Happy Julia’s Birthday! More links for you to love

The day has arrived! Hope you made reservations for our sold-out Julia Child Birthday Dinner, because we’re looking forward to a terrific event! In the meantime, whet your appetite with these commemorations of Julia’s 100th birthday:

  • Today’s Google Doodle pays tribute to Julia.
  • The New York Times features an article on Julia Child recipes that home cooks still make, even if they don’t always (or never have) tackled her more challenging dishes.
  • Have you visited Julia’s kitchen at the Smithsonian? It was transported to the National Museum of American History from Cambridge, Massachusetts, in 2001. The whole thing is there, right down to the pegboard for all her pots and pans, with each one outlined in Magic Marker so it was easy to see where to replace them after cleaning. Take the virtual tour here (requires Flash 6 player).
  • This 2009 Vanity Fair article tells the story of Julia’s romance with her husband Paul, and includes a picture of their 1956 Valentine’s Day card, featuring a photo of Julia and Paul in the bathtub (oo la la!). It also describes how her early TV appearances made Julia a star.
  • Julie Powell, on whose blog and book the movie Julie & Julia was based, writes here on how Julia taught her to cook — and live.
  • Julia’s friend Ariane Daguin writes here on how Julia founded “the cult of the kitchen.”
  • The Washington Post presents videos in which chefs, restaurateurs and household hint doyenne Martha Stewart talk about what they learned from Julia.
  • This review by The Atlantic of a book featuring correspondence between Julia and a close friend uncloaks the perseverance it required for Julia to have her first cookbook published.

These and many more articles and videos are available to help get you ready for tonight. Bon Appetit!


“OPA!” dinner was something to cheer about!

OK, The Tenant is a little embarrassed. Something happened to me and I forgot the “OPA!” dinner was Wednesday of this week, not Thursday. Where my head went, I don’t know. Luckily, however, I didn’t miss it, because it would have been a shame to miss out on all this divine Greek cuisine and wine. If you were there too, you know that spirits were high at this dinner and for a good reason: it not only had those components, but an extra touch of Greek ambiance provided by both traditional and nontraditional Greek music on the stringed instrument known as the bouzouki. It was enough to make anyone wish the Bistro was big enough to accommodate a dance floor!

Things started out on a classic note with the serving of Lamb Keftede with Tzatziki Sauce, sitting on a bed of greens. Keftedes are Greek meatballs, made with bulgur, and ground lamb is a traditional meat used in them. These keftedes had a delightfully crunchy fried outside and tender, meaty, spicy interior with a hint of mint. The yogurt sauce atop them was a cool and tasty complement. This course was paired with Nemea ’05, a light-bodied red wine with touches of plum and cherry.

Next came a frequent feature of Greek cuisine, a fish course. This one was presented as Sea Bass in the Style of Corfu, which meant we received a perfectly cooked slice of sea bass surrounded by the most tender and buttery roasted vegetables you can imagine. Artichokes, tiny potatoes, and Greek olives were accented with lemon, rosemary, and garlic cloves roasted to pure sweetness. The wine partner for this one was Moschofilero ’09, a white wine made from an aromatic Greek grape that I found smooth and airy, a good wine for the fish.

The salad course followed, and this salad was definitely not the same old mix of greens. The Greek Village Salad was a mixture of marinated chunks and slices of cucumber, red and yellow pepper, grape tomatoes, feta cheese and Greek olives. Each serving was topped with a dolmade, the classic Greek cabbage-roll-like concoction of rolled grape leaves stuffed with rice, and accompanied by a slice of freshly baked and grilled pita bread. The astringent, slightly minty salad was a refreshing change of pace, especially with the Santorini ’06, a dry and fragrant wine made from grapes described to us as being especially suited for the volcanic, ashy soil, hot sun and breeze off the Aegean Sea where they are grown. You can even taste a hint of the soil’s ashiness and minerality in the wine, if you pay close attention.

The next dish was one of the more familiar Greek dishes: spanakopita, the traditional phyllo-dough creation filled with feta cheese and spinach. Chef Ruth added a special touch to this one, though, by including chicken in the filling and saucing it with a dill-lemon beurre blanc that was simply heavenly. It was savory and yet slightly sweet, just perfect. The wine alongside was a Merlot-Xinomavro blend, a marriage of familiar Merlot with one of Greece’s principal red wine grapes that makes for a wine with a deep, full body and a great deal of warmth.

