Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Cincinnati Eats

A recent work trip took me to Cincinnati, and Mr. H was along for the ride. My #1 Volunteer! We usually try and find a fun meal or two to have during any work trip, and this time we headed to Over the Rhine in Cincinnati on Friday night. We started at The Anchor, but our appetizers were so ho-hum that we immediately aborted our plan, paid the bill, and headed to Salazar down the street for the remainder of the meal.
The "New American" restaurant had a lot of things that sounded really great on the menu. Since we'd already had appetizers, we just ordered two small plates to share. We did the Grilled Pork Belly with Chinese BBQ sauce, and fresh herbs ($7).
The Asian-inspired sauce was bold in flavor and was great with the rich pork. We also ordered the Duck Leg Rillette with pickled red onion, jalapeno jam, and blue oven toast ($14).
Also another enjoyable dish, and this quick meal certainly left us wanting more from Salazar.

During our trip, we also stopped at the relatively new Court Street Lobster Bar for a lobster roll.
Diners get your choice of Maine or Connecticut style lobster rolls. Helloooo, warm and buttery Connecticut style. They have additional appetizers, soups and salads, rolls and sides. It's a casual spot, where you order at the counter and then grab a seat at the bar or one of the high booths. It's a seaside vibe, and while the lobster roll wasn't the quality we experience in Maine during our visits, it was reminiscent and made me even more excited for our August trip.

Another highlight from the Cincinnati trip was a stop at Sundry and Vice for some craft cocktails.
Their cocktail menu is on-point! Highly recommend.

Any good "foodie" trip to the Cincinnati area includes a shopping spree at Jungle Jim's.
It's a Sam's Club on steroids of international foods and beverages. You can get lost for hours in there. We walked out with several sauces, spices, and dry goods to try at home.

So, overall a successful work trip, and quite a bit of food fun squeezed in!

Salazar
1401 Republic Street
Cincinnati, OH 45202

Court Street Lobster Bar
28 W Court Street
Cincinnati, OH 45202

Sundry and Vice
18 W 13th Street
Cincinnati, OH 45202

Monday, June 19, 2017

Summer Smörgåsbord in Old Brooklyn

The Summer Smörgåsbord in the Old Brooklyn neighborhood of Cleveland kicked off last week with the first Cleveland Summer Cinema showing (at dusk) and first Farmers Market of the season in Loew Park.

Every Tuesday from 5PM - 8PM, the Old Brooklyn Farmers Market will take place. There were a couple of local farms on site, several Old Brooklyn businesses, and other local purveyors' products were available for purchase like Randy's Pickles and Bearded Buch. Also, FREE Jack Frost donuts!
Who could resist? I nabbed a classic glazed, and it went down nicely with a Siblime lager from the Sibling Revelry Brewing beer garden.

I also found a new-to-me Old Brooklyn company, Country Boy's Kettle Corn.
Usually, kettle corn is too sweet for me, but we were given a sample and this was the perfect balance of sweet and salty. We weren't staying for the movie, but plan to later on this summer, so I'll be grabbing a bag then! The Green Machine and Honey Hut food trucks are also always on site for this.

In addition to the weekly movies and farmers market taking place on Tuesdays, Smörgåsbord also includes a Street Fest on July 23rd. More details coming soon, but the streets of Pearl and Broadview will be closed down for one evening to bring in a movie, food vendors, activities, and more. A giant block party in Old Brooklyn!

Come check it all out this summer, and you'll likely find Mr. H and I there. Sorry, I'm completely obsessed with our neighborhood. It rocks.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Indianapolis Eats: Union 50

Work took me to Indianapolis last weekend, and I dragged Mr. H along so that we could have some fun in between the conference days. That meant a great meal out on Friday night at Union 50.
We started with the Beef Tartare with Horseradish Crema, Pickled Mustard Seed, Crispy Onion Strings, and a Quail Egg ($13).
The horseradish was subtle enough to not overpower it, but gave a great "bite" to the flavor.

We also shared the Toast + Jam with Wild Gulf Shrimp Toast, Sushi Grade Ahi Jam, Yuzu Tobiko, and Marinated + Compressed Cucumber ($16).
This was probably my favorite dish of the night.

