Category Archives: Wine

Why? Animal Attractions!

***This report submitted by various critters at Cleveland Metroparks Zoo The RainForest.***


Every year, we see it: a stampede of humans coming to feed and gather around various watering holes here at The RainForest for what they call Animal Attractions. We think perhaps they are stocking up for hibernation. They certainly seem to enjoy eating a lot!


Two styles of mac ‘n cheese, plus chorizo-stuffed bacon-wrapped dates from Butcher and the Brewer and Tremont Tap House

From my underwater vantage point, I noticed the humans eating many braised beef tacos from AMP 150. Yes, I know what all those things are. I love me a nice braised fish taco, personally.


Perched in the trees, I noticed the humans taking a lot of pictures with these signs. They’re all #wildaboutcle. I’ll tell you what, I’m wild in CLE.


I had a perfect vantage point to observe the evening and teach my little one about the humans!


The humans loved to listen to talks about how we mate here at the Zoo. One of them volunteered to be part of the discussion and dragged her mate along with her. I understand how that goes. I’m always finding the good bananas and having to point them out to my man. But anyway, the one who volunteered had very sparkly shoes. I think it’s some sort of human signal to her mate.


Also, the humans seemed to love this picture. I think it’s what you call a #selfie.


We found it interesting that some of the smallest pieces of food were the most coveted by the humans. Notice the hoarding of the small pieces here. Clearly a sign of impending hibernation.


Mini cupcakes from Cleveland Cupcake Company

From my post in the lobby, I could see all of the comings and goings and can report that all the humans had a wonderful time and we enjoyed our chance to observe their feeding and pre-mating rituals once again.


***Disclosure: I was asked by the Cleveland Zoological Society to help promote Animal Attractions. In exchange, I received 2 complimentary tickets for myself, plus 2 tickets to give away. As always, all opinions and random choices of what I think will be an amusing way to write a blog post are 100% my own.***


Why? Cleveland’s Finest Hors d’Oeuvre Contest Giveaway!

One of my absolute favorite things to do is make a meal out of appetizers. Satisfying little bites of yummyness that give you lots of different tastes and flavors to explore. Which is why Cleveland’s Finest Hors d’Oeuvre Contest has become a much-anticipated event for me.

ClevelandsFinest Brown with Climaco

Spanning two floors of the Terrace Club at Progressive Field, this event offers appetizers to sample from some of Cleveland’s best restaurants, including Hodge’s, Tartine Bistro, The Woods, Corleone’s Restaurant & Bar, the Zack Bruell Restaurant Group, and more.

There’s an interactive component to all this good eating, as attendees get to vote for their favorite hors d’oeuvre and see the winner crowned at the end of the evening.

Add in complimentary beer and wine samples, plus fabulous silent auction prizes, live music from Nate Jones and The One Hit Wonders Unplugged, complimentary parking, and desserts from Becker’s Bakery and you have a truly delicious event!

Plus, all this food and fun benefit Our Lady of the Wayside, which for nearly 50 years has been supporting children and adults with developmental disabilities through services such as group homes, transportation, employment, and the Pathways Program.

Cleveland’s Finest Hors d’Oeuvre Contest happens this year on Thursday, February 25. Tickets are now on sale for $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 favorite hors d’oeuvre from a Cleveland restaurant.

2. Visit Our Lady of the Wayside and Why CLE? on Facebook and leave a comment here letting me know you visited both pages.

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

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

I want to sip and nibble with #ClevelandsFinest2016 thanks to @OurLadyWayside and @WhyCLE: #giveaway

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

The giveaway will close on Sunday, February 7 at 11:59pm and the winner will be notified 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 2 complimentary tickets for myself and 2 tickets to give away. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***


Why? Red & White on Thursday Night!

Last night, Matthew and I had the chance to attend a new-to-us event that exposed us to a lot of new-to-us restaurants: Red & White on Thursday Night to benefit the Arthritis Foundation, Great Lakes Region, Northeastern Ohio Chapter. This event highlighted some of the best restaurants in the Akron area and we left with quite a few reasons to head to the 330 for dinner.

