Why? Weekends!

This weekend still felt like summer to me! So, despite the appearance of pumpkins later on in my post, I’m hanging on to the end of summer…

Brewnuts

On Friday morning, while the kids were in school, I went with my friends Mariah and Ashlie to Brewnuts for their Harry Potter-themed donuts that were available this weekend only.

Brewnuts not only makes gigantic, creative donuts, but they come up with lots of fun theme days to sprinkle even more magic on the donuts. I opted for a Sorting Hat donut, whose yellow buttercream filling told me I was a Hufflepuff.

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Add in a Butterbeer latte…

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and the cute, tiki-themed decor…

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and you have the makings of three very happy moms!

Bloggy Con

On Saturday, I attended Bloggy Conference, a conference for bloggers. Held at Cedar Point’s Hotel Breakers, the location was perfect for soaking in a bit more of summer.

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We heard speakers on everything from SEO to brand ambassadorships and had a chance to connect with other bloggers from around the country.

This was my first blog conference, despite how long I’ve been doing this, and I really feel like I came away with some valuable insights into things I can implement with the blog, as well as things that I don’t want to change.

Small City Taphouse

Since we were spending the night in Sandusky, I had dinner at one of my favorite restaurants out that way: Small City Taphouse.

This restaurant boasts 80 beers on tap, which obviously means you have to get a flight because it is impossible to choose just one.

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My two favorites from my flight were the Big Bad Baptist from Epic Brewing and the Haunted Hayride Pumpkin Ale from Masthead Brewing.

Small City Taphouse also has a full sushi and Asian cuisine menu. The TNT roll, with tuna and jalapeno was a great choice, as was the spicy egg noodles with beef.

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If you find yourself in Sandusky, definitely check out Small City Taphouse!

Cedar Point Halloweekends

On Sunday, my best guys joined me at Cedar Point for Halloweekends.

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From trick or treating through Kiddie Kingdom…

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…to trying out the new-this-year challenge course…

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….to catching the It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown parade…

…there was so much to do on top of the rides that Jeffrey always loves. It was a fall festival in summer-like weather!

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Halloweekends continue every weekend through October 28, so don’t miss this chance for some family-friendly thrills and treats!

So, that was my weekend! How was yours?

jenclesig_pur

Why? Chefs Unbridled!

On Saturday night, Matthew and I attended one of our favorite foodie events: Chefs Unbridled to benefit Fieldstone Farm Therapeutic Riding Center.

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This event brings together a collection of talented Cleveland chefs, all of whom prepare delicious small plates to be enjoyed while strolling the big tent on the Chagrin Valley Hunt Club grounds.

The weather was cooler and the chefs were thinking cozy, fall flavors. Chef Scott Kuhn and Chef Chris Hodgson of the Driftwood Group prepared seafood chowder and fried burrata, both of which were warm and satisfying.

Speaking of warm and satisfying, the tomato risotto from the Union Club of Cleveland fit that bill too! And the slightly spicy, totally tender pork ropa vieja from Sol was delicious!

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The newly-opened Polpetta was on hand with chicken meatballs with Thai peanut sauce over veggie fried rice. Yum!

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And Chef Demetrios Athenos’ stuffed dates wrapped in bacon were the perfect bite-sized nibble.

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All of this food and fun (and friends)…

 

benefited Fieldstone Farm Therapeutic Riding Center, which helps children and adults with disabilities, PTSD, and other physical and emotional challenges, connect with horses and find comfort and growth through these relationships.

 

The live auction, which included two in-home dinners provided by Driftwood Group, raised over $60,000 for Fieldstone Farm!

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What a fabulous, fall-like evening for a wonderful cause!

***Disclosure: I was asked by Fieldstone Farm to help promote Chefs Unbridled. In exchange, I received two complimentary tickets to the event. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***

jenclesig_pur

 

Why? Cleveland Candle Co.!

Last night, I got to hang out with some fabulous fellow blogger babes while getting hands-on with making candles, bath bombs, and lip balms, which was really a fantastic way to spend a Thursday night.

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Cleveland Candle Co. invited us in to not only check out their amazing pre-made products, but make our own too. Cleveland Candle Co. has a huge selection of fun, delicious, lovely smelling candles, with seasonal favorites, food and drink scents, and specialty scents (the Black Tie, trust me).

