Why? Sterle’s Ultimate BBQ Throwdown!

There’s nothing like a little friendly competition between Cleveland chefs! On Saturday, September 12 from 4-8pm, Sterle’s Country House will host the 1st annual World Famous Cleveland BBQ Throwdown (so good it’s already world famous!).

Screenshot_2015-08-24-12-19-19

Chefs Walt & Scott from Fat Casual BBQ, Mel & Penny from Saucisson, and Adam Lambert from Ohio City Provisions will each make their version of the ultimate BBQ for the crowd to taste. You’ll get to vote on your favorite, too. There will also be a 50/50 raffle, a kissing booth, free parking, and lots of fun to be had in the Sterle’s Bier Garten.

Tickets are $35 per person and include 3 meats, 3 sides, and your first beer. Advanced purchase is necessary, so grab your ticket online today! Hope to see you at what’s sure to be a finger-lickin’ tasty event!

OINK

***Disclosure: I was asked to be a judge for Sterle’s Ultimate BBQ Throwdown. I will receive 1 complimentary ticket for myself. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***

jenclesig_pur

Why? Weekends!

***A bit of blogkeeping: Congratulations to Laura Straub (Comment #111), randomly-selected winner of 2 general admission tickets to Taste of the Browns. If you didn’t win, you can still purchase tickets online.***

This past weekend, I doubled up on the Cedar Point fun, trying to get in as much as we can before the unofficial end of summer! On Friday, my Mom, Dad, and I took Jeffrey to Soak City. But first, we enjoyed lunch at Famous Dave’s. Who knew Jeffrey liked onion straws?

IMG_4627

From there, it was time to splash and play in Soak City’s great little kids area. There are a ton of slides and bubbler fountains and the like. Plus, since most of the big kids are already back in school, we had the run of the place.

IMG_4637

I’m sure going to miss taking Jeffrey up there!

On Saturday, Matthew and I had a grown-up Cedar Point excursion with Amanda and Scott. This is the closest I got to riding a roller coaster…

IMG_4674

…but everyone else enjoyed Millennium Force, Rougarou, and the like. I did manage to go on Cedar Downs, though. Amanda and Scott were clearly the winners of that race!

PicMonkey Collage

There is plenty on non-riding fun to be had at Cedar Point. We checked out the farm and got to take a picture with Legend the llama.

IMG_4680

We also walked through Dinosaurs Alive, which is a really impressive display of moving, life-sized dinosaurs.

PicMonkey Collage

It was a really fun day for both ride warriors and non-riders alike! We worked up quite the appetite and wanting something different than “park food,” Amanda and Scott introduced us to their favorite downtown Sandusky find: Small City Taphouse.

IMG_4697

Small City Taphouse boasts an impressive beer selection, so much so that both Matthew and I had to get a beer flight because we couldn’t decide on which beer to order. I love their glasses, too!

And Small City Taphouse had some of the freshest and tastiest sushi I’ve had in a long time! The tuna carpaccio special was to die for!

PicMonkey Collage

What a perfect end to a great summer day with wonderful friends!

IMG_4694

How was your weekend?

***Disclosure: I was asked to help promote Taste of the Browns. In exchange, I will receive 2 complimentary general admission tickets for myself and 2 general admission tickets to give away. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***

jenclesig_pur

Why? Great Lakes Burning River Fest!

On Friday night, Matthew took on the job of being a solo Why CLE? correspondent at the Great Lakes Burning River Fest. Since he tends to be less wordy and better at taking pictures than me, I thought I’d share my favorites of his pictures from the evening with quick captions to hit the highlights of this great festival:

IMG_4666

The old Coast Guard station makes for a very cool setting. And the light show as the evening went on was pretty awesome!

IMG_4669

Speaking of a cool setting, you’ve got to love the skyline views you can see from Burning River Fest!

IMG_4668

Live music galore, including Brian Johnson of The Voice (he’s a former co-worker of mine, too)!

PicMonkey Collage

Interesting things to see, like a paddle-boarding puppy, who also waits patiently in the beer line!

PicMonkey Collage

Chef demos from great local chefs like Jeff Jarrett, Anna Harouvis, and John Selick.

PicMonkey Collage

Lots of other great food options to pair with some of the tastiest beer around!

