Food & Travel

The trouble with chocolate

The Fair Trade Federation outlines nine principles of fair trade that promote more equality and equity in the trade of goods. Fair trade is about creating opportunities and relationships with trading partners, building trust and business, ensuring worker rights and children's rights, as well as respecting culture and the earth. Fair trade connects products with a marketplace.

Fair trade is not charity; it is not a handout. Fair trade is an opportunity for marginalized people to earn a sustainable income and improve their life and the life in their community. Research shows that 90 percent of a woman's income in an emerging market is reinvested in her family. This means a family can send children to school instead of to work, they can buy solar light bulbs and keep water sources clean. When women are making a fair income, there is a decrease in child labor and human trafficking.

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Volume 9, Issue 3, Posted 9:57 AM, 02.07.2017

The Food Dude brings healthy conversation to Westlake

Anybody can cook quick, healthy and tasty meals on a budget. Want to know how? Then come listen and learn when the “The Food Dude” visits Cuyahoga Community College.

Chef and restaurateur Kevin Roberts — aka The Food Dude — will share the secrets to kitchen success during a free program at 11:30 a.m. Wednesday, Sept. 28, at Corporate College West in Westlake. The presentation and cooking demonstration is open to the public. Corporate College West is located at 25425 Center Ridge Road.

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Volume 8, Issue 18, Posted 9:53 AM, 09.20.2016

Finding Shark Teeth

I know you've heard of seashell collecting, but my family collects something entirely different! This year, instead of bags with pretty shells, our bags have black triangles. What are these mysterious things you might ask? Well, they're shark teeth!

We find shark teeth that are actually fossils, thousands of years old! We look in the sand and find black triangles (sometimes they are white or yellow too). I like to look for the unmistakable curve where the gum would be or the small (or big) dip in the back. You can also try to break the tooth and if it breaks then it isn't a shark tooth, but if it doesn't then there's a chance it's a shark tooth!

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Volume 8, Issue 13, Posted 9:30 AM, 07.06.2016

From Bay Village to the White House

Bay Village native Susan Morrison made history last year. That November she was appointed to executive pastry chef at the White House, becoming the first woman to hold that position.

Morrison first began working at the White House in 1995 as a contract pastry employee, and was appointed to assistant pastry chef in 2002. In addition to her other duties, she tended the White House bee hive and kitchen garden, two tasks she will carry on in her new role.

As executive pastry chef, Morrison is responsible for overseeing the day-to-day operation of the pastry kitchen in the Executive Residence, as well as creating and executing dessert menus for all social events at the White House including receptions, luncheons and state dinners.

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Volume 7, Issue 24, Posted 9:35 AM, 12.15.2015

The Ironwood Cafe brings culinary experience in fine cuisine to the table

It is not often that you find a neighborhood tavern rooted in fine cuisine. But that is the case with the Ironwood Café.

The owners of the Ironwood Café bring years of combined culinary experience to the table. In addition to the Ironwood Café in Westlake and the second location at Kamm’s Corners, the restaurant group also operates Southside and Press in Tremont, and Market and Wine Bar in Rocky River.

Joe Dubbs, Ironwood Café chef, part owner and operator, is a graduate of Johnson & Wales University. His passion is barbecue and that is evident from looking at his restaurants’ menus.”Our barbecue has come a long way,” Dubbs noted.

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Volume 7, Issue 19, Posted 10:24 AM, 10.06.2015

Loco Leprechaun demonstrates a passion for good food

Combine an Irish restaurant owner with a passion for Mexican food, some Hungarian menu specialties and a chef skilled in preparing upscale fare and you have the recipe for Loco Leprechaun.

When Mike Ollick, who is half Irish in ancestry, decided to open a restaurant in Westlake nine years ago, he thought about featuring his favorite Mexican cuisine. But, he also knew how to make great corned beef. The Loco Leprechaun Irish Cantina was born. A former chef added his grandmother’s homemade chicken paprikash and spaetzle to the menu.

