Friday, October 19, 2007

northeast ohio: apples, dining, insight

apples, more apples, apple cider, apple butter, a vast array of apple options...

indian corn too...

the freshest corn....ever....

Sages Apples in Chardon Ohio

Many loves about Ohio include the apples and corn that are grown lusciously there. Forget about the overwaxed dull supermarket apples - ever since we left Ohio we've been left to scrounge for styrofoam filled mounds disguised as the 'apple'.

*My love* went back for a recent trip out yonder to northeast Ohio for his grade school reunion. Who has a grade school reunion? It's absolutely unheard of where I come from - but actually it has been an often time tradition for *my love*'s grade school to catch up on each other's lives. And of course they always meet at the same spot......

Btw, the apples from Sages Apples are to write home about.

Hmmmm, that is so sweet.....: *My love*, the apples, grade school, grade school reunions, the midwest - back to grade school; how do you even remember names???

*my love* with childhood friend are 'off to the reunion'

The Cabin's mascot: The Cabin in Willowick Ohio has been the annual locale for THE grade school reunion*

The Guys, The Reunion, The Cabin....

I didn't attend this last one; but went to one about 8 or so years ago at The Cabin. I recall many of the wives/spouses were at this one and we all hit if off well. Yet I also recall the evening went into the wee hours and as the former classmates were still rocking the house; many of the spouses disappeared and their were a few of us sitting to the side twirling our drinks with a straw clockwise then counter clockwise: repeat. Well at least the boys were having a good time....!

*My love* mentioned this year he noticed less spouses in attendance or maybe he just didn't notice them at all in the midst of 'catch up' with his classmates and old teachers....

Of course the food - the food at The Cabin via their menu appears to be classic Continental steakhouse flair with a slight Italian twist. But it's definitely one of those places that have been there for years; loyal following and what you would call a neighborhood 'institution'. I didn't see it on their on-line menu; but I recall walleye perhaps on their specials during my first and only jaunt to The Cabin for the first reunion. I never heard of walleye until we moved to Cleveland and I recall their walleye hit the spot.....alongside their prime rib which is my usual staple anywhere they offer prime rib. And they offered the gallant sliver of standing roast with au jus, horseradish sauce AND grated horseradish much to my glee.

I recall my approximate five years of living in Cleveland; aside from the sweet memories of sleet slapping against my neck and my knuckles freezing to the bone while I pushed the baby stroller stock full of kids over an iced asphalt parking lot to the Great Lakes Mall just to get outta house. I do recall good food and dining experiences (outside of the mall that is). There were always those neighborhood 'institutions' and other off the beaten track finds especially in Tremont and Cleveland Heights.

I came across a great read from my often time visits to Cleveland based food writer and food blogger Michael Ruhlman's blog. He's a born and raised Cleveland-ite and for those of you that are watching Food Network show The Next Iron Chef; he's one of the judges as you prob know. Which btw you prob know ANOTHER Cleveland-er is in hot compete on the show is chef Michael Symon of Lola in downtown Cleveland and Lolita in the historic Tremont district.

Anyways; I came across a great read on Mr. Ruhlman's blog about THE BEST BAR IN THE WORLD aka The Velvet Tango Room located in historic Ohio City. The photos on this post are classic (there's sunlight)as well as the mention about the author's wife 'suffering' from living in Cleveland (which I can relate; yet do know there are aspects about the n.e. OHIO I cherish - that's why I've dedicated this post!); hence he would take her to The Velvet Tango Room. I had never been there; but perhaps because I was *expecting* the whole time I was living in Cleveland.......

After the reunion, *my love* ventured for dining in the 'burbs and came across NOOSA Bistro......good pix below for a newborn foodist:

located in the 'burbs on Mentor Ave.....

can't go wrong with the lure of Ginger Snap Crusted Calamari: a loving partner of lemon aioli, cilantro & marinara alongside

and mussels once alive alive - oh......

Soy-Ginger Glazed Salmon with asian slaw, toasted sesame seeds, tobiko aioli & sticky rice

don't yu luv when rice & soy sauce marry like that???

