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Tuesday, January 31, 2012


Ever since I got my Kitchen Aid a year ago I have been making lots of cupcakes.  I don't have the confidence yet to come up with my own, but I thought I would share a few of my favorite recipes.
Big Breakfast!
The most popular, and the beginning of it all is the French Toast.  When I tried the Big Breakfast from Main Street Cupcakes I knew I had to figure out how to make it.  I found this from Life is better with cake. These are pretty easy to make and everyone loves them.  This recipe makes about 12 cupcakes.  I use maple syrup for the frosting so I don't have to buy maple extract.  NOTE: 1c Cake flour = 1c - 2tbsp all purpose flour + 2tbsp cornstarch.
Soo Pretty!  (photo from Brown Eyed Baker)
Next is the Limoncello cupcakes from Brown Eyed Baker.  They are filled with lemon curd.  These are a little bit more work but soo worth it.  They are better the next day after all the lemon has mellowed and really seeped into the cupcakes.  Perfect for a refreshing summer snack.  We make our own Limoncello so this is a great way to showcase this great drink.

Another, more recent find (thanks to Pintrest!) is the Cookie Dough Cupcake!  Who doesn't love cookie dough??  These cupcakes are even better than I expected.  They take a little while to make, but aren't hard.  There is a ball of (safe to eat) cookie dough in the middle!

Any recommendations for cupcakes I should try??

Monday, January 30, 2012

Arnie's Standing Room Only - Akron

TBG and I met at Arnie's for lunch during the week.  Arnie's is located on busy Market St, but there is a large parking lot in the back.  We were the only people in the restaurant this day.  It was a decent size inside and has a nice patio in the front for the nicer weather.  There is also a sitting area with a fireplace if you are just hanging out.  The menu is small, mostly sandwiches.  TBG got a Turkey Reuben which has coleslaw instead of kraut.  He did not care for it, said everything tasted cheap.  The side is a bag of chips and a pickle.  He was still hungry when we were done.  I got a roast beef sandwich with mushrooms and onions.  It was ok, nothing stood out but I wasn't as disappointed as TBG.  The chips came with a dill dip that was a little plain, but I used it anyway.  The prices were a little high for the small amount of food and a bag of chips.  The happy hour beverage prices seemed pretty good.  The service was not great even though we were the only ones there.  She never asked us how our food was and really only came around when she felt like it.  I would recommend coming here for a few drinks, but not for the food or the service. 

Service____ 5 Chipps
Food____5 Chipps
Atmosphere____6 Chipps
Beer List____5 Chipps
Wine List____5 Chipps
Value____5 Chipps
Arnie's Standing Room Only on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Flour - Moreland Hills

Flour is located on the corner of 91 & Chagrin Blvd, a few miles from 271.  The restaurant is open and airy but maintains the feeling of intimacy at each table.  There is a lounge area if you are only there for drinks and apps.  The kitchen is open and there is a counter where you can sit and watch your pizza being thrown and fired in the wood burning oven.  The wine list is not long, but is adequate although a little expensive.  The server was very friendly, attentive and helpful.  We ordered the beef carpaccio and crispy calamari and scallops for starters.  They were both good.  The seafood was not over breaded or over cooked and the dip was very tasty.  The beef was perfectly thin and perfectly seasoned when eaten with a little bit of everything on the plate.  The menu is set up in courses.  We sort of followed this and got pizza for the next course.  There was no way we were going to watch the pizza being thrown and not order some!  We ordered the Bianca which is garlic oil, ricotta, cauliflower and fennel pollen.  The crust was thicker and softer than I expected but still had the wood fired taste.  The pizza toppings sounded a little strange to me and I personally don't care for cauliflower, but the pizza was surprisingly good.  The cauliflower mellowed in the oven and the fennel added some depth.  TBG and I added an egg to our pieces, but that was not executed well.  The white was undercooked while the yolk was overcooked and honestly it didn't add to the taste.  I guess we should have just trusted the chef on that one.  The pizza was 10" and was cut into 6 pieces.

For our entrees we wanted family style since most of us could not eat a whole entree at this point.  The server acted like that happens all the time and brought us out plates and new silverware with no problem.  I was actually impressed by how often he brought silverware.  I did not have to worry about keeping my fork and what to do with a dirty fork while waiting for the next plate.  The first entree was a veal ravioli in a tuna tomato sauce.  This one I did not love, but others at the table did (even my picky father).  I did not taste any tuna, and there was not hunks of it so I was a little confused.  The inside of the ravioli was close to room temp, definitely not warm.  However, the pasta tasted homemade and was not overcooked or too thick.  The next entree was a braised beef short rib with a white bean ragout and honey orange roasted fennel.  The beef was perfectly cooked, nice and tender.  The ragout was interesting, almost spicy.  I did not like it on its own, but with the beef wasn't bad.  The fennel was a little tough.  Everyone at the table also liked this dish.  The last dish was the lamb osso bucco (TBG's pick!), it came over a cauliflower risotto and pickled fennel salad.  The entrees were a little small if that is all you ordered.  The pasta dishes have two sizes and we ordered the larger which had 6 average sized ravioli.