Chef Joe Morales took over the kitchen at Loco Leprechaun three years ago. “He has a lot of passion for his work,” Ollick pointed out. “Joe loves to interact with our customers and to get their feedback.” In addition to the regular menu, Morales creates numerous daily specials, including homemade soups.

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Volume 7, Issue 12, Posted 9:27 AM, 06.16.2015

Pen pals for 70 years and counting

In the spring of 1945, World War II in Europe ended with Germany's surrender. That year, the Cleveland Press began a Worldwide Pen Pal Club for kids. We chose the country, the paper matched us by age and gender. I wrote first and Annette, who'd signed up for her friend in school, answered. We were 13. It's now the spring of 2015, we're in our 80s and still puttering along!

We write about three times a year, our personalities meshed and I attribute these two factors for the longevity of our friendship.

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Volume 7, Issue 9, Posted 9:19 AM, 05.05.2015

A tasty solution to holiday leftovers

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! It's time for being thankful; a time for being with family. It's a time for parades on TV, football and food – LOTS of food! But, with all of that food comes the annual dreaded ...

Leftovers.

If you haven't planned your holiday meal proportionally (and, to be honest, I've never met anyone who has!), you're going to be stuck with some leftovers. What are you going to do with them? I don't have all the answers. But this recipe may help. I'm proud to say my mom came up with this one. I have no doubt that it was an idea handed down from my grandma, who grew up in the Great Depression where they never threw out anything!

Try this recipe for Leftover Mashed Potato Soup ... you might find yourself making extra potatoes just for the leftovers!

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Volume 6, Issue 24, Posted 9:59 AM, 11.25.2014

South African Safari

My husband, Tom, and I recently went on a South African photo safari in the Kapama Private Reserve. Each day we took two three-hour game drives and participated in an additional fun activity like a bush walk or an elephant-back excursion. We were fortunate enough to see the "Big Five" (lion, elephant, cape buffalo, leopard and rhino) along with many other wild animals. Everyone was very friendly and we had a great time.

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Volume 6, Issue 19, Posted 10:00 AM, 09.16.2014

Northern Tier brings cross-country adventurers through Bay

Any given day during the late spring, summer and fall, at least one Northern Tier bike route traveler is likely to pedal along Lake Road in Bay Village, as part of a cross-country bike trip. Some travel alone, but others travel in groups. Some can be seen towing small trailers, yet others may only have small backpacks or a pair of pannier bags hanging from the back of the bikes. Some are from the U.S. and others come from across the globe. Each is on an adventure of a lifetime.

The Northern Tier trail crosses the northern-most part of our country, stretching from Bar Harbor, Maine, to Anacortes, Wash., just north of Seattle. It covers 4,264.5 miles of road. No official count of cross-country bikers exists, but according to Melissa Thompson, a cartographer at the Adventure Cycling Association, 266 maps of the Indiana, Ohio and New York section of the Northern Tier were sold last year by her organization.

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Volume 6, Issue 18, Posted 9:49 AM, 09.03.2014

Local Girl Scouts go global

When I joined Girl Scouts as a shy kindergartener, I didn’t realize the amazing opportunities this organization would provide.  Ten years later, I found the GSNEO (Girl Scouts of Northeast Ohio) international travel group. I learned that they were headed to China, a country that has fascinated me since the fourth grade.

On June 17, 2013, after two years of fundraising, we boarded a plane that flew us over the North Pole. We hit the ground running for 10 days of sightseeing in four different cities: Beijing (Tiananmen Square, Forbidden City, Summer Palace, Temple of Heaven, The Great Wall), Xi’an (Terra Cotta Warriors, Wild Goose Pagoda), Shanghai (World Financial Center, Jade Buddha Temple) and Hong Kong (Lantau Island Buddha, Victoria Harbour). It was humbling to stand on the Great Wall, snapping perfect photos from every angle. I was awestruck at the sight of some of the 8,000 life-sized terra cotta warriors, built as funeral art for an emperor in 210 B.C.

