Green Day

100_3839How’s everybody doing today?  Hope you had a fun and safe weekend, especially those who wandered into the city for the parade.

We ended up at a friend’s place, and didn’t need to go anywhere else.  We watched our own parade right out the window as streams of people in all sorts of green wandered to and from the parade or the bars or wherever it was they were celebrating St. Patrick.

100_3841And without pushing through the masses on the street.

100_3847

Advertisements

Ghosts of Christmas Pasts

Some of my favorite Cleveland Christmas memories revolve around Public Square and the family trips we’d take to do holiday shopping at Tower City when Tower City was THE place to shop.

We’d hop on the Red Line for the trip Downtown, when riding on a train was the epitome of excitement for a little boy.  I’d stare out the window as the landscape streamed along and watch buildings and neighborhoods pass by, each one exciting and new to my young suburban eyes.  And I’d wonder.  What were they for?  Who lived there?

At Tower City, we hit all the fun shops.  Shops that were more exciting than those at our local malls.  The Warner Brothers Store and the giant Disney Store.  There was Nature Company, too, and a model train store.  We’d shop and shop, then head to Higbee’s so I could meet with Mr. Jingeling and get my key from him.

Across the square, we visited the BP Building to see their big tree and the train set-up in the building’s atrium.  Apparently trains were a big part of my childhood.

The hot air balloons over Tower City’s dancing fountain.  The wind-up toy soldier greeting the children.  Bruce the Spruce.  All of these bleed together in my memory, bits and pieces from a number of Christmases.  And together, it is to me what Christmas was, and still is.

Cleveland Christmas

It’s the time of Christmas trees in Public Square and A Christmas Carol at Playhouse Square.  The time of leg lamps, Mr. Jingeling, and endless Christmas music on WDOK.  The time we remember Twigbee’s and the Toy Soldier at Tower City.  It’s Christmas in Cleveland once again.

During the next couple of weeks, we here at TiMC will be sharing some of our memories of Christmas pasts.  But we want to hear from you, too.  So let us know, Cleveland…what are your favorite memories of North Coast Christmases?

The Best of Fish Fryday 2012

In honor of Good Friday and the last chance for fish fries this year, here is TiMC’s Best of Fish Fryday for 2012:

Best Fish: Springvale Country Club
Honorable Mention: St. John Neumann

Best Dessert: St. Adalbert
Honorable Mention: Donnauschwaben

Best Coleslaw: Donnauschwaben
Honorable Mention: St. John Neumann

Best Value: St. Adalbert

Best Pierogis: St. John Neumann
Honorable Mention: American Legion Clifton

Best Fries: American Legion Avon Lake
Honorable Mention: Donnauschwaben

Best Selection: St. Adalbert
Honorable Mention: St. John Neumann

Best Non-Pierogi or Fries Side Dish: Springvale Country Club (macaroni and cheese)

Fish Fryday #6: St. John Neumann

Due to somebody having a birthday on Good Friday, this week will be the last Lenten fish fry of the year for me.

And to wrap up this year’s season, I stopped by St. John Neumann Church in Strongsville for a take-out order.

The church was packed and busy, with volunteers darting all around.  While at other fish fries I watched people wait some fifteen or twenty minutes to get their take-out orders, the people at St. John Neumann were on the ball.  In about five minutes, my dinner came out, all ready to go.  So quick it surprised me.  I thought maybe there was another “John” waiting and I got his food by mistake.

My dinner had fried perch, coleslaw, a baked potato, and a roll.  I also ordered a side of pierogis.  Together, the bill came out to $13.50.

With my first bite I wasn’t too impressed with the perch.  But after another taste, it grew on me and then I really liked it.  The breading had lots of crunch with it and added a taste of macaroni almost…that pasta/bread taste.  It didn’t overpower the fish though, and both the taste of fish and breading played well together.

Their coleslaw was another hit.  The crisp chunks of cabbage were covered in just enough sauce but did not drown.  Together, the texture and taste of the cabbage came through highlighted with the vinegar of the sauce.

The pierogis were excellent.  They were fried, with a little crust on the outside.  The inside was packed with potato goodness.  And they swam in a pool of butter and onion.  Can’t beat that.

After all that, I wasn’t too worried about the potato and roll.  Not that they were bad.  But baked potatoes don’t differ too much from place to place.  And the roll was good for soaking up the juices.  That’s why rolls are there anyway.

St. John Neumann impressed me.  It gave good value for the cost, especially with the quality of the food.  A fine way to close out my fish fry season.

Rankings:

  1. Springvale Country Club
  2. St. John Neumann
  3. American Legion Clifton Post 421
  4. St. Adalbert
  5. Donnauschwaben
  6. American Legion Avon Lake Post 211

A final note on the rankings:  Of the six fish fries I visited, I highly recommend any of the top five no matter their rank.  The differences between them are very slim.

Fish Fryday #5: Springvale Country Club

Hard to believe but Lent is in its final weeks already.

On a whim, we decided to try the Springvale Country Club fish fry in North Olmsted…a whim that served us well.

