It was a pretty low-key weekend around here, thanks to the weather. Sometimes Mother Nature makes us slow down and that’s OK!
With being snowed in comes the opportunity to do some home cooking. I’ve been trying to find meals that everyone will like. Think: kid-friendly, but with enough flavor to keep the grown-ups happy too.
Friday night, I made baked chicken tenders with this recipe. What I really liked about this recipe was the batter incorporated Dijon mustard and mayonnaise, which gave the chicken more flavor than a standard egg wash.
I cheated a bit by using Heinen’s prepared foods for our potato side dish. But those stuffed twice-baked potatoes were hard to resist and Heinen’s prepared foods are so yummy!
Then on Sunday, we ventured out to my parents’ house. Jeffrey had been requesting to crack (not eat) crab legs and since the rest of us all enjoy the eating part, we figured we’d put him to work.
We did get Jeffrey to eat a couple bites of his handiwork too. The king crab legs were from Lobster Brothers and were sweet, tender, and delicious!
It’s tough to find a yoga class that allows both parents and kids to practice together (click here to read my post for Northeast Ohio Parent on where to find kids yoga classes.) So, Matthew and I were really excited for the chance to practice with Jeffrey.
The class incorporated yoga poses, breath work, and meditation, all in ways that were fun, engaging, and accessible for the kids.
The family yoga class is held once a month at the Mandel Jewish Community Center. Cost to attend is free for members and $10 for non-members. The next class is on Sunday, February 17, with sessions at 10am and 11am. Click here to learn more and register.
So, that was our quiet winter weekend. How was yours? Did you stay warm and snug or venture out?
2018 was, well, a year. To be completely honest, I’m not a huge fan of New Year’s Eve on a good year and this year was more challenging than most. I’m having a hard time separating the bad from the good, so I’m mostly just ready to welcome a new beginning.
But when I look back on it, there were certainly fun moments in 2018, along with a lot of growth, strengthening of relationships, and deepening of commitments.
In 2018, we ate…
…I yoga-ed and barre-d…
…we got cultured…
…and we got to the Point.
And my kid grew into even more of an extraordinary, funny, smart, inquisitive human.
It’s been a hell of a year and while I’m honestly not sad to see it go, I do hope the lessons, the growth, and the friendships stay with me into 2019.
May the New Year land softly, however you may feel about 2018. XO
Have we dispensed with the notion that hotel restaurants can’t be epically amazing places to dine? If so, let’s toss that out on the curb with the rest of things we need to leave behind in 2018.
Last night, Matthew and I thoroughly enjoyed a fabulous meal at Turn Bar & Kitchen at the Ritz Carlton Cleveland. Our server, Mary, and the hotel’s general manager, Yael, explained that the restaurant’s name has a dual meaning. One is that wherever you turn in Cleveland, there is something new to discover, especially in terms of cultures and ethnicities.
The other is that the restaurant turns as the day does, from a breakfast stop after a guest works out to a happy hour destination to an elevated dining experience to live music on the weekends.
While Turn is located in the lobby of the hotel, you’d never know it. It is set apart and quiet, with an insulated, comfortable vibe.
Matthew and I started with a couple smoked cocktails, which were worth ordering on presentation alone. Served in a stopped bottle with the smoke inside, they were expertly handcrafted and delicious.
Also, mine incorporated some of our friend Clark Pope‘s spicy orange habanero syrup…local craft cocktails FTW!
Also, at happy hour each day, the bartender does a demonstration of a smoked cocktail and serves samples, so that is not to be missed!
The food menu at Turn incorporates many different ethnicities represented in Cleveland, with food that is both elevated and accessible. You can order everything from matzo ball soup to a Polish boy to a falafel.
We started our dinner with The West Side Olive Bowl, featuring a selection of olives from the West Side Market, and the Polish Meatballs, which had the richest mushroom gravy I’ve ever tasted.
We also tried the soups: Matzo Ball for me and the Asia Town Tom Yum Goong for Matthew. Both were perfect to warm you up on a blustery winter evening!
For our entrees, Mary and Yael conspired to absolutely stuff us full of delicious food. We shared the Braised Short Ribs with red wine and charred Brussel sprouts, the Faroe Island Salmon with asparagus and lemon, and the Day Boat Scallops, with Ohio City Pasta and tomato broth.
The red wine demi glace on the short ribs was so concentrated and delicious and the meat just melted in your mouth.
While I like salmon, it’s not usually a first choice for me on a menu, but I would order this salmon again and again. The lemon sauce was just enough to make it stand out without overpowering the salmon.
The scallops were massive, perfectly prepared, and paired nicely with the asparagus and marscapone ravioli.
For dessert, we got a sample of three of Turn’s sweet treats: the Slavic Village Mini Paczki, the Northeast Ohio Cassata Cake, and The Cake.
