Thursday, September 27, 2007

Taste America Dinner: Cleveland foodies gather to celebrate damn good food

Posted By on Thu, Sep 27, 2007 at 6:32 PM

Psst … Wanna rub shoulders with Cleveland’s culinary elite? There may never be another opportunity as intimate as tomorrow’s Taste America Dinner, part of a series of nationwide benefit dinners sponsored by The James Beard Foundation, to take place on Friday, Sept. 28. Aimed at celebrating, preserving, and supporting heritage farmers, artisanal food producers, and the country’s finest chefs, Taste America dinners will be held simultaneously in Cleveland, New Orleans, Philadelphia, Chicago, New York, L.A., and 14 other cities. In Cleveland, a portion of the proceeds goes to City Fresh, a non-profit organization devoted to building a just and sustainable local-foods distribution system for both urban and rural communities. The six-course food-and-wine extravaganza begins at 6 p.m., at Sammy’s Metropolitan Ballroom, 925 Euclid Ave. (The view, from the top of the Huntington Building, is grand, and the historic space is lovely.) Tickets are available at the door, or by calling Megan Everitt, at 440-554-0670. The $175 outlay not only entitles diners to some fabulous eats, but also generous portions of celebrity hobnobbing. Among the top toques who will be both cooking and putting in face time, count Michael Symon and Cory Barrett (Lola, Lolita), Jonathan Bennett (Moxie, Red), Dante Boccuzzi (the soon-to-open Dante), Brandt Evans and Susan Geul (Blue Canyon Kitchen), and Jonathan Sawyer (the soon-to-open Bar Cento and, eventually, Gastropub). Sawyer, incidentally, will be creating a dish he calls the Lake Erie Local, featuring prawns from an Elyria aquafarm, and fresh lake walleye. Also on hand, as hosts and guests of honor, will be two local James Beard Award winning writers: Cleveland Hts. author, chef, and food authority Michael Ruhlman, and yours truly. --- Elaine T. Cicora
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Peking Gourmet Closes; What's a Vegetarian Chinese Food Addict To Do?

Posted By on Thu, Sep 27, 2007 at 6:26 PM

It’s unfair. Evil, even. The moment I discover an amazing new Cleveland spot, I’m belatedly, casually, told that – oh by the way -- we’re closing in two months. The torture! Such is the case with Peking Gourmet, an addictive, amazing Chinese restaurant located in the basement of a Cedar Road strip mall, across from Whole Foods in South Euclid. Developers are planning on tearing the entire strip mall down in two months, and the shop's owners can’t afford the new rent. This is one hurts -- especially for non-meat eaters like me. Whereas most Chinese menus have only four or five vegetarian options, Peking Gourmet has an entire six-page menu dedicated solely to vegetarians. They even give it a nice name: “Zen vegetarian cuisine.” (A separate menu is available for carnivores). Their hot and sour soup is tangy with meaty bites of tofu and spongy shitake mushrooms, their Zen “chicken” is crunchy and doused in a sweet, tangy orange peel sauce. Their vegan dark chocolate cheesecake is creamy and cold and chocolate-y and tastes like it has about, oh 5000, calories – though it actuality it contains only 180. My heart aches at this imminent loss. -- Rebecca Meiser
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Howie Chizek: So bad he's good.

Posted By on Thu, Sep 27, 2007 at 11:59 AM

The Greeks had Plato, the French, Derrida -- but in Akron, we've got the Howie Chizek Show. If you've never tuned into WNIR's Chizek, then you really should. The man and his callers are full of mirthful insight on everything from deer hunting to the Browns to Iranian president Mahmud Ahmadinejad. Since Ahmadinejad visited Columbia University on Monday, every news outlet from CNN to WCPN have offered up the same analysis of the "cruel and petty dictator," as Columbia U's president referred to him. They all agree: Ahmadinejad is an incendiary bigot. But Howie Chizek and friends have a different spin on why the Iranian president has so much trouble earning respect from the rest of the world. Yesterday, a caller pointed out that Ahmadinejad would be taken more seriously if he didn't look so damn dumpy. "The guy looks like any bum that just walked off the streets," said the caller. Nevermind that Ahmadinejad is a Holocaust denier who claims that homosexuals don't exist in Iran and regards women as third class citizens. Chizek's caller claimed that if the dude just got a haircut and nice fitting suit, we'd all realize that the guy might actually have something important to say. And Chizek didn't disagree. And this is why Howie Chizek's show is the number-one rated talk show in Akron. Tune into 100.1 FM every weekday from 10 a.m. to noon to hear more genius cultural analysis just like this. -- Denise Grollmus
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Michael Heaton celebrates his new book, compares himself to Hemingway

