Why? Boss Dog Brewing!

Cleveland has been experiencing quite the brewery boom! It can be hard to keep up, but I do it for you guys, right?! I had been wanting to check out Boss Dog Brewing Company in Cleveland Heights after hearing lots of positive feedback about both the beer and the food.

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On a recent visit, I tried both the Put-N-Berry, a honey ale with a touch of blackberry, and the Gimme S’more Porter, which was served with a toasted marshmallow on top.

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I enjoyed both beers! The Put-N-Berry was perfect for summer sipping and the Gimme S’more was full of flavor and fun (who doesn’t love a toasted marshmallow?).

For my dinner, I chose the chicken fried duck, which is topped with maple chipotle drizzle. Oh my goodness, so rich, so flavorful, so good!

My friend Melissa got the Portobello mushroom sandwich, which she really enjoyed. She was pleased with all the vegetarian options on Boss Dog’s menu.

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Boss Dog is also part of the Cleveland Brewery Passport through Destination Cleveland. This passport includes 30 local breweries that you are encouraged to visit. After you make a purchase of beer, food, or merchandise at the brewery, you can receive a stamp on your passport.

Stop by Destination Cleveland when you hit 8 stamps for a Cleveland bottle opener or all 30 stamps for entry into a getaway drawing. You can grab your passport at the Destination Cleveland offices downtown or at any participating brewery. This is such a cool incentive to try new places and explore the great local beer scene in Cleveland! And if you’re looking for a place to start, I say give Boss Dog a try!

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Why? Coastal Taco Bar & Chill!

If you’re looking for the perfect summer spot, with a laid-back vibe and fabulous food, then look no further than Coastal Taco Bar & Chill.

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Located on the East Bank of the Flats, with a fabulous on-the-water patio, Coastal Taco has a beachy, open air aesthetic that transports you to an island bar instantly. The margaritas do a pretty good job of that, too! The Perfect Margaritas is, well, perfect and the pineapple habanero packs a satisfying heat.

Speaking of a nice heat, the salsas at Coastal Taco bring lots of flavor, with just the right amount of heat. My favorite was the pineapple salsa!

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Coastal Taco’s elote bites are also not to be missed! Think of hush puppies, with lots of flavorful corn, queso fresco, and lime.

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There are a ton of tasty tacos and bols to choose from at Coastal Taco. I tried the short rib taco, with crispy onion and candied carrot, and the fried avocado taco, which is vegetarian and gluten free.

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Both were so flavorful! The short rib basically melted in your mouth and the onion straws and candied carrot were delicious, playful touches.

My mom ordered the Burning River chicken taco, with house-made hot sauce, pico, cheese, and ancho ranch.

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So flavorful and delicious! We also both ordered bols too: the crispy shrimp for me and the steak for Mom.

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With Spanish rice, black beans, and lime crema, my bol was both flavorful and filling! You can also build your own bol. Jeffrey loved his kids beef taco, too!

We somehow found room for the apple empanada with cinnamon ice cream, which was the perfect sweet finish to our meal!

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Chef George told us that Coastal Taco is committed to seasonal, sustainable ingredients that keep the tacos tasty and delicious, but also priced in a friendly way (only $4 per taco)! Ultimately, Coastal Taco is focused on a total guest experience of delicious food in a friendly and relaxing atmosphere. Make this your next Taco Tuesday (or any day) destination!

***Disclosure: I was invited to enjoy a complimentary lunch at Coastal Taco with a guest. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***

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Why? Cleveland Autism Speaks Chef Gala Giveaway!

The Cleveland Autism Speaks Chef Gala is coming up on Saturday, July 28, with a line-up of fabulous local and national chefs who will dazzle your tastebuds with a tasting and seated dinner.

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The event is headlined by Chef Michael Symon and Chef Alex Guarnaschelli, who will be preparing a demo dinner in front of all the guests, who will then get to eat the dinner prepared by these celebrated culinary masters. Special guest Patricia Heaton will also be in attendance!

Add to that a strolling tasting event prepared by amazing local chefs such as Rocco Whalen, Douglas Katz, Eric Williams, and Jonathon Sawyer, and you have the makings of an amazing food event!

Of course, you’ll enjoy all this great food in a setting that is just as pleasing to the senses: the Atrium at the Cleveland Museum of Art!

If all that weren’t enough, tickets proceeds, as well as bids on fabulous silent and live auction items will all benefit Autism Speaks, which leads the way in research and support for those on the autism spectrum and their families.

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Tickets are currently on sale online for $250, which gets you access to the tasting and seated dinner. Or you can enter to win two tickets to the Cleveland Autism Speaks Chef Gala right here!

