Category Archives: Wine and Wineries

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.

Hunger Action Month and Taste of the Browns Recap

I have to confess that Sunday’s Browns opener left me conflicted. Raised a Philadelphia Eagles fan, I was torn over whether to cheer for the team I grew up watching or the underdogs I’ve learned to love since moving to Cleveland (in the end, I choo-choo-chose the Browns).

But while the Browns may have ultimately lost on Sunday, they won my heart when leading the Cleveland Foodbank to victory at Monday night’s Taste of the Browns.

Remembering how stuffed I was at last year’s Taste of the Browns, I went in with a game plan.  A small yogurt for lunch and I was ready for an evening of food from over 25 of Cleveland’s restaurants.

Because Scott had to stay home that night for work, I took Alicia from Poise in Parma as my last minute date (or as she jokingly referred to herself – my blog assistant) (check out her recap for more food highlights).

Momocho’s tamales topped both Alicia’s and my lists

As we rode the elevator up to the Club Lounge, we walked straight into the crowd quickly gathering around the different food stations.

For the next couple of hours we tasted and tried dishes prepared by the likes of Zack Bruell, AMP 150 and Light Bistro.

Highlights included Pier W‘s lobster taquito topped with a smooth honey jalapeno butter sauce, Momocho‘s spicy boar tamales and XO Prime Steaks‘ Beef and Chicken Kabobs.

Georgetown‘s Watermelon, Cucumber and Feta Salad was also a refreshing break from many of the rich foods.

The stadium’s new Sawyer’s Street Frites stand

However, the only dish I had to go back for seconds of was Sawyer’s Street Frites‘ Whole Braised Beef Shin a’la Bourguignon on a fresh Parker House roll.

You couldn’t help but love the tender, succulent beef shin mixed with braised veggies. And the roll soaked in the meat’s juices was delicious on its own.  As we head into Fall’s colder weather, it struck me as a perfect dish for football season.

While we took a break from eating, we enjoyed a few glasses of wine (I particularly liked Apothic’s mild blend of Chardonnay, Riesling and Moscato) and listened to Taste of the Browns co-chairs Joe Thomas and Al “Bubba” Baker share with guests the evening’s true purpose.

A glass of white wine was needed after my second helping of this delicious Whole Braised Beef Shin a’la Bourguignon

Raising over $140,000 last year, Taste of the Browns is one of the largest annual fundraisers for the Cleveland Foodbank providing vital food, funding and services to more than 223,700 people in our region. It also celebrates Hunger Action Month.

As we learned at the event, the Cleveland Foodbank and Feeding America are working together throughout the month of September to increase awareness of hunger issues and how we can all take steps to fight it.

They’ve come up with a list of “30 ways in 30 days“, different ideas for donating time, food and money to organizations that serve the hungry.

Taste of the Browns co-chairs Joe Thomas and Al “Bubba” Baker share ways to take action during Hunger Action Month

A few of my favorite suggestions include:

  • Donate a grocery store gift card to your local food pantry so they can provide more for those they serve.
  • Call and schedule a time to volunteer in the Foodbank’s Cleveland Community Kitchen.
  • Help out by eating in. Share a home-cooked dinner with your family and donate what you would have spent on dinner out to the Foodbank.
  • Pick a book for your book group that focuses on the issues of hunger and poverty.
  • Learn about Cleveland Foodbank’s Benefit Bank which connects low income people to benefits.

Young Professionals also have a unique opportunity to get involved this month.  On September 27, the Cleveland Foodbank will unveil their new Young Professionals Group at a happy hour at the Grovewood Tavern.

From 6-8PM, a senior Foodbank staff member will be onsite to answer questions about poverty and hunger in Cleveland, educate attendees on the Foodbank’s programs, and explain volunteer opportunities.

And for every two canned goods you bring, you’ll receive a drink ticket (maximum of two drink tickets).  RSVP and learn more at clevelandfoodbankyp.eventbrite.com.

Though Scott couldn’t make it to Taste of the Browns, I did manage to grab a ‘souvenir’ for him from Little Devil Cupcakery

We’re only halfway through Hunger Action Month and there’s still plenty of time to do something. No matter what you choose to do, your donations of time or money will go a long way in helping the Cleveland Foodbank distribute more than 32 million pounds of food to 618 hunger programs throughout our region.

Disclosure: As mentioned when I posted my giveaway, I was offered 2 tickets to give away and a pair for myself to preview Taste of the Browns. I also am a council member of the Young Professionals group at the Cleveland Foodbank. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***

Guest Post: Smitten with Tremont's Wine and Design

As you read this, I’m on the road to Virginia to spend the week with my family. While I’m gone, I have a few local bloggers clue-ing into the things they love about Cleveland.

First up is Kimberly, who not just shares my enthusiasm for this city, but is also a wonderful friend (and is usually wearing an outfit I want to steal). Thanks, Kimberly, for taking the time to share a bit about Wine & Design!

With Why CLE and Kimberly at Velvet Tango Room

Hi all! I’m Kimberly from SMITTEN…in cleveland, where I write about everything I’m smitten with, be it food, fashion, beauty or home. While Amanda is taking some time off, I wanted to share one of my most favorite shops in Cleveland with you.

Wine & Design is one of those treasures that unless you happen upon it, you might just miss it. Located on Starkweather in Tremont, it sits right next to St. Theodosis church. Just a few steps away from Lilly’s Chocolates and Lucky’s Cafe. Wine & Design is the perfect urban mix of stylish home furnishings and delightful, affordable wine finds. The concept works well and also serves as home base for owner Greg Morris’ interior design business.

This little boutique draws you right in with their gorgeous renovated storefront and artfully decorated windows. Once inside, you immediately feel welcomed and at home. There is an easy feel about the space and that has a lot to do with Greg’s charm and passion. Wine and accessories line the walls mixed with local art, custom  furniture and whimsical gift ideas. It’s like you’re stepping into a friend’s home. A friend with really great taste.