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Volume 5, Issue 23, Posted 10:10 AM, 11.12.2013

Take Me Out to the Ballgame Cupcakes

This recipe for chocolate-chocolate cupcakes with salted caramel sauce and buttercream frosting took first place in the cupcake competition in this year's Westlake Corporate Challenge. Jodi Rodriguez works for the city's Community Services Department.

Chocolate-Chocolate Cupcake Recipe

  • 1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup water
  • 2  tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 tablespoon white vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 sections (1/2 oz. each) Unsweetened Chocolate Baking Bar, melted
  • 1 small package instant chocolate pudding
  • 1 cup semi-sweet miniature chocolate chips
  1.  Heat oven to 350°F. Line muffin cups (2-1/2 inches in diameter) with paper bake cups.
  2.  Stir together flour, sugar, baking soda and salt in large bowl. Add water, oil, vinegar and vanilla; beat with whisk or spoon until batter is smooth. Blend in melted chocolate. Once blended, thoroughly gently stir in ½-package of instant pudding followed by chocolate chips. Fill muffin cups 2/3 full with batter.
  3.  Bake 16 to 18 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in center of cupcakes comes out clean. Remove from pan to wire rack. Cool completely.
  4. When cool, fill with Salted Caramel Sauce and frost with Salted Caramel Buttercream Frosting (recipes follow). To finish, top with a drizzle of caramel sauce and a small handful of Cracker Jacks. ENJOY!
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Volume 5, Issue 18, Posted 10:51 AM, 09.04.2013

Eats Beat: Siblings open D'Italia in Westlake

When Lisa Andrews and Rick Dow planned on a “quiet opening” of their Westlake catering and carryout restaurant in late October 2012, they didn’t count on Hurricane Sandy. To their surprise the day after the storm hit, they had power, unlike most people on the west side of Cleveland. Their business started out with a bang!

Lisa’s career path started as a barber and owned her own shop, while Rick was in the construction and remodeling business. Despite their other experiences, the sister and brother team always dreamed of opening their own restaurant.

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Volume 5, Issue 6, Posted 10:33 AM, 03.19.2013

The next time you're at Crocker Park, stop at Karl's

Just off the traffic circle at Crocker Park sit four food kiosks and one is Karl’s Deli, Corned Beef and More.

In 2007 Karl Abounader decided to branch out his downtown restaurant, Karl’s Inn of the Barristers, and open a location at Crocker Park. I have been to Barristers countless times during St. Patrick’s Day, Browns and Indians games or just dining out downtown. Being that there are few delis in Westlake, this is a welcome addition.

When you're ready to place an order, the King Corned Beef ($8.50) is always a winner. Stacked with thinly-shaved corned beef and Swiss cheese on rye bread; I like it topped simply with yellow mustard. 

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Volume 4, Issue 11, Posted 10:55 AM, 06.09.2012

There's nothing better then a good cup of Zoup

Growing up in Lorain, one of my most fond memories was Sunday afternoons at my grandparents' house and the smell of my grandfather’s soup cooking on the stove. 

That’s where my enjoyment of soup began and one of the best places in town to find it is at Zoup.

Franchise owners and Westlake residents Colleen and Marty Hopkins brought Zoup to the Promenade in April 2011. Having been an accountant, Colleen knew what it took to run a business but there was always something else she wanted to do.

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Volume 4, Issue 9, Posted 10:21 AM, 05.01.2012

87 West is a great place to 'wine' about

At the end of the grassy expanse, in the heart of Crocker Park, lies a modern lodge-style restaurant with a cozy two-sided fireplace. 

As you walk up, the floor-to-ceiling windows provide a view of the modern interior, and allow patrons inside to gaze at the hustle and bustle of Westlake’s shopping mecca. During the warmer weather those same windows are opened to enjoy the fresh air. 

