Why? Lolita Wine Dinner!

What do you get when you pair one of my favorite CLE restaurants – Lolita – with one of my favorite things – wine? An absolutely delicious evening! On Monday, CLEguy and I attended An Evening with Hope Family Wines at Lolita. This was a five-course dinner, paired with Hope Family Wines and enhanced with presentations by J.J. Diefenderfer, a winemaker for Hope Family Wines.

Hope Family Wines are made in Paso Robles and there are five different labels under the company’s umbrella: Treana, Liberty School, Austin Hope, Candor, and Troublemaker. Our first course of the evening was hors d’ouevres paired with both the Liberty School Chardonnay and the Troublemaker. The Troublemaker is a blend of Syrah, Mouvedre, and Grenache and was probably my favorite wine of the evening. Winemaker J.J. Diefenderfer told us that The Troublemaker has an interesting story that we could find on YouTube. So, here’s the background on this delicious wine:

Our hors d’ouevres consisted of fabulous meat and cheese boards, dates stuffed with goat cheese, and clams with bread crumbs and pancetta. I got a chance to chat with Lolita’s general manager, and my friend, Matthew Harlan about Lolita’s new executive chef, James Mowcomber. Matt said that the energy and enthusiasm in the kitchen has been great and the restaurant had one of it’s busy weeks last week. If the food we had on Monday is any indication, James is bringing inventive ideas and amazing culinary skills to play in Lolita’s kitchen.

When dinner started, Matt graciously invited CLEguy and me to join him, his wife Melanie, and some other Lolita staff at their table. Great food and wine is even better when shared with fun, engaging people and we could not have had a better time that evening. Our first seated course paired the Austin Hope Rose with tuna crudo with rhubarb-ginger compote, pine nuts, and basil.

First, the wine: I’m not usually a big fan of rose, but this wine was not overly sweet and had bright, clean fruit flavors that paired perfectly with the tuna. The tuna was incredibly fresh and the rhubarb-ginger compote was an inventive way to bring summery flavors into play. This was CLEguy’s favorite dish of the night.

Our next course paired a Treana White wine with crispy pork belly, topped with heirloom tomatoes, watermelon, chili vinaigrette, and feta.

The wine was a blend of Viognier and Marsanne and was my least favorite of the evening. While it was crisp and not overly sweet, it just didn’t blow me away like some of the other selections. The pork belly dish, on the other hand, was my favorite of the night. The rich fattyness of the pork, paired with the sweetness of the watermelon and the acidity of the tomatoes made for a perfect bite. I ended up stealing a bit of CLEguy’s too…this dish lives up to the reputation of Michael Symon restaurants knowing how to serve pork right!

Our next course paired Austin Hope Grenache with a lamb t-bone with fava bean salsa verde and wild mushrooms.

The wine was fantastic – just the kind of big, bold red that I enjoy and it stood up perfectly to the lamb. The lamb was cooked just right and was tender and juicy. Also, the portion, especially for a coursed dinner, was really generous. The play on salsa verde, made with fava beans was a creative way to incorporate a side that pairs so well with lamb.

Our final course was Treana Red served with Valdeone bleu cheese on top of fig puree with prosciutto bread crumbs.

Treana Red is a blend of Cabarnet Sauvignon and Syrah and made me convinced that I would enjoy just about any Hope Family Wines red offering. Now, to the cheese. I love cheese. Love it. But bleu cheese…not so much. So, I was fully prepared to eat the fig compote and bread crumbs and hand my cheese over to CLEguy. That was until he, Matt, and Melanie all instructed me to at least try the cheese. And you know what? I ate the entire piece. Paired with the figs and the wine, the cheese was surprisingly mild (for bleu cheese). So, not just great food, wine, and company, but also expanding my (cheese) horizons!

It was a wonderful evening! I encourage you to check out Hope Family Wines (especially if you like big red wines) and also to stop in to Lolita to say hi to the new chef and his delicious, creative cuisine.


Why? Weekends!

We had a fabulous weekend in CLE! On Saturday evening, CLEguy and I attended our engagement party at Willoughby Brewing Company. We reserved the back party room, which was wonderfully decorated by CLEmom and one of the CLEbridesmaids.

