Chef's Widow loves Sawyer's Street Frites

Today is the opening day for Sawyer's Street Frites in the club level of Cleveland Browns Stadium. Sawyer's Street Frites will debut two stands in the club level and will feature a menu of frites, sammies, donuts, peanuts, craft beer, and keg wine!! The mini's and I got a sneak peek yesterday and found ourselves roaming around an empty Browns Stadium:

Sawyer's Street Frites is something we are so PROUD of. I know the Chef was really hesitant at first but after working with the amazing people at CBHospitality we really felt like it was a great fit. Changing stadium food for the better can hardly be a bad thing, dontchya think?

Tonight we open with the Kenny Chesney show and will be open for all of the shows and games following. Get your football on this year & check out the best stadium food you have ever had!!

xx,

Chef's Widow (almost) gets into a fight at Sweetie Fry

Friday night #teamsawyer found ourselves at Sweetie Fry after the boy's birthday dinner. Sweetie Fry is an ice cream/fry shoppe located in Cleveland Heights that we have quickly fallen in love with(I double dog dare you not to like the coconut ice cream with hot fudge). The ice cream is homemade & interesting, and the fries rival any chef owned restaurant. The line is long & windy, but the wait is totes worth it. As we waited for our scoops on Friday an older lady in white tennis shoes & grandma shorts walked in to the tiny ice cream shope and immediately made her way in front of us. I politely told her that the people were waiting in line and pointed towards the end. She continued moving ahead of us and began reading the menu to her daughter, blatantly ignoring me. As the customers moved forward she began to inch her way in front of our little family. The Sweetie Fry ice cream scooper asked who was next and the mean old lady shoved her way in front of us and began to yell her order at the guy. The Chef stepped in and told the woman that we had been waiting in line. She continued to order. The Chef moved on to place his order with another person as I spoke up. I reminded her again that we had been in line and she immediately got defensive and told me she had a young child. She then began to yell that "it was no big deal and I should settle down." Not wanting to punch a 50 year old in an ice cream shop on my son's 7th birthday I walked away but not before I posted this on instagr.am:

The Chef and I got our ice cream and the mean old lady took her attitude home. The peeps at Sweetie Fry saw the whole thing go down and profusely apologized to us. We laughed it off and thanked them for their awesome ice cream.

 

Lesson Learned: Don't fuck with a 50 year old line jumper at an ice cream shop. 

Going Vegan

Last month I decided to try my hand at a vegan diet. The Chef goes vegan every year for thirty days and I wanted to challenge myself at the end of my weightless challenge. I also wanted to understand the idea of being a vegan a little bit more as many people who work and dine at our restaurant choose to live with this dietary restriction. I knew that going vegan would be no easy feat so I went to the library and took out every vegan cookbook I could find. I read through each book, cast aside the books that utilized fake food (sorry Alicia Silverstone) as well as the books that demonized carnivores. After a few days I was armed with a meal plan and ready to go vegan.

I didn't give myself a timeline for my vegan journey. I just wanted to see how long I could go and what it is actually like to place such a strict dietary restriction on myself. Starting the week off as a vegan was different and pretty tough. Even though I was making each of my meals from scratch I was always starving. Like starving staving. Like I am going to cut off my arm if you give me a piece of bread starving. Although I felt like I hadn't eaten in weeks my energy level was crazy. I was bouncing off the walls as my belly rumbled loudly.

A few days into being a vegan and my hunger subsided. I began to understand what my body needed and would supplement my hunger with raw vegetables and protein shakes. I also figured out that I am a pretty shitty vegan cook so I decided to get out of the kitchen and into our city's restaurants. My first stop on the vegan restaurant tour was Noodlecat because I knew that the vegan offerings there are not only delicious but quite filling. I was not mistaken and my belly left happy and full of vegan love. My tour of the city continued over the next couple days and I quickly realized that there are not a lot of options for the vegans.  Most restaurants downtown have a few veggie options but hardly any had vegan. I found that my only three good options of true vegan food was Noodlecat, The Flaming Ice Cube, and The Greenhouse Tavern. Back towards my house the options were even slimmer. I think I ate at Whole Foods and Tommy's almost every other day.

I was vegan for almost three weeks. I lost 11 lbs. and felt really good. I learned alot about the dietary restriction that so many people put upon themselves. I learned that the majority of servers (none of ours) hate vegans. Like with a passion. I also learned that most vegans have no idea where their protein comes from. Seriously not one vegan I asked could give me a straight answer about protein. Vegans are also big into converting. When I tweeted about going vegan I was immediately followed by like 100 vegan twitter handles all encouraging me on my 'healthy life' journey. Vegans are also passionate people who take their life choice seriously. An admirable quality in my eyes...

But the thing I learned most is that while I do love my veggies, I also love to eat meat in moderation. Not eating beef tartare for three weeks was extremely difficult and you can bet your ass it was the first thing I ate when I weaned myself off of vegan-ism. For me, going vegan was interesting journey. It gave me insight into the struggle so many people find themselves having when trying to go out to eat and it also taught to always respect people's food choices no matter what they may be.

