Why? RTA!

I’ve been known to complain about a thing or two in CLE, mostly when I think we fall short of being the flat-out awesome city I know we can be. So, one of my gripes has been that CLE does not do enough to promote the public transportation we have and enhance further access to public transportation. With the rising cost of gas, environmental concerns, and the downtown construction that currently makes driving the most high-blood-pressure part of people’s day, it seems like the perfect time to promote our Regional Transit Authority.

Image Source - gcrta.com

After living for three years in D.C. without a car and being able to get everywhere and do everything (except for one notable incident with my grocery granny cart failing me in the middle of Wisconsin Avenue), I know the value and the possibilities of a good public transportation system. And while RTA can certainly expand and improve it’s service, I think a lot of us are unaware of all the places we can go right now in CLE using public transportation.

Enter my friend and fellow CLEblogger, Joe Baur. Joe came up with the idea for an RTA Bar Crawl, to take place on Saturday, August 27. The bar crawl will explore both the East and West sides of CLE using only public transportation. Plus, Joe is working to get sponsorship, bar deals, and a local charity that will benefit from the RTA hijinks. You can read about Joe’s day on the RTA that inspired the bar crawl idea here. There is also an RTA Bar Crawl Facebook group that you can request to join to stay up-to-date on the latest plans.

Image Source - RTA Bar Crawl Facebook Group

One of the things Joe asked on the Facebook group was to share your RTA memories, so here are two of mine:

I grew up in what was, for a long time, a one-car family. And yet, it never seemed like we didn’t go places because there wasn’t a car always available. I can remember hopping the bus with CLEmom to go to the mall or to head downtown. In fact, I don’t have one memory of going to downtown CLE as a child that involves getting there in a car. We went, though…for Christmas shopping at the Twigbee Shop in Higbee’s, the lighting of Playhouse Square, for Indians games in old Municipal Stadium, and more. A lot of times, RTA was our access to places. I was so proud that I knew which bus to get on and it always seemed like such a fun adventure.

When I got to college, at John Carroll University, we took many walks up Belvoir to the Rapid station. The train could take us to Shaker Square or downtown or to the Flats (what’s up Bar Cleveland and Have a Nice Day!). One of my dorm floor’s first activities as freshmen involved taking the Rapid to Shaker Square for dinner at Yours Truly. And then there was cramming on the train to get to the St. Patty’s Day parade or being one of the many, many Carroll students taking the Rapid to the Dave Matthews concert at Gund Arena.

I have access to some great memories thanks to RTA: places and things that I might not have gotten to otherwise. When you think about, that’s a pretty cool thing and even more valuable than saving gas money or aggravation. I can’t wait to make new memories at the RTA Bar Crawl. Join the group and hopefully we’ll see you on August 27. What RTA memories do you have?


Why? Weekends!

Hope you had a great holiday weekend, CLE! Between a little relaxing and a little out-and-about-ing, mine shaped up pretty well. Here’s the rundown:

On Saturday evening, CLEguy and I went to the opening night of the Cleveland Orchestra Summer Series at Blossom.

The weather was beautiful and the lawn was packed. This is a slightly different crowd than I’m expecting for the Jimmy Buffett concert in a couple of weeks!

The orchestra was guest-conducted by Steven Reineke, an Ohio native who is now conducting the New York Pops. The first half of the concert was patriotic music. The second half featured the orchestra paired with Idina Menzel’s beautiful singing. Idina Menzel was the original Wicked Witch in the musical “Wicked,” as well as starring in the orginal cast of “Rent” and on “Glee.” The concert was fabulous – a great mix of songs, plus Idina was incredibly engaging and funny. The show capped off with an awesome fireworks disply, which was the perfect end to the evening.

One of the best parts about the orchestra concerts is that you can bring in your own food and drink. We saw everything from bottles of wine to full-out picnics. Personally, we brought the “bag of yummy-ness.”

A backpack filled with Norman Vineyards The Monster and three different kinds of cheese and crackers…what more do you need? I encourage you to check out a Cleveland Orchestra performance at Blossom this summer. They run through September 10 and are a great way to hear our world renowned orchestra in a fun, relaxed picnic setting.

On Sunday, we rounded up some CLEfriends and headed out to the wineries for a lovely afternoon. We started our day at South River Vineyard.

South River Vineyard’s tasting room is located in an old church, which provides a cute and quaint setting. South River also has two huge stone patios overlooking the vineyards, which are a perfect place to sit and sip.

We ordered bottles of the Dry Riesling, a nice crisp summer white, and the Trinity, a red blend with a big, fruity taste. After enjoying our wine, we were hungry (and still wanted more wine), so we headed to Ferrante Winery.

