Why? My Week at Playhouse Square!

***A bit of blogkeeping: Congratulations to Jeanne (Comment #3), randomly-selected winner of 2 tickets to the Scary Mommy book signing. Please check your email and respond by the end of the day or a new winner will be chosen. If you didn’t win, you can still purchase tickets by clicking here.***

This week, I had two nights out in one of my favorite Cleveland locations: Playhouse Square. On Wednesday, I participated in the Playhouse Square Partners‘ scavenger hunt. The hunt started and ended at Parnell’s Irish Pub, which is a nice, casual addition to the Playhouse Square area.

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Kimberly and I were teamed up with Sarah, Jessica, and Aaron for the scavenger hunt. I was confident our combined brain power would bring home a win! We received instructions and our list of items from event organizers Megan and Amanda and then we were off.

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From the years in which theaters opened to counting candles on chandeliers in lobbies to posing for pictures with old playbills, we had a great time exploring the neighborhood and learning more about the history of Playhouse Square.

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Unfortunately, the “Road Warriors” didn’t bring home a win. But I always have so much fun at the Partners’ events and I’m so glad Matthew and I finally joined the group! You get to attend fun events (at a discount for some), network with some of the nicest people, and enjoy one of Cleveland’s greatest attractions. You should check it out!

There is a Partners dine-around in Detroit Shoreway coming up on Tuesday, July 16; a wine tasting at Lago on Thursday, August 8; and Partners Night at Cinema on the Square showing “The Princess Bride” on Thursday, August 15. Stay tuned to the Partners website for more details!

Then, on Thursday night, Matthew and I went to see “The Book of Mormon.”

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We won 2 loge tickets at a previous Partners event and were told we (well, I) were the most excited raffle winners ever. I was absolutely dying to see this show! “The Book of Mormon” well earns all the buzz it gets. It is at once a big, bold, brassy Broadway musical (my favorite kind) and a funny, tongue-in-cheek social commentary.

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If you have the chance to grab tickets or try for them in Playhouse Square’s $20 ticket lottery, don’t hesitate!

Whether for a happy hour or a show, Playhouse Square has so much to offer. I’m certainly happy I got to spend a lot of my week there!

***Disclosure: Matthew and I are members of Playhouse Square Partners. We were lucky enough to win a raffle for two tickets to “The Book of Mormon.” As always, all opinions and insane love of musical theater are 100% my own.***

jenclesig_pur

Why? Ohio Blogging at the Cleveland Museum of Art!

***A bit of blogkeeping: Have you entered to win 2 tickets to one of Tri-C Jazz Fest’s concerts yet? Check it out! Remember, you can tweet daily for additional entries.***

On Wednesday night, Matthew and I met up with a bunch of bloggers and blog supporters for the Ohio Blogging Association monthly gathering, this time at one of Cleveland’s greatest treasures: the Cleveland Museum of Art.

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The new atrium area is stunning! You truly feel as if you were outside. We started with dinner just past the atrium at the new Provenance Café. I had a claystone flatbread with grilled swordfish, hummus, roasted eggplant spread, and more Mediterranean goodness.

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I also highly recommend the mini bottle of champagne (you’re at a museum and being cultured and classy, after all) and the dessert bars (we split pecan pie and lemon).

After dinner, we got a tour of “The Last Days of Pompeii: Decadence, Apocalypse, Resurrection” exhibit. Our tour guide, Lucy, selected all the contemporary pieces for the exhibit and was a wealth of knowledge on both the classical and contemporary art we saw.

Hostess Alicia and Tour Guide Lucy
Hostess Alicia and Tour Guide Lucy

Matthew visited Pompeii during his study abroad semester in Italy, so he brought an even more hands-on perspective to the art. The exhibit has classic paintings of imagined life in Pompeii and then the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius.

Image Source - clevelandart.org
Image Source – clevelandart.org

The Last Days of Pompeii also showcases contemporary works, such as sculptures based off body casts taken of remains found at Pompeii, which were some of the most evocative pieces for me.

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Image Source – clevelandart.org

The Cleveland Museum of Art is truly one of Cleveland’s greatest cultural assets and, with its new renovations and this amazing exhibit, more than worth a visit to see what’s going on there. “The Last Days of Pompeii” runs through Sunday, July 7. Tickets are $15 for adults, $13 for students and seniors, and $7 for children.

