Friday, October 30, 2009

Oh Just Drink It

I'm not a huge fan of tequila, but I've had a massive jug of it sitting around the house for months now. What's a boy to do?

Hillbilly Tequila Sunrise

Orange Soda
Cherry Soda
Orange Slice
Fanciest Glass You've got on hand

The actual amount of the ingredients will vary in accordance with taste preference and the size of your fanciest glass.

The result is fizzy, sweet, and intoxicating!

Rice is sooo last year.

Last night marked my most recent foray into hillbilly cuisine...behold...

It's a fact that tater-tots compliment chicken curry perfectly. This dish combines all of my favorite food attributes.

Luce' Putting Things In Her Mouth

A trip to Cedar Point wouldn't be complete without a facefull of foodstuffs...

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Know your Treats

A recent MSN news post reveals the secrets of fall favorites:


Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Liver Punisher: War Journal: BREWZilla

Last week was the first annual Beer Week here in Cleveland. While a busy schedule kept me from a lot of the daily tastings and events around the city, we did make it to the closing celebration at the Arcade in downtown Cleveland: BREWZilla!

A beer tasting not to be missed, BREWZilla brought in 120+ breweries and retailers to distribute samples of their beers. After paying an admission fee, attendees were given 20 drink tickets, 3 food tickets, and a commemorative sampling glass. Once in the door tickets were exchanged for 3-4 oz. samples at the 32 rep stations.

Entering from the Euclid Avenue side of the building we worked around the top floor before heading downstairs to the food area and Ohio brewery areas, as well as more beer. Here's what we--Nicole, Morgan, and myself--drank:

Dixie: Blackened Voodoo - a dark lager on par with Negra Modelo or Beck's Dark. Refreshing and crisp like a good lager, but with a lot more flavor thanks to a darker malt. Not bad but not the best of the night.

Rogue: Hazelnut Brown Nectar - Wow! I'm not wild about flavored beers. I feel that if you make a good beer then beer-flavored beer should be good enough. However, this is amazing! Like a delicious combination of New Castle and iced hazelnut coffee. Rich and full flavored, but not heavy. I could easily drink a lot of this.

Unibroue: Raftman - Another offering from this highly lauded Quebecois craft brewery left me wanting more. In the bad way. I hear a lot of talk about these beers but save for their Trois Pistoles, I have yet to be really impressed by any. Raftman reminded me a lot of their flag ship beer, La Fin Du Monde. Morgan tried the Ephemere, an apple-y beverage that tastes about like taking half a swig of GLBC's Grassroots and half a belt of Woodchuck cider. Both were on the disappointing side. This table was also representing Clipper City Brewery, Baltimore, MD. Their offerings were the superlative Heavy Seas Loose Cannon, a triple hopped beer worth seeking out. Nicole sampled their Winter Storm ale, a "winter warmer" that was malty in the mouth and hoppy in the aftertaste, with a great spice hint to ward off winter chills.

Avery: IPA -
Avery's IPA is a standard but worthy entry into the IPA category. Bold hops dominate this brew with their signature pine/citrus taste. Tasty but not life changing. Avery also offered up their excellent Hog Heaven Barley Wine. If you ever run across this prime example of a barley wine ( try it! Well, if you like strong, hoppy beers, that is. Hog Heaven is very malty at first, but its extremely hoppy aftertaste is not for the faint of heart (about 104 IBUs, nor is the 9.2% ABV.

Flying Dog: Gonzo Imperial Porter - Brewed in tribute to gonzo journalist Hunter S. Thompson, this imperial porter is a must for fans of dark beers. Dark, smokey, and bitter, this beer should appeal to fans of strong coffee and dark chocolate. Intense yet delicate, this imperial porter is not the tongue ruining draught that so many dark imperial beers can be.

Erie: Railbender Ale - Erie's flagship is a Scottish style ale, medium in color and balanced in flavor, if verging on the malty side of scale. Unfortunately it's somewhat underwhelming. I found Railbender to have an earthy taste (read as dirty) at first and finish with a metallic/meaty aftertaste. Nicole's Misery Bay IPA was equally unimpressive.

