Why? Weekends!

It was a low-key weekend, which after last weekend’s birthday busy-ness, was much-needed.

Sunrise Yoga

On Saturday morning, I headed down to the Cleveland American Heart Association Heart Walk for a sunrise yoga class with my girl Alicia.

GrooveRyde, where Alicia teaches on Monday nights (take her GrooveFlow class…your thighs will hate you, but thank you), was one of several local businesses supporting the Heart Walk with additional fitness offerings, fun booths, and more.

I forgot how different it is to practice on the grass, though. You’re using different muscles to stabilize and you’ll definitely feel the difference the next day!

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The view of the city at sunrise makes it worth it though!

Soccer

So, I’m officially a soccer mom!

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Jeffrey joined the school soccer team and had his first two games on Saturday morning. From learning which way to kick the ball (mostly because of kicking it the wrong way) to agreeing to play defense, then immediately asking “What’s defense?,” it was equal parts heartwarming and hilarious.

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But I’m so proud of Jeffrey for trying something new and for the coaches for doing a great job exposing the kids to soccer specifically and sportsmanship generally.

Birthday Dinner

I also snuck in one last birthday dinner at my parent’s house. We had delicious, huge crab legs from Lobster Brothers, tasty sangria, and a decadent ice cream cake from Mitchell’s.

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Despite the candles literally singeing my hair (the hazards of a bigger number birthday), it was a lovely celebration. My presents also added two new leopard-print items to my ever-growing collection!

How was your weekend?

jenclesig_pur

Why? Weekends!

I spent the weekend celebrating my impending birthday and it was nothing short of perfection…

Winery Hopping

On Saturday, I gathered some of my favorite ladies and went winery hopping in Geneva. We started at Laurentia Winery, which has fast become a favorite of mine thanks to their excellent wines (their Cabernet Sauvignon is incredible) and beautiful tasting room.

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We ordered tons of nibbles for the table, from cheese and charcuterie boards to a brie, fig, and pork belly flatbread (I didn’t share, but it’s my birthday party, dammit) to hummus and more.

Plus, a trio of decadent desserts made even more special with the sweet additions of Mariah’s candles and sparkly “Happy Birthday.”

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From there, we headed to M Cellars, where a bottle of their fantastic Brut Rosé enjoyed on the patio with live music convinced Elizabeth, Alicia, and I that summer is not quite done yet!

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Consider this my application to be an M Cellars model 😉

Our final stop was Harpersfield Vineyard for some Pinot Noir and veggie pizza.

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This cozy, dog-friendly winery has quickly become a must-stop because of the relaxed atmosphere and delicious food.

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It was a perfect afternoon exploring some of my personal highlights of Geneva wine country.

Indians Game

On Sunday, my friend Anne took me to the Indians game, because I love me some birthday week baseball as much as some birthday week wine.

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Not only did we bring home a win, but we enjoyed some patio time at Thirsty Parrot and a Ballpark Sundae from Sweet Moses, too.

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It was a lovely weekend taking in some of my favorite places in Northeast Ohio with some of my favorite people! How was your weekend?

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Why? Taste of the Browns!

Despite losing on the field in the home opener, the Cleveland Browns still scored a big win this week at FirstEnergy Stadium. The 21st annual Taste of the Browns fundraiser to benefit the Greater Cleveland Food Bank was hosted on Monday night and raised hundreds of thousands of dollars to feed the hungry in our community.

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The event brought together Browns players and alumni, fantastic chefs and restaurants, and fans of the team and the city, all to help those in need. Fifty percent of the people served by the Greater Cleveland Food Bank are children or the elderly, so this event truly benefits those least able to help themselves.

From Chomps…

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to stadium views…

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…to foodie friends…

…to the delicious dishes, this event was a taste touchdown!

Some of my favorite dishes included the braised lamb with corn masa from Momocho

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…the tuna tartare tacos from Fahrenheit

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…the sliders with OBJ sauce (spicy!) and my favorite pork cracklins from B Spot Burgers

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…the wild boar bolognese from Johnny’s Downtown

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…and the scallop ceviche from Barrio Tacos, which I gobbled without getting a picture!

I’ve always been impressed with the Browns organization’s commitment to the community and the star power that helped make last night a success is no exception.