IMG_4664

And, of course, the fact that all this fun, food, and beer benefit the Burning River Foundation, which is focused on keeping our fresh waterways clean, beautiful, and bustling, just like they were at Burning River Fest!

***Disclosure: I was asked by Great Lakes Brewing Co. to help promote Burning River Fest. In exchange, I received 2 complimentary tickets for myself and 2 tickets to give away. As always, all opinions are 100% my own (and, in this case, all photos and details are 100% Matthew’s).***

jenclesig_pur

Why? CHA Come Out to Play!

Last night, Matthew and I got to attend a new-to-us event, Come Out to Play, at a new venue, FWD Nightclub. And we had a wonderful time! Let’s start with the venue: FWD is an outdoor club in the Flats that has gorgeous views of both the Cuyahoga River and the Cleveland skyline.

PicMonkey Collage

While FWD definitely has a Vegas vibe, it’s also surrounded by old freight train cars, plus several operational trains went by while we were there, along with barges on the Cuyahoga River. It’s a perfect mix of industrial and sophisticated that is, frankly, so very Cleveland.

The food for the evening’s event was provided by A Taste of Excellence. Except for the mashed potato bar, everything was finger food, which is always appreciated at mix and mingle events. Favorites from the savory dishes included bacon-wrapped scallops, banana pepper poppers, and bites of short rib with rosemary.

IMG_4591

Desserts were from Karen King Catering and included mini s’mores cupcakes, marbled lemonade cookies, and mini peach hand pies. Delicious!

IMG_4598

The entertainment was provided by DJ’s Steph Floss and MICK, as well as special appearances from the Cavalier Girls and the Cavs Scream Team who got things heated up on the dance floor.

IMG_4612

But the best part of Come Out to Play was the cause it benefited: Children’s Hunger Alliance. Every dollar raised at the event will translate into 3 healthy meals for children. In Ohio, 1 in 4 children is food insecure, which is a staggering statistic. Through ticket sales, as well as silent and live auctions, Children’s Hunger Alliance can help make a difference for those children.

The live auction raised over $5,000! Those donating got their picture with a Cavs girl, but I think most of the donations were still motivated by helping the kids!

IMG_4602

Matthew and I donated in the live auction, but I also scored a win at the silent auction table with a wonderful “Pamper Yourself” package donated by Brown Aveda Institute.

From the venue to the food to the entertainment to the cause, Come Out to Play was a great evening and I’m so glad we could participate!

IMG_4603

***Disclosure: I was asked by the Children’s Hunger Alliance to help promote Come Out to Play. In exchange, I received 2 complimentary tickets for myself and 2 tickets to give away. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***

jenclesig_pur

Why? Taste of the Browns Giveaway!

The 17th annual Taste of the Browns to benefit the Greater Cleveland Foodbank is coming up on Monday, September 21 at FirstEnergy Stadium. This event is such an awesome way for the Cleveland community to come together in support of a great cause. You have your sports franchise, your amazing restaurants, and your valued community organization all in one place!

Taste_Browns_PMS_UPDATE

Last year, Taste of the Browns raised more than $190,000 that translated to over 750,000 meals provided across six area counties. This year is poised to be even bigger and better, as more than 30 restaurants, Browns players and alumni, and fabulous auction items fill the newly-renovated club lounge at FirstEnergy Stadium.

Cleveland Foodbank

Tickets are currently on sale online, so that you can eat, drink, and mingle the night away and have the satisfaction that your money is going to provide for those most in need in our community. General admission tickets are $175 and include a signature wine glass and valet parking. VIP tickets are $250 and include the same, plus admission to the exclusive VIP lounge and recognition in scrolling video during the event.

Or you can enter to win two general admission tickets right here! Here’s how to enter (you can do one, two, three, four, or all five entries, just leave a separate comment for each):

1. Check out the list of participating restaurants and leave a comment here letting me know which you’re most excited to try.

2. Visit Greater Cleveland Foodbank and Why CLE? on Facebook and leave a comment here letting me know you visited both pages.

