Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Fall Events- Dinner in the Dark, March of Dimes, and more.

I'm alive! I've just been buried in event planning for the non-profit that I work for, but my event was Monday night and it was a huge success. Phew!

Speaking of events, there are a couple coming up that I wanted to share with you. The great food events in our city just don't stop.

Monday, October 3rd- Charity Night at Johnny Mango's to support the Liver Life Challenge team that is training and fundraising on behalf of the American Liver Foundation for the Disney half, full, or Goofy marathon in January. Bring a special flier to Johnny Mango's from 11AM-11PM, and 20% of your check will be donated to the team. Click on the link above to get the flier. Disclosure- I work for the ALF, and manage the Liver Life Challenge team.

Friday, October 14th
- Best of Cleveland Party, hosted by Cleveland Magazine. 7-11PM, Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum. General admission tickets are $45. Go check out what Cleveland Magazine has deemed "the best" of Cleveland!

Sunday, October 16th- Dinner in the Dark at Light Bistro in Ohio City. 6:30PM. $65 plus tax and gratuity. Enjoy a six course meal prepared by six different chefs, but you're "in the dark" on what the menu will be and what the chef lineup looks like. All proceeds benefit a local charity.

Monday, November 14th- March of Dimes' Cleveland Signature Chef Auction. Tickets are $150, 5:30PM, The Cleveland Aquarium. Highlights over 25 of our area's chefs as they prepare a signature dish for all to taste. Win fantastic prizes in their live and silent auctions. The Honorary Chef is Jeff Jarrett from AMP 150, but the restaurant list is quite lengthy.

Enjoy these events and more this fall! Any fun food events coming up that you plan on attending?

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Dining at Flour

In an effort to get out to the east side of Cleveland more often, a recent Girls' Night Out brought us to Flour- Paul Minnillo and Chris DiLisi's (formally of the Baricelli Inn) newest venture. Offering rustic Italian fare in a sleek, but casual, atmosphere was what they were going for, and I personally think that they delivered.

They offer a small area for patio seating out front, but this evening we decided to dine inside. Picture lots of clean lines, minimalist decor, tons of stainless steel, and plaid shirts on all the waitstaff (this last bit I found a little odd). Our server was pleasant, attentive, and knowledgeable about the menu, although she had some missteps later in the evening and also proved that she knows nothing about how a cheese plate should be presented and enjoyed (start with the mild, end with the stinky).

This particular group of diners LOVES a good cheese plate, so we decided to share the 7 Piece Formaggi ($19) with strawberry compote and crostini as a starter.Overall, it was a decent cheese plate but I don't think that it lived up to Baricelli cheese fame, and it certainly couldn't compete with our personal favorite- L'Albatros. But the cheese selection was nice, although every good plate with this many varieties should include a bleu- in our opinion. But we were off to a good start.

I decided to try the Melon salad ($11) with arugula, ricotta salada, chili, and lime.There were a few different types of melon in the salad, and they were all crisp and refreshing. The chili added a subtle heat to the dish, but we agreed that it was "missing something". Maybe some prosciutto? I don't think that I would order it again.

Then on to the main course- Gnudi ($18 entree portion) with pancetta, corn essence, corn salsa, and crema.Some helpful tweeps had suggested this dish to us, and it didn't disappoint. This was the highlight of the meal for me, and the portion was so large that I was able to take half of it home for lunch the next day. The gnocchi were a probably little dense for some people's taste, but the wonderful sweet corn flavor and crispy pancetta bites just did it for me. It was a little rich towards the end, but I really enjoyed the dish and it reheated nicely. I would order this again in a heartbeat.

So, overall we enjoyed checking out one of the area's newer additions, and I think that they will continue to thrive. The (free) parking and location are convenient, the food is good with some standout dishes, and the atmosphere is casual yet modern and sleek.

34205 Chagrin Boulevard
Moreland Hills, OH 44022

Flour on Urbanspoon

Monday, September 12, 2011

September Events

I am totally in a full-blown fall mood now after the Browns' home opener yesterday, one of my favorite September food events taking place tonight- Taste of the Browns, and a crisp in the air that just wasn't there a few weeks ago.

But festival season is not over! This month brings some other great events that I wanted to share with you:

Monday, September 12th - Sunday, September 18th- First ever Downtown Cleveland Patio Week, featuring $30 three course options and $15 lunch options at participating restaurants. There will also be special events and offers from specific restaurants, and you can check all of this out for only $2 parking. Visit the website (linked above) for more information.

Tuesday, September 20th- Dinner in the Dark. Held at Brandt Evan's new Pura Vida this month, the event will feature six different chefs preparing a six course meal with beverage pairings. But you'll be "in the dark" about who is cooking each course, or what you will be served. All proceeds benefit charity. 6:30PM. Use the link to learn more, or to purchase tickets online.

Friday, September 23rd - Sunday, September 25th- Cleveland's RIPE! Fest, hosted by the Cleveland Botanical Gardens. Featuring food, entertainment, farmers market, shopping and more. Tickets are only $12 for adults and $6 for children. Event hours are 11:00 a.m. - sundown each day. Family-friendly. Check out the event website for more information.

I am simply sharing these events happening in Cleveland because I think they are worth checking out. What events are you looking forward to this month?

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Back to Bac

One of the most controversial blog posts that I've written was my review of Tremont's Bac. Several of you stood up for what you feel is "one of the best Asian restaurants in Cleveland", and told me that I didn't know what I was talking about.

