Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Jungle Jim's International Market

Jungle Jim's International Market has been on my Bucket List for years. When I recently went to Butler County to tackle the Donut Trail, I was excited to finally be able to see what all the hype was about.
As you drive up, it looks like an amusement park combined with a warehouse store. This ain't your average grocery store for sure! Jungle Jim's slogan is "It's more than a grocery store! It's a destination!" - and they aren't exaggerating!

Some tips:

* Grab a map. The store is HUGE! So huge in fact, you should plan on spending at least two hours there. Seriously.We had to hustle because we had to get Buffy and check out of the hotel so we didn't even come close to seeing everything. A map helped us hit the must see departments and products.

*Bring coolers. If it's hot outside, you'll want one for produce and one for dairy, meat and frozen goods.

* Don't go crazy on perishable items. You'll be tempted to buy EVERYTHING but try to only buy what you can realistically use. 

* Try something new! Definitely take advantage of the huge inventory and explore some of the unique products. You never know what you might end up really enjoying once you try it!

Here are some of the highlights:

So.Much.Cheese. The variety is amazing! It's separated by county of origin and by style. Plus there is a ton of imported butter too. 
I am an expert level produce girl and even I found things I had not only never seen before, I had never even heard of them! Not surprising since this department is 1.5 acres with 800 different kinds of produce, including almost 100 varieties of Organic Produce. The Bac Ha was something I just had to try!
The selection is crazy! Definitely look for the close-out section because you can find some major deals. They have a tasting bar and Friday is Pint Night. Prefer to home brew? Guess what - they have supplies for that too.

Can you believe there are 1,200 kinds of hot sauce at Jungle Jim's?? If I didn't see it, I might not believe it. 
Food from more than 70 countries with items from Asia, Europe, South and Central America adds up to over 70,000 items. Unique, obscure, childhood delights and cultural favorites, the shelves are filled with everything imaginable. They have rows and rows and rows of cans and jars and boxes of food, coffee, tea and candy from every country you can think of, and then some. Salted Snake-Head Fish in Brine, anyone? 
Do not miss the Craft Ice Cream aisle. Filled with frozen treats from local, regional, and national producers, you'll be wanting to stock your freezer. Check out a dizzying assortment of chips, crackers, soda, juice, coffee, and everything in between. They have great olive and kombucha bars too.
In addition to their Jungle Fests, they also have events, classes, and tastings. You can also find recipes on the website to help you use the unique ingredients you bring home.
If you can't make the trip, but still want to experience the fun, you can order special boxes. This Discoveries at the Jungle Mustard is perfect for your summer cookouts. Plus they are offering free shipping!
If you are on the fence about going, get in your car now! It's so much fun! Plus you can discover all the fun things that Butler County has to offer while you're there. Stay tuned for a post detailing our adventures soon.

You can follow Jungle Jim's on TwitterFacebook and Instagram.

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Guest Post: Meet The Mexitalian - Burst Tomato Caprese Dip

I'd like to introduce you to one of my very favorite bloggers, Alyssa from The Mexitalian. Alyssa is originally from Michigan and came to CLE via Charlotte, NC. She shares original recipes, recaps her travels, and talks about all things food on her blog. Follow her this summer as she heads to northern Michigan, Fairfield County, Ohio and even Portugal! She's also a huge fan of fresh local and seasonal produce and is obsessed with her CSA, City Fresh NEO.

Hello Eat Drink Clevelanders,

I’m Alyssa, The Mexitalian, and I am so thrilled to be chatting with you on my friend Crystal’s blog today. Crystal was one of the first people I connected with before I even moved to Cleveland last summer. I had a feeling a fellow Italian girl with a passion for food and all things local would be amazing and we’ve been friends ever since we met!

While I’m here, I wanted to share with you one of my favorite quick and easy summer appetizers. This Burst Tomato Caprese Dip is super simple yet completely impressive.

I cooked the heirloom cherry tomatoes on the stove top until they burst – I am not about the oven life in the summer! Extra points if you have local and seasonal cherry tomatoes. Since some of my tomatoes were on the larger side, I cut them in half, the different sizes work well in the dip.

