The Simple Things

Food & Drink , Region

The Simple Things

Posted by Ivan Sheehan and tagged with Cleveland, food, neighborhood, restaurant; 12:00am, January 16th 2010

Beyond DNA, all of us are united by a common experience: the bad day. It often strikes without warning, or when you least expect it. It has a tendency to spread itself over multiple days, snowballing with annoying efficiency. Combined with cabin fever, largely dreary conditions and minimal daylight, the leading months of the year have a tendency to exacerbate the bad day. Sadly, hibernation is not widely accepted as a coping mechanism. 

Recently, I woke to find that I had last left my keys in a blackhole, lost to time and space. To add insult to injury, my apartment was leaking water through the ceiling in the dining room and kitchen, and the property manager showed little interest in remedying the problem. Bad day escalating. 

I was able to get copies of my roommate's house keys made at Heights Hardware in Coventry, a minute's walk from my Cleveland Heights home. There, the pleasant, polite employee explained the finer points of key creation, and I was out the door in minutes, for $3.40. Still feeling a bit lagging, I walked down the street, picked up a locally made bagel and chai tea at Phoenix Coffee, a locally owned shrine to caffeinated beverages, having a pleasant exchange with the employees there.

Returning to my unduly damp abode, I enjoyed a relaxing breakfast in the bright, if not warming, glow of winter sunshine. Energized, I contacted the Cleveland Heights housing department, who were quick to light a fire under my landlord, who soon changed his tune faced with official orders. Then my work day began. 

As a small business owner, it's rewarding at the best of times, and a never-ending list of to-dos all the time. I'm not complaining. I enjoy the challenge, and I have surrounded myself with the region's most talented people to accomplish the job. Ten hours later, having skipped lunch, I was famished. 

My comfort zone can be found at 2299 Lee Road in Cleveland Heights. There, at Brennan's Colony, a cozy bar and restaurant, timeless decor and an affable staff awaits. As does my favorite cheeseburger in the city: a one half-pound, nicely seasoned patty cooked exactly as ordered, topped with gooey Swiss, sweet tomato slice, onion and crisp lettuce, in a buttered bun. Add a side of fries, and a pint of Guinness. It's consistently comforting. 

In the end, it's the little things. It's a simple trip to a neighborhood hardware store to solve a problem. It's finding a well-smeared bagel and tea to get your day going. It's finding that perfect burger indulgence to bookend your day. It's interacting with fellow Clevelanders with an innate sense of understanding. It's why I'd rather have a bad day in northeast Ohio than anywhere in the world. Plain and simple. 

Fresh Start: Week of January 11

Arts , Food & Drink , Home & Style , Region

Fresh Start: Week of January 11

Posted by Peter Chakerian and tagged with art, Beachland Ballroom, benefit, books, Cleveland, culture, decor, designer, music; 12:00am, January 11th 2010

Cleveland is a cozy town, and once the winter chill sets in, it gets even cozier. We all spend a little more time snuggled in at home, curled up with a good book or movie, organizing our quarters for optimal winter nesting, and loading up on our favorite comfort foods. This week’s trio of Fresh Start events insures you can enjoy great indoor winter activities by getting out and getting inspired:


A Winter’s Tale Film Feast 

Loganberry Books is hosting a cozy little event Wednesday, January 14 at 7PM featuring Sari Feldman, executive director of the Cuyahoga County Public Library, and Clint O'Connor, film critic for The Plain Dealer, talking up their favorite winter reads and movies. A hearty spread of hors d’oeuvres, desserts and wine, not to mention the always-tasty Gene's Jazz Hot ensemble, help round out this toasty take on reading circles and film clubs. Tickets are available in advance. 


The Ohio Design Centre’s Floor Sample Sale 

This stylish annual event offers designer furnishings and interior decor at incredible discounts. It launches this Friday, January 15 and runs throughout the weekend, with a portion of proceeds benefiting the Cleveland Furniture Bank, a non-profit organization that provides furniture to needy individuals and families looking for a fresh start. Custom furniture, decorative accessories, area rugs, framed art and mod lighting are among the myriad products available. Interior designers regularly tap into ODC’s stock for their clients, so here’s your chance to design like a pro – and for a good cause. For more information and hours, call 216-831-1245 or visit ODC's website


