Thursday, July 28, 2016

Herb 'n Twine Sandwich Co.

Stopping in to the newly opened Herb n' Twine Sandwich Co. on Lorain Avenue has been on my "list" since I started seeing drool-worthy images of their daily specials on social media. Seriously, go follow them, yourself a favor and don't. Because, now that I know that they taste as good as they look, I might be tempted in more often by seeing them pop up in my Instagram feed.
This grab-and-go shop is seriously putting out the best sandwiches that I think I've had in Cleveland. And that's saying a lot.

They have a few tables, so you can certainly dine in, but they are easy to order and go. They even cater too.
Mr. H and I decided to split two sandwiches for lunch. I went with the daily special, the Honey Sriracha Tempura Shrimp with a Shanghi slaw and micro daikon.
A knockout sandwich, with tons of flavor and varying textures.

The second sandwich we split was the Korean Fried Chicken with Korean bbq sauce, sesame slaw and cilantro ($10).
Chicken is my least favorite protein, and even I felt like this sandwich was killer. Again, wonderful flavor and awesome textures. The bread has got a great crust to it, which holds up well against the mountain of sandwich filling, but it's still soft and doughy too.

They are open Monday - Friday from 11AM - 7PM, and Saturday from 11AM - 5PM. This is one spot where we'll be stopping in often. I'm already dreaming of another sandwich, and a picnic at Edgewater Park.

You heard it here. Best.Sandwiches.In.Cleveland.

Herb n' Twine
4309 Lorain Avenue
Cleveland, OH 44113

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Lakewood's Borderline Cafe

Mr. H and I haven't been to brunch in a while, so that was our goal this weekend. But...where to go? That's always the tough decision. Cleveland just has so many solid brunch options. Well, we tried a new-to-us restaurant in Lakewood...Borderline Cafe on Detroit Avenue by the West End Tavern.

It's a small cash-only cafe, with Southwest twists on many classic breakfast dishes. Immediately, I loved the hot sauce display on the wall by the entrance.
Something like this could be really fun in a home kitchen for displaying spices and sauces.

They have a section of the menu dedicated to their most popular items, and we were both enticed by two dishes. So, we shared!

First, the Huevos Rancheros Carnitas ($9.50) with a flour tortilla, house made roasted pork, eggs your way (we did over-medium), black beans and served Christmas-style with sour cream and scallion.
A dash of hot sauce, and this dish was really good. The pork was a unique twist on huevos rancheros.

We also shared the Bacon Avocado Benedict ($9.50) with a toasted English muffin, house made guacamole, tomato, bacon, poached egg, chipotle lime sauce, and fresh cilantro with a side of fruit.
We slightly preferred this dish, but both were a little unique and truly hit the spot on Sunday morning.

A great find in Lakewood, and one that I'd certainly recommend! The staff was also super friendly, even though the place was slammed.

Borderline Cafe
18510 Detroit Avenue
Lakewood, OH

Friday, July 22, 2016

Chef Gala Winner

Happy Friday! Well, Cleveland made it through the RNC, it's about to be the weekend, and that deserves some celebrating. Let's announce the winner of the two tasting tickets to the 2016 Chef Gala to benefit Autism Speaks...

Congratulations to Dan! Please check your email, and claim your tickets by Monday or a new winner will be selected.

If you didn't win, you can still purchase tickets here.

Thank you to everyone that entered the giveaway, and to Autism Speaks for the opportunity. Now, go enjoy the weekend and get out and support our local businesses! Many of them took a hit this week. But, congratulations to Cleveland for keeping it classy, safe, and beautiful.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

The Plum Cafe and Kitchen

Mr. H and I popped in to the newly opened The Plum Cafe & Kitchen on Saturday night. After almost three years in the making, I think it was worth waiting for.
The patio was packed, but we were quickly seated in the main dining room. With tons of light pouring in, and the crisp white everywhere, it was almost as good as sitting outdoors.

The interior is getting rave reviews, as is the food. With the stark white, sleek lines, subway tiles, exposed brick, and playful features like the pineapple wallpaper, it's easy to see why.

But, we were there for the food. And some cocktails. The important stuff.

