Stuart Blog 2: 2006

Sunday, December 31, 2006

How easy is it to use Google Docs to publish to a blogger blog?

Bagels with Sarabeth jam and Organic Valley cream cheese

Well, it's pretty easy, I guess. But WriteToMyBlog makes it simple to import images from flickr.

Also I keep aligning the photo in the center and every time it saves my progress it gets pushed over to the right. Weird.

Miles Farmers Market


sticker Miles Farmers Market is not a gourmet shop. It's a grocery store but it seems to be the area's go-to spot for exotic or premium foods. signI first resolved to explore Miles Market when I heard that they carried Zingerman's gelato . I finally did explore Miles Market after I heard that they carried H&H bagels. A chance to particpate in Food Destinations #4 may have provided just a little extra bit of motivation, too.





A nice bagel is enough for me to call it a day and declare a winner but the breadth of Miles Market's stock is impressive in every department. Want some butter? butterHow about beurre d'Isigny? Plugra? Goat butter? Ghee? All available, amongst several others. Chocolate? I've grown accustomed to seeing Scharfen-Berger but I was pleased to see Vosges Haute Chocolate. Vosges Haute ChocolateI'm only sorry that I didn't document the mind-boggling array of salts, olive oils and honeys.





What goes with those bagels? How about some Sarabeth jam? Markets throughout the region have acres of aisles devoted to jam and they're packed with fancifully shaped bottles of extravagantly priced jam but I never saw Sarabeth's until I visited Miles.



bagel, jam and cream cheese







My visit to Miles Market was more than just a shopping trip. I was surprised many times by products that I'd only read about amongst other unfamiliar products that I'm sure offer yet more delightful surprises. A gift certificate to Miles Market would be a gift that I'd be happy to receive and proud to give.











Zingerman's hazelnut gelato
Hazelnut gelato - delicious












prepared foods


Some prepared food. I see crab pretzel bread












More prepared foods


They have little cups of hot sauce for their sandwiches. That's a detail that appeals to me.










Cheese aisle


Cheese!










vegetables


Note the house made croutons in the foreground.












Breads
Bread from a neighborhood bakery


Monday, December 04, 2006

Tom-yam gung

We prepared this delicious soup at a dinner party slash cooking class. Tom-yum gung is one of the most emblematic dishes in Thai cuisine. This version turned out wonderfully. The shrimp were plump, juicy and flavorful. The broth was full of flavor, too. The central note is provided by lemongrass, a common motif in Thai cooking, and the taste is filled out with another common Thai flavoring - fish sauce.

The soup itself was delicious but I also enjoyed the experience. I was able to learn about food, eat a well thought out menu full of delicious food and share it all with other eager food enthusiasts.

Galangal is another important component in this dish and another common Thai ingredient. It was difficult to locate. The evening's organizer had to arrange to have it mailed by a family member.

Fish sauce is made from fermented anchovies. Squid brand is a strong flavored brand and is recommended.



Tracking down kaffir lime leaves is frequently another chore for USian cooks. But our host fixed that problem. This little fellow is a kaffir lime tree.

Palm sugar

These kaffir lime leaves weren't from the tree pictured above. The chef remove the stem that runs through the center out of habit. The leaves are removed before serving.

The lemongrass is bruised to release the flavor.





This is the plated soup. It was delicious. There are very few restaurants in the US that give Asian food the type of treatment that's given to French or Italian food. Unfortunately, there doesn't appear to be an audience prepared to pay a premium for fresh, quality ingredients. But whenever and wherever some courageous restauranteur is willing to the lead the way then I'll happily seek them out. This soup demonstrates that the results are worth the effort.

