Brewing up something new in The Flats

Ambitious trailblazer, Chef Zack Bruell is taking on two new projects much different than his previous endeavors. The restaurateur is entering into the brewery business, launching a new brew pub in the old Cleveland landmark, The Watermark, on the East Bank of the Flats, just a stone’s throw from his oyster bar, Alley Cat.
The name is TBD, but the establishment will have instant street cred, thanks to his partner on the project, Luke Purcell. The Great Lakes Brewing Company veteran is leaving the Godfather of the local brewing industry after more than 20 years for the chance to brew out of his comfort zone.
julian-bruell

Source: Facebook

Bruell is also bringing his son, Julian into the mix in Cleveland. But this is by no means a passing of the baton, or changing of the guard. And Bruell tells me this is not the beginning of a succession plan. The chef tells me his son can teach him things about the front of the house that will help elevate the service and overall experience at all of his restaurants. Most recently, the younger Bruell has worked as the General Manager at Sauvage, and the service manager at Jean George’s in New York City, places with multiple Michelin stars.
Chef Bruell says after handling the tough crowd of NYC diners, his son is fully prepared for his role in Cleveland. He also admits, it was hard for him to accept and understand that service is more important than the food itself. But he now believes that it is. Bruell tells me he’ll put his food up against anybody’s in the country. This move, he says, will help take the restaurant group to the next level.
For starters, 27 year old Julian will be spending a month at a time at each of Bruell’s properties (Parallax, Chinato, Cowell& Hubbard, Table 45, Alley Cat Oyster Bar, L’Albatros Brasserie) to assess and raise the service and front of the house. The elder Bruell expects his son, a millennial, to relate to staff better than he can, and in turn, help recruit, train and retain good talent. That’s something he and almost every other chef in the city has been struggling with during Cleveland’s restaurant boom.
Then, the younger Bruell will contribute to the new brew pub. Chef says he doesn’t profess to be a beer person. For that, he’ll lean on Purcell.
luke-purcell

Purcell, right, will join Bruell in his new brew pub business.  Source: Facebook

What’s really interesting about this partnership is that traditionally a brew pub’s menu is developed to compliment the beer. But this time, Zack tells me, they’ll be developing beer varieties to compliment and cut through the richness of his food, much like wine usually does.
Purcell tells me he is looking forward to thinking in reverse. He expects to be working on wheat varieties with more of a tart finish, and some sours, very on trend now, to provide the acidity his partner is looking for.
Right now they are shooting for an April opening, which would require them to start brewing come February. Purcell knows it’s an aggressive schedule, but he is excited and eager to work on something so different. The Watermark is being gutted as we speak. Can’t wait to see what they brew up.
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Wholey Cow!

Culinary worlds will collide at a mouth-watering event, hosted at a cool new venue.  Local Sol presents the first annual “Wholey Cow” event on Sunday, February 28th.  And like the title suggests, they’re bringing in a whole cow.  Yowza.

chef michael schoen

Chef Michael Schoen has recruited five other talented local chefs to develop the menu and prepare the feast.  He’s got my buddy, and former Iron Chef competition partner, Matt Mytro, plus Joe Lang, of Flour, Chef Mike Keyerleber, from Great Scott Tavern, Hunter Toth from The Morehouse, and Paul Hamalainen, of Beach Club Bistro.

Whole cow

The team will divvy up the cuts and make a monster sized buffet that will satisfy any appetite.  Oh yeah…and it’s all you can eat.  SOLD!

If that wasn’t enough to clear your calendar…they have also paired up with Platform Beer Co. to offer featured brew, also all you can drink.  CHEERS!

The buffet will also be stocked with items for Vegans, Vegetarians and those adhering to the Gluten Free lifestyle, so no need to stay home if you follow any of those diets.

I had brunch at Local Sol (38257 Glenn Avenue Willoughby, OH 44094) over the weekend, and loved the transformation they’ve pulled off in the space.  What used to be the formal dining room of an Italian restaurant (Gavi’s) is now a cross between a cantina, a tiki bar and a Salvador Dali painting.  So many cool design elements that you might miss if you’re not looking for them.

