Wednesday, December 30, 2020

Terrapin Bakery

Who doesn't love a morning stop at a local bakery? While ours are usually limited to weekends, we enjoy popping in for fresh pastries, bread to accompany some dish we're making at home, or breakfast to kickstart our day.

We didn't have to travel far from home recently to discover a new favorite, Terrapin Bakery.

Located on W. 14th Street in Tremont (closer to the circle by Steelyard Commons), street parking is free and we had no issue finding a spot right out front on a Sunday morning.

It is a small shop, so we waited outside for a bit as a few other customers got their orders (and the line grew after we went in, they clearly are popular). Long enough that I could stare in at their tempting case of sweets!
I was also greeted by racks of fresh donuts upon entering. Some of the flavors sounded so good, and more unusual than your basics. 
But, we were there for the Breakfast Sandwiches (inspired by our neighbor and friend Amanda's recent Instagram post). So they aren't actually listed on the website, but the shop has several different sandwiches to select from. All come on your choice of bagel or English muffin and with herbed cream cheese and cheddar. 

I had the Bacon and Egg on a Bagel. I appreciated that the bacon was crumbled so that it didn't slide out on bite one as it often can.
And Mr. H had the same (as they were out of Sausage that morning) but on an English Muffin.
Both were very good, as I did snag a bite of his as well. The muffin was almost biscuit-like.

We didn't sample anything else yet, but visit them for your cakes, cupcakes, donuts and other breakfast breads, cookies and bars, and other desserts. Just don't miss out on these yummy breakfast sandwiches while you're there!
3146 W. 14th Street
Cleveland, OH 44109
(216) 256-7915

Monday, December 28, 2020

Cooking with Golden Ghee

Another local product that we were recently introduced to is Golden Ghee. These organic, all-natural clarified butters are infused with immune boosting herbs and spices. Ghee is incredible versatile in the kitchen, and we were excited to try the TurmeRIC Ross ($12.99) that is infused with Turmeric, Cayenne, Paprika, and Honey.

We used it to make a batch of Butter Chicken, one of my favorite Indian curry dishes.
It was our first time making this dish at home, and Mr. H's first time trying it. The flavors were spot-on and it rivaled any that I've had in restaurants. 

If you haven't cooked with ghee before, I encourage you to do some research and try it. Golden Ghee is a wonderful brand to play in the kitchen with. Not only is it local and female-owned and operated, they are fighting hunger in our communities with every purchase.

Golden Ghee partners with Rise Against Hunger, a non-profit that provides food and aid to vulnerable populations in over 76 countries. Since 2005 they have distributed over 500 million meals, and they passionately share their goal of ending hunger by 2030. For every jar of ghee sold, they will donate four meals to this important organization. 

Disclosure: I was provided with a jar of ghee to sample and share my experience with you. All opinions stated are 100% my own.

Wednesday, December 23, 2020

Good Meal Jane

There's a new Detroit-style pizza joint in town...just look at those CRISPY EDGES...

...and you'll want to get your hands on some immediately.
Except you can't. Yet.
Good Meal Jane is only available by pre-order right now for pick-up in Ohio City and currently the first availability is next month. Follow them on Instagram for details. 

I was gifted a Small O.G.Roni with sourdough crust, Buffalo mozzarella, Wisconsin brick cheese, house red sauce, Ezzo pepperoni, white truffle oil, and Mike's Hot Honey. I'm telling you, that combination of truffle oil and hot honey with the saltiness of pepperoni and crispy cheese was pure umami in my mouth. 

This was unlike any pizza I've had before. It was so darn good that Mr. H and I already placed a personal order for mid-January AND he's having them cater a lunch at work next month too. This won't be "Top Secret" forever, so get in while the getting's good. 

Disclosure: I was gifted one small pizza and delivery service in exchange for an honest review and sharing my experience. All opinions stated are 100% my own.

Monday, December 21, 2020

Celebrating with Kind Stranger Kitchen

Our wedding anniversary was creeping up on us, and we were at a real loss as to how to celebrate during a pandemic safely but still feel like a special day. Only about a week out did things start to click into place.