We started with appetizers of Trio Garlic Bread and Calamari, both traditional and delicious. I chose the Langostinos alla Manicoti for my entree. The langostinos were perfectly cooked and the cream sauce was not too heavy or overpowering. However, the manicoti lacked any zip. There was too much ricotta cheese and not enough flavor. CLEguy chose the Pollo alla Rustica, which had chicken, sun-dried tomatoes, bacon, Shiitake mushrooms, and a blush wine sauce. His dish was fabulous and full of flavor. I’ll definitely give the food another try, just not the manicotti.

CLEguy and I paired our meals with the Golden Bunches Riesling. I find myself drawn to crisp white wines in the summer and Ferrante’s Golden Bunches does the trick. It’s a great, not-too-sweet riesling.

The Whole Group at Ferrante's

Still needing dessert (and more wine), we next went to Grand River Cellars. We sampled the Muddy Paw Semillon and Grand Red, a blend of Merlot, Zinfandel, and Syrah. Both were good, but the Grand Red tied with the Trinity for my favorite of the day. We enjoyed passable desserts, good wine, and some live music on Grand River’s patio. The wineries provided a fun day with friends and the feeling of getting away, while still being relatively close to home. I think this picture pretty much sums up the day:

Monday, we stayed home (we needed it)! I made pulled pork and sweet corn and Nutella cheesecake bars and we enjoyed a homemade feast, took in the sunshine, and comforted two CLEpups who were very scared of fireworks. All in all, a fabulous Fourth of July weekend in CLE! What new answers to Why CLE? did you discover this holiday weekend?

Why? Upcoming Events!

Happy Holiday Weekend, CLE! As you’re sitting at your desk, anxiously waiting to get your weekend started, let me add to the impatience with some of the awesome things going on, not just for the holiday weekend, but for the next few weeks around CLE:

It’s the Fourth of July and of course that means fireworks displays, parades,  and community festivals around the CLE area. Cleveland.com has put together a great comprehensive list of all the goings-on for the holiday weekend. Click here to check it out.

Also, this weekend two fabulous CLEbloggers are celebrating birthdays, so much birthday love and happiness to Poise in Parma and Cleveland’s a Plum. You ladies are fabulous!

On Saturday, July 2, the Cleveland Orchestra kicks off its summer series at Blossom. The concerts this weekend feature patriotic music and fireworks and there are  concerts every weekend through September 10. You can even bring your own picnic and wine to enjoy on the lawn pre-show.

On Monday, July 4, our Cleveland Indians return home for a 7-game homestand against the New York Yankees and the Toronto Blue Jays. On the 4th, there will of course be post-game fireworks. But the Tribe will also be honoring the legendary Bob Feller at the game and giving away bronze Bob Feller statues at the gates.

Image Source - clevelandseniors.com

Wednesday, July 6 (and every Wednesday through August 31) is another WOW! Wade Oval Wednesdays event. Wade Oval Wednesdays are an outdoor concert series in University Circle, with music, food vendors, and a farmer’s market. The concert on July 6 features the Mojo Big Band.

Monday, July 11, Dinner in the Dark hosts another five-course dinner featuring talented local chefs, with proceeds to benefit local charities. This month’s dinner takes place at the new Market Garden Brewery in Ohio City. Click here to purchase tickets.

Thursday, July 14, Cleveland.com and the Indians are hosting a tweet-up at the Lincoln Park Pub from 5:3opm-8pm. There will be happy hour specials for attendees and prizes raffled off at 7:30pm.

July 15, 16, and 17 is Painesville Party in the Park. This is Ohio’s largest free music festival, with tons of great musicians, family activities, car cruise-ins, fair food, comedians, and more.

Saturday, July 16, Veggie U, a curriculum-based program that teaches children healthy eating habits and the value of natural, unprocessed food, is hosting a mega fundraiser and fabulous foodie evening all in one. The Veggie U Food and Wine Celebration features wine tastings, food by nationally-renowned chefs, silent auctions, and more – all on the grounds of the Culinary Vegetable Institute. Great food for a great cause! Click here for more information and to purchase tickets.

Image Source - Veggie U

Saturday, July 16, Emerging Chefs is throwing a Summer Whites Party. Chef Regan Reik of Pier W will create a pop-up restaurant on the East Ninth Street Pier with fabulous seafood offerings. Click here to purchase tickets.

Image Source - Emerging Chefs

August 5 and 6 is Vintage Ohio, a fabulous event combining food, wine, and craft vendors at the Lake Metroparks Farmpark. While this event is awhile away, advance tickets are on sale now for $25 for one day, $40 for both days. Click here to purchase tickets.

Whatever you end up doing for the holiday weekend and beyond, CLE offers lots of fabulous options for fun! Enjoy it all!

***Disclosure: I am an affiliate of Emerging Chefs and receive 5% of the ticket price of all tickets sold from the link above. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***