Why? Key Rewards Week!

***A bit of blogkeeping: The Why CLE Blogiversary basket giveaway is still going, so check it out! You could win a basket full of cool CLE goodies!***

‘Tis the season of giving and Cleveland’s own Key Bank is taking that to a whole new level this week with Key Rewards Week.

Image Source - KeyRewardsWeek.com

So far, Key has rewarded Clevelanders with free coffee at Starbucks on Monday, Josh Cribbs signing autographs at various Key Bank branches on Tuesday, and free lunch from some of CLE’s fabulous food trucks on Wednesday.

What will today bring?!

Thursday, December 15 between 11am and 2pm, Key Bank will pick up $10 of your lunch tab at various downtown restaurants. You don’t have to be a Key customer, just a hungry CLE-er to take advantage of this offer.

So where can you cash in on this sweet deal?

Barley House – located at 1261 West 6th Street

Chinato – located at 2079 East 4th Street

Chocolate Bar –  located at 347 Euclid Avenue

Corner Alley – located at 402 Euclid Avenue

Flannery’s Pub – located at 323 Prospect Avenue

Pura Vida – located at 170 Euclid Avenue

I’m a long-time Key Bank customer and have always thought they did a great job. But even more, I love that Key Bank is helping to promote and support other local businesses and doing something to make CLE-ers happy, even if they’re not Key Bank customers! Now that’s the spirit of the season!

And in that spirit of generosity, Key Bank has given me a $25 Key Possibilities MasterCard to give away to one lucky reader. How do you enter?

1. Leave a comment letting me know which of these restaurants you’d most like to enjoy lunch.

2. Tweet the following phrase and leave a separate comment letting me know you did: Give me some green this holiday season! I want to win a $25 gift card from #KeyBankRewards and @WhyCLE: http://wp.me/p1fb9r-u7 

The giveaway will close at 11:59pm on Sunday, December 18 and the winner will be announced here on Monday, December 19. Good luck and happy (cheaper) eating!

***Disclosure: I was invited to post about Key Rewards Week and given my own $25 Key Possibilities MasterCard gift card in exchange. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***

Why? Upcoming Events!

Well, CLE, we have lots to be thankful for this month! We’ve been enjoying some unseasonably amazing weather! And we have some pretty awesome upcoming events to take you up to your Thanksgiving holiday. Check these out:

This weekend at the IX Center is the Fabulous Food Show! Stroll through hundreds of vendors and demo stations, check out presentations and snag autographs from celebrity chefs, and more. Hometown favorite Michael Symon will be on hand, as well as Food Network dessert diva and CLE-native Anne Thornton (a high school classmate of mine who I’m so proud of!). Tickets start at $25 for general admission. If you like wine, the $10 Grand Tasting Pavilion tickets are totally worthwhile for some delicious vino served up by Cleveland Wine School grads.

Image Source - http://www.clevelandleader.com/taxonomy/term/122

Saturday, November 12 is the Sparx City Hop from 11am – 6pm. There will be free trolley tours touring CLE’s great neighborhoods – such as Tremont, the Warehouse District, Asia Town, and more. Hop off the trolley in each location and explore the neighborhood, tour buildings, shop, dine, and enjoy live entertainment. There will be a concert on Public Square, food trucks in Lincoln Park, and lots of other fun and unique activities along the way. What an awesome way to explore CLE!

Image Source - http://www.downtowncleveland.com/events/sparx-city-hop.aspx

The Ohio Blogging Association is hosting a “blog swap” in November. Bloggers are paired and write a post to appear on the other’s blog on Monday, November 21. If you have a blog and are interested, RSVP to the link above by November 13 to participate!

Friday, November 18 at 7pm, Miss WineOH is presenting Wining at Holiday Tables. This event, taking place at Visible Voice Books in Tremont, will pair 4 wines and 2 mini-tarts for a delicious festive experience. Tickets are $20 and there are only 30 available, so get on it now!

Image Source – http://www.cnbc.com/
 
Melt Bar and Grilled is one of the many places offering day-before-Thanksgiving specials. Melt continues its annual Diabolical Day Before Thanksgiving at all three locations by pouring “heavy hitting” beers, including Stone Double Arrogant Bastard. Enjoy a beer or two and the New Bomb Turkey, assuming you don’t have to get up to cook the next day!
 
