Monday, October 25, 2010

Like a kid in a candy store...only all grown up!

With Halloween being a few days away, I find it very fitting to write about candy, particularly chocolate.  I could have chose to write about traditional chocolate and trick-or-treat favorites but after a recent visit to Tremont, my mind was changed.  Until last week, I have only heard of Lilly Handmade Chocolates but never stopped in, usually because it was either closed or I on my way to meet friends elsewhere in Tremont.  However, it was well worth the wait and curiosity when I finally stopped in the little shop on the corner of Starkweather and Professor Ave.  Lilly specialized in pairing wine and beer with their eclectic handmade truffles.  With truffles coming in flavors such as black perigord truffle infused honey coated in dark chocolate (The Black Diamond) to rose and marigold petals with white tea coated in white chocolate (The Lilly) you can let your taste buds go crazy.  There are favor combinations that can spark anyone's taste buds.  While browsing the almost twenty different truffles to taste, I decided on The Red Planet 2.0 (a black pepper red wine reduction, syrah soaked strawberries, dark chocolate, sprinkled with  freeze dried raspberries on top).  With three of my favorite flavors (red wine, chocolate, and strawberry) in one truffle, how could I go wrong?  The tartness of the berries went perfectly with the rich dark chocolate.  Since it was Cleveland Beer Week when I stopped by, next to each truffle was a recommended beer.  I cannot wait to go back and see what is recommended for my next chocolate and alcohol indulgence.

I would love to say I did pair this truffle with the recommended beer or wine, but I very distracted from the numerous bottles of beer on the shelves.  I cannot remember seeing such a diverse and eclectic beer selection anywhere aside from a few bars.  From chocolate oatmeal stouts, to fruit beers, to pumpkin ales I have never heard of, the beer selection would give any beer connoisseur that "kid in a candy store" feeling.  O wait, I was in a candy shop but one meant for grown ups.  There even was a breakfast stout which very much intrigues me.  The wine selection was decent, offering a nice variety, but not as extensive as you would find in a wine shop.  Also, the people there are so friendly and helpful.  They never rushed me in making a selection, and offered their honest opinions about their products.  I never felt pressured into buying something, however with chocolate, beer, and wine, I could never leave empty handed.  If you are looking for something to satisfy your sweet tooth in a very different way or try a beer you could only dream about, I would recommend Lilly Handmade Chocolates.  Also, it would be a perfect stop to start off a girls' night out or girls' night in.  If you are looking for something for that special someone, I would also recommend visiting Lilly.

Now for a few side notes, one being quite sad.  This Saturday, October 30th is the last day Michael Symon's Bar Symon will be open for business.  If you have not already, make a trip out to Avon Lake this week to bid a fond farewell to one of the Iron Chef's restaurants.

Today, October 25th at Great Lakes Brewing Company, it's beginning to look alot like Christmas!!  Christmas Ale will be tapped tonight at 4 p.m.  Also, there may be a chance to try some of Lilly's truffles made specifically for this event.  Joy to the World!!

Finally, if you have not already heard, the popular Cleveland food truck Dim and Den Sum will be opening a restaurant this spring on W.25th in the Market District.

Until next time...follow your heart, fulfill your hunger.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Cheers to Pumpkin Beers!

In honor of Cleveland Beer Week, the autumn season, and my love of pumpkin, I present to you the beginning half of my reviews of pumpkin ale.  There are still some out there I have yet to try, but seeing as it is Cleveland Beer Week, I figured to blog about the ones I have enjoyed so far.  On a side note, for events related to Cleveland Beer Week, check out  If you have found these pumpkin ales at other locations please comment.  I can only speak for where I have been and have seen them.  I do not want to give false information.  So now in no particular order, part one of the Hungry in Cleveland pumpkin beer review.

*Dogfish Head Punkin' Ale (enjoyed at the Winking Lizard Tavern, Lakewood.  Available on tap at Winking Lizard and Melt Bar and Grilled  Also sold in 4-packs at Giant Eagle, and various other locations):  This was my first pumpkin ale of the season, and a perfect start.  This was Winking Lizard's September Glass of the Month so I also ended up with a souvenir.  The glass was rimmed with brown sugar and cinnamon which added to the strong, yet not overpowering pumpkin flavor.  Very easy to drink and on the sweeter side of pumpkin ales.  Highly recommended, especially if you are new to pumpkin ales.  Alcohol by volume (ABV): 7.0%

*Southern Tier Pumking Imperial (sold by the bottle at Little Italy Wines, Giant Eagle in Legacy Village, Lilly Handmade Chocolates in Tremont.  Also on tap at Melt Bar and Grilled):  So far, this one has been my favorite.  I enjoyed this as the perfect kickoff beer to the Browns/Bengals tailgate I was at on October 3.  This beer is like pumpkin pie in a glass.  It is a heavier beer and quite strong (9.0% ABV).  In my opinion, it has the perfect balance of pumpkin and spices (nutmeg, cinnamon, etc).  If you are looking for a perfect kickoff to a tailgate, football party, or Halloween celebration, I recommend Southern Tier Pumpking.

