Nothing says love to me like shopping local, female-owned businesses. So, since Valentine’s Day is coming up, I thought I’d round up some of great gift ideas, whether to help you complete your shopping or just round out your own personal wish list!
If cookies or other dessert treats are more your speed, put in an order with Annie’s Signature Sweets (her lemon lavender cookies are unique and the perfect shape for Valentine’s Day) or stop in and check out the wide selection of dessert deliciousness at Luna Bakery & Café.
Want to give (or get) something sparkly this Valentine’s Day? Both Bombay Taxi Boutique and Oceanne Jewelry are local and female-owned with beautiful, unique pieces to choose from.
What lady wouldn’t like a little vino for Valentine’s Day? CLE Urban Winery is female-owned and makes award-winning wines (I really enjoy the C-Town Cabernet Sauvignon).
For a lot of gals, it’s all about the bag. So, where can you find a perfect purse from a local, female-owned business? Go for the modern classic leather bag from Fount or grab a city-pride wristlet or tote from Anne Cate.
This Valentine’s Day, there are lots of ways to get the presents you or your significant other want, while supporting local, female-owned businesses! You’ll be showing some creative Cleveland ladies the love too!
If you follow my Instagram stories, you know that you can usually find me at On the Rise Artisan Breads on weekday mornings. They have seriously the best flat white I’ve ever had: it’s an amazing combination of fantastic coffee, Hartzler Family Dairy milk (no fat-free here), and Ellen the barista’s gorgeous latte art.
It doesn’t hurt that On the Rise is filled with the most glorious smells of baking bread, croissants, the signature Jennifer cookie…even when I don’t indulge in a treat, just the smells of them make me happy.
On the Rise is offering some delicious holiday specialties to help you celebrate the season with local, artisan pastries.
The Panettone is the On the Rise take on a traditional Italian sweet bread, packed with candied citrus, raisins, and vanilla bean.
The Panettone is $13.50 and is the perfect hostess gift or additional to your Christmas breakfast table.
And the Buche de Noel cake is a gorgeous, decadent dessert centerpiece (and dessert should always be the centerpiece, if you ask me). Vanilla chiffon cake is wrapped around chocolate mousse, then topped with swiss chocolate buttercream, meringue “mushrooms” and “trees,” and a chocolate pistachio truffle.
The Buche de Noel is $50 and serves 10-12 people.
Beyond these signature specialties, the On the Rise holiday menu also includes Cranberry Walnut Levain, Chocolate Cherry Bread, Cranberry Open-Faced Croissant, Chocolate Ganache Pecan Tart, Caramel-Poached Apple Bread Pudding, and Pear Frangipane Tart.
For all your holiday treats, from an individual nibble before a day of shopping to a perfect addition to a party to a delicious breakfast for the family, head to On the Rise Artisan Breads. I’ll be there, with a flat white in hand!
***Disclosure: I was asked to help promote On the Rise Artisan Breads’ seasonal offerings. In exchange, I received a complimentary Panettone and Buche de Noel. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***
Cleveland has been experiencing quite the brewery boom! It can be hard to keep up, but I do it for you guys, right?! I had been wanting to check out Boss Dog Brewing Company in Cleveland Heights after hearing lots of positive feedback about both the beer and the food.
On a recent visit, I tried both the Put-N-Berry, a honey ale with a touch of blackberry, and the Gimme S’more Porter, which was served with a toasted marshmallow on top.
I enjoyed both beers! The Put-N-Berry was perfect for summer sipping and the Gimme S’more was full of flavor and fun (who doesn’t love a toasted marshmallow?).
For my dinner, I chose the chicken fried duck, which is topped with maple chipotle drizzle. Oh my goodness, so rich, so flavorful, so good!
My friend Melissa got the Portobello mushroom sandwich, which she really enjoyed. She was pleased with all the vegetarian options on Boss Dog’s menu.
Boss Dog is also part of the Cleveland Brewery Passport through Destination Cleveland. This passport includes 30 local breweries that you are encouraged to visit. After you make a purchase of beer, food, or merchandise at the brewery, you can receive a stamp on your passport.