Mr. H ordered the Wood-Fired Red Snapper with Spring Pea, Confit Potato, House Pork Belly, Saffron Aioli, Fresh Herb, and Trumpet Mushroom ($27).
I had the Duck, Duck with a Seared Duck Breast, Parsnip Purée, Blackberry Conserve, Duck Leg Confit, Hickory Roasted Turnip, Asparagus, and Spiced Jus ($27).
The duck fat was rendered off nicely, so it wasn't fatty and had a crispy skin. I wish the duck leg confit and the blackberry conserve were more present in the dish, but otherwise it was a really tasty dish and a very generous potion. I kept handing slices off to Mr. H.

After our meal, we settled in at the bar to watch the Cavs' game. Big mistake, because their craft cocktails program is on point, and we had a bit too much fun staying up late to watch our team take home their only win of The Finals. Eh, it was worth it. Just made for a rough morning the next day when I had to be at the conference at 7:00AM.

If you find yourself in Indianapolis, I highly recommend Union 50.

Union 50
620 N East Street
Indianapolis, IN 46202

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Weekend Bites

This past weekend was full of fun food and activities. Mr. H and I were soaking it up, as I have to work the next three weekends in a row. We started off Friday evening but trying this recipe for Scallops with Spicy Curry Sauce. We adapted it by thickening the sauce with cornstarch, substituting cilantro for the parsley, adding asparagus, tomatoes and mushrooms, and we served it over quinoa instead of cous cous. I was surprised by how much we both liked the curry flavor with scallops, but it totally worked so give it a try!
On Saturday afternoon, we celebrated our friends' little guy turning one with a pool party, delicious BBQ, and a salted caramel chocolate cake from Luna Bakery & Cafe. He didn't hesitate to get right in there with his smash cake!
After a quick stop home to feed the pup and let her out, we then headed to the 49th annual Hessler Street Fair over in University Circle.
The small street was lined with vendors, food options, entertainment and a whole lot of fun people-watching. I shopped at Oceanne and picked up a gorgeous necklace. I could have easily taken home several more pieces.
We stopped and listened to the live music, which the fair is known for.
And then walked over to Coquette Patisserie, as they were featuring a Market Garden Brewery pop-up on their patio with drink and food specials. We settled for just a great bottle of white wine at one of their picnic tables, and then headed to The Black Pig for a late-night bite to eat.
Sunday's weather didn't start out great, but the skies cleared just in time for the annual Pierogi Palooza in Parma.
We rode our bikes over, and enjoyed pierogi from Mom's Pierogies for lunch. I had the classic Cheddar and Potato, an Italian with sausage, pepperoni, and mozzarella cheese, and a fried Mac n' Cheese pierogi. Sour cream mandatory. 
We ended the weekend by hanging out on our front porch and then cooking a 42-day dry-aged ribeye from Saucisson, which was pretty perfect. Can I go back and do it all over again? 

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Weekend Bites

I'm going to start a new series here on the blog, called Weekend Bites. Mr. H and I always find ourselves out and about in Northeast Ohio, particularly on the weekends, and sometimes there are things that we do, see, and taste that I want to share with you but they just don't fit in as their own blog post. These posts will now share a bit more about businesses we shop at, activities we do, and some delicious bites along the way. So, here's the first post in the new series...

We purposely hadn't scheduled plans for Memorial Day Weekend as we headed into it. A relaxing long holiday weekend is exactly what we needed this time of year! We decided early on that we'd both plan "surprise" dates for each other. This is something that we like to often do, and it makes "date night" even more fun. Mr. H was up first, and he planned a progressive dinner in The Flats on Saturday night.
It was a gorgeous night to be down by the water. We started at BOLD Food and Drink for appetizers. We shared a Grilled Octopus Salad that inspired some addition fun later on that weekend. Then, we wandered over to Scene Magazine's Taste of Summer event. There was live music, food stands, pop-up shops, booze, and outdoor games. We had fun spending a couple of hours just walking around and sipping on margaritas. Our last stop was at Alley Cat for oysters and entrees. The oysters were fantastic, but I was really disappointed in my Lobster Roll. The bun was over toasted, and it was basically a giant crouton that just crumbled apart when I tried to bite it.