Loved the ceiling, the Bloody Mary bar, and the drift wood decor.  And your eye is immediately drawn to the lights hanging down the middle of the main dining room, brought in from St. Mary’s Church in Painesville, Ohio.

Local Sol church lights

It’s easy to see how this space will become a great party atmosphere.  To amp up that aspect, the event planners have live music lined up throughout the afternoon and evening. “SB and the Lovelies” And “DJ Shawn Brewster” will be spinning records 3-5, trio 5-7, and DJ @ 7:00pm.

Tickets will run you $75.  Click here to buy.

But I have your chance to WIN A PAIR of tickets to this foodie bash.  Mark your calendar, and set an alert.  The twentieth person to call Local Sol at 2pm on Wednesday, Feb. 17th, will win a pair of tickets to Wholey Cow.  (440) 918-1596. Good luck.  See you there!

Thanksgiving Comes Early. Demo Dinner and Beer Tasting from Fresh Fork Market

Is it possible to be so full, and yet still hungry?  If so, that’s what I am, after the Fresh Fork Market Thanksgiving Beer Dinner.  It was a demo/dinner/sampling of the company’s Thanksgiving offerings this season.  And my appetite is piqued.

thanksgiving dinner winter squash soup

When we sat down at the communal tables in Market Garden Brewery (which served as the night’s event space), there was freshly baked bread, butternut squash and bacon biscuits, with creamy guernsey butter and belly-warming winter squash soup to start….a good start indeed.

thanksgiving bread and butter

While we sampled one of three beers offered for the evening, Chef Adam Lambert demonstrated several different ways to prepare, break down, and carve a Thanksgiving turkey.

thanksgiving dinner turkey demo

Brining is a must, according to Lambert.  Noted.  Trussing you can do without.  Excellent.  Always intimidated by that part anyway.  To stuff, or not to stuff?  He says for safety reasons (and to not overcook the bird) cook the stuffing separately.  Grill it, smoke it, roast it, or…a new one for me… “spatchcock” it (method of removing the backbone then cooking it flat, thus making for a more even thickness).

thanksgiving turkey spatchcocked

Chef Lambert answered questions throughout the demo, everything from where to place the thermometer, to what kind of knife to use for these various methods.  By then, the smells coming from the kitchen had made their way to the back of the event space and it was time to feast.

thanksgiving turkey roasted

The buffet had everything you look for in a Thanksgiving dinner, plus some things you’ve probably been meaning to try.

thanksgiving dinner buffet

There was turkey two ways, (traditionally roasted and spatchcocked/smoked/grilled) mashed potatoes with turnips, cauliflower risotto, braised carrots and greens, sweet potato casserole, creamed cabbage, roasted Brussels sprouts, two kinds of stuffing, root vegetable hash, cornbread, shaved raw vegetable salad, home fries with cabbage and jowl bacon, Harvard beets.  And these are just the ones I can recall.

thanksgiving dinner my plate

After seconds, and thirds, and finally take out containers were offered…it was time for apple pie.  Since I limited myself to one trip to the buffet line (and one to-go container 🙂  )  I saved just enough room to sample the Amish baked pie.  Sorrynotsorry on that one.

fresh fork market turkeys

Those who sat at my table were discussing which Thanksgiving package they were ordering and already dreaming about the pasture-raised turkey that had their name on it.  (Click here for info on Fresh Fork Market Thanksgiving Orders) Guests walked away with an extensive instructional book, about 45 pages long, that covers everything from planning, to prepping and execution.  A new “bible for Thanksgiving hosts” if you will.  A great takeaway!

I left the evening stuffed, satisfied and stimulated…ready to be adventurous and ambitious in the kitchen this Thanksgiving (stay tuned for a “Friendsgiving” post very soon!)  I’m also convinced that this year, the turkey MUST be brined.  So mom, I’ll be over early in the week to take care of that for us!  Thanks, Chef Lambert and Chef Bosley for the great recipes and inspiration!  Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

More beer, please. Market Garden Brewery taking it to the next level.