Stop by Destination Cleveland when you hit 8 stamps for a Cleveland bottle opener or all 30 stamps for entry into a getaway drawing. You can grab your passport at the Destination Cleveland offices downtown or at any participating brewery. This is such a cool incentive to try new places and explore the great local beer scene in Cleveland! And if you’re looking for a place to start, I say give Boss Dog a try!
Last Friday, I met up with my friends Robin and Amy to take advantage of the end of Cleveland Independents Restaurant Week, which offered three-course, prix-fixe menus at the Cleveland Independents restaurants.
We scoured the menus and selected Taste Restaurant in Cleveland Heights. I had never been to Taste, but the Restaurant Week selections all looked great and were all part of the permanent menu, which means any favorite dish could be ordered again.
I started with the arancini, with three-cheese risotto, lemon pesto, fresh basil, and marinara.
So good! These balls of happiness were crispy on the outside, but still retaining the creamy goodness of the risotto, with sauces that perfectly complimented each other.
My friend Amy got the mussels, with sauteed tomatoes and spinach and a lemon wine broth. I snuck a bite of broth with toast and was impressed with the delicate, delicious flavors.
For my entree, I chose the crab-stuffed salmon. There were a lot of great carnivorous options, but #LentProblems took over. And honestly, I wasn’t at all disappointed with my choice.
The salmon was served on top wild mushroom risotto (looking back, I ate a lot of risotto that night) and covered in a lemon Chardonnay cream sauce. The flavors were light and lovely!
Amy and Robin both chose the Burger du Jour, with white cheddar and bacon.
I was definitely eyeing up those thin, crispy fries. Yum!
The deal going into Restaurant Week was that we’d each order a different dessert and share, because variety is the spice of sweetness!
We shared the white chocolate and vanilla creme brulee, the chocolate lava cake, and the chocolate mousse with hazelnut ice cream. All the desserts were so good! I didn’t expect to like ice cream and mousse together, but it really worked!
I had never been to Taste, but now I want to go back to order some of these new favorites and try some other options, too! Have you ever discovered a restaurant through Restaurant Week?
Do not pass up the hush puppies or the fried shrimp! Jeffrey loved his kids cheese pizza meal, but he also loved the crafts and balloon artist there, too. This was everything a fish fry should be: classic, tasty, well-run, and fun!
We just love this bright, fun, imaginative space! But then you throw in the excitement of a birthday party on top of it…well, as you can see, a great time was had by all!
The Children’s Museum is also working to reach its capital campaign goal, with plans to open expansion exhibits, including Meadow (for children ages birth to 3 years), Music, and Theater.
You can donate to the Museum’s capital campaign online now.
Ohio City Beer Crawl
From the party, Matthew and I headed to the craft beer mecca of Ohio City. We met up with our friends Denise and Ritch, who have the goal of hitting 40 craft breweries in the area before Ritch turns 40. Being the good friends we are, we agreed to help him accomplish his goal!
We started at Hansa Brewery, where we munched on superb potato pancakes and Bavarian pretzels, washed down with a beer sampler.
The Wit Wit and Bye Felicia! were my favorites.
Then we walked over to Forest City Brewery to enjoy another sampler and their West Side Market chacuterie platter.
The St. Wendelin Wheat was my favorite here.
Then it was off to Bad Tom Smith Brewing, which I have to confess was completely unheard of to me before our crawl.
But you should definitely stop by to try their wide selection of beers, plus you can order from their neighbor Ohio City Burrito while you’re there!
We ended our crawl at Nano Brew Cleveland, with more samplers, plus the Stoner Fries and fried mac ‘n cheese bites (both are pretty much necessary for life on stop 4 of a bar crawl).
Add in their DJ spinning epic 80’s music and you have the end to a perfect afternoon in Ohio City. I love how walkable, energetic, and diverse the neighborhood is. Whether you want a bar crawl or a nice meal, you can find it there!
Cleveland Orchestra Family Concert
On Sunday afternoon, we met up with Matthew’s family for the Cleveland Orchestra Family Concert of Scheherazade. Matthew’s brother and sister-in-law chose the concert as a family Christmas present and it was a great choice!
Not only did Jeffrey get to experience the beautiful music and creatively-told story thanks to the Orchestra and the Enchantment Theater Company, but he also got to try his hand at playing some of the instruments before the show.
