Monday, October 5, 2015

#CLEfood - Alley Cat Oyster Bar

The Flats are back. After years of hoping and waiting and wondering, this waterfront entertainment district is back in business, better than ever. Gone are the old refurbished warehouses - they've been replaced with modern spaces built to take advantage of their prime location. If you haven't been there since your last visit to the Basement or Fagen's, you need to check it out.

There are a lot of new restaurants in the area, but Alley Cat Oyster Bar is the jewel, perched seductively along the Cuyahoga, loaded with windows that open wide to catch the breezes and multiple levels of decks to take full advantage of of it's prime location.
Alley Cat, Zack Bruell, cleveland flats, restaurant
Before dinner we took advantage of the beautiful night and walked along the boardwalk. We got there right at sunset and the views were gorgeous.
#ThisisCLE, waterfront dining, Cuyahoga River restaurant
It was our second anniversary, and my husband knew that reservations at Alley Cat would make me a very happy girl. It was a Monday night but the restaurant was packed. (Pro tip: Make reservations well ahead of time if you want to eat during prime time.)
The multi-level structure offers up great views from most areas. There's lots of wood and windows with a rustic vibe. Our only complaint about the space that we had was the noise. We were right under a speaker originally and the volume was high - it was super annoying because we found ourselves shouting. We asked to be moved and the server easily obliged and even remarked that he had just asked the manager to turn down the volume because he thought it was super loud too. After our move and the sound adjustment, we were able to relax just in time for our food to come out.

We started with the hush puppies. They are a side, not an appetizer, but I couldn't resist. They are one of my favorites normally but these were bland and greasy. Skip those and try the charred broccoli caesar or BLT mussels instead.

The menu is broken up into appetizers, oysters (a dozen varieties!), salads, entrees, sides and the Catch of the Day which offers seasonal fin fish entrees.

Mr. EDC ordered halibut in a dashi broth with foraged mushrooms and a variety of summer squash. Thankfully one of our waiters thought to bring a spoon so the delicious broth could be fully enjoyed.
My choice was the walleye served with smashed cauliflower, rainbow carrots and asparagus with a cherry reduction. If this is ever on the menu when you go - order it! It was some of the best fish I've ever had but the veggies totally made the dish. 
We absolutely loved our meals and our service was good. We had a seasoned server as well as several trainees - and they were all friendly and attentive.

If you love Zack Bruell restaurants, you won't be disappointed. If you've never been, this is the perfect excuse to try out one of his great spots and see what the new Flats looks like too.

Alley Cat Oyster Bar  
1056 Old River Road  
Reservations: 216-574-9999

Friday, October 2, 2015

Life Lessons with Regina Brett for Breast Cancer Awareness Month

October is one of my favorite months. If I can't have Summer, sandals and the beach, Fall with its colorful leaves, pumpkins, apple cider, Halloween and cozy sweaters is my next favorite season.

But October is great for another reason - it's Breast Cancer Awareness Month. I'm sure that each and every one of you reading this has been impacted in some way by this disease. I know I have - many relatives and friends have been diagnosed and battled breast cancer.

As part of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, I had the chance to meet Regina Brett and hear her speak. She is one of my favorite columnists and I was beyond excited.
Regina is not only an award winning writer, she is a breast cancer survivor. She is truly inspirational. Instead of cancer making her give up, it made her appreciate life even more. Her poignant stories will make you want to laugh and cry and laugh some more.

Here are a few of my favorite quotes from her:
Lesson #21 Note Cards (pk Of 10)

  • No one is in charge of your happiness except you
Lesson #36 Note Cards (pk Of 10)

  • Don't take yourself so seriously. No one else does.
Lesson #16 Note Cards (pk Of 10)
She also stressed the importance doing your monthly breast exam, getting those mammograms and not letting fear stop you.
She signed books and very willingly took photos with all her fans. She even took a selfie with me to post to her Facebook page.
Oct 2015
If you ever get the chance to hear her speak, do it! You will leave a little bit happier. A little bit more appreciative. And with a whole lot of life lessons.

If you purchase the note cards pictured above, all proceeds go towards purchasing wigs for women who have lost their hair due to cancer at HairPeace Wig Salon at The Gathering Place.

