Many things have struck me about Cleveland and Northeast Ohio, since I moved here in May.

  • First of all, it can get cold here. I write this as the Midwest and much of the rest of the country is experiencing he record-breaking cold of the 2014 Polar Vortex. Temps here last night got as low as -11, with wind chills nearly reaching -40. And the winds are BRUTAL, Polar Vortex or not. My poor dogs could barely go outside to pee. On the plus side, I’ve learned a new meteorological term this week: FROST QUAKE. It’s not a breakfast cereal – it’s a real and frightening phenomenon.
  • We’ve found pitifully few places that serve decent Italian food around here. There are tons of places that TRY, but nothing comes close to what you can get in New York. I know that sounds snobby and elitist, but when you are a native New Yorker, you just come to expect 120327-pizza-590decent pizza and Italian takeout. I ordered a calzone from a place a few weeks ago, and it was merely some mozzarella stuffed inside some pizza dough. No ricotta! That’s not a calzone, my friends. We did find one place that was pretty good – D’Angelo’s in Twinsburg. The food was tasty (awesome risotto), and the service was fantastic. We even took my in-laws there when they visited in November.  But we haven’t found a delivery joint that slings NY-style pizza like the ones we used to order from in Clifton Park (La Bella and Inferno). Now, let me give credit where credit is due: Cleveland can do Polish, German…anything Eastern European. Fine. But unfortunately no one delivers galumpkis or sauerbraten. Because we’d totally order that.
  • Related: every delivery joint sells fried chicken. That’s just weird. And none of them – NOT ONE – offers raspberry sauce with their mozzarella sticks. Sigh.
  • Clevelanders are extremely proud of their hometown. Sure, the place has its detractors, but their voices are drowned out by the sea of voices singing the praises of CLE. It’s really nice to see how much people love the place where they live.
  • Clevelanders are extremely proud of their losing sports teams. They love the underdogs here, and there are no greater underdogs than the long-suffering Cleveland Browns. They wear the Browns’ losing seasons like a badge of honor. I think they’d more upset if the Browns actually won. Because then they’d have nothing to complain about. Reminds me of pre-2004 Red Sox Fans (who now just sound like Yankees fans with a dumber accent). Perhaps the best example of the Cleveland attitude towards the Browns is local comedian Mike Polk’s video about the “Factory of Sadness”:
  • Browns aside, having professional sports teams close by is great. Bob & I went to a few Indians games this season, and they were a blast. Wish we had enough $$ to get season tickets.
  • Beer is HUGE here. Ginormous. You can’t swing a dead cat without it falling into a fermenting tank. I haven’t been to any of them yet, but I have plans. Recently, we went to the West Side Market (more on that another time) and attempted to have lunch at the Great Lakes Brewing Company across the street, but that plan was thwarted by a two hour wait. But, we did visit the gift shop, so it wasn’t a total loss. Also, I am currently in love with GLB’s Christmas Ale. It’s kind of the local thing to drink.
  • Grocery stores here really suck. Giant Eagle is dirty and expensive, and Heinen’s is wonderful and expensive. I have since learned that there are other options for groceries (Marc’s, Acme, Aldi), but they all have vocal opponents who claim they are horrible. I haven’t personally visited any of them because I really like Heinen’s (even though it’s crazy expensive most of the time) and it’s really close to our house. We did manage to find a great butcher shop nearby: Mazzulo’s. We ordered our Christmas/NYE prime rib roast there, and have really enjoyed their sausages and steaks. Better prices than the chains, too. Win!
  • Related: Trader Joe’s manages to find the WORST locations, no matter what part of the country they’re in. One of the Cleveland stores (there are only two) is located in the most horrendous shopping malls I’ve ever seen: not only does this place have a North Face store and a Lululemon Athletica store (those two are enough to make you want to kill yourself right there), they have the smallest store-to-parking-space ratio I’ve ever seen. There is never a time when there is adequate parking for the demand. And it doesn’t matter if it’s Cleveland, Albany, or Danbury CT – no matter where, people turn into complete assholes once inside a Trader Joe’s. Self-important, elitist assholes. Except me, of course. I’m still as sweet and polite as always.
  • Small-town politics are just as dirty here as they are in NY. Awesome.
  • Everywhere you look, all you can see on the horizon is…nothing. Vast swaths of nothing. I didn’t realize how much I took the
    Look at that. I miss that.
    Look at that. I miss that.

    mountainous terrain of NY for granted. Up and down the Northway and Thruway, majestic mountains as far as the eye can see. Here? Empty sky. I miss the Adirondacks and the Catskills. The landscape here is boring (though looking at Lake Erie from the lakeshore is kinda cool).

  • The job market here is pretty tough. I still haven’t found a full-time job yet, and I’m getting discouraged.

Man, it really sounds like I’m complaining. I am, but I’m not. Problems are the same all over. The Capital Region may have good pizza and decent grocery stores, but it has cold snowy weather and a shitty Trader Joe’s parking lot, too. There are definitely things about Cleveland that are far superior to Albany: museums, zoos, theaters, professional sports, low taxes…but the Capital Region has one thing over on the CLE – Stewart’s. Damn I miss Stewart’s.