Stop in on a weekend for a wine tasting. You’ll find quite an impressive collection of wines under the $20 mark and Greg is always quick with a recommendation.

All the wines they carry are handpicked (or should I say tasted) to ensure you go home with the perfect bottle. Also available are a few more expensive wines and champagnes perfect for gifting.

Aside from the delectable wine and modern-yet-spirited housewares is a unique design business. Greg has designed everything from personal homes to public spaces and has even helped out with a few set designs for movies that have been filmed here.

Have a few pieces you love for a room and not sure where to go next? Looking for the perfect sofa or table? He takes on every project, no matter the size, with incredible insight and passion all wrapped up in a laid-back exterior.

Many times I’ll pop in looking for the perfect hostess gift or a bottle of wine for dinner with friends. You will find exactly what you’re looking for and have it wrapped and ready to go.

Keep an eye out for their monthly wine tastings which are larger than the weekend ones and typically feature 4-5 wines and nibbles. One visit and I guarantee you will be smitten too.

treats at a monthly tasting

Get Inspired by Locavore + Cleveland's Other Fall Feasts

Image source lifeinthecle.wordpress.com

I love seeing Clevelanders – especially young Clevelanders – finding inspiration and getting involved in a cause that matters to them.  Whether it’s the arts, the homeless and hungry, the preservation of a historic landmark or building awareness for a disease — if you see an organization or an issue that needs your support, get out there!

Recently, I’ve found inspiration from Charlene at Life in the CLE who is helping to organize the National MS Society’s Locavore fundraiser this September.

When she was 18, her best friend Adam Reidy – who was poised to qualify for the 2002 Winter Olympics – was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. Although he missed his opportunity to compete, he’s faced the life-long challenges of MS with a positive attitude.

Inspired by Adam’s journey, Charlene has become deeply involved over the years with the National MS Society’s mission. After reading about Adam’s story and the MS Society’s upcoming event on her blog, there’s no way I wasn’t going to share it.

Image of Adam Reidy from lifeinthecle.wordpress.com

On September 7th at Windows on the River, Locavore will raise funds to support the Society’s mission of finding a cure for multiple sclerosis, while also supporting the thousands of Ohioans who live daily with MS.

Locavore will feature local food and drinks grown or produced within 100 miles of Cleveland. Wine and beer will be paired with Lilly Handmade Chocolates, as well as treats from AMP 150, Carrie Cerino’s, Corleone’s Ristorante, Indulgence, John Palmer’s Bistro 44, Momocho and Nosh Eatery.

Event tickets are $75 and Patron tickets are $95 (which includes an exclusive champagne tasting). All proceeds from the evening will be used to provide programs and services to more than 20,000 Ohioans who have been diagnosed with MS.

Tickets can be purchased here. For more information about the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, visit www.MSohiobuckeye.org.

***

Over the coming weeks and months, there are a full slate of events like Locavore that will keep attendees’ stomachs full and tastebuds happy. However, because of my blog vacation, I realized I’m not going to have enough time to cover them all.

So before I leave, enjoy this roundup of a few other culinary events I’m looking forward to:

Founder Todd Gauman leads an NEO Food Tour in Shaker Square

NEO Food Tours
Aug. 28 and Oct. 16

There are only 3 tours left in NEO Food Tours’ 2012 season and one is already sold out.

On August 28, explore the history and food of Cleveland Heights and the Cedar Lee District at NEO Food Tours’ next guided restaurant tour. The Mayor of Cleveland Heights will be co-hosting and stops will include The Wine Spot with a special presentation from FarmShare Ohio, Taste and Lopez Southwest Kitchen.  Tickets available at 2012cedarlee-eorg.eventbrite.com

Because September’s Ohio City tour is already sold out, your last chance to experience an NEO Food Tour won’t be til Oct. 16 in Chagrin Falls. Although the restaurants haven’t been announced yet, each stop will feature a presentation with the chef/owner and a small plate and beverage pairing designed especially for the evening.

Graphic courtesy of Emerging Chefs

Emerging Chefs
Aug. 31, Sept. 29 and Oct. 28

This Fall, Emerging Chefs has a “Flavorful Trifecta of Feasts” lined up.

After their heralded turn at Dinner in the Dark this week, The Black Pig on W 25th Street is hosting Emerging Chefs’ Midnight Brunch at the end of August. When the clock strikes twelve on the evening of August 31, Chef Nowak will introduce his twist on the “fourth meal” with a multi-course celebration featuring rare meats, cheeses and drink pairings. This will be a fun way to check out one of Cleveland’s newest (and already buzzing) additions!

With the arrival of autumn, comes Emerging Chefs’ Harvest Moon on September 29. This culinary celebration of all things Fall will showcase Chef Ben Bebenroth and one of my favorite restaurants that opened this past year — Spice Kitchen & Bar. Bundle up in your fall sweaters because (weather permitting) guests will be dining al fresco on Spice’s patio for what may be the last time this year.

The Trifecta culminates with Emerging Chefs’ most extravagant event to date: Chef Steve Schimoler’s The Roaring Twenties – A Culinary Play in Three Acts. “Extravagant” is probably an understatement when it comes to this black-tie/1920s inspired gala on October 28. Only a handful of tickets will be available for the evening which will include period cocktails and champagne in Crop’s grand bar, a five-course meal straight out of the 1920s in their bank vault, and an after-dinner cigar and cocktail party.

Graphic courtesy of the Arthritis Foundation-NEO

L’Amour du Vin
Launch Party Sept. 6; Event Oct. 18

The 15th annual L’Amour du Vin will help raise funds for the Arthritis Foundation and features an evening of cuisine paired with wines from around the world. I’ll actually be sharing more info about this October event in the coming weeks, but in the meantime learn more at their free Launch Party on September 6 at Crocker Park’s 87 West.

