Monday, July 2, 2018

Good eating in Cleveland! by Kylie Logan

JENN McKINLAY: My only quality time in Cleveland was sitting on a plane in December while they de-iced the wings with a hose full of that orangey Gatorade looking stuff. But Kylie has managed to talk me into going back and eating myself silly. Here she is to convince you, too!

Kylie Logan: There’s a lot to like about my hometown, Cleveland, Ohio.
         For one thing our weather is (except for the notable exception now and then) pretty darned pleasant.  We don’t have earthquakes.  We don’t have to endure mud slides.  And though I’m no scientist, I’d say the chance of having a tsunami on Lake Erie are mighty slim.
         Don’t get me wrong, like all large urban areas, we have our share of problems.  But you know what?  Food isn’t one of them.
         Here’s the thing about Cleveland: back in the late 19thand early 20thcenturies when the country was booming and factories were begging immigrants to come to our shores and provide a cheap source of labor, a lot of foreigners came to Cleveland.  They worked in steel mills and in ship yards.  They powered our railroad industry and built our skyscrapers.
         They came from all over the world.  In fact, there is one area of town (a trendy urban neighborhood called Tremont) where there were 38 churches in a three-mile square section of the city.  Why?  Because the Poles there needed a church that spoke their language.  And so did the Greeks, and the Syrians, the Russians and the Hungarians.  All those people.  All those languages.  All that glorious food!
         Here on the North Coast, we’re still taking advantage of our culinary good luck.  Look online for Cleveland restaurants and sure, you’ll see stylish places like the ones run by Iron Chef Michael Symon.  But you’ll also see places that serve Ethiopian food.  And a French café in a carriage house.  The best Mexican food you can imagine can be found at the back counter of a grocery store. Within an easy drive of anywhere, you can satisfy food cravings for everything from German schnitzel to Middle Eastern hummus, pasta to pierogi.
         It’s no wonder that when I was looking for a hook on which to hang a cozy mystery series, I chose ethnic food.  Around here, it goes with the territory.
         The first book in the series was “Irish Stewed.” My husband’s family is Irish so in addition to featuring recipes in the book for things like colcannon (the fabulous mashed potato/steamed cabbage and kale we make in 50 pound quantities for the family St. Pat’s party), I also had the opportunity to explore the boisterous, fiercely loyal relationships that are so much a part of families with Irish roots.  In “French Fried,” I crossed the Channel and got to furnish a farmhouse in sweet French country style and cook a cassoulet that’s so easy, it has become one of our go-to meals.
         And now, the third book in the series has premiered.  “Italian Iced” gives me the opportunity to explore one of the favorite cuisines on the planet.  

         Of course there’s more to every mystery than just talk of food and the recipes included in every book.  In the case of the Ethnic Eats Mysteries, there’s the restaurant in Hubbard, Ohio where most of my main characters work, Sophie’s Terminal at the Tracks, a place that was down on its luck until my heroine, Laurel, decided to feature ethnic cuisine specials on the menu.  And there is murder, too, of course.  In “Italian Iced,” the victim is a friend from Laurel’s past, found frozen to death in the restaurant freezer. Talk about a cold case!
         Have no fear, Laurel and company will work things out.  And when they do, I guarantee, they’ll celebrate with the perfect ethnic food.


So, what about you, Reds and readers, what is your favorite ethnic food? Chinese? Italian? Polish? Mexican? Irish? Thai?


More about Kylie: So maybe you already know that I'm not just Kylie Logan, I'm also Casey Daniels and a few other writers, too. What's it like to have multiple personalities and the pen names to go with them? Well, I was once lucky enough to interview mystery great Elizabeth Peters for an article in the Cleveland Plain Dealer. She writes under more than one name, too, and she described the experience perfectly, “If you're only one person,” she said, “you're boring!” 

And I guess I'd add to that—if you only write one mystery series, you're boring, too! Or maybe you're just not getting visited as often by the Idea Fairy. The only way to keep that particular critter quiet is to follow where those ideas lead and to date, they've led me to write three different mystery series under the Kylie name.

So who is Kylie? I'm a fulltime writer who has loved mysteries since I was a kid. My dad was a Cleveland Police detective, and he introduced me to Sherlock Holmes stories. He also gave me my first investigating experiences when on his days off, we'd pile into the car and hit the streets to look for stolen cars. When he retired from the force, Dad became the head of security for the Cleveland Public Library.