*Shipyard Brewing Company Pumpkinhead (enjoyed at Lincoln Park Pub.  Also available at Melt Bar and Grilled):  Probably the lightest I have enjoyed to date, but still a notable pumpkin flavor.  Paired well with my tacos on Taco Tuesdays at Lincoln Park Pub (Tacos $2.50 each).  Would recommend if you order a heavier sandwich at Melt and want a good pumpkin ale to drink.   Very satisfying on taste and drinkability (sorry Bud Light for stealing your word).  ABV: 5.1%

*Brooklyn Post Road Pumpkin Ale (enjoyed at Melt Bar and Grilled.  Limited availability at Winking Lizard beginning October 25): In this review, I must say pumpkin ales at Melt hold a very special place in my heart after a very memorable third date in September 2009.  Very fitting that a pumpkin ale was enjoyed at Melt in October 2010 with the same person.  I guess what I am saying is the true way to a girl's heart is pumpkin ale and a huge sandwich.  Also, just nothing that she loves pumpkin and incorporating it into an early date...but I will digress from memory lane and talk beer now.  Drinks very similar to Dogfish Head and Shipyard.  Again, a good pronounced pumpkin flavor and did not fill me up prior to enjoying my sandwich (The Smoky Russian).  ABV: 5%.    

*Buffalo Bill's America's Original Pumpkin Ale (enjoyed at Lincoln Park Pub, and available at most Giant Eagles in a 6 pack):  A classic fall 6 pack.  I would not go as far to say this is pumpkin pie in a glass, but there is a good balance of spice and pumpkin.  No Halloween party is complete without it.  ABV: 5.2%

*Harvest Moon by Blue Moon (available most places where beer is sold):  Considering I enjoy most Blue Moon beers, this is not one of my favorite pumpkin ales.  It is good, however I prefer a stronger pumpkin flavor.  I enjoy it and have no problem buying it, unless there are other options such as those mentioned above.  As far as Blue Moon goes, I will stick with the original with an orange.  ABV: 5.7%

*Smuttynose Brewing Company Pumpkin Ale (Enjoyed at Reddstone):  Wait...I thought I ordered pumpkin ale.  The only thing that indicated this was a pumpkin ale, was the label.  Very hoppy and no pumpkin or spice.  Unless I just had a bad bottle, I do NOT recommend this one.  ABV: 5.6%

By mid-Noveber, I hope to have Part 2 finished.  I am eagerly awaiting Great Lakes Pumpkin Ale (only available on tap at the Brewpub on Market Street off W. 25th).  I also discovered a few others on the menu at Melt that I must try.  Overall, for a variety of pumpkin ales, I would recommend Melt.  They have three different pumpkin ales on tap and at least 5 bottled varieties.  On October 23rd, in celebration of Cleveland Beer Week and Halloween, Wonder Bar on East 4th will be holding a Pumpkin Party.

Until next time...follow your heart, fulfill your hunger.      

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Not just a summer treat

When most people think of ice cream, they think of a cool treat on a hot summer day.  While this is very true, I am one of those people who enjoys ice cream all year long.  It is not uncommon for me on a cold January day, curled up in my Snuggie (yes I own and love the Snuggie) watching the snow fall, and enjoying an ice cream cone.  I recently enjoyed my favorite flavor of fall, pumpkin, in two very cool ways, pumpkin gelato and pumpkin ice cream.

Now you may be wondering what is the difference between ice cream and gelato aside from gelato being Italian.  Texturally, gelato is much more smooth.  It has lower butterfat and sugar contents and the freezing process varies slightly from that of ice cream.  Many of the restaurants in Little Italy serve gelato as well as a few smaller gelaterias throughout the Cleveland area (Legacy Village and Cedar/Fairmount come to mind).  I enjoyed my pumpkin gelato from Presti's bakery in Little Italy as an end of week treat to myself.  I did not go in with the intent of getting gelato, however I was pleasantly surprised as I was paying for my lemon biscottis (yes, there will be a future blog all about the deliciousness that is Presti's bakery).  As the girl behind the counter handed me my small cup of chilly pumpkin heaven, she mentioned that I was the first one to purchase the pumpkin gelato which was just put in the cooler.  As I noticed the small dent in the tub behind the cooler window, I could not help but feel happy and in some way accomplished.

Despite the chill in the air, football being played, and pumpkin being enjoyed, I can now officially say it is fall for me.  No, not because the Browns finally got their first win this past Sunday against the Bengals, but I enjoyed Pumpkin Pie ice Cream from my favorite ice cream place, Honey Hut.  I have no problem saying Honey Hut IS the BEST ice cream in Cleveland.  I also would go on a limb to say in the state of Ohio, but that has yet to be determined.  If you are new to Cleveland or just visiting, make the trip to Honey Hut (Old Brooklyn, Parma, Strongsville, Brecksville, Bay Village...the location does NOT matter).  If you are a Cleveland native and have not been to Honey Hut, shame on you.  Pumpkin Pie ice cream, or Pumpkin Pecan if you are feeling a little nutty, is available from October 1-end of season.  Check with each location about end of season since this does seem to vary. I can say the Old Brooklyn location is open until November 21 and will reopen on St. Patrick's Day 2011.  The pumpkin pie ice cream tastes exactly like you would think...that Thanksgiving dessert in ice cream form.  True to Honey Hut's style, it is sweetened with honey giving it that "little something extra" that I love so much.  Not only did I enjoy a small cone there, I took a quart home with me.  Yes, of all the pumpkin treats I have enjoyed and will enjoy this fall, Honey Hut Pumpkin Pie ice cream is my favorite.  

Until next time...follow your heart, fulfill your hunger.