There are many different seating choices. From a handful of comfortable booths, tables and chairs to loveseats and armchairs, no matter where you sit you’ll feel right at home.

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Volume 4, Issue 7, Posted 11:18 AM, 04.03.2012

Frankie’s Westlake knows pizza

In our country where democracy rings true, politicians like to state “the people have spoken” when it comes to voting.  This could never be more accurate when describing Frankie’s Italian Cuisine. 

The Plain Dealer recently completed their Pizza Playoffs, and Frankie’s was voted best pizza by the People’s Choice for the Northwest Region beating out the judge’s ultimate winner, Angelo’s of Lakewood. Who’s the real winner? You are, if you order the pizza.

Their made-fresh-daily sauce and dough is the base, along with shredded provolone. We topped our large with pepperoni, sausage, onion and green pepper ($13.95). Every ingredient was just delicious and the crust was golden brown with a great firm texture. It’s no wonder why it was the people’s choice.

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Volume 4, Issue 5, Posted 1:34 PM, 03.06.2012

Just 'wing it' and stop in at The Rusty Barrel

In an era where big sports bars are a dime a dozen, it’s great to go into the neighborhood bar where you’re recognized, and if you're not, you’re made to feel right at home. If this sounds inviting to you then make your way to the Rusty Barrel.

Located at the intersection of Center Ridge and Westwood roads, this comfortable bar and grill in Westlake offers a multitude of televisions for viewing your favorite sporting event or just a great gathering place to meet family and friends. Some booths even have their own personal TVs, with your own remote.  

The u-shaped bar lends itself to easy conversations, wherever you sit. The full service bar offers a great selection of domestic, imported and micro-brewed beers to satisfy any taste. Happy Hour is Monday-Friday, 4-7 p.m., and “Power Hour” is from 5-6 p.m.

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Volume 4, Issue 3, Posted 11:07 AM, 02.07.2012

Aladdin's rolls out the magic carpet of food

There are few places that can satisfy the vegetarian as well as meat-lover tastes than Aladdin’s Eatery. Fady and Sally Chamoun’s first Lebanese-American restaurant opened in Lakewood in 1994 has blossomed into more than two dozen locations in five states and, fortunately for us on the west shore, there’s one right at Crocker Park.

The lightly stained wood tables and chairs gives an inviting feeling along with ceiling-hung oval light sheers that nicely mute the track lighting. The mirrored wall above the cushioned bench seating gives a larger feel to this quaint establishment.

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Volume 4, Issue 1, Posted 12:26 PM, 01.10.2012

Moosehead Saloon's atmosphere keeps you coming back

The historic landmark building that sits on Dover Center Road in Westlake right before you head over the railroad tracks to Bay Village houses a restaurant that can boast an inviting atmosphere inside as well as out.

As you enter the front door, the warm, rustic moose lodge finish makes you feel right at home. Booths and tables dress the left side of the restaurant while a long straight bar runs down the opposite side.

A beautiful mural draws your eyes to the back wall giving you a vision of what the building might have looked like in the early part of the past century.

Once you sit down, just look to the table stand to grab a menu. The core menu, along with seasonal and “other stuff' menus, requires you to take your time looking everything over.

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Volume 3, Issue 25, Posted 2:43 PM, 12.13.2011

Cabin Club is much more than just steaks

When you get the urge for a steak dinner there are plenty of choices in Cleveland, but there is really no need to look any further than the Cabin Club.

From the moment you arrive, the timber-framed log cabin entices you with a quaint and cozy atmosphere and it’s exactly that when you walk inside.

Raised booths separate the dining area from the stunning mirrored bar in this one-room restaurant. Even with the rustic cabin architecture you feel a sense of elegance as you are seated at your cream-linened table.

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Volume 3, Issue 22, Posted 11:24 AM, 11.01.2011

Recipe from an Italian castle

If you ever want to stop by a storybook twelfth-century stone castle nestled in the side of a mountain in Northern Italy for a quick bite to eat, I’ve got just the place.

