Ohio Blogging Association December Meetup at TownHall

I’ll admit it — it’s hard to believe I had the energy, creativity and time to plan monthly blogger meetings in the past. Don’t get me wrong — there hasn’t been a blogger meet up that I didn’t enjoy attending! The Northeastern Ohioans who have come to an Ohio Blogging Association meet ups over the years are some of the most fantastic people I’ve met. And since we were way overdue — and an opportunity was presented to me — I thought “let’s get something on the calendar” to celebrate the end of another year.

When Townhall reached out with the offer to host the OBA at its Ohio City restaurant, excitement grew to bring the bloggers here to learn more about what they are doing with their menu — and all at one of my favorite spots to grab gluten free fare.

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Get to know the restaurant a little better (from their About page):

Our product philosophy is written all over our menu. Organically driven, sustainable, and locally sourced. We offer a variety of gluten free, vegan and vegetarian options that are delicious, and nutritious. Our drink menu is marked not only with daily fresh squeezed juices, but also features specialty crafted emulsive cocktails that are made fresh to order, spiked milkshakes, a notable whiskey menu, and 36 rotating local/regional American craft beers on tap.

Townhall is very excited to share they are working towards being 100% GMO free by the beginning of 2015. With their health conscious menu, this probably doesn’t surprise many. Committing to something like this is a grand undertaking. But based on our experience that evening, their team is on the right track.

We all came from around Northeastern Ohio convened last Monday night to learn more — in attendance:

After some lively chatter around the tables (it had been since June we last all gathered together for the OBA “Sweet Up” at Mitchell’s Ice Cream with Edible Cleveland), TownHall treated us with appetizers to start:

town hall app collage

Monday nights are Vegan Nights at TownHall, so my table mates enjoyed the steam buns made with black bean, quinoa and falafel.  I couldn’t wait to tackle the largest crudite platter I’ve ever seen. Paired with a white hummus and a kalamata olive dip, look for this new item to be hitting TownHall’s menu in the near future. I plan to order it again!

For my entree, I ordered the thyme seared Nova Scotia salmon with cauliflower puree, Brussel sprouts and a local maple cider reduction.

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Three of the ladies along side of me all ordered the lamb as their main, which looked OUTSTANDING, and I started to kick myself for not doing the same. But then upon diving into my fish, I was so happy I made the choice I did. The salmon was perfectly prepared, and I’m still trying to figure out how the chef got the puree to taste exactly like mashed potatoes. One other blogger ordered the same and had no clue that the puree was made from  cauliflower! I was so glad I tried something new-to-me instead of sticking with my favorite, their Thai peanut bowl.

For dessert, TownHall provided several skillet chocolate chip cookies topped with Mitchell’s vanilla ice cream:

town hall dessert collage

From the “coolest thing I’ve seen in awhile” file:  a Crowler 32-ounce, flash-sealed can of any draft beer they serve — perfect to take home to enjoy during the holidays. To close everything out, TownHall provided a mini tasting of Townhall’s emulsive cocktails, made with various liquors and fruits, making for a sweet way to end the evening. Overall, it was a well-rounded, delicious meal and an insightful look into what TownHall has planned for 2015!

Keep up with:

Disclosure: TownHall’s PR contact reached out to me with an invitation to coordinate an Ohio Blogging Association meeting at the restaurant. TownHall provided appetizers, entrees and select beverages tastings that evening.  My thoughts and opinions are 100% my own.

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event recap: 2014 Jingle Bell Run/Walk for Arthritis

As I continue to let go of my event planning days, I’m  enjoying being a guest, attendee and participant at local functions again. No longer do I walk into a room and ask “I wonder where they rented their linens from” or “I hope there’s enough space for that restaurant vendor in that corner”. It’s hard to turn off the event-logistics monkey mind!

But in an attending the Arthritis Foundation’s Jingle Bell Run/Walk for Arthritis here in Cleveland this past weekend, I would find myself with my biggest post-event-planning-career challenge to date. But as I planned this race in 2012 and in 2013 as a former employee of the organization, I knew it would be easy to fall into the fun.

lets go grady dog picmonkey

 {Grady’s excitement just could not be reigned in.}

Our team — Team Grinch Paws — came together in full force: my husband, my brother, my friends and I joined together on Sunday, December 14th at Legacy Village. We of course started with a pre-race Starbucks pit stop.

baby j's first 5K

I was so happy that Jen from WhyCLE? and her family signed up to walk the one-mile Family Fun Run option. Baby J seemed to love every moment of his first 5K experience. He’ll be running the full 3.1 miles in no time!

As the rest of our team ventured out for the full 5K, Grady and I made up our own two mile version of the course. Grady’s excitement for the day had us power walking at a good clip! As we went along, it was a joy to come across friendly faces, even crossing paths with the event photographer, Orville from Orville McEachron Photography:

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{Photo ℅ Orville McEachron Photography — check out all 400+ of the race photos over at his Facebook page.}

Confession: In planning this event twice, Sunday was the first time I actually walked the course. (We drove it several times each year, don’t worry.) I know understand what the runners meant by this being a more challenging 5K than others in the Northeast Ohio area — there are a few rolling hills through the old TRW campus that make for a good hike!

LONG STORY SHORT: Team Grinch Paws did wonderfully at this year’s Jingle Bell Run/Walk for Arthritis! My brother Drew finished second in his age group with a 20:15 — such a speed demon!  Lisa — @lisasands1 over on the Twitter — rocked her first 5K after taking time to train this Fall.  My non-runner husband Hans “enjoyed” his last minute decision to run the 3.1 miles. (We’re working on our post-run stretch routine for next year!)

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As for Grady and I, we walked our two mile course in a little over a half an hour, making time to stop and say hi to some old friends and work colleagues along the way. It felt great to be out in the brisk December air supporting an important cause working towards eliminating a disease that effects more than 1.3 million Northeastern Ohioans. Supporting a local non-profit, getting in some exercise and having a highly enjoyable time? What a great start to our Sunday!

Want to donate to the Arthritis Foundation? You can click over to our team page and still give through this month. Thank you in advance!

Want to stay in the know for 2015?  Keep up to date with all the CLE Jingle Bell Run/Walk happenings by following its Twitter handle at @JingleBellCLE.

Disclosure: I am a former employee of the Arthritis Foundation, Great Lakes Region, Northeastern Ohio. All thoughts and opinions are 100% my own.

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event recap: 2014 Fabulous Food Show (AKA that time I met Tyler Florence)

Disclosure: In return for offering a giveaway for tickets to the 2014 Fabulous Food Show, I received  media passes to attend the show at the IX Center. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Every year when the Fabulous Food Show rolls around, I get giddy. After  attending three of the previous eight years of the event put on by the IX Center, my favorite parts of the show are the opportunities to learn more about various techniques in the kitchen.

But when this year’s celebrity chef line up was announced, my heart skipped a beat: my chef crush — Chef Tyler Florence — was coming back to Cleveland to present on the show’s main stage. I saved the date of Sunday, November 16th on my Google Calendar and waited patiently for this year’s event to arrive. Not only would my poor husband have to deal with me freaking out about meeting another man, it was on a Browns Sunday game day. God bless my redhead.

Hans and I started our visit to the show Sunday morning with the VIP Experience to meet Chef Florence. Go big or go home, right? He has a new cookbook out — Inside the Test Kitchen: 120 New Recipes, Perfected — which is filled with new techniques for the kitchen to maximize efficiency and flavor.  Less time and energy for a better product? This is my kind of thinking.

Chef walked around to the tables filled with Fabulous Food Show attendees eager to meet him — snapping photos and signing cookbooks along the way. Before I knew it, he  walked over to our group — which included Melanie from Melanie Makes and her two daughters — to chat about  food, but also everyone’s favorite Disney movie, Frozen. 

tyler florence fab food show

Chef was super cool — exactly as he comes off in all of the Food Network shows he’s been a part of. He was super gracious to chat with us, as well as snap a few photos, which I am really grateful for. It’s always fun to meet someone that has taught you something from afar, so thanks Chef for your time.

Managing to still be standing post chat, we did our best to enjoy everything the Fabulous Food Show had to offer:

fab food show 2014

Top left clockwise: Chef Florence and his finished Eggs Benedict, my copy of Edible Cleveland with my media pass, hanging out with Melanie from Melanie Makes, Cincinnati’s favorite ice cream and a visit to see Pope’s Kitchen and Catering stand.

I could spend an entire weekend of the Food Show just sitting in the Main Kitchen Theater. I love hearing these food professionals share their techniques and tales.  Chef Michael Symon’s pasta cooking demo had superior tips and a lot of humor — and that Michael Symon laugh!  Chef Florence shared information on how to poach 12 eggs at one time (his secret: in a water bath in a hotel pan in the oven) and how to spatchcock your turkey this Thanksgiving holiday (link to how to do this method on the SF Chronicle site). Those two sessions alone were such an inspiration to get back in the kitchen — I wish we could have stayed for more.

LONG STORY SHORT: So I met my chef crush, and didn’t pass out. Overall a successful trip to the Fabulous Food Show, I’d say! Plus it didn’t hurt to go home with some of Pope’s Kitchen’s BBQ Sauce (which is delicious, BTW — pick it up at the Cleveland Flea this weekend).  Year nine of the Fabulous Food Show was a blast — let’s see what year ten brings in 2015!

Disclosure: In return for offering a giveaway for tickets to the 2014 Fabulous Food Show, I received  media passes to attend the show at the IX Center. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

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