Saturday, November 29, 2008

Take Me Back to Dear Old Blighty

With a 2 year old in tow, it was obvious my sister and I were not going to be eating at Tartine Bistro. As an early Christmas gift to everyone already enjoying lunch, we decided to go across the street to The Pub.

When it comes to authenticity, how many things can you name that are as good (or better) than the original? In my estimation, the British pub is probably the most imitated concept in the US. The Pub is exhibit A.

When I see these places I have a general tendency to cringe. You can imagine my pain when we walk in and one of the waiters has on a faux kilt. Uggh! I’m no expert but I’m pretty sure if a guy showed up to work in something like that the UK they’d get the hell beat out of them before their shift even started. What really got me was that the waitresses were wearing these mini mini kilts. I wasn’t complaining, but if that happened in the UK her bottom would have been pinched incessantly. I’ve got good friends from England and every time we’d go to a bar they’d pinch women’s butts. It was the weirdest thing. From what they tell me it’s somewhat accepted over there. Here, well, not so much.

Besides the whole kilt thing, I thought the interior was nice. Since we were being pushed by a kid who was on the cusp of a nap, we wolfed down a couple of burgers. The burgers themselves were char grilled and actually pretty decent. They were served with those frozen Arthur Treacher’s type fries. Who would’ve thunk?

You just don’t come here to eat. The type of food you find here is what the English have been ridiculed for. If I’m drinking and I happen to be hungry, then yeah, I’d order something.

Probably the best imitation pub I’ve been to is Brazenhead, down in Columbus. The one in Grandview is particularly nice. They have these low sitting stools (like Spotted Pig in NYC) that are remarkably comfortable to sit on. I did see a couple of these stools scattered around the Pub. The one thing I wished the Pub did was drop the ceiling lower. The ceiling is very high and so you lose some of the intimacy you would otherwise have. The acoustics make it sound emptier than it is. The lower ceiling gives you a coziness that really lends itself to wanting to stay a while, especially when it’s packed.

Like I said, I’m not against these places, but there’s something about blatantly imitating something that ultimately opens itself up to being compared to the real thing. I would prefer to go someplace that is more American like a Tremont Tap House, Melt or McNulty’s Bier Market. Why go to imitation when you can have something authentic?

The Pub
19304 Detroit Rd
Rocky River, OH 44116
(440) 356-6933

The Pub on Urbanspoon

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Turkey Burgers at Tommy's

For some reason I don’t go over to Coventry when I’m looking for a place to eat. Last week my brother-in-law Jason was doing some work near there and wanted to go lunch. He was actually closer to Shaker Square but there aren’t that many options for lunch in square…er circle; especially with work clothes.

Since it was such a cold day I figured we’d try someplace with warm food (as opposed to subs).

I suggested we go to Tommy’s where the menu is huge. There’s something for everyone, whether you’re a vegan, vegetarian, or an omnivore.

I ordered the Sharpy burger which is spiced turkey burger on a hoagie roll with Pizza sauce, mozzarella / provalone / parmesan blend, lettuce, tomato and side of pickles, along with an order of fries. It was actually very good. I don’t eat a lot of turkey burgers (my favorite of all time is a place called Barrister’s in Southampton, NY) but this one was pretty darn tasty. The side of fries was huge.

Jason got the burger and a cup of the chili. He seemed to like it; but I think the chili was a little overpriced.

It’s pretty basic menu. I’m not going to act like it’s the greatest place on earth. It isn’t. Tommy’s puts out a quality product at a decent price. If you’re toting kids along, which I don’t have, it would be a great place to go. All in all, it’s a great locally owned restaurant.

1824 Coventry Rd
Cleveland Heights, OH 44118
(216) 321-7757
Tommy's on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Sampling Slices

A while back my sisters and I decided we would get together for dinner last Saturday night. My mother was originally going to watch the kids but she had a really hectic week so we had to come up with plan B.

I will eat pizza on any day, any place, and for any meal. Since both of my sisters live on the west side and we had 2 kids under the age of 2½, we had limited options.

We decided to each pick up one west side pizza a piece. We picked up an Angelo’s deluxe pizza, my sister Bridget got a Mozzerella Basil pizza from Sweet Basil in Westlake, and my sister Darcy who was hosting got a pepperoni pizza from Danny Boy’s in North Olmsted.

