Category Archives: Football

Blondes vs. Brunettes Cleveland Flag Football Game

A little blogkeeping: Congrats, entry 2-Carly, for winning the Great Big Home and Garden giveaway. Respond to my email by noon ET tomorrow (2/5) to confirm you can attend.

If you’d still like to purchase tickets, head over to greatbighomeandgarden.com, use promo code CiC, and get tickets to the Great Big Home and Garden Show for only $10!

Now to change gears a bit…

Two years ago, a group of Cleveland young professionals came together to fight Alzheimer’s disease with football.

The annual BvBCLE flag football game celebrates the age-old rivalry between blondes and brunettes. However, the question in this game isn’t who has more fun, but who plays harder: the Blonde Bombshells or Blazin’ Brunettes?

I attended Cleveland’s first Blondes vs. Brunettes game in 2012 and was floored by the players’ enthusiasm — not just for the game, but also for raising awareness and money for the Cleveland chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association.

That first year raised $41,253, which went to support Alzheimer’s research and the free programs helping 56,000+ people affected in Northeast Ohio. To date, Blondes vs. Brunettes Cleveland Flag Football has raised more than $80,000 and is excited to make the 3rd annual event even bigger.

Cleveland's 3rd annual Charity Powderpuff Football Game to benefit the Alzheimer's Association. Sign up at BvBCLE.org.

Cleveland’s 3rd annual Charity Powderpuff Football Game to benefit the Alzheimer’s Association. Sign up at BvBCLE.org.

BvBCLE ’14 will be held on Saturday, June 7 at 11 a.m. on Cleveland State University’s Krenzler Field.

Although June may seem far away, Cleveland’s Blondes vs. Brunettes league has already been busy preparing.  And no wonder, this year’s fundraising goal is a staggering $51,000.

Player registration just opened this week. Depending on your hair color, women can now register for Team Blonde or Team Brunette. Redheads are free agents and can choose either team.

Although ladies-only play, anyone can coach, join a committee or make a donation to BvBCLE.  In fact, your donation gets you a ticket to the game.

Learn more about how you can get involved at www.BvBCLE.org.

Clued Into Pittsburgh, Part 1 (or How I Learned to Put Rivalries Aside and #LovePGH)

This is part 1 in my Clued Into Pittsburgh series: Scott and I were recently invited to a weekend blogger tour of Pittsburgh. This week, we’ll be recapping our trip – the food, the museums, the record shops that have us looking beyond their sports teams.

Welcomed to Pennsylvania with a rainbow

Welcomed to Pennsylvania with a rainbow

Living in Cleveland with family and friends on the east coast has led to countless trips along the Pennsylvania turnpike. To keep from going crazy on our frequent 8+ hour roadtrips, Scott and I often stop to take in the sights and tastes of Central and Western Pennsylvania.

For all of our journeys, though, we have never stopped in Pittsburgh.

I don’t really have a legitimate excuse. On the one hand, I’ve witnessed my fair share of arguments about the Pittsburgh/Cleveland rivalry, and even before that, I had a dislike of the Penguins ingrained in me as a young Philadelphia Flyers fan.  However, I also know a lot of people from college and Cleveland who loved living in Pittsburgh.

It was time to put aside any sports-inspired feelings I had about Pittsburgh and explore it

It was time to put aside any sports-inspired feelings I had about Pittsburgh and explore it

A blogger exchange between Visit Pittsburgh, Positively Cleveland and other area tourism bureaus recently forced me to put aside these mixed feelings. Invited to come visit, Scott and I put out a call on Twitter and Facebook for suggestions of what to see and where to eat. The response floored me, resulting in a two-page to-do list for our weekend trip.

With our suggestions and an overnight bag packed, Scott and I made the two-hour drive after work on Friday night.

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Giveaway: Taste of the Browns (and a Zoovies Winner!)

Calendar

August 23rd can’t come soon enough — Not only is it Date Night at the Zoovies, it’s also my birthday. I can’t think of a better way to celebrate than seeing Back to the Future at the Zoo!

