Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Weekend Bites

After two straight weeks without a day off from work, I was DUE for last weekend. We actually didn't have any commitments, other than I had a massage scheduled at Spa West (heaven), so we decided late in the week that we'd head to Put-in-Bay on Sunday.

The Lake Erie islands transport you away from "Ohio" and it's truly relaxing and fun. Just not on a wild Saturday night for me, anymore. Sunday is the perfect day to putz around the island on a golf cart, take in the views, and sip on a chilled glass of wine.
After lunch at The Crew's Nest, Mr. H and I headed to the Round House Bar.
It's where we met 10 years ago, so of course we don't miss a chance to tip one back in honor.
Mad Dog had just come on to the stage, and his raunchy humor, songs, and heckling of the crowd always gives us some good laughs.

I didn't want to leave to head home, but those four hours on the island were just the escape I needed. A piece of my heart will always be in PIB, and I love any opportunity we have to scoot up there for an afternoon.

Saturday, August 19, 2017

CLE Urban Winery

I stopped out to CLE Urban Winery last week on Lee Road. They've been open a year now, bringing the area a modern, boutique winery that celebrates all things Cleveland.
From the custom wall art...
...to their Cleveland-themed wine names and labels, it's all things Northeast Ohio here.
The space was much larger than it had appeared in pictures on social media. There's a couple of intimate soft-seating areas near the front, a very large bar, bar seating looking into the production room, and additional options scattered throughout the converted garage. I settled in at the main bar for a Flight ($7) of five 1 oz. pours.
I tried the Murray Hill Pinot Grigio, Shoreway Viognier, Lake Erie Riesling, Cedar-Lee Chardonnay, and Hometown Heroes Peach Chardonnay. The two that stood out for me were the Pinot Grigio, bright and dry, and the Peach Chardonnay. It was sweeter than I'd usually purchase, but the bold peach flavor was unique and I can picture drinking a chilled glass on these last summer days. I took home a bottle of each.

I didn't care for a couple of them as much, but all of them were better than many other local wines, in my opinion. With 12 - 15 different styles, there is something for everyone. Most of their grapes are coming from California, Oregon, Washington, and NY, with some Ohio in there as well.

They also have a great space for events. You can bring in your own food, create different seating arrangements, and the rental fee is only $25. Or, you can come in and make your own wine label as a private group with the winemaker himself!

I don't find myself in that area often, but this will stay on my radar as a spot to grab a drink before or after dinner. You can also find the wines in several wine retail and local grocery store chains now.

CLE Urban Winery
2180 Lee Road
Cleveland Heights, OH 44118

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

2017 Chefs Unbridled Preview

Chefs Unbridled on Saturday, September 16th at the Chagrin Valley Hunt Club Polo Field is Fieldstone Farm Therapeutic Riding Center’s primary annual benefit to raise funds for the programs for people with special needs.  Cleveland’s top chefs, led by Scott Kuhn and Chris Hodgson, will prepare a unique tasting dinner under a beautifully decorated tent filled with live music and incredible food. The evening will also include a bourbon tasting bar, horse-drawn carriage rides, a wine pull and an auction.
Mr. H and I have had the pleasure of attending for several years now, and besides the fantastic chef lineup each year, something else that stands out is the gorgeous setting.
New for 2017, attendees will enjoy the artistry of Natasha Nagawiecki, sponsored by Wahl Professional, as she creates a special scene on a horse during a live clipping demonstration. Every time this event incorporates one of the organization's majestic horses, I get excited!

You'll also want to learn about the Golden Ticket. A limited number of “Golden Tickets” are available to purchase ($100 each) for a chance to win a five-course meal prepared exclusively by chefs Kuhn and Hodgson. The dinner includes wine, service and cleanup for 20 guests right in the winner’s home. To purchase (by Sept. 14), contact Maureen Foster at mfoster@fieldstonefarmtrc.com or 440-708-0013 x123. Golden Tickets will NOT be sold at the event. You have a chance to support the organization and win a fabulous prize, without even attending the event.

