Friday, September 29, 2017

Event Recap- Harvesting Hope 2017

Mr. H and I attended the 4th Annual Harvesting Hope event on Monday to benefit the American Cancer Society and its Hope Lodge. The setting was gorgeous, outside in the Cleveland Botanical Gardens, and attendees got to wander around soaking in what felt like one of the last days of summer.

Tito's Handmade Vodka was supplying us all with infused cocktails...
...the 10 participating chefs had each brought delicious bites to nibble on (Goat Cheese Panna Cotta from Chef Maxime Kien at The Burnham pictured here)...
...including some oysters from Chefs Brittany Logan and Duane Corley of Rocky River Wine Bar, which immediately transported me back to our Maine trip.
But, I was also glad to see some of my favorite people there too, like Graffiti/Cork & Cleaver, University Hospitals and Sodexo, and Jeff Jarrett of Dinner in the Dark. Truly, my only real complaint about the event is the lack of trash cans around. They have helpful servers walking around collecting your trash, but I'd love to see more trash cans visible so we could take care of it ourselves too.
But the real reason everyone was there was to support the mission of the American Cancer Society and to raise funds for the Hope Lodge. Each Hope Lodge offers cancer patients and their caregivers a free place to stay when their best hope for effective treatment may be in another city. Not having to worry about where to stay or how to pay for lodging allows guests to focus on getting better. Hope Lodge provides a nurturing, home-like environment where guests can retreat to private rooms or connect with others. Every Hope Lodge also offers a variety of resources and information about cancer and how best to fight the disease.

The event did a great job of highlighting the work the Hope Lodge does in our community. I enjoyed seeing these framed quotes scattered around the event...
...and the guest speaker, Joshua, shared his touching personal story about his battle with cancer and his stay at the Hope Lodge. The event was near-silent during his speech.
While we didn't win big in the live or silent auction this year, it was still a beautiful evening spent with friends in a stunning setting for a good cause. It's wonderful to see this event grow each year, and they've already set the date for 2018. Don't miss Harvesting Hope on September 24th!

Disclosure: I was provided with two tickets to attend in exchange for posts. All opinions stated are 100% my own.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017


When Adega at The 9 reached out to see if I'd be open to coming in to sample the menu from their new chef Nelly Buleje, I did jump at the chance. Mr. H and I had been in for brunch about a year ago, when the past chef was still there, and it didn't leave us wanting to come back. So, I was open to seeing what changes Chef Nelly had brought, and boy I'm glad that I did!

The meal started with Hummus (3 versions available). We were served the Beef Kafta with tomato relish and pickled onion ($13).
Um...WOW. This was probably the best hummus I've ever had and what a way to start the dinner. The flavor of the beef kafta was outstanding, and the hummus was so smooth. It would be a must-order for me again.

Next up was the Charred Octopus with citrus, herbs, artichoke-cucumber escabeche, patatas bravas, and chive coulis ($15).
The bitterness of the char on the octopus and the citrus components were mellowed by the expertly paired wine from Adega's Manager and Resident Sommelier, Michel Emerick.

Our third course was the World's Greatest Jamon ($15). Jamón iberico, arugula, tomato, manchego, and ciabatta.
This gorgeous piece of meat just melts in your mouth, and is quite decadent. We picked some up from Old Brooklyn Cheese Co. this summer as well, but it's hard to come by as it's brought over by ship from Spain. If every cheese and charcuterie plate I'm served had some of this, I'd be a happy girl. 

For the salad course, we had the Lyonnaise ($8) with frisée, baby spinach, arugula, egg, pancetta, ciabatta, Parmesan, and a sherry-mustard vinaigrette.
I cut into that perfectly poached egg, and it just oozed gorgeous yolk.

Next course was another highlight for us, the housemade Italian Bolognese ($26) with Italian sausage, tomato, garlic, basil, oregano, shaved fennel, rigatoni, and Parmesan.
The pasta is made in-house, and the sauce is unlike any other bolognese I've had. Chef Nelly's process takes 72 hours before it's ready to be served. I wasn't sure how I'd feel about fennel in the pasta dish, but the light crunch and subtle additional flavor it added totally worked! I'd like another bowl of this, like right now.

