The Best Bites of 2017

January 12, 2018

It was quite a year. I started experimenting with sous vide. If you are unfamiliar with sous video, it cooks food that is sealed in air tight bags with an immersion cooker in a water bath. I made ribs, steak, chicken breasts (grilled and as fried chicken), and an amazing garlic-rubbed skirt steak with scallion vinaigrette from the Mozza at Home cookbook, but my absolute favorite meal was a sous vide lobster roll with homemade JoJo potatoes. Although that skirt steak absolutely rocked! I also made creme brulee for Thanksgiving this year using sous vide and a kitchen torch. It was fun! I also learned how to make pierogi and gyoza and ramen at the Western Reserve School of Cooking. But I don’t talk about the food I make here. Onto my favorite bites from Cleveland this year…

I hit a bunch of fish fries and pancake breakfasts. I also ate 40 Days of Sandwiches for Lent. I’ve got to be honest – it was really hard. As Crystal from EatDrinkCleveland remarked, it felt like I was doing 40 Years of Sandwiches. I ate at Crust for the first time. They have some good subs. Some were better than others, and a couple of days I didn’t eat a sandwich for one reason or another. I only threw out one sandwich. I have to say my favorite sandwich (and the one I keep thinking about) was the Green Goddess from Byte Cafe on Superior (see above). It features fresh avocado, goat cheese, basil pesto, arugula, balsamic reduction, roasted walnuts, and salt&pepper on multigrain bread. My photo does not do it justice, so I am using one from Trip Advisor.

After seeing photos from Pranzo Bistro in Willoughby for months on the All Things Food in Cleveland page on Facebook I managed to get a bunch of friends together to check it out. It was a snowy night, but the meal made it absolutely worth the white-knuckle drive. I started off splitting a burrata with asparagus, ordered the Italian wedding soup, and then had an amazing lobster pappardelle. The pappardelle featured homemade noodles, langustino meat, and lobster tail in a cream sauce dressed with fresh arugula. My photo is literally the world’s darkest photo, so I borrowed this one from Corinne D. on Yelp.

I started the year off with a new addiction – the chicken noodle soup at Red Chimney. Someone posted a photo of it, and I could not stop thinking about it. I now get it every time I go there. It is packed with noodles and chunks of chicken, and the broth is super flavorful. Paired with a soft dinner roll or their homemade rye bread you’ve got the perfect meal. Tip: if you go be sure to bring cash! They don’t accept credit cards.

Mason’s Creamery has become a favorite stop this year. They have such playful flavors. I would be hard picked to choose a favorite between their Tang sorbet, Jelly bean sorbet, Oatmeal cream pie, Fried ice cream, and Thai tea ice cream. I usually just stuck with scoops in a cup, but then I finally tried the egg waffle. This egg waffle with Ceylon cinnamon and cafe con leche with Nutella whipped cream really blew me away. I mean, come on, Nutella whipped cream? Amazing! I had taken out-of-town friends here after dinner at Citizen Pie, and they raved about their choices as well.

My friend Nancy invited me to Rosh Hashana this year, and her brisket blew me away. It was so simple, but had such great flavor. She roasted Wagyu brisket from Mister Brisket over San Marzano tomatoes and onions and then pureed them to make a gravy. The entire dinner was divine (I have also started eating apples with honey because of this meal), but this brisket melted in my mouth.

Hatfield’s Goode Grub started out as a food truck and now has a brick and mortar restaurant in Kamm’s Corners. My friends and I met for breakfast back in September, because I saw a photo of a coffee with sprinkles. The coffee was overpowered by the berry syrup (and not in a good way), but this Shrooms and Swiss omelette was a great start to the weekend. It had so much flavor. They are turning out some amazing food at Hatfield’s Goode Grub. Be sure to check it out!

We celebrated my birthday at Boiling Seafood Crawfish. They serve boiled seafood with potato and corn and whatever seasoning you choose in a bag. It’s just messy fun. They give you bibs and plastic gloves, but don’t dress up. You will be covered with messy goodness by the time you are done no matter how careful you are. I built my own and ordered the crab legs and lobster tail. Look at the size of my lobster tail! I treated myself to a slice of Corbo’s Cassata Cake earlier in the day, so it was one of the best days of the year.

