Interview with Jim Blevins, Executive Chef of Butcher and The Brewer

We had the pleasure of chatting with Jim Blevins, the executive chef of Butcher and the Brewer on East Fourth Street. He’s extremely down-to-earth, talented, passionate, and definitely knows his food. We’re truly grateful for the experience and he even had his staff bring out an absolutely GLORIOUS smoked bone marrow app to share! (pictured further down in this post)

Butcher and the Brewer


Jim respects the culinary occupation and is proud of his work, but isn’t pretentious about it. He gets a lot of his ideas by taking something he’s tried and figuring out how to make it more “fat kid friendly.” While some foodies and chefs refuse to touch restaurant chains, he flat out told us, “I’ll touch THE SHIT out of McDonalds” and shortly after added Popeye’s and Skyline to the list. (He doesn’t like Chipotle though… We told him we’d try to see past that.)


Last concert: Tool 2006

First CD purchased:  Pink Floyd – Wish You Were Here

Favorite cooking styles: Southern American and Soul Food

Favorite beer on your current menu:  The Repeater Kolsch


GWG: Do you think music plays a role in your kitchen? If so, how?

JB: No – not in a professional kitchen. We don’t play music in the back because we need to communicate constantly. On the other hand, they do in the prep kitchen and you can usually tell what everybody’s mood is (e.g. crazy angry death metal = NOT coming down there today). And sometimes, the butcher rocks out to T-Swift – we call it Club Rex.

GWG: Totally get the no cooking in the professional kitchen, but what about when you cook at home?

JB: I listen to mostly two bands: Tool and Pink Floyd. I also really like the Butthole surfers, The Misfits, Marilyn Manson (when no one’s home), and White Zombie.

GWG:  What music (genre, artist, certain songs – whichever is easier to choose) would you pair with the current menu?

JB:  I’ll be honest, it’s such a hard question to answer and I’ve never come up with a great answer in my mind. But I’ll go with “The Sharing Song” by Jack Johnson…

GWG: Where do you get your overall creative flow and inspiration to start innovating new recipes?

JB: [shrugs] It just comes from somewhere.

GWG: What is something that goes into being an executive chef that people don’t consider?

JB: Amount of time I spend not cooking. I sort of view the job like the editor of a newspaper. I spend a lot of time pulling everything all together to make the final product – the menu.

GWG: What drew you to Butcher and The Brewer?

JB: The chance to be back on East Fourth and work with a butcher – And because they’re simply great people to work for.

GWG: What are some of the coolest kitchen appliances/technology at the restaurant:

JB: My favorite is the Josper – it’s one of 20 or 30 in the country. It’s a charcoal-fired oven and the one used to make our bone marrow dish. Another great one is our Rational. It’s a steamer, smoker and oven all in one and very smart – it can be programmed.


with Capers, shallots, herbs, crispy bread

Smoked Bone Marrow with Capers, shallots, herbs, crispy bread

One of the most remarkable traits of Jim Blevins is that he’s truly a self-taught chef. Jim grew up in Warren, Ohio, and he’s worked at a variety of jobs. Yet, something kept bringing him back to the kitchen environment.

Perhaps the draw of the kitchen stemmed from the fond childhood memories of his grandmother, who also worked in the food industry, cooking for him – his favorite was soft eggs and toast (at least, he’s sure this is what influenced his urge to top off many dishes with an egg) – or maybe he simply always felt “right” in the restaurant atmosphere, unlike his stints in roofing and landscaping.

While he said there was never a definitive, standout moment of wanting to work in the restaurant business, there was a distinct moment of realization that he wanted to kill it in the restaurant scene. Sure, most people want to be successful and do well, but this is the event that made him shift gears and strive to hustle even harder. We discovered this when we asked him what was the best meal he ever ate. It was the first time he had the bone marrow appetizer at Lolita; which we’re sure was delicious, in addition to being powerfully impactful. And to make matters even more epic, it was the very first date with his now wife!

“Instead of doing culinary school, get into the best restaurant you can and work there for free.”