We then tried the Sea Scallops ($32) with a green grape relish, scallions, charred lemon, and couscous salad.
The last savory course of the meal was the Secreto Ibérico ($45). Bellota secreto and roasted carrots; that Jamón was just as luscious as the first preparation. Mr. H also dubbed these carrots as "best carrots he's ever had."
Each course included a wine pairing, featuring wines from Mediterranean climates. Each one truly made flavors from the dishes pop right out, or subtly complimented the food. There wasn't one that we didn't enjoy.
For dessert, we shared a Rosewood Flan...
...and Hazelnut Crème Brûlée.
Chef Nelly has dedicated a lot of time into his research, and the restaurant recreates flavors from the Mediterranean, infused with ingredients from Spain, Italy, Greece and France. They locally source products when they can, but really care about utilizing the best possible quality products out there.

Mr. H and I dine out and attend culinary events a lot, as you well know, and this was one of the more memorable meals we've had in quite some time! We will happily be going back soon on our own. I'm also ready to try some of the new brunch items Chef Nelly was describing. I'm glad that this outing put Adega back on my radar.

Disclosure: I was invited with a guest to attend a media tasting. All food and beverages were complementary. All opinions stated are 100% my own.

2017 E 9th Street
Cleveland, OH 44115

Monday, September 25, 2017

Weekend Bites

Where did the weekend go? And someone please explain to me how this is FALL in Cleveland? I don't know about you, but these hot temperatures threw us off a bit. I just didn't get outside quite as much as I had hoped, because that air conditioning inside was feeling pretty darn good!

But, we still had some fun out and about in Cleveland. Friday started with a media preview of the new RiverFest brew from Collision Bend Brewing Company to celebrate Oktoberfest. It's now available, and I recommend getting there to try one. It wasn't too hoppy or too malty, just how I like them. Paired great with the Sauerkraut Balls, sausages, and Bacon/Onion/Gruyere Tart we were served.
Saturday brought our first clam bake of the season. This one was held in the Ben Franklin Community Garden in Old Brooklyn, the largest community garden in the state of Ohio.
For $35, we got a huge spread of clams, corn, sweet potato, roll, clam chowder and a choice of a half chicken, 12 oz. steak, or a vegetarian option. It was all cooked well, and paired perfectly with a cold beer from Goldhorn Brewery.
The food was great, but it was also special because of the gorgeous setting, and the company...
The event also featured wines from the neighborhood's Vino Veritas Cellars. We popped over to the winery on our bikes after the clam bake and soaked in what felt like one of the last nights of summer.
Vino Veritas is also hosting a Pig Roast/Clam Bake on October 15th, if you're interested. We'll be there!

The weekend wasn't complete without a stop at Rosati's Frozen Custard in Northfield Center. My favorite!
The flavor of the day was Salted Caramel, one that I don't like to miss!

How was your weekend? Did it include more summer-like activities, or are you too ready for fall?

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Event Recap: Taste of the Browns 2017

This year's Taste of the Browns to benefit the Greater Cleveland Food Bank was just as fantastic as every other year. We got to mingle with Cleveland Browns' players, alumni, and icons...
...sit in the quiet and serene stadium... on silent and live auction packages, featuring many exclusive Browns' packages...
...and, of course, nosh on food from the 25+ restaurant and beverage purveyors.
We enjoyed the Lobster Bisque from Blue Point Grille, AMP 150's Pork "Burnt Ends" with maple bourbon BBQ sauce, the Chicken Liver Mousse from EDWINS, and Shortribs Pierogi from Deagan's Kitchen + Bar.
One of our favorites of the evening was the Lobster Crepinette from Chef John Selick of University Hospitals and Sodexo. He always has one of my favorite dishes at any event he's at. It's a don't-miss station for us.
At this event, you do have to be selective and pace yourself. There's no way I get to try all of them. The setting of the event at FirstEnergy Stadium is always special, with the views of the Downtown skyline and the opportunity to step out into the silent stadium stands. I also love seeing the hope in Browns' fans' eyes as the start of the season is upon us.

The event raises critical funds for the Food Bank, and they are able to provide four meals in a local hunger center for every $1 raised at this event. From the way the auctions and raffles were going, and the packed room, I think it's safe to say that they raised the funds and awareness they were hoping for! I believe that I saw on social media that the event had raised $240,000 for the Food Bank. That's a lot of meals to be served in local hunger centers!