 
On Thanksgiving Day, preemptively burn off those turkey calories at the 30th Annual Cleveland Turkey Trot through downtown. There is a one-mile fun run starting at 8:45am and a 5-mile timed run starting at 9:30am. If you register before November 17, registration is only $18. There is also a family discount for $15 per person.
Image Source - http://www.parkglen.org/calendar/calendar.php

Lots going on as we head toward gobbling down our Thanksgiving feasts! What upcoming events are you most looking forward to?

Why? Cinco de Mayo!

It’s spring. It is…no matter what the weather is doing.  And one of my favorite warmer weather activities is sipping margaritas on a patio somewhere.  Now, maybe we won’t get the patio, but tomorrow is Cinco de Mayo and plenty of CLE places are pulling out all the stops to celebrate. 

Here’s a rundown of just some of the fun places you can spend Cinco de Mayo north of the border:

Reddstone is amping up it’s usual Taco Thursday into a full-fledged Cinco de Mayo party, with a taco buffet, $3 margaritas, and more!

The Blind Pig Speakeasy and Hermes Cleveland are sponsoring the Run for the Border starting at 6:30pm.  It’s a three-mile race with no course, just check-in points along the way.  Get a free Corona at the end and then stay to party at the Blind Pig.  You can register the day of the event for $44 for a team, $22 for an individual.

Roseangel is going wild with the number 5 for Cinco de Mayo – $5 margaritas and $5 menu specials all night, tequila tasting, plus a pinata filled with grown-up prizes like gift cards.

Cropicana (Crop Bistro’s revamp of Sunset Grille on Whiskey Island) has it’s grand opening on Cinco de Mayo.  Bundle up and get the first peek at where you’ll be spending many summer evenings.

Winking Lizard in Lakewood will be hosting the always fun and energetic Spazmatics as live entertainment for Cinco de Mayo.  At all Lizard locations, a bucket of Mexican beers is only $13.99 and includes a bottle opener and t-shirt.

The Cleveland 20/30 Club is hosting it’s monthly happy hour on Cinco de Mayo at Shooters on the Water with happy hour drink specials and even more special pricing for club members.

Momocho is putting up a huge tent over their patio and will be serving up delicious mod mex and margaritas.

Lopez Bar and Grill will be dishing out traditional favorites, pouring cool margaritas, and rocking with live music.

And of course, there’s always Luchita’s, Zocalo Mexican Grill and Tequileria, Cozumel, Nuevo Acapulco

Just a sampling of the many fun Cinco de Mayo events going on around CLE.  So, where will you be getting your Jose Cuervo on?

Why? Friday Inspiration!

This week’s inspiration comes courtesy of last night’s activities.  First, the Ohio Blogging Association hosted a blogger meet-up at Amp 150.

 

 

I have been wanting to try Amp 150 for awhile, plus I always have a great time with the CLEbloggers.  It was great getting to meet in person some CLE-ers whose writing and tweeting I love.  We also got filled in on some exciting upcoming events from the CLEbloggers in attendance, including Twestival on March 24 (follow TwestivalCLE for CLE-specific info).

In attendance at last night’s event:

Poise in Parma (our wonderful organizer of last night’s fun)

Hungry in Cleveland

Cleveland Food and Brews

Happiness is a Hot Pierogi

At Home in CLE

Cooker Girl

The Chubby Cook

Clue Into Cleveland

A Slice of Kiwi

KaseyCrabtree

The hospitality at Amp 150 was fantastic – we had wonderful, friendly, entertaining service and great food and drinks.  My cocktail of choice was the blackberry mojito – a nice taste of summer on a February day.  Chef Ellis Cooley provided us with flatbreads, wings, and homemade potato chips to snack on to start, then a selection of his favorite “small bites” dishes later.

I also ordered the velvet mushroom soup and the Hunter’s sausage risotto from the menu.  All I can say is – order the soup.  It will change your life, it’s that good.  Creamy and almost frothy with truffle oil on top – delicious!  The risotto was a stand-out dish as well.

Soup, Risotto, and Blackberry Mojito at Amp 150

Chef Ellis came and chatted with us a bit.  He told us that he was drawn to CLE from Miami because of the CLE food scene – so many great chefs doing wonderful things and being committed to using locally-grown, fresh ingredients.  Everything on Amp 150’s ever-changing menu is local and as fresh as can be.

