Archive for the category “Dessert”

Superior Service & Delicious Dining at Urban Farmer, Cleveland, OH

Over Labor Day weekend, I visited my family in the suburbs of Cleveland, Ohio. As is our routine, my brother chose a few restaurants for me to pick from. Our family always enjoys a meal out when I visit. Lately, we’ve been trying to head into the city to try some new places (new to our family, anyhow).

This time, one of the restaurants on Adam’s list was Urban Farmer Steakhouse in downtown Cleveland. It only took me seeing that this is a farm-to-table concept restaurant to decide it was the one I was voting to check out. (You probably know of my love for farm-to-table, and specifically Braise here in Milwaukee.)

Urban Farmer

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We entered the rustic, yet elegant restaurant, adjacent to the Westin Hotel, and sat down in a cozy rounded booth. We were greeted by our server, Ashley. Now, I’m just going to say this right now: Ashley is quite possibly the most knowledgeable and impressive servers I have ever encountered. Absolutely top-notch. More on that later.

Ashley walked us through the concept described above – two kitchens (one for cooking, and one with a butchery and bakery), a below-level garden which supplies most of the herbs and vegetables for the restaurant, the relationships with local farms, etc. Then, she walked us through the different cuts of meat, the differences in how the cattle were raised and the impact of their diets on the flavors of the steaks, and the differences in how they are aged to affect tenderness and flavor. Ashley didn’t require any cheat sheets, and she made everyone feel comfortable (and impressed!). On top of her knowledge, she wasn’t the least bit stuffy or dry; she let her sense of humor come through as she inserted jokes and color commentary during her descriptions (“don’t mess with my meat” – she doesn’t believe in sauces or toppings).

When I gave her my card and advised her that she would be choosing my meal, she asked “seriously?”. Yes. “Okay, I know what I’m serving you!” – without hesitation. These are the types of meals I get really excited about because I know the server is going to choose really well.

We opted to get a few side dishes, which Ashley recommended sharing between two or three people. Ashley chose mine as well.

As it turns, out my entire dinner was shared. By far the best entree at our table; the vote was unanimous. That being said, everyone was very pleased with his/her meals.

So, what did Ashley choose, you ask? Wait no longer…

We started off with fresh baked bread (rolls and ah-mazing cast-iron cooked cornbread) and salted butter (which makes all the difference, in my opinion!). Ashley chose the special salad for me: yellow watermelon over Burrata and topped with olives, tomatoes, balsamic and served with two slices of prosciutto. It was light and flavorful – a nice change up to one of my other favorite watermelon salads (watermelon with goat cheese, balsamic and greens and herbs). We were off to a great start!

Next came the entree and side dish.

Wanting to share her favorite with me, Ashley chose the 14 ounce (FOURTEEN OUNCE!!) twenty-one day dry aged bone-in strip steak. It was perfection! Luckily, everyone at the table wanted to try this cut, so I didn’t feel completely overwhelmed or as though I’d have to try to finish it on my own. The plate was clean by the end of the meal though! The steak was really tender and had terrific flavor. It’s a spoiler for any other cut moving forward.

Ashley chose to bring foraged mushrooms as the side. A very nice compliment to the steak, and enough to feed at least four people! At the table we also ordered: potato puree (though my brother wouldn’t share!), asparagus (with cured farm egg yolk and chili), and twice-baked fingerling potato tart with bacon and aged cheddar. Everything was delicious!

Pro tip: you won’t go home hungry from Urban Farmer Steakhouse. Bring an appetite! 

Ashley asked if she should choose a dessert for me. Where to put it?!? Ultimately, since there was a gluten-free option for my brother and my uncle, my parents and I decided to share whatever Ashley decided to bring so we would all enjoy a bit of decadence.

My brother and uncle tried the lemon olive oil cake with kale ice cream (it’s much better than it sounds!), and pepper crisps.

