Category Archives: Breweries and Beer

Great Lakes Science Center Brews Up After-Dark Fun

I promised Scott another evening of me being the designated driver and he promised me another sonnet after the response to last week’s blog post. Enjoy!

Even without the Great Lakes Science Center's Beer Goggles, their Home Brew event was a lot of fun

Even without the Great Lakes Science Center’s Beer Goggles, their Home Brew event was a lot of fun

I am a big fan of the Great Lakes Science Center. Every time I go I have a great time. It’s an awesome space filled with experiments and exhibits that consistently entertain and educate me.

We’ve always enjoyed Yuri’s Night, so Amanda and I were very excited to learn the Science Center was continuing their events for the 21+ crowd will Science After Dark: Home Brew.

Home Brew, which took place a couple weeks ago, focused on the science behind brewing beer and coffee.

After settling in, our first stop was a presentation from Paul Benner and Reed Jaskula of The Cleveland Brew Shop. (Correction: Amanda’s first stop was the presentation, mine was for glasses of mead.)

I hadn’t expected the science and story of yeast (The Workhorse of Beer!) to be as entertaining as they made it, but hilarious drawings and a great dynamic made it a lot of fun.

Tremble before the terror of Yeast! Kill it! KILL IT WITH FIRE!

Tremble before the terror of Yeast! Kill it! KILL IT WITH FIRE!

After Paul and Reed wrapped up we stayed for Arthur Gugick’s presentation on Calculus and the Coliseum, an amazing presentation on the math used to create from-scratch LEGO art pieces and monuments. Mr. Gugick is the local Cleveland artist/genius whose work is highlighted as part of the Science Center’s LEGO exhibit.

Minds are about to be blown...into little LEGO shaped pieces.

Minds are about to be blown…into little LEGO shaped pieces.

I love LEGO and the temporary (now through September 7th) LEGO displays were something that I was really looking forward to seeing. I had no idea that a significant portion of the Science Center’s lower exhibit hall was going to be dedicated to landmarks, paintings, and other fantastical works all created by Mr. Gugick.

After thoroughly amazing us with the talent and creativity portrayed in his presentation, Amanda and I were energized to begin our exploration of the Science Center’s other entertainment and imbibements.

Regarding drinks, Amanda was the designated driver and quite enjoyed (and appreciated) Phoenix Coffee’s options. I tried a few wines, beers, and meads, but ultimately my favorite was Sunshine Daydream by Fat Head’s Brewery. It was light and crisp and quite a pleasant surprise!

Beverages are easy to pick favorites from, but I would be very hard-pressed to pick out my favorite activity from the evening’s selections. The Science Center really outdid itself.

The first one we encountered was the Make-It-Yourself Miniature Golf, where all the holes were fashioned from reclaimed and recycled material. All you needed was some duct tape, your imagination, and a couple extra hands and you had your own mini golf hole!

By the time Amanda and I arrived there were already quite a few constructed, so we concentrated on trying out other people’s creations.

I call this "Action Shot Amanda"

I call this “Action Shot Amanda”

We also stumbled (figuratively) across Beer Goggle Cornhole, where you wore goggles that simulated the wobbly vision of inebriation. We didn’t actually play much cornhole with them, but it was fun trying to walk straight lines with the great lake view before us.

Next we found the LEGO Daredevil High-wire Challenge…or it could have been named something else very similar, it’s hard remembering certain details after a few cups of beer! But it was a lot of fun creating a LEGO machine that could make it from the third floor to the second without falling from the wire. Mine smashed to pieces when it reached the bottom, but I still made it the whole way!

Another awesome part of the night was the Tabletop Cleveland area and creating our own board game pieces. Amanda and I put together our little monstrosities and then took part in the evolving board game. If you had to hop on one leg in order to gain points equivalent to Pi, you landed on my challenge. Sorry.

My Cleveland Tabletop board game piece - Mustachio Baseball Bat and Pirate Bunny Drinking in a Rocket Ship - sits next to my bare-bones but uber-functional high-wire LEGO device.

My Cleveland Tabletop board game piece – Mustachio Sword and Pirate Bunny Drinking in a Rocket Ship – sits next to my bare-bones but uber-functional high-wire LEGO device.

As the evening began to near its end Amanda and I made our way down to the LEGO exhibit. It really is inspiring. I’m not even going to bother trying to describe the detail, wonder, and skill that is captured throughout both Mr. Gugick’s works and the traveling exhibit.

It is incredible – and fun – and should absolutely be checked out before it leaves on September 7th.

LEGOs. Aw yeah.

LEGOs. Aw yeah.

As with my last entry I had also threatened promised to include a review a la sonnet, so here goes:

Great Lakes Science Center is quite a place,
Three stories of discovery await.
You will use the thinker behind your face,
Fun for the family, and even a date!

Science After Dark is really inspired,
Get out and learn with a drop of some brew.
With all that there is, your brain will not tire,
There’s so many sciences waiting for you!

Cleveland Brew Shop made yeast science funny.
Tabletop Cleveland brought fun you could make.
The Fat Head’s beer was really quite sunny,
Phoenix Coffee kept Amanda awake!

