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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CLEfood: Michael Symon’s Lolita Restaurant

This past weekend, my friends Erin and Brian were up from Columbus and we were overdue for one of our Cleveland nights out. This time, instead of sending over my list of potential suggestions, Brian had his heart set on a Northeast Ohio favorite: Michael Symon’s Lolita in Tremont.

Our previous visit to Lolita was three years ago – this month exactly – so it definitely a welcomed suggestion.  We checked out the dinner menu online ahead of time where I was happy to find gluten-free indications listed. While some of them were incorrectly labeled as not-gluten-free (when they were) and vice versa, it at least gave me some comfort knowing that the restaurant was ready for someone with my kind of ordering situation.

With 7:30PM reservations, we were sat by 7:45PM – which on a busy Saturday night, I was understanding about. I used to be a hostess – I don’t envy those in that position at one of the most popular spots in Cleveland. Another server other than our own got us set with drinks: white wine for me, red wine for Hans, and Erin & Brian split a Bam Biere Farmhouse Ale. They were very excited to find that option on the drink menu.

For starters: they split the Warm Olives with fennel, chiles, oregano and olive oil, which was happily consumed.

Photo Jan 13, 8 10 19 PM

I opted for the Roasted Beet Salad with apple, pistachio, ricotta salata and truffle vinaigrette.

Photo Jan 13, 2 40 28 PM

The beets were that vibrant and quite delicious. Even Hans – not usually a fan of beets – enjoyed a few bites.

For his main, Hans ordered the Pork Sausage Pizza with tomato sauce, chile, house mozzarella and roasted sweet peppers.

Photo Jan 13, 8 12 58 PM

In true husband fashion, he demolished the entire thing. Guess he liked it!

Brian chose the Buccatini with pulled pork, pancetta, organic egg yolk and pecorino.

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Brian was kind enough to share and my fellow three diners were all fans of this pasta option.

Erin went with the Ravioli with beef shank, mushrooms, beet greens, bone marrow and grana padano.

Photo Jan 13, 8 13 47 PM

Seriously – with beef shank and bone marrow, how do you go wrong?

I was happy to try the Roasted Chicken with salsa verde, chickpea puree, carrot, radish and orange.  For my side, I opted for the broccolini (not pictured).

Photo Jan 13, 8 16 29 PM

This portion of protein was generous. I took half of it home, happily consuming all my veggies and leaving with a full belly.

For dessert, Erin and Brian split the Warm Chocolate Bread Pudding with 
chocolate brioche, white wine poached pears,
 hazelnut ice cream and milk chocolate caramel (again, no picture – sorry).  They both made that “OMG-this-tastes-so-good” face while enjoying their last course, especially noting how they really loved the hazelnut ice cream.

LONG STORY SHORT: Like our first visit, we left feeling quite satisfied with our meals at Lolita. While keeping up with a busy restaurant, the staff were great at keeping our meal moving yet giving us the chance to enjoy ourselves. I said this last time and mean to keep it this time: I will return more often in the future – especially for that $5 happy hour!

Lolita on Urbanspoon

restaurant review: B Spot Burgers

A few Fridays back, a few of my family members planned a girls holiday shopping extravaganza. I persuaded my mom, my Aunt Kathy and my uncle’s girlfriend Karen into meeting me for lunch. After I suggested a general location, they chose a restaurant: Michael Symon’s B Spot in Woodmere:

(picture source)

For the restaurant description, check out some of the dining rules via the Symon Says page of the website:

  • Welcome to B Spot! Help us help you!
  • No Whining! We will do our very best to make everyone happy. Just like line jumpers at an amusement park, whiners will be prosecuted & removed from the establishment. Life is short, have fun & enjoy the moment.
  • We have a burger for every taste (even vegetarians)!! If there is something you do NOT want on your burger, let us know and we will take it off. Due to the many choices & thought put into their composition, we ask that you do not substitute or add items.
  • If you’re reading these, making funny faces & squinching your nose…you’re too uptight! You should immediately consume bourbon, beer or your beverage of choice & relax a little!

With those guidelines and my ordering tendencies, I wasn’t expecting an easy dining experience. When I arrived at the restaurant, my family was already seated at a table by the pickle bar. I was pretty surprised to find them at a table as the restaurant is known for not seating your entire party unless they are all present. My VERY HUNGRY dining partners talked their way to getting seated early, even though the restaurant wasn’t too hoppin’ when they first arrived.

Instead of being a pain in the ass, I decided to stick to the section of the menu that I knew wouldn’t cause any hassle for an allergy prone gal like myself. My mom and I had never seen the electronic stylist ordering devices that our server – whose name I believe was Nicole – took our order with. A very cool use of technology. The device even allowed our server to note my gluten intolerance with just a few extra clicks. “Nicole” was a DOLL and humored my crazy table of ladies and our silly personalities… and ordering mix ups…

Karen ordered the Chili & Cheese brat with homemade beanless chili, shredded cheddar. My Aunt Kathy ordered the Pulled Pork sandwich with avocado, cheddar, Carolina style BBQ, griddled onion. Both ladies happily ate their selections. In fact, they didn’t say too much during that part of the conversation – probably they were enjoying their food so much! The pulled pork in particular caught my eye and I think I’ll plan on ordering that sans bun in the future.

The table split an order of the Lola Fries seasoned with sea salt and rosemary. I have had these at Lola and the B Spot location at Quicken Loans Arena, so I knew the fries were a solid side. Our cup of fries weren’t overwhelmingly seasoned with rosemary but heftily salted. They were tasty just the same.

Thinking she was just getting a side salad to start, my mom ordered the Stadium Style brat with caramelized onions and stadium mustard:


My mom also ordered the Wedge salad with blue cheese, avocado, bacon and shaved onion. Well, she thought she did at least. What originally came out was the romaine salad. We really weren’t sure what happened, but our server said getting the Wedge was no problem. After dropping off our food, she reappeared only moments later with my mom’s desired salad:


That’s an entire head of Iceburg lettuce – it was a HUGE Wedge! My mom split the salad with our fellow dinners as it was just too much for her. She was quite content with the salad, making sure to enjoy the dressing and blue cheese with each bite. As for the brat, she said it was good, especially enjoying the caramelized onions. My mom also HATES soggy bread, so the toasting of the bun helped keep its texture even with all that yummy mustard.

As I indicated earlier, I stuck with a gluten free safe option and choose the Arugula salad with portabello, red onion, goat cheese and balsamic vinaigrette:


B Spot officially takes the title away from Melt Bar & Grilled for the LARGEST salads in Cleveland, Ohio. The pile of greens was easily six inches tall! I can put away my salads like a champion Nathan’s hot dog competition eater, but I was no match for this salad. I took half of it back to the office and enjoyed it for a mid-afternoon snack. As for taste – the salad had a lot of clean flavors which worked for my palate. Everything paired well – and how do you go wrong with goat cheese? The answer: you don’t.

LONG STORY SHORT: While we ate at a location known for their burgers, I realized that none of us ordered one that afternoon! I have snagged bites from Hans’ during many third quarters at Cavaliers basketball games. I always thought my first visit to the actual restaurant would include a table full of burly men. After this visit with my many of my favorite female relatives, I am very excited to bring Hans, my brother and Dad to Michael Symon’s B Spot in the future. I’m interested to see the variety of burgers the men folk would order. I definitely plan to return to check out some more of what the restaurant has to offer.

B Spot Burgers on Urbanspoon

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