And one of you will be joining me at the sold-out event with your own pair of tickets. After removing one pingback, one duplicate entry and entering the remaining entries into Random.org, congratulations to:

Zoovies Winner

Entry # 75 — Michelle @tinktastic! Please reply to my email by Friday morning to redeem your two Zoovies tickets.

If you didn’t win, you have one more chance over at Poise in Parma. But before you head to Alicia’s giveaway, enter my new giveaway for Taste of the Browns below:

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GIVEAWAY: Girls’ Day Out at PlayhouseSquare’s SPANK!

One of my favorite Girls Days Out from last year at Jen’s wedding

UPDATE: In addition to entering my giveaway below for SPANK! at PlayhouseSquare, you can increase your chances of winning by checking out Smitten in Cleveland’sWhyCLE’s and Life in the CLE’s giveaways going on now.

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I find that when I need to blow off steam, a Girls’ Night (or Day) Out is the best remedy – whether it’s yoga with Poise in Parma or @CLEYogi, or a Sunday of Les Mis, crafting and Downton Abbey.

If you want to make like Cyndi Lauper and have fun, I have 2 upcoming girls’ nights and a giveaway for you:

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Upcoming Events for CLE's Young Professionals

When Greatist.com ranked Cleveland as the #7 best city for 20-Somethings, it cited the fact that we’re one of the best places for new college grads, filled with job openings (especially in manufacturing and engineering), and Draft Magazine’s Beertown, U.S.A.

Another reason I’d add to this list: all of the opportunities available for Cleveland Young Professionals to socialize, network and give back to the community.

While the city’s YP groups usually have events throughout the year, it seems like the next couple of weeks are particularly filled with them.   Here are just a few to mark on your calendar:

Cleveland Foodbank YP KickOff – Sept. 27

As I mentioned in last week’s post about Hunger Action Month, the Cleveland Foodbank is launching a new program for Young Professionals. And next Thursday, Sept. 27, they’re hosting a happy hour at Grovewood Tavern to unveil the name of the group and plans for future events.

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

And for every two canned goods you bring, you’ll receive a drink ticket (maximum of two drink tickets).

You can RSVP and learn more at clevelandfoodbankyp.eventbrite.com.

I’ve found my experiences volunteering for the Cleveland Foodbank to be extremely rewarding and the fact that everyone deserves to have food on their table is very important to me.  As a member of this new YP group, you’d be able to get involved, help set the direction for the organization and really further the impact the Foodbank has on our region.

As a side note: Earlier on the same night, the Downtown Cleveland Alliance and Engage Cleveland will be co-hosting a Pop-Up Party at the Colonial Marketplace.  The historic space is taking a new lease on Downtown Cleveland Retail and the Marketplace’s developer will be available for attendees who’d like to share their ideas on the stores and businesses they want to see in the space.

Since the Downtown Pop-Up starts at 5pm, you can stop by, share your ideas, and head to the Cleveland Foodbank happy hour to wrap up your night.

PlayhouseSquare OSU Party – Sept. 29

Are you ready for some football?  On Saturday, Sept. 29, Partners - PlayhouseSquare’s YP group - is hosting their annual OSU party during the Buckeyes-Michigan State game.

Doors open at 3pm at the Blind Pig with kickoff at 3:30pm.  Admission is free but you can also take advantage of a special deal on food and drink during the game. For $25 in advance/$30 at the door, enjoy 4 hours of unlimited pizza, pasta, wings, beer, wine and well drinks.

Even if you aren’t a college football fan, this event is a great opportunity to help raise money for PlayhouseSquare’s Bus Fund.  Proceeds from the food and drink packages, as well as raffles and the silent auction will provide much-needed funding to local schools who are unable to afford transportation to PlayhouseSquare shows.

Learn more here and make your reservation by calling 216-640-8416 or emailing franzm@playhousesquare.org.

Other upcoming PlayhouseSquare Partners events include:

Why Stay YP Conference – Oct. 6

The Why Stay Conference is an all-day conference that’s free and open to any Cleveland young professional. Through a partnership with BET, TV20, Cleveland State University, SOUP, and the Hip Hop Caucus, the event will provide discussions about programs, industries, issues and activities for young professionals in the area.

