Category Archives: Wine

Why? Weekends!

After Friday at Twilight at the Zoo, it was a busy Saturday and Sunday with friends and family! On Saturday, my friend Jen spent the night at our house on her way back to DC from vacation in Michigan. We were happy to provide a spot for her to spend the night, since that meant we got time to catch up with her.

We went for a tasty, casual dinner at Mama Roberto’s. The food is solidly good traditional Italian fare and the portions are massive!

I had the Pasta Roberto, with linguine, marinara, sausage, and hot and bell peppers.

Matthew chose a special with tortellini, grilled chicken, and red pepper pesto.

Jen had one of Mama Roberto’s highly acclaimed pizzas. Throw in a bottle of chianti, as all bottles of wine were $15 that night, and you had three very full, happy people.

But of course we needed something sweet, so we headed to Malley’s for dessert. Jen created what is my new favorite sundae: the on-the-menu Raspberry Delight (vanilla ice cream, raspberry sauce, and chopped nuts) with the addition of Malley’s delicious hot fudge. So good!

On Sunday morning, Jen and I met up with Lane for brunch. I introduced Jen and Lane, as they are both photographers, and I’m so happy they hit it off and have even been able to work together!

We brunched at Original Pancake House. I love the Dutch Baby pancake, which is a sweet and citrus-y cross between a pancake and a crepe.

After Jen hit the road (an all-too-brief visit!), we headed to Matthew’s dad’s house for a celebration of all the family’s summer birthdays. A cookout, a secret family recipe cake, and lots of fun time for Jeffrey with his cousins made for the perfect end to the weekend.


How was your weekend?


Why? Weekends!

It was a double wedding weekend! On Friday night, we attended our friends Emilie and Mike’s wedding. It was held at the Grand Pacific Junction in Olmsted Falls. If you’ve never been, it’s an adorable area of shops, restaurants, a hotel, and more.


Emilie and Mike had perfect weather for their outdoor ceremony! After the ceremony, we walked over to the Grand Pacific Junction Hotel for the reception. I got to catch up with a lot of my college sorority sisters, which always makes for a fun evening!


While our conversations now tend to center around buying houses and having babies, it’s great that we can still stay close after all these years!

The dance floor at Emilie and Mike’s reception was one of the most packed I’ve seen in a long time! Everyone had a blast and you can tell how happy this couple is just by looking at them. Congrats, you guys!


Saturday brought the second wedding of the weekend, as my roommate from freshman year in college, Sonia, married her Prince Charming, Chris.


The ceremony was held at the Church of the Gesu, which is a beautiful church. I have fond memories of singing in their choir loft for some of the larger John Carroll University masses. Yes, this was another John Carroll wedding, but a completely different group of friends than Friday night’s affair.


We all lived on the same floor in Dolan Hall in our freshman year. I can’t believe I met these girls 15 years ago!

The reception was held at Severance Hall, which is of course a gorgeous setting! We even got a brief break from the rain and enjoyed wine out on the terrace. What a lovely date night!


I’m so happy for Sonia and Chris, especially since Chris is now an official resident of “the CLE,” as he likes to call it!

I say so often that John Carroll is a special place, but when you can spend time in one weekend with groups of friends you’ve known for 15 years and feel like no time has passed at all, you know the bonds you created there are truly something unique!

Part of our Sunday was spent stuffing ourselves at Flour Restaurant‘s brunch, but stay tuned tomorrow for more on that! Also on Sunday, Jeffrey turned two months old.


The time is just flying! He is such a sweet little man: so happy and expressive! And we couldn’t love him more!

How was your weekend?

***Disclosure: I am a member of the board of the John Carroll University Cleveland Alumni Chapter. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***



Why? Weekends!

One of the things I missed the most while I was pregnant was practicing yoga. While I did prenatal yoga for a bit, I stayed away from my standard vinyasa flows. On Friday, I decided to get back on my mat at Evolution Yoga with my dear friends in tow, as Alicia was the teacher and Kimberly practiced next to me.