Goose Island: Pere Jacques - After a cheesy pretzel to cleanse the palate, we journeyed on to the Goose Island table. A Chicago based brewery, Goose Island brews a slew of delicious--and wallet friendly--beers. While their "classic" and seasonal brews are definitely worth some investigations, Goose Island brought the big guns to beer week. Their Pere Jacques is a Belgian Abbey Ale, which means it is capital-M malty, and has lots of fruity esters ( A great recreation of Belgian style brewing. Nicole and Morgan both opted for the Matilda. A Belgian style Pale Ale, the Matilda is less malty and has a wonderful, spicy flavor. Two of the best of the night.

Bell's: Double Cream Stout - The double refers to a doubling of the ingredients, the cream refers to the use of lactose in the brewing process. Doubling the basic ingredients results in a more intense, fuller flavor. Using lactose makes a beer sweeter and richer as the yeast cannot breakdown the lactose. All this means Bell's Double Cream Stout is a big, bold beer. Full flavored and filling, this is a dark beer fan's dream. Resting somewhere between the bitterness of Beamish and the malty-ness of Old Rasputin, this Bell's brew is sure to have a wide appeal. It did for us. Another one of the night's best.

Sierra Nevada: Chico Estate Ale - Sierra Nevada is one of my favorite breweries. Their Pale Ale is one of the best widely available pale ales on the market and a great stepping stone into the world of hoppy beers. For Cleveland Beer Week the Californian brewers rolled out their delicious flagship beer, but it came with company: Chico Estate Ale. This amazing beer is one of the few estate beers in the states, meaning it's one of the only beers made here in the states that is produced entirely on the Sierra Nevada estate. They grow all the hops and barley exactly where they brew it. The result is indescribable. Chico Estate Ale perfectly captures and balances the elements of a truly great beer. It's malt and hops a in perfect harmony from sip to finish. I would have gladly turned in all 20 of my tickets for 20 samples of this.

Victory: V-Twelve - If you check the tasting stations list given to guests at the door and find the Victory table you'll see that it doesn't offer V-Twelve as an option. I just happened to wander by their station when the rep asked me if I liked "sticky-sweet." I double-took, but responded in the affirmative. My nod netted me a few swallows of this sweet Belgian style brew. Malty and fruity, the affable nature of this brew belies is strength: 12% ABV. Thanks Victory!

Thirsty Dog: Cerberus - Located in Akron, Ohio, Thirsty Dog beers a widely available, and yet I rarely drink them. But that will change soon! Their Cerberus is an excellent example of the Belgian Trippel (get it?!), gold in color with a rich malty flavor and fruity esters. Thirsty Dog also offered up their 12 Dogs of Christmas and unfiltered Pumpkin Ales, which were also sampled. Spiced with cinnamon and ginger and spiked with honey, 12 Dogs is an excellent winter warmer, robust but even; although it's no GLBC Christmas Ale. Their Pumpkin Ale was one of the best I've tried this season. Brewed with pumpkin, squash, honey, and ginger this would be a great beer to sip while passing out Halloween candy this year!

Indigo Imp: Winter Solstice - One of the newest entries in the Cleveland Brewing scene, Indigo Imp has already made a splash by winning several awards in Cleveland Scene's annual best of Cleveland issue. Having already tried their Jester ale, a strong and sturdy standard ale, I opted for their seasonal brew, Winter Solstice. An amber ale with great hoppy aftertaste, Winter Solstice ups the flavor ante with orange zest and cinnamon. A playful, tasty winter warmer.

Great Lakes Brewing Co.: Edmund Fitzgerald - Any/all Cleveland beer fans attending BREWZilla were likely hoping for one thing: a preview of GLBC's superlative Christmas Ale. Guests who showed up early or shelled out for the pre-party got a sample of that elusive nectar, but we were disappointed. So it goes. I had a mini-draught of one of my favorite GLBC standards: Edmund Fitzgerald (Eddy Fitz as I calls it). A smokey, full bodied porter, the Fitzgerald has great coffee and chocolate flavors and a hoppy-ness not usually as pronounced in porters. GLBC CHRISTMAS ALE GOES ON SALE TODAY, OCTOBER 27, 2009!!!

Fat Head's Brewery: Shock the Monkey Stout - Another more recent addition to the Cleveland beer scene, Fat Head's is a beer fan's dream. Boasting a number of house brews, Fat Head's also showcases a variety of national craft brews and keeps two beers on a traditional hand-pulled cask system. For beer week they rolled out 4 of their signature brews but the buzz was all for Shock the Monkey. As bold as Peter Gabriel's stage presence with a silky-smooth finish, Monkey is a stout drinker's stout. Maybe the Beamish void won't feel so big now. Morgan, and later Nicole, grabbed a glass of their Bumble Berry beer, made with honey and blue berries, this is a delicious and refreshing lighter beer, but surprisingly light and easy, unlike most berry beers (I'm looking and you Leinenkugel Berry Weiss).