Beachland Ballroom’s Polka Brunch 

The Browns are done for the season, so spend Sunday enjoying another Cleveland tradition this Sunday, January 17 at 11AM at the Beachland Polka Brunch with the Chardon Polka Band. This all ages show-and-dine, co-sponsored by the Cleveland Style Polka Hall of Fame, features accordionist Jake Kouwe, who formed Chardon Polka Band in 2003 after Kouwe’s local high school marching band director rejected his favorite instrument. The result is potent combination of Cleveland polka and wry wit (as witnessed by the group’s cover of “We’re Not Gonna Take It” by Twisted Sister). The event also features world dance lessons from award-winning dancer Valerie Salstrom of Hep Cat Swing. If you like your polka and eggs scrambled, this will satiate your appetite. We recommend the crème brûlée French toast and egg roulade, though the event promises ethnic specials surely worth sampling. 


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Driven to Drink

Food & Drink

Driven to Drink

Posted by Ivan Sheehan and tagged with wine; 12:00am, January 8th 2010

Many wine enthusiasts can pinpoint the moment, the glass, the bottle that changed their impression of wine. That singular taste awakened not only an inexperienced palate, but also initiated a fascination with the finer points and pours of viticulture and vinification. It's treacherous territory, turning sensible men and women into wonton spenders and curious obsessives. Carefully cultivated, though, the world of wine is a rewarding place to find your footing. 

For years, my wine selections were predicated on matters of affordability, accessibility and alcohol. Then the Rhône happened. Years ago, during a visit home from college, my altruistic father shared a bottle of Châteauneuf-du-Pape with me. Later holiday visits proved my father's oenological altruism knew no bounds, as I was introduced to the Italian swagger of Amarone and the understated finesse of Burgundy. It encouraged me to drink - for educational purposes, of course. By the time I graduated college, I was deeply interested in wine, and deeply broke. 

After a few years of largely self-guided wine "tours", gathering relevant literature, guidance from shop owners and advice from wine bar folks, I yearned for a more formal education. As with anything worth knowing, the more I learned about wine, the more I realized how little I knew. Enter the American Wine School (then, Cleveland Wine School) in Beachwood, where Marianne Frantz teaches casual and professional wine education courses. I enrolled in the professional course program created by the London-based Wine And Spirit Education Trust, completing the Intermediate Certificate course then the Advanced Certificate course. I passed both end-of-term exams, I'm proud to write. Credit goes to my teacher.

You may recognize Frantz as the host of At Cellar Door, OhioAuthority's wine video series, but she's also the one who has opened the world of wine to me and many others in her classes. The courses would be of interest for wine experts (trust me, you're not) and novices alike, as wine study under Frantz' directions takes colorful trips around the globe, with lessons on geography, history, food and - gasp - science that are fascinating. Her vivid descriptions, personal anecdotes and lively presentations bring the course texts to life, and the myriad wine tastings test your palate and provide for often humorous class interactions. If you like meeting new people, drinking and tasting wine, and learning more about the world you live, enroll in the WSET courses at Cellar Door. Cheers to personal growth and great wine in 2010. 


A Whole Lot of Shaking Going On…

Arts , Food & Drink , Region

A Whole Lot of Shaking Going On…

Posted by Ivan Sheehan and tagged with art, artist, chef, Cleveland, film, music, restaurant; 12:00am, January 7th 2010

To note that the weather in northeast Ohio is miserable this first week of January would be generous. Bitter cold, endless snow, and dangerous ice – it all conspires to keep us indoors. Mother Nature, the original ornery barometer of cool, underestimates the power of positive Clevelanders. Inclement weather be damned. We don our winter woolies, load up on hearty fare and strong drink, and make for the city. This weekend, there are numerous testaments to our commitment to fun in the winter sun. 

Tremont ArtWalk

The first ArtWalk of 2010 takes place this Friday, January 8, beginning at 6 pm. The organizers and artists are starting this year off with a bang. Among the highlights will be a showing of Bob Dylan and The Band photos taken by local artist William Scheele at Visible Voice Books, one of the region’s best independent book shops and wine tasting spots. At Heather Haviland’s beloved Lucky’s Café, visitors will find captivating landscape and portrait work by Cleveland’s Cooper School of Art graduate and Tremont resident Tim Herron. An eclectic collection of mixed media items from Lucette Johnson, Theresa Yondo and Kathy Patton can be found at one of Tremont’s newest additions, Geode Gallery and Gifts. Wrap up the night at Prosperity Social Club, where Martini Five-O is scheduled to deliver a suitably cool repertoire of lounge-surf tunes. 

