Sometimes You Gotta Take It to the House: Decadent Vacation Eating

Sometimes on vacation you take a step back. You remember that this is not some isolated period and choose yogurt for lunch, because what happens here (aka insane food and drinking choices) will catch up with you in non-vacation land.

Sometimes, though, as my friend Matt would say, you gotta take it to the house.

And this is where this large mound of meat comes in. On my first day in Cleveland I wanted something decadent, something that I could eat slowly, enjoy an alfresco setting, and take in an exotic beer. I found my match at The Greenhouse Tavern in an adorable, if not somewhat manufactured, alley in the midst of downtown.

After conferring with my server, I decided on:

Hand Ground Beef Tartare Frites w/ pommes frites, 42 minute egg, salted red jalapeño & condiments, $13.

Before my dish came out, I took a trip to the Ladies’. I walked down the stairs and as soon as I looked up I was in the kitchen watching a woman butcher a huge pig. I just stood and stared. After that, I had a good feeling about my meal. Ordering a raw dish can be scary, but knowing what care they take to bring in animals, I was ready.

Honestly, the dish was everything I wanted. Fresh meat, slightly seasoned with chives. Crisp fries with two (!) dipping sauces—a kicky dijon mustard and a creamy aioli—and three additional toppings of finely diced red onion, finely diced cornichon, and finely diced poached and roasted jalepeno (the most interesting item on the plate). And a barely cooked egg, even though it had been heated for 42 minutes.

I chatted with Jerry, over the phone, to find out exactly what a 42 minute egg meant: The egg is kept in its shell, with only a small crack made at the top. It’s then dropped in a water bath and held at 150 degrees for 42 minutes. The egg is cooled in an ice bath before landing on top of raw beef.

For that exotic beer I mentioned, well, exotic is relative: I sipped on a stout, Tallgrass Brewing‘s Buffalo Sweat, from Kansas.


Pickled Loafs and Teriyaki Smokes: Cleveland’s West Side Market

There are two things people think they must do in Cleveland. One is the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum. But instead of spending 4 hours inside, I quickly trolled around the lobby and gift shop and then explored the waterfront around the gorgeous, Louvre-like building. Outside of the museum there were some food vendors, a food truck and some rouge fisherman (check out the album) catching walleye and perch. (There are “no fishing” signs all over the place!)

But I did fully visit another landmark, Cleveland’s historic West Side Market, a large building housing produce, meats, meats, meats, pierogies and Italian specialty items.

10 Finds from Cleveland’s West Side Market

1. Question the produce.

With avocados sitting next to Brussels sprouts, apples and tomatoes, at first glance this market seemed to get its produce from all over the place. But my guide Heather told me that if you start asking vendors, and as the summer offers more local vegetables, you’ll be able to find true Ohian fare.

2. Love your loafs.

I don’t know what’s in a Pickle Loaf. And I’m afraid to ask.

3.Try a new meat.

This just screamed Midwest to me. Plus I’m just picturing that SNL skit with the Super Fans from Chicago and all they keep repeating in their heads are: Ditka, sausage, Kielbasa, Jordan, Ditka, sausage, Da Bears, Ditka… (go to minute 4)

4. Don’t leave Cleveland without a pierogi tasting.

My one regret is leaving Cleveland without trying a pierogi. Heather and I ate a late lunch (gravity-defying apple!) and we didn’t arrive to the market until about an hour to close. Heather’s favorite pierogi comes from Pierogi Palace, but it closed shop before we got there and she didn’t want to subject me to less than awesome potato nuggets. But when you go, Heather suggests the jalepeno/potato/cheese pierogies. (Check her other top picks for West Side Market.) I guess that means another trip to the “Mistake by the Lake.”

5. Smoke something.

I don’t know why, but the word “smokies” really cracks me up.

Next: 5 More Finds from Cleveland’s West Side Market

Alert Isaac Newton: Gravity-Defying Apple Found in Cleveland

I’m a 1950s housewife these days. I’m writing (unemployed-ish) and therefore find my schedule fairly flexible. Bennett signed up for a work training in Cleveland, but since he would finish by 4pm and we have our friend Heather living there now, I decided to jump along for the Midwestern vacation. I know that’s what my grandmother (housewife) would do when my grandfather traveled for work.