I started with a Bird '86 ($9) with green chartreuse, pineapple, lime, and velvet falernum. It was beyond delicious!
The menu changes often, depending on the local products they receive at this farm-to-table restaurant. The dishes are designed to be shared, so the plates are served family-style and are on the smaller side, encouraging sharing and sampling multiple things on the menu. Just how Mr. H and I like to eat.

We decided to share the Tomatillo Picadillo & Puri with cilantro rice, cauliflower, smoked olive, raisin, and vegan lime yogurt ($10).
A flavorful tapenade. We did enjoy it, but it was a little hard to eat without using our hands, and pretty messy.

Next up, Rabbit Merguez Sausage with crispy hominy, baked cheese, and grilled piadina ($12).
The sausage was crumbled on top, and again, the dish had wonderful flavor, but required some digging in with our hands and it got a little messy.

Lastly, we shared the Smoked Ohio Raised Pork Shank with carrots, yogurt pudding and alcaparrado jam ($23).
The star of the show. This dish was exceptional, and I'd head back there just to get it again.

They also have a great lunch menu, a beer and wine list, and three rotating seasonal beers on tap. Their patio backs up to the Platform Brewery patio, and you can even walk through a gate directly into Platform. The Plum is open Monday - Saturday from 11AM - 1AM.

Another great addition to the up-and-coming Lorain Avenue area, and one that we'll certainly revisit.

The Plum Cafe & Kitchen
4133 Lorain Avenue
Cleveland, OH 44113

Monday, July 18, 2016

Ticket Giveaway: 2016 Cleveland Chef Gala

The 3rd Biennial Autism Speaks Cleveland Chef Gala on Saturday, August 6, 2016 is just around the corner.  Chef Gala is a unique culinary extravaganza with all proceeds benefiting Autism Speaks to help change the future for all who struggle with autism spectrum disorder.
The event, hosted by The Chew’s Chef Michael Symon with Special Guest Bobby Flay will honor Shari and Michael Goldberg for their tireless support of Autism Speaks over the last 10 years.
The evening begins with a cocktail reception highlighting close to thirty renowned Cleveland chefs preparing one-of-a-kind dishes. After the reception, all guests will be treated to a sit-down dinner featuring an interactive dinner preparation by Iron Chefs Michael Symon and Bobby Flay. This year's event will be held at the Cleveland Convention Center.

The Cleveland chef line-up for the cocktail reception is impressive. You can check it out here.

Tickets to the event include two drink tickets, complimentary valet, tastings from the Cleveland chefs, and family-style service during the interactive dinner demonstration. The general admission tasting tickets, for $250 each, are still available online here, but they do traditionally sell out.

But, it's your lucky day, because I am giving away two general admission tasting tickets to the 2016 Cleveland Chef Gala. Just use the Rafflecopter form below for multiple ways to enter. Don't forget that you can tweet daily for additional entries. The winner will be selected on Friday, July 22nd. 

a Rafflecopter giveaway
About Autism Speaks
Autism Speaks is the world’s leading autism science and advocacy organization. It is dedicated to funding research into the causes, prevention, treatments and a cure for autism; increasing awareness of autism spectrum disorders; and advocating for the needs of individuals with autism and their families. Autism Speaks was founded in February 2005 by Suzanne and Bob Wright, the grandparents of a child with autism. Mr. Wright is the former vice chairman of General Electric and chief executive officer of NBC and NBC Universal. Since its inception, Autism Speaks has committed more than $550 million to its mission, the majority in science and medical research. Each year Walk Now for Autism Speaks events are held in more than 100 cities across North America. On the global front, Autism Speaks has established partnerships in more than 60 countries on five continents to foster international research, services and awareness. To learn more about Autism Speaks, please visit

I attended this event two years ago, and it was a gorgeous evening filled with great food, a unique setting, and a special cooking demonstration that was quite entertaining to watch. Chef Symon brings his Cleveland charm, and hearty laugh, to the stage. This is one culinary event that you won't want to miss, and for a very worthy cause that is near and dear to many. 

Disclosure: I was provided with four general admission tasting tickets to this event in exchange for this giveaway and a post-event review. All opinions stated are 100% my own. Images was provided by Autism Speaks. 

Saturday, July 16, 2016

10 Dining Destinations in Cleveland for the RNC

The 2016 Cleveland Host Committee and Destination Cleveland, and really all of Cleveland, are preparing to welcome visitors from across the world to our city for the Republican National Convention this week. Visitors are encouraged to engage with our city through social media, by using and following the hashtag #AskCLE. There is even an #AskCLE headquarters set up in Downtown.

