Category Archives: Holidays

New Year’s Eve in Downtown CLE: 3 Parties to Check Out

NYE in CLE

It’s time to bust out the noisemakers and confetti. 2013 is days away from taking its final bow. How are you planning on celebrating New Year’s Eve?

If you don’t have plans yet, try one of these three parties in downtown Cleveland:

Society Lounge’s New Year’s Eve

Scott and I recently made our first trip to Society Lounge on E4th, and as we learned at their Repeal Day party, they know how to throw one classy celebration. Fine cocktails, music, a beautifully nostalgic setting. If you want to reminisce about the past while celebrating the future, join them on December 31. Lounge singer Phil Turk will be performing from 10:30pm to 1:30am, accompanied by a champagne toast at midnight. General tickets are no longer available; however, you can pick up $75 VIP tickets which include your own private table and a bottle of champagne for every two tickets purchased. See the flyer below for more information and call 216-781-9050 for tickets.

Society Lounge

New Year’s Eve at Pura Vida

Dinner reservations are available at Public Square’s Pura Vida from 4 til 10pm. After 10, a house party takes over. Party with Pura Vida and enjoy appetizers, an open bar, a DJ, champagne toast at midnight and breakfast buffet at 1am. Tickets are $100 if you have a dinner reservation earlier in the evening ($125 if you aren’t dining before the party). VIP lounges with bottle service and a personal host are also available. Reservations are required; email Katie@puravidabybrandt.com and see their flyer below for more information.

PuraVidaproof

Cleveland Rocks New Year’s Eve on Public Square

Of course, the biggest party in downtown Cleveland will be Cleveland Rocks New Year’s Eve on Public Square. With special guest Drew Carey, Ohio Homecoming will bring more than 15 food trucks, local DJs, and electronic dance music group Krewella to Public Square for this outdoor NYE festival. The event will also feature live ice sculpting, a beer garden, fireworks and a countdown at midnight. This free celebration starts at 6 p.m. on December 31 and leads up to midnight. A portion of the evening’s proceeds will go to Ohio Homecoming’s Village Project. Learn more at www.ohiohomecoming.com (click on ‘Events’).

If you can’t make it downtown for NYE, there are parties going on throughout the Cleveland area. Check out WhyCLE and Anchored in CLE for more New Year’s Eve ideas.

Disclosure: Ohio Homecoming emailed me about blogging about Cleveland Rocks New Year’s Eve after I had already decided to write this post. The choice to blog about these three events is 100% my own.

My #HomeinCLE Holiday Wish for You

Whether you’re #homeinCLE for the holidays…

Gingerbread House at Cleveland Botanical Garden's Glow 2012

…Or headed out of town

Virginia is for Lovers

Celebrating with family…

The DiGiandomenico and Hicken Families

…And friends…

TWChristmas 2013

…Or savoring the peace and quiet of your house…

Christmas tree

I hope that it’s a holiday season full of laughter, contemplation,
wonder, and love!

Holiday Hijinks and Haberdashery at Prosperity Social Club’s Smokin’ Fez Monkeys Show

One of my favorite Cleveland bands and Cleveland bars come together to sing in the holidays

“What in the name of sanity have you got on your head?”
“It’s a fez. I wear a fez now. Fezzes are cool.”
– Doctor Who

Fezzes are cool, and the Smokin’ Fez Monkeys know what’s up with a nod to this humble haberdashery in their name.

When Scott and I first saw the Smokin’ Fez Monkeys at the 2011 Avon Duct Tape Festival, it was love at first listen.

Their mission is “to do to music what the Wienermobile did to the auto, what M.C. Escher did to the third dimension, what Bugs Bunny did to Elmer Fudd.” And they make good on that promise with plenty of wit, tomfoolery, and jazzy-ragtime-jug band music.

Smoky vocals mix with the sounds of the bass, fiddle, banjo, and Jinglestick — resulting in a show that’s a bit like the Squirrel Nut Zippers.

Now, combine the musical hijinks of the Smokin’ Fez Monkeys with the Tremont treasure that is Prosperity Social Club, and you have the makings of a Christmas miracle.

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Holly Jolly Holiday Shopping: 10 Shop Local Events in CLE

MOCA Cleveland's holiday shopping event ArtScape

MOCA Cleveland’s holiday shopping event ArtScape

Scott and I spent last Friday at Cleveland’s Museum of Contemporary Art for their annual holiday shopping event ArtScape. The last time we visited MOCA was for a Tri-C JazzFest concert. This time, their versatile lobby was transforrmed into a pop up shop of jewelry and design gifts.

It was a great place to start our holiday shopping with local artisans like Jason Radcliffe’s Forty Four Steel, Brandon Holschuh, Michelle Pajak-Reynolds, and LAM Design Studios.