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

4. Follow @clefoodbank on Instagram and leave a comment here letting me know you’re following.

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

I want to tackle hunger at @CleFoodbank Taste of the Browns with @WhyCLE: http://wp.me/p1fb9r-2sU #giveaway

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

The giveaway will end on Monday, August 31 at 11:59pm and the winner will be announced the following day. Good luck!

***Disclosure: I was asked to help promote Taste of the Browns. In exchange, I will receive 2 complimentary general admission tickets for myself and 2 general admission tickets to give away. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***

jenclesig_pur

Why? Weekends!

Aside from Date Night at the ZOOvies, there was a lot of other fun to be had this past weekend! On Friday afternoon, my friend and I had a celebration planned for mid-way between our birthdays. We started with lunch at Flour.

IMG_4511

I had the pizza and soup combo, with the funghi pizza and the smoked corn soup. The pizza was topped with mushrooms, goat cheese, and caramelized onions, with a perfectly light and crisp crust right from Flour’s pizza oven. The smoked corn soup had a touch of cream, Ohio corn, crispy shallots, and chicken. Delicious!

IMG_4512

After lunch, we headed to Santo Salon and Spa for a super-relaxing facial. Every time I go to a spa, I leave thinking I need to do that more often! It was the perfect way for two busy moms to take a time-out for ourselves and we left feeling full, relaxed, and happy!

On Saturday, Matthew and I took Jeffrey to his first Touch-a-Truck event at the Chagrin Falls Fire Station. There were fire trucks, ambulances, police cars, an Army tank, a SWAT vehicle, and service vehicles for the kids to check out, as well as officers to answer questions.

PicMonkey Collage

The kids also received fireman hats and police badges to take home. It was a really fun way to spend our morning! From there, we headed to lunch at Burntwood Tavern with our Kindermusik friends. If you get a sandwich there, substitute fries for tots. Such good tots!

IMG_4562

Meanwhile on Saturday, our friends Jason and Patty used our WGAR Dollar Bank County Jam tickets for a fun afternoon at the Cuyahoga County Fairgrounds. The weather was perfect for this outdoor music fest!

PicMonkey Collage

From watching people attempt to ride the mechanical bull to tailgating in the parking lot to listening to music from both established acts to those who are about to make it big, Jason and Patty had a great time (and apparently a very tasty spicy cheesesteak on nachos…mmm, fair food). We’re already planning a group outing for next year’s Country Jam!

How was your weekend?

***Disclosure: I was asked by Mira Productions to help promote the WGAR Dollar Bank Country Jam. In exchange, I received 2 complimentary tickets and a parking pass, as well as 2 sets of tickets and parking passes to give away. As always, all opinions are 100% my own (or Jason and Patty’s).***

jenclesig_pur

Why? Date Night at the ZOOvies!

The Cleveland Metroparks Zoo is definitely one of my favorite places to take Jeffrey, but it’s also one of my favorite places for an adult evening out. The Cleveland Zoological Society puts on a host of great events that prove the Zoo is not just for kids. On Friday evening, Matthew and I attended Date Night at the ZOOvies, a fundraiser for the Zoo and an all-around relaxed, enjoyable event.

IMG_4521

Date Night at the ZOOvies starts with the opportunity to explore the Australian Adventure and African Savanna areas of the Zoo. It was a lovely evening and we saw plenty of animals out enjoying the nice weather, too.

PicMonkey Collage

We also enjoyed small bites like hummus, spinach dip, mini chicken and waffles, egg rolls, and sliders, along with wine and Great Lakes Brewing Co. beer.

IMG_4516

The small bites offerings and these adorable hashtag napkins (I love me a good hashtag) are two examples of how ZOOvies has grown and refined as an event since it’s inception. This is a well-run, well-thought out, and thoroughly fun evening!

Before heading back to the Zoo’s amphitheater to check out the movie, we got to mingle with a couple look-alike stars of the show.

IMG_4517

Before settling in to find out exactly “Who you gonna call?,” we snagged some movie snacks like hot pretzels, popcorn, and candy (Sour Patch Kids and wine = #winning). Oh, and Alicia and I might have made the theme song into a singalong (as it should be).

IMG_4523

It was the perfect combination of a fun night out, while still feeling relaxed. This year, Date Night at the ZOOvies sold out in just seven hours! Since this event has grown in popularity so much, there will be two Date Nights at the ZOOvies next year! Stay tuned for one in July and one in August, so you can pick your evening or double up on the ZOOvies fun!