First, the day already started off well as Urban Orchid (our wedding florist) delivered a replica of my bouquet. Mr. H gifts this to me each year, and it always earns him big husband points!

Just a few days earlier, I had learned about the new catering business, Kind Stranger Kitchen, that is specializing in curated small party dining experiences. Caroline is no stranger in the food and events world of Cleveland, and she's passionate about creating experiences for people to feel like guests in their own home. This can be curated dinner parties, drop-off dinners, or delivered baked goods. 

A drop-off dinner with reheating and plating instructions sounded perfect for the night we had planned. For $75 per person, it includes a customized 3-course meal with the option to add on courses, wine pairings, or pre-made cocktails. We worked together over a couple of days to create a menu, and she was so responsive and flexible that it was a breeze.
We decided to not do a dessert (because of the other fun activity we had planned that evening), so we settled on a Roasted Cauliflower Soup to start the meal. We both loved it.
We sat down to eat that before jumping on Zoom for a private virtual Cookie Class with Chef Adam Bostwick. We joined our family and friends for a class creating a Mint Oreo Smash cocktail, Kitchen Sink Cookies, and Italian Christmas Cookies. We had a blast, learned some new things, and felt connected during this weird holiday season. 
After the class (and a couple "test" cookies), we were able to reheat and plate the entrée course from Kind Stranger Kitchen, a Citrus Roasted White Fish with Buttered Turmeric Rice. It was so delicious, and ready in just about 15 minutes!
Now, we were a little too full that night to enjoy the Arugula Salad, but we whipped it all together the next day and it was just as fresh and tasty. I highly recommend checking out this new business for your in-home catering needs. 
This is a really difficult year, and it's hard to find ways to celebrate with the health precautions, stress, and limits we're all dealing with. But life is worth celebrating, and we can continue to make the best of it. These local companies helped us do just that. The evening felt special, we felt loved and supported, and of course it included delicious food and drink. A must in this household!

How have you found ways to celebrate those moments that need recognizing this year?

Friday, December 18, 2020

Ways to Celebrate New Year's Eve During the Pandemic

I think we are all ready to put the year 2020 in the rearview mirror. While there were moments or achievements to celebrate along the way, this year has been tougher and presented more challenges, losses, and emotions than most. So it's time to think about the new year ahead, and to close the chapter on this one in style. Here's a list of local restaurants and businesses that are providing ways to do that in what I consider to be safer ways to celebrate this year.

111 Bistro (Medina): Take Home Box. Feeds 4. 8 Courses. Deadline to Pre-order is December 23rd. Limited Quantities. Call 330-952-1122. $150. Pre-paid Required.

Salt+ (Lakewood): Dinner and Party Box for 2. $180. 4 Courses, 1 Bottle of Brut Cava, Party Favors Box, Link for Live DJ Streaming Music 10:30PM - 12:30AM. Add-ons Available. Book Through Resy.

Lago (The Flats): Option 1- Party Pack for 6 or 10 People with Food, Cocktails, Champagne, Party Favors, and Streaming DJ Entertainment. Price Varies. Option 2- Dinner for Two. 3 Course Dinner + Bread and Salad. $225. All Carry-out Orders over $100 Include 1 Bottle of Champagne. 

Fahrenheit (Tremont): Kobe Beef Short Rib Kit. All Ingredients You Need to Prepare this Signature Dish at Home. Call 216-781-8858 for information. Not limited to New Year's Eve.

Alley Cat Oyster Bar (The Flats): Four Dinner for 2 Packages to Select From, including Surf & Turf, Seafood, A Little Bit of Everything, and Shellfish. $80 - $200. Add-ons Available. RSVP on website or call 216-574-9999.

Astoria Café & Market (Detroit Shoreway): Dinner for 2 Package. $50. 3 Courses. 

Batuqui Brazilian Restaurant (Larchmere): 3 Course Dinner for 2 (Price Varies by Selections) or 3 Options for Dinner for 4 (Price Varies by Selections). 

