Tag Archives: green

Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams

22 Aug

Jenis

From the unique flavors to the incorporation of an apostrophe in the i of its logo, Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams is a cozy, friendly, neighborhood kind of ice cream parlor.  Although neither small nor especially local, Jeni’s still made my list of “green restaurants” around Cleveland.  I can justify this decision by its rare business approach and one-of-a-kind array of flavors which boast many Ohio ingredients.  On Jeni’s website, the creator claims that her milk comes from grass-fed cows and the Snowville Creamery in Pomeroy, Ohio, near the southern border with Kentucky.  Columbus boasts the majority of the shops in Ohio, but a few can also be found in Nashville.  There are shops coming soon in Georgia and the Chicago area, as well.

So while Jeni’s might not be Farm-To-Fork eligible considering its wide radius and growing reach, this unique parlor is notorious for its handmade and hand-picked flavors.  You can go to a Scoop Shop to get a dish, sundae, or even ice cream sandwich to taste the flavors or just order your own for home from the online store.  The flavors currently being advertised include the following: Apricot, Askinosie Dark Milk Chocolate, Backyard Mint, Bananas + Honey, Bergamot (orange), Black Coffee, Brambleberry Crisp, Brown Butter Almond Brittle, Chamomile, Cherry Lambic (sorbet), Cloverton, Dark Chocolate, Double-Toasted Coconut, Goat Cheese with Red Cherries, Grapefruit, Huckleberry, Lemon & Blueberries, Lime Cardamom, Loveless Biscuits + Peach Jam, Mango Lassi, Ndali Estate Vanilla Bean, Passion Fruit, Pistachio & Honey, Queen City Cayenne, Rainbow, Red Raspberry, Riesling Poached Pear (sorbet), Roasted Strawberry Buttermilk, Salty Caramel, Sweet Corn & Black Raspberries, The Buckeye State, The Milkiest Chocolate in the World, Whiskey & Pecans, Wildberry Lavender, and Yazoo Sue with Rosemary Bar Nuts.

After spending the day in Shaker Square, my grandma and I took a short trip over to Chagrin Falls on the way back to Pennsylvania for a snack at Jeni’s.  Chagrin Falls is a quaint Cuyahoga town near the Geauga County line and the shop is just as quaint as its surroundings.  We were welcomed by the typical large chalk board menus with handwritten titles and cute homemade country decorations.  My grandma tasted a few different flavors before settling on two scoops: Loveless Biscuits + Peach Jam and Roasted Strawberry Buttermilk.  I wanted to maximize my experience, so I went with three: Queen City Cayenne, Sweet Corn & Black Raspberries, and Chamomile, complete with waffle triangles.  The scoops were very tiny and our dishes were $4.50 and $5.50, respectively.  We sat inside the shop to finish our ice cream and sip on cucumber water from the free jug at the counter.  The cayenne was spicy like I like it, reflecting traditional Mayan hot chocolate (minus the cream and sugar).  Sweet corn sounded like a perfect match for ice cream when I saw it, and the berries added just the tang to counteract the sweetness.  Chamomile compared to the other two was subtle, but my grandma particularly liked its strong, flowery taste.  My grandma’s peach scoop was just what I would expect, real peaches with crunchy cookie bits.  Her strawberry scoop was creamier and more realistic than any shop strawberry that you’d find at a grocery store.  When we were finished, my picky, small-eating grandma gave herself a pat on the back for having finished her entire order of ice cream for the first time in as long as she could remember.

I would much prefer eating ice cream at Jeni’s than Coldstone, the other popular choice in Cleveland.  At Jeni’s, you can get some real, savory flavors that remind you that not everything has to be in enormous portions and obliterated with gobs of sugar and fat.  You can learn to appreciate flavors like corn and zucchini and not always coat your sweet tooth with sugary berries and fatty caramels.  In fact, going to Jeni’s has inspired me to get back into my homemade ice cream-making.  This time, I’m looking at developing some soy ice creams on my home churner using some herbs and other summer ingredients from my backyard!

101_0814Grandma at Jeni’s by the falls.

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Jeni’s logo sign.

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Ice cream sandwich display.

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Menus and prices, hand-written.

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Looking in to one of the freezers.
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Our selections in their tiny, European-style proportions.

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Decorations reading “gravel”, the name given to Jeni’s cookie crumble topping.

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Looking down on the falls from outside.

 

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Great Lakes Biomimicry

7 May

Here is an article I wrote for The Observer at Case Western Reserve University.