***Disclosure: I was asked by the Cleveland Zoological Society to help promote Date Night at the ZOOvies. In exchange, I received two complimentary tickets to the event. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***

jenclesig_pur

Why? Burning River Fest Giveaway!

Every once in awhile, I have one of those nights where I just want to wrap my arms around all of Cleveland and give it a big hug because it’s truly the most amazing town. Last night was one of those nights. I had the opportunity to tour Great Lakes Brewing Co. and see the impressive operation that values the history of Cleveland, as well as cares about it’s future by being environmentally conscious.

PicMonkey Collage

I also had the chance be one of the first to try Great Lakes Brewing Co.’s newest beer and hear all about the Burning River Fest from one of Great Lakes Brewing’s founders, Pat Conway.

PicMonkey Collage

The newest beer is the Steady Rollin’ Session IPA, a year-round offering coming in 2016 which is citrusy and easy-drinking. At only 4.8% ABV, you can keep steady rollin’ with this beer all day! The name is inspired by the landscape of the Great Lakes region, a year-round, all-hours, outdoor playground.

So, what better place to debut this new beer to the public than at Burning River Fest, which raises money for the Burning River Foundation and seeks to raise awareness of environmental issues impacting our waterways? Listening to Pat Conway talk about the vision behind Burning River Fest, it’s easy to see that this is more than just another summer festival. It’s about reclaiming not only our greatest natural resource in the area, but also about reclaiming our history by turning a negative moment into something positive and sustaining.

The artwork for Burning River Pal Ale celebrates both past and present

The artwork for Burning River Pal Ale celebrates both past and present

Great Lakes Brewing Co. wants to maintain a symbiotic relationship with Cleveland, giving Cleveland great beer and responsible business leadership. One way to do this is through Burning River Fest, which is coming up Friday, August 28 and Saturday, August 29 at the Coast Guard Station at Whiskey Island.

Burning River Fest includes live music, chef demos, beer (of course), a free yoga class from Balance and Brews, gorgeous skyline and sunset views, and much more. Tickets are currently on sale online for $12 per person (the price jumps to $15 per person on Monday) and the event is expected to sell out.

I have two tickets to Burning River Fest to give away to a lucky reader! Here’s how to enter (you can do one, two, three, four, or all five entries, just leave a separate comment for each):

  1. Leave a comment and tell me your favorite Great Lakes Brewing Co. beer.
  2. Visit Great Lakes Brewing Co., Great Lakes Brewing Burning River Fest, and Why CLE? on Facebook and leave a comment here letting me know you visited all three pages.
  3. Follow @GLBC_Cleveland, @BRF_CLE, and @WhyCLE on Twitter and leave a comment here letting me know you’re following all three.
  4. Follow @GLBC_Cleveland and @burningriverfest on Instagram and leave a comment here letting me know you’re following both.
  5. Tweet the following phrase and leave a comment here letting me know you tweeted: I want to attend @BRF_CLE thanks to @GLBC_Cleveland and @WhyCLE: http://wp.me/p1fb9r-2sx #giveaway #BRF15 

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

The giveaway will close on Tuesday, August 25 at 11:59pm and the winner will be announced the following day. Good luck!

***Disclosure: I was invited by Great Lakes Brewing Co. to attend a special blogger event and try the new Steady Rollin’ IPA and help promote Burning River Fest. In exchange, I will receive two complimentary tickets to Burning River Fest for myself and 2 tickets to give away. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***

jenclesig_pur

Why? Freddy Hill Design!

I know I’ve said it before, but I absolutely love meeting with and getting the word out about talented Cleveland makers. And I’m constantly blown away by how many creative people doing awesome work there are in this town! Last week, I had the pleasure of chatting with Nina Kocan, the handbag designer at Freddy Hill Design, as well as Freddy himself.

PicMonkey Collage

Freddy Hill Design was producing gorgeous woodwork when Nina joined as an apprentice. When the shop began experimenting with leather upholstery, creativity was sparked to move into creating handbags. In fact, I got to see the very first handbag, which Freddy hand stitched.

