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.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

So busy, so full

Since I last checked in from Nashville, Tenn., there's been more this, that and the other.

And by "other," I mean food. Man, do they feed you on these press travel junkets. And, hey, I wasn't really looking for a reminder that I tend to lack self-discipline when it comes to restaurants at which I've never had the pleasure of eating.

A quick rundown of much, but not all of, what I've seen and done the last couple of days:

- Toured the gorgeous Frist Center for the Visual Arts, a huge one-time post office.

- Dined at the upscale Boundr'y, where my duck breast was delayed but well worth the wait.

- Caught a bit of rising musical act Foster the People ("Pumped Up Kicks") at a SoundLand show.

- Toured the incredibly historic Ryman Auditorium -- a must for country music fans, not that I'm telling them anything they don't already know.

- Explored artsy neighborhoods Marathon Village and Germantown, the highlight of the latter being The Cupcake Connection.

-- Headed out for a tour of Gaylord Opryland Resort and Convention Center, a Disney World-meets-Las Vegas Casino (no, there are no rides or gambling, but this place is a big world of its own). After dinner at the resort's Jack Daniel's restaurant, it was time for the famed "Grand Ole Opry" radio show. Not exactly my bag but a cool experience worth having nonetheless. On our tour of the "Opry" studio after the show, country star Mark Wills, who was one of the performers, made friends with out tour group:

If I tell you I passed on a tour of the Jack Daniel's Distillery this morning, you'll know it was for a good reason. I'd hoped spending time picking the brains of veteran Nashville songwriter Billy Montana would be the highlight of the trip, and, if you'll excuse the place-appropriate pun, it was by a country mile. I'm going to save those details for a future story in the Sidetracks section, folks.

After lunch at new seafood restaurant Fish & Co. -- where the grilled maji maji was the healthiest eating choice I've made all trip -- I got to check out the neighborhood where the business sits, 12th South, followed by a quick exploration of East Nashville.

Well, that's about it for me. Tonight brings a tour of Schermerhorn Symphony Center, dinner at Arpeggio and a performance by the Nashville Symphony and then a bit more of SoundLand or a final trip to the honky-tonks. (We'll see. My flight in the morning comes pretty early.)

I hope reading about my speed-of-light Nashville adventure has made you jealous. That said, I'm looking forward to crashing on my couch in Willoughby and, with any luck, starting a diet.

Mark Meszoros | |

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Confessions of a travel wuss

I’m not going to lie, people.

I’m wiped.

Out of gas.


And it’s day two of a four-day trip.

I don’t know how regular travel writers, such as The News-Herald’s Janet Podolak, the main caretaker of this blog, do it. This travel writing is no joke.
Sure, trips like this one that has brought me to Nashville, Tenn., are a lot of fun – mainly free fun, full of wonderful food and cool experiences – but they’re also a lot of work.

It’s been go, go, go since I first checked in with you on Wednesday. I’ve visited

-- Nashville’s highly interesting if slightly odd replica of The Parthenon and it’s 40-foot-high statue of Greek goddess Athena

-- The engrossing gallery of Alan LeQuire, the artist who sculpted Athena

-- The exquisite Hermitage Hotel – where the throwback men’s room was actually part of the group tour – and dined at it’s highly rated Capitol Grille, where the steak was to-die-for good

After that, a few of us hit a couple of honky-tonks, including the renowned famous Tootsies Orchid Lounge, where a cover band playing everything from Johnny Cash to Journey had absolutely packed the place. I’ve never had more trouble getting OUT of a bar in my life. Seriously, if there’s a fire code, Tootsies is breaking it. A cool if claustrophobic experience.

So that was just day one. Today we hit the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum – I’ve been before and continue to think it’s a magical place. (And I’m not much of a country music fan.) From there it was off to the famed Studio B, where Elvis Presley and myriad other greats recorded gigantic hits, and finally a brief stop at Gruhn Guitars, where owner George Gruhn has millions of dollars’ worth of vintage and new guitar and sells to the stars, locals and tourists alike.

Well, it was a quick stop for me, as I cut out early to hit the room before the evening’s itinerary begins. It helped to return to a small plastic-wrapped plate with sushi and other goodies.

