Why? Gourmet Guy Cafe!

Fast, flavorful, and fresh: the recently-opened Gourmet Guy Cafe in Rocky River is a great spot for lunch, casual dinner, or grab-and-go.

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Gourmet Guy Cafe offers a great selection of sandwiches, sides, smoothies, and build-your-own bowls. I enjoyed both the Morning Sunrise smoothie (strawberries, banana, orange juice, yogurt) and the Chocolate Peanut Butter Passion (almond milk, banana, dark cocoa, honey.)

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Healthy and decadent…yum!

We sampled three of Gourmet Guy’s sides: eggplant fries with creamy pesto…

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…cous cous salad with tomatoes, feta, cilantro, and cucumber…

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…and fried Brussel sprouts with roasted garlic and bacon mayo.

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It would be completely impossible to pick a favorite. They were all delicious!

Then it was on to the sandwiches. The Triple B grilled cheese, with blackberry jam, bacon, caramelized onions, and Brie. This is a knockout combo of savory and sweet!

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The Portobella mushroom panini with red onions, roasted garlic, arugula, and goat cheese spread was flavorful and filling.

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And the salmon burger with lettuce, tomato, and whole grain mustard is great!

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You can also build your own wraps or bowls with a choice of protein (steak, chicken, salmon, pulled pork, tofu), toppings, and dressings. These bowls are a yummy way to explore your healthy, creative side!

Gourmet Guy also offers prepared meals to go, which can be ordered online for pick-up.

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So, for lots of fresh, delicious, healthy food for on the go or a meal out, check out Gourmet Guy Cafe!

***Disclosure: I was invited to attend a complimentary tasting at Gourmet Guy Cafe. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***

jenclesig_pur

Why? Jumping Back Across the Pond in Cleveland!

By now you probably know that Playhouse Square Partners‘ annual Jump Back Ball fundraiser is British-themed: Jump Back Across the Pond.

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If you’re going to Jump Back Ball (or considering it), you’re probably thinking of ways to get in the British spirit. And while a trip across the pond might not be feasible, there are plenty of ways to get in the mood right here in Cleveland.

Have a spot of tea

Nothing is more British than a spot of tea, right? Whether it’s High Tea at the Ritz Carlton Cleveland or the Macaron Tea Room, mini sandwiches, scones, and Earl Grey will have you feeling like you’re in jolly old England in no time!

Visit a pub

Perhaps fish and chips washed down with a pint is more your style. If so, check out Griffin Cider House or Fox & Hound Bar & Grill for an English pub experience.

Celebrate the British music invasion

One of the biggest pop culture contributions from across the pond came in the form of music. View artifacts, listen to songs, and generally celebrate these artists at the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.

Take a stroll through an English garden

Did you know that the British Cultural Garden is the first of Cleveland’s cultural gardens? Visit this lovely garden that celebrates Shakespeare to feel immersed in a proper British setting.

View British art

Just up the road from the British Cultural Garden, visit the Cleveland Museum of Art to appreciate the British artwork in the Museum’s collection.

Now that you’re properly in the spirit of Jolly Old England, it’s time to grab your Jump Back Ball tickets and us all that British knowledge and culture you’ve soaked up!

Tickets are currently on sale for $165 for general admission, $200 for VIP admission, and $75 for late night admission. Click here to compare levels and purchase tickets.

For now, cheerio! Hope to see you as we Jump Back Across the Pond!

***Disclosure: I was asked by Playhouse Square to help promote Jump Back Ball. In exchange, I will receive two complimentary VIP tickets. I am also the Communications Co-Chair for Playhouse Square Partners. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***

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Why? City Barbecue!

You know a restaurant is opening with some hype already going when, on media preview day, no fewer than 10 cars pulled in the lot hoping City Barbecue was already open. Spoiler alert: the Beachwood location opens to the public on Monday, January 21.

