Tag Archives: iron chef america

Event Recaps: Whole Foods Blogger Meetup + Battle Mint = A Week of Good Eats

A little bit of blog-keeping this Wednesday morning:  Congratulations to Sarah @ Cooker Girl – Random.org selected you to win 2 tickets to the Great Big Home and Garden Show! Email me at clueintocleveland (at) gmail (dot) com to arrange for your tickets.

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Thanks to the Ohio Blogging and #TeamSawyer meetups, I learned last week that social media + food is a recipe for some kickass evenings out with friends:

This month's Ohio Blogging Meetup at Whole Foods Market (Photo from poiseinparma.com)

Since moving from Shaker Heights to Avon Lake, one of the places I’ve missed is the Whole Foods at Cedar Center.  Since graduating from college, I haven’t lived more than a few miles from a Whole Foods.

While Scott and I don’t get there as often as we used to, I am now frequently trying to find reasons to make the 50 minute drive. Thankfully for the Ohio Blogging Association, I didn’t need to make up a reason to go last week.

To celebrate one year of Cleveland blogger meetups, we returned to Whole Foods Market where the first official meetup was held in January 2011.

And we packed the house! I not only got to see some of my favorite people, but meet a lot of new bloggers as well:

Scott joined me that evening (blog supporters are always welcome!) and I don’t think he regretted that decision because it was Pizza and Beer Night.

Alicia (Poise in Parma) kicks things off at the Blogger Meetup

Lisa and the team at Whole Foods Market passed around a Pizza Throwdown form – each of us could pick whichever cheese, sauce (including hummus), and meat or vegetable toppings we wanted. Although the form came with a lot of options to choose from, we were invited to write down items that weren’t listed (with the exception of things like lobster and truffles — now that I write this, I’m jonesing for a lobster pizza).

As everyone turned in their orders, the chefs at Whole Foods would bake our pizzas in the brick ovens and bring them out to the group a short while later to dig in.  Besides how fresh everything tasted, I have to applaud Whole Foods for putting all of the pizzas together so quickly. There were a lot of orders placed that night.

In my opinion, Kristian’s pizza with eggplant, honey, apples and ham was the most delicious. I was not so inspired in my creation, which included spinach, tomatoes, squash and bacon. However, while I don’t get points for creativity, it wase very delicious (you can never go wrong with bacon).

The delicious carnage that occurs when you put a bunch of hungry people in a room of made-to-order gourmet pizzas.

As always, while it was nice to catch up with friends, it was even better to also finally meet bloggers I follow – like Kristian, Kimberly and Tony – in real life and find new blogs to read.

The most pleasant surprise of the evening, though, was being able to go home with a Whole Foods growler and $1 off our first growler fill up.  Scott was particularly excited because he’s been wanting a second growler to go along with our other one from Fat Head’s.

Being somewhat new to the wonderful world of growlers, I took a moment to chat with their Beer and Wine Department about keeping my beer fresh and picked up a few tips.

Again, much blogger love to Lisa and everyone at Whole Foods Cedar Center for hosting a wonderful evening and reminding me how much I miss their store (and thanks to Alicia for organizing)! For next month’s blogger meetup, we’ll go from beer to wine as MissWine OH hosts a wine tasting at Tremont’s Wine and Design on Feb. 21.

Chef Sawyer's mint fritter and chevre salad at the Battle Mint Tweetup

Last week’s social media food party didn’t stop there as a few days later was the Battle Mint Tweetup at Greenhouse Tavern.  Chef Jonathon Sawyer took on Iron Chef Zakarian for the season premiere of Iron Chef America, and instead of watching from home, Scott and I decided to enjoy the episode at the #TeamSawyer tweetup.

Chef Sawyer and Chef’s Widow are some of the most gracious hosts you’ll meet – down to earth, humble, and hilarious. Scott and I got there early enough to snag some seats next to @TweetmeSlow and his wife; we were then joined by @WhyCLE and @TheRealCLEGuy, @EatDrinkClev and her boyfriend, and @TLColson and @FrankZupan.

While I don’t think anyone at our table guessed the secret ingredient of mint, we all enjoyed watching Chef Sawyer demonstrate his prowess with the herb on tv and were surprised with samplings of a few of the dishes he had prepared for the judges.

As much as I loved the Mint Fritters and Chevre Salad (the fresh chevre cheese complementing the lamb sausage and lamb confit was particularly good), my favorite tasting was hands down the Stoner Sandwich. The
shamrock semifreddo, sicilian pistacio and chocolate dirt sandwiched between two fresh waffles gives their Pot de Creme (my other favorite dessert) a run for its money.

If you weren’t at Greenhouse on Sunday and are dying to try the Stoner, you’re in luck.  According to Joe Crea’s wrapup on the evening, it can currently be found on the menu.

Yes, the Stoner Sandwich is as good as it looks.

Scott and I also ordered a few other things from the menu.  Scott, of course, could not pass on another opportunity to enjoy their Beef Tartar and I tried the Pork n’ Pumpkin Pasta.

@Tweetmeslow’s wife had ordered the pasta first and when they brought it out to her it looked too delicious for me not to order. Rich, creamy and salty — a much-needed, hearty combination for the middle of winter.

Paired with a glass of Viognier and some Caramel Popcorn Pot de Cremes, the dinner was amazing – on par with what we’ve come to expect from Greenhouse.