The sweet and juicy burst tomatoes are tossed with Ciliegine, cherry-sized fresh mozzarella balls, a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil, and fresh ribbons of basil.
I love this spin on traditional caprese salad served with crackers, slices of crusty bread, or even as a side to grilled chicken.
The salad will stay well in a sealed container in the fridge for two or three days, if it can last that long at your house.

Burst Tomato Caprese Dip

16 oz. cherry or grape tomatoes (I used heirloom and cut the larger ones in half
8 oz. Ciliegine fresh mozzarella balls, drained
2 T + ½ t extra virgin olive oil
¼ cup fresh basil, cut into ribbons
1/8 t fresh ground black pepper
Pinch of salt, to taste

Heat ½ t olive oil in a large skillet to medium heat. Add the cherry tomatoes and cook until they get soft and start to burst, about 7-10 minutes. Do not allow the tomatoes to break down completely, they should have some bite and many will retain their shape. Allow the tomatoes to cool completely.

Toss the cooked burst tomatoes with the mozzarella, basil, olive oil, salt, and pepper.

Serve immediately or store covered in the fridge until ready to serve.

Doesn't that sound delicious? Give me a loaf of crusty bread and some wine and it's a perfect summer dinner. 

For a tasty sipper to help you beat the heat - try The Mexitalian's Grapefruit Cilantro Spritz.

Many thanks to The Mexitalian for sharing her summery recipe! Besides reading her blog, you can also follow her on Instagram and Facebook for more delicious recipes. If you try one, (and you should!) tag #Mexitalianrecipes when you share a photo of your dish.

Monday, July 2, 2018

Happy Hour: Turn at The Ritz

There's a new Happy Hour in town and this one happens to be at one of my favorite spots, The Ritz-Carlton Cleveland. 

The OFF-THE-CLOCK HAPPY HOUR will be available on a first come-first served basis at the recently transformed Ritz-Carlton Monday through Friday from 4:00 to 7:00 p.m. 


Draft Beers | $5
Select Wines by the Glass | $7

Slider Trios | $9

Sriracha Honey Chicken - Wasabi Aioli, Citrus Sesame Slaw
Short Rib - Fried Pickled Onions, BBQ Demi
Smoked Pepper Jack Burger - Caramelized Onions, Blue Cheese, Bacon-Onion Marmalade
Five-Spice Tuna Lettuce Wrap - Pickled Ginger, Scallion, Cilantro Vinaigrette
Black Bean Burger - Avocado, Roasted Tomato

Waffle Fries | $6
Sweet Potato Fries | $6

Follow Turn at the Ritz-Cartlon Cleveland on Facebook to find out more and learn about upcoming events.

Friday, June 22, 2018

The Generous Pour at The Capital Grille and a Giveaway!

When I go out for a good steak, ordering wine is a Must Do. The Capital Grille is offering you a chance to take that drink order to a whole new level. From July 9 to September 2 you can take advantage of The Generous Pour Summer Wine Event.
For just $28, you can try seven luxurious wines with your meal. You will be able to taste and toast the legacy of winemaker Dan Duckhorn during this event. Since its first vintage in 1978, the winery has become one of California's most highly regarded vineyards, so you know the wines will be fabulous!

The full list is yet to be released but you can check The Capital Grille website on July 9 to discover all of the California and Washington wines that will be offered during this special promotion. Selections are from California’s Napa Valley, Sonoma, the Sonoma Coast and the warmest wine region of Washington State: Red Mountain, Columbia Valley.

Be sure to make your reservations and take advantage of this special event.

If you don't want to wait until July 9th to dine at The Capital Grille, you can get a preview of the delicious dining experience at their fabulous Cocktail Time, available Monday through Friday from 4-7pm. I was recently invited to try the Cocktail Time menu and I can assure you that it's not your average Happy Hour! I especially enjoyed the Bottle Cocktails ($10 each), the Korean Fried Chicken Sliders (2 for $10) and the Oysters Casino.
And thanks to the great folks at The Capital Grille, I'm giving away a $50 gift card to one lucky reader!

There are three ways to enter:

1. Leave a comment here on the blog. Check out the menu at The Capital Grille and let me know what you would order when you go. There are so many good choices, feel free to list several! Some of my favorites are the jumbo lump crab cocktail and the bone-in filet (when available.)