Cheers to a successful fundraiser for the Greater Cleveland Food Bank and a successful season for the Cleveland Browns!

***Disclosure: I was asked to help promote Taste of the Browns. In exchange, I received two complimentary VIP tickets to the event. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***

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Why? Chefs Unbridled!

One of my favorite foodie events of the year is Chefs Unbridled, to benefit Fieldstone Farm Therapeutic Riding Center. Not only is the food always outstanding, but the setting is picturesque too.

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The weather was just perfect on Saturday night for this year’s event. Outside the tent, we enjoyed samples from Tom’s Foolery Distillery

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…and Crooked Pecker Brewing Company. The Driftwood Group food truck was also on hand with delicious offerings like hangar steak, halibut, and their famous tater tots with yum-yum sauce.

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Inside the tent, there were tasty morsels from some outstanding Cleveland chefs, along with live music, a spirited live auction, a wine pull, and a special appearance from Willie, one of Fieldstone Farm’s therapy horses.

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The dishes I most enjoyed from the evening were the flavorful duck breast with fried farro from Flour Restaurant

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…the truffled bologna sandwich from The Black Pig (bonus points for serving it on an English muffin…I love those!)…

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…the Tinman burger from Tinman, which is one of the tastiest burgers I’ve had in ages…

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…the lobster mac ‘n cheese with a delicate sauce that didn’t detract from the lobster from The Driftwood Group

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…the apple tart, which was fall dessert at it’s best, also from The Driftwood Group…

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…and the simple, delicious cacio e pepe agnolotti from The Union Club.

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All of this food, wine, and fun raised money for Fieldstone Farm Therapeutic Riding Center, which serves over 1,000 children and adults with special needs by connecting them with horses and teaching them independence, social skills, and more.

It was another year of perfection (and accidental outfit twinning with Jen) at Chefs Unbridled!

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

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Why? Weekends!

It was a busy holiday weekend in Cleveland. Here’s what we were up to…

Totally 80’s Birthday Party

On Saturday, my friend Denise hosted a Totally 80’s Birthday Party for her husband Ritch. From the decor…

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…to the drinks…

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…to the music, everything was on-point 80’s themed.

Of course, we went all out with our 80’s looks too, including making good use of the crimper that Denise found on Amazon!

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It was a fun party with lots of good food, good friends, and good times!

Balance & Brews

On Sunday, I met up with Alicia, Lisa, and Ann for Balance & Brews at Bookhouse Brewing.

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Balance & Brews is preparing for a hiatus in its weekly beer and yoga schedule, so it was great to sneak in one more class before the break, especially since it was taught by Balance & Brews founder, Melissa.

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After class, we enjoyed both the beer and the books at Bookhouse Brewing!

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I love this cozy little spot with great beer!

Cleveland National Air Show

On Monday, we went to the Cleveland National Air Show: a staple in any Clevelander’s Labor Day Weekend plans. Usually we just watch the show from a distance, but this year we went inside the show grounds at Burke Lakefront Airport.

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Not only do you get an up-close view of the planes and get to see lots of passes that aren’t visible from a distance, but there are also lots of aircraft to explore on the grounds of the show.

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Some of our favorites this year included the U.S. Air Force F-35A Lightning II, the Mike Wiskus Airshows, the USA Golden Knights, and of course the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds.

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It was certainly an impressive display of flying talent, as well as the incredible machines that are part of the US military.

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The Cleveland National Air Show is a financially self-sufficient non-profit, which means that your ticket proceeds help to continue putting on this world-renowned air show.

I can remember sitting in my grandpa’s driveway watching the planes from the Air Show when I was growing up. It was so cool to be able to see them up close on the Air Show grounds.

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***Disclosure: I received complimentary tickets to the Cleveland National Air Show, courtesy of Destination Cleveland. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***

How was your holiday weekend?

jenclesig_pur

Why? Weekends!

What a beautiful weekend in CLE! Here’s what we were up to:

Lola Bistro

On Friday night, Mom and I met up for dinner at Lola Bistro. It was the perfect night to sit outside and take in the great weather and the game night crowds on East 4th Street.