For a memory that is sure to stick,
Check out the LEGOs by Arthur Gugick!

Disclaimers: 

  • I am much happier with the rhymes in this sonnet. I thought that was worth you knowing. 
  • Amanda was offered tickets to attend Science After Dark in exchange for blogging about it. I got her second ticket because if she hadn’t let me go with her I would have whined like a sad puppy dog for well over a week. The decision to attend and post about an event is her own, based on whether she thinks it’s something that may also interest others.
  • My decision to blog about the event was actually my own this time. Because LEGO.

Intoxicating Pairings: Cleveland Beer Events for Those Who Like to Learn, Laugh or Draw

I’ve been on the road the past week, so this bit of blogkeeping is belated. Congratulations to Elizabeth P for winning 2 tickets to the Tri-C JazzFest!

Scott and me celebrating his birthday at a beer and comic books event

One of my favorite beer pairing events was Great Lakes Brewing Company’s comic books and beer night

When I hear the phrase “beer pairings,” my thoughts – as yours probably do – immediately go to beer and food. From cheese and chocolate to bacon, seafood, and sushi.

However, this post is not about that kind of pairing. (If you’re here looking for that, save the date for Cleveland Beer Week 2014 October 10-18, which promises to be full of great food and beer events.)

Instead, I’m talking today about beer paired with some unexpected activities. From comedy to science to art, here are 3 upcoming events if you’d like to do something different while drinking your favorite pint.

Science After Dark - Home Brew

Did you miss Great Lakes Science Center’s Yuri’s Night? I have good news for you:

This Thursday, June 26, GLSC is continuing their series of 21-and-over ‘Science After Dark’ events with HOME BREW from 6:30-9:30 pm.

  • Do you know what happens to beer when you take away air pressure? Witness it firsthand when the Science Center staff tests it out with different kinds of brews. 
  • Want to learn about home brewing? Meet Paul and Reed from Cleveland Brew Shop at their “Yeast: The Workhorse of Beer” demonstration.
  • Ever wondered, as I have, why your speech sounds funny after you start drinking? Dr. Amee Shah of CSU’s Speech Acoustics & Perception Lab will discuss your brain on booze.

There will also be hands-on activities including LEGO-building and science board and card games created by Cleveland Institute of Art students. Or you can try creating a putt-putt golf hole using everyday materials.

And, of course, beer and coffee samples from Fat Head’s Brewery, Crafted Artisan Meadery, Jackie O’ Brewery, Great Lakes Brewing Company, and Phoenix Coffee will be available.·

Tickets are $18 in advance/$21 at the door (only $12 for members). Buy tickets online here or call 216-621-2400.

CLEVELAND DRINK AND DRAW

Avengers Artists, Assemble!”

It doesn’t matter whether you’re a professional, amateur, or completely-out-of-practice artist like me. Join the Cleveland Drink & Draw Social Club at one of their twice-monthly meetups. They’re at Great Lakes Brewing Company the first Wednesday and Lava Lounge the third Thursday of every month.

That means the next one is July 2nd in GLBC’s Rockefeller Room (7-11pm).

Started in 2012 by the Rust Belt Monster Collective, the Drink & Draw Social Club is “a place to exchange techniques, build contacts, and most importantly; bond over what is far too often a solitary passion.”

All you have to do is bring your art supplies. Every event also includes group “jam pieces” and prizes from long-time supporters Carol And John’s Comic shop. 

brewhahalogo

Not into science or art? Well, everyone likes to laugh.

On July 10, the Greater Cleveland Food Bank’s YP Pantry group will be hosting the inaugural BrewHaha – Lager and Laughs for Hunger Relief.

From 6-9pm at the Food Bank’s distribution center, enjoy the talents of Last Call Cleveland and local comedians Josh Womack, Mary Santora, and Jake Solomon while sampling beer from Chardon BrewWorks, Great Lakes, Market Garden, Willoughby Brewing Company, Platform Beer Company, Deschutes Brewery and others.

The comedy show will be hosted by the always-hilarious Bill Squire, co-host of the Alan Cox Show and live music will be provided by Newshoes.  

Individual tickets are $25, which includes 20 samples of beer in a souvenir beer tasting glass and the evening’s entertainment. Tickets for two are discounted at $45 and designated drivers can enjoy water, non-alcoholic beverages and all of the performances for only $10. Get them here.

All proceeds from the evening go to benefit the Greater Cleveland Food Bank’s mission to provide food to those in need.

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I hope you check out at least one of, if not all of these events. The Cleveland beer scene is incredible, and it’s exciting to see the city not just embrace it, but do so in such eclectic ways.

Disclosure: I was invited to attend the Great Lakes Science Center’s HOME BREW with a guest. I also used to be on the YP Pantry board. However, I chose to blog about these events independently of those decisions and the opinions are 100% mine.

Our Lady of the Wayside’s Grapes and Ale: BBQ, Brews and Blues

Our Lady of the Wayside's Grapes and Ale

BBQ, brews and blues at the ballpark – besides being a fun tongue-twister, it’s my favorite way to chill out in the summer.

