Why? Weekends!

Beyond Chefs Unbridled, there was lots of other fun to be had this weekend…here’s what we were up to:

Date Night at the ZOOvies

On Friday night, Matthew and I attended one of our favorite Zoo events: Cleveland Zoological Society‘s Date Night at the ZOOvies.

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This evening is always such a fun, chill way to experience the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo after hours. The Australian Adventure and African Savanna areas were open for exploration.

There were tasty small bites from Driftwood Catering, including grilled chicken and veggie sliders, flatbreads, and chips and salsa.

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Graeter’s had mini scoops of their delicious ice cream.

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Sponsor Vitamix provided a handy picnic blanket giveaway, as well as some incredibly tasty punch and Cajun popcorn.

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There was also beer, wine, and movie theater snacks to enjoy!

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Then we headed to the Savanna Theater to enjoy “The Goonies,” complete with a Goonie costume contest and Truffle Shuffle demonstration before the film started.

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It’s always fun to be at the Zoo after-hours, but I particularly love ZOOvies because I get to be there and have fun, all while just relaxing and taking in a great throwback movie.

The Cleveland Zoological Society’s next upcoming after-hours event is Brew at the Zoo, happening Thursday, October 10. There will be craft beer, live music, animal encounters, and lots of seasonal fun. Costumes are encouraged. Tickets are $50 for general admission and $80 for VIP admission through September 30. For more information and tickets, click here.

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

Things Remembered Personalization Bar

On Saturday, I stopped by the new Personalization Bar at Things Remembered at Legacy Village.

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You may have shopped at Things Remembered awhile ago and it may still be on your radar for keepsake gifts, but if you haven’t been in recently, you must go back. The Personalization Bar makes selecting and personalizing your keepsake items easy, interactive, and seamless.

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I was generously gifted lots of items to personalize from Things Remembered, some of which I’m definitely keeping for me and some of which will make fantastic gifts. For each item, I got to see it on the screen; play with the spacing, fonts, and design; and make sure that my customized pieces were exactly what I wanted.

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From jewelry to wine glasses to butcher block cutting boards, there’s an item that’s right for each important person or event in your life. And being able to see exactly how the item will look once it is completed ensures your complete satisfaction with these special gifts.

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Stop in to see the modern side of Things Remembered. And you can save 10% off your purchase with code BA2R!

***Disclosure: I was invited by Things Remembered to visit the new Personalization Bar and received complimentary items. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***

So that was our weekend. How was yours?

jenclesig_pur

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? The Burnham!

On Friday night, Matthew and I kicked off the long weekend with a delicious dinner at The Burnham, the restaurant at the Hilton Cleveland Downtown.

We of course started with cocktails: we both chose the Smoking Gun Old Fashioned, with Wild Turkey 101 Bourbon, Ohio maple syrup, Angostura bitters and smoked with applewood chips.

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The presentation, smell, and taste of this drink are all phenomenal.

Then we got an expansive taste of the Burnham’s delectable menu. We started with a nibble of the Chorizo Flatbread, with garlic puree, feta and parmesan cheese, roasted red pepper, arugula, and cider vinegar reduction.

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The flatbread was mildly spicy and totally delicious. I loved the fluffy, house-made dough for the crust!

Next was the Summer Chowder, with matchstick potatoes, roasted corn, bacon, and scallion.

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This soup is perfect for summer: creamy, without being too heavy. The matchstick potatoes, corn, and raw scallions add a nice texture.

We also sampled the Greek salad, which is a blend of old and new world styles. It has romaine, dill, scallion, heirloom tomato, cucumber, red onion, Greek olives, grilled Halloumi cheese, herbed vinaigrette, and sunflower seeds.

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Greek salads aren’t generally my thing, but the dressing was lovely and light and I could eat that grilled Halloumi cheese all day. Matthew does like Greek salads and loved this one!

Next up was the Jumbo Lump Crab Cake, with curry aioli, cucumber coulis, and micro mirepoix greens.

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I loved the change in flavor profile from a traditional crab cake, with the curry and tarragon.

We sampled four of The Burnham’s delicious entrees. The Pacifico Striped Sea Bass, with prosciutto and sweet pea risotto, vermouth morel mushrooms, orange fennel slaw, and tobiko, was not only beautiful, but also delicious.

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I loved the crispy skin on the fish (one of the only truly striped bass still around) and the pairing of the delicate flavors in both the fish and the risotto allowed both to shine.

Next was the Fried Summer Squash & Eggplant Lasagna. This meatless (and noodle-less) dish is a stunner. It not only looks inviting and hearty, but it tastes amazing. The squash and eggplant are sliced thin and take the place of the noodles.

