Sunday, April 14, 2013

Fun Playing With West Side Market Goodness

I'm not much of a book reviewer, but I am in love with Cleveland’s West Side Market, 100 Years & Still Cooking: The Fascinating Life and Times of an American Public Market by Laura Taxel and Marilou Suszko. The book is physically gorgeous, but the content concerning the life and times of the Market is the true must-have for anyone who has ever enjoyed an expedition to the WSM.

It took a little while to read, because there is a lot in there! Bob read it next, and enjoyed it as much as I. I recommend this book on so many levels; it is loaded with skillfully presented history, stories and gossip, and photographs old and new. But it is more than that. The authors really succeed in bringing the WSM alive on the page. I feel like I now  have a whole new relationship with the WSM, even though I've been a fan since moving to Cleveland in the mid-1990s. 

When Bob and I first dated long distance, he introduced me to the WSM; Ohio City was a regular stop for us after the airport. We later married and lived in Maple Heights, then moved further out into the suburbs. As the years went by, and we started buying much of our meat from local farmers, the WSM dropped off of our radar completely. 

By April 2010, when I won a Facebook contest sponsored by Ohio City Pasta, it had been about two years since we'd ventured to the WSM. The catch to winning this contest was that I had to collect my prize (free pasta and sauce) once a month every month for a year - at the WSM. I wrote a series of blog posts chronicling that adventure, and how the monthly journeys to Ohio City re-awakened our passion for the place.  

We returned to the WSM for the first time after reading the West Side Market book on the Friday before Easter (March 29), and it was packed under the glistening, recently scrubbed ceiling tiles! We browsed the vendors with an entirely new perspective on who they were, where they came from, and what they offered, thanks to Laura and Marilou's book. It was still pretty cold outside when we sat to eat, so I didn't snap any photos of either of our Maha's falafels, but they were hot, crispy, succulent and delicious.

WSM Haul, 3/29/13

From left to right: Basketeria Green beans (in the paper bag), parsley, red bell peppers, grape tomatoes (not pictured - organic Spanish onions), Slovenian Sausage from Edward Badstuber & Son. Behind it, sashimi grade tuna from Kate's Fish (tilefish filets not pictured). Behind that, Hominy Grits from Narrin's Asian Spice. Next to the Grits, Nicoise Olives marinated in Olive Oil and Thyme from Rita's. The thick sausage to the right is Beef Kielbasa, accompanied by smokies, from J & J Czuchraj Meats. Finally, Urban Herbs's coriander sits under a bag of their black barley.

Sashimi Grade Tuna from Kate's Fish
Photo Courtesy Edsel Little  
This was the first time I ever worked with raw fish, as 99% of the fish sold at retail in Cleveland shouldn't be eaten raw. Kate is the only fishmonger I trust, and my trust was well placed here. Buttah.

Mediterranean Deviled Eggs
Photo Courtesy Edsel Little
We made this for a Supper Club on a Spanish theme. Brunty Farms eggs (from Solon Mustard Seed), olives from Rita's, red peppers, onions and grape tomatoes from Basketeria, and that exquisite tuna!

WSM Dinner!
Beef Kielbasa from  J & J Czuchraj Meats carmelized in a cast iron pan, Basketeria's green beans and peppers sauteed in the drippings - delicious!

Slovenian Sausage

The next day, some of the Badstuber Slovenians got the same treatment!

These potatoes were also fried in the sausage grease.

Homemade garden horseradish really enhanced the tender sausage.

 J & J Czuchraj Smokies!

I still have some Nyafat (Rokeach discontinued it years ago); it it used only for making Matzoh Brei. This version wasn't very kosher, with the bits of chopped smokies in it. But it was delicious!

I discovered that black barley isn't as ubiquitous as I'd expected, but we've enjoyed one meal using it in a pilaf-style dish with veggies (and duck fat - oh, yes). If you have any great recipes for it, please post in the comments!

Urban Herbs's Black Barley made Pilaf Style with Wild Rice, Med Grain Rice & Duck Fat

This morning, we dug into the hominy grits from Narrin's Spice.

This is a dish we've grown to love, from The Chew's Carla Hall:

Eggs in Heaven

The grits are prepared with Snowville Creamery Milk, Hartzler Butter and Beecher's Flagship Cheese, then placed in the cast iron skillet. Local eggs are then cracked in, the skillet goes in the oven. A sprinkling of Basketeria parsley completes a fun playing with food breakfast!

What a great haul of food and WSM goodness! Served up with a side of history, storytelling, photography and more.

Cleveland’s West Side Market, 100 Years & Still Cooking: The Fascinating Life and Times of an American Public Market by Laura Taxel and Marilou Suszko starts as a beautiful "coffee table" book. But beneath that pretty face is delicious content that will enhance your relationship with the WSM if you have one, and will otherwise start that relationship if you don't. If you order the book from The WSM Shop, you'll get free shipping of the book and a portion of the purchase price is donated to the Market Centennial Fund. However you acquire it, though, Cleveland’s West Side Market, 100 Years & Still Cooking is a must have for any Clevelander who cares about their food!

Note - my review copy of the book was complimentary, but my opinions remain my own.


  1. Nancy, you really "get" what we as authors wanted to do with this book-- make the Market come alive, give it a very human face, and deepen a sense of personal relationship between people and place. Thank you so much for your close read and thoughtful comments.

  2. I just love the West Side Market. So many memories of going every week as a kid with my dad after we went to Gallucci's, picking up fresh bread at Mazzone's sometimes Gallucci's would carry and still do. Even when I got older, my dad and I always went together even after chemo at the Clinic when took him to his treatments. He passed 3 years ago but even while he was alive, I took my kids. It was our own secret tradition between us that we shared. He grew our vegetables and figs and our meats and some fruits came from the market. Now I carry on the tradition with my kids and grow vegetables in my dad's honor. It's a great place. So many memories made. A lot of immigrant Italians relied on the West Side Market and Gallucci's to provide us with the great foods we need to create our dishes. Great to see a fellow Cleveland blogger!

    Warmest Regards,
    Annamaria Settanni McDonald