My mother and I road tripped to Seabrook Island, South Carolina for the total solar eclipse. I got to experience the eclipse on a beach with a tequila sunrise and Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon. There were worse ways to spend the day. After a day in the heat we wanted something cool and light. I had brought a sugar kiss melon from Heinen’s down with me because it was about to turn. Mom bought a prepared shrimp salad at Harris Teeter to pair with it along with a steamed lobster tail and some garlic broccoli. It was simple but absolutely succulent.

Tommy’s on Coventry got a little press this year when they shipped a milkshake to a dying woman in Maryland. I was so touched by the story I met friends several times for milkshakes. My usual favorite is banana, but I tried peach as well. I’ve gotta say… I’ve never had a bad milkshake at Tommy’s. I like supporting good people who are compassionate.

After seeing a video of an ooey gooey grilled cheese sandwich posted by someone I follow I had to have it. The grilled cheese was from the Rowley Inn. The Rowley Inn is a dive bar near The Christmas Story House. They recently invited some Cleveland bloggers to a media night, so you might have heard of it from one of them. Anyway, the grilled cheese was really, really good, but I was absolutely blown away by the fries. Such a simple meal, and yet so good! They make their grilled cheese with smoked Gouda and a mozzarella and provolone blend with mayonnaise. I’d never had mayonnaise on a grilled cheese before, but I liked it a lot. It didn’t hurt that I paired the meal with a hard orange soda. It was like meal from childhood, but not.

My friends and I enjoyed a perfect summer evening on the patio of EDWINS in July. After finishing a huge translation I decided to treat myself to Le Burger, which they prepare table-side, and then continued the table-side service with Cherries Jubilee. I loved everything I ate that night – including the broccoli, but the thing that absolutely wowed me was a bite of my friend’s creme brulee. It was the best creme brulee I’ve ever had.

If you asked anyone who ate at Salt+ this year what their favorite thing they ate they are going to tell you it was these duck meatballs. We went for the squid ink paella, but the duck meatballs blew everyone away. I can’t even begin to describe them. The meatballs were savory and peppery, yet light as a feather. The pasta was a perfect al dente. A very welcome plate! I hope they bring it back this year.

This Valrhona dark chocolate brownie topped with housemade blueberry gelato, candied violets and dark chocolate granite paired with Buffalo Bill’s Blueberry Oatmeal Stout was my favorite course at one of many chocolate tastings at Lilly Handmade Chocolates. Each tasting is unique – whether it is Berries and Chocolate, Mead and Mousse, or Deep Dark Reds, champagne, or just various beers. Amanda has a great palate and really knows how to pair things to bring out the best in each.

My list cannot be complete without mentioning my favorite meal in Cleveland – Empress Taytu‘s Chicken Tibs with a side of Tikil Gomen. With several Ethiopian restaurants opening up here in Cleveland recently I still have to say I prefer Empress Taytu (note: I haven’t been to Lucy’s yet). Every once in a while I have a bad day and treat myself to a nice dinner there. It’s my comfort food, and you can’t beat the injera!

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Lilly Handmade Chocolates

December 29, 2017

Lilly Handmade Chocolates is worth mentioning here, because it is a great Cleveland destination. When I was at the last event the woman sitting across from me was here from Detroit for a weekend trip on her own to explore. A Google search led her to Lilly’s bubbles and chocolate tasting. Lilly Handmade Chocolates offers great handmade chocolates and does amazing pairings with its chocolates and beer, wine, champagne or cheese. They bill themselves as “chocolatiers that specialize in pairing craft beer & fine wine with our delicious hand made chocolates, both sweet and savory inspired!”

The chocolates here are expensive, but they are handcrafted and so worth it. You will savor every bite. You will pay $2.25 each for a piece of chocolate and can buy a box of 6 for $13 and 12 for $25. Each one packs a tasty wallop, whether it’s rich Valrhona chocolate or fine Swiss white chocolate featuring cinnamon, lime, hazelnut, bourbon or passion fruit. I am not normally a fan of white chocolates, but the Frou-Frou and Maui Wowie truffles are among my absolute favorites. You can buy their chocolate in truffle, bar, bark and seasonal forms. The truffles are gorgeous – each with a distinctive hand-painted decoration. Some of the truffles are mainstays, but some change at whim or with the season. When it comes to seasonal chocolate, their Dreamsicle Bark is the stuff of dreams in the summer and their drinking chocolate has a spicy kick to it that will warm you up in the winter.

