Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Home & Garden Show and My Secret Restaurant

Recently I went to the Great Big Home & Garden Show for my annual escape from winter that always starts me thinking of spring. This year's feature gardens theme was US Landmarks and as usual, the vendors all did a great job. This is by far my favorite part of the show. 

One of my favorites paid homage to baseball icon Wrigley Field:
There were so many beautiful and creative designs but my heart belonged to the Central Park garden...we even smooched on the bridge as we reminisced about the day we were engaged.
Napa, Central Park, and Cedar Point
But there's more than just gardens. We made sure to stop by to see Ohio-born Top Chef Chris Crary chat and cook up some chicken and barley stew with kale.
And the Q104 Legged Fashion Show is a must see - the pups were adorable and really seemed to enjoy all the attention.
Slider showed off his pup and I got a smooch from a pooch
This year they definitely improved the food choices by offering actual sit down meals that looked fresh and tasty but we had other ideas for filling our bellies.

Amp 150 is right around the corner and one of my favorite restaurants so we couldn't resist. While they get tons of accolades, I still feel like they are my own special little secret. Their airport location makes them a somewhat of a destination for most but they are definitely worth the drive. Located in the Airport Marriott they aren't where you would expect to find fine dining.

The food is always outstanding and surprisingly affordable - most entrees are under $20. The best bet in my opinion is their 4 course Chef's Choice tasting menu. For $35 you get four courses of amazing food selected for you by Chef Jeff Jarrett. It was an easy choice.

We started with an amuse of tomato soup...one of the few soups I normally hate. Well, Chef Jarrett is such a rock star in the kitchen, his soup had me changing my tune - delicious! 

Next up was a spinach version of their speck salad - loved the runny egg on top and generous lardons but the vanilla vinaigrette really impressed.

Duck confit over Caroline cheesy style rice with frizzled sweet potato shards was a bowl of homey goodness. By this time, first timer Mark could understand why I rave about Amp 150 all the time. Mustard pork and fried jalapenos served over cranberry beans and apple butter rounded out the savory items. The portions are perfect - satisfying but leaving you wanting just one or two more bites before you move on to the next course.
I was really hoping that dessert would be their sublime milk chocolate pana cotta and I was not disappointed. Far from it, considering that 2 other treats were included as well - a swoon worthy blood orange tart (like lemon curd, but better!) and a chocolate mousse topped with chocolate sauce and dried orange peels. I added my orange peels to the tart and it really gave the pana cotta a run for its money in the best dessert category.
Seriously, how can a plate hold this much yum?!
I was struggling to finish everything so I only nibbled on the tart crust and had one very small bite of the mousse and still was wishing for comfy pants instead of real clothes as we left.

We also had a great bottle of wine...
love me some tempranillo!
...and magical entertainment to round out the night. If you sit in the bar, see if Magic is working and ask him to show you his tricks. He's awesome!
We left our mark with our card stuck on the ceiling ~ what a great trick!
If you aren't up for the 4 course feast, I highly recommend the braised beef short ribs - they are ridiculously good. 

They have a special Seafood Dinner on March 8th at 6:30. 
For $65 you'll be treated to 5 courses:

course one
housemade seafood sausage, ricotta cavatelli

course two
arugula, tomato confit, feta cheese, crispy shallots, lemon vinaigrette

course three
olive oil poached swordfish, white bean puree, escabeche

course four
thyme basted monkfish, celery root and sunchoke gratin, red wine jus

course five
angel food cake, lemon curd, strawberry cotton candy

I don't know about you, but I'd like to go just to see what seafood sausage is all about! Call them at (216) 706-8726 to make your reservation. 

And if you are in the area, or even if you have to drive across town, be sure to add Amp 150 to your Must Do list. But keep it our little secret...

** disclosure: I was given two tickets to the Great Big Home & Garden Show, as well as two to give away on this blog. Also, our bottle of wine was comped as a surprise for us at Amp 150. 
As always, my opinions and thoughts are my own. **

Friday, February 15, 2013

The Cute and Green Way to Tote

Are you trying to eat healthier this year? Do you pack a lunch? Or bring snacks to avoid fast food when you're on the go? If you are like me, I'm always toting snacks with me so I can eat better. But I hate having to use plastic baggies because they are so bad for the environment. I've found the perfect solution!

Re-Pac Bags are super cute, dishwasher-safe reusable bags that are sewn in the USA. They come in designs that are so cute you can even use them inside your purse to keep all your make up together or take them to the gym - perfect to keep your toiletries from leaking inside your bag.

Some of my favorites:

They have lots of cheerful solids
and even a camo print for the hunters out there.

Small snack sized bags are $6.95, medium sandwich sized bags are $7.95 and large quart sized bags are $8.95. They even have a gallon sized bag (wet bikini storage!) for only $9.95.
My friend Lisa turned me on to these and I absolutely love them. Right now there is a Living Social going on $22 of product for only $10 - you can click here to take advantage of the special deal. 