On Monday afternoon, it was my turn to plan a date, and I decided to take us to Mr. Divot's Miniature Golf in North Royalton.
We had a good, and competitive, time on the classic course. I gave up keeping score after one hole just really kicked my butt. We then split some food for lunch on their outdoor patio. This place is a throwback, and their expansive menu is full of classic American food. They are known for their orange creamsicle swirl, so don't miss it. Mr. H can remember coming here as a kid, and the family-run business is proud to say that not much has changed.
Later that afternoon, we stopped at the new Terrestrial Brewing Company. Sometimes, you have to slow down and remember to look up, because you get views like this.
We had to head home at that point, because we had a whole octopus (thanks, Kate's Fish at the West Side Market) cooking in the sous vide waiting for us. Mr. H threw it on the grill that evening, and we served it over a lemon garlic pasta with vegetables.
It was something new for us, but a lot of fun to try and it came out pretty darn well for a first attempt! Mr. H wants to let it go a little longer next time to tenderize it a bit more.

Sadly, the relaxing and fun weekend came to an end, and reality hit the next morning. Can we go back and do it all over again? We really lucked out with the weather overall, and it was a memorable Memorial Day Weekend for us. It really feels like summer is here in Cleveland now.

Saturday, May 27, 2017

D'Agnese's Italian

Mr. H and I found ourselves in Brecksville this week for an unexpected evening errand (ongoing saga with my engagement ring/wedding band, but by the way...we love our new jeweler Bookman & Son), so we decided to grab a bite to eat in the area. We had dinner at D'Agnese's Italian for a family private party a few years back and once with Mr. H's grandma. I remember enjoying our meals both visits, but we hadn't been in since.

Located in Broadview Heights on W. Royalton Road, it's on the end of a strip of businesses and could easily be missed from its exterior. However, inside it is classic fine dining Italian with a warm and cozy atmosphere.
We chose to sit at the bar, and several items on the menu were sounding really appealing right away. A good sign. 
Unfortunately, we were both disappointed in the flavor (or lack thereof) in our meal that night. I started with a Caesar Salad ($5 half), and I did enjoy the house made croutons, oven dried tomatoes and shaved prosciutto crisps, but the dressing wasn't what I wanted. It really leaned more towards an oil-based Italian dressing.

Mr. H ordered an entree that I had my eye on as well, the Pan Seared Scallops ($23) over risotto. The scallops were cooked just fine, but overall the dish had absolutely no flavor. It was so bland that he added some salt just to give it something.
I was slightly happier with my Shrimp Carbonara ($21) with shrimp, prosciutto di parma and onions in a Romano cheese cream sauce and served over linguini.
It too, was blander than I would have liked, so some salt went a long way. But the pasta was cooked perfectly, and the shrimp were huge.

I know it's a popular place and people speak highly of it, but for the price-point I certainly expected that the food would have more flavor. Overall, it was just bland and not memorable. We also didn't get great service at the bar, and it left me with the impression that I didn't need to go back.

D'Agnese's
1100 W. Royalton Road
Broadview Heights, Ohio 44147
440-237-7378

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Old Brooklyn Cheese Co. Open House

There are lots of great things to do this Memorial Day Weekend around Cleveland. Why not one cheese-tastic event? Head over to Old Brooklyn Cheese Co. on Pearl Road on Saturday between 11AM - 3PM for their open house, featuring samples, purveyors on-site, and a gift for the first 50 people through the door.
This has become one of our favorite spots in Old Brooklyn (sadly for my waistline), and you should come check it out this Saturday if you haven't had a chance to pop in yet.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

