Category Archives: Wine

Why? Weekends!

***A bit of blogkeeping: Congratulations to Joanne (Comment #76), randomly-selected winner of two tickets to Our Lady of the Wayside’s Cleveland’s Finest Hors D’Oeuvre Contest. Please check your email for details. If you didn’t win, you can still purchase tickets online.***

It was a great weekend and the perfect mix of relaxation and busy-ness. On Friday, Mom, Gramps, Jeffrey, and I went to one of our favorite fish fry spots: Ridgewood Inn. A dive bar, for sure, but also one of the tastiest fish fries you’ll find.

IMG_2387

There aren’t many places that can keep 4 generations of customers happy at the same time. I ordered the beer-battered yellow lake perch and substituted potato pierogi instead of french fries. The fish was good, but it’s the pierogi that really steal the show at Ridgewood Inn. Pan-fried and smothered in onions, they are little pillows of Polish happiness. Gramps insists they taste like the ones his mother used to make, so you know they have to be good.

Saturday was a mainly around-the-house kind of day, with a little bit of yoga at Harmony Yoga thrown in the morning. That afternoon, we took Jeffrey up to Great Lakes Mall for his first visit with the Easter Bunny. As Jeffrey is starting to get to the “stranger danger” age, I wasn’t sure how it would go. Luckily, there were no tears and, after a couple minutes, he broke into his signature Jeffrey smile.

IMG_2404

It was a great first visit with his new furry, floppy-eared friend! I was glad we were allowed to take pictures with our own cameras too, so we have the whole progression of settling in and making friends with the bunny.

On Sunday, Matthew and I enjoyed a date afternoon. We started out with seeing “Dirty Dancing” at Playhouse Square.

IMG_2409

We got our tickets through the John Carroll University Cleveland Alumni Chapter. If you’re a local alum, the Chapter offers discounted tickets to various Playhouse Square performances throughout the season. Coming up on Sunday, April 25 is Beauty and the Beast and on Sunday, August 2 is Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella.

I really enjoyed the production of “Dirty Dancing.” It was very true to the movie, in all its cheesy, romantic glory. And you could tell the audience were all fans of the movie, especially given the applause at classic lines like, “I carried a watermelon” and “Nobody puts Baby in a corner.”

After the show, Matthew and I headed across the street for an early dinner at Cibreo.

IMG_2410

I enjoyed the 1921 cocktail, with Prosecco, St. Germain, and local honey, which was sweet without being overly sweet. Matthew and I shared the bruschetta, with wild mushrooms, marsala, and Pecorino.

IMG_2413

Both the taste and the presentation were fantastic! For our entrees, I had the ricotta gnocchi, with duck, brodo, candied carrots, greens, parsnips, and Pecorino. The gnocchi were light and a great compliment to the rich flavor of the duck.

PicMonkey Collage

Matthew had the chestnut ravioli, with leek cream, prosciutto, and cherry gastrique. The pasta dishes at Cibreo are smaller, meant to be part of a coursed meal. With an appetizer and dessert, I think they are the perfect size.

Which brings me to dessert. Matthew had the chocolate panna cotta, with white chocolate shavings and candied orange. I had the classic tiramisu. Both were delicious and great ends to a very tasty meal.

PicMonkey Collage

We’re so lucky to not only have world-class theater in Cleveland, but a thriving neighborhood surrounding it that allows you to make the perfect date afternoon all in one place.

How was your weekend?

***Disclosure: I am a member of the boards of both the John Carroll University Cleveland Alumni Chapter and Playhouse Square Partners. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***

jenclesig_pur

Why? Cleveland’s Finest Hors D’Oeuvre Giveaway!

There are few things I like more than a good hors d’oeuvre. It gets the meal off on the right foot, it perhaps satisfies a craving not hit by your entree, and it’s usually communal food with the table, which I always enjoy. There is a definite art to creating the perfect hors d’oeuvre.

On Thursday, April 16, some of our best restaurants will compete for the title of Cleveland’s Finest Hors D’Oeuvre at an event to benefit Our Lady of the Wayside.

ClevelandsFinest Brown with Climaco

The event is held at The Terrace Club at Progressive Field, with fabulous views of the ballpark to get you in the mood for spring. That’s if you can tear your eyes away from the food! There will be a host of great restaurants competing, including Barrio, Tartine Bistro, Hodge’s, Spice Kitchen and Bar, and the Zack Bruell Restaurant Group. You not only get to taste all the food, but you get to vote for your favorites!

There will also be live music from Nate Jones, complimentary beer and wine tastings from Mill Street Brewery and Tom Gore Vineyards, and plenty of shenanigans from hosts Jen Toohey, Tim Richards, and Desiray Cross from Cleveland’s New 102.

This awesome evening benefits Our Lady of the Wayside, which provides services to children and adults with developmental disabilities in our area.

Tickets are $80 and can be purchased online. Or you can enter to win two 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 current favorite hors d’ouevre in Cleveland and where to find it.

