Why? Weekends!

***A bit of blogkeeping: Today is the last day to enter my giveaway to win 2 tickets to Market at the Foodbank. Check it out! Remember, you can tweet daily for more entries!***

It was a wonderful weekend of friends and family celebrations! On Friday morning, I went to a butt-kicking vinyasa flow at Nishkama Yoga. I don’t get to practice at Nishkama as much as I would like, so I was happy to take advantage of one of my days off before I start my new job to get to class there (more on the new job tomorrow).

I spent the rest of the day on Friday learning how to make nut roll and poppyseed roll with Mom. This is a traditional Eastern European holiday dessert and I’m all about tradition at the holidays.

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For my first try, I was pretty happy with the results and, from the way they were gobbled up, everyone else was, too!

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Friday evening, Matthew and I met up with the usual suspects to fete our lovely friend Kimberly for her birthday. We started with the ridiculously well-priced Friday wine tasting at Wine and Design. Two delicious wines for $5? Yes, please!

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Then it was off to dinner at Dante. Matthew and I decided to share a little bit of a lot of things on the menu. I love Dante’s options of tasting or appetizer-sized portions, which gives you a chance to taste even more dishes.

We thoroughly enjoyed everything we ordered: the wild mushroom and baked brie tartlet, the Hawaiian tuna tartare, the “chunky” soup with lobster, potato, and leeks, the green spaghetti, the three-cheese polenta, and the black squid ink risotto.

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Since Kimberly and Chris are Dante regulars, Chef Boccuzzi treated us to quite the dessert spread on the house. I was so blissed out, I don’t remember the exact names of most of the dishes, but there was a chocolate and orange meringue, baklava with pistachio and cherries and cardamom ice cream, a chocolate banana crepe, and a heavenly s’mores-like sundae.

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It was a fabulous evening befitting a fabulous friend! Kimberly is truly one of the sweetest, most caring, funniest people I know and I am so blessed to have her in my life! I hope this year is her best yet!

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Saturday morning brought more yoga, this time at Harmony Yoga. Then, it was into holiday prep mode. I hosted my parents, grandfather, and Matthew’s father for a traditional Holy Saturday dinner of kielbasi and sauerkraut.

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We got our kielbasi from Pinzone’s Market Fresh Meats, which is one of my go-to stands at the West Side Market. Tradition is tasty!

On Sunday, we went to Easter Mass and had dinner with my parents and grandfather.

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I also broke my Lenten no-sweets fast (Friday night’s dessert bonanza excluded) with some yummy chocolate from Malley’s. All in all, it was a great weekend with some of our favorite people!

How was your weekend? Do you celebrate Easter? What are your traditions?

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Why? Global Cleveland!

***A bit of blogkeeping: While I’m off on my honeymoon, I’ve lined up some fabulous Cleveland bloggers to give new Why CLE? perspectives. Today we have Amanda from Clue Into Cleveland, telling us about a great organization reaching out to Cleveland newcomers and boomerangs. Thanks, Amanda!***

Teams WhyCLE and CiC at Broadway Launch – photo courtesy of Playhouse Square

The first time I met Jen at an Ohio Blogging meetup, I knew I had found a kindred spirit that would become a good friend beyond just the blog.

I moved to Cleveland five years ago from Philadelphia. And similar to WhyCLE, I started Clue Into Cleveland a couple years back to share the reasons I chose to move here (or, in Jen’s case, move back).

I’ve always enjoyed sharing a passion for Cleveland with Jen. And I was excited when the new Mrs. CLEguy asked me to guest post while Matthew and her are off celebrating their marriage.

Image Source – globalcleveland.org

While there are no shortage of Cleveland-centric topics to guest post about, I figured I’d share about an organization important to both of us: Global Cleveland and the work they’re doing for newcomers and boomerangs.

Global Cleveland launched last May with a goal of attracting newcomers – both domestic and international – so they ultimately can promote the growth of up-and-coming industries and foster a well-rooted community that is welcoming to all.

To complement other Northeast Ohio development initiatives, Global Cleveland provides a point of contact for newcomers – both virtually and in person at their Public Square Welcome Hub – that helps them connect with organizations and individuals in Greater Cleveland.

