While Cleveland hasn't had any kind of national sports championship since 1964 (The Browns, and before that the only other one was The Indians in 1948), anyone who's come within 30 miles of the greater Cleveland area on game day (any sport, any game, even T-ball) knows that Cleveland sports fans are such rabid fans of their teams, and so very ravenous for a win ....and yet so very complacent with their losses. We shrug, we get drunk anyway, we go to work grumbling about Chicago, New York, Dallas, and how nice it would be to live in a city with a valid sports team (but backing up our statements with a host of reasons why we would never, could never, don't want to move there). The whole love / apathy involving sports around here is so curious it even sparked a 1994 movie, Major League, with Charlie Sheen. But you already knew that, didn't you sports fan?
And yet, with Lebron bringing his city center stage, I think we'd all agree it's better to step up and meet the national spotlight, lest it shine on things we'd rather hide (the fact that we're actually moving the Inner Belt bridge 4 to 5 inches, anyone?), and with that in mind, let's use this opportunity to highlight some of the great gluten-free goings on right here in Cleveland, Ohio.
A few months ago, a nice bride-to-be, Tonia, emailed me in hopes that I'd know someone who could make her a gluten-free wedding cake. More than ready to go the nontraditional route, Tonia had already decided to hedge her bets and go for a GF wedding cheesecake, figuring a suitable crust would be easier to prepare, rather than altering a whole towering cake. She signed on with a baker, went about attending to other pre-wedding details, and was utterly dismayed when her baker pulled out just a little over 3 months before the weddings, saying she just wasn't comfortable assuming the risk.
Tonia and I brainstormed - tossing out ideas like contacting Kathy of Kathy's Creations for a small bride & groom's cake, perhaps trying an online bakery one, like A Bountiful Harvest, or working with her bridal party to create a GF cupcake tower instead of one massive cake - but in the end, I think the girl had her heart set on cheesecake. And who wouldn't? Though it maybe nontraditional, it's creamy, dreamy texture, luxurious flavor, and beautiful off white hue certainly says elegant wedding to me. Lucky for her, a great cake was in reach, thanks to Lydia of Celene's Cuisine, to make the cake of her dreams a reality. Tonia says:
"Lydia blew me away when she told me she bought new baking pans, utensils, a new mixer, and she is even planning to have her stove professionally cleaned, all to make sure there is no chance of cross-contamination. She's new to the GF world of baking, but her aunt has many food allergies so she's aware of how difficult it can be. The sample cheesecake she created for me was amazing! It is everything I told her I wanted - down to the hint of lemon and the almond crust!"
So congratulations to you Tonia, on your wedding, on your great GF find, and on your determination to make sure celiac disease doesn't stand in your way, not now, not ever! Lydia bakes out of her home, conveniently centrally located for Eastsiders and Westsiders alike in Cleveland, by CSU. You can contact Lydia, and drool over her beautiful cakes, through her lovely Celene's Cuisine website.
Though some erroneous information led me to report this same news in October (oops!), May is Celiac Disease Awareness Month. While it's nice to be recognized, let's not forget that for those of us who live the gluten-free life day in and day out, every day is a chance to spread some awareness and some gluten-free goodness. As Tonia's story proves, a little GF persistence pays off, and even more importantly, there are members of the gluten-eating population perfectly ready, willing and able to help us out - we just have to find them (or help them find themselves).
If you've made it this far and a bit miffed to discover this post is recipe-less, worry not! Just in time for Celiac Awareness Month, an article I wrote on Celiac Disease was featured on the cover of the Cleveland Jewish News' health section in early May. (Page 2 here.) Along with general facts and figures, the article also features a recipe for gluten-free mandelbrot adapted from one of my favorite Jewish cookbooks. Mandel bread, Jewish biscotti like cookies, are a perfect not too heavy, not too sweet, crunchy summertime treat. Grad a glass of milk (or Manishevitz if that's more your speed) and check 'em out.