Why? The Capital Grille!

I have to say, I’ve been eyeing the progress on the new The Capital Grille at Legacy Village with baited breath. When I lived in DC, it was a favorite spot (mostly when my parents came to town, since I was living on grad school loans). So, you can imagine my excitement when I found out one was being built in the Cleveland area.

I have a tendency to vilify chain restaurants. But there’s a pretty wide swath in between a place like Outback Steakhouse  and The Capital Grille. This swanky, upscale, classic steakhouse is worth setting aside any chain restaurant notions.

Last week, Kimberly (who loves The Capital Grille from her Florida days) and I snagged seats at the bar and enjoyed a dinner of appetizers. We each started with the cream of corn soup with creme fraiche. As hot as it’s been, this is a wonderful summer soup.

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For our appetizer-dinner, we ordered the lobster and crab cakes, prosciutto-wrapped mozzarella, and tuna tartare.

The lobster and crab cakes were phenomenal! They were all meaty seafood with very little filler.

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Served with a corn salad and aioli, these are a must-order item!

The prosciutto-wrapped mozzarella was delicious as well. Filled with gooey mozzarella cheese, these are like adult, gourmet mozzarella sticks.

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And the tuna tartare, served with avocado, mango, and Sriracha was a great balance of spicy and sweet, packed with lots of fresh flavor.

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Unable to pass up dessert, we ordered the ice cream trio with homemade cookies. Our ice cream flavors were chocolate, vanilla, and strawberry cookie dough (it may sound strange but it was AMAZING). And the shortbread and double chocolate chip cookies were the perfect compliment.

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Of course, I can’t wait to go back to The Capital Grille and dive into a big steak, but this appetizer dinner gave us a broad taste of the flavors and skill at play in their kitchen. This wonderful steakhouse, known around the country for its quality, is now in Cleveland, so be sure to give it a try!

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Why? Twilight at the Zoo Giveaway!

We’re getting close to the 23rd annual Twilight at the Zoo, Cleveland’s largest fundraiser! On Friday, August 5 from 7pm-12am, the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo will be filled with bands, food, adult beverages, and lots of fun all to benefit the Cleveland Zoological Society.

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Nineteen local bands from a wide variety of musical genres will perform simultaneously throughout the Zoo during the event. You’ll hear everything from 80’s hits to swing to current pop favorites from bands like Disco Inferno, Robbing Mary, Almost Famous, and more.

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Admission also includes food, Samuel Adams beer, Twisted Tea, Beach House wine, and soft drinks. Plus, you’ll get to explore the Zoo and get to see some of the animals while dancing the night away under the stars. This is truly one of my favorite events of the summer! Twilight at the Zoo is always a blast!

Need proof? We love it so much, we made the video!

General admission tickets for Twilight at the Zoo are $85 and can be purchased online. Or you can enter to win two general admission tickets right here (you must be 21 years + to enter and win this giveaway):

1.Leave a comment here telling me your favorite animal song (e.g., “The Lion Sleeps Tonight”).

2. Visit the Cleveland Zoological Society and Why CLE? on Facebook and leave a comment here letting me know you visited both pages.

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

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

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

I want have a #wildaboutCLE night at @clevezoosociety Twilight at the Zoo thanks to @WhyCLE: https://whycle.com/2016/07/07/why-twilight-at-the-zoo-giveaway-2 #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 Tuesday, July 12 at 11:59pm and the winner will be notified the following day. Good luck!

***Disclosure: I was asked by the Cleveland Zoological Society to help promote Twilight at the Zoo. 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.***

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Why? Mia Rosa Giveaway!

There are few things better than finding a new wine that I love. And while I normally love big, full-bodied reds, the warmer weather has me craving something a little lighter for patio sipping.

Which is why I am thrilled to tell you about Mia Rosa: a semi-sparkling, semi-sweet, low-alcohol wine made in Northern Italy and brand new to Ohio. In fact, Ohio is the first state in the country to sell Mia Rosa in stores!

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Mia Rosa is available in Dolce Rosso and Moscato. Both are sweet, without being overly sugary or syrupy. The Dolce Rosso is the perfect option for those of us who love red, but are craving something a little lighter. And the Moscato paired beautifully with shrimp pesto.

