Blogs > News-Herald Food and Travel

Food and travel captivate Janet Podolak, who chronicles both for The News-Herald. Get the back story of her three decades of stories here. Guest bloggers and fellow News-Herald staffers also periodically share details of their trips.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

tomatoes in culinary cleveland

This jug of tomatoes marinating in vodka sits behind the bar at Crop Bistro, an unusual spot on West Sixth Street. That's one of the places where Cleveland's Convention & Visitors Bureau recently brought a group of food writers from throughout the country. I was there to meet the food writers and find out what they thought of this area's culinary attractions.

Compulsively prompt, as usual, I settled in at the bar to await their arrival. That's where I met Donn Nottage, who sat a few stools down in the company of his camera. Donn, the official photographer for the City of Cleveland, told me that Crop has become one of his favorite places to eat.

When Chef Steve Schimoler strolled out of the open kitchen I asked him about the jug of tomatoes at the bar.

"They're for our Caprese Martini," he told me.

The seasonal martini takes advantage of the late summer crop of heirloom tomatoes in a rather wonderful way. Schimoler told me the vodka takes on the wonderful tomato taste as the basis for the drink. Instead of an olive or onion, he uses those tiny little mozzarella balls I've seen at area markets in recent weeks and adds some fresh basil to the drink, hopefully swiping it first around the rim of the martini glass so it lends its zing to every sip.

Although I was saving myself for pinot noir with the food writers, I knew I just had to share the recipe with those of you who follow my blog. I asked Donn if he'd shoot a photo of the jug and email it to me so I could also show how great it looks.

Crop Bistro's cuisine turned out to be just as inventive as its Caprese Martini.... just what one might expect from a chef who first came to Cleveland as a product development expert for Nestle.

Read more about tomatoes in the Food section of today's New-Herald. Stay tuned for my story about Crop, framed around what the food writers think of us.