2. Leave one comment if you like Our Lady of the Wayside and Why CLE? on Facebook, letting me know you like both pages.

3. Follow @OurLadyWayside and @WhyCLE on Twitter and leave one comment letting me know you follow both.

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

I want to win tickets to Cleveland’s Finest Hors D’Oeuvre Contest from @OurLadyWayside and @WhyCLE: http://wp.me/p1fb9r-2iv

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

The giveaway will run though Sunday, March 22 at 11:59pm and the winner will be announced the following day. Good luck!

***Disclosure: I was asked by Our Lady of the Wayside to help promote Cleveland’s Finest Hors D’Oeuvre Contest. In exchange, I will receive two complimentary tickets for myself and two tickets to give away. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***

jenclesig_pur

Why? The Bom Truffles!

So, remember how I was all about meeting new-to-me creative Cleveland makers? Well, I had the chance to do just that last night at a fun, hands-on gathering organized by the Kappa Delta Cleveland West Alumnae Chapter.

IMG_1896

We met up to make homemade truffles under the guidance of Carolina from The Bom. Carolina’s tagline is that her truffles are made with love and alcohol…what could be bad about that?!

Carolina provided the dry ingredients for the truffles, which include cocoa, powdered sugar, pecans, honey, allspice, and ‘Nilla wafers. We selected our favorite alcohol of choice to mix in, after some careful sampling of course!

IMG_1894

I made Frangelico truffles, which have a tasty, almost Nutella-like flavor. You can use anything from liquor to wine to fruit juice to mix in your truffles. Carolina said her best seller of the truffles she makes is Kahlua.

We rolled out our truffles and then dipped them in a choice of milk or dark chocolate.

IMG_1897

There was also some taste-testing along the way and I’m very pleased with how my truffles turned out! Carolina also provided boxes to package up our creations, perfect for Valentine’s gift-giving!

IMG_1900

You can book The Bom for a private event like the truffle-making we did last night, you can stop by to see her at Third Fridays at 78th Street Studios, or you can order some pre-made truffles of your own. No matter how you do it, you’re sure to enjoy the chocolate decadence of The Bom’s truffles and you’ll be supporting a creative Cleveland maker, too!

jenclesig_pur

Why? Fahrenheit Happy Hour!

Last Monday, I met up with three of my favorite ladies for happy hour at Fahrenheit. Fahrenheit is a standard in Tremont, one of the first restaurants to open as the area was just starting to revitalize. I can remember friends taking me there for a “goodbye to Cleveland” dinner before I moved to DC for grad school in 2003. Since then, it’s always been a favorite spot.

The restaurant had undergone renovations since my last visit, so I was anxious to see the results. Most of the changes involve fresh paint and general brightening up, but the feel of the restaurant, bar, and menu are generally the same. I was happy to see many standard menu favorites, including the amazing pork shank, still on the menu.

We snagged seats at the bar and immediately dove into the freshly-cooked bacon provided as a bar snack.

IMG_1745This is my kind of bar snack! Happy hour libations include $4 red and white wines, $4 red and white sangria, a $5 tequila cocktail, and a $4 beer selection. I had the red wine, a Malbec, and found it particularly good, especially for the price.

Happy hour food selections range in price from $4 to $7 and include shrimp tacos, a burger with herbed goat cheese, a Cleveland cheesesteak, chicken wings, and more.

We started with the crisp (read: raw) vegetables with green goddess dressing, then proceeded to get a bit less healthy. I ordered the happy hour pizza, topped with Brie, Parmesan, goat cheese, maple and chives.

IMG_1746

It’s not just the camera angle, it was a huge pizza and only cost $7! I ended up with some to take home. The pizza was really tasty, too, with the maple adding a nice sweetness to the rich cheeses.

My happy hour compatriots enjoyed the cheesesteak and tacos and all were full and satisfied with such good food for such small prices. Happy hour at Fahrenheit is available in the bar area only from 5-7pm, Monday through Friday. The bacon and cheap red wine alone will have me coming back for more!

Where are some of your favorite places to happy hour?

jenclesig_pur

Why? Weekends!

***A bit of blogkeeping: Have you entered to win two tickets to CIFF’s Get Shorty Film Feast? Check it out! Remember, you can tweet daily for additional entries!***

How was your weekend? Did you enjoy our little January heat wave?

On Friday night, I met up with some moms that I met through Stroller Babes for drinks and conversation, all helpfully scheduled for post-kiddo bedtime. We met up at Billy’s A Cappelli Martini Bar. Matthew had been to Billy’s for dinner previously, but this was my first visit. I didn’t have anything to eat, but I did enjoy a couple of the wide variety of martinis.

IMG_1625

Billy’s has an extensive and creative cocktail list and the drinks and service were both quite good. They also have daily specials, including a reverse happy hour starting at 9:30pm on Fridays. That said, the vibe on Friday night was loud, clubby, crowded, and not exactly the relaxing martini bar experience I was hoping for. Matthew said it was not like that when he went for dinner, so maybe it’s exclusive to weekend nights? I’d love to give Billy’s another try to see if the atmosphere mellows depending on when you go.