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Lola Bistro is in the process of unveiling a new menu. Our server told us Chef Symon was recently in town to help develop the new dishes. For our appetizers, we selected one new dish and one classic one.

The Beef Cheek Pierogi, with mushrooms and horseradish crème fraiche, is still on the menu and is so delicious!

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We also enjoyed the seasonally-perfect Tomato Salad, with fresh and pickled tomato, peaches, almonds, dill, and farm cheese.

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Mom had the Strip Steak, with stilton au poivre, frisee, pickled shallots, and chives. The steak was perfectly done, simple, and delicious.

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I had the Duck and Foie Gras Meatloaf, with celery root puree. The slices of meatloaf were thin, almost like terrine, and the flavor was smoky and rich, with just the right amount of foie gras.

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For dessert, I couldn’t pass up the 6am Special, another item I’m so glad stayed on the menu. This decadent dessert has brioche French toast, maple-bacon ice cream, and roasted apple.

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Mom had the My Dad’s Favorite Cake, with lemon cake, strawberry buttercream, lemon curd, raspberry jam, and vanilla bean ice cream. I love the combination of berries and lemon!

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It was a fantastic dinner! The new menu at Lola Bistro is definitely worth a visit or two!

House of Blues Foundation Room

Then we headed down the street to the Foundation Room at House of Blues Cleveland.

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The Foundation Room is a membership-based space at House of Blues, with a great menu of cocktails and food;

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a funky vibe, with lots of cozy spaces;

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and a gorgeous new flower wall from CLE Flower Walls on the patio overlooking East 4th Street.

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Foundation Room membership benefits range from food and beverage discounts to exclusive presale access to backstage tours. Click here to learn more about the various membership levels and elevate your House of Blues experience.

***I was invited to a complimentary event at the Foundation Room, with cocktails, food, discounted parking, and a swag bag. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***

Cleveland Garlic Festival

On Saturday, Jeffrey and I had a stinkin’ good time at the Cleveland Garlic Festival.

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This annual event is a fundraiser for North Union Farmers Market and supports not only the markets around town, but also their Access Programs, Mighty Locavores, and more.

I had the cool opportunity to be a judge for the beef competition of the Top Chef Garlic Grill-Off. Chefs from Nomad Culinary, CLE Kraut, and EDWINS Leadership & Restaurant Institute presented their beef and garlic creations.

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I was blown away by the creativity, plating, and downright deliciousness of all the food!

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Congratulations to Nomad Culinary, who won the competition. It was a tough choice picking a favorite, for sure!

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We also checked out all the varieties of garlic for sale, the live entertainment, and the kids area! There is so much to do at the Cleveland Garlic Festival! This is definitely an annual tradition for us.

***Disclosure: I was asked by North Union Farmers Market to help promote the Cleveland Garlic Festival and to judge the Top Chef Garlic Grill-Off. In exchange, I received four weekend passes to the Garlic Festival. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***

We actually had a few other things this weekend, including another festival, stopping by Matthew’s regatta, and a baptism, so you get the picture…it was a busy weekend!

Since Jeffrey starts school this week, I’m glad we squeezed in so much fun! How was your weekend?

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Why? S’mores Pairing with Sweet Costo!

This week, my dear friend Maria and I had a super sweet evening with Sweet Costo at Western Reserve Distillers.

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But before we got to the s’mores pairing, we grabbed some dinner at Distill Table. There’s a whole menu of cocktails at Distill Table named after local landmarks, which is so fun.

Maria dove right in to the s’mores theme of the evening and had the Mastick Woods, with High West Bourbon, High West Campfire, smoked syrup, chocolate bitters, graham cracker, and toasted marshmallow.

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I had the Memphis Kiddie Park, with Old Overholt Rye, Orgeat, HM Peach Cordial, Angostura, and ginger beer.

We shared the Crispy Brussels, with whipped lemon ricotta, bacon, honey, and ciabatta to start. And by shared, I mean devoured!

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For dinner, I had the Coconut Curry Shrimp Quinoa Bowl, with toasted quinoa, peppers, tomatoes, basil, salted almonds, and fresh lime. This was a flavorful, but not spicy, curry.

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Maria had the Twin Peaks Farm Meatloaf, with potato puree, crispy onions, and pineapple ketchup. Both were elevated, delicious comfort food dishes!