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Alicia’s Friday night “Sweet Heat Flow” was the perfect mix of strength, fun, and relaxation. It felt so nice to be back on my mat and I can’t wait to get my practice back to where it was pre-pregnancy.

After class, we treated ourselves to some hummus and hot sauce at Aladdin’s Eatery, along with something else I really missed while I was pregnant: a glass of red wine. This was my first girls’ night out since Jeffrey was born and I couldn’t have asked for a better one with yoga, wine, and two of my favorite ladies.

On Sunday, the entire Why CLE family went to one of the biggest summer festivals in Cleveland: Taste of Tremont.


Our favorite spot for Taste of Tremont is always the parking lot at Dante, which has great food, beer and cocktails, and live music.

IMG_4340I loved the personal-sized pizzas straight out of Dante Next Door‘s oven, which were a very reasonable $5.


Other favorites that our group grabbed included gyros from Dervish Grill, chorizo tacos from Barrio, and pork nachos from Porco Lounge & Tiki Room.

Taste of Tremont is always such a huge party and I love seeing how many people come out to eat, drink, and be merry in one of the best neighborhoods in Cleveland! We ended our day on a sweet note with a box of take-home chocolates from Lilly Handmade Chocolates. All three of us were exhausted from all the summer festival fun!

How was your weekend? Did you attend Taste of Tremont?



Why? Veggie U Food and Wine Celebration!

***A bit of blogkeeping: Congratulations to Jill (Lady Lazarus) (comment #6), randomly-selected winner of two tickets the Locavore fundraiser to benefit the MS Society’s Ohio Buckeye Chapter. Please check your email for further details. If you didn’t win, you can still purchase tickets online.***

Saturday night, we went on a world tour of cuisine without leaving Cleveland at the Veggie U Food and Wine Celebration.


Each participating restaurant created a tasty treat representing a different country or region. Our favorite bites took us all over the globe: Mexico with carne asada from Urban Farmer Cleveland Steakhouse;


India with crab pakora from University Hospitals and Sodexo; Asia with pork belly from Hodge’s served with edamame, five spice, and Asian pear;


the Southern United States with chicken cracklins from Peachtree Southern Kitchen; our own backyard with Lake Erie perch with corn pudding from Bacchanalia Cleveland (I can’t wait for them to open!);


and France with crepes with berries, whipped cream, and candied kumquat from Tri-C Hospitality Management & Culinary Arts.


Wines from all over the world were available to compliment the dishes. Matthew and I really enjoyed the Vina Bujanda from Spain: a spicy, bold red.


Craft beer was on tap from Rockmill Brewery and Townhall, too. There were also two different bands providing live entertainment while we ate and drank the night away.

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The evening benefited the Veggie U Classroom Gardens program, a five-week program available to elementary school and special needs classrooms. The program helps children learn about healthy eating and where their food comes from through a science-based curriculum, including growing their own veggies!


I loved the focus on local restaurants and the downtown Cleveland location of this year’s revamped Food and Wine Celebration. A delicious trip around the world to help kids close to home? What a perfect evening!

***Disclosure: I was asked by Veggie U to help promote the Veggie U Food and Wine Celebration. In exchange, I received 2 complimentary tickets to the event. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***


Why? Locavore Giveaway!

Are you a locavore? I know I am! What is a locavore you ask? A locavore is a person who makes an effort to eat food that is grown, raised, or produced locally, usually within 100 miles from home.

Locavore is also a fundraising event to benefit the Ohio Buckeye Chapter of the National MS Society. The event celebrates locavores with food, wine, and chocolates from Northeast Ohio.



Held at Windows on the River on Thursday, August 21 and sponsored by Ulmer & Berne, this is an event that any locavore won’t want to miss. You’ll sample foods from great local restaurants, including Momocho, Lago, and Urban Farmer Cleveland Steakhouse.

There will be wines from Ferrante Winery, Valley Vineyards, and M Cellars. Lilly Handmade Chocolates will provide sweet treats. And you can try your luck at raffles and blind wine pulls, which also benefit the MS Society, which provides support, advocacy, education, and research for those living with MS.

