The October issue of Saveur Magazine has a great article written by Jane and Michael Stern about the pleasures of eating around northeast Ohio. Here’s a teaser:
“…a road trip from the shores of Lake Erie around Cleveland south to Rubber City (a k a Akron) and Canton is, in our opinion, one of the finest a food lover can take in all of America.”
What prompts this high praise from these writers are the traditional ethnic dishes served at mom and pops throughout the region. In fact, based on the places named, I’d be willing to wager that they used my book as their guide (although they don’t mention it). The pair give big shout outs to the West Side Market (the subject of my next book), Balaton, Perla Homemade Delights, State Meats, Little Polish Diner, Babushka’s Kitchen, and Al’s Corner Diner.
None of this will come as a surprise for those of you who read this blog. But it’s nice to see this part of our culinary community in the national spotlight and getting some well deserved compliments. Take a look at the article. Find more details in Cleveland Ethnic Eats. Then get out there and enjoy what the region has to offer.
Just got back from filming a segment about Cleveland Ethnic Eats for Golden Opportunities, a show that airs at 11:30 Sundays on WKYC Channel 3. (Not sure when it will actually air). Host Armond Budish and I chatted about the book, but what we really wanted to be doing was diving into the platters of food that were spread on the counter in front of us. Chef Michael Annnandono of Michaelangelo’s sent down a sampling of some of the cured meats, chesse, olives, and grilled vegetables that regularly show up on his antipasti cart. There were two big trays from Aladdin’s Baking Company on Carnegie: filled with miniature meat and spinach pies, hummus, stuffed grape leaves, tabouleh, and baba ganoush. Baker Michael Feigenbaum of Lucy’s Sweet Surrender on Buckeye had put together a selection of his European specialties including bite size strudel squares and cream cheese pastries.
The smell of all this good stuff was tough to resist, and once we were done taping, I noticed some of the crew eyeing the feast longingly as they swept it off the set to make way for the next guest. I left (but not without popping a few bites into my mouth on the way out the door) but I’m guessing that later in the afternoon, some people enjoyed quite a lunch.
Heading home, I stopped at the top of Cedar Hill to get fresh bread for Saturday and Sunday morning from Zoss the Swiss Baker. They still had some of my favorite seeded rolls left, so I bought a dozen (they freeze well and taste great when I sprinkle a little water on top and reheat in the oven) plus brioche and croissant.
All in all, a good day because I got to spend so much of it thinking about ethnic eats!
I just found out that Perla Handmade Delights,the Romanian/Russian/Polish prepared food market and bakery in Parma, now has a stand at the Tremont Farmers Market. So if you don’t want to go to Parma for their wonderful pierogies, stuffed cabbage, and pastries, you can head to Lincoln Park on Tuesdays from 4:30-7:30. Makes it even easier to eat ethnic and that’s always good news. The store is one of 58 new listings in the 2009 edition of Cleveland Ethnic Eats.
Read what blogger and chef Mike Walsh has to say about Cleveland Ethnic Eats on July 4 at A View from the Kitchen .
This is my first visit to his online journal. It’s an interesting place and I am sure I’ll go back there.
I talked ethnic eating today on WCPN’s Around Noon, sharing the microphone with host Jim Goldurs, and three of the food folks featured in the book: sausagemaker extraordinaire Kris Krieger of Chef’s Choice Meats in Berea; Alma Alfonzo from Lelolai Bakery and Cafe, the place for Puerto Rican pastry and Cubano sandwiches; and Chef Sergio Abramof, owner of a pair of fantastic restaurants, Sergio’s, with a Mediterranean menu, and Sarava, which specializes in Brazilian fare. Thanks to an exchange between Jim and Sergio, I finally learned how to correctly pronounce feijoada, a traditional stew. Spelled phonetically it’s feh joo ah da.
Back Row, left to right: Sergio Abramof, Jim Goldurs, Front Row, left to right: Alma Alfonzo, yours truly LT, and Kris Krieger
We all had great fun and got some interesting phone calls from listeners. Two people mentioned new places I have to try- an Argentine restaurant in the Detroit Shoreway neighborhood called La Boca, and Ararat on Chardon Road serving Armenian food. Anyone been to either of these?
But my favorite call was from the guy who told me that he used Cleveland Ethnic Eats to court the woman who is now his wife. He said he picked unusual, out of the way places to take her and she was quite impressed by his epicurean tastes, so impressed she married him. I’m delighted to think that all my eating and writing contributed to bringing them together!
If you missed our conversation and want to hear it, here’s a link to the audio of the show
I came upon an interesting article in The Miami Herald about Common Threads , a group that promotes healthy eating and cultural diversity to kids through cooking. By making-and enjoying- food from different countries the children are one step closer to seeing themselves as world citizens. I think that’s so important, and have always hoped my book would play a similar role. Eating out with me at ethnic places over the years of their growing up certainly developed an appreciation in my three sons for all kinds of unfamiliar foods, and by extension for the people and places the cuisines represented. So it made me really happy to see a recent post (June 8th) about Cleveland Ethnic Eats on the Cleveland Parents Network blog .
