Tag Archives: new year’s

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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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!

2011 in Review, the Clue Into CLE Edition

2011 was about taking the bull by the horns - sometimes even literally!

Happy New Year’s Eve Eve! I am so excited because today is the last day before I go on vacation for a couple of weeks. Scott and I are starting things off with a friend’s birthday celebration at Light Bistro, then a lowkey New Year’s Eve at Fat Head’s Brewpub and hopefully Happy Dog’s Biscuits and Gravy Brunch to celebrate the start of 2012.

As I reflect on 2011, I am amazed at how much of it sped by in a whirlwind. From last year’s New Years Cleve until now, it was non-stop – often juggling multiple projects, events, and shenanigans at the same time.

Because I would be bored to tears writing a full year in review (so I can’t imagine how you would feel reading it), 2011 can be summed up in 4 themes of how I experienced my favorite city this year:

Eating local, never hungry

From trying a lot of new restaurants to enjoying events like NEO Food Tours, C-Town Chow Downs, Taste of the Browns and Emerging Chefs, Scott and I had a wonderful year of eating our way around Cleveland.

I discovered some new personal favorites like Greenhouse Tavern, Light Bistro and AMP 150.  And Scott – who used to be a picky eater – has really expanded his tastes.

For instance, prior to this year he never would have eaten peking quail on soba noodles with a juicy “quick” pickled egg, but he did at one of Noodlecat’s Brick and Mortar Pop-Ups and even enjoyed it.

As I noted in my last post, the best part of all this dining out has been my increased desire to cook. Cooking has always intimidated me but I’ve found that I really want to learn how to make some of these dishes I’ve been enjoying.  So I’ve been taking small steps here and there and even Scott has realized he needs to step it up in the kitchen – adding spices and more flavorful ingredients where he wouldn’t before.

Next on our plate (horrible pun intended) is The Chubby Cook’s “Cooking with Beer” class and finishing my list of 10 restaurants I keep saying I’ll visit but haven’t. I have 2 down, and 8 to go!

Getting physical

Of course after eating all of that food, I needed to balance it out with exercise. Although I still enjoy the strength training I’ve done the last couple of years, I branched out this year and found additional ways to be active and have fun.

I surprised myself by how much I loved running my first 5k – the “Run for the Pierogies“. And although I only ran two 5ks in 2011, I’m looking forward to the Spring so I can slowly keep improving my PR.  In the meantime (because I’m not quite at the point where I can run outside in this cold), I’ll be training on the indoor track at CSU.

I’m specifically eyeing up the Jog Into Spring 5K on March 31 and will be registering in the next couple of weeks for the Cleveland Marathon’s 5K.  However, I’ve bookmarked mojamala2’s blog as she continues to update her list of 2012 races.

In addition to running, I also enjoyed Scott’s and my little foray into kickball during the Spring and picked up a couple yoga classes here and there. I have a long way to go before I can say I’m truly active, and there’s not enough time in the day to squeeze much more training in; however, compared to previous years, I improved by leaps and bounds (ugh, another horrible pun!) in 2011.

Experiencing the “Social” part of “Social Media”

In 2010, I felt like I was blogging in a vacuum. I knew there were plenty of other bloggers out there to meet, but – thanks to my social anxiety – I felt awkward about meeting them or putting myself out there in my blog and on Twitter.

2011 was a different story, though.  In addition to incorporating more of my voice and personal stories into my blog, I also worked on getting past my worries of meeting new people. From joining the conversation through things like the Ohio Blogging Association and @clevelanddotcom’s Twitter Twenty, I ended up meeting some pretty fantastic peeps both on and offline.

For the first time I also experienced how social media is not just for work or reading @Nerdist’s Tweets (nerd crush!), but also for doing social good in our community and abroad.

Helping @KaseyCrabtree and @Kimikay organize this year’s Twestival Cleveland was a really rewarding experience. In addition to meeting and working with 2 great people, I got to learn about We Run This City, an awesome organization that helps local children prepare for the Cleveland Marathon. And thanks to over 100 people attending and donating money, over $2000 was raised.

I also enjoyed pairing up with iNeed a Playdate as part of the Soles4Souls Blogger Challenge.  We ended up being one of the finalists after collecting 473 pairs of shoes which are going to support individuals across the world.  I also got hang out with my friend both on and offline more, so that was definitely a plus.

From Observer to Participant

Hands down my favorite part of 2011 has been the longer-term projects that allow me to be active within the community.  Between getting involved with NEO Food Tours and taking on a larger role in PlayhouseSquare Partners, I can’t complain about not having enough to do (in fact, sometimes it’s the reverse complaint).

Co-chairing this coming February’s Jump Back Ball has been a fantastic experience not just because it’s going to be a ridiculous party, but also because I’m passionate about Partners’ mission and am really happy I can contribute to the planning of one of our bigger events in this way.  Although we have a lot of things already done, keep an eye out towards the end of January for my second annual “behind the curtain” look at Jump Back Ball.

NEO Food Tours has been the other big reason I’ve needed an infusion of caffeine this year to keep me going.   Helping to grow a locally owned small business from the beginning has been a very fulfilling learning experience. And on the days I’ve had to get up at 3 am to work on a project, I think about how much I love Cleveland’s culinary scene and the fact that I want others to love it just as much, and it makes the lack of sleep much easier to bear.  We have a lot of cool ideas that we’re working on for our 2012 season, and you can keep up to date on this progress at @NEOFoodTours and Facebook.com/NEOFoodTours. Our next event is February 20 — Battle for Battery Park, Cleveland’s first-ever comedy food fight!

***

Although there were plenty of speedbumps and a lot of moments where I wasn’t really at my best in 2011, why waste time dwelling on those?   Overall, 2011 qualified as a pretty decent year. I’d rather remember the many moments of awesomeness as I look ahead to 2012 – which I think is a lesson Cleveland as a whole can take to heart.

As the Cleveland Scene noted yesterday, 2011 was the year we did not suck. And with the Cleveland Aquarium opening up, the revitalization of the Flats underway, and many other neighborhoods continuing to blossom, we have a lot to be excited for in 2012.

Have a great new year, everyone! Cheers!