Taste of the Browns
Sept. 10

Likewise, I’ll soon be posting details (and a giveaway!) about the return of one of my favorite Fall events: the Cleveland Foodbank’s Taste of the Browns on September 10. As a teaser, though, here’s my recap of last year’s event. Come back the week of August 27 for your chance to win tickets.

Dinner in the Dark
Sept. 10

I love Dinner in the Dark’s continued dedication to dining for a cause. Their next event is September 10 at Luxe and although the participating chefs and 6-course menu will not be revealed until the guests arrive, I would recommend anything involving Chef Brian Okin after last month’s extraordinary CLE Dinner Club. Plus, Dinner in the Dark just posted the charity that will be benefitting from the Sept. event: The Covenant Adolescent Chemical Dependency Treatment & Prevention Center. Tickets available at dinnerinthedark-luxe-eorg.eventbrite.com.

Image source wsm100.org

West Side Market 100
Oct. 7 and Nov. 3

Last — but certainly not least — are all of this Fall’s events celebrating the Centennial of West Side Market! The goal of WSM100 is to offer something for everyone while commemorating the history, tradition and importance of the Market.

On October 7, West 25th is going to be closed off all day long for the West Side Market Street Festival and Parade.  A WSM-themed parade, featuring current and past vendors, neighborhood block clubs and community groups, will step off at noon, while music, food and more festivities will be going on throughout the district from 11am to 8pm.

The event will mark the first time in a decade that West Side Market has been open on a Sunday. In addition to freshly prepared foods from WSM vendors, festival attendees can enjoy two beer gardens and the Ohio City restaurants and food trucks that will be selling food along W. 25th Street all day.

After filling yourself with deliciously local fare, 3 stages of dancing and live music and family-friendly activities at the Ohio City Farm’s OC Harvest will help burn away the calories.

Image source wsm100.org

The West Side Market Centennial Gala on November 3 not just marks the end of WSM100’s year-long celebration but will most importantly raise substantial funding for the care and growth of West Side Market in its next 100 years.

Organized by Cleveland’s Iron Chef Michael Symon and Food & Wine’s Best New Chef Jonathon Sawyer, the gala fundraiser will feature food sourced from WSM and prepared by an all-star list of national and local chef talent:

  • Cleveland’s Britt-Marie Culey, Chris Hodgson, Eric Williams, Paul Minnillo and Rocco Whalen (in addition to Sawyer and Symon);
  • NYC’s Andrew Zimmern, April Bloomfield, Andrew Carmellini and Karen DeMasco;
  • Philadelphia’s Jeff Michaud and Marc Vetri;
  • and Chicago’s Paul Kahan.

In honor of the milestone, WSM’s neighbor Great Lakes Brewing Company will debut the commemorative hand-brewed lager Butcher’s Brew.

More information about both events and Gala tickets are at wsm100.org. While the street fest and parade are free, tickets to the gala are $250 with proceeds helping to ensure the future of this worthy Cleveland institution.

Happy eating!

Disclosure: I was asked to blog about Taste of the Browns in exchange for 2 tickets for myself and 2 to giveaway on my blog. I will be blogging about this event in more detail over the next few weeks.

Grapes, Ales and BBQ to benefit Our Lady of the Wayside

July 4th is only one week away which means it’s BBQ time in the Hicken household! Pulled pork, BBQ chicken, brisket and of course ribs – we can’t get enough of it. Unfortunately, our BBQ skills are pretty much limited to crockpot recipes so we often turn to local restaurants or markets when we’re jonesing for the best.

The good news is we don’t have to turn too far with many tasty options in the Cleveland area. I’m a personal fan of Bubba’s Q especially because it’s only 5 minutes from my house.

For my fellow summer BBQ lovers, there’s an event coming up that will showcase Cleveland’s sauciest BBQ, as well as plenty of wine and beer to help wash it all down.

On Friday, July 13, Progressive Field will open its doors starting at 6:30pm for Grapes and Ales.  Featuring BBQ from restaurants like Hot Sauce Williams, Battery Park Wine Bar, Famous Dave’s, 100th Bomb Group and Progressive Field, as well as more than 200 wine samplings, it’s a great way to unwind after the work week (just don’t wear white if you’re like me because you’ll get bbq sauce on it).

ESPN 850 WKNR is also hosting a Market Pavilion beer garden where tastings from Great Lakes, Goose Island, Magic Hat, Pyramid Breweries, and others are available for 50 cents each. All of this is enjoyed against the backdrop of live music from Colin Dussault’s Side Project featuring Jim Tigue and Eroc Sosinski and Progressive Field’s Indians Hall of Fame exhibits.

However, Grapes and Ales is more than just a tasting event; proceeds from the evening go towards Our Lady of the Wayside. Based right around the corner from me in Avon, Ohio, Our Lady of the Wayside provides homes and services to more than 450 developmentally disabled children and adults throughout Cuyahoga and Lorain counties.

What started over forty years ago when a local family began to foster children with mental retardation and other disabilities has blossomed into the far-reaching organization it is today – offering residential services and wellness programming 24/7 for individuals with a variety of developmental disabilities such as cerebral palsy, mental retardation, behavioral issues, and significant physical disabilities.

OLW’s programming includes support for families with children who have disabilities; nursing and transportation services; and arts, aquatic and equestrian therapies.  Their goal is to provide support so that children and adults can remain in a home environment away from institutional settings, thus building greater self-esteem, promoting a more independent lifestyle, and increasing their quality of life.

OLW has recently also focused their expertise into the field of Autism with two after-school social skills programs for children with moderate-to-mild autism and Aspergers.

