Friday, August 26, 2016

2016 Chefs Unbridled

September is chock full of great charity events highlighting our area chefs. Luckily, the one that I plan has moved to October this year. That leaves me just open and ready to enjoy the others for the first time!

One that I'm looking forward to attending is the 2016 Chefs Unbridled.
This top Cleveland-area benefit is slated for Saturday, September 17th at 6:00PM to benefit Fieldstone Farm Therapeutic Riding Center. Leading Cleveland restauranteurs Scott Kuhn and Chris Hodgson of Driftwood Restaurant Group chair the event, and it always has a stellar chef lineup.

Demetrios Atheneos of Bold Food and Drink (Cleveland)
Jim Blevins of Butcher and the Brewer (Cleveland)
Chad Bolar of Pesto’s Pizza & Wine Bar (Chandler, Arizona) – Private Guest Chef
Adam Bostwick of Graffiti: A Social Kitchen (Cleveland)
Chris Hodgson and Scott Kuhn of Driftwood Restaurant Group
Jimmy Linhart and Pablo César Montiel of Lemon Falls Café  (Chagrin Falls)
John Owens of Market Rocky River & Wine Bar Rocky River (Rocky River/Cleveland)
Ian Thompson of Cedar Creek Grille (Beachwood)
Eric Williams of Momocho (Cleveland)
Personally, I'm most looking forward to trying dishes from some of my favorites like BOLD, Graffiti, and Butcher and the Brewer. There will be the new-to-me Lemon Falls Cafe, and then Driftwood and Market have had some of my favorite food at this event in the past. Ok, my mouth is officially watering now. 

Taking place under a decorated tent on the grounds of the prestigious Chagrin Valley Hunt Club Polo Field, guests will enjoy cocktails and appetizers while sampling cuisine from various stations around the tent in addition to tasty treats from a food truck and a cupcake truck. The setting is what really makes this event stand out. New additions for the 2016 event include private vintner getaway packages in Sonoma or Napa Valley, as well as an exclusive Kentucky Bourbon Trail getaway experience, and a wine pull raffle. The evening will also feature live music, horse-drawn carriage rides throughout the historic district of the village, and a bourbon tasting with Tom’s Foolery.  

The event is Fieldstone Farm’s primary benefit to raise money for the Ridership Program to benefit riders with special needs. Fieldstone Farm serves students of all ages, including veterans, who face a variety of challenges, such as anxiety and PTSD, as well as people who have ADHD, blindness, depression, Down syndrome, injuries, multiple sclerosis, and neurological disorders, among other disabilities. Students work with the horses to overcome barriers and achieve goals such as independence, self-esteem, strength, and socialization. Serving more than 1,000 students each year, Fieldstone Farm is one of the largest centers of its kind in the country. 

Ticket prices begin at $140 and include a tax-deductible donation to Fieldstone Farm Therapeutic Riding Center. Tables and sponsorship packages are still available. Reservations for Chefs Unbridled can be made before September 1st (so don't wait!); however seating is limited and the event sells out quickly each year. For tickets and details, visit the website www.fieldstonefarmtrc.com or contact Maureen Foster at 440-708-0013, ext. 123 or mfoster@fieldstonefarmtrc.com. 

Disclosure: I was provided with two tickets to attend the event in exchange for this preview post. All opinions stated are 100% my own. 

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Portland Eats: Hugo's

One last travel post that I think is worth sharing, because this Portland, Maine restaurant is such an interesting concept. One that Cleveland doesn't have.

Hugo's in Portland (same owners as our favorite Eventide Oyster Company) defines themselves as "refined New England cuisine" and it features a daily tasting menu with 15 selections. There are three categories, and five courses within each category. For $90 (single courses are available for $22), diners select an option for each course from any of the categories. A build-your-own chef's tasting, and it reminded me of, the now closed, One Walnut in Cleveland.

But, the really special thing about Hugo's is that the entire restaurant is a "chef's table experience," with front row seats to the open kitchen.
Most of the restaurant's seating is at the bar, and you are literally watching the dishes be created right in front of you. It was captivating. Such pressure for the staff though!
The food reminded me a lot of Cleveland's Trentina. The technique and skill level showcased was impressive, and the plating was gorgeous.
There wasn't a course that we didn't enjoy. However, the flavors just didn't "wow" us. The food felt safe, flavor-wise.

