Wednesday, July 23, 2014

2014 Taste of Tremont

Sunday was one of my favorite annual summer events, the Taste of Tremont. Tremont is known for having one of the best culinary destinations in our city, and the restaurants all set up along Professor Avenue for one big tasting event. Other vendors and local organizations are mixed in, and 30,000+ people descend upon the neighborhood.

I saw a lot of "hate" on social media this year for this festival, complaining of the crowds, parking, traffic, food quality...you name it. Many of these folks were tweeting or Facebook posting this from their homes. Good, if you don't like it, just don't go. For those of us that enjoy the festival, we came out. You just have to be prepared for the traffic and parking issues, long lines at the good food tents, and hoards of people jammed onto one street.

After trying to get into the neighborhood the "back way" through the Steelyard, we had no luck and swung back around to try West 14th. Ha, even worse.
We are fortunate to live not too far away, so we u-turned it home and grabbed our bicycles. Thanks to a Twitter tip, we easily found parking at the Gateway Animal Clinic and then hopped on our bikes to cross over from Ohio City into Tremont. Many others were walking or biking over that way too. Keep that in mind next year!

Be prepared for the crushing crowds and long lines.
Our beloved Fresh Fork was there, selling a pig roast platter and grilled sweet corn. The smells were intoxicating, and the line was probably the longest that I saw that day.
Now, I normally hate crowds. For this annual event, I tough it out. I wised up this year and took the edge off at home with a tasty Bloody Mary, using Clark Pope's Bloody Mary mix that we picked up from Fresh Fork.

The reason I love this festival is that it provides me with the opportunity to try smaller bites from some of my favorite Tremont restaurants, and to try food from places that we may not have been to yet.
"R" and I prefer to split things, so that we can try more. We stopped at Ligali's tent (a new addition to Tremont) and had their Fried Green Tomato Caprese (pictured above top right) and Mushroom Flatbread. The flatbread was good, but the Caprese was our favorite there. I believe that it is on their regular menu. Looks like we need to stop in! We also shared a Chicken Taco from the Fahrenheit food truck, and Lucky's Cafe macaroni and cheese (an all-time favorite, pictured bottom left). That mac 'n cheese is seriously one of the best that I've ever had.

We ended our day at the "secret garden" behind Tremont Scoops with friends. It was a welcomed oasis from the noise of the festival. Overall, I call it another successful Taste of Tremont. The event has really grown, and I think it's time to consider expanding beyond just Professor Avenue.

What do you think of Taste of Tremont? Did you attend this year, or steer clear of the mayhem?

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Event Recap: Veggie U's 2014 Food and Wine

Saturday night was Veggie U's 2014 Food and Wine Celebration. The event had returned, relocated and reformatted. While I did miss the charm of attending the event on Chef's Garden farm, I did not miss the long drive from Cleveland to Milan and the sweltering humidity inside of the event's tent that we had experienced in the past. The event moved to Downtown Cleveland this year, and was held in the Pura Vida/Tri-C Hospitality Management Center on Euclid Avenue. Although, they did try to bring in touches of the farm to the very industrial and modern space...
The event's new theme was "Tastes of the World" and the participating chefs were tasked with creating a dish based on a specific type of cuisine.

Some of my favorites were from the usual suspects. I liked the Moroccan Pork Belly with Vegetable Salad and Chermoula from Chef Jeff Jarrett at AMP 150.
The Greek Watermelon Mint Juice and Sprouted Chick Pea Hummus from Chef Anna Harouvis at Anna in the Raw/Good to Go Cafe was a refreshing bite and sip. She always makes raw look good! Her energy and glow are infectious, and her passion for raw foods just shines through.

I loved the Indian Crab Pakora with Mango Chutney from Chefs John and Allysun Selick at University Hospitals Ahuja Center.
I could have eaten a plate of these. John's food is always among the best at any tasting event that I've been to.

But, the winner of the evening (for me) goes to Chef Matthew Mathlage from Peachtree Southern Kitchen. He did a Southern Chicken Cracklins with white pimento cheese and peanuts.
I had three. Don't judge me. While the news on Friday of his other restaurant, Light Bistro in Ohio City, closing saddened me, I was thrilled to sample food from Peachtree. I haven't made it out to the new restaurant in Hudson yet, but this dish tempted me enough to purchase a silent auction package for Peachtree that evening!

The event not only included some fantastic food, but it had kicked off with a VIP hour, including a wine class.
Live music entertained guests in several areas of the event, and the wine and craft beer were flowing. Guests also had a chance to enter a drawing for a Vitamix, and to win a bottle of wine in the Wine Pull. The only negatives of the evening were the weather (I hate rain), high starting bids in the silent auction, and a few more chef stations would have been nice.