Posted By on Thu, Sep 27, 2007 at 11:54 AM

Plain Dealer scribe Michael Heaton didn’t take as long as he thought to whittle thousands of stories he’d written in 25 years to the 40 tales he chose for his book, Truth and Justice for Fun and Profit: Collected Reporting. He simply thought of one of his fave wordsmiths. “You write all these stories every year, and you know when you have a Hemingway,” says Heaton, a.k.a. the Minister of Culture. “It wasn’t as difficult as you’d think.” To launch the 298-page read, Heaton – whose sister is Patricia the TV star -- schmoozed with about 100 media types over beer and wine on Tuesday night at Crop in the Warehouse District. Luminaries included WMJI radio jock John Lanigan, Plain Dealer columnist Phillip Morris, and Gray & Co. owner David Gray, who published the book. Screenwriter Joe Esterhasz (“Basic Instinct,” “Telling Lies in America”) also turned out, presumably because he wrote the book’s forward. “Michael Heaton is one whiz-bang lollapalooza of a talented writer,” says Esterhasz. “He is always fun to read, but this book is a celebration of the human spirit. It sings and zings!” The zingers range from stories about a Flat Iron barmaid with big hair to the 2006 death of longtime sportscaster Casey Coleman to the differences between living on Cleveland’s east and west sides. “On the East Side, people play polo. On the West Side, they play pool,” Heaton wrote in May of 1993. “The East Side is pricy nouvelle cuisine. The West Side is Ponderosa All-You-Can-Eat $9.95.” Read for yourself in this sample chapter. “There are stories of adventure, and there are stories of laughter,” says Heaton. “There’s war and art and sports. These are stories that will grab people.” -- Cris Glaser
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Get Wasted With Municipal Waste: An interview

Posted By on Thu, Sep 27, 2007 at 11:51 AM

The last time Municipal Waste played town, the young lads that sing “Headbanger Face Rip” (see above) had an after-party at Now That’s Class (11213 Detroit Ave., 216-221-8576). This time around, the crossover revivalists are just playing the club -- no need to follow them across town if you want to tips a few brews with the nation’s leading party-thrash band, who, it turns out are huge fans of C-Town. “The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame sucks balls,” frontman Tony Foresta told Scene last time. “But the people there are cool.” This time, he went into some detail: Who do you know? [Cheap Tragedies frontman and scene veteran] Tony Erba, he’s a good friend. He’s an evil genius. [Now That’s Class co-owner] John Bomba, we stayed at his house and partied. Jim Konya, from Schnauzer. He’s in Nunslaughter too, and a million other sweet-ass bands. There’s some killer people that live in Cleveland. Every time we go there, it’s crazy. And the Parma kids are maniacs. How’d the new album shape up? I like it better. I think it’s more aggressive, and the songwriting’s better. [Noted metalcore mixologist] Zeuss produced it - that seems like a weird match. He’s an old-school thrash dude. He was really into it. You could just tell in his eyes: He was really stoked to work with us. That’s a great thing to have. He knew what we wanted, he didn’t try to push his thing onto us. It sounds like a Waste album, but a little bit of a bigger sound. Do you think that the thrash revival is going to last? I think in the next five years, it’s gonna get way better. Already, there are so many thrash bands with young kids popping up. It’s getting out of control. You can see it with the kids - more kids are running around in denim with Slayer patches on it. They don’t want to listen to crappy new bands that were inspired by other crappy bands. Kids are like, ‘Damn, I want to listen to the old shit. This is good.’ Why do you think people are suddenly responding to thrash? The aggression, I think. There’s no bullshitting around. Just bam, bam, BAM. It gets to the point and gets the hell out of there. A lot of people have short attention spans now. No three-minute guitar solos. Just get in, get out. - D.X. Ferris
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Wednesday, September 26, 2007

When Cupcakes Attack

Posted By on Wed, Sep 26, 2007 at 2:53 PM

Oh dear. First Cleveland area school children are being told to hide their cell phones. Now, if things keep up, they’re going to have to keep their iced, vanilla-sprinkle cupcakes locked up, too. Nationally, school administrators are declaring cupcakes to be “deadly weapons” and banning school children from bringing them into the classroom on account of them being, well, delicious. And children, as we work-obsessed, taskmaster adults know, shouldn’t be allowed to have any fun. (Also, there’s that whole ridiculous side issue about the detriments of empty calories and sugar and such. Pure rubbish, we say). Kimberly Martin, the owner of Main Street Cupcakes, a Hudson bakery, recently featured in USA Today as one of the best cupcake shops in the country, is perplexed by all this vitriol toward the snack: “What will be next? What else will they attack?” In the meantime, go to Main Street Cupcakes and totally get her wedding day white cupcake, with almond and vanilla butter cream. To die for. -- Rebecca Meiser
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Money Where Your Mouth Is: Skeletonwitch

Posted By on Wed, Sep 26, 2007 at 2:50 PM

Skeletonwitch guitarist Scott "Scunty" Hedrick has a journalism degree, so the Scene music department is letting him hype his band. Trust us: Everything he says about his squad of hyrbid death-thrash soldiers is true; no need to call his objectivity into question. Band: Skeletonwitch Web: Hometown: Athens, Ohio Sounds like: "Immortal beating the shit out of Metallica at a keg party." Recommend for fans of: "Thrash Metal, Garbage-Can Metal, Black Metal, What's-It Metal, and Speed and Heavy Metal." Fun fact: "Skeletonwitch resided in Cleveland for a year and got our ass handed to us at the Cleveland scene awards. It probably didn't help that we didn't even vote for ourselves." Playing Where/When: Sunday September 30 at Now That's Class (11213 Detroit Ave.216-221-8576). With Municipal Waste and Toxic Holocaust. Why you need to see them: "Because you know you love to get drunk every night, and Now That's Class has a great selection of beers. Oh yeah: It's also going to be the most thrash-tastic night of metal in quite some time!" -- Scott "Scunty" Hedrick, guitar
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