The food was delicious – we had an appetizer buffet of Swedish meatballs, spinach con queso dip, Buffalo chicken eggrolls, and 3 kinds of pizza (white, Milan, and mashed potato). We also enjoyed 5 different varieties of Willoughby Brewing’s craft beers: Railway Razz, Toehead, Gutterpup, Peanut Butter Coffee Porter, and American Wheat. All were fantastic, but the American Wheat and Toehead are tied for my favorites.

We had a great evening, with our CLEfamilies and CLEfriends in attendance. It was good practice for meeting and greeting at the wedding too!

Some of CLEguy's family
Some of my fave CLEfriends

We of course had cake, too! Our cake was from Cakes by Nadine, who has been making  my family’s special occasion cakes for as long as I can remember. We had white cake with orange pineapple cream in between the layers of cake – light and summery and delicious!

Later in the evening, we were able to enjoy the music fromThat 80’s Band, who were performing at Willoughby Brewing that night. That 80’s Band can belt out a Journey song! And some of the CLEbloggers definitely know how to get down on the dance floor!

With CLEbloggers Hungry in Cleveland, Cleveland Food & Brews, and Poise in Parma

It was a really special, memorable evening for CLEguy and me! We’re so grateful to all the friends who came out to celebrate with us. And Willougby Brewing did an awesome job with the food, beer, and service – a great place for your next party!

Sunday was spent mostly relaxing, enjoying leftover cake and personalized M&M’s, and taking advantage of the great weather. I did, however, head over to Beachwood Place to collect my winnings from CLE Shopaholic’s giveaway: $50 to the new Vera Bradley store! I love Vera Bradley (I have a whole set of VB luggage), so I was super excited to check the new store out and spend my gift card. I also love how more and more “specialty” stores are putting locations in CLE!

The Vera Bradley store is adorable, the staff are ridiculously friendly and helpful, and I could have spent much more time and money than I did. As it is, here’s what I ended up with:

Much thanks to manager Heather for adding in the mini wallet to my bag as a “special surprise!” Get on over to Beachwood Place and check out the new Vera Bradley store! Thanks again to CLE Shopaholic for the great giveaway!

All in all, another fabulous CLE weekend. What new answers to Why CLE? did you discover this weekend?

***Disclosure: I entered and was randomly selected as the winner of CLE Shopaholic’s giveaway for a $50 Vera Bradley gift card. While at the store, the manager added a mini wallet to my purchases as a “special surprise” addition to the giveaway. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***

Why? Friday Inspiration!

Hands down, the best part of blogging has been the amazing, inspiring people I have met. One of those great people I “met” through Twitter, which led me to start following his blog: The Misadventures of Heldawg. As I started reading more about Christian Heller and his son, I really wanted to share their story with you. Christian is a part of Run for Autism and maintains a tireless race schedule, culminating this October with the Chicago Marathon. Aside from making me feel like a running bum, Christian also inspires me with his commitment and his always positive, albeit sometimes self-deprecating, attitude.  Read on to learn more about Christian, his son, and Run for Autism. I guarantee you’ll be inspired too.

CLEgal: What is Run for Autism?
TheHeldawg: Run for Autism is the main fund-raising channel for the Organization for Autism Research (OAR). Many people ask me why I am such an advocate for OAR and the work that they do. While that seems like an easy question to answer, reality is that it is because of a number of factors.
OAR has a strong mission statement, extremely pertinent core values and a solid strategic plan on how to give back to those that are affected by the autism spectrum. It is rewarding to know that money that they raise goes first and foremost to applied research. This is research to not only better understand Autism’s root cause and treatment options but also to help better understand if there are precautions to help prevent it in the future. I am also very pleased that they have expanded their conference options to be the “conference on wheels” approach which partners with local organizations to bring cutting edge tracks closer to home rather than holding one large conference that is tough to get away for. Lastly the education they provide. Funding from the money raised gives back in areas such as scholarships, educational aides (The Autism Guide for Educators and the College guides for those with Autism) and much more.