Along with Giant Eagle, American Airlines, OLW and Progressive Field, Cleveland’s local radio and tv stations have come together to host Grapes & Ales with appearances from 105.7′s John Lanigan, Q104′s Tim Richards, ESPN 850′s Mark “Munch” Bishop and FOX 8′s Kenny Crumpton.  (If my coworkers are any indication, I know there are more than a few people out there who would go just so they can “Kick it” with Kenny!)

General admission from 6:30 to 10pm costs $50 and includes a souvenir wine glass, wine samplings, BBQ, entertainment and a silent auction and raffle. Beer samples cost 50 cents each.

For $125, guests can attend the VIP Majic of Wine Blind Tasting from 6-7pm which features the “Best of Grapes” wine selection, free parking and everything else included in the General Admission ticket.  And because every group should have a designated driver, tickets for anyone not drinking cost only $20 and feature BBQ, Aquafina and Pepsi products.

If you’re interested in joining me on July 13, tickets are available two ways: by calling 440-934-6054 or online at http://events.r20.constantcontact.com/register/event?oeidk=a07e5u5re6o88cf79cf&llr=kjdaz5eab.

And if you want to say hi, keep an eye out for the couple camped by the BBQ.

Disclosure: Grapes and Ales logo and photos from last year’s benefit were provided by Our Lady of Wayside. In exchange for previewing the event on Clue Into Cleveland, I was invited to attend Grapes and Ales with a guest. However, as with any event I post about, I am sharing this event because I think it is something that would interest people who read my blog.

Getting out and Exploring Northeast Ohio

Scott, his family and I enjoying our Memorial Day weekend (somehow our only group picture – taken Monday at Debonne Winery)

For the three-day Memorial weekend, Scott and I decided to change things up a bit. Instead of traveling out of town like most of our previous weekends, we hosted Scott’s parents and grandmother.

I love having out-of-town guests because it means I can put on my tourist shoes and explore places in Cleveland I may not get to as often as I’d like. Call me a nerd, but I relish having an excuse to scour the Cleveland Scene or Plain Dealer’s Friday! section and think about the different things my visiting family or friends would enjoy doing.

I’M FREE!!!! (Scott may have enjoyed a little too much wine and open air at South River Vineyard)

Although it was Scott’s family visiting this time, I couldn’t help myself and still butted in on the sightseeing research. Because it was Memorial Day weekend, we had plenty of options to choose from (almost too many!).

We started the weekend out slow – with a leisurely drive out to Sandusky.

Besides taking a scenic drive down Route 6, we had a second reason to head out there – picking up our season passes to Cedar Point. Unfortunately, by the time we got out there the line for pass pickup was too long to justify making Scott’s family wait, so we piled in the car and headed back.

However, it wasn’t a wasted trip at all because we stopped in downtown Vermilon on our way home for a stroll and a bite to eat.

The Old Prague Restaurant serves up traditional Czech fare – along with some great Yellow Perch according to other restaurant guests

Scott’s Serbian grandmother loved the Czechoslovakian fare at the Old Prague Restaurant. It was difficult not to love – I will hardly ever turn down Chicken Paprikash, dumplings and spaetzles.

I also enjoyed the Shishki appetizer. The tangy apple mustard was a great complement to the spicy meatloaf rolls; though I found the batter the rolls were fried in ended up a bit hard to bite into at times.

To pair with their schnitzel, Old Prague offers a fairly decent selection of Czech beers – both Scott and I were happy with our Golden Pheasant Pilsner and Zatec Dark Lager.

Scott’s grandmother downed this entire Zatec Dark (kidding!)

Even though the Old Prague Restaurant offers homemade strudel and other desserts, we decided to save room for ice cream at Big Ed’s Main Street Soda Grill.

Big Ed’s is a very quaint, vintage-styled soda hop. When we got there the staff seemed a bit harried because of the Memorial Day crowd; however, we were able to grab a few seats at the counter and enjoy our ice cream sundaes, root beer floats and milkshakes.

I ordered the Red River which was a vanilla milkshake mixed with cherry syrup and 7UP. That brought me back to summers in Philly and our frequent visits to Rita’s Water Ice.

Although small, downtown Vermilion seems to pack a lot of restaurants, shops, and galleries within just a couple of blocks. It also has plenty of sightseeing to offer for boat and train fans, as Lake Erie is located on one side and the railroad (with a very cute depot) runs along the other.

It was our first time visiting Vermilion, but considering it’s a short drive from our house and on the way home from Cedar Point, Scott and I will probably be making pit stops there throughout the summer.

Scott and his grandmother read about the history of the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad while we enjoy a ride through the national park

After Saturday’s drive, we decided on a different mode of transportation for Sunday’s sightseeing: the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad.

Scott and I are HUGE train fanatics (thanks to both of our families) and the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad is one of our favorite things to do in Cleveland.

The Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad’s Canal Visitor Center features a museum and a chance to experience the park’s natural beauty up close

Through a partnership with the National Park Service, the CVSR operates excursion trains along this railway that once carried passengers and freight back and forth between Akron and Cleveland.

This was my third ride on the CVSR so I knew from previous experience that Scott’s family would enjoy it. On Saturday, we made the drive to the small town of Peninsula and got some lunch while we waited for the train to depart.

The train comes into the CVSR’s Peninsula Station, as Tow Path cyclists wait to “ride aboard”

The train runs from Rockside in Independence all the way to Akron and back – Peninsula is the stop in the middle and my favorite because it’s an easy walk to a couple of antique and gift shops.

Because of the heat, we decided to save most of our sightseeing for the train. During the trip, there’s plenty of nature and other points of interest to enjoy right through your window – from meadowland, woods, rivers and marsh.

As the train crossed one of the streams in Cuyhoga Valley National Park, we caught this glimpse of kayakers enjoying their Sunday

If you’re lucky, you’ll catch a glimpse of some wildlife too (there’s an eagle’s roost in the marsh right before the Rockside stop). And cyclists can enjoy the train and the Towpath Trail through CVSR’s Bike Aboard! program.

