Stuart Blog 2: $40 a Day

Saturday, August 20, 2005

$40 a Day

Welcome fellow food bloggers. I'm sorry that there isn't more here for you to browse. Until now I've only used this space as a memory aid and web sandbox. The main repository for records of my food adventures is flickr. At least for the near future, that's probably how things will stay. Dine and Dish 4 was immensely fun and I have no doubt that I'll be back for Dine and Dish 5. In the mean time, I'm afraid all I can offer is my flickr stream. I have well over 1,000 pictures and I think I cover a broad range of interesting food.

My first meal was at Monica's Caribbean and Hungarian restaurant. Yes, Caribbean and Hungarian. Check out the menu if you don't believe me. The jerk chicken was spicy, tender and full of chicken-y deliciousness. The complimentary butterflap bread was warm, dense, sweet and equally delicious. ($9.50 + tax and tip = $12)

Uh, just ignore the pseudo-food spread that was served with the bread. Not everything is perfect at Monica's but I look forward to returning. Judging from my first experience there are certain to be many other excellent items. Guyanese chicken chow mein? Guyanese fish stew? This was a real find. I'll just have to learn to ignore partially-hydrogenated oil spreads and uninspired salads.

My visit to this restaurant was pleasant for more reasons than the food. East 185th is a charming, natural, warm, historic neighborhood right on the Great Lakes. Its relaxing atmosphere seems further from the hustle of Cleveland than its short distance would suggest.

Our next stop is a transplant from just down the shore. Clevelanders of a certain age look back with great fondness on food and fun at Euclid Beach Park. It was Cleveland's Coney Island.Fairways, coasters, rides, games and fair food. On this very day in 1964 the Beach Boys played at Euclid Beach Park. The Euclid Beach Park Nuts are trying to bring back some small bits of that era. They want to set up an original carousel and others are trying to save the Humphrey Mansion. (It doesn't look very grand right now.)

In the mean time, we'll have to settle for popcorn and frozen custard. East Coast Custard has a number of stores. Shaker Square is far from the shore but happily it's much closer to me. Shaker Square is another great place to enjoy a meal and walk around. The National Register of Historic Places recognized the beauty and charm of Shaker Square in 1976. There's a movie theater and nearby Larchmere has bookstores, antiques and more. There's fire, a favorite of mine since it opened five years ago and Boulevard Blue, a promising newcomer but neither are really appropriate for our theme.

East Coast Custard aims to evoke memories of long gone summer nights with delicious frozen custard.

They may be appealing to nostalgia but they aren't coasting on it. The custard is excellent. The toppings are excellent. I've been there a half dozen times and I've always been impressed. All you see is a big white (melt-y) glob but I can assure you that this turtle sundae was perfect: the custard, the fudge, the caramel and the pecans - all perfect.($4, including tip)Our next stop was right in my back yard. Hot Sauce Williams has been a favorite in our family for as long as I can remember. I don't know how long the restaurant has been there but I remember my father bringing delicious ribs and chicken wings home nearly 20 years ago. I don't think the restaurant has changed at all in that time. Thankfully. This food is made just they way it should be made and the result is every bit as good as the most expensive food I've ever eaten. ($9.85, including two wings)
Unfortunately, my last visit didn't live up to my expectations. I hope I'm not the only disher that decided to visit some new places along with familiar favorites. What can I say? I couldn't resist the chance to try some new stuff. So I'm sorry, but I'm going to make it up to you three times over! First, I'll give you a couple recommendations for better Cleveland breakfasts. I don't want to give the impressione that I couldn't find four decent meals in the entire city. Try a breakfast buritto at El Tengo Taqueria. Breakfast, lunch and dinner, everything at this place is amazing. He has authentic and delicious food from Mexico and Central and South America. Or for more standard American fare, try Yours Truly. They've got great burgers and the breakfast food is fantastic.Second, the picture turned out just fine. You can pretend that the french toast was delicious.($12, including tax, tip, pancakes, fresh OJ and sausage links)And third, since I have $2 left in my budget I'll add a fifth stop to our tour: Amish fry pie at the North Union Farmers Market. The market is back at beautiful Shaker Square. My favorite vendor sells mostly dairy but also pork, grains, breads and pies. Yesterday, I noticed something new and had a strawberry filled Amish fry pie for breakfast. It was glazed and just generally delicious. And it was actually less than $2. ($1.50?)

I think that brings my total to over $39. As I said it was wonderful fun. How do I know that I'm going to be back for Dine and Dish 5? Because, I can't walk away from the keyboard without mentioning dozens of other restaurants that should have appeared in my "$40 A Day" day. Tongue and goat tacos, curry beef buns, pho, burgers... And how could I have led you on a tour of Cleveland without pierogies. And that Puerto Rican restaurant would have let me work in pictures of some great historic churches. We need to do this again.

I've got lots more to eat and I'm looking forward to both sharing it with you and hearing about your culinary adventures. Thanks for stopping in.


Rachael Ray said...

Hey Steven
Welcome to the Dine & Dish community. We're glad to have you as part of the team. Those fry pies sound delcious. I'm going to have to try and make it up to Cleveland soon

sarah said...

hi stuart! what a lovely post from a fellow ohio-an (i used to live in cincinnati lol!) thanks so much for playing in dine and dish no 4. hope you can play in the next one!

Sam said...

I echo the big thanks from Sarah
It was a pleasure to have you join us for dinner