Their programs focus on 5 target groups – job seekers, employers, immigrants, boomerangs, and volunteers:

  • For those seeking employment (and conversely those looking for talent), Global Cleveland works to connect and build relationships through their Employer Toolkit and links to workshops, employment fairs and other career search resources.
  • Global Cleveland’s development of skilled immigrant talent kicked off with a pilot program focused on healthcare. The free course which graduated 19 students in March helped healthcare professionals from other countries improve their English and learn about the U.S. healthcare system.
  • For boomerangs like Jen, Global Cleveland has established an e-newsletter, networking and local ambassadors to assist in reconnecting with employment and social opportunities in the CLE. Check out their twitter handle @HometoCLE for boomerang-centric conversations.
  • And just because you already live in Cleveland doesn’t mean you can’t get involved with Global Cleveland. From career mentors and local ambassadors to translators and “English conversation buddies,” there are plenty of volunteer opportunities available.
Market Garden Brewery – photo credit Smitten…in Cleveland

Last week, Smitten…in Cleveland joined me at Global Cleveland’s most recent event Tap Into Ohio City. Hosted at the Market Garden Brewery, the happy hour invited newcomers and boomerangs to explore Ohio City, enjoy drink specials and snacks at one of the neighborhood’s many restaurants, and network with other people new to town.

Even though Kimberly and I may no longer qualify as “newcomers,” as non-Cleveland-natives we joined in on the festivities, reconnected with boomerangs like @TracyMoavero and @KaseyCrabtree and enjoyed a few tasty beverages (I highly recommend the Market Garden’s beer cocktail The Avenger).

Global Cleveland also provided information about other Ohio City businesses and copies of my favorite guidebook New to Cleveland for sale. And although Jen couldn’t be there, she was in spirit as guests were invited to share their Why CLE? reasons.

Smitten in CLE and I giving our reasons Why CLE?

Like any city, Cleveland will always have room for growth and needs to continue developing its resources and talent. Just one year in, Global Cleveland has already made significant steps in creating a more vibrant Cleveland — giving us another answer to “Why CLE?”

Why? Weekends!

It was a crazy busy CLE weekend, so let’s get right to it.  On Friday night, CLEguy and our CLEfamilies went to dinner at Table 45 to celebrate CLEguy’s new job.  I’ve never been less than awed by a Zack Bruell restaurant, so I was sure we were in for a treat.  CLEguy and I arrived a bit early and took advantage of Table 45’s phenomenol happy hour specials.  $4 select wines and beers, $5 select martinis, $5 bar bites, and free sushi!

Then it was on to dinner…

We started with appetizers – cocktail shrimp, tuna tartare on plaintain chips, and calamari.  The calamari was incredibly tender and served with a sweet and sour pepper relish that reminded me of a tapenade.  For our entrees, CLEguy chose the braised pork with a bacon and chihuahua cheese potato croquette.  The flavor of the pork was outstanding – very smoky.  I chose the Chinese 5-spice scallops with crispy pan fried noodles.  The scallops were perfectly cooked and served in a light broth with vegetables, that didn’t overpower the spice of the scallops or the crispiness of the noodles.  I only wish I had gotten more than 3 scallops!

I also have to admit to dessert envy.  CLEmom chose the sticky toffee pudding, which I would recommend to anyone eating there.  It was so delicious!  Overall, Table 45 provided a lovely setting for a celebration dinner.  And it goes to show that you can’t go wrong with a Zack Bruell restaurant!

Saturday morning, I ran my first ever 5K!  Fellow bloggers Hungry in Cleveland, MojaMala2, and Finishing Firsts also ran the 30th annual Old Oak Run at Southwest General.  Also, a shout-out to CLEtweep SeeJesBike, who also ran her first 5K!

As I started the race, I had tears in my eyes.  After over three months of training with Couch to 5K (trust me, I never used to run unless chased), I was ready to see if I could accomplish this goal.

When I started to hit the wall in the middle, some of the CLEbloggers who passed me cheered me on and gave me a burst of energy to keep going.

And when I crossed the finish line, with CLEguy waiting there, it was such a great feeling.  I was really proud of myself!  Plus, I beat the time I thought it would take me by over 3 minutes!

Thanks to everyone for the shout-outs and support!  I can’t wait for the Cleveland Marathon 5K next month!

CLEgal, MojaMala2, and Hungry in Cleveland

Mybusy weekend wasn’t done yet, though!  Saturday night, we had a “blends” (bloggers + friends = blends) dinner at Palate Restaurant and Lounge.  Palate has been getting a lot of buzz lately.  From a visit from Iron Chef Michael Symon to Doug Trattner’s “Suburban Surprise” review to fellow CLEblogger Bite Buff’s review, I was dying to try Palate.  Plus, CLEparents had dined there and couldn’t stop raving about it. 