Event tickets are $60, which includes unlimited food and wine. Patron tickets are $80 and include an exclusive wine tasting, in addition to the unlimited food and wine. Tickets can be purchased online. Or you can enter to win two Event 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. Leave a comment telling me what you do to be a locavore (e.g., shopping at local farmers’ markets).

2. Leave a comment if you like the MS Society Ohio Buckeye Chapter and Why CLE? on Facebook, letting me know you like both pages.

3. Follow @nmssohiobuckeye 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 celebrate being a #Locavore thanks to @nmssohiobuckeye 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 Sunday, July 20 at 11:59pm and the winner will be announced the following day. Good luck!

***Disclosure: I was asked by the MS Society Ohio Buckeye Chapter to help promote Locavore. In exchange, I will receive two complimentary Event tickets for myself and two Event tickets to give away. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***


Why? Date Night at the ZOOvies Giveaway!

The Cleveland Metroparks Zoo is not just for kids and there are a host of events that prove just that! On Friday, August 22, Date Night at the ZOOvies is an adults-only evening of food, drinks, zoo critters, and an outdoor movie, which also raises money for the Cleveland Zoological Society.

From 7-8:30pm, you can enjoy the Australian Adventure and African Safari areas of the Zoo, along with beer, wine, and light appetizers.


Then, at 8:30pm, head over to the Zoo Amphitheater to watch “Ghostbusters” under the stars and munch on movie snacks like hot pretzels and popcorn.


Date Night at the ZOOvies is a very popular night out and is sold out for this year! But, no fear if you missed out because you can enter to win 2 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. Leave a comment telling me your favorite line or scene from “Ghostbusters.”

2. Leave a comment if you are fan of both the Cleveland Zoological Society and Why CLE? on Facebook, letting me know you are.

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

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

Who you gonna call? I want to win tickets to see Ghostbusters at @CleveZooSociety’s #DateNightattheZoovies from @WhyCLE:

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

The giveaway will close at 11:59pm on Sunday, July 13 and the winner will be announced the following day. The winner and guest must be 21 or over to attend. Good luck!

***Disclosure: I was asked by the Cleveland Zoological Society to help promote Date Night at the Zoovies. In exchange, I will receive 2 complimentary tickets for myself and 2 tickets to give away. All images courtesy of the Cleveland Zoological Society. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***


Why? Tri-C Jazz Fest!

This past Saturday was a picture-perfect Cleveland date night for Matthew and me. As I told you earlier in the week, we dined at the fabulous new Restaurant Trentina. But our date night kicked off on a swingin’ note at one of the many Tri-C Jazz Fest concerts.

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Ernie Krivda and the Fat Tuesday Big Band put on a high-energy show, focusing on the music of Oliver Nelson and Jimmy Smith, filled with lots of brass and some great improvisation.

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The Fat Tuesday Big Band is aptly-named, as the music made me feel like I was walking around New Orleans!

Ernie Krivda is a born-and-raised Clevelander who attended the Cleveland Institute of Music and is a legend in the Cleveland music scene. It was great to attend a show helmed by a local talent who was so enthusiastic about playing for a hometown crowd.

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This year’s Jazz Fest was held entirely at Playhouse Square, allowing festival-goers to easily make their way between shows, as well as taking in free concerts on Star Plaza. Personally, I think consolidating the festival into one weekend and one location was a smart move!

Another advantage to the Playhouse Square location? After the show, Matthew and I were able to grab a glass of wine at Bin 216, the newest restaurant from Driftwood Restaurant Group.

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Located in what used to be Sammy’s, Bin 216 has a great selection of wines, beers, and mixed drinks. The menu is divided into snacks, small plates, and desserts, all of which I want to try (we had the sweet and spicy nuts with rosemary, which were delicious).