You can also heck out her article about How Cleveland Are You and follow Regina on TwitterFacebookInstagram and Pinterest

Friday, September 25, 2015

Garlic Fest 2015

As we walked up to Shaker Square, the smell of garlic was in there air. Thankfully the weather improved on Sunday and the cold and rain were gone.
It was a beautiful crisp fall day and everyone was soaking up the sun, sampling garlic flavored treats, listening to music and shopping. 
The chef demo tents were packed with people eager to learn a new recipe and score free samples. For the first time, Mitchell's had some competition because Piccadilly Creamery was fresh mixing their delicious ice cream at the fest this year. (for the record, both are soooo good ~ try both!)
A great addition was the cheese guild and craft beer tent. I found this new coffee that reminded me of the Stumptown Nitro cold brew in NYC. 46 and 2 Brewing hop infuses their cold brew, but this one was of course infused with garlic in honor of the festival.
2015 CLE Garlic Fest Eat*Drink*Cleveland
One of my favorite things this year was Glenn Mittler, The Bubble Guy. And the kids loved him too. It was amazing to see all the different types of bubbles he could make but this huge was was the most impressive.
As usual, the Garlic Festival was one of my favorite festivals of the year. If you attended, what was your favorite thing? Did you discover a new variety of garlice or a new way to cook it?

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

17th Annual Taste of the Browns ~ 2015

Last night was amazing. Taste of the Browns did it again. It really knocked my socks off. The location, celebrity sightings and food just can't be beat. It was a gorgeous night in CLE and it seemed everyone was at FirstEnergy Stadium for this outstanding event. My only complaint is that it was only six hours long because we were having so much fun we didn't want the night to end!
There is so much amazing food at this event, it's hard to keep track of what you ate. I had at least a bite of just about everything but couldn't possibly taste it all. Here are some of the highlights:
Trio of yum: Hodges, El Carcinero and Pier W, Lago, University Hospitals, Armarak and Greenhouse Tavern,Sushi 86 and VIP eats from Cleveland Chop and Sushi 86
I've never heard of Seballos before but you bet I'll be paying them a visit!
Their desserts were my favorite of the night. Panna cotta with fruity
pebbles and Pumpkin Pie with nuts and chewy ginger cookie
My favorites were the Braised Wagyu Beef with Truffled Mashed Potatoes from Lago, the Pad Thai Chicken crusted with Orange Laced Cashews and Micro Cilantro from Aramark, the Fried Chicken from Greenhouse Tavern, the Chilled Pumpkin Soup and NY Strip on Crostini from Cleveland Chop and the Smokey Summer Succotash from Hodges.
And it wasn't all just endless delicious food and drinks. This event raised a record breaking $220,000 for the Greater Cleveland Food Bank. That's more than a million meals for people in need!
Thank you so much to the Food Bank for allowing me to spread the word and attend this event. If you weren't able to attend and want to help make a difference, you can donate here.

** Disclaimer: I was provided two media passes in exchange for helping 
promote this event and two tickets for the giveaway on my blog. 
As always, all thoughts and opinions expressed are my own. ***

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Saturday in CLE

Don't you just love a good Saturday morning? Especially when your no plans rolls right into the afternoon?
I made brunch and Buffy helped by begging and cleaning the floor. Lots of coffee was consumed. 

Now we're planning the rest of our day. What are you up to CLE? Here's some inspiration if you need it.
Sparx City Hop Downtown
Troupe Shabaana Cleveland OH
Tremont Arts & Cultural Festival
Flats East Bank Cleveland Ohio
Punch Bowl Social Grand Opening - more info here

Monday, September 14, 2015

Punch Bowl Social Comes to CLE - and a Giveaway!

Have you been to the new Flats East Bank recently? There's been a flurry of activity and a ton of new places to eat, drink and have fun have opened up. The latest is Punch Bowl Social. Their grand opening is this Saturday, September 19th from 7:00pm to 9:00pm.
Enjoy an evening of menu sampling, punch tasting, bowling, karaoke, darts, ping-pong, 80's arcade and a live performance by The Lighthouse and the Whaler. Valet parking will be available for a fee.
Punch Bowl Social Flats East Bank Grand Opening
100% of the sales from the night will be donated to their awesome nonprofit partner, The Salvation Army.

Punch Bowl Social features a plethora of throwback entertainment favorites, such as an ‘80s Arcade, two private karaoke rooms, foosball, ski-ball and board games, eight lanes of bowling, a dart lounge, shuffle board, ping-pong, billiards, cornhole and more. 

Their menu offers more than the usual bar food. Monkey bread french toast, roasted carrot avocado salad, adobo marinated mushroom tacos and sweet tea brined chicken with mac 'n cheese and a kale, tangerine, tarragon and candied walnut slaw are just some of the things I'm dying to try.  Check out the complete menu here.
Embedded image permalink
You can order your tickets ~ only $10 each ~ by clicking here, or if it's your lucky day you can win a pair of tickets right here!