 

Now can anyone tell me WHERE IN THE HELL VEGANS GET THEIR PROTEIN FROM????

TIPS FOR DINING OUT WITH KIDS

As a restaurant family, we find ourselves dining out with our children often. Our kids started going to restaurants early on. In fact, Louisiana's first real food eaten was at Lola. She was a mere 6 months old and we went out to dinner for my MIL's birthday. As we stuffed our faces with some Michael Symon deliciousness, our girl decided that she wanted in on the fun. She reached across the table while our heads were turned and before we knew it she was chomping down on crispy pigs ear.

The Chef & I follow some pretty serious rules when taking our kids out to eat because we do it so often. The mini's, now 6 & 4, have eaten at some of the best restaurants in the country, and we have managed to not get blacklisted. Here's how:

  • Pick independent restaurants. The majority of independent restaurants are run by people with families all the way from the owners & chefs to the servers and managers. They know (and usually) respect people who choose to introduce their kids to good local food. Independent restaurants are much more likely to smile when you walk in the door with kids in tow, then shudder.
  • Decide (before you leave your house) how long your kids can last at a restaurant. I know that if we take the mini's out to dinner at 5pm, we have a good 2 hours before breakdown. However if we go out to dinner at 7pm or later, we've got an hour. No ifs and or buts. Within 60 minutes, our little angels will go from good to 'spirited'. And when I say spirited I totally 'taken over by mini demons...'
  • Have a meal plan. The Chef & I order multiple apps within moments of being shown to our table. We usually order 4+. These apps will be the majority of what our mini's will eat. We rarely order from the kids menu, my kids don't do processed food & the majority of kids menus are 100% frozen crap. Usually we order one entree to split b/w the adults because by the time the apps are up our kids can get restless. Two entrees makes dinner that much longer and we have learned in the past that we never ever finish both entrees. So,we started ordering one. If you split an entree, make sure to ask if there is a charge. Before last night I would have never mentioned that however as I was paying the bill at a restaurant I noticed our entree had increased in price by $5 with the word SPLIT under it. SHAY to the D.
  • Don't bring a ton of games/activities/crayons/pencils/legos/dolls to the restaurant. It's cool to bring a couple things for your kids to do but leave the toy box at home.
  • Keep the iPhone in the car. Our mini's love technology. You name it, iphone-wii-ipad, they LOVE it. For a minute we fell into the dinner techno trap. Instead of hanging out with our kids we would hand over our phones. The kids head would be aglow with iPhone white until dinner was served. Then one day I realized that we had become the assholes who ignore their kids and let them play video games at the table.  As a family that does not get to do family dinner very often, we were completely throwing our time together down the shitter. Years ago I established my date night rule: ABSOLUTELY NO PHONES AT DINNER. Conversation is encouraged and moments are created. This is now heavily enforced with our family dinners out.
  • Clean up after your children. If your kid dumps a plate of pasta on the floor make an attempt to clean it up. If you are in a decent restaurant, the server will most likely help. Whatever you do, don't ignore the mess. The restaurant is there to take care of the customer however they are not your maid, nanny, or butler. Respect the restaurant and clean up the mess your children make. Better yet, make them clean it up.
  • Tip well. I know that even though we try to be speedy when we dine out with our kids, shit happens. The boy will change his mind on what he ordered while the girl spilled her entire milk in her food. Our servers, usually always very understanding, are still being pulled away from another table while taking care of our crazy family. Because they are not spending as much time at their other tables, they may be losing a larger tip. Hence, the TIP WELL advice.
  • Go on a walk. If you happen to be dining at an independent restaurant, take your kids to the kitchen mid meal. It will be something interesting for them to see and it will make up for the monotony of sitting in the same place for too long. If the kitchen is not open like ours at the tavern, go on a walk. Even if it's just to the restroom. Antsy kids make stress out parents which is no good for anyone.
  • The most important thing to remember when dining out with kids is to HAVE FUN!! Food is an important part of life and introducing your children to independent restaurants & dining out early on will give them a much great understanding of our food system and their own personal health. Plus getting to know your kids over a plate of delicious food might just be the greatest feeling on Earth.

Do you do anything special when you dine out with your kids? I would love to hear your advice and suggestions. xx

Top 5 Favorite Foodie Apps

I have something to admit. I love lists. Especially Top 5 lists. I think it stems from the fact that High Fidelty is one of my top 5 favorite movies...

That being said, I think it's about time for a foodie app list that doesn't suck Yelp's balls or honor the greatness of Epicurious. Let's talk real foodie apps. Apps that actually can be used in everyday culinary situations, apps that can help you make conscious food decisions, apps that help you develop the skills it takes to become a true cook, & apps that help you find, local, sustainable, & fresh food!

Here are my top 5 favorite foodie apps:

1. Seafood Watch is great because in an instant you can immediately find out if the fish you were thinking about ordering off the menu is that of a sustainable nature, or an over-fished / over-harvested / on the verge of mass extinction species like the Blue Fin Tuna. 