Described as a “Do-ference,” Why Stay attendees will also take an active role in formulating a plan for Cleveland young professionals alongside local leaders like County Executive Ed Fitzgerald.

Why Stay will be separated into three tracks – Work, Play, and Stay. Some of the sessions include “Education and Bridging the Gap,” “Cleveland’s Food Scene” and “Marketing Cleveland to the World.”

After a day of brainstorming, the event wraps up with a Town Hall and Wine Tasting.

Learn more about this inaugural conference at whystaycle.com and RSVP at whystay2012.eventbrite.com.

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Whether the arts, volunteering, or community development are your interests, there’s never been a better time for Cleveland’s young professionals to get out there, get engaged and be enriched. Another bonus is that many of these opportunities are free to attend (I love free - free is great!).

However, these are just a few options; if you’re interested in seeing what Cleveland’s other YP organizations are up to, Engage Cleveland has an excellent resource page at engagecleveland.com/yps.

If you’d like to share an upcoming event for young professionals that I didn’t mention, leave it in the comments!

Disclosure: I am a board member of PlayhouseSquare Partners and on the YP Council of the Cleveland Foodbank. From time to time, I will post on upcoming events hosted by these organizations; however, these are events I truly think are interesting beyond my involvement in any organization.

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.***

Giveaway: Tackle Hunger at Taste of the Browns

Enter to win 2 tickets to Taste of the Browns

Thank you again to Smitten in CLE, Wearing Mascara and Cooker Girl for guest posting while I was on vacation. If you didn’t have a chance to read their posts yet, check them out below:

To celebrate being back, I’m giving away 2 tickets
to one of Fall’s tastiest events.

This September, the Cleveland Browns will team up with 25 of Cleveland’s finest chefs and the Cleveland Foodbank to tackle hunger at the 14th annual Taste of the Browns.

On Monday, Sept. 10th from 6-9pm, feast on award-winning food, wine, beer and cocktails, hang out with current and alumni Browns players, and enjoy beautiful views of downtown Cleveland from the AT&T Club Lounge at Cleveland Browns stadium.

Last year’s Taste of the Browns was not just a lot of fun (here’s my recap), it more importantly helped raise over $140,000 for the Cleveland Foodbank, Northeast’s Ohio largest hunger relief organization. For every dollar donated, the Foodbank can provide four nutritious meals to the hungry. Thanks to these donations, they’re able to reach 223,700+ people annually through their member agencies.

A selection of food from last year’s Taste of the Browns

On hand at Taste of the Browns will be an all-star lineup of Cleveland restaurants serving up signature dishes like:

  • Momocho’s wild boar tamales
  • AMP 150′s Ohio corn soup with pickled ramp and corn salsa
  • Market Garden Brewery’s chicken and jalapeno sausage on pretzel crostini
  • Pier W’s lobster taquitos with avocado and corn juice
  • Greenhouse Tavern/Sawyer’s Street Frites’ whole braised beef shin a’la bourguignon

When you’re not sampling the food, you’ll enjoy the evening’s entertainment and auctions and meet Browns legends such as event co-chairs Cleveland Browns Offensive Lineman Joe Thomas and former Defensive Lineman Al “Bubba” Baker.

Al “Bubba” Baker will also raffle off one of the evening’s most sought-after prizes - a catered tailgate party for 30 guests from his Bubba’s Q restaurant. The winner will not just get all the food and fixings for the perfect Browns party, but Baker himself will personally deliver it.

Other auction items to look forward to include tickets to see a Broadway musical in NY, DisneyWorld passes, a family membership to the Cleveland Zoo, and a Gibson SG Guitar. The prize that tops my wishlist, though, is the Tour de Bruell: dinner for two at all five Zack Bruell restaurants!

This is the auction item I want (but am likely going to be outbid for) at Taste of the Browns (image source: albatrosbrasserie.com)

Tickets are $150 (50 percent of which is tax-deductible) and all proceeds will benefit the Cleveland Foodbank.  They can be purchased at http://cleveland.com/tasteofthebrowns or by calling the Foodbank at (216) 738-2126.

