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A new grocery store opens in downtown Cleveland this morning. But this family-run business is more than a grocery store. It’s more like a food cathedral. The above iPhone photo, shot early this week as cases were being filled, attests to that. But the simile goes beyond architecture. This grocery store, perhaps among the most humble-seeming of businesses, is a symbol of this once moribund city’s recent growth. Downtown Cleveland is now a desirable place to live (apparently it’s at 95% capacity). We’ve long known it’s a desirable place to eat. Astonishingly, it’s made significant lists of must-see destinations (Travel+Leisure, Fodor’s, even the LA Times). Also it’s my hometown and I care for it the way one does a cherished mutt: with devotion and pity and deep love, for all its good and bad. (See this hilarious tourism Read On »

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Shumai-finished

Chrissy Camba (@chrissycamba) is the Owner/Chef of Maddy’s Dumpling House in Chicago. Shortly after graduating from Loyola University with a degree in biology, Chrissy fell in love with cooking. In a very “Sliding Doors” twist, she was asked to stage in a kitchen and later offered her first kitchen job. After many accolades, a Top Chef competition, and the passing of her bunny, Maddy, Chrissy started Maddy’s Dumpling House. Currently, Maddy’s Dumpling House “pops up” once a month around Chicago until Chrissy can find a permanent brick and mortar space to call home.  By Chrissy Camba Dumplings have been a part of my life since I can remember. I would find them floating in soups, looking like wrinkled brains, deep-fried in tight rolls filled with ground meat, steamed/fried/pan-fried racing around me on little metal carts that periodically stopped by Read On »

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Wheat-X2-for-blog

  I want to call attention to an op-ed by Mark Bittman in the New York Times last week, headlined “What Is the Purpose of Society?” because it’s particularly incisive. He rightly asks us to reconsider how we think about the production and distribution of our food. He calls on us to ask the right questions: What is the purpose of agriculture? And he asks that we come to a common agreement on what that purpose is. He writes: “… [I]s contemporary American agriculture a system for nourishing people and providing a livelihood for farmers? Or is it one for denuding the nation’s topsoil while poisoning land, water, workers and consumers and enriching corporations? Our collective actions would indicate that our principles favor the latter; that has to change. “…[i]f we had a national agreement that Read On »

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Slicing the pig in half.

Re-posting this because I can’t be there this year and it is such a valuable event. I’m sorry to be missing it, and miss very much my dear friends Brian and Kate Hill and Christoph and Isabell. -MR Christoph Wiesner, the Austrian butcher who raises Mangalitsa, is always tense before the kill. Last year, he told me, yes, he was nervous because it wasn’t his pig, the pig didn’t know him, he couldn’t know what the pig would do. Under normal circumstances the pigs have spent their lives with him and the week before they are done in, he brings the captive bolt, the stunning device, into pens so the pigs are used to even that. The pigs are calm throughout. This year, at Pigstock in Traverse City, MI, Christoph was not only unfamiliar to the pig, he was miked Read On »

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  With all this talk about the home cooked meal with family—is it an elite foodie construct, a romantic ideal that make parents, moms in particular, guilty, or a source of spiritual calm and power in an increasingly busy and chaotic world—I offer this story from Cleveland about the most important meal ever, originally published in the magazine Finesse.–MR The last meal I shared with my dad, a little more than 12 hours before he breathed his last, was burgers on the grill. He loved them, and he’d been grilling them for me well into adulthood. He couldn’t have been hungry, but he dutifully ate two bites of a loaded-up rare burger. It must not have been easy, and we—grandkids, ex-wife and daughter-in-law—complimented him. Straining to keep his eyes open, he said the burger was Read On »

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