Cleveland with the Cousins

It might seem a little odd to write about a daytrip to Cleveland from back in March, when I still haven’t really written about our awesome trip to Aruba earlier this month, but I’ve been meaning to get this out there for a while now.

See, we rarely get to hang out with Aaron’s now-adult cousins outside of the standard family gatherings (Thanksgiving, Christmas, sometimes Easter, and sometimes Independence Day), so after literally YEARS of “we should really get together and hang out sometime” and one snow delay, we managed to spend a day together in Cleveland. The plan was to start out in Ohio City, hit the West Side Market, drive to Tremont and walk around, then wrap up with dinner in Asiatown.

And, despite the cold, that’s just what we did. Read on for details and photos…

Due to conflicting work schedules, our day was to start out with meeting only two of the four Bura cousins for lunch; due to unfortunate bus schedules, those two cousins (Alex and Natalie) would arrive later than we’d originally planned. No problem: Aaron and I spent some time checking out the West Side Market while we waited for them to arrive.

The West Side Market was an amazing place, full of delicious sights and smells and crowds of people. (And bathrooms downstairs, which we desperately needed.) We wandered around and gawked at the gyros and the sweets and the fresh produce and meat and everything else under the sun, until we got the text we’d been waiting for, and met Alex and Natalie outside.

We couldn’t decide on anything to eat in the West Side Market, so we took a walk around Ohio City, toward some restaurants. We passed the place that reportedly has the best hamburgers in the city, but opted to dine at Le Petit Triangle — which, true to its name, is both small and triangular.

Since Aaron and I had never eaten at a truly French restaurant (outside of the Mexican-French fusion we thoroughly enjoyed on vacation in Mexico), I had wanted to try something one might only see at a French restaurant: the cassoulet. Alas, the cassoulet would not be ready in time to serve for lunch, so the server suggested the beef bourguignon instead, which was truly superb. Aaron ordered the gnocchi (with béchamel, cheddar, and parmesan: basically macaroni and cheese with dumplings), which was also amazingly good. Alex and Natalie shared the smoked trout plate, I believe, and the paté appetizers.

After lunch, we walked back to the West Side Market to get some lunch dessert. It was nigh on impossible to choose, what with all the delicious and delectable offerings everyone had, but we ended up going with the place that had the best deal on the best-looking cannoli: Theresa’s.

Aaron, Alex, and Natalie

Once we’d thoroughly enjoyed our tasty treat, we piled into the Schnuthmobile and headed out to Tremont (which took a bit longer than it probably needed to, since Alex knows his way around Cleveland by bus, not so much by car, so we ended up going the long way). Normally, this would have been an ideal place to walk around and enjoy the sights and the pleasant neighborhood. However, this was Ohio in late March, and an unseasonably cold March at that. So, we parked the car in a one- or two-hour parking spot (I forget which, but we took that entire time) and headed out to walk around as much as we could enjoy.

We ended up spending most of our Tremont time in a charming little coffee shop called Civilization, where I enjoyed the best café mocha I’ve ever had — made with Mexican chocolate. Highly recommended. We spent quite a while there, catching up and having the quality time we rarely get at family gatherings. That’s one role in which coffee shops excel (the good ones do, anyway): providing a neutral, unassuming place to talk about everything and nothing. Which we did.

Finally, Alex got a call from Megan and Joe, who planned to meet us for dinner at the Wonton Gourmet. Beforehand, though, they were planning to hit up an Asian market, and we decided to join them. Back out to the car for a brief drive to Asiatown, to meet Megan and Joe at the Park To Shop.

Park To Shop had some items new to me, both tasty and questionable, including live frogs and crabs. We did some quick shopping — Aaron picked up a bag of assorted rice crackers — before jumping back in our cars to head out to dinner at the Wonton Gourmet.

There, we shared several dishes of varying levels of spiciness, all of them delicious. I don’t even remember them all: ramen, turnip cakes, duck, some sort of spicy fish, what else…? At any rate, I had to stop when I was full to the point of being uncomfortable, and even then I wished I could have kept eating. Definitely a great place to eat and share several dishes with family and friends.

Once we were done, we could see that the place was filling up (we’d had to make a reservation for our party of six), so we decided to take the party elsewhere: Number One Pho. Aaron and I had been there once before, with Alex, before a Matthew Sweet concert back in ’08. Turns out that, in addition to tasty Vietnamese beef noodle soup, they also have tasty bubble tea. So, all six of us sat down and ordered bubble tea and talked for a while longer.

Finally, well after dark, we headed back to our cars and to our respective homes — but not before agreeing that we’d definitely have to get together again sometime this summer, maybe in Toledo this time around. (I’m sure we’ll think of something!)

That was definitely a good time, and something I wish we would have made a habit of before Aaron and I found ourselves with child. Ah, well… better late than never.

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