My favorite on the evening was from Angelo’s in Lakewood. It’s a pretty sweet sauce, but works really well with the amount of cheese they use as well as the buttery crust. I don’t think it’s one of those pizzas that I would eat with any regularity. I don’t like it as much as Antonio’s or Geraci’s, but it is tasty.
Angelo's Pizza on Urbanspoon

My next favorite was probably Sweet Basil. This is the closest thing I’ve had to true New York style pizza in Cleveland. I could tell that it was the real deal as soon as I saw the really wide pizza box. A very thin crust under the cheese with a uniform Neapolitan edge, Sweet Basil has a unique product, very foldable and every bit as good as a typical east coast fare. My only complaint is that the pizza does not travel well. The humidity in the box wreaks havoc on the pie. Of the three this is the one I would most want to try again, only next time I would eat at the restaurant fresh out of the oven.

I've eaten in the actual restaurant it is is THE New York Style pizza in Cleveland. This is a great place for families, couples, and everything in between. Owner Dan Joyce is doing a fabulous job out here in Westlake.

The Grapes of Wrath Pizza (awesome)
Sweet Basil on Urbanspoon

Danny Boy’s was probably my least favorite sampling of the night. I just thought it was an average pizza. Part of the problem was that it was being eaten along side two very good contenders. Would I turn my nose up at it if someone served it a party? No. It’s better than Papa John’s or Pizza Hut. I just didn’t think it was a great as some people have made it out to be.
Danny Boy's Pizza on Urbanspoon
I actually thought this was probably more fun than going out to eat. I had my first taste of GLB’s Christmas Ale for the year, that hit the spot! For whatever reason, this year’s incarnation seems a little spicier than in years past. A definite winner.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

A Quick Scallop Dinner

We typically try to work fish into our dinners at least three times a week. I’m always trying to find something new (and fast) that I haven’t done before. Since we try very hard to only purchase sustainably caught fish there’s a smaller selection for us to choose from. When I saw this recipe in the new Fine Cooking I just had to try it out. Typically anything with hoisin goes over huge with Mrs. Dine O Mite. These scallops were no exception.

Hoisin-Glazed Scallops with Spinach & Cilantro
By Lori Longbotham

Serves Four

  • 16 all-natural “dry” sea scallops (about 1#)
  • Kosher salt
  • 1/8 tsp of cayenne pepper
  • 2 Tbs vegetable oil
  • 1 Tbs hoisin sauce
  • 3 thin scallions, very thinly sliced
  • 10 oz. baby spinach
  • 1 cup of coarsely chopped fresh cilantro
  • ½ tsp Asian sesame oil

Dry the scallops well with paper towels and season with ½ tsp salt and the cayenne. In a 12” cast iron skillet, heat 1 Tbs of the oil over high heat until hot. Cook the scallops, turning once with the tongs, until golden brown and just opaque throughout, 3 to 4 minutes per side. As they finish cooking, transfer the scallops to a large plate and brush the top of each with hoisin sauce.

Wipe out the skillet and then heat the remaining 1 Tbs oil over medium-high heat. Add about two-thirds of the scallions and cook, stirring constantly, until softened, about 30 seconds. Add the spinach, cilantro, and ¼ tsp salt and cook, tossing constantly with tongs, until just barely wilted, about 2 minutes. Remove the skillet from the heat, drizzle the spinach mixture with sesame oil, and toss to combine well.

Serve the scallops with the spinach, sprinkled with the remaining scallions.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Delicious Cheesecake Portion Control

I first made the Mini Black-Bottom Cheesecakes about three months ago. I don't like to make huge desserts that require me to eat them for three days after I've made them. These little suckers, however, are lucky if they make it past the first day. Small in stature, these mini cheesecakes are a guaranteed hit at any party. I took them to my sister's last night and they were instantly devoured.

The Nabisco's Famous Wafer cookies are what I think make this entire recipe. Because these cheesecakes can technically be eaten with your hands, you have this nice creamy cheesecake filling that you sink you teeth into, followed by about a quarter inch of what tastes like Oreo crust. In fact, I think that these wafer cookies may actually be made from the same dough as Oreos. At any rate this is an easy recipe to make and will be wildly popular wherever you happen to serve it. For a printable version of the recipe go here.