Mia Rosa is perfect for brunch, an afternoon on the porch with a good book, or a girls night in. I love that it’s not overly sweet, which makes it easy to pair with food. And the light bubbles give the wine a crisp freshness.

Since Mia Rosa is great for so many different occasions, I started thinking about how many things in my life would be made better with bubbles. From laundry to Kindermusik class (let’s be honest, you can only sing The Wheels on the Bus so many times) to paying bills, sometimes a little bit of bubbles can go a long way to making life more fun.

To help you have some fun too, I have two bottles of Mia Rosa to give away (one of Dolce Rosso and one of Moscato) and so I want to know what in your life would be made “better with bubbles.” Here’s how to enter (you must do both of these steps):

1.Follow @miarosawine and @whycle on Instagram and leave a comment here letting me know you’re following both.

2. Take a creative picture of something in your life that would be made #BetterWithBubbles and share it on Instagram, tagging @miarosawine and @whycle in your caption, as well as using the hashtags #BetterWithBubbles and #SweetSassyClassy.

For additional entries, you can also:

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

4. Visit Mia Rosa Wine and Why CLE? on Facebook and leave a comment here letting me know you visited both pages.

You must be 21 years of age or older to participate in this giveaway.

The giveaway will close on Friday, June 24 at 11:59pm and the randomly-selected winner will be notified the following day. Good luck and cheers!

***Disclosure: I was asked to help promote Mia Rosa Wine. In exchange, I received two bottles of Mia Rosa for myself and two bottles to give away. As always, all opinions (or desires to have a glass of wine before Kindermusik) are 100% my own.***

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Why? Weekends!

It was a busy and fun weekend (tiger time included)! On Friday, Jeffrey and I met up with friends for a play date at Headlands Beach State Park. The weather was perfect for playing in the sand, chasing seagulls, and attempting to skim rocks.

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I always love spending time by the water. It had been a somewhat stressful week and I came away from that morning in such a better frame of mind. There’s nothing like the beach and how lucky we are to have so many so close to home!

We all worked up an appetite, so we stopped by Scooter’s World Famous Dawg House for lunch. What a little gem! They have a huge menu of creatively-topped hot dogs, plus burgers, ice cream, and more. I chose the Cardinal Dog with sauteed red pepper and onions. With some brown mustard on top, it was perfect!

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And look at this huge order of fries! These are the fries that came with Jeffrey’s kid’s meal. Seriously. Fries for days. And so good, too! The atmosphere at Scooter’s was great as well. Jeffrey especially enjoyed the chairs by the counter that he could spin. We’ll definitely be back for more fun and tasty lunches!

Saturday morning, I headed to Yoga/Brunch at Dante Next Door, taught by the oh-so-talented Alicia. After a great one-hour flow (thanks for the hip openers, friend!), we headed downstairs to enjoy a complimentary mimosa and brunch.

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Alicia, her husband Hans, and I shared the pastry box with a cinnamon roll, banana nut bread, and two filled croissants. I ordered the specialty omelette, which had asparagus, tomatoes, and mozzarella.

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Fresh, fluffy brunch perfection! I love the Yoga/Brunch events. They are the perfect way to feed my soul in a lot of different aspects. The next Yoga/Brunch takes place at Dante Next Door on Saturday, June 25. Registration is $10 for your first class, $15 for returning students and includes class plus a complimentary mimosa. Click here to register.

Saturday evening, the whole family went to dinner at our friends’ house. We met through our kids being involved in similar activities and found that the adults can have just as much fun hanging out together as the kids! Our hostess made a yummy paella that has me intimidated to return the “come over for dinner” favor.

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And as they’re newer to Northeast Ohio, we brought a bottle Ferrante Golden Bunches Riesling as a “hometown” gift. It paired well with our delicious food!

Jeffrey loved their dalmatian dog statue and insisted on posing with it and directing me to take his picture. The result is too adorable not to share!

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It was such a fun night!

On Sunday, we attended a birthday party for one of our nieces. She insisted on a Star Wars themed party and her parents creatively obliged, with everything from a Death Star pinata to “light sabers” as party favors.