BIOMIMICRY: Ancient Lessons for the Future
by Kayla Wiinitam’ikwe-DeVault

            With talk of global warming and Earth’s nearing carrying capacity lingering behind every political issue, it’s no wonder that scientific and industrial leaders are focusing ever harder on sustainable practices.  But cleaning up our act isn’t always the solution; in fact, as author Janine M. Benyus argues in her book Biomimicry: Innovation Inspired by Nature, the real problem lies within not what we’re doing but how we’re doing it.

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Wes Jackson, a biomimic interviewed by Benyus who works on developing sustainable farming at the Land Institute in Kansas.  Photo from Richard Harris (http://www.npr.org).

          “The real survivors are the Earth inhabitants that have lived millions of years without consuming their ecological capital,” argues Benyus in the first chapter of her book.  “We come not to learn about nature so that we might circumvent or control her, but to learn from nature, so that we might fit in.”  Benyus’s excellent piece develops a strong argument for how humanity is aggressively destroying the natural balance of the planet, ignoring the sustainable lessons Earth showcases daily.  One of Benyus’s many examples is green energy development.  While we’ve been expending considerable time and money researching how to produce expensive photovoltaic cells, our complex photovoltaics are merely a less efficient reinvention of what nature has already perfected.  Benyus argues that our expenditures would be better spent if we dismissed our 20%-efficient reinvention of the wheel and instead studied the biochemical processes of chloroplast cells in plants, which operate at a 95% efficiency rate within a smooth niche in the global ecosystem.

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Janine Benyus delivering a speech on biomimicry.  Photo by Mychelle Daniau (AFP).

           Modeling after nature’s intricacy is the study that has been dubbed “biomimicry” and its horizons are rapidly expanding.  Biomimicry delves far beyond studying photosynthesis; even farmers are beginning to turn to biomimicry to solve erosion and crop resistance problems while industries are seeking nature’s “patents” to mimic spider silk or abalone shell, materials strong enough to develop bulletproof vests and nearly invincible tanks for the armed forces.  In this “Green Revolution”, researchers long to steer clear of petrochemicals and are turning to biomimicry to develop more sustainable materials.  For example, understanding how mollusks build the bysuss that glue them inseparably yet flexibly to rocks may provide us with biodegradable solutions to sealants and adhesives of various applications.

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The spinning process spiders use to generate high-strength silk fascinates researchers who are working to replicate it.  Photo by Glen Peters (www.asknature.org).

          “Nature has been solving problems and innovating solutions for over 3.8 billion years,” says Don Knechtges, the Managing Director of Great Lakes Innovation and Development Enterprise and leader of various other entrepreneurial organizations.   “By emulating nature, companies can tap into a tremendous pool of knowledge that they can use to enhance their bottom line with sustainable profits.”  It’s now job of Knechtges and other biomimic converts to spread the word about how this new scientific approach might redefine our region and our planet.

How You Can Get Involved
          Northeast Ohio is currently a hotbed for biomimicry thanks to Holly Harlan of Entrepreneurs for Sustainability.  Harlan recognized the potential biomimicry has as a sustainable tool for growing the economy in Northeast Ohio.  With Benyus’s assistance and additional assets from local universities, museums, parks, etc., biomimicry has begun to boom in the region over the last decade.  Great Lakes Biomimicry, a startup organization located downtown, is actively advocating biomimicry in industry and university research.  Thanks to the dedication of these local entrepreneurs, the University of Akron, in partnership with the Cleveland Institute of Art, currently holds the first and only PhD program in Biomimicry.  In addition, the program is accompanied by a fellowship program to push students straight into industrial applications.
Getting industrial companies in Cleveland involved in biomimcry is a key first step to cleaning the city up sustainably.  But it’s more than just nature that is benefiting.  As Knechtges points out, by being an industry sponsor of a Fellow in the PhD program, companies are making history and bringing “passionate young talent from around the world” to Northeast Ohio to develop unique and sustainable solutions in their fields.  These solutions not only allow companies to move away from petrochemicals and inefficient practices, but they garner the respect of environment-conscious consumers.
Research in biomimicry has been slowly infiltrating the interests of the faculty at Case Western, as evidenced by recent advances led by Dr. Shihao Hu in adhesives modeled from the sticky feet of geckos.  “Biomimicry is in its infancy at CWRU; while many faculty perform nature-inspired research with an eye toward sustainability, it has not yet taken on the mantel of a formal discipline or program of study on campus,” explains Lisa Camp, Assistant Dean for Strategic Initiatives at Case.  Camp works closely with GLBio and other regional initiatives, observing the interests of researchers on campus and monitoring research funds.  “There will be a moment when faculty interest in biomimicry and regional needs collide,” she explains.  “When that collision occurs, it will be incredibly powerful; CWRU researchers always bring a value-added component to community efforts.”  Her admiration for GLBio comes from its passionate dedication to the field.  She adds, “It was built for ethical reasons, not for profit.”  When asked why biomimicry is so important to the startup, Carol Thaler, the outreach direction at GLBio, had an immediate response.  “For me, learning from nature just makes so much sense,” says Thaler, her passion for biomimicry radiating.  “I don’t think it is an exaggeration to say solving problems learning from nature will change the world.”