This is not a sponsored post - I just wanted to spread the word about a great product for a super price.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Happy Valentine's Day

Hope your day is filled with sweetness and love.

We'll be snuggled up at home, enjoying a home-cooked meal and a cocktail. No matter what your plans, remember that it's not just a day for lovers. Spread that sweetness every where you go!

                    Happy Valentine's Day!

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Zack Bruell Valentine's Day Promo

Happy Tuesday!

Just had to share this promo offered by Zack Bruell. He posted this status on Facebook and I wanted to spread the word. 

Check our our "before 6 after 9 promotion" - Make a reservation and dine at any Zack Bruell restaurant February 14-17 between 4-6 p.m. or after 9 p.m. to be entered to win a romantic overnight stay at the InterContinental Cleveland – complete with a custom-made dinner for two, delivered to your room. Make your reservations now!

So - if you have been looking for an excuse to try one of his fabulous restaurants for the first time or want to revisit a favorite, now is the perfect time. Personally, I'm torn between L'Albatros and Chinato as my favorites but they are all great places to dine. Especially for a romantic holiday.

Happy eating love birds!

Monday, February 4, 2013

Super Bowl Thanks

Love these Super Bowl ads:

Thank you farmers! Without you, we wouldn't be the land of plenty.

And for our troops...
...without you, we wouldn't be the land of the free.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Thai Chicken Bites

If you are looking for something quick, easy and healthy to bring to a Super Bowl party tonight, look no further. This recipe mixes up in just minutes and it carb and gluten free. It was inspired by a Rachel Ray recipe and is perfect for a quick lunch or snack too.

Ingredients (4 cups)
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 tablespoon chili garlic sauce
  • 2 tablespoons peanut butter
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger

  • 1 tablespoon garlic sesame seeds (plain are ok too)
  • 4 cups finely chopped rotisserie chicken
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped roasted peanuts
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh mint
  • 4 tablespoons finely chopped cilantro

  • 1 English cucumber, sliced into 1/4-inch-thick rounds
  • Whisk together oil, chili ginger sauce, peanut butter, lime juice, sugar and ginger until sugar is dissolved and mixture is smooth. Add sesame seeds and mix well. Stir in chicken, peanuts, mint and cilantro. Spoon onto cucumber rounds.
This recipe has a kick thanks to the chili garlic sauce. If you want it to be less spicy, start with a teaspoon and add more to taste.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Wedding Dresses and a Winner

I'd like to start off by announcing the winner of the Great Big Home + Garden Show tickets - congrats to comment #9 @LauraFromOhio!! Please send me your email address.

While I haven't been posting about our wedding preparations, we are wedding central over here! 

Most of the big stuff is taken care of: ceremony, reception, photographer, DJ and so on. The one BIG thing that has been looming over my head is The Dress. I've been dreading shopping for it for a number of reasons: I hate clothes shopping. I'm not a size 2. They are SO expensive. The number of choices is overwhelming. And so on. Well, last night I finally bit the bullet and started my shopping.

The short version of the story is that I hated my sales girl. She actually yawned without covering her mouth and talked at the same time. Repeatedly. I NEVER want to witness that, but especially not when I'm shopping for my wedding gown! 

So maybe it was fate when The Gathering Place contacted me about their upcoming bridal gown sale. The Gathering Place is a non-profit cancer support center that has locations in Beachwood and Westlake. All of their services are free including support groups, nutrition classes and exercise programs. I'm a huge fan of this organization and am a bride-to-be so I of course wanted to share their fundraiser information with you!

What:     Vintage sample gowns in sizes 8 and 10,
              Donated of Brides by the Falls

Where:   4911 Commerce Parkway, Warrensville Hts 44128
              Located east of Richmond Road off of Miles

When:    Saturday, Febrary 9, 2013
              9am - 2pm

ALL of the gowns are $250, or less!! They will also have home furnishings and collectables available too. And all the proceeds will benefit those touched by cancer through the free programs and services offered at the Gathering Place.

Even if you aren't a size 8 or 10, wedding dresses can be altered to accommodate many sizes. You can add a corset or take it in and still get a gorgeous gown at an unbeatable price! 

Any questions about the sale? Call the Gathering Place at 216-595-9546. You can also follow them on Twitter and on Facebook.

*And if you want to win Save the Dates, please visit my friend Jessica's blog MojaMala2 by clicking here.*

*Disclosure: The Great Big Home Show provided the tickets for my giveaway and also two tickets for my personal use. The winner was selected using Random.org. The Gathering Place contacted me about their sale and asked me to promote it. No compensation was received. As always, all content presented here is my own opinion.*

Black and White Photo credit: Jeff Ivey
Color Photo: Gathering Place