You can also enter the Clue Into Cleveland giveaway for a pair of tickets!

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 on this post telling me which Taste of the Browns restaurant you haven’t been to before that you’d like to try.

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

3) Post a link to this page (http://wp.me/pPIgG-1rZ) on your Facebook wall and leave a comment letting me know you did.

4) Twitter users can get an extra entry each day for tweeting: “I want to tackle hunger at @CleveFoodbank’s #TasteoftheBrowns. Enter @ADHicken’s giveaway and you can too: http://wp.me/pPIgG-1rZ”  (Each day you do this, you must leave a new comment.)

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

You have until Tuesday, Sept. 4 at 11:59PM to enter. On Wednesday, Sept. 5, 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 Taste of the Browns and a pair for myself in exchange for this post. As always, though, my thoughts and the choice of events I share are 100% my own.

NFL Draft Party to Benefit The Karen Foundation for Multiple Sclerosis

The Clue Into Cleveland giveaway to attend Fashion Week Cleveland ends this Friday.
Enter here today!

The annual NFL Draft Party to benefit The Karen Foundation for MS is almost here – April 28, 11am-6pm

April may already be halfway over, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t still plenty of time to get out and do something (or 10 things) fun this month.  I have to second Poise in Parma, who recently posted her second monthly edition of April events to enjoy, that it can get a little exhausting just thinking about all of the upcoming events.

However, I’d rather the problem of Cleveland having too much to do, than not enough.

One event to particularly look forward to is the annual NFL Draft Party on April 28 to benefit The Karen Foundation for Multiple Sclerosis.

The Karen Foundation is a local, grassroots nonprofit that works with the National Multiple Sclerosis Society with the goal of funding the respite program in Northeast Ohio. The respite program helps people with MS and their caregivers by providing short-term home health and homemaker services.

The Karen Foundation supports the National Multiple Sclerosis Society with funding for local respite programs

Through a series of affordable and unique events, The Karen Foundation builds awareness and has been recognized as the largest third-party donor to the NMMS’s Ohio respite program.

Their signature event every year is the NFL Draft Party, which last year helped over 200 families in Cleveland alone.

The party takes place on April 28 from 11am to 6pm at The Barley House and celebrates the NFL Draft with Tony Rizzo and J’Rod Cherry hosting a live, on-air interactive post-draft analysis.

Tickets are $35 in advance and $40 at the door, which includes a donation to The Karen Foundation, hors d’oeuvres, 2 drink tickets, valet parking, a grand prize raffle ticket and entertainment all day.

Peyton Hillis at last year’s TKF NFL Draft Party. This year’s special guest is Cleveland Brown Joe Haden.

Regardless of whether or not you’re a sports fan, there will be plenty to enjoy at The Karen Foundation’s draft party.

From 11-2, guests will be able to watch an ESPN RADIO live remote broadcast and the Scott & Dale Show.  Afterwards, Light of Two Moons, a Jimmy Buffet Tribute band, and Swamps of Jersey, the Midwest’s premier Bruce Springsteen Tribute Band, will entertain.

Meanwhile, Cleveland Browns star Joe Haden, Cleveland Browns Alumni, Cleveland Gladiator Cheerleaders and other special guests will make appearances throughout the day while Fox 8′s Dan Coughlin MCs.

Additional entertainment will include casino-style gaming, a Texas-Hold-Em tournament, a silent auction, chair massage and manicurists, as well as stilt walkers and  balloon and caricature artists all day long.

TKF’s NFL Draft Party is not just for sports fans, with music, games and other entertainment all day long

Although TKF’s NFL Draft Party is already very affordable at $35 in advance ($40 day of), you can save even more.

Use the code CLUE when purchasing your tickets and get $5 off!

Tickets can be purchased online at: www.thekarenfoundation.org.

Catch a glimpse of highlights from last year’s TKF Draft Party featuring Peyton Hillis and keep up-to-date on this year’s party by following The Karen Foundation on Facebook and @TKF_dot_org on Twitter.

Note: Thank you to The Karen Foundation for providing a discount for Clue Into Cleveland readers. Images courtesy of The Karen Foundation.