The paczki were light, crisp, sugar-coated and filled with jam. The cassata cake was a delicious berry treat. And The Cake was a decadent blend of chocolate and orange flavors that paired perfectly with a side of Mitchell’s vanilla bean ice cream.
From higher-end entrees to sandwiches to salads and wraps, Turn’s menu offers a bit of everything and wonderful conglomeration of Cleveland’s ethnic pockets.
Turn is the perfect stop for drinks and dinner before an event at the Q, in between movies at the Cleveland International Film Festival, when you’re looking for a restaurant that shows off so much of what Cleveland has to offer, or for a post-holiday date night.
The biggest takeaway for me is that Turn has not only nailed in selection and execution what Cleveland is all about, they’ve also nailed it in terms of hospitality. Cleveland, much like Turn, is warm and welcoming, haute and accessible all at once. Turn understands that and executes it flawlessly.
***Disclosure: I was invited to attend a complimentary dinner at Turn Bar & Kitchen. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***
The breakfast buffet featured eggs, waffles, French toast, sausage, fresh fruit, pastries and breads, ham and pork belly, and the best bacon I’ve ever eaten (it is possible I ate an entire pound myself).
We also decorated cookies…
…and had so much time to be creative and fun with Mr. Kringle and friends. One of the things I love about Kringle’s Inventionasium is that it encourages a child’s imagination and creativity (and humor)!
The Hilton has been decorated this season in the bring, imaginative style of Kringle’s Inventionasium.
You can even spend the night in the Mr. Kringle Suite, available through January 5. The suite has been festively decorated for a magical holiday experience!
You can also visit Kringle’s Inventionasium at Tower City Center through December 30. Click here to plan your visit.
***Disclosure: I was invited by the Hilton Cleveland Downtown to attend a complimentary Breakfast with Mr. Kringle. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***
Holiday Play Date
And on Sunday, in what has become an annual tradition, we hosted Jeffrey’s Holiday Play Date for his friends (and ours). As the kids have gotten bigger and the invite list longer, we decided to have the play date at a community room, rather than our house.
We rented a room at the Mentor Civic Center, which made the party easy and fun (plus the kids loved the view of the ice rink)!
So, it’s officially become “we don’t go outside” season in Cleveland. But that doesn’t mean you have to give up all your favorite activities. Punch Bowl Social just opened an indoor miniature golf course that will keep you swinging through the winter months.
Punch Bowl Social Putt Club is the only one of it’s kind across all the Punch Bowl locations nationwide. Manager Mike Mauser told me that the reason for that is twofold: Cleveland’s weather is the perfect testing ground for indoor activities (but we love CLE anyway) and Cleveland boasts the largest Punch Bowl square footage across the country.
The course is 1,800 square feet of miniature golfing goodness on the first level of Punch Bowl Social. The course features 9 holes of fun, with a Nordic Woodland theme. The decor is spot-on and features local artists Charley Francis and Cleveland Blacksmithing.
We tried out the course and found it to be both challenging and fun! Jeffrey loved it, but Matthew and I found it tricky enough to make for a good game for us too.
There are drink stations at each hole, so you can properly secure your delicious Punch Bowl beverage while you play (the Orchard & Oak is my forever favorite there).
After our round of golf, we grabbed dinner. Matthew and I were both feeling the fried chicken vibes, with the Chicken ‘n Waffles for him and the A La Bama Chicken Sandwich for me. We also shared the Sriracha Peanut Fries with pork. So delicious!
Punch Bowl Social Putt Club is open daily and does not accept reservations. Stop in to add a little breath of summer to your winter months!
It was a fabulous holiday weekend, filled with family, food, and fun! Here’s the recap…
Sugar Pines Farm
I love Thanksgiving and we had a fabulous run of back-to-back dinners with family, but on Friday, I was ready to kick off the Christmas season. Step one was to get a Christmas tree.
We headed to Sugar Pines Farm for a cut-your-own tree experience. It was so fun to pick our tree, cut it down, and haul it back ourselves!
Sugar Pines Farm also has a bonfire and s’mores, wagon rides out to see Santa, and a snack shack with yummy things like funnel cakes, roasted nuts, and hot chocolate. More than just getting a tree…it was a total experience!
Plus, the tree is just beautiful and looks fantastic all decorated!
On Friday evening, we all headed to University Circle for a little preview of Holiday CircleFest, which happens this coming weekend.
Holiday CircleFest includes a Polka Skate with the Chardon Polka Band on Friday night; a holiday market, horse-drawn carriage rides, and live music on Saturday; and free admission to museums, live music, horse-drawn carriage rides, ice carving, and photos with Santa on Sunday.
