*AHEM* What do you MEAN by "dumbed down to suit the Midwestern taste"? As someone who was Cleveland born-and-raised, I am insulted, Souschef
. And sad. I'm guessing you've never vacationed anywhere near America's North Coast?
When I was in my very early 20s, two of my female co-workers took me under their wings independently to educate my palate. Dear V. was an accomplished home chef. After she was widowed, I was privileged to be invited to many dinners (working as prep-cook, too) that had a table with a Brit, a student from St. Thomas, one from Uganda, and one from Kenya. The food was as diverse and entertaining as the company.
The other lady was an only child, an unmarried world traveler. When she found out that one of her favorite tour friends just so happened to be my single Aunt, she decided to "adopt" me. Over our years of friendship we visited many high-end, well regarded restaurants. An authentic French prix-fix restaurant in Vermilion (still there, under a new owner, with a bit of a different flair), an old prohibition speak-eat that was converted to an upscale food selection, and many diverse and excellent offerings of nationality foods. This, mind you, was in the 1970s. Greater Cleveland is now getting the love it deserves for excellent food no one but the locals knew about.
Don't even get me started on Chicago. Never lived there, visited it only once, but it has had a reputation for being a foodie haunt for decades.
Whenif we ever get back to OH, you and Kayelle must put a visit to northeast Ohio on your calendar. Once I reacquaint myself with the lay of the land and have a chance to explore some of the new offerings, I would love to take you on an eating tour so you could eat your words. Literally.