They also have a liquor license now, so they can offer cocktails with their chocolates. I can recommend the Fruit Cocktail. It tastes just like a fruit cup. And who doesn’t enjoy a boozy ice cream float even in the winter? You can check out their cocktail menu here.

I started coming here to buy the chocolates, but I am now the Mayor on Swarm because of their special events. Amanda and Josh and all of their employees are super friendly and welcoming, and Amanda has one of the best palates I have ever seen in action. She can bring out flavors in beer or wine that pair perfectly with her amazing chocolates or mousse. OMG, the mousse! I have been there for the beer and mousse tasting, beer and chocolate pairings during Beer Week, beer, cheese and chocolate pairings, deep dark chocolates and deep dark reds pairing, and their anniversary mousse. I have never left disappointed or unhappy.

The wine or beer distributors are sometimes here to explain their product, and sometimes Amanda announces what we are about to eat and drink and why she chose what she did. She always explains that you should take a sip of the beverage and then nibble the chocolate to experience the pairing taste sensation. The products are usually available for purchase after the event. I have been turned on to some great wines and beers because of these events.

I usually can find a parking spot in front of the store, but if no spots are available there is a big parking lot behind the building. So whether you are looking for a special gift or a special night out, be sure to keep Lilly Handmade Chocolates in mind!

Contact info:

Lilly Handmade Chocolates
761 Starkweather Ave
Cleveland, OH 44113
(Tremont)
(216) 771-3333


Mason’s Creamery

September 28, 2017

Mason’s Creamery opened in 2015 and has quickly become a favorite ice cream spot for me. They started out making ice cream at local farmer’s markets. Located on Bridge Avenue and W. 44th Street, Mason’s is a small, local business serving high-quality ice cream in all kinds of adventurous flavors. The flavors are constantly changing, so it’s always fun to go and try new things. They are always trying new flavors and are open to suggestions. There are always 16 flavors available, five of which are usually vegan or dairy free. At a place like this it’s worth venturing out of your comfort zone to try the taro, red bean, black sesame, matcha or the chai tea latte ice cream. My absolute favorite so far has been the fried ice cream, but their sorbets are also intriguing (and vegan if you like that sort of thing). They allow you to sample the flavors before you order. They also serve vegan soft serve on Sundays. In addition to scoops in a cup (2 for $4 or 3 for $5.50), you can order your ice cream or sorbet in a waffle cone, with a churro (with or without dipping chocolate), as an iced cream sandwich between warm, fresh cookies or Coquette Patisserie macarons, or nestled in a fluffy egg waffle. They make everything there fresh.

I am usually boring and prefer my ice cream scooped in a cup. It may be austere, but their ice cream is never boring. I’ve enjoyed the Tang sorbet, fried ice cream, Vietnamese coffee, Ceylon Cinnamon, Matcha, Cafe con Leche, Thai iced tea… I could go on. When I had the Tang sorbet I regretted not ordering it with the Thai ice tea because that would have been an amazing dreamsicle-like creation.

I had been wanting to try the egg waffle and I am so glad I finally did, because it is absolutely delicious. It is a great accompaniment to the creamier flavors, and you can imagine my surprise when I was then asked if I wanted regular whipped cream, peanut butter whipped cream or Nutella whipped cream. What? My friends also ordered egg waffles and raved about them. One went with the French toast and is now a HUGE fan, and the other ordered the salted caramel and loved it. I opted for Ceylon Cinnamon and Thai ice tea with Nutella whipped cream. Go big or go home, right?

Pay attention to your spoon. It changes color when it hits the ice cream (you can see it in the photo of the sorbet above). My friend freaked out tonight when I pointed it out and his boring white spoon then turned pink. I love that.

If that isn’t enough, they occasionally do Ramen Nights where they make big pots of ramen and serve it to long lines of ramen enthusiasts until they run out. I have yet to make it to one, but it is on my list of things to do.