In attendance at the meet-up were bloggers from:

Am I There Yet? (and boyfriend Justin)

Call Me Trouble

Craveable Cleveland

Eat*Drink*Cleveland

Go Run Jess

Poise in Parma (and Aunt Kathy)

ROJ Running (and guest Jason)

SOS Associates (and wife Julie)

@TalknCleveland

The next Ohio Blogging Association event is in the works, so stay tuned to the OBA Facebook page for more details coming soon!

Have you seen “The Last Days of Pompeii?”

***Disclosure: The Ohio Blogging Association members and guests received complimentary tickets to “The Last Days of Pompeii” exhibit, as well as a guided tour. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***

jenclesig_pur

Why? Ohio Blogging at MedWish!

On Tuesday night, the Ohio Blogging Association rolled up our collective sleeves to volunteer at MedWish. MedWish is a Cleveland-based non-profit that re-purposes medical supplies and equipment to provide humanitarian aid to developing countries.

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First, we got a tour of MedWish’s impressive warehouse, with supplies either waiting to be packed or already set for destinations like Pakistan, the Turkish/Syrian border, and Haiti.

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MedWish provides hospitals and clinics with supplies they might not otherwise ever be able to afford. Heidi, one of the MedWish staff members, told us about a 40-pound box of supplies that MedWish packed to be taken by a doctor to a refugee camp. The cost was a nominal $3-per-pound shipping fee. The doctor told MedWish those 40 pounds of supplies would have cost $27,000 through a U.S. hospital.

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MedWish also has two domestic programs: one which provides training and work to people with developmental disabilities and one which donates supplies not fit for human use to non-profit organizations such as animal rescues.

Our volunteer task for the evening was making suture kits to be taken to South Africa and Panama. Heidi explained the contents of the kits and then our assembly line was off and running.

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We packed nearly 100 suture kits, which will help provide basic medical care to those in need: a concrete task that is just a small piece of the aid that this organization provides.

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In attendance were bloggers/tweeters from:

@anitalily10

Big Shot (Dot the i)

Craveable Cleveland

Happiness is a Hot Pierogi

@KaseyCrabtree

Poise in Parma

ROJ Running

To find out more about how you can help MedWish, with time, money, or supplies, click here. And to get all the details on Band Aid Bash, MedWish’s gala fundraising event happening Saturday, April 27, click here.

The next Ohio Blogging Association event will be a meet-up at the Cleveland Museum of Art on Wednesday, April 17 for dinner in the new Provenance Cafe and a tour of “The Last Days of Pompeii” exhibit. Space is limited! Click here for more information and to RSVP.

jenclesig_pur

Why? Upcoming Events!

Spring is almost here! Can you feel it in the air?! Here are some great upcoming events to put a spring in your step, too:

St. Patrick’s Day

Sunday, March 17

Everywhere!

Image Source - cleveland.about.com
Image Source – cleveland.about.com

We know how to do St. Patrick’s Day right in Cleveland! Maybe because we’re so cooped up in the winter. For a run-down of great green events, from the parade to kegs and eggs, check out this post from Flee to the Cleve. Have fun and be safe!

cleveland.com Tweet-Up

Wednesday, March 20 at 5pm

Collection Auto Club at Progressive Field

Image Source - cleveland.com
Image Source – cleveland.com

Join cleveland.com and lots of your tweeps for a tweet-up in the new Collection Auto Club seating area at Progressive Field, a 5,000-square foot lounge next to the Press Box (If you click the link, Hammy will talk to you. WAAAY BACK!). You’ll get to taste some new concession items for the Indians upcoming season, as well as receiving 2 complimentary drink tickets. For more information and to RSVP (there is limited free parking if you sign up early), click here.

Cleveland Foodbank YP Pantry Happy Hour

Thursday, March 21 at 5:30pm

Noodlecat

Image Source - clevelandfoodbank.org
Image Source – clevelandfoodbank.org

The Cleveland Foodbank YP Pantry wants you to enjoy one of Cleveland’s best happy hours to benefit one of Cleveland’s best organizations. Enjoy Noodlecat‘s regular happy hour specials, plus bring 3 cans of food or a $5 donation to the Cleveland Foodbank to receive 1 complimentary drink ticket. You can also sign up that evening to become a member of the YP Pantry. Click here to RSVP.