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

1.Leave a comment here telling me which chef’s food you’re most looking forward to tasting at the event.

2. Visit Autism Speaks Northeast Ohio and Why CLE? on Facebook and leave a comment here letting me know you visited both pages.

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

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

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

I want to win tickets to see @chefsymon and Friends at @AutismSpeaksOH Chef Gala thanks to @WhyCLE #giveaway https://whycle.com/2018/07/18/why-cleveland-autism-speaks-chef-gala-giveaway

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

The giveaway will close on Monday, July 23 at 11:59pm and the winner will be notified the following day. Good luck!

***Disclosure: I was asked by Autism Speaks to help promote the Cleveland Chef Gala. In exchange, I will receive two complimentary tickets to the event. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***

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Why? The Capital Grille Generous Pour!

It’s no secret that I think The Capital Grille is a fabulous spot for everything from an after-work drink to a fabulous dinner. And right now, during The Generous Pour promotion, it’s also a the perfect place to enjoy some phenomenal wines for a great deal!

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From now through September 2, you can add The Generous Pour to your meal at The Capital Grille for only $28. The Generous Pour features Duckhorn Wines from Sauvignon Blanc to Rose to Cabernet Sauvignon.

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You can try all the wines or trust your server or yourself to pair certain ones with your meal. Sample something new, find one (or more) that you love, and drink up! This is a great deal, particularly since some of the wines included are $30 per glass outside of the promotion!

We got to experience The Generous Pour with the wines paired perfectly with selections from The Capital Grille’s menu. We started with the Grand Plateau seafood platter, with jumbo lump crab, North Atlantic lobster, shrimp cocktail, and oysters on the half shell.

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The Grand Plateau paired well with the Sauvignon Blanc and the Rose of Pinot Noir, which is an exclusive blend for The Capital Grille’s The Generous Pour.

Next, the lobster and crab cakes, packed with delicious seafood, were paired with the same wines for even more seafood yumminess!

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To round out our seafood experience, the sea scallops with asparagus and parsnip puree paired perfectly with the Decoy Chardonnay.

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So often when I go to The Capital Grille, I just focus on steaks, but this scallop entrée was delicious and I would definitely order it again!

We then enjoyed a trio of The Capital Grille’s finest steaks: bone-in ribeye, dry-aged New York strip with shallot butter, and lamb chops.

 

You can, and should, put that shallot butter on everything! These meats were paired with four different Duckhorn red wines: Migration Pinot Noir, Duckhorn Cabernet Sauvignon, Canvasback Cabarnet Sauvignon, and Paraduxx Proprietary Red Blend.

The two Cabernets were my favorites, but the Paraduxx was also a perfect pair for the flourless chocolate espresso cake we enjoyed for dessert.

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Whether steak or seafood, appetizers or entrees, there are wines in The Generous Pour that are the perfect compliments to your taste. And for only $28 for access to all these incredible wines, it is the dining deal of the summer!

Don’t miss out on The Capital Grille’s The Generous Pour through September 2. Make your reservations today!

***Disclosure: I was invited to attend a complimentary The Generous Pour tasting with a guest. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***

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Why? Weekends!

It was a great weekend! So, let’s get right to the recap…

Sandusky Festival of Sail

On Friday, I drove up to Sandusky with one mission: see the World’s Largest Rubber Duck.

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Jeffrey brought his own personal rubber ducks with him to meet Mama Duck, which was so sweet! The duck was at the Sandusky Festival of Sail, so we also got to check out some tall ships while we were there.

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But let’s be honest, the real mission of the trip was to see the duck! And she was adorable!

Barrio

Friday evening, we met up with friends for dinner at the recently-opened Barrio in downtown Willoughby. We ordered the special guacamole with charred watermelon and chevre, which was the perfect summer guac!

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I ordered one of the suggested tacos and then built two of my own. I’m always nervous when I make up my own creations, but these were pretty tasty! I love the mango habanero salsa. Oh, and the short rib. But not together. Make your own creation. See how it goes!

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The Flying Fig

Saturday morning, I went to brunch at my favorite brunch spot in town: The Flying Fig. From the food to the atmosphere, it’s always a win.

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I was having a hard time deciding between sweet and savory (the classic brunch dilemma, right?!), so I went with the loaded breakfast potatoes and cornmeal biscuit with crème fraiche and berries. Perfect carb-a-licious combo!

Partners 1980s Prom Murder Mystery

On Saturday night, Matthew and I attended a totally rad prom that took us back to 1985!

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It was put on by Playhouse Square Partners and we were all involved in the action, getting to play different parts and figuring out whodunnit!