As my family and I wound down through the wild-flowered meadows of the Swiss Alps into an area of Italy not far from Austria known as the Sud Tyrol, my lifelong dream of sleeping in an ancient castle began to unfold before me. We passed through a village so tiny our car seemed to squeeze between the pastel stuccoed shops and trattorias. 

The road twisted out of town, then up and down hills like a gentle roller coaster, passing through acres of neatly planted grape vines, miniature farm houses, brilliant gardens and occasional cows. Add to this view majestic mile-and-a-half high mountains known as The Dolomites and a castle called Schloss Korb, and there you have it – the stuff that dreams are made of.

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Volume 3, Issue 22, Posted 11:19 AM, 11.01.2011

Westlake restaurateur returns to hometown

The location of the recently-closed Saucy Bistro restaurant at 24481 Detroit Rd. in Westlake has been home to great restaurants through the years. Now native Westlaker Paul Schell returns to his hometown to open SB eighty-one on Oct. 7 and 8.

Paul was born and raised here, a graduate of Westlake High School. He left 25 years ago in a move to Hollywood in pursuit of his dream to become an actor. He did some acting and modeling but also needed to supplement his income, as most people do in the industry, which led him to the and restaurant and nightclub community.

Paul’s last venture in California was owner of the Blue Ultra Lounge and Restaurant in Agoura Hills, just outside of Los Angeles.

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Volume 3, Issue 20, Posted 3:53 PM, 10.04.2011

St. John Medical Center crowns 2011 Top Chef

Close to 1,000 foodies from all over Cleveland converged on Quicken Loans Arena on Sept. 10 for the 2011 St. John Medical Center Top Chef Competition.

This was the third year of this event, and it brought four more of Cleveland’s leading chefs to duel it out for the title of Top Chef. Competing were Chef Michael Nowak of Bar Cento in Ohio City, Chef Rob Records of Johnny’s Downtown, Chef Sarah Sherapita of Luxe in Cleveland's Gordon Square District and Chef Jonathan Guest of Little Italy's Washington Place Bistro. All of the proceeds from the fundraiser went to the St. John Medical Center’s Women and Children Services.

As guests arrived, cocktails and light appetizers were served. Guests could also peruse and bid on the dozens of silent auction items, including electronics, spa packages and $200 gift certificates for each chef’s restaurant.

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Volume 3, Issue 19, Posted 2:57 PM, 09.20.2011

World's Best Burgers

Don’t quote me on this, but from what I understand, for a dining establishment to claim “World’s Best” anything, they are required to go through the following process: World’s Best entry forms are mailed to the entire population of the world. Even Liechtenstein. The completed forms wind up in a holding office somewhere near Battle Creek, Mich., and are soon tabulated by two guys in tuxes from Price Waterhouse. The results are then mailed to the proud owners of the restaurants, and for some odd reason, winners are often paint-starved luncheonettes or dusty truckstops on back roads where trucks aren’t permitted.

As an Ohioan, therefore, you should be elated to know that in your state alone, one can find World’s Best Chili, World’s Best Pie, World’s Best Wings, World’s Best Coffee, World’s Best Meatloaf and apparently a three-way tie for World’s Best Burger. I know. I’ve seen the signs with my own eyes. (Imagine how Juan Valdez must have sobbed into his saddle when he discovered World’s Best Coffee was just west of Cleveland.)

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Volume 3, Issue 18, Posted 4:21 PM, 09.07.2011

Bay-ites love the Diner

As we walked up to Bay Diner to have lunch recently, my wife took notice of a bunch of bicycles parked out front. We stepped inside to see a couple booths filled with kids and several others sitting at the bar-height counter.

The scene reminded my wife of her childhood in Bay Village, riding her bike down to Grebe’s. It was a diner just like Bay Diner and at the time one of the only restaurants in town.