The Lakehouse Inn and Winery Visit

Today I'm sharing with you a recent experience that I was fortunate to have at The Lakehouse Inn & Winery at Geneva-on-the-Lake. Settle in, because it's a long post, but I couldn't help it. We did a lot, and it's all worth sharing!
This inn, winery, restaurant, and spa brought out a select group of media representatives and social media influencers (and Mr. H was able to join for a small fee!) to not only check out their quaint and gorgeous lake setting...
...but also to get a taste of the entire area, and what is has to offer year-round. The Fagnilli family (owners since May 2000) prides themselves on their ability to highlight Ashtabula County's four seasons through an unforgettable local experience with full service on site and a deep knowledge and history of the area. After touring the Inn's property, we headed out for a walking tour of the historic Ashtabula Harbor.
I was immediately "at home" by the lakefront, and was enjoying the cooler temperature and breeze off the lake more than others. I'd love to spend more time walking around there, taking in the shops, restaurants, river, and bridges. I couldn't help but stop and look up at the stunning spring trees too.
I became quite obsessed with the covered bridges in the area (thanks, Dad) and took a driving tour of my own to check out three in the county.
Seriously, how cool are these?
Then, it was back to the property for lunch at Crosswinds Grille.
We were treated to some of their pizzas. The crust is made in-house, and it was a really great pizza with plenty of topping choices to please everyone.
Of course, we had to fit in tasting some of their own wine as well.
After lunch, we headed out with the Fagnilli family for some winery tours in the area. It was my first time at Kosicek Vineyards, and I enjoyed several of their wine samples enough to come home with two bottles!
After sampling wine and being out and about for hours, we were fully prepared for the five-course meal ahead of us back at Crosswinds Grille.
Featuring bread made in-house and each course filled with produce and meats that are in-season and sourced from local farms. The Fagnillis strive to redefine "farm-to-table" and what it means to shop local. Nathan Fagnilli is the Executive Chef at Crosswinds, and he's putting out some great food and has a clear passion for what he's doing.
All of it was delicious, and beautifully plated, but highlights for me were the shrimp and grits and the beef navel (ate like pork belly). An added treat was that two of the local farmers that the restaurant sources from were invited to join us for the meal, Red Basket Farm and Miller Livestock Co. We got to hear all about their farms, and the relationship that they have with Crosswinds Grille and the Fagnilli family.

The meal included wine pairings from The Lakehouse Winery, so I was ready to hit the hay after dinner. Mr. H and I had a cute beach-themed room in the main house.
After breakfast the next morning, it was time to check out the Spa on site. I enjoyed a manicure, and it was honestly the longest-lasting professional manicure that I can remember having. I got over a full week out of it, and I NEVER get more than a day or two with regular polish without getting chips in it.
Our final excursion for the trip was a behind-the-scenes tour of The Lakehouse Inn Winery production facility and Na*Kyrsie Meats, just a few miles from the Inn. Na*Kyrsie Meats was Nate's dream, and he's got quite the operation going on now.
It was very cool to see, and hear about, their process and the styles of wine that they are producing. It's a huge range, and we got to sample quite a few. Lucky us!
Nate was in his element at the butcher shop.
He brought out different pigs so we could literally see the difference in type and how what farm they were raised on impacts the meat.
We saw the "money room" where all the dried and cured meats reside. I jumped right in there.
Then, we got to try some! This was only a small section of the platter of meats we got to sample.
Mr. H and I took home several for later enjoyment. Good news for everyone in the Cleveland area...you can pick up their meats and Lakehouse Inn & Winery wines at the Tremont Farmers Market this summer. They also have a Retail Monthly Meat Sale in Geneva, so check that out if you're in the area.

The trip left me wanting to coordinate a couples' trip out for an overnight stay and winery tour (and some spa services slipped in for the ladies!). They have bed & breakfast rooms available with and without a jacuzzi, cottages, and a beach house. The property, and entire area, is peaceful and quaint, and just a short drive away for us. With the restaurant, small batch production winery, and full service day spa on site, you won't need to leave, but you'll want to because the area truly offers a lot of great things year-round. I was surprised, I admit, but it left a lasting impression and I'd like to go back soon.

The Lakehouse Inn & Winery
5653 Lake Road East
Geneva-on-the-Lake, OH 44041

Disclosure: I was invited to attend a media trip at The Lakehouse Inn and Winery. All food, beverage, accommodations, and spa treatments were complimentary. We paid a small fee to have Mr. H attend with me. All opinions are 100% my own.