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It was a great end to a really nice weekend! How was yours?

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Why? Zippity Zoo Doo!

The Cleveland Metroparks Zoo is not only a favorite spot to take Jeffrey, but it’s also a great place for adults. The Cleveland Zoological Society events have become a favorite way to experience the Zoo in an adult setting. On Friday night, Matthew and I attended the revamped Zippity Zoo Doo fundraiser and had a wonderful time!

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In the past, Zippity Zoo Doo included a sit-down dinner, but this year, the Cleveland Zoological Society switched up the caterer to The Driftwood Group and created dinner stations around the tents, along with additional bars serving specialty cocktails.

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This allowed guests to mix, mingle, and also explore the beautiful new Rosebrough Tiger Passage, which was the centerpiece of the evening’s celebration.

The new tiger exhibit has five times the space as the former exhibit, with raised walkways for the Zoo’s Amur tigers to move from area to area.

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And while the Zoo’s current tigers won’t be breeding, the exhibit is set up to accommodate tiger cubs someday!

The Driftwood Group also made the Rosebrough Tiger Passage the center of their food selections, with “Eye of the Tiger” steak, “tiger-striped” ravioli, and tiger shrimp appetizers. The names were creative and the taste was delicious!

Some of the best parts of Zippity Zoo Doo remained with the new format: the chance to get up close with some Zoo critters and have a wonderful evening out with friends while supporting the Zoo’s educational programs.

If you’re looking for a fun way to support the Zoo, tickets for the wildly popular (see what I did there?) Date Night at the ZOOvies go on sale next Monday, June 20 at 9am. Last year, tickets sold out within the day, so you’ll want to set your smartphone reminder now!

Date Night at the ZOOvies takes place on Friday, August 19. You’ll be able to explore the Australian Adventure and African Savanna exhibits while enjoying complimentary beer, wine, and light appetizers. Then head to the Savanna Theater to watch “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” under the stars. Tickets are $40 a piece or $65 for two tickets. This is one of my favorite summer events! Hope to see you there!

Oh, and a friendly reminder that you can still save 15% through June 30 on a Zoo membership by clicking here and using promo code WHYCLE on an Individual Plus, Family, Family Plus, or Family Select membership.

***Disclosure: I received one complimentary and one discounted ticket to Zippity Zoo Doo, two complimentary tickets to Date Night at the ZOOvies, and a complimentary membership renewal for helping to promote these various Cleveland Zoological Society events. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***

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Why? Ohio Wines!

Have you ever wanted to escape to wine country? It’s easier than you think! Yesterday, Matthew and I met up with friends Sara and Ron for a day of winery hopping in Geneva. There are a lot of great wineries to choose from in that area!

We started our day at Ferrante Winery & Ristorante, where we grabbed seats on their patio to enjoy some live music, wine, and a tasty pizza for lunch.

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We also did a tasting of Ferrante’s award-winning wines.

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The Golden Bunches Riesling is my favorite! It’s not too sweet and a really great choice for enjoying on a patio on a warm summer day.

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Our next stop was South River Vineyard. This is my favorite winery in the area in terms of the setting. South River is located in a former church, with creatively-named wines like Trinity and Karma. Their large patio overlooks the vineyards and is a lovely spot to sit and sip!

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From there, we headed just across the street to M Cellars. Pro tip: if you’re going to be stopping at this many wineries, sharing the tastings is probably a good plan!

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M Cellars also boasts a lot of award-winning wines, as well as a small bites menu that is committed to showcasing local products, such as Pope’s Kitchen spreads and sauces.

Our penultimate stop was Debonne Vineyards, where we hid out from the rain and shared tastings of their red and white varietals. We also added a tasting of the Cask 1015, a special red blend.

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Goldfish crackers and Malley’s chocolates with my wine? Why not?!

Our last winery of the day was Grand River Cellars, where we enjoyed more live music, as well as another tasting. The Grand Red is my favorite of their wines!

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After all that wine, we had worked up an appetite, so we headed to dinner at The Lakehouse Inn‘s Crosswinds Grille. The Lakehouse Inn has beautiful views and would be a perfect spot to turn your wine country adventure into an overnight stay!

