Favorite

Winter Treats 

Here's hot chocolate an angel would fall for.

Freshly roasted Venezuelan coffee may be the specialty of the house at Akron's Angel Falls Coffee Company (792 West Market Street, on Highland Square; 330-376-5282), but it's the hot chocolate that knocks our woolly wintertime socks off. Each made-to-order 16-ounce mug ($3.25) runneth over with the sweet, creamy goodness of top-shelf Venezuela Chocolates el Rey, coarsely chopped and blended with cream, milk, cinnamon, and cardamom, and served up steaming hot. The Volcán tastes almost like molten chocolate pudding; the white-chocolate Volcán Blanco is equally rich and smooth, but also has a touch of cayenne -- an unexpected addition that doesn't make the beverage peppery, but does put the taste buds on high alert for fabulous flavors to come.

To go with, Angel Falls' chef and master baker Carmela de Abreu has developed a concise but compelling lunch-only menu of South American-accented soups, sandwiches, and entrées. The homemade offerings change frequently, but typically include items such as Chupe de Pollo (milky corn-and-chicken soup, flavored with fresh herbs), Venezuelan-style lasagna made with ground lamb and ground sirloin, and Carne Mechada -- a sandwich of succulent shredded beef in a sassy South American sweet-pepper-and-chile sauce. Main dishes, served with goody-laden green salads, are $6.50; a cuppa soup will set you back $3. De Abreu also bakes a daily variety of indulgent European-style sweeties, including tres leches cake, fresh fruit tarts, and passion fruit tortes.

The coffee shop's hours are 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 7 a.m. to midnight Friday and Saturday, and 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday. Lunch is served 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday through Saturday.

Eat at Mom's . . . Meatloaf, mashed potatoes, and all-day breakfast will be on the menu at Mom's Diner when it opens in Orange around the end of March. The casual eatery, now going up on the corner of Miles and Brainard roads, is the newest project for restaurateur Brad Friedlander, whose other well-known enterprise is the contemporary American dining room Moxie (3355 Richmond Road in Beachwood).

While the retro-diner theme is nothing new, the menu will feature a timely use of locally grown produce: organic Ohio milk, eggs, and dairy products, homemade ice creams, and naturally raised Niman Ranch meats. "We're trying to take the best parts of the old-fashioned dining-car theme and give them a modern twist," as Friedlander puts it.

Chef Nicole Vondrasek will be doing the cooking in Mom's kitchen. The Culinary Institute of America graduate has worked as lead cook at Moxie, under the direction of Executive Chef Jon Bennett.

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