CLEgal: What’s been the most rewarding part of Run for Autism? What’s been the most challenging?
The Heldawg: This is a great question.  I have a few rewards to mention.  One I am not as chunky as I once was.  Running has allowed me to lose 75 lbs.  It also is a great motivating factor.  Everyone has their cause, I encourage them to latch on as it can help push you through those tough training moments.  I would say that the most rewarding. There is no greater feeling than knowing that when you cross the finish line, you have made a difference.
The most challenging is really fitting training into a full schedule. I work full-time, I have 2 kids (6 and 4), I am active in the local Autism Society and I love to be with friends and family.  So fitting in the long runs can be challenging.
CLEgal: What inspired you to get involved with the Autism Society?
TheHeldawg: First and foremost was my getting involved with OAR once my son was diagnosed as being on the Autism Spectrum.  He has Aspergers which has some of it’s own challenges as well as some traits that go hand in hand with what many know as autistic behavior.  When I started running for OAR I saw how much people cared and how much I was able to raise.  I said wow it would be great if we could have a local event to keep the money here for educational opportunities, events, etc and give back to the community.  I made a pitch to the local chapter of the Autism Society and before you know it I was a board member.

Christian's son, Cal - Image Source: The Misadevntures of Heldawg

 CLEgal: Tell us about the Akron Autism Society 5K you just organized. How successful was it?
TheHeldawg: The Autism Society 5k and Fun Walk was something we did to raise money here locally.  The money used would help us actually staff a paid staff member (currently we are an all volunteer organization) to help with coordination, fund events in the local communities for those families that are dealing with someone on the autism spectrum and provide more awareness and advocacy in North East Ohio.  I have to admit we had our bumps and bruises and not everything went as planned but this was our first event and we will learn from our mistakes. 
How successful?  Well to us it was a tremendous win!  We had 300 registered runners and over 900 walkers make up our registrants.  We had 32 vendors that showed up to have an autism awareness and educational vendor fair.  We were able to have balloon animal makers and 2 giant bounce houses for kids events.  All in all we raised nearly $60,000 which will all stay here locally!

CLEgal: How can we get involved? What can we do to help Run for Autism?
The Heldawg: To get involved for Run for Autism it can happen a few ways.  Reach out to them on Twitter @Run_for_Autism, Facebook, or touch base at www.researchautism.org.  You don’t have to run an actual marathon or any event – you can sign up for a local 5k if you want, that’s how I started.  You create your fundraiser link and away you go.  Or they could reach out to me and I can get them in touch.  I will say that they are the Charity Sponsor for the Cleveland Marathon 5k again next year and we are hoping to finish in Browns Stadium again!  I have heard that if you want to run the Cleveland Double (5k and either the Half or Full on Sunday) they may pay for your 5k entry!  Plus you get a cool singlet! If you don’t want to run – but want to help out in anyway – I fund-raise non stop and they can always donate to my efforts or contact me about being involved more locally. http://www.firstgiving.com/fundraiser/christianheller/bankofamericachicagomarathon

Thanks to Christian for sharing his story and being such an inspiration. I encourage you to reach out to Christian and find out how you can help with Run for Autism.

Have a great weekend! Do something inspiring!

Why? Painesville!

So, I’ll admit that some CLE suburbs are a mystery to me. For a long time, I didn’t venture east of Beachwood. Then, I discovered all the great bars and restaurants in downtown Willoughby. In the spirit of expanding my horizons, a couple CLEfriends offered to take CLEguy and me on a tour of Painesville. I was a little skeptical at first, but I ended up impressed by the variety of restaurants and bars and what a fun evening it turned out to be.

We decided our tour would be a “progressive dinner,” only including places within the Painesville city limits. Two of our “tour guides” are long-time Painesville residents, who have been involved with and know the community very well. Our tour began at Your Vine or Mine.

Your Vine or Mine is a micro-winery that makes their own wines. Customers can also create their own blend and bottle their own personal wine, which is definitely something I’ll be back to try. The decor reminds you of being in someone’s living room, with couches, antique lamps, and pictures on the walls. Overall, a very comfortable spot to relax with a glass of wine. I tried the raspberry wine and was delighted to find a red wine that was light and summery. We also had appetizers at Your Vine or Mine, including a cheese and meat plate and spinach and artichoke dip served in a hollowed-out baguette loaf. Yum!