If you want to try widening your family’s culinary horizons start with the family friendly restaurants listed in the Take the Kids section at the back of the book. Once you’ve got them interested in experimenting and exploring, consider letting each kid have a turn picking a place they’d like to visit from among the 225 restaurants and 30 distinctive kinds of cuisine. If your family has a favorite ethnic spot or you know of some that are suitable for younger diners please share the info in a comment here.
Read what Kevin Scheuring had to say on his blog Spicehound Cooks (and Brews) about Cleveland Ethnic Eats and other books he considers Must Haves. And be sure to check out the amazing array of spices he sells at the Coit Road Farmers Market.
The economy and personal finances being what they are, many people have no big travel plans scheduled for this summer. The newest way to put a positive spin on the situation is to do a staycation instead. The idea is to enjoy yourself without straying too far from homem exploring area attractions and taking advantage of local natural and cultural resources.
I hate to say I told you so—well, actually, honestly, I kind of enjoy saying it—but that’s exactly what I’ve been advocating since Cleveland Ethnic Eats was first published in 1995. I’ve always wanted readers to see my book as a sort of culinary road map showing you where to go for quick low cost food adventures that offer a taste of the world right here in our own community.
Dinner at Empress Taytu Ethiopian Restaurant. Photo by Barney Taxel
More than ten years ago, a friend and early fan of the book, reported to me that he’d decided to visit every place listed. He planned outings each week for himself and his wife. When a market was on the itinerary, he checked cookbooks out of the library, and went armed with recipes so he could purchase ingredients to make an authentic ethnic meal. He said the experience made them feel like international travelers, only it was cheaper and they got to sleep in their own bed every night. He couldn’t have given me a bigger, better compliment.
So if you find yourself with leisure time, try to do some ethnic eats exploring like my friend. Dip into the exotic and unfamiliar. Venture into neighborhoods different than your own. Talk to the people you meet there. I have no doubt you’ll come back with some great stories, and isn’t that part of what holidays are all about. Maybe you’ll even share some of them here.
Read Free Sample Listings . . .
Bovalino’s, a cozy little family-run Italian restaurant in Westlake is is succumbing to the twin forces of the ecomonic downturn and more competition in the area. It is closing at the end of April. When I called owner Lori Williams, who took over from her uncle Russ Lentini in 1997, to offer my condolences she said many locally owned small businesses like hers have been struggling since Crocker Park opened. “People don’t realize what happens when the big chains come into a community. And now with the recession, we’re hurting even more. ”
It’s been included in every edition of the book and was one of the first places I visited when I started doing my research so I’m especially sad to see it disappear. Try to go before the doors close forever on April 25th.
27828 Center Ridge Road, 440-892-9300.
Don’t forget to make a note in your copy of of Cleveland Ethnic Eats so you don’t show up hungry for a bowl of pasta in a few months only to find the restaurant empty and dark. And if you have a taste for ravioli or chicken Parmesan, get yourself out to one of the other great owner operated Italian restaurants in town.
What are your favorites?
Welcome to the new online home for Cleveland Ethnic Eats. This is a place where I can share my thoughts on culture and cuisine, post information and updates about the listings in the books, and let you know what the media around the country and the world are saying about ethnic food trends. You can also click on the links to see where I’m signing or speaking, and read excerpts from the book. And best of all it’s a meeting place for all of us who have an interest in adventurous eating so we can exchange news, ideas, and stories.
To kick things off I want to riff on an article I read recently entitled America’s Most Endangered Foods. It’s about how varieties of fruits ands and vegetables and breeds of animals are disappearing due to the impact of agri-business and the commodification of our food supply. To stop the loss, Gary Paul Nabhan, editor of Renewing America’s Food Traditions, advocates a concept called eater-based conservation.
I’ve been talking about something similar ever since the first edition of Cleveland Ethnic Eats was published in 1995. The places in my book are endangered species, at risk of extinction from the onslaught of corporate chains, cheap fast food, and mass-produced products. Corner stores, neighborhood butchers and bakers, and little mom-and-pop restaurants are disappearing from our cities and suburbs and with them the wonderful diversity of choices and quality they offer. If we don’t support these kinds of businesses, we’ll lose something precious, something that makes this region such an exciting and unique place to live. That’s part of the reason I wrote Cleveland Ethnic Eats, continue to update it regularly, and why I have launched this blog. My aim is to celebrate handmade, homemade, traditionally made foods, and at the same time to remind people that we must recognize and help preserve this valuable cultural resource. And all you have to do to help is eat! You can use my book and this site to find out where to go. And please come back here often to post your questions, comments, and discoveries.