IMG_4381

From hand stitching to creating handbags out of locally-sourced leather on a machine, Nina quickly found herself at the helm of the line of Freddy Hill Designs handbags. And what a beautiful line it is!

IMG_4383

From raw, unlined totes featuring a single inner pocket to lined totes with fun liner designs and three inner pockets to wallets to clutches, there is a style, size, and design for everyone. The large bags take about five to six hours to make, while the wallets and clutches take about two hours. You can easily tell from talking to Nina and from checking out the bags how much love and pride go into each one.

My absolute favorite detail on the bags is the “F” emblem, which Freddy told me is based on the way his grandfather (also named Freddy) would write his name. For a girl who is a total sucker for tradition, that just put these bags over the top for me!

Nina was generous enough to offer me my choice of bag to take home. I chose this black leather tote, with pink striped lining and very subtle pink stitching.

IMG_4477

The tote is large enough to carry all the essentials for a busy day, but not so large that I feel like I’m hauling a suitcase on my shoulder. The craftsmanship is outstanding and the new leather smell is something I wish would never wear off!

Freddy Hill Designs has been known for their gorgeous furniture, but will certainly also be making a name for themselves with these beautiful bags. Not only is the product lovely, but the time, effort, and care that goes into them shines through, too.

You can check out the entire line of bags online. Freddy Hill Designs handbags have also been carried at Lingg, The Susie Frazier Gallery, NOTO, and Studio Le Beau. I can’t wait to see more and more of these fabulous bags made in CLE being carried around our hometown!

***Disclosure: I was invited to check out Freddy Hill Designs and to select a handbag to keep. All opinions, as well as my choice of bag and to write about my experience, are 100% my own.***

jenclesig_pur

Why? Weekends!

It was a fun and family-filled weekend in CLE! Friday morning, Jeffrey and I met up with friends for some splashy fun at Wildwater Kingdom. But first, we fueled up for the day at Nicky & Smitty’s. Nothing like a good diner breakfast to start your day off right!

IMG_4391

From there, it was on to Wildwater Kingdom. While the kids had a great time splashing in the bubbler fountains and waterfall wall, I think the park is a bit better suited to older kids. But any time in the water makes them happy and the Little Tikes area was a hit, too!

PicMonkey Collage

Saturday morning, Jeffrey, Matthew, and I headed to the Cleveland Museum of Natural History for a guided tour put on by the John Carroll University Cleveland Alumni Chapter.

IMG_4410

We got to check out the special World’s Largest Dinosaurs exhibit, as well as all the museums critters and rocks and whatnot. I’m also glad we got a chance to see the outdoor Perkins Wildlife Center before it closes on August 24 as part of the Museum’s impressive planned expansion.

PicMonkey Collage

Another favorite from the day was the Shafran Planetarium. We saw the One World, One Sky show, which featured Big Bird, Elmo, and lots of fun and music to teach about constellations.

We worked up an appetite and since we were so close to Little Italy, we couldn’t pass up the opportunity to visit the Feast of the Assumption. I’ve gone to the Feast many times, but had never seen the procession that happens on the actual Feast Day, so that was a special treat this year and a good reminder that the Feast is about more than just delicious food!

PicMonkey Collage

Of course, that doesn’t mean there wasn’t plenty of delicious food to enjoy! We ate at Maxi’s Bistro, which has quickly become a favorite Little Italy spot. Matthew and I shared the stuffed hot banana peppers and Jeffrey enjoyed fried mozarella and cavatelli with meatballs.

IMG_4453

And no trip to Little Italy is complete without a stop at Presti’s Bakery for cannoli, tiramisu, and lemon ice (so good on such a hot day)!

Sunday, the eating fest continued with a belated birthday brunch for Matthew at Pier W. Pier W is always such a special spot, from the views to the food.

IMG_4466

Pier W’s brunch offers a variety of breakfast and lunch items, a raw bar, and a phenomenal spread of desserts. It’s a pretty lovely way to spend a Sunday morning! This was Jeffrey’s first trip to Pier W and I think he enjoyed it as much as we always do!

IMG_4474

How was your weekend? Did you check out the Feast?

***Disclosure: I am the VP of Educational/Cultural/Spiritual Events for the John Carroll University Cleveland Alumni Chapter. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***

jenclesig_pur