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The Beachwood restaurant will be the 46th location of City Barbecue, which started in Columbus, Ohio, and is now serving finger-lickin’ good barbecue across six states.

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City Barbecue’s mainstay is smoked meat. The Beachwood location has three smokers, which run constantly with hickory wood to smoke brisket, pork, and chicken to perfection.

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Seriously, you can smell the smoky wood in the parking lot and it just draws you in!

We got to sample some of all the meats the City Barbecue has to offer: beef brisket, pulled pork, turkey breast, chicken, St. Louis ribs, and sausage.

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It is almost impossible to pick a favorite, but for me the beef brisket and the ribs were tops. The ribs fell off the bone and had just the right amount of seasoning and sauce.

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Likewise, the beef brisket was incredibly tender and moist.

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It didn’t need sauce, although City Barbecue offers a variety of year-round and seasonal sauces from sweet to spicy. The Brushfire was my favorite of the sauces.

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We also got to try lots of City Barbecue’s delicious side dishes. Now, some of you know, I would make a meal on side dishes just about any day of the week.

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The mac & cheese, cornbread, corn pudding, and hush puppies are all not to be missed. But the standout for me was the baked beans with brisket. The sauce was so thick, it was almost like a gravy and the flavor was rich and smoky.

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Oh, and wash it all down with some lemonade!

City Barbecue has a fast casual atmosphere with food and service that are well above fast casual level. The team is invested in making both the food and the experience outstanding.

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City Barbecue is also invested in the local community. The company annually donates 10% of its profits to charity. Also, the Beachwood City Barbecue freezes and donates any surplus side dishes to the City Mission to help feed those in need right here in the Cleveland area.

The Beachwood City Barbecue location opens on Monday, January 21. You can dine in, carry out, or order catering. Check it out and enjoy some smoky, barbecued goodness!

***Disclosure: I was invited to attend a media preview at City Barbecue with a guest, at which we received complimentary food and a swag bag. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***

jenclesig_pur

Why? Weekends!

Hey guys! How was your weekend? Ours was a nice balance of time out and time at home, so let’s get right to it…

Michael Angelo’s Winery

On Friday night, I met up with my friends Anne and Kim at Michael Angelo’s Winery.

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The winery is huge and beautifully decorated, with lots of seating options from at the wine tasting bar to tables to cozy chairs and couches.

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I started with a wine flight, which let me sample four different wines. I chose the Sauvignon Blanc, Zinfandel, Pinot Noir, and Cabernet Sauvignon.

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I really enjoyed all my selections, except for the Pinot Noir (which, admittedly, I don’t have as much experience with in general.)

We decided to share a couple appetizers: the crispy Brussel sprouts with maple aioli, mint, and lemon and the confit chicken wings with soy garlic sauce.

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Both were quite tasty! The pizzas coming out of the kitchen all looked amazing, too!

In addition to the food and wine, you can snag yourself some of Michael Angelo’s well-known bakery items, from bread to macarons to paczki. There is also a shop with coffee, candy, and bottles of wine for purchase.

The winery quickly filled up on Friday evening and is clearly deserves it’s new “hot spot” status with food, wine, and atmosphere that are all on point.

Yoga and Oils

Saturday morning, I went to an event that combined something I know really well (yoga) with something I don’t know as well (essential oils.)

Held at Borrow – Curated Rentals & Design, the event started with a presentation on doTERRA Essential Oils, with a sample of their Balance oil to take home.

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Then, Alicia led us through a Slow Flow and Yoga Nidra combination that left us feeling refreshed and intent on the year ahead.

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Alicia graciously let me just hang out in my own restorative poses in the back, but I was definitely able to reap the benefits of the relaxation and the chance to set a mantra for 2019.

Mine? “I am at ease.”

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Plus, Borrow was just a lovely environment for this event, with lots of beautiful lighting and vintage items all around. I want one of these swings at home, stat!