Crooks and books! I guess I come by my love for mysteries honestly. 

52 comments:

  1. Congratulations on your newest book, Kylie . . . I’m definitely looking forward to finding out how Laurel’s friend ended up in the restaurant freezer.

    I had no idea there was so much diversity in the Cleveland cuisine. What a wonderful opportunity to sample lots of yummy food. I’m curious to know if you have a favorite ethnic dish among those you’ve featured in your series?

    I have many favorites . . . I’d love to visit that French café in the carriage house and I’m definitely checking out that colcannon recipe. However, I may be just a teensy bit partial to a plate of sushi and sashimi . . . .

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    1. Kylie here (who is also Casey) . . . favorite ethnic dish I've featured in the series . . . hmmm...that colcannon sure is good. It's easy and everyone who ever has it goes nuts for it. Simply make mashed potatoes (use plenty of butter!), then add steamed chopped cabbage and some steamed chopped kale. Mix it all up and yum!

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  2. Italian is my favorite, and that pasta looks sooo good! Your book sounds like a lot of fun. Thanks for sharing!

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    1. You're very welcome, Marla! There are a couple good pasta recipes in the book!

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  3. Congratulations, on the new book, Kylie! I've never read any of your ethnic cuisine books, but I've read a bunch of the Casey Daniels mysteries, and really enjoyed them! I guess now I have a new series to look into.

    I always joke that I prefer "peasant" food--the simple stuff like tacos and pasta and bacon rolls that working folks put together and stuck in their lunch pails when they headed out each morning. Italian food is always a favorite. I grew up in Springfield, Mo, where the largest ethnic community at the time was Taiwanese. We had cheap Chinese takeout on every street corner, and it was delicious.

    Then I moved to Texas. I told my husband once that I moved here mostly for him, but at least partially for the Tex-Mex food, which is a whole cuisine to itself, and not purely the food you'd find in Mexico. And don't get me started on the BBQ! After 30 years, I'm beginning to take the bountiful ethnic food here for granted, but now we have new waves of Indian, Thai, and Middle Eastern immigrants moving in, and bringing their food along with them, so I have new frontiers to explore.

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    1. Ah, the thought of Chinese food makes my mouth water. Unfortunately, I am allergic to soy sauce (and cheese, too, which is another annoying thing). I really, really miss being about to go out for Chinese!

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  4. What a fun series - can't believe I've missed it! I also write more than one with more than one name and you're right. It's definitely not boring. ;^)

    I lived in Japan for two years and am partial to anything Japanese - but not Americanized with avocado and, horror of horrors, mayonnaise. But I also grew up in southern California, so Mexican food is my comfort food. A steamed tamale? To die for.

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    1. Just found a recipe for doing tamales in our Instant Pot. Quick and delicious!

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  5. The Hub and I joke that we can never leave AZ because we’ll never find the diversity of Mexican food, which we are addicted to, anywhere else. There’s Sonoran, Michoacán, Oaxacan, Campeche, Veracruz, etc. I love them all. And now that there is (finally) great Pizza in Phoenix. I’m all good! Can’t wait to read Italian Iced! Thanks for visiting us, Kylie!

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    1. I had no idea there were that many different kinds of Mexican food. I guess it makes sense. Would love to try them all!

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  6. Waving at Kylie, my Halloween fangirl pal! I missed you at Malice this year.

    Between being engaged to a Cleveland guy in the 70's, and having a daughter who lived there for six years (half of the time in Little Italy), I've been lucky enough to have a fair amount of fabulous food in your vibrant city.

    The wedding reception for the Polish woman who married the Italian gentleman will live forever in my memory. Dozens of bowls of food were passed among the guests: lasagna, spaghetti, and manicotti were followed by cabbage, pierogi, and sausages. It was epic.

    Maybe the Kielbasa Kid should ride again.

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    1. Hi Karen! Hoping to make Malice next year. Too funny about the Kielbasa Kid! And there just so happens to be a wedding at the end of "Italian Iced," and plenty of ethnic foods to go around!

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  7. This series sounds like so much fun! As a major league foodie, I'm in. I have never been to Cleveland but sounds like I should definitely go there.