All of their products are produced with local ingredients (90% of the waxes used are sourced from Ohio) and all USA-made glass. Plus, Cleveland Candle Co.’s candles are soy wax and use all-natural ingredients, so they burn clean and smell wonderful.

To create our own custom candle, we started by exploring the scent wall and choosing scents we liked. Then the girls at Cleveland Candle Co. helped us create a blend based on the scents that worked for us. They could help make our candles fresher, sweeter, spicier…whatever our preference.

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My perfect blend, which I titled “Fall AF,” includes Apple Orchard, Mulled Cider, Crackling Firewood, and Orange Spice. So fall. I can’t wait to cozy up with it.

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Then we got to mix custom bath bombs, choosing our own scent and color. My blue Spa Day bath bombs will make for a relaxing soak, if I can use them before Jeffrey does! He loves bath bombs!

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We also created our own custom lip balms, getting to choose the perfect oil, butter, and scent to make our lips luscious. My blend included cocoa butter, blood orange and vanilla infusion essential oils, grapeseed oil, and Vitamin E.

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My balm’s name? Orange You Glad You Kissed Me 😉

It was so fun to not only support a local small business committed to quality products, but to feel like part of the process in creating our own items. I am NOT a crafty person, as we know, but the team at Cleveland Candle Co. made everything easy and fun.

Plus, we could bring in our own beverages and snacks, so we definitely had a party with wine, stuffed peppadews, and Reese’s cups, which is the trifecta of an amazing meal.

For pre-made products perfect for treating yourself or those you love or for a totally fun and unique party idea (birthdays, bachelorettes, any given Thursday), be sure to check out Cleveland Candle Co., with locations in Mentor, Coventry, and Ohio City.

***Disclosure: I was invited to attend a complimentary candle, bath bomb, and lip balm workshop at Cleveland Candle Co. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***

jenclesig_pur

Why? Tour de Bruell!

Every year, six of Chef Zack Bruell‘s restaurants host the Tour de Bruell, happening through September 3.

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If you purchase an entrée at all six participating restaurants, you are entered to win a private dinner for eight prepared in your home by Chef Zack Bruell.

Those overachievers who completed the Tour de Bruell by July 4 were entered into a drawing to win a progressive dinner through all six of the restaurants hosted by the Chef himself.

Last week, the winners of the progressive dinner, along with some very lucky bloggers…

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…gathered to eat our way through all of Chef Bruell’s restaurants on the Tour de Bruell.

We started at Table 45, located at the Intercontinental Hotel. Chef Bruell told us that this sleek, modern restaurant is his favorite from an aesthetic standpoint. Our course at Table 45 consisted of deliciously fresh sushi,

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as well as a cocktail called the Champagne Floh, made with champagne, Elderflower liquor, and local Floh vodka.

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From there, we boarded a chauffeured limo bus with the Chef (sidebar: sometimes being a blogger lets you do ridiculously awesome things) and headed to our second stop: Parallax.

Parallax is the oldest of the six restaurants and, if you asked me prior to this progressive dinner, my favorite (I think it still might be, but this night made it harder to choose). At Parallax, we enjoyed scallops that just melted in your mouth.

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Then it was off to our third stop: Alley Cat Oyster Bar. Alley Cat not only boasts an amazing seafood and fish selection, but also incredible views!

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This course consisted of ridiculous huge shrimp cocktail, oysters on the half shell, and a mini version of Alley Cat’s seafood charcuterie board.

 

Everything was fresh and delicious and the seafood charcuterie board was a unique twist on a common concept.

Halfway through the tour! We got back on the bus and headed to Chinato. Located right at East 4th and Prospect, this is the perfect stop before a game or concert downtown!

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The Bolognese sauce at Chinato has slow-roasted pork shoulder and is incredibly rich and flavorful!

Back on the bus for a short jaunt to Playhouse Square for stop five: Cowell & Hubbard. This restaurant prides itself on getting theater-goers to the show on time, while still providing the highest quality food and service.

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Our course here was trout that actually made me like trout!

Finally, we ended our evening on the most lovely, secret-garden patio at L’Albatros Brasserie, with a sensational cheese plate and grapefruit sorbet.

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It was truly a treat not only to experience all these restaurants, but to hear their history from Chef Zack Bruell himself. It’s also easy to appreciate his impact on the Cleveland culinary scene when you visit all the restaurants in one night. The sheer variety of cooking styles, menu, décor, and clientele served is impressive.