The event was a lot smaller than in years past, but they are rebuilding and I think that it will continue to grow. The chefs did an outstanding job, with only the Panzanella Salad from Flying Fig being a disappointment for me. All proceeds benefit Veggie U, a non-profit children's education program that teaches the importance of nutrition and sustainable agriculture by providing interactive lesson plans and a classroom garden to elementary and special needs students. Learn more about them here.

Disclosure: I was provided with two VIP media passes to this event in exchange for my posts. All opinions stated are 100% my own. 

Monday, July 21, 2014

Locavore 2014 Ticket Giveaway

lo·ca·vore [loh-kuh-vawr, ‐vohr] noun
a person who makes an effort to eat food that is grown, raised, or produced locally, usually within 100 miles of home.

It's also a fundraising event that supports the Ohio Buckeye Chapter of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society taking place on Thursday, August 21st (one month from today!) at Windows on the River. Presented by Ulmer & Berne LLP.
The event features decadent chocolates and pastries, and delicious hors d’oeuvres from local Cleveland vendors, all paired with some of Ohio's finest wines made from Ohio-grown grapes. Some of the participating restaurants include:

- Lilly Handmade Chocolates
- Momocho Mod Mex
- Lago
- AMP 150
- The Rail
- Urban Farmer Cleveland Steakhouse
- Nosh Eatery

Tickets start at $60 each (Event Ticket), which include event admission, all tastings, and cash bar. For $80, you can purchase a ticket (Patron Ticket) that will get you in one hour early, and admission to a special wine tasting class prior to the start of the main event. You can purchase tickets online here.

Or, you can enter to win two free Event Tickets here on my blog. Just use the Rafflecopter entry below, and I will select a random winner on Friday, July 25th.

a Rafflecopter giveaway Locavore is sure to be a fun and memorable evening, and a great way to get together for an evening out. All proceeds benefit the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, Ohio Buckeye Chapter. The National MS Society is a collective of passionate individuals who want to do something about MS now – to move together toward a world free of multiple sclerosis. MS stops people from moving. They exist to make sure it doesn’t. They help each person address the challenges of living with MS through their 50-state network of chapters. The Society helps people affected by MS by funding cutting-edge research, driving change through advocacy, facilitating professional education, and providing programs and services that help people with MS and their families move their lives forward. The Ohio Buckeye Chapter serves over 14,000 people with MS and their families in a 64-county area. To learn more about where your money goes, you can visit the website.

Disclosure: I was provided with four passes to the event in exchange for hosting this contest and a recap blog post. Two tickets will be given away to a random reader that enters, and two are media passes for myself and a guest to attend. All opinions stated are 100% my own. 

Friday, July 18, 2014

More "Fest" than "Pierogi"

Last night, Old Brooklyn hosted a Pierogi Fest in the lot next to Mr. E's Inn on Pearl Road.
It was a gorgeous evening in our neighborhood, so we hopped on our bicycles and rode over to Pearl Road.
Like my sweet basket and bell? Both proved useful later in the night.

The area was small, but they had packed a lot into it. Several Cleveland-themed t-shirt businesses, jewelry, crafts, and even a bath fitter. However, the pierogi themselves appeared to be missing. There were two small food tents inside the lot, and the Get Stuffed food truck from Wadsworth. The truck was serving pierogi, but the line was insane and waaaay down the block. As we walked by, the food did look good though.

After a quick spin around the lot, and a brief moment of listening to the live polka music...
...we walked next door to Drink.Bar + Grill for a bite of food and some drinks without the ridiculous lines. I had a little too much fun with the Corpse Reviver #2.
It made the bike ride home much more fun, and seemingly faster. However, Drink is always dead inside whenever we've stopped in. How are they still open a year later? They seem to have some regulars, several of which were seated near us at the bar, but the "crowd" of 25-ish people there when we were seemed to be a lot for them to handle (in addition to hosting a food tent at the event outside). The food is okay, the craft beer and wine list is very good, and the cocktails are great. But, I still struggle with believing that Old Brooklyn residents really want to pay $9 - $15 for cocktails.

So, while fun in theory, the Pierogi Fest didn't quite get it together. A post on the neighborhood Facebook page did indicate that the main pierogi vendor had backed out at the last minute. Too bad. Maybe they'll try again, because I'd love to see more of this type of event in our neighborhood. It was great to see so many people out and about (some fantastic people-watching too), and we had a fun time biking around.

Does your neighborhood host anything fun like this? 

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

5th Annual Beer and Sausage Fest

5th Annual Beer and Sausage Fest this Saturday at Sachsenheim Hall. For $36 ($40 at the door), enjoy live entertainment, beer from 6 different breweries, and 16 styles of brats. 
Purchase tickets in advance at Sachsenheim Hall or Market Garden Brewery.

I went two years ago, and it was a great deal for the food and beers included. A casual night out, enjoying tasty house made brats and craft beer. Don't miss it!