While we loved our food, I think my favorite part of the evening came at the end.  Even though Chef Zakarian brought home the win in Kitchen Stadium that night, the mood in Greenhouse Tavern was celebratory:

Cleveland is lucky to have a lot of chefs who are not just rockstars in the kitchen but also personable, approachable and excited to be here. And Chef Sawyer is one of the best out of this group. Many thanks to him, Chef’s Widow, and everyone at Greenhouse Tavern that night that made the evening so enjoyable. I hope everyone in the kitchen enjoyed Scott’s and my Kitchen Coffee – it was well-deserved.

Ringing in 2012 with Fat Head's Brewery and #TeamSawyer Tweetup Heads Up

Happy New Year's!

I love New Year’s Eve – hanging out with friends, Dick Clark’s admirable tenacity, the anticipation of the countdown. However, when it comes to partying on New Year’s Eve, I prefer a low-key gathering.

Last year, we had friends out from Philly and rang in 2011 with a dinner at home that featured some of our favorite things from West Side Market. For New Year’s Cleve 2012, we decided to venture out, but still wanted something that was not over-the-top.

Fat Head’s offered the perfect solution: dinner, dessert, two beers of your choosing, and a midnight toast for $30.

I love Fat Head’s. A short drive from Great Northern Mall, it’s Scott’s and my post-shopping escape. When the mall is crazy, a beer is a nice way to decompress and they have excellent beer.

Scott considers their Starlight Helles Lager his favorite beer. He’s a lager man so he sticks with that whenever we’re there.  And he’s right — it is a very good, clean lager, but I like to experiment and Fat Head’s tends to not disappoint on that front either.

Their Happy Holidays brew was my favorite Christmas Ale this season and their Bumble Berry Honey Blueberry Ale is one of my go-to standards — a refreshing, but unique taste.

I also like their Sorcerer, a Belgian Strong Dark Ale, and the Battle Axe Baltic Porter. For fans of IPAs, I recommend making a visit to Fat Head’s because their Head-Hunter IPA is a consistent award-winner.

Fat Head’s isn’t just for beer lovers, though, boasting a very robust menu – both in variety and serving size. I am a huge fan of their 4 Onion Honey and Ale Soup (especially during this time of year), smoked prime rib burrito and all of their pizzas.

However, in my opinion, their selection of Headwiches is really where they shine. The first time you order one, you realize they’re called headwiches thanks to their size.  I can usually get 2-3 lunches out of them.

The Southside Slopes has been named one of the best sandwiches in the country with its kielbasa topped with fried pierogies, American cheese, grilled onions, and horseradish sauce.

If you like a lot of heat, I recommend the Bay of Pigs (pulled pork, ham, swiss cheese and pickles with their homemade Honey Mustard and spicy Killer sauce) or the Steak Out.

My favorite, though, is the Pot Head.  Featuring beer braised pot roast with celery, carrots, potatoes, cheddar cheese, and horseradish sauce, it’s a hearty, warming sandwich – a delicious dinner with all the fixings, but in sandwich form.

Being the Fat Head’s fans that we are and in search of a well-priced, low-key New Year’s Cleve, we quickly made plans when we saw their New Year’s Eve special.  And it was a great way to ring in the new year.

The dinner buffet featured pierogies, giant and rich wings, ribs, pulled pork, large soft pretzel sticks, lots of their awesome pizza and – Scott’s favorite – a bin of bacon. To drink, I celebrated 2012 with a Sorcerer, a Pimp My Sleigh and their midnight beer toast.

The food and drink were well-complemented with good company. In addition to hanging out with Kate, Brian, Dan and Sarah, the crowd that packed into Fat Head’s on Saturday night was jovial and not too crazy.  I even randomly met someone who reads my blog – hi, Bridgid! (I may have geeked out when she told me that because it still takes me by surprise that someone besides Scott’s and my family reads this).

I know New Year’s Eve often gets blown out of proportion — it’s easy to go overboard and set really huge expectations for what – in reality – amounts to little more than counting down from 10 and changing the calendar from one day to another.  I think that’s why I’ve always preferred parties at home or out at a pub for New Year’s Eve.

And I’m happy to say between the free-flowing food, some pretty fantastic beer, hanging out with new and old friends, and a little bit of Apples to Apples and UNO, New Year’s Eve at Fat Head’s was totally worth it.

And for the beginning of 2012? I don’t think you could start a year much better than with Happy Dog’s Gravy and Biscuits Brunch and a hot dog.

I hope the start of your new year was likewise filled with delicious food and good company.  And if you’re looking for another great party this January: Greenhouse Tavern just announced their Iron Chef America Watch Party and #TeamSawyer Tweetup.

The January 22nd episode of Iron Chef America will feature Chef Sawyer’s first time as a challenger in Kitchen Stadium (he’s been there before as Symon’s sous chef). You can watch him take on Iron Chef Zakarian either from the comfort of your own home or at The Greenhouse Tavern Tweetup.

The episode starts at 10pm, but from 9-10pm #TeamSawyer is hosting a contest to guess the secret ingredient with a bottle of GHT pinot noir, house made beer vinegar, and an autographed GHT t-shirt going to the winner.

And if you’re not on Twitter, the mezzanine will be open to watch, relax, and order off the special Iron Chef Menu. Either way, register here.

2012’s already looking good!