Nora (Little Italy): NYE Take-out Special Menu Items in addition to Regular Menu and Family-style Options. Delivery and Pick-up Available between 5-7PM on 12/29, 12/30, and 12/31. Call 216-231-5977 or 330-524-5045 to Order. 

Char Whisky Bar & Grille (Rocky River): Pre-order Charcuterie Package for 4 ($40) or 6 ($60). Deadline is December 27th. Add a Bottle of La Marca Prosecco for $25 or Cocktails for $10 Each.

Der Braumeister (Cleveland): 3 Course Pre-Fixe for $30 or $40 with Duck Entrée. Price does not include tax. Beer pricing is retail, to-go pricing per can/bottle. Add-ons Available.

EDWINS Restaurant (Shaker Square): 3 Course Dinner. $85/person. Champagne Add-on Available.

edwins too (Shaker Square): 7 Course Dinner. $90/person. Champagne Add-on Available. Delivery Available. Call 216-400-6091. 

L'Albatros Brasserie (University Circle): 4 Course Dinner. $125/person plus tax and gratuity. Wine Pairings Available for $35.

Mallorca (Downtown): Carnival Style Dinner Box for 2. 4 Courses, Pitcher of Sangria, Bottle of Champagne, Party Favors, and $20 Coupon for Future Use. 

Paladar Latin Kitchen & Rum Bar (Woodmere): Dinner for 4. $50. 2 Courses. 32 oz. Cocktails Available for $25.

Parallax Restaurant & Lounge (Tremont): 3 Course Dinner for 2. $80. 

The Woods (Rocky River): Surf and Turf To-go. $35/person.

1833 The Hotel at Oberlin (Oberlin): New Year’s Barbeque To-Go. Feeds 6-8. 10 Dishes. $199 + tax on Alcohol and 18% Gratuity. Orders placed by 4:00PM on December 23rd. Sparkling Wines, Prosecco & Champagne Available. Call (440) 775-7001 to Reserve.

Tartine Bistro (Rocky River): Create Your Own Wine Dinner for 2 To-go. $110. Select Salad to Share, 2 Entrees, Dessert to Share, and 1 Bottle of Hand-picked Wine. Vegan Options Available. Call 440-331-0800 for More Information and Ordering.

Harvest Saloon (Strongsville): Prime Rib Special with Sides and 2 Bottles of Champagne. Feeds 8. Pre-order and pre-pay by 12/27 at 8PM. $199.95. Call 440-238-9464.

Bar Oni (Tremont): Purchase A5 BMS 12 Steaks (best wagyu in the world) to Cook at Home. $15/oz. and 2 oz. Minimum. Cooking Instructions, House-made Japanese Steak Sauce, and Other Garnishes Provided. Pre-order Online.

Flight Cleveland: Virtual Bubbly Happy Hour. 6PM. Free to view on Zoom with purchase of wine. Join to hear discussion on four sparkling wines from famous bubbly regions. Call 216-400-6867 or visit their website

Allure Bistro & Social Club (Willoughby): Virtual Chef's Dinner. Box Includes Drink Mixes, Appetizers, Wine, Champagne, Filet, Scallops and Dessert on the 30th. Facebook Portal and Facebook Rooms on the 31st. Mixologist Demonstration, Appetizer to Heat, Wine Tasting from M Cellars, Cook Entree with Chef Kustala. Party Favors. Additional Add-ons Available. DJ, Toast at Midnight. Call 216-392-3663 or 440-275-5022. $65/person. 

The Black Pig (Ohio City): Socially distanced seating with limited quantity of required reservations. New Year's Eve at the Bar Option- 3 Plates, 2 Cocktails, Champagne. New Year's Eve in the Dining Room Option- 5 Course Chef's Tasting, Wine Pairings, Caviar Service, Champagne Service. Make a reservation online.

This is intended to be just a snapshot of the offerings to give you some direction. Please visit their websites, posts on social media, or call the restaurant for more menu information and ordering details and deadlines. I will continue to post options in the comments on this post as I become aware of them. Feel free to comment below if you have any to add!

