my Cleveland staycation birthday

A confession: I  just adore celebrating birthdays, especially mine! I just can’t help myself — I will always be one of those people when it comes to honoring that particular special day of the year, for each and every one of us. With another trip around the sun completed, I convinced Hans to take a day off of work to spend the day enjoying what Cleveland had to offer to us…

bday AM

Morning meditation via YogaGlo and study with the Fuzz, then my first Ride + Workout rowing class with one of my favorite gals, Bethany. (Already headed back for my second row session — I’m obsessed.)

Urban Farmer Lunch

From the brilliance of Hans’ last moment suggestion, late lunch at Urban Farmer Cleveland — featuring a Heirloom Tomato Salad plus Grilled Shrimp, Hans’ Turkey Club Panini, a Gin Gin Mule (candied ginger FTW), plus a special extra treat from the Urban Farmer staff, Woopie Pies for dessert. Thanks again to their super kind staff for the dessert!

bday afternoon Cleveland

From there, our leisurely walking tour of downtown began: the Mall > the Arcade > CLE Clothing Co. > along East Fourth Street > Quicken Loans Arena (to celebrate the news of the afternoon of K.Love resigning) > Heinen’s at 900 Euclid (#finally) > Perk Plaza

bday Cleveland 2

To close out the evening at home with the usual suspects, beautiful flowers and my traditional birthday dinner dessert, Honey Hut’s coconut ice cream — my favorite.

bday cookout

That is what you call birthday perfection on a Wednesday in Cleveland. If this is how 32 started, I’m in for one heck of a year. Cheers to another fun year, and a very Happy Fourth of July weekend!

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event recap: Five Star Sensation (benefiting University Hospitals Seidman Cancer Center)

Disclosure: University Hospitals offered me an opportunity to attend to their June 27th Five Star Sensation event, as well as a portion of the culinary prep sessions the day before. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

After a career in event planning and writing this blog for five and a half years, I’ve been lucky to attend many wonderful social gatherings, most in honor of some amazing causes. But one very special, well-known fundraiser has always been on my bucket list: Five Star Sensation benefiting University Hospitals Seidman Cancer Center, part of the Case Comprehensive Cancer Center.

This is one of event planning lore: nearly a hundred chefs including several Food Network stars and culinary icons, dozens more volunteers, 2500 attendees, the immense amount of rental supply needs — oh, and the multi million dollar budgeted goal.  I knew one day I must see it for myself. So imagine my surprise when the wonderful team from University Hospitals invited me to attend the 2015 event. The invitation was an honor to accept. This past Saturday evening, Hans and I put on our summer best and headed out to Cuyahoga Community College’s Eastern Campus.

We arrived early, avoiding the rain and the line at the valet, in hopes to hobnob with the culinary masterminds that supported the cause, including this year’s Host Chef Michael Symon. (Check out my Instagram feed for a few of those moments, including a selfie with Cleveland’s own Iron Chef. #noshame)  Preparing ourselves accordingly with a glass of wine, we began strolling, meeting the following chefs and enjoying their amazing offerings:

five star food 1 collage

Jonathan Waxman‘s New York Steak and Romesco Salsa with Kale Salad

Hubert Keller‘s White Gazpacho with Almond and Vanilla Oil & Lollipop of Lamb “Merguez Style” Spicy Ketchup & Tatziki

Anthony Meidenbauer‘s Porter Braised Short Rib with Carrot Puree & “Buffalo Chicken” Pierogies

Doug Katz‘s Hot Smoked Wild King Salmon with Spring Pea Panna Cotta, Pea Tendrils & Radish Salad (not pictured, sorry Chef!)

Michael Symon‘s Beef Cheek Pierogi with Carmelized Onions & Horseradish

five star food 2 collage

Summer Genetti‘s (Lola pastry chef) Fruit Verrine (featuring a baby macaroon!) 

Marc Forgione‘s Tongue Tacos with Fermented Chilis and Wild Garlic (thanks for the photo, Chef!)

