Archive for March, 2009
While it may not be the largest or sexiest city, Cleveland sure does know food! After all, Iron Chef Michael Symon still resides in Cleveland and owns two delicious restaurants, Lola and Lolita. Cleveland is home to many fantastic eating spots and I will try and share them with you often.
This weekend, my parents and I dined at one of my favorite Cleveland spots, TAZA. Part of the Cleveland-based Aladdin’s restaurant chain (which has locations in Chicago, Charlotte, Raleigh, Toledo, Detroit, Columbus, Pittsburgh, Arlington and San Antonio!), Taza is known for its wide variety of traditional mezza (Lebanese for ‘tapas,’ or appetizers). Taza has been referred to as an upscale Aladdin’s. This place is such a staple in my food-life and I am so excited to finally share it with all of you!
Much like Aladdin’s (which is also amazing, you should go if there is a location near you!), options are all meant to be shared family-style (include hummus, stuffed grape leaves, pickled turnips, olives and cucumber, and cinnamon-scented sausages). Every meal also begins with (my favorite part!) fresh pita bread, prepared in Taza’s beehive oven and served with olives, yogurt and olive oil. I love this bread so much that I normally plan my meal around it! I like enjoying at least 2 pieces, so I normally just order soup so that I don’t have to get carried out of the restaurant with a crane. The soup is delicious though, so it’s really the best of both worlds! I’ve had many things of the menu, including fresh, flavorful salads, sandwiches and kebabs. While they are all excellent, nothing tops the doughiness of the pita for me, so I stick to my bread and soup. EVERY. SINGLE. TIME. The restaurant owner knows me, the Mister and my family by name — we come here THAT often. I’d say we go to this restaurant at least 3 times a month.
Taza is a smaller restaurant and has an intimate feel to it. I probably didn’t capture it well in the photos, but the lighting is remarkable and very romantic.
TAZA - Cleveland
No other middle-eastern joint can hold a candle to TAZA
As I mentioned before, my favorite part of the meal is the BREAD.
Pair it with amazing sesame seed olive oil...
...and you've got doughy flavorful goodness!
All of the action can be observed in the restaurant’s open kitchen, which sits behind a glass partition. Check out the bread being put into the stone oven!
Where the magic happens...
the goodness oven
TAZA also carries gourmet teas. My favorite flavor (pineapple green tea) is so refreshing and I cannot find it ANYWHERE else. I look forward to savoring a cup every time I go to TAZA.
Tropical green tea
As I mentioned before, 9/10 times I order the Chicken Nine Vegetable Soup. It is homemade and includes all the fresh, seasonal veggies TAZA has that week.
Garnished with parsley
To give you a glimpse of some of the other TAZA offerings, I took a photo of my dad’s falafel wrap. It includes: roasted veggies, hummus and a vegetarian favorite, falafel (Note: my dad is not a vegetarian, he just knows good food!)
Falafel TAZA wrap
close up on falafel wrap
If you are ever in the Cleveland-area you must take me go to TAZA! Honestly, those of you who are around the area, I’d be happy to coordinate some bloggie lunches/dinners! I love any excuse to eat food and gab – hopefully (for you!) not at the same time
Do you like Mediterranean food? What dish is your favorite?
So you should probably know by now that I LOVE peanut butter. Like LOOOOOOVVVVE as in ohmygoodnessiwakeupdreamingofyou LOVE peanut butter. I love the creaminess. I love how it sticks to the roof of my mouth. I love the gooeyness and I love how it pairs up so well with almost ANYTHING (hello, banana!) and is the perfect accompaniment to freshly baked bread (along with my BFF, EVOO, of course – and no, not together, that sounds disgusting!)
You also probably know that my love for PB isn’t the most figure-friendly addiction. Yes, it contains the healthy fat from nuts, but it also packs quite bit of calories. And for those of you who know me well know that I kinda HATE moderation. Because seriously? Who can stop after ONE spoonful?
Naturally, when I heard about PB2, I was very intrigued…
A peanut butter that has substantially less fat calories than traditional PB?
From the Web site:
- PB2 is made with premium quality peanuts that are slow-roasted to our specifications and pressed to remove the fat.
- All natural with no artificial sweeteners or preservatives.
- Same consistency as full-fat peanut butter with all of the roasted peanut flavor, but with more than 85% less fat calories.