Contact info:

Mason’s Creamery
4401 Bridge Avenue
Cleveland, OH 44113
216) 245-8942


Mister Brisket

September 17, 2017

Mr. Brisket is the place to go in the Heights for all things meat. This butcher shop and deli is located on Taylor Road just south of Cedar Road and has been around since 1973. It is known among those in the know as one of the best butcher shops and delis around. They sell high-end USDA prime beef, veal, lamb, pork, poultry and seafood as well as some outstanding deli meats and sandwiches. They are particularly known for their pastrami, corned beef, and (obviously) brisket as well as their Jewish delicacies like chopped liver, knishes, and potato pancakes. Some consider the pastrami to be the best in the city.

The place has zero ambiance and no seating. It’s carry-out only. Don’t let its looks deceive you. Everyone raves that the corned beef sandwiches are better than Jack’s Deli or Corky and Lenny’s.

When I am in the mood for a sandwich I pop down to Mister Brisket. If I’m lucky I can get a parking space on the street, but most of the time I have to park across the street at the shopping center and cross the street. I’ve had several of their sandwiches. The sandwiches are loaded with meat and come with a pickle. You can also purchase sides of cole slaw, macaroni or potato salad, chips, cookies, brownies, and cans of soda. You can buy single sandwiches or a boxed lunch. The large boxed lunch features a large sandwich, potato salad or cole slaw, cookie, pickle spear, napkin, beverage and utensils for $12.95. The smaller boxed lunch comes with a smaller sandwich, chips, cookie, pickle spear, napkin, beverage and utensils for $9.95. It’s a good deal and is usually what I choose and a large side of potato salad or mac salad.

My first time I had to order the Reuben even though I don’t like corned beef. The meat was moist and lean. Not grisly or salty. They were light on the Swiss, as a proper Reuben should be. The Thousand Island dressing was a creamy accompaniment. The bread was nothing to write home about, but it was very tasty and soft. It was a proper rye bread – none of that marbled stuff. They also have great pickle spears that accompany the sandwiches.

All of the sandwiches can be toasted upon request. They offer a choice of Swiss, American, provolone or pepper jack, Stadium, yellow or spicy mustard, mayo, a spicy mayo called Tiger Sauce, horseradish, Thousand Island, BBQ sauce and hot sauce. You can choose rye, wheat or a bun.

I love the look of the Charles Barr, which features corned beef and pastrami on rye with Swiss and yellow mustard, but since I’m not a huge fan of either meat I stick with the brisket, turkey and roast beef. The Duke is even more impressive, with layers of corned beef, turkey, salami and brisket with Swiss cheese. It’s over one pound of sandwich. The photo of the Duke (below left) is from the Mister Brisket web site, since there is no way I could eat one when I usually can only eat half a sandwich and save the other half for later.

The only thing I haven’t enjoyed from there was their matzo ball soup. The broth and matzo balls come frozen, and that does them no favors. The broth was extremely salty and tasted like it was straight chicken stock (no carrots, no parsley, etc.). The matzo balls were mealy. It might have been a fluke, but I won’t be buying it again. I ended up throwing it all out, which about killed me because I love matzo ball soup.

You can also order special order cuts of meat. I deliver Meals on Wheels, and the volunteer appreciation dinner serves Mister Brisket BBQ brisket. You can bring it back to the store after you’ve prepared it and they’ll even slice it for you (properly – against the grain for brisket). It’s all part of the service. One of my Jewish friends is ordering her fish and brisket here for Rosh Hashanah next week. The store also carries special products like roasted turkey and roasted chicken for people to purchase for the holidays.

They are closed on Sundays and Mondays, and offer a special on Tuesdays featuring $1 off any large sandwich. They are only open until 4:00 Tuesday through Thursday, 5:00 on Friday, and 3:00 on Saturdays.

They are good people. They also takes donations to send kosher salamis to the troops. The store charges $20 for a shipment of salami to the troops, and it can be sent virtually anywhere, even to service members who are posted on aircraft carriers and other ships. They also accept donations to the cause. This is the kind of place I like to support.

Contact info:

Mister Brisket
2156 South Taylor Road
Cleveland Heights, OH 44118
(216) 932-8620


Sangria y Tapas

July 10, 2017

I apologize for the delay between posts. My real job has been keeping me very, very busy, and I haven’t had a chance to sit down and have enough time to craft a decent review, which this place definitely deserves.