Mini Black-Bottom Cheesecakes

Recipe by Grace Parisi

Makes 12 Cheesecakes


  • Vegetable oil spray
  • 24 plain chocolate wafer cookies, preferably Nabisco
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2/3 cup fromage blanc (6 ounces), at room temperature
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup seedless raspberry preserves, warmed


  1. Preheat the oven to 350°. Line a standard 12-cup muffin pan with foil baking cups and spray the cups with vegetable oil spray. In a food processor, crush the chocolate wafer cookies. Add the butter and process until fine crumbs form. Spoon the chocolate cookie crumbs into the prepared baking cups and press with the bottom of a glass to compact. Bake for 5 minutes, or until almost set. Leave the oven on.
  2. Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, beat the cream cheese and sugar at medium speed until smooth. Beat in the fromage blanc, then add the eggs and vanilla and beat until smooth.
  3. Pour the cheesecake batter into the baking cups, filling them three-quarters full.
  4. Bake the cheesecakes for 15 minutes, or until slightly jiggly in the center. Remove from the oven and spread 1 teaspoon of the warmed raspberry preserves on top of each cheesecake. Transfer the muffin tin to the freezer and chill the cheesecakes until set, about 15 minutes.
  5. Remove the cheesecakes from the pan and peel off the foil baking cups. Transfer the cheesecakes to a platter and serve.
Make Ahead

The mini black-bottom cheesecakes can be refrigerated for up to 4 days.


INSTEAD OF FROMAGE BLANC Crème fraîche, goat cheese, lebneh or quark.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Mitchell's - My local dessert spot

By Mrs. Dine O Mite

My first trip to Mitchell’s Homemade Ice Cream didn’t win me over. I had some flavor of frozen yogurt. That was my mistake. Several months later, I found myself jonesin’ for a hot fudge sundae, only to find that I was no where close to my favorite low fat indulgence, Dairy Queen. I was in Rocky River and happened upon a Mitchell’s. I ordered a vanilla hot fudge sundae with pecans and whipped cream. As the sales girl began to ring up my order, I said “Um, I wanted whipped cream”…she replied, that is whipped cream, pointing to the top of my sundae. As I looked closer, I noticed it was indeed whipped cream, so thick that it literally looked like a scoop of ice cream. Sold.

While I do not consider Mitchell’s to be the best ice cream I’ve ever had (it’s no Franklin Fountain in Philadelphia or Bi Rite Creamery in San Francisco), it is some of the best in the Cleveland area. The positives are that it’s a locally owned organization, their founders are alumni of the famed Penn State Creamery Ice Cream short course, they offer junior scoops of ice cream (to save me from myself), their pecans are buttery and salty, a fantastic combo, and of course, their ultra thick whipped cream.

However, what keeps them from the top of my list is their lack of creativity. Sure, they have a few seasonal flavor additions to the menu every month, but that’s it. Just a few monthly specials and they are by no means “outside of the box” combinations (think Thai Chile or Burnt Sugar ice cream). Their ice cream menu is essentially static. The originality of places like Capogiro Gelato in Philadelphia or Jeni’s Ice Cream in Columbus is what keeps people coming in and coming back…they always want to know what you’re up to.

Unfortunately, I do not see Mitchell’s changing their approach because I think what they’re doing is working for them. They are a reliable local choice for me to get my sundae fix, so I can’t complain about that. I guess I’ll just need to take full advantage of any opportunities for eating great ice cream when I’m out of town. Plus, I suppose I could take what they’re missing and use it as inspiration for creating what I want…Santa, I’ve been good this year. Do you think you could hook me up with an ice cream maker this Christmas?

Mitchell's Homemade Ice Cream
2101 Richmond Rd
Cleveland, OH 44122
(216) 831-2722

Mitchell's Ice Cream Laplace on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

A Very Pleasant Surprise

How many times have you seen a food layout in a magazine and said to yourself, “Wow! That looks really cool! I’ve got to go there.” Well, our first Brazilian restaurant experience was actually spurred by a story in Philadelphia magazine. They had gorgeous pictures of these delicious looking sandwiches. Tempted by the people at Philadelphia magazine we went down to check it out.