Bowl for Kids’ Sake

Saturday, March 23 at 12:30pm

Brunswick Zone

Image Source - bowlbigforkids.org
Image Source – bowlbigforkids.org

Sign up with your friends, raise $50 per bowler, and bowl away to benefit Big Brothers Big Sisters of Lorain County. For registering, you receive one game of bowling, a t-shirt, refreshments and snacks, and a chance to win some great prizes. For more information and to register, click here.

Dyngus Day

Monday, April 1

“The Polish Triangle”

Image Source - facebook.com
Image Source – facebook.com

It’s Dyngus Day: a bonanza of Polish awesomeness! From DJ Kishka to pierogi to a parade to Miss Dyngus, you cannot miss this festive day. From Tremont to the Shoreline District to the Flats, many of your favorite restaurants and bars are participating. For a full list of events, locations, and specials, click here or check out the Dyngus Day Cleveland Facebook page.

Cleveland’s Finest Hors D’Oeuvre Contest

Thursday, April 4 at 6pm

Terrace Club at Progressive Field

Image Source - facebook.com
Image Source – facebook.com

Join Our Lady of the Wayside for this tasty event! Nibble away and then cast your ballot for Cleveland’s finest hors d’oeuvre. Among the competitors will be chefs from Battery Park Wine Bar, Corleone’s Ristorante and Bar, John Q’s Steakhouse, and the Zack Bruell restaurant group. Tickets are $80 and proceeds benefit Our Lady of the Wayside’s mission of helping those with developmental disabilities. For more information on the event and to purchase tickets, click here.

Playhouse Square Partners Bowl-a-Rama

Thursday, April 11 at 6pm

Mahall’s 20 Lanes

Image Source - playhousesquare.org
Image Source – playhousesquare.org

Playhouse Square Partners wants you to let the good times roll at Mahall’s 20 Lanes, Cleveland’s hot new bowling spot. There will be a happy hour at 6pm and bowling begins at 7pm. Tickets are $25 and include 3 hours of bowling, shoe rental, food and one drink ticket. For more information and to purchase tickets, click here.

Microsoft Retail Store Grand Opening

Saturday, April 13 at 11am

Beachwood Place Mall

Image Source - microsoftstore.com
Image Source – microsoftstore.com

Come check out all the tech goodness available at the grand opening of the Microsoft Retail Store at Beachwood Place Mall and score tickets to see Kelly Clarkson perform! The store opens at 11am and the first hundred people in line not only receive the first peek at the Microsoft wonderland, but also two free premier viewing tickets for the Kelly Clarkson concert to happen that afternoon at 4pm. One of those tickets gets you in to not only the concert, but also a meet and greet with Kelly! The next 1,000 people in line will receive 2 premier viewing tickets to the concert. For more information, click here.

What upcoming events are you most looking forward to as we welcome Spring?

***Disclosures: I am a member of the council for the Cleveland Foodbank YP Pantry. I was invited by Microsoft to attend the grand opening of the Microsoft Retail Store. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***

jenclesig_pur

Why? Ohio Blogging Association and Whole Foods!

Tuesday evening marked the third annual Ohio Blogging Association meetup at Whole Foods Market Cedar Center. This year’s theme was “Valentine’s Chocolate 3-Way” with tons of tasty morsels to try.

Whole Foods diva Lisa Sands explains the delights awaiting us
Whole Foods diva Lisa Sands explains the delights awaiting us.

We started with some Wedding Cuvee bubbly and then moved to chicken enchiladas with mole sauce, white rice, and a corn and black bean salad.

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I’m not usually a huge fan of mole sauce, but this was delicious, with a kiss of dark chocolate. From there, we sampled Sexual Chocolate wine, a ridiculously tasty blend of Zinfandel, Syrah, and Petite Syrah. To go along with this decadent wine, we had some decadent chocolates courtesy of Sweet Designs.