Serves 8-10 as a side dish

8 cups or 2 quarts of vegetable or chicken stock

5 stalks lemongrass, trimmed and bruised

6oz galangal ginger crosscut into coins

6oz fresh ginger crosscut into coins

10-12 bird chilies, stemmed and bruised whole

6 kaffir lime leaves, stemmed

1/2 pound oyster mushrooms, stemmed

1 medium yellow onion, thinly sliced

1/2 pound fresh medium shrimp peeled and deveined

2 medium tomatoes, cored and cut into wedges

1/2 cup fresh squeezed lime juice

1/4 cup fish sauce or more to taste

2 tablespoons sugar

1 tablespoon chili in oil (nam prik pow)

Fresh sprigs or leaves of cilantro for garnish

Place first 4 ingredients into a large pot and boil for 10 minutes. At this point you can strain and discard ingredients. Or for a more authentic approach, leave all ingredients in broth and continue to add chilies, kaffir lime leaves, oyster mushrooms and onion. Bring to a boil and let cook for 5 minutes. Turn down heat and add shrimp and tomatoes, then remove from heat. Add remaining ingredients and garnish individual servings with cilantro. The flavor of Tom Yum should be an equal balance of all flavors; sweet, salty, sour and spicy.


Optional: A sous chef from one of the country's best restaurants. This might be as hard to find as the galangal but it's highly recommended. It comes in handy when too many of your other cooks get tipsy.

This soup was only the beginning of a wonderful meal. It was perfectly matched with several other iconic Thai dishes. (Recipes are available for several. Please click the picture.)


Whether you're inspired to reach for the stock pot or the yellow pages, I hope you'll find a delicious tom-yam gung for yourself.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

So how often do I eat at Siam Cafe?

This often:


Scroll up so that you can see the week that begins with Sunday, August 20. That five week span captures my most concentrated period of Siam Cafe indulgence. At least, recently. This widget only goes back in time 10 meals.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Test

Just testing BlogMailr.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Dine and Dish 7 - Like a virgin

Choosing something new was easy. Lola was Cleveland's most anticipated restaurant opening in my memory and perhaps for as long as a couple of decades. Chef Michael Symon originally opened Lola many years ago in Tremont, a neighborhood long on history but experiencing an extended rough patch. Lola was an important part of a revitalization of the neighborhood. The area is now home to many of the city's most popular independent restaurants, many of our galleries and has a nice mix of charming old housing stock and newer buildings.

Lola closed in that location and was quickly replaced by Lolita but everyone's greatest expectations were reserved for the new incarnation of Lola in a new location. Lola's grand re-opening was far behind schedule. The new space is much larger and has a more "downtown" energy. Everyone oohs and ahhs over the beautiful alabaster bar. It makes a grand first impression. The new location is on East 4th Street which gives Symon and Lola a chance to participate in the revitalization of yet another Cleveland area. Luxury lofts in an old wig factory, a martini bar bowling alley and the House of Blues music venue are all nearby.

The beef cheek pierogi is one of Chef Symon's whimsical tributes to the hearty ethnic culinary tradition of Cleveland. We like our pierogis. This beef cheek pierogi was full of beefy flavor.

Chef Symon spent time studying with Mario Batali and has since featured charcuterie at Lolita and now at the new Lola. This lamb was delicious. Very light and very lamb-y. Isn't the bread adorable? I want to see a whole loaf. It's also delicious.

This grouper was fantastic. It was as good as any fish that I've ever had: crispy outside, moist and buttery inside, full of flavor.

French toast with bacon ice cream? Yup. It was very nice with more of that delicious tiny bread. I don't know whether this is an intentional tribute to Heston Blumenthal. The pastry chef is Cory Barrett whose resume includes Tribute in Chicago.

lobster corn dogs. mustard creme fraiche.

pork sausage, pickled fennel.

A great salad is a sign of a great restaurant. It shows that no part of the meal is considered as an afterthought. Nice peppery arugula, flavorful nuts, creamy cheese.

Ordering poultry is a risky proposition even, I've found, at very highly regarded restaurants. And recently I've grown wary of foie gras. It's so wonderful that it's hard to pass up and equally disappointing when it isn't prepared to the standards that it deserves. This squab was moist and full of flavor. The squab is corned - rubbed with salt and spices and allowed to absorb these flavors for a while before it's cooked. I first read about this technique in relation to Zuni Cafe. Salting prior to cooking is important for flavor but it can draw moisture out of the meat. But Chef Rodgers at Zuni salts the meat hours or days before which allows time for the moisture to be redistributed back to its natural place. Chef Symon uses this technique on the lamb, squab and steak. I can vouch for the results on the squab, I've heard raves for the lamb and personally, I'm very excited about trying the steak. Yet one more thing I've grown hesitant to order.