Next came dessert (along with a second bottle of wine).  The first was a chocolate lava cake with nutella ice-cream.  It was messy, but very tasty.  The cake was perfectly cooked and the nutella complimented all that chocolate perfectly.  The next was a limoncello tiramisu.  It tasted exactly as I imagined and was a nice light ending to a heavy Italian meal.  The seeds shown are pomegranate.  The last dessert was a basket of zeppoles which are airy Italian donuts covered in sugar.  These were perfect, nice and warm and served with two dipping sauces.  The first, and my fave, was a blood orange honey, the second a peanut butter type sauce.  All in all everyone enjoyed our trip to Flour.  The prices were a little high, but the quality of food was good with obvious care to the menu.  The menu changes often to use fresh ingredients and makes me want to go back to see what else they can come up with.  The Chef/Owner was standing near the door on our way out and we thanked him for a good meal.  I would recommend this restaurant for a variety of reasons, but what better reason than to eat!

Flour on Urbanspoon

Service____ 9 Chipps
Food____8 Chipps
Atmosphere____8 Chipps
Beer List____? Chipps
Wine List____8 Chipps
Value____8 Chipps

Monday, January 9, 2012

Lola - Cleveland

Lola is another Michael Symon resturant located in the Gateway District on E. 4th Street in Downtown Cleveland.  We had never been to this area of Cleveland and immediately loved it.  There is valet parking although a little expensive at $15.  The rest of the "street" which is more like an alley has restaurants and shops.  We will definitely be back to try more of the restaurants.  When you walk in Lola you are greeted by a open bar area to the left with a beautiful glass wine cellar as the backdrop.  To the right is the hostess stand.  We had reservations which I would recommend, the restaurant was pretty full.  We were immediately sat at a small table too close to the other tables around.  We ended up talking to the tables around us throughout the meal because you couldn't avoid hearing others' conversations.  Other than that I liked the atmosphere.  The high ceiling was pretty and the place was larger than I expected.  The kitchen was open so you could watch what was going on if you wanted.  The waitress greeted us after we were served water and when we asked for a wine list we received an ipad.  It was really great to be able to look at the wines you want by country or grape and each wine had a picture of the label.  It was hard to tell how many wines they actually had but it was a lot.  Everything we would want they had.  The prices are actually on the cheap side for a bottle of wine at a fine dining restaurant.  In the meantime bread was brought to the table.  It was perfectly warm and garlicky with whipped butter. 
After we decided on a wine we ordered the beef check pierogies.  We were each presented with one large pierogi with a horseradish creme fraiche, wild mushrooms, and a BBQ sauce.  I could have eaten a whole plate of these.  The horseradish made the dish and the beef check was so flavorful.  The whole thing was actually creamy and smooth.  Next we ordered our entrees.  I ordered the wild boar cavatelli and TBG ordered the pork chop with cheesy polenta and BBQ onions.  The wild boar was great.  It was tender and flavorful.  It was not gamey, if you like pork or beef you would like wild boar.  The cavatelli was cooked perfectly and made the whole dish feel like comfort food and was very filling.  I only ate about half even though I wanted much more.
  The pork chops were moist and flavorful.  The cheesy polenta was the best we have ever had and the BBQ onions were also good.  I thought they were a little sweet, but TBG loved them.  The presentation was nicer than mine but both dishes were great.  After we were finished eating we still had some wine left so we ordered dessert.  We got the 6 a.m. special which is brioche french toast with a maple-bacon ice cream and carmalized apple.  Even as full as I was I wanted more of this dessert.  It was great.  The maple-bacon ice cream was unique and perfect with the warm fried french toast.  The maple flavor was not too strong and there was small pieces of bacon throughout.  The french toast was crunchy and soft on the inside.  I would go back just for this dessert.  After all this the waitress brought us 4 pine nut tyme lemon cookies.  These sound weird but were really good.  The texture was crispy at first, but chewy throughout.  The service overall was great.  The manager stopped by to make sure everything was going well and the bussers were always on top of clearing our plates and crumbs.  The food came out relatively fast too.  We didn't even look at a beer list.  The prices were high, but the food was worth it.  I would reccomend Lola to anyone willing to spend money for good food. 

Service____ 10 Chipps
Food____8 Chipps
Atmosphere____8 Chipps
Beer List____? Chipps
Wine List____10 Chipps
Value____9 Chipps

Lola on Urbanspoon