Sunday, September 26, 2010


A couple of weekends ago, Civil War reenactors from the 7th and 8th Ohio Volunteer Infantry from nearby Camp Taylor, presently E 30th St and Woodland Ave, set up camp at Lincoln Park in Tremont, a 2 mi march southwest traveling on modern streets.

Civil War Recruitment Poster
We want you

A few blocks from Lincoln Park along W 7th St between University Rd and Jefferson Ave, Camp Cleveland was established in 1862 and closed in August 1865, 4 months after the end of the Civil War.

With over 15,000 men throughout Ohio trained at Camp Cleveland, it was the largest of 7 camps in Cleveland. Camp Taylor was the first.

The small 2-man tents could use branches as supports. Each soldier carried half of a tent and assembled it with identical pieces carried by another soldier. Pictured below are more elaborate tents.

Civil War Soldiers

We visited the encampment mid-morning. It was a crisp and clear, so the smell of smoke and flying ash filled the air from a campfire with a heated kettle.

When I saw the soldiers dressed in wool coats and hand-stitched long-sleeve shirts underneath, and women dressed in their long dresses, one of my first thoughts were of relief that temperatures were in the 60s.

Civil War Flame
Not chili

One of the soldiers stopped and conversed with us for 30 minutes describing the conditions, Lincoln, weapons, and traveling to Kanawha Valley in present West Virginia prior to breaking away from Virginia.

Of the few moments he was not in character, he recounted one of the events where there were so many in attendance that when they marched, the procession was nearly a quarter mile long with more waiting to march behind him. He also allowed me to hold his rifle to illustrate how heavy one was. How tiring it must have been to hold 8-9 lb in one place.

Civil War Flag

We were informed that women would visit the encampments to deliver gifts and carry home-cooked food when the soldiers were camped nearby.

I have always envisioned these camps to be muddy and nowhere for a lady to drag her flowing dress, hoop and all. Muddy affair or not, I'm sure a little dirt and manure on a dress is trivial when visiting a loved one fighting a war.

Civil War Women

As we left the 1860s, the smell of skewered hot dogs cooked over a campfire wafted throughout. I had hoped to see traditional food, but I can't imagine someone preparing embalmed beef (canned beef) for stew and hoecakes for the sake of authenticity.

Civil War Bundle
Bundle of clothes

When we drove by later, we caught the rifle firing demonstration from afar that played out like a silent film without the herky jerky movements. The soldiers were lined up, rifles were uniformly held up, then a plume of smoke appeared.

I had one nagging question the entire weekend that I should have asked - are they really camping out in the park overnight?

Ah well, perhaps next year.

- Cassaendra

Monday, September 20, 2010


Since my first visit to Mi Pueblo on Lorain Ave, there has been one elusive menu item: birria estilo Michoacan.

During our previous trip to Mi Pueblo on a Sunday, they had run out. On previous trips, the dish was not prepared.

It came to my attention while reading a community post on Serious Eats that Mexico's bicentennial independence celebration was to take place on September 16th. While I was joyful of the occasion, I felt a tinge of guilt as my immediate thought was that this event could be my ticket to finally eating birria.

Birria estilo Michoacan Beans Rice
Birria estilo Michoacan with tomatillo sauce ($13.95)

Bug admitted several minutes after my initial "oohs and aahs" that he was nervous for me, more likely himself, as the expectation one builds after waiting months for a dish may be too great.

Bug and I have eaten together for many years. Goat is normally served bone-in. He isn't fond of goat - he doesn't hate it, he just isn't all that in to it. Yes, this is leading somewhere. When I order a dish that I'm not very fond of, he is often stuck holding the bag.

Imagine his relief as I gleefully sucked out marrow from the lone bone in my magnificent serving. That white circle in the middle of the photograph was the only bone served. This was a massive serving of meat. Of course, this is one of a scant few times I really wish I had more bones; well, more melty marrow.

Mi Pueblo's mole is different from your average Mexican place. As it arrives, you notice that the sauce is black, a still unusual trait in most western cooking. Next, the scent is meaty and toasty. Finally, the flavor is intense - bitter, sweet, and spicy - and relentless, so it is a perfect union with a red meat like goat. The texture of the goat was perfect, firm yet yielding.

With its impactful flavor and large serving size, the leftovers substantially and quite happily fed me for 2 more meals!

- Cassaendra

Mi Pueblo
12207 Lorain Ave
Cleveland, OH 44111
Tel: 216 671-6661

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Sardines in a Can

11/24/2010: Corrections made regarding the typewriter/cipher. Thanks, Bill (KA8VIT)!