Delicious pear sorbet with brown butter pear and gorgonzola and walnut cake.

lola-pops. chocolate, hazelnut and sea salt.

Considering the quality of the squab, the foie gras and the grouper I have to say that Lola lived up to all the hype. Chef Syon said they'll start making changes to the menu in several weeks so I've got my work cut out for me. There are so many things that I want to try before they're replaced. Lola is a wonderful new addition to the Cleveland culinary scene.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

sidenotes

Weird. This didn't work several months ago. Then it didn't work a few minutes ago and now it works. I'm glad that it does because sidenotes are neat and really suited to my meandering, pretentious prose style.

I think it looks even more impressive when there are two of them.

burgers and ice cream

Hungry? Try some delicious frozen custard. Find a Rosati's location near you. Ready for dessert? Try the best cheeseburger in the world at Swensons. Find a location near you.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

The Martin campaign's appropriation of a photo by Jeff

Jeff (Yellow Dog Sammy) accuses the Martin campaign of misusing one of Jeff's photographs.

I'm still not sure that this is a misuse according to the terms of the license. I browsed through the (semi-official?) wiki for Creative Commons. It didn't settle the matter for me but it did address another lingering question that I've always had about Creative Commons: the licenses are irrevocable. Once you've thrown it into the commons, you can't yank it back. It may turn out that this is relevant here.

It's been said, more than once as I recall, that this episode is indicative of the deplorable, unworkable state of politics in the United States. I may agree but I think I have a different perspective. Lefty bloggers are leveling harsh accusations and doing so in broad generalizations. The stated or unstated attitude is that Republican politicians, Righty bloggers or even conservatives are scoundrels and not amenable to rational discourse. The Righty blogosphere may be a minefield of vitriol (I wouldn't know) but no individual of any ideology should let that debase their thinking. The real danger to civil society is when more and more people feel such contempt for those that they disagree with that they disengage from the dialogue.

I think that the effort expended here (by all of us) in defending his intelectual property would be better spent addressing the substance of the ad in question. The ad lies? Then explain how and tell the truth. I'm aware that this has already been done but frankly it's been completely overwhelmed by the copyright issue. As I said before, while it's clearly an author's right (which may have been abdicated in this case, but...) I think there's something unsavory about enforcing a Creative Commons license this way.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Testing more random nonsense.

Technorati Tags:

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Teddy K

Sen. Edward Moore Kennedy is not my senator. Senator George Voinovich and Senator Michael DeWine are the senators from Ohio. The representative for Ohio's 11th congressional district is Representative Stephanie Tubbs Jones.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Walking

Well, I was obviously going somewhere with this post but it's languished in the draft folder for too long. As it is, there are some interesting links. That will have to be enough. I'm afraid I no longer have anything more to offer this scraggly pup but a kick in the rear into the bright light of the blogosphere.

Wundersmanner - that caught my attention and set me on a google adventure. I started by trying to capture the associations that occured to me before they escaped: flaneur and psychogeography.

Then there was the guy that walked every street in Manhattan. The woman who mapped London by walking its 3000 miles.


A manifesto for the New Walker
. After you've read that click through to browse their "mis-guides."

Outside Lies Magic

Googling wandersmanner only turned up one worthwhile site but that site led me to some interesting sites.

Kymerica Huh?

The idea of Dickens prowling the streets of London demands further investigation. London Prowl.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Broadway Free Library


Broadway Free Library
Originally uploaded by stu_spivack.



That's a very powerful image. In 2006 hardly anyone would consider it remarkable that society subsidizes access to knowledge for it. Everyone's accustomed to "free" libraries. Sadly, the dream of universal access to vast stores of accumulated knowledge is far from realized and is in retreat on many fronts.

