Monday, August 19, 2019

Maine Eats- 2019

Time to catch you up on our trip to Maine and all of the fabulous eats. It's our fourth trip and we've curated quite a good list of restaurants up and down the state. But this was the first trip that took us as far North as Bar Harbor.

We flew into Bangor and headed to Bar Harbor for a four-day stay. We fell in love with Acadia National Park. You really need a minimum of 3 hours to drive through and occasionally stop, but plan on a lot more time if you want to hike.
The trails, and views, are endless and stunning.
But, to be honest, we didn't care for Bar Harbor. It was too touristy, the shops weren't the cute local boutiques found in other small towns, and the food was mostly terrible. On night two, we called it quits and cancelled our hotel room for the last night. The next morning, we scooted a day early to Camden and a Bed & Breakfast we've stayed at three times now, Blue Harbor House Inn. Under new ownership it's still just as charming, and within walking distance of the center of Camden. 
Of course, some of the best food we eat in Maine are just at roadside lobster shacks and hole-in-the-wall looking restaurants along the water. This trip was no different. Probably the best new Lobster Roll find for us was at Beal's Lobster Pier (the one redeeming meal near Bar Harbor, pictured middle-right).
Another note-worthy stop was a converted gas station, called The Shuck Station. It was recommended by Michael Nowak, chef/owner of The Black Pig here in Cleveland. He's made some excellent Maine suggestions for us before, and this one didn't disappoint either. We split the Oyster Tacos and Bao Buns.
Now that we were back in our favorite area of Maine, that meant we could stop in to our favorite find from the last trip...Glidden Point Oyster Farms. You can tour the farm at 11AM or 1PM daily, but their retail shop is open to the public and you can purchase a variety of raw oysters, take them out back to picnic tables, and shuck away.
The next fantastic meal in the Camden/Rockport/Rockland area that will be a spot we revisit in the future was at 18 Central Oyster Bar and Grill in Rockport. The flavors that this wood-grilled food was putting out were simply fabulous. Highlights were the Broiled Oysters, Scallops and Pork Belly, and Halibut.
The following night (and our last in Camden) was a special occasion. Mr. H and I celebrated 12 years of *officially* being together. For the meal, we headed to Natalie's, which we have been to before. By this point in the trip, my mom had joined us! This award-winning restaurant features a tasting menu with stunning plating and cuisine inspired by Maine. Sit on the outdoor deck for views and the best summer atmosphere.
As I wrap up this post, I can't forget the true reason we've found ourselves in Maine four times...the annual Lobster Festival!
It's soft-shelled lobster season, and you can literally rip them apart with your hands. This local festival in Rockland has been going on for 72 years, and we always enjoy ourselves. And the lobster!

That sums up our good eats prior to the last stop of the trip, Portland. That city deserves its own post, so stay tuned. 

Beal's Lobster Pier
182 Clark Point Road
Southwest Harbor, ME 04679

The Shuck Station
68 Main Street
Newcastle, ME 04553

Glidden Point Oyster Farms
637 River Road
Edgecomb, ME 04556

18 Central Oyster Bar and Grill
18 Central Street
Rockport, ME 04856

83 Bayview Street
Camden, ME 04843

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Event Preview: Taste of the Browns 2019

The 21st annual Taste of the Browns event to benefit the Greater Cleveland Food Bank will take place on Monday, September 9th in the beautiful 7UP City Club Lounge at FirstEnergy Stadium. This event celebrates our city’s passion for its sports team, our appreciation of Cleveland’s acclaimed culinary cuisine, and the Food Bank's commitment to our community. Guests will mingle with Cleveland Browns celebrities while enjoying delicious tastings prepared by more than 25 restaurants and beverage purveyors.
Last year, more than $309,000 was raised to fight hunger at this event - that's enough to help provide more than 1.2 million meals!

It's always one of my favorite fall food events to attend. You can read some of my event reviews here, here and here. I've only missed one in the 12 years I've lived in Cleveland.

This year, I'm looking forward to trying food from new-to-m spots like Aurelia - Honest Food & Drink, Lindey's Lake House, Balance Grille, and Murano Modern Italian Cuisine. And of course classic favorites like Blue Point Grille, Corleone's, EDWINS, Fahrenheit, Lago, Momocho, Pier W and Zack Bruell Restaurants. This is one event where you really have to pace  yourself and you can't possibly try it all.

Tickets are still available and can be purchased online here. Can't attend? You can still bid on fantastic silent auction packages like Browns' experience packages and autographed memorabilia, restaurant gift cards, Cleveland attraction packages and more. Just register to bid, and bidding will open on September 3rd.

Disclosure: I was provided two tickets in exchange for assistance in promoting the event. I am a former employee of the Greater Cleveland Food Bank. All opinions stated are 100% my own.