Course number five was Shrimp Santorini: a concoction of two plump, spicy shrimp in a sauce of tomatoes, feta cheese, peppers and onions topping a tender bed of orzo, the small ricelike pasta. This was an especially savory and amazing combination with a slight licorice or anise hint from the ouzo blended into the sauce. The traditional Greek liqueur gave it just the tiniest kick. Our wine for this course was Naoussa ’04, from the same Macedonian region as Xinomavro, another red but lighter than the Merlot-Xinomavro blend.

The evening came to a finish with a dessert course that reflected Chef Ruth’s sense of imagination. It has often seemed to me that all Greek desserts consist of only three different ingredients: wheat (as phyllo dough or shredded wheat), nuts, and honey, but this presentation was just a little different. The Phyllo Nests with Fresh Berries and Honey-Infused Crème Fraîche were a nice variation on the traditional, as was the very tiny — and very delicious — Caramelized Pistachio, Walnut, and Almond Tartlet in a miniature phyllo cup. With this course came Metaxa Brandy, which provides a warm glow indeed to finish off the meal.

Everyone seemed to be truly getting into the spirit of this event and enjoying the special atmosphere provided by the musical stylings of Abe “Dr. Bouzouki” Anderson, who has been playing the instrument since he was 11 years old. The good doctor, born in Australia but now living in Euclid, boasts quite the repertoire, much of which we had the opportunity to enjoy. In addition to the songs you expect to hear from a Greek musician — “Zorba the Greek,” “Never on Sunday” and such — he plays a mean Hava Nagila, and can segue from that to “Turkey in the Straw” without missing a beat. From The Godfather to Fiddler on the Roof, he seems to do it all! To hear him in action, check out his YouTube channel, or go see him with his band, Orion Express. He regularly plays the Sts. Constantine and Helen Greek Festival on Mayfield Road in August, so if this dinner whetted your appetite for more Greek food and music, you can go there to hear more of him as part of a group. He seemed to have as good a time playing for us as we did listening to his music.

Once again, the Bistro served up a dinner unlike all the rest, with a selection of flavors to which we could respond only one way: “OPA!” Which, as Dr. Bouzouki helpfully pointed out to us, is Greek for “Yee-ha!” Don’t miss what’s on tap for May: watch this space for more information on the Sake Dinner!

Night at the Oscars: Julie & Julia and Boeuf Bourguignon

This week, Bistro 185 takes a slight turn in its tribute to the Academy Awards to honor (and remember) a film near and dear to our hearts, which has secured a 2009 Academy Award nomination for Best Actress for Meryl Streep. Yes, we’re revisiting our Julia Project Monday through Wednesday by once again offering one of the most popular specials from that project, Boeuf Bourguignon with Pearl Onions and Lardons.

This is Boeuf Bourguignon Julia’s way…a little different from our usual nightly specials recipe Boeuf Bourguignon. So stop by and re-enjoy the same dish you loved last summer, or try it for the first time. Bon Appétit!

UPDATE: HELD OVER!! Yes, our Boeuf Bourguignon is too good to limit to three days only, so we’re keeping it on as our “Night at the Oscars” special for the rest of this week. If you haven’t enjoyed it yet, what are you waiting for?

How to say “Happy Holidays” AND “Bon Appétit!”

Are you scanning your holiday gift list and pondering what to get for that friend of yours who had such a good time with you in the summer going to see the movie Julie & Julia, and following up the trip with a visit to Bistro 185, where you enjoyed dinner and dessert Julia Child-style to cap off your evening? We have a great idea for you.

As it so happens, Julie & Julia has just been released on DVD and Blu-ray. So, here’s what to do: Go get a copy of the movie, get a Bistro 185 gift certificate, wrap them up together, and give them to your friend. You can even get creative with your wrapping: tie a few wooden spoons or a metal whisk into the ribbon bow.

And what about your other friends, relatives, colleagues, etc., who appreciate great food and could use a nice night out? Bistro 185 gift certificates are always just right. Whatever they enjoy in cuisine — adventurous dishes or old reliable standards — they can find it here at the Bistro. And you don’t have to mess around with the crowds and parking at the mall to get this gift, either — just ask your server. Gift certificates are available in $25, $50, $75 and $100 denominations.

Get a lot of your holiday shopping done quickly and painlessly — give the gift of Bistro 185!

