Saturday, February 6, 2016

Cleveland: Perhaps not the "Mistake" by the Lake


     Some may call me desperate but we needed an "adventure".  It didn't need to be far from home...just a little respite from day to day life.  So with very little research, I booked an overnight to...Cleveland.  Not only was it a good idea but we will be back.

      We drove into town just before noon and checked into our hotel, a Marriott Residence just across the street from the Cleveland Cavaliers' stadium.  It took a bit of time getting to the room as we became desperately lost!  That isn't the norm in a hotel, but this hotel was built around one of the three arcades in Cleveland.  The arcade itself was quite fascinating.  Built in the early 1900's, they were designed to provide indoor shopping opportunities due to the harsh weather.  It reminded me a bit of Paris.  Good sign.

     One short subway ride took us to the West Side, originally a separate town called Ohio City.  Cleveland, as well as Pittsburgh, is having a beer resurgence and Great Lakes Brewing Company is leading the way.  Not only are they brewing some delicious beer, but they are dedicated to sustainable farming - owning their own small far and partnering with Ohio City Urban Farm.  At just before 1:00 pm, the restaurant was packed; however, we managed to secure the last table downstairs in the pub.

     A Belgian Quad beer piqued our interest and after the first sip, we were converts.  It was as good as any of the Belgian beers that I have ageing in my beer/wine closet.  Dear Daughter actually ate a sandwich, Grilled Prosciutto Sandwich with manchego and provolone cheese and dressed with fig jam, which she declared as delicious.  Dear Husband and I settled on the meat and cheese board which contained locally made duck rillettes, jerky, housemade pickles and pepper jam along with several local cheeses.  It was a good start to the afternoon.

West Side Market

     After lunch, we walked across the street to the West Side Market.  Upon entering, I felt that I had just entered one of my favorite indoor markets in France, except here I could understand what was being said.  I was immediately inundated with a multitude of sights and I fell into food lovers' heaven.  There were macaroons, yes...macaroons.  Beautiful pistachio ones, chocolate ones, lavender ones and our absolute favorite...salted caramel.

     For no reason whatsoever, I had to have macaroons.  At another stall, I quickly picked out housemade pierogies.  A baker sold English scones, so of course, one ended up in our ever expanding bag.  There was a beautiful looking French baguette that spoke to us. Then, we walked past a butcher who immediately struck up a conversation with us.  We were mesmerized by the stuffed porkchops that looked like pinwheels.  "My husband cuts the meat and I stuff them.  I make very good stuffing," she proudly told us.  But how do we cook them?  "Easy," she replied.  "I put the instructions in the bag with your meat."  So of course, we left with not only a pork/stuffing pinwheel but a stuffed pork tenderloin as well.

     I could have spent the remainder of the day just roaming, looking, smelling, senses were in overload.  And while that might be the perfect afternoon for two 50-somethings, the look on our 14 year old indicated something different.  As we left, Dear Daughter looked at my husband and said, "I bet Mom drives back here just to go to the market."  Busted...I had been thinking the same thing.

     We spent the later part of the day walking down by the lake.  The weather was definitely cooperating with us.  We strolled by the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and decided that it was for another trip.  We spent a few minutes in Heinen's, a fabulous downtown grocery housed in a historic building.  I could not resist purchasing a 5.5 pound pork loin.  It looked so enticing!

     That evening was the biggest treat...dinner at Lola's - Michael Symon's (of the Food Network) restaurant.  I was worried that the hype would not meet our expectations.  They didn't...they surpassed them.  It was perhaps the best meal I have had since our return to the U.S.  I will have more to write on the meal in another posting as it deserves a bit more coverage.

     After a decent night of sleep, we opted to cancel our brunch reservations as everyone was ready to head back home.  We were home in just under two hours and still had the majority of the day to relax.  It was a great 24 hours and while I think that Pittsburgh overall has a lot more going for it...I will explore Cleveland just a bit more.


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