Category Archives: Wine

Why? Bin 216!

***A bit of blogkeeping: Have you entered to win lunch for two from Provenance? Today is your last day, so check it out! Remember, you can tweet daily for additional entries.

Also, congrats to Christina (Comment #20), randomly-selected winner of my blogiversary giveaway. Please check your email for more details. And thanks to everyone who suggested other cool local makers for me to check out. Stay tuned in 2015 as I pay them visits!***

Last week, I met up with some fabulous ladies at a fabulous location to have a fabulous evening.


Stephanie, Kimberly, Amanda, and I gathered at Bin 216 at Playhouse Square. This wine bar from the Driftwood Group is the perfect spot for an after-work gathering with girlfriends. The atmosphere is intimate and comfortable, with couches and chairs arranged in lounge-like fashion.

Bin 216 also features live jazz music every Wednesday evening, which just happened to be when we were there.


Bin 216 is primarily a wine bar, but they also have a nice selection of creative and tasty cocktails. The food menu focuses on small bites and desserts, which makes sharing and sampling among your companions easy.

Many of the small bites are recognizable from the menus of other Driftwood restaurants, which I personally love. I can get some of my favorites from various Driftwood spots all in one place! I chose the Devils on Horseback (dates stuffed with chorizo and wrapped in bacon with a maple glaze) and the seared scallop with Mexican street corn.

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This was the perfect amount of food to leave me feeling not-too-full, but happily satisfied. It also left room to share the Gran Marnier chocolate fondue among the table. My favorite element of the fondue plate were the soft pretzel bites…salty + sweet gets me every time!


The s’mores for dipping weren’t too shabby either!

Bin 216 offers a lovely setting for a girls night out, a date night, or a pre- or post-theater libation. Happy hour runs Tuesday through Friday from 4-7pm and all day Sunday. Live jazz is on Wednesday evenings. And great wine and small bites are available anytime Bin 216 is open (Tuesday through Friday from 4-11pm and Saturday and Sunday from 12-11pm).

Where is your favorite girls night out spot?


Why? Weekends!

My pre-Thanksgiving weekend was already stuffed (haha) with food and family time! On Friday night, Matthew and I went out for a quick date night dinner at Olivor Twist in downtown Willoughby. This is a longstanding favorite spot, thanks to their extensive and creative martini list and tasty food.

Since the place was packed, we grabbed a seat at the bar. You can still order the full menu there and we’ve always had great service regardless.


We started with the stuffed peppers appetizer, filled with chorizo sausage and cheese and topped with tomato sauce. These had just the right amount of heat and were a great start to our meal.


For our entrees, Matthew chose the mac ‘n cheese with lobster, which put him in a bit of a food coma. The bites I snagged were really good…packed with lobster meat and a delicious creamy sauce.

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I had the pan seared scallops, topped with apple mango chutney and served with rice pilaf and broccoli. The scallops were perfectly cooked and I really enjoyed the sweetness of the chutney. But the sides left me wanting more in terms of flavor and texture. They didn’t take away from the scallops, but they didn’t add to them either.

For dessert, we shared a slice of chocolate tort in all it’s dense, rich deliciousness.


It was a great date night!

On Saturday, we attended our niece Leila’s fourth birthday party, which of course was adorably themed around the movie “Frozen.” It’s hard to believe Leila is four already! The only picture I managed to get was with Leila’s sister, as the birthday girl barely sat still all day, but that’s to be expected!


On Sunday, we celebrated my Dad’s birthday with good food, good wine, and good company. Mom made an excellent dinner and we ended the evening with cassata cake from Dad’s favorite bakery, Baraona’s.


It was a great weekend, although I was hoping for a few less calories heading into the Thanksgiving week! I’m off this entire week and am so excited to get ready for the holiday and spend some time with my little man! How was your weekend? How is your pre-Thanksgiving week shaping up?


Why? Fabulous Food Show Giveaway!

