Thanks, Cindy, for naming us to your “Five for Friday”!

Of course, we’re already happy because The Plain Dealer has officially named the Bistro to its “A-List” of Cleveland’s top 100 restaurants for the fifth year in a row—and not just any old way, but with a promotion to its new “Cleveland Classics” list, an honor bestowed upon only 20 restaurants in all. That’s wonderful enough, but today more kudos came our way.

The PD‘s weekly “Five for Friday” feature stars a local chef, foodie or other notable Northeast Ohioan providing a list of his or her top five places to find “their favorite indulgences, and the treats they like the most.” Today’s chosen list-maker is Cindy Barber, co-owner-operator of the Beachland Ballroom, one of the city’s most legendary rock venues, located right here in our neighborhood in Collinwood. Where does Cindy go when she’s not busy running the food operations at the Beachland’s tavern or listening to a band in full jam on the stage? “I don’t go very far from my zip code,” she said, and guess which restaurant was amongst her five picks for dining out? You guessed it. Read all about it here.

Thanks, neighbor! Stop by any time!

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Are you ready for Thanksgivikkah?

This November is a rare November indeed—and if you love food, you’ve got to be excited about it. Why? Because this November, unlike most, features a rare event: Thanksgiving, November 28, coincides with the first day of Hanukkah! Yes, it’s the ultimate holiday mashup: Turkey Day as the kickoff of eight nights of fun and feasting.

And it’s not the kind of holiday we could possibly pass up…especially Ruth and her creative cuisine. When we first realized Thanksgiving and Hanukkah were arriving together, she immediately began thinking of the essential dishes for both holidays: the traditional must-haves. For Thanksgiving: roast stuffed turkey, sweet potatoes, cranberry sauce and pumpkin pie. For Hanukkah: roast turkey and something for people who don’t like turkey, such as a classic beef brisket. And fried foods, especially the traditional latkes (potato pancakes) with applesauce and sour cream. And challah bread. And noodle kugel…

Ruth got to thinking about how her mother used to cook for the holidays, starting early in the morning, soup simmering on the stove and a roast in the oven. Turkey, because her kids were Americans and they wanted an American Thanksgiving. Yet there was still room for the old Jewish traditions: matzoh-ball soup and yeast doughnuts.

Before she knew it, Ruth had come up with an entire menu for a true family-style “Thanksgivikkah” combining the best of new-world American and old-world Jewish elements. Why not use challah bread in the turkey stuffing…glaze the brisket with cranberry sauce…make latkes with sweet potatoes as well as white potatoes…and put pumpkin in the kugel? Why not indeed?

Today, Ruth’s Thanksgivikkah feast is featured in the Plain Dealer. Go there to learn more about how she blended our family traditions into dishes you can make yourself for a truly memorable holiday banquet. Happy Thanksgivikkah! Mazel tov! 

A truly memorable feast

Recipe: Challah-Stuffed Turkey Breast

Recipe: Cranberry-Glazed Beef Brisket

Recipe: Apple-Cranberry Sauce

Recipe: Sweet-Potato Yukon Gold Latkes

Recipe: Apple-Pumpkin Strudel

Recipe: Pumpkin, Pineapple and Cranberry Noodle Kugel

Ruth shares a great idea for livening up the school lunchbox!

Sent kids back to school recently? If you’re packing lunches, you may find yourself (or the kids) tired of the old PB&J and casting about for something nutritious and tasty that won’t get traded away in the inevitable cafeteria exchanges.  Well, it’s Ruth to the rescue with an idea she shared with the Plain Dealer recently, along with a number of other notable Cleveland chefs asked for their lunchbox suggestions. Try Ruth’s recipe for “almond- and panko-crusted chicken that kicks McNuggets to the curb.” Hot or cold, this one is so tasty you’ll want to pack it for your work lunch!