Then we headed next door to Western Reserve Distillers for the s’mores pairing event. Shelby of Sweet Costo created four original s’mores desserts, that were paired with a red wine, an Imperial stout, and Western Reserve Distillers whiskey.

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We had a s’mores candy bar (marshmallow forward), a s’mores macaron (chocolate forward), and a “traditional” s’more with homemade graham crackers. There was also a shot of graham cracker liquor in a marshmallow cup!

Shelby kicked off the pairing by not only explaining the desserts, but why she felt the drinks were good compliments to them. She also gave us the history of s’mores! From there, the tasting was self-guided. You could try each beverage with each dessert and decide which pairings you enjoyed best.

Personally, my favorites were the macaron with the red wine and the traditional s’more with the Imperial Stout.

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Western Reserve Distillers also created amazing s’more-themed cocktails for the evening It was a sweet evening of delicious food, tasty cocktails, and lots of good girl talk!

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Why? Zoo Clues and Brews!

I’m having a “challenge my brain” kind of week! Last night, Matthew and I met up with Julia and Ben for the Cleveland Zoological Society‘s Zoo Clues and Brews scavenger hunt.

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We started out by fortifying ourselves with snack and adult beverages. I swear, whatever Cleveland Whiskey brings, I’m drinking!

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Driftwood Catering provided tasty bites, like sliders, Mediterranean and avocado bruschetta, corn dogs, and pretzel bites with cheese.

Then it was time for the scavenger hunt. Some teams wore costumes or matching shirts to show their spirit and creativity. My two favorites were the team dressed as “Sorry” game pieces and the team that named themselves “Bear Crawl.”

Our team, the Drama Llamas, did pretty well, although we didn’t complete all the questions. There is a lot of ground to cover at the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo! You can have up to six people on your team and it’s definitely your best strategy to have more people and split up during the hunt.

We did get to see lots of the Zoo’s cute critters, from rhinos to bears to takin to tigers.

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We also learned some interesting new facts about the Zoo’s animals. I confess to not always reading the exhibit signs when I’m there with Jeffrey, so this was a chance for me to do that and then dazzle the other moms on our next play date at the Zoo (I shouldn’t be that Mom, right? Right.)

It wasn’t just factoids to find on the scavenger hunt. There were photo challenges too!

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Anytime you can be somewhere after hours, beer in hand, engaged in some friendly competition, you’re bound to have a good time.

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Zoo Clues and Brews was put on by The Herd, the young professionals group of the Cleveland Zoological Society. They plan events throughout the year, including Sunday Strolls through the Zoo and networking nights at Terrestrial Brewing. If you’re a YP looking to get more involved with the Zoo and its conservation efforts, check out The Herd!

***Disclosure: I was asked to help promote Zoo Clues and Brews. In exchange, I received a complimentary team registration for the event. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***

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Why? Last Call Trivia!

Last night, my friends Melissa, Amy, and I tested our knowledge of literature, science, geography, pop culture, and more, all while drinking beer! We attended Last Call Trivia‘s weekly trivia night at Noble Beast Brewing Co.

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Trivia starts at 7pm, so we got there a little early so we could snack and drink first. I really enjoyed the Noble Beast Barry and Oktoberfest beers.

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The food was great, too! The Hopcorn, with Shagbark Heirloom popcorn, cheddar and malt seasoning, hopped olive oil, and beer vinegar aioli drizzle was perfect for snacking. The Nachos with pork carnitas confit, 3-cheese sauce, Shagbark chips, black beans, radish, cilantro, lime crema, and scallions were so flavorful! And the Spent Grain Bavarian Pretzel, with 3-cheese sauce, honey Kolsch mustard, and black flake salt was a nice compliment to the Oktoberfest beer in particular.

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Not only were Noble Beast’s beer and food impressive, but the atmosphere was great too. Cute and casual, with a nice breeze from the open garage doors and picnic tables perfect for fitting trivia teams. I also noticed both a kids menu and a couple boxes of toys, so it’s definitely a family-friendly spot (maybe not for trivia night, but in general).