Another great find: *my love's* classmate makes pasta! Check out Ohio City Pasta....

a gem like**

find at**

Ohio City Pasta**

Sages Apples
11355 Chardon Rd.
Chardon, Ohio
Tel 440.286.3416

The Cabin
28810 Lakeshore Boulevard
Willowick, Ohio
Tel 440.943.5195

Noosa Bistro
7418 Mentor Avenue
Mentor, Ohio
Tel 440.953.1088

Ohio City Pasta
Stand E3
West Side Market
1979 West 25th Street
Cleveland, Ohio
Tel 216.696.3388
check out other locations here

*photo courtesy of The Cabin of Willowick
**photo couresy of Ohio City Pasta

Thursday, October 18, 2007

wild meanderings, foraging recipes and another dining out venture: Heirlooms Bistro

weak in the knees with tuna tartare

duck ravioli reprised

swordfish and grits come hither

triage me lovely with crab cakes, beef tenderloin, potatoes and onion rings galore

a song of salmon, spinach and pasta

It was a Saturday evening and the boys were gone camping - so what's a girl to do other than *girls night out*: that's what!

Florida in October is the perfect month often reminding me of the perfect summer weather for this sfGirlbythebay back then and when: the sun's a shining - mellow warm with just enough heat and zippo-minus any humidity. Yes and that was what it was like that come hither evening in northeast Florida.

So we found ourselves walking about at the new Bartram Walk shopping center. Whenever I visit there or any other 'planned' Florida shop & walk sort of contraption it reminds me of a Ray Bradbury short read from Martian Chronicles.

'Ya know the idyllic setting sort of scenario, the perfect family in the 'burbs,the perfect evening out, with the perfect set of friends 'ya really have known forever and then...............

The only 'and then..............' scenario for me that evening didn't reveal in martian form or anything quite hideous other than my wallet that is still recovering from an expensive haircut, shopping, dining and dessert that was totally unnecessary. At the end of the day that becomes an exhausting effort for this Girl About Town, consultant, writer, critic and wandering forager of recipes vaulted soon to be released sort of girl that I am.

It's either the meanderings or excessive exercise on my part that is effecting my postings as of late. But I really think it has something to do with the surprises found here and there in northeast Florida tapping at my taste buds and challenging my motives.

Useless rant I know.

I'll blame it on the weather as my fixation for stews, dumplings and cobblers begin to intensify once the leaves start turning and my foraging instincts begin to prevail.

Heirlooms Bistro
104 Bartram Walk, Suite 101
Jacksonville, Florida

Tel 904.230.3999

You know when I ramble like this and bear not too specific that something went askew.

I have more chewi-licious pictures from OHIO soon to follow.

Monday, October 8, 2007

National Pizza Competition: Joseph's Pizza of Jacksonville

everything is always good*

pre-flip pizza photo*

I received a press release a few weeks ago with a fabulous announcement from Joseph's Pizza of Jacksonville.

Joseph's has always been one of those pizzeria's that have been 'word of mouth - you gotta go there; they have great dinners too.....and they are the sweetest family....let's go meet and eat.....' seriously; there are a handful of those places known for their 'comforting' atmosphere and its often passed down via 'word of mouth' ayknow.

Joseph's is on my list of dining destinations once I eat past about a half dozen more

According to the press release, Joseph's Pizza earned 2nd place by the United States Pizza Team at the PMQ National Pizza Competition in Orlando Florida.

Here's a penchant from their press release dtd September 19, 2007:

"Joseph’s daughter, Sabrina Bateh, stunned the crowd at the PMQ National Pizza Show and Best Pizza Competition in Orlando, Florida on Saturday, September 8, 2007 when she tossed a pizza that delighted the judges and earned 2nd place. For a first time competitor, Sabrina, representing family owned Joseph’s Pizza, not only tossed a pizza that nationally ranked, but she also earned many accolades from the judges about the unique combination of ingredients and overall quality of the pizza."

Joseph's Pizza
30 Ocean Boulevard
Atlantic Beach, Florida
Tel 904.270.1122

7316 North Main Street
Jacksonville, Florida
Tel 904.765.0335

*photos courtesy Joseph's Pizza

I will be posting more shortly. Thank you for your patience. So much to much to much to much to dance off........yum.....

