Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Cuyahoga Falls Riverfront and My Weekly Martini

This weekend felt an awful lot like autumn around here. Cooler temperatures and rainy days put an emphasis on the fact that summer is winding down. While it’s definitely still mid-August, the cool front that interrupted our summer heat wave was very much appreciated.

And for a change there was nothing on my calendar for the weekend at all. Nadda, zippo, nuttin’. Saturday was good weather for mowing the postage stamp-sized yard around my house and finishing up some paperwork chores that have been accumulating for a few months. By Sunday however I was pinging around the house with a small case of cabin fever. So I picked up my camera and headed out for a short walkabout.

Front Street way back when!
photo is copyright Barry W. Scholles

A popular summer destination is the Riverfront in Cuyahoga Falls. On Friday and Saturday evenings all summer long there are concerts, cruise ins, and more than a few festivals that bring hundreds of people to the plaza.

If you grew up in the Falls in the 1960's (as I did) you will recall this area being a work-in-progress during the 1970’s. Front Street still had automobile traffic, Kippy’s was a popular diner on the south end of the street and the only place for people to congregate was one and a half miles west at the State Road shopping center.

View of the Cuyahoga River from
the Boardwalk
When Front Street was closed off and they began building the pedestrian mall there were great hopes for a revitalization of the area. Unfortunately, I don’t think it’s turned out exactly as planned, but the riverfront itself is really very nice.

What I learned on Sunday is that while this place can be hopping on a festival weekend, it’s very calm and quiet on a normal Sunday afternoon.

Between rain showers I took a very leisurely stroll along the upper and lower river front boardwalks. On the upper street level you’re behind the shops and condos that line the pedestrian mall. Among the trash receptacles and power boxes are a few pretty flower gardens and well tended back entrances. I also noticed a new Firehouse Grill on the south end of the plaza advertising their $1 burgers. At the north end was the new Samira's Restaurant. Both places are now on my list of places to visit.

The lower boardwalk was quiet with only a few folks tending fishing poles and me walking the river. The falls itself was rushing and the river was high. Even though we were only feet from rushing traffic along route 8, it was a serene setting. This isn’t a walk if you’re looking for exercise, but if you’re just looking for a quiet place to hang out for a while, this might be the spot. I also imagine the kids hang out here at night so if you really want quiet, try a Sunday afternoon like I did.

It was such a nice quiet afternoon wandering around that I looked forward to a nice lazy night when I finally walked into the house for the evening. I was a bit hungry so headed to the fridge to scout it out. I found the remains of my blackberries from the CSA and decided to prep them for a shortcake. That meant heading to the liquor cabinet to find something to macerate the berries in because, of course, just plain water wasn’t good enough for these gigantic beautiful berries.

The ingredients for a cool martini
My booze cabinet is really full of some interesting stuff. It may rival some small bars I’ve been to in the varieties of liquor found there. I shop at the liquor store the way friends of mine shop for shoes, sometimes more for the looks of the bottle than the comfort found within.  But that's fine.  I like to experiment and try new things.  Mixing up a cocktail is a little like making dinner, a bit of creativity can go a long way to finding a new great experience.

I hauled out a bottle of cherry liqueur that I purchased a while back for……who knows what. While contemplating the effect of cherry liqueur on those blackberries, I spied the Godiva liqueur witting on the next shelf and my mind immediately snapped to chocolate covered cherries.

Chocolate covered cherries are a weakness of mine. They’re super sweet, super gooey and really very good. In fact, they are so sweet that my teeth hurt just thinking about them. The chocolate is mediocre at best, the filling is probably straight refined sugar and those cherries taste more like candy than a real cherry. But I don’t care. I love them anyway. I don’t buy them often because I can go through a box of these in a few short days. Sad, ain’t it?

So why it hasn’t occurred to me to make a chocolate covered cherry martini in the past is a very good question, especially since I had the foresight at some point to purchase cherry liqueur. I remedied that situation immediately.  A splash of cherry liqueur on the berries to keep them happy for another night and I reached for the cocktail shaker and some ice.  A few minutes later I was sprawled in my chair with a martini in one hand and the TV remote in the other.  Perfect Sunday night.

My Version of a Chocolate Covered Cherry - Martini Style
1 shot Cherry Liqueur
1 shot Godiva Dark Chocolate Liqueur
1 1/2 shots vanilla vodka
maraschino cherry for garnish

Put ingredients in a small shaker, add 3 cracked ice cubes, shake for a full minute.  Strain into a chilled glass, add the cherry and enjoy. 

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