After the spark was ignited, he started taking jobs he wasn’t quite ready for, only to discover he needed to gather a few essential skills before taking on more responsibility. So, he took a line cook position at Lola. There, he was able to gain the necessary skills and tools to take those jobs he had previously turned down. If he could give young, aspiring chefs advice, he would urge them to forego culinary school, get their foot in the door at the best restaurant they can and work there for free, soaking up all the knowledge they can.


If you haven’t been, you definitely need to check out Butcher and The Brewer. The atmosphere, décor, food, and beer are all fantastic – even the bathroom set up is cool! As mentioned earlier in the Quick Q&A section, the Chef is usually in charge of piecing together the menu. So, Jim created and organized the majority of the restaurant’s menu.

A few months ago, Amanda attended a dinner club event that our friend Andrea introduced us to. (Andrea is a fellow blogger – check out here blog: After Jim described one of the courses, Amanda asked if he would be down for an interview – so that’s where this wonderful opportunity came about. The dinner was a fantastic foodie adventure and a true display of culinary innovation and expertise. The two pictures I decided to include are the “Deviled Egg” and the “Beef Heart Tartare” which were two of the most unique, yet very delicious, dishes I’ve ever had.

If you can’t tell from the above menu and dishes, he’s a very innovative chef so for the standard restaurant menu, he finds himself toeing the line between weird and normal. He wants to keep the options interesting, but still accessible for most diners. In addition to that impressive balance, it’s a very solid menu and we learned that they went through a very rigorous process to achieve it. Jim and his team cooked 4-5 dishes a day and rejected about 98% of them. He said he would definitely do it differently next time, but it was a very valuable experience.

Butcher and The Brewer

We were really interested in how seasonally and locally focused they are. Jim said they’ve done a great job with both initiatives their first year – which is impressive considering how hectic a restaurants first year can be – and want to intensely focus on them even more this year. Here’s a list that includes some stand-out local sources. He also noted that Butcher and the Brewer grows their own herbs.

They are also really focusing on getting the new Market portion open where they will have a variety of meats and other goodies for sale.  Here are some of the products we can look forward to:

  • Sandwiches, Hot Dogs, Lobster Rolls
  • Aged beef, Pork, Charcuterie
  • Locally sourced sauces, honey, maple syrup
  • Butter, milk, cream, veggies
  • Bread from On The Rise Bakery
  • Growlers of beer
  • AND maybe even Dog bones :)

Portobello Gyros with Grooves out of Greece

Portobello Gyros with Grooves out of GreeceGyro’s are one of our favorite foods. Whether it’s a much needed pre-shop meal at the West Side Market, a casual dinner, or a post-party late night fourth meal, they very rarely disappoint.

This delicious and relatively healthy veggie version is pretty easy to whip up and can be enjoyed by carnivores and herbivores alike. One of Southside’s old, but hopefully eventually returning, menu items inspired me to make these.

I don’t remember exactly what was on it beyond it being a scrumptious gyro with portobellos instead of lamb or chicken. If you’re a lover of garlicy gyros and mushrooms, this is a great dish for you. I will warn you though:  major garlic breath is an unavoidable result of eating them.

The Grooves

Since I don’t know a ton about the current music scene in Greece, I decided to do a little research. There are a handful of genres with a strong presence – especially in Athens – and I came across some pretty unique tunes. I was really drawn in by a lot of their electronic acts so I decided to pull together a playlist comprised of DJ’s out of Greece. Some tracks are more deep house, techno and others more slow-dub, downtempo.

The Grub

I love this recipe because it is filled with great texture, color, and flavor. The portobellos get super tender and tasty after being sautéed and the veggies and sauce keep it refreshing. Although the ingredient list is relatively long, a lot of these items are easy to find at the store and you may already have them in your kitchen.


