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:

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!