Category Archives: Avon

L’Amour du Vin Recap and Midwest Wine and Food Ideas for the Fall

Reminder: You have until Thursday night to enter my Bourbon Street Ball giveaway. Remember you can tweet daily for extra entries!

L'Amour du Vin raised over $56K for the Arthritis Foundation, Great Lakes Region, Northeast Ohio

L’Amour du Vin raised over $56K for the Arthritis Foundation, Great Lakes Region, Northeast Ohio

It’s a rare treat to be able to hop in the car and drive a few minutes for a tasting event that features so many of the area’s restaurants. A fine dining and drinking event in my own backyard.

The convenience is something that sets L’Amour du Vin, the fall food fundraiser for the Arthritis Foundation, Great Lakes Region, Northeast Ohioapart from other food events we may attend.

Musicians from the Oberlin College Conservatory of Music Jazz Ensemble

Musicians from the Oberlin College Conservatory of Music Jazz Ensemble

In exchange for hosting a giveaway last month, I was invited to attend the event.  When we arrived at the Avon Oaks Country Club last Thursday, we made our way to the VIP lounge. There we started our evening with a westside restaurant that is quickly raising the ranks of our neighborhood favorites – Bistro 83

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Giveaway: L’Amour du Vin, The Cleveland West Side Wine and Food Event

Dishes from Bistro 83, one of the restaurants at L'Amour du Vin

Dishes from Bistro 83, one of the restaurants at L’Amour du Vin

Update: Parker’s Grille and Tavern in Avon Lake is no longer participating in L’Amour du Vin (9/27/2013)

Working downtown, I’m a short walk away from a wealth of dining choices. However, the restaurants opening more and more frequently in Lorain County and Cleveland’s west side have me eating (and eating well) close to home.

Nearby I can find tempting Greek food at Taki’s, an intimate Italian dinner at Fratello’s, and BBQ at Bubba’s Q. And as I blogged earlier in the year, I can never go wrong at Cafe Melissa.

Last night we tried one of the area’s newest restaurants Bistro 83.

Stopping in for dinner after work, we enjoyed their Lump Crab Mac-n-Cheese and the Smoked Mozzarella Red Pepper Ravioli. Small touches like the pesto-cream on the mac and edamame on the ravioli added fresh, intense flavors to the dishes. A long list of wines and brews, as well as a very well-priced brunch menu have Scott and I planning a return trip this weekend.

At the 16th annual L’Amour du Vin on Thursday, October 10, Bistro 83 and other Cleveland West side restaurants will be showcasing their talent in the kitchen.

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Guest Post: BEaLittleWeird Visits the Miller Nature Preserve

While I’m out of town this week, I’m happy to have BEaLittleWeird and Bite Buff guest blog for me. In today’s post, Brian shares his recent visit to the Miller Nature Preserve in nearby Avon, Ohio.

Miller Nature Preserve

When Amanda asked me to submit a guest post for her blog I was a little surprised. You see, Amanda and I know each other IRL. We both work in the same office and we both happened to move to Cleveland from out-of-state in order to follow our jobs. But whereas Amanda is a woman-about-town, visiting the local Cleveland-area establishments and enjoying all Cleveland has to offer, I’m pretty much a hermit.

I’m married with two children. My wife works two part time jobs and I work a full time job M-F 6-3. By the time I come home from work my wife is usually on her way out the door and we pass like ships in the night. We don’t get to spend a lot of time together as a family so when we are together we usually just hang out with the kids or do some stuff around the house together.

But, I accepted Amanda’s request as a challenge to leave my hermitage and venture out into the great big world outside my door. My destination: two blocks away to the Miller Nature Preserve.

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In My Backyard: Cafe Melissa and Two Bucks Avon Reviews

Cafe Melissa Avon Lake, Ohio - Narwhal Mural

I should’ve known I’d love Cafe Melissa as soon as I saw the narwhal in their mural

Although I’ve lived in Avon Lake for three years, until recently I had only one or two suggestions for where to take people to eat.

I was more likely to drive downtown or even the far Eastside to dine out. It was easy to see the chain and fast food restaurants and overlook my suburb’s local gems.

Then Scott and I went to Strip Steakhouse in Avon which jumped to the top of our Cleveland restaurants list and motivated us to start exploring our backyard a bit more.

Our curiosity has been rewarded not just with special occasion restaurants like Strip, but dining that’s good for any budget in Avon and Avon Lake.