  • 2-3 medium-sized portobello caps (sliced)
  • 1 small onion (half diced, half sliced)
  • 4-5 cloves garlic (minced)Portobello Gyros with Grooves out of Greece
  • 1/4 tsp thyme
  • 1/4 tsp cumin
  • 1/8 tsp paprika
  • 1/8 tsp chili power
  • 1/8 tsp cinnamon
  • salt and peper
  • cooking oil and/or butter
  • 1 small container plain yogurt (5.3 oz)
  • A half of a lemon (1/5 tsp of zest and the juice)
  • 1-2 small tomatoes (sliced)
  • 1 small cucumber (half diced, half sliced)
  • flatbread or pita

Portobello Gyros with Grooves out of Greece Portobello Gyros with Grooves out of Greece Portobello Gyros with Grooves out of Greece

Directions:Portobello Gyros with Grooves out of Greece

  1. Sauté 3 of the cloves of minced garlic in some cooking oil – I used a mixture of olive oil and butter.
  2. After a few minutes add in portobello slices, mixing them with the garlic, and seasoning them with the spices until coated. Add salt and pepper as needed.
  3. While they are cooking, mix:  yogurt, diced cucumber,2 tsp diced onion, lemon zest and juice, and the remaining minced garlic. Salt and pepper to taste.
  4. Heat flatbread in skillet, oven, or microwave. Be sure not to overheat.
  5. Once portobello slices are finished cooking (should take 7-10 minutes), build your veggie gyro in the warmed flatbread, topping it with the sliced veggies and yogurt sauce.

Portobello Gyros with Grooves out of Greece

Interview with Arizona’s Folk Phenoms: Run Boy Run

A few years ago, we discovered an incredible Americana/Folk band from Tucson, Arizona at the Beachland Tavern during a bluegrass and folk showcase. That band would be Run Boy Run and they’ve been truly impressing us with their captivating strings and lyric-filled sound ever since that fateful late winter evening. (If you’re a frequent GWG reader, you’ll recognize them from our SW Chorizo Egg Skillet with SW Folk & Americana post.)

Run Boy Run

Since our paths crossed, we, of course, try to catch them whenever we can. The last time they were in town was this past fall. I was yet again blown away by their breathtaking vocals that often blend into a hypnotizingly beautiful sound, and their extremely well executed instrumentals – both rehearsed bars and improvisations. I was able to capture a few video clips at the show – check ‘em out below! (Still working with an iPhone, but the quality is good enough to highlight their energy, beauty, and talent.)

While the opener, The Luckey Ones, was finishing up, I noticed they were enjoying some of Beachland’s tasty grub and knew then I HAD to ask them for an interview. After their wonderful performance, I had a chance to thank them and chat for a bit. They were incredibly fun and engaging to talk to and are clearly very passionate about their music – and about food too! You’ll see in the interview below that they have some great recommendations for both recipe and restaurant adventures.

Run Boy RunThe Band:

Matt Rolland (fiddle, guitar)

Grace Rolland (vocals, cello)

Bekah Sandoval Rolland (vocals, fiddle, guitar)

Jen Sandoval (vocals, mandolin)

Jesse Allen (Bass)

 The Interview:

I remember one of you saying that the majority of the band met in college? Could you tell us more about that and how the band was officially formed? Did any of you study music as your major?

Matt Rolland: The band was official formed at the University of Arizona fall of 2009. We came together to play old time string band music, and decided to compete on something of a lark at the Pickin’ in the Pines Festival in Flagstaff, AZ. The judges liked our songs and sound well enough to pick us as the winners. That gave us an opening festival slot the following year and we ran with it. Bekah minored in music in college, but other than that it’s always been a non-academic pursuit for all of us, although several of us did take private lessons for several years.

Where and when was your first official gig?

Matt: We opened up for a small jazz duo at a now defunct 24-7 grill in downtown Tucson. They saw us practicing on my front porch and asked us to come play with them. That’s the Tucson music scene in a nutshell for you!