    Kylie, with summer upon us, and knowing that cities often have their own versions of a hot dog, is there any "Cleveland-style" hot dog?

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    1. Oh yes, do come to Cleveland! Cleveland style hot dog? No, I don't really think so. This is where stadium mustard originated, so we've got that going for us. And of course, the usual collection of grilled sausages, including hot dogs, brats, Italian sausage and of course, kielbasa!

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    2. Josh Gates of Expedition Unknown & The Travel Channel says that "The Clevelander" from Dan's Dogs in Cleveland is the best hot dog in the land... the whole land.

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  8. And right now my favorite ethnic food is Chinese soup dumplings. Hot, juicy, savory... even in the summer.

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  9. Oh gosh, I will go anywhere, so take me with you, Reds! Sometimes there’s nothing as fabulous as an Indian food feast, other times are the lure of hoisin sauce is irresistible. . Parmesan cheese, and mozzarella, and oregano, and marinara sauce? Any day. And anything with soy sauce and ginger, I’m in!

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    1. Sigh. Your talk of soy sauce and cheese makes me weep with longing. I'm allergic to both! Oh, how I miss the old days when I could eat those things with abandon!

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    2. Oh no! Sorry..but fresh peaches are out now! Does that help? Grilled outside? Xxxx

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  10. All of the above cuisines..Love to cook and love to eat. and of course love to read - a bit of everything!

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    1. And that's what makes life interesting, yes?

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  11. Hi, Cleveland! I try everything when we move to a new city, but I struggled in Cincinnati with brats boiled in beer before grilling...and then there's the chili. Congratulations on your new release.

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    1. CInci chili is definitely a taste I’ve yet to acquire- great ice cream thought

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    2. I grew up in this area, but am not a fan of Cincinnati chili.

      And I can't say I've ever had brats boiled in beer. If those are the pale-colored ones, I can't even look at them, let alone eat them.

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    3. True life confession -- I'm not sure if I've ever had brats NOT boiled in beer first. That is how I learned to cook them as a young adult and have done so ever since. But just to be clear, you still grill them -- just AFTER the boiling in beer. There is nothing that sounds appetizing about a pale-colored brat!

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    4. I'm with you, ladies. Not a fan of brats and as for Cincy chilli, I know people who love it. I am definitely not one of them!

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    5. Graeter's chunky chunky hippo ice cream in honor of Fiona, the baby hippo at the Zoo

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  12. I'd have to say Mexican is my favorite ethnic food...except when it's Italian...except when it's Chinese...except when...

    The food scene in Pittsburgh can also be diverse, probably all those immigrants who came to work the steel mills.

    Mary/Liz

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    1. Hi Mary! Sorry I didn't get a chance to chat with you when you were here for our Killer Heat event. I bet Cleveland Pittsburgh are so alike when it comes to ethnic foods. We are blessed by our immigrant ancestors!

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  13. Definitely the thing I miss most about living in the country--lack of decent ethnic food nearby. I'm like Mary, my favorite ethnic food is probably Greek--except when it's Tex-Mex in Tucson, or Irish in Pittsburgh or Swiss-German in Columbus....

    Congrats on the new book and for keeping all those balls in the air, Kylie!

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    1. Thanks! As for keeping all the balls in the air . . . well, there are days it simply doesn't work!

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  14. Hi Kylie/Casey! Your Ethnic Eats Mysteries sound great -- added to my TBR list!

    I'm fairly nearby, in Columbus, but I think our food experiences are quite different. Columbus has a lot of ethnic diversity now, but when I was growing up we were very white bread. But today we have a large Indian population, the second largest Somali population in the US (and second largest outside of Somalia), and a substantial Mexican-American community. Plus lots of others I'm not thinking of...Eritrean, Vietnamese, Russian -- and that's just thinking of fellow members at my church.

    My favorite ethnic cuisines? Really fond of Indian -- more the curries than the Tandoori -- but Thai may top my list. When I'm in the right mood, I can seriously appreciate Greek, too. (Who am I kidding? I like them all! I love spices and I love variety and I love new experiences.)

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    1. Too funny that you describe Columbus as white bread. I always described it as vanilla ice cream. Glad to hear there's more variety of foods available these day!