Next time you’re out my way, here are 2 places we recently checked out that we’d recommend:

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Giveaway! L’Amour du Vin Wine and Food Event

Oct. 18 at Avon Oaks Country Club

After last weekend’s trip to the Put-in-Bay Island Wine Festival, I thought I’d be all wined out. Ha! What am i talking about? I could never be tired of wine.

Good thing, since next Thursday, Oct. 18, there’s a local event whose name is literally all about embracing our love for the grape. And I have a pair of tickets to give away for it:

L’Amour du Vin is Lorain County’s premier wine and food tasting event featuring not just wines from around the world, but also some of the best restaurants from Cleveland’s western suburbs – my side of town!

From 6:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m. at Avon Oaks Country Club, guests can taste their way through 15 local eateries including AMP150, 87 West at Crocker Park, Oberlin Inn, Wood & Wine, Aladdin’s, and Kiedrowski’s Bakery (among many, many others).

A recent addition to the list of restaurants includes Tom’s Country Place; plus Wood Fire Grille and Flavor The Town Catering just announced they’ll be hosting a tasting table on the main floor in addition to L’Amour du Vin’s VIP Lounge.

Bonus! Whiskey, bourbon and vodka tastings in the VIP Lounge

Speaking of the VIP Lounge, if you need a break from wine tasting, check out that ticket option because besides exclusive dishes and specialty drinks, VIP ticketholders will be able to enjoy whiskey, bourbon and vodka tastings from Brown-Forman and  Watershed Distillery.

I’ve always found that great food and wine can only be made better when paired with good music, which will be provided throughout the evening by the Jazz Ensemble at the Oberlin College Conservatory of Music.

Celebrating its 15th year, L’Amour du Vin – presented by EMH Healthcare – is one of the key fundraisers for the Arthritis Foundation of Northeastern Ohio.

In our region alone more than 1.5 million people suffer with arthritis. But because of the funds raised through events like this, the Arthritis Foundation is able to support research and educate the public about the prevention, early diagnosis and treatment of this disease which affects one in five Americans and nearly 300,000 children.

The Arthritis Foundation has made it their mission to empower people to Take Control of their arthritis and lessen its impact through such efforts as the Arthritis Answers help-line and Aquatic and Walk with Ease fitness programs.  Here’s a bit more about the Arthritis Foundation’s impact across the country:

Click image for larger version

Tickets for L’Amour du Vin are $60 for general admission and $90 for VIP admission. You can purchase tickets by clicking here.

In addition to the funds raised through ticket sales, L’Amour du Vin’s silent auction and raffle will go to support the Arthritis Foundation of Northeastern Ohio.

Auction highlights include a number of spa and vacation getaways and packages for local restaurants and entertainment. I think the wine bottle raffle is what’s calling my name the most, though:

For $40, guests have a chance to win a five-night/four-day Western Caribbean cruise out of Miami, FL. However, no one goes home empty handed as each person who enters will win a bottle of white wine.

With L’Amour du Vin being only one week away, I’m excited to give away a pair of tickets to one lucky reader:

There are 4 Easy Ways to Enter the Giveaway

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

1) I’m allergic to red wine (I know – worst Italian ever!) so I’m always in the market for a new white wine to try. For one entry in the giveaway, leave a comment on this post sharing your favorite white wine (type + winery or brand if you know it).

2) Facebook users: Share this link on Facebook then leave a comment letting me know you did (good for one entry).

3) Follow @ADHicken and @ArthritisFouNEO 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 the giveaway with a link to this post. Sample tweet you can use: “I want to raise a glass to @ArthritisFouNEO at #LAmourduVin. Enter @ADHicken’s giveaway for your chance to win:”  (Each day you do this, you must leave a new comment.)

You have until Tuesday, Oct. 16 at 11:59PM to enter. On Wednesday, Oct. 17, I will select a winner using and will announce the winner’s name on my blog.  Remember to leave a separate comment for each entry – good luck!

Disclosure: I was invited by the Arthritis Foundation of Northeastern Ohio to help promote L’Amour du Vin. In exchange, I will receive 2 complimentary VIP tickets for myself and 2 general admission tickets to give away. As always, though, the choice of events and opinions I share are my own.

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

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.

Guest Posting on Eat.Drink.Cleveland about "Strip"-ping

Head over to Eat Drink Cleveland for my guest post on Avon’s Strip Steakhouse

This week is all about guest blogging! First on Monday, I was over at WhyCLE, sharing about Global Cleveland and how the work they’re doing with newcomers and boomerangs is a reason to love this city.

