Why? Pier W Tour of Italy Wine Dinner!

On Tuesday night, Matthew and I headed to one of our all-time favorite restaurants, Pier W, for a “Tour of Italy” wine dinner. The evening featured four delectable courses, paired with Italian wines from Vanguard Wines.

Our first course was lobster carpaccio, with mango mignonette sauce, poached asparagus tips, shaved shallots, and frisee.

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The flavors were all light and bright. And as was a theme for the evening, all the elements of the dish worked well both individually and together. This course was paired with Il Follo Prosecco Extra Dry, which was crisp and delightful.

The second course was prosciutto and ricotta agnolotti, with a medley of Italian olives, truffle buerre blanc, butter-roasted mushrooms, and porcini powder.

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The earthy, salty flavors in this dish paired perfectly with the Passopisciaro Etna Rosso. For a light-bodied red, this wine packed in a lot of cherry and smoky flavors. Our guide from Vanguard Wines told us the Etna vineyards are near an active volcano, which imparts a lot of smokiness to their wines.

Third course was Australian lamb chops with garlic herb butter risotto and a steamed vegetable medley with a mostardo demi-glace.

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Mark Kawada, Pier W’s general manager, told us about the kitchen’s sous vide machine, as well as Chef Regan Reik’s passion for perfect risotto. Both complex cooking styles shone in this dish. The risotto melted in your mouth, as did the lamb chops. And this course was again expertly paired, this time with a Gianfranco Alessandria Barolo, my favorite wine of the evening.

To end the night on a sweet note, we enjoyed a vanilla napoleon, with maple anglaise and a mixed nut crumble.

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This dessert was not overly sweet, which worked well with the Marco Cecchini Picolit dessert wine. While the dessert wine would not be my choice on it’s own, paired with the vanilla napoleon, it was delicious!

I was not only impressed by the quality of Pier W’s food (which I expected), but also by their expertise in pairing wines with each course. Even the wines I enjoyed on their own were taken to new levels when married with the food. Keep your eyes open for the next wine dinner, which will surely be a culinary treat! And the next time you dine at Pier W, be sure to ask their sommelier to find the perfect wine to match your delicious meal!

***Disclosure: I was asked to help promote the Pier W Tour of Italy Wine Dinner. In exchange, I received two complimentary reservations to the dinner. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***

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Why? Pier W Tour of Italy Wine Dinner!

Pier W is one of Cleveland’s classic restaurants (they just celebrated their 50th anniversary last year) that continually remains relevant due to inspired menus that blend classic seafood choices with modern culinary techniques. Plus, you can’t beat the view, the ambiance, and the spot-on service!

Among the restaurant’s many accolades are “Best Seafood” and “Most Romantic” from Cleveland Scene Magazine’s Best of Cleveland and and “Best Brunch,” “Best View,” and “Best Seafood” from Cleveland Magazine’s Best of Cleveland.

Which is why I’m so excited for Pier W’s upcoming Tour of Italy Wine Dinner on Tuesday, November 1.

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Kliment Stevoff, the restaurant’s wine director and Level II sommelier, along with Executive Chef Regan Reik will guide guests through a four-course food and wine pairing. You will not only get to enjoy delicious food, but you will learn more about Italian wines (personally, ones I don’t know much about) and how to pair them.

The menu is nothing short of incredible, with items like lobster carpaccio, lamb chops, and vanilla napoleon. You can view the complete menu here.

Seats for the Tour of Italy Wine Dinner are $85 plus tax and gratuity. This is sure to be a delicious, educational evening you won’t soon forget. Make your reservations today by calling 216-228-2250.

***Disclosure: I was asked to help promote the Pier W Tour of Italy Wine Dinner. In exchange, I will receive two complimentary seats at the dinner. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***

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Why? Ice Cream in the CLE!