Bay Diner opened for business a little over a year ago by the Petrillo family. The son, Mike Jr., is head cook and manager.

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Volume 3, Issue 17, Posted 6:37 PM, 08.23.2011

Michael Symon's B Spot is the spot to eat

As if Crocker Park didn’t already have plenty of dining choices, let's throw in one of Cleveland’s most recognizable restaurateurs in Chef Michael Symon‘s B Spot.

The company culture is run with a no-nonsense attitude. There are no reservations, they don’t care who you know, and there is absolutely no whining allowed.

Personally, I was very excited at the prospect of a Michael Symon restaurant coming to Westlake. So when the opportunity arose to be at the Friends and Family Night before their July 13 Grand Opening, this long time veteran of the restaurant industry and now Food Reviewer was honored to be included.

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Volume 3, Issue 15, Posted 3:35 PM, 07.26.2011

For Eastern fare, come west to Vieng's

It may not have been one of the original restaurants at Crocker Park, but Vieng’s Asian Bistro has established itself as a definite stop in Westlake’s entertainment mecca.

A giant statue of Buddha, with falling waters behind him, greets you as you enter this contemporary style décor restaurant. Las Vegas-style booths surround two sides of the U-shaped bar, also with a falling-water backdrop, which centers the Bistro. The rest of the dining areas are a mix of booths and tables. There is also a very spacious outside patio with a large gas fireplace and very quaint outdoor lighting strung from end to end.

The description “Asian Bistro” in the eatery’s name should be your first hint that they serve a variety of Eastern cuisine. Japanese, Chinese, Thai, Vietnamese and Indian offerings make the menu quite large.

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Volume 3, Issue 13, Posted 6:49 PM, 06.28.2011

The foods of Belize

You may not realize it, but the title of this article is actually funny, because if someone were to write a cookbook about Belizean cuisine, it would run all of four pages and go something like this: Stew Chicken with Rice and Beans; Stew Pork with Rice and Beans; Fisherman’s Catch with Rice and Beans; and of course, Rice and Beans with Rice and Beans. 

This Central American country (formally British Honduras) sits south of Mexico with Guatemala as a neighbor – and is more known for its jungles, Maya ruins and having the second largest barrier reef in the Western hemisphere. Which goes well with Rice and Beans.

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Volume 3, Issue 12, Posted 2:17 PM, 06.14.2011

Taste of the Town: Stonehouse Grill is a rock solid choice

Steve Novak is a Westlake resident and 30-year veteran in the restaurant industry, working at all levels from dishwasher to manager to chef/owner. For the past ten years, he has been working as a personal chef and raising his two young children as a stay-at-home dad. Once a month, Steve will visit a Westlake/Bay Village restaurant and use his years of expertise and knowledge to provide honest, unbiased reviews. He makes two anonymous visits per restaurant and does not except complimentary meals.

If you live in Westlake or Bay Village and haven't been to the Stonehouse Grill, you're missing a wonderful casual dining experience. From the moment you enter, you're treated with a warm greeting and smiling faces that really start things off on a positive note.

It's a quaint, one-room restaurant with a partition wall that separates the dining area from the bar. Booths and tables adorn the dining area, while tables and high top cocktail table surround the U-shaped bar. They also have a patio for when the weather warms up.

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Volume 3, Issue 11, Posted 3:13 PM, 06.01.2011

Caesar salad on the grill

Caesar salad is something I never, ever, ever get tired of – I make it all year long at home, I order it often when we go out, and I’ve even had leftovers for breakfast. 

And it’s all because of a restaurant owner in Tijuana, Mexico, by the name of Caesar Cardini. One hot July day in 1924, a customer asked for a salad. Caesar had run out of his usual ingredients, so he whipped up the now famous Caesar salad (without anchovies, by the way). 

It was a smash hit, to the point of the Hollywood crowd flocking to Caesar’s just to say they’d had it. Even Julia Child paid a visit once. And in the 1930s, a group of prominent French chefs declared the Caesar salad the finest food that had come out of the Americas in years.

