Category Archives: Wine

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.

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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!

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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.

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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!

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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!

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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.

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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?

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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!

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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!

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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!

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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!

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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.***

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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:

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

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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?

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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?

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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.

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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.***

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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.

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

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

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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…

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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.***

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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.

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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.

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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).

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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.

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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.***

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