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The lasagna also has herbed ricotta, mozzarella, San Marzano tomato sauce, and sauteed spinach.

We hung on to the season with the Honey BBQ Chicken, with grilled airline chicken breast, rainbow chard, corn on the cobb, and dijon aioli.

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This was summertime on a plate!

And the Ohio Certified Angus Beef Filet, with sunchoke puree, mortadella potato macaire, bearnaise aioli, bordelaise, and pickled petit carrot, was rich and flavorful and perfectly prepared.

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We ended our decadent dinner on a light note with the Passionfruit Preserve Tart, with strawberry foam, white chocolate shards, pistachio streusel, and lime coulis.

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The light fruit flavors and delicate pasty crust were a perfect end to our late summer meal.

The Burnham’s dishes are inventive, while still feeling comfortable. Familiarity with a twist, if you will. We loved every bite and will certainly be back to see what else Chef de Cuisine Thomas Parker is cooking up!

***Disclosure: I was invited to attend a complimentary dinner at The Burnham. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***

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?

jenclesig_pur

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.***

jenclesig_pur

Why? Weekends!

Every year before Jeffrey starts back to school, we do a weekend away as a family to celebrate the end of summer break. The last two years, we’ve done an overnight trip to Cedar Point.

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While Jeffrey spends a lot of time at Cedar Point over the summer since we’re season passholders, he never gets to see the park all lit up at night, so it makes for a great place for our weekend stay.

This year, we stayed at Castaway Bay, so we had indoor waterpark fun, in addition to Cedar Point fun.

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Jeffrey could ride on all the slides at Castaway Bay, which is always a plus. He loved the colorful tube slides, the water roller coaster, and the wave pool!

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Plus, being season passholders, we saved on our stay, since Castaway Bay is part of the Cedar Fair family.

Of course, we spent lots of time riding the rides at Cedar Point too. From cable cars to Camp Snoopy to lots of spinny rides, Jeffrey is a ride monster!

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We also caught the last weekend of Cedar Point Nights, with lots of light-up fun and music on the beach.

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While we were at Cedar Point, a nice couple who had won one of the midway games offered their prizes to Jeffrey and another little boy, so we ended up coming home with this massive shark!

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We started a lot of conversations walking through the park with this! Jeffrey loves it and it was such a nice reminder of the kindness and generosity of the human spirit.

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We all renewed our season passes for next year and found some great deals: Matthew and I have the new Gold Pass and Jeffrey has the Pre-K Pass. The Gold Pass and the Pre-K Pass include unlimited visits to Cedar Point and Cedar Point Shores. Plus, the Gold Pass includes parking, as well as discounts on food, souvenirs, and resort stays. Check them out! Season passes make it easy to enjoy lots of fun at Cedar Point all year.

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Do you do anything special as a family before your kids start back to school?

jenclesig_pur

Why? The Cleveland Orchestra at Blossom!

We all know that The Cleveland Orchestra is a world-class orchestra. But seeing The Cleveland Orchestra at Blossom Music Center is also a world-class experience.

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On Sunday, Matthew and I attended a show with the Blossom Festival Orchestra and Brian Wilson, celebrating the iconic “Pet Sounds” album (as well as lots of Beach Boys classics). This was so exciting for me, since my first concert was seeing The Beach Boys at Blossom.

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But before the music even starts, there are new features at Blossom that make an evening there with The Cleveland Orchestra even more spectacular! The newly-opened Tasting Room offers wine, beer, and desserts to enjoy in the Tasting Room or take with you to your seats in a handy, yours-to-keep carafe.

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At all The Cleveland Orchestra concerts, the featured wines in the Tasting Room are themed on what the orchestra is playing. So, at Sunday’s show with Brian Wilson, the wines were from California.

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You can also order boxed lunches or picnic baskets from the Tasting Room to enjoy on the lawn or in one of the cute new seating areas.

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Beyond The Tasting Room, the Blossom Grill offers full-service, sit-down dining or you can enjoy one of the many food truck vendors lining the lawn.

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Matthew and I grabbed dinner from The Shuckin’ Shack. The BBQ pulled chicken was delicious, as was the garlic parmesan roasted corn.

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If you’re a season subscriber to The Cleveland Orchestra at Blossom, you get exclusive access to Kulas Plaza, which includes a bar, food vendors, seating, restrooms, and easy access to the pavilion.

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We also got a glimpse of all the backstage action. The backstage set-up at Blossom is truly impressive and massive, with practice rooms, dressing rooms, catering services, and everything to keep shows from The Cleveland Orchestra to rock ‘n roll up and running.

