Disclosure: Prayers From Maria offered me an opportunity to attend to their Sunflower Soirée and Sunflower Wine & Craft Beer Festival events. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
If you drive down I-90 heading West towards Lorain County in the next few months, you’ll see an impressive line of bright yellow sunflowers. They are hard to miss, and are helping to spread awareness for a locally founded non-profit, Prayers From Maria Children’s Glioma Cancer Foundation. Get a glimpse at their work in this YouTube video:
Maria McNamara passed away on July 14, 2007 at the age of seven after a battle with cancer. Her parents Ed and Megan started Prayers From Maria to be able to fund global research into the causes, prevention, treatments and cure for childhood brain tumors, known as gliomas.
To be able to support those efforts, Prayers From Maria hosts fundraisers such as their very well known Sunflower inspired events that took place earlier this month. Invited to join in on the fun and fundraising, Hans and I headed out to the North Shore for their 2015 Sunflower Soirée:
In another behind the scenes moment, I had the pleasure of helping to set up for the event as I’ve recently joined the L’Nique Linens team — you’ll find our linens featured on all the tables. Even upon arrival that morning, I knew the 600+ guests were in for a treat.
The cocktail hour included adult beverages from Brown-Forman (including my new favorite summer drink of a Finlandia grapefruit flavored vodka & soda with a twist of lime), and pre-dinner eats from Deagan’s, B-Spot, The Greenhouse Tavern, Fahrenheit and Market Garden Brewery. GHT’s cabbage slaw with pomegranates and jalapeños was a personal favorite!
As the guests enjoyed the picturesque setting on a private estate in Rocky River, we casually enjoyed a feast while watching the sunset over Lake Erie. The evening’s menu, crafted by Chef Rocco Whalen from Fahrenheit, included:
- Arugula, Pistachios, Ricotta Impastata, Honey and Black Pepper Vinaigrette with Summer Berries
- Roasted White Gulf Shrimp
- Fregola Sarda Pasta, Roasted Tomato Broth, Caramelized Mushrooms, Saved Fennel
- Roasted Bell & Evans Chicken with Crisp Rosemary Fingerling Potatoes, Ohio Sweet Corn Puree, Pecorino Romano
- Grilled CAB Flat Iron Steak with Lemon-Roasted Asparagus, Salsa Genovese
- Caramelized Zucchini with Tomato Ragu, Parmesan
- Ricotta Cavatelli with Fennel Sausage, Broccoli Rabe, Bread Crumbs, Aglio E Olio
- Vanilla & Honey Pot de Creme with Strawberry Prserves, Candied Granola, Basil
There’s something about an Arugula salad with soft cheese and berries that makes my heart happy. Plus the family style dinner was a smart approach, and allowed for great conversation at my table about what components we loved the most. Big hits for me included the Bell & Evans chicken, the Lemon-Roasted Asparagus with Salsa Genovese (reminded me of Fahrenheit’s awesome tapenade) and the dessert. I consider it a crime to turn down a pot de crème!
Finishing out the evening with a powerful video and live and silent auctions, it was a memorable event and one I’d love to attend again in the future! This was the last year that the Sunflower Soirée would be held at this location, so it will be fun to see where it takes place next year. We made sure to soak up the environment as much as we could.
But we were only one night in to a two night event extravaganza — check back on Thursday to read more about our experience at the Sunflower Wine & Craft Beer Festival that Saturday… #staytuned