The sweet folks at Canfield-based Handel's Homemade Ice Cream & Yogurt are rightfully puffed up over their inclusion in a recent Chocolatier magazine article on outstanding ice creams. The family-owned company's Chocolate Pecan Ice Cream -- "a must-have for serious ice cream aficionados, who will covet the rich chocolate flavor and creamy satin texture" -- was singled out, although each of Handel's 30-plus locations in Ohio and Pennsylvania makes more than 50 additional flavors every day. Our own particular attraction is to the Raspberry Jalapeño, an irresistibly smooth and spicy creation from the sophisticated sensorium of co-owner Howard Fisher. While you can be forgiven for initially thinking chile-pepper-spiked ice cream is a joke, you'll find yourself giggling with delight over its inspired balance of heat and sweet. As with all good chile-goosed foods, the subtle jalapeño perks up the palate just enough to raise one's appreciation for the fruit, cream, and sugar flavors to a whole new level, turning a bowl of this stuff (mostly available as an occasional special) into a nearly transcendent experience. At the moment, the Handel's location closest to Cleveland is at 10735 Ravenna Road in Twinsburg (330-487-1012). But look for a new location in Broadview Heights (403 East Royalton Road) to open soon.
Fanning the flames
Fire, Doug Katz's long-awaited restaurant at 13220 Shaker Square, opens tomorrow (July 27), with a tandoor, a wood-burning pizza oven, and a dinner menu of wood-fired meats, seafood, and freshly baked naan. This is Katz's first opus as chef-owner, and the Culinary Institute of America grad and former accolade-garnering exec chef at Moxie will be getting assistance from former Moxie confreres J. Michael Fiala and Ronnie Roberts (sous chefs), as well as Melanie Sullivan (general manager). Lunch service kicks off on August 14; Sunday brunch will be added beginning September 9. For the nonce, dinner hours are Tuesday through Saturday, 5 p.m. to midnight, and Sunday, 5 to 10 p.m. The number for reservations -- and you will certainly need reservations -- is 216-921-3473.
Teacher and professional chef Loretta Paganini has announced the fall lineup for her Chesterland cooking school (8613 Mayfield Road), and she's got some tempting treats in store for serious foodies. The multitude of events, dinners, and demonstrations will include Warren Dolata, executive chef at Erie Bleu, sharing how-tos for delectable dishes like roasted vegetable salad, catfish with tomato mousse, Israeli couscous with white truffle oil, and pumpkin cake on October 30. And former Sammy's Executive Chef Jihad Hachicho will explore the wonders of paella, bouillabaisse, grilled lamb chops with tabouli, and crème caramel on October 18. The Dinner at the Chef's Table series is back, too, with a dozen ethnic dinners prepared and served in the school's bright, professional kitchen. Thailand, Spain, France, Germany, China, and of course, Italy are all represented in the series, but the most fascinating evening promises to be the October 27 Medieval Celtic Dinner, just in time for Halloween. Roasted leg of wild boar, salmon, and herbs baked in a pastry and an assortment of roasted fowl are on the menu, along with period music and Celtic storytelling. Guests are asked to dress in their medieval best or in otherworldly raiment from the faerie realm; reservations are $95 a couple or $50 per person. Call 440-729-COOK for information, a catalog, or registration; or check out the website at www.lpscinc.com.