However, the highlight for me of this weekend’s trip was sneaking a peek inside their St. Lucie Sound executive car to snap this photo:

The CVSR’s St. Lucie executive car is used for special events as well as their Ales and Wine excursions

Seats on this luxury car are reserved for special events, as well as their Ales on Rails and Grape Escape trips.

If you haven’t been, the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad’s summer season starts this weekend on June 2 – making even more stops and giving you more reasons to go.

Scott – a former sousaphone player in his high school band – was happy we got to Avon Lake’s Memorial Day parade just in time to see the ALHS Marching Band

We decided to celebrate Memorial Day by sharing one of my new favorite daytrips with Scott’s family — Geneva, Ohio.

Before we headed out for a day of sipping wine, we went to Avon Lake’s Memorial Day Parade and paid our respects to everyone whose service allowed us the freedoms to enjoy this beautiful weekend.

We then packed up the car and headed for wine country.

Scott’s mom and I decked out in our reds and whites, while drinking reds and whites at South River Vineyard

Because it was a Monday, our winery options were somewhat limited (many of their kitchens and the wineries themselves are closed). Fortunately, two of our three favorites were open: South River and Debonne.

We enjoyed burgers and hot dogs at Debonne along with a couple of tasting trays and their Cellar Rats beer. Now that Summer is moreorless here, their calendar is filling with events including the 30th annual Hot Air Balloon rally on June 9th and the Model Airplane Club’s demonstration on June 16th.

Ever the ham, Scott stole a sip from my rootbeer float at Rees’ Corner

After a stop at Rees’ Corner in downtown Geneva for more rootbeer floats (because you can never have enough ice cream!), we headed to South River. Because Monday’s sweltering heat finally broke and a breeze picked up in the afternoon, we were able to take our glasses of wine and cheese & fruit plate out to the pavilion and just relax while looking over their vineyard.

Scott’s father, who loves a good glass of wine, enjoyed South River so much that he picked up a case to bring home and Scott and I snagged a few more bottles of their Riesling Reserve, Temptation and Chardonnay to add to our collection.

South River has started offering bourbon and beer flights for those looking for something different. Between this and our last visit, South River has proven to be a consistently great choice and has climbed to the top of our favorites thanks to the winning combination of both their wine and setting.

Oh to end every weekend with a view like this!

After three days enjoying Northeast Ohio’s small towns and scenic views, Scott’s parents and grandmother packed up and headed home yesterday morning with more than a few bottles of wine and memories of a wonderful Cleveland Memorial Day.

How did you spend your holiday? Share your favorite moments down in the Comments section.

Making Our Escape to Geneva-on-the-Lake

On a recent visit to Geneva-on-the-Lake, we found The Lodge offered the perfect getaway amidst a region teeming with things to do.

As a kid, my favorite time of year would be when we’d travel down to the Chesapeake Bay in Virginia during the summer. Mornings would be spent waking up to the sound of the waves outside our windows, followed by days fishing, swimming, and rowing. If I wasn’t in the water, I’d be nearby – biking up and down the beach or digging into a bucket of crab legs.

When Scott and I were considering our move to Cleveland, one of the deciding factors was that it was right off the coast of Lake Erie — because with the lake, comes small lakeside towns and resorts waiting to be explored.

Scott and I packed up the car for just such a getaway when we traveled out to Geneva-on-the-Lake a couple of weekends ago.

One of the most peaceful sunsets I’ve enjoyed in a longtime – looking out on Lake Erie from our hotel balcony.

Called Ohio’s First Summer Resort, Geneva-on-the-Lake is an aptly named, quaint lakeside town in Ashtabula County. Although some establishments are open year-round, Geneva-on-the-Lake is really coming alive right now. As the summer season is about to start, with it comes fishing, boating and swimming during the day, and arcades, amusement rides, restaurants, live music and other various nightlife in the evening.

As Scott and I quickly discovered during our visit, it was the perfect mix of the Chesapeake’s laidback respite with the more high-energy shoretown of Brigantine, New Jersey where Scott spent his summers.

Although we visited Geneva-on-the-Lake at the tail-end of the winter season with many businesses yet to open for summer, we were able to find a lot to do – like a stop by the Old Firehouse Winery (which boasts a dinner theatre, ferris wheel and great views of the lake in addition to wine and food) as well as indulging in our mutual love of arcades at Adventure Zone which we left with a handful of winnings – a set of dominoes and 3 plastic dinosaurs.

Nearby Geneva offers antique shops and corner stores like Rees’, an old-fashioned soda fountain and ice cream shop in the town’s old pharmacy.

What sets Geneva-on-the-Lake apart from other shore towns, though, is that the surrounding area offers even more to do.

For those looking to take in Ohio countryside, there’s no shortage of rolling hills and beautiful scenery (including over 15 covered bridges).

In nearby Geneva we enjoyed a morning of eclectic antique shops and a visit to Rees’ Corner, an old-fashioned soda fountain and ice cream shop in the town’s old corner pharmacy. If you visit Geneva, I definitely recommend stopping by for a lime phosphate or a rootbeer float.

With so many wineries, there were a lot of difficult decisions to make when planning our trip.

And then, of course, there are the wineries. With 20 wineries in the area, many make a trip to Geneva, Geneva-on-the-Lake and the rest of the Ashtabula region just to sample the wine.

Because we wanted to pack as much of the area as possible into 2 days, Scott and I paid a visit to just 6 of the wineries – the aforementioned Old Firehouse in Geneva-on-the-Lake, heavy-hitters like Ferrante and Debonne, and more intimate settings like South River, Laurello, and Spring Hill.

I loved that every winery had something unique to offer – whether it was the wine, the food, the setting or all of the above. While it was difficult to choose, our favorites were Laurello, South River and Debonne.