We were all impressed with the food at Crosswinds Grille, which offers locally-sourced and thoroughly delicious dinners. Going around the table, we had the shrimp and scallop pasta, the duck (me, obvi), the sirloin steak, and the salmon special.

This was the perfect ending to a day of exploring and enjoying Ohio wines and meeting people committed to producing quality products from local ingredients.

There are 243 wineries in the state of Ohio and June marks Ohio Wine Month, celebrating these wineries and their handywork. With so many wineries, visiting one is easy, but you can also purchase Ohio wines at stores such as Heinen’s and Giant Eagle.

During the month of June, however you may be enjoying your Ohio wine, share a picture on social media with the hashtags #30CheersOH and #OhioWine. Each day, the Ohio Grape Industries Committee will randomly select a winner from the entries to win a wine-themed prize.

Cheers to celebrating our great Ohio wines!

***Disclosure: I was asked to help promote Ohio Wine Month. In exchange, I received a gift card to be used visiting an Ohio winery of my choice. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***

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Why? Grapes and Ale!

On Friday evening, Matthew and I headed to Progressive Field, not to take in a Cleveland Indians game, but to enjoy an evening of BBQ, wine, and beer at Our Lady of the Wayside‘s annual Grapes and Ale fundraiser.

And while the Indians might not have been in town, they did have representation from their fuzzy mascot, Slider!

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We nibbled on some delicious BBQ offerings from local restaurants. The pulled pork tacos with pineapple salsa from Crooked River BBQ were delicious and I loved having my choice of their different sauces to add.

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We also loved the braised pork dish from The Cutting Board. This is the second event where their food has really impressed us…we need to get there for dinner soon!

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Happy Dog served up their Slider Dog, a hot dog topped with mac ‘n cheese, bacon, and Froot Loops. Don’t knock it until you’ve tried it. It’s a great blend of salty and sweet, with a nice crunchy texture.

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My favorite nibble of the night was from Agostino’s Catering & Event Center. Crispy wonton cones were filled with pulled pork and topped with mashed potatoes. A play on an ice cream cone, these bite-sized treats were as delicious as they were creative!

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Of course, Grapes and Ale gets its name not from the tasty BBQ, but from the huge selection of wines and craft beer to sample. All the wines at Grapes and Ale can be found at Giant Eagle, so it’s easy to go out and purchase whatever you might love from the evening.

There’s also a variety of both local and national wines. The labels on these Laurello Vineyards wines meant I just had to stop to try a taste. I really liked the Dry Red!

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There was also live music to enjoy, Chinese raffle items to win, and lots of fun to be had. It was a beautiful night at the ballpark for a great cause!

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Our Lady of the Wayside’s mission of supporting children and adults with developmental disabilities through group homes, transportation services, and more is certainly of deserving of our support. So, mark your calendars for next summer’s Grapes and Ale!

***Disclosure: I was asked by Our Lady of the Wayside to help promote Grapes and Ale. In exchange, I received 2 complimentary VIP tickets to the event. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***

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Why? Matilda the Musical!

Last night, Matthew and I met up with our friends Sonia and Christopher for a lovely night out in the Playhouse Square district.

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We started with dinner at Cibreo Italian Kitchen. For delicious food, great service, and tasty drinks (the 1921, with prosecco, local honey, and St. Germain is amazing), this is one of my favorite pre-theater spots. I ordered the Shrimp Fra Diavolo, with a tomato sauce nicely spiced up with Calabrian chiles, served over bucatini.

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Matthew chose the Tuscan braised beef C.A.B., served with polenta and asparagus. Absolutely fabulous!

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After a solid two hours of wonderful food and wall-to-wall conversation, we headed across the street to the State Theatre to see “Matilda the Musical.”

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I didn’t have a strong memory of the classic Roald Dahl book on which the musical is based, so I wasn’t sure what to expect. The musical has a bit of a Tim Burton feel, with over-the-top “villains” and some dark humor. But it also has a sweet, endearing story line with a spunky and very talented little heroine.