When we got there it was just a little hole in the wall kind of place. Some of my greatest food finds are hole in the wall places, so I wasn't really bothered. To make a long story short we go inside and order. We didn’t really look around too much, just ordered and sat down. What a mistake. We sit down at a table and notice that there is a bit of a fly problem, okay, a really bad fly problem. But we already ordered and paid for the food. What were we going to do?

The food comes out and it has a very little in common with what we saw in the magazine. So we decide to hurry up and eat the food and get out of there. As I’m eating my sandwich I’m looking at the window gagging. What had been a noticeable amount of flies, now totaled by weight, more protein than was on my sandwich. We couldn't even finish the food. We had to walk. It was probably the worst restaurant experience not related to service that I’ve ever had in my life. That was my last Brazilian meal.

…until Tuesday

Since Sergio’s Saravá is so close to home we decided to give it a shot. When we attended the Annie Chiu benefit over the summer a couple of my favorite items were from Sergio’s. I’ve probably been to Fire a dozen times, Sasa maybe 5, and not once had we gone to Sergio’s Saravá. I know a lot of it had to do with our traumatic Philadelphia magazine episode. How stupid could I have been to lump SS with the Musca domestica petting zoo in Philly.

I can’t say enough great things about this place. Since it was November we didn’t get to sit outside, but the outdoor eating area is easily the nicest on the east side. I put it in the same category as 3 Birds. The interior is beautiful, but not to the extent that it’s uncomfortable. It actually has a very intimate setting because the restaurant is broken up in to smaller spaces.

If the setting is great, the food is even better. Since it was Cleveland Independents’ Restaurant Week (actually two), I went with the restaurant week menu for $30. What a buy. I ordered the Louisiana Style Gumbo with crawfish, Xim Xim, and Coconut Butter Cake. Incredible. All three dishes hit the mark. The one thing I love is that they gradually built up the flavors in the Gumbo and Ximi Ximi. Too often you get these dishes and they’re packed full of spice and the depth of flavor just isn’t there. With this food you can taste how these flavors harmonize to create a unique and delicious flavor. They were just so enjoyable. You would think that something as simple as Coconut Butter Cake wouldn’t be anything to get excited about, but that too was really good.

Will I be back? Without a doubt I’ll be back. The setting was great. The service was attentive and the food was incredible. If you haven’t been here you’ve got to try it. I really enjoyed my evening here. And guess what? No flies.

UPDATE December 16, 2008

What we had:

Appetizer: None

Regina: BRAISED SHORT RIBS – tender-roasted with a guava glaze. Served with steak fries (substituted with fried spinach) and house slaw 21.5

Cal: FEIJOADA (Fay-JWAD-ah) the ceremonial party dish from Brasil. A rich black bean stew simmered with linguiça sausage, smoked bacon, ham, and pork loin. Served over rice, with farofa, fried spinach, fresh tomato relish, and orange slices. 21

Both: SERGIO’S COCONUT BUTTER CAKE – whipped cream, crème Anglaise, toasted coconut 7.5

Her dish was fantastic as usual. Extremely tender braised beef. She had a full side of fried spinach, I had a partial. This is a photo-worthy dish. The spinach takes on this flaky, iridescent look to it that is visually stunning. However, it is as tasteless as it is beautiful.

My entree was really good as well. It was a huge serving that I boxed halfway through.

The coconut butter cake is simple and delicious. I would put it in the Cleveland top ten desserts. We also picked up a couple jars of the "Ripe from Downtown" Salsa that Sergio helped formulate in conjunction with Cleveland Botanical Garden's Green Corps. The organization provides seasonal employment for city teens to learn gardening and small business skills. The cause is great, the salsa is even better. Sold at the Shaker Square Farmer's Market, it's one of my favorites. I like to put in my favorite chili recipe which I'll eventually write about on this blog.

Sergio’s Saravá
13225 Shaker Sq
Cleveland, OH 44120
(216) 295-1200

Sergio's Sarava on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, November 11, 2008


The other day I had the pleasure of stopping in On Rise Artisan Bread in Cleveland Heights. I had gone to the shop a couple of other times, but the line was so long it was hard to see everything that was available until you got up to the counter. There's a vast array of pastry treats as well as a good selection of artisanal bread, along with coffee. A large wood communal table with about 6 to 8 seats is located in the front corner of the store.