During the Labor Day weekend, Bug and I visited the USS Cod, a Gato class submarine docked in Lake Erie between Burke Lakefront Airport and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. She was commissioned on June 21, 1943 and was deployed to the Pacific, seeing action during World War II. Decommissioned in 1954, she was used as a training vessel in Cleveland until 1971.

USS Cod Sign

The Cod is a unique monument as it is the sole US World War II submarine that has a preserved hull where ingress and egress still take place via ladders through her top hatches just as the submariners did, as opposed to cut-out entrances on its side.

USS Cod Life Buoy
USS Cod in rough waters

To celebrate the Labor Day holiday, there was a group of World War II re-enactors who bivouacked in front of the USS Cod.

USS Cod Bivouac Reenact

The vehicles reminded me a lot being on the set of MASH.

USS Cod Trucks

Travel was done mostly above water, so the Cod sailed at up to 24 mph powered by diesel engines that were built in Cleveland by General Motors. On her deck is a 5 inch gun behind the Conning Tower, and two 40 mm guns. Submerged, the Cod traveled at up to 9 mph on battery power. This speed could be maintained for only an hour until the batteries were drained. At 2 mph, she could travel underwater for 2 days before she would need to emerge and switch to diesel engines to recharge the batteries.

USS Cod 5 in Deck Gun
5 inch deck gun

Walking along the deck was a little nerve racking because we were walking on slats and grating. Water was everywhere since it had been raining off and on through the night and morning. Gusts were high, so the submarine was rocking erratically.

USS Cod 5 in Deck Gun Barrel
Barrel of the 5 inch deck gun

While we were peering through the deck gun observing groves that appeared like rifling, an FA18F Super Hornet screeched by. The Cleveland National Air Show was taking place next door at Burke Lakefront Airport. For a moment, all who were on deck drew their attention away from the Cod and watched the jet rumble into the distance, afterburners twinkling amidst the stormy grey skies.

Air Show Navy FA18F
Super Hornet buzzing over our heads

A few minutes after we clumsily teetered down the 2-level forward hatch, a man in dungarees slipped in behind us. He neatly tucked half of his white hat under his belt and greeted us as we spun around the room wide-eyed looking at all the valves, switches, and gauges. The seaman casually talked about the sub. Before we realized it, our personal tour of the entire submarine began.

USS Cod Forward Torpedo Tube
Forward torpedo room

Surrounded by metal closed off from the world, the clinking of the water against the Cod's skin was a little unnerving the first few minutes.

Moving from room to room, I wondered if many submariners received head wounds their first month stationed in one. I cannot imagine anyone over 5' tall not banging their forehead walking through each doorway or slamming their head on a sharp corner of a suspended metal box or a valve. The width of the doorways was just a few inches broader than my shoulders.

USS Cod Control Room Steering
Control Room wheel

Red lights were used so a person's vision could more quickly acclimate to viewing objects under the night sky through a periscope.

In such tight quarters, food was stored anywhere it would not get in the way of operations, which meant everywhere high and low. Through a hatch below the mess, we saw the engines and cans scattered in each nook.

USS Cod Control Room Food
Submarine food cupboard

While I love gauges, this was 468327 too many. Everywhere I looked in the Control Room, I saw gauges. To a trained person, I am sure this room isn't cluttered. To me, it was overwhelming.

USS Cod Control Gauges
Control Room gauges everywhere

Above the Control Room is a hatch into the Conning Tower where the sonar and radar are located, periscopes are used, and the torpedoes fired. We were only allowed to climb halfway up the ladder.

USS Cod Control Hatch Conning
Control Room hatch to the Conning Tower

Back in the Control Room, our guide mentioned something about the compass when we talked about magnetism in a steel shell. I have read that a regular compass still works in a submarine, but I have also read somewhere about the existence of gyroscopic compasses were needed. I don't know what to believe. Regardless, the compass looked pretty cool in its special case.

USS Cod Control Compass
Compass in the Control Room

I have seen pictures of a navigation table in the Conning Tower. We can't walk around in the Conning Tower so I don't know if this was displayed in the Control Room to show people what the navigation table looks like or if there were two tables. I'll have to find out on a subsequent trip.

USS Cod Control Nav Table
Control Room navigation table

The Radio Room is adjacent to the Control Room. The cipher, which encoded and decoded messages, was kept locked in this room. Having seen pictures of ciphers online, they look like black manual typewriters with a taller body and several slots on top that look like daisy wheels. The cipher was thrown overboard to prevent its use when capture was suspected. -- Thank you for the correction, Bill (KA8VIT)

USS Cod Radio Room
Radio Room

With a crew of 56, submariners worked in shifts so there was a need for only 36 bunks. The passage was snug. Walking normally, my shoulders rubbed against the sides of the beds. Along the walls, were the crewmen's lockers.