From there, we headed to Silvestro’s Depot Cafe for dinner.

Silvestro’s has a relaxed, family restaurant feel. My one piece of advice: go there hungry! Everyone ended up with extra food to take home, including CLEguy (I think that’s the first time I’ve ever seen that happen). For my dinner, I chose one of the evening’s specials: Peppers Parmagiana. Hungarian hot peppers were stuffed with veal sausage, covered with marinara and cheese, and served on a bed of spaghetti. Mama Mia, that was good! My mouth is watering just thinking about it. While Silvestro’s has a lot of great Italian offerings, they also have steaks, pork chops, and chicken dishes. This is a restaurant where everyone can find something to enjoy.

Despite being completely stuffed, we soldiered on, as there were still 3 stops left on our tour. For dessert and after-dinner drinks, we went to Bistro 70.

The atmosphere at Bistro 70 rivals anything you’d find in Tremont or Ohio City. The restaurant is dimly lit, with gorgeous lighting fixtures and a unique bar. And if the drinks and dessert are any indication, the food is of the same caliber. We started with a round of chocolate martinis, which happened to be 1/2 off that night. Then to dessert…I chose the pineapple upside down cake. The cake was light and sweet and the pineapple added just the right amount of tartness. Cover the whole thing in ice cream and you have one delicious dessert. The plates also all came out with different patterns made with creme anglaise, chocolate sauce, and caramel sauce, making the desserts as pretty as they were tasty.

I definitely can’t wait to try Bistro 70 for an entire meal!

From the upscale to the dive bar, we next found ourselves at Jackie’s Sports Bar and Grill. Jackie’s has an ample bar and seating area, a pool table, and a jukebox with some great selections. But my favorite was the Lobster Claw Game. For $2 you got a chance to try to pick up a lobster with the claw. If you do, you get a lobster dinner made out of your winnings. Despite the fact that I had zero room for food, I decided to play (maybe I was trying to win a pet for CLEpup?). At any rate, I almost won. Really. Witness my excitement:

However, in what was probably the best result for all parties (especially the lobster), he slipped back into the tank.

Then, it was onto our last stop: Nemeth’s Lounge.

I love the atmosphere at Nemeth’s…it reminds me a lot of ABC Tavern. A rockin’ jukebox, a cool pop culture mural behind the bar, pinball (love!), and a great bartender made this a perfect final stop.

Also, Nemeth’s selection of craft bottled beers will impress even the craftiest of beer lovers. I actually had a hard time deciding which Belgian-style beer I’d be drinking. I happily enjoyed an Ommegang Witte and mused the expanding my horizons east was a pretty great thing to do.

I encourage you to do the same…check out an area you don’t know much about. Find a friend or two that lives there and get them to show you around. You’ll probably end up with a new must-return place or two. Hopefully you’ll be as impressed as I was by my tour of Painesville and maybe you’ll even shake off some stereotypes you had about the area. And if you ever want a tour of Painesville, I’m pretty sure I’m a certified tour guide now. I’ll even win you a lobster.

What new areas of CLE have you explored? Where do you want to learn more about?

Why? Weekends!

This past CLE weekend was all about the family time, as CLEguy and I celebrated Father’s Day with both our families.  But first, I had to have one of those mornings where you just want a do-over. Nothing was quite clicking right on Saturday morning: I was running late, the road I wanted to take was closed, etc. Just one of those days. So, I finally make it to my pedicure appointment, ready to relax. And then…splash. My iPhone went right into the pedicure water. Seriously, I wanted to cry. I have since gotten the phone dried out and working again and, to be totally honest, the break from technology was kind of nice…but it’s a lot easier to say that not having to buy a new phone…

Anyway, on Saturday afternoon, we had a cookout at CLEguy’s sister’s house. I love spending time with CLEguy’s family, especially I get to see his adorable niece (if that face doesn’t make you forget about a drowned phone, nothing will).

Hanging out with her grandpa

We also brought tasty treats to the party: fruit salsa and a cherry chocolate mousse cake.