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Owner and chocolatier Ines Rehner told us with pride about her own special chocolate blend used for her creations. We tasted chocolate-covered strawberries, figs stuffed with truffle chocolate and dipped in dark chocolate, and varieties of chocolate bark, including pumpkin seed and sea salt, blueberry and almond, and crystallized ginger and walnut. Everything was amazing!

Needless to say, we were all very excited when Ines presented us with gift certificates for a half-pound of chocolates from her shop. Some lucky folks even won Sweet Designs chocolate to take home right away.

PIP Husband's Valentine's shopping is done!
PIP Husband’s Valentine’s shopping is done!

There were more adult beverages to try too, including Samuel Smith Chocolate Stout and a chocolate liquor. Stuffed and on a sugar high, we left with cups of Mexican hot chocolate to brace against the cold and snow.

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Much thanks to Poise in Parma for organizing this event and Whole Foods and Sweet Designs for all the tasty goodies! For a list of all the great events coming up at Whole Foods, including an Argentine wine dinner and in-store Twitter chats, click here.

It’s hard to believe we’re in the third year of Ohio Blogging Association meetups, with fun, friends, and (very often) food. I always have such a great time at these events and have made and continue to make so many wonderful friends.

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In attendance on Tuesday were bloggers/tweeters from:

Always JAM in CLE

@BeautyNewzFlash (and husband)

@CharitUrbanista

Clue Into Cleveland (and husband Scott)

Cooker Girl

Eat*Drink*Cleveland

It’s a Hero (and husband Chad and baby Ari)

Lake County Visitors Bureau (and boyfriend Steve)

Lane Baldwin Photography

Life Lyn Style

Our Journey

Poise in Parma (and husband Hans and Aunt Kathy)

Rust Belt Runner

Smitten in Cleveland (and husband Chris)

Wearing Mascara

The next Ohio Blogging Association event will be on Tuesday, March 19 at 6pm. We will be getting a tour and volunteering at MedWish, giving back to our community. Hopefully you can join us for what is sure to be a rewarding experience! Click here to RSVP.

jenclesig_pur

Why? Karaoke at the Cat!

You know those nights that are just perfect? Where you’re surrounded by great people and you have a wonderful time and everything just flows? The kind of night where you look around and say: my life is pretty damn awesome? I totally had one of those nights…at karaoke, no less!

DJing, Spinderella style
DJing, Spinderella style

When Noodlecat put out a call for hosts for their monthly Karaoke at the Cat, I immediately raised my hand and then immediately called on my three never-fail, social-media-maven friends to host with me.

IMG_5163With Alicia, Amanda, and Kimberly by my side, this was sure to be an amazing night! This was also the Ohio Blogging Association‘s monthly meet-up, so there were plenty of friendly faces in the audience.

We started out with a slurpalicious dinner of noodles, twice-cooked chicken wings with miso BBQ, a pickle tray, edamame, and some steam buns.

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Pro-tip: the Szechuan ramen is already darn spicy. You may not need to add half a bottle of hot sauce.

After that, it was time to fire up the crowds. The hostesses kicked things off with a rendition of “Dancing Queen” sure to make Abba cringe. From there, there was a steady stream of awesome performances, from “Brick House” to “Paradise by the Dashboard Lights” to “Don’tcha” to “Say My Name.”

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We even got my Mom up to karaoke to one of her favorite songs: “Sweet Caroline!” I had a blast working the mic all night and dancing and singing along like a fool with the performers.

IMG_5208Kudos to Matthew for snapping pics of everyone all night! And mad love to the staff of Noodlecat for letting four silly girls take over and have the time of their lives and for amazing service the entire night!

In attendance from the Ohio Blogging Association were bloggers/tweeters from:

Kasey from A Case Of…

Julie from Am I There Yet

Katie from Beer and Clothing in Cleveland

Amanda from Clue into Cleveland and husband Scott

Sarah from Cooker Girl and husband Kevin

Dave from Health Insurance Issues with Dave and Again? Really?

Josh from joshkrajnak.com

Jeanne from Life in Cleveland

Charlene from Life in the CLE

Mary from @MaryLeeS

Morgan from Morgan J.