There’s something pretty exciting brewing in Ohio City.  The craft beer industry is booming in Cleveland and the brew masters and business leaders behind Market Garden Brewery are striking while the iron is hot…and the beer is cold!

market-garden-brewery-fermenting-tanks

There is a major expansion underway behind W. 25th Street.  Market Garden Brewery is turning their already impressive output into a potential powerhouse.  They’ve already installed seven 70 barrel fermenting tanks. How much beer is that?  (hint: 1 barrel=31 gallons)  That’s a lot of brewski!

market-garden-brewery-water-tank

The ownership is growing from a single restaurant’s worth of brew, to a full scale production facility with plans for kegging and bottling their beers.  They’re also working tours, tasting and retail space in to their plans.

market-garden-brewery-retail

MGB is renovating 5 old buildings behind the W. 25th Street block they already occupy, next to the back parking lot of the West Side Market.  It used to be a city block’s worth of houses.  Most recently it was a warehouse.  But when this project is all said and done, it will be an operation with the capacity for 80,000 barrels of beer.  Yowza.

market-garden-brewery-bricks

The creative and careful ownership group behind this project is taking steps to preserve the buildings’ character they’ve uncovered during the construction process.  Original, exposed brick walls still stand.

market-garden-brewery-doorway

Beautiful reclaimed wood is being re-purposed for doorways and other trim elements.  I love that they are staying true to the vibe of the neighborhood.

market-garden-brewery-reclaimed-wood

Once they are fully operational, it’s time to get their family of beers out to the masses…on tap at bars and restaurants, and on display at grocery and beverage stores.

market-garden-brewery-brewmaster

At this point, Brewmaster Andy Tveekrem says they are in the “courtship phase” with beverage distributors, trying to find the perfect marriage of production and distribution.

If it wasn’t official already, with an institution like Great Lakes Brewing Co. around the corner, and sister restaurant/brewery Nano Brew down the block, the addition of Market Garden Brewery’s expansion certainly makes a case for this portion of W. 25th St and Ohio City as Cleveland’s Brewery District.  Cheers!

Cooking with Craft Beer: Market Garden’s Beer and Butternut Squash Cheesecake

Yes, you read correctly.  We are baking…with beer and butternut squash.  It’s fall, y’all!  So it’s time to incorporate seasonal flavors like pumpkin ale and squash.  I went to my favorite beer experts, the team at Market Garden Brewery to get some great ideas on how to cook with beers.  Cheers!

Executive Chef, Andrew Bower, concocted something up for just this occasion.  The restaurant and brew house has a Pumpkin Beer Fest coming up on October 8th, so he dreamed this dessert up for use then too. If you’ve ever cooked cheesecake, the process will be familiar to you.  It’s the inventive ingredients that will surprise and delight your palate.

The full list of ingredients and measurements, plus instructions are listed below.

market-garden-brewery-mixing

We started by mixing softened cream cheese with both dark brown and white sugar.

Market-garden-brewery-eggs

Next, Chef Bower added four eggs (and some vanilla) one at a time.  Then the magic happened.

market-garden-brewery-pumpkin ale

To that mixture he added 1 cup of Franklin Castle Pumpkin Ale and 15 oz. of butternut squash puree.  (A lesson he learned and shared with me after experimenting with this recipe: make sure you cook and cool the beer before added it to the the rest of the ingredients to prevent bubbles or air pockets)

Finally he added a mixture of your classic pumpkin pie spices.  And that’s it folks.  Pretty simple, yet pretty genius.

market-garden-brewery-graham-cracker-crust

He buttered his home made graham crackers after crumbling them to create the crust.  There is also some cinnamon and brown sugar in there.  (Recipe for those is also below)  Then we poured the cheesecake batter in to a springform pan and placed it inside a water bath to prevent breakage in the crust.

