Monday, July 30, 2012

Grapes & Ale

Grapes & Ale is an annual fundraiser for Our Lady of the Wayside. You likely have heard of them on TV because of their car donation program commercial's catchy tune. This local non-profit provides residential, respite, transportation and social service programming for individuals with disabilities. Grapes & Ale has been one of their largest fundraiser for the past 12 years and this year they raised over $80,000. Their CEO Terry Davis said, "We try to put the "fun" in fundraising" and they really succeeded!

Progressive Field's concourse was the setting for the "Hottest BBQ of the Summer." This allowed for great views of the field as well as provided welcome shade on the sultry summer evening.

Over 200 wines were featured including Cupcake, Apothic, Big House, Ste Michelle, Hess, Penfolds Koonunga Hill Shiraz/Cab, House of Martini, Hess, and my top pick Decoy from Duckhorn. There were so many great choices I didn't come close to tasting them all! I did discover a great sipper for summer - Oliver BeanBlossom Hard Cider
This cider tastes light and refreshing but comes with an 8% kick so savor and sip. It's a great gluten-free beer substitute and comes in super cute aluminum cans. I tried the peach, strawberry and raspberry and loved them.

I also tried X-rated Fusion Liqueur. This is one of those sexy-but-cheesy looking bottles that I see in the liquor store but never want to spend $20+ to try. While I wasn't thrilled about it straight (too sweet) I think it would be fun to add to cocktails or sangria.

In addition to the crazy big wine selection, they also offered beer drinkers a nice mix of brews to choose from. Our local favs Great Lakes Brewing Co were there in addition to Blue Moon, Leinenkugels, Magic Hat, Shock Top and Goose Island. I was very happy to see one of my favorites there as well, Pyramid Breweries. Their Apricot Wheat is sooo yummy!

Lots of tasty choices were available for food: 100th Bomber Group,  Famous Dave's, Battery Park Wine Bar, Hot Sauce Williams, Becker's and Progressive Field were featured. 

With only 4 BBQ vendors to chose from, we easily sampled them all. Battery Park was my first stop because I am such a fan of their regular menu. Their chipotle BBQ short ribs served with Spanish potato and green bean salad was a great way to kick off the night. I love how they had the buns ready to go but didn't put the short ribs on top until they served you - no soggy buns! 
Famous Dave's was also a hit - they served pulled pork sliders with corn bread. I may or may not have gone back more than once. The corn bread was outstanding - moist, flavorful and just a touch of sweetness. I loved their special hot sauce "Devil's Spit" - it added a nice kick and an extra dimension of flavor. I'd never tried their food and thought they were a local joint but found that they are in 36 states including Hawaii. Next time I'm at Great Northern, I'll be paying them a visit for sure.
I was also a first timer at Hot Sauce Williams and was very excited to see what they were cookin' up for us. Their menu was rib tips, coleslaw and vegetarian baked beans. The pork cubes looked and smelled great but were tough - way too chewy. The coleslaw and baked beans were really good though so they are still on my list of places I need to try. 
The 100th Bomb Group served smoked BBQ brisket. The sauce was good but I'm not a huge fan of sliced meat in BBQ sauce so this wasn't my favorite. But I really liked the coleslaw on the bun. I found out they they have Summer Bunker concert series Thursday through Sunday on the patio or O-deck if you are looking for some outdoor music and fun while watching airplanes fly overhead.
I was pleasantly surprised to see Progressive Field dishing out ballpark hotdogs, pretzels, popcorn and sno-cones - what a fun treat! They also had chicken ribs, mac 'n cheese, Italian antipasti, pesto pasta and fruit and veggies that I never made it to because I simply had run out of room!

I did manage to squeeze in a some sweet treats from Becker's. It was my first time trying these local favorites and they are on my list to visit next time I'm in Fairview Park.
And Our Lady of the Wayside's very own Green Kitchen provided a refreshing snack of organic watermelon slices and grapes - perfect to help stay hydrated and satisfy your sweet tooth.

