Pasta Making Class with Stefanie Paganini & Chapter Meeting

By Elaine Cicora

Thirteen lean and hungry members of the Cleveland Chapter of LDEI made their way to Chesterland on March 7. Their destination: the International Culinary Arts and Sciences Institute. There we were greeted by Dame Stefanie Paganini, who provided a brief tour of the lovely facility that her mother, Loretta Paganini, founded in 2005 as the professional arm to her popular cooking school.

Dame Candice Berthold lead us in a brief business meeting (is 20 minutes a new record?), during which we enjoyed wine and some delicious avocado hummus made by the ICASI prep kitchen. Then it was time to roll up our sleeves, tie on our aprons, and head into the pastry kitchen where we were soon up to our elbows in fresh pasta dough.

Stefanie revealed to us the secrets of striped tri-color pasta –  white (plain), green (spinach), and red (red pepper) – and set us free in teams of two to craft bowties and pansotti, a stuffed tortellini-like pasta whose name, significantly enough, means "pot belly!" The interactive task not only elicited our creativity (pasta dough patterns ranged from tidy stripes, to argyles, to wavy psychedelic stripes), but also plenty of laughter and good-natured chatter.

(Of course, what happens in the kitchen stays in the kitchen. But it really is amazing what you can learn about someone when you're cooking together!)

Stefanie topped the bowties with a chunky salsa al pomodoro. The ricotta-and-prosciutto-stuffed pansotti were finished in a delightful almond pesto.

Back in the dining room, we feasted family-style on overflowing bowls of both types of pastas – it all tasted wonderful! – and then finished our meal with homemade apricot almond biscotti and coffee.

Before we knew it, it was 9 p.m. and time to adjourn. We headed out into the springlike evening with well-earned big bellies of our own, along with recipes for future use and warmest thanks to Stephanie Paganini for one of the best-tasting programs in memory.


Happy Hour Fun at Spice

By Kim Hall and Shara Foldi

Ten Cleveland Dames met up this week for our first happy hour adventure. We had intended to visit a few establishments in the Gordon Square Arts District, but were having such a great time at our first stop, the new Spice Kitchen and Bar, that we never left!

We were warmly welcomed by general manager, Amelia Ammann, who set aside several tables for us, and joined us for a bit. Our tables were quaintly set with Ball jar water glasses and dried flower arrangements. The bar area was beautiful with intriguing hanging light fixtures that, (if we got the story right,) were made by chef/owner Ben Bebenroth using driftwood that had come from Lake Erie. What a nice, local touch!

We tried most items on the creative happy hour menu - delightful polenta chick pea fries served with a spicy remoulade, creamy mushroom beignets, fragrant spiced lentil soup, and the 41st flatbread complete with fried eggs on top. One Dame ordered a salad as well. We all tried each other's appetizers and everything was very much savored and devoured. Most enjoyed the happy hour wine specials and a few tried a refreshing Caipirinha and a "girly" martini.

It was a truly nice evening, as Dames mingled and got to know each other better. There was never a shortage of things to chat about. We talked about everything from what we thought of the food, to each other's businesses, to books we're reading, to families, to things we never knew about each other (ie: Linda's ballerina days and Shara's rock band days), to the upcoming fundraiser.

We stayed later than any of us planned, and stayed put at Spice (as previously mentioned)! Amelia, a long time restaurant professional, was delighted to learn about our group and we will invite her to a future meeting! Stay tuned for our next adventure...