CLEguy and I don’t just eat out all the time, we can also cook and bake! The fruit salsa is one of my favorite summer recipes. You take delicious seasonal fruits like mango, papaya, pineapple, avocado, and kiwi, and add chili peppers, jalapeno peppers, cilantro, onion, rice wine vinegar, and olive oil. The taste is very fresh and summery and it’s a nice change from traditional salsas.

The cherry chocolate mousse cake is a total indulgence, but so good. Layers of cake, with cherry chocolate mousse in between, all covered with chocolate ganache…yum! CLEguy knows his way around a kitchen!

Saturday evening, we went to a CLEfriend’s birthday party and spent the evening just relaxing with margaritas and good friends.

On Sunday, we headed to the CLEparents’ house to celebrate Father’s Day with CLEdad and CLEgrandpa. I think I was too busy eating to get any pictures of what we ate or who was there. Other than this little guy, of course:

I think we have to take him to Puppypalooza this year…he already has the outfit! It was great to be able to spend time with both our families this weekend and celebrate our wonderful dads.

So, that’s the wrap-up…a relatively low key weekend, but a great one nonetheless. What new answers to Why CLE? did you discover this weekend?

Why? Friday Inspiration!

So, I know it’s Father’s Day weekend, so it may seem odd that today’s Friday inspiration post is about CLEmom. But, I already wrote about how CLEdad inspires me, so hopefully you’ll indulge the timing.

Like CLEdad, CLEmom is a born and raised CLE-er, who has spent her life loving this great town. So much of my love for CLE comes from her. But that’s not all she’s taught me. A non-comprehensive list of what I’ve learned from CLEmom:

I thought I’d talk about my very amazing mom and what she has taught me:

That even when life should break you, you can’t let it. In the span of eight months when she was only 25 years old, she had a baby, her husband left her, and her mother died after battling cancer. Any one of those things would be enough to completely overwhelm a person. She is amazingly strong. And she taught me that no matter what life hands you, you find the inner strength to keep going.

How to appreciate the finer things. She has good taste, my mother. From fine restaurants to nice clothes to travel, she taught me how to recognize quality and how sometimes it’s worth splurging for.

To be a woman of faith. And I don’t just mean because she asks if I went to church, although she does that, too. She raised me to understand that faith, however you define and practice it, can center you in a way that few other things can.

Value your girlfriends. Long before Sex and the City, my mom would have luncheons with her girlfriends where they would sit and talk and drink and laugh. And I usually got to sit there too. I understood from an early age that girlfriends are precious and that making time to nurture these relationships is crucial.

That being passionate about your job is more important than the paycheck. She taught Catholic elementary school for 17 years. She wasn’t in it for the money. But I still see her tear up around the first day of school. She loved her job and not because of prestige or the paycheck. Finding that kind of passion for what you do is rare and important.

You don’t need a man. Operative word being “need.” The point is that she taught me to be strong, independent, and able to take care of myself.

Sometimes love comes from the most unexpected of places. I never thought she’d end up with CLEdad (my stepdad). I’m not sure she did either. But they are a wonderful couple and an amazing example of what can happen when two people who have been hurt let down their guards and genuinely get to know one other. She taught me it’s important to look beyond the superficial “list.” Also that the person who finally treats you how you deserve to be treated is more often than not the right person for you.

Family will never fail you. It doesn’t matter what you’ve done, it doesn’t matter what you need, it doesn’t matter how long you wait to ask. Family will always be there for you.

My CLEfamily

Have a great weekend! Do something inspiring!

Why? Upcoming Events!

Summertime is finally upon us, at least according to the midges.  And there are tons of fun events going on in CLE, so let’s check ’em out:

Today – Wednesday, June 15 – is the first Walnut Wednesday. Sponsored by the Downtown Cleveland Alliance, Walnut Wednesday is a downtown chow down featuring our fabulous CLE food trucks. From 11:30am-1pm every Wednesday through August, food trucks will line up along Walnut Avenue and East Ninth Street to feed hungry downtown CLE-ers. This is sure to be a lot of fun and a great way to check out our phenomenal food trucks, so head on out!