If I had one gripe it's that the pastry offerings are difficult to see because they're on cookie sheets in one of the aluminum racks. I think what they were going for was being able to see the work area in the back of the building. I don't know if I'm right in assuming this, but it creates a problem when trying sell your goods. It's not really the bountiful display that you'd find in most bakeries in the world. With as high quality as they're product is; I just wish they displayed it in a more appealing manner. Display aside, I will be purchasing my bread from here because it's truly tasty. If you're near S. Taylor and Fairmount be sure to drop in.

On Rise Artisan Bread
3471 Fairmount Blvd
Cleveland Height, OH 44118
(216) 320-9923

On Rise Artisan Breads on Urbanspoon

Monday, November 10, 2008

Fleming's kicks ass....or does it?

I was on Urban Spoon looking at some of the ratings and noticed that Fleming’s Steak House was near the top. If it was any other restaurant I probably wouldn’t have paid much mind to the list. However, I happened to be on a few weeks back and noticed that there was someone on the Food & Wine Forum talking about how great Fleming’s service is. So I decided to locate the post.

Someone poses a ridiculous question that obviously has no good answer.

This is the question: A friend is looking for a venue for someone's 40th anniversary dinner. Any suggestions would be appreciated: Here are their requirements:
  • Cleveland east side or east suburbs
  • must have room for a party of 23 people
  • not a chain restaurant
  • not Asian food (some of the attendees must be picky eaters!)
  • Dinner costs $20 a person or less.
Any ideas?

My reply would have been:

Is there and Old Country Buffet on the east side? If not, maybe McDonald’s still does the birthday parties. I seriously don’t know what one expects to get for $20 a person. Newsflash: Coffee is no longer 10 cents a cup with unlimited refills.

That isn’t the funny part, though. The next bit didn’t come out of my imagination. Some guy, possibly Fleming's management, is pushing the restaurant he works at. This was his post:

reply from Fleming's Guy:by dlopez459, 10/27/08 2:07 ET
You should try Flemings Prime Steakhouse and Wine Bar. 100 wines by the glass and food is AMAZING! What is even better is that the service is the best I have ever had.

What?!?!? The food is not only “AMAZING”, but the service is that good? I have one question. Have you looked at the prices at Fleming’s? Is everyone going to order an a la carte side, munch on complementary bread, and slug free water all night? C’mon, dude. You’ve got to be kidding me. The average entrée is $35.

How about this other exchange that took place in the same forum.

Original question: Meeting a friend who lives in the Mayfield area for dinner. Suggestions? I know Arribiata's and Gaetano's is near but would travel further (but not far west side).

Reply from another poster: Moxie's (sic) or Red at Chagrin and Richmond Nothing else "good" out that way.

Reply from Fleming's guy:by dlopez459, 10/27/08 2:08 ET
Both Moxie and Red don't even come close to the level of service that Flemings provides. Also, the food isn't as great either. But that can be debated I suppose.

Do I sense a feeling of inadequacy? What a douche bag. Go ahead, act like an average Joe typing on a food forum, but don’t go hating on competitors. And no, it can’t be debated. Fleming’s doesn’t hold a candle to Moxie or Red.

My take is this: don’t waste your time stuffing the ballot box, you’re not at WMMS. When people start writing up phony reviews it makes it look like your business is not very good and needs to trick people to walk through the doors.

I’ve been to Fleming’s, thankfully the trip was funded by someone else’s expense account. It is like every other overpriced chain steakhouse I’ve ever eaten at. Whether it’s Ruth’s Chris, Morton’s, Hyde Park, I just don’t find these places enjoyable. They have huge a la carte portions that you can’t possibly eat, with a price tag to match. I'm not saying that the food is bad, it just isn't "AMAZING". I just think Fleming's is grossly overpriced. Red is the only Cleveland steakhouse I would pay for with my own money. Trust me on this one.

Fleming's Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar
28869 Chagrin Blvd
Woodmere, OH 44122
(216) 896-9000

Fleming's Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar on Urbanspoon

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Forgive Me Father, For I Have Sinned

Wednesday night I was flying solo for dinner. Part of the reason I haven't been posting more frequently is because I've been busy trying to finish the painting on the back of my house while the weather is still warm. So Wednesday I finished up the painting and figured what the hell, I'll celebrate with a pizza.