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

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Event Recap: Chefs Unbridled 2017

On Saturday, Mr. H and I got to attend Chefs Unbridled to benefit the Fieldstone Farm Therapeutic Riding Center, under a gorgeous tent that is always one of my favorite event settings of the year.
We've attended this event for years, and it always promises a stunning setting, mission-driven messaging and fundraising opportunities, and fantastic food from area chefs.

Some food highlights for me included the Lobster and Shrimp Manicotti from Scott Kuhn at Driftwood Restaurants + Catering.
And the Mole Braised Pork Shoulder with an Ohio Corn Puree and Avocado Relish from Chef Adam Bostwick of Graffiti and Cork & Cleaver.
Other crowd favorites at our table of attendees included the scallop from Chef Matthew Mize of Abo's Grille, and the Seasame Crusted Ahi Tuna (below) from Chef Brittany Logan of Rocky River Wine Bar.
I made sure to leave room for some donuts from the Donut Lab food truck parked outside the tent. There were several dessert options from food trucks that opened up at 8PM.
Seriously, hunt down the Donut Lab truck if you haven't had it before. These little pillows of donut heaven are worth every calorie.

Personally, one of the things that I love about this event is that they do incorporate mission-related activities and special guests of honor, like these gorgeous horses that greeted us when we arrived.
The true stars that evening, sorry chefs!

Fieldstone Farm started the therapeutic riding program in 1978, and serves more than 1,300 students annually from all ages and a variety of special needs. They have over 60 partnering schools and non-profits, and house the Gaitway High School Alternative High School on site with 61 graduates since 2007. The organization has many ways for the community to give, and I suggest that you look into them further if this sounds of interest to you.

It's a beautiful event that benefits a very worthy cause, and we just always feel fortunate to be there to support it.

Disclosure: I was provided with two tickets to the event in exchange for posts. All opinions stated are 100% my own.

Monday, September 18, 2017


After stopping at my in-law's new house in Bay Village recently, the family headed out to the iconic Bearden's Steak Burgers in Rocky River. Around since 1948, I'm guessing not much has changed. The decor and atmosphere will "teleport" you back in time to a real 50's diner.
They are known for their steak burgers. Luckily, Mr. H was in the mood for one. Served on a butter toasted bun with your choice of toppings.
Even though I was secretly dying to try their famous Peanutburger with peanut butter and sweet pickles, I just wasn't in the mood for a burger. Guess I'll have to go back!

I opted for the Hot Dog with a side of homemade Onion Rings.
Nowhere on the menu did it state that it was TWO hot dogs. I totally would have gotten the Peanutburger if I had known. Oh well, it was still a decent dog and I got to take one home for later. The onion rings' batter was dense and clearly not a frozen product. Even though there were only three, I still couldn't finish them and I also took one home to accompany the hot dog.

Our nephew was enthralled with the train that circles the ceiling and the SpongeBob cartoons on the TV. Certainly a great place for families. You order at the counter, seat yourself, and the food comes out quick and hot.

Bearden's Steak Burgers
19985 Lake Road
Rocky River, OH 44116

Friday, September 15, 2017

City Diner

Mr. H and I continued our Friday evening out in the neighborhood with another stop on Memphis Avenue, at the newly opened City Diner.
It's a classic American diner, but trying to kick it up a notch with the food quality and local sourcing. This isn't your $2.99 breakfast plate special kind of diner, and I'm totally on board with that! We have several of those options in the neighborhood, and our restaurants should be as diverse as the people that live in Old Brooklyn. So, welcome, City Diner!
It's bright and cheery inside, and just retro enough to feel fun without the outdated and grungy feel that diners sometimes have.
The menu leans a little hearty, with several Eastern European inspired dishes. You can also get breakfast served all day.
Every "City Main" dish comes with your choice of salad or soup. Mr. H and I both went for the soup that evening. He enjoyed the Creamy Tomato Soup, and I really liked the Roasted Chicken Soup. Both were clearly homemade and much better than any diner soup I've had before.
Mr. H ordered the Short Rib Stroganoff ($13) with Braised Beef Short Rib, Caramelized Onion, Mushroom-Cream Sauce, and Egg Noodles. It was a little milder in flavor than he had hoped for, but overall it was good.
I got the Pierogi, Kraut, & Kielbasa ($11) with Potato and Chive Pierogi, Caramelized Onion, Homemade Sauerkraut, Kielbasa, Sour Cream, and Warm Apple Sauce. If you look closely, you can see that the onions and sour cream didn't make it onto the plate. I immediately recognized that it was missing sour cream, and our server brought it right over. Sadly, I didn't notice that the onions were missing until I was almost done. However, I did bring it to her attention so she could share that with the kitchen. She said the chef had stepped out of the kitchen to greet customers, so that's probably why. Certainly newly-opened kinks there, but they'll work that out.
I enjoyed this dish too. For the price point, the plates of food were large and clearly higher quality than you'd typically get at a neighborhood diner. I think they'll do well in Old Brooklyn.