The Rest of the Weekend

We spent most of the rest of the weekend taking down the Christmas decorations. It was definitely time to do it, but I also just don’t like that job, except when it’s done.

Since we were all working so hard around the house, we needed some sustenance, so I made a winter time favorite: hatch chile and chorizo mac ‘n cheese.

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I use this recipe, but add in some loose chorizo that I brown and mix in. When you can get hatch chiles from Heinen’s next summer, grab as many as you can and freeze them. That way you can enjoy these smoky, spicy peppers all year!

We also went to a 10th birthday party for Iain, who Jeffrey calls “my big friend Iain.” Pizza, cake, and lots of chances to play made for a perfect Sunday Funday for these guys!

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So that was our weekend. Hope you enjoyed the very not-January-like weather!

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Why? 2019 Blog Bucket List!

Hey there, 2019! I’ve been thinking about this new year from a blog perspective in terms of where I’d like to go that I haven’t been.

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So, here’s my current 2019 places-to-go bucket list:

1.Il Rione Pizzeria – How have I not been to this place yet?! I’m pretty sure I could house one of those pizza solo.

2. Flight Cleveland – While I’m in the neighborhood for Il Rione, obvs. I like my Bucket Lists to be efficient.

3. Affogato Cat Café – OK, this is on Jeffrey’s bucket list. And we’re going today. So I mostly like just being able to already check something off.

4. Marble Room Steak and Raw Bar – See my reasoning for #1. How have I not been here yet?!

5. The Georgia O’Keefe: Living Modern exhibition at the Cleveland Museum of Art – Georgia O’Keefe is a sorority sister of mine. And I’ve heard the exhibition is a stunner.

6. More general day trip/small trip exploration. Jeffrey is getting to be a great road trip buddy. We’ve had a blast on our Columbus drives. Currently on my list to get to: Toledo, Pittsburgh, Amish Country, and Cincinnati.

7. Nell and Rose – This just looks like a great place to shop!

8. The Van Aken District – In the same vein, I want to get some more local boutique shopping on at this new spot.

9. The Lake Erie Bluffs in the Lake Metroparks – Spectacular views of our Great Lake? What’s not to love?!

10. The Tremont Greek Fest – I live for summer fairs and festivals and this is somehow one I’ve never been to. Is it less crazy than Taste of Tremont?

What’s on your 2019 bucket list?

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Why? Red & White on Thursday Night Giveaway!

Did you make a New Year’s resolution to get out more? Or maybe to try a new restaurant or two? Then I’ve got the event for you: the 22nd annual Red & White on Thursday Night to benefit the Arthritis Foundation, Northeastern Ohio.

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Happening Thursday, January 24 at Quaker Station at the University of Akron, this event brings together the winners of Akron Life Magazine‘s 330 Flavor Awards, wine and craft beer samples, silent auctions, and an exclusive VIP lounge for a evening filled with food, fun, and philanthropy.

You will get to enjoy both savory and sweet small bites from Bistro on Main, Cilantro Thai and Sushi Restaurant, Gervasi Vineyard, Kosar’s Wood-Fired Grill, Nuevo Modern Mexican & Tequila Bar, The West Side Bakery, and more.

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VIP guests will enjoy exclusive tastings from The Galaxy Restaurant & Banquet Center, high-end wines tastings, and specialty cocktails from Brown-Forman, as well as access to all the general admission food and drink.

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Plus, all the proceeds from the event benefit the Arthritis Foundation, Northeastern Ohio, which is working to help the over 2.6 million people in Ohio living with arthritis.

Tickets are $85 for general admission and $125 for VIP admission. Tickets are available online.

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Or you can enter to win 2 general admission tickets to Red & White on Thursday Night right here! Here’s how to enter (you can do one, two, three, four, or all five entries, just leave a separate comment for each):

1.Check out the list of participating restaurants and leave a comment here telling me from which you’re most excited to sample food.

