Tuesday, December 8, 2015


Our delicious, home grown Arabica blend! Yield: 2 miniscule espresso cups of deliciousness. So much work, but worth it! Sharing a few photos of the process. I wish we would have gotten a photo of the super fragrant flowers that started it all.

Monday, August 31, 2015

REAP the Benefit 2015, “Night on the Farm”

Reprinted with permission from Les Dames d'Escoffier Cleveland's blog "Dame du Jour"
By Cynthia Schuster Eakin | Photo By Eric Eakin

REAP the Benefit 2015, “Night on the Farm” welcomed 350 guests into the Ohio City Farm to benefit The Refugee Response in Northeast Ohio.

Cleveland Dames Paula Hershman, Marla Monzo Holmes, Maggie Harrison, Shara Bohach, and Carol Hacker lended their hands as volunteers throughout the evening.

The Refugee Response empowers refugees to become self-sufficient and contributing members of their new community. Services offered by The Refugee Response include home tutoring, an academic scholarship program and the Refugee Empowerment Agricultural Program (REAP). Managing sites at both the Ohio City Farm and Urban Community School, the organization employs farm trainees. These trainees have cultivated and distributed more than 20,000 pounds of produce and have supported the weekly delivery of food to 119 community supported agriculture (CSA) members this past year. Produce grown on the farms is available to trainees and their families, donated to hunger centers, sold on-site at a retail stand and purchased by contract from a host of local restaurants.

Several of the chef and restaurant partners attended the “Night on the Farm” to prepare seasonal cuisine. Music and dance was provided by members of Cleveland’s Bhutanese and Burmese communities. The highlight of the evening was the introduction of Arun Gandhi, grandson of Mahatma Gandhi, who has dedicated his life’s work to spreading the philosophy of non-violence. A journalist, activist, author and “peace farmer,” Arun Gandhi’s work in social and economic justice has touched millions throughout the world.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

The Breckenridge Tap House @ Oscar's – An elevated taco experience

Don't you love when you have this gut feeling about a place and it pays off better than you even expected?

Taking a day off after three straight days of amazing Colorado skiing, we decided to lazily meander Breckenridge's busy Main Street. It’s a street packed to the gills with various coffee houses, boutiques, pubs and restaurants. A day can easily slip by in the dizzying array of tantalizing scents, sights and sounds. We were drawn to Oscar’s of Breckenridge – Tacos, Tequila, Whiskey – and their Tap House with its rustic, cool decor, and decided on a quick (if a bit early!) beer. With 34 beers on tap, you're sure to find something interesting to try. We went for local brews, and while enjoying them glanced over the menu and were intrigued. We weren’t hungry, so we continued weaving our way thru the town. All the while we kept thinking about Oscar's menu. We knew they had a great happy hour, so it was inevitable we would go back and conclude our day there. Their menu states “An elevated taco experience…” and is right on. It is amazing to have so much precise flavor complexity in every single taco bite.

We started with the Chips and Guac. So good and fresh. Served with a roasted red pepper sauce on the side. We had several of their creative ala carte taco offerings: Blackened Mahi Mahi, Slow Braised Carnitas, and Chef's Choice Seasonal Sautéed Veg tacos. Every single ingredient had its place and stood out, while being the perfect complement to every other ingredient.

Our server, Ashaley Lynn Reynaga also deserves a huge round of applause for being both knowledgeable of the entire pub/restaurant, and for being so accommodating with our usual barrage of menu, ingredient and restaurant questions. She really made the experience.

Oscar's was that unexpected surprise on our trip – of being drawn somewhere and ending up with a truly memorable experience. We love when that happens. Don’t you?

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Vegan, Gluten-Free, and Certified Organic at Frickaccio's

What do diatomaceous earth and fish bladders have in common? You'd have to have attended Monday night's Les Dames d'Escoffier meeting at Frickaccio's in Fairview Park to know!

Photo by Gloria Kemer
Frickaccio's Owner, Dame Terry Frick and Chef Todd Rothman prepared a fantastic evening for lucky Cleveland Dames, full of demonstrations and tips for healthy and delicious vegan cooking, served with vegan wine.