But, if you do attend the event, you can expect great food from this year's chef lineup:

· Demetrios Atheneos of BOLD Food and Drink, Forage Public House and The Oak Barrel (Cleveland)
· Adam Bostwick of Graffiti: A Social Kitchen and Cork & Cleaver Social Kitchen (Cleveland)
· William Burke of The Smith Restaurant (Burton)
· Chris Hodgson and Scott Kuhn of The Driftwood Group
· Jimmy Linhart and Pablo César Montiel of Lemon Falls Café  (Chagrin Falls)
· Brittany Logan of Rocky River Wine Bar  (Rocky River)
· Michael Symon Restaurants: Mabel’s BBQ (Cleveland)
· Matthew Mize of Abo’s Grill (Lyndhurst)
· Robert Records of Cedar Creek Grille (Beachwood)
· Roland Schlaf of Market (Rocky River)
Tickets for Chefs Unbridled begin at $140, and include a tax-deductible donation to Fieldstone Farm Therapeutic Riding Center. Reservations for Chefs Unbridled can be made before Sept. 1; however seating is limited and the event sells out quickly each year. For tickets and details, visit 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 the event in exchange for a preview and post-event blog posts. All opinions are 100% my own. All images provided by Fieldstone Farm Therapeutic Riding Center. 

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Tinkers Creek Tavern

Mr. H and I got to cross a restaurant off of my 2017 To Dine Challenge list...Tinkers Creek Tavern in Walton Hills. That leaves just three more to get to before December ends!
A friend had told me to wait until summer to visit this one, because you really want to take advantage of the views and patio seating. I can see why, when this is the view directly next to your table.
We did not have a reservation, but on a busy Thursday night the wait was minimal, and they had some outdoor lounge seating available while you waited. We grabbed a drink at the bar and headed out. Once we were seated at our table, we wanted to start with the Sicilian Calamari (noted as one of their signature dishes), but they were out of it. The regular calamari was still being offered, but it wasn't nearly as interesting, so we switched gears. We decided to start with the Spinach Artichoke Dip ($8.95) with toasted pita.
Not quite as thick and creamy as I would prefer, but it was indulgent and tasty, so no real complaints here.

Mr. H ordered the B.B.Q. Salmon Salad ($11.95), and it was a really pretty bowl of food. Simple, and satisfied his craving for something light.
I ordered the Mahi-Mahi Sandwich ($10.95) served on a soft bun with lettuce, tomato, and mango habanero aioli with a side of fries.
The fish was cooked just fine, and the vegetable toppings were standard, but I did wish that the aioli was bolder in flavor. There was a sweetness to it if you ate it alone, but both the sweet of the mango and the spice of the habanero were lost once it was on the sandwich. I did ask for a side of it and added more, but that did very little to boost the flavor. It was a fine sandwich, just not as noteworthy as the description made it sound like it would be.

All in all, the food was classic American and perfectly acceptable, but you're really going there for the setting and views.

Tinkers Creek Tavern
14000 Tinkers Creek Road
Walton Hills, Ohio 44146
216-642-3900

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Nuevo Modern Mexican & Tequila Bar

Akron's Nuevo Modern Mexican & Tequila Bar opened a location in Downtown Cleveland from the ground-up by constructing a lakeside building with stunning views in the Inner Harbor by the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Seriously, these views while sipping on a margarita flight...
I tried the Jalapeno Cilantro, Blackberry, and Mango. All delicious, but I think the Mango ended up being my favorite.

Mr. H and I started with the Guacamole Sampler ($15.90) of three. We did the Grilled Pineapple with Bacon and Aji Amarillo, Habanero Jelly, and Classic. The Habanero Jelly was really the only one that stood out, and it wasn't too spicy so don't be intimidated.
I went for the Jerk Shrimp Tacos ($14.90) with pan seared shrimp, green papaya slaw, and coconut jerk sauce. All of the tacos are served with three flour tortillas, rice and beans. Honestly, this wasn't very good. The coconut milk overpowered any jerk seasoning, the slaw was served warm with the shrimp so the taco contents had no varying textures. Halfway through our meals, I was asked if I wanted hot sauce. I chose the house hot sauce, and it did help the poor rice and beans. This dish was a big miss for me.
Mr. H did enjoy his Salmon En Hoja ($25.90), but I don't think it wowed him either.
The views and margaritas were fantastic, and I loved our cheerful server, but the food was only average at best. I think I'll stick to drinks only here for now.

Nuevo Cleveland
1000 E 9th Street
Cleveland, OH 44114

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Weekend Bites

The weekend particularly flew by this past one. Not sure why, but Monday came sooner than it felt like it should. We were busy around the house, but still managed to squeeze in some fun. This kicked off with a Block Party at Cleveland Jam in our neighborhood on Friday.
It was free to attend. They brought in live music, a food truck, a BBQ food station, and other local craft businesses to set the tone for a laid-back evening on the lawn of their retail location on Schaaf Road. Of course, their shop was open as well, where you could sample and purchase their goods. We picked up the new Raspberry Jalapeno and one of their Tango Mango Habanero.
They plan to host two more this summer, on August 25th and September 29th.