Intellectual property wars probably had very little to do with why this library was abandoned. Still, I'm ambivalent at best to see a beautiful stone sign proudly proclaim "FREE BOOKS" over a building that won't have them.

Of course, if you've seen any substantial portion of my photostream you may be surprised at my lack of enthusiasm for a new restaurant. Let me just say that there are lots of restaurants that come and go. While I've yet to see anything to suggest that this one will be mediocre, I've yet to see anything suggest that it will be good.

Enough pessimism. It's a sharp building and best of luck to the owner and to his neighbors.

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Dine and Dish - Small plates

Thanks for joining me in a new episode of Dine and Dish. I'm looking forward to reading about your many fabulous meals. I hope my account will be an inspiration for your own new dining adventures.

Episode Six of Dine and Dish has taken the theme of small plates. To satisfy this theme I chose to eat at the Flying Fig. I'd also heard that they had recently added small plates to their menu and that had already put them back on my to-eat list. It's a long list so it wasn't until Dine and Dish that I finally got around to it. (Yes, there's actually a list.)

Welcome to the Flying Fig:
Despite the amatuer photography, it's a charming and attractive restaurant in a fabulous food neighborhood. It's just across from Cleveland's amazing West Side Market. It's in the Ohio City neighborhood which is home to great Lebanese, Puerto Rican, Greek and soon Vietnamese restaurants in addition to Cleveland's local champion of sustainable agriculture, Parker's. Flying Fig is right at home here. It's a good, local restaurant that emphasizes fresh, simple cooking.

Gnocci and scallop:


Tapas, as you are no doubt now aware, are a centuries old Spanish tradition. Their origin lies in a law designed to control the drunken behavior of carriage drivers. Tapas were required so that they wouldn't drink on a full stomach. Bar keepers served light snacks on small plates that their patrons would carry around on top of their drinks. Hence tapas from the Spanish for top(1). Or they were used to keep flies out of your wine(2). I guess no one really knows. In any case, their original purpose may be long forgotten but in their modern incarnation they're a carefully evolved solution to the problem of what hat your wine needs to wear.

Fast forward several hundred years and tapas are one of the latest answers to the never-satisfied modern search for What's Next? Instead of a carefully evolved repetoire of items whose tastes are well suited to small portions you have chefs serving their own ideas just like before - only smaller. (Wikipedia:"They are often very strongly flavored with garlic, chillis or paprika, and sometimes swimming in olive oil." Sounds like something well suited to being enjoyed in small portions, no?) Instead of a munching on a snack while socializing with friends and throwing back some booze, diners are stacking up plates to make room and racing from dish to dish before they get cold.

Tapas, like mezze, izakaya snacks and dim sum are all delicious but each one has evolved inside of its own traditional service and when they're served some other way they're not likely to be enjoyed as much. Of course, Flying Fig has a bar so it's my fault for sitting in the dining room and eating six small plates while nursing a coke with my nonagenarian grandmother and her lonely big plate of cod. It's my fault but I don't think I'm the only one and I imagine there may be people wondering exactly why they aren't having fun like the lithe Andalucian model shown on the cover of Gourmet magazine holding a plate of olives perched on a wine glass. I've left Lolita on several occasions with a similar feeling but it's only after this recent meal that I think I've identified the problem. Restaurants, many at least, are struggling to adapt snack cuisines to the dining room and unfamiliar diners are confused.

I've only had small plates type meals a couple times and there are only a few restaurants that offer it in Cleveland so I'm speculating wildly. I welcome your correction or corroboration in the comments. Tapas and izakaya are certainly drinking snacks; however, what are the traditions that surround mezze?

Beef Carpacio and Braised lamb:


None of these dishes share any connection to any nation's traditional small plate cuisine that I'm aware. This isn't to say that they weren't very good. The short rib, for instance, was delicious.

Braised short rib and Fried tofu:


Next time I go, or when I try the small plates at Firefly, I'll get a couple small plates instead of an appetizer and then I'll order a regular entree. The short ribs are a regular entree at Flying Fig and I highly recommend that you go there and try them.

Molten chocolate cake: