While we were huddled around the table, we talked about having people out to Cleveland to stay at the house. When we realized the next New Years Day fell on a Saturday and would be recognized by our various employers on the Friday, we discussed celebrating the extra long weekend in Cleveland – jokingly calling it New Years Cleve. Flashforward a year (give or take a few days) and we had four houseguests pull into our driveway after an 8-hour drive ready to take on Cleveland for a few days.
When I have guests in town, I usually like to put a few ideas together based on their interests. If they like art, we have a number of larger museums and smaller galleries to take them to; food, there are plenty of restaurants; theater and film, the Cleveland Cinemas, PlayhouseSquare, and a myriad of other theater companies.
However, our first stop was a no brainer. I took them to the one place I typically take all visitors: the Happy Dog. It has excellent choices for food and drink, prices that don’t hurt your wallet, vegan options, music, and most importantly a laidback atmosphere (especially if you’ve just driven 8+ hours and want to relax). When we got there last Thursday, we ordered a round of PBRs and our hot dog creations. I had my usual favorite: marcella’s grape jelly and chile sauce, baked beans, garlicky escarole, and brie. However, I also branched out a bit, trying garlic-tomato-basil jam and “alien” pickle relish with my fries. So that they could get a taste of polka, Scott played a few songs from DJ Kishka’s album in the jukebox. Not surprisingly, a few new fans were won over.
After a night of playing Clue, we woke up early the next morning and ventured over to The Christmas Story House in Tremont. My friend Angie is a fan of the film, and considering the tickets are only $8, we couldn’t really pass up the pop culture/kitsch appeal. This was all of our first times visiting the house, including mine. And there’s another post that needs to be written about it at some point. However, it was a very interesting look behind the scenes of the classic holiday movie. Also, Ian Petrella (the actor who played Randy) is wrapping up his stay at the Christmas Story House and was there meeting fans and signing autographs for anyone who wanted to pick up a unique souvenir.
Our final stop in our New Years Cleve tour before heading home was the West Side Market. Instead of going out for the night, we stayed in and made a dinner featuring food from the Market. Thanks to everyone on Facebook and Twitter who suggested their favorite West Side Market stands. We had a number of options of where to go when we got there. Being New Years Eve, the parking lot was the craziest I’ve ever seen it. However, we got in and out with what we needed thanks to the efficiency of everyone working there that day.
With all of the great options at West Side Market, it was no surprise that dinner was delicious. We started out with some cheese, sausage and olives, as well as two kinds of dip thanks to Lish and Matt. Our main courses consisted of sweet potatoes and pork garnished with apple, onion and spices, as well as parmesan tilapia (thanks, Angie and Jess). We finished with Theresa’s cannolis for dessert. The meal was topped off with wine and – what else – some Great Lakes beer.
While it was the first New Years Eve in a long time that I spent at home, those two days were a most fitting end to 2010. Since starting Clue Into Cleveland last March, I’ve explored Cleveland more than any other city I’ve lived in in the past. And although I loved living here before I started blogging, I’ve enjoyed learning how much more there is in Cleveland than I ever expected. Getting to share my favorite places and discovering new ones with my friends was a delightful way to start 2011. At midnight, we even got in a little ‘mumming’ in our front yard – in honor of the one Philly New Years tradition that can never be replaced: the Mummer’s Day Parade.
Happy New Years Cleve — I hope you had a great end to 2010! I’m looking forward to the new year and everything it’ll bring for Cleveland.