We started in the VIP room, with sushi nibbles from Chef Dante Boccuzzi’s dba.

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dba also was featured in the main event, with a fabulous and delicately-seasoned butternut squash cavateli topped with braised lamb and a pomegranate salsa verde. Dante could cook for me pretty much all the time…

But beyond great food from a chef we know we love, we got to try so many new restaurants too. Bistro on Main served up wonderful (and huge) scallops with toasted orzo.


Cilantro Thai & Sushi offered a triple treat with fried rice, chicken satay with peanut sauce, and California roll.


Chowder House Cafe offered a seared tuna with noodles reminiscent of the delicious ones we used to enjoy at Grovewood Tavern.


And there were plenty of sweet treats, too, from Chocolates by Erin (our favorite was the hot peppper chocolate bark), West Side Bakery, and Melt Bar & Grilled.

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Of course, there were also fantastic wine selections to pair with all this fabulous food!


Add in the chance to catch up with some friends and you have quite the lovely evening!

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The Arthritis Foundation always puts on a great event for a great cause. I’m so happy we had the chance to attend and find some new restaurants to enjoy in Akron!

***Disclosure: I was asked by the Arthritis Foundation to help promote Red & White on Thursday Night. In exchange, I received 2 complimentary VIP tickets. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***



Why? Weekends!

It was another fun weekend in the CLE (and the 330, for that matter)! On Friday, Jeffrey and I headed down to Lock 3 Park in Akron to check out the Akron Children’s Museum Pop-Up.


This reminds me of Lite Brite! Who else had that toy?

While the Museum is raising funds for a permanent site, you can visit their Pop-Up at Lock 3 Park, featuring several mini-exhibits, from a toddler area sponsored by Little Tikes to a stage with costumes for play acting to an homage to the All-American Soap Box Derby, which takes place in Akron.

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The Museum Pop-Up is open through February 15 and admission is $3 per person over 12 months old. Click here for hours and more information. It was a fun way to spend the morning and I’m hoping the Museum raises sufficient funds to open a permanent location soon!

Friday evening was homemade pizza night. I made taco pizza for Matthew and me, which was messy and spicy and so good! I used chorizo sausage from Fresh Fork Market, as well as some Fresh Fork salsa. Add in some fresh tomatoes and jalapenos (and pair it with a Great Lakes Brewing Co. Edmund Fitzgerald Porter) and you’ve got a great meal!


I also saved a bit of the dough and made Jeffrey his own personal pan pizza with Dante’s Simple Marinara and provolone, which was definitely a winner!


On Saturday evening, we had two parties to attend! We started at Jeffrey’s friend Nina’s third birthday party. Nina’s mom, Tracy, and I went to college together and it’s been so wonderful not only to maintain our friendship for all these years, but to now see our kids playing together!


From there, Matthew and I went to his work holiday party at The RainForest at Cleveland Metroparks Zoo. When we arrived, we were greeted by my favorite zoo volunteer, Jim B. If you’ve had the pleasure of attending a Cleveland Zoological Society event or even just visiting the Zoo itself, you’ve probably seen Jim B. out and about with the animals. You can tell how much he loves them and takes joy in his volunteerism.


I’m always so impressed by institutions that are supported not only by great staff, but also by committed volunteers!

Anyway, back to the party…since we ate at Nina’s birthday (Tracy’s parties always have legitimately the best food and wine around), we skipped the dinner buffet, although we did indulge in some of the mini desserts. We also had fun at The RainForest Selfie Station!


I also got in some Jump Back Ball dancing practice once the DJ busted out some old school Whitney Houston. It’s much easier to dance up a storm when it’s not your own co-workers around you!

The RainForest made for a fun venue for the party. If conversation ever lagged, you could just turn your attention to a nearby monkey or porcupine!


After all the partying, we spent a quiet Sunday at home, preparing for a busy week ahead! Hope you had a wonderful weekend!


Why? Weekends!

