Since its completion in 1912, the West Side Market has become a landmark of Cleveland, offering the finest meats, fish, baked goods and produce in the area. In 2010, the Market was named the “Best Food Lovers’ Market” in the country by the Food Network. So it stands to reason that its 100th Birthday is a big deal. Year-long celebration activities will take place, beginning in June, to commemorate the Market’s storied history. From firework displays to multicultural parades, there is something for the foodie of all ages.
Learn more about the market and the events surrounding the centennial:
– Nate Klein
Our food scene here isn’t exactly a secret. With top-notch microbreweries, award-winning local wineries, chic eateries, homestyle ethnic cooking and, oh yeah, a genuine Food Network Iron Chef who got his start here and still runs a few choice Cleveland Plus restaurants, it’s pretty well-known that you don’t have to look far for a fantastic meal.
But it’s a good bet you didn’t know that Northeast Ohio has is building reputation for the award-winning gourmet cheeses crafted at the region’s goat milk dairies, or that these artisan cheeses are helping bolster the “farm-to-table” dining that brings unequaled freshness and variety to so many area restaurants.
Cleveland’s Lake Erie Creamery, for instance, offers five handmade goat’s milk cheeses, including their soft-ripened Blomma, which took the Grand Prize for Dairy at the 2008 Gallo Family Vineyards Gold Medal Awards. And the goat milk for this urban creamery comes from neighboring Portage County’s family-run Cherry Lane Farm. You can savor Lake Erie Creamery’s handiwork with a visit to landmark and world-class restaurants like The Baricelli Inn in Little Italy, the Bistro on Lincoln Park and fire food and drink—all who have had it on their menus.
Mackenzie Creamery in Hiram offers ten intriguing and tempting varieties of its goat milk cheeses. In addition to the likes of Black Truffle and Garlic Chive, Mackenzie offers more adventurous creations like its “Sweet Fire” (which includes blackberry and hot pepper flavors) and “You Say Tomato.” This rural Portage County cheese-maker has also raked in big awards, receiving Best of Show, Reserved Best of Show, one second place and two first place awards in 2007 at the American Dairy Goat Association National Cheese Competition.
Want to take some cheese home with you? The 25,000-square-foot gourmet food West Point Market in Akron carries Mackenzie Creamery cheeses. And you can find both of these marvelous artisan products at Cleveland’s historic West Side Market and other foodie friendly retail outlets. –Submitted by John Booth
Easter is right around the corner and for those of you who gave up sweets for Lent and can’t wait to bust into your bunny-delivered basket overflowing with fake grass and sugary temptations, Cleveland Plus has just the stuff you need. Here are some of the best places to stock up on Easter basket fillings:
11606 Pearl Road, Strongsville
Ice cream, gift baskets, premium chocolates and nostalgia novelty penny candy . . . Olympia has plenty to choose from to stuff your Easter baskets. Check out the “All Easter” section of their website.
16131 Holmes Avenue, Cleveland
Baker Candies has specialized in making only the finest chocolates and candies since 1921. Shop online for their largest selection of Easter candies and try their famous whipped eggs . . . fluffy marshmallow handrolled in chocolate.
7480 Brookpark Road, Cleveland
Sweeties Candy Company offers the largest variety of candy anywhere. From old-time favorites (like licorice pipes, candy necklaces and wax lips) to the new kid’s crazes, they have it all. You’ll find more than 300,000 pounds stacked to the ceiling in a 14,000 square foot location.
Jelly beans, jelly rabbits, pre-stuffed baskets, chocolate rabbits, chocolate ducks, chocolate rabbits filled with peanut butter, malt eggs, Easter tins, caramel filled milk chocolate chicks. Enough said.
West Side Market
1979 West 25th Street, Cleveland
The West Side Market is a Cleveland landmark where you can find all of the freshest ingredients for an Easter meal as well as the goodies to go inside the Easter baskets. Visit Campbell’s Popcorn Shop (Stand C-13), Grandma Freda’s (Stand A-9) and Michelle’s Bakery (Stand B & C-12) for fresh baked goods, as well as chocolates and flavored popcorn.