The Brew Kettle: Old 21 - The Brew Kettle is beer heaven-on-Earth. Offering a handful of house brews, the brew kettle also offers up some of the best regional and national craft brews on the market. If that weren't enough they also have a full service restaurant. Perhaps the most interesting aspect of the Brew Kettle's operation, though, is that the brew-your-own operation. While home brewing has become quite the cottage industry in the last decade or so, the Brew Kettle offers a helping hand. They will help you create your own signature beer, then monitor and bottle it for you when the time comes. It's not totally home brewing, but it's not wholly store bought either. Oh, and their beer? Amazing! Their Old 21 is an amazing bitter, hoppy ale (90 IBUs) and is neck and neck with Sierra Nevada's Estate Ale for best of the night. Nicole opted for their Red Eye PA, a crisp and delicious ruddy pale ale reminiscent of Sierra Nevada's flagship brew. Super big win for Ohio, I hope everyone at BREWZilla grabbed a glass or two from the Brew Kettle.

Buckeye Beer Engine: Commemorative Brown Ale - Nestled in Lakewood, the Buckeye Beer Engine is another brew Mecca in Cleveland. With a menu crammed full of meaty burgers (I suggest the Cyclops) and other bar food standards, and beer list longer than your arm it's difficult to not enjoy a night at the Beer Engine. For Beer Week the Beer Engine crafted the limited run brown IPA. A delectable marriage between a malty brown ale (Newcastle) and hoppy IPA (Sierra Nevada), the Beer Engine struck gold with this tawny brew.

BREWZilla was a super success! The crowd at the arcade was large and enthusiastic, the breweries were plentiful and varied (you could, if you wanted, grab a Stella or a Blue Moon). Let's raise one to this valiant effort and another to a Second Annual Cleveland Beer Week!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Ridiculous Eats XI: Re-Inventing the Taco Pizza

Sure, you could just make a pizza with taco sauce, throw on a little seasoned ground beef and taco toppings and call it a "Taco Pizza." But why not take it that extra step, really make it into a taco, hell, maybe you should even try to eat it like one.
Makes me miss the Mexico Lovers pizza at Myles' in BG.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Where the Wildly Good, Dairy-Free Baked Things Are.

I'm not sure what exactly sparked my desire to bake this week, but it was some combination of the following:

  • The birthdays of Nicole, her roommate Morgan, and Morgan's sister, Adrianne
  • The onset of fall and the desire to fill the house with the smell of baked goods

  • There was no room in the freezer for my ice cream maker

  • I just really like baking.

Whatever the reason, I did some Internet searching and finally decided on this recipe for vegan pumpkin spice cake!


  • 1/2 cup soy margarine, softened to room temperature (myself and most vegan recipes recommend Earth Balance)

  • 1 cup brown sugar

  • 2 egg replacers (Ener-G works the best, but a 1/2 cup of apple sauce works, too)

  • 1 cup plain pumpkin (canned or fresh)

  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

  • 2 cups unbleached flour

  • 2 tsp baking powder (reduce to 1tsp if using Ener-G)

  • 1 tsp baking soda

  • 1/2 tsp salt

  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon

  • 1 tsp ground ginger

  • 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg

  • 1/4 tsp ground cloves

  • 1/2 cup soy buttermilk (add 2tsp vinegar to 1/2 cup soy milk, stir to curdle)


  • Pre-heat oven to 350*

  • In a large bowl cream together margarine and sugar, about 2-3 minutes

  • Add egg replacer and mix well

  • Mix in pumpkin puree and vanilla until well incorporated

  • In a separate bowl sift together flour, baking soda, baking flour, salt, and spices

  • Alternate mixing in dry ingredients and milk until well incorporated

  • Pour into cake pans and bake for about 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out with just a few crumbs


  • 1 cup tofu cream cheese (Tofutti's Better-Than-Cream-Cheese is the easiest to find)

  • 1/3 cup vegan margarine

  • 3 cups powdered (confectioner's) sugar

  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

  • Beat together until light and fluffy, 2-3 minutes


  • Brown sugar brings a lot of extra moisture, for a slightly drier cake use 1/2 cup brown and 1/2 cup white.

