Wednesday, July 22, 2009

S-3 Heads West to Bar Symon

My girlfriends from work, or as S-3 as we now refer to ourselves, plan monthly get togethers for dinner and catching up. This may seem strange to non-auditors, but we are always at client sites, not really in the office, so sometimes we don't see each other for long periods of time. And other (good) times we work together everyday. Lately I haven't been seeing much of any of them because I was exiled to Niles, but that is over for now. This month was Bender's turn to host and we decided to head out west to Avon Lake and take in Michael Symon's new Bar Symon.

Bender and I had some serious difficulty finding this place. If you are headed out there it is by BW-3's, follow the signs. I loved the atmoshpere and patio, rustic chic, but the food left us all underwhelmed. I hate to say that because I love MS and love Lolita and love all that he does for the Cleve. But while we are being honest, I am also underwhelmed by Lola. I'm glad to get that off my chest cuz I think I am the only Clevelander that feels this way. Ok, so I am firm believer that if you don't have anything nice to say... but I feel the need to substantiate why we (collectively 6 girls) were not impressed with Bar Symon and out of devotion to MS I also feel the need to justify why we may be wrong.

Looking back the highlight of the meal was the bread an butter - not a good sign. We split a bottle of pinot noir to share and started with 2 apps: the popcorn with feta and oregano and house chips with bleu cheese fondue. I was really excited about both of these, and maybe it was because I was expecting something else that I was so disappointed. I was hoping for popcorn similar to Crop's version that I so love, but this version was soggy and too cheesy. And I was hoping for chips similar to some that I had a restaurant called Canoe in New Hampshire a few years back that Bones and I to this day still rave about, but these were more like chips with a side of funky gravy. So maybe if you went into these apps without such high expectation, you may enjoy them, but we left most of ours on the table.

Moving on to the meals. Four of the girls tried the tomato soup and really enjoyed it. Two girls had the grilled cheese, two girls had the Mac & Cheese, and myself and Bender tried the goat cheese salad. The fries with the grilled cheese were really good, but just a skinnier version of the ones at Bar Cento served with lots of rosemary. And the lola ketchup was too sweet and a little too adventurous for some of the us. The Mac & Cheese was pretty much the same as you can get at Lolita's. And the goat cheese salad would have been awesome if there was just a little less cheese on it. I really love cheese, but sometimes less really is more. This thing was completely covered in cheese - cut the cheese in half and you've got a great salad.

Lots of other items on the menu look great, but I will not be driving back to Avon Lake anytime soon. If you live in the area, that is one thing, but otherwise, I think you can find this food (or better versions) much closer to downtown.

Have you tried Bay Symon? Thoughts?? Was it just a fluke Monday?

Monday, July 20, 2009

Rachie's B-Day Party

I wrote about our birthday party for Rachie while we were in Indy for the fourth and the awesomest idea for a birthday cake - pile'o Krispy Kremes!  Unfortunately my video camera died mid-celebration, but here is the minute of party captured on tape:

Music credit: Roisin Murphy "Ruby Blue"

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Weekend Recap and Taste of Tremont Video

Recap of a great weekend:  Friday night saw Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince; Saturday picked up CSA share, played golf at Shawnee Hills, dinner with family at Sergio's Sarava, out with friends downtown; Sunday re-read The Great Gatsby, went to Taste of Tremont and won Lilly's Chocolate Eating Contest!!  Video from the Taste:

Music Credit: "Catch my Disease" by Ben Lee.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Guest Post! CSA Week #3 Courtesy of Mar Bear

You may have noticed that I skipped right from CSA week #2 to #4. Well here it is, the elusive Week #3!! CC and were in Indy for the Fourth of July, but did not want the CSA share to go to waste. Enter Mar Bear who not only picked up the share, but proceeded to cook an amazing dinner and invite us to eat with her on her deck. Does it get an better than that?? Anyone who wants to pick up the CSA share and then invite us for dinner is more than welcome!!!

Well, she has gone one step further and written a guest post - bless her heart. She also writes about her experiences with Historic Preservation at Ursuline Hipster. She is involved in all kinds of cool Cleveland projects, check her out!

Yum, yum, yum! Great summer evening

Greetings from MarBear! Molls and CC generously donated their CSA share the weekend of the 4th to Gene-O and I because they were out celebrating our independence (see post Feast Menu for the Fourth). I felt honored they chose us, but then found out they also asked M.A.C. but they didn’t answer their phone (luckily). However, M. came with me on that beautiful Saturday morning decked out in red white and blue and we traveled to my college stomping grounds, the Heights. After a few minutes perusing through the nearby stands, we found our produce destination and walked away with a canvas bag full of fresh veggies!

Our selection included: a head of broccoli, two radishes, a bag of lettuce, a small summer squash, a tub of corn meal, a heaping of sugar snap peas, and a heaping of snow peas. M. and I thought it would be great to have Molls and CC over for dinner showcasing our cooking talents using all of the ingredients. M. got busy with life, so I took the pressure off her and proceeded to plan the menu. I was able to use all items but the snow peas; they did not go to waste. Molls, Gene-O and M. split them up and snacked on them the next day!