Even though you’re likely there for the wine, dessert lovers should try the Lemoncello Truffle Sorbet at Laurello Winery.

At Laurello, we savored a lemoncello truffle sorbet – an absolutely delightful dessert that was the perfect complement to their wines. They also offered one of the best tasting deals with 6 wines of our choice, cheese and crackers, and a souvenir wine glass for $10.

Sipping wine on Debonne’s patio provided us a rustic last stop for our tour – where we watched an old plane practice landing and taking off at the adjacent airstrip and also sampled some of their Cellar Rats beer. Scott and I are planning our return trip for hot air balloons and remote controlled planes later in the season.

South River was so peaceful and relaxing, I don’t think Scott ever wanted to leave.

Finally, South River not just had our favorite wines of the trip (I may have brought home more than a few bottles of Riesling and Semillon), but the historic church that the tasting room is located in is a unique, quiet setting for sipping wine. It looks out on a beautiful pavilion and 70 acres of vineyard.

Because you can’t explore everything in one day, you’ll most likely need to look for a place to spend the night. And as we learned when we stayed there, The Lodge at Geneva is the perfect place to rest up.

If I could have taken home one thing from The Lodge, it’d be their beautiful stone fireplace in the lobby

Adjacent to the State Park, The Lodge offers everything this visitor needed and then some:

  • on-site dining and a bar that overlooks the sun setting on the lake
  • indoor and outdoor pools
  • access to park trails and walkways that will either lead you for a stroll along the lake or into town
  • a lobby reminiscent of a mountain lodge featuring a beautiful stone fireplace

For many rooms at The Lodge, the scenic views aren’t limited to just the Ohio artwork hanging on the walls. Many rooms look out on beautiful Lake Erie.

The rooms themselves are styled like a country inn – complementary to the Geneva wine-country. Guests can choose between rooms with views of the lobby or the lake, and large suites, family rooms, and whirlpool king rooms are available in addition to standard-sized rooms.

When we stayed at The Lodge, our room featured a balcony which looked out on the lake. Waking up in the middle of the night to hear the lake and see the lights of the buoys was a nice reminder of growing up in Virginia. Plus, having the sun wake me up instead of an alarm was a much needed break from my normal morning routine.

Although it was a little chilly, The Lodge’s beautiful walking paths were worth bundling up for.

The rooms come with standard amenities as well as free wi-fi.  Additional amenities such as mini-fridges and microwaves are available upon request.

We didn’t spend a lot of time in the room, of course! During our downtime from traveling around the region, we spent the rest of our weekend exploring what the hotel offered. From bike rentals to swimming and massage services, there are a lot of activities to help you escape without leaving the comfort of the hotel.  And if you don’t have a designated driver for the wineries, you can reserve a spot on The Lodge’s wine shuttle (be sure to call ahead for this because we learned the hard way that the shuttle fills up fast).

If forest trails are more your thing instead of the lake, The Lodge is also adjacent to Geneva’s State Park.

Depending on the season, there’s fishing, birdwatching, an outdoor playground for children, volleyball nets and horse-shoe courts; winter fun includes snowshoeing and cross country skiing.  Many of these activities are family-friendly as well — during my visit, I was impressed by how child and pet-friendly The Lodge is, while still accommodating conference groups and adults on vacation.

While we were at The Lodge, we enjoyed a dinner at Horizons restaurant, a swim in the indoor pool and walks along the shore – it was hard to choose, but I think the pool was my favorite highlight.  I haven’t been swimming since last summer and their huge indoor pool features gigantic windows that look out on the lake.

I would have gladly spent my entire day in this pool if I had had the time.

Regardless of the amenities, though, a hotel stay can often be easily ruined by subpar service. Fortunately, that wasn’t a problem with The Lodge. No matter whom we spoke with – whether it was our server at dinner, housekeeping or the team at the check-in desk – everyone was proactive in ensuring their guests’ stays were comfortable.  In particular, I was impressed by Jason who helped us when we arrived a bit early for check-in – he was very friendly and made a number of great suggestions on how to spend our time before check-in.

Although Scott and I have been big into long roadtrips this year, we recently started to discover there is a world of daytrips right outside of Cleveland just begging to be explored. And if they’re anything like our trip to Geneva-on-the-Lake, I have the feeling Scott and I will be trading in the 8-hour car rides for much closer locales this summer.

A weekend sipping wine and lounging by the lake makes for a very relaxed Amanda.

Disclosure: After being unavailable to attend a Blogger Weekend last Fall at The Lodge at Geneva, I was invited to stay at The Lodge this Spring. One night’s accommodations and one dinner and breakfast were included; however, I paid for the rest of the trip.

Guest Post: Market at the Foodbank Recap

Because Scott and I were at a wedding last weekend where this happened:

I had to miss out on this year’s Market at the Foodbank. Fortunately, Kate Galo (you may remember her from this and also this guest post) was able to attend and blog on my behalf. Enjoy her recap below along with photos from Sarah Casto!

Guests get a taste of local restaurant and beverage purveyors as well as the facility that benefits from the evening’s event – Cleveland Foodbank itself.

I think it’s fair for me to say that I am still growing into my foodie ways, still getting my knowledge of what’s really innovative ingredient-wise, and which just-opened restaurants are super hip. As a person who ate tortilla chips and some grape tomatoes for dinner, I don’t exactly have a particularly discerning palate, and I am willing to eat just about anything.

So when Amanda let me know that after running a great giveaway for the Market at the Foodbank event (congratulations again, @Dawgpndgirl!), she would be unable to attend, I very graciously said, “If you insist, I will go try inventive morsels of food from prestigious Northeast Ohio restaurants and delicious wines while supporting one of the most well-known local charitable organizations. If I must.”

Our good friend Sarah Casto and I dusted off our camera and notebook respectively, and headed over to South Waterloo Road!

