The mother-daughter team of Eleanor Newman and Stacy Twigg operate the only kosher, non-dairy chocolate store in Ohio, hand-dipping delicious semisweet chocolate truffles, fruit and nut clusters, creams, barks, and chocolate-covered strawberries in a kitchen in the rear of a former Helen Hutchley's. Their business, The Chocolate Emporium (14439 Cedar Road, South Euclid), began as a way to sweeten up their Orthodox Jewish neighbors, most of whom follow strict dietary laws. But in recent years, the confectioners have broadened their focus and now consider themselves, first and foremost, producers of fine gourmet chocolates. Newman and Twigg pay close attention to their equipment and ingredients to ensure that their creations are entirely free of animal products, making the sweets a popular choice among vegans, vegetarians, and children and adults with food allergies or intolerances. Besides the handmade chocolates, the crowded little store carries a large selection of hard candies, roasted nuts, jelly beans, and other snacks, and specializes in stunning Chocolate Lace Bowls filled with fresh chocolate-dipped strawberries or an assortment of chocolate-drizzled popcorn, potato chips, and pretzels. The shop is also one of the few places around to carry cholov yisroel ice cream, which meets the strictest kosher dietary guidelines. Check out the Chocolate Emporium's website at www.choclat.com, or call 216-382-0140 for more information.
Keeping up aPierances
Staffers at Pier W (12700 Lake Avenue, Lakewood; 216-228-2250) are in a jolly mood, now that Executive Chef Norbert Peissert has declined an offer from the Mentor Harbor Yacht Club. Peissert was supposed to begin his new gig earlier this month, but changed his mind after co-workers begged him to reconsider. "Corny as it sounds, we are like a family here," confides one insider. "I think Norbert didn't realize how important he is to us and how much we credit him for upping the professionalism of the staff." The sense of celebration may even spill over into the Pier's newest series of wine-tasting classes, led by grape guru Todd Thompson. Upcoming topics include Asian food and German wine pairings (Monday, March 26), value-priced wines from the south of France (Tuesday, March 27), and a viniferous extravaganza of eight wines matched up against four different dishes (Wednesday, March 28). Classes cost $25 and begin at 7 p.m.; call for reservations. And it's not too early to mark your calendar for the Pier's Second Annual Deckfest on June 2. The festival was a big hit last year with those who came to eat, drink, and make merry with more than a dozen local artists on the sunny lakeside deck. Reservations aren't necessary, and admission is free, although there is a modest charge for wine samples.
Oohs and OZ
There's still time to partake of the city's classiest Friday night fish fry. Although you'll never confuse it with the local VFW hall, we hear OZ bar and bistro (2391 West 11th Street, 216-861-3734) has been drawing big crowds with its delicious, upscale Lenten dinners. For $15, diners can fill their tummies and possibly help save their souls with Donna Chriszt's precise and lighthearted offerings. They continue weekly from 5 to 7 p.m. through Good Friday; call for reservations.