more time under my belt here. Why does it matter? Why spend hours waxing poetic on all the places you've been in City A and compare them to the places you've been in City B? What if you've traveled and spent enough time in 50 cites to compile a list resembling one great clusterf**k of an algebraic equation? It's a whole new city, a whole new experience! Quit f***ing it up by comparing it to everything else!

...Because it helps make wherever you are feel a little more like home.

I suppose I'll spend a lot of time exploring the city when it's nicer out, subconciously finding Cleveland alternatives to Columbus favorites. There have been some differences here, however. When I lived in Columbus, I didn't have a favorite local band. There are a couple here that I'm particularly fond of, though. I really enjoyed To Be A High Powered Executive and Machine Go Boom. Both bands have evidently broken up.

Sometimes I wish I didn't live in Little Italy, and sometimes I'm really glad that I do. The thing about Little Italy is that it's a small-ish neighborhood with nice restaurants and really nice people. Some people here evidently hate black people though I've not seen any evidence to support this. If it's true, that's a shame.

It's such a secluded little area smack in the middle of a great big city, and it's almost too easy to stay close to home. When I lived in Columbus, there were a lot of nice bike paths. Now, I hardly know where any of them are and that worries me a little (I plan to ride in several cycling tours this Spring/Summer). I'll figure it out, right? Everything will be O-K.

...Right?

Many friends I've made here so far don't seem to share the same interests as I do, and a great deal seem to shrink away when met with the prospect of hanging out with a bonafide couple. A girl I spent my first few months hanging out with is 11 years younger than I am and seems fairly fixated on drinking. Don't get me wrong, I loves me a good drink or two... But nothing makes you feel more crotchety than leaving the bar at 8:30, announcing that you've got to be at work in 12 hours. Another friend spends a great deal of time in the Mayfield Smoke Shop, brooding over a can of diet Red Bull and a pack of Marlboro Mediums. No thanks.

Am I not doing this right, or something? Is there such a thing as a platonic personal ad?

"30 year old female, in a relationship seeking friendship, fun, and conversation (by the way I really don't want to have sex with you, thanks)"

Must there truly be an ulterior motive to everything? Does a meetup for coffee and conversation really imply a want for some "NSA" lovins'? Yes, I'd like to check out that new sushi place down the street. No, I don't want you to put anything in my butt.

I suppose we're all a little crazy, or that we'd have to be - to survive. Seal said so. Perhaps I'm becoming some elitist r-tard in my "old" age. Maybe I should go to Craigslist and post an ad that says "Seeking Friends - Must have a very high or better musical taste rating with me on last.fm or you can just go die in a fire"...

Nah. I think this happens when you've lived someplace for 29 years and then you move someplace new. One is too used to having their friends simply exist, when in reality those friendships were cultivated over many years. My next door neighbor in Columbus had been my senior prom date in high school, and he didn't move there intentionally from what I can tell.

I really do like it here, I just feel a little awkward, still.

* A note: The reason for the DP (double post) action today is because I had meant to submit the India Garden post last night and instead went to bed with my browser open. Go me.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Cruising for an Indian Buffet

I really wish I had the fortitude to post every day like Alexa et al... I'll have to work on that.

Jeff and I are heading to Washington DC in about a week. We're going to be tourists and then hit up Columbus for a St. Patty's Day party his parents throw every year. Sometime before we go, I'm actually going to get furniture! I'm thinking of throwing a little foodie party when I have places for people to sit. I've lived in Cleveland for six months and I have no living room furnishings.

Onto the food...

I've had some fantastic Indian food in Cleveland at Cafe Tandoor, and have found numerous Lebanese restaurants that are also pretty amazing. While Cafe Tandoor is quite nice, I have been missing a little Indian buffet in Columbus called Taj Mahal. You could go on the weekends and eat some pretty damn amazing Indian food for$7.99.

Until now.

Oh. My. God. Becky...
*clears throat*
No, seriously. I had found a small ad for a place in Lakewood called India Garden. They advertised a lunch buffet for $8.99, so I mentioned it to Jeff. We love visiting Lakewood restaurants (Angelo's Pizza, Melt...) and thought we'd give it a try. When I sat down with a plate of naan, a samosa, and some amazing chicken curry - I looked at Jeff and said "I think we've found our Cleveland Taj". Do not pass up this little restaurant. We waited for about 5-10 minutes to get a table because they were packed. There was a wait for a short time after that because people just kept coming in.

The staff is friendly and very willing to answer any questions about the food. Jeff and I loved this place and are planning to head back very soon.

They include Mango Lassi (a yogurt drink) with the buffet, too. The kheer is the best that I've had (outside of my own, which is crazy...I know).

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Battuto

Word around the street is that it's NOT going to be Battuto, that Valerio's is just moving closer to the main drag. Bummer.

Time for NCIS!

Monday, February 16, 2009

When one door closes...

Battuto is coming back to Little Italy this March. I never got to go, but have heard good things from another blogger. I hope it's as good as she remembers! The word is that Valerio's is closing and that the owners are taking over Battuto. Now, as far as I know this is just a rumor around the neighborhood - but things are definitely stirring at the former Battuto location on Mayfield here. Keep your fingers crossed, CF!

