Tuesday, September 29, 2009


Serious Eats Weekend Cook and Tell project this week is pancakes.

The first thing that popped into my mind was okonomiyaki (お好み焼き). The literal meaning of the two kanji are "like" and "cook."

SE Another Okonomiyaki

When my mother was busy during the weekends, she would occasionally cook a quick and easy version of okonomiyaki for lunch. It wasn't as thick or dressed up with stacks of toppings as the Hiroshima variety. She also wasn't from Hiroshima...

I never got her recipe, but I recall that it was basic: flour, water, eggs, cabbage. My job as her assistant was to make the sauce, which was merely Best Foods mayonnaise whipped with shoyu, to taste.

Basic ingredients:
2 c flour
3/4 c water or dashi
2 c cabbage, shredded
3 eggs
neutral oil

Kewpie mayonnaise
okonomiyaki sauce

Makes 2 servings, 2 pancakes per person

1. Mix the flour and water (or dashi).
2. Add cabbage to batter and mix.
3. Add egg to cabbage and batter mixture.
2. In a heated, oiled pan, pour batter in a circle and cook to desired crispness.

SE Okonomiyaki0
Semi-naked lunch

For a Hiroshima flair, I added a yakisoba layer. Sapporo Ichiban yakisoba (chow mein) is my preferred variety, since the noodles are a desirable texture. For my concoction, I added sliced bamboo shoots and mushrooms to the yakisoba and took the liberty of sprinkling the laver that came with the yakisoba package, as well as shichimi togarashi for a little zip.

I would have used shrimp, cut up in smaller pieces, but the bag in the freezer we thought was shrimp was, instead, a bag of dumplings. Boo.

My mother would have served just the two pancakes for lunch with a mayonnaise-shoyu sauce.

SE Okonomiyaki
Dressed pancake

A typical okonomiyaki will have katsuobushi shavings layered on top. The shavings are made of preserved tuna and look like wood curls.

This is no where near what I have had in Hiroshima at an okonomiyaki restaurant our relatives took my father and I. It was piled at least 4" high. I'm rubbing my belly just thinking about it!

I have yet to make okonomiyaki like my mother's, but through trial and error, I hope to obtain that texture and flavor one day.

- Cassaendra

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Ingenuity Festival

The Veterans Memorial Bridge was constructed in the 1910s at a cost of over $5 million. The top (open) deck provided a vehicular and pedestrian connection from Downtown Cleveland (Superior Avenue) to the west side (Detroit Avenue) over the Cuyahoga River, while the lower deck was for streetcar traffic.

VMB Into the abyss
Lower deck, Veterans Memorial Bridge

In the 1950s, streetcars no longer operated along the bridge so access to the lower deck was closed off, while the upper deck remained in use.

VMB Bench

Several times per year, the closed off lower level is open for tours and art exhibits, like the Ingenuity Festival: The Bridge Project this weekend.

VMB End is Near
The end is near...

The beautifully dreary, misty weather served as a perfect prelude to Electric Junkyard Gamelan, a percussive band using pots and other apparatus (similar to Einstürzende Neubauten's music from the early 1980s). The spacious, practically underground auditorium couldn't have been better aesthetically and acoustically.

VMB Canoe
...or just some people passing by on their bicycle

The footpath along the bridge that crosses over the river consists of wood boards laid over metal grating. If you walk over the dark edges shown in the pictures you are able to see the river ~100 feet (~30 m) below. The Superior end of the bridge turns into dirt.

VMB Rapid
Rapid stop

Half way across the bridge, the gaps between the beams and the wood boards along the center walkway become wider so I had to jump to get across. The grating was still under the boards, so a toddler wouldn't plummet between the boards, at least not a chubby one. Someone could lose their cuff links, ring, or keys, however.

VMB Bootie
Adorable booties

VMB End Zocalo
Zocalo (Superior end)

There seemed to be a lot more activity along the Superior Avenue (Downtown Cleveland) end of the bridge, with more artists hanging their artwork and a busier bar.