market-garden-brewery-baking-cheesecake

To stick with the theme of fall’s favorite indulgences, Bower whipped up a Pumpkin Ale Caramel and a Bourbon Spiced Whipped Cream to top off this boozy autumn dessert. (Recipes for both of those are also below) 

market-garden-brewery-beer-and-butternut-squash-cheesecake

When it came out to the table and it was time to dive in, I was surprised at how subtle all the strong flavors had become.  The beer and squash notes were mild and worked so well with the classic pumpkin pie spices.  Chef Bower had dreamed up a deeply divine dessert!

market-garden-brewery-cooking-with-beer

A couple of tips about cooking with beer per my conversation with Brewmaster, Andy Tveekrem and Chef Bower:

The reason Bower chose the Franklin Castle Pumpkin Ale for this particular dish was because of the aromatic tones of the beer…allspice, cinnamon, nutmeg, coriander and chamomile.  Their more mild, subtle tones played well into what he was creating.  Keep that in mind when you’re choosing your brews.

When incorporating beer into a dish, avoid using IPAs…too bitter. (unless you’re doing spicy food).  Stick to mild/malty beers like a Scotch Ale, for their caramelized flavors.  Brown Ales are a great addition to a chili.  Stouts are good mussels.

Now I want to go out and but a growler of all of these to start experimenting…don’t you??  Let me know what you come up with and send along pictures of your fall flavored triumphs!

Market Garden Brewery Beer List

Recipes:

Butternut Squash Cheesecake

1 1/2 cups- crushed graham crackers
2 tbsp- brown sugar
1/4 tsp- cinnamon
4 tbsp- melted butter
1/2 cup- brown sugar
1 cup- white sugar
24 oz- cream cheese
4 each- whole eggs
2 tsp- vanilla paste
15 oz- butternut squash puree or pumpkin puree
1 tsp- ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp- ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp- ground ginger
1/8 tsp- ground cardamom
1/8 tsp- ground clove
1 cup- Cooked and cooled pumpkin ale
For Graham Cracker Crust:
Crush all graham crackers and combine with cinnamon, brown sugar and melted butter and set aside.
For cheesecake: (preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit)
1. Let cream cheese sit out to soften (about one hour should work)
2. Cream softened cream cheese, brown sugar and white sugar on high in stand mixer for about 4 minutes.
3. Slowly add eggs one by one and let the eggs fully incorporate into the cream cheese before adding the next. Then add the vanilla paste.
4. Add butternut puree and beer and let fully incorporate.
5. Add spices to cake batter and let mix fully.
6. Using a spring-form pan, line the bottom of the pan with parchment paper and line the paper with the graham cracker crust.
7. Pour the cheesecake batter into the spring-form pan and put into a baking dish.
8. Pour hot water into baking dish until it reaches halfway up the spring-form pan and place into the oven.
9. Cook for 45-60 minutes until cheesecake is set but still jiggly in the middle.
Pumpkin Ale Caramel
1 cup- white sugar
1 cup- water
3 oz- pumpkin ale
3 oz- heavy cream
1. simmer sugar and water together until they reach a caramel color, then cut off heat.
2. add the heavy cream in intervals and whisk between each addition.
3. add pumpkin beer in intervals and whisk between in addition
4. Set aside and cool
Bourbon Spiced Whipped Cream
2 oz- Bourbon
8 oz- Heavy Whipping Cream
3 oz- White sugar
1/8 tsp- Nutmeg
1/8 tsp- Ground Cardamom
1/8 tsp- Ground Cinnamon
1. Heat bourbon and sugar together just until sugar dissolves and set aside to cool.
2. Whip heavy cream until stiff peaks are formed.
3. Add bourbon sugar mixture and spices to whipped cream.

Dinner Lab: Beer! Please! Drunk Food Redefined

Who doesn’t have a favorite food to chow on when you’ve been drinking a couple of beers?  Now imagine a five course menu of elevated versions of all those favorite foods.  Good, right?!  That’s what Chef Brooks Hart offered to Dinner Lab diners at their second Cleveland event.