Spreading Holiday Cheer with the Liver Life Challenge and Alzheimer's Association

In addition to giving gifts to friends and family, this time of year is an excellent reminder about the importance of giving back to the community.

Thanks to avid Cleveland blog reader Lindsay Meggas and HungryinCLE for the heads up about these two opportunities:

Blondes vs. Brunettes benefiting the Alzheimer’s Association Cleveland

In Spring 2012, the Cleveland Area Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association is bringing the first annual Blondes vs. Brunettes flag football game to Cleveland. 

Other cities have hosted these Blondes vs. Brunettes games before and raised a lot of awareness and money for Alzheimer’s research. Most recently, Washington DC’s 7th annual game raised $123,000.

Blondes vs. Brunettes is a women’s powder puff flag football game where both women and men can join the fight to end Alzheimer’s. Not a blonde or brunette? Then, you’re a free agent and can choose your team.

The Cleveland chapter of the  Alzheimer’s Association is recruiting women and men in their 20s and 30s to not just play, but also help with practices and coaching, event planning, sponsorships, marketing, recruitment and more.

Even though the game’s not until the Spring, Blondes vs. Brunettes involves a season of events leading up to the big day, including a draft party and happy hours.

First up: The BvB Kickoff Party next Wednesday, Dec. 14.

Join the Alzheimer’s Association Cleveland Area Chapter at Around the Corner in Lakewood.  The party starts at 6:00PM and costs $20 at the door for 2 hours of unlimited food and drinks. There will also be information about how to get involved.

RSVP here.  And contact Sheryl at sheryl.berman@alz.org or 216-231-1466 with any questions.

Sponsor HungryinCLE in the Liver Life Challenge

When I started running, Stephanie at HungryinCLE was one of my inspirations.

She’s an amazing runner and is participating in my dream running event: the Walt Disney World Marathon to support the Liver Life Challenge.

In addition to running 26.2 miles, she has a fundraising goal of $3400. I could never run a full marathon (maybe a half marathon one day in the distant future, but never a full one), so seeing Stephanie do this is incredible.

All donations will help the American Liver Foundation provide community-based education, research, support, and advocacy related to preventing and treating: 

  • Liver cancer, one of the few primary cancers on the rise in the United States.
  • The approximately 5.4 million Americans chronically infected with hepatitis B or hepatitis C (about 65% and 75% , respectively, are unaware that they are infected).
  • The 25% of the U.S. population who could have Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease – a condition that can lead to life-threatening damage.

It’s a cause personally important to me so head over to Stephanie’s fundraising page and sponsor her with a donation. You can also follow her @HungryinCLE to see how her training is going and read a Q&A with her on WhyCLE’s blog to learn more about the Challenge! 

Spread some holiday cheer to others this season by supporting both of these great causes!

Event Recap: Cleveland Foodbank's Taste of the Browns

When it comes to Cleveland sports, the Browns always seem to get a bad rap. But while I can’t comment about them on the field (I’ll let someone like Waiting for Next Year or Bitter Orange & Brown wax much more philosophic on the subject than I ever could), I will say I have a new, huge respect for the team after this week’s Taste of the Browns.

Since running the giveaway last month, I’d been looking forward to my first time attending Taste of the Browns.  A roving tasting event, it’s one of the Cleveland Foodbank‘s largest fundraisers. I had also heard a lot of great things about it from Bite Buff, who used to plan the event when she worked at the Foodbank.

I have to confess, Monday’s Taste of the Browns was my first time in Browns Stadium (I’m a horrible Clevelander and haven’t been to a game yet). I see it every day as I drive to and from work, but have never been up close. There is something so impressively massive about the Browns stadium when you’re walking up to it.

Standing beneath the entrance, I definitely had a quiet moment of awe, as one of the area’s high school marching bands played in the background. This awe continued as I took the escalators to the second floor and walked into the event. Not only were there restaurants set up farther than I could even see, the open space was accented by a floor-to-ceiling, wall-to-wall window looking onto a magnificent view of downtown Cleveland.

After getting my bearings, it was time to taste. I started with a braised veal on bruchetta with truffles and asiago from Johnny’s Bar on Fulton. It was incredibly rich and tender, melting in my mouth. Definitely a good starter as I continued to make my way throughout the rooms.

