Monthly Archives: November 2010

restaurant preview: Washington Place Bistro & Inn

Last night was no ordinary Monday night for Hans and myself. As a part of a media preview organized by Michelle at Cleveland Foodie, we had the chance to get a sneak peek at Washington Place Bistro & Inn in University Circle.

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From their website: Washington Place offers modern American fare featuring local cheeses, produce and meats. An eclectic yet affordable wine list and signature cocktails can be enjoyed in the new lounge or on the extended outdoor patio in the comfort of the Little Italy neighborhood. Our 7 room inn has been completely remodeled and features the most modern amenities available at an affordable price. Wall mounted televisions, individual pod coffee makers, glass showers, ipod alarm clocks, and high thread count sheets are just a few of the things you can expect when staying the night.

About 40 invited guests joined Proprietor Scott Kuhn and Executive Chef Jonathan Guest in the entrance/bar area of the old Baricelli Inn space. While I had never visited the space before, you could feel the excitement in the air that only a major rehaul and a fresh coat of paint can bring. The evening began with cocktails and hors d’oeuvres at 6:30PM before the seated dinner at 7:00PM. CLE media folk and bloggers alike had a chance to chat while enjoying quite the assortment of what Washington Place has to offer.

The HORS D’OEUVRES menu included:

  • Shrimp & Grits
  • Goat Cheese Display
  • Hanger Steak Crostini
  • Goat Cheese Strudel
  • Cheese Puffs

The TASTING MENU included:

  • Roasted Beet & Goat Cheese Salad: chef’s garden beets and greens, candied almonds, mackenzie creamery ranch
  • Oxtail Pierogies: oxtail ragout, ohio city pasta truffled potato pierogie, caramelized onion, horseradish creme fraiche
  • Roasted Root Vegetables with Oxtail: my gluten free version of the second course
  • Dayboat Scallops: butternut squash risotto, pearl onions, apple cider beurre blanc, micro greens
  • Braised Pot Roast: c.a.b., chef’s garden carrots, roasted garlic mashers, big red reduction
  • Pan Seared Wild Pacific Salmon: cauliflower gratin, fine herbs
  • Housemade Chocolate Brownie: chocolate jeni’s ice cream, bittersweet chocolate drizzle

MY THOUGHTS ON THE EXPERIENCE:

  • Those pictures don’t do the food any justice. I need a new camera. Head over to Alexa’s or Suzanne’s blogs for better photo documentation.
  • My official taste tester went home full and content. Hans tried all of the dishes presented and had nothing bad to say about anything. His favorites included the Goat Cheese Strudel, the Oxtail Pierogies and the Braised Pot Roast. The strudel came straight from the oven and oozed of cheese and chorizo. I lusted over that truffle infused pierogi, though my fellow diners noted they didn’t notice the truffle flavor very much due to the delicious oxtail ragout. As for the pot roast: by the time I could snap a photo and take my first bite, Hans’ serving was GONE. I had to stop him from licking his plate.
  • My gluten issue wasn’t an issue at all. As I was honored to be invited to the media preview, I wasn’t sure how my gluten intolerance would hinder my experience. As the menu was a fixed tasting menu, I didn’t want to take the place of someone who could fully enjoy the meal. Fortunately for me, the chef was kind enough to make some substitutions to accommodate my dietary needs. While others enjoyed their pierogi, I was treated to a medley of Roasted Root Vegetables with Oxtail. Hearty and filling, this veggie option would be my preference on a usual evening. Instead of the cauliflower gratin with the salmon, my gluten free version subbed them with mashed potatoes. Speaking of, I highly enjoyed the pan-fried preparation of the salmon with the accompanying mushrooms. Another stand out for me – as for many others attending – was the Roasted Beet & Goat Cheese Salad. All of the elements equaled perfection on the plate. I was tempted to ask for five rounds of that starter! The staff took extra special care to make sure I was content – believe you me, I was.
  • The inn at the establishment shouldn’t be overlooked. While the team finalized the majority of the guest rooms, Scott showed us one room to give the attendees an idea of what visitors could expect. Calm and welcoming, I would recommend it to anyone looking for an inn-style overnight option in the area. Also, the rental rates are priced right – and include breakfast or brunch depending on the day of the week.
  • I am constantly amazed by the warmth of the Cleveland community. It was fantastic to be surrounded by familiar faces while also having the chance to make some new friends. How lucky was I to sit down at a table with another long distance runner?! If you sat down at our four top, you would have thought we were long lost friends. I also want to note Scott’s welcome that started out the evening. His warm soul poured through his introduction and his love for this project shows. I would gladly spend an evening or two at Washington Place.