Vegan wine? Isn't all wine vegan? Actually, no it is not. Dame Maggie Harrison educated us on the various methods used to fine (or filter and clarify) wines, which include straining it through dried egg whites or, less commonly, dehydrated fish bladder. Vegan wines use an alternate method. When seeking out vegan or vegetarian wines, one should look for un-fined wines, however, this is not something one can simply find on the label. Maggie noted Barnivore.com as a terrific resource for vegan wine, beer and liquor.

Oh, and if you are looking for gluten-free wines, seek out unoaked varietals. Oak barrel produced wines use wheat paste.

Dinner consisted of an abundant progressive tasting menu, balancing between lighter and heartier dishes, with explanations of flavors, ingredients, and processes along the way. Dames tried various gluten-free and vegan breads and spreads, an organic veggie pizza bagel, Chef Todd's vegan version of a crab cake (made with shredded hearts of palm), portobello bisque, strawberry / hazelnut salad, vegan paprikash, and an almond milk "ice cream" and flourless chocolate cake.

At the conclusion of dinner, Terry demonstrated making fresh almond milk in the Vitamix.

She then took us on a tour of the new facility and kitchen, and introduced us to Helga, her workhorse of a mixer! Frickaccio's does all of its baking on-site and sends product out to its West Side Market store and retailers, including Heinen's, whom she cites as a terrific partner. Frickaccio's offers around 10 varieties of certified-organic pizza dough balls, including gluten-free They are also trying something new with the new location – an eat-in cafe. Chef Todd looks to introduce creative vegan fare to the cafe-style menu.

Thank you, Frickaccio's, for hosting such an interesting, informative, and tasty evening!

Sunday, February 16, 2014

The 5th Annual Brite Winter Celebration in Ohio City

Located in Cleveland's Ohio City Market District, the Brite Winter Festival is a festival of music, art, food, games and more. The attraction takes place both indoors and outdoors…. yes outdoors in the middle of February. Multiple intimate stages were set up throughout the area. Large warming fire pits huddled the masses as band after band, local and national, rocked the cold from the air with their original music. All local establishments participate, making Ohio City heat up on a cold Cleveland winter night.

We had no set plan other than finding a parking spot as quickly as possible and getting out into the evening. Parking is a bit of a challenge when more than 20,000 people descend on an area surrounding the West Side Market at West 25th Street and Lorain Avenue, but we got really lucky and followed someone who was leaving to their car. We grabbed a beverage from an outdoor Great Lakes Brewery tent and got into the music right away. Strolling through the event there is much to see. Art on display or being created… games, food trucks, people. We stopped for a moment, enjoying the sight of thousands of others enjoying yet another fantastic event in Cleveland. No one seemed to care that is was only 8 degrees out, we were embracing the offering of this great city and all the people who made this amazing event happen. The air was still, everyones' frozen breath evaporating into night air, and we were warm and part of something that was just cool. We thought of how it must feel to serve ice cold beer with frozen beer-soaked hands and gloves all night. How one's bare hand might feel holding the neck of their frozen guitar. How those who did never showed it. They just rocked it out and we can stay it was truly appreciated. A thank you to all. We braved the cold, only stopping inside to catch our final act at the Great Lakes Brewery Tasting Room stage. We were simply blown away by the talent of the bands we saw. Wish we could have seen more of them. Here are a few that we especially enjoyed.

Sidney York from Alberta, Canada played on the outdoor Town Hall Stage at 8:00 pm. We sat amidst the firepits and sipped Southern Tier's deliciously dessert-like Creme Brulee Beer. By the end of the performance we were on our feet dancing up front. Fronted by two females, they easily won the crowd over with their high-energy, sweet, addicting electro-pop.
The Ridges from Athens, Ohio played on the considerably warmer Great Lakes Brewing Co. Tasting Room Stage at 9:30 pm. They are an orchestral folk rock band, combining guitars with upright bass, multiple cellos, and other strings. Very cool.

The festival began at 4pm, with outdoor activities until 11pm Establishments continued until 1am If you want to experience something truly special in Cleveland, make it a point to get out to this annual event next year. There is just something about everyone being in the same "stay warm" situation together that makes this event shine so brightly.

Brite Winter is free and open to all. Big thanks to many winter loving sponsors and supporters.
Ohio City Market District – Cleveland, Ohio

For some more reading on the event and the details check this out.

We apologize for the shaky nature of our photography… it was 8 degrees!

