Tag Archives: eco-friendly

Cleveland Restaurant Week

9 Mar

Cleveland Independs is a group of locally-owned and locally-sourced restaurants around Cleveland and northeastern Ohio.  (See my previous post for more about Cleveland Independents.)  One of the big promotion events Cleveland Independents holds is the idea of a “menu fixé”.  Each resturant has a meal line-up of several courses for a fixed price.  The price varies slightly, but line-ups seem to run from $15 to $40, depending on the place and if it is a lunch or dinner line-up.

To be perfectly honest, researching how exactly to define the “Restaurant Week” concept was no easy chore.  I had to search each even individually to make an appropriate summary of the event.  This past “Week” has lasted for nearly 2 weeks and is the 6th annaul event.  After investigating past events, it appears as if this “Week” is often more than 7 days and occurs once in February/March and often again in November.  Its popularity has caused it to increase from a small amount of restaurants downtown with one meal line-up to over 50 restaurants with dinner and lunch specials.  To encourage customers, parking has been reduced to $2 downtown in past events.

The idea of Cleveland Restaurant Week is to encourage people to dine at local places to help stimulate Cleveland’s economy.  After reading some comments online, I can conclude that many, many Clevelanders look forward to this event and a large portion of them spend hundreds each time by taking their families out.  It’s a great way to bring the community together while simultaneously improving the Rust Belt city’s economic situation, one stride at a time.

The event current at the time of this article’s publishing is the 6th annual week, held March 4th through March 16th, 2013.  Restaurants are subject to change with each event, but all current event information and menus can be found at www.clevelandindependents.com under the Events tab and listing.

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North Union Farmers’ Market at Shaker Square

3 Sep

I get the impression that this market is extremely busy on a regular basis, but it was packed this Saturday (holiday weekend).  The market at Shaker Square is open Saturdays from 8am to 12pm, the outdoor vendors running from April to December before moving indoors according to the website.

Shaker Square is an attractive place to hold this event, and there is sure a surplus of vendors.  I witnessed everything from crafts to cheese to the typical produce.  Recommendations on Foursquare included tips like coming right at opening to get certain produce before it sells out, or to come and eat at particular vendors who actually cook breakfast right there to be had.  This market had the greatest selection out of any market I’ve seen so far in Cleveland, but it was certainly crowded.  Once again, the market held a somewhat festive air that I do not encounter at home in the Pennsylvania countryside but which seems to be a theme in the city markets of Cleveland.  Check out my gallery of the market as well as pictures of the melon I bought (I bought a cantaloupe and 6 ears of corn for $7, from two different vendors):

You can get more information at: http://www.northunionfarmersmarket.org/markets/shaker.html

BookBox

26 Aug

While I was at the West Side Market yesterday, I noticed an open-air vendor event across W 25th Street from the market.  This market had a number of vendors and even a band!  But one thing that caught my attention was this thing called a “BookBox”.  When I got to the event, the box was closed.  However, I researched what it was… and it’s a pretty cool concept!

Apparently, the Cleveland Public Library has, as of this summer, begun a new concept: a portable reading room.  This room took 6 months to be designed by an architect.  It’s made of galvanized metal and reclaimed wood.  It opened July 21st and has 200 books inside on its back shelves along with free wi-fi and laptops to use at the site.  The BookBox is scheduled to appear in the Market Square District where I was Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday 9am to 1pm.  It visits populated street fairs and similar events.

Although the BookBox is meant to promote the CPL and utilizes energy to run Internet and laptops, I thought it was worth mentioning because of its efforts to involve the community and families in education.  ALSO, not only is its box made from recycled materials, but the books the BookBox hosts are about cooking and urban agricultural, amongst other topics relevant to open-air market customers and artists who fit that atmosphere.  The box is 13’x9’ x7’ big and an interesting way to quietly promote locavore topics in the city districts!

Here are pictures of the box and surrounding vendors at the street fair:

Read more here: http://lj.libraryjournal.com/2012/08/library-services/cleveland-new-york-gain-portable-reading-rooms/

West Side Market

26 Aug

Ohio City is a historic district in Cleveland with a lot of interesting food places, to say the least.  One of its biggest attractions is the West Side Market.  The concept was first conceived in 1840, then in 1912 the market came to be what it is today: an enormous indoor gathering with a plethora of vendors both inside what used to be an old train station as well as outside in a wrap-around arcade.  For the most part, the vendors are family-owned businesses, but the West Side Market has evolved a step beyond a typical farmers’ market.  The market is the oldest operating one in the country.  It is open 7am-4pm on Mondays and Wednesdays, and 7am-6pm on Fridays and Saturdays, just down the block from the Ohio City Farmers’ Stand.  The station is at the corner of W 25th and Lorain and has been on the NationalRegister of Historic Places since 1973.