City Diner
5109 Memphis Avenue
Cleveland OH, 44144

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Vino Veritas Cellars Opens in Old Brooklyn

On Friday, Mr. H and I decided to spend the evening in our neighborhood. This started with a stop out at the newly opened winery in Old Brooklyn, Vino Veritas Cellars.
I've been a couple of times already, thanks to volunteer meetings with the OBCDC. Bike riding distance and wine involved...of course I'm enjoying volunteering my time with them!

When the weather is nice, you can purchase your wine samples, glasses, or bottles right outside...
...and then head to their outdoor seating area. Cute, but secretly I hope that they add some more comfortable seating options over time. My old butt starts to hurt after a few minutes of perching on a log!
I'm obsessed with the wine corks scattered throughout the gravel.
Since the weather has started to chill, they've now opened up an indoor tasting room and seating inside of a very large greenhouse structure. It'll be open all winter long, but there are plans for a tasting room and production facility to be built on the property in the future.

It was just warm enough that we wanted to still sit outside to soak in the sunset and last hints of summer. There were a handful of tables positioned outside of the greenhouse, and we settled in for a cheese board (supplied by Old Brooklyn Cheese Co.) and two glasses of wine.
So far, my favorite of the four offered is the Sicilian Stallion, but we also like the Chardonnay. The other two are too sweet for my personal taste.

The owner has big plans for this plot of land, and I look forward to seeing it develop. They will also host events, like the pig roast/clam bake Wine, Land and Sea Bash on October 15th. Mr. H and I will be there!

I mean, come on, does your neighborhood have its own winery? A great, fun addition to the community.

Vino Veritas Cellars
4103 Memphis Avenue
Cleveland, OH 44109

Monday, September 11, 2017

Weekend Bites

After spending 10 days in NY to prepare for, and of course celebrate, the wedding of these two (yay for my brother and new sister-in-law!)...
...we were quite ready for a lazy weekend at home in Cleveland.

Friday kicked it off well, since I received the news early in the day that our landscaping project would be done a day sooner than anticipated. I got to arrive home to a transformed front yard, thanks to Impullitti Landscaping.
Mr. H and I decided to spend Friday evening in the neighborhood, first stopping for a glass of wine and an Old Brooklyn Cheese Co. cheese board at the newly opened Vino Veritas Cellars on Memphis. The weather was perfect, and we enjoyed it there. More on that later this week!
We then popped over to the newly opened City Diner, on Memphis as well, for dinner. Also more on that later this week!

On Saturday, we headed over to my in-laws' new house in Bay Village to see it for the first time, and have lunch with the family. Then we ran some errands, including a stop at Saucisson. Among other things, this Korean Spiced Pork Terrine had to come home with us.
On Sunday, we had additional errands to run and some chores around the house, and we didn't want one of them to be grocery shopping. So, we took advantage of the new partnership of Heinen's Grocery Store and Instacart to get home delivery for a reasonable delivery fee. You can also choose to tip your driver. The only thing we didn't love was the additional "service fee" included. We'd like to learn more about their pay structure. 
We were able to set the delivery time for a one-hour window later that day, and BOOM our full grocery list appeared right on time. Ready for the week!

As we headed out to North Olmsted for errands, we stopped at a new-to-us diner, Ari's Family Restaurant, on Lorain. A simple and classic diner, and it did the trick.
While I was too scared to try the $2 Bloody Mary, I did appreciate the vintage cash register.
Overall, this weekend was exactly what we needed after the whirlwind that was my brother's wedding and 14 hours of NY travel. There are plenty of fun September weekends ahead that are packed with events and commitments, so it was nice to not have any!