bluefish

Lately, this blog has basically been restaurant reviews*. Most days in our house, though, a person has to go to the kitchen and cook something, preferably something that makes the rest of the family happy.

We have many sources to choose from: How to Cook Everything, Food Network, Eating Well or whatever cookbook we’ve been into lately. The list had been getting stale, but Lucky Peach–published by the literary mag McSweeney’s and helmed by David Chang and Peter Meehan–renewed my excitement about food and cooking.

The scope of the magazine is thoroughly catholic–with a small “c”–including literature, anthropology and food science. The most recent issue includes a story by David Simon of The Wire on his journey back to eating pickles and sour cream from his childhood. There’s another story a couple issues ago about the the history of the microwave coffee mug chocolate cake, along with a great … continue reading

Sarah and I honeymooned in New Orleans in 2002, for the food as much as anything. The closest we’ve previously come in Cleveland to recreating our food experience has been Battiste and Dupree, which has excellent, authentic cajun and creole dishes. Based on its size, though, it’s always struck us as more of a take out place. So we’ve still been on the lookout.

Enter Jezebel’s Bayou in Shaker Heights, which we found through Doug Trattner’s review in the Scene. We made reservations for a Saturday evening and were seated quickly. The establishment is classy but not too formal with a pleasant ambiance.

Based on Trattner’s recommendation and Jonathan’s love of catching crayfish. we started with the “Cajun Popcorn” ($10.95), deep fried crawfish tails. While they were quite tasty, the price for the portion size seemed a bit much. Each of the 18 or so pieces was about the … continue reading

We were in Lakewood trying to fix our stolen, reclaimed scooter (spoiler: it was declared totaled, and we ended up getting a new one) and decided to stop for lunch at the Root Café.

The feel of the restaurant is woodsy and organic, fitting the moniker. Service is at the counter, and there is a good beer selection. They also use primarily local produce.

Sarah ordered a leek, cheddar and sun dried tomato scone. It was exceptionally tender, flaky and loaded with sun dried tomatoes. She liked is so much that I made a clone a few days later using this recipe as the base.

I ordered the a tempeh sandwich with chipotle ($5.95), which was outstanding. The chipotle aioli added a distinct but not overpowering heat, and the sandwich was packed with veggies. Tempeh is by far the meatiest vegetarian sandwich filling, as is evidenced by this great continue reading

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For Flag day, a homemade red white and blue popsicle. The two top layers are based on strawberry and lemon sorbet recipes from David Lebovitz’s The Perfect Scoop (reprinted here and here). The bottom layer is mixed berry sorbet, the recipe here with some strawberries and blackberry jam thrown in. The lemon layer was especially refreshing with an added subtle sharpness from lemon rind boiled in the sugar syrup.… continue reading

Couscous

Sarah and I had planned to eat at Spice Kitchen and Bar with Jonathan, but a last minute sleepover invitation gave us an opportunity for a date night (which just happened to fall within a day of our tenth wedding anniversary). We couldn’t have picked a better place.

Ben Bebenroth, the owner of Spice, has long been know in Cleveland for Spice of Life Catering Company, which prides itself on locally grown ingredients. The same philosophy holds true at his restaurant.

We started with drinks. Sarah got the White Sangria (a daily special) and I had a Bell’s Oberon.

I am not typically a fan of White Sangria. Most whites I’ve had lack the body and depth of flavor found in the more traditional red version. Spice’s rendition is a notable exception, with lemongrass and rosemary infusions combining with mint to make the tastiest and most refreshing glass of … continue reading

Melt Bahn Mi

Sarah noticed Melt’s June monthly special was a Bahn Mi. We both work from home on Fridays and are within walking distance of the East Side Melt, so we decided to split one for lunch.

The sandwich contains tender roast pork with plenty of vegetables and complex flavors all around it including pickled carrots, daikon, cilantro and a zingy ginger pesto. The havarti cheese is mild and adds a nice melty element without getting in the way of traditional Asian flavors.

A typical Bahn Mi includes pork pâté. Some people have an issue with this (Sarah does; I don’t), and some places (e.g. Umami Moto) skip it. To me the pâté adds an important moisture and savorinesss. Melt uses vegetable pâté as a workaround, which I thought was just as good (if not better) than pork and reminded me of very good tempura. The only downside was that the … continue reading

crostadas

Based largely on the Dine-O-Mite’s enthusiastic recommendation (and some other buzz), I stopped by Crostatas this weekend on the way home from Bainbridge to pick up pizza, one Margherita and one Salsica (sausage).

The crust is by far the best we’ve had in Cleveland. They imported a wood-burning pizza oven from Italy, which creates a deep caramelization and smokiness. I always leave over pizza crusts, but I ended up eating these along with the slices.

We weren’t quite as excited about the toppings. The sauce is pretty mild and the portioning is scant. We would have liked our pizzas better if either the sauce was more bold or the portion more generous. Sarah’s verdict was that the pizza “had so much potential.” The overall flavor is improved with red pepper flakes, but really good sauce has enough flavor as to not really need them.

Crostatas has good pizza, and we’ll … continue reading