I’m so grateful I had the chance to tag along with the lucky Tour de Bruell winners. And the Tour isn’t over yet, so if you want to send your summer out with some great food, you have until September 3 to complete the Tour for a chance to win a private, in-home dinner. Trust me, the color commentary alone from Chef Bruell makes this a prize you’ll want to win!

***Disclosure: I was invited to attend the Tour de Bruell progressive dinner. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***

jenclesig_pur

Why? Yoga in the Village!

What do you get when you combine a great outdoor venue with yoga and delicious food and drinks?

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You get Yoga in the Village: Balance, Bliss & Brio! Head to the lawn at Legacy Village on Thursday, August 9 to enjoy a 60-minute, all-levels yoga class taught by Alicia Hansen, one of my favorite yoga teachers (and favorite humans).

Then head to the patio at Brio for cocktails and seasonal appetizers. Tickets are $20 and include the yoga class, one beer/wine/cocktail at Brio, and a selection of seasonal appetizers to share with your classmates.

Plus, you’ll not only be doing something good for you, but for others, too! A portion of ticket proceeds will be donated to the Arthritis Foundation, Ohio.

I hope to see you at Balance, Bliss & Brio. You know I can’t resist a yoga class (or a glass of wine)!

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

jenclesig_pur

 

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? Weekends!

Phew! What a steamy weekend in CLE! I was trying to stay cool all over town…here’s what went down this weekend:

Lyndhurst Spray Park

On Friday, we met up with friends at one of our favorite summer spots: the Lyndhurst Spray Park. This is such a great splash park, with lots of options for all ages, a playground next door, and it’s really well-maintained.

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Plus, with it being so hot, the best place to be was in the water!

#ShineBright Yoga

Saturday morning, I met up with Alicia for #ShineBright yoga under the GE Chandelier at Playhouse Square.

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Brianna Halloran led us through a spirited and (thank goodness since it was so hot) easy flow, with time for selfie breaks and dancing, too!

 

I’m constantly reminded to be so grateful for this amazing city and the very cool events that take place here!

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Distict

On Saturday night, I found myself back down on Playhouse Square with Matthew. We had dinner at District, which is a great spot for a pre-theater bite. They have a rose flight that is just the right thing for summer sipping!

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I had the swordfish with herbed compound butter, served over roasted jalapeno and lemon risotto.

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The flavors were spot on and this was a great summer dish with just a bit of a kick.

Matthew had the gnocchi with cilantro pesto, avocado, and grape tomato. He also added shrimp and chicken.

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This was a really interesting and delicious spin on gnocchi!

The food was so good, but the portions are small, so I would suggest adding on a salad (we split the caprese) and dessert (the peach cobbler for me and the Belgian chocolate ganache for him).

Tri-C Jazz Fest

From District, we headed over to Tri-C Jazz Fest to see Common and Jose James perform. Tri-C Jazz Fest has risen to prominence, attracting bigger national acts, as well as offering a huge street festival with free outdoor concerts.

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Jose James played an awesome set of Bill Withers hits, including an incredible version of “Lean on Me.”

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Common then came on to play a high-energy set showcasing some of his best music throughout his career. It was a great night enjoying innovative, amazing music in one of Cleveland’s strongholds of culture. I can’t wait to see who Tri-C Jazz Fest brings to town next year.

***Disclosure: I was asked to help promote Tri-C Jazz Fest. In exchange, I received two complimentary tickets to the concert of my choice. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***

Alicia’s Birthday

Sunday was spent celebrating one of my dearest friends, Alicia. We started with one of her Soul Flow Sunday classes at Elevated Dance Headquarters.

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Alicia’s usual class style of creative flow combined with lots of time for reflection was even more elevated with this meaningful birthday practice. Plus, we got to enjoy cupcakes from Michael Angelo’s Bakery after class!

Then it was off to Punch Bowl Social for an afternoon of drinks, food, and karaoke fun! I got to hang out with some lovely ladies…

 

 

…I got to eat lots of delicious food (the sriracha peanut fries and the It’s Nacho Mama’s come highly recommended by, well, me)…

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And then it was time for some epic karaoke styling!

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Oh my goodness, what a way to spend Sunday Funday! It was the perfect way to celebrate our friend and kick off what is hopefully a fantastic year for her.

Backyard BBQ

I capped off a busy weekend with Lane and Nathan at a great family backyard BBQ. I got pelted with water balloons by various four year olds and I made this tasty pasta salad that is definitely going to become a staple for summer BBQs.

