News about Ethnic Food Lovers

An interesting press release arrived this morning from Mintel, a company that tracks what we eat. 

  Chicago (February 16, 2011)—Consumers love tickling their taste buds with Italian, Mexican and Asian cuisine, so much that all three have become so mainstream, they’re hardly considered ethnic anymore. However, according to Mintel’s Global New Products Database (GNPD), lesser-known ethnic fare has enjoyed robust product growth in recent years, as ethnic-food lovers and their palates are hungry for more exotic ingredients and flavors.

            In 2010 alone, Mintel’s GNPD tracked a 150% increase from 2009 in new food items that contained “Caribbean” in the product description. “Japanese” product launches soared more than 230% from 2009-2010.  Meanwhile, “Thai” products launches saw a 68% increase from 2009- 2010.

            “Italian, Mexican and Asian cuisine are the more mainstream, popular ethnic cuisines,” says David Lockwood, senior analyst at Mintel. “But Thai, Caribbean and Japanese foods are seeing healthy growth, and consumers seem to be getting more comfortable with a wider variety of ethnic flavors.”

            This increase in product launches may be due to the wide variety of outlets consumers have at their disposal to learn more about ethnic foods that aren’t common to their ethnic background. In fact, 26% of ethnic food-lovers say they were introduced to the cuisine by TV programs, newspapers or magazines that feature cuisine from other countries.

            Twenty-three percent of ethnic food users say they were spurred to try them after reading cookbooks that include recipes for dishes that are popular in other countries. Additionally, 18% developed a taste for ethnic chow after travelling abroad and 25% say they were introduced to their favorite ethnic fare because they live in a diverse neighborhood where the food and ingredients are readily available.

            SO- where/how do you learn about different ethnic cuisines? Have you eaten Thai, Japanese or Caribbean recently? Where?  Tried any new ethnic cuisines in 2010?

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New Years Chinese Style

The Lion starts  dancing, courtesy of  two guys inside a costume, at 11 AM on Saturday, January 29th at Asia Town Center (3820 Superior Avenue). It’s just part of the festivities on the schedule to celebrate Chinese New Year. There will also be traditional music and dance performances, kung fu demonstrations and not so traditional presentations of Asian hip hop and an eating contest.  When you’ve had your fill of firecrackers and food, check out the big Asia Food Company supermarket and the Bai Wei Herbal Store, both part of this up and coming urban mall.

This is the Year of the Rabbit, according to the Chinese astrological calendar. So there’s also a contest for best homemade bunny suit- winner takes home a $100 prize.  You still have time to whip up some cute floppy ears.

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I Say Pierogi

Apparently they spell it differently in Columbus (or the editor missed correcting the mistake) but it’s clear they like to eat these packets of dough stuffed with all kinds of goodness just as much as we do uo here in Cleveland.

http://www.dispatchkitchen.com/live/content/food/stories/2011/01/19/main.html?sid=101

The story includes recipes if you want to make your own. But I’d rather buy mine. Love the ones from Perla Homemade Delights and Pierogi Palace at the West Side Market. Where do you get yours?

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Bad Blogger

I have been a bad, bad blogger.  I’ve broken the rules by failing to post with regularity and let my friends and followers down. All the usual excuses apply- holiday craziness, too busy,too tired, too whatever, hey I have a life, and dog ate my homework- but who cares. Bloggers are supposed to blog. Often. And consistently.  I didn’t. And I’m sorry.

But I’m back, vowing to try harder and do better. To kick things off for 2011 I’ve decided to do a round-up (as the media often does at this time of year) of the Cleveland Ethnic Eats listings we lost, the new spots that have opened, and a few old restaurants and markets that have relocated to new homes.

CLOSED: Tom’s Seafood; Hana Asian Food, Antalya Red Square; Baricelli Cheese Company; Buetner’s Bakery; Maria’s; Gertrude Bakery; Rachel’s Caribbean; Chefs Choice Meats; Chandler and Rudd; Aoeshi Cafe; Mint Cafe (reopening under new management…maybe new name, but same Coventry Road corner)

MOVED: Athens Food and Pastries is now at 5120 Pearl Road; Lancer Steakhouse has moved across the street  from the original location to 7804 Carnegie Avenue; and Angie’s Soul Food Cafe is at 3859 Superior in the former Town Fryer. After a hiatus Niko’s, the Greek restaurant in Lakewood is back in business at 15625 Detroit Road. Asia Food Market on St. Clair is gone but the same family opened an even bigger supermarket in Asia Town Center, 3820 Superior Avenue 

OPENED: New Ethnic Restaurants (in no particular order) 