And on June 28, this triple-play of summer fun comes to downtown Cleveland at Our Lady of the Wayside’s Grapes and Ale fundraiser.

From 7-10pm, Progressive Field will be taken over by some of the area’s best BBQ restaurants and beer and wine providers.

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Ways You Can Help the West Side Market Recovery

West Side Market

As we know from last week’s news, a fire tore through Cleveland’s West Side Market in the early morning hours of last Wednesday.   

And while the city will pay for the clean up out of capital funds previously identified for WSM upgrades, there is still a lot of work that will need to be done and business lost for the vendors.

However, just like in the past, Cleveland has proven itself a resilient city – ready to rally when needed.

For instance, over the weekend, Happy Dog in the Gordon Square neighborhood donated $1 from every hot dog sold to the Market’s recovery. They raised over $1,200 for the Market vendors and employees.

If the snow or Superbowl kept you from grabbing one of their delicious hot dogs (or vegan dogs), here are a few more ways you can support the West Side Market.

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Emerging Chefs’ Naughty Claus Review

Ohio City’s Speakeasy, host to Emerging Chefs’ Naughty Claus event

Christmas came early for Cleveland food-and-drink lovers at last week’s Emerging Chefs Naughty Claus.

Going in, I knew if there was anyone who could break up the monotony of holiday meals, it would be the Emerging Chefs team. And I was not disappointed as they teamed with Chef Adam Lambert from Ohio City’s Bar Cento/Bier Markt/Speakeasy for an evening of Christmas mischief and culinary adventure.

Located beneath Bier Markt, the sultrily-lit prohibition-themed Speakeasy lounge warmly welcomed us from the frigid December night.

Naughty Claus Course 1: Snow Globe on a Half Shell

After settling into a corner booth with Jen and her husband Matthew, we started the meal off with Chef Lambert’s interpretation of a Snow Globe.

Using a classic Christmas Eve ingredient – oysters – as the basis for this dish, Lambert created the illusion of a snow globe by encasing it in a gel-like substance mixed with juniper, tonic and Douglas fir.

Although it was beautiful to look at, I unfortunately found that the consistency and taste of the gel overpowered the oyster too much, leaving only a hint of it.

While the snow globe’s taste wasn’t to my liking, it was paired with a Bijou. Made of gin, vermouth and chartreuse, it had a very potent, evergreen-like flavor. Stirring in a few ice cubes from my water cut the bitter bite and resulted in a nice cocktail for gin lovers.

Naughty Claus Cocktail 2: Milk Punch

This was followed by Lambert’s XXX-Mas Cookies and Milk Punch.

Ladies, next time you’re having a bachelorette party, these *ahem* “mature audiences only” cookies are a delicious alternative to your typical adult treats.

The suggestively-shaped, lightly-flavored cookies were topped with foie gras and whipped chantilly icing and paired with a warmed rum and milk punch.

Honestly, I’m thankful the punch – my favorite drink of the night – came in such a tiny mug. If I didn’t have work early the next morning, I could have curled inside an oversized bowl of it. The dish was a milk-and-cookies combo fitting for a Naughty Santa.

Naughty Claus Course 3: Truffled Arancini “Snow Balls”

The third course was a pair of “Snowballs” – arancini topped with white truffle shavings. The rich, savory interior of these fried rice balls mixed very well with the light breading that coated it – a winner with me and my tablemates.

It was served with truffle-infused Everclear. Although I wasn’t a fan of the cocktail’s heavy truffle flavor on its own, I decided to give it a second try to see how it paired with the arancini.

After taking a bite of the dish, then a sip of the cocktail, I was floored. The original truffle flavoring of the drink had been replaced with an almost fruity flavor.

I know that there are drink and food combinations which complement each other in taste, but this was the first time I ever had the sum of a pairing actually change its parts. I really enjoyed the experimentation this pairing lent itself to.

Naughty Claus Course 4: Who Ham for One

Chef Lambert’s next course was “Who Ham for One,” in which he took traditional Christmas ham and wrapped and cooked it around a chicken bone to replicate the look of the ham in How the Grinch Stole Christmas.

To complement the playful presentation, Chef Lambert prepared the meat with clove, cherry and pineapple – full of succulent flavor.

Unfortunately, my allergy to red wine kept me from trying the mulled Sangiovese served with it – but as Jen noted in her WhyCLE recap, it was her favorite of the evening and a perfect fireside sipper.

Naughty Claus Course 5: Kosher Khristmas

The last course of the night was my overall favorite, both in presentation and taste: Chef Lambert’s Kosher Khristmas.

Inspired by A Christmas Story, he served an Asian-style shredded duck with crisp and colorful vegetables. It was presented in – what else – small Chinese take-out boxes.

Enjoy it we did!

The duck was so moist and rich. Like the milk punch, my Christmas wish is for more servings of this dish.

The Kosher Kristmas was paired with a chilled sake sangria – whose slight fruitiness provided a refreshing contrast to the duck and cut down on the meal’s richness.