Aarón Sánchez‘s Grilled Octopus Tostada with Chorizo, Aioli and Green Onions

five star food 3 collage
Eric Williams
Pastrami Beef Tongue Taco with Jalepeno-Whole Grain Mustard Crema and Micro Radish

Jonathon Sawyer‘s Koji Cultured Coppa Cota Tramezzini with Black Brioche & Nettle Vinegar

Alan Wong‘s Shrimp Kochu Jang Shooter & Braised Short Ribs with Mushroom Peanut Salsa and Chili Lemongrass

What a wonderful two hours of decadent eats, lovely conversation with some of the world’s most famous chefs — all blended and balanced by the never ending supply of wine:

five star wine collage

 Just a few of our wine station stops — the staff at Buehler Vineyards practically had us booking a trip to Napa on our smartphones while at their table. What wonderful people!

…and THEN the dessert tent opened. I was utterly stuffed by then, so I wasn’t being over aggressive with finding gluten free dessert options. Okay, who am I kidding: there’s always room for Mitchell’s Homemade Ice Cream‘s vegan chocolate ice cream!  Hans worked his way around one side of the tent before he had to call it quits. He made stops at several tables, including those of   Coquette Patisserie (who had an adorable Black Truffle Gateau with a Thyme Mousseline, and an even sweeter staff). His favorite: the raspberry-passionfruit sorbet eclair from the Tri-C Culinary Arts station.

five star dessert collage

As our bellies (and my high heeled clad feet) begged us for “no more”, I remembered Farmer Lee Jones’ and his team from The Chef’s Garden offer to send us home with some produce from the incredible bounty they brought for the event.

five star chefs garden collageNot pictured: the huge bag of kale they also gave us. It was great seeing their team after this past April’s Culinary Vegetable Institute dinner!

LONG STORY SHORT: We came. We ate. We gained five pounds in a four hour period. But wow was it worth each and every ounce. You don’t have the opportunity to savor bites from these amazing chefs every day, so Hans and I threw our “healthy balance” caution to the wind for the evening and celebrated how lucky we are. Lucky to have these opportunities, to meet these chefs, to eat their food, to have these relationships with those Cleveland based culinary minds. And most importantly, lucky to have medical institutions like University Hospitals Seidman Cancer Center here in Northeastern Ohio saving lives every single day. This year’s Five Star Sensation raised more than $2.3 million dollars to help those doctors doing research and those patients who need it most. Thank you Cleveland for supporting the cause, and thank you University Hospitals for letting us be part of this very special experience.

Follow University Hospitals on Facebook and on Twitter at @uhhospitals. UH Seidman Cancer Center can be found on Instagram at @uhseidman.  Something to look forward to: check back later this week as I share the story about all the planning and prep that it took to make this amazing event happen!

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my weekend out & about (with giraffes, artists, Mother Nature & fire fighters)

As an extrovert living in a city with plenty going on in every neighborhood within a 20-ish minute drive from my house, I knew Friday morning that it was going to be the perfect weekend to take advantage of all that Cleveland had to offer:

zippityzoo 1

Kicking off the weekend Friday night post-yoga class by arriving fashionably late to Cleveland Zoological Society‘s Zippity Zoo Doo at Cleveland Metroparks Zoo. Crazy to think that Twilight at the Zoo will be here before we know it!

beachland 1

Lunch at the Beachland Ballroom and Tavern on Saturday included “pealafel” bites — made with peas and edamame. Fun to run into an old friend and to learn about some neat things that Beachland has in the works. Can’t wait to return!

praxis 1

Grand Opening of Praxis Fiber Workshop in Collinwood  — so so proud of my fellow yoga teacher training sister & Praxis Executive Director Jessica Pinsky on creating her dream via an amazing space, with a rockin’ team and beautiful artwork. 

praxis 2

Tie dying t-shirts (for the first time in decades) at the grand opening. Wishing mine was the one with the cool circles — my finish product is in the bottom right. I like it!

towpath combo

Two separate outdoor adventures: hiking with my guys Saturday afternoon in the Cleveland Metroparks’ Brecksville Reservation, then a Sunday morning towpath bike ride just down the road in the Cuyahoga Valley National Park.

Photo Jun 07, 11 28 57 AM

Holding down the Evolution Yoga vendor table at the Orange Village Fire Department Open House & Health and Wellness Fair on Sunday. Snuck away to get a healthy screening: great blood pressure, cholesterol and glucose levels. The University Hospitals staff member said to me, “whatever you’re doing, keep doing it!”

Cavs Witness

Pictured: My husband, ready to take care of business before last night’s Cavs game. After that win, I’m pretty sure he’s never going to take off that Witness shirt. (Not pictured: me crashing on our family room floor after another great weekend in Northeast Ohio.)

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