Chef Ellis Cooley and Alicia from Poise in Parma

From Amp 150, Hungry in Cleveland and I headed down to Suite Sixx for Ladies Bite Out.  This event included champage, mini cupcakes from A Cookie and a Cupcake (if they’re mini, it’s OK to have 4, right?), other sweet treats, and a cooking demonstration from local chefs Matt Mytro of Stove Monkeys, Jeff Jarrett of Palate Cleveland, Chef Mia of Chinato, and Ellis Cooley of Amp 150 (hey, we just saw him!).  I’ll leave the recap to Hungry in Cleveland, but I will say this was a fun, sweet way to end a great evening.

The Sweet Treats at Ladies Bite Out

Chef Ellis told us at the Ohio Blogging event that the camaraderie between chefs in CLE is particularly strong.  Personally, I think everyone in attendance would say the same thing about the camaraderie between CLEbloggers.  We all help each other, promote each other’s work, and realize that we all love CLE and want to share that love.  And that’s inspirational – that CLE is a city full of great people doing amazing things (chefs, bloggers, and everywhere in between) who understand the value of supporting each other’s work and finding satisfaction in the successes of the whole.

Have a great weekend! Do something inspiring!

Why? Weekends!

So, from 60 degrees back to cold and snowy all in one weekend…you’ll never get bored with the weather here! Just another answer to “Why Cleveland?” right?

This weekend started with a walk at lunch to enjoy the fine weather and the return of Dim and Den Sum to the streets of CLE. I also got to meet a fellow CLEtweep, JohnAFay.

Dim and Den Sum are back...spring is coming!

Dim and Den Sum is a CLE-based gourmet Asian fusion food truck. And if you have yet to experience it, the food is crazy good. I found the truck (courtesy of their iPhone app – these guys know how to work social media) at East 9th and St. Clair on Friday afternoon. The chefs had a great week, after being named Food Truck of the Week in the USA and also being named one of the 25 Restaurants Cleveland can’t live without.

CLEguy chose the PBLT, which is a sandwich of braised pork, bacon, lettuce, tomato and sirachi mayo. The verdict? Messy, but oh so good. I selected the Chicken Yum Yum, which is pieces of fried chicken served over corn bread, pickled diakon and carrot, and topped with mae ploy sauce. The chicken breading was outstanding and the sauce added just the right hint of spice – southern and Asian cooking all from the corner of East 9th and St. Clair!

Dim and Den Sum is currently looking around CLE for space to open a restaurant, but I will be loyally following the truck until then.

Friday evening, CLEguy and I headed to the Warehouse District for happy hour at The Barley House. The Warehouse District has done such a great job at maintaining its status as a hub of restaurants, bars, and fun in downtown CLE. It was great to see so many CLE-ers out and about enjoying the unseasonable temperatures.

While at the Barley House, I enjoyed one of my favorite beverages, a Black Raspberry.

This drink is half Guinness and half Lambic’s Framboise. I was introduced to this by Hungry in Cleveland and it quickly became a drink of choice. It perfectly cuts both the sweetness of the Framboise and the heaviness of the Guinness. Delicious!

After happy hour, we decided to stay in the Warehouse District for dinner. We headed across the street to Sushi Rock, to enjoy some of their incredible calamari, as well as a couple rolls. My new favorite is the Cobra roll, which includes some very tasty BBQ eel.

Saturday was a lazy day, which was just fine by me. Today, CLEguy, CLEparents, and I headed to one of my favorite Cleveland Independents restaurants – Paladar Latin Kitchen and Rum Bar. This restaurant is bright and open and makes you feel summery, even when it’s snowing outside.

Paladar is offering specials through Fat Tuesday (March 8th) in celebration of Carnaval, so check them out. Our mojitos were half-price today! After some of their fantastic guacamole, served with traditional tortilla chips as well as plantain chips, we moved onto to our entrees. CLEguy had ropa vieja, braised beef with rice and plaintains. I had the mahi mahi, served over grilled sweet potato and plaintain hash.

Paladar was the perfect cure for the chilly, snowy weather outside. All this good food, plus weather that keeps you on your toes, made for another great weekend and more good answers to “Why Cleveland?”

So, what new answers to “Why Cleveland?” did you discover this weekend? And are you ready to discover even more at Downtown Cleveland Restaurant Week?