Monday, October 1, 2007

museum dining: cafe nola @ moca jacksonville

shrimp & grits: Mayport shrimp, white wine sauce, fresh wild mushrooms & bacon served with smoked cheddar grit cakes and sun dried tomato crostini dinner menu)

Last week was back to back dining adventures. I couldn't stop eating and had very little time to process my photos and post.

honey rolls with peach butter

I revisited Cafe Nola @ MOCA Jacksonville and enjoyed my meal as much as I did this past summer. Earlier this year the restaurant management had changed and I'm delighted to experience once again that Cafe Nola has not drifted into some sort of mundane fry me friendly bland expose know for this part of town and especially downtown J.

soft shell crab BLT: tempura soft shell crab, applewood smoked bacon, lettuce, tomato & avocado aioli on fresh baguette, house salad, balsamic vinaigrette (lunch menu)

I went to lunch with a gal pal soon to be *expecting*. I had forgotten what is was like to eat when you have a *bun in the oven*.

Her taste buds were as elevated as mine (and I'm not *expecting*); and I found it quite fun and refreshing to eat with someone that was as crazy about the visual antics of presentation as well as the savory taste of food.

chocolate mousse pyramid: sweet indulgements

Pregnancy has a way of heightening everything from your taste buds to your waist line; and since my hey day - my taste buds have never ever settled back to what they were before. It took me quite a while to shrink the state of my stomach too - but I think it has rubber banded back into that bottomless abyss recently: especially after the last two weeks of eating & wandering & eating from one place to another.

sweet potato crabcakes

For lunch, I ordered the soft shell crab BLT. Anytime it says BLT or bacon or avocado I am SOOOOO THERE! This was no exception - they make a tasty take on BLT and that crab was both crunchy and tender.

It was also definitely minus the heavy oil factor and the tempura batter was as delicate as a whisper.

The crabcakes were definitely pretty to the punch. But I am a hard-lined crabcake eater and have only come across ONE set of crabcakes that settled to be the amuse croquette they might have been contrived to be.

I was at a wedding YEARS ago in Boothbay Maine. The reception was catered in the bride's family summer home overlooking Boothbay Harbor.

The crabcakes were formed to the size of a dollar coin and about three quarters of an inch thick. With one fell swoop it was crispy on the outside. To the bite its resistance was perhaps a reminder of biting into the graphite of center earth (but sweeter with that savory taste memory crab meat always provides to linger): very whole crab meat driven, thick and packed with a sockdolager finesse.

No mush factor at all.

To this day: I have not met a crabcake that could stand up to that experience.

Meanwhile, back in Jacksonville Floria at Cafe Nola - I did find their dinner menu of exception as well.

Last summer we dined there with the kids on opening night for dinner. The wait staff were quite pleasant with the kids and the white craft paper on the table was a perfect palette for them while the adults lounged over a glass of wine prior dinner.

I ordered the shrimp & grits reluctantly - only because I love Mayport shrimp to support the local shrimpers; yet grits are not the california girl thing.

Yet, as a food blogger I make myself adamant about trying things at LEAST a dozen times; because you never know!

The shrimp and the grits were graciously combined. I found the dish savory, soothing and sultry enough for recent dreams of returning for more.

'ommercial break and tasteless ranting: check out my updated ABOUT TASTEMEMORY page with photo insert of yes: MOI.

I was thinking not to include the entire big head photo and maybe just the smile but that looked kinda creepy. As I know not all food bloggers want to be via front page type photo - but this is what I'll start with for now.

contemporary caesar salad: we asked for the cheese and dressing on the side since this was an order for the kids. Check out the greens: so gorgeous, clean and not a wilt in sight! The chef has an awesome inspection program down!

fresh tuna & hearts of palm: this one had issues.....

flat bread with cheese: perfect.....

I did try calling Cafe Nola to get the facts straight about some of the dishes and details for this post but found it a slight conversation from the other end. I tried to get titles and details about their succulent rolls and savory butters they serve upon seating. Well; it must be a guarded 'name & ingredients' type of thing as I just wanted details details details of what everything was and it ended up being a bit difficult. I'm a details girl btw though 'tis the best I have!

hmmmmm....I may have called when they were pulling their greens from the garden. With that said; everything there is so *fresh*

Cafe Nola
MOCA Jacksonville
333 N. Laura Street
Jacksonville Florida
Tel 904.366.6911 x2311