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So, that was my Hot in Cleveland weekend. How was yours?

jenclesig_pur

 

Why? Twilight at the Zoo!

As summer gets into full swing, it’s event season at the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo. The Cleveland Zoological Society puts on several FUNdraising events for the Zoo during the summer months, the biggest of which is Twilight at the Zoo, happening August 3.

This summer marks the 25th year for Twilight at the Zoo, which combines bands, beer, food, and after-hours Zoo admission into one wild party! This year will be my sixth year attending Twilight at the Zoo, so I thought I’d take a look back at all the years of fun so you can have a sense of what you’ll experience at Twilight at the Zoo:

2012

Yup, there are cheesy photo opps with pretend critters, but also the chance to see some of the Zoo’s real critters as you move from stage to stage throughout the Zoo. Remember, Twilight at the Zoo is a great party, but also a fundraiser for the Cleveland Zoological Society to support the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo.

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2013

Twilight at the Zoo is a 21+ event and there are plenty of libations to enjoy! All levels of tickets include open bar. VIP tickets include additional beer, wine, and cocktail choices.

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2014

Glow necklaces! There are always fun giveaways like necklaces, flashing cups, and the like at Twilight at the Zoo. This is helpful because it is definitely a party-after-dark event!

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2015

Bands! Twilight at the Zoo is a huge outdoor concert, with bands playing simultaneously throughout the Zoo. Musical styles range from rock ‘n roll to swing to country to jazz. We often discover new favorite bands at Twilight at the Zoo…Billy Likes Soda quickly became a favorite and a yearly stop for us now!

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2016

So, there’s lots of walking and dancing at Twilight at the Zoo. While you wouldn’t know it from this happy, early-in-the-night picture, this is the year I ended up taking my shoes off and attempting to walk barefoot to the car before Matthew gave me his shoes. He’s a good one. Point being, wear comfy shoes and come ready to walk and dance it out.

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2017

Twilight at the Zoo is genuinely the party of the summer! We always have such a great time, from enjoying nibbles in VIP, to discovering new bands and old favorites, to partying with friends.

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Tickets are currently on sale for this always sold-out event! General admission tickets are $75 in June and $85 in July and August. Zoo Members can save $5 off general admission tickets in June only. Click here to purchase tickets.

***Disclosure: I was asked by the Cleveland Zoological Society to help promote Twilight at the Zoo. In exchange, I will receive four complimentary VIP tickets. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***

jenclesig_pur

Why? Silver Spoon Awards Party!

The Cleveland Magazine Silver Spoon Awards Party to benefit the Arthritis Foundation isn’t just a strolling food and wine event. It is a whole body sensory experience. From the tastes and smells to the sights and sounds, I always leave this party buzzing with Cleveland happiness.

So, let me take you on a little sensory overload tour of last night’s fun…

Matthew and I enter the VIP area and immediately head toward Porco Lounge and Tiki Room. Their set-up whisks us away to an island bar somewhere in the Caribbean…

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…and so do their drinks. Get the Painkiller! We enjoy our drinks while taking in the historic sights at the Crawford Auto-Aviation Museum at the Cleveland History Center.

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From the Caribbean to Japan, we can’t pass up the ultra fresh and ultra delicious sushi prepared by Chef Dante Boccuzzi at Ginko.

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The Silver Spoon Awards Party isn’t just a chance to eat great food, but also a chance to rub elbows with Cleveland’s culinary elite! Oh, you can also rub elbows with some blogger friends too!

We head upstairs to the main room and prepare ourselves (loosen our belts) to tackle this gauntlet of gastronomic  glory.

We snag a delicious chicken slider with mango habanero salsa from Deagan’s Kitchen & Bar before heading downfield to enjoy steak from Kosar’s Wood-Fired Grill and see Bernie Kosar himself!

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I almost fumbled my steak as I caught sight of Swensons Drive-In‘s burgers and mini milkshakes! I had two mini shakes, because they’re mini, obviously.

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Next up was the delicious chorizo and roasted corn from Butcher and the Brewer and the comforting smells and tastes of French Onion Pot Roast from Creekside Restaurant & Bar.

We spiced things up with the delicious offerings from Thai Thai (the buzz is well earned) while taking in the beautiful sights and sounds of the Euclid Beach Park Grand Carousel.

