Monthly Archives: March 2010

Updates

Sadly, as I’ve been driving around town, I’ve noticed some restaurant  and store closures. Grab your copy of Cleveland Ethnic Eats and add the following notes so you won’t end up heading out to a place that is long gone.

Closed: Tom’s Seafood; Rachel’s Caribbean Cuisine; Antalya Red Square; Maria’s (on Detroit); Hana Asian Food.

If you know of any other spots in the book that have shut their doors or moved, please post the information here.

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Bac to the Drawingboard

Made my first visit to Bac, the new self-described Asian American bistro in Tremont. It was a very unsatisfying experience.  The mostly Vietnamese menu was disappointing both in the selection and execution of the four dishes tried. Far better examples of this cusine can be found elsewhere around town for less money.

The traditional coconut milk crepe was bland. A green papaya salad had fresh flavor and an appealing crunch, but was soupy with dressing. It was served on a plate and every time I tried to fork up a bite, a little flood washed over the edge and onto the table. My banh mi sandwich was the worst offender. There was more bread than anything else: the roast pork was in short supply, the slice of ham no different that what I’d get at the grocery store, and no sign of the sauasage and pate the menu promised. My companion’s cold noodle salad was tasteless, even with the entire container of sauce  that came with it poured on and contained few vegetables. He ordered it with tofu and the fried cubes were tough and rubbery.   

I know a lot of time, care and effort went into putting this place together and designing the menu. But it  didn’t show in what came out of the kitchen last week. The food still needs some serious attention.  And I’m surprised that what was supposed to be a major remodel appears to be primarily a paint job- the space seems little changed from what was there before when it was La Tortilla Feliz.

Anyone been there? Had a positive experience? Hearing from you night give me  a reason to give this place another try. Without that, I doubt I’ll go back to Bac.

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Dinner and a Novel

I am reading  a wonderful novel, The Lacuna  by Barbara Kingsolver. The first half takes place in Mexico. Frido Kahlo, Diego Rivera and cast of other real life personalities show up to interact with the fictional hero.  There is much cooking and detailed decriptions of what everyone was eating morning, noon and night. So it’s no wonder that I found myself with a taste for jalapenos, mole, and chayote. 

I had a fridge full of food and we’ve been eating out quite a bit, so going to a Mexican restaurants wasn’t an option. And I needed a break from meat- too much of that the past week. So using what I found on hand, and perhaps drawing inspiration by osmosis from my reading, I put together a version of  vegetarian chalupas. The game changing ingredient was sweet potato.

It was a really good meal- not an authentic one by any stretch of the imagination, but one that was delicious, healthy, and satisfied my craving for Mexican flavors. Here’s the how.

1. Dice 1 onion, 1 carrot, 2 stalks celery, 1 large clove garlic. Saute until soft in a small amount of oil.

 2.Add 1 can drained black beans, half a sweet potato diced, 1 jar of good quality spicy, chunky salsa (I had wonderful homemade stuff canned by my son Nathan last summer),  1 tablspoon tomato paste, and 1 teaspoon Thai fish sauce (to give it depth) diluted with an equal amount water (very important).

 3.Simmer over low heat until potatoes are fork tender. Add water or another spoonful of tomato paste diluted with water, if more liquid is needed. Salt and pepper to taste.

To serve: Spoon hot bean and sweet potato mixture into warm edibile taco bowls. Top with a sprinkling of grated cheese ( mine was a pre-shredded packaged mix of Monterey Jack, Cheddar, Queso Quesadilla, and Asadero from Sargento).  Then layer on the following: shredded iceberg lettuce tossed with fresh lime juice,  chopped scallions, diced red pepper, and green pimento stuffed olives ( no reason for these over black ones- that’s just what was in the cupboard), and 2 ripe avocados sliced. Spoon salsa over all, plus a dollop of thick middle eastern style yogurt (labna) and a squeeze of lime.   

Two of us ate until we felt full and happy, very happy, and there’s till some left for lunch. I’ll eat it while reading the next chapter.

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Italian Cheese

Burrata is a  fresh Italian cheese. I first tasted it at a restaurant in Napa. Essentially it’s a ball of mozzarella filled with cream and curds. When opened the moist interior oozes out.  Spread on crostini it is divine. Had some at Chinato of E.4th Street Friday night. Wow.

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News from Olmsted Falls

Le Bistro du Beaujolais  just announced their  mid Season Menu release. For dinner there’s Stuffed Trout, Scallops and back by popular demand Veal Chop a la Normande . During Lent, they will be serving Galettes ( Salted items ) and Crepes (Sweet ) every Wednesday for lunch and dinner.  I was out there a couple of weeks ago, my first visit since they reopened, and had a terrific meal. The place looks almost exactly as it did before the fire. I’m so glad they’re back.

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