Megan from It’s My Time To Sparkle and Shine

Alicia from Poise in Parma with cameo by her brother Drew

Julie from ROJ Running

Holly from Rust Belt Runner and husband Neil

Kimberly from SMITTEN…in cleveland

Stuart from sosAssociates

The next Ohio Blogging Association meet-up is our annual trip to Whole Foods Cedar Center. This year we will be enjoying “Valentine’s Chocolate 3 Ways” on Tuesday, February 5 at 6pm. Cost to attend is $10. Click here for more information and to RSVP.

The next Karaoke at the Cat will be on Friday, February 15 with a mystery host working the mic and happy hour prices from 9-11pm. I’m resting my voice and working on my dance moves…

***Disclosure: Alicia, Amanda, Kimberly, and I co-hosted Karaoke at the Cat and were compensated for hosting. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***

jenclesig_pur

Why? Weekends!

It was the last weekend of 2012, so we made it a good one! On Friday night, Matthew and I met up with our friends Rich and Rachel for dinner at Melt Bar and Grilled.

photo 1We of course had an epic wait for these epic sandwiches, which gave us time to catch up and to enjoy a couple Brew Kettle Winter Warmers. I really enjoyed this beer, spiced with cinnamon, honey, and coriander and it was only $4 for a pint, too!

Once we got a table, I chose the Parmageddon for my meal. I don’t know how a girl raised in Parma has never ordered this sandwich before!

photo 2The Parmageddon has potato cheese pierogi, vodka sauerkraut, sauteed onions, and sharp cheddar cheese, on Melt’s famous thick toasted bread. Served with a side of fries, this is one carb-o-licious meal!

Matthew chose The Dude Abides, which has huge meatballs, fried mozzarella sticks, red sauce, provolone, and romano.

photo 3We left stuffed and with plenty of leftovers for the next day!

Saturday evening, my parents had Matthew, his dad, and me over for some holiday hors d’oeuvres and drinks.

IMG_5125If we thought we were stuffed after Melt, it had nothing on dinner at Mom’s! We also played Apples to Apples and just generally had a fun, cheery evening. I love that my family and Matthew’s family get along so well!

IMG_5128Sunday brought plenty of snow our way, so we spent most of the day hunkered down at home. I will say that I love practicing yoga in 90-degree studio in weather like this, though! I got in 2 classes at Harmony Yoga this weekend and loved every sweaty moment of being in the toasty studio.

Sunday evening, we ventured out because we didn’t want to miss the #HollaDaysCLE party, thrown by Alexa and Lisa. The Holla Days party is always at a Cleveland hotspot and this year was no exception, as the shenanigans took place at Mahall’s 20 Lanes in Lakewood.

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From bowling to live music to amazing fried chicken, this spot has it all! The party featured some specialty cocktails to honor the hostesses, some tasty munchies (Curry popcorn?! Yum!), and some fabulous social media friends.

IMG_5133It was a great way to almost wrap up 2012! Tonight, Matthew and I are staying in, making ourselves a fancy dinner and opening a bottle of champagne, and sending out a year of huge, wonderful, life-changing moments just the two of us. What are your New Year’s Eve plans? Whatever you’re up to, have fun and be safe!

 

Why? West Side Market People’s Party!

***A bit of blogkeeping: Have you entered to win 2 general admission tickets to the Fabulous Food Show coming up this weekend? Check it out here! Remember, you can tweet daily for extra entries! Giveaway closes tonight.***

This weekend, one of Cleveland’s most beloved institutions – the West Side Market – celebrated its 100th birthday in grand style. On Saturday night, chefs from Cleveland and all over the country hosted a spectacular Centennial Gala. From what social media showed me, it looked like quite an event!

On Friday night, Cleveland Food Rocks brought together Cleveland chefs to host the “People’s Party” at the gorgeous Crop Bar and Bistro. The reasonable ticket price of $25, the promise of lots of great food, and the desire to fete the West Side Market drew nearly 1,000 people to the event.

As Matthew and I entered the party, we were greeted with a cup of Crop Punch, a sweet red alcoholic concoction. We quickly found one of our favorites, AMP 150, serving up playful peanut butter and jelly’s and delicious squash soup.

