Tuesday, February 15, 2011


Soon, the waves will once again crash upon the shores of Lake Erie. Over the Winter months, there are no breaking waves, no sunbathers, and no fully-clothed people chest deep in water, sweeping the floor of the lake with their metal detectors - only thick ice that groans with each passing ship in the distance. Cleveland is experiencing the first thaw of 2011.

With the thaw comes the reality that my wedding day is fast approaching. Thankfully I have not become a Bridezilla - as far as I know. I tried to make a bouquet entirely out of handmade cardstock pinwheels and it ended up looking like a crumpled ball of frustration. Fail. Okay, no big deal. I'm doing a lot of DIY stuff and am also super-excited to be working with Cleveland's own Terra Verde Soap Co. for our wedding favors.

As a foodie, I am far more concerned with what people will be eating than I am with the dresses of my Bridesmaids matching exactly. We had the chance to get a cake for a ridiculously low price and ended up choosing a well-known baker in Columbus whose buttercream icing tastes like it's made of happy little clouds.

After we attended a catered event on Friday, I began to fear the mediocrity of mass-produced food. Fortunately and unfortunately, the caterer is included in our reception venue, so it's not like we can bring anyone in. In all honesty, I have never been to a wedding where I was wowed by the food. The event on Friday had a significantly smaller guestlist than our wedding will have, but even then it still seemed that the caterer, given the financial and culinary limitations involved in cooking for a large number of people had seemed to go about their cooking half-heartedly. The Pad Thai had no heat to it, and an over-abundance of what I assume was paprika, for color(?). The spices within also seemed to be old. I envisioned an old tin Durkee box full of paprika from WWII. It tasted how a freshly sharpened #2 pencil smells. I am aware this is a completely bizarre comparison! I wonder if this is beyond the control of the caterer. It is, very obviously more expensive to use fresher and higher quality ingredients. Secondly, I suppose not everyone wants spicy Pad Thai. The rest of the dishes were not as bad, but suffered the same mediocrity. Perhaps I am actually a Foodzilla...

Because I have a limited budget due to a larger guestlist - am I doomed to the same characterless cuisine? Here's hoping the next Chef Mathlage/Symon/Bruell is hiding out at an obscure reception hall in Columbus Ohio!

There are a lot of people who feel this is a truly miserable place, and it breaks my heart to hear it. I also know that Cleveland probably is a miserable place for a lot of people, and I wish that those people could see the city through my eyes, or someone else's who absolutely adores this place for even just an afternoon. We have a lot of bright and talented people here, who could easily have taken their talents to someplace sunnier, someplace with less snow and more jobs - but they stayed, and many of us get to reap the benefits of that. I truly feel that in this way, I am very, very fortunate. This is not just limited to our restaurateurs.

Last week I hesitated on a plastic toboggan and contemplated the meaning of life for a moment as I sat atop a gigantic sled hill in the Cuyahoga Valley National Park. We went sledding at Kendall Hills two weeks in a row - the first week better than the last. As I climbed the hill again and again, my legs burned and the cold air stung my face. Jeff remarked that if we lived somewhere else, we wouldn't have this. Hills and snow aren't unique to Northeast Ohio or many other parts of the country this time of year, but he was right. If we moved away, we wouldn't have this park.

Whether we stay here or move elsewhere will be a very real decision to make for both of us in the next couple of years. Jeff is working toward his PhD and after its completion, it could mean our relocation. We will be starting a family before too much longer and have enjoyed asking each other things like, "Wouldn't it be nice to take our kids here?". I asked Jeff that after going to L'Albatros on Monday night. As I've said on here and on Twitter that the restaurant has become a local haunt for us. I hope that some, if not many places I/we love to frequent will still be around for years to come.

If you live in Cleveland, what places make it home for you? There are so many places for me that feel so familiar, like a favorite sweater. The first place that comes to mind for me is the West Side Market. I find such solace in its chaotic weekends, and can't wait to go again so I can bring home something good to eat. If you read this blog and don't live in Cleveland, what places make your home "home" to you?