2. Instagram: Go to this post and follow the steps to enter.

3. Twitter: Follow @CapitalGrille @LegacyVillageOH and @EatDrinkCLE and Tweet the following: I want to enjoy a #GenerousPour with @EatDrinkCLE at @CapitalGrille at @LegacyVillage. Enter to #win a $50 gift card here. https://bit.ly/2IeIYIF

Giveaway ends Friday June 29th. Winner will be randomly selected from all entries. Please make sure you include a way to contact you. Anonymous entries will be excluded. Good luck!

Monday, June 11, 2018

Laura of Pembroke Comes to CLE

Laura of Pembroke is a family-owned retail store based in Canton, OH. They recently expanded to the new Pinecrest lifestyle center, bringing their beautifully curated boutique to Cleveland.
I was invited to their grand opening where guests were greeted at the door in style.
As I sipped and shopped, I was delighted by this beautiful store! Look at those light fixtures!
It features women's clothing and accessories, home furnishings, gifts, bar items, lighting and more. They also offer interior design consultations, personal stylists and a wedding registry.

Their website says that their lovely mix of items ranges from reasonable to frivolous, and I couldn't agree more! The mix of items is on point. It's the kind of place you could easily run in and grab something for a hostess, friend, co-worker or family member. But to be honest, you will probably want to keep everything for yourself!

Here are some of my favorite items from my visit during their Grand Opening celebration on June 7th. There were soooo many things I wanted to bring home with me - this is just a small sampling.

Why didn't I buy these? I will be going back to get them for sure!
Basically, I want to transport this whole set up to my house. But then I would never get off the couch. So pretty!
And this bar cart...and everything on it!
If I invite you over, and you bring me these as a hostess gift, you will get many many more invitations!
Look at all these super cute wedding themed items! Perfect for newlyweds and your favorite love birds too.
Two of my favorite lines include these gorgeous serving trays ~ both are not what they seem. These white and blue pieces are plastic! Absolutely perfect for summer outdoor entertaining or transporting goodies to a party. They come in more colors too.
And these silver beauties are both freezer and oven safe! I love that you could bake and serve using one tray or bowl. Another bonus - they don't scratch.
While I love to cook and entertain, I also adore fashion and accessories and I loved the selection. My only complaint is a common one for boutiques - the sizes of clothing are limited. They generally range from XS to L with an occasional XL or one size fits most item. If you are very busty or plus-sized, you will find it nearly impossible to find things that fit. And that is a real shame because the clothing is fabulous! Look at this cute Kate Spade dress I found.
I definitely will be a repeat customer. I feel like Laura of Pembroke is the perfect mix of everything I love shopping for. Not only is the store full of beautiful and affordable things, the staff is super sweet and really interested in providing great customer service. Everyone is really helpful and makes sure that your experience is A+.
Thank you so much to Laura of Pembroke for the invitation! It was really fun participating in the Grand Opening festivities and I look forward to visiting again. 

You can follow Laura of Pembroke on Facebook and Instagram.

*** Disclosure: This post was written in partnership with Laura of Pembroke.
All opinions are my own. I was invited to attend the Grand Opening and
was provided a swag bag in exchange for sharing my experience. ***

Thursday, June 7, 2018

Shake Shack Comes to Cleveland!

One of my Must Do stops in NYC has always been Shake Shack. Now you can skip the trip and try this cult favorite right here in CLE!
Today Shake Shack opens at the new Pinecrest right off 271 in Orange. Yes, this means that all of the West Siders will need to cross the Cuyahoga - but trust me, it's worth it!
What started out as a hot dog cart in Madison Square Garden in 2001 has now evolved into full-fledged restaurant chain with a cult-like following. This modern day roadside-style burger stand serves up delicious burgers, grilled all-beef hot dogs, crinkle cut fries, milkshakes, beer, wine and more.

This is a chain you can feel good about supporting. They use 100% all-natural Angus beef, vegetarian fed, humanely raised and source verified. No hormones or antibiotics are ever used. Plus they support sustainable agriculture, take recycling seriously, donate to charities and use recycled and reclaimed products in their shops. Another reason to love Shake Shack is that they support the local communities where they are located. In the Cleveland area, this means partnering with Luna Bakery & Cafe and Platform Beer Co.
I was invited to their Cleveland Housewarming Party and stopped back again during their soft opening. Here's some of the YUM you'll find there.