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

3. Hope over to my Instagram page and complete an additional entry there.

4. Follow @ArthritisFDN and @WhyCLE on Twitter and leave a comment here letting me know you’re following both.

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

I want to attend #akronredwhite thanks to @ArthritisFDN and @WhyCLE #giveaway https://whycle.com/2019/01/02/why-red-white-on-thursday-night-giveaway-3 

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, January 6 at 11:59pm and the winner will be notified the following day. Good luck!

***Disclosure: I was asked by the Arthritis Foundation, Northeastern Ohio to help promote Red & White on Thursday Night. In exchange, I will receive two complimentary VIP tickets for myself and two general admission tickets to give away. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***

jenclesig_pur

Why? 2018!

2018 was, well, a year. To be completely honest, I’m not a huge fan of New Year’s Eve on a good year and this year was more challenging than most. I’m having a hard time separating the bad from the good, so I’m mostly just ready to welcome a new beginning.

But when I look back on it, there were certainly fun moments in 2018, along with a lot of growth, strengthening of relationships, and deepening of commitments.

In 2018, we ate…

…we drank…

…we traveled…

…I yoga-ed and barre-d…

 

…we sported…

 

…we got cultured…

 

…and we got to the Point.

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We loved…

 

…and lost.

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And my kid grew into even more of an extraordinary, funny, smart, inquisitive human.

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It’s been a hell of a year and while I’m honestly not sad to see it go, I do hope the lessons, the growth, and the friendships stay with me into 2019.

May the New Year land softly, however you may feel about 2018. XO

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Why? Turn Bar & Kitchen!

Have we dispensed with the notion that hotel restaurants can’t be epically amazing places to dine? If so, let’s toss that out on the curb with the rest of things we need to leave behind in 2018.

Last night, Matthew and I thoroughly enjoyed a fabulous meal at Turn Bar & Kitchen at the Ritz Carlton Cleveland. Our server, Mary, and the hotel’s general manager, Yael, explained that the restaurant’s name has a dual meaning. One is that wherever you turn in Cleveland, there is something new to discover, especially in terms of cultures and ethnicities.

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The other is that the restaurant turns as the day does, from a breakfast stop after a guest works out to a happy hour destination to an elevated dining experience to live music on the weekends.

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While Turn is located in the lobby of the hotel, you’d never know it. It is set apart and quiet, with an insulated, comfortable vibe.

Matthew and I started with a couple smoked cocktails, which were worth ordering on presentation alone. Served in a stopped bottle with the smoke inside, they were expertly handcrafted and delicious.

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Also, mine incorporated some of our friend Clark Pope‘s spicy orange habanero syrup…local craft cocktails FTW!

Also, at happy hour each day, the bartender does a demonstration of a smoked cocktail and serves samples, so that is not to be missed!

The food menu at Turn incorporates many different ethnicities represented in Cleveland, with food that is both elevated and accessible. You can order everything from matzo ball soup to a Polish boy to a falafel.

We started our dinner with The West Side Olive Bowl, featuring a selection of olives from the West Side Market, and the Polish Meatballs, which had the richest mushroom gravy I’ve ever tasted.

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We also tried the soups: Matzo Ball for me and the Asia Town Tom Yum Goong for Matthew. Both were perfect to warm you up on a blustery winter evening!

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For our entrees, Mary and Yael conspired to absolutely stuff us full of delicious food. We shared the Braised Short Ribs with red wine and charred Brussel sprouts, the Faroe Island Salmon with asparagus and lemon, and the Day Boat Scallops, with Ohio City Pasta and tomato broth.

The red wine demi glace on the short ribs was so concentrated and delicious and the meat just melted in your mouth.

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While I like salmon, it’s not usually a first choice for me on a menu, but I would order this salmon again and again. The lemon sauce was just enough to make it stand out without overpowering the salmon.

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The scallops were massive, perfectly prepared, and paired nicely with the asparagus and marscapone ravioli.

