Why? Michaelangelo’s Amarone Wine Dinner!

In order to properly prepare myself for Thanksgiving, I put on my eatin’ pants (OK, a boxy dress) and headed to Michaelangelo’s for their Amarone Wine Dinner.

Michaelangelo’s is one of those restaurants that fell into a black hole for me…I always heard great things, but somehow never got there. After last night’s dinner, though, I have a feeling I’ll be a regular at this charming and delicious Little Italy spot.

We started our evening with prosecco (as all evenings should start) and a selection of appetizers, including crostini with artichoke espuma, arancini, and crimini mushrooms stuffed with ricotta and spinach and truffle cream.


I tried to restrain myself, knowing how many courses were to come, but the appetizers were delicious!

We were treated to the history and wine-making techniques associated with Amarone wines, courtesy of Alfred from Southern Glazers. These big red wines pack a higher alcohol content, but also a lot of body and flavor.

Our antipasto course was an Ora King Salmon torte, served with baby arugula, white peach emulsion, and Amarone glaze.


Next was the risotto course (shouldn’t risotto always have it’s own course?!), with Amarone risotto with grilled Nebrodini Bianco mushrooms.


Rich, earthy, and so delicious!

Our next course was grilled New Zealand lamb chops with parmesan roasted cauliflower and red currant-Amarone reduction.


The lamb was tender, flavorful, and perfectly cooked and the cauliflower could make anyone love eating their vegetables. This course was paired with Valpolicella Ripasso, a more cost-friendly version of Amarone.

Our last savory course was braised beef shortrib with dried Washington state cherries, rosemary spaghetti squash and fried leeks. We were treated to two different Amarone wines with this course!


The shortrib by itself was amazing, but a bite with all the elements on the plate was truly something special. And the flavors stood up to the large and in charge Amarone wines paired with this dish.

The meal ended with the decadent and sweet triple chocolate mousse torte that was as fluffy as the cloud of foodie happiness I floated home on.


The food, the wine, and the knowledge and experience that were all shared at the Amarone Wine Dinner made the entire evening truly a treat!

Stay tuned for more special event dinners at Michaelangelo’s (they had a Truffle Dinner a couple months ago) and, the next time you’re thinking about dining in Little Italy, pop into this delicious restaurant for an experience you’ll love!

***Disclosure: I was invited to attend the Michaelangelo’s Amarone Wine Dinner in exchange for covering the event. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***



Why? Legacy Village Holiday Celebrations!

As the holiday season kicks into high gear this week, Legacy Village has a lot of ways to get the whole family in the spirit!

Black Friday Survival Kits

On the busiest shopping day of the year, the first 150 shoppers to stop by the covered area near Starbucks and Contessa Gallery will receive a Black Friday Survival Kit with store coupons, specials, and samples; healthy snacks; bottled water and more! It’s everything you need to make your Black Friday successful! The kits will be passed out starting at 10am. One kit per person, must be 16 years or older to receive a kit.

Visit with Santa and Help a Great Cause

Every Saturday and Sunday from November 25 until December 23 from 12-4pm, you can visit with the man of the moment: Santa Claus! You will receive a free photo, courtesy of Legacy Village, L.L.Bean, and Q104. For every photo taken, $5 will be donated to Cleveland Clinic Children’s.


You can also purchase additional photo packages, with proceeds benefiting Cleveland Clinic Children’s. And while you’re there, your family can make greeting cards to be delivered to the patients at Cleveland Clinic Children’s.

What a great way to get in the holiday spirit and benefit a wonderful cause, too!

Holidays in the Village

Every weekend from December 2 through December 17, you can get festive while getting your shopping done at Legacy Village. There will be family activities on Saturdays from 1-3pm, live music on Sundays from 1-4pm, costumed characters, gift card giveaways, and lots more festive fun!

The Jingle Bell Run/Walk for Arthritis

Speaking of getting in the holiday spirit for a good cause, the annual Jingle Bell Run/Walk for Arthritis happens on Sunday, December 10 at Legacy Village. There is a 5K Run/Walk, as well as a 1-mile Family Fun Run.