Thank you, Plain Dealer…

…for putting Bistro 185 on your list of Cleveland’s Top 50 Happy Hours! Of course, do keep in mind, it’s not the side of the table that makes the difference in our Happy Hour, it’s the side of the restaurant! If you’ve never visited our bar, it’s high time you stopped by some weeknight between 4:30 and 6:30! Whether it’s smoked duck breast on a potato pancake, Coquilles St. Jacques, crab cakes, potstickers, or any of the other appetizers from our $5 Happy Hour menu, you’ll eat (and drink) very well for very little money. Come on in sometime soon and get happy!

Read all about it…

Don’t miss Janet Podolak’s wonderful feature story in today’s News-Herald, “Inspired By a Child,” about our Julia Project. Learn about Ruth’s approach to cooking, the time she met Julia Child herself, and the Bistro’s take on the dishes in the Project — and get the recipe for our Julia-inspired Apple Turnover.

For a great local tribute to Julia Child’s legacy to the American kitchen, read Joe Crea’s piece today in The Plain Dealer. His piece points out that PBS is currently featuring video from Julia’s classic cooking shows on the video portal of its Web site. Go here to start watching her in action, and find other treats like an interview with Meryl Streep about playing her on film.

Tonight we’ll be serving up Saute de Veau Marengo from Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Volume 1 — veal stew with tomatoes and mushrooms on a generous bed of our homemade mashed potatoes. We hope to see you here to enjoy this fabulous dish.

Boeuf Bourguignon tonight!

If you haven’t yet seen our writeup in Joe Crea’s “Restaurant Row” column in the Taste section of today’s Plain Dealer, check it out. The PD’s Food and Restaurants Editor says that “foodies like me will be curious to read more about the technical tweaks the chefs employ to streamline the classics while maintaining their integrity.” We agree that including those kinds of details in our blog is a great idea, and we plan to bring you some insight into how we are preparing these dishes — not only how we are adapting them for our restaurant, but some ideas that may help you have an easier time of it if you choose to follow in Julie Powell’s footsteps and tackle some of them yourself.

While each recipe definitely starts with a cookbook — and Ruth reads cookbooks at night before bed the way some people devour novels — our philosophy toward the dishes is to keep to the spirit of the recipes, rather than following them exactly to the letter. For example, while we said yesterday that our Boeuf Bourguignon recipe is from Mastering the Art of French Cooking, the basic instructions we follow come from the recipe in Julia & Jacques At Home, which Julia published with Jacques Pepin in 1999. However, our version follows the MtAoFC philosophy of including the carrots and onions in the final product, unlike the Julia & Jacques recipe, in which the carrots and onions are used only as components of the mirepoix (combination of carrots, onions and celery) that flavors the sauce and are not present in the final dish. It’s our experience that diners enjoy their Boeuf Bourguignon complete with large, flavorful chunks of carrot and browned pearl onions, along with the sautéed mushrooms. The vegetables add to the dish’s eye appeal and to the overall dining experience. So, keep in mind that if you try this recipe, you need not obey it blindly — if you love the vegetables, do as we do and include them in the finished dish.

One thing that should simplify your home cooking task a bit is the relative availability of peeled, frozen pearl onions in today’s supermarkets, which were not so easy to come by in 1961, when Julia first published MtAoFC.

We prepared a special serving of Boeuf Bourguignon this afternoon to star in next week’s News-Herald feature story about our Julia Project, along with a sample of Monday night’s apple turnover. (Our recipe for that dessert is from the 1978 paperback edition of Julia Child & Company — a book about which we have a great story to tell — but we’ll save that for later.) We think we can guarantee you will enjoy this dish if you order it tonight. Julia recommends serving it with boiled potatoes, noodles or rice; our choice is creamy, buttery mashed potatoes. See if you don’t agree that it’s a terrific complement to the rich beef-and-wine sauce.

In our next post, we’ll talk a bit more about the challenge of cooking dishes like the ones we are presenting in the Julia Project for a restaurant, contrasted to the at-home experience.

We hope to see you tonight!