VMB End Bar
Bar (Superior end)

The atmosphere was more what I'd imagine the scene in Berlin would have been like 25 years ago with bands playing in abandoned industrial buildings lit only with a couple of stage lights.

VMB Another Stairwell to
Watery grave

The atmosphere is dank in the furthest reaches of the Superior end of the bridge, since there are areas that are submerged like the stairwell. To my disappointment, I was unable to take my camera, which has an excellent motion stabilizer, since my battery was drained and, instead, took Bug's camera.

VMB Public Square Car
Street car named Expired

A stage was set up in front of one of the streetcars. Several nooks were utilized as stages for other spoken word performances.

VMB Outside
A sliver of the Downtown Cleveland skyline (Detroit end)

The hearse in the picture is awesome.

- Cassaendra

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Having a Ball

Hop hop hop

One of a few pictures of the fuzzy that isn't a blur.

- Cassaendra

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Ohio City Players

While cruising around yesterday, a new storefront painting of a skeleton with a hat holding a burrito caught our eye. When we arrived home, Bug tried to find a menu online for Ohio City Burrito. Their website was new so it only advertised basic information.

We didn't want to eat out tonight and normally don't impose so close to closing (30 minutes). Having read a review that the food was amazing and inexpensive, we decided to give it a try.

OCB Storefront
The storefront

The store opened its doors 5 days ago so everything still smells and looks new, with dainty utensil holders, and that awkward new store vibe.

There are ~7 black tables with cute, bright, and cartoony Day of the Dead themed artwork of flowers and skeletons painted on the lacquered tabletops amongst the sunny walls and white embossed tin ceiling.

OCB Order

There were 6 people in line when we slipped in. The line moved pretty quickly, so it took ~10 minutes for us to order.

Bug ordered the Barbacoa beef Brother's burrito ($6.15) and I ordered the shredded chicken Brother's burrito ($6.15). The format is like Que Tal, a Mexican style Subway, where your burrito is sent along an assembly line and you decide which ingredients will go into your burrito, taco, or salad.

OCB Build2
Building a burrito

Ingredient choices include sour cream, guacamole, white rice with cilantro, black beans, refried beans, shredded lettuce, shredded cheese mix, 3 types of salsa, and pickled jalapeno peppers.

We ordered our burritos with sour cream, guacamole, rice, shredded lettuce, and cheese. Not knowing the heat rating, we stuck with a medium heat salsa to be safe.

OCB Beef Burrito
Barbacoa beef Brother's burrito

I preferred the chicken burrito over the beef burrito. The beef had a subtle smoky flavor and was a little dry; whereas, the chicken was moist and a bit tangy. The sour cream and guacamole was timidly smeared and the cheese was given a light hand. The center of each grain of rice was crunchy. The refried beans were all right. The salsa wasn't spicy at all.

Bug was irritated with the rice as well as the disparity in serving sizes. The person in front of us had the same order, but was served twice as much beef.

OCB Chicken Burrito
Shredded chicken Brother's burrito

I ordered horchata ($2.00), a rice drink I've never tried before. It was a sweet, chalky, malt-nutty flavored milk with a cinnamon accent. I could have drank a quart!

Bug ordered a pineapple cocktail that was dispensed self-serve with the usual sodas. Jarrito brand drinks are also sold. I overlooked the selection because I figured it would be more expensive than purchasing them at the grocery store.

Bug wasn't impressed and does not want to return. I didn't think it was horrible and would give it another try a few months from now. When I do, I'll order my meal with fiery hot salsa.

- Cassaendra

Ohio City Burrito
1844 W 25th St
Cleveland, OH 44113
(216) 664-0908

Monday, September 14, 2009

Alien Ate My USBaby

Something very cool from Australia...

Alien USB3
Images taken from MikaEle's listing

For Alien fans with $125+$11 shipping to spare. A wood-carved Alien USB memory stick -- available at Etsy by MikaEle.

Alien USB2

If cash wasn't so tight, I'd be all over that.

- Cassaendra

Monday, September 7, 2009

Sugar Rush

Today, we went to b.a. Sweetie in Brooklyn, and Friendly's and Sonic in Parma.

b.a. Sweetie is a dangerous store for a candy fiend. Fortunately, we aren't candy junkies, but it's a fun store for nostalgia, as well as finding limited edition candies.

