Monday, June 27, 2011

Waterloo Arts Festival 2011

I love Art Festivals!  There is just never enough time for me to hit them all.  I'm so glad I finally made it to Waterloo.  It's a smaller festival but dense in flavor.

My original reason for going was to see Troupe Shabaana - a caberet style bellydance troupe.  These ladies never fail to impress.  In spite of the windy weather, their performance was fantastic and drew a very large crowd.

There was a nice mix of entertainment including an American- Irish punk band Craic.  Don't let the punk in the description scare you away - they were very fun.  They will be performing at the Beachland Ballroom on July 9th.

Some of our city's much loved food trucks were on the scene.  I had a hard time deciding what to eat but finally chose JiBaro.  I ordered their Caribbean rice with pork and a stir fry of snow peas, okra, plantain, and garbanzo beans.  Both were fresh and flavorful!  Friend them on Facebook or Twitter to find out their menu and schedule.

I also came across a tasty treat for dessert, Cakelet Candies.  These are very similar to cake pops - little round balls of cake coated in either white or milk chocolate.  Many flavors are available including almond, sugar cookie, chocolate mint, and red velvet.  I had the chocolate peanut butter and could have eaten many many more!  They are about two bites and very additive.  They are also on Facebook or you can contact them via email at:

Finally, you can't talk about an ART fest without talking about the art, right? I found the quality of the items to be excellent with very affordable pricing. A very talented henna artist was there, Kristina of Henna Me. While normally painting on skin, she did have a handful of art  pieces for sale. I was very fortunate to be one of the lucky ones to take one home! It's my favorite find of the fest.

I also purchased too much jewelry as usual as well as a handmade purse. It was my first visit but it won't be my last. The Waterloo Arts Festival is the last Saturday in June. Mark your calendars now for next year!  It's a Must Do.

Pad Thai - Fairlawn

A weeknight dinner with friends led me to the Pad Thai in Fairlawn. While I have eaten at the one in Hudson many times, this was my first time at this location. I ordered coconut chicken soup (yes, this is tom kha gai), summer curry with chicken and the House Dessert.

We all enjoyed everything we ate but the two stand outs were the Szechuan spicy sesame wings and the House Dessert. Let's start off by saying that I NEVER order wings because they are too messy and too much work, especially since I don't eat the skin. I'm so glad my friend ordered these and I tried them!  They are HUGE and seriously fantastic! Sticky spicy little bites of heaven. The House Dessert is truly meant to be shared. Like the wings, it's huge. "Crispy batter fried bananas, ground peanuts coconut ice cream and chocolate syrup " --- this description does not even do it justice! I'm was very pleasantly surprised and how tasty this was. My friend also ordered the sticky rice. That is my normal go-to Thai dessert but I made the right choice. The texture of the sticky rice was mushy and the whole dish was pretty flavorless.  

I would definitely recommend a visit if you are in the area. The restaurant is pretty and the food is really good in spite of being a little Americanized. They have Chinese dishes as well as a couple of Vietnamese ones (pho, vermicelli with spring rolls) so there should be something to please everyone. Just don't forget dessert!


NEO Food Tour - Tremont

Wednesday was a much anticipated event offered by NEO Food Tours - a culinary tour of Tremont. This was their 3rd event and I had been eagerly hoping to join them. The whole crew was friendly and excited about the event. Todd did an exceptional job with the city tour portion. He provided a lot of interesting history and commented on the unique architecture in the area. Tremont is a foodie dream neighborhood with a rich cultural history so it was a perfect location. The tour is set up like a progressive dinner - you start at one restaurant and then walk to the next ones along the way, eventually enjoying a full meal. With wine  : ) Brooke was our neighborhood embassador and added some additional details and history as well.
My neighbor and I met many fun people and we thoroughly enjoyed the evening! In fact, we met a local food blogger Brad from Cleveland Food and Brews who encouraged me to finally make the move and get writing - many thanks Brad!! Check out his blog too - he did a great recap of the evening with a lot more details than I could remember. Some other nice people on the tour didn't drink wine so we got some bonus glasses...

Another cool blogger was in our group too - Amanda from Clue into Cleveland was also there. You can find her here.