***UPDATE: Congratulations to Cheryl Scheckel (Comment #41), randomly-selected winner of 2 general admission tickets to the Fabulous Food Show! Please check your email for details.***

It’s that time again: time to enter an extravaganza of celebrity chefs, demos, tastings, and retailers at the Fabulous Food Show.


The Fabulous Food Show is taking place this weekend, from Friday, November 14 through Sunday, November 16 at the I-X Center. There will be appearances by celebrity chefs Carla Hall, Ingrid Hoffman, Tyler Florence, Nadia G, and of course our hometown favorite, Michael Symon.

There will also be great demos, presentations, and tastings including the Healthy Living Stage presented by Vitamix, Taste of the Neighborhood, and the Grand Tasting Pavilion. Add onto all that tons of exhibitors with food, culinary tools, and more to make you just as fabulous as the celebrity chefs!

General admission tickets start at $24.99 online, with higher-priced options for reserved celebrity chef seatings and more. Click here for details and to purchase tickets. Or you can enter to win two general admission tickets, good for any day of the show, right here!

Here’s how to enter (you can do one, two, three, or all four entries, just leave a separate comment for each):

1. Leave a comment and tell me which celebrity chef you most want to see at the Fabulous Food Show.

2. Leave a comment if you like the Fabulous Food Show and Why CLE? on Facebook letting me know you like both pages.

3. Follow @FabFoodShow and @WhyCLE on Twitter and leave a comment letting me know you’re following both.

4. Tweet the following phrase and leave a comment letting me know you tweeted:

I want @WhyCLE to send me to @FabFoodShow!

You can tweet once per day for additional entries, just leave a separate comment each time you tweet.

The giveaway will close on Thursday, November 13 at 12:00pm and the winner will be contacted via email that day. Good luck!

***Disclosure: I was asked to help promote the Fabulous Food Show. In exchange, I will receive 2 general admission tickets to give away. I declined my own 2 complimentary media passes due to scheduling conflicts. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***


Why? Playhouse Square Partners Wine and Canvas!

I’m not a very artistic person, but sometimes it’s really fun to step outside your comfort zone and try something different. Which is just what I did on Monday night with my friend Jennifer at Playhouse Square Partners‘ Wine and Canvas event.

We all started out with our blank canvases and an example painting to aspire to create. Under the step-by-step instructions from our teacher, a rather abstract image began to take shape.

Assured that our paintings would ultimately look like something, we continued to sip our wine for artistic inspiration and follow along.

By the end of the evening, everyone had their own unique interpretation of the fall scene we were creating.

Our instructors for the evening were from Wine & Canvas, which puts on both public and private events where you can get creative (and tipsy, if you want). I think our finished products look pretty good, from a distance…

One of the great things about Playhouse Square Partners is that we not only have theater-centered events, but also fun evenings like this one too!

***Disclosure: I am a board member of Playhouse Square Partners. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***


Why? L’Amour du Vin!

Last night, Matthew and I attend the Arthritis Foundation‘s L’Amour du Vin fundraiser. We met up with these fine folks for an evening of wining and small-bite dining.


I seem to always find a new must-try restaurant at this event. Last year, it was Bistro 83 (who kept it up this year with some tasty spicy salmon cakes). This year, it was 41 North. Offering food in both VIP and the main room, 41 North brought delicious dishes that were as good to eat as they were nicely plated.


In the VIP room, 41 North offered pork belly and swordfish. In the main room, they offered shrimp and grits and short ribs served on top apple risotto. After all these bites, I’m convinced I need to head out to Vermilion for a full meal there!

Other favorites of the evening was the gnocchi from Gatherings Kitchen, the smoked trout salad with apples and pumpkin seeds from AMP 150, the pulled pork sliders from Parker’s Grille and Tavern (loved the added jalapeno slices), and the lamb from Taki’s Greek Kitchen.

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I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the wonderful desserts, including oodles of Snoogles (and other pastries) from Kiedrowksi’s Simply Delicious Bakery and decadent chocolates from Sweet Designs (the cocoa nib truffle was my fave).