There's also a new market opening up called Spuzzillo's Market. Lots of things happening in March! Ooh, and La Barberia in Little Italy has a sale on the 25 oz. Bed Head shampoos and conditioners - $9.98 each!

I got a care package from Columbus this weekend that I affectionately call the "Big Box 'O Nostalgia". It contained the following:

- Two candles from Paul Robinett, one that smells like a campfire and one that smells like pipe tobacco. If you get the chance, check these candles out. There's not a single one that doesn't smell really good!

- "Malties" which are the modern version of Horlick's Malt Tablets. Little discs of malted goodness.

- A bottle of Gee, Your Hair Smells Terrific shampoo. I hadn't used this stuff in nearly 25 years. Good times.

(As a side note, I have eaten nearly all of the Malties. I am sad now!)

Lush Cosmetics is at it again with a new massage bar called Strawberry Feels Forever. I was glad to learn that there's a Lush shop right in Cleveland, at Beachwood Mall. You owe it to yourself to check this place out. I know that I normally write about food and whatnot, but most of their products are so natural that you could probably eat some of them.

Here's some food news. Jeff had stumbled upon a website called SuperCook which allows you to enter what is currently in your fridge. In most cases it will come up with several recipes you can use to make a yummy dinner. This has saved my butt more than once!

Here's one recipe I found that I absolutely love. I tweaked it a bit, but I think it's for the better.

Baked Spicy Orange Chicken

- 1 lb of boneless chicken tenderloins, or chicken breasts cut into strips
- 1 cup of orange juice
- 1 teaspoon of fresh garlic, minced
- 2 to 3 teaspoons of ground ginger (Whole Foods has this in a jar and it's AMAZING - and inexpensive!)
- 2 tablespoons of Roland's Pineapple Chili sauce (at Marc's) or 2 teaspoons of Siracha (adjust to taste)
- 1/2 cup of low sodium soy sauce
- 1/4 cup of orange peel

Mix all ingredients (except chicken) in a bowl. Put chicken in with marinade/sauce and allow to sit for at least an hour, overnight is fine. Remove chicken from the bowl and place on a baking sheet. Bake for about 30 minutes (less or more, depending on the medium of chicken you use) or until brown. Remove and plate over rice.

I took the rest of the marinade and added a teaspoon of cornstarch. When it was well blended, I tossed it into a pan to simmer and thicken. Make sure it simmers. Pour the sauce over the chicken and rice. Baby corn and water chestnuts make a nice addition as well.

Enjoy!

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Snowpocalypse is upon us!

Since I moved to Cleveland, we've had a few snow storms. I would comment to a neighbor about the severity of the storm and would often be met with a laugh and a comment like "HA! This is nothing! Welcome to Cleveland!"

This is bad, isn't it? Does it get much worse?

There was something awfully terrifying about being on the Healthline this morning. The sound of the wheels spinning as we tried to depart from a bus stop was something even my earbuds and an Okkervil River song couldn't drown out. I spoke to several friends in Columbus who have told me that they've had some ice, and that a lot of businesses are closed today. As adults, we don't get many snow days, do we? And if we do, they're usually in the form of a self-inflicted "mental health" day.

A friend of mine taught me how to text people. Before moving to Cleveland, I didn't have a lot of use for text, and didn't even know what the hell T9 Word was. This is a fascinating innovation, but it can also "drunk text" for you when you're perfectly sober. When I got on the bus this afternoon to go home, I texted a friend and said:

"Wow, the cup is scary. I hate to get home."

He responded, "It's okay. Don't let the cups get you down!" probably thinking I was being Dadaist or that I had gone insane from an overdose of snow. What I had meant to say was that the bus was scary, and that I have to get home. Do not worry, dear readers - I assure you that my drinking glasses do not intend me any harm.

We're going to see Slumdog Millionaire and eat at Cafe Tandoor this Friday. I like to torment Jeff sometimes by looking at him in shock and saying; "Wow! You're taking ME on a date??!" to which I get an equally silly look (picture the Mentos thumbs up expression) and a laugh. I'll get pictures and post a review when we return.

Hey... What are you doing on Saturday? Nothing? Well, I suggest that you go to see this young lady at the Beachland Tavern:

This is my wonderfully talented cousin, Chelsea Williams.

She's on her first tour, and has a couple of shows before she comes to Cleveland this weekend. I'm really hoping for a good turnout, for her sake. People need to hear how awesome she really is (and I'm not just saying this because I babysat her when she was little!)!

All bets are off for Sunday, I guess. I'm sorry, but I'm just not much of one to go all silly for football. Jeff will be glued to the TV and I may be persuaded to come out to watch the commercials, but that's about it.

I may ask if he'd prefer to hang out here so I can make some football-y snacks. Little Italy needs a butcher shop so I don't need to hoof it to Alesci's in this muck. I'd like to make a nice sub sandwich - it's really been a while since I ate one of those.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Dinner at L'Albatros

After reading several reviews of La Dolce Vita and La Strada, I have been wondering if I am capable of providing a fair review of either location. I am not particularly close with Terry Tarantino, but I am friends with much of the wait staff at LDV and many of those who work at La Strada. In a way, La Dolce Vita is sort of like my own little Cheers.