There are gourmet truffles from Sweet Designs Chocolatier (www.sweetdesigns.com), artful “monster eggs” made with the freshest ingredients from Lilly Handmade Chocolates (www.lillytremont.com), rich dark chocolate covered potato chips from Executive Sweets (www.executivesweets.com), Ohio “buckeyes” from Harry London Candies (www.harrylondon.com), marzipan from Mitchell’s Fine Candies in Cleveland Heights (www.mitchellscandies.com), the sweet delights created from recipes passed down for three generations at Brummer’s Chocolates in Vermilion (brummers.homestead.com) or choco-covered Peeps from Fantasy Candies (www.fantasycandies.net). For chocoholics with dietary restrictions, try the Chocolate Emporium for Kosher, gluten free or dairy free options (www.choclat.com) or order online from Vegan Light Chocolate No Whey (www.veganlightchocolatenowhey.com).
No Sugar Necessary
Cleveland Heights and Cleveland (almost Lakewood) locations
If you want to be sweet, but don’t want the sugar high that comes with it, try stuffing the basket with hand buzzers, talking key chains, whoopee cushions, miniature action figures, super balls and other cool stuff from Big Fun, a vintage toy store bursting with souvenirs, customizable tees, pop culture collectibles and more. Two Cleveland area locations. –Submitted by CA
EDITOR’S NOTE: Have a favorite chocolate-maker not on the list? Comment on this blog to add your suggestion. Or, if you’re looking for an Easter brunch option, click here.
One thing you’ll notice right away about Cleveland is that many of our restaurants –in fact many of our best restaurants—are independently owned and operated. And, from the ethnic eateries that line West 25th Street near the West Side Market to concept restaurants that ring historic Shaker Square, our chef/owners are often our rock stars (producing many hits, I might add).
But going it alone is not without its challenges, so 90 of these indie establishments committed to excellence in food and service banded together six years ago to share resources and promote themselves as Cleveland Independents. Locally-owned restaurants as diverse as Willoughby Brewing Company, Pier W, Molinari’s, fire food and drink, Melt Bar and Grilled and One Walnut post their events, happy hours and specials on the group’s website, www.clevelandindependents.com.
Collectively, Cleveland Independents puts on a restaurant week (November 1-14, 2009) during which participating restaurants offer prix fixe meals in order to encourage diners to experience diverse culinary styles and menu offerings. And this year they are premiering “The Deck,” $10 discounts at 52 Cleveland Independents’ restaurants. Priced at just $29.95, The Deck is actually $520 worth of dining offers at some of the best restaurants in Cleveland Plus. –Submitted by SF
I’ve been going to the Taste of Cleveland for years . . . it’s a Labor Day staple. The event, held at Time Warner Cable Amphitheater behind Tower City, is a food and music fest. Usually, I either drop in with co-workers on “free admission” Friday to gnosh on a sampling of pierogi (I still think about the sweet potato stuffed ones I tried last year) or grab dinner and a show (concerts are included with admission which makes the tickets which cost $8 max a pretty good deal) with friends over the long weekend. For really no particular reason, this year I am toying with the idea of dropping by for Billy Squier and a little “Rock Me Tonite.”
No matter when you go or why you go, your main preoccupation at Taste of Cleveland is what you’re going to eat. These food vendors are amazing . . . they have to commit to staffing a holiday weekend event—rain or shine—for four entire days. That’s no easy feat, but apparently Pierogi Palace, Taste of Soul, Transylvania Bakery Shop, Flannery’s Pub, Just Like Mom’s Restaurant, The Souper Market, The Corner Alley Bar & Grill, Zocalo Mexican Grill & Tequileria, Das Schnitzel House, Cornerstone Brewing, Fat Fish Blue and others are up to the challenge.
I got to talk to Bob Holcepl from Crepes Deluxe at the West Side Market about his contributions to Cleveland’s culinary scene and his participation in the Taste of Cleveland and, I have say, it made me, well . . . hungry.
How long have you been at the West Side Market?
We’re going on three years at the market for the crepes, although I’ve been there longer with City Roast Coffee. Actually, I’ve been involved with food for a quite awhile now. My wife and I also have Civilization in Tremont which will have been there 20 years next year. I remember when we started there were just two Arabicas and us—a lot of coffee shops have come and gone in that time.