Dante Restaurant Open House Cocktail Party

One of the country’s – much less the region’s – most talented chefs is opening his newest restaurant in Tremont this weekend. Dante Boccuzzi and his team have reworked the former Third Federal Bank building on Professor Avenue into a gem of polished, casual dining. Read the full story here, and be sure to stop in to say congrats and have a cocktail. The festivities kick off at 6 pm on Friday, January 8.

Rock Hall Celebrates 75 Years of Elvis 

Elvis may have left the proverbial building, but his music and legend continue to interest new generations. In celebration of the King of Rock and Roll's would-be 75th birthday, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum is inviting fans from around the country to view the Elvis exhibit on Friday, January 8 and Saturday, January 9. The collection features more than 40 artifacts that help document the life of one of rock’s founding fathers, including one of his famous jumpsuits from 1973 and a jukebox presented to him by RCA [pictured; photo courtesy of Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum/Design Photography]. The weekend will include the opportunity to sign a giant birthday card that will be sent to Graceland, a cake cutting at noon on Friday, meet the curator/artifact spotlight in the Elvis exhibit on Friday at 2 pm, and a screening of the Aloha from Hawaii concert film on Saturday at 11:45 am. Throughout the weekend, guests can watch footage from Elvis’ 1986 Rock Hall induction. Now that's a hunk of burning love that'll melt even the chilliest disposition. 

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Fresh Start: Week of January 4

Food & Drink , Arts , Health & Education , Region

Fresh Start: Week of January 4

Posted by Peter Chakerian and tagged with artist, Cleveland, Cleveland Museum of Art, Cleveland Museum of Natural History , cocktails, exhibit, lecture, music, painting, theater, Velvet Tango Room; 12:00am, January 4th 2010


Cleveland is a complex melting pot of cultures, generations, interests and lifestyles. Yes, Israel Zangwill’s term may be overused in describing any metropolitan area, and is most closely associated with New York City, but few would argue against its relevance when talking about the North Coast. The vast range of cultural options in northeast Ohio is extraordinary, though you have to dig to find them sometimes. unearthed this week’s trio of must-do events to scratch your international and historical itches, and (hopefully) explain why you can’t sleep afterwards:


Evan Ziporyn & Gamelan Galak Tika 

The composer and 30-member troupe are a part of the Cleveland Museum of Art’s Viva! & Gala series, offering a fusion of traditional and modern Balinese music and dance. Gamelan translates as “to hammer,” referring to the percussion orchestras of Bali and the Indonesian island of Java. Gamelan Galak Tika’s performance feature Ziporyn’s compositions Tire Fire, Amok! and Heavy Metal delivered on hand drums, gongs, metallophones, bamboo flutes and spiked fiddles by MIT students. Sound intriguing? Check out the performance at the Cleveland Museum of Natural History on Friday, January 8 at 7:30PM. 


Jerry’s Girls at Ensemble Theatre 

Longing for the Great White Way? We all know you don’t mean snowswept Euclid Avenue. Ensemble Theatre’s musical revue of songs by Jerry Herman is directed by Frank Lucas, and it’s a throwback to the glitz and glamour of Broadway’s heyday. Jerry’s Girls offers a cornucopia of cabaret that channels the star-studded productions that featured memorable leading ladies such as Carol Channing, Jo Anne Worley and Chita Rivera. The timeless music from Mame, Hello, Dolly!, La Cage aux Folles, Mack and Mabel, and more might have you thinking classic cocktails afterwards. In which case, head to the Velvet Tango Room. The production runs from January 8 through January 31


Sleep and Counting Sheep 

If you wake up feeling as weary as you did the night before, and are tired of  being, well, tired, you're likely looking for relief. Perhaps you’re struggling with a sleep disorder or related condition, and don’t know it. The latest installment of the Science Café's Cleveland Series at Great Lakes Brewing Company features MetroHealth Medical Center speakers Dr. Ziad Shaman (pulmonary and critical Care) and Dr. Vidya Krishnan (center for sleep medicine) Tuesday, January 12 at 6:30PM. Learn the science behind what’s happening and change your life, or simply hang out for an intriguing happy hour discussion.

Speaking of sleep: don’t lose any more of it thinking about the Paul Gauguin: Paris, 1889 exhibition if you haven’t been to it. The Cleveland Museum of Art’s exhibition is a stunner. Get there before it closes Monday, January 18.  


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