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Volume 3, Issue 10, Posted 9:16 PM, 05.17.2011

The unhappy birthday cake

Birthday cakes and I go way back and most hold memories of joyous occasions. Then there was the time I nearly knocked off my grandmother with one.

As a young girl, my interest in cooking prompted my mother to often put me in charge of the family birthday cakes.  These weren’t anything tres gourmet, of course – mostly boxed cake mixes and packages of powdered frosting made spreadable with a little water and an electric mixer.

But I had a special touch when it came to decorations. Like picking out all the green M&Ms and carpeting the whole cake with it. Or hiding smashed-up Kit Kat bars in-between the layers. Or making a garden of daisies on the top using almond slices with Goober flower centers.

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Volume 3, Issue 9, Posted 4:44 PM, 05.03.2011

The Diamond Jim Brady diet

You’ve tried them all: the South Beach diet, the Cambridge diet, the Pritikin diet, the Slim-Fast diet, the Bran diet, the Rice diet, the Popcorn diet, the Cabbage Soup diet – and if you’re like me, you’ve lost three pounds in five years.    

Consider the Diamond Jim Brady diet. All you have to do before each meal is read the following details about his daily indulgences and you’ll feel so mentally bloated that a light, healthy meal will seem sinful.

Diamond Jim was a legendary glutton from the Gay 90s, a gargantuan man whose post mortem revealed a stomach six times the size of a normal person’s. The millionaire with the diamond rings hung out at New York’s poshest restaurants, especially the lavish Delmonico’s. One restaurant called him “the best twenty-five customers I ever had.” He downed five meals each day.

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Volume 3, Issue 8, Posted 6:24 PM, 04.19.2011

Soup or salad, sir?

The following story is true. The names have been changed to, well, to avoid embarrassment of my old boss, Mike.

Once, about 20 years ago, I had accompanied my old boss, Sid (not his real name) on a business trip to Los Angeles. I joined him for dinner one evening at an appropriately-lighted, plant-infused southern California restaurant. Always mindful of what he ate, I never saw Sid order anything other than either the “diet plate” (which in those days was a grilled sirloin patty, an ice cream scoop of cottage cheese and a littering of mealy pink tomato wedges; or a big, green salad.

Sally, the waitress, (could be her real name) approached, a pleasant enough gal with purple eyeshadow probably aspiring to be an actress. (But shouldn't.)

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Volume 3, Issue 7, Posted 3:27 PM, 04.05.2011

Life without feta

Back in the good old days when my husband was a normal American male, feta cheese was pretty much something we’d find sprinkled on salads in trendy restaurants along with a few black olive slices. It was a nice enough experience, but we really didn't give it much thought.

Now, Eric has what I’d call a severe feta fetish and eats it with everything from gumbo to sauerkraut. He once tried crumbling it on top of tapioca pudding, until, of course, I threatened to leave him. He’s hopelessly addicted and I am currently lobbying to have all feta farmers post a warning on their product: “Life without feta may cause severe irritability, feelings of inadequacy and even death by withdrawal.” 

It all started a few years back when Eric met Gus, the Greek guy who owns Mediterranean Foods at the West Side Market on West 25th Street.

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Volume 3, Issue 6, Posted 9:45 AM, 03.22.2011

Three men and a Guinness

To feel the true heart of Ireland, I believe one must go to a country pub in a village you’ve never heard of and have a conversation and a Guinness with an old guy in a tweed cap. Fortunately for me, every country pub I visited in Ireland automatically came with an average of three tweedy guys sitting at the bar, like part of the décor. I spoke to many, but selected three to write about. Not because they were extraordinary in any way, they were just, well, really Irish.