It’s been a hot week and there’s nothing better than some creamy, delicious ice cream to cool you off! Although I don’t really need a heat wave to want to eat all the ice cream…

So, I thought I’d do a round-up of some of my favorite places in Cleveland to get a sweet ice cream treat!

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Where: Mitchell’s Ice Cream, with locations in Rocky River, Westlake, Avon, Strongsville, Beachwood, Uptown at University Circle, and Ohio City, open 11am-11pm daily

My Favorite Item: A taster’s duo (the equivalent of a single scoop split between two flavors) with the Toasted Pistachio and the Toasted Hazelnut

Bonus: Visit the Ohio City location to see a Willy Wonka-type kitchen where the ice cream is made (you can also take a Tasting Tour, but they’re sold out through September)

Where: Mason’s Creamery, open 2pm-10pm Tuesday through Thursday, 2pm-11pm Friday and Saturday, and 2pm-10pm Sunday

My Favorite Item: the Mexican Chocolate flavor

Bonus: Mason’s is run by some of the nicest people you’ll ever meet

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Where: Malley’s Chocolates, with ice cream parlors at the Aurora Premium Outlet (summer only), Bay Village, Lakewood, Mentor, and North Olmsted shops

My Favorite Item: The Raspberry Delight sundae (vanilla ice cream, raspberry sauce, and almonds) with an add-on of Malley’s signature hot fudge. I can’t take credit for this one, as Jen created this somewhat off-menu treat!

Bonus: Enjoy your ice cream at a table on the (very slow-moving) carousel at the North Olmsted location

Where: Rosati’s Frozen Custard, open noon-9:30pm Monday through Thursday and noon to 10pm Friday through Sunday

My Favorite Item: the Higbee’s Chocolate Malted flavor (see the special flavor calendar to see when it is offered)

Bonus: Vanilla and chocolate are always on the menu, but the rotating special flavors offer lots of variety

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Where: Sweet Moses Soda Fountain and Treat Shop, open noon-11pm Sunday through Thursday and noon-midnight on Friday and Saturday

My Favorite Item: The Shoreway Sundae, with coffee ice cream, hot fudge, toffee pieces, and almonds

Bonus: This throwback to the days of soda fountains is as adorable as it is delicious

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Where: East Coast Original Frozen Custard, with locations in Lyndhurst, Mentor, Painesville, Parma Heights, and Fairview Park

My Favorite Item: the Turtle Sundae

Bonus: The custard is styled after what was sold at Cleveland’s famed Euclid Beach Park, so you’re enjoying a bite of Cleveland history

 

Where’s your favorite spot in Cleveland to cool off with some delicious ice cream?

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Why? Weekends!

It was a great holiday weekend in the CLE! We kicked things off on Friday by meeting up with friends at one of our favorite play date spots: Memphis Kiddie Park. Jeffrey loves the rides and I love that the size, crowd level, and pace are perfect for his age.

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Look at that face! Pure joy! I think we have a burgeoning ride monster on our hands!

Friday evening, Matthew and I met up with Kimberly and Chris for dinner out on the patio at Pier W. Much thanks to Mark and his awesome staff for not only flawless service and delicious food, but also for saving us a table and surprising us with complimentary appetizers!

Matthew and I shared oysters, lump blue crab cocktail, and scallop ceviche. I also snagged a couple bites of Matthew’s halibut taco. Everything was so fresh and yummy!

Plus, you can’t beat the gorgeous view of Cleveland from the Pier W patio. After dinner, the wind kicked up a bit too much off Lake Erie, so we headed downstairs to the lounge for after-dinner cocktails and dessert, accompanied by the Pier W piano player.

The desserts were as tasty as they were pretty.

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I had the lemon semifreddo, with frozen lemon and blueberry mousse, blueberry coulis, creme Anglaise, and coconut almond granola. This is a perfect summer dessert!

It was a perfect evening of non-stop talking and delicious food at one of Cleveland’s classic restaurants!

