Archive for February, 2008

Tasty Food near you…

You know it occurred to me you don’t have to go to New York or New Orleans or LA to get a great sandwich.  Some of the greatest sandwiches in the world are close enough you can drive there for lunch. 

Trailer Park Monte Cristo

Beachland Ballroom, Cleveland

Bobbing in a sea of Blue Ribbon, battered by gale-force amps, you need something solid to hold on to — and hold down. So: Dip a peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwich in pancake batter, dunk it in a deep fryer, and dust it with powdered sugar. Voilà: Bar eats supreme. The crisp, cakey crust conceals a molten heart as sweet as Cleveland’s own. (15711 Waterloo Road; 216-383-1124)

Grilled Cheese

Café Muse, Royal Oak, Michigan

Grilled cheese: Wonder bread, Velveeta, and a clothes iron. Or: Havarti, for creaminess. Mozzarella for gooeyness. Fontina for bite. Honey to linger on the tongue, paired with the sharp anise nip of fresh basil and the sweet tang of grilled tomato. (317 South Washington Avenue; 248-544-4749)

Lisa C’s Boisterous Brisket

Zingerman’s, Ann Arbor, Michigan

Gold Angus-beef brisket, dry-rubbed with sea salt, pungent Tellicherry black pepper, garlic, and marjoram, is left to sit in a mixture of butter-sautéed onions, caramelly demerara sugar, ketchup, molasses, garlic, and cayenne. Later it’s hand-pulled and layered into a bun that’s basically challah baked in hot-dog-roll form. On the side you get molasses-baked beans with applewood-smoked bacon, best added to the sandwich. (422 Detroit Street; 734-663-3354)

 Corned Beef

Slyman’s, Cleveland

Bernie Kosar jerseys outnumber the business suits, but just barely. The corned beef is why you go: a softball-sized lump of lean the color of a Great Lakes sunset, kissed with fat and slow-cooked to succulence, then nestled between clouds of fresh bread. (3106 St. Clair Avenue; 216-621-3760)

Polish Boy

Freddie’s Rib House, Cleveland

Soul on white. A pipe’s length of kielbasa is wrapped in a bun and mounded with french fries, then dressed with coleslaw and barbecue sauce. Ignore any toxic runoff: Locals consider cuff stains a red badge of courage. The genteel can request a fork, because, yo, every circus needs a clown. (1431 St. Clair Avenue; 216-575-1750)


Ham and Cheese

Primanti Bros., Pittsburgh

A relic of Pittsburgh’s steel days, this sandwich was made for steelworkers who had to eat fast. Everything that typically comes with a sandwich comes on it: meat cooked hot, bacon, tomato, provolone, pickles, slaw, an egg for fifty cents extra, even fries. Shove it in your lunch box. (46 Eighteenth Street; 412-263-2142)

Italian Beef

Al’s #1 Italian Beef, Chicago

The stockyard special: thinly sliced beef on bread from the 122-year-old Gonella bakery, enhanced by giardiniera, a fermented vegetable relish made with hot peppers and celery. You could buy the ingredients and study the method, but it ain’t gonna taste like Al’s. (1079 West Taylor Street; 312-226-4017)

And I hear there is a Sonic going into Southgate, MI….I must be off..


Bake Sale Fallout…


You know it ocurred to me…

How many seconds do you have to microwave a chocolate chip cookie to “freshen” it enough to make it “like just out of the oven?”

And the corollary…How many cookies does it take to determine the optimum time to “freshen” chocolate chip cookies in a microwave?

I must be off..

TV’s blare can come between you and your friends, family — Faith and You (aka what is your soft addiction?)

They won’t shut off the television.

That’s happened to me several times in the last year when visiting friends.

They don’t just have the television on. The television is loud. The television is blaring. The television is screaming for attention.

We are supposed to be talking, at least that’s why they invited me over. It was not to watch the game or to catch a new movie or video.

It was to sit in the same room, maybe have some drinks and snacks, and connect with each other.

But the television won’t let us.

Then someone says, “Can you turn that down a little?”

The ruler of the remote says, “Oh . . . right.” And drops the volume a notch.

The walls have stopped shaking, but the television still controls the room. The soft-spoken people give up on talking when others can’t hear them. Other people yell to be heard, and that makes their comments sound harsher than intended. O’Neal.

Pope John Paul II mentioned in a 2004 speech that media — especially television — give a “distorted view of life.” Most of us know that.

It’s easy to whine about how a 2006 Nielsen report says the average home has the television on eight hours and 14 minutes a day. Or how so much of television is trash. Or how TV and video games keep kids inside when they should be playing outside, and that’s one reason young people have weight problems.

You can find lots of stuff on this topic at

But I wonder: Why can’t we sit and talk to each other without the television on?

I visited a friend in a small house with five rooms . . . counting the bathroom. The house had three TV sets, and all were on. Each was on a different channel.

If you are keeping score at home, two people were in the five-room house with three televisions on three channels — and we were trying to talk over that mess.

She did turn off the television in the room where we sat — after I asked if she could turn it down. I almost burst into a “Hallelujah” chorus, but I was afraid my screech of a voice would cause her to turn the set back on.

There is much research about people living alone who have the television on for company. They are uneasy with the silence.

Bishop Joey Johnson of Akron’s House of the Lord mentioned how some of us fear silence because it makes us face the pain and emptiness we feel inside. Some drink, some eat, some use drugs, some lose themselves in television and books.

In her book “There Must Be More Than This,” on “soft addictions” such as excessive shopping and TV-watching, Judith Wright said people who watch so much television “hunger to be connected” to others.

But when others show up, some people still won’t turn off the television. The TV set becomes a disconnect.

Psalm 46:10 reads: “Be still and know I am God.”

There are times, however, when we can’t even be still enough to get to know the person in the same room, much less the invisible God of the universe. Sometimes a good way to connect with God is to talk to friends and people we love, to focus all of our attention on them.

And, yes, even make eye contact.

To do that, something has to be turned off, and it be may staring and bellowing at you right now from across the room.

To reach Terry Pluto:, 216-999-4674