If I were choosing my own, I’d have either gone for the lemon cake or the strawberry rhubarb cobbler with pistachio, buttermilk frozen yogurt and basil, because I generally like citrus or fruit desserts more than chocolate (but, not always!).

However, I was in the most capable hands, and I knew it! Ashley chose the butterscotch sundae with a warm brown butter blondie and toffee chip ice cream. AKA: heaven in a jar!

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Butterscotch sundae with warm brown butter blondie and toffee ice cream

My parents and I kept passing this jar around, taking one delicious bite at a time. The brownie and ice cream were melting into each other, combining incredible flavors together.

While we all walked out of Urban Farmer Steakhouse absolutely full, we walked out feeling like we had just had one of the best meals in a long time. And, we all agreed that Ashley set the bar for outstanding service! In fact, my uncle made it a point to seek her out so he could inform her that she was so impressive that she truly did elevate our experience that evening.

I definitely recommend a visit to Urban Farmer Steakhouse if you’re in Cleveland. I’d love to go back and take a tour of the kitchens and garden  (if the management allows it). Of course, I’d have to stay for dinner again! 🙂

What is your most memorable dining experience? Where were you? I’d love to hear from you!

Cheers!

Ker

A stellar cellar – Adega in The Nine, Cleveland, Ohio

The Christmas holiday season is my time to return to the suburbs of Cleveland to visit my family (and usually friends, but that didn’t really happen this year). We have local spots we always tend to visit, and enjoy. You may have read about Bistro 70 in the past. This year, my brother scheduled a dinner downtown in the heart of Cleveland. He chose to have us dine at Adega in the Metropolitan at the 9 Hotel. Adega can be translated into “cellar” in Portuguese, and I’m guessing part of the reason the restaurant is named Adega is that it has a beautiful wall of wine. It also has gorgeous lighting, an inviting bar, and a very small waiting area comprised of eclectic furniture. It is a unique and fresh space.

Being an urban-dweller for almost four years now, I can appreciate that going downtown allows for finding unique cuisine more easily than is typically available in the ‘burbs.

Adega’s menu is not one you’d easily find on the east side of Cleveland (from where I hail). The menu is full of Mediterranean ingredients and flavor combinations.

Everything looked appealing to me, so I pulled out my handy card to provide to our (extraordinary!!) server, Jay. He didn’t hesitate, even commenting on the “surprise” aspect of the dining experience.

Jay actually took things a few steps further. He brought Chef Nelly out to greet us and to thank us for dining at Adega that evening. He also brought the table a serving of the octopus appetizer, much to my mom’s dismay. Though, she did try it! Everyone else did too, and most enjoyed it. I’ve had octopus many times, served in different ways, and I was pleased that Jay chose to serve us this dish.


The salad Jay chose was superb! It was a winter vegetable salad – hearty and healthy. Just look at this photo – those vegetables and that beet sauce…


For my main dish, Jay chose the “Kobe beef of pork”, the Iberico pork. It was so tender and flavorful (though, as a warning, a bit on the salty side). I shared bites with everyone at the table and it was unaminous – WOW! Such a simple dish, but decadent.


We were also served the crispy Brussels. I told Jay it was like he was reading my mind – he picked perfectly! The Brussel sprouts were like an early dessert at the table – we could not get enough of them! Crunchy deliciousness!


After dinner,the general manager came by with Jay to check on us (I told you we had great service!). Then, we were served a couple of desserts. Jay knew that we had two people with gluten-free requirements, so in addition to the warm apple fritter doughnuts with Franglica and caramel sauces, he brought sorbet for my brother and uncle. Great attention to detail! I also loved the presentation of the food – from start to finish.

Now, we didn’t need the dessert, nor would we likely have ordered it, but we did do some damage anyhow. The doughnuts were a sweet, wintery treat, and a pleasant way to finish the meal.