Festive attire is encouraged! All proceeds benefit the Arthritis Foundation, Ohio.

Pet Photos with Santa

Legacy Village wants your whole family to have a very merry holiday season, which includes your furry friends too. On Wednesday, December 13, bring your pets to Legacy Village for Pet Photos with Santa from 6:30-8:30pm at Guest Services (next to White House Black Market). Proceeds from the photos benefit Geauga Humane Society Rescue Village.

This holiday season, Legacy Village is the place to be for holiday shopping, philanthropy, and festivities for everyone! Don’t forget the Home District Showcases and stay tuned for info on an Ugly Sweater Bar Crawl too!

***Disclosure: I have an ongoing relationship with Legacy Village to promote their events. In exchange, I will receive compensation in the form of Legacy Village gift cards. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***


Why? Weekends!

It was a busy and fun weekend! Here’s what we were up to:

All Aboard! The Science of Trains

One of my favorite things about the Great Lakes Science Center is that it allows Jeffrey to learn through hands-on exploration. When you combine that philosophy with something Jeffrey already loves like trains, you’re bound to have a great experience!

From the moment you arrive at the Great Lakes Science Center, you’re greeted in a way that lets you know what the latest exhibit is all about.



All Aboard! The Science of Trains is open through February 19 at the Great Lakes Science Center. Jeffrey loved taking a ride on the Dominion Energy Train…


…as well as checking out the model trains from the National Model Railroad Association Ohio Division 4.

There are also hands-on exhibits that allow you to explore things like friction, power…


…rail safety, and even the history of trains in Cleveland.


There’s even a real Plymouth Switcher on the front lawn of the Great Lakes Science Center!


All Aboard! The Science of Trains not only brings trains to life, but takes them beyond Thomas the Tank Engine to teach the science behind them.


Check it out at the Great Lakes Science Center before February 19!

Punch Bowl Social 

All that train time worked up an appetite, so we picked up Matthew and headed to Punch Bowl Social Cleveland for lunch. We kicked off our Fri-yay with a sampler of the namesake punches.


My favorite was the King’s Cup, with two kinds of rum, pineapple fennel seed shrub, white pear fuji apple tea, and lime juice.

We selected some of Punch Bowl Social’s newest menu items to enjoy. We started with the lobster bacon fries, generously topped with real lobster, bacon, creme fraiche, green onions, and cheddar cheese.

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These fries were rich and delicious and more than enough to share (although you might not want to!)

For our entrees, we went with seasonal comfort food. Matthew had the golden chicken pot pie, with chicken, tasso ham, vegetables, and mustard cream, topped with puff pastry.


This was packed with delicious flavors and was the perfect winter dish!

I had the autumn pot roast, with whipped sweet potatoes and seasonal roasted vegetables.


The roasted vegetables and whipped sweet potatoes were the perfect compliment to the tender beef.

And Jeffrey enjoyed his grilled cheese in between pretending to bowl.

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Punch Bowl Social really is a great spot for the whole family, from family-friendly brunch and lunch to adult fun in the evenings with great cocktails, bowling, and karaoke. And if you haven’t been in awhile, be sure to check out the delicious new seasonal menu items!

barre3, Bites, and Blog

On Saturday, I co-hosted “barre3, Bites, and Blog” with barre3 at Legacy Village.


We had an awesome turnout of strong ladies, many of whom had never taken a barre class before. Liz Ferrante, the studio owner, led us through a challenging and centering hour-long class that gave those new to barre3 a great sense of what the classes entail.


We laughed, sweat, and generally had a great time together! After class, we enjoyed some delicious and healthy nibbles generously provided by Luna Bakery & Cafe and Whole Foods.


Luna made granola and yogurt cups with fresh berries and gluten-free lemon zucchini walnut muffins, which were amazingly moist and yummy! We also got to try some tasty Health Warrior chia bars and sparkling water courtesy of Whole Foods.

We also had fun raffles for the class attendees, with shirts from barre3 and some great local items purchased at Banyan Tree and Merchant’s Mrkt at Legacy Village.