Chef Lambert didn’t even waste the ham bone, featuring it prominently in Naughty Claus’ Leg Lamp

Regardless of whether you were nice or naughty, Chef Lambert left us all with sweet treats: a bit of coal for our stockings made of bitter fernet hard candy and more of those delicious cookies with a glass of homemade scotch eggnog.

It was an evening of indulgence, to be sure – with plenty of bawdy laughs and misbehaving elves rounding out the night. We even got a visit from Jolly Naughty Ol’ St. Nick bearing gifts courtesy of Ambience.

Missed Naughty Claus? Chef Lambert and his team have put together a delicious New Year’s Eve menu for Bar Cento, located upstairs from Speakeasy. You can view the full menu – along with details on their other Bier Markt, Speakeasy, Market Garden and Nano Brew parties at http://bit.ly/VnHoUE

Disclosure: I was provided one ticket to Naughty Claus in exchange for blogging about the event. The opinions here are my own.

PlayhouseSquare Doubleheader: Jump Back Ball Kick Off and Staging Success Premiere, Nov. 15

Celebrate PlayhouseSquare’s next 90 years at Jump Back Ball

This year one of Cleveland’s landmark institutions is celebrating its 90th birthday. As the country’s largest performing arts center outside of New York, PlayhouseSquare engages our community and attracts over one million guests each year to 1,000+ annual events.

But that wasn’t always the case.

Although PlayhouseSquare was downtown Cleveland’s cinematic and entertainment destination for many years, the post-WWII flight to the suburbs combined with a growing interest in tv, led to both the proverbial and literal wrecking ball landing at the door of PlayhouseSquare’s theatres.

Who saved PlayhouseSquare, though?

It’s an empowering story that exemplifies the resilient, passionate attitude I love about Cleveland. And on Thursday, Nov. 15, you can experience it when a new documentary on WVIZ/PBS tells the story of the volunteers, civic leaders and organizations who put PlayhouseSquare on its remarkable road to renewal.

Thanks to fundraisers like Jump Back Ball, PlayhouseSquare is able to provide arts entertainment and education for Northeast Ohio

Staging Success: The PlayhouseSquare Story blends nostalgic older films and photos with stunning new footage and interviews from the people that helped usher PlayhouseSquare into a new era.  It premieres Thursday, Nov. 15 at 8pm (encores: 11/16 at 9 p.m., 11/18 at 4 p.m. and 11/22 at 10 p.m.). Find your WVIZ/PBS channel at ideastream.org/programs/channel_guide.

While the Staging Success story has a happy ending, PlayhouseSquare still needs your support to continue this vibrant renaissance for future audiences.

Hands down my favorite way to support PlayhouseSquare’s mission is to snag a ticket to Cleveland’s craziest party – the 22nd annual Jump Back Ball on Feb. 23, 2013.

As much fun as I had planning last year’s Jump Back Ball, I’m ecstatic this year to have been selected as one of PlayhouseSquare’s Jump Back Ball bloggers.

Especially because this year’s Jump Back Ball co-chairs Maurie and Sam have picked a fantastic theme: Jump Back 2 Spaces, featuring decor, activities and surprises from some of your favorite board games.

Feb. 23, 2013 at PlayhouseSquare’s State Theatre

Now you’re probably thinking – February 23 seems like it’s really far away.

However, as someone who has attended and volunteered for Jump Back Ball in the past, trust me when I say this: you want need to get your tickets now!

Fortunately, before you tune into Staging Success on Thursday night, PlayhouseSquare is hosting Jump Back Ball’s Kickoff Happy Hour.

Stop by the Market Garden Brewery from 5:30-7:30pm on Nov. 15 to enjoy free apps, drink specials and prizes. PLUS buy your tickets at the lowest price they’re ever going to be!

Enjoy a pint of Market Garden’s Festivus at the Jump Back Ball Kick Off

So why should you buy your Jump Back Ball ticket at the Ticket Kickoff Party?

  • You’ll save the most money. Attending the Kickoff Happy Hour is the only way to get tickets for $135 each. The price increase the next day by $20.
  • No handling fees. When the ticket price goes up the next day, each ticket will also have a handling fee. But if you buy tickets in person at the Kickoff Happy Hour, you don’t have to worry about any fees.
  • You can sign up for a payment plan. I really like the payment plan option. I use it every year because breaking my purchase up over the course of 4 months makes it really easy on the bank account.
  • Last year’s event sold out very early. If you want to go to Jump Back Ball, don’t wait — each year the event sells out earlier than the year before.  The earlier you purchase tickets, you’ll not just save money but also guarantee your spot.

If you haven’t attended Jump Back Ball in the past, it’s an evening of fine food, drinks and entertainment wrapped in a creative spirit. The State Theatre will be transformed into an homage to board games like Monopoly, LIFE, Clue, and Candy Land, with guests invited to dress up either in their finest or a theme-inspired outfit.

My suggestion: Save even more on your ticket by becoming a PlayhouseSquare Partner. One of the many perks of the tax-deductible Partners membership (starting at $100 for 1-2 people) is you get to enjoy a ticket price of only $110 at the Kick Off (limit 2 tickets).