The Meet-the-Instruments pre-show event allowed children to get hands-on with some of the instruments they would hear during the concert and certainly sparked interest in a lot of future musicians.
Matthew used to play the French horn, so we especially loved seeing Jeffrey try that out!
How lucky we are to be able to experience not only one of the best orchestras in the world, but one of the loveliest venues too! I also love that the Orchestra offers family-friendly options to make music and culture accessible to all ages. Jeffrey can say he cut his teeth on music from the Cleveland Orchestra and that is pretty spectacular!
After the show, we stopped by Dewey’s Pizza for a fun family dinner filled with laughter, catching up, and of course, yummy pizza. Dewey’s has a wide selection of creative pies, plus a window where the kids could watch their pizzas being made. It was a perfect dinner choice!
So, that was our weekend. Lots of great times with family and friends and lots of time at some of Cleveland’s finest neighborhoods and institutions. You can’t ask for more than that!
It was another busy, fun weekend in the CLE, with plenty to do and plenty of baseball to watch too! Here’s the round-up:
Iain McGovern Fundraiser
On Friday night, our whole family attended a fundraiser for a remarkable young man, Iain McGovern. We are fortunate to know Iain and his family. Iain has been a great “big” buddy for Jeffrey. But in the midst of that, Iain has also been battling going through major brain surgery.
Iain has such a positive attitude and strong family support. So, we couldn’t pass up the chance to attend a fun evening that also helped to defray the cost of his still-accumulating medical bills.
To see the room packed with so many people from all different parts of the McGovern family’s life was really heartwarming! If you’re interested in learning more or donating to Iain and his family, click here.
Nature Center at Shaker Lakes Hike, Run & Explore
Somehow I had never explored the Nature Center at Shaker Lakes and surrounding lakes, which is why I was so excited to attend the Hike, Run & Explore event on Sunday.
I participated in the 5-mile hike that took in all 4 of the Shaker Lakes, with lots of historical facts and anecdotes provided by our guides, Leo and Jane.
They are lifelong Shaker Heights residents and so much to share about the area. Plus, the Shaker Lakes are beautiful and serene! If you haven’t been, you definitely need to take a hike of your own to check them out!
Back at the Nature Center, there was lots more to explore, including tree climbing, archery, food trucks, a beer garden, and live music.
Hike, Run & Explore was such a fun community event and it definitely got me keyed in to some natural beauty I didn’t even know existed in the area!
Dinner at My Parents’ House
Sunday evening, I earned back all the calories I hiked off with a delicious dinner at my parents’ house as an early birthday celebration. From seared tuna for an appetizer to perfectly-cooked scallops as our entree to a decadent cake from Michael Angelo’s Bakery to a wine bottle with my very own “J” on it, everything was fabulous!
It was a great weekend and a wonderful kickoff to birthday week!
***Disclosure: I was asked by the Nature Center at Shaker Lakes to help promote Hike, Run & Explore. In exchange, I received one complimentary registration for the event of my choice. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***
When I moved to DC in 2003, I was amazed at the wide variety of ethnicities represented in the city’s cuisine. One that always intrigued me, but I somehow never tried, was Ethiopian food. So, naturally, 14 years later, back in Cleveland, I would finally try Ethiopian cuisine (and wonder what the hell took me so long.)
My friend Melissa and I met up for dinner at Zoma Ethiopian Restaurant last night. The decor was colorful and welcoming and the restaurant staff was similarly so friendly and inviting.
Our table came with helpful instructions on how to enjoy Ethiopian food.
Melissa and I started with an order of sambusa, which is fried dough stuffed with lentils. We both loved the spicy (and I mean, spicy) sauce served with the sambusa.
For my entree, I chose the lamb tibs, which is cubed lamb prepared with onion, garlic, rosemary, and jalapeno peppers and served on a sizzling skillet (think: fajita-syle.) For my side, I chose the flavorful split yellow peas, with onions, garlic, and turmeric.
The food is served atop injera, a spongy Ethiopian bread used to dunk and eat the food. The texture of the bread is really different, almost pancake-like, but stretchier. And while it’s a great compliment to the food, it definitely takes up a lot of space in your stomach, so even our server warned us to not overdo the bread!