Squash soup was a popular choice, as Sow Food also served up a tasty squash soup with Thai spice and cilantro foam. I found a little corner of heaven with tables from Noodlecat (sobe noodles with mushrooms), Ohio City Pasta (lobster mac ‘n cheese), and Lake Erie Creamery (goat cheese sundaes) all next to each other.

Hello, lover…

Other favorites of the evening: our discovery of a new food truck, Slanegwiches, who had a very tasty short rib and mushroom offering and were some of the sweetest people we chatted with that night; Crop‘s spot-on creamy polenta and tender brisket; and catching up with Chef Kimberly McCune Gibson, whose Rehive Ale will be available at Heinen’s as of Wednesday!

There was live music upstairs, a DJ downstairs, and a little bit of this from the fellas at Market Garden Brewery:

A party isn’t a party without plenty of friends! Even in the crowd, we got to see Lisa, Michelle, Katrina, Mark, Julie and Todd, Mason, JoeCharlene, Kimberly and Chris!

It was also great to see how much the People’s Party raised for the West Side Market: $25,000 just from ticket sales and there was also a charity raffle going on at the event. It was a fun, food-filled celebration fit for a 100th birthday! Cleveland loves our West Side Market!

Did you go to the People’s Party or the Centennial Gala (or both)?

Why? Brauhaus in a Beer Garden!

Last night was one of those crazy Cleveland weather days that you can’t think too hard about (global warming, what?), you just have to embrace. Nearly 80 degree temperatures and plenty of sunshine made it the perfect day to get your first sip of Great Lakes Christmas Ale, attend the President Obama Rally at Burke Lakefront Airport, or – if you’re Matthew and me – head on up to the rooftop patio at The Greenhouse Tavern for a German extravaganza as part of Cleveland Beer Week.

The event was called Brauhaus in a Beer Garden and was hosted by Brick & Mortar Pop-Ups. Chef Jonathon Sawyer’s friend and fellow chef Jeremy Nolan of Brauhaus Schmitz in Philadelphia created the dishes for the evening. I was expecting a sit-down dinner of served courses, but instead it was a grab-as-you-go, small-plate style meal, which was more suited to the laid-back atmosphere of the rooftop at The Greenhouse Tavern.

Chef Sawyer slicing up sausage

First, we snagged some sliced cold sausages, pickled veggies, a soft pretzel with Bavarian cheese spread, and foie gras liverwurst with pickled black grapes. We also enjoyed a refreshing traditional German-style pils on draught: 3 Floyds Jinx Proof.

The pretzels were delicious: crisp on the outside, soft on the inside, piping hot, and served with a creamy cheese spread with just a hint of spice. Personally, I think Chef Sawyer should steal the recipe and serve these at Sawyer’s Street Frites at Browns Stadium! I also loved the rich flavor of the foie gras liverwurst, but would have preferred a toasted bread to give a bit more texture to the bite.

As we listened to an eclectic and fun mix of music, including German techno, we sampled the sweetbread schnitzel, served with quail egg, anchovy-caper vinaigrette, and buckwheat spatzle.

This was Matthew’s favorite dish of the night. The textures and flavors blended well and I was pleasantly surprised that the dish wasn’t too salty. I always enjoy sweetbread, so I was definitely a fan of this offering as well.

Our next dish to try was my favorite: duck and smoked barley malt sausage with spicy beer mustard and duck cracklins.

My standard for “favorite dish” tends to be if I would lick the plate clean. This met that standard easily. The sausage was flavorful, the mustard added a nice sharp flavor, and the duck cracklins were indulgently fatty and delicious.

Last but not least, we tried the blood sausage with celery root-apple puree and Tavern vinegar gastrique. I realize this is going to sound crazy since I ate sweetbread earlier in the evening, but I couldn’t get enough past what blood sausage is  to really enjoy this dish. I think part of it is a texture thing: all the foods I struggle to enjoy tend to have unusual textures. Matthew did eat and enjoy it and I will say that the celery root-apple puree was very tasty.

It was a beautiful night to overlook Cleveland, sip beer, eat great food and chat with friends (we saw Renee and Paul and met my giveaway winner Sarah)! The Greenhouse Tavern has installed heaters on the rooftop patio, so it is ready to go for whatever Cleveland weather hands us, so head on up there soon. Thanks to Chefs Sawyer and Nolan for a tasty evening!