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From the costumes to the décor, it was a great night and so fun to be a part of the Murder Mystery Mayhem! And Matthew got a certificate for correctly figuring out the murderer!

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I also think he deserves an award for his awesome Miami Vice-like threads! We both found our outfits at Goodwill, which had exactly what we needed for a small price tag (my dress was $5)!

Cedar Point

OK, so I think we just live in Sandusky now. We were up there for the second time in a weekend for a trip with friends to Cedar Point.

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We usually stick to our tried-and-true favorites at Cedar Point, but we did discover a new thing to love: Funnel Fries!

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They’re funnel cakes dough, made into fries, and dusted with powder sugar. And you need them in your life. So good! They made a hot, fun day with the kiddos a bit sweeter (we shared with the kids…sort of).

It was a fantastic weekend with food, friends, 1980s fashion, and a big duck! How was your weekend?

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Why? Heinen’s Wine Finds!

One of my favorite things about shopping at Heinen’s is that they go out of their way to find new, interesting, delicious products. This week, I got to sample some of their newest offerings in Spanish and Portuguese wines, cheese, and prepared foods.

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Heinen’s wine buyers recently traveled to Spain and Portugal and selected some fabulous wines to be sold at your local store. These wines really over-deliver on quality. The most expensive wine we tasted retails for $19.99, with some with price points as low as $7.99!

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Since Spanish and Portuguese wines aren’t as familiar to most of us, Heinen’s trains its wine experts to make comparisons to more well-known varietals.

The Pedrera White Blend is much like a Sauvignon Blanc and was my favorite of the white wines we tried. I also enjoyed the Pedrera Red, which is a red wine that can handle a slight chill, making it a great choice for summer BBQs. Both of these wines retail for only $7.99!

We also sampled a truly special wine: Herdade de Rocim Amphorae, which is made in clay pots that are hundreds of years old. This unique wine is smooth, complex, and delicious.

The wines were all expertly paired with Spanish and Portuguese cheeses. The Naked Goat from Spain, Drunken Goat (which is cured in red wine), and 4-month aged Manchego were favorites for me.

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All of these cheeses are available at Heinen’s and can be paired perfectly with wines, thanks to the cheese and wine experts at your local store.

Heinen’s prepared foods department is also getting in on the Spanish and Portuguese theme with some new offerings: tortilla de papas, which is a potato omelet topped with chorizo gravy; patatas bravas, which are whole potatoes with smoky paprika seasoning; and blistered shishito peppers.

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The chorizo gravy is amazing and the blistered shishito peppers are perfect for a light appetizer nibble. We also got to enjoy paella prepared by one of Heinen’s chefs. Look at the delicious crust!

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I also learned that port wine is so named because it originated in Portugal, so of course we got to enjoy some port, too! Heinen’s made red and white port cocktails, which were light and sangria-like, just right for summer!

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You can read more about Portuguese ports and how to make the port cocktails here.

This summer, travel to Spain and Portugal just by stopping by your local Heinen’s and creating a perfect meal from wine to cheese to entrees!

***Disclosure: I was invited by Heinen’s to attend a complimentary wine and food tasting with a guest. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***

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Why? Ronald McDonald House of Cleveland Rise and Dine!

I know I’ve said it before, but it bears repeating that the Cleveland culinary community is incredibly generous with their time and talents! One amazing example of this generosity is the Rise and Dine program at the Ronald McDonald House of Cleveland.

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Rise and Dine allows volunteer groups to pair up with Cleveland chefs to prepare a meal for the families staying at the Ronald McDonald House of Cleveland. On Tuesday, a group of Cleveland food bloggers paired up with the crew from Melt Bar and Grilled.

The ingredients and recipes (and guidance) were provided by Melt, but the work was done by our group. We made potato salad, watermelon salad, and all the components of Melt’s Backyard BBQ sandwich, from the BBQ sauce to the coleslaw.

True to Melt’s philosophy, everything was made from scratch with high-quality ingredients so that it tasted supremely delicious. We accommodated the vegan and gluten-free families at the Ronald McDonald House, too.

We made a ton of food and had a great time doing it! I won’t share the secrets of Melt’s BBQ sauce, but the chance to cook with professional chefs while doing good for others is an amazing experience!

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The Ronald McDonald House of Cleveland provides a home-like atmosphere and essential services for families with children receiving care at area medical facilities.

You can help out by volunteering to cook a meal, work in the garden or at the front desk, or do activities with the residents. Or bring your group and pair up with the Rise and Dine program just like we did! I had a great time giving back with my fellow foodies!

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Why? DanceCleveland Giveaway!