Winter is really here, so this weekend lent itself to a mix of going out and staying snuggly inside. On Friday night, Matthew and I met up with our friends Sara and Ron for a lovely, leisurely dinner at Red the Steakhouse (read about the changes coming to Red’s location here).


Matthew and I split the tuna tartare appetizer, which had both great taste and great presentation. For dinner, Matthew had the special bone-in ribeye and I had the king crab, which was helpfully served out of the shell. Pair these entrees with truffled whipped potatoes and asparagus and you have quite the delicious meal!

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Even better than the food and the perfectly-timed service, though, was the chance to relax with friends, laugh a lot, enjoy some wine, and just generally end the week on a perfect note.

On Saturday, Jeffrey and I headed to the Lake Metroparks Farmpark. While it was pretty cold, there was still plenty to do, especially as part of Winter Blast Weekends. Jeffrey’s favorite part seemed to be hanging out in the play room, checking out the train tables and warming his feet.


Then we went to dinner with my mom at a favorite spot for traditional Italian food and warm, family service: Mario Fazio’s. Mom enjoyed the seafood risotto and I had the beef bracciole. Both were filling and so tasty!

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Jeffrey had the kids’ pizza, served with applesauce and peas. There’s nothing to keep Jeffrey happy quite like pizza these days.


For dessert, we all shared the “cookies for the table,” which may have even surpassed pizza in making Jeffrey happy.


Plus, Jeffrey got to pick a toy from the treasure chest and went home with a new little truck. While I think Mario Fazio’s does a great job at Italian classics (and their wedding soup is some of the best I’ve ever had), what really puts them over the top is that we can get a good meal in an environment that is so warm and welcoming to our entire family.

Sunday was spent at home, staying warm and watching the snow fall.


I found time to enjoy some hot cocoa and work on my #15minutesofcolor. But we also bundled up and headed into the backyard for some sledding and general snow exploration.


So, that was our weekend: a good balance of out and in, friends and family time. How was your weekend?


Why? Vineyards Wine Merchant!

Last night, I attended a completely entertaining, informative, and delicious wine tasting at Vineyards Wine Merchant. This wine shop and tasting room is run by Glen Campbell, a certified sommelier, whose passion for wine and down-to-earth style make for a truly enjoyable presentation.


Glen not only took us through the background on the five wines we tasted, but also covered how to properly taste wine (versus just drinking it), how to pair wines, how to store and serve wines, and so much more (he and I spent awhile on our love for golden retrievers, for sure.)

The five wines we tasted covered everything from sweet white to dry red. As much as I love my red wines, the Moscato d’Asti we tasted was by far my favorite of the night and, according to Glen, his best-selling wine over the almost 9 years he’s been in business.


Vineyards Wine Merchant offers a huge selection of wines, all arranged by varietal and sold at state minimum prices. What makes Vineyards such a great place to shop for wine goes beyond the spacious and well-organized store and great selection, though. Glen’s knowledge of wine and his helpfulness in selecting the right wine for whatever your need is well worth a trip (and frankly would warrant paying more than state minimum prices).

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Vineyards Wine Merchant offers a 10% case discount and it is certainly easy enough to pick out a case’s worth of wine there! There are also wine tastings on Wednesdays and Fridays (called Wine Swirls) that offer 5 wines on a theme (such as vineyard, region, etc.) plus cheese and crackers for only $10. Click here for more information.

Last night’s event was put on by the Kappa Delta Cleveland West Alumnae Association. Vineyards Wine Merchant will host private groups and even allow a fundraising component to the event to give back to the community.


I had such a lovely time catching up with some of my college sorority sisters, as well as other Kappa Delta alumnae, as well as getting to taste some new and interesting wines (and restocking our home wine cooler, too). If you love wine and supporting local businesses, you can’t do better than Vineyards Wine Merchant!


Why? Flanagan’s Wake!

Last night, Matthew and I attended a raucous, boozy, slightly inappropriate, and totally fun wake. Yup, I said wake. Flanagan’s Wake, to be exact.