There were plenty of delicious red and white wines to go with all the great food, along with Brown-Forman bourbon cocktails in the VIP room.


We also entered the wine pull raffle, which not only scored us a great bottle for home, but a chance to win a Caribbean cruise (we didn’t).

I also have to take a moment to give a lot of praise to the planner of last night’s event, Alicia. L’Amour du Vin was Alicia’s last event for the Arthritis Foundation, as she is leaving her current role for a new, exciting, and perfectly-suited position at Evolution Yoga. You can read all about her upcoming new professional adventure here.

Alicia doing her thing

Alicia doing her thing

I am so proud of all that Alicia accomplished at the Arthritis Foundation and for following her heart to this new job! And what a way to go out, with one incredible party!

***Disclosure: I was asked by the Arthritis Foundation to help promote L’Amour du Vin. In exchange, I received two complimentary VIP tickets to the event. As always, all opinions (on events and career decisions alike) are 100% my own.***



Why? Namaste, One Night for One World!

***A bit of blogkeeping: Have you entered to win 2 tickets to see the a cappella group The House Jacks at Shaker Heights High School? Check it out!***

Namaste means, “I bow to the divine in you.” It means showing respect to that which is special and sacred in each of us. International Partners in Mission is hosting its 12th annual Namaste! One Night for One World Cultural Celebration Benefit on Thursday, October 16, giving attendees a chance to show the respect of Namaste to those who work so hard for this wonderful organization.

At the Namaste Benefit, you can enjoy stunning views of the Cleveland skyline from the Ariel International Center, while nibbling on international cuisine, sipping wine, listening to live music including jazz guitarist Lee Bush, and perusing crafts and silent auction items from around the world.

More than ten of IPM’s Project Partners from around the world will also be on hand that evening to share stories about their countries and the work of IPM.

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Before Namaste, there will also be a unique immersion experience and VIP reception with Peter and Dorothy Nyong’o, who are active in Kenyan politics and non-profits and are also the parents of Oscar-winner Lupita Nyong’o, as well as Joseph Cistone, the CEO of IPM.

Namaste is sure to be a fun evening to benefit IPM’s wonderful work around the globe and it is a great way to show Cleveland’s support for this organization that calls our city home. Tickets are $100 for Patron VIP level, $40 for general admission, and $15 for students and can be purchased online.

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***Disclosure: I was asked by International Partners in Mission to help promote Namaste. In exchange, I was offered complimentary tickets to Namaste. I declined due to scheduling conflicts. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***


Why? L’Amour du Vin Giveaway!

***A bit of blogkeeping: Congratulations to Courtney (Comment #11), randomly-selected winner of 2 tickets to the Chagrin Documentary Film Festival. Please check your email for details. If you didn’t win, you can still purchase tickets online.***

Coming up on Thursday, October 9 is a fabulous fundraiser to benefit the Arthritis Foundation, Great Lakes Region, Northeast Ohio Chapter: L’Amour du Vin. This event takes place at the Avon Oaks Country Club and is a tasty mix of great wine and great food from Lorain County.

L'Amour du Vin new logo

In the main room, restaurants from Aladdin’s Eatery to AMP 150 to Parker’s Grille & Tavern will be serving up great eats. Kiedrowski’s Simply Delicious Bakery will be on hand with snoogles! The VIP lounge will feature food from 41 North, which is sure to be delicious.

Aside from all the food and wine, there are silent auctions, raffles, and live music! What an evening! General admission tickets are $65 and VIP tickets are $95. Or you can enter to win two general admission tickets right here! Here’s how to enter (you can do one, two, three, or all four entries, just leave a separate comment for each):

1. Check out the list of participating restaurants and leave a comment telling me which you most want to try.

2. If you like the Arthritis Foundation NEO and Why CLE? on Facebook, leave a comment letting me know you like both pages.

3. Follow @ArthritisFouNEO and @WhyCLE on Twitter and leave a comment letting me know you’re following both.

4. Tweet the following phrase and leave a comment letting me know you tweeted:

I want to win tickets to #LAmourduVin from @ArthritisFouNEO and @WhyCLE:

You can tweet once per day for additional entries, just leave a separate comment each time you tweet.