If you buy 2 tickets to Jump Back Ball at the Kick Off, the $50 difference between the regular price and the Partners discount makes up for half of your membership. While the other half is made up by the tax deduction, invitations to other social, networking and volunteer events and an assortment of other perks.

And the best part about buying a ticket to Jump Back Ball or becoming a member of Partners on Nov. 15? You can go home that night, tune into WVIZ and know you’re Staging the Success of PlayhouseSquare’s next chapter.

Keep an eye on Clue Into Cleveland and playhousesquare.org/jumpbackball over the next few months for more information about Jump Back 2 Spaces.

Disclosure: I was invited to blog about Staging Success and this year’s Jump Back Ball in exchange for one general admission ticket to Jump Back Ball 2012. I will also be attending an advance screening of Staging Success as both a blogger and PlayhouseSquare Partner. My opinions on Jump Back Ball, though, are always 100% my own. Aerial photo of PlayhouseSquare is courtesy of PlayhouseSquare.

Giveaway: Fabulous Food Show is Ready for the Holidays

Although Hurricane Sandy put a delay on a lot of the Halloween festivities, I think it’s safe to safe the holiday season is finally upon us. And with the arrival of HallowThanksMas, my brain turns to food.

That’s kind of a lie. My brain is usually turned to food, but more so over the next two months. As I prepare for Scott’s family coming into town for Thanksgiving and the usual myriad of holiday dinners, I’m looking everywhere I can for food and drink ideas.

Fortunately, the Fabulous Food Show is coming back to Cleveland for its 7th year with 3 days of chef demonstrations, tips and treats (Nov. 9-11)

I’ve enjoyed this show since first moving to Cleveland and last year loved exploring its local food highlights.

This year’s Fabulous Food Show couldn’t have come at a better time as Hometown Hero Michael Symon kicks things off with a demonstration in the Main Kitchen Theatre on Friday at 11 am.

In addition to Chef Symon’s appearances throughout the weekend, the show also sees returns from Celebrity Chefs Guy Fieri and Anne Burrell.

Michael Symon at last year’s Fabulous Food Show prepares a Braised Pork Shank with Shaved Brussel Sprouts Salad

New to the show this year are Sandwich King Jeff Mauro, French cuisine master Jacques Pepin, and longtime veterans of food television Sara Moulton and Mary Ann Esposito. I’m excited to see the show incorporate chefs like Pepin, Moulton and Esposito from long-running PBS cooking shows (especially Ciao Italia with Mary Ann Esposito – I’m nuts for Italian food).

However, no matter what sort of food you enjoy there should be no shortage of things to do since a total of 8 stages throughout the I-X Center will feature 100+ live demonstrations throughout the festival. Other things I’m looking forward to:

  • Maria Isabella, author of In the Kitchen with Cleveland’s Favorite Chefs, challenges local chefs like Dante Boccuzzi, Nolan Konkowsk, Zack Bruell and Ben Bebenroth with their favorite recipes for last-minute entertaining
  • Tri-C’s Hospitality & Culinary Arts department presents the NEO Culinary Challenge
  • The Great Sugardale BAC-ON pits national finalists head-to-head with their most creative bacon-themed recipes
  • Michael Ruhlman and Laura Taxel – two of my favorite Cleveland authors present on bacon curing and the West Side Market, respectively
  • Taste of the Holidays and the Vitamix Spirit Lounge’s Holiday Batch Drink Contest feature the region’s food and drink experts sharing favorite seasonal flavors

Save time to browse more than 500 vendors at the Food Show Market Place and By Hand Fine Art & Craft Fair, sampling products, services, and unique artistic items for the holidays. And afterwards sample a selection of wine and beer in the Grand Tasting Pavilion.

At last year’s Fabulous Food Show, Robert Irvine, Joe Crea, Michael Symon, Michael Ruhlman and Steve Schimoler discuss Cleveland food inspiration

Tickets for the Fabulous Food Show start at $25 for one-day general admission if purchased online ($30.00 onsite during the show). Reserved floor seating and weekend passes are also available.

Information about all of the ticket options are available at www.fabulousfoodshow.com/tickets.aspx. And you can enter to win a pair of general admission tickets in my Fabulous Food Show giveaway.

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There are 5 Easy Ways to Enter the Giveaway!
Leave a separate comment on this post for each entry

1) For one entry in the giveaway, leave a comment on this post telling me what your favorite dish is for the holidays (and if you have a link to the recipe, feel free to share).

2) If you’re a fan of Clue Into Cleveland and the Fabulous Food Show on Facebook, leave a comment on this blog post letting me know (good for one entry). If you’re not yet a fan of either, you can become one here and here.

3) Follow @ADHicken and @FabFoodShow on Twitter and leave a comment letting me know you did both (good for one entry).

4) Twitter users can also get an extra entry each day for tweeting: “I want to win tickets to the Cleveland @FabFoodShow. Enter @ADHicken’s giveaway for your chance to win: http://wp.me/pPIgG-1AY”  (Each day you do this, you must leave a new comment.)