I must warn you connoisseurs that I am a novice cook. I hate to follow recipes and loose attention quickly. Sometimes I even screw up rice and always forget to set the timer. One tip from me: crushed red pepper is not crushed red BELL pepper; it makes food spicy! (See Spicy Sugar Snap Peas) I have included our meal from start to finish. I hope you enjoy and find something you might like!
1 (8 oz.) pkg. cream cheese, softened
1 cucumber
½ c. butter, softened
½ tsp. celery salt
1/8 tsp. paprika
½ tsp. Worcestershire sauce
1 c. finely chopped radishes
¾ c. finely chopped celery
¼ c. finely chopped onion

Mix cheese and butter until well blended. Then add remaining ingredients until well mixed. Let set for four hours to allow flavors to blend well. Spread on Melba toast and top with a slice of cucumber.
Blend of fresh lettuce (whatever you get from CSA!)
½ red pepper
½ cucumber
1 c. dried tomatoes
1 c. dried cranberries
1 c. chopped walnuts
½ c. Parmesan cheese

Break off ends of lettuce, then into manageable bites. Place in large serving bowl. Chop red pepper and place into serving bowl. Slice cucumber into quarters and place into serving bowl. Add dried tomatoes, dried cranberries, walnuts and parmesan cheese. Gently toss.

MAIN COURSE: Smithfield Garlic and Herb Pork Loin
Have husband grill. Thanks Gene-O!

1 head broccoli
1 small summer squash
½ red pepper

Wash all veggies.

Two tip from me: I spray vinegar on my veggies prior to rinsing in lieu of those fancy chemical filled store bought washes.

Remove stem (or trunk) from broccoli head to make florets. Slice summer squash into 1/8 size circles. Slice red pepper long ways to make long thin pieces.

Place in pot prepared with steamer basket. Water should be barely touching the bottom of the basket. Let steam until desired tenderness.


1 lb. fresh sugar snap peas
1 tbsp. whole mustard seeds
4 tbsp. vegetable oil
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 hot dried red chili
Salt and pepper to taste

Heat the oil in a large skillet over high heat. When hot, add the mustard seeds. As soon as the mustard seeds begin to pop (which is almost immediate), add the garlic, then add the red chili and stir for a few seconds. Put in the sugar snap peas and season to taste. Let cook for a few minutes until they have absorbed the flavor of the spices.
P.S. Lots of crushed red pepper makes the recipe just as (or more) spicy as if it were a whole red chili.

Near East Toasted Pine Nut Couscous found in my local grocer’s isle. Simply follow the directions on the box.

1 1/4 c. flour
3/4 c. corn meal
4 tbsp. baking powder
4 tbsp. sugar
1 tsp. salt
1 egg
1 c. milk
4 tbsp. melted butter or oil
Sift all dry ingredients together. Add egg, milk and batter. Pour into muffin pans. Bake 20-30 minutes at 350 degrees.
Make brownies courtesy of Duncan Hines. Add one scoop of ice cream, a drizzle, and another drizzle of hot fudge on top. Bon appetite
Thanks again Mar!!! Dinner was awesome!

Saturday, July 11, 2009

CSA Week #4 and a Midsummer Night's Feast

This summer has been flying by with trips, weddings, showers, friends, all the wonderful things to fill summer with.  But this weekend I purposefully made absolutely no plans and vowed to let the weekend run its own natural course.  After staying in with CC on Friday night I was well rested for Saturday and looking back, I can't think of a more complete or perfect summer day.

I went to an early yoga class at Cleveland Yoga and then headed to Shaker Square to pick up our CSA share at the North Union Farmers Market.  On my way I did a quick drive by of the new house and it is less than 15 minutes from my yoga studio, yay.  CSA Week #4 brought broccoli, sugar snap peas, radishes, summer squash, a big white turnip, and some spinach. While at the market I also picked up a 4 lb. whole Tea Hills chicken, a pint of local blueberries, a dozen eggs, and some garlic.  

Next stop, Gallucci's Italian grocery store.  I am a serious sucker for cheese samples and couldn't leave without the peppery pecorino they had on special.  I also picked up fresh mozzarella, cerignola olives, and a big bottle of citrus sangria.  While I was in the store, a monsoon hit Cleveland.  With all this food and rainy skies, all I wanted to do for the rest of the day was cook.  So I invited Rae Rae and Monster and her bf over for a feast.  Now if you are reading this and I didn't invite you over, I'm sorry but my current apartment has a max 4 guest limit.  I can't wait until I am in the new house and can invite many more.

While prepping, CC mentioned that he would like to go to Lily's Handmade Chocolates in Tremont to pick up some beer for dinner.  In addition to the best and prettiest chocolates, Lily's also sells unique beers which you can mix to make your own six pack.  I picked up my own version of a 'make your own six pack' and bought a six piece of her handmade chocolates (After I wrote that sentence I had to get up and eat one.  Went with Pistachio - bittersweet sea salt ganache and milk chocolate with chopped pistachios on top).  I also have some BIG NEWS - see bottom.