This weekend, we checked out the Rink at Wade Oval, which is a centerpiece of the Holiday CircleFest events. Unfortunately the Rink wasn’t frozen enough for skating yet, but we can’t wait to go back and let Jeffrey have his first ice skating experience!
The Rink is open through February 18. The lights around the Rink make it just a lovely holiday spot!
…gingerbread houses created by talented and creative Clevelanders (Jeffrey and I had the tough task of judging these houses)…
…the Garden Express train…
….and delicious holiday treats and fantastic live music.
Glow is happening at the Cleveland Botanical Garden every day except Mondays through January 5 and is a lovely holiday tradition!
***Disclosure: I was asked by University Circle to help promote Holiday CircleFest. In exchange, I received three complimentary tickets to the Rink at Wade Oval and Glow. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***
We had a great time exploring the wineries and getting some fun souvenirs to take home with us! The Tannenbaum Trail is a yearly happening and for a small price, you can check out lots of wineries, get a cute Christmas decoration, and you have three weekends to complete the trail!
So, that was our weekend! I hope you all had a wonderful holiday!
…and all delicious! We were greeted with a taste of the winemaker’s reserve wine, served directly from the barrel. This handcrafted Bordeaux blend was delicate and the perfect start to our meal.
Matthew and I both chose the red flight, to try a variety of Cooper’s Hawk wines. My favorites on the flight were the Super Tuscan and the Cabernet Sauvignon.
We had an appetizer triple threat: the Crispy Brussel Sprouts, with cashews, mint, sweet Thai chili, and sesame-sriracha aioli…
…Asian pork belly tostadas, with scallions, sesame seeds, cilantro, radish, and sweet chili BBQ sauce…
…and the Cooper’s Hawk calamari, with sweet chili-ponzu glaze, cilantro, and sesame-sriracha aioli.
My favorite was the calamari, with was incredibly crunchy, even with the glaze and had an addictive sticky sweetness.
For our entrees, we shared the red wine braised short ribs, with mustard sauce, mashed potatoes, oven-roasted vegetables, and crispy onion strings…
…and the pistachio-crusted grouper, with mashed potatoes, mustard sauce, and asparagus.
Both dishes were well-executed. The short ribs were tender and the vegetables and potatoes were perfect pairs. The grouper was cooked perfectly, but we both felt that this delicate fish would have been just fine without the mustard sauce.
For dessert, Matthew had the Cooper’s Hawk chocolate cake, with hazelnut ganache and vanilla ice cream. I had the s’more budino, with caramel custard, chocolate mousse, and brown-butter toasted graham cracker.
Decadent and delicious, just like the box of truffles we got to take home, too!
The food was delicious, the wine was lovely, and the service was spot-on! Cooper’s Hawk is a welcome addition to Northeast Ohio! And you can check out information on their wine club, for access to special tastings and events!
***Disclosure: I was invited to attend a complimentary dinner at Cooper’s Hawk Winery and Restaurant. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***
We’re back after a fantastic vacation in Walt Disney World. This was a great time to go, not only because the weather was a lot warmer than it was in Cleveland, but also because Disney was completely decked out for Christmas.
We stayed at the Polynesian Village Resort. Located right on the Monorail, it was easy to get to all the parks, plus the hotel’s theme was fun and beautiful.
We took advantage of the holiday proximity and attended Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party, with dessert stations, a Christmas parade, and snow on Main Street (seriously, the most magical thing ever.)
The Magic Kingdom remained the favorite of our parks, with tons of rides for all of us to enjoy.
And Matthew and I had a lot of fun at Epcot, where we picked one food or drink item from each country for a great around-the-world experience!
My mom came with us, which made for great family bonding time! It also gave Matthew and I the chance to sneak in a date night at the Spirit of Aloha luau dinner, with great food and a high-energy hula show.
Matthew even got chosen for part of the audience participation dancing!
I loved seeing how excited Jeffrey was to meet his favorite characters, go on roller coasters, and just generally have a magical experience!
And now it’s great to be home and gear up for the holidays in Cleveland!
So, I fell in love with The Oak Barrel when it first opened and then somehow, I hadn’t been there in ages! Well, we went for dinner with friends last week and I am happy to report that it is just as yummy as ever!
Since my last visit to The Oak Barrel, I fell in love with bourbon cocktails, so I was super excited to dive into their Drinks Menu.
I had the Bourbon Daisy, with Four Roses, SoCo, fresh-squeezed lime juice, ginger reduction, maraschino reduction, and crystalized ginger. A little sweet, a little spicy, a little smoky…this cocktail was delicious!
We shared the baked Brie to start, with quince paste, local honey, and seasonal berries. Yum!
Matthew and I both took a deep dive into The Oak Barrel’s pork menu choices. I had the Yucatan BBQ Pork Tacos, with picked red onion, house slaw, and cilantro.