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We couldn’t resist diving under the sea with Pier W‘s oyster po boy and Marble Room‘s smoked salmon puff.

I attempted to look dainty as I tore into the ribs from Mabel’s BBQ, but that pepper crust and mustardy sauce made all restraint go away!

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Speaking of making all restraint go away, we definitely did shots of ceviche followed up with shots of Mezcal. We blame Chef Jonathon Sawyer and this The Greenhouse Tavern deliciousness.

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We capped off this feeding frenzy with sweet treats from one of my favorite east side haunts, Luna Bakery and Café. I didn’t dive in to this table set-up face first, but I wanted to.

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Then, it was back downstairs for another visual treat: watching bartenders from Ginko, Porco Lounge and Tiki Room, Salt+, and Cork & Cleaver Social Kitchen compete in a Chopped-style cocktail competition, with ingredients including Woodford Reserve, green tea, rhubarb, and dragon fruit.

We also got to sample their unique creations and vote for our favorite! Matthew and I split our votes between Porco Lounge and Tiki Room and Ginko.

Tired, stuffed, and overwhelmingly impressed yet again by this event and Cleveland’s diverse and vibrant food scene, we waddled back to home to dream of next year’s Silver Spoon Awards Party!

***Disclosure: I was asked to help promote the Silver Spoon Awards Party. In exchange, I received two complimentary VIP tickets for myself and 2 general admission tickets to give away. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***

jenclesig_pur

Why? The South Side and Hi & Dry!

Last week, I met up with some fabulous lady bloggers for a taste of two fabulous Tremont restaurants: The South Side and Hi & Dry. The South Side was opened in 2003 by Sherman DeLozier with the idea of being a middle ground for Tremont’s restaurants: not too fancy, not too casual. And Chef Natasha Pogrebinsky, who grew up in Parma, does just that with fabulous and fun menu offerings.

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We got a broad taste of The South Side’s menu, including items that will be appearing on the summer menu starting in early May. The gazpacho and seafood shooters and Big Fat Greek Salad (watermelon, cucumber, tomato, onion, feta, and basil), both tasted just like summer should: fresh and delicious!

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The tuna and avocado salad was incredible and had everyone going back for seconds!

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The beets and grapefruit salad was also light, bright, and so good!

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We also got to sample several different kinds of tacos: steak, shrimp, and black bean and kimchee.

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Pair them with a habanero tequila and peach margarita and you’ll want to spend your taco Tuesdays at The South Side!

The South Side also pays homage to Natasha’s Eastern European roots with things like deep-fried pierogi stuffed with mac ‘n cheese and kielbasa kebabs (kielbasa and potato pancakes).

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A bite of these with the chipotle aioli is SO GOOD!

But Chef Natasha didn’t stop there and showed us her skill with fish and pasta, too. The mushroom ravioli with truffle and beet fettucine with goat cheese and dill were both well-prepared and delicious!

The pesto-crusted salmon and tomato-roasted grouper also elevate The South Side’s menu to true gastro pub status. The food is creative and tasty, while still being accessible and not too pretentious.

The South Side strip and St. Louis style ribs will keep the more traditional meat-eaters happy, with just enough of a foodie flair.

Oh, you’re a pizza fan? Try the shrimp primavera pizza!

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And if you’re looking for brunch decadence, look no farther than the Money Ball, a meatball wrapped around a 6-minute egg and baked under a blanket of pie dough, served with buttermilk sausage gravy.

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The South Side truly has something on their menu for everyone! The food, drinks, and staff are easy-going and genuinely wonderful. If this place slipped off your Tremont radar, as it did mine admittedly, make sure you get there soon for all this Cleveland-grown deliciousness!

We then waddled (literally) down the street to Hi & Dry for a sampling of their playful cocktail menu and some duckpin bowling.

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All of Hi & Dry’s cocktails are named after hashtags. I think the #CaseoftheMondays (pictured here) is my favorite! And while Hi & Dry is primarily a bar and arcade destination, there are some fun bar food menu items, including this SPAM sandwich.

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So, whether you’re in search of a great meal, a great drink, or a great time, you can’t go wrong stopping at The South Side or Hi & Dry (or both)! These locally-owned, locally-focused restaurants are true gems in the Tremont neighborhood!

***Disclosure: I was invited to attend a complimentary tasting at The South Side and Hi & Dry. Much thanks to Tricia of Planes, Trains, and All of Our Meals for organizing this event. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***

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