Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Christmas Tea at The Ritz

Afternoon Tea is truly one of my favorite activities. And it's even more special when it's holiday themed. My Auntie and I went to the Holiday Tea at The Ritz-Carlton in Cleveland this past weekend and it was magical.

The hotel is decked out in all her holiday finest with multiple Christmas trees, wreaths, a gingerbread house and all things sparkly. And we were feeling festive too.
Each table had a beautiful floral arrangement and the natural light from all the windows made everything sparkle.
Instead of providing a pot of tea for the table, the staff came around to each table, explained the varieties and poured your choice. I really liked that you were able to try as many of the five teas as you liked and they were always piping hot. My favorite was the vanilla.
Tea is great but champagne is even better! We of course had to try the champagne cocktails. 
Next they brought us a tower of savories. Everything was beautifully prepared, incredibly fresh and delicious! Smoked salmon on pumpernickle, chicken salad on whole grain, caprese and egg sandwich circles, and of course a cucumber sandwich were included.
I loved the attention to detail in all of the garnishes. So pretty!
The bread was soft but dense enough to hold up to the hearty fillings.
After we nibbled and sipped and relaxed a bit, they brought out the tower of sweets. What an assortment! I'm torn because I would have liked two of everything, but then the variety would have had to be smaller. We had to bring a few items home because we were absolutely stuffed.
They even include house made candy that is stunning. Almost too pretty to eat!

Definitely mark your calendar for next year to escape all the hustle and bustle of the holidays and spend a delightful afternoon at The Ritz for one of their Afternoon Teas.

The Ritz offers non-holiday teas though out the year. No matter when you go, I guarantee it will be a delightful and delicious experience!

** Disclosure: I was invited to experience the Holiday Tea with a guest. I have also gone to several teas at the Ritz throughout the years at my own expense.
As always, all thoughts and opinions are my own. **

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Gift Guide: Cleveland Foodie Edition

Can you believe that Christmas is just under two weeks away? If you are looking for gift ideas, I have some delicious local ideas for you. Here are a few of my favorite Made in CLE gifts for the foodie on your list.
Cheese from Old Brooklyn Cheese Company. The Goatzart is a must! Definitely get some of their mustard too. They also have themed cheese boards, cutting boards and other local products.
Vinegar made by Cleveland's own James Beard award winning chef Jonathan Sawyer. Purchase Tavern Vinegar at his restaurants, at Room Service or online. 

Chocolates from Lilly Chocolates & Confections. Head to new location for some of her delightful and giftable candy. They are almost too pretty to eat!
chocolate, Cleveland Ohio Chocolate, Lilly's candy, truffles
Bloody Mary Mix from Pope's Kitchen. The best mix I've ever hand! The gift set is a party in a box. They also have lots of different hot sauces, spreads and jams so there truly is something for everyone. Bring a couple of their cocktail syrups and a bottle of booze to holiday parties and everyone will love you.
Bloody Mary, gift set, Pope's Kitchen, olives, skewers, gift ideas, Cleveland Ohio

Coffee. Cleveland is lucky to have so many great options. Rising Star is one of my favorites. You can also grab bags of one of Zack Bruell's blends, Erie Island, or Bent Tree at Heinen's.

Olive oil and balsamic vinegar from The Olive SceneThe Olive and the Grape or Zack Bruell will make any foodie happy.

Craft Beer from Great Lakes, Platform or your favorite local brewery is always a great gift! Add a Yeti Stainless Steel Colster or create your own custom 6 pack and present them in a wooden or Neoprene carrier.

Sauerkraut from Cleveland Kraut is the best kraut around! If you have someone on your list that like sauerkraut, grab them a few bags and some sausage or kielbasa from Saucisson, Dohar Meats or Ohio City Provisions. Saucisson also has sausage making classes where participants learn how to make it AND get to take some home. 
There are so many great locally made products, you can find something for everyone on your list. Do you have a favorite?

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Spectacular Holiday Lights

It's the sparkliest time of year thanks to all of the gorgeous holiday light displays. Hop in your car and head to these beautiful spots both near and far to enjoy the magic of the season. 