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Then it was time for the show! It was such a cool throwback for me to see Brian Wilson and hear music that I enjoyed at my first concert ever. The Blossom Festival Orchestra added such great depth to the music too.

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From taking us through the entire “Pet Sounds” album to an encore dance party of Beach Boys favorites, it was a wonderful night!

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The Cleveland Orchestra has three more concerts left at Blossom this season: Rachmaninoff’s Symphonic Dances on Saturday, August 17; South Pacific in Concert on Saturday, August 24 (a collaboration with the Baldwin Wallace Music Theatre Program); and Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back on Friday, August 30 through Sunday, September 1.

Of course, you can also catch The Cleveland Orchestra at Severance Hall. Learn more about the 2019-2020 series here.

For a magical night of music, food, and fun, don’t miss your chance to see The Cleveland Orchestra at Blossom Music Center!

***Disclosure: I was invited by The Cleveland Orchestra to attend a show at Blossom Music Center. I received two complimentary tickets to the show, a parking pass, and drink vouchers. 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?

jenclesig_pur

Why? Weekends!

We had a wild time not just at the Zoo this weekend…here’s what we were up to:

Vintage Ohio

On Saturday, my friend Anne and I (and Jeffrey) headed to the Lake Metroparks Farm Park for Vintage Ohio Wine Festival.

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This year marked the 25th annual Vintage Ohio, which brings together the best of Ohio wines, along with crafts, food, music, and more.

Anne and I already knew we liked the wines from Gervasi Vineyard, but it never hurts to taste test to confirm!

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We also discovered a nice sparkling wine from Valley Vineyards.

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Buckeye Winery offered lots of interesting flavored wines. We both tried the jalapeño wine, which I can’t imagine drinking an entire glass of, but was quite nice when you added Bloody Mary mix.

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And we both took home a bottle of the Carménère from Urban Vintner (also, there’s a winery in my neighborhood that I didn’t know about…I’m failing).

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All of us rode the ferris wheel and got some lovely views of Lake County.

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It was a fun day of great weather, great wines, and great friends!

***Disclosure: I was asked by the Ohio Wine Producers Association to help promote Vintage Ohio. In exchange, I received complimentary tickets to the event. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***

Beach Days

We also spent a lot of time on the Lake Erie shore this weekend. On Saturday, Matthew competed in the AIA Cleveland Beach Day sand castle competition at Edgewater Beach. Of course, Jeffrey and I had to stop up to cheer him on!

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The team from AECOM (where Matthew works) has won the competition for the last five years straight, so they have quite the dynasty. It’s always so cool to see what the different teams create! This year, his team built “Nautical Nonsense on the Cuyahoga,” with lots of SpongeBob characters.

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There were sand castle Rock Halls and Cuyahoga Rivers and even the Game of Thrones iron throne! You can see all the castles and participate in voting for your favorite sand castle on the AIA Cleveland Facebook page.

On Sunday, we found ourselves back on the shore, but further east at Headlands Beach State Park. Jeffrey enjoyed building sand castles and being silly with his cousins!

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We’re so lucky to have great beaches in the Cleveland area and to be able to enjoy lake breezes and seashore fun!

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So, that was our weekend! How was yours?

jenclesig_pur

Why? Twilight at the Zoo!

Friday night brought one of the wildest parties of the summer to the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo: Twilight at the Zoo, a fundraiser for the Cleveland Zoological Society.

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We started out in the VIP area. Twilight at the Zoo is an event where the VIP upgrade is really worth it: you get reserved parking, more food options, and a full bar, as well as some additional bands to hear.

We noshed on nibbles from Bonefish Grill, Carabba’s Italian Grill, Cleveland Kraut, Graeter’s Ice Cream, and Aramark.

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And the Cleveland Whiskey bourbon lemonade was the perfect summer sipper.

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Then we headed to the main event to hear some of the best bands in Cleveland. We always love Billy Likes Soda

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…and Faction, both of whom keep the crowd singing and dancing all night.

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Plus, we got to check out the Asian Lantern Festival, which was all lit up for the party-goers.

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If you want to have a wild time at the Zoo yourself, you can grab tickets this morning for another great Cleveland Zoological Society fundraiser: Date Night at the ZOOvies. The event takes place on Friday, September 6 and includes complimentary beer, wine, and appetizers, along with a showing of “The Goonies” in the Zoo’s Savanna Theater (with movie snacks to enjoy during the film).

Tickets are $90 for a couple or $55 for an individual. This event always sells out quickly, so grab your tickets ASAP! They go on sale today (Monday, August 5) at 9am!

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

jenclesig_pur