2. Ratio rocks because it is the core of cooking. It has the basic ratio's for everything known to the cook/chef. Ratio has the formula's for anything and everything from bread to cookies to sauces. It can also be used as a culinary calculator if you need to change the size of your recipe. Ratio is also awesome because it was written by Ruhlman, a pretty cool Cleveland dude. 

3. Ask The Butcher is a great app that enables the home cook to understand the differences between cuts of meat and has an awesome cooking timer: you pick the doneness & cut, it tells you how long to cook (loves). It is also chock fully of meaty recipes, info & where to find your favorite cuts (in AU), & super cool blackboard images of cuts of meat.

4. Locavore is great for one thing only: finding Farmer's Markets. Locavore also claims to be able find the best local produce & protein around you however I found this feature half assed & not correct. Lemons aren't local in Ohio yo! The farmer's market map is the bomb though.

5. Harvest is your guide to selecting the freshest, ripest, healthiest and best-tasting produce. Whether it's knocking on watermelons, smelling pineapples, squeezing avocados, or examining the color of peaches, you'll always know the best approach. This app rocks my world. I am not the most educated when it comes to knowing which produce is ripe, over ripe, or rotten. 

 

Those are my foodie faves, what are some of yours????? 

 

 

 

Nutella Rice Krispy Treats

We went to Noodlecat for lunch last week and the Chef gave the mini's a seasame seed wasabi rice krispy treat (it's the bomb diggity yo) for dessert. Now everytime we go there that's all they want. Screw ramen, give me wasabi rice krispy treat MOM!! Problem is, they aren't a daily item, and today after a long bike ride into the city, the mini's may or may not have been acting like those kids you see on Nanny 911. I did what every good parent would do to get them to not be pyscho & swore on my love of Ewan McGregor that we would make rice krispy treats when we got home. We got home and I went in search of ingredients. There is not alot to these low fat (HA!) delectables, so I decided to kick it up a notch. I had developed a minor Nutella addiction while living in Italy, and have since then dutifully instilled the same in my children. The boy recently learned how to make his very own peanut butter & nutella sammy and has since eaten one every. single. day. Thank god for baby teeth and hazelnuts (it's healthy I swear!!).

I consulted with my cooking assistants and we all decided that Nutella must be a part of our crispy rice treat.

We gathered the necessary ingredients (above) and went to work. Ten sticky minutes later and our nutella creation was complete. The treats cooled and within moment's I had two very happy kids!**

 

 **Just a warning to all. Nutella Rice Krispy treats are beyond addictive. I'm not saying I've eaten half of the batch but I'm not saying I didn't either.

Noodlecat Opens Today!

 

I have been obnoxiously absent. My sincerest apologies. I have a million and one excuses to why but the main reason, the most important reason, is because the Chef and I have been busy opening restaurant #2. The past 6 months of our lives have been filled with massive amounts of stress, anxiety, and crazy. Who says opening a restaurant is easy?

Not me.

That's for damn sure.

It's funny, we wanted to open so bad, I think we forgot how hard it actually is to open a restaurant. Granted restaurant #2 is way the eff easier opening the restaurant#1 ever was. That was a mother fucker.

Pardon my french.

So yeah. Busy. Opening restaurants. Parenting kids. Trying to keep my relationship with the Chef on the up and up. Trying to stay healthy and fit. Trying NOT to go crazy.

It's been an adventure that has taken us across the globe and back and I am beyond proud to say that TODAY we open NOODLECAT in downtown Cleveland. Whew. It felt so good to say that.

 

 

So if you are in the CLE and you are looking for some authentic ramen, soba, or udon, Noodlecat is the spot. Check it. Live it. Slurp it.

 

 

Love Bites

Happy Valentine's Day. Hope you're having a loverly day.

I'm not, but no biggie. Kids are with the sickness and I'm stuck at home all day. Yuck. At least I have the juice cleanse I started today:)

In other news:

The tavern is up for best restie. You can (and should!) vote for us every single day.

Jeff Michaud is coming to Cleveland. If you don't know who that is you obviously don't love pasta. In fact you hate pasta. I kid, I kid.  Chef Michaud is Marc Vetri's partner. Both dudes rock and roll at making some ridiculously good Italian food. Both are Beard Award winners. And pretty soon, Cleveland gets to meet Philly in a fabulous dinner put on by my Chef & Chef Michaud. Tickets are available here. If you enjoy really excellent food you should not miss this dinner. Plus I'll be there and I am super duper fun!

The Chef is featured in Food & Wine Magazine this month. Check my man out in February's issue!

Yours' Truly was feature in Cleveland Magazine last month talking about having babies and stuff. Cause you know I have babies and stuff.

It's been confirmed that I love Yellowcake Shoppe and owner Valerie Mayen. She is awesome, makes kick ass clothing, and happens to be designing me a dress for a certain awards show I'm headed to in California on February 27th. She is available for custom work and she also sells her threads at pop up shops all over the CLE. Check out her website for deets.

Speaking of Cali, I'm in LA by my LONESOME for five days and am looking for some awesome. The only plans I have as of now are eating at Animal and the event I mentioned above.

Would love to hear all of your LA suggestions as I haven't been since I was 15????!!!!!

xoxo

Happy Vday lovers.