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Jonathan was at an overnight camp at Hiram House on Thursday, so Sarah and I planned a date night at SPACES gallery and Luca.

Luca is about a year old and occupies a great location on the Superior viaduct. Depending on where you sit, you’ll get a view of the Cuyahoga river and bridges or downtown Cleveland. The height above the water is also an interesting element; Sarah was reminded of being on a cruise ship.

Shortly after being seated we were given a good sized bowl of rustic sliced bread and a generous plate of olive oil and balsamic. The pungent bread went really well with the nutty olive oil and sweet aged vinegar.

We began our meal with cocktails. Sarah ordered a blackberry mojito ($12) and I had a Newton’s Law ($12), a mixture of Bulleit Rye, a variety of bitters, and muddled fig. Sarah’s mojito was flavorful … continue reading

Shrimp

Malls are not known for innovative, chef-driven restaurants. Texas isn’t know for progressivism and art rock, but Austin is located there. There are exceptions to every rule.

Wild Mango, an Asian fusion restaurant, is located in Great Northern Mall, with an entrance directly from the parking lot. The décor is warm and opulent, which was especially welcome as we were walking in on the evening of the first real snowstorm of the season. The space is large, with multiple rooms and very comfortable seating. There were pillows up against the chair I sat in, which almost felt like a couch.

One probably shouldn’t wear a logo t-shirt here, but the clientele (including us) were more dressed down than one would expect based on the surroundings: a sweater and jeans would be fine.

We were given an array of menus including one for drinks (beer, wine and cocktails) and a … continue reading

Rondell

Inspired by Bite Buff’s many effusive reviews of Cork & Cleaver Social Kitchen, Sarah and I decided to give it a try. We were glad we did.

Despite the strip mall location (strangely common these days for tasty establishments, e.g. the DC Pasta Company), the restaurant is inviting and stylish. Jonathan noted the pattern of gold leaf wallpaper strips. There isn’t an overly strong air of formality, though. One gets the sense that everyone is welcome.

Sarah and I both ordered Blueberry Rondells to drink. These were sneaky cocktails. One is hit with an alcohol punch on the first sip, not really mitigated by sweetness or acid. As one progresses through the drink, though, the aromatics of blueberry and mint predominate, then the idea of ordering another comes up. But the alcohol was there all along, and you really should stick to no more than two of these if … continue reading

A Facebook friend of mine asked me today how to add variety to her goal of feeding her busy family healthy food. Here’s my response, formatted for clarity:

Breakfast

Baking whole grain muffins in advance and then freezing them works well. I strive to make batches of 24, and favorites include banana chocolate chip and fig/goat cheese. I generally use 2/3 white whole wheat flour and 1/3 AP for other muffins, which gives a really mild whole grain flavor.

Lunch

Make tuna salad or tempeh salad in bulk and keep it around for the week for sandwiches.

Dinner… continue reading

Pan-sauteed fish (or fish in a foil packet) with microwave steamed vegetables.
Whole grain pasta and sauce
Burgers (grass-fed is actually really healthy)
Main dish salad
Roasted chicken (takes an hour, but very little prep),
Nachos (which works great for using any meat leftover from another prep–just put it on chips,

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Sarah, Jonathan and I recently visited Accent in University Circle, which was recently opened by Scott Kim of Sasa Matsu. We all very much enjoyed it.

The décor of the restaurant is unique and intriguing. The dining room is large and open with a red-lit pattern spelling out “ACCENT” all over the walls. This looks a bit gaudy in the website photograph but has a much cooler feel once one is inside the restaurant.

I started with a Sweet Heat consisting of Jack Daniels Honey, orange, cinnamon and other spices. It was extremely good with a complex but not too sweet flavor. This might be my favorite whiskey cocktail in Cleveland (thanks to Eat Drink Cleveland for reminding me of the name). Sarah ordered a soda and Jonathan was happy to find they had Ramune.

For appetizers we ordered the house pickles ($5) and edamame hummus ($6). The pickles … continue reading

Many elements of our lives serve a drug-like purpose including television, food and exercise.

Research supporting the drug-like effects of television isn’t even new. The quick cuts and other editing effects unavailable to us in our everyday lives trigger something called the “orienting response.” When we lived in constant danger of being eaten by predators, fast movement and quick changes in scenery got our attention very quickly. Television capitalizes on this instinct and pulls us in.

If television is a drug, what are its effects? It immediately relaxes people, perhaps because our orienting response requires a kind of oneness with our environment to fully process quick movement. Once we turn it off, though, we feel immediately tense as the more abstract worries of the day come rushing back. Producers know this, so they’ve cut out commercial breaks between shows and start new shows right after a previous one is done. … continue reading

Pasta with steak artichoke, beans and spinach; peach bellini; pasta with sausage and diavolo sauce.

Piada Italian Street Food is a recently started chain started in Columbus, and a new location just opened near us in Cedar Center in South Euclid. Some have dubbed it an “Italian Chipotle,” which is a fairly accurate description. The flavors are completely different from Chipotle, though, and there are many unique, tasty aspects to the restaurant that we have enjoyed over a number of visits.

One chooses an entrée of either piada (an Italian flat bread), angelhair pasta or salad. My favorite is the piada, which resembles a tortilla but, based on the cooking process and yeast, is far more flavorful. Main filling items include fried calamari, fried chicken, rosemary lemon chicken, sausage, steak, vegetarian (all around $7), or salmon ($8.95).

The rosemary chicken and steak both work well as a good base but are not particularly flavorful on their own. The sausage is nicely spiced, and the calamari … continue reading