My friends and I decided to drive over to the market yesterday to get a few things, including lunch.  The streets were packed with people.  Apparently some festival was going on right across the street from the market.  I’d never tried to drive to the market before (I usually take the RTA), so it was a new nightmarish experience for me trying to find parking.

The nice thing about the West Side Market, though, is that so many people go to it.  It’s commonplace to see loads of people carrying cloth shopping bags and stocking up.  My friends and I ran into numerous other friends within minutes of getting out of our car.  Apparently a lot of people buy their groceries here regularly, plus tourists come in from out of town to check it out.  The stands are mostly produce in the arcade, but indoors they range from restaurants to delis, etc.  You can find just about anything and including something from nearly any culture.

In the past, I have stuck to the basics: bizarre popcorns from one stand, bubble tea from an Asian family, falafel from a Middle Eastern stand, olives from some Italian booth… My grandma always comes to one of the butcher’s to get some obscure cut of meat that she can’t find in Pennsylvania.  Yesterday, we drooled over the baked breads, molded cheeses, and finally settled on some Irish pasties.  To my disappointment, there was no HP sauce… but it was so good I hardly needed any!

From the top of the balcony in the main part of the market, my friends and I took some pictures and watched the crepe makers beside the aromatic coffee stand.  It’s hard to believe how packed this place gets, but it does, and it does all the time.

One thing I love about the market is its convenience (and the tradition that comes along with it).  One thing that bothers me, however, is that it’s really just a bunch of vendors.  There’s no particular theme.  What I mean by that is there are no “organic food” or “local food” or “family operated” labels.  For example, many fruit stands have the same things you see in stores: unnaturally large berries and other fruits, plus exotic things like bananas and starfruits.  One stand took me off guard for having potatoes already, then I realized only some where grown here.  The others were in sacks that said Idaho!  There was, however, an organic stand right across from it getting a good bit of customers.  There was also an apiary stand and some homemade jams.

Here are some more pictures from the West Side Market:

To find out more, go to http://www.westsidemarket.org/.

Johnny Mango World Café & Bar

24 Aug

While I was out visiting some farmers’ markets in downtown Cleveland, I had a little time to kill and decided to search for places with margaritas near Ohio City.  Momocho, a nice Mexican restaurant with flights of margaritas, came up at the top of a quick Google search – but it was closed so early on a weekday!  I found a page of reviews for margaritas in Cleveland, and the next recommendation behind Momocho was a place called Johnny Mango’s.  I decided to check it out.

Little did I realize, Johnny Mango’s is actually right beside Momocho.  It can be found at 3120 Bridge Avenue Cleveland, Ohio 44113.  I had a lot of faith in finding good food at this place just because Ohio City is known for its great bars and restaurants.  It’s a quaint and rather classy part of town, if you can ignore some of the shady bits that come with most any section of Cleveland.  Sure enough, I walked into Johnny Mango’s and felt instantly its unique, classy flair.  (I used some pictures from Google reviews.)

You might be wondering why I’m writing in a green Cleveland blog about a random restaurant that I went to for margaritas.  Well, here’s why: Although I randomly stumbled upon this place, I walked in and found out that this restaurant is in fact a very “earthy” place!  Not only is the menu healthy and lists both vegan and gluten-free options (of which there are many), but they cook and blend drinks with fresh food from the West Side Market!  Woo for locavores!

The decor is very ecclectic; a mini world figurine hangs from the ceiling with a moon across the room, under an old metal tile ceiling painted like a dark, cloudy sky.  The opposing wall when you walk in is covered with bright wooden cutouts of lizards and flowers.  You seat yourself when you walk in, either at one of the many tables in the big room, at the long bar between those tables and the plasma screen TV, or on the sidewalk outside.  From inside, the kitchen is fairly visible.  This and the cramped sensation of the room unfortunately contributes to negative reviews on the noise levels and acoustics, but the outdoor seating has only positive comments.