BA Sweetie aisle2
Aisle at b.a. Sweetie

You can find rock candy on a string by the ounce and Pixy Stix to Butterfinger Buzz. I've never heard of Butterfinger Buzz.

BA Sweetie Butterfinger Buzz
Caffeine, chocolate, and sugar *shudder*

BA Sweetie Hot Dog Bologna gum
LOL - not sure why

BA Sweetie aisle3
Another aisle at b.a. Sweetie

We left with a bag o' booty -- 2 different flavors of rock candy on a string, a handful of lemon drops, and Reese's white chocolate peanut butter wafers.

BA Sweetie Jelly Bellys
Oodles of Jelly Bellys

Later in the evening, we stopped into Friendly's for a snack. We had not gone to Friendly's in ~5 years and talked about stopping in for the past couple of months.

CJ ordered a hot fudge sundae.

Friendlys Hot Fudge sundae
CJ's hot fudge sundae

I ordered a fat-free raspberry swirl yogurt and pistachio ice cream sundae with pound cake sprinkled on top. It isn't gourmet ice cream, but it was a solid sundae that hit the spot on a muggy night. I'm sure it would hit the spot on a cold, rainy morning.

Friendlys Pistachio Raspberry Sundae
My raspberry yogurt-pistachio sundae

Friendly's is running a meal special, where you can get an entree, soda, and sundae for $9.99 or $11.99.

Friendlys Buffalo chicken
Bug's buffalo chicken dinner special

Bug wanted a more substantial nibble so he ordered the buffalo chicken strip dinner ($11.99). Well, they tasted like buffalo chicken strips. Surprise.

Friendlys Pistachio Black Raspberry sundae
Bug's black raspberry-pistachio sundae

With the array of flavors, Bug ordered almost the same sundae with Reese's peanut butter cups. I couldn't distinguish between his black raspberry ice cream and my raspberry yogurt.

After we wrapped up Friendly's we drove over to Sonic, which is on the way home.

Sonic Parma 2200
After dessert dessert

Sonic is still hopping one week after their grand opening and an hour (or two?) before closing. We waited ~15 minutes to get into the parking lot to order 2 drinks.

- Cassaendra

b.a. Sweetie
7480 Brookpark Rd
Cleveland, OH 44129-1104
(216) 739-2244

6400 York Rd
Cleveland, OH 44130-3032
(440) 888-2002

1842 Snow Rd
Parma, Ohio 44134

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Town Called Orrville

We took advantage of CJ's visit to quench our curiosity about Orrville, a town I've seen in commercials since I was a kid. I'm talking about those cute Smucker's commercials.

JMS Front Door

Orrville is only an hour away, so the drive wasn't as long as I expected. The highway near the town is mostly lined with fields of densely packed cornstalks and a smaller, dark green leafy plant that stands 3-4' tall.

The store grounds was surrounded by a lawn thick with green grass and tall trees along the perimeter. It felt peaceful, where one would imagine someone sitting outside in a wooden chair sipping iced tea from a jar...until you open the double doors.

JMS Entry

Toward the back of the store is their museum. It was interesting to see how the small company grew to a mega corporation in just over 100 years, with Pillsbury, Crisco, and JIF under its name.

JMS History
Museum entrance

Of course, where there's a cafe, you'll see us checking out the offerings. The most unusual item on the menu, at least for me, was the apple butter shake ($3.59). I wasn't raised on apple butter. As I am writing this, I am having my first taste of apple butter (apples, cider, sugar) spread on bread. Tart and sweet. With it being called butter, I didn't expect it to be so spreadable.

JMS Apple Butter Shake
Apple butter shake - yummy!

Tan colored shake, wee. I realize the picture wasn't really worth taking because it looks boring. Now that I have had apple butter, the shake tasted nothing like it. It tasted like what I'd imagine malt (Horlick's) and soy milk blended into a shake would be like, and add a subtle tartness. It was good, but Bug could not guess the flavor prior to the reveal.