Since my recent relationship with Geraci's had thawed I've been there a few times. Tonight I felt like something different. Originally, I wanted to go to Marrota's in Cleveland Heights but remembered the last time I got it "to go" it didn't hold up the way I would've liked it to. They, Marotta's, have very good pizza ...if you eat in the restaurant. However, if you order takeout the steam inside the box turns it into a mushy mess.

I figured I would see how well Dewey's would hold up if I got their pizza to go. A pizza chain out of Cincinnati, Dewey's has been in Cleveland Heights at least since I had come back to Cleveland a couple of years ago. It went against my "local only" policy, but didn't really feel like sitting in Marotta's by myself grubbing on a pizza.

Besides being an out-of-town chain, there a couple of other things I don't really like about Dewey's. First it's the size of the pizzas. Who the hell eats an 11" or 13" pizza? Since it is a thinner style pizza, an 11" is too not enough but a 13" is too much. Why not sell a 12" like everyone else in the free world does? This brings me to my second dislike, the price. There's a $3 price jump from 11" to 13" but just a $2 dollar jump from 13" to 17". Do you see a problem with that? In the end, I suppose it's the fact that I have to make a choice between starvation and gluttony.

The pizza itself is quite good. A typical hand tossed New York Style pizza, Dewey's has a flattish crust that has a good balance of crustiness combined with a soft chewy inside. The sauce actually has a little heat to it. I don't know what exactly it is, but it's unique (a good unique). They put a moderate amount of cheese on the pies, as well. I've seen many a pizza ruined by cheese stinginess or too much (there is such a thing).

Overall Dewey's pizza is good. I like it. When you factor in the size/price issues though, I probably won't be going back. It just kills me to support a chain right here in Cleveland. If I was in another city it would be different. Go to Marotta's across the street.

Dewey's Pizza
2194 Lee Rd
Cleveland Heights, OH 44118
(216) 321-7355

Dewey's Pizza on Urbanspoon

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Pistachio Semifreddo with Dark Chocolate Ganache - An Ode to Mario Batali and Gina DePalma

By Mrs. Dine O Mite

Make no mistake about it…I am a dessert addict. What’s worse, I think I have dessert OCD. Whenever I find something that I love, I go on countless internet and cookbook searches trying to find replica-like recipes, so that I can recreate the magic at home. After eating what I consider to be the best dessert I’ve ever had at Babbo in New York City this summer, I have been on a quest to make an at home version of their Pistachio Chocolate Semifreddo. I usually come up short on my efforts, but this time, I nailed it. My husband, who isn’t nearly the pistachio fan that I am, couldn’t stop raving about this.

Special thanks for Mario Batali for making this a mainstay dessert at Babbo and to Gina DePalma, Babbo’s pastry chef for creating this masterpiece. This isn’t the exact recipe, but in my dessert aficionado opinion, it comes pretty darn close. Nevertheless, I’ll continue to have sweet dreams of the original and hope to return to Babbo sometime soon to feast on it again!

Pistachio Semifreddo with Dark Chocolate Ganache

**Special Equipment - 5.5in springform pan

For the Chocolate Crust

8 Nabisco Famous chocolate wafer cookies
1 tablespoon unsalted butter

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  • Place cookies in a baggie and crush with the back of a wooden spoon, the transfer to a small bowl
  • Melt butter and pour onto wafer cookies, mix well with a spoon
  • Invert the bottom of the springform pan and close it tight. (This will allow you to easily slide the semifreddo off of the base once it’s complete)
  • Evenly spread cookie and butter mixture into the pan and bake at 350 degrees for 7-8 minutes. Allow to cool

For the Pistachio Semifreddo
Adapted from

¾ cups shelled roasted and salted pistachios (3 ¼ ounces)
½ cup granulated sugar
3 large egg whites (proud to buy ours from the local farmer’s market)
1 cup chilled heavy cream (another farmer’s market find – try to get pasteurized vs.
ultra-pasteurized, if possible)
¼ teaspoon almond extract