Monday, August 12, 2019

Weekend Bites

Well this past weekend certainly started off with a BANG at one of Spice Catering Co.'s Plated Landscape dinner events. This one had us dining under the stars and with stunning views of Downtown Cleveland at the Ohio City Farm.
Not only did we get to dine on a five-course, wine-paired and locally-sourced meal like the Charcuterie (pictured), Crooked Creek Rabbit Bolognese (pictured), and Mixed Berry Cheesecake, but we also got to learn more about Cleveland's largest urban Farm and their mission with Refugee Response. I encourage you to read about it. Also, if you haven't done one of Spice's Plated Landscape dinners before, what are you waiting for? We try and do at least one a year.

Since we just returned last week from 9 days away in Maine (more on that later this week!), we spent the rest of the weekend at home laying low. That also included many stops at our favorite local shops, like Ohio City Provisions, on Saturday morning to stock back up on groceries.
It can be hard to shake that relaxed vacation mode, so we did need some liquid fuel from Metropolitan Coffee too.
The weekend ended by soaking up the Sunday evening on our front porch with a cold beer and some pizza. It was perfection. I hope that you enjoyed this lovely Cleveland weekend too!

Thursday, August 1, 2019

Cozumel

How have I been blogging for 10 years and not dedicated a post to my favorite Mexican joint in town? I briefly mentioned it in a Weekend Bites post, but it's never had a standalone so that changes today.

I'm talking about Cozumel in Independence.
They always start you off with (sometimes warm!) tortilla chips and a smooth, spicy salsa. Often, they'll even give you one salsa per person, as they know it goes quickly.
This particular day, I felt like ordering a frozen Watermelon Margarita. They have several flavors and sizes available (Regular pictured here) and it hit the spot.
Now, this restaurant is my favorite around because it does the best version of my favorite Mexican dish to order. Chile Relleno, which are green chiles stuffed with cheese, dipped in a special batter and fried. A couple of years ago, they made a change to their preparation and it's no longer battered, but it's still a cut above the rest! They call it the Chile Poblano on the menu.

My favorite item to order is their Vegetarian Combo #5 ($9.55) with a Chile Poblano and Cheese Enchilada with rice and beans.
Do you have one Mexican dish that draws you in each time, or do you switch it up when dining? This is one dish that I must order almost every time, which is unusual for me.

But they have my favorite version, and the Independence location is close to home and work. Making it easier to get my fix!

5555 Brecksville Road
Independence, OH 44131
(216) 447-1070

Tuesday, July 30, 2019

The Pompadour

The 2019 To Dine Challenge had us head pretty far out to check out The Pompadour Bar & Tapas in Fairport Harbor. How come I've ended up in Lake County so much lately? Will travel for good food!
Word on the street from foodie friends was that it offered tasty small plates ideal for sharing, and craft cocktails that rivaled Cleveland's cocktail bars.

Yes, the cocktails did deliver as promised! Mr. H particularly loved the edible dried pineapple on top of my Jungle Bird ($12).
We dove into the menu, and ordered the suggested 2-3 plates per person. That included GRILLED OCTOPUS ($12) with sautéed red cabbage, carrot, brussel sprouts, rutabaga and citrus vinaigrette.
SPICY MUSHROOM & LEEKS ($7) with sautéed button & royal trumpet mushrooms, leeks, whole grain mustard, and thyme.
CRISPY BACON & FENNEL ($12) cured pork belly, spicy orange gelée, oil-cured black olives, roasted fennel, pickled fennel stalk, and fennel fronds.
CRAB CROQUETAS ($12) with chipotle crema, pickled chayote, and asparagus tips.
SEXI MEXI SLIDERS (2 for $10) of ground pork and chorizo patty, sharp provolone, caramelized onion, poblano peppers, and sriracha aioli.
BRAISED SHORT RIB ($14) with citrus habanero coffee BBQ sauce, grilled pineapple, and pickled chayote.
Highlights were the short rib, octopus, and mushrooms. I'd suggest skipping the crispy pork and sliders. Daily specials are also available.

Fairport Harbor is a small, sleepy lakefront town that you may not find yourself in regularly, but this little gem of a restaurant is worth stopping in at.

Just maybe wait for a cooler day than 95 degrees with high humidity, because we were pretty sure the air conditioning was either non-existent or broken. Turns out they do have it, but with the small, old building and the front door opening so often, it just wasn't pumping out enough air to keep it pleasurable in there. Also be aware that if the restaurant is busy, there may be a wait in between dishes coming out of the kitchen. They appeared to get easily backed up. 

320 High Street
Fairport Harbor, OH 44077
(440) 639-0263