Taste of the Town

Better Batter

How much tinkering would you do for the perfect pancake?

ED Wagner is raising the ordinary stack of hotcakes to new heights. His Grateful Ed’s Roasted Buckwheat Buttermilk Pancake Mix delivers a bold, nutty flavor plus 100 percent whole grain nutrition. Add frozen blueberries, pour on real Ohio maple syrup and you’ve got an easy-to-assemble plate of healthful breakfast goodness.

The Moreland Hills resident is on his way to becoming the Mrs. Fields of flapjacks. And like that lady whose name has become synonymous with cookies, it all started with a recipe.

Disappointed by cookbooks and dissatisfied with packaged mixes, Wagner headed to the kitchen on a personal quest to create a better pancake. Five years later, he emerged with a perfected formula.

Everyone who sampled his home-brewed mixture wanted more — and they encouraged him to package it. Forty-three years old and ready for a career change, Wagner decided to follow their advice.

In the last months of 2005 he formed a company of one, registered the name, set up a Web site, started production in his home and took it from store to store. Demand has increased so much that he now employs Birketts Mill in upstate New York for his grinding needs, where they’ve specialized in grinding buckwheat since 1797. But his company and distribution center are still right here.

So what’s with that name? “I’m just a thankful kind of guy,” says the Lakewood-born, St. Edward’s-educated Wagner. These days, he’s got plenty to be grateful for: His mix is now sold throughout Northeast Ohio, in eight other states and online. But what he really appreciates is the fact that his wife and two daughters haven’t gotten tired of eating pancakes.

You can find it locally at Zagara’s, Heinen’s, Whole Foods, Mustard Seed and Stand No. H 10-11 at the West Side Market, or online at www.gratefuleds.com.     

Dinner Is Served

Chef and culinary instructor Bob Sferra is making house calls, bringing his hands-on cooking classes into your kitchen. The Door Knocker’s Club, as he’s calling it, is part of his recently launched business, Bob Sferra Culinary Occasions.

You send out the invitations and choose a themed menu. He arrives with an assistant, prepped-and-measured ingredients, ready-to-eat snacks, aprons and recipes. Then, under his expert guidance, everyone gets to work. Five dishes later, dinner is served.

“Sometimes, after the guests have a glass or two of wine, I’m actually making the meal myself,” Sferra admits. Better yet, he also handles the cleanup when it’s over. Find out more at www.culinaryoccasions.com.

He's Bringing Thirsty Back

Question: What do Old Leghumper, Hoppus Maximus and Barktoberfest have in common? And for 10 extra points: Why should we care?

Answer: All are craft beers from Thirsty Dog Brewing Company.  More importantly, they’re made in Akron.

Company co-owner John Najeway opened his first brew pub 10 years ago in Canton, and went on to open pubs in Centerville and Akron. In 2003, he shifted his focus to bottling and distribution, which meant handing off production to a Maryland contract brewer. But in 2006 Najeway decided to bring the label home and do his part to revive the Rubber City’s once flourishing beer-making tradition.

He took over part of the former Burkhardt Brewery (a remnant from the last century), renovated the space (which had been empty for 30 years) and has been fermenting ale, stout and porter there since August. This month Thirsty Dog welcomes visitors to its new 1,800-square-foot tasting room. Stop by to sample his suds, take a tour and get a keg of Twisted Kilt or a jug of Maibark for home. 529 Grant St., Ste. B, (330) 252-BREW or www.thirstydog.com
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