Silent Auction prizes included romantic weekend getaways, Cleveland sports tickets, family-friendly birthday parties, dining packages, tours, and more!

The Market at the Foodbank is the Cleveland Foodbank’s annual Harvest for Hunger fundraiser, showcasing restaurants and catering companies from Rocky River to Solon, assisted by Celebrity Servers, and featuring exciting prizes in their Silent Auction and Raffle.

Doing my preliminary research, I was doubly excited to see that this year’s Market at the Foodbank was taking place at the actual 110,000-square-foot community food distribution center. In previous years, the benefit has been held at the Galleria on East 9th Street in downtown Cleveland.

I really enjoyed walking into the dramatically lit and decorated distribution center. I have been there in the past to assist with sorting or with dropping off food and seeing the transformation of a space that can be usually described as “warehouse” into a lit and musical party space was a treat for attendees. Several commented on being able to see firsthand the results of the hard work and fundraising of the Cleveland Foodbank.

Table 45, sharing a table with Chinato, offered a variety of fresh and tasty sushi.

Attendees of the event worked their way through the large distribution center, with chefs and catering companies set up in the open spaces and up and down the aisles, each offering one or two signature items from their restaurants and kitchens, beautifully served. With almost 50 different restaurant and beverage distributors, there were plenty of options for the dessert lovers to vegans.

Baker Leah Smith, cookie purveyor of Bake My Day, said she loved the friendliness and enthusiasm. She shared my surprise at the amount of attendees sampling the Ohio-themed cookies (Browns, OSU and Harvest for Hunger colors graced the sugar cookies) and said how much she appreciated the chance for her start-up bakery to be a part of the event.

Columbus-based start-up Bake My Day served Harvest for Hunger and Cleveland Sports Team themed sugar cookies.

Brandon Chrostowski of L’Albatros Brasserie in Cleveland, now in his third year of participating in the event, noted that there was great energy having the benefit in the warehouse, as well as the importance of letting people really see where their support goes. Attendees sampling L’Albatros’ foie gras and charcuterie certainly seemed to enjoy it!

Current food trends call for fresh herbs, vegetables and fruit, and healthier meals. The Cleveland Foodbank is undertaking several programs to achieve this goal, with Produce to People distributing over 5 million pounds of donated fruits and vegetables to Cuyahoga County communities; Mobile Pantry, where Foodbank trucks are sent to a central location and clients can pick up a three-day supply of food; and Community Gardens, with local agencies and Foodbank staff working together to plant and maintain gardens on the Foodbank property.

To promote community gardening and increased use of fresh fruits and veggies in homecooked meals, Cleveland Foodbank plans to use on-site gardens for education as well as food.

Development Officer Stephanie Mowls let me know that the Foodbank is aiming to double the amount of produce distributed by 2014, and to begin including cooking demonstrations and recipe cards, so the Foodbank‘s clients will also receive ideas for food preparation.

And how to prepare this produce and fresh food? Ben Bebenroth, chef at Spice of Life catering company and Spice Kitchen & Bar, had a great idea. While I slurped down the potato and wild ramp soup that he and executive chef of Spice of Life Brandon Walukas showcased, Ben discussed their restaurant’s commitment to high standards for where their food is sourced from, in working with local farms, and being able to use what’s in season well.

Ben Bebenroth, chef at Spice of Life catering company and Spice Kitchen & Bar, puts the finishing touches on his Potato and Wild Ramp Soup sip.

To that end, he suggested using some of the fresh herbs and vegetables that a client might get from the Foodbank to make a salted herb vinaigrette with vinegar, salt and any herbs you might have on hand in a metal saucepan, using low heat and a little time to make a dressing that can be served over salad, noodles, potatoes, or really any piece of food that’s laying around and could use a little spicy vinaigrette drizzle (a fuller version of the recipe that Ben directed to me is at Edible Cleveland).

And despite Sarah and I not winning anything from the raffle (prizes included Cleveland Indians tickets, an iPod touch, gift baskets and more) or the Silent Auction (among the many offerings were Colorado skiing vacations, tickets to Legally Blonde at the Beck Center, cooking classes at the Western Reserve School of Cooking), we, along with the Market at the Foodbank’s 1000+ attendees, enjoyed the music, the food, the chances to win, and the opportunity to contribute to our fight against hunger.

Opportunities to support the Cleveland Foodbank can be found here: www.clevelandfoodbank.org (select Donate Funds or Volunteer from the options to the left).

Kate and Sarah enjoy one photo in front of the camera.

About the Guest Contributors:

Kate Galo is a homegrown Clevelander who enjoys restaurant dinners, visits to theaters and museums, and gin cocktails. She used to blog a lot more but then she decided she wanted to spend more time reading other people’s blogs.

Sarah Casto used to live near Columbus, Ohio, but became a Clevelander last year. She enjoys photography, exploring Cleveland’s art and food scenes, and volunteering at the Cleveland Museum of Art in her free time.

***

Disclosure: Amanda, here – I was invited to attend Market at the Foodbank in exchange for hosting a giveaway and previewing it.  Because I was unable to attend, Kate Galo and Sarah Casto attended on my behalf to blog about it.

Giveaway: Win 2 Tickets to the Spring Fabulous Food Show

When Scott and I bought our house a few years ago, our first investment for the outside was a nice patio set.

We knew that if we wanted something to last awhile, we’d have to splurge a bit. And after looking back on summer nights spent grilling and enjoying our backyard, the set we got was definitely worth its pricetag.

Although we haven’t been able to dust off the patio furniture and grill yet, we’ve been counting the weeks til it’ll be time to dine outside.  And with the Spring Fabulous Food Show coming up next weekend, we shouldn’t find ourselves short on inspiration this season.

After the success of the Fall Fabulous Food Show, the I-X Center has now added a Springtime counterpart to celebrate all of the great outdoor grilling that comes with the return of warm weather.

