Category Archives: PostAWeek2011 Challenge

Blog Swap: MissWineOH says, Wines you HAVE to try

Today is the Ohio Blogging Association‘s Cleveland November Blog Swap. As part of it, I’m happy to introduce you to Tammy, Chief Tasting Officer at MissWineOH . On this day, bloggers from around the Northeast Ohio area are guest posting on one another’s blogs as a way to get to know each other in our blogging community. For a full listing of blog swap participants, please visit Poise in Parma today.

I met Amanda at a Wine and Cupcakes event recently, and we have a shared love of the city of Cleveland and its culinary and wine delights. I’m happy to be swapping blogs with her today and sharing some of my favorite wines.

Many of us head out for social gatherings or parties in restaurants during the holiday season. And many of those events are held in our local restaurants, where some of the best chefs in the country make their homes – and their incredible food. Some of Cleveland’s best restaurants also have some pretty intimidating wine lists. When you are blessed with great food, you can also be cursed with the “what do I pick off this wine list?” dilemma.

Your first avenue of information should always be the sommelier if he or she is available – a good sommelier can recommend the perfect wine to compliment your palate, your food and your budget.  Your second avenue, however, can be this list.

As I’m a huge fan of eating in my neighborhood, these picks are from Tremont restaurants, but these wines (or very similar ones) are widely available.


Chef Michael Symon’s bistro is reflective of his love of Cleveland. Funky, locally inspired and always changing. One of my favorite things there is the early and late Happy Hour menu. 

Nessa, Albarino, Rias Baixas, Spain, 09 8.50 gl – 34 btl 
This spanish white has abundant peaches and pears and a crisp minerality that will blend seamlessly with the Lolita Happy Hour mussels (only $5!).

Revelry, “The Reveler”, Colombia Valley, 08 (Petite Verdot, Merlot, Cab)
10 gl – 40 btl

Washington State makes some great wines, and I love that this one uses Petite Verdot as the primary grape in the blend. It’s inky in color, and you’ll like the chocolate and coffee flavors on the finish. It’s an INTERESTING wine – in that “wow, pretty cool, I’ll sip and savor this a while” sort of way. And I love putting the Lolita burger with it.


While Parallax has a lovely by the glass menu, their strength is in their bottle selections. They specialize in asian fusion and seafood – and they have a sushi menu!

Sauvignon Blanc, St. Supery, Napa Valley 2010 – 40 btl
Grapefruit and lime are the highlights with this wine, but it’s not overly tart like you will find in many New Zealand Sauv Blancs. This one is a perfect complement to the asian fusion and seafood that dominates the menu at Parallax. I love to order this and an assortment of sushi and settle in for a sensory feast.

Pinot Noir, The Four Graces, Willamette Valley, Oregon, 09 – 72 btl
While on the higher end, this pinot noir is one of the best you will find on a restaurant list in Tremont. The subtle fruit and soft tannins on this pinot serve any of the meat dishes well. I particularly love it with the Duck Confit and brussel sprouts.


Dante is a great place to stop in early or late if you find yourself having trouble getting a dinner reservation. They have a lovely bar, 2 pages of wines by the glass and 50 wines under $50 to pair with Chef Dante Bocuzzi’s incredible menu. Their wines reflect the Italian influence of the food.

Vernaccia, Le Rote, San Gimignano, Toscana, 08 8 gl – 32 btl
A Tuscan Vernaccia at this price in a restaurant in Tremont, I’m all over it. Vernaccia is a grape grown and pressed in a particular town in the Tuscan region of Italy (San Gimignano), and this particular wine is medium bodied and just the right balance of acid and fruit. You’ll want to make sure it is well chilled. Pair it with the octopus, or any of the fresh seafood dishes for a little slice of Tuscany in Cleveland.

Barbera d’Alba, Boffa, Buschet, Piemonte 08 11 gl – 44 btl
A quintessential Italian red, the Boffa is a dry selection made from the barbera grape. This wine has some spice on it, but I’d pair it with the venison or polenta, depending on which direction your culinary tastes lead. This wine also works well for the vegetarian dishes on the menu.


One piece of advice I always give: Ask for a taste if you are unfamiliar with the wine. The worst possible thing they can say is “no” – and I’ve never had a sommelier refuse a taste.

Do you have favorite dishes you don’t know what to drink with? Just ask!

Happy Sipping!

Clue Into #My7Links

I love making lists! If I were to ever get a tattoo, it'd be like this one.

I’ve been making a lot of lists lately — to-do lists for NEOFoodTours’ upcoming Kamm’s Corners/AMP150 and Shaker Square Restaurant Tours, lists for Jump Back Ball, and lists to help get me ready for vacation.  I feel a bit like Santa with everything I’ve been checking off.

So, I’m taking a momentary break from them to do a list that’s a little less stressful.  There’s a meme making the rounds called “My 7 Links” where the blogger gets tagged by someone else, shares links from their blogging past that fit in the below 7 categories, and then continues the meme by tagging 5 other bloggers.