I could hear a lot of children in the audience laughing and cheering along with Matilda’s antics and you soon found the adults doing the same. For not knowing what I was going to get from this show, I left pleasantly surprised at how fun and heartwarming it was.

“Matilda the Musical” continues its run at Playhouse Square through Sunday, May 22. Tickets are still available and range from $10 to $110. Click here to purchase tickets.

***Disclosure: I received complimentary tickets to “Matilda the Musical” through my involvement with the Playhouse Square Partners board. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***

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Why? Silver Spoon Awards Party!

Last night was pretty much a high holy day for Cleveland foodies: the Cleveland Magazine Silver Spoon Awards Party to benefit the Arthritis Foundation. There is so much to eat, drink, and see at this event that you have to be strategic about your choices (and you’re still going to go home completely overwhelmed, in a good way).

Here’s what we found that was spot-on at this year’s event:

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  • Speaking of sliders, those were a popular choice for a lot of the participating restaurants, so kudos to those who changed them up, like Pier W above or Betty’s Bomb Ass Burgers. Betty’s provided a beef slider with cheddar, glazed onions, and a brioche crouton instead of a bun. Loved the taste and loved not getting filled up by a lot of bread!

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  • Keeping things bite-sized! If you’re lucky enough to be a Silver Spoon Awards nominee or winner, you’re making amazing food. So, I want to try it. Keeping portions bite-sized allows me to try even more places! Like the mini duck confit Wellingtons from L’Albatros, which were nibbles of duck deliciousness.

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  • Although, my Silver Spoon Awards Party companion might disagree. Matthew dug in to a full-sized pork confit taco (we apparently can’t resist confit) from Barrio and enjoyed every bite!
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I swear, he said I could post this picture. 
  • Keeping things interesting! Trentina‘s veal tartare was both delicious and visually pleasing (plus it also wins in the bite-sized category).

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  • Bringing together a lot of elements well! Adega‘s Serrano ham croquettes were served with Bechamel sauce and wine-soaked figs. A bite that included everything on the plate was practically perfect!

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  • Sweetening the deal! As we know, I’m a girl who needs her dessert. The cookie sandwiches from Melt Bar and Grilled (lemon poppyseed for me, chocolate for him) were a sweet end to a delcious evening!

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Looking back on all that food, I’m thinking maybe the VIP bags need to include a juice cleanse! But it was worth every bite to spend the evening with the best of the best on the Cleveland food scene!

***Disclosure: I was asked to help promote the Silver Spoon Awards Party. In exchange, I received 2 complimentary VIP tickets. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***

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Why? Market at the Food Bank!

It was quite the food-filled weekend! We attended Market at the Food Bank on Sunday night. Held at the Greater Cleveland Food Bank warehouse, this event brings together a ton of fabulous restaurants serving fabulous food, all to benefit the cause of ending hunger in our community.

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This event is more than just good food, though. There was live music to enjoy.

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There were celebrity servers to meet, like Mark Nolan from Majic 105.7 and Channel 19.

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And there were lots of delicious wines and beers to sample!

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But, really, it’s mostly about the food! Some of our favorites:

The cheese-stuffed meatball from The Tree House, served on a bed of zucchini “noodles”

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The smoked beef tenderloin with mashed potatoes and green beans from Chef John Selick of UH Ahuja Medical Center.

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Chef Selick brought his own smoker that was proudly displayed in front of the entrance to the Food Bank!

The brisket tacos and elote from Pub Frato (whose staff was some of the nicest we chatted with all night)

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The massive pulled pork sandwiches from Tinkers Creek Road Tavern

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The spring rabbit stew from Nomad Culinary

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And the selection of ice cream from both Tremont Scoops and Mitchell’s Ice Cream (whose mini cones were on point)

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All in all, it was another wonderful year of Market at the Food Bank and a great reminder of how lucky we are to not only regularly have full bellies, but to have them filled with such great food. Thanks to the Greater Cleveland Food Bank and all the attendees and sponsors for working to make that a reality for more people in our community!

***Disclosure: I was asked to help promote Market at the Food Bank. In exchange, I received 2 complimentary general admission tickets. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***

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