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!