If you’re new to Clue Into Cleveland, read on for some posts I haven’t shared in a while as well as a behind-the-music into what I think about them.  This was just the kind of list I needed to take my mind off everything else — thanks to WhyCLE for tagging me!

1. Most Popular

Courtesy of WordPress’ handy stats page:

2. Most Beautiful

Cleveland’s lucky to have a theatre community that produces fantastic shows. My favorite from the last year  was Cleveland Play House’s Legacy of Light. It was beautifully written, acted and staged (loved the set design!). And while I don’t think I fully captured how beautiful the show was, I really enjoyed writing my blog post Embracing Change with Cleveland Play House’s Legacy of Light because it allowed me to look not just at the beautiful changes going on in our city but also in my own life and family.

Cleveland Play House's Legacy of Light. Photo credit: Roger Mastroianni.

3. Most Controversial

Although this is a repeat of one of the most popular posts, I’m going to have to go with my review of the first C-Town Chow Down. This was the first time I got a negative comment on my blog and it helped me learn how to respond to them. I always welcome constructive feedback here and appreciate your comments. Sometimes I’m not the best at replying to them, but please feel free to share what you’re thinking (even if it’s how I can do a better job with my blog).

4. Most Helpful

Every once and in a while I am completely surprised when someone tells me they learned about something through my blog. I don’t know if Clue Into Cleveland is really helpful for others – I mostly do it as a way to document my journey in this incredible city.  So, for #4 I’m going to have to go with the post that was most helpful to me as a blogger – Clue Into Cleveland: One Year Later.  It helped me get some much needed perspective on my first year of blogging – what I learned about the city, my favorite memories and how I couldn’t believe I made it through one year!

5. Surprise Success

Earlier this year, I decided to document the months leading up to PlayhouseSquare’s Jump Back Ball – mostly because, as a first-time attendee, I was really excited for the event and wanted to learn everything I could about it.  I didn’t realize how much fun I would have writing this series of blog posts and that other people would actually read it.  I was even more surprised when the blog series was mentioned as a reason I was awarded New PlayhouseSquare Partner of the Year and would help me out as I start co-chairing Jump Back Ball 2012 (more on that later this week!).

When it comes to blogging experiences, my Jump Back Ball series was one of my most fulfilling and surprising. What began as a fun little project to get myself blogging more helped me become more involved with an organization I love – PlayhouseSquare Partners.

Jump Back Ball 2011

6. Not Enough Attention

I went all the way back to my 2nd month of blogging for this post. For Free Comic Book Day, I combined two loves of mine — Cleveland and comic books.  In Comics in CLE: Drawing Them Together, I looked at a couple ways Cleveland is connected to the characters and creators from the books on my shelf.  With the Avengers movie shooting here this month, I thought this old post would be very fitting.

7. Most Proud

Although my selection for the last category was an oldie-but-a-goodie, the post I’m most proud of is a recent one. Hands down, it’s my recap of my first 5k – last month’s Run for the Pierogies. I can’t believe how much fun I had getting ready for the run and the event itself.  And I’m happy to say I finally registered for this Saturday’s Independence 5K Run/Walk to A Healthier You which I’ll be running with PoiseinParma. Despite the heat and feeling a little under the weather, I can’t wait to get back out there!

Run for the Pierogies

Now that this flashback through my blog is complete, it’s time to pass on the #My7Links love and tag 5 other bloggers. I picked bloggers that I’ve either just started reading or write about a variety of topics.  Go check them out!

(Tattoo Photo attribution: RobStephAustralia)

Taking a Short Blog-cation

While I’ve been #happyinCLE to clue into different ways to get involved in Cleveland, lately I’ve been stretching myself in a lot of directions.

So I’m taking a mini blog-cation. I’ll be gone for only a few days with a new blog post by the end of this week.  Additionally, I’ll probably be moving to 2 posts per week for a while to allow myself a bit of extra time.

The short break will help me catch up on a couple projects like helping with NEO Food Tours (more fun announcements coming soon about the tours!), training for the 5k and a few additional writing projects.

In the meantime, though, I’ve recently updated the RSS feeds and links on the left with bloggers I love to read when I have the time.  Go check them out and I’ll be back before you know it!

(Photo from Flickr – credit Alan Cleaver)'s Twitter Twenty: How I'm Celebrating Twitter's 5th Birthday

Each month, selects its Twitter Twenty to comment on topics with the #CLE20 hashtag. (logo from

With Twitter celebrating its 5th birthday today, I was happy to get my own Tweet-related present: being selected as one of this month’s Cleveland Twitter Twenty!

The Twitter Twenty is a program created by and The Plain Dealer that’s now in its third month.  Each month, twenty Clevelanders on Twitter are chosen to weigh in on different local issues.

