Category: "Specialty Foods"

Momocho - 1835 Fulton Road, Cleveland (Ohio City)

Link: http://momocho.com/

Off of the main paths of Ohio City is Momocho.  Owned by Chef Eric Williams, this two story no frills, no glitz exterior masks the Mod Mex flavor experience that awaits inside.  Momocho, roughly translates to "helion little boy".  And, that's what Chef Williams and his staff must be as they daringly break many rules with their creative twist on Mexican fare.

Momocho is appointed with a bar and dining room on the first floor and an open kitchen and another dining room on the second.  Integrated into the open kitchen is the chef's table; a cozy, two seat space where my wife and I dined.  As we were seated, we were introduced to Chef Damon Ginnard who did double duty, not only by personally waiting and serving us, but also preparing the rest of the diners meals along with Chef Tom Burke.  Having direct access to the chefs, we deferred to them for our food and beverage suggestions.  Their suggestions were terrific!

For starters came the recommended the honey crisp apple, mango, thai basil and serrano chile guac.  If you don't like that, don't worry.  There is a traditional guac followed by six tempting varieties - each made to order.  A seventh option is for a sampler consisting of three of your choices.  The guacamole comes piled higher than most double scoop custard cones.  It, along with fresh fried chips and a side of salsa verde was almost enough by itself to dine on.  The guac and salsa were fantastic!  After the first bites, I knew right away that we weren't going to be disappointed with anything else.

While munching on the chips, guac and salsa, I watched as Chefs Damon and Tom performed a well rehearsed dance around each other as they prepared food in the small open kitchen.  After working together for over five years, I suspect that they read each others minds.  I also watched as they prepared almost everything the menu offered for the rest of the diners in the restaurant.  Everything that traveled out of that little kitchen looked very appealing.  The most exciting part of this was watching as my and my wife's meals were being prepared and ultimately served.  How cool to know exactly when your entree will arrive!

About the entree, I decided to go on my own and selected the Bistec; a hanger steak, prepared to order, and served with a honey-chile chipotle mojo and salsa verde.  I ordered it medium and perfectly medium it was.  Everything on this dish was fresh.  The beef had a flavor that could stand on its own.  When I wrapped it in the accompanying tortilla and drizzled the honey-chile chipotle mojo on top, the flavor popped with a terrific combination of a little sweet and a little heat! With a side of the ala carte sofrito green beans, this became a meal with a culinary artist's pallet of flavors to be reckoned with.  I've had variants of modern Mexican before, but this one topped them all!

With everything being so good, I couldn't say no to trying some desert.  Chef Damon's recommendation was the Capirotada; a bread pudding concoction made with gingersnap and jalapeno and topped with flame caramelized sugar and a dollop of whipped crema.  This sweet and heat treat was a fascinating and delicious way to end a fantastic dinner.  There is a selection of innovative margaritas that, like fine wine, can be paired with each meal course.

If you are tired of the standard fajitas or tacos, beans and rice that you get at most Mexican restaurants, you MUST try Momocho. And, when you do, EAT UP!  Then.. . EAT UP some more! 

Cleveland Harley Davidson Sales Company 2nd Annual Mac N Cheese Challenge

Many Harley Davidson dealers and their affiliated HOG Chapters hold annual Chile challenges.  Cleveland Harley Davidson Sales Company broke from tradition last year and started an annual Mac N Cheese challenge.  This years challenge, to determine whose mac was daddy, was held on Saturday, September 22.  Over several hours I, along with Cleveland radio personality Dave Ramos of WTAM 1100, Katrina Marshall who blogs on BiteBuff.com and Nicole Gillota of Gypsy Beans and Bakery, judged traditional (cheese only) and non-traditional "free style" mac n cheese dishes.  Attendees would vote for a "People's Choice" winner.

With each bowl of mac came a very short time to judge ten entries with such creative names as "Cheez Dream", "Gettin' Zingy with it Mac & Cheese" and "Spin Doctors Magic Mac N Cheese".  When it was all eaten and done,  the judges and people spoke.  Winning the traditional, cheese only was Darla Sixta with her "Slap Yo' Mamma Fatboy Baked Wheels of Cheese".  The free style winner was Chris Candella with his "Macadella & Cheese".  The Peoples Choice winner was Kim Holzinger.

Proceeds from this event and a raffle for a Harley Davidson Motorcycle, that was drawn immediately after, goes to benefit Toys for Tots.  Kudos to the Cleveland Harley Davidson Sales Company, the Marine Toys for Tots Foundation, the Mac N Cheese challengers, the raffle ticket purchasers, the attendees who purchased tickets to taste the challengers food and any others who had a part to fund raise for this terrific cause.