On Saturday evening, we did one of our favorite "night in" dates by making two appetizers to graze on while we hung out, sipped wine, and enjoyed the front porch.
We adapted this recipe for Roasted Pineapple Whipped Ricotta Toast with Sea Salt by adding a touch of honey into the ricotta and by adding prosciutto to the mix.
It also needed a bit more salt than the original recipe called for, but once we topped it with some Himalayan pink sea salt, it was quite good. Easy to make, and could rest at room temperature, so it'll be great for parties.

Mr. H also started a little food project at home. One that I hope doesn't kill me. He's done a ton of research, purchased all kinds of gadgets, and ordered meat from Pinzone's Market Fresh Meats to...dry age beef in our basement.
Fingers crossed. We'll let you know in about a month.

We ended the weekend with another little kiddo's birthday party, filled with laughter from the pool, all kinds of snacks, and a stunning birthday cake from Luna Bakery & Cafe. Another good summer weekend on the books!

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Weekend Bites

Last weekend started off as soon as 5PM hit on Friday. It's been an extra crazy, and stressful, time at work lately. So, a margarita was just what I needed. Cozumel in Independence has my favorite Chiles Rellenos (now called Chiles Poblano there), and trust me, I've tried quite a few around town.
On Saturday, I was supposed to head out east with a friend to tour the wineries and have a picnic. The weather had other plans for us, so we headed to the Cleveland Museum of Art instead. That included brunch at Provenance first. We both started with a Pro Bloody Mary ($13) that has a signature blend, Thirsty Dog stout, garnish, and bacon. Mmmm, bacon. I had the Crab Cake Sandwich ($15). It was quite large and had a side of potatoes, so I took the top off the bun and then it was just right for me. I also left most of the potatoes behind, simply because it was a lot of food. It was a substantial portion for the price.
Then we burned off a few of those calories wandering around the museum. This view always makes me stop and pause. How lucky is Cleveland that most of the areas of CMA are totally free and open to the public?
Sunday brought us cheese. As in, making our own mozzarella at home. Turned out pretty well! This time of year, I crave a Caprese Salad.
Sunday also finally brought Summer Smorgasbord street fest from the Old Brooklyn Community Development Corporation. A portion of Pearl Road and Memphis Avenue were shut down from 5PM - Midnight for food trucks and vendors, Kids Zone activities, a stage with live music, a beer garden, wine from the new Vino Veritas Cellar, and a movie showing at dusk.
We had a blast, from the dunk tank...
...to the food...
...and beers from Sibling Revelry in between. We ran into neighbors and friends, and did it all within biking distance of our house. This will become an annual event now, and personally I already can't wait until next year.

Monday morning came a little sooner than I had hoped, but it was a darn fun weekend so no complaints!

Monday, July 24, 2017

Summer with Heinen's

In partnership with Heinen's Grocery Store, Mr. H and I got to pack a picnic dinner to take up to the Cleveland Summer Cinema showing of La La Land in Old Brooklyn last week. It was also a good excuse to use the checkered tablecloth my mom made for my grandma 30+ years ago. It was handed down to me last summer, and I have so many memories of family dinners in the summer at the picnic table using this cloth.
Every good picnic includes a cheese board! Check ours out, including some fabulous cheeses from Heinen's and the gorgeous personalized board that Crystal got us as a wedding gift. Heinen's has one of the best cheese selections in Northeast Ohio. We added in some marcona almonds, baguette, honey, jam, and a smoked pork rillettes that we got from Saucisson.
The prepared foods sections of Heinen's always have some great grab-and-go items. We choose to stick to the cold foods, since we'd be dining al fresco. Our selections included Broccoli Salad, Curry Chicken Salad (one of my long-time favorites of theirs), Roasted Squash and Red Peppers, and Cajun Crab Dip.

Not pictured...a delightful bottle of dry rose! Shhhh.....

We settled in for the movie, and had a great time taking in a flick under the stars. This Tuesday's movie at Loew Park is Ratatouille and next week is Sing.
It was a perfect evening, and one that we'll be replicating this summer. Check out #SummerwithHeinens on social media to see what others are up to, and pack your own picnic. We're always on the hunt for a good park to picnic in. What's your favorite local spot?

Disclosure: I was provided with a gift card in exchange for this post. All opinions stated are 100% my own. 