How did you come up with the name “Run Boy Run”

Matt:  It comes from an old fiddle tune I learned from Benny Thomasson, a legendary Texas fiddler. We liked the energy and symmetry in the name. I’ve heard that’s also where Charlie Daniels’ got the classic lyric, “Fire on the mountain, run boys run”, that appears in The Devil Went Down to Georgia.

In the “About” section of your website, it reads: “deeply rooted familial connection to traditional American music, Run Boy Run didn’t come lately to their sound; it’s in their collective blood.” Could you elaborate on that a little?

Matt: We all come from musical families. Jesse’s mom is a classically trained opera singer who performs and teaches in Tucson. The Rollands grew up in a family band, their dad a cowboy fiddler of regional renown and their mom a cellist and orchestra teacher. The Sandovals also grew up in a family bluegrass band, their grandfather being the best-known bluegrass festival promoter in the southwest. It was a natural coming together of musical history to start playing together, and there was a unique chemistry in what we were doing.

Who are some of your biggest musical influences?

Grace Rolland: For the sounds of Run Boy Run, we are collectively very inspired and influenced by the instrumental prowess of the Punch Brothers, and vocally of women like Joni Mitchell and Emmylou Harris and Patsy Cline. I love Patsy Cline.

Jen Sandoval: I really love Alison Krauss, Crooked Still, The Carter Family, and right now, the Punch Brothers, for really pushing the envelope musically.

While your instrumentals are very impressive, the vocals are incredible. Have all of you taken professional lessons? Do you have any advice, tricks, or tips for aspiring vocalists and voice students?

Grace: We have all at some point been a part of a choir or taken lessons. When it comes to treating the voice with kindness with the aim to preserve its health, I regularly drink warm water with honey in the mornings and if I go out to a restaurant; and when we are touring I try to abstain from coffee or alcohol, which are both very dehydrating.

Jen: I took vocal lessons for four years while in high school. I was trained in the classical style of singing, and I definitely recommend it to any and everyone looking to become more serious about their vocal skills. It helped me tremendously with technique, and it’s really important to sing properly in order to increase the longevity of a vocal career, no matter what style of music you are singing.

What is the best place to eat that you’ve discovered on tour?

Bekah Sandoval Rolland: Honestly, I find that I crave light, healthy food–greens, whole grains, lean meats–while we’re on the road. Maybe that’s why I tend to gravitate toward Vegan and Vegetarian restaurants when we’re stopping through a major city? I usually opt for those when scanning a list of restaurants on Yelp, even though I’m not vegan or vegetarian. When you’re sedentary in a van for hours at a time, a heavy, greasy meal sitting in your stomach isn’t ideal (not that I find anything wrong with a heavy, greasy meal when I’m off the road, as detailed in my next answer!). When I leave a vegan or vegetarian restaurant having enjoyed a bisque made from scratch and a salad, or curried veggies and homemade bread, I just feel like I’ve done my road-weary body a favor. Two vegetarian and vegan restaurants that stand out in my memory because their food was DELICIOUS are The Vertical Diner in SLC, UT, and the Morning Glory Cafe in Eugene, OR.

Grace: Our very first time through the gulf region, in Baton Rouge, we knew we had to have some good Creole seafood. So, we asked around and everyone sent us to a place called The Chimes — and it was AMAZING. We ordered boudin balls, shrimp and grits, blackened shrimp remoulade, crawfish étouffée, and red beans and rice with sausage. It was a major culinary treat.

Jen: I will never forget eating Cajun food in Baton Rouge. I had an amazing shrimp étouffée dish at Boutin’s Restaurant. It was fantastic.

Do you ever make meals together, as a band? If so, what are a couple of your favorites?

Grace: We bunked ourselves away in a cabin retreat to prepare material for our Something to Someone album (see bandcamp player above), and each night was capped off by a big group meal planned each night by a different member of the band. We’ve shared our favorite dishes with each other; enchiladas, lentil soup, boxed wine, and lots and lots of salads. That’s a special moment in our band history. When we’re on tour, though, which is what brings us together now, and without kitchens to cook in, we always start the day off with a coffee shop stop.