The experience was one to remember, being front and center for the meal and seeing their creative takes on familiar ingredients. I liked this restaurant concept, and it left me wishing that there was something in Cleveland like this. Chef's tables can be exclusive and expensive, and this place opened that experience up for every diner in the restaurant. Very cool.

Hugo's
88 Middle Street
Portland, ME

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Maine Getaway

This was the second time that Mr. H and I have traveled to Maine, and it won't be our last. A quick flight in to Boston, and then driving up the coast checking out small town after small town...it's incredibly relaxing. And, delicious. I'm a seafood nut. I could live on seafood and fish. Although, I'd miss bacon, and a good steak.

We've headed there at this time of year to attend the Annual Maine Lobster Festival.
It's soft-shelled lobster season, and you can literally rip them apart with your hands. The annual festival includes food, games, crafts, rides, a parade, beer and wine tasting event, cooking competition, and more. It's a lot of fun, and we'll go back.

We literally ate a lobster roll for lunch every day of the trip. Mr. H seemed determined to find the "best" one. I wasn't complaining.
This trip, the "best" was definitely from Bob's Clam Hut in Kittery, ME. Red's Eats was a close second. Although, we still feel like the Connecticut style roll from Fisherman's Grill that we had last year is the top roll we've tried. And at this point, we've tried almost every roll from Boston to Belfast, ME that has made some sort of "top list" out there. I'm not ashamed. Every bite was heaven.

We also feasted on oysters almost daily.
Straight out of the sea, it doesn't get any better.

Maine is a great 4-5 day trip from Cleveland, and I can't rave about it enough. Mr. H and I both walk away each time feeling relaxed and happy. As any vacation should leave you feeling.

Now, I'm still craving seafood though...

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Pittsburgh Eats: Eleven

Our last restaurant stop in Pittsburgh worth sharing is Sunday brunch at Eleven. A rehabilitated warehouse tucked next to the railway lines, this spot is elegant and polished.

For brunch, you can order a la carte, or do the Brunch Prix Fixe for $29. It includes an appetizer, entree, and choice of fresh juice or brunch cocktail.

It was our last meal in Pittsburgh, so we splurged and wanted to try more dishes through the Prix Fixe. We did a bit of sharing.

I ordered the Smoked Salmon with an everything bagel, egg, red onion, capers, and scallion cream cheese. A meal in itself! Reminded me of trips to NYC. I would have been happy with this dish alone.
Mr. H's sweet tooth kicked in, and he ordered the Grilled Sticky with a cinnamon swirl brioche, bacon butterscotch, and icing. Sweet, but decadent, and I saved a tiny bite for the end of the meal.
For his entree, Mr. H got the Smoked Lamb Huevos Rancheros with fried eggs, tomatillo salsa, goat cheese, and refried lentils.
While I preferred my Eggs Benedict with an English muffin, hollandaise, truffle vinaigrette, prosciutto cotto, arugula, and citrus, his dish was good too. Why isn't prosciutto an option with Benedict more often? 
This was a splurge-worthy brunch in Pittsburgh, and a very popular spot. Check it out if you're in the mood for an upscale brunch.

Eleven
1150 Smallman Street
Pittsburgh, PA 15222

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Pittsburgh Eats: Smoke

Next up on our Pittsburgh Eats excursions was lunch at Smoke BBQ Taqueria.
The interior was bright and lively, with heavenly smokey smells coming from the kitchen and smoker.
I couldn't resist the pork taco special that day.
But, I also had to try their Brisket Taco with sauteed onions, hot peppers, and mustard BBQ sauce ($7.50).
Both tacos were bursting with flavor, and subtle heat that lingered. I really liked both of them!

Mr. H and I shared a side of their famous Mac & Cheese ($8.75).
It was outstanding. Only Lucky's Cafe in Tremont would rank higher, in my opinion.

This lunch was awesome, and I suggest that you check them out when in Pittsburgh.

Smoke BBQ Taqueria
4115 Butler Street
Pittsburgh, PA 15201