This event combined so many things I’m passionate about: fierce and inspiring ladies, local businesses supporting each other, and finding fitness that makes you feel strong and centered.

Thanks so much to Liz and the whole team at barre3 Legacy Village for making this event happen and to all the awesome ladies who spent part of their Saturday sweating and shaking with me!

So, how was your weekend?

***Disclosure: I was invited by the Great Lakes Science Center to visit All Aboard! The Science of Trains and received two complimentary admission tickets. I was invited by Punch Bowl Social to a complimentary lunch featuring new menu items. I was asked by barre3 Legacy Village to co-host and promote an event and in exchange, I received a complimentary 5-class pass. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***


Why? Terrestrial Brewing Company!

Last night, the John Carroll Cleveland Alumni Chapter hosted a happy hour at Terrestrial Brewing Company.


Not only is Terrestrial Brewing a hot new brewery on the Cleveland craft beer scene, it’s also co-owned by Ryan Bennett, a John Carroll alumni from my class (you don’t need to know what year that is ;-)).

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Ryan partnered with Ralph Sgro, who worked at Platform Beer Co. previously, to open a small-batch, neighborhood brewery in the Battery Park Powerhouse. Terrestrial Brewing does very little distribution, but rather focuses on creating unique beers that draw people in to their bar for pints and conversation.


For my libations yesterday, I enjoyed the Feisty, a Belgian blonde brewed with jalapenos that really had a kick. I also had the Space Chimp, a witbier with guava and passion fruit. The small-batch system at Terrestrial Brewing allows the brewer to be creative and experiment with different flavors and styles. Ralph even created a beer brewed with gummy worms!

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Terrestrial Brewing seeks to be a easy-going, neighborhood brewpub catering to the residents of the Battery Park area. It’s dog-friendly, as evidenced by the water bowl club (your pup can have his own water bowl with his name on it there).

It’s also a business that knows the value of partnering with other local businesses. The Terrestrial Brewing mug club features beautiful, hand-crafted mugs from The Glass Bubble Project. Terrestrial Brewing is also co-hosting Carnivore Christmas with Saucisson on Monday, December 11.

It was great to not only check out a cool new brewery, but also support another John Carroll alum. If you’re looking for unique beers in a relaxed atmosphere, head on over to Terrestrial Brewing!

***Disclosure: I  am the president of the John Carroll Cleveland Alumni Chapter. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***


Why? The Rowley Inn!

Tucked away in Tremont, caddy-corner to A Christmas Story House, is a hidden gem of a restaurant: The Rowley Inn. This place has so many things I love in a Cleveland restaurant: friendly and fun, with plenty of kitsch, but also really amazing food and drink.

We started our evening with A Pink Nightmare, a tasty cocktail with 1800 Silver, Campari, lime juice, housemade simple syrup, grapefruit juice, and a splash of Sprite.


The cocktails at The Rowley Inn are named from “A Christmas Story” and are as yummy as they are creatively named. I couldn’t pass up the Be Sure to Drink Your Ovaltine, with whipped cream vodka, Kahlua, half n half, and Ovaltine (of course).


We also got to sample the Red Ryder, with Bulleit bourbon, lemon juice, maple, and cranberry. It’s possible that I don’t actually hate bourbon, because I thought this was delicious!

The Rowley Inn offers more than just great cocktails, though. The food is billed as Cleveland-style comfort food and that is the perfect categorization. Pierogi are featured prominently throughout the menu, so you know how I felt about that!

We started with two gloriously deep-fried starters: The Rowley Inn shrimp cocktail and the fried pickles.

These appetizers started a recurring theme for the night of LOVING the sauces and toppings that came with our food. Yes, the food itself was great, but the sauces elevated the dishes and showed an attention to detail and understanding of flavors that was truly impressive.

Next up was the Southwest chicken salad, with Cajun-rubbed chicken, avocado, black beans, corn, tortilla strips, and more.


Yum! This salad was packed with fresh flavors and was a nice balance to all the heavy, comfort food we were eating.

One of our favorites of the evening was the chicken club, with avocado, bacon, Swiss cheese, lettuce, tomato, spicy mayo, and a walnut pesto that was to die for!