Enter using the Rafflecopter below. Make sure you actually do the tasks required for each entry (I do check!) Contest ends Thursday at midnight. Winner must respond by Friday at noon or another winner will be selected. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

** Disclosure: I was offered two tickets to attend and two to giveaway to a reader
 in exchange for promoting this event. As always, all thoughts and opinions are my own. **

Sunday, September 13, 2015

E.4th Corner Alley - Better Than Ever

I've always liked The Corner Alley. It was a fun addition to one of my favorite streets in Cleveland. But I always wished it had outdoor access to take advantage of the location and my wish has finally come true.
VIP Sneak Peek Night
All summer long Corner Alley Downtown has been under major reconstruction. I work right around the corner and have been wondering what they were up to. When I saw the new windows go in, I was really excited because they open up and turn the bar area into an open air space. 
The venue features open patios, 12 bowling lanes, an open space that serves as both a dining room and a setting for live entertainment, video games, shuffleboard, air hockey, foosball and more. A VIP area in the back has an additional 4 lanes and its own private bar. 
Bowling, bourbon, bites and beer
The food is much improved too. We sampled pizzas, salads, sliders and snacks.
The Corner Alley Reopens After Extensive Renovations
The Corner Alley Reopens After Extensive Renovations
Veggie Slider: Sun Dried Tomato White Bean Patty / Avocado Spread / Roasted Vegetables
The Corner Alley Reopens After Extensive Renovations
The beer selection is pretty solid with a mix of craft beers and domestics. Last night Pumking was on tap which made us very happy with the fall-like weather we were having. I also tried the New Fashioned (barrel aged Wild Turkey, Luxardo, Solerno Blood Orange and bitters) and the Mule Kick (Tito's, muddled lime and Maine Root ginger beer.) Next time, I want to try the Garden Heat Bloody Mary with basil and hot pepper infused vodka - yum!
The Corner Alley Reopens After Extensive Renovations
You can check out the new and improved Corner Alley too soon.

They open to the public on 9/16 and are having an official grand opening fundraiser on Saturday, Oct. 17. You can also follow them on Facebook or Twitter.

**Disclosure: I was invited to the VIP Sneak Peek party where I was able to 
try some of their new menu items and drinks. As always, all thoughts 
and opinions expressed are my own. **

Friday, September 11, 2015

2015 Taste of the Browns Giveaway

September is Hunger Action Month. And celebrating 17 years of tackling hunger for Northeast Ohio families, Taste of the Browns returns to FirstEnergy Stadium on Monday, September 21. The event is the major annual fundraiser for the Greater Cleveland Food Bank, the region’s largest hunger relief organization. 

With the more than $190,000 raised at the 2014 event, the Food Bank was able to distribute more than 760,000 meals to agencies in six counties. The Cleveland Browns and 25+ of Northeast Ohio's most talented and well-known chefs will work together to raise awareness and funds for hungry families, all while celebrating Cleveland’s unique and acclaimed food scene.
The event will be held in the newly-renovated Club Lounge at FirstEnergy Stadium. General admission tickets are available for $175 ($75.00 is tax-deductible) or VIP tickets are available for $250 ($150 is tax deductible.) Access to the VIP Lounge will include exclusive tastings, access to Cleveland Browns celebrities and a personalized listing in the scrolling Thank You video played during the event. 
This is one of the premier food events in Cleveland. The food is top notch with chefs really showing off their talents. For a complete list of participants and their menus, click here.
Taste of the Browns Schedule of Events
     6:00 p.m. Doors open for Event
                    VIP Cocktail Lounge, Silent Auction, Wine Pull & Raffle Open
     7:00 p.m. Remarks, Cleveland Browns Player & Alumni Introductions, Live                         Auction
     8:15 - 8:30 p.m. Silent Auction & Raffle Begin to Close

     9:00 p.m. Event Concludes

All proceeds benefit the Greater Cleveland Food Bank. The Greater Cleveland Food Bank is the largest hunger relief organization in Northeast Ohio, providing 45 million meals in 2014 to hungry people in Cuyahoga, Ashtabula, Geauga, Lake, Ashland and Richland counties. For more information or to order tickets, call (216) 738-2046 or click hereSecure your spot for this exclusive event ~ only 1,000 tickets will be sold.
I have two tickets to give away to a very lucky reader. Please enter via the Rafflecopter below. Be sure to actually do what is requested for each enter (I do check!) and leave your info so I can contact you if you win. Winner will need to respond by Wednesday at noon or another winner will be selected. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