Jen: We definitely cook a lot together on band retreats when we work up new tunes. We definitely have had more then one “build your own taco or burrito night ” where we just put out a bunch of toppings and salsas. We are all Arizona natives, so naturally we appreciate a good burrito.

What restaurant do each of you miss most when you’re on the road and what dish is a must-try?

Bekah: I miss a couple of restaurants in Matt’s and my neighborhood (downtown Tucson), both of which are famous for their breakfast menus. The first is Proper, a new little restaurant with a chic, modern feel, and the other is the Cup Cafe, which is inside the famous Hotel Congress (famous because it’s one of the many locations where the notorious gangster John Dillinger hid out and was eventually caught). My current favorite breakfast meal is the biscuits and gravy at Proper. I literally crave them on a daily basis. The biscuits are soft and moist and beautifully crumbly, and the gravy is cheesy and delicious, with a nice, spicy Southwestern kick. A must-try should you ever be in Tucson!

Grace: I most miss being able to cook while we are on tour! My standard dinner dish at home: chicken cooked with raisins, a touch of curry, olive oil, atop a bed of quinoa and spinach greens, and a side of red-pepper spiced tomato soup. Yum!

Jen: I really miss Cafe Poca Cosa in Tucson. Amazing Mexican food, and the menu is updated all of the time, which keeps it exciting.

We know you’ve been up to Ohio several times, do you have a favorite restaurant you’ve tried up here?

Bekah: The Village Pump on Kelley’s Island. Their lobster bisque was to die for! In fact, I liked it so much that I went back, not once over the course of the weekend, but TWICE to get my fill of it before we had to be on our way. And I STILL didn’t get my fill of it. I crave it all the time. Aching to get back there, especially because, as you can imagine, good seafood is hard to come by here in Tucson.

Grace: The good folks at the Beachland Ballroom have fed us dinner when we’ve played there, and their food is always a great way to start off before the show.

Jen: Every time we play in Cleveland, Ohio, we eat at the venue, which is called The Beachland Tavern. REALLY good food and live music to boot! They have a big variety ranging from chicken and waffles to enchiladas.

What meal or dish would you “garnish your grooves” with?

Grace: Blackberry pie.

Bekah: I would garnish my grooves with some meat and potatoes, specifically some standard bangers and mash–classic, hearty, heavy, satisfying. One might use these same adjectives to describe RBR’s latest album…so, yeah. I think the two would pair nicely.

Jen: I would say a nice earthy grilled sockeye salmon with maybe a maple and ginger glaze. Simple, but really packs a punch with flavor!

What are your plans and goals for the future?

Jen: I would love to tour Europe with the band. I have never been, and it would be amazing to see all that history for myself, and taste the cuisine, of course!

Bekah: I would like to continue to play music, write, tour, travel, and invest in the community of Tucson, both as a general community member and as a musician. Specifically, I’d like to get Matt and my folk music blog, de Folk, up and running and post regularly to that, and continue to write for both RBR and my Electronica side project.

As expected by many (including us), Run Boy Run continues to gain more and more recognition in the folk/bluegrass scene and we’re really exited to see (and hear) them take their already fantastic sound even further. We’re also looking forward to hearing more about their side projects and other initiatives. Be sure to check them out when you get a chance – you’ll definitely be in for a major treat.

Happy St. Patty’s Day from GWG! Erin go bragh!

Devouring lemon scones!I love Ireland for many reasons, but certainly the most recent reason is how much fun I had while I was there in January. I was flying to Scotland and my layover was in Dublin. (And the most permanent piece of evidence for my love of Ireland: I got my tattoo right after St. Patrick’s Day 2010 in Dublin.) But back to my Dublin adventures in January. My math is a little rusty, but I think airport security could take anywhere from 15 minutes to 30 hours, so I wanted to give myself plenty of time to make my flight for Scotland. I decided I had about 4 hours to travel from the airport to Dublin center and back. Knowing my tendency for getting lost, I didn’t want to do any tourist attractions that were too crazy, so I settled on grabbing lunch and walking around Trinity College to check out the Book of Kells.