I want to eat this all the time.

We also tried the Cleveland’s Best Grilled Cheese, with smoked gouda, a mozzarella/provolone blend, and a touch of mayo.


OMG. I’m on grilled cheese overload because Jeffrey eats it all the time, but this was truly amazing.

Next up was the Cleveland burger, with pierogi, kielbasa, kraut, beer cheese, and stadium mustard.


This burger still cheers for the Browns, wears shorts as soon as the temperature is above 60 degrees, and loves Drew Carey. It’s THAT Cleveland. And I love it THAT much.

You think we’re done? This is a Cleveland bar, my friend. We kept eating.

The Rowley Inn says their mac ‘n cheese is so good it’ll make you wanna slap your momma. Um, apologies to my lovely mother, but yes. Yes, it does.


We also tried one of The Rowley Inn’s most original offerings: Loco Moski. This is their take on a traditional Hawaiian dish. Sauteed pierogi are topped with hamburger patty, fried egg, gravy, and caramelized onions.


It’s like poutine. With pierogi. On crack.

We rounded out the savories (and our expanding bellies) with a sample of a brunch item: chicken and waffles with gravy and perfectly spicy hot sauce.


The cinnamon waffles gave the dish the perfect balance of sweet and savory and makes me want to spend my Sunday Funday at The Rowley Inn for sure (with some more of that Ovaltine concoction too).

For dessert, it was more pierogi…


These are candied apple pierogi, filled with cooked apples and topped with candied apple pieces and caramel candies. So original!

I was flat-out blown away by the dishes at The Rowley Inn. Comfort food can  incorporate elements that excite and challenge your palate. I love all the Cleveland memories wrapped into The Rowley Inn and I love the quality and imagination of the dishes.

The bar is open every day at 5:30am (for real) and the kitchen is open daily at 11am on weekdays and 8am on weekends. And if you stop in after a visit to A Christmas Story House, you can save 10% on your food bill! Make The Rowley Inn part of your holidays and beyond!

***Disclosure: I was invited to attend a complimentary tasting dinner at The Rowley Inn with a guest. I also received a gift card to use on a future visit (which I will be making oh so soon). As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***


Why? MetriVan!

I always love the chance to fill you in on cool new things coming to Cleveland, which is why I’m so excited to tell you about MetriVan.


MetriVan takes a Mercedes Benz Metris van and converts it into a camper that is fun, flexible, and perfect for a weekend adventure!


Each MetriVan features three beds; a kitchen with two stovetop burners, refrigerator, sink with running water, plates, silverware, and bowls; and plenty of space to get away with family or friends.


The pop-up camper top is remarkably easy to use and holds a bed that can be folded up to create an interior big enough for you to stand up.

I was impressed with not only the ease of set up for the elements of the MetriVan, but also with how thoughtfully it’s put together. I love that all your silverware, plates, bowls, and kitchen needs are included. Anything that makes packing easier is OK with me!

I was also amazed at how easy the MetriVan is to drive. It is NOT huge, even though it has plenty of space inside, and this long-time sedan-driving girl felt totally comfortable on the road with it.

The MetriVan also features all the Mercedes Benz interior elements, like Bluetooth capability, that make a road trip both safe and enjoyable.


The 90’s station is my jam.


MetriVan also offers a tailgating vehicle option with a gigantic TV equipped with DirecTV guaranteed to make your time in the Muni Lot or The Pit more enjoyable.


I’m not a camper at heart, but the MetriVan could make me into one! The vehicle gives you everything you need for a weekend away and makes travel affordable and fun. Whether it’s an urban or wooded adventure, MetriVan is a great choice!


MetriVan is currently running a Kickstarter campaign through Saturday, November 25 to bring a fleet of MetriVan vehicles to Northeast Ohio. If you’re interested in being part of MetriVan’s adventure, click here to learn more and donate!

***Disclosure: I was asked to help promote MetriVan’s Kickstarter campaign. In exchange, I received a complimentary business day rental of a MetriVan. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***


Why? AMP 150 Winter Harvest Dinner!

