The rule is not to go food shopping on an empty stomach.  But West Side Market, where chances for epicurean exploration await, is an exception.

The ancient aisles crowded the past Saturday, as they are every weekend.  Fighting the crowds is like digging for treasure.  Delicious treasure.

My latest excursion took me to Ireland, France and the Mediterranean.  Starting with an apple fritter and kataifi from Spano’s Bakery.

What is kataifi?  Think of it as a mix of the honey syrupy sweetness of baklava, and the earthiness of Shredded Wheat.  It even looks like a brick of Shredded Wheat.

100_4021Next on to Reilly’s, the Irish baked goods stand, and a treat of crumbled sausage wrapped in puff pastry. This didn’t even make it out of the market.

Around another corner, we ran into the line for Crepes de Luxe.  The menu made for a tough decision (crepe with ham, cheese, and egg?!), but we decided for the basic…with Nutella of course.

My eyes caught on Judy’s Oasis when we made our first pass, and after buying the crepe we finished our buying there.  Spinach and feta fatayer?  Done.

Wandering down Lorain, we found an awning to duck out of the rain and eat our goodies.  The fatayer a mix of vinegary bitterness and salty cheesiness.  And the crepe, a perfect balance of pillowy dough.  Enough texture to feel it in your teeth but still light and fluffy.  Then all the Nutella squeezed into the corners making for bites full of hazelnut goodness.

Yes, the Market has been written about and visited over and over, both locally and nationally.  That’s because it is that good.  Even through all the exposure, it remains what it always was…a place to explore food.


Art Attack

100_3460The Cleveland Museum of Art has been a gem for some time.  With the current renovation and expansion, the past few years have been a little rough in a “pardon our dust” kind of way.  Now most of the work is done and the Museum is bathing in a new glow.  Literally.

100_3376Straight from walking into the new Atrium, the renovations inspire and create the backdrop for great art.

100_3387I like mixed architecture, taking the beauty of old stone buildings and adding the sleekness of glass.  The drawings and mock-ups of the Atrium intrigued me when I first saw them, but they didn’t come close to the marvel of the results.  I’m in love with the Atrium.

The vast light, even on cloudy days, exudes openness.  Smells and chatter waft near the cafe and restaurant.  Grab some food and find a table in the Atrium and all your senses will be engaged at once.  Perfect way to get in an artsy mood.

Speaking of food, the new cafe menu is pretty nice.  For one, you can buy a small bottle of wine.  The food has a bistro-like quality, relaxed but not fast food.  I had a claybread sandwich with grilled chicken, cucumber salad, hummus and harissa served with garlic fries.

Then, of course, there is the same magnificent collection that has distinguished the Museum for years…

100_3389100_3395100_3399One of my favorite new parts is the Glass Box.  More light and the play of layers of glass, almost like an animation cel.  Inside, there’s a weird feeling that you somehow become part of the exhibit as passing cars outside and passing tour groups inside look at you with odd expressions.

100_3423 This piece was painted by Jeptha Wade, who donated the land the Museum now sits on…

100_3427 100_3431Perhaps most impressive is what the Museum is doing to rinnovate (yes, I just made that word up) art education.  The ArtLens app has received good press, along with the interactive Gallery One.  Based on initial reactions, the integration of technology is getting our tech-savvy society excited to learn about the works.

Another learning opportunity is the Focus Gallery, currently showing Picasso’s La Vie.  The gallery explores the painting in relation to Picasso’s life at the time.  By looking at the painting in that way, we can better understand and appreciate the painting.  I’m excited to see what other works will be featured here.

All the changes, through the growing pains of the construction, have made for a better, more enjoyable museum.  It is a reminder of what makes Cleveland great.  Oh, and its free.

The dust is clearing at the Museum, revealing the diamond underneath.

Room With a View

Attached to the Western Reserve Historical Society is a gem of a house, easily overlooked and passed by if you don’t take the time for the tour.  Walking through, you can imagine the life of the Cleveland upper-class across the 19th and 20th centuries.

First, a little history on the house from the Historical Society’s web site:

In 1908 Clara Stone Hay, daughter of Amasa Stone and widow of John Hay, engaged Abram Garfield, youngest son of President Garfield, to design a home for her in the Wade Park Allotment. While the house, with terraced courtyard garden and modern conveniences, was completed in 1911, Mrs. Hay never furnished or occupied the house, preferring to return to New York City on the death of her sister, Flora Stone Mather.

After Mrs. Hay’s death, the property was acquired in 1916 by Price McKinney, of the McKinney Steel Company.  He and his family lived there during the 1920s. In 1938 McKinney ’s widow, by now Mrs. Corliss Sullivan, sold the house to WRHS, and in 1939 it was opened as the Society’s Museum. Today the Hay-McKinney House is furnished as a series of period galleries exhibiting furniture, decorative and fine arts and domestic artifacts from the Society’s collections.

Clara Stone Hay and Price McKinney

Clara Stone Hay and Price McKinney

Inside, the rooms portray how a house might look at various periods in American history.  Most of the items on display have been donated, our guide told us.

100_3137Names of design styles popped up.  Rococo, Empire, Louis XIV, all of those and more.  Those names I recognized but never understood.   Room to room, we saw the progression of history and how it helped shape design.

100_3100100_3108Also on display are the servants’ quarters that give a glimpse how the other half of the house lived and worked.

100_3124Portraits and stories showcase some of the major players that shaped the city and surrounding areas.  Of note, Jeptha Wade, namesake of Wade Oval, and Mr. and Mrs. Justin Ely, whose son, Heman, went on to found the village of Elyria.

The Elys

The Elys

Although we have to rely on stories and archives to picture Millionaires’ Row in its day, the Hay-McKinney House gives us an understanding of what that life was.  If you’re at the Historical Society, take the time-about 1 ½ hours-to take the tour.