The giveaway will close on Monday, September 29 at 11:59pm and the winner will be announced the following day. Good luck!

***Disclosure: I was asked by the Arthritis Foundation to help promote L’Amour du Vin. In exchange, I will receive 2 VIP tickets for myself and 2 general admission tickets to give away. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***


Why? Weekends!

You gotta love when your birthday falls on a Friday, giving you an entire weekend to celebrate! I took Friday off from work and spent the day with Jeffrey, which was a perfect way to begin a birthday weekend. Especially when he laughed for the first time on Friday! Coolest sound ever!

On Friday evening, Matthew planned a wonderful celebration that started with dinner at the brand new Adega in The 9. The vibe of Adgea, and The 9 in general, is very different for Cleveland. I would say it almost feels more like New York or Miami. Very chic, very modern, and very exciting!

IMG_0480We started our meal with the Crispy Polenta Mozarella, with fresh mozarella, polenta, tomato sauce, and parmesan.


You really can’t go wrong with me and polenta, so this was a great start! For my entree, I had the pork tenderloin medallions, served with corn risotto and and sherry-braised kale.


As you can see, the medallions were quite substantial! They were also tender and flavorful. A bite of the pork, risotto, and kale together was a great mix of flavors. I think this is the first time I’ve really enjoyed braised greens!

Matthew had the Plancha scallops, with basil pesto, corn and mushroom fricasee, and cauliflower puree.


These are some of the best scallops either of us have ever had!

For dessert, I had the apple fritter donuts with berry and cream sauces and Matthew had the chocolate hazelnut bar.

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While the donuts were very good, Matthew’s dessert was truly a stand-out. We were so impressed with the food, service, and atmosphere at Adega. Chef Eddie Tancredi stopped by our table and chatted a bit about how The 9 is such a new feel for Cleveland, but something really exciting too. We certainly agree!

From dinner, we headed to the Phillip Phillips concert at Playhouse Square. Matthew got amazing seats and I really enjoyed the show. I had no idea Phillip Phillips and his band could jam as well as they did!


It was a perfect birthday celebration!

On Sunday, Alicia, Amanda, and Kimberly had another perfect birthday celebration planned. We started out at Yoga Rocks the Park.


Not only did we get a great practice in from Tammy at Inner Bliss, but we also got to hear some beautiful music and savasana chanting from our dear friend Ylonda. While practicing outside can have its challenges (half-moon on the grass can be tough), it’s also a really beautiful experience!

From there, we headed to Dante Next Door for a delightful brunch on the patio. You can read my full thoughts on Dante Next Door here, but suffice to say it was completely delicious! From there, we went to the Cleveland Flea’s outdoor market in Hingetown, mostly to score some ice cream from Mason’s Creamery, who may just be the nicest folks in the ice cream business.

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We popped into the new, adorable Jukebox for a beverage and to catch some of the Browns game. I love this cozy, friendly bar!


Another perfect birthday celebration! I am a very lucky girl to be able to spend my weekend with my favorite people experiencing so many wonderful things in my favorite city! Thank you all so much for making it so special!

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Why? Taste of the Browns!

There a few culinary events in Cleveland where you know you don’t need to eat for the whole day leading up to the event and pretty much for the whole day after. Taste of the Browns is one of those events!

There are so many great restaurants serving up so many tasty treats! Because my brain seems to like categorizing things lately, here are some favorites in various categories:


Pier W‘s Maine lobster casserole and Blue Point Grille‘s lobster bisque both brought warm, rich, sweet lobster goodness. There were two tuna tartare options (XO Prime Steaks and Players on Madison) and Matthew gave the win to Players.


There were also two shrimp and grits options, from Hodge’s and Peachtree Southern Kitchen. While both were tasty, Hodge’s shrimp and grits was by far my favorite dish, not only in this category but of the entire event. The grits were creamy, the shrimp tender, and the chorizo sausage added just the right bite.