In addition to my own travels to Ireland, Amanda and I went to the University of Dayton– a campus that, for better or for worse, is known for their St. Patrick’s Day celebrations. But there are more ways to enjoy March 17th festivities that don’t involve police in riot gear. Cue up lemon irish scones and subsequent drooling…

The Grooves

Ireland has an amazing music scene, especially for buskers just starting out. (Dublin was ranked the third best city in the world for buskers.) And when you’re walking down the street and you hear the licks of Gabriela y Rodrigo‘s guitars grace your ears, you know the competition for playing space must be stiff. For the playlist, I decided to pick my favorite Irish musician from each decade since the 1970s.

The Grub

I’ve had many scones throughout my days, but I tend to think of them as dry and crumbly. That certainly wasn’t the case with these guys! The traditional mix in for irish scones would be currants or raisins, but I decided to use lemon zest because I love lemon flavored baked goods with the additional bonus that I already had some lemon zest in the pantry.

I followed this recipe from Kerrygold butter, but I added a couple of tweaks of my own.

Ingredients:lemon scone ingredients

  • 1 3/4 cups (about 8 ounces) all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup sugar, plus additional for sprinkling over tops
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 4 tablespoons cold butter, cut into pieces
  • 1/2 tablespoons lemon zest
  • 1/2 cup almond milk
  • 1 large egg, plus additional beaten egg for brushing over tops

Heat oven to 425° F. Sift together flour, 1/4 cup sugar, baking powder and salt into large bowl. Using fingertips or pastry blender, rub or cut the butter into flour mixture to form coarse crumbs. Add lemons wasting. Whisk together milk and 1 egg. Make a well in the flour mixture; pour in milk mixture. Using fork, stir just until soft, moist dough is formed.

Turn dough out onto lightly floured surface; gently knead 1 or 2 times to incorporate loose pieces of dough. (Do not over knead.) Pat dough to 1 1/2-inch thickness. Using well-floured 2 1/2-inch biscuit cutter or bottom of a glass, cut out about 6 rounds, recombining scraps as necessary. Place rounds on lightly buttered baking sheet. Brush tops with additional beaten egg; sprinkle with additional sugar.

Bake until golden brown, about 17 minutes.


lemon scone going into oven lemon scone cutting dough lemon scone coming out of oven

Quick Fix: Veggie Thai Flatbreads with Snarky Puppy

Some days you simply don’t have time to prepare a full-fledged, mostly homemade meal, but don’t necessarily want to go out for food. Don’t get us wrong, we LOVE eating out and enjoying all of the glorious restaurants we have to choose from here in Cleveland. However, it’s usually a little easier on your wallet to eat at home and sometimes you still have that urge to create in your kitchen – even if it has to be quick and simple. On the same token, you may not have time to catch that local show you were planning on checking out or sitting down and researching a new artist. Music you already know and have at your fingertips is usually best suited for those busy days.

Thai Flatbread

Since we tend to experience busy days quite a bit, we figured we’d start a new segment called Quick Fix that will feature fast and easy recipes along with one of our favorite musicians/bands for each post. While we’re all about homemade grub and traditional cooking styles, pre-made sauces and new coTJ's Satay Peanut Sauceoking hacks can be fantastic. There are so many delicious and relatively healthy pre-made products and innovative cooking methods to leverage for these type of recipes. We’re very excited about this new series!

For our first Quick Fix post, I made some delicious Thai Flatbreads and paired them with one of my favorite bands, Snarky Puppy. I used some of my go-to Trader Joe’s fantastic pre-made items (Naan and Peanut Satay Sauce) to keep it quick and super easy to make. Maybe I’ll give homemade naan (sans the tandoor – unfortunately don’t have one of those…yet) and peanut sauce a try in the future, but this TJ’s had me covered. These were absolutely delicious  (and very spicy) and would be great for an appetizer to bring to a party.

