Thursday, May 19, 2011

To Consume and Be Consumed...

Considering this is a food blog, I don't really like to bring up much of my non-food life on it. My non-food life has been mostly about my upcoming wedding, and I find that nobody likes to hear about wedding minutia except... Other brides. So instead of dishing about how many loops are in my multi-tiered French bustle (it is just oh-so-LOVERLY by the way), I've mostly kept to myself in my spare time, and that means not really writing as much as I'd like.

I have been out and about in good ol' CLE however, and have had some culinary adventures along the way. The weather seems to have inconsistently gotten warmer, and April showers have brought May showers... But I've managed to get out and visit the Shaker Square Farmer's Market a couple of times.

On one visit, I discovered Blaze Gourmet. Their booth at the market is not to be missed. Dressed to the nines with flavorful hot sauces and salsas, there were many samples to be had. I tried the Dirty Taco Hot Sauce ($6.95 on the website) and the Mango Hot Sauce ($8.95). Both had a lot of flavor and didn't punch you in the mouth with vinegar and flavorless heat. The sauces have heat, but also a depth of character I can't say I've found in any other hot sauces I've tried. We ended up buying a Raspberry Chipotle salsa on the first trip, and the mango sauce on another. Both were well worth it (the salsa has been vanquished) and will undoubtedly purchased again.

More recently, the mango sauce ended up in an enchilada casserole that contained chicken, pineapple, black beans, cheese, and some of the wonderful ginger-tinged mango hot sauce from Blaze. The flavor profile was unique, and the meal will be made again. It was an incredibly easy dish that doesn't actually have a recipe - I had pineapple from the West Side Market left over from the previous weekend, and figured it might work in the enchiladas. I was correct! I had learned from a restaurant in Columbus that pineapple works VERY well in certain Mexican dishes.

I've also been to the West Side Market recently, to pick up things for an Italian submarine sandwich at my very favorite deli stand - Nonno Joe's. We usually pick up some sopressata, genoa salami, and some kind of shaved ham, and their prices are incredibly reasonable. The owners are always pleasant and kind, and that also keeps me coming back.

While waiting for our deli order, I spotted some margherita pepperoni in the case. It was a hard, dry-cured pepperoni that immediately piqued my curiosity. I wondered if it would curl and crisp up when sliced thinly on a pizza, and it totally does! The pepperoni is salty, but perfectly so. If you're used to the pre-sliced, softer pepperonis - this may be a little shock to your system. We use a pizza stone when baking, and buy the cheese and dough at Whole Foods. Lately I've been using the San Marzano tomato puree for sauce, with nothing else in it. Frankly, it doesn't need it. If I were to augment it in any way, I'd add some tomato paste to thicken it a bit.

Since this portion of the blog has an Italian flavor, I'd like to also show my love for the Murray Hill Neighborhood Market, on Murray Hill and Paul Rd. in Little Italy. The market has a bit of your day-to-day needs, but also has some exotic teas, oils and vinegars. I haven't sampled anything from the deli yet, but plan to as soon as the weather decides to clear up on a semi-permanent basis. They have a rotisserie, and seem to cook chicken and standing rib roasts. They also have freshly baked bread, soups, and pastries. The store owners and staff are amazingly friendly people who are genuinely passionate about their business, your satisfaction, and the beautiful neighborhood it is in. If you're in the neighborhood, you should definitely stop by. As if you needed any additional incentive, they also carry Jeni's ice cream if you're not up for the trip to Chagrin Falls. I bet a pint of her Cherry Lambic sorbet would be just the thing for a sunny afternoon on the swings in Brush Park.

There are a lot of things on my horizon, one of them being the most significant event in my life (to date). There are also some new restaurant reviews, one of them hopefully posting sometime next week (Grovewood Tavern). There are also a lot of places I plan on visiting for the first time in the near future (Lolita and Table 45 to name a couple) and I'll be sure to tell you about them all!

This weekend is the Hessler Street Fair. Jeff and I didn't get to go last year because it was the weekend that he broke his hip, but I managed to get him some of the wonderful lemonade that always seems to be there. Even if drum circles and damning "the man" aren't your sort of thing, it's a great place for awesome street food, people-watching, and free hugs.

As if you didn't have enough to do already, there's also the Old Brooklyn Pedal for Prizes. Seeing as the Hessler Street Fair is all weekend, I'm sure time can be made for both. Pedal for Prizes is a great way to see Old Brooklyn and possibly win some really awesome prizes (check out the website, go go go!).

As a parting thought, I will tell you one more thing: Snowville Creamery's chocolate milk is AWESOME.