LONG STORY SHORT: As we drove home, both Hans and I noted how much we enjoyed the experience. We look forward to returning in the future – perhaps for their Wednesday night 2 for $40 promotion or just a nice night out in the Circle. I can’t thank Scott, Jonathon and Michelle enough for organizing this and providing such an enjoyable time. If you are in the University Circle area and are looking for a new take on some old favorites, definitely check out this restaurant today.

Check out Washington Place Bistro & Inn’s website, on Facebook and on foursquare for more information!

Washington Place Bistro and Inn on Urbanspoon

half-marathon monday: long run recap #7

The run I attempted on Sunday, November 21 was a hot mess. Even though I logged a total of five miles (three running, two pup walking), it wasn’t even half of the distance I was supposed to run that day. As I prepared for this week, this is what my schedule had in store:

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However, my thoughts were still stuck on accomplishing that eleven miler. After a solid workout week with two excellent cardio sessions and a solid 90 minute Turkey Day yoga class, I was ready to run much more than those scheduled three miles. So on Sunday the 27th, I decided to run off my Thanksgiving food baby by rocking eleven solid miles.

THE RUN/WALK PLAN: As a reminder, the track at my gym takes 16 laps for one mile. Here’s the run/walk plan I implemented for the eleven mile run:

  • Lap 1: walk
  • Lap 2 – 5: run/jog
  • Lap 6: walk
  • Lap 7 – 10: run/jog
  • Lap 11: walk
  • Lap 12 – 16: run/jog

For this distance, I broke it down into four segments: three segments of three miles, and one final segment of two miles. Between each segment I took a super quick break to stretch, rehydrate and fuel up.  3 breaks, 5 Gu Chomps and 176 laps later, I had a new personal distance record! Eleven miler: CHECK! Even better: I felt like I could do another 2.1 miles! I just might be on my way to completing a half-marathon very soon!

THINGS THAT MADE THIS LONG RUN A SUCCESS:

Going to Bally Total Fitness to run on the indoor track. Yes, I have to get outside more. But this choice was to ensure a more calm, emotionally safe environment for the run, especially after last week’s disaster. I know what to expect when running inside: many, many laps in a controlled setting. If that means setting myself up for success mileage wise, I’ll run those laps forever.

My new adidas Supernova Glide 2 running shoes:

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I purchased these at Running Warehouse and saved $40 buying them online. SCORE! They are so much lighter than the last pair of adidas shoes I was using. I might be in love.

My mid-run fuel of choice in a new flavor: Gu Chomps in Strawberry:

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While I prefer the flavor of the Blueberry Pomegranate, the Strawberry flavor has caffeine. I noticed during this run I felt surprisingly energized all the way through the very last mile. I’m trying one last flavor – the apple cranberry – before making my final decision for my race day fueling choice.

Forgetting to charge my iPod nano: Since I wasn’t running without it, I delayed leaving for the gym about 30 minutes. This was a blessing. By the time arrived, the gym crowd was thinned out as everyone had headed home earlier than normal to catch the beginning of the Browns game. Less people on the track means less walkers for me to pass over and over again!

LONG STORY SHORT: I started the month of November with a renewed motivation to fully commit myself to my training runs and my fundraising goal. This month ended up teaching me one important lesson: as much as you try to plan to ensure success, life happens and you have to be flexible, but you can still succeed. I’m only 40 days away from race day! Next week: 12.5 miles!

recipe remix: savory custard oats with a fiery nutty kick!

I’m normally not a competitive person, but when recipe challenge is thrown my way, you know I’m down! When I found out about this contest from Marx Food, I was in!

