Category Archives: Wine

Why? Market at the Foodbank Giveaway!

On Sunday, May 3, the Greater Cleveland Foodbank is hosting the 20th anniversary Market at the Foodbank, a food and wine tasting event, held right at the Greater Cleveland Foodbank.

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Just a few of the restaurants serving up tasty bites that evening are BOMBA Tacos and Rum, AMP 150, Spice Kitchen and Bar, Trentina Restaurant, and Mitchell’s Homemade Ice Cream. There will also be plenty of wine and beer samples to enjoy!

Beyond just delicious food and tempting beverages, the event offers an opportunity to see the Greater Cleveland Foodbank’s impressive facility. It’s an up close and personal look at where the money raised that evening will go and gives you a sense of the immense need served by the Foodbank. Proceeds from Market at the Foodbank benefit the Harvest for Hunger campaign, which is one of the largest community food and funds drives in the country. Attendance at Market at the Foodbank, as well as participation in the great auctions and raffles that evening, go a long way toward achieving Harvest for Hunger’s fundraising goal!

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Tickets for Market at the Foodbank are on sale now. VIP tickets, which get you a signature wine glass and access to a VIP reception, are $175. General admission tickets are $100. You can purchase tickets online.

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

1. Check out the list of participating restaurants and leave a comment telling me which restaurant’s fare you most want to sample.

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

3. Follow @CleveFoodbank and @WhyCLE on Twitter and and leave a 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 @CleveFoodbank’s tasty #Market2015 thanks to @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, April 26 at 11:59pm and the winner will be announced the following day. Good luck!

***Disclosure: I was asked by the Greater Cleveland Foodbank to help promote Market at the Foodbank. In exchange, I will receive 2 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!

***A bit of blogkeeping: Congratulations to Kayla (Comment #7), randomly-selected winner of two tickets to Handpicked: A Different Kind of Bridal Fair. Please check your email for details. If you didn’t win, you can still purchase tickets online.***

It was a fantastic weekend, spent enjoying the spring-like weather and doing spring-like things like celebrating the Indians home opener. While we didn’t have tickets to the game, we still sported our Tribe gear in support of the home team.


I can’t wait to attend a game and see all the renovations to Progressive Field, especially the new The Corner bar and the expanded kids’ area!

We had lunch on Friday at the Winking Lizard, which is a great place to go during a Cleveland sports event. Jeffrey had grilled chicken and applesauce, while I had the spicier (and less healthy) boneless wings with spicy BBQ sauce. Our server was fantastic with Jeffrey and it was the perfect spot for a home opener meal.

On Saturday, I met up with friends Samantha and Deborah for a leisurely ladies’ brunch at Press Wine Bar. The pomegranate blueberry mimosa was a perfect springy start to the meal.


I ordered the Press omelet, with prosciutto, goat cheese, and tomatoes. The flavors were mild, but each distinguishable. And I really loved the crispy, well-seasoned potato hash that came with the omelet.


When our food arrived, I was brought the wrong omelet. Our server and the kitchen quickly brought the correct dish and I was pleasantly surprised to see that I wasn’t charged for my omelet due to the mix-up. Great customer care and tasty food will definitely have me returning to Press for brunch!

On Sunday, Matthew, Jeffrey, and I enjoyed an impromptu patio lunch at Tony Sacco’s Coal Oven Pizza. In fact, we were the first to use their patio this year. Sitting in the sunshine with a Fat Head’s Bumbleberry (one of my summer go-to beers) and a pizza topped with chicken, artichoke, and sun-dried tomatoes made for the perfect light lunch.


From there, it was on to a milestone even bigger than the first patio beer of the season: Jeffrey’s first haircut! Based on a friend’s recommendation, we took Jeffrey to The Kids Next Door Salon, part of Ladies & Gentlemen Salon. From kids’ movies and snacks, to cute themed chairs, this was the perfect spot for a kiddo cut.


We even got a certificate and a lock of hair to take home. Jeffrey was a champ and smiled through the whole thing. The only tears shed were on my part! He’s just growing up so fast! And he looks like such a proud little boy with his new cut!


Later that afternoon, we enjoyed a walk though the Lake Metroparks and some ice cream at East Coast Custard. It was a perfect family day and a great way to enjoy the beautiful weather!

How was your weekend? Did you celebrate the home opener and enjoy the great weather?


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.

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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.

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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.***


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:

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.***


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.


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!


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.


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!


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!


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.


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?


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.


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.


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!


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!


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.***


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.


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!


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:


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


Why? Bin 216!

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

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

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


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

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


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

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

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


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

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

Where is your favorite girls night out spot?