Istanbul Turkish Grill, 2505 Professor, Tremont, 216298-4450

Dervish Mediterranean and Turkish Grill, 35840 Chester Road, Avon, 440-937-0733

Mia Bella, 12200 Mayfield Road in Little Italy, 216-795-2355

Mulino Pastry, 25092 Center Ridge Road, Westlake, 440-835-2555 

Banana Blossom Thai Cuisine, 2800 Clinton Avenue, Cleveland, 216-696-5529

Indian Flame Restaurant, 11623 Euclid Avenue, University Circle, 216-791-5555

Park to Shop Asia Market, 1580 E. 30th Street, Cleveland, 216-781-3388

Middle East Grill, 20126 Chagrin Blvd, Shaker Heights, 216-752-7500

Maha’s Cafe (a sit down version of the felafel stand at the West Side Market), 3323 W. 25th Street, 216-741-9810

Frank’s Falafel House, 1823 W. 65th, Cleveland, 216-631-3300

Le Oui Oui Crepe Cafe and Luchita’s Express, both in a sort of Food Court at 11309 Euclid Avenue, University Circle

Taqueria La Loma and Supermarket, 421 Darrow Road, Akron, 330-784-9300

Cilantro Thai and Sushi Restaurant, 326 S. Main Street, Akron, 330-434-2876

Annotate and update your print edition. Let me know what I’ve missed. And if you’ve visited any of the new places name here, I’d love to get your opinion. In fact, I’ll mail a free copy of Cleveland Ethnic Eats to the first person that posts a write up describing their meal or their shopping trip to any one of these newly opened ethinc eats destinations.   My way of saying thanks for sticking with me.

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I’m Talkin’ Food

I’ll be presenting a program about holiday food traditions and where to find seasonal ethnic treats around Cleveland on Thursday December 16 at 3:00 p.m. in the ballroom at Judson Manor. The event is free and open to the public.  My talk is not the only attraction. First on the agenda is a tour of the Manor: built as a luxury residential hotel in 1923, the unique and elegant apartments are now part of Judson’s Smart Living continuing care retirement community.  My speeches typically make people hungry.

 Luckily, after you listen to me,  refreshments will be served  including assorted European style cookies from Lucy’s Sweet Surrender and one of baker Michael Feignebaum’s chocolate and chestnut Yule Logs.

RSVP required. Call (216) 791-2004.  Judson Manor is located at 1890 E. 107th Street in Cleveland’s University Circle neighborhood.  Free parking is adjacent to the building

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Not Delighted

Went to Indian Delight, at 55th and Detroit, Saturday night and the experience fell far short of delightful.  Food, service, and atmosphere all left much to be desired. We showed up at 8:30 and the place was virtually empty with only one other table occupied. There was no one to greet us or seat us, and we waited an uncomfortably long time before a server appeared with menus.  Although the restaurant was the opposite of busy, extremely slow service was a hallmark of the meal every step of the way.  I began to wonder if the guy who was carrying dishes out of the kitchen was also the one cooking them. The pace- it took two hours to get from ordering to paying the bill, and not because we wanted to take our time- gave us ample opportunity to take in the surroundings. The impression was kind of depressing-the walls were beige and mostly bare, the heat insufficient to take the chill off the room, and the silence deafening. Oddly, the table cloth AND the paper placemats were under glass.

There were some interesting appetizers under the heading Bombay Special that I haven’t seen elsewhere. We had some little round hollow puff s of pasty filled with potatoes and onions (tasty but icy cold- not sure if this is how they are meant to be eaten); and samosa chat that was described on the menu as vegetable samosa topped with chick peas and onions, but which turned out to be bits of crumbled samosa mixed with the beans. The lamb biryani was short on meat and had a bitter aftertaste. The chicken korma was okay, nothing special, and basket of assorted naan, which arrived when we were almost done, was a bit greasy. 

I know people have said they’ve had delicous food here. And I’m always willing to accept a less than lovely setting in exchange for fine eating.  But This place has some serious work to do before I’d return or recommend it.  Given the lack of patrons on a Saturday night, I fear the restaurant may not be in business long enough to correct the problems and grow into a destination fro those who love Indian food.

Anyone been here? What do you think?

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Angie’s Back

Just got the following message from the neighborhood merchant’s association about another incarnation of Angie’s, this time on Shaker Square. The soul food restaurant has a long local history and was in the first edition of Cleveland Ethnic Eats .

The owners of Angie’s Soul Cafe, a popular local restaurant with several locations in Cleveland, have launched a new venture at Shaker Square – Zanzibar Soul Fusion. Zanzibar features upscale, contemporary Southern cooking with the same freshness and quality of ingredients that Angie’s has become known for over the years. The now-legendary Angie first concocted her recipes for Clevelanders in the Carnegie Hotel in the late 70’s. Yet in truth, it began earlier than that – with the down home cooking she’d learned while growing up in Santuck (Union), South Carolina. During the intervening years, Angie opened up several restaurant before retiring from the business in 2008. She continues to cook, yet has handed the reigns to second and third generation members of her family, under whose leadership the business continues to evolve and grow. Zanzibar Soul Fusion officially opened several weeks ago  next to the Shaker Square Cinemas.

I can’t wait to check it out and post here about what I find. If anybody gets there before me, please share your impressions with the rest of us.

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