  • Using Ener-G will ensure your cake will rise correctly. Apple sauce works great, but egg replacer is better.

  • Buy good canned pumpkin. Opening, cleaning, steaming, and pureeing fresh pumpkin is not worth the extra two hours of work.

  • If you use unbleached all-purpose flour, which is likely, be careful not to over mix the batter

  • Other spices are welcome in the mix, or up the quantities of the four above for a spicier cake

  • I added in about 1/2 cup vegan chocolate chips at the end. Chocolate, pumpkin, and spices are a great fall taste.

  • Orange food coloring in the frosting is definitely encouraged

  • I was able to make 18 cupcakes from this recipe, they baked in 15 minutes

  • I topped each cupcake with a sliver of candied ginger

I've baked a few things in my time and I'm also hyper critical of everything I make, but these cupcakes turned out capital-A-mazing! Moist and rich with a hint of pumpkin and flavor and the chocolate chips took these from great to super-great! And for any non-believers, the taste and texture of this cake should convince vegan skeptics of the potential of dairy and animal free baked goods.

... wish I'd taken pictures.

Friday, October 16, 2009

October's Food Dude and Food Dudette

So I'm about a week late on showcasing our lovely Food Dude and Food Dudette of October, which is totally surprising because October is my other favorite month of all time (don't get jealous, September, you and I shared something special, but it's over now...). I've been away from writing a bit, y'know working on lots of behind the scenes techno wizardry and such, trying to spread our work around, design a logo, basically making a name for ourselves so I can push Blogger and it's bugs off a cliff. Also, I've been into this new trend that's getting big here with the writers at WWEIL which is getting engaged - Huzzah! So I'm gonna go ahead and blame that on my tardiness also. Ideally I'd be amazing you great readers with my reviews of weird Halloween novelty candy every day, but this guy is already doing that. And, while that is spooktacular and all, I'm realizing that I'm taking you away from the real stars of this post, Brandon and Emily, who remind us that fall is all about shameless gluttoney and family. And about making everything within an arm's reach pumpkin flavored. So turn off the lights, sit in the ghostly glow of your computer, and let October's Food Dude and Food Dudette creep you out with their favorite eerie eats.

October's Food Dude:
Brandon, Alexandria Virginia, Shrimp and Rum Feast

What's happening in this picture? 
About 9 other guys and I went out to Dewey Beach for a long Labor Day weekend and we destroyed close to 10 lbs. of 'peel and eat' shrimp at a joint called Northbeach. The frozen drinks scattered around are 'Dewey Devils' and they aren't light on rum at all. Mock me all you want about sipping on frozen pink drinks.

What is the last thing you ate?
Potato, clam, and corn chowder with rock shrimp and lobster risotto. You caught me right after an anniversary dinner at Geriano's in Old Town Alexandria!

Best thing you’ve eaten recently?
Mushroom cheesesteak from The Broiler in Arlington, VA. It's a hole in the wall establishment with the best cheesesteaks in the area. The best part about this place is they serve crinkle cut fries. CRINKLE CUT FRIES!!

All time favorite food?
My dad's Brunswick Stew. I could probably argue something else, but with the fall weather kicking in, I've definitely got a hankerin' for some of it. His is a thick, spicy stew with corn, lima beans, tomatoes, okra, peas, pulled chicken and pork and whatever other vegetables he grew in his backyard garden...that and a side of cornbread makes things perfect.

Favorite dessert?
My mother-in-law's apple dumplings and a scoop of vanilla ice cream. It's another fall treat, I'm really lucky it's October.

Favorite local restaurant?
Ray's Hell Burgers and Lost Dog Cafe in Arlington or Honey Pig Gooldagee Korean Grill in Annandale. Ray's has great juicy burgers, though it is a bit crowded now that Obama has chowed down there, and Lost Dog puts money towards a Rescue fun for stray dogs in need of a home. Honey Pig is a great 24 hour grill that is always packed with people devouring good Korean food and chugging some soju.

Favorite chain restaurant? 
Cracker Barrel. Maybe because there isn't a Cracker Barrel within like 25 miles and I haven't been to one in ages. Breakfast anytime of the day is always a good start and fried apples, biscuits, sunny side up eggs and all the trimmings is hard to beat on a chain level.