I'll add my abbreviated review here, even though we both shared a lot of the same feelings about it. I absolutely LOVED every bite of food I ate! The only complaint whatsoever is that the portions were mostly very small, especially for the $85 price tag. We were not full and actually ended up grabbing a slice of pizza at another favorite place, Edison's, afterwards when the group moved the party there. The list of restaurants and details of the meals are in Brad's blog.  

Rocco Whalen of Fahrenheit got me to love seared tuna! His was a work of art both in presentation and in the combination of flavors. If you have never been to his restaurant, put it on your Must Eat list - he rocks! He was extremely personable and generous with his offering AND gave us a special treat of fried oysters. Best I've ever had! His wine was also my favorite of the evening - a 2008 Miner Viognier from Simpson Vineyard. Perfectly refreshing for our sultry evening and really complimented the tuna, cucumber and pickled greens.    

Lago was our stop for the entree portion of the tour and it was amazing also. Too small to truly be considered an entree and it left us begging for more. The grilled asparagus and red peppers were a nice contract to the crispy halibut. What made this dish a stand out for me was the English pea emulsion - such an explosion of spring freshness - wow! Josh is someone to keep your eye on. This is another  place you should  definitely experience. They make it easy for you by offering week night specials. 

The Bistro on Lincoln Park  and 806 Wine & Martini Bar  were places that I've been wanting to check out for some time.  The Bistro's Pork Belly, herb salad and berries will ensure that I go back!  Hopefully the regular portions are substantially larger than what we were served.  

806 had a cool patio and I loved the sangria but was utterly and completely disappointed at what was advertised as "summer fruit compote with Fine Artisanal Cheese selection." While the berries were what every berry dreams to be, the cheese and Ritz style crackers were inappropriate at best. I'll leave it at that. 

We were all extremely thankful for the two mini cupcakes from Cookie and a Cupcake - they were gobbled up by all and were the perfect ending to our tour. In spite of the shortcomings, if you consider the amount of fun we had, and the fact that we tried some new restaurants while getting to meet the chefs, we felt it would still be worth going to another event in the future. And you should too!  Here are the upcoming tour locations:

July 20: E.4th / Gateway District: $80: Greenhouse, House of Blues Foundation Room Special Tasting, La Strada, Zinc + more surprises!
August 17: Shaker Square: TBA
September 21: Gordon Square: TBA

First Blog - let's start with one of my regular favorites and a new one!

Since I've put off starting this blog for literally YEARS I'm just going to forge ahead and jump right in. It was a really busy week so there's lots to chat about. 
Photo Credit

Like usual, I was all over the city on my quest for fabulous food. This week started off with one of my favorites Luxe, in the Gordon Square District. Even though it was a muggy day, we took a chance and sat on the patio. It was a good choice because there was a nice breeze and just enough shade provided by the umbrellas. Plus, their patio is so cute we couldn't resist! Thankfully my friend believes in sharing food so we decided to split everything. I love having more to taste! But the salad was so incredible I regretting not having my own for this one! It was a marinated watermelon salad with pine nuts - incredible! Then we tried the gorgonzola gnocchi with mushrooms and short ribs and a special feature of pork loin served over creamy polenta with braised broccoli and swiss chard. Both were phenomenal - the flavor combinations were spot on and the dishes were executed to perfection. Bravo Luxe! You never disappoint.  

We debated greatly about getting dessert here since they are house made and several were calling out to us. The bananas foster sundae will be tops on my list for my next visit! Instead we decided to try out a place we both have been dying to try, Battery Park Wine Bar. While I go to Gordon Square constantly I could never quite figure out where it is located. I am really glad that we did! Super cute townhouse style new construction surrounds what is shaping up to be a hip enclave with lake views and a very active railroad track. While I wouldn't want to have my bedroom that close, it added an element of excitement to the wine bar. The train gets really close to one of the windows and the whirring blur gave the place a sense of energy even though it was a very quiet night there. The pleasant and informative bartender told us that Mondays and Tuesdays are, not surprisingly, their slow nights. She mentioned that they are going to be adding some special programming to take advantage of their brand new patio that opens on Sunday. They have a huge overhead door that opens up to the lake side of the bar which is a great addition to the space. We'll definitely be back!

Friday, June 24, 2011

Here's to taking the plunge and starting a blog.  
Stay tuned!