Image Source - Mobile Cuisine Magazine

Thursday, June 16 you can check out, for one day only, Lady Gaga’s infamous meat dress as part of the Women Who Rock exhibit at the Rock ‘n Roll Hall of Fame.

Friday, June 17 and Saturday, June 18 are going to be rockin’ nights to catch an Indians game and cheer our team back onto a winning streak. Friday is the ever-popular “dollar dog” night, with post-game fireworks set to 80’s music. Saturday night, there’s a post-game concert by hometown CLE-er Michael Stanley.

Saturday, June 18 is the Ohio City Run & Crawl. This popular event starts at 7pm with a 5K Night Run/Walk and ends with drinks in one of the country’s top areas for bar hopping. Registration is only $25 and includes a t-shirt and post-race refreshments.

Image Source - Hermes Cleveland

Tuesday, June 21 (and every Tuesday this summer), Tremont Tap House is hosting a Yappy Hour from 4pm-9pm. The patio is pup-friendly and the part of the proceeds from every tab will benefit a different local animal shelter each week.  CLEpup has already marked this on his calendar!

Wednesday, June 22, Happy Dog is celebrating National Hamburger Day. For lunch and dinner, Happy Dog will only serve hamburgers and veggie burgers. Just think how good those Happy Dog toppings will taste on a burger!

Saturday, June 25 and Sunday, June 26 is the Lake Erie Wine Fest in Geneva-on-the-Lake. This event features wine tasting from great Ohio wineries, food, vendors, and more. $25 at the door and only $10 for designated drivers.

Saturday, June 25 is the Summer Solstice Party at the Cleveland Museum of Art. This is THE party of the summer, with live music, delicious food, great people-watching, and more. There are different levels of admission, ranging from $125 to $20, so every budget can attend and take in the spectacle.

Image Source - Cleveland Museum of Art

Monday, June 27, Lolita is hosting a 5-course wine dinner featuring wines from Hope Family Wines. The winemaker will be on hand to explain the pairings and answers questions. Cost is $60 per person for what is sure to be quite a feast!

Lots of great ways to fill your summer days, CLE! Are you attending any of these events? Which are you most excited about?

***If you know of a great upcoming CLE event, drop me a line on Twitter (@WhyCLE) or via email (whycleblog@gmail.com). There will be another edition of “Upcoming Events” before the big 4th of July holiday weekend!***

Why? Weekends!

Happy Monday, CLE! Hope everyone had a fabulous weekend! Lots of fun stuff to recap, so let’s get right to it…

On Friday night, Hungry in Cleveland, Beth, and I headed to Momocho for much-needed margaritas and girl talk.









I love everything about Momocho – from the food to the atmosphere to the staff. We scord a downstairs table, which meant traditional margaritas, Tecate beer, and taquitos were all 1/2 off. We started with non-traditional margaritas: blood orange for Beth, hibiscus flower for HIC, and strawberry mint for me. But, my new favorite margarita is the spicy mango: a tantalizing blend of mango, habanero, and tequila. We also got the guacamole sampler with the crab and corn, goat cheese, and traditional guacs. 

We all took advantage of the 1/2 price taquitos: Beth had the shrimp, HIC had the duck (my favorite, especially with the pomegranate barbacoa), and I tried the mahi mahi with pineapple slaw. The mahi was delicious, perfectly cooked and a nice, light choice.

For dessert, we 3-way split the fried ice cream and STILL couldn’t finish it all.  This is one huge dessert, but so delicious. Plus, we were treated to a festive sparkler addition in honor of my engagement. Thanks, Momocho! It was a perfect Friday night with two of my favorite girls.

Meanwhile, across town, CLEguy checked out the Hot Air Balloon Festival at Debonne Vineyards. We went to this festival last year and it is a great time, with plenty of food, delicious wines, and quite a spectacle once all the balloons are blown up. The nearby winerys are one of my favorite answers to Why CLE?, so definitely check them out for a lovely summer evening.