Favorite non-alcoholic drink?
Am I over doing the fall theme when I say I love Pumpkin Spice Lattes from Starbucks? mmm...

Favorite alcoholic beverage?
Bourbon, on the rocks. Nothing extravagant, Maker's Mark, American Eagle, something like that.

Ultimate food day? And/or best breakfast, lunch, dinner, dessert, snack?
Eggs Benedict for breakfast, maybe some grits too, then a perfect lunch would be a plain tomato sandwich with homegrown tomatoes, not store bought tomatoes. A little mayo, salt, pepper, toasted bread...perfection. An A+ dinner would be a big Thanksgiving spread, stuffing, cranberry sauce, turkey, sweet potatoes, the list goes on. I'm a sucker for desserts but I love chocolate cake, or maybe ice cream of any kind...or both... For snacks, good, ripe fruit always hits the spot. Strawberries, peaches, kiwis or whatever is in season.

Favorite food to make yourself?
Bim Bim Bap, for sure. I probably cook tastier meals, but nothing is as fun as Bim Bim Bap. The rice, spinach, sprouts, kimchi, or whatever I have on hand mixed with the hot pepper paste and fried egg makes me happy.

What do you bring to a pot luck?
I steal my father-in-law's sticky sweet BBQ sauce and usually make some BBQ Chicken sandwiches.

What's your least favorite food?
Meatloaf. ::Shudders at the thought of Young Brandon being force fed this foul dish by my mother::

Favorite and/or least favorite food celeb?
Rachel Ray is certainly a denizen of Satan himself.

What do you do when you're not eating or drinking?
I just started volunteering as a wrestling coach at T.C. Williams High School. You could call it zoo keeping, I call it shaping the youth of America.

Anything else? Congrats on the engagement ;)   editors note: Thanks!

  October's Food Dudette:
Emily, LA California, Deep Fryin' a Turkey

What is going on in this picture?
The annual family turkey deep frying. It's a delightfully tacky (but delicious) tradition. Dad fires
up the ol' deep fryer out back and everyone drinks and watches and discusses if this will be the year that the turkey explodes. Other uses for the family deep fryer: Buford Stew.

Last thing you ate?

Pasta with LaRosas sauce, brought to me from my beloved southwestern Ohio.

Best thing you’ve eaten recently?
Either the sag paneer from Taj Mahal of India (my favorite Indian place in LA--super cheap!) or chocolate
pumpkin bread pudding made over the weekend.

All time favorite food?
The farther the miles from home, the further my grandma's baked macaroni and cheese moves up the list. It's at number one right now.

Favorite dessert?
Pumpkin cake with cream cheese icing.

Favorite local restaurant?
Marion's Piazza in Dayton, Ohio. Hands down.

Favorite chain restaurant?

Favorite non-alcoholic drink? 
At the moment, horchata.

Favorite alcoholic beverage? 
Whiskey sour, please!

Ultimate food day? And/or best breakfast, lunch, dinner, dessert,snack? 
Grandma cooked meals, all day. Fancy cake for dessert.

Favorite food to make yourself?
I think it's a tie between a Fluffernutter sandwich, or a strawberry and sugar sandwich on Wonder Bread.

What do you bring to a pot luck? 
Grandma's baked macaroni and cheese, unless I'm in the company of vegans. In that case, easy crockpot

What's your least favorite food?
Something served at Bob Evans. But I can't put my finger on exactly what. I just hate that place.

Favorite and/or least favorite food celeb?
I. Love. Paula. Dean.

What do you do when you're not eating or drinking? 
Reading scripts, putting off reading scripts, complaining about reading bad scripts, wishing I got to read more good scripts. Or, watching copious amounts of television.

Anything else?My two favorite jobs have been at a fancy pastry shop that makes much of the income with wedding cakes. The other was at the Ohio State Fair, where I daily dined on deep fried everything. I feel that this dichotomy says a little about me.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Food in the News

A few news stories that I've found or have been sent to me in the last few days.

This first one deals with out economic crunch and donuts:

This next one was sent to me by Anna, and comes from those new kings of conservative comedy, FOX News. This is extra rad since it's totally ridiculous that they felt this was newsworthy, and also deals with a past "Ridiculous Eats" entry. Enjoy:


Rather than a whole new post, I'm just going to update this last one with a food news bite sent to me from Nicole. It seems Chicago eatery Lula Cafe will be masquerading as popular sausage shack Hot Doug's this Halloween. I didn't realise businesses could wear costumes. Seems fun, though, maybe more restaurants could give this a try.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Ridiculous Eats X: Ridiculous Fails!