** Disclosure: I was given two tickets and two tickets to giveaway in exchange for helping promote this amazing event. It's one of my favorite events in Cleveland!
As always, all thoughts and opinions are my own. **

Monday, September 7, 2015

2015 Garlic Fest ~ Ticket Giveaway

It's that time of year again when garlic reigns supreme in CLE! Get out your breath mints and head to Shaker Square this weekend.
The Cleveland Garlic Festival is the annual fundraiser for North Union Farmers Market Every year, North Union Farmers Market brings fresh and local produce to over 350,000 local shoppers. They are celebrating their 20th Anniversary this year!

The Cleveland Garlic Festival kicks off on Friday September 11th with a BBQ Birthday Bash from 6-9pm featuring garlic BBQ prepared by Chef Ashley Young, wine, beer and live music. $50
The Garlic Festival is Saturday and Sunday. There will be food vendors selling all sorts of garlic delicacies from garlic fries (my favorite!) to pulled pork sandwiches to garlic shrimp and garlic ice cream. Last year the garlic donuts were a big hit too. Make sure you stop by the Beef, Pork, Vegetarian and Chicken Top Chef Competitions for the Garlic Cook Off and the Ohio Cheese Guild Tent and Craft Brew Area. 
Shaker Square Ohio
If you bring the kids, stop by the Mighty Locavores area for lots of fun and games geared toward the little ones. You can also ride the Euclid Beach Boys Rocket Ship Car and enter the Garlic Eating Contest.

To get your tickets, click here. They are $9 per adult per day. Or to win tickets, enter below!

To learn more about the Festival, visit or check out the Facebook event page. Or you can follow them on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

** Disclosure: I was asked to help promote this event in exchange for 2 tickets to giveaway to my readers and 2 to keep. As always, all thoughts and opinions expressed are my own. **

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Burning River Fest 2015

It's been a couple of years since I've been to the Great Lakes Burning River Fest so I was really looking forward to attending this year. Mr. EDC has never been and I knew he would love it too.

First of all, the weather was perfect. Seriously: warm during the day, cool at night with no humidity and a slight breeze. Add that to the gorgeous lakefront setting and we knew the night was going to be special.

We headed straight for the ID check and beer token booth so we could start off the night with a cold one. We both opted to start the night with the new Steady Rollin IPA. They also had Burning River IPA of course and Oktoberfest on tap.
We walked around the Coast Guard Station admiring the views, watching boaters and scoping out the food offerings. Soooo many great choices! Brunty Farms lamb burgers, Sauced wood fired pizza, coconut shrimp, lobster rolls, Mitchell's ice cream and more. Definitely not your average fair food. 
The Stan from Sauced
We went inside to the chef demo stage to check out some of our favorite chefs:
Jeff Jarrett from Cafe 55 and Sterle's
There was a nice mix of music - everything from rock, to indie and accoustical.
I was sad that we we missed Hey Mavis because they were performing the next night but Yosemight had everyone dancing and Brian Johnson was fabulous.
They also had Cleveland Water drinking water stations, recycling every where, plentiful porta-potties, eco themed booths and super helpful volunteers. 
Image may contain: one or more people, sky and outdoor
It's one of my favorite festivals not only because of all this awesomeness, but also because it benefits the Burning River Foundation. This year, they decided to focus on revitalizing the Coast Guard Station. They are hoping that by 2019 (the 50th anniversary of the Cuyahoga River catching on fire) the station will be restored and ready to show how we can all make a difference in the environment and in our city. In 2017 a new bridge will be built so it will be even easier to get there. 

I already can't wait for next year! If you didn't go, be sure to put in on your calendar for 2016. And when you do go, here's some tips:
  • Get pre-sale tickets - you not only save money but you get perks like free yoga
  • Ride your bike! You save money on your ticket price and there's free valet
  • Bring a folding chair if you want to sit - seating was at a premium
  • Pace yourself - Great Lakes beer is strong so don't go crazy
  • Divide and conquer - split food with a friend so you can taste everything
  • Watch the chef demos - you get free samples of food plus a beer tasting
  • Wear comfy shoes - definitely no high heels - there's lots of walking even if you hop on the shuttle bus and most is on uneven surfaces and grass
*Disclosure: I was 2 provided ticket for the 
Burning River Fest in exchange for promoting the event. 
As always, thoughts expressed are my own.*