5) Subscribe to receive Clue Into Cleveland blog posts in your inbox or blog reader like Google Reader and leave a comment letting me know you did. This can also include signing up to receive email notifications in the top-right “You’ve Got Mail” section of this page.

You have until Tuesday, Nov. 6 at 11:59PM to enter. On Wednesday, Nov. 7, I will select a winner using Random.org and will announce the winner’s name on my blog.  Remember to leave a separate comment for each entry – good luck!

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Disclosures: I was provided 2 tickets to give away to the Fabulous Food Show and 2 for a guest and I to attend. My thoughts and the choice of events I share are my own.
Regarding the Facebook components of this giveaway: This promotion is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with Facebook. You understand that you are providing your information to the owner of the Facebook pages listed and not to Facebook.

Tremont Doubleheader: OH Blogging and CLE Beer Week

Kind of love that this is how Southside labeled our receipts at the OH Blogging dinner

Sadly the bulk of Cleveland Beer Week falls during one of work’s busiest times of year so I haven’t really had a chance to enjoy much of the festivities.

However, when I saw on Monday that Tremont Taphouse was showing Monty Python and the Holy Grail on their patio and serving up ale in Grail goblets you could take home, there was not much that could stop me from heading over.

(The fact that they also had turkey legs didn’t hurt in convincing Scott to go – the man is one Ren Faire away from buying a turkey farm)

This is what happiness looks like:

I didn’t completely get my fill of Tremont, though, despite Monday night’s feast of turkey, mussels and beef tongue-oyster tacos. Come Tuesday night I was ready to head on back to Tremont, this time to Southside for the monthly Ohio Blogging meetup.

As we head into the busy holiday months, I was thankful for a laidback meetup – just a casual dinner with old and new blogger friends.

It was my first time at Southside and after winding through the bar, they took us into the side room off the patio. I loved the stone fireplace and Day-of-the-Dead-inspired skeleton artwork looking down on us.

It was a great spot for our boisterous crowd to catch up on things – from toasting Poise in Parma’s third blogiversary to highlights from Fitbloggin’, some race and event updates, and a heads up about an upcoming WordPress tech talk.

In attendance we had:

(**If I missed your meetup recap, please let me know and I’ll add it in**)

If you want to quiet a group of bloggers, bring them food. This somewhat worked for us – though I will say I enjoyed a fun talk about comic books with Team PiP and got some new ideas to add to my comics pull list.

However, good-looking food ultimately wins out – even over comic book talk – and I had to dig into the salad I ordered as soon as it was put down in front of me:

After a lunch of rich buffalo chicken dip, I decided to go the salad route with Southside’s Broiled Scampis Salad. Large shrimp were mixed over a bed of crisp baby spinach with grilled apples, dried cranberries, tomatos and fontina cheese.

I liked the mix of tastes and textures – the tender grilled apples were my favorite part, especially when topped with Southside’s smoky Charred Tomato salad dressing.

Some restaurants may scrimp on the shrimp, but I thought the Southside offered 4 very-good-sized shrimps in the salad. The shells were a little more difficult to remove than usual (though that could have just been me being in a messy mood) and there wasn’t a place or room to discard them; however, I made due and the taste more than made up for it.

And even though I couldn’t make it to a lot of Beer Week, I did try a new-to-me brew. Southside had a selection of Oskar Blues brews including the Old Chub which I ordered. While it didn’t completely blow me away, it was a nice dark malted barley with a bit of a smoky taste to it.

My Tremont doubleheader has me in the mood for even more of the neighborhood’s eateries and I can’t wait for PlayhouseSquare Partners’ Tremont Dine Around on Nov. 7.

Throughout the year, our Membership Committee puts together these neighborhood dine arounds where both members and non-Partners can come out, explore the restaurants in a different neighborhood and meet new people.

When rsvping, you rank your order of preference from 4 Tremont restaurants – Fahrenheit, Lolita, Prosperity Social Club, and Southside. Each attendee gets assigned a restaurant where they’ll meet their small group at 6:30 for dinner. Afterwards, everyone is invited to meet up at The Treehouse for a post-dinner drink.

While you do get to list your preferences, I really enjoy the mystery of not knowing which restaurant I’m going to until a couple days before.

If you’d like to join me at the PlayhouseSquare Tremont Dine Around, here’s more info about rsvping. And for all you bloggers and blog supporters out there, sign up for the November statewide blog swap over at the Facebook event page and come join us at our December Holiday Party & Cookie Swap.

Smartphone Rehab (or An Excuse to Get Away to NY)

It doesn’t matter where we are, Scott will always ham it up for the camera (and that’s why I love him)

Some blogkeeping: Today’s the last day of the L’Amour du Vin giveaway. You can enter here until 11:59 tonight and I’ll announce the winner tomorrow.

I have an addiction. To my cellphone.

Whether it’s checking my email, refreshing news apps to see if there are new articles to read (regardless of whether or not the topic interests me) or checking Twitter and Facebook for the nth time today, I spend almost every moment I’m not doing something (and some moments I am) with my hands on that touchscreen.