Next stop, Westside Market.  I guess I felt the need to somehow hit all my favorite Cleveland food sources in one day.  I picked up more lemons and limes and some poppyseed from the Mediterranean Store.  I spent the rest of the day in the kitchen cooking up the menu shown in pictures below.  Dinner was lovely and followed by dancing and a lot of 'cheers' at Dive Bar.  Overall the perfect day!

Citrus sangria: wine, lemons, limes and peaches soaked in sugar and brandy, and tonic
Tea Hills whole roast chicken with fresh rosemary, garlic, and lemon
Pan-Roasted Turnips with Poppy and Paprika from Mario Batali's Molto Italiano
Cherries, olives, and pecorno cheese
CC's homemade pizza with fresh mozz, tomatoes, basil, sea salt and olive oil
Rae Rae's summer berry salad (greens, strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, blackberries, grapes, brie, and raspberry vinaigrette)

Not pictured:  Mint Sugar Snap Peas (awesome), Blueberry Boy Bait with Blueberry Sauce (very awesome)

BIG NEWS: The culmination of my life's work will take place this Sunday, July 19 at 6:00 pm at the Taste of Tremont.  I am in a chocolate eating contest sponsored by Lily's Handmade Chocolates!!!!  I'm competing against 4 others to eat as much chocolate as I can in 1 minute with no hands to win a six piece box of Lily's amazing chocolates, a t-shirt and serious bragging rights.  Come watch!!

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Feast Menu for the Fourth

I spent the holiday weekend in Indy with my college roommates. Miss Marti (previously referred to as Monk) has a gorgeous condo built in a converted church that housed two from Cleveland, two from Columbus, two from Cinci, one from Nashville, one from Louisville, and two cuddly lap dogs for the weekend. Our roommie reunions are always filled with laughter, dance parties, baked goods, lounging and over eating - just like college!

Friday night we planned a birthday party for Rachie with some of her favorite foods. Thanks to Ness for great planning and for Snickerdoodle for sending a menu recap. Here we go, we had: puppy chow, Martha's sugar cookies (and I don't mean Stewart), quinoa salad, labor intensive salt and vinegar potatoes (which made even better second day hash browns), mango guacamole with scoops and hint of lime chips, cheese fondue with bread, broccoli, and cauliflower for dipping, strawberry citrus salad, watermelon, Asian marinated grilled flank steak, and grilled corn on the cob. The cocktail of the weekend was Miss Marti's concoction of Absolute Pear Vodka with a splash of cranberry. I would normally never think to buy pear vodka, but this drink was the perfect summer fare pairing.

After dinner we convinced Rachie to go to the movie store, although she knew something was in the works. While she was gone, we decorated the condo and assembled quite possibly the best and easiest birthday cake ever - a krispy kreme pyramid!! Complete with sparkler on top. Happy Birthday Rachie and America!

We had grand plans for Saturday's Holiday Festivities, but the Indy weather was rainy and gray. So instead, we lounged, played wii, drank a ton of PBR, and of course ate way more than we needed to. The theme of our reunions is always something like this, "I am so full...(rub belly or lay on floor), why am I still eating?? (grab cookie)" What a great weekend, I love these girls!

In house news, my offer was accepted by the seller! Monday evening I had an inspection done and I signed the loan application last night. So if all the loan stuff comes through I will be a home owner by the end of this month!! This has all happened really quickly and I am nervous to become such a grown up, but very excited to live in this beautiful home!

Thursday, July 2, 2009

One Perk of the Niles Commute

Is that I hear the Writer's Almanac with Garrison Keillor at 8:30 on WYSU. I loved this morning's poem. Probably because it combines love and food, enjoy:

Terms of Endearment
by Sue Ellen Thompson from The Leaving: New and Selected Poems

Sweet biscuit of my life,
I've been thinking of your smile
and how I'd steal a little bite
of it if you were here; of the delights

I've known in the alleyway between
the whitewashed storefronts of your teeth;
of how I've pressed one smithereen
after another of mille-feuille, mousseline

of late-night conversation upon your lips,
forever poised at the brink of kissdom,
their slightest sigh enough to lift
a tableskirt. Perfectest pumpkin

in the patch, your heft on mine
is what I crave, your brows so fine
I could not carve them with a steak knife.
You have the acorn eyes

of the football season, the ass
of an autumn afternoon, of boys en masse
in soccer shorts. Yours is the vast
contained candescence of a Titian under glass,

it is the gold leaf laid
by February sun, the lemonade's
pale wash in August. Should you fade,
like sun on windowsills crocheted

with shadow, then suddenly gone dark,
your face will leave its watermark
upon this page, which is already part
of love's confection, our little work of art.

Terms of Endearment" by Sue Ellen Thompson, from The Leaving: New and Selected Poems. © Autumn House Press, 2001.