And yesterday I jumped over to Eat Drink Cleveland with a guest post about an Avon restaurant that’s risen high on Scott’s and my favorites list.

Eat Drink Cleveland is currently enjoying the bright lights and long nights of Las Vegas, and while she’s gone I’m happy to share my experiences eating and drinking in Northeast Ohio.

With all of the restaurants Cleveland has to offer, it was a little difficult to decide on what I wanted to blog about; however, after a few recent visits to Strip Steakhouse in Olde Avon Village, I knew I’d have to share my steak-loving experience there.

4 words to wet your appetite: Apple. Honey. Bacon. Butter.

So if you haven’t checked it out yet, head over to Eat Drink Cleveland for Guest Post: Strip Steakhouse by Clue Into Cleveland.

And then come back here tomorrow for a preview of a few festivals going on in Cleveland this weekend!

The Cowboy, Strip’s 22 oz. bone-in ribeye

Spending Father's Day at the Avon Duct Tape Festival

World's largest roll of duck tape at the Avon Duct Tape Festival

With my parents living in Virginia, I didn’t get to celebrate Father’s Day with my dad. However, in honor of my dad’s love for fixing things (and my love of all things kitsch), Scott and I figured we would do something that was ‘dad-approved’ and headed over to The Avon Heritage Duct Tape Festival.

The Duct Tape Festival started eight years ago, when a group of Avon citizens wanted to bring back a citywide festival. When they started to look for sponsors around the community, they visited with ShurTech Brands, the marketer of Duck Tape brand duct tape who’s located in Avon (you can see the duck sign when driving on 90-W).

Instead of just having a city festival, what sprang from this meeting was the decision to embrace Avon’s reputation as the “Duct Tape Capital” of the world and hold a festival dedicated to that marvelous sticky stuff that keeps crafts, cars and, well, pretty much everything together .

When we headed over on Sunday morning, we got there early to enjoy music from the Smoking Fez Monkeys, a modern jug band that plays a wacky mix of self-described “ragtime-cartoon-Vaudeville-circus-hobo-gypsy-jazz.” The two sets we listened to featured great smoky vocals, hilarious original songs mingled with classics and an assortment of instruments including bass, fiddle, banjo, jug and my favorite — the Jinglestick (a percussionist’s dream come true with drums, bells, blocks and a washboard). This was definitely a highlight of our visit and I’m looking forward to seeing them again.

Smoking Fez Monkeys

When we weren’t listening to music, Scott and I walked around taking in all of the duct tape crafts, giveaways and sculptures. To complement ShurTech’s line of College Duck Tape, a lot of the sculptures from the parade and throughout the park were sports-themed.

Highlights were the putting green and golf clubs, as well as a wedding dress and tuxedo on one of the parade floats — all made entirely out of duct tape. I’ve seen pictures of prom and wedding dresses made out of duct tape before (in fact, you can check out a few at Duck Tape’s Stuck at Prom Scholarship Contest site); however, seeing this dress and its floral detailing in person blew me away.

Duct tape wedding dress and tuxedo

There were games as well, including a football toss with balls constructed from various college teams’ themed tape. Between the prizes of free duct tape rolls, keychains and kozies, I got my share of Duck Tape swag that day.

The only thing you can’t do with duct tape, though, is eat it (however, now that I’ve said that, someone needs to get to work on an edible duct tape). So, having worked up an appetite walking around, we enjoyed some classic carnival fare.


Although you can never go wrong with mini corn dogs, I’ve found my new go-to festival food: WaffleMan.  Ice cream sandwiched between two pieces of hot waffle, it was simple but delicious. Scott stuck with the classic and although his was much easier to eat, I went with the works – ice cream coated in chocolate, nuts and rainbow sprinkles and powdered sugar on the waffle. I’m pretty sure that when they handed me the plate my head exploded a bit just looking at the sugar rollercoaster I was about to enjoy.

However, what I think I liked most about the festival (besides the fact that it was free) is that it’s a small, independent committee that organizes it. Originally, I thought that ShurTech or the city of Avon put it on. Instead it’s a handful of volunteers who do it – embracing the DIY spirit of the duct tape that’s celebrated by the festival.

It was a fun way to spend Father’s Day and the first thing I did on the car ride home was call my dad and tell him all about it.

Bowling alley made from duct tape

If you want to get involved with organizing next year’s festival, they’re always looking for volunteers and committee members. To learn more, visit the Festival’s Contact page.