Paying our respects to Flanagan

Playhouse Square Partners members had the opportunity to attend an exclusive sneak peek of this hilarious show that is part play, part improv comedy. The actors mingle with the audience before, during, and after the show, making you feel like a part of Flanagan’s quirky Irish town.

As the story of Flanagan’s life and demise unfolds, the audience participates and even directs the flow of the story. The cast has some serious improv skills, coming up with everything from songs to tall tales based on ideas thrown out by the audience.

The bar is open throughout the show, because it’s an Irish wake after all. And with some liquid courage you might even see your fellow audience members join the cast on stage to sing “Danny Boy” or mimic The Lord of the Dance.


That’s a “priest” giving the glitter booties a thumb’s up

Flanagan’s Wake opens to the public today and runs through April 30 in Kennedy’s Theatre. Tickets are $26, which is a steal for what is a really entertaining evening of improv comedy and song. You can purchase your tickets online.

Also, before the show, Matthew and I stopped in to Bin 216 for dinner. I was really impressed with the happy hour selections, which include $5 red, white, and sparkling wine, as well as a $5 specialty cocktail.

The happy hour food choices included $1.50 deviled eggs, $3 devils on horseback, and a $5 Neapolitan flatbread. We enjoyed most of the happy hour food menu and also added on the tuna tartar and lobster nachos (neither on happy hour, but both totally worth it).

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Bin 216 offers a convenient and delicious option for pre-theater dining and the happy hour is a great deal!

So, that was our evening…yummy food and drinks and a hilarious theater performance with friends. Not a bad little Thursday night!

***Disclosure: I am the co-chair of the Education Committee of Playhouse Square Partners. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***



Why? Weekends!

One last extended holiday weekend recap coming your way…

On Thursday, I planned to take Jeffrey to the Cleveland Museum of Natural History for their New Year’s at Noon party, but when we pulled up at 10:30, there was nowhere to park and a huge line outside the museum! I love that so many kiddos wanted to spend New Year’s Eve with the dinosaurs, but we decided to head to somewhere a little less crowded.

We ended up at the Great Lakes Science Center and had a really fun morning! There were some special winter activities happening through last week, including an hourly snow party with music, dancing, and indoor snow!

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Yes, I wore the glitter booties. This was my New Year’s Eve out.

Jeffrey also made some model DNA, played with magnets and molecule blocks, and set his sights on working for NASA when he grows up, just like his godfather Hans!

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I was pleasantly surprised how much Jeffrey enjoyed the Great Lakes Science Center and how much a toddler could get out of it. We’ll definitely be back (but as a heads up, the Science Center is closed for winter maintenance through Friday, January 8).

For the fourth year in a row, Matthew and I opted to stay in on New Year’s Eve and make a nice homecooked meal. Since we decided to wait until after Jeffrey went to bed to make our dinner, we started the evening with some cheese and charcuterie.

Then it was time for the main course, with a surf and turf from two of our favorite local food shops. We got our filet from Pinzone’s Market Fresh Meats and our lobster tails from Euclid Fish Company.

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Add in some mushrooms and onions cooked in Lanning’s steak sauce and a delicious Old Vine Zinfandel (thanks to Kimberly and Chris for getting us hooked on this one) and you have a pretty perfect meal. Plus, we love just being able to relax, put on our pajamas, and ring in the new year in comfy style.

For dessert, we had individual tortes from Michael Angelo’s Bakery: Bailey’s for Matthew and tiramisu for me. With a split of bubbly and these decadent sweets, we celebrated the end of a fabulous year!


Friday, I started the new year off right with a vinyasa flow at Harmony Yoga taught by Melissa (also of Balance & Brews). Balance & Brews has some great events planned for the new year at Hofbrauhaus, Portside Brewery, Platform Beer Co., and Market Garden Brewery. Check out the complete schedule here.

Saturday morning, Jeffrey and I met up with our friends Tracy and Nina for some indoor fun at Café O’Play.