Ridiculous Eats are a tricky subject. I mean, it seems easy enough to start with a simple food item, say a hamburger or pizza, and build upon it layers and layers of mouth- watering, artery-hardening, life-shortening toppings. But, the creation of these food Frankensteins does require a delicate touch, a certain subtlety. There’s a fine line between ridiculous eats and a failure pile. While past entries have examined the delicious heights to which Ridiculous Eats can soar, to day we’ll look at the dank depths of Ridiculous Eats despair.

Grab your lunch gun and climb aboard the failboat for Ridiculous Eats: Food Fails!

Eggs Five Ways:
No better way to start the day than breakfast, and no more perfect food to include in that breakfast than nature’s wonder: the incredible, edible egg! Unless you create this abortive monstrosity, built like so: and egg white omelet is filled with tree hardboiled eggs and ketchup infused scrambled eggs then topped with two poached eggs and hollandaise sauce. Now, I love eggs more than most other foods and I always enjoy them cooked in most any manner, but this seems like over kill. It takes 11 eggs to create this beast which I imagine to be texturally bizarre, not to mention mostly flavorless. Eggs, while tasty, bring little to the taste party, and without a little cheese or a bit of meat in there this looks like blandsville. Sure the omelet has some ketchup in it and there is hollandaise on top, but neither of those are really powerful flavor profiles. No, this is just a redundant waste of eggs.

Pepperoni and Grilled Cheese Pizza:
Nothing says lunch time like a nice hot slice of pizza or a tasty grilled cheese sandwich. I can even see coming the two, in some way, to make one super lunch food, some sort of pizza flavored grilled cheese sandwich, perhaps? But slicing up a grilled cheese and tossing it on top of a pizza just seems silly. I would imagine the flavors all meld well together, but between the crust and the sandwich bread it just seems like an ill conceived bread overload.

Thunder Platter:
Evening approacheth and dinner nears, but perhaps an appetizer to get the gastric juices flowing? Might I suggest the Thunder Platter? A curious name for an appetizer, for sure, and an even curiouser make up. Upon your Thunder Platter you will receive: tortilla chips, sweet potato fries, a hot dog, bacon, red onion, green bell peppers, jalapenos, olives, Anaheim chilies, a hamburger patty, a blanket of woven bacon, and macaroni-and-cheese. This is then topped with cheese sauce, onion rings, and Cheetos. While this isn’t the complete failure that the other entries on this list are, it’s still a thoughtless, often redundant piling of food. Chips, fries, and macaroni-and-cheese seem unnecessary, as does the hot dog. But at least the flavors all seem to meld relatively well.

The Big Fat Ugly:
While breakfast might be the most important meal of the day, one still needs a hearty dinner to round out the day, so why not sink your teeth into a bite of this monstrosity, the Big Fat Ugly. A harried assortment of meats and side, thrown together without thought for taste, texture, and obviously not appearance. The details of the crime are as follows: four cheeseburgers, double cheese steak, chicken cheese steak, gyro meat, grilled chicken, bacon, sausage, mozzarella sticks, chicken fingers, chicken nuggets, fried macaroni and cheese bites, fried mushrooms, jalapeno poppers, pizza bites, onion rings, hash brown, American cheese, mayo, and ketchup. What, no fried eggs? No sweetened cereal or hot fudge? It’s like the appetizer menu threw up on the sandwich menu, then breakfast came by to help, slipped, and fell in. This heap is redundant, at best, and vomit-like at worst (look at it!). Burgers and Phillies and gyros? Oh, my! Plus chicken 3 ways? Well, 2-and-a-half, since the nuggets and fingers are ostensibly the same, just variations in name. Stupid and thoughtless. And look at that thing, truth in advertising laws are strict!

Flapjack Fiasco:
Finally, we round things off with aptly named dessert. This failure pile, sadness bowl optional, is a mélange of popular sweets heaped together, but with this much going on, there’s no way to taste any single component, just a lot of conflicting flavors confusing up your eat hole. Let’s take a look inside: (bottom to top) pancake, cookie dough, pancake, peanut butter and jelly, pancake Chocolate and bananas, pancake, caramel, Oreos, marshmallow, sprinkles, M&Ms, pancake, caramel butter cream frosting, and Trix cereal garnish. Sure, the marriage of breakfast foods and desserts is often a mach made in taste heaven, but there’s just too much going on here, not to mention the myriad redundancies. Pancakes and cookie dough, really? Even without the bananas I’d be hard pressed to give this random assortment of sweets a go.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

MELT Your Face Off

This past Tuesday afternoon I received a very promising text from Nicole. The proposition: dinner at Melt and a viewing of Away We Go. Sold.