Overall, the dining experience with my family at Adega was fabulous! The service could not have been better, and the food was absolutely delicious. I’d like to hope that I will be back when I visit Cleveland again, whether for family time, out with friends, or taking a customer out to dinner – Adega is a great spot to enjoy the experience of dining out. 

Cheers!

Ker

Eccezionale! Trevini Ristorante, Palm Beach, FL

Earlier this month, I was at a trade conference with two of my favorite travel companions (they’d better be since we spend an extraordinary amount of time on the road together!).

We tend to get silly together as well. 🙂

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We snuck away from our stay at the Breakers one evening to try a local Italian restaurant, Trevini Ristorante. Since one of my colleagues is old-school authentic south-side Chicago Italian, I suspected her choice would be a good one!

We made the short drive over to Trevini Ristorante and decided to sit on the quaint patio out front. The service was on-point, very upbeat, polite, and attentive. Gonzo, our server, shared the specials and delivered our beverages. We all perused the menu, and decided Avette had made a very good choice! When he returned to take our orders, Avette ordered Ossobucco Alla Milanese, Risotto Carnaroli Al Zafferano (braised petite veal ossobuco, and carnaroli saffron risotto) and Tyler ordered Tagliolini Al Limone, Granchio, Fave, Bottarga (tagliolini with lemon, crab meat, touch of cream, fava beans, and bottarga). I simply handed him my card, as is standard practice. He promptly advised that he was going to give the card to the chef and that chef would choose my meal! Our table let out a collective giggle as it seemed that Gonzo was both on-board, but a little hesitant.

When the meals were served, I was delivered the Scaloppine Di Vitello Valdostana (Veal Scaloppine Topped With Prosciutto and Fontina, Sage, Chardonnay Sauce, and Steamed Spinach). Though it looks like a lot of food, it was thin and light, yet full of flavor! Gonzo also advised that the chef really enjoyed reading the card and choosing my meal.

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We all finished all of our meals and collectively agreed that we would absolutely NOT pass on dessert here – and we were going to share! I knew that I wanted an authentic Tiramisu (coffee dipped lady fingers, mascarpone cream). Tyler wanted chocolate on chocolate so  he ordered the Salame al Cioccolato (chocolate, biscotti salame, and caramel ice cream), and Avette had her heart set on Crema Catalana (Creme Brulee).

Unfortunately, we were informed that the restaurant was out of Crema Catalana. Huge “boos” all around! Avette decided to go with the Torta di Ricotta (cheesecake with strawberry sauce) as “Plan B”.

The Tiramisu and ice cream were fantastic! The cheesecake was a bit dry and dense for my taste, but I’m certain others prefer that style to a creamier cheesecake. And, as we were a few bites into our desserts, the manager, George, delivered a Crema Catalana anyhow! It turns out the pastry chef wanted it to set a bit longer, but it was close enough to ready that George decided to buy one for our table. A lovely and unexpected gesture. And, it was delicious! “Hoorays” all around!

We didn’t leave much on the table, and our bellies were comfortably full.  Though I don’t have any specific plans to return to Palm Beach soon, if I do return, I will most assuredly dine at Trevini Ristorante again.

What are your favorite resort dining experiences?

Cheers!

Ker

 

“I know a guy who knows a guy…” – La Belle Ferronniere, Paris, France

That’s how the email started. “I know a guy who knows a guy that recommended a typical French Brasserie.”

My colleague was voted to be “party planner” (probably by me!), and he stepped right up to the challenge, as he always does. We had twelve colleagues who were ready to enjoy an evening outside of the Charles de Gaulle airport region, and wanted to spend some time in Paris proper. It’s not necessarily an easy feat to coordinate for twelve people, but what a fun evening we had!

It turns out that when you “know a guy who knows a guy (the owner of La Belle Ferronniere)”, you get treated very nicely! We had excellent service from start to finish.

I had requested a cheese plate, and man oh man did La Belle Ferronniere deliver! We devoured the various cheeses before I even thought to snap a photo. We did this while enjoying a few bottles of wine (I think there were twelve emptied in total – whoops!).