Here's the thing...restaurants and food are subjective. Even when dining with friends, family, or "R"- we can be having the same food in the same restaurant at the same time with the same server, and our experience and opinions will be different. That's the beauty of it, I think.

As you know, our first experience at Bac led us to one of the worst dishes that I've ever had (spoiled scallops, and the dish isn't on the menu anymore), and the rest of the food was only average- in my opinion. Of course I always believe in second chances, and try to not judge a restaurant based on one experience alone. So when many of you reached out about that particular blog post, I knew that I had to go back.

I did, and I'm sorry to say that my opinion hasn't changed. In the picture below you see three small plates: Summer Rolls, Pork Rangoon, and Chicken Satay.Once again, there was nothing "wrong" with the three dishes (other than the Chicken Satay being a little fatty). But there was absolutely nothing that stood out or impressed about these dishes. I've had better rolls, better satay, better peanut sauce, and better dumplings in other Cleveland restaurants. Let me just note that I was sharing these dishes with a friend, and she felt the same way.

Now...I've heard that the Bacon Guacamole, Green Papaya Salad, and Bahn Mi Sandwich are very good. But why should your menu only include a short list of items that stand out? It should be the other way around, especially in Tremont where it is a restaurant mecca of good eats. I'm sorry folks, but my second trip left me feeling the same way.

And that's the beauty of opinions- to each their own. I just try to write this blog honestly about my experiences and opinions, but I do always love to hear your feedback and own dining adventures. We all know what we like best, but it sure is fun to share it with others. I could talk about the Cleveland culinary scene all day!

I do wish Bac the best as he seems like such a nice guy and a hard worker, but the restaurant just isn't for me. I only decided to write a second post because so many of you spoke up after the first. Clearly, the restaurant has a loyal following and that's wonderful!

Friday, September 2, 2011

Touch Supper Club Farm to Table Dinner

On Tuesday night, "R" and I attended the Touch Supper Club Farm to Table Dinner at Stone Garden Farms in Richfield. The setting was gorgeous, and it was a perfect late summer evening (you know, one with just a slight chill in the air once the sun went down).They were also unveiling their new food truck, which is about to hit the streets of Cleveland serving up tasty tacos.Touch had set up tables of 8 on the grounds of the farm, surrounded by interesting old buildings and beautiful gardens. Before the dinner started, we explored the buildings......poked around the gardens......and made some new friends.Then we settled into our table for a seven course meal served family-style, inspired by Stone Garden Farms. Many of the courses included produce picked fresh from the grounds, and our sixth course was a suckling pig right off the farm. But first up were Assorted Deviled Eggs with Fried Green Tomatoes.I love deviled eggs, and these did not disappoint. The kimchee and blue cheese eggs were my favorite two. The lightly battered fried green tomatoes were also a big hit at our table. This course was paired with a light, summery Cucumber Melon Margarita.

Second course was a Heirloom Tomato Panzanella Salad with wild lamb quarters (a green, as our table learned), arugula, and goat cheese.Paired with it was a Ketchup Martini- my least favorite drink of the evening (whoa, strong and spicy), but fun. I really enjoyed this salad, and it included some of the sweetest and flavorful tomatoes that I've had yet this summer.The third course was a Stone Garden Salt Roasted Beet Salad with romaine, candied walnuts, strawberry rhubarb vinaigrette, and Danish blue cheese. This was a table favorite, but the salt-roasted beets were just a tad too salty in my opinion. I think it lost some of the great earthy flavor of the beets. But the five different varieties of beets were picked straight from the farm, and it doesn't get any fresher than that! Next up was the Garden Beans with toasted cumin, lemon and feta cheese, tomato salad, and toasted pine nuts. It was paired with a sparkling white wine, and is the chef's "favorite summer side dish".

Now we moved into the "main courses", which started with a Grilled Smoked Salmon with heirloom tomato bread pudding, oven dried cherry tomatoes, and a leek corn slab bacon compote. This dish was paired with a refreshing Lynchburg Lemonade.Let me state that I typically hate salmon. It's always too "fishy" for me, and I would never, ever order it out. This was my favorite course of the evening. The bread pudding was outstanding, and I absolutely loved the Rose Hip Gastrique that Chef Fisher had whipped up for the meal. The fish was mild, with a nice crisp to the outside.

Now it was time for the main event, the Roasted Suckling Pig.This was served with smoked sweet potatoes, house-made BBQ sauce, and a slightly sweet red wine. The sauce was exceptional, and several of us dipped our utensils into the jar to savor just that flavor by itself. My first piece of pork was very fatty and too tough to cut into, but the platter kept refilling itself and I enjoyed some delicious smokey, tender pork.

The last course was a Blue Berry Pie with white cheddar cheese ice cream, and was supposed to be served with a Ginger Peach Cobbler cocktail. Unfortunately, as our server made his way to our table he tripped over a chair leg in the dark and down went the tray of drinks. Alas, we didn't get to try the cocktail but it sure sounded good! I am not a pie lover, but I did pick at a few bites and watched as everyone else at the table happily cleaned their plates. So it must have been good, because we were all feeling stuffed at that point.

With our bellies full, we wandered over to the roaring bonfire and continued to listen to the beautiful live folk music that had entertained us all evening. It was a perfect ending to an unique, and delicious, meal on the farm.For more pictures from the evening, check out the album on my Facebook Fan Page.

Thank you to Touch Supper Club for providing me with a media pass to come check out the event and the debut of their new food truck. It was a fun and tasty meal, and one that we won't soon forget. The opinions above are 100% mine.