I’ll say it right now: I love Melt. Love it. To the point where I’d consider going to Voodoo Monkey tattoo parlor and getting a Melt tattoo.


(A) a sandwich tattoo would be totally amazing

(B) getting it done at V.M. get’s you $25 off your tattoo fee


(3) your tattoo then gets you 25% off Melt for life.


But I digress. As I was saying, I love Melt, but the wait, usually in the neighborhood of an hour most of the time, is a little much even for the best grilled cheese sandwich you’ve ever crammed in your cram hole! But Nicole had never been, and neither Morgan nor I had been in a while, so we steeled ourselves for the wait with, wait for it... beer! And Melt is the place to do this, with twenty beers on draught at any given time and a healthy selection of bottled beers Melt’s a great place for a drink even after the kitchen’s closed for the night. The ladies both had Bell’s Two-Hearted--along with Sierra-Nevada arguably the two best IPAs in regular distribution. I had the Dogfish Head 90 Minute IPA, by adding extra malt and hops and cooking the wort for an extra half hour, the 90 Minute IPA is everything a great IPA can and should be, but magnified times triplicate. (Try the 120 Minute, if you can find it, for a beer that’s like camping.)

The timing of all this worked out perfectly and we were seated almost immediately after finishing our beers. Another round on the way, more Two-Hearted for Nicole and a Great Lakes Brewing Co. Nosferatu for myself, we scoured the menu. Nosferatu, for those not lucky enough to be in GLBC’s distribution radius, is the brewery’s fall seasonal brew, a hoppy, high gravity stock ale that has coffee aftertastes. Delicious for sure, but at about 9% ABV it’ll knock you out, but quick.

The menu offerings at Melt are nothing short of amazing, along with their regular line up of fantastic sandwich creations, they also offer a bevy of seasonal specials, as well as a veggie of the day, interesting soups (what goes better with grilled cheese than soup?), and hearty looking salads. While the decision making process is never easy, it’s also difficult to be let down by Melt’s kitchen. When it came to crunch time here’s what we ordered: Nicole had the Big Popper, a serious sandwich crammed with jalapenos, cheddar, and herb cream cheese, the whole thing is then beer battered and fried up, Monte Cristo style, dusted with powdered sugar, and served with a side of mixed berry preserves. This is quite possibly the world’s perfect food, it’s spicy, it’s salty, it’s a little sweet and sour, and it’s all perfectly balanced, no one element overpowers another, plus it’s deep fried. Morgan chose one of my favorites, the Mushroom Melt, loaded up with garlic portabellas and provolone the sandwich can also contain caramelized onions in port wine reduction, simple but delicious, the garlic-y mushrooms and smokey provolone are balanced nicely by the sweetness of the aforementioned onions. Your humble author opted for the Chorizo and Potato, spicy Mexican style sausage and potato hash topped with sharp cheddar. Whoa Nelly! I know it seems simple compared to the other orders at out table, but let me tell you, this sandwich was simply perfect. First of all it contains chorizo, the world’s finest sausage, filled with hot paprika, chili bits, and garlic. This was then mixed into a perfectly cooked potato hash. The potatoes were firm but creamy, almost like bites of a great potato soup, then topped with a heaping helping of the cheddar. Melt's sandwiches can be a meal unto themselves, The kitchen doesn't stop there. All sandwiches come with a side of Melt’s hand cut fries, the perfect foil for plenty of salt and malt vinegar, and a crisp house slaw. Each trip to Melt for me has been better than the last and this was no exception, now if only the east side branch would open up already…

Some other highlights from the Melt Menu while we were there included the out-going special Soul Vegetarian, containing fried green tomatoes, vegetarian collard greens, jalapeno cornbread, spicy black-eyed puree, and pepper jack cheese. The incoming special is Mom’s Meatloaf, made like this: homemade beef and pork meatloaf, roasted garlic mashed potatoes, chipotle ketchup glaze and Muenster cheese!