Burgers and Chicken Sandwiches

Hot Dogs
Crinkle Cut French Fries - definitely get the cheese sauce for dipping. It's addictive.
Milkshakes, custard, root beer floats and more will satisfy your sweet tooth.
Concretes are delicious mashups of ice cream and mix ins. The Pie Oh My is made from vanilla custard and a slice of bourbon pecan pie from CLE's own Luna. I did not get to try this yet...but I definitely want to!
photo credit
Beer from Brooklyn Brewery and Platform is available plus wine. 
If you are a vegetarian you can eat here too. The 'Shroom Burger is a fried portobello mushroom cap stuffed with melted cheddar and muenster cheeses, topped with ShackSauce, lettuce and tomato. Yum! And they have gluten-free buns too! Everything is absolutely delicious! If the weather is nice, definitely try to snag a spot on the patio. 

You can follow Shake Shack on Facebook or Instagram or Twitter.

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

ideastream Grand Tasting Recap...and the time I met Jacques Pépin

As a huge fan of public radio and TV, I was really excited when ideastream contacted me to help them promote their Grand Tastings and Seminars. 

This two day event is packed full of wine samples, food, and education for NE Ohio's wine lovers. We were provided complimentary admission on Friday and were excited to meet up with some friends that were also attending, as well as my giveaway winners, for a really fun night.
From the moment we walked in, I could tell that this event was catering to wine lovers when they provided a lovely Reidel wine glass. It was nice to be served wine in a proper glass at an event for a change, plus it came with the cutest ideastream charm - such a great souvenir! 
I loved that the event took place in the ideastream headquarters! It was nice to get a glimpse of where the magic happens. The venue felt cozy but not cramped thanks to being spread out over several rooms and floors.
The event booklet made the event very easy to navigate. With multiple rooms, it helped you find specific wines and also made it pretty simple to come up with a system for tasting. Champagne first of course! You could keep track of your favorites and they also included pricing for all the wine so you knew if the wine was a splurge or something you could enjoy more often.

The food paired well with the wines and consisted of the obligatory cheese, fruit and crackers...
...and also included deviled eggs, chicken salad lettuce wraps, mini meatballs, devils on horseback, salmon...
...and the best little goat cheese tarts with caramelized onions!
Dessert was an assortment of cheesecake bites and lemon squares and there were also savory and sweet offerings from Miceli's including the hazelnut marscapone filled dark chocolate spheres.

We took home some fabulous silent auction items - my hubby got a great basket overflowing with stuff for cycling and I scored two bottles of fancy French wine for a steal.
We thought that the fun was over but then my friend told me she wasn't able to attend the following night and offered us her tickets. We eagerly said YES and did it all over again the next night.

The wine and food offerings were the same but I decided to be more strategic in my wine samples and sought out specific wines. This ended up being a great plan because I found some amazing wines I totally missed the night before.

My favorites were:

- Darioush Caravan Cabernet Sauvignon - an amazing special occasion wine $52.99

- Kim Crawford Signature Sauvignon Blanc - a perfect summer wine that won over this red wine drinker (It also won a Gold medal in the Luxury Win Competition.)

- Alexander Valley Vineyards Dry Rosé of Sangiovese 2017 - a beautiful rosé that I want to be sipping all summer long.

- Tattinger Brut Française - this champagne was amazing and a great value at $59.99. Splurgy but won't totally break the bank.

- Beringer Brothers Bourbon Barrel Aged Cabernet Sauvignon 2016 - this had amazing flavor thanks to the bourbon but it wasn't overwhelming. $25.99.

As a special treat on day two, legendary culinary expert (and one of the first "celebrity chefs") Jacques Pépin appeared with his daughter Claudine for a personalized cooking demonstration and a VIP dinner. I didn't sign up for either of these because I was supposed to be out of town. But much to my surprise, I ending up getting to meet Jacques Pépin and Claudine!
After he was done with the VIP dinner, he wanted to come to the event and walked around with his daughter mingling and dazzling everyone. I was beyond excited to get to meet this legendary chef in person. And you better believe I smooched him French style on each cheek! 

Thanks to ideastream for partnering with me! While they provided complimentary tickets for Friday's event, all thoughts and opinions are as usual, my own.

You can follow ideastream on Facebook and Twitter.