I guess it’s reasons like that why travel writers do it.

Talk to you on Friday. If I’m still moving.

Mark Meszoros | |

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Greetings from Tennessee

Apparently I'm in the mood for burritos.
Before my flight took off from Cleveland Hopkins Airport, I hit that newer burrito counter at the beginning of the C concourse. (It's not bad, if you're wondering.)
And now, a few hours later I've ordered this:

If you know me, you know I could not NOT order that burrito. That combination is, as I like to say, in my wheelhouse.
Perhaps this is a good time to introduce myself. I'm Mark Meszoros, the assistant managing editor/features at The News-Herald, although I'm usually referred to as the entertainment editor. I've just arrived in downtown Nashville for a few days of music-heavy fun. The main point of the trip is to take in some of Next BIG Nashville, aka SoundLand 2111, a collection of non-country musical performances, but there also will be opportunities for me to go back to the Country Music Hall of Fame -- I'm not a big country fan, but that place is fantastic if you're any kind of music lover -- and more. Look for me to check in on this blog a few times before I leave on Sunday.
Given a few hours to explore before our scheduled events tonight, I needed to refuel, hence this stop at Puckett's Grocery & Restaurant, only a few blocks from the very nice Sheraton downtown where I'm staying.
The view from my room:

If you're wondering, the burrito was blissful; it was hard to know where that wonderful pork ended and the zesty BBQ sauce began. It was brought to my barstool in only a few minutes and finished - along with a Fat Tire draft -- almost as quickly.
Now to walk it off. Talk to you soon.

Mark Meszoros | |

Skye opens for breakfast; dinner to follow

The sign for Skye has tantalized passersby of the Lawnfield Inn in Mentor, near Mentor Avenue and Center Street. The restaurant, named after Scotland's Isle of Skye is now open for breakfast from 6:30 to 10 a.m. weekdays and 7 to 11 a.m. other days. Its late night Pub menu also is being served and on Monday it will open for dinner. Hospitality is nothing new to the Kneen family owners of the inn and restaurant since they're the folks behind Traveline, largest travel agency in Ohio, which was founded by Arline Kneen, now on the cusp of turning 92. But this is their first venture into the restaurant business. When I stopped for breakfast I enjoyed oatmeal, a wonderful mainstay of the Scots. This oatmeal was redolent of crunchy whole grains and had a little homemade apple sauce and brown sugar served on the side along with nibbles of fresh strawberry, cantaloupe and pineapple. It's one of four complimentary breakfast served to overnight guests at the inn, but only the tip of the proverbial iceberg once the full breakfast menu is glimpses. It has mini Belgian waffles, eggs Benedict, homemade granola, French toast with Bananas Foster no less and the expected pancakes, omelette and egg dishes.
Check out my breakfast video for a closer look:

Monday, September 19, 2011

Making a ganache

A ganache is one of those wonderful kitchen treats - something that has a lot of different uses and can be made in just a few minutes and kept up to three weeks sealed and in the fridge. Its a sauce when the ratio is one to 2 and a candy truffle when it's one to one and it make the yummiest ever hot chocolate. It only two ingredients are heavy whipping cream and good quality chocolate. See how its done in the video.

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Friday, September 2, 2011

Off to France

On Labor Day Im headed back to France, this time to a small section of the Loire Valley where I'll visit the hometown of Jules Verne and see and see how his genius is influencing those  who have followed him.Im told to expect a cross of steam punk and sci-fi. I'll be visiting some chateaux to see how theyve been reinvented for the 21st century and will go to one where Leonardo DaVinci spent the final few years of his life and where he finished the famous Mona Lisa,  which he reputedly carried with him when he crossed the Alps from Italy into France.. It should be a great trip and I'll be blogging whenever Im able to get a wi-fi signal. One of the most interesting things about this trip will be my travel companions, all invited guests of the French Tourist Office. I'll be one of just two Americans in this international group of journalists. It will be interesting to see how they do their jobs, and I'll keep you up to date too. So please check in here betwee nnow and Sept. 11, the day I fly back home. And tell me: Would you be anxious flying internationally on 9-11?

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