Well fed and weary we returned to the east side after a few games of ski-ball-bowling at the Red Rose bar, also in Lakewood, and a few PBRs. Back at Nicole and Morgan's, we decided that we should at least make an effort to watch the movie, as that was part of the initial plan. Away We Go certainly stood the test of a few months and was just as good, if not better, on the small screen. I think the personal connections to the characters and the intimacy of the film are augmented by the smaller, more comfortable setting. Plus this time I got to see the hilarious opening bedroom sequence I missed the first time because my waitress took her time bringing me my check. While missing it certainly didn’t take anything away from the movie as a whole, it was a nice surprise! If you’ve yet to see Away We Go, it’s on DVD now, so there’s no excuse.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Revenge of Dinner and a Movie

Last Sunday I coerced Nicole into a date with me—lots of arm twisting involved. There was a movie playing at the Cleveland Institute of Art Cinematheque ( I was interested in seeing. I had read a brief capsule review of the film in Cleveland’s Scene, a weekly entertainment freebie, and was intrigued by the title: Not Quite Hollywood: The Wild, Untold Story of Ozploitation. Exciting, no?

There was some time to kill between the ends of work days and the beginning of the movie so we opted for some interim fooding. Our destination: Coventry’s Mint Café ( We’d been discussing the acquisition of Thai food for a few weeks and I had recommended it to a few museum patrons earlier that day so it seemed like the time had come. Located on the corner of Coventry and Hampshire in Cleveland Heights, Mint Café is beautifully understated. Simple white walls and easy-clean glass table tops over the linens give Mint a comfortable, casual quality; diners in t-shirts can rub elbows with those in business attire and not feel a bit out of place. But all this hides the fact that Mint is still a classy joint. They boast an excellent selection of wine and an interesting drink menu. As is the case with any Thai food experience a Thai iced tea is highly recommended, and I've had few better than the ones served at Mint. As it was a bit chilly in Cleveland Sunday night we each had big mugs of Jasmine tea, an underrated and oft overlooked hot beverage. As far as food is concerned Mint’s menu is pretty standard Thai fare (for fancier fare check out Mint’s sister restaurant, the Peppermint in Pepper Pike, get it? We each ordered a curry dish. Nicole’s was, I believe, the Panang curry. A spicy mix of curry sauce with peppers, mushrooms, green beans, eggplant, and Kafir lime leaves beefed up with some hearty chunks of tofu and served with a side of Jasmine rice. My choice, as usual, was the green curry. Generally the spiciest curry on Thai menus, Mint’s is no exception. It combines fiery green curry with green peppers, bamboo shoots, eggplant, green beans, peas, and Thai basil leaves, mine came with tofu and brown rice. So, so good. I’ve been to Mint a number of times and I have yet to walk away dissatisfied. Their curries are spicy and flavorful without being overwhelming, and have just the right balance of coconut milk to add sweetness and richness to the dish but not feel like falling face first into a coconut cream pie. A great location, spectacular menu, and pocket friendly prices makes Mint Café an excellent east side dining choice.

Thai cravings sated for the time being we departed Mint for the CIA Cinematheque and Not Quite Hollywood ( Written and directed by Mark Hartley, Hollywood is a documentary about the birth of genre filmmaking in Australia. Chock full of interviews from the people who helped build the Australian film industry and cram-jammed with clips from the early days, Hollywood is a raucous ride through some of the most ridiculous, gratuitous, hilarious looking films ever made. The rampant violence and omnipresent nudity that made these films notorious enough to garner their own documentary pepper this film like swears and pop-culture in-jokes in a Kevin Smith script. (Violence and nudity in a documentary? Yes please!) But arguably the best parts of the film are the segments with Quentin Tarantino, a gushing, unabashed fan of these absurd genre films; and an Australian film critic whose hatred for these delirious, depraved films is matched only by Tarantino’s giddy passion. It would be interesting to hear this critic’s assessment of Tarantino’s oeuvre since Tarantino has obviously cribbed a great deal from his Aussie brethren, a fact he’s not shy about admitting, either. Not Quite Hollywood is definitely one of the best documentaries I’ve seen in a long time, its passionate and loving look at its bizarre subject rivals that of the joyous glimpse at They Might Be Giants in Gigantic: A Tale of Two Johns or the harried cross country ride with Lightning Bolt in The Power of Salad (and Milkshakes).

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