  • Pulse 2/3 cup pistachios with 1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoons of sugar in a food processor until very finely ground. Add remaining pistachios and pulse until just coarsely ground.
  • Beat egg whites in a bowl with an electric mixer at medium speed until they just hold soft peaks (this took a little longer than I thought it would). Beat in remaining 3 tablespoons sugar, a little at a time, then increase speed to high and beat until meringue just holds stiff, glossy peaks.
  • Beat cream with almond extract in a wide bowl with mixer at high speed until it just holds soft peaks. (I took mine a little too far and it began to look curdled…I quick switch from using the handheld mixer to an old fashioned whisk softened out the peaks in the cream to the perfect consistency).
  • Fold meringue into cream gently but thoroughly, then fold in nut mixture in same manner. Spoon into Springform pan and freeze for a minimum of 4 hours.
Health note/disclaimer: • The egg whites in this recipe are not cooked, which may be of concern if salmonella is a problem in your area.

For the Dark Chocolate Ganache

3 oz. dark chocolate (I was pleased to find some Callebaut in bulk at the grocery store)
½ cup heavy cream (prefer pasteurized vs. ultra-pasteurized, if possible)

  • Coarsely chop chocolate and place in a medium metal bowl
  • In a small saucepan, bring cream to a boil, then pour over chopped chocolate
  • Mix well. Once cooled slightly, drizzle or coat the semifreddo with ganache.

Garnish with chopped pistachios and savor every bite!

Monday, November 3, 2008

Casting a Vote and Visiting Crop

Friday night we skipped the Halloween festivities and went downtown to partake in early voting and then go out to eat. The line at the Board of Elections was about forty minutes long. Compared to what I had seen on television it didn't seem like it was really that bad. Afterward we decided to go to Crop Bistro and have dinner.

Let me start by saying that the last time we went there the food was decent. It didn't blow me away, but I felt like I got what I paid for. I'm always willing to try a place again if the menu has some inventive things on it.

When we got there it was empty. This was obviously because everyone was either passing out candy, or supervising their children. My guess is that the restaurants were pretty busy on Saturday night since all of the Moms and Dads missed out on date night on Friday. So it was us and a few other tables of Halloween scrooges having dinner. Can you blame me, we get so many trick or treaters on my street you have to arm yourself with $100 worth of candy just to last the night. In a sense, I guess we took the candy money and spent it on ourselves. Does that make us bad people? I hope not.

For our starter we went with the Crispy Pork Belly with Onion Sticks and Ohio Corn Demi. I thought it was good. Perhaps it was a bit safe but it was exactly what I thought it was going to be. No surprises, good or bad.

For her entree Mrs. Dine O Mite opted for the Braised Lamb Shank and Butternut Squash Risotto. The Lamb Shank was an obsolutely huge Flintstonian piece of meat. So big, in fact, that we could have shared it. Again, it was exactly what she had envisioned (albeit on a smaller scale). It was a good dish.

I ordered the Adobo Pork Farms Roast Chicken with Pepitas and Pumpkin Hash. I thought it was good, but I don't think the chicken and the hash went together that well. Nevertheless, the plate was clean when the waiter took it away.

For us the desserts were actually the highlights of the evening. I had the Pretzel Un-Logic Chocolate Caramel Pretzel Pie with Pretzel Tuile and Malted Milk. Absolutely delicious. In case you're wondering a "tuile" is like a thin little cracker. This was sticking out of the pie. The malted milk was actually just malted milk in a slender shot glass. The pie had a very rich chocolate filling that seemed to tie together with the malted milk (a great way to wash down the pie) and it sat on a pretzel crust. I thought it was awesome.

She ordered the Rainforest Retreat Banana Cake with Ginger Ice Cream, Macadamia Nut Crunch, Tamarind Sauce and Burnt Sugar Bananas. Two extremely thoughtful desserts in one night. What are the chances? This dessert, too, was well thought out and just seemed to have all of the right components done very well.

The service was very attentive, but then again you'll have that when everyone else in Cleveland is busy with Halloween stuff. While I thought the starter and entrees were on par with what I expected; the desserts were Moxie-esque. I don't think anyone does dessert in Cleveland like Moxie. That being said, these two desserts were a definite Halloween treat.

Crop Bistro and Bar
1400 West 6th St.
Cleveland, OH 44133
(216) 696-2767

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