Bin 216 offers happy hour from 4-7pm Tuesday through Friday and all day Sunday. There is also live jazz on Wednesday nights. The vibe is much more that of a lounge than of a restaurant and the interior is done in cream, grey, and gold, with armchairs and couches scattered throughout. This is an elegant spot for a pre- or post-theater cocktail and a nice addition to the restaurants at Playhouse Square.

A swingin’ concert and relaxing with a glass of wine with my favorite date? That’s what perfect Cleveland date nights are made of!

***Disclosure: I was asked to help promote Tri-C Jazz Fest. In exchange, I received 2 complimentary tickets to the concert of my choice. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***


Why? Trentina!

Not only do we have an abundance of talented chefs in Cleveland, but our chefs tend to create “restaurant dynasties.” From Michael Symon to Dante Boccuzzi to Zack Bruell to Doug Katz, some of our best chefs have multiple restaurant kitchens in which to explore their culinary creativity.

Chef Jonathon Sawyer is expanding his restaurant dynasty from The Greenhouse Tavern and Noodlecat to include Restaurant Trentina in University Circle. As Matthew commented as we attended the Friends & Family preview this past weekend, there is no chef we’d rather see expanding his restaurant offerings.

Cheers to Trentina!

Cheers to Trentina!

This intimate restaurant has been redone from the Sergio’s days to sparkle with gold-edged and mirrored tables, a beautiful chandelier, and lots of light.


Much like the interior design, the Menu Bianco, which is a tasting menu and the exclusive offering at Trentina, is truly something different and beautiful. I know I will not do justice to explaining all the complex and unique ingredients in the courses, but I can share the pictures and tell you what we loved.

Primi Assaggio


My favorite from this course was the Crusto di Polenta, which was light and crisp, with a hint of lemon.

Caviar & Ciccoli


This course tasted like a fancy Italian Bugle, with light and crisp puffed pasta filled with fluffy cheese.

Crustaceo Crudo

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This was the first of several courses where Matthew and I received different plates, allowing us to try even more flavors and essentially have a similar, but still unique, dining experience. My course featured two oysters: one with Rittman apples and one with a sauce similar to a Chinese XO sauce. Matthew’s course was a scallop, artfully presented on its shell.

Sable Fish al Cartoccio


This course was delicate and yet flavorful. The textures were perfect and the broth sublime. One of our favorite courses!

Edible Candle

How did I fail to get a picture? A candle made of beef suet was brought to the table, along with bread to dip in it. Such a unique concept!

Pasta alla Chitarra

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As Chef Sawyer explained (Chef came to each table to explain the courses), this means pasta “of the guitar” in Italy, where the pasta is extruded through guitar strings. My pasta featured abalone and delicious citrus notes. Matthew’s pasta featured pork and was topped with an egg cooked in a spoon over embers. Another favorite course!

Pasta Cuscino

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This pasta course focused on cabbage and cheese. My course had tiny pasta pillows covered by a cabbage leaf and topped with mushroom and cheese. Matthew’s course featured a cabbage “meatball.”

Game Birds

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Tender, delicious, and not gamy at all, these birds were a delicious start to our entree courses.

Beasts Roasted Over Embers

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So, we might have dove right in to eating and then realized we didn’t take pictures. So, imagine these with more food! My course was Ohio aged beef that was melt-in-my-mouth good. Matthew had venison served with pickled eggplant. Perhaps our favorite course of the night!

Primi Dolce


Any menu with three sweet course is alright by me! The first was strawberry and pistachio sorbet with yogurt. Very refreshing!


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Strudel is not a dessert I expect to find at an Italian restaurant, but Trentina takes strudel and makes it their own. These deconstructed desserts featured apricot and fig leaf gelato (left) and apple (right).



No better way to say “thank you” then with housemade milk chocolate with gold dust and cocoa nibs!

Our meal was a truly extraordinary experience. From the surroundings to the pace, size, and explanation of the courses to the delicious and unique food itself, Chef Sawyer and Executive Chef Matt Danko have created something truly special with Restaurant Trentina.