We also had a chance to look at the museum’s current exhibits, Simon Evans’ Only Words Eaten by Experience and Michelle Grabner’s I Work From Home. We particularly liked Evans’ work, which consisted of small pieces of paper, tape, and white-out compiled into diagrams, maps, flowcharts and diary entries cataloging his day-to-day life.

A section of Simon Evans' Shitty Heaven, Scott's and my favorite piece of the entire exhibit because of things like 'Anton Chekhov Who Owns a Steakhouse in Heaven(tm)'

A section of Simon Evans’ much larger “Shitty Heaven.” This was Scott’s and my favorite piece of the entire exhibit because of notes like ‘Anton Chekhov Who Owns a Steakhouse in Heaven(tm)’

MOCA features many other events throughout December to enjoy the museum’s space and the current exhibits, including Free First Saturdays (Dec. 7), One Hour One Work (Dec. 11), and a concert with Daniel Lippel co-presented by the Cleveland Classical Guitar Society (Dec. 12).

If you missed your chance to start your holiday shopping at ArtScape, though, don’t worry. I have 10 events to help you shop local in November and December.

Check them out and if you have any suggestions of other holiday shopping events, leave a comment below. 

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Ready to Clue Into More of Cleveland in 2013

Happy New Year! While I sit here watching videos from today’s Philadelphia Mummers Parade (the country’s oldest – and arguably most fun – folk parade), I’m grateful for a quiet start to 2013.

Scott’s and my New Year’s Eve was much more subdued than usual as we enjoyed a small gathering over at BEaLittleWeird‘s house with dinner, boardgames and Xbox.

After Cleveland’s a Plum and @LZone‘s HollaDays Party on Sunday (see their awesome New Year’s Baby snowglobe on the left) and a very early wakeup Monday morning, I was in the mood for only a couple glasses of bubbly last night.

The upside to this is that I woke up refreshed and ready for the new year this morning.

It’s a good start especially since readiness is my theme for 2013.

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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.

A Merry Cleveland Christmas + Giveaway Winners

So I may have gotten a little *too* into my first White Elephant Exchange

Merry Christmas!

While I feel like Cleveland is my home 364 days out of the year, Christmas is the one day where things feel a little out of place because our family isn’t here.

Today, for instance, has consisted of a quiet day of Scott and I playing Marvel vs Capcom 3 (I won!), exchanging tidings with our families over the phone, and enjoying the new Doctor Who Christmas special later on.

There are a few upsides to this. We’re able to relax, plus not being with everyone on Christmas Day has given rise to new holiday family traditions.

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Ohio Blogging Cookie Swap: Recap and Recipe

Bit o’ Blogkeeping: You have until 11:59pm on Monday, Dec. 24 to enter my Damn Right I’m From Cleveland giveaway. I’ll announce the winner on Christmas Day!

Cookie Monster Heaven

As I’ve blogged before, my lack of cooking skills is a bit notorious. In fact the last (and only) time I ever baked something was a few years ago.

And even then, I wouldn’t really call it baking. I made cookies from those Pillsbury cookie dough rolls and still managed to burn them to a crisp.

However, last week I donned an apron once again when I got roped into decided to make cookies for the 3rd annual Ohio Blogging Cookie Swap.

I was told baking is more fun in the company of friends so when WhyCLE offered up her kitchen, I figured this was as good a time as any to learn how to actually make cookies from scratch.

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CLE Reads: Damn Right I’m From Cleveland

Dec. CLE Read: Damn Right I’m From Cleveland by Mike Polk Jr.

UPDATE: This giveaway is now closed. Congratulations to the winners!

Between the usual stress of the holidays and what happened last week, I don’t think I’m alone in thinking we could all use a little laughter right now.

So I figured I’d pick a book for my December CLE Read that lightens the mood. And there was Mike Polk Jr.’s Damn Right I’m From Cleveland to the rescue.

If you’re a Clevelander who spends any amount of time online (which I assume you do since you’re on a blog right now), you’re likely familiar with Polk’s Hastily Made Cleveland Tourism Video.

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Holiday Hoops: My first Cleveland Cavaliers game

Cleveland Cavaliers vs Chicago Bulls

I am continually humbled by the loyalty of Cleveland sports fans. Raised on the Philadelphia Eagles, I would lament year after year when we would make it to the playoffs just to blow it at the last second (trust me, given the Eagles’ current record, the irony of that statement is not lost on me).

I really don’t think I understood what a die-hard fan is until I moved to Cleveland and witnessed a city who continues to support their teams regardless of the challenges and betrayals of the past. Quitting just isn’t in the vocabulary.

And that’s incredibly admirable. While Cleveland fans aren’t pushovers and give critical feedback when it’s justified, there’s still a sense of hope and rebuilding. A celebration at all victories – large and small – never taking for granted the good times.

I was struck by this when I went to my first Cleveland Cavaliers game last week.

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