To help visitors navigate the booming Cleveland dining scene during the RNC, here are my top 10 dining destinations (close to Downtown) that you really shouldn't miss. I left out some of my favorite locations that I know are already booked for private groups all week.

1. Sokolowski's University Inn- Cleveland's oldest family-owned restaurant, located in the heart of Tremont. This James Beard "American Classics" winning restaurant serves up Polish and Eastern European cuisine with views of the Cuyahoga River and the downtown skyline. Lunch is served Monday - Friday, and dinner is served on Friday and Saturday. I recommend the Pierogi.

2. Flying Fig- Located in Ohio City, just across the bridge from Downtown, this staple of the Cleveland dining scene has one of our city's best chefs at the helm. Chef Karen Small is dedicated to locally sourced product, and artful preparations. I recommend the Tempura Green Beans.

3. Momocho- Also in Ohio City, this restaurant has been featured on the Food Network for its modern Mexican fare. Don't miss the Cucumber Margarita!

4. Dante- Located on Professor Avenue in Tremont, this gem is a highlight on a popular "culinary row" in Cleveland. Guests enjoy quite the culinary, and visual, delight as they dine in a former bank building. I suggest the Linguine alla Carbonara. You can also step downstairs for high-quality sushi from its sister restaurant, Ginko.

5. Slyman's Restaurant- A retro breakfast and lunch deli known for their corned beef sandwiches. Don't be thrown by the simple diner atmosphere, it's a well-known Cleveland classic that even locals stand in line for.

6. Superior Pho- In the mood for Vietnamese? Many feel that they have the best Pho and Banh Mi in town.

7. Mitchell's Ice Cream- Stop by the Ohio City headquarters for an after-dinner scoop of homemade ice cream. Personally, I love the Toasted Pistachio and Caramel Sea Salt, but they always have great seasonal flavors as well.

8. Urban Farmer- Located in The Westin on E. 6th Street in Downtown, I personally think that it's the best steakhouse in town. Try the NY Steak Tasting for something different, and don't miss the warm cornbread served in a tin can.

9. Flip Side- A local Cleveland hamburger chain. You can soak in the newly developed The Flats on the East Bank of the Cuyahoga River in Downtown, while enjoying locally sourced burgers, like the One Red Door Burger (crispy shallots, melted brie cheese, and a date and applewood bacon aioli).

10. Barrio- Custom-made tacos, designed by you. The local chain provides diners with a checklist of taco toppings, and you build your own creation. Wildly popular across Cleveland, this casual restaurant is now open for Friday lunch and weekend brunch, in addition to daily dinner hours. I suggest using the Stoner tortilla as your base.

Honestly, I could go on, and on, and on about the Cleveland dining scene. Oh wait, that's what I do on a weekly basis. It's kind of my favorite topic to talk about. I encourage you to utilize my Search function, or scroll through the list of restaurants and neighborhoods reviewed on the right-hand side of my blog.

RNC visitors- use #AskCLE all week long as you explore our city. Enjoy your time here!

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Cleveland Dining Bucket List

In 2013, I shared with you my "Cleveland Bucket List" of things that I still wanted to do, see, and eat around our city. I've ticked a few off of the list, but still have many to go. But, I've been thinking recently...what's on my Cleveland DINING Bucket List? 

Over the years, there have been events that I've wanted to attend, dishes that I've desired to try, etc. So, here's the list that I've been working on. It includes a handful of items that were originally on the list that I've now experienced, and several more that I still need to do.

Cleveland Dining Bucket List:
- Schedule a private 21-course tasting dinner at Dante in Tremont
- Complete the official Tour de Bruell by dining at his 6 signature restaurants between Memorial Day and Labor Day
- Eat a Polish Boy at Hot Sauce Williams
- Attend the annual Reggae Brunch event at Park View Nite Club
- Attend a Gospel Brunch event at House of Blues
- Order Le Burger (hand-ground beef burger prepared tableside) at EDWINS
- Attend a Gourmets in the Garden event at the Cleveland Botanical Gardens (June - August)
- Attend a Culinary Vegetable Institute dinner event in Milan, Ohio
- Order the Caneton de Rouen à la Presse (pressed duck for two) at EDWINS
- Participate in the new AsiaTown Food Tour Series
- Attend a Fifth Quarter Dinner event at The Greenhouse Tavern
- Dine at Chez Francois in Vermilion 
- Order the Roasted Pig's Head at The Greenhouse Tavern
- Attend a Plated Landscape Dinner from Spice of Life Catering Co.