USS Cod Crews Quarters
Crews quarters

Hand cranked laundry, 2 sinks, and 2 showers were in the same recess. There was very little privacy.

USS Cod Laundry Room
Crew laundry room

The toilet was in a different recess, thankfully. The officers' head was niftier looking with a bunch of valves to manipulate the pressure to push the waste out into the ocean when submerged. As one can imagine, if the pressure isn't adjusted correctly, the unfortunate sailor had a mess to deal with.

USS Cod Crewmen Toilet
The head

There are several rooms that housed the engines and batteries on the floor we were on and below. Like any job, it is probably easier when you have been doing the task for a while and know what you're looking at.

I was pleased that it wasn't very warm and humid inside the sub. Fans blew everywhere we went, more so in the Control Room. There was a permanent smell of metal and grease.

USS Cod Engine Room
One of two engine rooms

I was surprised that the Maneuvering Room controls (power and speed) were not in the Control Room. I have always thought that a ship's movement was controlled in one room. The assumption was probably formed from watching Star Trek and other space shows.

A lathe was also situated in the Maneuvering Room so spare parts could be made in a pinch.

USS Cod Maneuvering Controls
Maneuvering Room controls

The After Torpedo Room feels more claustrophobic than the Forward Torpedo Room because the ceiling was probably a little lower.

USS Cod After Torpedo Room
After Torpedo Room

The hatch to get out is a quick exit compared to the entry hatch. It was nice to feel the breeze on my face. Submariners were (are?) paid more and had more shore leave compared to the other soldiers. It still seems like an unfair trade.

USS Cod After Hatch
Hatch to the outside in the After Torpedo Room

On permanent exhibit outside of the Cod is a bronze propeller, a memorial to the submariners who have died (I presume during World War II), as well as a stone memorial honoring the men who died in Pearl Harbor.

USS Cod WWII Memorial
Bronze propeller memorial

A few minutes after I took the picture of the memorial, the Blue Angels drove by in a motorcade. They look like NASA astronauts, young faces with beaming smiles in bright blue suits with patches.

We found out later in the evening that the Blue Angels performance was canceled due to the weather. The high winds were a bit treacherous for us on the ground, let alone flying precision maneuvers.

Having missed some opportunities to photograph a few rooms as well as having a few questions, a return visit to the USS Cod is in our future - if not in the next week, then next year since the memorial is closed from October through April.

- Cassaendra


1034 N Marginal Rd
Cleveland, OH 44114
Tel: (216) 566-8770

Monday, September 6, 2010

Istanbul not Constantinople

For years, I thought about trying Turkish food at Anatolia Cafe, a restaurant located within a strip mall on Cedar Road in Cleveland Heights, until we noticed the mall had been leveled. They relocated to Lee Road, a road we seldom travel along, so the thought was filed away in an "out of sight, out of mind" pile, despite being less than 2 miles (~4 minutes) away from its original location.

In July, the Taste of Tremont introduced two new restaurants to the neighborhood, Istanbul Turkish Grill and La Fuega.

Istanbul Turkish Grill
Taste of Tremont

Several weeks after the Taste of Tremont, Bug and I peered into the storefront window of Istanbul Turkish Grill and noticed stirring within. Diners! We had already prepared dinner so we decided to eat there the next day.

Upon entering the restaurant, my eyes were immediately drawn to the long, elegant bar. This was formerly Hotz Cafe, a bar that opened in 1919 and relocated a few years ago to a spot a couple blocks away.

Reading the descriptions of the skewered meats and starters offered, we sat there dumbfounded, unable to decide what to order.

We wanted to try everything.

We debated what to try until we came upon the perfect meal listed under Dinner Specials.

Dinner for Two $39.00

The special included a mixed appetizer platter, mixed grilled meat combination platter, and two desserts. Aside from buffets, mixed platters are a great way to taste a broad array of food a restaurant offers, especially with new cuisines.

Our appetizer platter included several of our Mediterranean favorites along with new dishes we were curious to try. Humus, yalanci dolma, barbunya pilaki, patlican dip, soslu patlican, kisir, ezme salad, crumbled feta, and olives.

Humus was made to my flavor, appearance, and textural ideal -- a luxuriant paste with an intense flavor of garbanzo beans and tahini with just the right nudge of garlic and citrus.