PERFECT PAIR: We’re trying out something new on the Bistro’s dinner specials menu: wine and beer pairing suggestions for many of our nightly offerings. Next time you stop in, take note of the wine or beer we list along with some of our dishes as a suitable accompaniment. It’s a great way to try something new and different, even if you don’t feel comfortable enough with your own knowledge of wine or beer to make a selection yourself. Also, always keep in mind that if you’d like us to suggest a wine or beer for your dinner choice, we will happily do so.

Greatest Hits: Lamb Shanks with Baby Fall Vegetables

Feeling chilled to the bone by this rainy Cleveland weather? You need to come in to a warm, cozy, welcoming place where you can enjoy a dish that will stick to your ribs and make you feel truly cared for, heart and soul. Our Lamb Shanks with Baby Fall Vegetables will fill the bill. Read about them here and here, then enjoy them here!

Don’t forget, tomorrow is the last night of our Julia Project. We’ll be celebrating it on the blog with a special little video to thank you all for your support of us over the past eight weeks, so be sure not to miss it!

Greatest Hits: Paella with Chicken, Lobsters and Clams

Hope you came in early to enjoy the Julia Greatest Hits dish tonight, because the first time we served it, by this time of the evening we were already sold out! (Read about it here and here.) If you missed out, well, we hope you like lamb, because we’re finishing up with two of our most popular lamb dishes over the next two nights.

But this blog is not going away! The end of the Julia Project will see it transformed into the Bistro 185 Blog, the place you can go for regular daily updates on our evening’s specials, as well as a window into our special dinners (like the Julia Project Wine Dinner coming up October 13) and our future promotions. We’ll be announcing one of those soon, so look for it!

Greatest Hits: Chicken Pot Pie

We apologize for no posts yesterday. We must have suffered a technical glitch in which we thought yesterday’s post posted, but it didn’t. Anyway, we do hope you stopped in to enjoy the Pork Tenderloin with Port and Prunes, whether to reexperience it or to find out why it was a sellout if you missed it the first time (you can revisit our posts about the dish here and here).

Tonight, we’re reprising the perfect dish for this cold, rainy Cleveland weather: Chicken Pot Pie! Read about it here and here, then come in from the chill and enjoy a hot and delicious comfort dish Julia-style.

Julia Project, Week 8: Return to your favorites!

Here they are: your favorites, our biggest sellers and most popular dishes from the Julia Project, back for our final week:

Monday, September 28 — Fricasee de Poulet a L’ancienne (We will also feature last night’s Yellowtail Snapper as a reprise dish)

Tuesday, September 29 — Pork Tenderloin with Port and Prunes

Wednesday, September 30 — Chicken Pot Pie

Thursday, October 1 — Paella with Chicken, Lobster and Clams

Friday, October 2 — Lamb Shanks with Baby Fall Vegetables

Saturday, October 3 — Lamb Moussaka

Whether you come in to enjoy one of your best-loved dishes again or to taste one you missed earlier, we hope to see you this week!

Yellowtail Snapper with Mango, Rum, Ginger and Macadamia Nuts: a taste of the tropics

JuliaProject926Due to unforeseen circumstances, we didn’t get to blog a “Behind the Dish” post today, but we can tell you now what is IN the dish known as Yellowtail Snapper with Mango, Rum, Ginger and Macadamia Nuts: a feeling that for a little while you can escape from chilly, rainy Cleveland to a warm island in the sun. And there’s more in it than the name indicates.

This dish starts with wild-caught Florida yellowtail snapper fillets, which are sautéed and then dressed with a sauce including chunks of both mango and papaya flavored with rum, mint, ginger and lemongrass, and studded with macadamia nuts. The fish and sauce top a bed of basmati rice flavored with lemon zest and mint. We are serving it with a salad of field greens dressed in a simple vinaigrette.

The verdict? The combination of all these sweet and slightly spicy tropical flavors works magic on the light, flaky moist fish fillets, while the nuts add a perfect meaty crunch. Eat this one and you can close your eyes and forget about the rain and the gloom for a little bit and pretend you’re in the tropics. Yes! Then again, if you missed the Shrimp Étouffée, the Chile Glazed St. Louis Style Ribs or the Chocolate Mousse, you have another chance to enjoy those, too!

Well, we’ve finally come to the last week of the Julia Project, but the fun is far from over. Don’t forget, in the final week we’ll be reprising the most popular dishes of the previous seven weeks of the Project. We’ll let you know what they are ASAP, so keep watching this space! And on October 13 comes the Julia Project Wine Dinner: six courses, a special wine matched with each course, and it’s all Julia. If you haven’t made your reservation yet, what are you waiting for?