I’ve had this item off the menu at Hodge’s and you just can’t go wrong with it.


There were a lot of Italian offerings this year! Lago’s veal meatball was substantial and delicious! Matthew raved about Corleone’s Ristorante’s calamari steak. And Georgetown‘s pasta bolognese and Stino da Napoli‘s lasagna were solid traditional choices.

Casual Eats

We were in First Energy Stadium, after all, so of course there were some stadium-style eats. Urban Farmer Cleveland Steakhouse brought house-made mini hot dogs with black truffles (so, casual, but still fancy).


B Spot‘s Thin Lizzy sliders, hot off the grill, were a win for me, as was Market Garden Brewery‘s chorizo and potato pierogi with beer cheese sauce. Momocho‘s chicken tacos were another fun, casual bite full of big flavors.



There are always plenty of sweets to enjoy, from a chocolate cheesecake truffle from Deagan’s Kitchen and Bar to a salted caramel cupcake from the Cleveland Cupcake Company to Pierre’s ice cream.



Lots of great choices to taste, although an old standby of Apothic Red gets our vote for favorite of the night.

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Of course, the entire evening is a fundraiser for the Greater Cleveland Foodbank, with every dollar raised providing 4 meals, but I particularly liked this year’s addition of a wine and craft beer pull!


Overall, there were 1,000 attendees and $180,000 was raised for the Greater Cleveland Foodbank, beating last year’s totals!


I can’t complain about the company for the evening at all!


Overall, it was another fantastic night at Taste of the Browns. The only thing marring the evening at all was the long wait to get into the event (it took us nearly half an hour and we arrived promptly at the start), but I suppose the fact that so many people came out the support the Greater Cleveland Foodbank is the more positive way to look at it!

Did you attend Taste of the Browns? What were some of your favorites?

***Disclosure: I was asked to help promote Taste of the Browns. In exchange, I received 2 complimentary general admission tickets to the event. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***


Why? Chefs Unbridled!

Saturday evening brought fall-like weather and one of my favorite fall events: Chefs Unbridled to benefit Fieldstone Farm Therapeutic Riding Center.

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Set at the Chagrin Valley Hunt Club Polo Fields, Chefs Unbridled has live and silent auctions to benefit Fieldstone Farm, as well as live music from the Cleveland Jazz Orchestra and a wonderful tasting dinner from some of Cleveland’s finest chefs.

This year, Matthew and I decided to select our favorite appetizer, entree, and dessert from the tasting dinner to share with you.


Urban Farmer Cleveland Steakhouse brought our favorite appetizer of the evening: scallop chips with bacon jam and tomatoes.


The scallop chips are a housemade variation on the classic shrimp chip. The bacon jam is deliciously salty and the tomato added just the right fresh notes. Don’t ask how many of these we ate.


I had two favorite entrees from the evening. The first, which was Matthew’s favorite as well, was the grilled hanger steak with salsa verde and creamed corn from Driftwood Restaurant Group.


The steak was prepared perfectly, the salsa was spicy, and anything with Ohio corn is a win in my book.

My other winning entree came from Radius: pork belly with pickled onions and a small cornbread cake.


This was some of the meatiest pork belly I’ve ever had, which also made it a win in Matthew’s book.


Urban Farmer gets the win in this column as well with their devil’s food whoopie pies.


Rich and decadent, with the playfulness I’ve come to expect from Urban Farmer, these were my favorite sweet treat of the evening and paired perfectly with my 14 Hands Hot to Trot red blend.

Fun Touches

And in a needed category, here were two of my favorite fun touches of the evening: Hodge Podge Truck and an Irish coffee station.

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Who doesn’t love to warm up with boozey coffee and tater tots?!

All in all, it was another fabulous evening at Chefs Unbridled! Did you attend? What were your favorites?

***Disclosure: I was asked by Fieldstone Farm to help promote Chefs Unbridled. In exchange, I received 2 complimentary tickets to the event. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***