Wednesday, December 16, 2020

Boss ChickNBeer

Mr. H are trying to get into the holiday spirit, so we headed to the Cuyahoga County Fairgrounds in Berea for the Magic of Lights drive-thru on a Thursday evening. We didn't pre-purchase a ticket, and we zoomed right through with no wait. However, I did hear that on Saturday evening the wait was over an hour to get up to the gate.

Once we finished there, we wanted to grab takeout in the area. We're not overly family with Berea, so I hopped online quickly and Boss ChickNBeer popped up in my search. Known for their wings and tenders on a primarily gluten-free menu, I had heard good things.

We placed our order online. The wait ended up being longer than the ordering system estimated (about 30 minutes), but they are making every order fresh so it's worth waiting.

I couldn't decide between the tenders and the wings, so I ordered their WingNTender Combo ($23) with 1 lb. of wings, 3 tenders, 2 sides, and 3 sauces. I chose the Queso MacN Cheese and Spicy Carrots and Ranch as my sides. The mac was super creamy, but just a little too mild in flavor for my taste. I loved, loved the pickled carrots and what appeared to be house-made Ranch. For my sauces, I selected Lemon Pepper Buffalo, Ain't Nuthin but a G-Parm, and Rage Against the BBQ. Rage-Q was hands down my favorite, with quite a kick of heat to it. The Garlic Parm didn't have as much garlic flavor to it as I had hoped. It was nice and creamy but too subtle to stand up to the heavy spice of the chicken. I hated the Lemon Pepper Buffalo, like really hated it. The insanely bold black pepper flavor didn't work well with the intense seasoning on the chicken, in my opinion. With lots of other tempting sauces to choose from, I'd skip this one.

As I mentioned, the seasoning on the tenders and wings are not for the faint at heart (and kids may find them too bold). But we enjoyed it! The wings are also huge and meaty, and the tenders are large and moist. 

The only time that I think the seasoning worked against itself during our meal was with the toppings for the Chicka Chicka Parm sandwich ($12) with a garlic Parmesan toasted pretzel bun, chickNtenders, melted Provolone, sliced tomato, and spicy marinara. 

Mr. H felt the particular seasonings on the chicken didn't work as well with the classic Chicken Parmesan toppings, and that he probably would have liked either of the other two sandwiches a bit better. However, the chicken was thick and juicy and he liked the bun a lot. All sandwiches come with a side of cauli-greens. 

If you've been, what is your favorite sauce? I'd love to keep trying them, and buy a 12 oz. bottle ($6) for home.

They do have a small dine-in area. They feature local craft brews, which pair perfectly with fried chicken. Catering is available. Nothing was too alarming, but it wasn't the most COVID precautions-friendly place we've gotten takeout from. Social distancing wasn't enforced with the customers waiting for orders or moving around the restaurant, and only some staff were wearing masks.

120 Front Street
Berea, OH 44017
(440) 532-7660

Monday, December 14, 2020

Terranean Herbs and Spices Pita Chips

When I discover a fantastic locally-made product or brand like Terranean Herbs and Spices, I can't wait to share it with you. Their products are being used in local restaurant favorites like Aladdin's Eatery, Boaz Café, Taza (the family's restaurant), and Sitto's. You can also purchase them online or in several retailers, like all Ohio Heinen's locations.

We were recently gifted the twice-baked Za'tar Chips, both the regular and the Spicy. They were perfect on a lunchtime hummus platter...

...and lightly crumbled into a dinner salad in place of croutons.
Both types of the pita chips were excellent, and we'll be purchasing them. I'd also love to now try their seasonings, and they've just come out with a great holiday Gift Set ($29.99).
I think a jar of their Spicy Za'tar Condiment Spread ($11.99) is going to make its way into Mr. H's stocking this year!

I never share products with you that I don't love, and this is no exception. It is a female-owned and operated business, that makes, packages, and ships the products right here in Cleveland, Ohio. 

Disclosure: I was provided with two packages of pita chips to sample and share with you. All opinions stated are 100% my own.