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Details on the contest from their website: If we select you for the challenge, we will send you six varieties of dried chilies of varying heat levels for you to use to develop a recipe that is normally eaten with a spoon: soup, stew, ice cream, custard, breakfast cereal … whatever. Get it?  Incorporate a chile into an original recipe that is best eaten with a spoon.  Voters will be asked to choose the most irresistible dish.

I started brainstorming, but kept coming up with ideas that needed a fork and knife. Who knew the eating utensil would be the hardest requirement of this challenge?! After searching the Marx Food website, I found these directions on how to reconstitute dried chili peppers. While it’s recommended to not use the water you soak the dried peppers in, I opted to chance it to rock a recipe remix of one of my all time favorite breakfast foods: my savory spicy oats. So, I present for A Chile & a Spoon Blogger Recipe Contest:

Alicia’s Savory Custard Oats with a Fiery Nutty Kick

(makes one serving)

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 1/2 cup water
  • 1 chili pepper (your choice depending on how spicy you want it to be – thoughts on this below)
  • 2/3 cup oats
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tablespoon cream cheese
  • 1 teaspoon crunchy peanut butter

METHOD:

Place the water and the pepper in a saucepan and bring to a rolling boil. Turn off the heat and let sit for 30 minutes.

Once the pepper has rehydrated, lightly smash the pepper to allow the skin be pierced and the juices and seeds to come out. If desired, remove the loose seeds. As the Marx Foods site states: you can leave the seeds in if you would like, but your chilies will be significantly hotter.

Bring the water back to a boil. Once there, add the salt, then the oats and garlic powder. Stir the mixture well. Don’t be afraid to continue to lightly smash the pepper, but try to keep it whole to easily remove later.

Once the oats are at your preferred consistency, remove the pepper. Crack open the egg into the saucepan.

Mix the egg into the oats, making sure to especially distribute the egg yolk. Allow the egg to cook, about one to two minutes.

Add the cream cheese & peanut butter and stir until well distributed. Serve immediately.

A FEW THOUGHTS ON THIS RECIPE:

I made this recipe with a few different varieties of chili peppers of varying amount of heat.

  • Guajillo Chilies (Scoville Heat Level of 2,500-5,000: mild): This was my first attempt as I was scared of blowing away my taste buds. While the amount of heat in the end product was minimal, the pepper added a subtle amount of warmth to overall flavor.
  • Japones Chilies (Scoville Heat Level of 15,000-35,000: medium): I made this version with two of the peppers since they were smaller. The amount of spice was increased, but didn’t blow me away.
  • Chipotle Chilies (Scoville Heat Level of 10,000-50,000, hot): As I love my spice, the chipotles were my favorite. Nice and spicy, I definitely woke up after a bowl of this variety!
  • One day when I’m feeling brave, I’ll try it with the Habanero Chilies!!

You could add the chili pepper back into your oats for an additional mix-in option. I’d suggest finely dicing it while the cheese and PB melted in the hot oats.

The cream cheese and the peanut butter are optional, but highly recommended. The addition of the crunchy peanut butter not only gives it a nice added texture, but the nutty flavor combines well with the spice of the pepper and the creaminess of the the cheese. The cheese also helps to cool the spiciness, especially if you use a hotter chili pepper.

Substitutions are easy: Egg whites instead of eggs, almond or cashew butters instead of peanut, muenster or goat cheeses instead of cream – the possibilities are endless! That’s the great thing about oatmeal – it’s a blank canvas for your culinary mind to be its creative best!

LONG STORY SHORT: I know some of you are still hesitant on the idea of putting an egg in your oatmeal, let alone adding chili peppers for a good kick in the pants. I’ve loved this method of adding spice to my oatmeal, I will never use red chili flakes or pepper jack cheese again. I highly suggest this recipe to get your breakfast on anytime of day!

Disclaimer: I was given the opportunity to test out the chili peppers as a part of a contest sponsored by Marx Foods. The product was sent to me for free. I was not compensated in anyway for this post. My thoughts and opinions are my own.

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