One of the first things I noticed was that the sugar bowls were filled with packets of Sugar in the Raw and Truvia – no refined sugars or artificial sweeteners.  Even within 30 minutes of opening on a Thursday morning, the place had a regular flow of customers.  A giant white board behind the bar flaunts the specials, including the vegetable of the day straight from the West Side Market.  Unfortunately, eggplant isn’t exactly appealing to me, so I avoided that on my visit.  Instead, I settled for a lime-mango margarita (which I think might be made from West Side fruit!) and the Caribbean “fries” appetizer, which is really just plantains.  My meal:

For those who don’t know, plantains are basically bananas that have a less sweet, tangier taste and a consistency a little closer to a mushy potato than a banana.  They were pretty good (although a little greasy for my taste – I had to dab them), and the pico de gallo that accompanied it was the perfect, unexpected combination!  The margarita was good, but it was on the rocks and not very cold at all.  It tasted more to me like warm, watery juice with a strong presence of tequila.  But I am no margarita aficionado!  If only I’d have had a bigger appetite, I would have tried for some pad thai or fried tofu dish.  So many good options, and not terribly expensive!  And besides the alcohol bar, there is also a juice bar with lots of different healthy options!

Interested in checking out Johnny Mango’s yourself?  They have a website: http://www.jmango.com/index.html.  The various menu pages are listed along with other information on specials, etc.!  FYI, I hear their mojitos are amazing.  Enjoy.

 

North Union Farmer’s Market: Cleveland State University

23 Aug

This morning, I decided to swing downtown to check out what Cleveland State University has been trying to set up in the city.  Here is a picture of the set up next to CSU: I found the vendors at 1930 Euclid Avenue at the Marshall Law school (between E 18th and E 19th Streets).  It was certainly a surprise to see produce in tents right next to a busy street!

I can’t imagine how wonderful it would be as a student to have that at your fingertips.  Unforunately for students, though, the market only lasts June through September.  It is held Thursdays from 11am to 2pm.  You can find out more at http://northunionfarmersmarket.org/markets/csu.html.

As with pretty much every farmers’ market I’ve encountered thus far in the city, CSU’s set up was also very small.  A brisk walk down the sidewalk and I had already passed it.

As with Tremont, CSU’s market had a slight carnival flair: there was live music (set up by Chipotle!) and even kettle corn at one vendor!

Within 15 minutes of set-up, there was already more produce here than at the First Baptist Church.  There was also grass-fed dairy products and baked goods.

If I were a student or someone working or living just down the street, I would definitely stop by here on a regular basis!

P.S. (You can see this in a separate post, but:) I left this market to check out the one at North Harbor at the E 9th pier but was disappointed that, not only was there no parking anywhere convenient that I could find, but there were hardly any vendors whatsoever!  Let-down!

First Baptist Church’s Farmers’ Market

23 Aug

For my second Cleveland farmers’ market visit, I decided to check out the market on Fairmount Boulevard in Shaker Heights.  Here is a picture of the back lot of the church: The market is held every Wednesday June through October from 4pm to 7pm.  The tents are set up in the back parking lot of the First Baptist church at 3630 Fairmount Boulevard, Shaker Heights, OH 44118.  The typical vendors include farmers selling produce and dairy, bakers, vegan chocolatiers, and butchers.  $5 dinners are also sold using food from each of these farmers.  The market claims to also have activities for children.  The market has a cool site with the vendors and other information: http://sall02.wix.com/fbc-farmers-market#!classes.  The tents that were set up:

I got to the market yesterday, about 30 minutes after it started.  I saw a woman walking away with a jug of milk.  There were some bakers, farmers, and other crafty vendors, but the pickings were slim.  Nothing like I experience in the country of Pennsylvania.

The pickings were especially interesting, considering the advertised crops.  According to www.localharvest.org, this location should have the following available by season: Summer – artichokes, arugula, asparagus, beets, broccoli, cabbage, carrots, Chinese greens, collards, sweet corn, cucumbers, Daikon radishes, eggplants, kale, kohlrabi, lettuce, mushrooms, onions, peas, pumpkins, radishes, salad greens, spinach, summer squash, tomatillos, tomatoes, turnips zucchini, avocados, blackberries, blueberries, boysenberries, raspberries, rhubarb, strawberries, beef, chicken, baked goods, bee pollen, bread, and honey; Fall – the same as summer except no pumpkins and, in addition, potatoes, cantaloupes, and maple syrup.

I didn’t see most of these things.  I did however see a cooler at one stand which I believe was selling eggs.  They probably had the milk as well.

True, this market is very tiny, especially the day I went it was.  However, if you live in Shaker Heights, why the heck not check it out?  If you’re ever looking for some fresh produce and know you could use some fruit or vegetables to stock your fridge, definitely swing by a place like this!  No matter how small, you’re guaranteed to find something that will satisfy your needs.  Generally, the prices are pretty low.  Even if they’re not as cheap as Wal-Mart, you’re directly supporting a farmer, promoting carbon footprint reduction, and celebrating a sense of community with others!  Farmers’ markets rock!

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