Then it was time for Last Call Trivia to start. Our host, Tim, went around to each table and explained the rules. For each round, you can wager points based on how sure you are of your answer. This definitely added fun to the evening. Some answers we knew we wanted a high wager and some we wished we didn’t have to wager at all!

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We also got to use Last Call Trivia’s online weekly hint. You’re given a list of words, one of which will be the answer to one of the questions asked. We ended up successfully using our hint to answer a question we definitely wouldn’t have known otherwise!

After the first round, Team Mom Brain was in third place, but we slipped in the second round (maybe it was the second round of beers that caused it?) But even though we didn’t win, we had a great time challenging our brains, having some lighthearted competition, and realizing we know more random nuggets of trivia than we might have thought.

Noble Beast was full last night and almost every table was participating in Last Call Trivia, so it’s definitely a popular night out! You can also join the Last Call Trivia Fall League, which started last night. If you play 6 times during the season, you can qualify for the city tournament and a cash prize of $1,800!

Last Call Trivia isn’t just at Noble Beast Brewing either. You can check out the complete schedule here, but just about any night of the week you can find a Last Call Trivia event, from Avon to Willoughby. Some of the participating venues include Platform Beer Company, Nano Brew, The Brew Kettle, Coventry Panini’s, Terrestrial Brewing, Bookhouse Brewing, Moe’s Tavern, and more.

So, grab some friends, enjoy some local beers, and have a fun night (or join the league and have lots of fun nights) with Last Call Trivia!

***Disclosure: I was asked to help promote Last Call Trivia. In exchange, I received a gift card to Noble Beast Brewing. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***

jenclesig_pur

Why? Matthew’s Birthday!

Last week, Matthew turned 40, which called for several celebrations…

Marble Room Steaks and Raw Bar

Marble Room Steaks and Raw Bar was one of the spots we kept wanting to go to, but hadn’t yet. A big birthday celebration seemed like the perfect reason to go!

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We went a bit before our reservation time, so we could enjoy a cocktail at the bar and take in the ambiance first (thanks for the pro tip, Adam and Rebecca!)

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I had the Love Potion, with Belvedere Vodka, Pama Liqueur, grilled pineapple purée, pomegranate glaze, baked coconut flakes, and cranberry juice. This was light, fruity, and seasonally perfect!

Matthew had the High on Life, with Tanquerey Gin, St. Germain Elderflower, Dolin Blanc, cucumber, mint, lemon juice, and shiso leaf.

For dinner, we shared two appetizers: Hamachi Jalapeño Crudo and Duck Confit Duo (a Korean BBQ bao bun and confit-mushroom spring rolls).

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The Hamachi was perfection and the duck was smoky and delicious. I could drink the ginger-plum sauce that came with the duck!

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For our entrees, we made our own surf and turf. Matthew chose the dry-aged Delmonico and I had the King Crab. Both were simple, but prepared very well.

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The side dishes are shareable and we split the Crispy Potato Cake, with roasted poblano and guajillo chiles, garlic, scallion, and cotija cheese. It’s like a hash brown in heaven!

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For dessert, Matthew was presented with Marble Room’s homemade special-occasion cotton candy.

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He also got the Liz’s Gilded Chocolate Cake and I got the classic Vanilla Bean Crème Brulée, served with a snickerdoodle cookie (my favorite cookie).

The food, service, and atmosphere all truly made it a very special meal!

The Lion King

From there, we walked down to Playhouse Square to see The Lion King.

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The show is playing at the KeyBank State Theatre through Sunday, September 1 and is truly something to see. You know the story, of course, but there are new songs and the costumes are incredible. Disney never skimps on production value!

Dinner at Home

On Thursday (Matthew’s actual birthday), we enjoyed a family dinner at home with tacos and birthday cake, which is a meal that can keep everyone from a 5-year old to a 40-year old happy!

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Jeffrey helped make the cake, which made it even more special!

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Masthead Brewing Co.

Then on Saturday, we gathered with friends at Masthead Brewing Co. for one last birthday celebration of this big year.

Masthead was the perfect spot to meet up: great beer, delicious food, a nice patio, convenient parking, family-friendly for those who wanted to bring their kids…

We ordered lots of pizza and pretzels to share and of course enjoyed lots of craft beer, too!

It was a fun few days celebrating! Where are your go-to birthday celebration spots?

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