Saturday morning started with securing a reception venue and church for the wedding. You know, the usual Saturday morning stuff… Our ceremony will be at St. John Vianney church and the reception will be at Executive Caterer’s at Landerhaven next June. We’re so excited and know that it’s all going to be so special and beautiful! OK, enough wedding stuff…back to CLE…

Saturday night, we headed out to downtown Willoughby for dinner with CLEfriends at Lure Bistro.

Lure has a fabulous outdoor dining area and delicious sushi. Plus, downtown Willoughby is always a fun spot for lots of great restaurants, bars, and people-watching.









Lure has a great cocktail menu and I enjoyed the Red Raspberry martini, made with fresh raspberry puree. Next, I started my meal with a traditional seaweed salad. CLEguy chose the kani salad and I was very jealous of his choice: seaweed salad was topped with a fresh avocado and crab meat and covered with a soy reduction. Delicious!

We split the chef’s tasting plate, which, as you can see, provides a ton of great sushi. Aside from the traditional options, the plate also include cajun tuna nigiri and a Firecracker Roll. This roll had tuna, avocado, wasabi peas, and hot sauce. It was definitely a firecracker!

Our CLEfriends selected scallops and shrimp scampi ravioli for their entrees – both of which looked and smelled fantastic. For fabulous, fresh seafood and sushi on a fantastic patio, it doesn’t get much better than Lure!

On Sunday, CLEguy and I met up with Team Poise in Parma at my new go-to brunch spot: Deagan’s Kitchen. Two of my favorite things about CLE – blends and great food – in one place!

CLEguy tried the deviled eggs (good, but he still gives the win to the ones from the Washington Place patio party) and the Amish chicken and waffle. I went right for the lobster mac & cheese. This is my second time trying one of Deagan’s mac & cheese creations and I was not disappointed. The cheese was mild and creamy, the pasta was perfect, and there were large chunks of lobster throughout the dish. The salad added a nice, fresh touch to the plate. I also will not be hungry for about another day or so…

Also seen on our table: a seasonal veggie omelet, steel cut oatmeal with berries, drinks from the Bloody Mary bar, eggs, home fries… There was so much good food and so much great conversation! I always have fun with Team PIP and I always have fun at Deagan’s, so this was a total win as a start to our Sunday.

Feeling the need to burn off our brunch calories, CLEguy and I then headed to West Orchards Farm Market for pick-your-own strawberries. In a matter of 40 minutes, we picked 20 pounds of stawberries!

Talk about a great way to enjoy fresh, local, healthy food! The season is short, so check it out soon. There are a lot of local farms that offer fresh berry picking and it’s another great reason Why CLE? Strawberry picking is a lot of fun, it’s easy (promise), and you end up with things like fresh strawberry pie afterwards (so about burning off calories…)!

All in all, another fantastic weekend in the books. What new answers to Why CLE? did you discover this weekend?

Why? Friday Inspiration!

Lots of inspiring stuff going on, with CLE-ers showing love for our great city.

First, The Cleveland Bridge Project is seeking to re-open the lower level of the Detroit-Superior Bridge (Veteran’s Memorial Bridge) for use by pedestrians, bicyclists, and public events.  This bridge is one of the most well-known and recognizable in our City of Bridges.  The Cleveland Bridge Project wants to take the Detroit-Superior Bridge to the next level, by making this landmark even more accessible to the community.

So, how can you help?  Click on the link above and vote for The Cleveland Bridge Project in the “This Place Matters” Community Challenge. The Cleveland Bridge Project Could win $25,000 for improvements on the lower level of the bridge. Still need convincing? Check out this great video:

Another way to show your love for CLE is by entering to win the Cleveland City Living Awards.

Image Source - clevelandcityliving.blogspot.com

The Cleveland City Living Awards are looking for young professionals who live within the city limits of CLE.  Tell them what you love about CLE city living and give them your best CLE sales pitch. You could win a $5,000 home improvement/next move grant, just for sharing your love of CLE!

Finally, WMC Fest is coming to Gordon Square this weekend – June 11-12. Hat tip to CLEtweep kim_finley for letting me know about this cool event.  WMC Fest stands for “Weapons of Mass Creation” and is in its second year.  The festival includes speakers, artists, bands, and more.  From WMC Fest’s website, “Weapons of Mass Creation is a young grassroots movement to inspire and enable the creative mind. We believe that good things happen when ideas and talents are shared within the community.” How inspirational is that? Admission to WMC Fest is only $10 per day, so check it out and get inspired!