I first heard about Sangria y Tapas on a New Day Cleveland feature. I am a sucker for sangria and paella. Especially good paella. I quickly organized a dinner there with my dining out group.

The more I examined the menu beforehand, I decided to eat my way through the tapas menu instead of ordering the paella. Everyone at the table ordered tapas that night, and we passed the dishes around and got to taste everyone’s choices. I went in determined to order the Spanish tortilla, which is a simple omelet of eggs, onion and potatoes, and a couple other small plates.

We started off the evening with sangria. Oh, that sangria. I ordered a half pitcher of the white sangria since most of my tapas choices called for a white wine. I loved every single drop. I got to taste the red sangria and the champagne sangria, and they were both great too (in fact on the second visit I ordered a single glass of the champagne sangria instead of a pitcher). But I really, really like their white sangria. One of my friends used the straws like chopsticks to fish out the chunks of fresh fruit, which I thought was a much more elegant solution than sticking a fork or your fingers in.

They brought out baskets of bread with oil to nibble on while we decided what to get. The bread was quite tasty, and if I remember correctly I believe it was from Blackbird Baking Company. The dipping oil was nice, but the oil was a little off on the second trip.

I went a little overboard and ordered a lot of dishes. The Tortilla a la Espanola was perfectly cooked and was exactly as I expected it to be. Fluffy and flavorful with creamy potatoes.

The Camarones a la Cancun (shrimp cocktail with avocado, cilantro and onion in a tomato sauce) was a little sweeter than I expected, but I enjoyed it. I wish it had come with a few more crackers, because I was left with a lot of tomato sauce left over once I ate the shrimp and avocado out of it. If you plan on ordering this save one or two pieces of bread.

The Aceitunas Marinadas (marinated olives) were a delight. They had a kick to them from lots of balsamic vinegar. I ended up taking them home with the leftover tortilla and eating them for lunch the next day. I think they were even better the second day! I would definitely get them again.

I also ordered the Vieras a Cebon (sea scallops stuffed with short ribs). I wanted to love them and they were good and perfectly cooked, but the other dishes were so flavorful that these were just kind of underwhelming. If you order them try to eat them first while your palate is still fresh.

Another standout was the Croquetas San Miguel (potato fritters stuffed with serrano ham and drizzled with honey). The honey really complemented the fritters and was a great addition. I loved these!

We ordered so many other small plates. One of my vegetarian friends was thrilled with her Patatas Bravas (spicy potatoes), mushroom risotto, and the Vegetales a la Parilla (medley of grilled vegetables – pictured here).

The bacon-wrapped quail, meat and cheese platter, and stuffed mushrooms with crab meat were also very well-received.

The desserts were also amazing. They bring around a tray of all the available desserts, and diners choose. I ordered the creme brulee cheesecake, which was superb.

The flan was also a standout. Creamy and delicious with an amazing caramel sauce. If I remember correctly someone at the other end of the table ordered the Almond Cake, which was also delicious but was not photogenic by the time it came to me.

The desserts capped off a perfect meal, but one really nice touch is the complementary chilled almond liquor they serve as a digestif. They showed us the bottle at our request so that we could buy it to drink at home. It was really lovely.

One thing that absolutely should not be missed is their Cafe a la Espanole. It is made with coffee, Kahlua, Grand  Marnier, Bailey’s and whipped cream. It’s really a dessert in itself. They make it table-side, and it is a sight to see and delicious to boot. The sparks coming off the glass are great.

Everyone was so thrilled with the meal that they were talking about coming back soon, which is something we never do. I scheduled a follow-up for Paella Valenciana a few weeks later.

We had such a delightful time the first time that we were able to give the service a bit of a pass the second time. Even though I called to reserve a table and called back to add two more with plenty of notice they seemed surprised when we arrived. They were very booked up with a huge birthday party that day and a couple other larger tables had come and added people without giving them notice, so they were fairly in the weeds. They eventually managed to seat us together at one table after a bit of a wait and after bringing in tables and chairs from the patio (it was raining, so there was no one seated out there). The loud live music also wasn’t conducive to chatting, so we were happy that they moved us out of the main room to our final destination in a side room.