Cleveland Area

Downtown Bedford - Bedford
This southeast suburb has one of the prettiest city displays around! You can walk through the town square and listen to music. Stop by the Bedford Falls CafĂ© for a hot drink or a bite to eat and enjoy the lights while you dine. Head there this Saturday 12/8 from 12-4pm for the annual Christmas in Bedford Falls. Santa and Mrs. Clause will be there as well as lots of other activities and giveaways. {free}

Nela Park - East Cleveland
Northeast Ohio’s oldest and most famous holiday light display returns for its 94th year. The display is located at GE's 92-acre campus at Noble Road south of Euclid Avenue. It includes more than 500,000 LED lights and a replica of the National Christmas Tree in Washington, D.C. GE has lighted up the tree for 56 years!! {free}

Public Square - Downtown Cleveland, OH
Right in the heart of the city is a magical wonderland. In addition to the beautiful lights, there is also ice skatingGeneral admission is just $10 per skater, which includes skate rental. If you bring your own ice skates, tickets are $7. 
Grab a FREE cup of coffee or hot chocolate from Rebol, now through 12/24/2018. Just connect to the free WIFI now available in Public Square and they will send you an instant REBoL Reward via email. {lights - free}

Pinecrest - Orange Village
Take a stroll down Park Ave at Pinecrest and enjoy original holiday window displays from the iconic Higbee’s Department Store in downtown Cleveland. The 22 consecutive windows are located between REI and West Elm.
You can also enjoy the magic of outdoor skating in Central Park at Pinecrest. Skate around the decorated tree and take in the sights and sounds of the season.
Seabury Avenue - Fairview Park, OH
This neighborhood takes Christmas decorating very seriously. There are over 700 homes participating on Seabury and the surrounding area. In many areas you can walk along the sidewalks to enjoy the spectacular views. Check out their Facebook page for details. They even have a map to help you find all of the homes.
Just a short roadtrip away!
Image may contain: night and outdoor

Road Trip Worthy Light Displays

Hop in the car and plan a quick getaway to see this road trip worthy displays. 

Wildlights at the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium – One of the most cherished holiday traditions in central Ohio runs until January 6, 2019. Featuring 3 million LED lights, this is the 30th year of the annual event.
During Wildlights, the Zoo’s 500 acres are transformed into a winter wonderland featuring an animated light show, holiday star light star bright seek-n-find, Santa’s holiday home, Polar Bear Express, camel rides, a 1914 historic carousel rides, meet and greet with Rudolph and friends and access to a variety of animals, including polar bears, reindeer, lions, gorillas and more.
Admission is $14.99 for ages 10 to 59, $10.99 for ages 60 or older, $9.99 for ages 2 to 9 and free for children younger than 2. Parking is $8.

Butch Bando’s Fantasy of Lights - Delaware, OH
This drive thru light show is located right on the water at Alum Creek (the largest inland lake in Ohio) and features over a million LED lights (and over 450 displays). The three mile display features animated lights, synchronized music displays and visits to Santa’s House to meet Santa and enjoy free hot chocolate. Cost: Monday-Thursday: $20; Friday-Sunday: $30.
A portion of proceeds from the event go towards Recreation Unlimited and A Kid Again. Organizers also offer three sensory sensitive nights for children with Autism, so they can enjoy the display while not being startled or scared.

Holiday Lights on the Hill – Hamilton, Ohio
Remember when we visited Butler County? We went to the fabulous Pyramid Hill Sculpture Park. That's when we first learned about the award-winning drive through lights display at one of the area’s most loved parks.
This winter wonderland contains over 2 million lights covering the surfaces of the sculptures. Cost: Monday – Thurs $20; Friday – Sunday $25 (Per carload). Combine this with a the Donut Trail for the perfect winter weekend getaway!

Light Up Middletown –  Middletown, Ohio
This is a great display to combine with the Holiday Lights on the Hill. This annual display takes place from Thanksgiving to New Year’s Eve. This driving tour of lights takes you through a 100 acre park and features several themed displays, including the American flag, Sea Serpent in the reflecting lake, penguin village and more.

Just a short distance across the state line is one of the nation’s largest holiday light shows. The Winter Festival of Lights features three hundred acres of twinkling lights over a six-mile drive. The dazzling display includes 90 lighted attractions boasting more than one million energy-efficient LED lights.  Enjoy a kid’s train ride and family wagon ride at the new Winter Carnival, encounter Santa’s reindeer at the Good Zoo, unwind with live music at the Nightly Holiday Reception, and much more! Your $25 donation also includes a family 4-pack of 3D Sleigh Bans glasses where holographic technology transforms every point of light into a magical display.

Pro tip: pack a thermos of hot cocoa and some popcorn for the ride.
And if you are visiting a house or neighborhood, please be courteous and cognizant of the families that live there.

Northeast Ohio Family Fun has a county by county guide for NEO that has even more great spots.

What is your favorite holiday light display?