Ohio Blogging Association June Meetup at Whole Foods Market Cedar Center with Goose Island

Don’t forget – you have until Sunday night to enter the Running for Hope 5K giveaway. Race is on Saturday, June 29 in Avon Lake and benefits Love Without Borders.

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Another Ohio Blogging Association meet up is history!

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The blogroll for the evening included:

I’ve been slow to get more Ohio Blogging Association meetings on the rest of the 2013 calendar. So when our friends from Whole Foods Market Cedar Center had a unique opportunity available during Goose Island Migration Week, I knew our bloggers would have a blast learning about this Chicago-based beer company. The allure of drinking beer and eating chocolate didn’t hurt either.

As in the past, we gathered at Whole Foods Market Cedar Center‘s cafe area where the store’s team took such care to provide a wonderful classroom set up all ready for the OBA members to taste and learn. The Goose Island beer list for the evening included options from their Vintage Ales line (descriptions from Goose Island’s website):

  • Sofie: “Fermented with wild yeasts and aged in wine barrels with orange peel, Sofie is a tart, dry, sparkling ale.”
  • Matilda: “Wild in character, with a slightly fruity aroma and a spicy yeast flavor… Dry and quenching”
  • Pepe Nero: “Pepe Nero is a farmhouse ale brewed with black peppercorns. His roasty sweetness melds into a lingering, earthy, black pepper finish”
  • Pere Jacques: “Brewed with loads of malt and Belgian yeast, Pere Jacques is a wonderfully fruity, malty ale.” 

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…and the part I definitely indulged in – the chocolates sampling from WILD OPHELIA, the spirited younger sister of Vosges Haut-Chocolat (descriptions from their website):

Dave drank my beer and I ate his chocolate. We made an excellent tasting pair.  If I remember correctly, he enjoyed the Matilda. I remember really loving the peanut butter and banana chocolate. I heard feedback that the bloggers enjoyed learning the basics on how to “taste” something: learning to look for notes of different flavors, different variations of certain types of food, how they work with the pairing. The 45 minute presentation was a fun activity that allowed us to take something home - other than chocolate bars!

Post-tasting, I encouraged everyone to go spend their money on the bulk flash sale (20% off bulk nuts, popcorn, oats – huzzah!) and then perhaps giving their wooden nickel (for bringing their own reusable shopper) to a good cause (*cough*cough*choose the one on the right!!*):

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Many of us took advantage of the Whole Foods hot bar post-tasting. Hello, I’m a healthy living blogger – you should have seen that one coming! I was freezing, so I grabbed some chipotle veggie turkey soup (light yet hearty, with a hint of smokiness) and a bunch of mixed greens (surprise, surprise). Other bloggers snagged options from the BBQ smoked meats hot bar, sushi and one really good looking burger. Good stuff and happy bellies all around.

LONG STORY SHORT: We ate. We drank. We ate again. We talked each others’ ears off.  It made my heart smile when Stuart shared the following feedback: “You can always tell a good meeting by the fact that people hang around long after the official ending time.”  While sometimes things get crazy, pulling together some of Cleveland’s bloggers makes it worthwhile every single time. Thank you all for attending, and thanks again to Whole Foods Market Cedar Center and Goose Island for the opportunity!

I’m always taking suggestions for Ohio Blogging Association events: leave them in the comments below. Information on the next meeting will be posted very soon – per suggestions from last night, I foresee another blogging roundtable in the horizon…

Make sure to “like” OBA on Facebook and follow us on Twitter at @OHBlogging.

2nd annual Parmigiano Reggiano Wheel Cracking at Whole Foods Cedar Center

Coming off of last week’s food poisoning, eating hasn’t been as enjoyable as normal. But by Saturday, I was itching to get out of the house and my friends at Whole Foods Market Cedar Center were offering an opportunity that I couldn’t pass up. We attended their parmigiano reggiano cheese cracking event last year and remembered eating very well while having a great time. With the chance to learn even MORE about the cheese in 2012, I gathered my foodie energy and appetite to attend their 2nd annual Parmigiano Reggiano Wheel Cracking that afternoon:

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A handful of bloggers were invited for a parm-filled, pre-cheese-cracking lunch, so my eating partners-in-crime included Team Eat Drink Cleveland, Lisa & Crystal:

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…Kristian from Adventures of a trapped 300 pound man and Ohio Festivals, & Kimberly from SMITTEN…in cleveland:

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…Brad from Cleveland Food and Brews, CFB gal/fiancée Michaelene & the red head you already know & love:

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We all settled into our spots at the Osteria to learn about the “King of Cheese” before the main cracking event.  There we were joined by some of Whole Foods’ finest:  Ron (WFM Cedar Center’s assistant head of specialty products) Elvis (he is the King after all), Tom from the Osteria team and WFM’s cheese buyer Jim:

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As Jim shared all his parmigiana reggiano knowledge, Tom and his team created a wonderful midday meal for us. First up, our Primi course:  Melon and Crispy Prosciutto Crostini with parmigiana reggiano, aged balsamic and local honey:

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The main course for the afternoon: Orecchiette with Roasted quash, fresh thyme brown butter and parmigiana reggiano:

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Tom kindly spoiled me to a risotto version of everyone else’s main course:

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The dishes were so so delicious and perfectly prepared. While I’ve proclaimed my love for the Whole Foods hot bar before, I may just have to start treating myself to the Osteria on a more regular basis. As we ate, we learned everything you could possibly need to know about parmigiana reggiano:

The older parmigiano reggiano gets, the mellower it gets. The texture comes from the protein in the cheese, not the salt. @
@poiseinparma
Alicia Hansen
The @ cheese team recommends not over buying your cheese: only buy what you'd use in a week. & NEVER freeze it!
@poiseinparma
Alicia Hansen

After many questions asked, wine & beer consumed and cheese eaten, we headed over to the “main stage” where WFM’s Head of the Specialty Department Joe would face Elvis a head to head competition to see who could crack a wheel of cheese the fastest.

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Surprisingly, aviators aren’t my style. Not surprisingly, sideburns are.

Elvis talked a lot of smack but Joe took it in stride as they prepared to crack two 90 pound cheese wheels. My money was on Joe (as he had a chainsaw standing by), but Elvis beat him out by only a few seconds. The cheese celebration commenced.

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It was quite impressive to watch them crack the wheels in less than a minute! They shaved some serious time off their time from last year: a new PR in cheese cracking!!

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The crowd was then treated to freshly cracked pieces of parmigiano reggiano, as they also enjoyed other cheesy dishes including traditional pasta with marinara, gnocchi and parm crusted eggplant. Those in the bloggers group noticed the difference between this cheese served by Elvis (which came from the center of the wheel and was very smooth) compared to the pieces we enjoyed at the Osteria earlier (which came from the edges, closer to the rind, and had a courser texture). We had to test several pieces of cheese in the name of this very scientific experiment…

It was a fun afternoon with friends (finally getting to also meet @BQRC23 and @BeerSweetums) & family (as we randomly ran into my Aunt Georgiann and Uncle Al!), but by 4PM, we were cheesed out. We stocked up with our usual pantry buys before heading home to enjoy a cheese coma for the rest of the day. You can check out all my photos from the cheese cracking event over at the Poise in Parma Facebook page!

To the team at Whole Foods Market Cedar Center: a huge thanks and an even bigger congrats on a wonderful, yet cheesy, event!

While many consider parmigiano reggiano the “King of Cheese”, do you? What’s your favorite cheese?

event recap: OBA January Cleveland Blogger Meetup at Whole Foods Cedar Center

The official first 2012 meet up of the Cleveland Chapter of the Ohio Blogging Association is in the books! On Wednesday, January 18th, bloggers from around Cleveland met at Whole Foods Market Cedar Center to kick back, enjoy some food and beverage and get to know one another a little better. The blogroll for the evening included:

The Whole Foods team had quite the evening planned as the OBA celebrated its one year anniversary of our first official meetup in January 2011. Lisa and her crew were ready to lead us through a pizza throwdown!

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Each blogger received one of these forms:

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Encouraged to be creative, we selected our toppings for our own individual pizzas. While there was a full list of your traditional toppings, we could think outside the box, within reason – no lobster or truffles people, especially you food bloggers!! Once complete, our forms were whisked away to the Whole Foods prepared foods kitchen:

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…where their fabulous team members…

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…handcrafted each of our orders. Each pizza took no more than four minutes to cook in their oven!

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As we awaited our creations, bloggers, tweeters and blog supporters chatted it up while enjoying their choice of white wine, red wine and Southern Tier Brewing Company beer.

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Who’s the redhead that keeps crashing these meetups? Geez…

As bloggers took their turns with their respective announcements, our pizzas began to arrive…

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…and everyone dug in! Before I knew it, bloggers were sharing each other’s pizzas, so it was a wonderful way to try an array of combinations. Kristian took home the “most creative” award with his apple and honey pizza.

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Personally I felt like the big winner with my GLUTEN FREE pizza!

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I got the inside scoop that if you give Whole Foods enough of a heads up, they can make a pizza using their gluten-free dough that they sell at the store. I kept my combo simple: red sauce, parmesan, arugula and tomatoes. So so good, I may have had a piece once I got home later that night. 10PM snack FTW!

In actuality, everyone went home a winner as Whole Foods provided each blogger with a growler and a $1 coupon off our first growler fill at the store!

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Seriously, does it get any better than the combination of pizza and beer? I think not.

Many many thanks to Lisa and her entire team at Whole Foods Market Cedar Center for their hospitality and tasty pizza creations! We’re already planning to head back to the University Heights location for the January 2013 meetup! Something to look forward to!!!

Want to join us in February? Check out the event page on Facebook for our OBA February Cleveland Blogger Wine Tasting with Miss WineOH for all the details. Hope to see you on Tuesday, February 21st!!

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