Thursday, December 10, 2020

Vento la Trattoria

EDITED: Well, this is now a very sad post to share with you, because I had already written and scheduled it before the news broke that Vento la Trattoria has permanently closed. Another casualty of the pandemic. I know this restaurant will be missed by the community, but the good news is that Matt Harlan has announced that he'll be opening Chatty's Pizzeria in that location in about two months. Read more here at Cleveland Scene, and with his history with the Michael Symon Restaurant Group this is sure to be a winner.

The last restaurant on my 2020 To Dine Challenge list was Vento la Trattoria in Bay Village. Tucked in between Huntington Reservation in the Cleveland Metroparks and Bay Arts, the restaurant is known for their charming patio and views of Lake Erie in the distance. 

I had held out on this one, hoping that we'd be able to experience a patio night out. However, we just never felt comfortable during this pandemic to dine out while the weather was takeout it had to be.

We started with a perfect classic Caesar ($9) salad.

I had the Pescatore ($22) with homemade linguine, white wine, olive oil, and garlic topped with Chef’s selection of daily seafood. As you can see, it was a nice mix of clams, mussels, and shrimp.
Mr. H ordered the Matriciana with Meatballs ($24) which is their famous Matriciana pasta dish served with homemade linguini, pan-fried pancetta, onions, aurora sauce, and topped with two large meatballs.
Both dishes were simply prepared and quite good. The texture of the pasta was *chef's kiss*, and it all traveled home pretty well. The Matriciana was a bit bolder in flavor, so we did agree it was our favorite of the two pasta dishes. 

We also snagged a wonderful bottle of wine to-go. 

It is absolutely adorable inside. There is plenty of free parking in the large lot connecting the park and the businesses tucked in there.

That's a wrap on this year's To Dine Challenge. What a strange trip it's been, but I feel particularly accomplished considering that it was completed and with time to spare! Funny what can happen when you slow down...

EDITED: I consider this a lesson for us all. Let's get out there and support our independent restaurants through the rest of the pandemic. I know it's the reality for many of our beloved restaurants that they may not make it through this. Dine-in if you are comfortable, order takeout, buy retail wine or cocktails to-go, purchase a gift certificate for later use or a holiday gift, and tip generously.

Vento la Trattoria (now closed)
28611 Lake Road
Bay Village, OH 44140
(440) 835-4530

Tuesday, December 8, 2020


2020 is winding down (aren't we all ready to put it in the rearview mirror?!) and so is my To Dine Challenge list. I scheduled an open-air evening with friends from the east side, and they picked up Batuqui Brazilian Restaurant for us all. We kicked off our dinner with a Caipirinha ($10). This traditional Brazilian cocktail is made with Cachaça, muddled lime, and sugar. Mr. H makes a pretty mean one too!

Mr. H and I shared the Moqueca Baiana ($29 with shrimp), which is a traditional Brazilian stew from Bahia with tomato, onions, cilantro, organic coconut milk and dende oil, served with Brazilian rice.

We also split the Costela do Norte ($29) with short ribs in a very rich homemade sauce with tomatoes, onions, and peppers and served with mashed potatoes and seasonal vegetables.
Both dishes were excellent, but my favorite was the Moqueca Baiana.

Trying to sample more traditional Brazilian dishes, we also shared a side of Vatapá ($9). This dish from the North of Brazil is made from bread, shrimp, coconut milk, finely ground peanuts, and palm oil, then mashed into a creamy paste. It sounded too unusual to not try! While it was certainly fine, it didn't wow me in texture or flavor so I'd skip it next time.

Our friends also generously shared their Pao De Queijo ($9) appetizer. These little doughy nuggets of Brazilian cheese bread are definitely worth ordering!

This meal was a highlight from the 2020 To Dine Challenge list, and one we won't be caught sleeping on again. Stay tuned for the final stop at the 10 restaurants I was challenged to dine at this year!