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  15. I don't think I have a favorite ethnic food. That's probably because I'll eat almost anything! The food I would like to try next is Turkish. Several Turkish restaurants have popped up in the area in the last few years, and friends who have been to some of them rave about the food.

    DebRo

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    1. Let us know how it is, DebRo. I've never had Turkish food. Anyone else?

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    2. Actually, I have had Turkish food here in Columbus. I liked it a lot -- then they moved the restaurant to where it is no longer convenient for me, and I haven't been back. I remember thinking it seemed kind of like a mashup of Greek and Middle Eastern (duh, I realize, given where Turkey is.) But as I've said above, I like food, period, so I may not be a good one to ask.

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    3. Since I like both Greek and Middle Eastern food, I'll have to try Turkish one of these days!

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  16. Welcome, Kylie! Your post is making me hungry! The only thing I don't enjoy is spicy hot food; otherwise, I'm game. Two of my favorites are Vietnamese and Syrian street food. We have a place in Seattle that grills halloumi cheese, and I'm addicted.

    Do you chose the type of food as the starting point for each book or do you have a mystery in mind and then decide the flavor, so to speak?

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    1. I actually usually start the books in this series with the title, then I take it from there!

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  17. I love Mexican food, which is good living in Southern CA where Mexican restaurants are everywhere. I also love Italian food.

    And I loved Italian Iced, too!

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    1. Thanks, Mark! It's always good to hear from you.

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  18. What a cool interview. We lived in NE Ohio through the 80s and 90s. My husband's first job was at an airplane landing gear company in Slavic village. Then he was in downtown Cleveland at a bank right across the street from Rinaldi's Jewelry (Little John!). His job put him in contact with lots of police departments including Cleveland's. One of our best friends is a retired police detective from Cleveland and we still keep in touch with him and his wife. I was introduced to the pierogi in Ohio. But I had a difficult time finding good Mexican food back then. Nowadays I live in Houston which is a very international city. We have everything food-wise. I still lean towards Tex Mex and authentic barbecue. Authentic as in smoked! And good seafood!

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    1. I grew up in Slavic Village! (Well, on the outskirts.) Small world. As for pierogi . . . my absolute all-time favorite food! Yum and yum again!

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  19. Hi Kylie! I love Cleveland and I love food--how have I missed your series? What a fun concept. So far I haven't found an ethnic food I DON'T like. When I'm in London I eat a lot of Indian, Thai, French, and Italian, but my very favorite is Middle Eastern. There is a fabulous Lebanese restaurant near Victoria Station called Kazan that I never miss. I'm hungry just thinking about it.

    But, while there are some decent Mexican restaurants in London these days, I'm always ready to come home to Texas for Tex-Mex. I also love the Mexican/Southwestern food you get in New Mexico and Arizona.

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    1. Lebanese . . . fabulous food! OK, guys, I'm getting hungry reading all these comments!

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  20. Of the cuisines mentioned, I'm definitely a fan of Italian. I love pasta, spaghetti the best. Mexican and Thai are my least favorites, mainly because they don't agree with me. However, I do eat Thai at least once a year, as my daughter loves it and picks out a particular Thai restaurant to go to on her birthday every year. Apparently, her family likes it, too. My son loves Japanese cuisine, and I do enjoy that some, too.

    Kylie, when I was growing up, my family vacationed quite a bit on Lake Erie, at Sandusky, where we stayed at the grand old hotel Hotel Breakers. I can remember walking back to our rooms and hearing the band play. Lake Erie's water had yet to be polluted back in the early 60s, so we swam in it. It was just like being at the ocean, with the beach and water that extended beyond our sight. Of course, there was Cedar Point there, too, but we mainly focused on the lake.

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    1. I'm happy to report that Lake Erie is (usually) good for swimming again. As for Sandusky, my League of Literary Ladies mysteries are set right across the water at Put-in-Bay!

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    2. Okay, this I have to check out--the League of Literary Ladies at PIB, since I live 20 minutes from Sandusky!

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    3. That is wonderful news about Lake Erie, Casey. I'd love to get back up that way sometime soon.

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    4. There are five books in the League series. First is "Mayhem at the Orient Express" and the fifth and newest is "Gone with the Twins." Enjoy!

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  21. My newly married sister lived in Cleveland in the 60s. She introduced the whole family to real yogurt as served at a local restaurant.
    Libby Dodd

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