If you talk to anyone who does this, it started with some sort of trip to Paris. Although fancy creperie-style bistros are what many people think of when they think of crepes, most crepes in Europe actually are served street-side or in a bump-off from a storefront or a restaurant like, say, hotdogs are served here. When we decided we were interested in doing this, we traveled all over Europe and to places like Vancouver and Miami to look at different creperies. Then, we started by serving them at events like the Taste of Tremont and the Taste of Cleveland.
What is a crepe then?
Crepes are thin and pancake-like. The sweet ones are made with a sweet batter while the savory are made with buckwheat flour. They can be filled with anything from ham and cheese to strawberries and Nutella. We serve both savory and sweet street-style at the Market. They are handheld and portable. We fold them into a triangle shapes and slip them into a checkered piece of paper with a cone specifically meant to hold the crepe. They can then be eaten with fingers or a fork.
The crepe thing is really started to take off nationally and I’ve actually started to do consultation work to help other people open up their own places. At the Market we’ve built up a clientele that includes locals and travelers. I’d say that people with passports—people who have traveled and are aware of or open to the this sort of thing—are the first to “get it.”
Why do you like to be a part of the Taste of Cleveland?
We see it as a venue for Clevelanders to get exposed to what we are doing. Some people haven’t been to the market in awhile and still think of it as just a place to stock up on cheese and eggs. You can still get all those things at the Market of course with a quality and range that is phenomenal, but there’s even more interesting stuff like Ohio City Pasta, Urban Herbs and Orale Contemporary Mexican Cuisine.
What are you serving at Taste?
We’re only doing the sweet crepes. You can expect the basic crepe with lemon and sugar or butter, the Paris Caramel with fresh pears, walnuts and caramel sauce and the Banana Nutella which is “the” classic crepe and I am pretty sure that any creperie has to make them by law. –Submitted by SF
THE COST: Research some recipes that sound fancy, but are fairly easy to make (like soy-glazed salmon, pan-seared filet mignon, or lemon-garlic chicken). Visit Pinzone Meats (Stands B-4 and B-5) and grab two fresh sirloin tips for $5 a pound (about $15 per steak), which are great and cheap for grilling. Or visit Kate’s Fish (Stand F-12 and F-13) and pick up two Atlantic salmon filets for $8.99 per pound, for a healthy, late night affair. Throw in some veggies ($10) and a few Great Lakes beers ($15) and you’ve got a pretty cheap date.
THE KNOWLEDGE: Adventurous food choices will show an open mind willing to try new things. In contrast, hunting for the perfect hamburgers between complaints about the cleanliness of the fruit will unleash the miscreant date monster beneath. Pay close attention to their urban diplomacy skills. The ability to wrangle with artful street vendors (while being funny, smart, and getting a good price) will only add bonus points to the long-term relationship formula.
Last Friday I had a foodie’s dream morning—I spent hours of my work day at the historic West Side Market, the oldest publicly-owned market in the city. The Market and I go way back—my dad and I have been regulars since I was a kid and my parents love to tell the story about a 4th grade field trip when all the kids came home with bags of candy and I bought asparagus. But I digress.
Al Roker, the Today Show’s beloved weatherman, was in town for his niece’s graduation so, rather than take time away from the show, he set up shop and broadcast live from the Market. Having heard about the broadcast just the day before, we hurried to rally the troops in order to gather a good crowd and represent the city well on national TV. People love Al and feel he’s a de facto Clevelander—he spent five years here in the early ’80s as the weather guy for our local NBC affiliate. We spread the word through our social networking sites and did indeed get a nice following of sign-carrying Cleveland lovers. Or people just trying to get on TV. Either way, we had a good showing.
Al started the morning with a few shots from the upper balcony, not far below the 44-foot high vaulted ceiling and overlooking the beautiful market, and then came down to the floor where he moved on to shoot near Campbell’s Popcorn Stand. Hot Sauce Williams, the local soul food institution quickly gaining national notice, came in with a buffet of delights for a quick segment then Grandma Freda’s Fresh Bake got a little Al love–he seemed to particularly enjoy the red velvet cupcakes. The morning moved quickly and before we knew it Al was gone.