On Saturday, Matthew and I took Jeffrey to the Fairport Mardi Gras. There was lots of summer carnival fun to be had, from rides to live music to classic fair food (I can never resist the elephant ears)!

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Jeffrey played his first game of chance and won a new blue race car for picking the right duck!

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I love summer festivals! And Fairport Harbor is such a cute town! They’re hosting the Tall Ships this coming weekend.

The rest of the weekend was spent with family, as we hosted Matthew’s family for a BBQ on Sunday, then headed to my parents’ house for the same on Monday. Lots of good times with family and friends, plenty of good food, and some time to just relax. Well done, America! Thanks for having such a great birthday weekend!

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***Disclosure: We were surprised at Pier W when the manager comped the majority of our food bill. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***

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Why? Voodoo Tuna!

Earlier this week, I attended the Playhouse Square Partners quarterly dine-around event. Four times a year, we pick a neighborhood and split up among different restaurants for a small-group meal, with a large-group night cap after dinner.

This dine-around took place in Lakewood, which meant I finally got to try Voodoo Tuna. The Asian fusion menu features appetizers, steam buns, noodle bowls, and sushi (and tasty cocktails!).

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And the decor is pretty fun, too…check out the mural behind us!

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I couldn’t decide between sushi and udon, so I got both! I chose the Firecracker Futomaki roll, with spicy tuna, cucumber, avocado, jalapeno, tabiko, and sriracha sauce.

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Not only was the roll deliciously spicy, it was so fresh! The quality of the fish was the star of this roll and everyone else at the table said the same of their sushi.

I also ordered the spicy calamari udon, with sauteed calamari, shrimp, bok choy, celery, carrot, and spicy pepper broth.

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It took everything not to drink every drop of the spicy broth. This was not just spicy for spiciness sake…it was well-seasoned, flavorful heat.

A couple of my dinner companions ordered steam buns and they looked SO delicious. Those are definitely on my list to try the next time I head to Voodoo Tuna. To make everything even better, we all saved 15% off our bills courtesy of CLEseats. Check out their website (or even better, download the app) for great deals at local restaurants!

And for delicious sushi and so much more (this is the perfect spot to go if you love sushi, but not everyone you’re dining with does), I highly recommend Voodoo Tuna!

***Disclosure: I am the co-chair of the Education Committee of Playhouse Square Partners. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***

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Why? Copper River Salmon Run Giveaway!

As the weather gets nice, it’s time to get outside, both to exercise and to enjoy patio season. Which is why Pier W‘s Copper River Salmon Run/Walk 5K is the perfect combo!

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This annual event is taking place on Saturday, May 21. Participants start at Lakewood Park’s Outdoor Pavilion and end at Pier W’s beautiful patio.

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After enjoying a great workout at the 5K, you’ll get to relax and enjoy gorgeous Cleveland skyline views, along with a delicious lunch. Chef Regan Reik will be working the grill preparing your choice of a Copper River salmon burger, vegan black bean burger, beef burger, or turkey dog.

Registration is $30 for the 5K and lunch or $12 for lunch only. All proceeds from the event benefit Malachi House, which ministers to the terminally ill. You can register online by clicking here. Or you can enter to win a free race registration right here!

Here’s how to enter (you can do one, two, three, or all four entries, just leave a separate comment for each):

1.Leave a comment here telling me your favorite thing to do outside in Cleveland in the summer.

2. Visit Pier W and Why CLE? on Facebook and leave a comment here letting me know you visited both pages.

3. Follow @pierwcleveland on Instagram and leave a comment here letting me know you’re following.

4. Tweet the following phrase and leave a comment here letting me know you tweeted:

I want to run the @pierwcleveland Copper River Salmon Run to benefit @MalachiHouse thanks to @WhyCLE: http://whycle.com/2016/05/04/why-copper-river-salmon-run-giveaway #giveaway

You can tweet once per day for additional entries, just leave a separate comment here each time you tweet.

The giveaway will close on Sunday, May 8 at 11:59pm and the winner will be notified the following day. Good luck!