I know it’s not an unusual – or new – compulsion to have (my similarly unhealthy WebMD obsession gave me this guide to smartphone addiction).  But the first step is admitting you have a problem, right?

So, seeing how disruptive my phone habits had gotten, I turned my cell off on Friday night and headed out of town for a bit of a social media getaway.

Enjoying a glass or two at Johnson Estate Winery, New York’s oldest

Our destination was Westfield, NY outside of Chautauqua. The area had come highly recommended from Alicia @ Poise in Parma, who had visited the Chautauqua Institute last year.

Despite the area’s reputation, though, for providing a tranquil escape, I could feel the withdrawal setting in as we headed out.  I mean – between FourSquare and Instagram alone – I think I actually use my phone more often when I’m on vacation than at home.

I feared that not having my phone for two days on a scenic roadtrip was going to be too difficult of a test.

However, I had the support of Jen, Kimberly and Alicia – a few of my other social media/smartphone addicts with me, a pile of books and board games and a weekend full of plans to keep me from suffering from withdrawal.

If you’re looking to escape, the Captain Storm House B and B is picture-perfect

The 8 of us took over the Captain Storm House Bed and Breakfast, a beautiful Queen Anne revival house whose rooms were reminiscent of the house in CLUE.

Fitting, since our Friday and Saturday nights were spent playing board games like Apples to Apples, Say Anything, Marry-Date-Dump and a childhood favorite Fireball Island.

After throwing together a homemade waffle bar, we set out on Saturday morning for a tour of some of the area’s wineries. We enjoyed Noble Winery’s beautiful fall foliage against the backdrop of Lake Erie, as well as some interesting historic cellars like the one at South Shore Wine Company.

While I didn’t think some of the wines stood up against those from our trip to Geneva, I enjoyed the white and ice wines at the Johnson Estate Winery and picked up a bottle of their spice wine to savor over the winter.

Samplings at Southern Tier

Our last stop for the weekend was Southern Tier Brewing Co. It was my first visit to the brewery and after I sampled a bit of their brews, it was the highlight of the weekend’s sight-seeing.

I picked up a couple of bottles of Mokah and Choklat and took advantage of a nice buy 2, get 1 free sale on Back Burner. I love Barley Wine ales and can’t wait to break into those.

All of that beer got me in the mood for Cleveland Beer Week kicking off this Friday and running through the 27th (because you know you need more than just 7 days to fit in all of the great beer events!).  Fortunately, Cleveland Food and Brews posted a helpful guide for Cleveland Beer Week on his blog.

Now I just need to narrow my list down! No easy task though I know I’ll at least be starting things off with Fat Head’s Victory brunch and Lilly’s Big Bang Theory-inspired chocolate and beer pairing on Saturday.  Bazinga!

Ohio’s Fall foliage and a picnic welcomed us back from the weekend

As Scott and I enjoyed a roadside picnic on our drive home from New York, I was happy to realize I only thought about tweeting 2 times the entire weekend. Instead I focused on having a fun time with friends without being constantly distracted by my phone.

Now that I’m home I’ve noticed my “smartphone rehab” was much-needed and that I’m not constantly checking my phone as much as I did – in fact it’s sitting very comfortably at the bottom of my purse right now.  But while I’m not hoping for a relapse, I wouldn’t mind another excuse to getaway again. :)

Do you think you’re too dependent on your phone or social media?  If so, what do you do to try and break the habit? (I could use all the tips I can get!)

A Day on Put-in-Bay at the Island Wine Festival

As the Miller Ferry pulled up, Scott was literally jumping up and down with excitement for the trip to Put-in-Bay

When I think about Put-in-Bay, thoughts of summertime come to mind – balmy weather and a cool breeze coming off the mirror-smooth lake. However, this past weekend I was surprised to learn how Lake Erie’s islands are also the perfect Fall escape when we visited for Put-in-Bay’s Island Wine Festival.

We drove out to Catawba early Saturday morning and hopped on the Miller Ferry. The winds and whitecaps were pitching the boat around so I stuck downstairs to avoid getting seasick (or would it be ‘lakesick’?).  We had fun, though – it was a bit like going on a water ride at Cedar Point.

Everyone unloaded onto South Bass Island when the Ferry docked – it was time to hunt down transportation!  From shuttles to walking to bikes, there are plenty of ways to get around Put-in-Bay. My favorite? Zipping around the island on a golf cart.

Island Bike and Cart Rental welcomes you as soon as you arrive making it easy to get around Put-in-Bay

At the top of the hill leading away from the ferry dropoff is Island Bike and Cart Rental where you can rent an electric golf cart from 2 to 6 seats. If you’d rather some exercise while touring the island, they also rent bikes for the day.  This is who we usually use when we visit Put-in-Bay and Saturday was no different.

Because we had a very full day ahead of us, we huffed our way up the hill to be first in line for a cart. A little short of breath but keys in hand, we were off to our first destination: Perry’s Cave.

Named after the Commodore who is credited with discovering the cave during the War of 1812, Perry’s Cave offers a fun journey underground for amateur spelunkers.