The Grooves

Snarky Puppy was definitely love at first sound for me and I listen to them pretty frequently, but they are especially on the brain this weekend because somehow, someway we missed the fact that they were playing two shows (TWO, not one, TWO) up here in Northeastern Ohio – one in Oberlin and one at Severance Hall opening for the CLE Orchestra. Very heartbreaking to say the least, but in all honesty, I probably didn’t have the time or budget to check them out this weekend. Good thing I can groove to them with my beautiful cans and speakers at home.


They are so amazingly talented, unique, and provide some of the best ear candy out there today. I must admit:  As much as these flatbreads offer a ton of flavor, satisfaction, and textures after such little prep time, the fact that you can stream Snarky Puppy (for FREE.99!) with a couple clicks of a mouse is a far more beautiful thing. Hopefully they come back to Ohio sooner than later.

The Grub:

I have been on a Thai kick lately so I went that route, but you could easily go with a another sauce and toppings combo for a different theme such as BBQ sauce, black beans, corn with drizzled ranch if you dig SW flavors or olive oil, goat cheese, pears and arugula for a fancier feel.

IngredientsThai Flatbread Ingredients

  • TJ’s Naan Bread
  • TJ’s Satay Peanut Sauce
  • 6-8 Radishes
  • 1-2 Jalapeños
  • 1 Tomato
  • Handful fresh cilantro



  1. Preheat oven to 425° . Clean and slice/dice veggies.
  2. Bake naan for 10-12 minutes or until slightly toasted  (You could do this in a toaster oven too!)
  3. Spread on peanut sauce, top with veggies, and serve!

Thai Flatbread

Grooving & Grubbing Locally: The City That Keeps It Weird

I went to Austin in January and it was amazing. I was very fortunate to extend a work trip into a long weekend with some of my close friends from college. Not only did I get to experience Austin’s killer food, music, and warm weather with my fellow Fyers, but I also enjoyed some solid meals during the work week. From tacos to chicken-fried-anything to queso to quail (I could go on for a while), they really know their food. They also know their weird and their music and how to be a lovable city. Check out my foodie pics below and be sure to check out the restaurants too. I ate so many glorious meals, it was a major struggle to limit which ones to include so brace yourself for a lot of food photos and prepare to fight the immediate urge to go there.

Austin - Taken from Graffiti Park at Castle Hills

Austin – Taken from Graffiti Park at Castle Hills

On the music front, I was treated to some great tunes as well. Thanks to my friend, we were able to get tickets to a Bricks in the Wall, a Pink Floyd tribute band hailing from Dallas, show at one of Austin’s famous venues, Emo’s. The venue was simple – in a good way – and the show was stellar. Their music was on point and the light show was absolutely fantastic. The other night, we went out on the wonderful Rainey Street which is similar to West 25th in Ohio City up here in Cleveland. We drank delicious local craft brews and got to catch a few local bands. Since Austin is one of those cities where more aspiring artists go to “make it”, most of these bar acts aren’t your typical bar band. One in particular had a very unique sound and vibe so I chose to feature them: Sam Pace and The Gilded Grit. I snapped some decent pics at both of these shows and also nabbed a handful of videos. Check ’em out below!

{Local Grub}

Here is a short breakdown of my favorites:

  • Jack Allen’s – Great food and really cool focus on local sourcing
  • Swift’s Attic – Very cool atmosphere with a shared small plates concept. Everything I ate was impressive and beyond satisfying, but the quail, pork cheeks, and Coconut Panna Cota were glorious.
  • Fixe – AWESOME southern fare. I may be biased because friend works there, but it was extremely delicious, the decor was perfect, and THOSE BISCUITS. That Lemon Cake is made by aerating the batter and then freezing it. Innovative and beyond scrumptious.
  • Torchy’s and Taco Deli – Really really really good semi-fast food tacos.

{Local Grooves}

As I mentioned, Bricks in the Wall was awesome, but it was especially cool because I had just seen Wish You Were Here a couple weeks prior. It was pretty neat to compare and contrast two notable Floyd tribute acts that hail from pretty different regions. Oh, and it was also especillay cool because the tickets were FREE.99!