JMS Mandarin Orange Cheesecake
Mandarin orange cheesecake - in the tummy!

Part of the reason may have been the bold mandarin orange cheesecake with orange rind. It tasted a lot better than it looks, which I realize isn't saying much.

After we finished up our snack, we headed over to the shop in hopes of finding unusual items.

JMS Display

We walked away with some jarred Dickinson's ketchup, mayonnaise, and dijon mustard for my coworkers, as well as pumpkin spice ice cream topping for Bug's grandmother, sugar-free jam for his mother. Whole pecan topping ($2.69), Kadota fig jam ($3.19), blueberry jam ($2.09), apple butter ($1.59), guava jelly ($2.19), and orange marmalade ($2.09) have found a home in our refrigerator.

Orange marmalade? Dude, it was $2 and we love marmalade.

JMS Exit
Auf wiedersehen

Was it worth the 1 hour drive? It was a nice break away from the city. I wish there was more to do out here, perhaps a factory tour of some kind. We'll be back before the holiday season, I'm sure.

Town Called Malice by The Jam

- Cassaendra

Smucker's Store and Cafe
333 Wadsworth Road
Orrville, OH 44667

Open: Mon-Sat, 9:00am - 6:00pm
Closed: Sunday

Middle Eastern Festival

While driving around town to prepare for CJ's visit last week, I noticed a banner advertising a Middle Eastern festival hanging over Ridge Road. How could I have missed this banner or any advertisement to this festival while I've lived and driven this part of town over the years?

I wasn't sure where the church was. At least Bug knew the general direction.

It was dusk as we were driving along a quiet stretch along Memphis Road. I wondered how we would know if we were at the right place? The answer became a bit obvious as we drew closer, from the carnival riders screaming over the groaning and wheezing of the motors to the aura that illuminated the sky.

MEF Tent
Food tent

The festival has been held the past 45 years on Labor Day weekend. With the rides, several carnival game booths, and blaring live music, it was lively.

MEF Grape leaves
Amazing stuffed grape leaves

Bug and I agreed that these were the best stuffed grape leaves we've had in a while. The leaves were wrapped tightly around the perfectly cooked rice-meat mixture. The thicker veins on the leaves were removed, as they should be, which prevented the contents from spilling apart once bitten or cut with a dull, plastic knife.

MEF Cabbage rolls
Cabbage rolls

The cabbage rolls were similarly firm, perfectly cooked, and well seasoned.

MEF Grape leaves and Cabbage
Cross-section of the delicious rolls

We prefer the bold, slightly bitter, dark green flavor of the grape leaves.

MEF Fattoush

The sumac-blended lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers, parsley, and onions were crunchy and tart, perfect on this warm and muggy night. Fattoush is the only dish I will consume with raw onions.

MEF Fattoush pita
Fattoush with fried pita chips

I've mentioned before that my boss introduced me to this dish, and I will forever be grateful to him. My favorite way to eat this is scooping the vegetables with large, crunchy, fried pita chips. The chips and sumac act like a magical shield against the chopped onions for me. When the chips run out, the remainder is left with Bug.

I wish there were exhibits, but people don't go to cultural festivals to read. Food, drink, music, and dance are a great way to experience a culture...and the raffle to win $10,000 ($100/ticket, 400 tickets total).

- Cassaendra

St. Elias Church
8023 Memphis Ave
Brooklyn, OH
(216) 661-1155

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Melt With You

After our visit at the West Side Market, we stopped by Legacy Village, a shopping complex. Melting Pot is nestled within the Village.

Melting Pot is a fondue restaurant. With their prices, it's not a place we common-folk can partake in very often.

We treated CJ to a birthday luncheon and ordered the "Big Night Out," ($80/couple) their seasonal set that includes a salad, cheese fondue, main course (broth) fondue, and a dessert fondue.

MP Spinach salad
Spinach and mushroom salad

Bug and CJ ordered the spinach and mushroom salad. The salad was made of sliced baby portobello, fresh spinach, sliced red onions, chopped bacon, roma tomatoes with burgundy shallot vinaigrette.

