Saturday, June 14, 2014

Too Long Since I Said "Hello" from Toledo

The beautiful welcome sign when I visited Da Capo coffee shop.

Oy ... it's been too long! Too long since I caught up with all my friends, too long since I told you of my adventures, too long ... just too long.

I had thought, perhaps, life would be easier - ha! - when I had one writing job instead of a day job plus several writing jobs. Boy, was I wrong! I spend way too much time sitting at this machine, typing; I have a column and a main feature every Tuesday, sometimes a second story on Tuesdays, and a column of news tidbits on Sundays. I also have speaking engagements (3 in an 8-day period, recently), a t.v. show taping (which you can watch here, if you'd like, as I discuss what it's like to be a newcomer to Toledo), a lot of events to attend, and just generally going out and about in town to meet people and learn about all the interesting food-related stories there are.

There's an executive chef at the Toledo Zoo (recently voted best zoo in the country, by the way!). There are programs to feed those in need, such as Mobile Meals and Food for Thought and Claver House's daily breakfast, which I've tried to help and to promote. I'm being adopted by new bubbes, in addition to the ones I miss in Ann Arbor. I'm among baking friends with folks who also straddle the Ann Arbor-Toledo line. And every so often I still cook and bake, too!

I have judging gigs coming up this summer for pierogi, ribs, and kuchen. I'm involved with the Mud Hens' "Create Your Own Hot Dog" party. I have 4 more speaking engagements lined up into next Spring. The Blade's marketing department is working on a logo for me. I have Twitter (@BladeFoodPage) and Facebook ( accounts for the food page. And I recently had the opportunity to interview Roy Choi - father of the food truck craze - about his work as a consultant to the movie "Chef," his efforts to have chefs do more to feed the hungry, culinary trends, and more ... wow.

But, I have to accommodate others' schedules for photos and layout, rather than working independently as I was accustomed to. I can't do scenic layouts of photographs, the way I want to. I have to write my features without using first person, though many tell me they like my confessional/conversational style. I work for a different entity now, though there are many, many wonderful people and I've been told that one of the "powers that be" loves me so much that he wants to give me a big hug through the phone! I'm still adjusting, 4 months later. It's been an absolute whirlwind.

The best way to keep up is to "like" the Facebook page; that's my favorite, as it's interactive and we can all chat and communicate about stories, recipes, pictures, videos, whatever silliness I happen to post.

Here are some photos, just to give a very brief and woefully insufficient taste (pun intended!) of some of my adventures. There's a LOT of good food here in Toledo, and some wonderful people. For every moment that I'm exhausted and can't face another second of staring at this screen, there are at least 51 moments that are full of fun and love and laughter and compassion and joy ... :)

Part of the breakfast array at Claver House, which serves soup, salad, cole slaw, toast, and other items each morning to those in need of a meal. The cake was in honor of those celebrating birthdays that month.

Spring roll and Fall roll at Tasty Thai, where Craig and I found out the hard way that we're wusses who need to order mild, not even medium, spice! Can't even imagine what "Thai hot" - top on the list of 5 choices - must be like!

The famous Tony Packo's dog and pickles.

A beautiful sweet potato soup and chicken salad at the fabulous Toledo Museum of Art, whose chef - Drew Ruiz - is a gem in this particular gem of the city.

Pear Salad and quiche at Pam's Corner, a lovely breakfast/lunch spot.

Just some of the produce grown by Toledo GROWS, a division of the Toledo Botanical Garden which supports urban gardening.

The mochi at Wei Wei, an amazing Chinese restaurant owned by the warm and wonderful Sherry and Mike; it serves addictive Szechuan dumplings!

My gingered rhubarb pie, which converted even the "leery of both ginger and rhubarb" Craig, who helped to devour this pie within, perhaps, 24 hours.

Vegan banana muffins with lime glaze. A feature on vegan foods is in the works.

My salt-cured egg yolk project: store a fresh egg yolk in kosher salt for 1 week, brush off excess salt once it's more solid, wrap in cheesecloth for 2 weeks until hard and grate-able like Parmesan.

What it was like when I crossed the border from Michigan to Ohio on February 1, to embark upon my new adventures.

Toledo on Friday, June 13, as I waited downtown for the bus.

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