***Disclosure: I was asked to help promote the Copper River Salmon Run/Walk 5K. In exchange, I will receive a race registration to give away. I declined my own race registration due to scheduling conflicts. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***

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Why? Be Studios!

I am continually surprised and delighted by the random adventures that this blog affords me. Saturday was definitely one of those random, surprising, and ultimately delightful experiences.

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I rounded up 5 girlfriends and we had a private pole dancing party at Be Studios. When we arrived, our instructor Wanida told us we needed “stage names” to help us get into sexy, fierce character and step out of the everyday.

Luckily, I have creative friends and we decided to all have gemstones as our stage names. So, Diamond (me), Ruby, Emerald, Opal, Topaz, and Sapphire were ready to go. Wanida broke down a basic pole routine step by step, from the sexy walk to a couple different spins.

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What started out with a lot of nervous laughter ended up with all of us feeling at least a little more confident and sassy in ourselves. But it’s not just a fun evening of dancing and giggling. It’s a lot of legitimately hard work! My shoulders and upper arms are still feeling the workout! Plus, two of the Gemstone Gals were able to climb all the way to the top of the pole, getting to sign their name on the ceiling and earning quite a bit of admiration along the way!

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Be Studios offers group pole fitness, pilates, and dance classes, as well as private parties. Personally, I think the one hour private party was a great way to try out pole fitness. It gave us the chance to feel as comfortable as possible, surrounded by friends.

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A private party would be a great option for a birthday, bachelorette party, or just a random Saturday. You can also bring in your own beverages and food for the party.

I had so much fun (and yes, the glitter booties made an appearance) and am so grateful for the Gemstone Gals who were willing to try something new and laugh along with me. I’m also so grateful for the chance to be pushed out of my comfort zone to find that maybe every once in awhile I can add a little more Diamond attitude to my every day.

Check out Be Studios full schedule and add a little sassy and sexy to your fitness routine, too!

***Disclosure: I was invited by Be Studios to take a private pole fitness party with complimentary admission for two people and reduced-price admission for the remainder of my guests. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***

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Why? Weekends!

It was a fun and family-filled weekend in CLE! Friday morning, Jeffrey and I met up with friends for some splashy fun at Wildwater Kingdom. But first, we fueled up for the day at Nicky & Smitty’s. Nothing like a good diner breakfast to start your day off right!

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From there, it was on to Wildwater Kingdom. While the kids had a great time splashing in the bubbler fountains and waterfall wall, I think the park is a bit better suited to older kids. But any time in the water makes them happy and the Little Tikes area was a hit, too!

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Saturday morning, Jeffrey, Matthew, and I headed to the Cleveland Museum of Natural History for a guided tour put on by the John Carroll University Cleveland Alumni Chapter.

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We got to check out the special World’s Largest Dinosaurs exhibit, as well as all the museums critters and rocks and whatnot. I’m also glad we got a chance to see the outdoor Perkins Wildlife Center before it closes on August 24 as part of the Museum’s impressive planned expansion.

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Another favorite from the day was the Shafran Planetarium. We saw the One World, One Sky show, which featured Big Bird, Elmo, and lots of fun and music to teach about constellations.

We worked up an appetite and since we were so close to Little Italy, we couldn’t pass up the opportunity to visit the Feast of the Assumption. I’ve gone to the Feast many times, but had never seen the procession that happens on the actual Feast Day, so that was a special treat this year and a good reminder that the Feast is about more than just delicious food!

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Of course, that doesn’t mean there wasn’t plenty of delicious food to enjoy! We ate at Maxi’s Bistro, which has quickly become a favorite Little Italy spot. Matthew and I shared the stuffed hot banana peppers and Jeffrey enjoyed fried mozarella and cavatelli with meatballs.

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And no trip to Little Italy is complete without a stop at Presti’s Bakery for cannoli, tiramisu, and lemon ice (so good on such a hot day)!