When it came time to order dinner, in typical fashion, I surrendered my order over to our server. He asked a few vague questions, but seemed right on board with surprising me.

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It was a simple dish of shrimp and vegetables – much needed vegetables at that point! It was not too heavy and full of flavor. Perhaps just a bit on the messy side! 🙂

None of my colleagues could pass up dessert either! I only ate half of my dish before passing on to another colleague to finish, but bourbon creme brulee with a Woodford Reserve on the side? Yes, please!

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We had such a good time, laughing and chatting (and being obnoxious Americans). It was much needed after travel overseas and a couple of looong days of meetings!

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As we were leaving, we were stopped at the bar to enjoy a shot “on the house”. Oh boy…

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We then walked a bit of the dinner off and enjoyed the typical sights of Paris.

It was a fantastic way to cap off a very busy week in the City of Lights / Love.

Next stop: Barcelona!

Cheers!

Ker

Sweet Milwaukee – Classy Girls Cupcakes Giveaway!

It’s been a while since I’ve posted, and that’s largely because I have been focusing on eating healthier, more well-rounded meals – at home.

However, when I saw a contest giveaway from one of my favorite local shops, I just had to enter!  Lo and behold, I won!

Classy Girl Cupcakes is an adorable shop in Cathedral Square in East Town Milwaukee.  Almost every time I have visitors, we make a stop in for a cupcake or a push pop.  With all the walking and exploring we do, CGC always seems to be a nice, sweet reward!

I’ve also used CGC for my “Clue-themed” party.

Six character themed cupcake styles from Classy Girl Cupcakes (on the right of the page).

Six character themed cupcake styles from Classy Girl Cupcakes (on the right of the page).

Classy Girl Cupcakes were also responsible for my contribution to UPAF Night at Casablanca earlier this year.  Four different flavors on hand, decorated in UPAF colors!  Carrot cake, Ghirardelli chocoloate, Red velvet and Vanilla (a personal favorite of mine!).

A gorgeous array of 250 cupcakes to celebrate UPAF and the hostess's birthday!

A gorgeous array of 250 cupcakes to celebrate UPAF and the hostess’s birthday!

So, back to the contest…  Every Friday, CGC takes one of their cupcakes on-location in Milwaukee for a photo shoot. The photo then gets posted on both their @cgcupcakesmke Twitter account and their @classygirlcupcakes Instagram account.

Followers should “repost” the photo to their own accounts. The hashtags to use are #CGCinMKE and #classygirlcupcakes. Followers should also leave a comment on the Classy Girls Photo with where they suspect the cupcake was photographed.

Photos are generally up by 8AM Friday mornings. And a winner is chosen by 6PM that evening. Here are a few photos (including the “Tequila-themed” photo which made me a winner!)

The deets...

The deets…


Festa Italia!

Festa Italia!


Tequila! (National Tequila Day) at Bradford Beach.

Tequila! (National Tequila Day) at Bradford Beach.

All I had to do to claim my prize was to stop by the shop (on my way home from a morning at the salon) and show the confirmation email Christine sent me the evening that I won (last night).  I had the lovely lady behind the counter pick her favorite jumbo filled cupcake and surprise me.

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I came home to a beautiful, and huge gooey pretzel chunk jumbo filled cupcake ($5.00 value, and who knows how many calories!).

Gooey pretzel crunch...

Gooey pretzel crunch…

IMG_2429aI’m not sure how long it will take me to finish this package of pretzel filled gooey goodness.  Every time I’ve strayed from my meal plan, my body gets a little upset with me, so I may have to take things slowly here!

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I will say this… it was love at first bite!

If you’re in the Milwaukee area, please remember to follow Classy Girl Cupcakes on Twitter (@cgcupcakesmke) and Instagram (@classygirlcupcakes), and pay special attention on Fridays!  The rewards are real!

Cheers!

Ker

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