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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

Doin’ it – 20 Hours in Dublin!

A couple of weeks ago, two colleagues / friends and I decided to take a long layover in Dublin prior to heading on to our business trip in Paris (again…sigh). We knew that we would be pressed for time, and although I tried to make a plan, during our planning session, we really just ended up drinking a couple of beers at the County Clare and decided we would “wing it” when we got to Dublin.

We landed in Dublin at ~8:30 AM and took an Uber to our hotel, the Jury’s Inn at Christ Church (yes, Jeff, the one who booked that hotel got some razzing from me about choosing a “religious” place. I didn’t expect that from him). I’m the one with egg on my face though, because the hotel was PERFECTLY situated and gave us access to everything we thought we might want to see (and, the name reflects location)!

Derek, the third musketeer, had only ONE wish: a traditional Irish breakfast. So, off we went (around the corner!) to Copper Alley Bistro. After quickly perusing the menu, we all got the traditional breakfast, and enjoyed it. In fact, a friend of mine saw a picture of the breakfast and asked me if I had tried the black pudding. Of course I had! I tried everything on the plate!

The traditional Irish breakfast consists of: sausages, bacon, black & white pudding, hash browns, grilled tomato & fried egg served with toast.

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Jeff and Derek added beans to theirs, and Jeff and I added mushroom to ours. It was a LOT of food! My plate was left half full just due to the shear amount of food, but it was no indication as to how much I enjoyed this new experience.

After breakfast, we set off by foot to see the east side of Dublin and circled back to the west side, seeing all kinds of sites. Of course, we toured the Guinness factory along the way!

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We didn’t have much time in Dublin, so we decided to go back to the Temple bar district (the “tourist trap”) for dinner and drinks. We stopped into The Quays restaurant for dinner. I handed my card to our server, and he was on board with taking over. The only question he asked me was if price was an issue, noting that he wasn’t planning to bring the most expensive item, but also not the least expensive. It was not.

He brought me the most delicious lamb shank and potatoes I have ever had – Braised Wicklow Lamb Shank cooked in red wine with root vegetables, fresh parsley & thyme, served with chive mash & red wine jus.

That sauce! I surprised myself by eating a good portion of it (after sharing a few bites with the guys)! It was great that our server was cool with choosing a local meal for me , and that he brought something different than Jeff (traditional Irish stew) and Derek (cottage pie) ordered.

After dinner we stopped at Temple Bar to have an Irish Whiskey (or two). It seems that a trip to Ireland would be incomplete without doing so (for those who drink alcohol), right?

We had a 6AM flight in order to make our midday meetings in Paris the next day, so it was early to bed and EARLY to rise! In any case, it was a FUN 20 hours in Dublin.

I’m looking forward to taking more time to go back over and see the countryside and everything the rest of Ireland has to offer (golf, hiking, etc). That’s a trip I’ll have to plan!

Please chime in with your comments about your experiences in Ireland!

Thank you, and happy holidays!

Ker

PS. Coming soon – Adega at The 9, Cleveland.

 

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

Viva l’Italia – Vincenzo’s, New Jersey

It’s been a couple of weeks since I went to New Jersey to visit with a customer whom I had been wanting to meet for a long time. I’ve heard great things about this company, and I know we have opportunities to partner on some good things!

So, my colleague (and now frequent road trip buddy) and I set out to Middlesex, NJ to have a couple of meetings as well as a nice dinner up the street at Vincenzo’s with our customers.

Foolishly, I only brought my small Clemson clutch with me, which funny enough, my dear girlfriend who lives in New Jersey gave me as a gift earlier this year.

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Anyhow, the point being that I forgot to bring my blog card with me. Thank goodness for mobile phones. I called it up from the blog page itself!

I had been warned that this dinner and our dining companions were going to be fabulous, so I came hungry! In addition to fabulous table mates, our server, Carlos, was perfect. He was professional, yet was equipped with a biting sense of humor. The best of both worlds!

Carlos started us off with several appetizers: calamari (two ways: fritti and with an “Italian hot sauce” – which everyone at the table claimed was Thai sauce!), escarole and pignoli nuts, and sausage and peppers. To be honest, I was full by the time we worked our way through these delicious plates of apps!

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A mesh of apps! Calamari, sausage and peppers, and escarole. 

And then came this salad… I think it’s one of my favorite salads – ever. The tri-colore insalati. The mesh of flavors – and that cheese! Heaven on a plate.

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Tri-colore salad made of European blend, tomatoes, pepper, and parmagiano cheese.

I’d say finally, because it really should have been the final set of bites, but it wasn’t. This is the penultimate dish.

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Grilled salmon over escarole and served with roasted potatoes.

Without flinching while reading the blog card, Carlos had chosen a popular dish that evening – salmon over escarole with roasted potatoes. The salmon filet was enormous, and cooked to perfection. Those who know me know that salmon is not my favorite seafood, but when cooked well,  I really do enjoy it! I loved that there were some greens on the plate and just a few potato bites.

It was  a simple, delicious dish and light enough not to pain me after all of the appetizers!

It was then that our customer insisted that we all have dessert. What?!? How was I going to fit one more bite into my mouth and belly?

Here’s how:

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Chocolate banana pie with fresh whipped cream, strawberries and mint.

I mentioned “heaven on a plate earlier”. This banana chocolate pie is heaven on a plate served by singing angels! I could have eaten two or three slices (but I didn’t!).

Our dinner lasted a marathon four hours, but the time flew by. We did indeed have a wonderful time with our customers and we really enjoyed the ambiance, the service, and the FOOD at Vincenzo’s! I’m still working off those glorious calories. 🙂

Since I’m not a huge connoisseur of salmon, I’m curious to know your favorite way to prepare it. I’d love to try more recipes at home. Please leave a comment if you have a recommendation.

Cheers!

Ker

 

 

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