I don't think I could give a non-biased impression of Terry, or the staff. I can tell you truly that the food is fantastic, and that it's a fun little restaurant. The fruit drenched in triple sec that comes at the close of your meal is a nice little treat, kind of like getting a free manicure with a spa treatment.

I walk by the restaurant every time I get off the bus after work. I wave at the bartender. Sometimes, the hostess will come out and greet me. I haven't been there lately, however. I have been going to the gym a lot, and can't seem to justify a fattening (but incredibly delicious) plate of Fettuccine Fellini after running for a half hour. Go figure.

We made it to L'Albatros the day after it opened and I'm just now getting around to posting about it. Unfortunately, I wasn't really sure how to use my new camera and a lot of the photos didn't turn out the way I'd hoped, but I'll do my very best.

Jeff and I went to L'Albatros on opening night. They weren't that busy when we arrived, but that could have easily been due to inclement weather - it was one of the first crappy nights of the season.

The decor was minimal and the tables looked very sterile. Jeff wondered if the dining room could have been more romantic if the lights had been a little lower. Had the restaurant been crowded I would have agreed with him. The tables were close together in some spots, which might be annoying if you were on a date and wanted to completely immerse yourself if conversation with your date.

Our waitress was incredibly friendly, and helpful almost to the point of being annoying. We took our time with the menu since there were many things that looked like they would be good. She stopped to see us several times, to see if we had decided. In my opinion it was a little excessive, but much better than the alternative of a missing waitperson.

Jeff ordered the Onion Soup Gratinee for an appetizer, and I ordered the Chicken Liver and Foie Gras Mousseline. The soup was amazing, and the mousse had a creamy, decadent texture I had not been familiar with before. If anything, the mousse needed salt. L'Albatros had a generous cup of Fleur de Sel on each table with a charming little spoon - in retrospect I didn't think to use it. I wanted to experience the food as the chef wanted me to experience it.


For the entree, Jeff ordered the Sauteed Skate Wing and I had the Hanger Steak and Frites. I had a bizarre fascination with ordering steak frites ever since Anthony Bourdain mentioned it on A Cook's Tour.
















Jeff's dish was explained as having the texture of a scallop, which was correct. It had a mild flavor, but the texture put me off. I don't think I could have eaten the whole thing. He seemed to like it, however and that's what is important.

The skate was our waitress' suggestion, and had been informally named as the house special, according to several other people that we knew who went in the weeks to follow.

This is fine, but I had to wonder if the static suggestion was due to insufficient information on the many other dishes featured on the menu.

















The steak was amazingly tender and cooked just right. I haven't had much experience with fries but there have been many other foodies who have raved about Lola's fries. I plan to try them as soon as possible. These fries were nice, and the right thickness for my tastes. They were lightly salted and not greasy at all. I cleaned my plate that night, and that's something I rarely do.

When my meal was gone, I was a little sad that I couldn't eat it anymore. This was a simple and classic dish that I wouldn't mind having on a semi-regular basis - it's a good thing my personal trainer doesn't read my blog, she'd have a fit!

I've actually been wanting to go back for some time now, if only for the soup we had at the start of our meal.

I'd like to give the wait staff another chance as well. Many of our questions about various menu items went unanswered, as the staff simply didn't seem to be familiar with much of it.

A chef friend of mine recently went and commented that certain things needed to be tweaked, that they needed a bit more "practice". He ordered the Terrine and said it wasn't seasoned at all, he noted. After his comment I wondered if I had been correct about the mousseline.

On our visit we inquired about several of the desserts. Aside from the obvious ones (cheesecake, berries and creme anglaise) our server did not seem to know much about the desserts, either. Disappointing - but forgivable considering it was opening night, I suppose.

We chose the Pineapple Tarte Tatin, if only because Jeff and I really like pineapple. It wasn't a bad decision!















The tarte involved a puff pastry circle with a pineapple ring on top of it. There was coconut ice cream on top of the ring, and a sweet cache of caramel in the hole beneath the ice cream. Once again not wanting it to disappear, we ate it slowly and frequently commented on how good it was.

The sweetness was natural and not overkill at all. The pastry was light and fun to eat, though the dish was a little messy. We were given forks and spoons to eat this one, as the server had described it as "complicated".


I'd never had a complicated dessert before, and I had always imagined that a complicated dessert would somehow involve shellfish - I joke, only because shellfish tend to be complicated to eat. The tarte is not a first date dish, nor is it one to indulge upon if you're worried about sticky fingers or potentially having a caramel décolleté.

Andy Dombrowski greeted us on our way out and asked how everything was. I spoke honestly, for the most part. I didn't mention the lack of menu knowledge, that wouldn't have been fair. It would have been like telling your kid that they stink - the first time they try to ride a bicycle.

If you haven't visited L'Albatros, I suggest that you do. It was a fun and moderately priced experience I plan to repeat as soon as possible.

Oh, and they have cocktails with Absinthe. (yum!)

Thanks for reading!