A new question is posed each week and the Twenty will comment on it using the Twitter hashtag #CLE20. Anyone else can weigh in on the conversation by using the hashtag, but the Twenty’s comments will be featured online at: and also used in The Plain Dealer each Friday on page A-2. Topics range from the light and entertaining like Cleveland movies to more serious issues such as rebuilding the Cleveland region to hold onto a younger workforce.

In addition to myself (@ADHicken), this month’s Twitter Twenty include:

Our group’s first topic is ‘Spring Has Sprung‘ – exploring the different things Clevelanders do to shed ‘Old Man Winter’ and celebrate the beginning of Spring.  Follow along with the conversation by watching the #CLE20 hashtag and feel free to add your thoughts with your hashtagged tweets!

If you’d like to be considered for a future month’s Twitter Twenty, direct message @denisep (Denise Polverine) or @dawgpndgirl (Alana Munro).


Can’t get enough Twitter-related fun? Don’t forget to join @KaseyCrabtree, @KimiKay and me on Thursday, 5-9pm at AMP 150 for TwestivalCLE. It’s an extended happy hour featuring food and drink specials as well as a Chinese Auction. Admission to the event is a $10 donation to We Run This City youth marathon program.

For more information, to buy tickets or to donate to We Run This City if you can’t make it, visit or follow @TwestivalCLE.

The Ohio Blogging Association: Monthly Tweetchats and Resources for OH Bloggers

Learn about the Ohio Blogging Association at and @OHBlogging.

Last night I rushed home after work for the Ohio Blogging Association‘s monthly Twitter chat. OH Blogging was started in 2010 by Angela Risner of Columbus’ Pretty in Orange blog. Any and all bloggers in Ohio are welcome – regardless of whether you blog about things to do in Ohio, fitness, personal or any other variety of topics.  As the Association’s site says, if you blog and live in Ohio (or are originally from Ohio and make trips back), you’re part of the OH Blogging Association.

The Association hosts monthly #OBASH tweetchats and meetings in Columbus and Cleveland. The latest Cleveland blogger meetup was at the University Heights Whole Foods last week. I actually found out about the association thanks to fellow Cleveland blogger WhyCLE’s recap of it. The purpose of the meetings and chats are to promote a sense of community and provide resources and a sounding board for bloggers in Ohio.

So what did we talk about at last night’s #OBASH chat? Besides meeting up and sharing how long we’ve been blogging, there were questions and answers shared about how each blogger has promoted their site — from blogger cards to what social networks have worked best and how some bloggers have approached giveaways on their blogs. Angela also mentioned organizing an Ohio blogger conference this Fall or next Spring. Altogether, these resources seem really helpful as I start my #PostAWeek WordPress Challenge.

The best thing about it, though, was just talking to other bloggers and learning about their sites. Here are some of the Ohio bloggers who were on the #OBASH chat last night (along with links to their sites and Twitter feeds).  Feel free to check them out:

If you’re looking for other bloggers from Ohio, the Ohio Blogging Association’s directory lists some by city and blog name.  And if you were at last night’s chat and I missed your blog, leave me a comment and I’ll add your link to the above list.

Ohio Blogging Association 411:

Clue Into Cleveland Joining the WordPress PostAWeek Challenge


She makes writing look so easy.

If you’re a member of WordPress, you may have seen the PostADay/PostAWeek Challenge under ‘Latest News’. If you’re not a member or you haven’t seen it, here’s a brief overview:

To motivate their bloggers, set up The Daily Post – a site dedicated to providing daily ideas and writing tips so that bloggers have the tools they need to get out there and post more often.  In conjunction with this, they’ve also started the PostADay or PostAWeek Challenges. WordPress bloggers are invited to commit to posting once a day or at least once a week throughout the year.

Since 2011 will be my first full calendar year of blogging, it’s time to post more regularly.  Last year, there were definitely times where I skipped a week or so.  I’d also like to continue the momentum of the last couple weeks where I’ve been posting twice a week. Because of this, I’ve decided to commit to the PostAWeek Challenge with the idea that I’ll move to posting twice a week when possible.

Why not PostADay? Honestly, I don’t have the time at this point to post once a day and would burn out very quickly. (I’m also pretty sure you don’t want to read a post every day of my Cleveland ramblings.)  If you need more than a once-or-twice-a-week dose of Amanda and Clue Into Cleveland, feel free to follow Clue Into Amanda (my Tumblr account for non-Cleveland posts), @ADHicken on Twitter or my Clue Into Cleveland facebook page.

You can help with this challenge as well. If you see that I’ve skipped a week without either a guest blogger in my place or a post saying I’ll be gone awhile for a legitimate reason, leave a comment on my blog, twitter or the facebook page.  I’ll take positive feedback or words of encouragement as well (so feel free to leave those comments or ‘like’ a post), but if you see I’m dropping the ball definitely let me know.  And if you’d like to guest post, send me an email at

Thanks – and here’s to (hopefully) better blogging in 2011!