More sweet than spicy and super generous with the meat, these tacos were a win!
Matthew chose the Open-Faced Pulled Pork BBQ with jalapeno corn bread, house slaw, and Tabasco onions. The presentation on this is impressive, as is the taste!
Our friends enjoyed the Vegan Falafel Sliders (with olive tapenade, pickled red onion, bibb lettuce, and tomato) and the Spicy Shrimp Tacos (with avocado, corn, white cheddar, spicy mayo, and cilantro).
Everyone loved the food, the relaxed atmosphere, and the drinks and drafts at The Oak Barrel. And old favorite that hasn’t lost it’s shine at all!
It was a fun and busy weekend, as I got the chance to show off more of Cleveland to my friend Jen, who was visiting from DC. Here’s what we were up to…
Laurentia Winery and The Pompadour
Jen arrived on Saturday and we decided to have a fabulous evening out and about on the town. On past visits, I’ve taken Jen toward downtown for dinner, so I decided we should head in a different direction and try the wineries instead.
We started at Laurentia Winery, which was packed on a snowy Saturday night. There was live music, a fire in the fireplace, and a lively crowd. We enjoyed the Estate Cabernet Sauvignon for me and the Gewurtzraminer for Jen, along with a charcuterie and cheese board to share.
The wines and food were delicious and the atmosphere was both fun and relaxing. Laurentia has quickly become a must-stop for me anytime I’m in wine country!
From there, we headed to dinner at The Pompadour Bar and Tapas. I seriously cannot get enough of this cozy, delicious spot. For my cocktail, I had the Pompadour Buck, with Knob Creek Bourbon, ginger shrub, ginger beer, and angostura bitters. Bourbon and ginger are a tasty match!
Jen had the Pineapple Upside Down Cake Martini, with cake vodka, Frangelico liquor, pineapple, and grenadine.
Jen and I have always enjoyed tapas restaurants because we get to have such a communal eating experience. So, we shared the chorizo and potato croquetas, with Spanish chorizo, potato, manchego cheese, and lemon garlic aioli…
…the marinated roasted vegetables with goat cheese and balsamic reduction…
…the turkey albondigas (turkey meatballs) with tomatillo mojo sauce, goat cheese, and cilantro…
…and the braised short rib with parsnip puree, ancho chili mojo sauce, and pickled chayote.
When (not if) you go to The Pompadour, you must order the short rib. All our other choices were also flavorful and fantastic! This place is spot-on with taste and presentation!
Even though Alicia has switched from Yoga/Brunch to Soul Flow Sundays, we decided to create a little throwback when we attended her class on Sunday morning, then headed to brunch afterwards.
The Soul Flow Sundays class was a classic Alicia mix of challenging poses (with plenty of modifications to keep beginners and advanced yogis happy), great stretching, and some soul and breath work too. So, an entirely perfect way to start a Sunday!
Alicia teaches her Soul Flow Sunday class every week at 9:30am at Elevated Dance Studio in Independence. Cost to attend is $15. Click here to reserve your spot!
From there, we headed to Burntwood Tavern for brunch. I had the Nashville chicken biscuit, with sweet and spicy chicken, eggs, American cheese, sausage gravy, and crispy potatoes. So good!
After lots of laughs and mimosas, we set about the rest of our days feeling full in body and spirit!
Cleveland Metroparks Zoo
Jeffrey wanted to show “Aunt Jen” one of his favorite places in Cleveland, so we took her to the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo. Even though the weather was cool, there were still plenty of animals out and active, particularly in Asian Highlands, Wilderness Trek, and the Rosebrough Tiger Passage.
We also popped into The RainForest to warm up a bit after our trek around the outside of the Zoo!
Stay tuned to the Cleveland Zoological Society’s member magazine for my article on animals to see in the winter at the Zoo, but take it from me, there are plenty to see!
Brim Kitchen and Brewery
Since we let Jeffrey pick the location for our Sunday afternoon fun, we also let him pick our dinner spot. He chose Brim Kitchen and Brewery, which made all of us happy!
I had the General Tso Cauliflower, which is an unusual choice for me, but it was so flavorful and delicious! Served with kimchi fried rice, radish, sesame, and carrot, this is one vegan dish I would order again and again!
Matthew had the duck confit cavatelli and Jen had the mac ‘n cheese and both looked to die for, especially on a cold night.
Jen and I shared the apple hand pie, but inhaled it before any pictures could be taken of this fall deliciousness.
So, that was our weekend, aside from one very cute mermaid-themed second birthday party!
I’m reluctantly sending Jen back to DC this morning after a quick stop at Fiona’s Coffee Bar.
And then tomorrow, we’re off to Disney for the rest of the week! Stay tuned on Insta for all the Disney fun and here for all the Cleveland stuff I’ve prepared for you to read while I’m gone!