MEET JOE MULLIGAN

As it was, we were sitting in a pub in the highest village in Ireland (Roundwood, County Wicklow) having a pint when we met Joe Mulligan. He had neat white hair under a worn tweed cap, a weathered face made younger by sky blue eyes and rough, square hands. He was dressed in a shrunken wool suit with forearms exposed, and sported an ancient faded tie. I’m pretty sure it was the same suit his mother made him buy in case of funerals when he was young.

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Volume 3, Issue 5, Posted 10:13 AM, 03.08.2011

Company's coming! Breakfast ideas

Company’s coming! Company’s coming! And you know what that means, don’t you? It means that out-of-town visitors will descend upon your home like crows, and stay for several days. Or, in some cases, several millennia.

It also means that: A.) you can no longer walk around the house in your underwear; B.) you can no longer beat the kids; and C.) you can no longer have Oreos and coffee for breakfast. You need to serve a half-way decent breakfast at least once before they leave.

There are three kinds of overnight guests: 1.) The kind that remind you a lot of Nurse Ratched and make you think about tying chum around your waist and jumping into the Great Barrier Reef; 2.) The kind that track tar in the moment they arrive, take 45-minute showers, wouldn’t know a dishwasher if they were sitting on one, and have the personality of a tumbleweed; and 3.) The kind that are so much fun to have around that, for a fleeting moment, you actually think about asking them to stay one more night (but quickly regain sanity).

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Volume 3, Issue 3, Posted 12:19 PM, 02.04.2011

Please pass the cholesterol

I’ve been trying to be a real good girl: taking the skin off my chicken and the fat off my meat. Eating lentils and legumes, grains and grapefruit. Using skim-milk, fat-free mayonnaise and only the whites of my eggs. Avoiding at all costs Alfredo sauce, French fries and most of all, Fiddle Faddle. 

I’ve learned that pasta is poison, ribs are a sin, butter is pretty much illegal and bacon causes instant death. Dessert of any kind is out of the question except on your birthday. Coffee’s bad. Popcorn’s bad. Pizza’s bad. And if you’re caught with a Fry Baby, it’s ten-to-life.

In fact, I’ve been so good that the last big treat I afforded myself was back in ‘06. I remember I had three of Pop’s Old Fashioned Fat-Free Cholesterol-Free Sugar-Free Sodium-Free Carbohydrate-Free Calorie-Free MSG-Free Artificially-Flavored Extra-Fancy Nacho Chips El Supremo Grande, enriched with Riboflavin. They were delicious.

And I’ve been thinking...I NEED CHOLESTEROL!

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Volume 3, Issue 2, Posted 2:36 PM, 01.21.2011

It's party time!

If you are planning any get-togethers for the upcoming holidays, you might want to try a new appetizer recipe. I have some that I have used for years, gathered from neighbors. Here are two I have used often, because they are always enjoyed:

ZUCCHINI APPETIZERS
       
    •    3 C zucchini, thinly sliced horizontally (4 small)
    •    1 C Bisquick
    •    1/2 C chopped onion
    •    1/2 C Parmesan cheese

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Volume 2, Issue 24, Posted 6:11 PM, 11.28.2010

Thanksgiving Recipes

Last year I made many items for a Thanksgiving dinner a week early and froze them. Then, the day before Thanksgiving, we packed up a cooler and drove down to visit our daughter in Tennessee. The meal was almost complete, just a few things to make and heat up the next day. It was such a wonderful meal and so stress-free. On Thursday, we were able to go out and do some sightseeing before coming home to a wonderful meal of turkey, stuffing, gravy, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, vegetables, cranberry sauce and salad!

The turkey, gravy, stuffing, sweet potatoes and cranberry sauce were made ahead, turkey sliced and frozen separately.  Before the meal, we made the mashed potatoes, vegetables and salad. Every thing tasted like it was made that day. It was such an easy and delicious way to enjoy Thanksgiving with family. With a store-bought pie, we were not missing anything!

Here are two recipes to make your day a little easier:

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Volume 2, Issue 23, Posted 2:12 PM, 11.13.2010