Sunday, the eating fest continued with a belated birthday brunch for Matthew at Pier W. Pier W is always such a special spot, from the views to the food.

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Pier W’s brunch offers a variety of breakfast and lunch items, a raw bar, and a phenomenal spread of desserts. It’s a pretty lovely way to spend a Sunday morning! This was Jeffrey’s first trip to Pier W and I think he enjoyed it as much as we always do!

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How was your weekend? Did you check out the Feast?

***Disclosure: I am the VP of Educational/Cultural/Spiritual Events for the John Carroll University Cleveland Alumni Chapter. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***

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Why? Pier W Patio!

***A bit of blogkeeping: Have you entered to win 2 Big Kahuna tickets to the Luau on the Lake? Check it out! Remember, you can tweet daily for additional entries!***

Patio season is in full swing and I personally like to soak up every moment of it. There’s nothing better than sitting outside with a cocktail and some friends, enjoying the summer!

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When Pier W asked if we’d help kick off their patio season with a little pre-opening party, we couldn’t possibly say no! The Pier W patio features a cocktail, wine, and beer selection, as well as a menu of more casual, patio-friendly food. It’s the same high-quality experience you expect from Pier W, just in a more outdoorsy setting.

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We enjoyed the flatbread with goat cheese and artichokes, the shrimp tacos, and the scallop ceviche. My personal favorite was the ceviche…no one has fresh, delicious seafood quite like Pier W!

This season, the Pier W patio will also feature a raw bar and, if the oysters we had last night are any indication, it is not to be missed!

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Plus, you can relax in the Adirondack chairs and take in a fabulous view of Cleveland.

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Pier W is celebrating it’s 50th anniversary this year and, as we toasted with our champagne to this Cleveland icon, I was struck by how Pier W keeps getting better and better each year. The menu is always fresh, updated, and delicious and additions such as the patio keep Pier W on the forefront of the Cleveland restaurant scene. Cheers to Pier W!

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I know where I’ll be spending a lot of time this patio season. I hope to see you out there, too!

What are some of your favorite patio spots in Cleveland?

***Disclosure: I was invited to attend the Pier W patio party with a guest. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***

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Why? El Carnicero!

***A bit of blogkeeping: Congratulations to Amy Lambermont (Comment #47), randomly-selected winner of two tickets to the Cleveland Auto Show. Please check your email for more details. If you didn’t win, you can still purchase tickets online. The show starts tomorrow!

Also, there’s still time to enter to win two tickets to see Dirty Dancing at Playhouse Square. Check it out! Remember, you can tweet daily for additional entries.***

So, I had a craving, a hankering, a need for some margaritas and guacamole. Maybe I just needed to pretend it was warm or I was in Mexico or something. And I didn’t want just any margaritas and guacamole. I wanted a spicy mango margarita with chili-lime salt and corn and crab guacamole.

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Now, I’ve always loved me some Momocho. But I had yet to check out Momocho’s Lakewood brother, El Carnicero. So Mom and I had dinner there last night. And I found that El Carnicero has Momocho favorites, but also tasty tamales and a whole lot more tables.

After eating our body weight in the corn and grab and goat cheese and tomato guacamoles, we dove into our entrees. I had the chancho tamale, which features adobo braised wild boar.

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The wild boar is not at all gamey. It was tender and flavorful and, as you can see, more than enough food. Mom chose the pescado taquitos, with Thai chile mahi mahi and a side of esquites (Mexican creamed corn.)

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The fish was flaky and perfectly-done, but could have used a bit more heat from the Thai chile sauce. The corn, on the other hand, packed a ton of spice!

El Carnicero has the same decor that you’ve come to expect from Momocho, but in a more cavernous space. The vibe is less intimate than Momocho, but the food and service are just as spot on.

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I definitely had my margarita and guacamole craving satisfied and left further convinced that Momocho/El Carnicero are serving up the best and most creative Mod Mex in town!

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