On vacation I rarely think about choosing healthy foods. Fuck it, right? I’m on vacation. But my aunt said something during last Thanksgiving that (unfortunately?) stuck with me. It’s easy to think of a special reason to turn to treats—birthdays, anniversaries, vacations, holidays, break-ups, fights, good days, bad days—so soon every day there can be an explanation to eat dessert or go for that second helping.

So for my second lunch in Cleveland, where the first screamed indulgence, I chose a light dish at Lucky’s Cafe. Something I could be proud of: yogurt with berries and house-made granola. Heather oozed with excitement after I placed the order and my worries of a boring meal on vacation soon diminished. (Heather, by the way, keeps an eating-in-Cleveland blog.)

We sat outside on a wooden picnic table, under an umbrella and next to the restaurant’s large garden.

Then the yogurt came and holy shit.

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America’s Best New Sandwiches, Part 2

Last month ES brought you our list of America’s top 10 new sandwiches. But blogga always said that reader knows best.

Many of you commented on our original story to tell us which of your favorite innovative sandwich should have been included. We chose the ten tastiest suggestions and now present an encore list: America’s Top 10 New Sandwiches, as selected by Endless Simmer readers.

10. Steak Poutine Pita — U Needa Pita St. Catharine’s, Ontario

What could be better than poutine, Montreal’s signature street food? How about throwing that poutine — cheese curds, fries and gravy included — on a pita, so you can actually eat it while walking down the street? Add some steak and you’ve got yourself one helluva sandwich. And yes, for the sake of U Needa Pita, we’re including Canada as part of America this one time only.

9. Westside Monte Cristo — Melt Bar and Grilled — Cleveland

We’ve said it once and we’ll say it again: there’s no food so good that it can’t be made better by a trip to the deep fryer. Kudos to Melt for being brave enough to test this theory out on the monte cristo breakfast sandwich — honey ham, smoked turkey, Swiss and American cheese — all battered in beer and deep fried.

8. Chacarero — La Sombra — Austin

We’re officially placing money on Chile’s signature sandwich — the chacarero — to become the next bahn mi, and La Sombra‘s version is the most sumptuous one we’ve seen yet. Shiner Bock marinated sliced hangar steak topped with green beans, avocado, tomatoes, pickled cucumbers and spicy mayo, all on a thin, toasty bolillo.

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An ES Video Interview with Iron Chef Michael Symon

Maybe it was the flamboyantly dressed and incredibly intense Asian gentleman simply called “The Chairman.” Maybe it was the exotic ingredients like river eel and udon. Maybe it was the hastily dubbed frenetic pace of kitchen stadium. Whatever the reason, Iron Chef was the first show that truly sparked my interest in cooking and the limitless options cooks have when they use their imagination. To be fair, I was in college when I came upon the Iron Chef series, when my diet consisted of things like Easy Mac, the cafeteria salad bar and PBR, so it was all outside my small comfort zone. But still, it was amazing.

This was the time when the Food Network was beginning to gain a foothold and many of the programs were as much about technique as the recipes.  Shows like Iron Chef, A Cook’s Tour, Good Eats, Food 911, etc.. really sparked a whole generation to step into the kitchen. Unfortunately since then, much of food television has moved towards personality and recipe driven programming. Even Top Chef seems to be shifting this way.

Today, my favorite food related show airs on the Travel Channel, but I still catch some others and I’ve really enjoyed the 2 seasons of The Next Iron Chef. Through that competition and Michael Ruhlman’s book The Soul of a Chef, I have come to  appreciate the way Chef Michael Symon approaches food. While this appreciation is nowhere near TVFF’s foodie man crush on Season 2 Next Iron Chef winner Jose Garces,  I still jumped at the opportunity to speak with Chef Symon about his new shows, Philly cheesesteaks, and his thoughts on tofu bacon. Click play above to watch my video interview with Michael Symon.

The Next Iron Chef premieres 10/3 on the Food Network. Michael’s new Food Network show, Food Feuds premieres 10/14. His current show, Cook Like an Iron Chef, airs Thursdays on the Cooking Channel. Phew.