In addition to eating and drinking ourselves silly and playing wine pong and beer slide, we also explored Heritage Park, the Indian's Hall of Fame. If you haven't seen it yet, you should really check it out. We enjoyed remembering our favorite players and look forward to the upcoming Jim Thome statue.
I Kicked it With Kenny...
Made new friends...
Morgan from Our Lady of the Wayside
Ended the evening at a dance party in Concourse C...
Kate and Morgan from Our Lady of the Wayside
...and was sad to see the night come to an end. 
A surprise parting gift of peanuts and Cracker Jacks left us smiling as we left and looking forward to next year!

Their next fundraiser is the 5th Annual Amateur Golf Championship on August 13th. Click here for more info. They also have Stress Buster Spa Days the 2nd and 4th Saturdays in August and September. Click here to learn more.

** Disclosure: I was provided 2 tickets for the event by Our Lady of the Wayside.
As always, this did not affect my post and my thoughts are my own. **

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Beat the Heat with Smoothies

Today I'm taking over Becca's blog over at Peace, Love & Bagels as she is off enjoying being a newlywed. Congrats Becca and Brandon!

Becca's blog is a fun romp of healthy living and recipes. She is studying to be a yoga teacher so there's lots of fitness stuff on there too. She always has something fun and interesting on her blog so you should definitely check it out.

Becca is a lover a healthy smoothies and blogged about a great way to use up all the bountiful summer greens by making smoothie ice cubes ~ what a great idea! I make smoothies all the time but since the temperatures have been soaring it's been a daily must. I love starting off the day hydrated and full of fruits and veggies.

Check out my guest post here for my version of smoothies and some great tips on how to make them easy and affordable in just minutes.

You can follow Becca on Twitter @peacelovebagels

Stay cool kids!

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Discount Code Update for Upcoming Italian Feast!

** Update: Enter ECDRINK to received 25% off ticket price! **

There's a great upcoming event from Emerging Chefs called Sagra di San Rocco. It's a fabulous foodie event featuring Chef Jeff Fisher, formerly of Johnny's on Fulton, Sushi Rock and the Chef's Garden. This event will be an Italian family-style feast that also includes Italian wines from Tuscany Distributors

Check out this super yummy sounding menu:

Course #1 - Roma Style Assorted Fresh Pizzas
Course #2 - Gnocchi with roasted tomatoes in a salt water parmesan broth
Course #3 - Summer tomato panzanella (peasant bread salad) and fresh focaccia  
Course #4 - Octopus salad with roasted garlic, lemon, and olive oil
Course #5 - Italian pork stuffed peppers with basil marinara
Dessert     - Limoncello pound cake

Sagra di San Rocco takes place on Friday August 3rd from 6-9pm at Saint Rocco's.

Seriously, how great does that sound?! I know I can't wait!
Get your tickets here before it's too late - I think this will be another sell out. $50 for dinner and wine is a great price for this type of event.

*Disclosure: I was provided a media pass to attend this event. 
This Italian girl would be excited about this event regardless! 
As always, my opinions are my own. *

Monday, July 16, 2012

My Favorite Summer Get Away

When most people think of Presque Isle, they think casino. If so, you're missing out on one of the coolest day trips from the CLE ever! My Mom had been telling me about it for years and I just couldn't believe it was that great.  A couple of years ago I finally made the trip and now it's an must do summer event! (Lesson learned - thanks Mom!)
What is so fabulous that it made me miss the Taste of Tremont? Presque Isle State Park! Just over the PA border near Erie is a summer dream come true. Presque Isle State Park is located on a peninsula that juts into Lake Erie. This "seashore" offers all kinds of recreation including boat tours, sand volleyball, canoeing, hiking, paddle boats, swimming, fishing and more.
This is the path!
But the thing that brings me back year after year is the bike path. Yes, it's even better than my local favorite - the tow path!  How can this be you might be asking. Here's why I love it:

1. It's flat. For this girl that is beyond awesome!
2. It's paved (bonus yay!)
3. It's a loop. 13.5 miles and since it's flat and paved, any level of rider can do it. This was my first ride of the year and I did it easily.
4. You ride along the water. When we were there yesterday, there was a sail boat race of some sort that was fun to watch. Plus, you can hop off your bike and hit the beach.
5. The path is in dappled shade with cooling breezes. Last year we road in temps nearing 100 and it was still pleasant.
6. If you go the right time of year (now!) you can find blackberries growing along the path. The perfect snack!
7. There are benches and water fountains for breaks. 
8. It's cheap! Can't afford a trip to Florida? For the cost of gas alone, you can have a great ride and a picnic on the beach. 
photo credit: 
We were really lucky because it rained like crazy on the way, but when we parked and started unloading the bike, we were rain free. The sky started out cloudy but ended up clearing up to reveal a perfect day for a ride. Around the loop you see a lighthouse, Perry's Monument (yep, the same Commodore Perry honored at Put In Bay,) and 13 beaches. These beaches are seriously fabulous and look more like Florida than Pennsylvania. There are ton of picnic areas all along the trail too.
At Perry's Monument
After the perfect ride, we headed to my favorite spot to grab a bite to eat: Sara and Sally's. It's a fun place to stop because it's decorated like a 50's diner, and a tasty place to eat because the food is all fresh and done right. The menu is limited but there's still something for everyone. 
Hot dogs rule the menu here and you can get regular (natural casings for the crunch!) or foot longs. The buns are from a bakery and toasted. They have a topping bar so you can create your favorite masterpiece. They also have hamburgers, chicken sandwiches and tenders, curly fries and handmade onion rings. Another unique thing about Sara's is that they serve Chicago-style Italian Beef Sandwiches! They look delicious but I had a hot dog so I could save room for a hot fudge milk shake too. They are also known for their orange sherbet that you can have in a vanilla twist cone. Next time!
what a feast!

This is where you fill up your hot dog with tons of fun toppings
It's an easy trip to do in a day but there's enough fun to make a weekend out of it. Since we went on Sunday, we had to come home that same day. There's still a lot of summer left so grab your bikes and head to PA. Don't have a bike? No worries - they rent them there including 4 wheeled surreys built for 2. Next weekend is "Discover Presque Isle" - an annual festival that includes food, music and more.
You can see more pics by clicking here. Happy riding!

Friday, July 13, 2012

Happy Friday the 13th!

I'm kicking off the weekend at Grapes & Ale tonight so I think I should be safe. Happy Weekend Everyone!

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Coming Up - Weekend of Fun

Looking for some fun this weekend? Besides heading to the West Side Market, North Union Farmers Market, celebrating going to brunch or heading to the beach, here's some events around town to get you started.
Friday 7/13 Grapes & Ale is a fundraiser for Our Lady of the WaysideEnjoy a benefit celebration of wine, blues, brew and BBQ while strolling under the stars through the Indians Hall of Fame and other exhibits honoring the franchise’s rich history at Grapes & Ale at Progressive Field 6:30 - 10pm.

Wine, beer and BBQ - need I say more? There are two options: Premier Grand Tasting ($50) and Backstage VIP Majic of Wine Tasting ($125) Both include a souvenir wine glass, over 200 wine samplings, BBQ, and more. 
Get your tickets here.

Saturday 7/14 Luau on the Lake is a Hawaiian themed event to benefit Shoes and Clothes for Kids. Guests enjoy a day fit for a Tiki God with great food, beer, wine, soft drinks, sand volleyball, music and fabulous views of Lake Erie--all to support a great cause! $50 admission includes food, beer & wine, music, sand volleyball and a souvenir cup! Attire is casual/beach. Rain or Shine.
Click here to see this year's event menu. Note: Food will only be served between 5:30 p.m. - 7:30 p.m. Snacks will be available throughout the evening. 

