I cannot get enough of Trader Joe’s Pomegranate Limeade at the moment. There are two Trader Joe’s in Cleveland:on the West Side in Westlake and on the East Side in Woodmere. I bought the Pomegranate Limeade on a whim a few weeks ago and went back two days later and bought three more bottles. I drink it straight and cut with tap water. Both ways are refreshing and delicious. I plan to enjoy it until it is pulled from the stores, which knowing Trader Joe’s could be any day now. I still miss the Triple Espresso Mochas and Triple Espresso Lattes.
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When I was younger my mother used to drive from the West Side of Cleveland to the East Side to stock up on cases of Stouffer’s French bread pizza at the Stouffer’s thrift store. That was twenty years ago. I now live about two miles from the Stouffer’s thrift store in Solon and occasionally stock up on Stouffer’s dinners, Lean Cuisines, Hot Pockets, and Nestlé frozen cookie dough and Drumsticks.
Stouffer’s outlet store, at 5750 Harper Road, is located right inside the Stouffer’s U.S. headquarters. Take Interstate 480 eastbound to Route 422 eastbound. Exit at the first exit (Harper Road), take a right, and Stouffer’s is right next to the exit ramp. Visitors to the Thrift Store need to park in the first set of parking lots. Hours are 9:30 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday through Friday and on Saturday from 9 a.m.-1 p.m.
You can get Lean Cuisine entrees that normally cost around $4 for about $2, family size lasagnas with meat sauce for $5.99, and a case of French bread pizza for $21.99. I went this morning, picked up 5 items, and spent $11.18 A box of Pepperoni and Mushroom French bread pizza is $2.40. My single serving meat lasagna was $2.20 (discounted another 22 cents because it was in the 10% off bin). Dinners like spaghetti with meatballs, chicken bakes and tuna noodle casserole are $2.20. It’s cheaper for a reason. Nestlé says its thrift food is certainly wholesome, but less than perfect. The box may be crumpled, the recipe might be discontinued, or there might be too much or too little of some ingredient. That said, I have never once been disappointed by the quality.
Not all of the items are available all the time. For example, it is often hit or miss whether macaroni and beef (my personal favorite) is available. However, I never leave the place empty-handed. And there are usually always family size lasagnas available and other industrial size portions. It’s the perfect place to stock up if you are having a family reunion or need something to bring to a party or potluck. This morning there was a guy buying 10 family size lasagnas and cases of chocolate chip cookie dough. There is always something good available, so be sure to check out this “hidden treasure” in Cleveland.
Update: You can only buy the cookie dough in cases. I tried to buy an individual package today and was denied. Still, a case of cookie dough for under $7.00 is a great deal.
Being a German translator, I appreciate good German food. As the organizer of the Cleveland German Language Meetup group, I scheduled a trip to a German or ethnic restaurant once a month. We used to meet at Der Braumeister on Lorain Avenue. The food was consistently good, but seems to have dropped in quality lately. Apart from the Jägerschnitzel (I’m allergic to egg and the sauce reminded me of shrimp with lobster sauce, which contains lots and lots of egg), I have never been disappointed by the food here, but some of my friends have.
Any German restaurant worth its salt has to offer a good variety of German beers. They offer good German and Belgian beers here on tap and 50 bottled import beers. I went with the Reissdorf Kölsch this time, which is a light, refreshing beer. It is supposed to be served in a Stange (a tall, narrow 200-ml beaker that gives it more head), but I will overlook that because it is just nice to be able to drink it here in the U.S.
Der Braumeister has three rooms. You enter through the bar, followed by a dining area that is filled with cozy wooden booths and tables, followed in turn by the mural room. The mural room is ideal for large parties and features a mural of Neuschwanstein Castle (probably Germany’s most famous castle – located in southern Germany).
The Landjäger Platte features German smoked sausage, Swiss cheese,and crackers. It’s hard to go wrong with sausage, cheese and crackers. I’ve also had the sauerkraut balls, and they are delicious as well.
Der Braumeister has several vegetarian options on the menu, which is gratifying since several of our members are vegetarians. The vegetarian Maultaschen (a Swabian delicacy that looks like large ravioli) was a hit.
The dinners all come with your choice of potato or dumpling and a salad. The salads are really fresh and good, and the bread rolls were crisp and delicious as well. I ordered the Sauerbraten. Although I wasn’t really enthusiastic about the meat itself (it was good, but a little too sweet and sour for me), the spaetzel (dumplings) and red cabbage were delicious.
You can always judge a German (or Austrian) restaurant by how good their Schnitzel is. The Schnitzel at Der Braumeister is delicious. Here is the Schnitzel with mashed potatoes and sauerkraut.
One of my members ordered the Rahmschnitzel, which is a Schnitzel with a creamy onion and bacon sauce. She loved it.
If you want to be adventurous, you might want to try the Schweinshaxe, which is a classic Bavarian dish that features roasted pork knuckles (ham hocks). I can’t bring myself to order it, but I know several men who love it. Bob thoroughly enjoyed his. It is also called Eisbein outside of Bavaria.
Another dinner that looked delicious was the Rheinlander Platte, which features a grilled, smoked pork chop and grilled bratwurst.
Several of us ordered dessert. I had the Bavarian Cream Torte (Frankfurter Kranz) this time, which was huge. German cakes are not as cloyingly sweet as American cakes. This one catered a bit more to the American palette. Several others ordered the apple and cherry strudels, which are served with a dusting of powdered sugar. I failed to photograph the desserts, because I was too busy chatting with my tablemates.
I have been reading about Luxe Kitchen & Lounge for months now and finally got a chance to try it last month with my Meetup.com Dining Out group. It did not disappoint. I was a little off-put by the construction and hidden parking lot. I had to drive around the block again to park behind the bank as instructed. The ambiance inside the restaurant was eclectic, yet hip. They didn’t have any record of our reservation, but since I try to schedule our dinners for slower nights it wasn’t a problem. They seated us right away at the window. The group really got a kick out of the fact that the curtain over the window is an old drop cloth. I loved the chandeliers and the fact that the tables aren’t crowded together. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to get any good pictures of the dining area. Onto the food…
The house salad with mixed greens, pine nuts, Romano cheese and white balsamic vinaigrette was simplistic, yet delicious. I loved the shaved Romano.
Since I had unfortunately eaten a large lunch (I won’t make that mistake again) I chose from the Small Plate section. My Kobe beef corn dog with truffle fries and wholegrain mustard did not disappoint.
The pizzas look absolutely amazing, and I plan on ordering one next time. I love the way Luxe serves it – on unique little stands.
Several of the group went with the specials, and they raved about them. The hanger steak over lobster risotto was a huge hit, and the swordfish kebabs were fresh and tasty.
Bob also really enjoyed his Fettucini Carbonara. A good carbonara is a thing of beauty, and this one definitely is a sight to behold!
No one had a harsh word to say about the restaurant. Our server was attentive, extremely knowledgeable and very friendly. The cocktail I ordered (the Amrita – citrus vodka with peach puree, lavender lemonade and ginger syrup) was delicious and very refreshing. I love Hoegaarden (a Belgian white beer), and if I hadn’t wanted a cocktail I would have ordered it. It would have been a good choice with the corn dog. I will definitely be going back!