When the Lion needed a heart and his buddy the Tin Man wanted a brain, they went to see The Wizard. If it’s Raclette, Stilton, or mozzarella di bufala I crave then it’s off to the Westside Market I go for a visit to The Cheese Shop (stands H-8 & H-9). Proprietor Dion Tsevdos is my personal wiz for granting curdish wishes.
The selection features about 150 varieties of imported and domestic artisan and farmstead products. I always find what I want and a few things that are totally new to me. Among the more incredible things he’s introduced me to are a roasted ricotta salata from Italy; cave aged Gruyere; an over the top Pierre Robert triple cream brie (Dion says it’s the “cadillac of brie”); blue Costello brie from Denmark; a Portugese chevre spiked with tarragon and peppercorns that just explodes on the tongue; a velevty four year old sharp cheddar from Quebec; and a semi-firm sheep’s milk Petit Basque Istara. I could go on. And on.
Even if you’ve never shopped here you may have eaten the stuff he’s sourcing because he supplies many of the area’s top restaurants. He gets great deals as a wholesaler and passes the savings along to his retail customers. I took a friend in from San Francisco, food writing coach and blogger Dianne Jacob to his stand and she couldn’t believe how reasonable the prices were compared to what she pays.
You haven’t really lived until you’ve had a wedge of Mimolette (a fruity/nutty tasting ripened Edam) with quince or plum paste, or a smear of Humboldt Fog drizzled wih honey. The Cheese Shop shelves are stocked with these accompaniments and all kinds of other essential go-withs like specialty crackers, mustards, jams and jellies, including some wonderful locally made products from Deanna Ferry’s Garden Vineyard Grove label.
Writing about all this goodness has my mouth watering and I’m visioning olives, sliced farm fresh tomatoes, a crusty baguette, and a cheese board for tonight’s main course. So… I’m off to see the wizard.
I will be signing copies of Cleveland Ethnic Eats this Wednesday night from 7-8 PM at Joseph-Beth Booksellers in Legacy Village. Come say Hi!
A coupl of weeks ago, there was a comment posted here about Polish food and where to find some. That’s prompted me to tell you about one of my shopping trips to Seven Roses, a Polish deli and market on Fleet Avenue in Slavic Village (page 154 in Cleveland Ethnic Eats).
I go there because I like stocking my pantry, fridge, and freezer with Eastern Eurpopean flavor and because I can get a lot without spending a lot. Here’s what I brought home this time:
-a jar of Polish style mustard with horseradish
-jar or sauerkraut
-1 lb smoked Swiss Cheese
-4 lbs. garlic kielbasa
-a loaf of fresh bread
-a cherry babka (coffee cake)
-2 liter bottles of imported mineral water
Total bill for all this: $48.08.
Besides great value, this is such a pleasant space to be with the lace curtains at the window, wooden shelves and pressed tin ceiling. It’s like stepping out of time and place, to suddenly finding yourself in a 19th centuryEuropean shop. Going to the supermarket just can’t compare.
Photos courtesy Photos of Barney Taxel
I’ve heard that a Seven Roses outpost opened this spring in the basement of an office park in Beachwood. This location- 23230 Chagrin Blvd, Building 2, focuses on their prepared foods-soup, sandwiches, potatoatoe pancakes, cabbage and noodles- rather than packaged products and ingredients. I haven’t been yet so I’m not sure if it’s a sit down restaurant or just for take-out.
La Boca is the pretty new Latin leaning restaurant on the corner of Detroit and 58th in the Gordon Square Arts District. (The chef, Adam Schmith, posted a comment here in June shortly after it opened). It’s still more of secret than a destination. But don’t wait for the official review. Now’s the time to enjoy the place because there’s a sweet, secluded outdoor patio where flowering trumpet vines cascade over the fence, hydrangeas bloom, and brightly colored umbrellas provide shade. Not long ago, the husband and I had a good dinner there, lingering contentedly till dusk over a pitcher of sangria.
Bread and three tasty spreads- chickpea tapenade, herbed butter with citrus zest, and black bean puree- kicked things off. Then we dug into a big plate of calamari. Seems like every place has this on appetizer list but Chef Schmith’s was exceptional: light, free of heavy breading, and partnered with an appealing cucumber ginger salsa, lime marmalade, and chili aioli. An arugala and spinach salad was just right for summer, flecked with bits of fresh, juicy grapefruit, mango, papaya, and strawberries, dotted pine nuts and goat cheese, and splashed with champagne vinaigrette. More mango in a salsa served with big fat pan roasted sea scallops and corn cakes- much to like in this dish. Brisied short ribs are generally too rich for this time of year in my opinion but this tender rendering in a luscious coffee bean barbecue got some seasonal balance from a crunchy jicama, zucchini and carrot slaw.
Schmith, whose resume includes stints at One Walnut, Moxie, the Ritz Carlton and most recently Melange, clearly knows what he’s doing. The restaurant’s owner Rosita Kukut is of Argentine descent and I hope she and Schmith do more to spotlight that country’s cuisine in the future. The chef has the skill to pull it off and it’s a niche no one in town is filling.
Don’t be deterred by the road construction out front. An inconvenience to be sure but the street is still quite driveable and there’s plenty of parking in a lot behind the restaurant.
Had dinner last night at Anatolia Cafe, the Turkish restaurant in Cleveland Heights. A satisfying treat as always. When my companion and I had just about licked our plates clean it dawned on me that our meal had a theme. Everything we’d eaten was rolled or stuffed. There were grape leaves, folded around rice, pine nuts, and currents; crispy sigara borek- a warm savory cousin of the cannoli filled with parsley-flecked feta; my roasted eggplant stuffed with ground beef and tomoatoes; her cabbage rolls with garlic yogurt sauce.
Wrapping, rolling and stuffing is a way of preparing food that shows up in so many different cuisines. Anybody want to throw out your faves or suggest places to try something interesting?
Russian tea biscuits are about as Russian as hot dogs and ketchup. This startling fact came to me courtesy of my Russian born friend Tatayana Rehn, co-owner of The Stone Oven Bakery and Cafe . She makes and sells wonderful tea biscuits- I am especially partial to the poppy seed variety- but insists that the pastries are not and never have been eaten back in the old country. Their name is a mystery to her. Maybe, she speculated when we spoke about the question recently, it’s because the classic version has a raspberry filling and that’s the fuit of choice (and all that’s usually available) for jam in Russia.
My thought- they’re big pastries, Russia is a big country- perhaps there’s a connection. On the other hand, using that reasoning why don’t we call them Texas Tea Biscuits which has a more appealing alliterative ring?
Curious, I turned to the internet for an answer and much to my surprise there was none to be found. In fact someone from Cleveland went on a similar quest back in 2006 and posted about it on an eGullet forum. Like me, he too seems to have come up empty handed when he tried to research the topic himself. And in a further layer of intrigue, the search term Russian tea biscuit brings up a number of Cleveland links.
So now in addition to wanting to know how Russian tea biscuits got their name, I’m wondering if they are a local, Cleveland thing. Who can shed some light on this culinary conundrum? Does anyone out there know anything about this?