Remember how I was just saying how Cleveland hotel restaurants elevate the “hotel restaurant” to a true dining destination? Well, AMP 150 was always at the forefront of that trend in Cleveland. The Winter Harvest Dinner on Friday, prepared by new Executive Chef Joseph Dubbs was a bounty of seasonal deliciousness and showed the quality for which AMP 150 has become known.

We started our evening with a craft cocktail with Cleveland Whiskey that had been finished in a maple syrup barrel. This innovative take on a whiskey sour even had me enjoying whiskey!


The courses at the Winter Harvest Dinner were all served family style, which allowed us to get to know our tablemates and gave the event the feel of a holiday dinner. The first course featured butternut squash soup with lump crab…


…lamb meatballs stuffed with feta and served with tzatziki sauce (my favorite of the first course)…


…and Belgian endive stuffed with bleu cheese and topped with crispy prosciutto.


The second course featured lots of elements traditionally found in a Thanksgiving meal, but with a gourmet, AMP 150 twist. There were Brussels sprouts au gratin, with so much cheese and bacon…


…couscous with surprisingly tart cranberries…


…sweet potato gnocchi with sage brown butter (oh, yes please)…


…smoked pork loin with delicious pears and mustard…


…and a beer-brined turkey with crispy sage.


And, just like any holiday dinner, you keep eating long after you’re full! The third course featured a trio of tasty treats: pumpkin roll, key lime tarts, and dark chocolate bark with pistachio, cherry, and candied pineapple.

We also enjoyed another Cleveland Whiskey cocktail: a grown-up chocolate milk.

The seasonal harvest dinners at AMP 150 are not only a bounty of great food, but are also a great deal! $50 per person gets you all that food, plus drink pairings with each course. Stay tuned for the next one in April!

And if you’re looking for somewhere to enjoy a holiday dinner without cooking, AMP 150 has both Thanksgiving and Christmas reservations available!

***Disclosure: I was asked to help promote the AMP 150 Winter Harvest Dinner. In exchange, I received 2 complimentary tickets for myself and 2 tickets to give away. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***


Why? The Burnham!

Hotel restaurants in Cleveland should no longer be called “hotel restaurants.” The name carries the connotation of unimaginative food that you’re stuck eating in some random city because you don’t know where else to go. Cleveland’s hotel restaurants, on the other hand, take food, drink, and ambiance to another level and turn into destinations in and of themselves, both for locals and visitors.

This is certainly true of The Burnham, located in the Hilton Cleveland Downtown.


Named for one of the city’s original architects, The Burnham’s menu pays homage to Cleveland’s roots, while also celebrating the city’s status as a destination worthy of the most fervent foodie. You’ll find pierogi and kielbasa on the menu, but also gnocchi and pork belly.


But I’m getting ahead of myself in my excitement. Let’s start with cocktails: a Sacre Bleu for me, with Watershed Vodka, St. Germain, lemon, lavender, and butterfly pea flower. And a Manhattan for him, because Matthew can’t resist bourbon.


For our starters, we decided to share the lobster bisque with cognac whipped cream and puffed pastry and the buttermilk fried calamari with green tomatoes and key lime aioli.

Our server Jessica insisted we couldn’t pass up the Ohio City Pasta shitake mushroom and potato pierogi, served with caramelized vegetables (pictured above). All the starters were delicious, but my favorite elements were the unexpected ones, like the caramelized vegetables with the pierogi or the green tomatoes with the calamari.

And we definitely saved some of the lobster bisque to enjoy with our bread service from On the Rise Artisan Breads. Now would be a good time to point out that The Burnham sources from local businesses like On the Rise, Ohio City Pasta, Mitchell’s Ice Cream, and Watershed Distillery. And you know how much I love that!

For entrees, I chose the crispy skin salmon with Ohio City Pasta sweet pea and sun-dried tomato gnocchi, charred onion, and asparagus coulis.


As with the appetizers, the accoutrements of this dish are what took a delicious, perfectly-cooked piece of salmon to another level of tastiness. The sun-dried tomatoes and sweet peas balanced each other so well.

Matthew chose the scallops and pork belly, with sweet potato puree, charred onions, and bacon jam.