This fish fry wasn’t what I expected at first.  Unlike the other fish fries, Springvale was pretty small as far as numbers go.  Instead of being held in a big banquet hall, this one was in the clubhouse of the golf course.  The atmosphere and more intimate setting made us feel we were in an actual restaurant.

The club offered fried fish dinners, which came with fries or mac and cheese, coleslaw, and a roll, or a healthy alternative baked fish dinner.

Springvale’s fried fish took over the top spot for best fish.  The coating had a good crusty crunch to it and added a little sweet, bready taste.  The fish itself held together well, and gave a mild taste.  Tartar sauce is served, but I found a little lemon to be all that was needed.

The coleslaw was the more cabbage-y version of the dish, with just enough sauce to flavor.  While not as flavorful as some of the others, it held its own.  Maybe I’m just getting bored with coleslaw.

My big excitement came in the mac and cheese.  Just knowing it was a choice made my day.  It was served in the shells and cheese style, with a heaping helping of it.  The shells were nice and chewy, but not too soft, and the sauce creamy and thick.  It could have used a little more flavor (a more distinct cheese taste I think) but I was happy with it.

Dinners were well priced at $10.95 for fried and $11.95 for baked.  Service is provided by local organizations, who receive all tips as funds for their cause.  Though our servers were a little disorganized at times, it never hurt the service.  Our dinners came quick and we were not left waiting for anything.

I was very happy with our choice.  A different setting with great food at a good price made Springvale my favorite fish fry.  It takes its spot at the top of the list.

Rankings:

  1. Springvale Country Club
  2. American Legion Clifton Post 421
  3. St. Adalbert
  4. Donnauschwaben
  5. American Legion Avon Lake Post 211

Only two Lent Fridays left.  Get out and enjoy the fish fries while you can.

Fish Fryday #4: American Legion Post 211

Another Friday closer to Easter and another American Legion visited.  This week, Avon Lake’s Post 211.

The Avon Lake Legion offers a selection of dinners featuring perch, salmon, and a surf and turf, among others.  Reubens and other sandwiches are also available.  Dinners include a salad bar, choice of fries or potato pancakes, soft drinks, and dessert.

I ordered the all-you-can-eat perch dinner, which seemed like the most popular choice.

While waiting for our dinners, we went through the salad bar.  I got excited when I saw the coleslaw and potato salad and loaded up on those rather than salad.  But the excitement was short lived.

The coleslaw tasted like a typical Giant Eagle-esque coleslaw.  It was very creamy and had a little extra spice to it.  Good but nothing special.

Then I tried the potato salad.  The potato salad tasted homemade.  The potatoes were a little firmer, which I liked.  A mild sauce added enough flavor without drowning out the taste of potatoes.  I wanted to like it, I probably would have liked it…had I not stopped after one bite.  The potato salad was warm.  I don’t know if it was supposed to be or if it had been sitting out too long.  And I didn’t want to chance it.  Food poisoning isn’t fun.

After we finished our salads, we had about a 45 minute wait for our dinners.

The perch tasted great, with a buttery sweetness.  Breading added flavor and a little texture.  The fries had a crisp outside and soft inside and were good with or without any extra seasoning or ketchup.  Possibly the best fries so far.

For dessert they had cakes (also Giant Eagle-esque), either an all chocolate or a yellow cake with white frosting and some kind of custard filling.  I had the chocolate.  The frosting, cake, and filling all had unique tastes.  Different degrees of chocolate-ness.  Together, they reminded me of those Hostess cupcakes.

This is the first fish fry that has disappointed.  Having all-you-can-eat perch sounds nice, but after a salad and my first plate, I had no room for more.  The food was good for the most part, but not $15.95 plus tax good.

Rankings:

  1. American Legion Clifton Post 421
  2. St. Adalbert
  3. Donauschwaben
  4. American Legion Avon Lake Post 211

Fish Fryday #3: American Legion Clifton Post 421

This week, my fish fry journey took me to American Legion Clifton Post 421 in Fairview Park.

Right off the bat the amount of choices impressed me.  Fish dinners can be ordered with tilapia or perch.  Shrimp dinners are also offered, along with a number of sides.

I decided on a perch dinner with pierogis, coleslaw, and a roll.

The perch had a mild flavor, not too fishy, and held together well.  Some fish fry fish tends to completely fall apart, but not this perch.  Breading added a good crunch.  Packets of tartar sauce were served with the fish, which tasted good with or without the sauce.

Caramelized slices of onions added sweetness to the pierogis.  This with the creaminess of butter and tang of sour cream mixed well.

The coleslaw was my favorite of the three fries so far.  Though the dish was on the creamier side, the taste and texture of cabbage was not lost.  The big surprise, though, was the initial kick of vinegar…enough to get your attention, but not overwhelming.

I finished the meal with the slightly sweet roll, perfect for soaking up all the juices left on the plate.

I found the American Legion Post 421 fish fry to be a blending of the first two: It allowed for more choices in your meal, while serving food prepared with more attention to detail.  For that, it becomes the new #1.

Rankings:

  1. American Legion Clifton Post 421
  2. St. Adalbert
  3. Donauschwaben