***Disclosure: I was asked by The Greenhouse Tavern and Brick & Mortar Pop-Ups to help promote Brauhaus in a Beer Garden. In exchange, I received 2 tickets to the event. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***

Why? Chefs Unbridled!

Saturday night was a perfect fall evening in Cleveland: sunny, with a hint of cool crispness in the air. A wonderful night to be outside enjoying the Chefs Unbridled fundraiser to benefit Fieldstone Farm Therapeutic Riding Center.

A beautiful night that included carriage rides through Gates Mills with historic storyteller Dan Ruminski

Matthew and I arrived to find a huge tent filled with delicious food, beautiful music, and 600 people! Chefs Unbridled doubled in size from last year’s crowd, a testament to what a wonderful event it is and what a great cause it benefits.

Master of Ceremonies Robin Swoboda from Channel 3 helped set the stage for the evening’s festivities.

And the Cleveland Jazz Orchestra provided great music to add to the ambiance.

Our evening started with delicious appetizers, including clams casino, grilled crostini with apples and brie (affectionately referred to as “Crack Bread” by some guests), and a massive charcuterie table.

We also ran into friends Crystal, Charlene, and Kelly Ann, who were volunteering at the event, and got to finally meet in real life the lovely Michelle, whose PR firm worked to make Chefs Unbridled such a success.

Then, it was time to get down to dinner. There were six stations set up around the tent, serving up tasty creations. Our first bite came from Chef Sawyer of The Greenhouse Tavern.

This was a little packet of mushroom deliciousness, that tasted like fall and made you want to curl up under a warm blanket. OK, technically it was Wild Chanterelle Enpapier, but I think the first description does it more justice, really. This was on Matthew’s and my “favorite of the night” list.

Next up, we had a beef short rib with polenta and mushrooms from Chef Mytro of Flour Restaurant.

This was the other of Matthew’s favorites of the night. The beef was fall-apart tender (always impressive, especially when feeding 600 people) and the polenta was so creamy.

Our next taste came from Chef Jarrett at AMP 150, who served pork belly with a corn ragout.

The pork belly was meaty, not just fatty and the dish had a smoky, slightly spicy flavor that made it a winner.

Starting to get full, we realized we were only halfway through the dishes! Next, we headed over to Chef Hodgson of Hodge’s for a southern-style treat.

Grits, sausage, and shrimp…oh my! This was my other favorite dish of the night. The flavors blended perfectly and the texture of the grits was spot on.

We next heard someone ask, “Are the scallops over here?” and immediately followed along. Indeed, Chef Kuhn of Driftwood Restaurant Group was handing out massive scallops.

Served in a heirloom tomato gazpacho with basil oil, the scallop was delicious and the gazpacho added a nice freshness. This was by far the lightest dish of the evening and a nice balance to some of the other choices.

Finally, we stopped to see Chef Khoury of Washington Place Bistro and Inn, who served lamb cheeks with olives, sundried tomatoes, and spaetzel.

The meat just melted in your mouth. The spaetzel kept the olives and sundried tomatoes from overpowering the dish with saltiness. Delicious!

I couldn’t believe I was going to eat more, but there’s always room for ice cream, right? Mitchell’s Ice Cream offered Rocky Road or Pumpkin Spice scoops. I chose the Pumpkin Spice and it was pumpkin pie in a bowl. A perfect end to an evening of fall-like foods.

Ice Cream Jazz Hands

Of course, all this wining and dining didn’t take away from the point of the evening: raising money for Fieldstone Farm. Huge screens in the tent showed pictures of some of the horses and the over 800 people, from kindergartners to disabled veterans, helped by Fieldstone Farm.

Much thanks to Fieldstone Farm for a wonderful evening and for the huge difference you make in the lives of so many people with disabilities. If you would like to help, you can volunteer, make a donation, or even sponsor a horse! And I hope to see a lot of you at Chefs Unbridled next year…can it double in size again?!

***Disclosure: I was asked to help promote Chefs Unbridled. In exchange, I received 2 complimentary tickets to the event. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***