Our waiter was noticeably overwhelmed, and I’m sure the kitchen was as well. He forgot to mention a couple of specials that one of our fellow diners would have ordered if she had known about it. We had already ordered when he approached a neighboring table and told them the specials, including the missing ones. The photo below is the Seafood Special, featuring langostino, scallops, clams, calamari and mussels. Three of my dining companions split this as well as a couple other small plates and enjoyed it. The entree in the rear of the photo is the Fideuà, which is similar to paella but made with noodles instead of rice.

Since the kitchen was in the weeds, our paella didn’t wow us as it probably would have otherwise. I enjoyed it, but some of my dining companions were less impressed. I will definitely be going back and ordering it again, because I just love paella and this was a very good version of it. I also enjoyed the leftovers the next day.

Everyone was served a side salad, which surprised us. One salad came out without dressing (oops), but a side of dressing was quickly requested and brought to the table. We also enjoyed the housemade potato chips that apparently come with dinners. We all nibbled at the crisp chips, which were perfectly seasoned. I think they might have also brought a platter of vegetables to the table, but it never got down to my end.

I also ordered the garlic soup and didn’t love it, but that might have been just me. There was a boiled egg in it acting as a kind of dumpling, and I am not a fan of egg since I’m allergic. I ate around it.

The overall consensus was that Sangria y Tapas is a hidden gem. The tapas menu is extensive and has something for everyone. I highly recommend it! I only wish it were closer.

Contact info:

Sangria y Tapas
27200 Detroit Avenue
Westlake, OH 44145
(440) 617-6476


Cleveland Jam and Old Brooklyn Cheese Company

June 20, 2017

IMG_20170801_135244Cleveland just keeps getting better and better. Old Brooklyn has two of those reasons with two very cool artisan food shops. I learned about Cleveland Jam on New Day Cleveland and had heard about Old Brooklyn Cheese Company since the day they opened and Bite Buff wrote about it. I combined both of them one day in early March when I needed cheese for a grilled cheese party I was attending and decided to buy Cleveland Jam’s Elliot Ness Fig Apple Jam to bring as well. I’ve been back several times since.

Since it is a start-up, Cleveland Jam is only open in the evenings (Tuesday to Friday) after 5 PM and Saturday from 10 AM to 5 PM, but you can also order it online and find it in some local stores (click here for their store locator). Imagine my surprise to find out that the conservatory and retail shop were literally across the street from my grandparents’ home on West Schaaf Road. If I had moved into the house instead of selling it after my uncle passed away a few years ago I would have been aware of them a lot sooner. I’ve always loved that property, with its cool greenhouses and copper roof on the home. Those greenhouses are now housing grape vines, and the property features a retail shop, where owner Jim Conti sells products made with local beer and wine. Conti hopes to eventually turn the greenhouse into a winery. A graduate of viticulture and enology studies at Kent State University, Conti carried on his family’s tradition of winemaking and was looking for a way to reuse the leftover sediment. He came up with the idea of making jams and jellies. He stocks jellies made with white zinfandel, merlot, cabernet, shiraz and chardonnay. That then spun off to using the sediment from Great Lakes Brewing Co. beers to make his Eliot Ness Fig and Apple Jam and Burning River Pepper Jam and from Catawba Island Brewing Company. All of their products are available to sample in the retail store, and they also sell products from Cleveland Popcorn, Bearded Buch, Cleveland Tea Revival, and Randy’s Pickles there.

I have four jars of Cleveland Jam in my refrigerator. His Rock and Roll Merlot is a favorite, but the Bangin Blueberry IPA is my absolute favorite. I use them a lot on toast with or without cream cheese, but you can also cook with them. Their website has quite a few recipes for chicken and meat. I paired the fig and apple jam with brie and candied walnuts from Old Brooklyn Cheese Company at the grilled cheese party I went to that weekend, and everyone loved the combination.