Monday, September 23, 2013

Happy Hour at Light Bistro

If you're looking for a really nice happy hour with a chic ambience and great food and drink specials, stop in at Ohio City's Light Bistro. The bar food menu items are $5 during happy hour, and it's not a small list. There is a nice range of choices from a mac and cheese of the day to a specialty burger. We had the very tasty oven-dried tomato pesto flatbread and the fried clams. There are featured wine pours (a red and a white) for $5, outrageously inexpensive beer and many interesting cocktail specials, too. And bonus – it goes past 6pm! Happy Hour is offered Monday – Friday from 2:30 – 7pm. Of course, the dinner menu looked sumptuous too, but we had a date with Ingenuity Fest.

We used to go to Light Bistro all the time for the Vegetarian dinners, but thought they had discontinued them. We were happy to find out they do still run them, they just do not send out emails any more. So we liked them on Facebook to be in the know.

We also learned about their upcoming new restaurant in Hudson, Peachtree Southern Kitchen & Cocktails, which is now on our list to try when it opens this November. We wish them the best on their new endeavor.

Unity Design is a print and online design firm that specializes in the restaurant and culinary industry.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Vaccaro's Trattoria, Fairlawn

If you have ever driven south down I-77 to Fairlawn, you may have noticed Vaccaro's Trattoria, an Italian restaurant right off of the Ghent Road exit. Many times we have glanced over and thought, "we have to check that place out one of these times"… so we finally did. And trust us, we will be stopping in again and again.

As soon as you get into the menu you realize that there is something special going on here. The details in preparation. Let's start with the complimentary bread and herbed oil. The bread, nutty and chewy pairs perfectly with the special blend of oil, sweet Balsamic, and loads of fragrant herbs. We asked our server Lawrence about it and was delighted that he was not only able to answer our first question, he was able to answer the multitude after that. We tend to ask a lot of questions when we like a place. Lawrence was well-versed in the menu, the preparation and the restaurant in general, and extremely helpful with all of our choices for the evening.

Moving on, we ordered a bottle of Anarkos Vigneto Puglia from Italy. It was nicely priced, and had one of Vaccaro's menu indicators that it was a recommended bottle. In fact, when our server brought it, the bartender enthusiastically commented that it was a great bottle. And indeed, it was deep, lush, velvety, and wonderful.

After reading a little poster about the history, we learned that the city of Akron once issued an official proclamation calling Mr. Vaccaro the Pizza King of Akron. Once again, we asked Lawrence who told us the story. We were hooked and had to try one of their signature pizzas, the Bianca Quattro Formaggio, as an appetizer. This pizza was so authentically homemade, with the biggest, fluffiest, chewy dough and the perfect crunch. Truly a pizza you just don't find on every street corner. Each cheese flavor was pronounced, so you could appreciate each one. Bravo Mr. Vaccaro, the Pizza King of Akron! We decided we would definitely visit the cozy little bar area for a pizza and wine night and try to make our way through all the offerings.

For the entree, I enjoyed building my own pasta, ordering the house-made ricotta cavatelli. I couldn't decide between sauces, so I had half their rich, creamy Alfredo and half their robust marinara. I chose the perfectly cooked and seasoned mushrooms, and was delighted that the zucchini was actually so-tender baby zucchinis. Both vegetables were plentiful, and all of the flavors played perfectly together.

We split a side of Brussels Sprouts Gratin which were tasty, garlicky and covered in Pecorino-Romano. Love those vegetables.

He had the Herbed Organic Chicken Breast, on a bed of creamy farro, with large grilled whole onions, baby carrots, and fried onions on top. This is a boneless preparation with the exception of the little drumstick. Very easy to eat and enjoy. Getting a little bit of everything at once really made the whole dish. Great favor-intense sauce, perfectly moist chicken, and the bottom farro was really a treat. Chewy and awesome. Wish there was more of it.

We do wish we had room for dessert, because the menu was quite tempting, and if the desserts were anywhere close to the entrees and pizza, they must be delicious. Next visit!

We dined on the patio, because it was a gorgeous evening, but the interior is elegant and roomy. There is a cozy bar area that seems perfect for dining alone or just for a pizza. We're so glad we finally made it to Vaccaro's Trattoria.

Unity Design is a print and online design firm that specializes in the restaurant and culinary industry.