I am also very grateful that we walked into the bar Sam Pace and the Gilded Grit were playing. They’re a talented group with a unique stage presence. Their music is a tight mix of rock and blues that incorporates both old and new school sounds. Sam Pace knows guitar like Fixe knows southern food. They pair together rather nicely too – a lot of soul and talent packed into that combo. Since I only got a short video, I wanted to include some studio tracks from their SoundCloud page as well. Hope you dig:

I don’t think I’ll ever fully recover from my taco withdrawal, but that just means I’ll have to come back sooner. It would be nice to see my favorite Texans too. Thanks for an absolutely amazing time and sharing the weird.

Black Bean and Sweet Potato Enchiladas with Winter Grooves

While time seems to be flying by as usual, winter is not even close to being over (we still got a long way to go!*) and, therefore, our bodies are still craving warm, nutrient-loaded foods. So I thought now would be a great time to post this reBlack Bean and Sweet Potato Enchiladas with Chunky Tomato-Jalpeno Saucecipe because sweet potatoes have a ton of health benefits and the other ingredients aren’t too shabby either. Also, many of these ingredients are great for winter because a lot of them are canned and the sweet potatoes store well – perfect for when most of us can’t take a leisurely stroll to our local farmers markets.

*Railroad Earth is playing @ CLE HOB tonight – Check them out if you have yet to do so!

 The Grooves

Since this recipe seems very fitting for a chilly evening, I pulled together a playlist with mellow, warm tones and “winter” songs. If you read my Autumn-inspired post, you are probably catching on that I feel certain songs align very well with particular seasons, whether they mention that time of year or not. We’ll here’s a winter version:

The Grub

This recipe is great for busy nights too because you can prep the sauce and get the tortillas filled ahead of time. That way, you only need to warm the sauce and cover the tortillas with it, along with some cheese. After just a short time of baking, you’ll be enjoying a warm meal and a winter-themed playlist.


  • 2 large sweet potatoes
  • 1-2 cans black beans
  • 1 small package corn tortillas
  • 1 standard package of shredded cheese (cheddar or Mexican blend)
  • 2-3 cups diced tomatoes  (I used 1 can and 1 fresh because that’s what I had on hand)
  • 4 large Jalapeños
  •  1.5 tbs minced garlic
  • 1.5 tsp cumin
  • 1.5 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tbs brown sugar
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 tsp flour
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 handful fresh cilantro
  • Salt and pepper

Sautéing Jalapeños and Garlic     Mashing Chunky Enchilada Sauce


  1. Preheat oven to 425°, poke sweet potatoes with a fork several times, and bake for 45 minutes to an hour or until soft.
  2. While sweet potatoes are baking, chop jalapeños and then sauté with minced garlic with cooking oil for 5-10 minutes in medium-sized sauce pan. Season with a small amount of salt and pepper.Filling Tortillas
  3. Stir flour in water until mostly dissolved. Add that mixture, tomatoes, brown sugar, 1 tsp cumin, and 1 tsp chili powder to jalapeños and garlic. While cooking over medium-high heat, stir and mash up ingredients so it’s not so chunky. If you want smoother sauce without any small pieces, you can put through the food processor before heating. I wanted a sauce with more texture…and I also couldn’t find my food processor.
  4. Once sweet potatoes have been baked and have cooled for a 5-10 minutes, peal and stir in remaining spices and season with salt and pepper to taste.
  5. Drain black beans and season with small amount of salt and pepper.
  6. Warm up tortillas in a small skillet (so they are more flexible) and then fill with sweet potato mixture, black beans, and cheese. Roll up and place (fold side down) in lightly greased baking dish. Cover with sauce and cheese.
  7. Bake until cheese is thoroughly melted and garnish with cilantro to serve.

IMG_6819       Enchiladas Ready for Baking      Enchiladas Ready to Enjoy!

Baked Enchiladas - Sideview