If you read that last sentence, you’ll know that there is literally nothing not to like in this dish!

Then came dessert. I blame Jessica, our server, for the fact that three desserts appeared on our table, but the fact that they all disappeared is all on us! Matthew and I chose the cherry crème brulee and the spiced caramel pumpkin tart, respectively.


But then Jessica insisted we couldn’t miss the sweet potato cheesecake and, oh, was she right!


I am not a cheesecake fan by nature, but this light and fluffy version, topped with toasted marshmallow and candied pecans and set atop a graham cracker crust had me cleaning the plate.

From the cocktails to the food to the service, our dinner at The Burnham was everything you’d want a downtown date night dinner to be. Don’t miss getting there while the fall menu is available. And order the third dessert…you’ll be glad you did!

Oh, and if you’re at the Hilton Cleveland Downtown before Saturday, be sure to check out the Hilton Passport Project.


This traveling project, which aims to raise the number of Americans who have their passports (currently only 41%) is in Cleveland to help you get your free passport photo, fill out an application with help from a State Department representative, and check out some amazing Hilton properties you can then visit with your new passport.

***Disclosure: I was invited by the Hilton Cleveland Downtown to tour the Hilton Passport Project and enjoy a complimentary (excluding cocktails) dinner at The Burnham. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***


Why? Legacy Village Home District Showcases!

As you prepare your home for the holidays, Legacy Village‘s Home District stores are here to help with expert decorating advice.

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Home District Showcases, which happen at LV Home District retailers on select Wednesdays, give you access to home design experts sharing their knowledge, plus light refreshments, prizes, and more.

Here are the upcoming events to get you prepared for the holiday season:

These all sound perfect for putting on fabulous holiday gatherings for family, friends, co-workers, neighbors… Can you tell I just adore holiday entertaining?!

Ethan Allen holiday table

At each event, there will be light refreshments from Legacy Village restaurants, as well as the chance to win gift cards from the merchants. The events are free and open to the public, but pre-registration is encouraged. The Home District Showcases are sure to be a great way to get ready for the new season with a home decor refresh.

***Disclosure: I have an ongoing relationship with Legacy Village to promote their events. In exchange, I will receive compensation in the form of Legacy Village gift cards. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***


Why? Evercrisp Apples at Heinen’s!

One of the many reasons I love shopping at Heinen’s is the high-quality and unique selection of produce. Just in time for holiday baking, Heinen’s is now carrying EverCrisp Apples.


EverCrisp Apples look like Fuji Apples and taste a bit like Honeycrisp Apples, with a crisp, firm, sweet taste. But the main unique characteristic is how long this apple will hold it’s firm texture, even when cooked. You don’t even need to store them in your refrigerator to maintain the quality!

I recently had the chance to pick up some EverCrisp Apples from Heinen’s and try out some recipes with them. First, I made Apple Skillet Cake, a warm and comforting fall treat.


This moist cake incorporated ingredients such as sour cream, apple cider, lots of spices, and EverCrisp Apples. I loved the spongy texture of the cake and the unique crisp bite of the EverCrisp Apples. I definitely endorse adding a big scoop of Mitchell’s Vanilla Bean Ice Cream on top!


This is the perfect thing for a fall dessert (and I definitely ate the leftovers for breakfast)!

Speaking of breakfast, I also made Apple and Gruyere Mini Frittatas with EverCrisp Apples. The recipe started with sauteed onion, wilted spinach, and apples divided into muffin tins.


Then top this savory and sweet mixture with eggs, gruyere, and milk and bake.


This made a delicious breakfast which was mostly savory, with a touch of sweetness from the still-crisp apples.


And while I made this just for Matthew and me, this recipe would be perfect for a holiday breakfast for a group/family!

Don’t miss EverCrisp Apples, now available at Heinen’s through January and perfect for all your holiday baking and cooking!

***Disclosure: I was asked by Heinen’s to help promote EverCrisp Apples. In exchange, I received a Heinen’s gift card to purchase ingredients. As always, all opinions (as well as my choice of recipes) are 100% my own.***