I wouldn’t be able to tell you if I stopped at all of the 25+ food stations, because I was in a continual daze of food bliss throughout the evening. Some of the highlights for me included Light Bistro’s lamb kebob and the trifecta of AMP 150′s corn soup with pickled ramps, Bar Cento’s truffles chicken liver mousse with Ohio peach gastrique, and Blue Point’s raw oyster bar in one corner.

Hudson, Ohio’s One Red Door was also there. I’ve never been so I had been looking forward to stopping by their station. They offered a roasted date stuffed with manchego, chorizo and bacon wrapped along with a smoked tomato sauce. This was ridiculous and I need to now make the trip to Hudson to eat there.    

My favorite of the evening, though, was Melange. They’re another reason I miss living on the East Side because I would be there much more often if I did.

At Taste of the Browns, they served a watermelon gazpacho soup with a poached shrimp. After an evening full of delicious but rich foods, this was a simply perfect change in pace. It was fresh with a little bit of spicyness to it. And although the weather has turned cool in Cleveland, it was nice to have that last taste of summer with the watermelon. It was an incredible way to conclude the evening’s food. 

After filling myself, I had to walk it off so I explored the room a bit more. There were auctions and raffles galore and for all the Cleveland sports fans in attendance, a multitude of Browns players and alumni.  In addition to left tackle Joe Thomas who co-chaired the event, Joshua Cribbs, Seneca Wallace, Steve Vallos, Brian Schaefering, Mike Adams, Reggie Hodges and Browns president Mike Holmgren were there to meet fans, sign autographs and enjoy the food with the rest of us.

The player or alumni who really stood out, though, was former defensive linemen and the man behind Bubba’s Q’s bbq smoker – Al “Bubba” Baker. As the other co-chair and unofficial emcee for the event, he brought the Browns players up to the stage to introduce and thank them. Just like what you’ll find at Bubba’s Q in Avon, he was gregarious, bubbly, and warm.

He also donated a double-tailgater for the raffle. The lucky winner won four slabs of baby back ribs, four slabs of St. Louis ribs, four four-pound chickens, a half-gallon of Cole slaw, a half-gallon of baked beans, a half-gallon of macaroni and cheese or a large, double order of fries, 32 muffins and plenty of sauce.

While my raffle tickets may not have been chosen, I wasn’t too upset since the funds raised by the raffle, auctions and tickets went towards the Cleveland Foodbank. Last year’s event raised $120,000. This year, Taste of the Brown was expected to exceed $140,000 with every dollar providing 4 meals to the hungry in our six-county area.

As I looked down on the Browns’ football field towards the end of the evening and reflected on this event’s huge impact, it was that number that impressed me most of all.

Of course, don’t just take my word for it. I reached out to Kate, the winner of my ticket giveaway, to see if she and her guest enjoyed their evening. Here’s what she wrote:

My boyfriend, Justin, and I were thrilled with the Taste of the Browns. We had a blast getting all “dolled up” for the event and were impressed with the stadium, the view and especially the food. Some of our favorites included the sushi by Sushi Rock, the mole tacos by Momocho and the to-die-for cupcakes by Cream-n-Sugar Bakery. The ice sculpture near the bar was a cool touch (pun intended) and the auction prizes were plentiful and impressive. All in all it was a wonderful event for a great cause and we feel very lucky to have been able to attend.”

If you didn’t get a chance to attend Taste of the Browns, there are plenty of other ways to give back to the Cleveland Foodbank. In addition to their year-round need for volunteers and donations, they currently are running the Can of Nothing campaign and will be at this weekend’s IngenuityFest.

And for all of you yoga and Cleveland Foodbank fans out there, The Studio Cleveland is holding an open level class on September 30. As part of National Yoga Month, the Connect Globally, Give Locally event is donation based with all proceeds going to the Cleveland Foodbank. More information can be found on their Facebook event page

Cleveland Foodbank 411:

As was previously disclosed, I was provided one media pass to Taste of the Browns. My thoughts – as always - are 100% my own.