I can't emphasize how garlicky the patlican dip, similar to baba ghanoush, was. When Bug exhaled, I was accosted with garlic fumes. Knowing this, he took every opportunity to speak with Hs and Fs.

We have made and ordered stuffed grape leaves, but the dolma served here surprised us by its mild sweetness in addition to the expected piquant, spiced, and nutty flavor. I prefer the rice and leaves to be firmer; otherwise, I expect this to be our new way of making dolmades.

I took a small sample of the soslu patlican and ezme salad due the inclusion of raw onions. Yes, it's a childish peeve. Soslu patlican consists of eggplant, tomato, bell pepper, garlic, onions, and parsley. Ezme salad is made with tomatoes, walnuts, onions, peppers, parsley, and lemon olive oil. The addition of nuts provided an unexpected flavor.

Kisir, similar to tabbouleh, is a blend of cracked wheat, parsley, scallions, red and green peppers, olive oil, and lemon. While this also had onions, the other vegetables helped to dilute its sharpness, so I ate few bites.

A few minutes after we gobbled up our appetizer and a second basket of pita, a heavy, large platter of chicken adana, lamb chop, beef and lamb adana, döner, pilaf, and vegetables made its way toward us.

Lamb, beef, and goat are my favorite meats. I am not quite as fond of poultry; however, the chicken this evening was my favorite.

The lamb and beef adana was fantastic, but I am still tickled by my excitement for the chicken. Adana is a process where a mixture of minced meat, chopped red bell peppers, parsley, and seasoning is grilled over charcoal along wide, flat skewers. Onions and paprika are added to lamb and beef adana. Adana-izing resulted in flavorful and juicy morsels akin to eating stew in one small bite. It was Willy Wonka magical.

Döner made of lamb and beef, similar to gyro meat, was served in slices. What is not to like about juicy, marinated grilled beef and lamb? The skewered lamb chops were impressively tender and juicy. Bug was swooning by this point.

Grilled tomatoes, onions, and red bell peppers were firm and added a color to the dish and helped to lessen my guilty conscience.

I have had pilaf served 100s of times, and find it mind boggling that I almost always leave feeling underwhelmed by the texture and/or flavor. The pilaf was moist, fluffy, and flavorful such that it could be served on its own, but not so robust where it detracts from the main ingredients.

The owner stopped by to chat with us as we were partway through our meal. We passionately expressed how impressed we were with the quality and the chef's skill in preparing our meal. We found out it was their second night open. He also mentioned that the meat is butchered on site, which he felt greatly affects the quality of meal preparation.

I remarked how fortunate we were to have a nearby Turkish restaurant as the nearest one that I knew of was Anatolia Cafe. He was interested to hear of our experience there. I confessed that we never got around to trying the place despite being urged by my eastern European coworkers. He then revealed that the chef was the head chef of Anatolia.

Shortly after Bug packed the leftovers, our table was cleared for the generous portions of kadayif, a luscious haystack of shredded wheat stuffed with pistachios and a ladle of honey, and kazandibi, a milky pudding with cinnamon. The pudding is more appropriate for a subtle conclusion to a meal, while the shredded wheat is a perfect cure for a sweet tooth.

On the way home, all I chattered about was our return visit.

- Cassaendra

Istanbul Turkish Grill
2505 Professor Ave
Cleveland, OH 44113
Tel: (216) 298-4450

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Polish Festival

St. John Cantius, a Polish Roman Catholic church in Tremont, is celebrating the Labor Day weekend with their annual Polish festival.

Lively music, games, and homemade comfort foods like kielbasa, sauerkraut pierogi, potato pierogi, and cabbage and noodles were abundant at the assembly hall. Adjacent to the hall, the chapel was open to visitors, so I glanced in and found a breathtaking interior with soaring pillars and a decorated arched ceiling. Churches have a way of appearing much larger from the inside.

Pierogi Cabbage Noodles
Clockwise: cabbage and noodles, potato pierog, sauerkraut pierog

One bite of the sauerkraut pierog and I immediately proclaimed it my favorite food offering at the festival. The dough was soft yet not obliterated, and the mildly sour and salty sauerkraut filling had a bit of crunch left to give.

The potato pierogi were filling and tasty without the aid of sour cream or apple sauce. While I do not know what exactly goes into making cabbage and noodles, from the flavor it is not merely cabbage and noodles but onions, butter, and possibly bacon or kielbasa to contribute a faint smokiness.

We're going back for more tonight!

- Cassaendra

St John Cantius Roman Catholic Church
906 College Avenue
Cleveland, OH 44113
Tel: (216) 781-9095

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