Batuqui Brazilian Restaurant
12706 Larchmere Blvd.
Cleveland, Ohio 44120
(216) 801-0227

Friday, December 4, 2020

2020 Local Foodie Gift Guide

It's that time of year when we're all shopping for loved ones (and maaayyybbee something sneaks into the cart for ourselves, like the Animal Print Mug ($38) from Rose Parlor and Wild Ideas Reporters Notebook ($9) from Lake Erie Design Co. that I snagged for myself on Small Business Saturday), so here's my 2020 Gift Guide focusing on locally made items fit for any "foodie" in your life. 

Anyone would enjoy a warm beverage (like my bourbon-spiked apple cider below) in the Cleveland Skyline Multi-colored Mug from The Cleveland Traveler. Check out her online store for other CLE-themed items like a tote and art prints. She's also generously offering all of you 15% off using the promo code BITEBUFF15 at checkout!

Give the gift of wearable food with these Sushi Cutie Kawaii Earrings (and so much more) from Letterpress Jess

Prepping and serving food can be gorgeous too with these Nesting Formation Bowls (set of 3) from Lauren HB Studio.

Looking for an experiential gift for the home baker? Consider a Virtual Cooking Class (price varies) from Annie's Signature Sweets.

Shopping secondhand is always a good idea, and you can score items like this Ceramic Pie Plate from Helm Collective. It's my favorite vintage retail shop in Cleveland, and you should follow her on Instagram for a peek at the goods and easy online shopping in her stories or on her website. 

What home cook doesn't love to try new recipes? Purchase a Cookbook from Visible Voice Books or another local bookstore. Double up on the local love by purchasing one authored by our city's best chefs, such as Koji Alchemy: Rediscovering the Magic of Mold-Based Fermentation by Jeremy Umansky & Rich Shih.

Anyone in your life would like a Silicone "Kookin" Trivet from MODGY to protect their table or counter. 

Looking for a winter project for that foodie in your life? Grow Your Own Microgreen Kit from Erie Shore Seed and Spore for fun with the whole family. 

A bundle like the Roast 101 Seasoning Gift Set (several others to choose from too) from Urban Herbs will always be put to good use in any kitchen.

To decorate that foodie's home, gift them the Pack of Places postcards (20 included) or an 8.5"x11" single print from local illustrator Amber Esner. They can cluster a few framed prints in their home and use others to mail as postcards to loved ones they can't see during the pandemic. Almost all of the prints included are iconic Cleveland restaurants! 

We've always been fans of the famous produce, and you can give the gift of an Introductory Farm Experience Box from Farmer Jones Farm at The Chef's Garden. It includes: Introductory Vegetable Box, 5-ounce box of cut honeycomb from bees tended on our grounds, along with Tomato, Carrot Cake, and Pepper Marmalade—each containing ingredients that are regeneratively farmed by their team. Plus, items that feature their edible flowers include Flowerhouse Lamiaceae Green Tea and Flowerhouse Soap. This unique gift box also contains buckwheat flour, squeeze bottle, tea infuser, and wooden spoon or honey dipper.  

Give the gift that keeps on giving with a small-batch, locally made Granola of the Month Club for 3 Months from City Hippie GranolaA different flavored granola for every month of the year from this small-batch local granola company, shipped to your loved one. Flavors include Almond Mango, Apple Pie, Banana Bread, Coconut Lime Pineapple, Double Chocolate Coconut, Jail House Rock, Lemon Blueberry, Orange Cranberry, Parmesan Rosemary, Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip, Snickerdoodle and Sweet and Salty Trail Mix. Really love someone? Upgrade it to 6 Months ($70) or 12 Months ($140).

A beautiful handcrafted leather Knife Roll from J.Lees Knives that holds up to eight 8” knives will make any home cook feel like a professional chef. Also check out his one-of-a-kind knives. 

I hope you find this guide helpful. As always, a gift card to one of our local restaurants is a perfect stocking stuffer, gift for that hard-to-buy-for person in your life, or as a treat for you to enjoy later. They need us more than ever right now. Please consider shopping with our small businesses this holiday season. 

Disclosure: I was provided with a sample mug from Cleveland Traveler in exchange for inclusion in this post. All opinions stated are 100% my own.