"We've kind of become the gateway, visitors' bureau and café for the whole Waterloo Arts District," says Susan Walters about the new Cafe at Arts Collinwood (15601 Waterloo Rd., 216.692.9500, artscollinwood.org/cafe). Adjacent to Arts Collinwood, the corner storefront was most recently home to the short-lived Waterloo Café. Before that, it was the slightly longer-lived Café Marika. Now more than ever, the shop serves as a physical and functional extension of the next-door gallery. Described as a multimedia café, the shop hosts art openings and jazz recitals, and will participate in the upcoming Waterloo film series. It also serves tapas-style lunches and dinners seven days a week. Walters, the gal behind the defunct KeKA and SubStance, devised a savory little menu of hot and cold small plates. An antipasto platter contains marinated mushrooms, artichoke hearts, tapenade and charcuterie. There is also hot mac and cheese, sizzling garlic shrimp and a spicy pork cubano sandwich. New for spring will be a line of creative rice bowls, ranging from vegan to Mexican and Asian. Café at Arts Collinwood stocks a full line of wine, beer and cocktails. Diners will soon be able to enjoy their meals on the café's new front patio.
A very limited number of very fortunate people can join Fire Food and Drink (13220 Shaker Sq., 216.921.3473, firefoodanddrink.com) chef-owner Doug Katz on a culinary adventure through Northern Italy. Organized by Karen Carr Travel (440.893.0759), and scheduled for October 19-26, the eight-day voyage will coincide with Slow Food's biennial Terra Madre Conference in Turin. While there, participants will get to experience the mind-blowing Salone del Gusto, a world-fair-style exposition of artisan foods from all corners of the globe. "What's great is that we'll experience all these amazing tastes of Italy, and then go to the places where they're actually made," says Katz. "So we'll taste fresh truffles, then go on a truffle hunt in Piedmont. We'll taste regional wines, and then go visit a winery." Other trip highlights include a private viewing of Leonardo da Vinci's "The Last Supper," hands-on cooking classes and, of course, meals at some of Italy's finest restaurants. Skilled travel guides Tom Hamilton and Athlyn Fitz-James will lead the expedition. Interested participants must reserve their spot with Carr Travel by April 19. The $7,995 per person (double occupancy) price includes hotel, food and pretty much everything but air travel.