Thursday, July 20, 2017

This Sunday's Smorgasbord

This Sunday (July 23rd), the Old Brooklyn Community Development Corporation is bringing the Summer Smorgasbord, presented by Jack Frost Donuts, street festival to the corner of Pearl and Broadview.
From 5:00PM until midnight, the streets will be closed and attendees can enjoy live music from five bands, a Sibling Revelry beer garden, wine from the newly opened Vino Veritas Winery in Old Brooklyn, food from 10 vendors and food trucks, and a showing of Guardians of the Galaxy at dusk.

It's going to be one big giant block party! It is free to attend, and there will also be family-friendly activities hosted by the Old Brooklyn Families Group going on. Personally, I'm looking forward to taking a turn at the dunk tank to try and dunk some of my neighbors.

Come check it out this Sunday!

Monday, July 17, 2017

Weekend Bites

This Monday feels a little tougher than usual, because the weekend was so great and it felt very long and relaxed. It started off well on Friday when I received my recent Bombay Taxi Boutique Jewelry purchases in the mail! If you haven't checked out the online shop, or pop-up events around town, please visit this fellow Clevelander's site.
Friday marked 10 years (to-the-day) that Mr. H and I met in that crazy bar on Put-in-Bay. I can honestly say that from day one, I knew he was different and that what we had was different than any other relationship I'd been in. But, what a fast, and fun, first decade together we've had. Better than I could have even hoped for, including the tougher times. That's when I knew without a doubt that he's the one for me. We "celebrated" by renting a boat from Great Lakes Water Sports in The Flats. We spent two hours enjoying the water, sun, and incredible views of Cleveland.
Watching the bridges and freighters that up close and personal is quite fun!
On Saturday, we headed out to do some local grocery shopping. Including stops at Saucisson, and Ohio City Provisions. The summer produce was exploding off the shelves at Ohio City Provisions, and we took home quite a haul, like cherries, garlic scapes, peaches, greens, sweet corn, onion, and broccoli.
I have a confession. My black thumb killed the rubber tree plant I purchased from Lakewood Plant Company several months ago. So, we headed back there on Saturday afternoon to try again. This time, I purchased a cane tree. Fingers crossed. But, I'm obsessed with this little plant store, and you should go check it out if you haven't yet. They also now have a stand at the West Side Market!
Sunday brought the area's largest food festival, the Taste of Tremont. While many Clevelanders choose to avoid the crowded streets, heat (Why is it always on the hottest day of summer?!) and long lines, Mr. H and I have perfected a plan of attack that works well for us.

We bike in, avoiding the traffic and high parking prices. We start at one end, and make our way down by viewing all of the stands' menus. Then, I make a couple of selections, and stop there on our way back down the street. This year, that included Ushabu (new to Tremont) for some pork belly and a coconut.
We enjoyed watching the guys from Fresh Fork Market and Ohio City Provisions serving up a mouth-watering pig roast platter.
You know I love meat on a stick, so of course the skewers from Ty Fun caught my eye! But, sadly I was too full from my pork belly and the Lucky's Cafe mac n' cheese (a must-have at this event).
The people-watching and other event activities are always fun too, including this carved watermelon display outside of Tandul.
Just as we were about to visit our friends at Tremont Scoops, I started to not feel well. Turns out I have sun poisoning on my leg. Whoops! Too much summer fun lately, and not enough sunblock. Shame on me. I know better.

Phew, I told you that this weekend was packed full of fun and summer activities. How come when we go out on Friday night the weekend suddenly feels so much longer? I feel like we did, saw, and ate a lot of good stuff this weekend. How was yours?

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Weekend(ish) Bites

It's been a little quiet over here, because Mr. H and I were spending 9 glorious days on Lake Ontario with my family.

It was a much needed break from "reality" and always good for the soul. It was full of fun in the sun, playtime in the water, and of course...good food.

This included meals both at my parents' house and out in the area. We kicked it off with some cowboy steaks over the backyard fire pit that I helped build many years ago.
The trip included a brief overnight for Mr. H and I at a nearby resort on the St. Lawrence River with stunning views and a balcony suite that provided us with a gorgeous backdrop for 4th of July fireworks.
We experienced fine-dining at its best when service, food quality, and setting all come together perfectly. Thank you, Chateau at Saint Lawrence Spirits!
We ended the extended week with smoked brisket from my brother and fresh-cut fries from Mr. H.
Back to reality this week, but I'll still be thinking of summer bonfires, sunsets, puppy cuddles, boat rides, and the amazing meals we had.
Hope you all had a happy holiday weekend (or week, in our case) as well!