Saturday evening, we had Matthew’s work holiday party, held at the club level of InfoCision Stadium at the University of Akron. There was an illusionist show, a DJ, and door prizes to make the evening festive and fun. The food was surprisingly good, including a mac ‘n cheese bar, with tasty mix-ins like Andouille sausage and bacon bread crumbs, and a mashed potato bar, with grilled onions and mushrooms, bacon, and more.

IMG_1627

I was in carb heaven!

Sunday brought a relaxed dinner with my parents at one of our favorite places for classic Italian fare: Mama Roberto’s. The food is always good and it’s a family-friendly spot. Jeffrey particularly enjoyed the jukebox and dancing with Grandma!

IMG_1637

For dinner, I had the new five-cheese tortelloni with basil pesto. Delicious! Matthew went with the classic Pasta Roberto, with sausage and hot peppers. On Sundays, all bottles of wine are $15, too!

PicMonkey CollageAnd we couldn’t pass up Mama Roberto’s Silver Spoon award-winning cannoli.

IMG_1640It was a great dinner at a place the whole family could enjoy! Hope you had a great weekend!

jenclesig_pur

Why? Animal Attractions!

***A bit of blogkeeping: Congratulations to tristan (Comment #9) randomly-selected winner of two tickets to Something White Bridal’s Boutique Bridal Bazaar happening this Sunday, January 11. Please check you email for details. If you didn’t win, you can still purchase tickets online.***

It’s cold! At times like this, our thoughts naturally turn to warmer spots like the Bahamas or The RainForest at Cleveland Metroparks Zoo!

Animal Attractions Postcard 2015

On Thursday, February 5, warm up inside The RainForest with food, wine, critters, educational presentations, live music, and silent auctions. All this fun benefits the Cleveland Zoological Society, which supports the Zoo and the Zoo’s educational programs.

This adults-only event features tasty nibbles from Butcher and the Brewer, Merwin’s Wharf, Tremont Tap House, AMP 150, and more. There is also an open bar with libations from Samuel Adams and Rain Organics Vodka, as well as a wine tasting!

ANAT wine tasting

Plus, you’ll have the opportunity to explore The RainForest, both on your own and through several interesting, fun, and a little bit cheeky presentations from Zoo staff. You can also get hands-on with some of the critters!

ANAT meet an animal

The Cleveland Zoological Society puts on great events and this is always one of my favorites! Check out my recap from last year if you need more proof of all the fun to be had at Animal Attractions.

Tickets are $65 (Zoo members pay $60) and are on sale now online. I hope to see you enjoying food, fun, and the toasty atmosphere at Animal Attractions!

***Disclosure: I was asked by the Cleveland Zoological Society to help promote Animal Attractions. In exchange, I will receive two complimentary tickets to the event. Matthew and I are also Zoo members. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***

jenclesig_pur

Why? Weekends!

I told you it was a weekend chock-full of holiday fun, from Holiday High Tea to lots of other celebrations. On Friday, Matthew did some scout blog reporting from his work holiday lunch at Bourbon Street Barrel Room in Tremont.

PicMonkey Collage

He enjoyed the pretty decor and tasty NOLA food at this new spot. His meal was the Jean Lafitte, which is a combo of shrimp, catfish, and hush puppies, with citrus slaw and bistro sauce.

IMG_1288

Bourbon Street Barrel Room is open for lunch and dinner and, in true NOLA fashion, has an extended happy hour from 2-7pm every day! I can’t wait to get my hands on some of their Cajun cuisine!

On Saturday evening, we had the third annual TWC Christmas celebration, which is by far one of my favorite holiday traditions! I always enjoy spending time with these lovely ladies and their husbands and we are especially merry at the holidays.

PicMonkey Collage

We’ve established the dinner menu over the last three years and it’s always a treat: lots of good appetizers, lamb, pork tenderloin, savory bread pudding, Brussels sprouts with bacon, and some sweet indulgences too. This year, Kimberly brought some bubbly from Dante, with a special holiday wish for all of us from one of the group’s favorite chefs!

10432466_10152549859643693_2894920765266738498_n

From dinner to the White Elephant exchange to Cards Against Humanity to general perfect times with best friends, we couldn’t have asked for a better TWC Christmas!

Sunday brought another holiday tradition, this time from Matthew’s family: the annual cookie baking/exchange extravaganza. I always look forward to not only the time with family, but the tasty treats we get to take home.

It was a fun weekend, but by the end, I think Jeffrey’s reaction said it all:

IMG_1340

We’re definitely ready for that long winter’s nap!

jenclesig_pur

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.

IMG_1175

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.

IMG_1174

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.

PicMonkey Collage

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!

IMG_1181

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?

jenclesig_pur

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.

IMG_0977

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.

IMG_0980

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.

PicMonkey Collage

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.

IMG_0984

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!

IMG_0990

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.

IMG_1009

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?

jenclesig_pur

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.

FFS-Digital-Ads_300x250

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! http://wp.me/p1fb9r-2b3

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.***

jenclesig_pur