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For dessert, we got a sample of three of Turn’s sweet treats: the Slavic Village Mini Paczki, the Northeast Ohio Cassata Cake, and The Cake.

The paczki were light, crisp, sugar-coated and filled with jam. The cassata cake was a delicious berry treat. And The Cake was a decadent blend of chocolate and orange flavors that paired perfectly with a side of Mitchell’s vanilla bean ice cream.

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From higher-end entrees to sandwiches to salads and wraps, Turn’s menu offers a bit of everything and wonderful conglomeration of Cleveland’s ethnic pockets.

Turn is the perfect stop for drinks and dinner before an event at the Q, in between movies at the Cleveland International Film Festival, when you’re looking for a restaurant that shows off so much of what Cleveland has to offer, or for a post-holiday date night.

The biggest takeaway for me is that Turn has not only nailed in selection and execution what Cleveland is all about, they’ve also nailed it in terms of hospitality. Cleveland, much like Turn, is warm and welcoming, haute and accessible all at once. Turn understands that and executes it flawlessly.

***Disclosure: I was invited to attend a complimentary dinner at Turn Bar & Kitchen. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***

jenclesig_pur

Why? HaylieStory in Motion!

Awhile ago, I met up with Haylie from HaylieStory and Zak from Zak Films to film a City Surge video all about Cleveland.

From the West Side Market, to East 4th Street, to Playhouse Square, we checked out some of the best that Cleveland has to offer.

I tried to pick places that really highlighted the culture, food, and people that make Cleveland so awesome!

And now, I’m so excited to share the final product with you.

For more awesome City Surge videos, along with thoughts on travel, life, and fun, follow along with #HaylieStory! Thanks to Haylie and Zak for spending such a fun day with me around Cleveland!

jenclesig_pur

Why? Weekends!

It was another festive weekend in the CLE! Don’t you just love this time of year?! Let’s go to it…well, 2/3rds of it (stay tuned tomorrow for more)…

Breakfast with Mr. Kringle

On Saturday, we had breakfast with a true Cleveland original: Mr. Kringle from Kringle’s Inventionasium.

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Along with his friends Fancy and Eyesley, Mr. Kringle attended a bright, fun, festive breakfast buffet at The Burnham at the Hilton Cleveland Downtown.

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The breakfast buffet featured eggs, waffles, French toast, sausage, fresh fruit, pastries and breads, ham and pork belly, and the best bacon I’ve ever eaten (it is possible I ate an entire pound myself).

We also decorated cookies…

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…and had so much time to be creative and fun with Mr. Kringle and friends. One of the things I love about Kringle’s Inventionasium is that it encourages a child’s imagination and creativity (and humor)!

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The Hilton has been decorated this season in the bring, imaginative style of Kringle’s Inventionasium.

You can even spend the night in the Mr. Kringle Suite, available through January 5. The suite has been festively decorated for a magical holiday experience!

You can also visit Kringle’s Inventionasium at Tower City Center through December 30. Click here to plan your visit.

***Disclosure: I was invited by the Hilton Cleveland Downtown to attend a complimentary Breakfast with Mr. Kringle. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***

Holiday Play Date

And on Sunday, in what has become an annual tradition, we hosted Jeffrey’s Holiday Play Date for his friends (and ours). As the kids have gotten bigger and the invite list longer, we decided to have the play date at a community room, rather than our house.

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We rented a room at the Mentor Civic Center, which made the party easy and fun (plus the kids loved the view of the ice rink)!

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There were games and prizes…

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…pinata pandemonium, crafts…

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…delicious pizza from Longo’s Pizza, cookies from Michael Angelo’s Bakery, and mini chocolate peppermint bundt cakes from Nothing Bundt Cakes.

It was such a fun afternoon and a great way to celebrate the season!

So, that was most of our weekend! Stay tuned tomorrow for some Zamboni action!

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