When they heard why I wanted the jam they told me I had to go to the Old Brooklyn Cheese Company. I was pleased to tell them that was my next stop. I hopped in my car and headed down W. Schaaf, took a right on Pearl Road and found parking right in front of the storefront (there is also a parking lot in back). It is located on Pearl just before the bridge. Owner Michael Januska has opened a great little artisan cheese store selling his own cheeses as well as lots of very well-known brands like Cowgirl Creamery and Kokoborrego and area favorites Lake Erie Creamery and Yellow House Cheese. I also bought a pound of raclette since I was having some friends over for raclette that weekend. Januska funded much of his production kitchen for Old Brooklyn Cheese Co. through contributions on Kickstarter, which surpassed its goal. In addition to selling aged cheeses, Januska is making his own products like the Chupacabra in a state-of-the-art production kitchen and aging others on site in one of three cheese caves. Januska has partnered with Hartzler Family Dairy in Wooster to supply its grass-fed, non-GMO, raw milk produced within 50 miles from where it will be transformed into cheese. The staff, which includes Januska’s fiance Angie, really know their stuff here and gladly serve samples so you can taste before you buy. One of their employees, Morgan, makes the most delectable spreads like one with goat cheese and apples or feta and olive. I brought the feta and olive spread to the grilled cheese party, but also bought a tub for my own consumption. They also sell local products like Old City Soda, Hartzler milk, Randy’s Pickles, Cleveland Jam, Montana Girl Mustard, candied walnuts, baguettes from Blackbird Bakery, and handcarved cheese boards shaped like Ohio (to just name a few) as well as Losada Olives (which I have loved since Counter Culture last year), infused oils and vinegars, and other artisan brands.

I started following them on Instagram and when they announced their raclette grill had arrived to make sandwiches I was the first customer to order one. The grill melts the cheese, which is then scraped onto a baguette and served with prosciutto, Randy’s Pickles and my choice of Montana Girl Mustard or a Old Brooklyn Cheese Company mustard. I choose the OBCC mustard. I picked out an Old City soda and waited for my sandwich to be ready. It was very good, if a little salty. I definitely think it is a treat that most people don’t know about, despite it being extremely popular in Switzerland and other European countries.

Contact info:

Cleveland Jam Conservatory
1300 W Schaaf Road
Cleveland, OH 44109
(440) 390-1170

Old Brooklyn Cheese Company
4138 Pearl Road
Cleveland, OH 44109
(216) 860-4000


Saucisson

June 10, 2017

Since I wrote about The Red Chimney in my last post I decided to stay in Slavic Village for the next one as well. Started in 2013, Saucisson’s mission is to provide unique and hard to find products. From hand cured meats to specially spiced sausages, Saucisson supports local farms that are humane and hormone free. The lady butchers at Saucisson, Melissa Khoury and Penny Barend, made a name for themselves selling at the local farmers markets, hustling at pop-ups, and providing their bold rillets and charcuterie for restaurants around town. After working out of the kitchen at the Katz Club Diner, they recently opened a storefront on Fleet Avenue just off I-77. Full disclosure: I was a Kickstarter backer (“Babs backer”) to help them fund the storefront, and I am really pleased with what they have done. I stopped in on the day they opened on March 16 and have been back several times since. They were serving nachos that day (see photo right). I have been buying their sausages, mortadella and currywursts since before the place opened, but I love seeing their thick and nicely marbled pork chops and strip steaks as well as all the other meats they are butchering there. They made a Canadian bacon that was absolutely perfect a little while ago, and they are known for their tasso ham and beef jerky. The freezers and coolers are stocked with their frozen soups made with their products, rendered lard, ground meat, and soup bones as well as other products from other local vendors like LeCracker, Cleveland Kraut, and Montana Girl Mustard.

They are open Thursday, Friday and Saturday from 11-7 (and processing and prepping in their huge, clean kitchen in back on the other days) and serve a tasty lunch special as well. They also advertise their pop-ups at local restaurants and cafes like brunches at Rising Star or most recently their Memorial Day picnic at Terrestrial Brewing Company. You can follow them on Instagram to find out what they are serving each week and where they will be holding their next pop-up.

When I stopped in for lunch a few weeks ago I enjoyed their BBQ chicken sandwich with pickled pepper and red onion slaw and their homemade smokey sausage navy bean soup. The chicken was moist and delicious, the kraut was not at all overpowering, and the soup had just a hint of smoky spice to it that I loved. They have a few tables where you can sit and enjoy your meal. The place is light and bright, with floor-to-ceiling windows. The neighborhood is excited they are there, and they are talking with some urban farms in the area to sell their products. So be sure to check them out and support them!

Contact info:

Saucisson
5324 Fleet Avenue
Cleveland, OH 44105
(216) 303-9067