I had fun putting some thought into this.

What's on your Cleveland Dining Bucket List? What dish, restaurant, or event is quintessential Cleveland?

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Goldhorn Brewery Opening

Part of the Hub 55 Project that plans to revitalize the East 55th Street and St. Clair neighborhood, Goldhorn Brewery (next to historical Sterle's and connected to Cafe 55) is set to open this Saturday, July 16th to the public. The opening party will include live music and the Sterle's food truck, and then they will fully open on the 19th.
A handful of media and social media influencers gathered last week for a preview. We got a tour of the facility from Head Brewer, Joel Warger.
They purposefully built the facility enclosed in glass, so that guests can feel like they are a part of the process.
We headed straight for the beers, to see what Joel has been up to since he left Great Lakes Brewing.
A few crowd favorites were the Polka City Pilsner, Numbered Street Wheat, and Fire Plug Pale Ale. I chose to do a sampler, and all of them were smooth, easy-sipping. I don't care for beers that are very hoppy, so I was able to enjoy all four that I tried. They were all unique, but not too boldly flavored.

A sampling of the menu was available at the preview.
The food was really good! I enjoyed the tacos, Cuban Panini, and chips with beer cheese and sausage. Mr. H and I had dinner plans, so I didn't indulge in everything available. However, it left me wanting more, which is always a good sign.

Goldhorn is a neighborhood brewery that honors the rich Slovenian culture of the area, and will feature a rotating roster of classically themed beers. With 50+ seats, plenty of open space, and a full menu, it'll be a good place to gather with friends. They will also host private breakfast or lunch events/meeting in the space, and they have some A/V equipment in-house. There is also a small kids menu available, so they hope to attract families as well.

Goldhorn Brewery
1361 East 55th Street
Cleveland, Ohio 44103

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Recipe: Jalapeno Popper Corn Salad

With July here, it's really sinking in that it's summertime. Other than the fact that I hate being hot, this time of year is one of my favorites, particularly because of childhood memories spent at our cottage on Lake Ontario. We'd move up there for the summer, and spend our days swimming, boating, fishing, curled up in a tree swing with a good book, gathered around a bonfire, creating games with the neighbor kids, and eating almost all of our meals outdoors at the picnic table.

Our cottage was next door to my grandmother's year-round home, and our family would dine together almost every evening at that picnic table. There was always the red and white checkered tablecloth, good food, and plenty of laughs as the long summer days came to a close. That's why that area of NY will always be special for me, and I've been clinging to pieces of "home" as I settle here in Cleveland for the long haul. Recently, this included taking that worn, well-loved red and white picnic tablecloth back to CLE after a visit with my family. I think it will continue to make memories as Mr. H and I use it, but it will forever remind me of my childhood and those summer nights spent on the lake.

Another hand-me-down item that I took last year was a set of vintage corn plates. I just couldn't let my dad sell them, as I flashed back to MANY summer meals of corn on the cob. It's just one of those foods that means "summer" to me.

What food or recipe reminds you of summer the most?

Heinen's Grocery Store wants to know, as they've launched a social campaign, #SummerwithHeinens. When they asked me to partner with them by sharing a recipe associated with a special summer memory, I didn't hesitate. Summer meals with my family are some of my favorite, still to this day. And for me, that often meant corn on the cob.

Jalapeno Popper Corn Salad (yields 4 servings)

4 ears of corn
2 jalapeño peppers (remove seeds/stems, diced)
2/3 cup of chopped cooked bacon (crispy)
1 oz cream cheese (softened)
1/8 cup sour cream
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1/2 teaspoon of lemon juice (optional)
salt/pepper (to taste)

Remove silk and husk from corn.
Coat each corn cob with olive oil, salt and pepper.
Place corn cobs directly on grill, cover.
Grill 10-15 minutes, rotating halfway through for even char marks.
Remove corn from grill and allow to cool for 10 minutes.
Cut kernels off of cobs (should yield approx 4 cups).
Mix kernels with chopped jalapeños (leaving some aside for garnish), crumbled bacon pieces, cream cheese and sour cream.
Stir in shredded cheese, lemon juice, and salt and pepper.
Garnish with remaining peppers.
Serve at room temperature.