Café O’Play has so many great activities to keep kids occupied, from a toddler play area to a video game floor to a large basketball area to big slides and climbing to a dance room. Plus, the café offers yummy and healthy food. I love a one-stop shop too…to be able to play and have lunch at the same location is great! I know we’ll be spending a lot of time there this winter to burn off cabin fever!

The rest of the weekend was spent de-Christmasing the house and generally getting ready for the return to a normal schedule for everyone. The holidays were so much fun, but real life is pretty good too!

How was your weekend? How did you ring in the new year?


Why? Boutique Bridal Bazaar Giveaway!

Just as one busy season is ending, another is beginning: bridal season! One of Cleveland’s premier bridal events, the Boutique Bridal Bazaar is celebrating its 5th anniversary on Sunday, January 17 at the Hyatt Regency Cleveland at the Arcade.


Photo credit: Cannon Candids Photography

The Boutique Bridal Bazaar is put on by Something White and features a carefully curated collection of unique and fabulous wedding vendors. You’ll see a host of companies ready to make your special day everything you’ve ever dreamed it could be.


Photo credit: Cannon Candids Photography

You can view a complete list of vendors here, but highlights include Brewnuts, The Music Faire, L’Nique Specialty Linen Rental, Lather: a Salon, Urban Orchid, Luna Bakery & Café, Suzuran Photography, and The Wine Spot.

Tickets are $15 in advance or $20 at the door and include a glass of champagne. VIP tickets are $35 and include a swag bag, quick check-in, half-hour early admission to the event, a seat at the fashion show, and 10% off one item from Something White (including gowns).


Photo credit: Cannon Candids Photography

You can purchase tickets from the Boutique Bridal Bazaar 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. Leave a comment telling me what part of the wedding you’re most seeking inspiration for at the Boutique Bridal Bazaar.

2. Visit Boutique Bridal Bazaar and Why CLE? on Facebook and leave a comment here letting me know you visited both pages.

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

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

I want to attend the @SomethingWhiteB Boutique Bridal Bazaar thanks to @WhyCLE: #giveaway

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

The giveaway will close on Friday, January 8 at 11:59pm and the winner will be notified the following day. Good luck!

***Disclosure: I was asked by Something White to help promote the Boutique Bridal Bazaar. In exchange, I will receive two complimentary general admission tickets to give away. I declined my own complimentary ticket due to scheduling conflicts. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***


Why? Animal Attractions Giveaway!

One of my favorite spots in Cleveland is the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo. Nowadays, I spend a lot of time there with Jeffrey, but every once in awhile I like to have a grown-up evening at the Zoo.

That’s where the Cleveland Zoological Society fundraisers come in. They’re fun ways to support the Zoo’s mission and educational programs, while being reminded that the Zoo isn’t just for kids!

Group enjoying the event

Which is why I’m super excited to warm up on Thursday, February 4 at The RainForest with the annual Animal Attractions fundraiser, sponsored by Cleveland Magazine, Great Lakes Brewing Company, The Beachhouse Wines, and Fireball Whisky.

At Animal Attractions, you’ll get to nibble food samples from great local restaurants, including Butcher & the Brewer, Merwin’s Wharf, Tremont Tap House, AMP 150, and Creekside Restaurant & Bar. There will also be an open bar, as well as wine tasting experiences to enjoy.

Wine tasting

Animal Attractions also gives you the opportunity to get up-close and personal with some of the zoo critters, explore The RainForest, and attend adult-themed educational talks (think, elephant mating rituals).


Tickets are on sale now and make a great holiday gift! Prices are $60 for Zoo members and $65 for non-members. You can purchase tickets online. Or you can enter to win 2 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. Leave a comment telling me your favorite Zoo animal.

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

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

4. Follow both @clevezoosociety and @WhyCLE on Twitter 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 warm up at Animal Attractions thanks to @clevezoosociety and @WhyCLE: #giveaway #wildaboutcle

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 Tuesday, December 22 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 Animal Attractions. In exchange, I will receive 2 complimentary tickets for myself and 2 tickets to give away. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***