Amount Per 2 Tablespoon Serving (*when mixed with water):
Calories from Fat 16.8
- Total Fat - 1.87 g
- Saturated Fat - 0.34 g
- Trans Fat - 0 g
- Unsaturated Fat - 1.53 g
- Cholesterol - 0 mg
- Sodium - 77.6 mg
- Total Carbohydrate - 3.4 g
- Dietary Fiber - 0.48 g
- Sugars - 1.66 g
- Protein - 5.65 g
The nutritional stats cannot be argued, but what about the taste? Will it stand up to the traditional PB (let alone my FAVORITE, Naturally More)?
If you couldn’t tell from the photo, PB2 is basically the powdered, dehydrated form of peanut butter. You can play around a bit with the PB2 powder to water ratios until you find the consistency you like. The company suggests you use one tablespoon of water for every two tablespoons of powder.
Since PB is eaten in a variety of different ways, I decided to try PB2 in several different applications.
It TASTES like peanut butter, but it doesn’t FEEL like peanut butter.
Let me explain…
The taste of the nuts? spot on! The saltiness and sweet undertone that I’ve come to love? check!
What’s missing is the consistency. It’s not gooey! It doesn’t stick to the roof of my mouth. What’s up with that PB2? You said on your website that the consistency was the same! Not cool.
Again, the taste was spot on. But there is something to be said about a gooey PB sandwich that sticks to the roof of your mouth. This almost tastes like whipped PB. If I think of it as Peanut butter flavored spread or topping, it works.
Now this is what I’m talkin’ about! In this application the PB2 serves as a dipping sauce and is THIS close to tasting as good as regular peanut butter.
With chocolate (i.e. vitatop, muffin, etc.):
Paired with a chocolate vitatop, the PB2 really shines. Because it’s a lighter consistency it doesn’t overpower the chocolate and has a very ‘light’ taste to it. Normally PB and chocolate can be a bit rich (not that there is any problem with that!), but the PB2 provides the PB taste we love, without making the treat too heavy.
PERFECT! I cannot tell the difference. The taste is right on the money and tastes just as it would if I added regular PB. You cannot tell that there is a difference in consistency. I did notice that I had to use a bit more of the PB2 than i did in the other applications, but the total calorie count was still less than if I had used regular PB.
I’ll definitely keep PB2 around! It’s a great substitute when you’re trying to save on calories and cut some fat. I bet this would work really well in peanut butter cookies, cakes, etc.
But when I want one of my favorite PB sandwiches or waffles, I’m stickin’ (get it, STICK to the roof of your mouth?! SO CORNY!) to the original. It’s interesting because I didn’t realize just how much the consistency of PB affected the overall experience (yes, eating PB is an experience).
Note: I also tried the PB2 Chocolate — also good! My only hang-up was the consistency! I LOVED this for dipping my apples into
Have you tried PB2? What’s your favorite way to use it?
I woke up this morning to freezing temperatures and a SLOW moving Mister! I managed to move him along quickly and we bundled up to make our way to the gym.
On our way there I noticed something horrifying. SNOW. Seriously? Only in Cleveland….
Of course the car just started heating up as we pulled into the parking lots of the gym. I got out of the car and BOLTED towards the warmth. The Mister HATES it when I do that because he likes walking in together. Awwwww, right? I know it’s cute, but I just couldn’t take it this morning. It was FREEZING! Sorry Mister, I’m not made for these harsh elements!
I finally got warmed up and did 3 miles on the elliptical and about 4 miles on the bike. Pretty good, considering we were rushed for time this morning (only had 40 minutes).
When I got home there was only one thing on my mind. Breakfast. And what better way to confront this cold weather than with a hearty bowl of oats?
In the bowl:
- 1/3 cup oats
- 1/3 cup water
- 1/3 cup milk
- 1/3 pumpkin
- LARGE pinch of pumpkin spice
- 1 banana
- maple syrup
I first put the oats, water and milk in the microwave for 2 minutes. I added half of the banana, the pumpkin spice and the pumpkin and microwaved for 1 more minute. I topped the oats with the other half of the banana and drizzled with maple syrup.
pumpkiny, oaty banana goodness
Now, I’m definitely no Kath, but this was DECADENT! Such a nice treat and it warmed up my bones. (side note: Does anyone else have pain in their BONES when they get cold? The Mister thinks I’m an insane over-reactor.)
What’s you favorite breakfast on a cold day?