Sunday 7/15 Taste of Tremont ~ The annual food fest in one of the hottest foodie neighborhoods in Cleveland is always a blast. Lots of tasty eats! 12-8pm. Professor Street between Starkweather and Fairfield. If you need a place to chill out check out Wine & Design. It's an uber cute shop and a great place to pick up a bottle of wine to take home with you.

7/14 + 7/15 The Wine Spot has two great tastings. Friday celebrates Bastille Day with 4 wines and cheese from 6-8pm. Saturday is all about the picnic when they recreate the picnic basket in this month's edition of Edible Cleveland from 2-5. The tasting fee is $10. You can reserve a spot by calling The Wine Spot at 216.342.3623. You can also just drop in and pack a picnic of your own if you'd like.

7/15 Art Festival at Shaker Square goes from 12-5pm. Shop local and stop at one of the great local restaurants in the area. Fire has a great brunch if you haven't checked that out yet. Click here for more upcoming events at Shaker Square.

*Disclosure: I will be attending the Grapes & Ale event with a media pass and will be doing a follow up post but as always, my opinions are my own.*

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Wordless Wednesday - Hot Dogs

Monday, July 9, 2012

Hot in the City

With the super hot weekend, we still managed to get out and about and enjoy our city. It was my fabulous BF's birthday so we had a lot of fun to have regardless if we were melting or not!

Friday we were off and went to Slyman's - my first time! I was so excited to finally try this Cleveland institution. I've always wanted to go but the location is difficult and they aren't open on weekends.

I was a little afraid I would be disappointed because of all the hype but Slyman's did not disappoint! We split the Rueben and the classic corned beef. The meat was lean and seasoned to perfection. And those pickles! Don't even get me started on how good they are! 
Be sure to order a "short stack" - a little baggie of sliced rye bread - so you can make a 2nd sandwich at home with your leftover meat. 
one happy girl with her huge sandwich
This weekend, we also went to our favorite Asian bakery in Cleveland, Koko Bakery

This is where you find the coconut bun

hot dog buns are served hot

They have Hong Kong style buns that are always fresh and delicious. My absolute favorites are the coconut buns: a slightly sweet, chewy and yeasty roll stuffed with sweetened coconut. Perfection. Another favorite here is the hot dog bun. It's a hot dog wrapped with that same slightly sweet dough - great for a grab and go lunch.  They also have bubble tea, coffee drinks and gorgeous pastries and cakes.

We spent the actual birthday bumming around the city and having a blast. Because the 4th of July holiday fell on Wednesday, I switched my Fresh Fork pick up to Saturday at Tremont. What a great move! I might need to do that more often. After picking up the veggies, we stopped in at Wine & Design to say hi to Greg and pick up a bottle of vino. We also had to pay a visit to Lucky's for some coffee. Luckily I brought a cooler so we were able to stash the veggies and continue our fun.

We went to the West Side Market to pick up some bread and peppered bacon from Dohar's for some BLTs (seriously, I'm addicted to them!) Also found a great deal on a case of fresh figs.

super cute vintage shop in an Airstream
Found that the festivals in the little park are back and scored a cute little straw purse for a steal at this funky vintage shop in a camper. It was so hot I didn't want to go inside but I'm so glad I did!

We also went over to the Viaduct Lounge to check out the awesome views and catch some of the cool breeze off the lake.

We even managed to try a new restaurant (stay tuned for that review) and I finally went to the new Winking Lizard Independence location. We found a taste sensation there - the Black Barrel. Kentucky Boubon Barrel Ale mixed with Guinness. Seriously, it's amazing! 
As always, we managed to have more fun that you would think possible. I hope you did too! And it was great to end the weekend with the windows open and a cool breeze. 
Buffy catching the breeze in her ears
Maybe my house will stop smelling like bacon...