The highlight of the tour was the underground lake, famously used for drinking water by Perry’s men during the war as well as Put-in-Bay’s infamous Hotel Victory in the early 1900s.

One of the over 50 types of butterflies at the Perry Cave Butterfly House

In addition to Perry’s Cave, the grounds has expanded to offer a full family fun center. We got a combo ticket for the day which allowed us to pick 3 attractions from their list of 5. Even though Scott and I don’t have kids, we had a whole lot of fun acting like them.

We took a break from the cold in their Butterfly House, a large greenhouse home to hundreds of beautiful butterflies. A few of them seemed to really like Scott, landing on him as he walked.

And for our third attraction, we tried our hand at Fort aMAZE’n. The maze may not look that tough from the outside, but let’s just say I didn’t do so “amazing” in navigating my way through. At least I gave Scott a good laugh as he watched me backtrack through the maze from his perch in the observation tower:

Help! I’m lost!

While the combo pass also includes the War of 18Holes mini-golf and a rockwall, there’s a free exhibit I really recommend not missing out on the next time you visit.  Tucked away in the back corner of the property is Skip’s Antique Barn. This free museum features the impressive antique car collection of Charles “Skip” Duggan, who started the Island’s weekly antique car parade.

Highlights included the Popcorn-Peanut Wagon and Put-in-Bay’s oldest automobile, but the jewel of the collection for me was this 1924 Model T snowmobile:

This special Model T was built specifically to deliver mail in the winter in Minnesota

After our visit to Perry’s Cave, we drove across the street to Heineman’s Winery.  Although their wines are a little sweet for my taste, I like going to Heineman’s for their patio and the Crystal Cave, the world’s largest geode.

The cave is currently closed for the season (which runs May-September) but Scott satisfied his sweet tooth with a glass of his favorite Pink Catawba.

Our brief stop at Heineman’s was just a taste of what was to come, as we headed over to the Island Wine Festival at the Put-in-Bay Winery.  Showcasing over 350 different wines – a healthy mix of both local and international – the Wine Festival was a delicious way to warm up on that blustery Fall afternoon.

Cozied up in our coats and hats, Scott and I walked through the tasting tent and around the Doller Estate sipping white wines and grabbing a bite to eat from Old Forge Cafe and Creperie.

Old Forge Cafe and Creperie at Island Wine Festival

While Scott opted for their dessert crepe filled with dark chocolates, caramel and sea salt with a side of whipped cream, their savory prosciutto crepe hit the spot for me.

The prosciutto was paired with fresh pears, goat cheese and arugula – flavors that were all sharpened with a balsamic reduction.

Having found success with their crepe cart this past summer, Old Forge is setting up shop next door to the Put-in-Bay Brewing Co. in 2013. Definitely pay them a visit next summer!

Out of the 20 or so wines we tasted, our favorite – Twilight from Vermilion winery Paper Moon – had us going back for multiple tastings and eventually a bottle. The sweet and spiced blush instantly gave me red cheeks – a great wine for the brisk weather we’ve been having. We also took in a bit of grape-stomping and checked out the Doller House’s gazebo and tasting room.

The Island Wine Festival at the beautiful Doller Estate benefited the Lake Erie Islands Historical Society

With all of the time we spent at the Festival, my only regret was missing the day’s winery tours and not actually picking up a bottle of one of Put-in-Bay Winery’s wines (loved their sparking moscato Celebration!).  However, I’m looking on the bright side: this gives me yet another excuse to return next season.

Before catching the last ferry out, Scott and I made a pit-stop at the Put-in-Bay Brewing Co. to get some fortification against the cold with a beer and bowl of Guinness Onion soup. While their Pass Out Stout didn’t have the kick I was expecting from the Kentucky Bourbon it was aged in, the oatmeal stout did offer a nice smooth finish.  We also got to catch a glimpse at Perry’s Monument – it was nice to see the scaffolding off of it and I’ll be making time next trip to take the elevator ride to the top.

With the Monument reopened, you can now take an elevator trip to the top

Put-in-Bay may be slowing down for the upcoming winter, but there are still a few great Fall parties to enjoy on the Island in 2012:

  • This coming weekend – Oct. 13 and 14 – is their annual OktoberFest. Held in DeRivera Park in downtown Put-in-Bay, it’ll feature German food and beer, island wines and entertainment.
  • On Saturday, October 20, the Roundhouse Bar will mourn the passing of another season at their annual “Put-in-Bay Wake“.
  • And the last big weekend of the year takes place Saturday, October 27 when all of the downtown taverns celebrate Halloween with decorations, costumes and parties.

Whether you go for one of these events or just to take in some of the Island’s attractions, the Miller Ferry runs regularly through November 25th so bundle up and spend a day on Put-in-Bay.

Until next Spring!

Disclosure: I was invited by the Miller Ferry Service to spend a day on Put-in-Bay and share my experiences. I was provided with roundtrip tickets on the ferry and a golfcart rental. I was also invited by Perry’s Cave and the wine festival to visit during my trip. As always, though, the opinions expressed here are my own.