Trentina opens to the public on July 8. The Menu Bianco is the exclusive offering in the dining room, but the patio will feature a more “relaxed” tasting menu. Wine pairing is available with the tasting menu. Matthew had the wine pairing with his meal and it is a must-add! Be sure to check out the latest addition to Chef Sawyer’s restaurant dynasty!

***Disclosure: I was invited to attend the Friends & Family opening of Trentina with a guest. Our meals were complimentary, but the wine tasting, tax, and gratuity were paid for ourselves. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***



Why? Grapes and Ale!

On Friday night, Matthew and I attended a great summer event: Our Lady of the Wayside‘s Grapes and Ale fundraiser.

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Held at Progressive Field, Grapes and Ale combines food, music, silent auction items, and, of course, wine and beer tastings into a fun strolling picnic. And what’s a picnic without friends to enjoy it with?!

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There were saucy BBQ offerings from restaurants such as Famous Dave’s, Hot Sauce Williams, Battery Park Wine Bar, and 100th Bomb Group. I enjoyed the Famous Dave’s plate of sausage, a chicken wing, and cornbread. But my favorite nibble of the night was Battery Park’s BBQ beef brisket with ancho chile slaw. The sauce had a delicious sweet tang and the slaw added just the right amount of heat.

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100th Bomb Group’s peach BBQ sauce and mango slaw were both tasty, but the ribs were way too difficult to eat while trying to hold a wine glass and maneuver through the crowds.

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Speaking of holding a wine glass, there were over 50 different wineries represented in this year’s tasting, including the new Cupcake Vineyards wine truck, which was a very popular spot!

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I stuck with “known quantities” for my wine choices (wines I know I love), such as Petite Petit, Cline Ancient Vines Zinfandel, and Predator Zinfandel.

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Matthew enjoyed some new finds in the craft beer area, including a surprisingly good Russian Imperial Stout from Leinenkugel’s.

The whole time, we were enjoying great music from Colin Dussault’s Acoustic Side Project, as well as taking in great views of Progressive Field.

photo7 (1)It was a fun night for a great cause, supporting Our Lady of the Wayside’s mission of “providing residential, respite, transportation, and day programming service for 500 children and adults with developmental disabilities.” Our Lady of the Wayside’s next fundraising event is the Amateur Golf Championship on Monday, August 11. Click here to register for the event!

***Disclosure: I was asked by Our Lady of the Wayside to help promote Grapes & Ale. In exchange, I received 2 complimentary tickets to the event. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***



Why? Twilight at the Zoo!

On Friday, August 1, the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo is going to get even wilder than usual for the 21st annual Twilight at the Zoo.

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Twilight is a fundraiser put on by the Cleveland Zoological Society, but it’s also a huge party, combining 18 local bands, zoo critters, food, beer, and wine into one amazing night!

The bands represent a wide variety of musical styles from the 70’s and 80’s with Disco Inferno, swing with Joe Bell and the Swing Lizards, country with Robbing Mary, blues with Shady Drive, and much more.

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This year, all bands will be under tents, so if the rain comes like it did last year, the bands will still play on!

Ticket price is $75 for general admission, which includes all entertainment, light appetizers, and unlimited Sam Adams, Twisted Tea, wine, and soda. VIP ticket price is $150, which includes the above, plus priority parking, open bar, a special VIP band, and expanded food selections from some great Cleveland restaurants.

The price goes up in July, so buy now! Tickets can be purchased online. Also, you can enter to win tickets over at Poise in Parma until Friday and stay tuned to the Cleveland Zoological Society’s Facebook page for more chances to win!

This year will be my third time attending Twilight at the Zoo and it is truly one of my favorite events of the summer! Plus, it benefits our wonderful Cleveland Metroparks Zoo. Pick up your tickets today and I hope to see you rocking out under the stars, next to the lions!

***Disclosure: I was asked by the Cleveland Zoological Society to help promote Twilight at the Zoo. In exchange, I will receive 2 complimentary VIP tickets. Images courtesy of the Cleveland Zoological Society. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***