 
So, Hungry in Cleveland, Poise in Parma, Cleveland Food and Brews, and our significant others headed to Palate to check it out. 
 
 
We started out with some adult beverages.  I sampled both the sparkling-fresca martini, with champagne and strawberry puree, and the cucumber loco.  Both drinks were delicious, but the cucumber loco was truly outstanding – light and summery, with a sea salt rim.
 
Next came the appetizer course.  We selected four dishes from the “small plates” menu – the chicken liver pate, wild mushroom bread pudding, duck confit, and braised pork belly.  All of the appetizers were outstanding.  The bread pudding was moist and the mushroom sauce it was served with gave it a hearty, earthy flavor.  The pate was smooth and delicious – especially when paired with the black currant jam.
 
The pork belly came with mushrooms, fingerling potatoes, and a smoked gouda sauce.  All the elements combined for a perfect bite.  CLEguy and I both agreed our favorite was the duck confit.  Served with hoisin glaze, Asian slaw, and peanut sauce, the duck was tender and flavorful.
 
I also have to compliment our wonderful server, who knew absolutely everything about the menu and just what to recommend.
 
Next, CLEguy and I split the fried goat cheese salad.
 

This salad features two fried cakes of creamy goat chese, baby greens, pears and almonds, topped with a thyme honey gastrique.  It was amazing!  The goat cheese was deliciously creamy and the pears and almonds provided the perfect texture contrast.  The gastrique added a little sweetness without overpowering the other elements.

Then it was time for our entrees.  CLEguy chose the flat iron steak, served with brown butter cauliflower, and 4-cheese mac and cheese.  The steak was perfectly cooked – tender and flavorful.  The mac and cheese was outstanding, with a delicous bread crumb topping.

I chose the potato gnocchi with braised lamb, broccoli rapini, and feta cheese.  The dish was a bit salty, but not overpoweringly so.  The lamb was tender and the gnocchi were some of the lightest I have ever tasted.  There are some serious pasta skills going on in Palate’s kitchen.  For me, the best part of the dish was the sauce.  It was simply the braising liquid from the lamb.  By using this as the sauce, the flavors of the lamb, cheese, and gnocchi shone through on their own.  I ate every bite!

Chef Jarrett came out to chat with us before dessert.  From the new spring menu to the challenges of suburban restaurants to the camraderie of the CLE restaurant community, we had a wonderful and engaging conversation.  Chef Jarrett is a warm and friendly host who also serves up one heck of a delicious meal.  I highly encourage you to check out Palate – perhaps even for tonight’s Dinner in the Dark!

It was also wonderful to spend an evening with some of my dear “blends,” chatting about blogging, TEDxCLE, our love for CLE, and more.  A perfect spring evening, capped off by this adorable and playful dessert from Palate – “dirty bon bons.”

Sunday, we slept.  Seriously, after all of that, we needed it!  Although, we did cap off the weekend with some great brews with CLEfriends at Willoughby Brewing Co.  So, “Why Cleveland?” Well, Zack Bruell, 5K’s with supportive friends, dinner with “blends,” Jeff Jarrett, and good beer.  Sounds like enough answers for one weekend!  What new answers to “Why Cleveland?” did you discover?

***Want to read more reviews of our dinner at Palate? Check out Hungry in Cleveland’s review, Cleveland Food and Brews review, and Poise in Parma’s review, too!***

Why? Networking.

One of the best things about CLE is its active and vibrant professional community.  To bounce off my earlier post about Higher Education, those institutions feed professionals into CLE, creating a web of contacts, referrals, and opportunities.

So, for the job-seekers, the job-curious, or those just interested in enriching their professional experience, here are some great groups to try:

The Cleveland Professional 20-30 Club – this is a great group for young professionals, with focus areas and events in social, networking, philanthropy, and education

Linked Local Cleveland – a group that connects professional Clevelanders and plans networking events, run through the Linked In professional networking site

MWBN (My Women’s Business Network) – connects entrepreneurial women and plans events throughout the greater Cleveland area

YWCA Women’s Leadership Initiative – a course designed to help young professional women excel in their careers and network with other professional females

Speed Networking – akin to Speed Dating, these events are designed to put professionals face-to-face with a chance to get to know a lot of people in a short amount of time

Events listed in Crain’s Cleveland Business are often profession-specific, but give a good opportunity for networking and professional enrichment

Whatever your profession or reason for networking, there are plenty of opportunities in CLE.  An engaged and involved professional community is yet another great answer to “Why Cleveland?”