MP Caprese Salad
Caprese salad

I had the caprese salad. The fresh mozzarella was milder than I expected. However, the cheese in concert with the flavorful tomato slices, leafy basil, and the drizzled sweet, bold balsamic glaze meshed well.

MP Quattro Formaggio unmixed
Relatively cool pot of cheese with roasted garlic, basil and tomato pestos

Despite not being a fan of cheese, mostly due to smell and poopy problems, I was pleased with the Quattro Formaggio. The four cheeses blended with the roasted garlic, basil and tomato pestos were fontina, gruyere, gran queso, and perlini (bead sized fresh mozzarella).

MP Quattro Formaggio
Quattro Formaggio

The melding of cheeses, garlic, and basil was fantastic with the cauliflower, which was fun to stab. I enjoyed the 3 types of bread also. With the crumbly bread, we worked as a team, reeling our booty from the persistent stringy cheese without many casualties. Apples, carrots, and celery were also available to dip into the blend. If I could have licked the pot without scalding my tongue, I would have.

MP Mojo
Mojo broth

Printed on the menu is an apt description of the main course Mojo broth: "Caribbean-seasoned bouillon with distinctive flavors of fresh garlic with a citrus flair!"

The dipping ingredients included filet mignon florentine, limoncello balsamic sirloin, shrimp diablo, sun-dried tomato chicken, orange fennel pork tenderloin, porcini and portobello sacchetti (pasta), mushrooms, broccoli, and red potatoes.

MP Fondue Feast
Main course with mojo

My favorites were broccoli and sirloin, with the shrimp and filet running a close second. The broccoli burnt my tongue several times, as I left it to simmer in the peppery citrus concoction. The bright citrus flavor of the sirloin was surprisingly delicious. The filet was unearthly tender, and the gigantic shrimp were spicy.

MP Sauces
Sauces for the main course

There really wasn't a need for dipping sauces, but I tried them anyway. The mild curry sauce was the best due to its subtle flavor. I least liked the teriyaki sauce because it was too sweet and salty. I could have eaten the sweet and sour sauce on its own because of the bits of citrus, but didn't want it on my food. It didn't dawn on me until now, but the cream cheese, sour cream, and chives dip was probably for the potatoes. Oh well, it wasn't bad with the sirloin. I didn't much care for the gorgonzola sauce, mainly because I don't like gorgonzola. Heh.

MP Smores Tiramisu
Smores and tiramisu

I wanted the tiramisu, CJ wanted the chocolate smores, so our chef made both. The tiramisu was made with milk chocolate, espresso mousse, and ladyfinger crumbled and folded into the chocolate. Chocolate smores blended milk chocolate, marshmallow cream, and crushed graham crackers.

MP Dessert Flambe
Whew! I still have my eyebrows!

There were several moments I felt uncomfortable as the flames blossomed and flared out, so I moved as far back into my seat as possible.

MP Dessert Offerings Lit

We stabbed at strawberries, bananas, Rice Krispie treats, graham cracker coated marshmallows, powdered dark chocolate coated marshmallows, brownies, and pound cake. The cheesecake was good, leaning more on the thick side, but not NY style dense.

MP Dessert Offerings Unlit
All kinds of yum

My favorite was the banana-tiramisu combination. The smores was a little too sweet for me. The tiramisu was sweet, but the coffee knocked it back a few notches. The gooey ladyfingers were pretty cool.

MP Aftermath
Full bellies!

The meal was wonderful in every aspect. The dining experience is dependent on your chef, since the food appears to be consistently well prepared and seasoned. We've only eaten here once before and had a cool and goofy chef then.

As much (or little) food as this may appear, you walk out of the place sated. I've never had an aching, bulging stomach, nor have I been the slightest bit hungry. I haven't heard Bug pining to go to Burger King for a sandwich afterward. Or he may be carrying a sizable chunk of the meal in his belly.

- Cassaendra

Melting Pot
24741 Cedar Rd
Cleveland, OH 44124-3786
(216) 381-2700

  © Blogger templates Brooklyn by Ourblogtemplates.com 2008

Back to TOP