- This plate of raw fish is at the center of Friday's Sushi Party (there's music there too).
The last thing Lora Lowry wants to do on a Friday night is cook. After a long workweek, her only ambition is to settle into a lounge chair at the weekly Sushi Party, with free food from Kimo's Sushi Shop and deep-house and Brazilian mixes from DJ Misterbradleyp.
The party brings back memories. On a trip to Las Vegas nine years ago, Lowry stayed at a hotel that featured authentic Japanese cuisine of tempura, tonkatsu, and sushi. But Lowry was warned. A gambler at the next table told her about a string of food-poisoning cases in L.A., where everyone had eaten raw salmon tainted with parasites. Back in Cleveland, she learned how to throw her own contaminant-free sushi parties for friends.
Lowry's typical menu at home includes sashimi -- or raw seafood -- such as tuna, halibut, and red snapper. At the Sushi Party, Lowry stays away from yellowtail ("It's quite rich") and mackerel ("It's too fishy"). But at home, she says, she uses "the freshest fish available from a fish market. The supermarket fish is shit." Sushi Party is 7 to 10 p.m. Friday at Cloud 9, 1299 West 9th Street. Admission is free; call 216-363-1113. -- Cris Glaser
Big folks squeeze into little cars for a spin.
Those damn kids! They get to have all the fun! Cartoons, ultrasweet cereal for breakfast, the soapbox derby -- adults rarely can indulge in any of 'em without looking like complete asses. At Saturday's third-annual Soap Box Derby for Big Kids, Mom and Dad can take part in minicar rides and not feel at all self-conscious. (Well, maybe just a little . . .) Not only that, but there's a bunch of other grown-up stuff going on too, like a buffet-style pig roast, a silent auction, and plenty of free-flowing beer and wine -- which beats a bowl of Frankenberry any day. It all happens from 4 to 11 p.m. at the Cleveland Area Soap Box Derby (on Angelo Martin Drive, off the West Shoreway, near the West 45th and 49th street exits). Admission is $75, $25 for kids. Call 216-941-9326 for more information. -- Michael Gallucci
Slavic Village celebrates all things Polish.
You know you're in the heart of Cleveland when one of its most beloved ethnic celebrations, this weekend's Slavic Village Harvest Festival, offers not only a kielbasa cook-off, but a pierogi-eating contest, as well. "It's kind of a homecoming for people," says spokeswoman Elizabeth Grace. "A lot of people come because they grew up in the neighborhood or they have relatives who live in the neighborhood." The street fair (now in its 27th year) offers tons of Polish food and lots of polka music. "It's a tradition," Grace says. "It's a nice way to end the summer too." It takes place from 1 to 9 p.m. Saturday and noon to 9 p.m. Sunday on Fleet Avenue. Admission is free; call 216-429-1182. -- Diane Sofranec
Pass the Aunt Jemima
More than 4,500 flapjacks will come off the griddles for Wednesday's Pancake Flip, United Way's annual end-of-summer fete. Three pancakes, two sausages, orange juice, and coffee will be served (for $3.99) for more than three hours. "At that time, we're so sick of smelling pancakes, we're ready to end it," says spokeswoman Michelle Battle. It happens from 7 to 10:30 a.m. downtown on Public Square; call 216-436-2121. -- Cris Glaser