For more information, e-mail Carol Thaler at cthaler@glbiomimicry.org.

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.

Cleveland Independents

9 Mar

This unique group, called Cleveland Independents, is a group of around 90 independent and locally-owned restaurants that work together to promote their businesses and impetus for locavore lifestyles.  Cleveland Independents is Cleveland’s version of EatDenver in Colorado or Louisville Original in Kentucky, to name a few.  Kudos to the group for not only inspiring people to support Cleveland’s local economy and small businesses, but also for facilitating eating local in meals that go beyond our own kitchens.

Navigating Cleveland Independents’ website (http://www.clevelandindependents.com/), you are given the option of four main categories from the homepage: About Us, Restaurants, Events, and Shop.  The About Us page reiterates the incentives of the Cleveland Independents group and its support of northeast Ohio.  An option is also given to sign up to become a member restaurant.  For those already a member, a log-in widget is available on the sidebar.  The Restaurants tab provides  an alphabetical listing of its members, their addresses, phone numbers, gluten-free availability, and reservation links, if such a mean exists for that restaurant.  Many of these restaurants I have written about under my “Restaurants” tab; the ones I haven’t are ones I intend to visit!  Next, the Events tab is a brimming list of specials, wine tastings, parties, and anything else you can imagine that is happening at these various locations.  One of these events is the Cleveland Restaurant Week, which I will feature next in my “Green Initiatives” category.  Finally, the Shop tab enables users to buy gift cards and gift certificates to the “Cleveland Independents” as a whole.  What better way to promote local eating than to enable selling gift cards that can apply to any of these places?

This is an example of the kinds of cards that can be ordered from the website.

If you’re from Cleveland or just visiting, check these restaurants out!  And if you’re into local food as much as I am, consider it a must for any Cleveland-dweller to dedicate themselves to these places whenever looking for a place to eat!

 

Table 45

20 Jan

I’d been wanting to try Table 45 for some time.  This is a restaurant run by Zack Bruell, a famous Cleveland chef responsible for a large portion of the classy dining spots in and around town.  Table 45 is actually located on Carnegie (car-NEY-gie to all of you Ohioans!) Avenue on the first floor of the Intercontinental Hotel.  I visited in January with my parents.   I had just spent 6 weeks in Africa and, let me tell you, that food is rich!  My parents had no problem, being that they didn’t come to Africa with me, but I was finding even the soup to be a challenge to finish.  Nonetheless, we tried a lot of different dishes and drinks.  Table 45 (and Zach Bruell in general) is also a frequent participator in Restaurant Week in Cleveland.  They were having a special at the time of our visit.

RestaurantWeek

I’m a fan of L’Albatros’ cheese platter, so I decided to try the appetizer as my main course.  It was served with a substantial amount of cheese, but only 4 kinds were given and they were not the customer’s selection.  L’Albatros, on the other hand, is known for its “cheese connoisseur” who presents an enormous platter from which you must choose up to 9 types of cheese.  There was also no description of what types of cheeses were on the plate, but I could tell I had a form of goats cheese, bleu, smoked, and a mild brie.  There were also cashews, glazed almonds, dried cranberries, and fresh strawberry slices.  I especially like the goat cheese.  It was like a mellow Parmesan.  Cost: $14.

Cheese

 

The plate comes with a side of Carr’s water crackers.  We were also given a basket of fresh bread with large grains and olive oil for dipping.

Crackers

My dad chose  one of the “pot pie” soups as his appetizer.  Cost: $14. Soup

My mom got the vegan curried sweet potato soup with coconut garnish.  Cost: $7.SquashSoupMy soup the vegetable soup.  It cost $7.  I also got a mixed drink for their menu of specials.

VegetableSoup

Overall, the meal was good and there was a lot of fresh bread and water.  Unfortunately, the waitress spilled coffee on my dad’s new pants, but they offered to dry clean them and ship them back to Pennsylvania.  The restaurant itself was fairly contemporary in style and the place was pretty empty for dinner on the weekend.  Usually, reservations can be made online.  We had one to be certain we would get in.  The hours are M-F 11am-11pm and the weekends 3pm-11pm.  Table 45 is a certified green restaurant with a large lunch, dinner, drink, and sushi menu.  For more information, see the website at http://tbl45.com/.

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/

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