Melissa is a vegetarian and Zoma offers a ton of flavorful options for non-meat eaters. Melissa got a combo platter with chickpea stew, cabbage with ginger and curry, and red lentils in hot garlic and onion sauce.
We loved our meal and I really enjoyed exploring a different way of eating and different flavor profiles. After dinner, we popped across the street to pick a bottle of The Wine Spot‘s rose tree and enjoy some more good girl time.
It was a lovely, spicy evening! I’m so glad I finally tried Ethiopian food and I can’t wait to go back and dip my injera in more flavorful offerings!
Yesterday morning, I found myself at Luna Bakery & Café in search of a place to do some work and have a bit of breakfast. I’ve been to Luna sporadically and am always impressed by the selection of sweets, breads, and baked goods filling their cases.
From a hazelnut pot de crème to macarons to adorable sugar cookies, the sweets all looked so tempting. And the croissants, muffins, and breads smelled so delicious!
But it was the crepes that tempted me yesterday. I chose one with caramelized apples, pecans, caramel, and crème fraiche.
It was heavenly! Sweet and delicious, the apples still retained a bit of crunch, the pecans provided nice texture, and the crepe was thin and chewy, as a crepe should be. Paired with a chai latte, it was the perfect breakfast!
Luna offers lots of breakfast options, such as egg dishes, paninis, and (my next must-try item) avocado toast. They also have sweet and savory crepes and paninis, as well as salads. And keep them in mind for your special occasions too…Matthew and I did a cake tasting there before our wedding! For delicious food in a cute, cozy café atmosphere, look no further than Luna!
Did you know you don’t need to head out to Geneva to experience some great local wine? Last night, my friend Melissa and I checked out CLE Urban Winery, located in Cleveland Heights and packed with character and delicious wine.
I was there for a Balance & Brews event (aptly named Balance & Barrels for this) that included an hour yoga class, with three wine tastings incorporated into the class (at the beginning, after the main part of the flow, and after savasana). After class, we were able to enjoy a full pour of the wine of our choice.
The samples included the Edgewater Blackberry Merlot, the Hometown Heroes Peach Chardonnay, and the Cleveland Magazine Best of Cleveland winner wine slushie.
While I’m not a huge fan of fruit wines, the peach chardonnay would be a perfect choice on a warm summer day. And the slushie was just fun and delicious!
For our after-class full pour, I chose the North Coast Syrah, which I enjoyed so much I took a bottle home with me! All the CLE Urban Winery bottles are reasonably priced between $15-25.
CLE Urban Winery offers a small selection of nibbles such as cheese, prosciutto, hummus and veggies, and the like. But the space is primarily focused on being a hip and funky wine bar, with amazing graffiti-style artwork on the walls.
You can pick your preference of bar seating, tables, or the cozy couches to enjoy your wine.
CLE Urban Winery is open every day but Sunday to offer you good wine in a very cool environment. And if Balance & Barrels sounds like your jam, you can check it our there every third Wednesday of the month.
Playhouse Square’s huge party, Jump Back Ball, is just under two months away! And while there’s lots to do to prepare for the big night (I checked “get a dress” off my list at the Nordstrom Semi-Annual Sale), there’s also time to party before the party.
While at the Happy Hour, you can also purchase wine to donate to the Jump Back Ball wine pull, one of the most popular parts of Jump Back Ball and a huge part of the event’s fundraising success. Simply purchase a bottle of wine valued at $20 or more to donate to the wine pull. The Wine Spot will store the wine and deliver it to Playhouse Square for Jump Back Ball.
If you’d like to attend this fun evening with good food and good wine, please RSVP to Sarah at sarah.stengel @ playhousesquare.org or 216-640-8408. Payment will be processed at the event.
If you still haven’t gotten your tickets for Jump Back Ball on Saturday, February 25, what are you waiting for?! Tickets are $155 for Partners members general admission, $180 for public general admission, and $250 for VIP admission and can be purchased online. And if you’re interested in helping create the décor for the evening, please consider joining us for a Shop Night or two. The schedule is here.
***Disclosure: I am the vice co-chair of Playhouse Square Partners. I was also asked by Playhouse Square to help promote Jump Back Ball. In exchange, I will receive one complimentary ticket to the event when I purchase one ticket of equal value. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***