Lots of inspiring ways to be involved with your CLE community, so get moving! Have a great weekend, CLE! Do something inspiring!

***For more information on the Cleveland Bridge Project, check out Happy in CLE’s post.***

Why? Mustard Seed Market!

One of my favorite answers to Why CLE? is that there are so many great local businesses that are dedicated to the community.  Buying local keeps the dollars you spend here in CLE and contributes to strengthening our local economy at a much higher rate than buying from national chains.  One CLE business is celebrating 30 years in the community this year – Mustard Seed Market. In honor of 30 years of business in CLE, Mustard Seed Market is having an amazing promotion on Saturday, June 11.  The store is also giving away 10 gift certificates worth $25 each.  Read on to find out about the promotion and the giveaway.  But first, what’s so great about Mustard Seed Market?

I was lucky enough to get a tour of the Mustard Seed Market in Solon from Gabe Nabors, one of the owners’ sons and the second generation to be involved with the business.  Gabe’s enthusiasm and love for his family’s business and for the supportive community is obvious from the moment you meet him.  Mustard Seed Market is the largest locally-owned retailer of natural and organic products in the state.  Mustard Seed has high standards for anything it sells in its stores.

Image Source from Mustard Seed Market

These standards mean that what you buy at Mustard Seed – from prepared foods to produce to beer and wine to health and beauty products – is healthy, natural, and good for you. Mustard Seed is also committed to stocking local products.  All of the produce comes from 7 Amish farms, who, thanks to Mr. Nabors’ influence, grow only organic produce.

One of the ways Mustard Seed Market differs from other organic food markets is in its wide selection of “specialty” items.  Mustard Seed boasts two gluten-free food sections, dedicated specifically to gluten-free items.

Also, Mustard Seed Market’s selection of vitamins, supplements, and probiotics is literally 4 aisles wide, with everything you could possibly imagine to keep your body healthy and all of which are free of artificial dyes and preservatives.

Mustard Seed Market also offers reverse osmosis water filtration for only 25 cents per gallon!

The Market offers prepared foods, bakery made in-house, and a Juice Bar.  The Market Cafe is a popular spot for lunches on the go. Mustard Seed Market also does private catering and has an upstairs bistro that can be used for events.  Coming up on June 16 at the Motrose location, there will be a wine and beer tasting for only $15 per person.  So, lots going on at Mustard Seed Market – from shopping to eating to classes!

Juice Bar

Also, if you “check-in” on Foursquare at Mustard Seed Market, from now until June 30, you’re entered to win one of these adorable “Friends Don’t Let Friends Eat Junk” t-shirts (which you can also buy at the Market):

So, now, onto the even better stuff…the promotion and giveaway.  First, here’s the promotion, which Gabe Nabors tells me is the biggest in the history of Mustard Seed Market:

For one day, all full-priced items are 20% off!  You can stock up on great, local, good-for-you products and save a ton in the process! If you’re already a customer, you know this is a great deal.  If you’re not, go and check out Mustard Seed Market.  I promise you’ll be impressed! The store is on the scale of Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s, but it’s locally owned and operated and committed to keeping your money in CLE.

Now, here’s how to win a $25 gift certificate to Mustard Seed Market:

Tweet the following phrase: I saw it on @WhyCLE: Sat June 11th Get 20% Off @MustardSeedMrkt Click for Details http://bit.ly/jES4ST #MSM20%OFF

The contest closes on June 11 at 6pm, at which time Mustard Seed Market will select and notify you if you are a winner. You can enter once per day and the only way to enter is through Twitter. You must follow @MustardSeedMrkt so that they can DM you if you win.

Good luck and happy local shopping and eating!

***Disclosure: I was invited to tour Mustard Seed Market in order to promote the 20% sale and the gift certificate giveaway. I received my own $25 gift certificate to Mustard Seed Market after my tour. As always, all opinions in this post are 100% my own.***