Dinner-Lab2-welcome card

When I read the menu sent to members in the weeks leading up to the dinner, it wasn’t a hard sell for me.  Billed as drunk food redefined, it also boasted beer pairings from two increasingly popular local breweries.  Sold.

Dinner-Lab2-view

As is always the case, the venue isn’t revealed until about 24 hours before the event.  And I was pleasantly surprised to find out that the second venue would be at the penthouse space of Skylight Financial Group, offering a unique and unforgettable view of the city.  We drank in the scenery and the cocktail hour special, named for the chef in honor of his 30th birthday.

Dinner-Lab2-ceviche

After the 30 minute cocktail hour, I was ready to dig in to course #1, a deconstructed fish taco with halibut ceviche, marinated in coconut milk and thai chili and crispy tortilla strips.  The fish was the perfect temperature and texture.  I could’ve done without so much lime juice.  But still a great start!  This was paired with Platform Black Eagle from Platform Beer Co.

Dinner-Lab2-poutine

The second course was a nod to all the Canadians and gravy fans in the dining room…poutine with crispy fingerling potatoes, a tempura cheese curd (my favorite element of this dish) and some lemon rind confit, (which was a surprise when I took the first bite, but I loved it too)

Dinner-Lab2-beer

The beer offering for this one was a smooth and refreshing compliment to the food, Platform Symon Says Saison from Platform Beer Co. It’s brewed exclusively for Iron Chef Michael Symon’s “B Spot”, (their website describes it as a citrus driven peppery saison utilizing a specialty yeast blend specific for this beer)

Dinner-Lab2-Pizza and braised bacon

Our third course was a tale of two dishes, for me.  It was listed as a pizza, but you could hardly eat it that way  The raclette flatbread with butter roasted mushrooms that served as the base was tasty, but a little tough.  And it was impossible to pick it up, or slice into the braised bacon and eat all of it as one bite as it was likely intended.  When I gave up and ate the elements separately, I was happy again.

Dinner-Lab2-commet card

As we ate and chatted with our guests, some friends who also enjoy food and these kinds of experiences as much as we do, I made sure to jot down a few notes on my comment card.  No, I’m not one of those people who does this at every restaurant I go…this is a huge part of the process for Dinner Lab and its chefs.  They take the feedback back to “the lab” and make changes (or not) according to the comments from their diners.

Dinner-Lab2-pretzel croissant

Course number four was the crowd favorite by far.  It was a pretzel croissant with marinated gouda and blueberry mustard.  I know…sounds a little crazy.  But I wanted a whole box of those pretzels and a vat of the blueberry mustard to take home!!

Dinner-Lab2-Chef Brooks Hart.Dinner-Lab2-preztel prep

One diner even stood up and whistled to get the crowd’s attention so he could shout “That preztel was the bomb!”  The chef told us he was relieved to hear it, as he put a lot of muscle power into rolling out enough of those for two seatings.  The beer pairing for that course was also my favorite, the Albino Stout from Butcher and the Brewer.  I order it every time I go there.  Great choice!

Dinner-Lab2-dessert

For dessert we had another helping of culinary imagination…a chocolate brownie topped with pickled peanuts (in a caramel sauce) creme fraiche and ganache.  I loved the bravery and spirit of adventure that this process fosters among its chefs.  Who pickles peanuts?!

Dinner-Lab2-dinning room view

We had mixed feelings about the dining room.  I loved the view of downtown, especially at sunset.  But once dinner began, the fluorescent lights of the business space took over.  To be honest, it wasn’t a distraction or something that hindered the experience…just an observation.

Dinner-Lab2-prep

We also got a chance to chat with both the chef and event manager by the end of the evening.  I was pleased to hear that a lot of what we ate was sourced from the iconic West Side Market and I am excited about the next venue (got the inside scoop…stay tuned…and hungry!)