We served ours as a side to steaks, and used our salt block on the grill for the first time. Any tips for salt block cooking?
This corn dish had all of the hints of my childhood summers, while being interesting and elevated. It's "fancy" corn on the cob!
I gobbled it up for lunch the next day too. This recipe was adapted from here, and it was a real winner. It would be a great dish to bring to a potluck, and one that we'll certainly be making again.

What summer recipes are classic in your household? Share them by using #SummerwithHeinens on social media.

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

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Back from Vacation

I hope that you all enjoyed the long holiday weekend, and that it was filled with family, friends, fireworks, and food. That's how I just spent the last week, and it was glorious.

We took our annual summer trip up to visit my family in Northern NY. The Thousand Islands region is just a disgusting place to visit. Very ugly, not relaxing at all, and there's nothing to do there.
I could not BE more sarcastic. It's pretty much wonderful there, and we always enjoy our time with my family. I was lucky to be able to spend my summers there growing up.

The past week included a white water rafting trip, charter fishing on Lake Ontario (I caught the biggest lake trout!)...
...three bonfires, with plenty of s'mores.
And we ate very well, as usual. I am a terrible cook because I come from a family of AMAZING cooks. This includes my very talented brother. One of the feasts he made for us was this platter of smoked ribs...
Ribs just scream "Summer!" and it was a real treat. We never make them at home.

Mr. H and I also escaped on the last night there to dine at our favorite restaurant in the area, Tin Pan Galley in Sackets Harbor, NY.
The French Onion Dumplings were a highlight, and something that I'd like Mr. H to try and recreate at home. They have the most charming patio, and the food is top notch.

It was a much needed getaway, and quality time with my family, but it's always good to be home in the 'land. Now, back to reality today...

Friday, July 1, 2016

Spice Acres Plated Landscape Dinner

I'm still working on drafting my Cleveland Dining Bucket List, but one item that has been on there for several years is attending a Plated Landscape Dinner from Spice of Life Catering Co.

Luckily, when this year's schedule was released, a friend emailed me with an invitation to join her and her husband for one. It was just what I needed to finally pull the trigger and attend. For the first time, they are all being held on the Spice Acres farm.

We were greeted by a tractor...
...and a cocktail. We were off to a good start.
The evening began with a cocktail hour in the Pines, a wooded area with live music, high top tables, appetizers, and bug spray. Mr. H and I started to poke around the farm a bit, before the official tour began.
Then, it was time for Chef/Owner Ben Benenroth and his Farm Manager to take the group around the farm's grounds.
This included two food stations, with wine pourings. At the first, we enjoyed house andouille sausage and pickled items. At one point I looked down, and I had some friends gathered at my feet.
I must have looked like a sucker for a pup face, and I could tell that they were hoping I'd drop a little sausage their way!

At the next station, we noshed on some mini steamed pork buns with a fermented rhubarb glaze, while we got to hang out with the chickens.
They currently have about 250 chickens. Wine in hand, delicious food, animals, a gorgeous evening...I was pretty much in heaven.
But, then it was time to head to the barn for the main courses.
It was a beautiful, rustic setting, and I can see why weddings are hosted here.
They have fields of flowers planted too. It's Spice's goal to be able to provide your catering, cake, florals, and venue all in one.

We settled in for the Spice Acres Head Lettuce Salad with a caramelized fennel Spruce dressing.
The main course was served family-style, so I didn't snap any pictures. But the Spice Acres Porchetta and Carolina gold rice with mushrooms were a big hit. We finished the meal with a Woolf Farm Strawberry Napoleon.
Good food, good wine, good conversation, a gorgeous setting, and feeling the passion radiating from Ben and his staff just made for a perfect summer night.

As of writing this post, most of the dinners are sold out. However, it looks like Thursday, August 4th and Thursday, October 13th are still open.

I'm so glad that I finally attended one. At $150 a person, it can feel steep, but it's worth every penny.

Spice Acres
9570 Riverview Road
Brecksville, OH 44147