There are so many cultural events happening this summer in Cleveland! The American Dance Festival 2018, presented by DanceCleveland is another great one, coming up July 24 though August 4 at Playhouse Square.

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The American Dance Festival 2018 will feature a series of performances and workshops celebrating many different styles of dance. There will even be free community events on U.S. Bank Plaza, including a Silent Disco on Saturday, July 28 and salsa dancing on Tuesday, July 31.

On National Day of Dance, which happens on Saturday, July 28, Hubbard Street Dance Chicago will put on a high-energy performance that is sure to be crowd favorite at the Connor Palace Theatre at Playhouse Square at 7pm.

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Image Courtesy of DanceCleveland 

Tickets for the Hubbard Street Dance Chicago performance are currently on sale online. Or you can enter to win two tickets to see Hubbard Street Dance Chicago on National Day of Dance right here!

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

1.Leave a comment here telling me your favorite style of dance.

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

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

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

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

I want to celebrate National Dance Day with @DANCECleveland thanks to @WhyCLE #giveaway https://whycle.com/2018/07/11/why-dancecleveland-giveaway-2 

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, July 15 at 11:59pm and the winner will be notified the following day. Good luck!

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Why? Legal Aid Society Jam for Justice!

So, you probably think attorneys and judges are stuffy, but a lot of them can really rock! Don’t believe me? Jam for Justice, a fundraiser for the Legal Aid Society of Cleveland, will show you just how hard they can rock!

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Image Courtesy of Legal Aid Society of Cleveland 

Jam for Justice happens on Thursday, July 19 from 5-9:30pm at the Aloft Hotel and Ernst & Young Building Courtyard in the Flats. You’ll enjoy live music from six bands, all headlined by local attorneys and judges, as well as a DJ.

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The event will feature food, drink, and a silent auction to bid on. Proceeds from Jam for Justice benefit the Legal Aid Society of Cleveland, which provides legal services to those who are low income and vulnerable, as well as works for systemic solutions to problems in the justice system.

Tickets for Jam for Justice are $50 and are currently on sale online. Don’t miss your chance to quench your thirst for justice and rock out for a great cause!

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Why? Weekends!

Could this weekend have been more glorious? It was a perfect summer weekend in Cleveland! Here’s what we were up to…

Everyday Heroes Activity Center

On Friday, Jeffrey and I met up with friends to check out the Everyday Heroes Activity Center at the Maltz Museum of Jewish Heritage.

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Everyday Heroes highlights ways that we can all be everyday heroes, such as kindness and gratitude.

Kids can also dress up like everyday heroes, put on a puppet show, “build a better world” with blocks, and lots more.

This exhibit is a great way for kids to learn how they can be heroes in their everyday lives and show appreciation for the heroes they encounter.

The Everyday Heroes Activity Center is open through Sunday, August 12 and is $10 for everyone 12 and older, $5 for children ages 5-11, and free for children 4 and under. You can purchase tickets online here.

Square 22

On Friday night, my friend Denise and I checked out Square 22 in Strongsville.

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From creative cocktails to an extensive dinner menu, Square 22 had a lot to offer. I started with the rich and delicious chicken paprikash soup.

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While this is definitely not a summery dish, I couldn’t resist the spaetzle, rich broth, and tender chicken.

For my entree, I chose the jumbo sea scallops, served on top of blue crab risotto, with wild mushrooms, asparagus, and capers.

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The scallops were well prepared and I enjoyed all the accompaniments with the dish…for me, you can never can wrong with mushrooms or asparagus! I didn’t get a lot of crab flavor in the risotto, but it was nice and creamy.

After all that, I was pretty stuffed and opted for another drink instead of dessert (this is a real rarity, as you know). Square 22 is pricey, but the food and drinks are nicely done and it’s a good addition to an area that has a lot of casual and chain restaurants.

Cedar Point

Jeffrey, Matthew, and I spent our entire Saturday at Cedar Point with friends, having an absolute blast!

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Jeffrey is tall enough to go on a lot of rides now and he enjoyed checking out the Himalaya and Lake Erie Eagles especially.

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The Sky Karts have become a favorite as well and a great way to check out the whole park!

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From rides to lunch at the in-park Melt Bar and Grilled to playing arcade games, it was a perfect summer day!

Birthday Party

Then, on Sunday, there was more opportunity to soak in the gorgeous weather at a friend’s birthday party at the Orange Leisure Pool.

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With a zero depth wade in and lots of splash elements, along with a water slide and lap pool, this pool has something to keep everyone happy! And we definitely had a fun time!

So, that was our weekend! How did you get out and about to enjoy?

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