With places decimated by the pandemic, war and the economy, it's great to see Cleveland is thriving, happy and clean! An original steel town boasting several major league teams, the city is filled with persevering, proud and hopeful people.
Besides sports, world-class attractions include the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Museum and for folks who wish it were always Christmas, the original Christmas Story house is located in Cleveland. For the right price, it can be yours!
For this visit, I dug into Cleveland's history and culture that makes it tick.
Cleveland has ethnic museums, such as African American, Hungarian, Ukrainian and Italian. Others focus on particular interests: rock music, police, money, even witchcraft.
The Maltz Museum of Jewish Heritage in Beechwood highlights the history of Jews in Cleveland. There are also temporary exhibits including marginalized communities dealing with still-timely issues, such as voting.
I learned that the first Jews came to the city in the 1830s from Bavaria. Though there were occasional internecine conflicts with later immigrants from Eastern Europe, the lot contributed to civic life, were veterans, adopted social and cultural institutions. I was surprised to find out that musical theater genius Joel Grey was raised in Cleveland!
The Western Reserve Historical Society has a costume collection from Cleveland residents. Rooms are set up just like leading citizens had them. Period music plays at each spot.
Local artists' exhibits are as diverse as the city. The Rev. Albert Wagner, an African American who migrated north from Arkansas, lived life to the hilt. His paintings and displays reflected this: eclectic, busy, shocking and appealing.
Ohio plays a dramatic role during election season; its voting exhibit highlights decades of importance. The museum boasts a vintage car collection and a working vintage carousel. Anybody can ride it!
The Cleveland Museum of Art is a substantial and substantive place of importance. Except for temporary special exhibits, it's absolutely free. Individual exhibits show the art of several Asian countries, Africa, Great Britain.
There's photography, illustrations from the Middle Ages. Many people use the stools supplied by the museum to sit and sketch its masterpieces for hours.
There aren't many things in life where everyone can access the best. Cleveland Symphony is considered one of the finest in the world. In its formative years, it was staffed by the finest German and Eastern European musicians.
The Cleveland Symphony has been conducted by many of the most exacting and illustrious conductors. Severance Hall, the orchestra's main venue, is like a giant Art Deco- Egyptian revival mansion. Maestro George Szell re-crafted an acoustic shell that redirects how sound is received, resulting in what the cognoscenti call "Szell's Shell."
Whether walking to the entertainment district or taking a short ride to a game, The Westin is centrally located. Many spacious rooms face Lake Erie. Nearby is a Federal Reserve bank, the main library, former upscale department stores and other buildings with stunning statues and sculptures.
With a multicultural population, Lake Erie's fresh fish, an international airport and short drive to The Chef's Garden, Cleveland is a dining destination. Its 4th Street is on the National Register of Historic Places, cordoning off traffic for a restaurant and entertainment district.
Cordelia is in the district, with local, seasonal meats and veggies. They butcher cuts on-site. The pork belly is a rich, very sizable entree: even hearty eaters can share it.
It undergoes a lengthy marinade, then a red wine, sarsaparilla and butter braise. Though Cordelia has a casual vibe, it still boasts an in-house pastry chef, creating refreshing sweets to finish the meal.
In Cleveland, people from all walks of life enjoy heading out for breakfast. I saw long lines outside several places, but Lucky's Cafe is a beloved insiders' destination. It has the local taste down pat: the cafe proudly obtains coffee, grains, produce, meats and dairy from local farms.
After the cafe's decadent "Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives"-acclaimed baked mac and cheese, I was too stuffed for lunch at Hingetown's Larder, but famous chefs like Jamie Simpson assure me I missed out.
Cleveland chef Dante Boccuzzi is known for Italian cuisine, but was also head chef in Italy for celebrity-beloved Nobu. He's opened a sushi restaurant at 4th Street, attracting stars from Rocket Mortgage Field House and The House of Blues: GOMA.
GOMA incorporates luxurious ingredients such as foie gras, truffle, gold leaf, wagyu beef. How to dip your toes into that without breaking the bank? I started with a bowl of Truffled Lobster Miso. It had hunks of fresh lobster.
Cleveland has a lively Little Italy neighborhood. Mia Bella has modern twists on Italian dishes in a friendly atmosphere.
Everybody asked what I ordered, always a great sign: Scampi Pappardelle had zucchini, tomatoes, spinach, roasted garlic, scallion. It was spicy-tangy, with veggie intensity. Big, buttery shrimp were grilled with lemon. The pappardelle was al dente.
Next time, I'll report on staying at the nearby Culinary Vegetable Institute!
Tamar Alexia Fleishman was the Chicago Symphony Orchestra's youngest female solo violinist. A world-traveler, Fleishman provides readers with international flavor and culture. She's debated Bill Maher, Greta Van Susteren and Dr. Phil. Fleishman practices law in Maryland with a J.D. from the University of Baltimore and a B.A. in Political Science from Goucher College. Read Tamar Alexia Fleishman's Reports — More Here.
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