Taking place April 28 and 29, the first annual Spring Fabulous Food Show will feature expert chef presentations, ideas for patios and other outdoor living spaces, and a showroom full of exhibitors.

Headlining the event is the grill master himself – Bobby Flay, who will be joined in the Backyard Patio Theatre with fellow celebrity chef Emeril Lagasse, author of the Barbeque Bible Steven Raichlen, and Weber Grills’ cookbook author Jamie Purviance.

If you miss them on the mainstage, Raichlen and Purviance will be demonstrating grilling techniques in the Weber Grilling Pavilion, where you can also catch one of my favorite local chefs – Greenhouse Tavern’s Jonathon Sawyer – team up with Jason Roberts for a demonstration during Saturday’s show.

At the Outdoor Living Stage landscaping experts will be showcasing deck and patio design ideas, while at the Farmers Market Stage you can learn gardening, wellness and sustainability tips from local and regional chefs, horticulturists and other culinary experts.

Wine and beer lovers who attended the Fall Fabulous Food Show may be happy to see the Tasting Gardens are back. For $10, guests get six tasting tickets and a Schott Zwiesel crystal glass to peruse a selection of wine, beer and spirits.

More up my alley is the Ice Cream Shoppe – new to the Spring Fabulous Food Show – where you can sample ice cream from Graeter’s, Menchie’s, Pierre’s and many others. Tasting tickets are just $1 per sample.

And this year’s Market Place offers a healthy mix of home and garden exhibitors and culinary treats, along with a few stands for the family member that possibly loves the outdoors more than us — our dogs.

General Admission to the Spring Fabulous Food Show costs $25 in advance ($30 at the door) and, unlike the Fall Show, this includes a reserved seating ticket to one celebrity chef presentation of your choice. You can order your tickets online here and save a few dollars by using one of these discount codes.

But wait, there’s more – I’m also giving away a pair of Spring Fabulous Food Show tickets to one lucky winner!

There are 5 Easy Ways to Enter the Giveaway

**You must leave a separate comment on this post for each entry**

1) Leave a comment with the name of your favorite dish to grill or cook up in the summer. You’ll earn one entry for doing this.

2) Like “Fabulous Food Show” and “Clue Into Cleveland” on Facebook and leave a comment letting me know you did both.

3) Follow @FabFoodShow and @ADHicken on Twitter and leave me a comment letting me know you did both.

4) Twitter users can get an extra entry each day for tweeting: “It’s grilling time! Enter @ADHicken’s giveaway for a chance to attend the Spring @FabFoodShow: http://wp.me/pPIgG-1bR”  (Each day you do this, you must leave a new comment.)

5) Subscribe to receive Clue Into Cleveland blog posts in your inbox or Google/blog 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, April 24 at 11:59PM to enter. On Wednesday, April 25, 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!

***Disclosure: I was provided 2 tickets to give away to a reader. As always, my thoughts and the choice of events I share are 100% my own. Images courtesy of the Fabulous Food Show.***

Giveaway: Win 2 Tickets to Market at the Foodbank!

The 17th Annual Market at the Foodbank is Sunday, April 22

If you’ve gone grocery shopping recently, you’ll likely have noticed that the Cleveland Foodbank’s Harvest for Hunger is in full swing.  Adding a $1, $5, or $10 donation to your groceries is a fast and easy way to help reach this year’s goal of providing food for 16 million meals.

You can also help reach this goal while celebrating a night of fun and food at the Cleveland Foodbank’s annual Harvest for Hunger party: Market at the Foodbank (formerly Market Under Glass).

From 6-8:30 p.m. on Sunday, April 22, enjoy delicious food and drink from 50 of Cleveland’s top restaurants and beverage purveyors, including Greenhouse Tavern, Noodlecat, Spice Kitchen+Bar, SOW Food, AMP 150 and Zach Bruell’s restaurants (the growing list of participants can be found here).

And as you have your fill of what is sure to be incredible cuisine, you’ll enjoy live entertainment and the Foodbank’s assortment of silent auctions and chance raffles — all while helping support local hunger relief efforts.

This will be the first year that the party takes place in the Cleveland Foodbank’s 110,000 square foot community food distribution center. By hosting the event at the Foodbank, guests have a unique opportunity to not only enjoy all of the festivities, but also see firsthand the impact of their contributions.

Purchase tickets at www.cleveland.com/marketatfoodbank or 216-738-2046 for $85 per person; day-of tickets cost $100.

VIP tickets are also available for $150 per person, which gets you entrance to a VIP reception from 5-6pm with hors d’oeuvres by Zack Bruell’s restaurants, a special address by the Cleveland Foodbank’s President and CEO Anne Goodman, and a first-look at the auction.

And I have a special announcement: Clue Into Cleveland readers have a chance to win a pair of tickets to Market at the Foodbank!

There are 5 Easy Ways to Enter the Giveaway

 **You must leave a separate comment on this post for each entry**

1) Leave a comment telling me how you’re helping (or plan on helping) Harvest for Hunger achieve their goal of providing food for 16 million meals. (Need ideas? Check out this blog post.)

2) Follow @ADHicken and @Harvest4Hunger on Twitter and leave a comment letting me know you did both.

3) Like “Clue Into Cleveland” and “Cleveland Foodbank” on Facebook and leave a comment letting me know you did both.

4) Twitter users can get an extra entry each day for tweeting: “Want to attend @CleveFoodbank’s Market at the Foodbank on 4/22? Enter @ADHicken’s giveaway to win 2 tickets: http://wp.me/pPIgG-18l″.  (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 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 or adding me to your Google Reader.

You have until Thursday, March 29 at 11:59PM to enter.  On Friday, March 30, 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!

***Disclosure: I was provided 2 tickets to give away to a reader. As always, though, my thoughts and the choice of events I share are 100% my own.***