Cleveland’s Hessler Street Fair

You know summer has kicked off in Cleveland, not because of the weather (which has a mind of its own), but because of the festivals. Last weekend, with unseasonably warm 80 degree weather beckoning, we loaded the car full of friends and headed to the Hessler Street Fair.

Cleveland Ohio Hessler Street Fair summer festival hippie Case Western Reserve University

This was my first time down Hessler Street, which is nestled in Cleveland’s University Circle between the museums (like the Cleveland Museum of Natural History, The Cleveland Museum of Art, Cleveland Botanical Garden, and The Children’s Museum of Cleveland) and the esteemed Case Western Reserve University. The Street Fair has been running annually since 1969, when the Hessler Neighborhood Association was founded as a nonprofit to “enhance the social and architectural quality of the neighborhood.” Because people came together to preserve and maintain the neighborhood, Hessler Road and Hessler Court were dedicated as Cleveland’s first local Landmark District in 1975.

Last weekend, the street welcomed artists, painters, jewelers, bakers, soapmakers, woodcarvers, food vendors, face painters, drummers, and free spirits of all sorts decked in dreadlocks and tie-dye. In other words, Hessler Street Fair is Cleveland’s Hippie Festival, complete with drum circles and hippie vans and reggae music, mon.

Cleveland Ohio Hessler Street Fair drum circle

Cleveland Ohio Hessler Street Fair hippie Love Bus


Here is a very small sampling of the art and artists at Hessler Street Fair:

Cleveland Ohio Hessler Street Fair Van Gogh Starry night painting art vendor summer festival Cleveland Ohio Hessler Street Fair woodcarving woodworking art vendor summer festival

Cleveland Ohio Hessler Street Fair bean sugar skull art vendor summer festival Cleveland Ohio Hessler Street Fair mandala art vendor summer festival


leveland Ohio Hessler Street Fair handmade jewelry Kimberly Monaco leveland Ohio Hessler Street Fair hippie Love Bus painted detail dove

And for dinner, among the array of classic fair food and local Cleveland vendors, we chose the finest organic grass-fed beef hamburgers – that is, both the cow and the grass are certified organic. My boyfriend said it tasted “like the meat you get in Indiana,” which is the home-raised, all-natural, grass-fed beef I buy from my mom’s butcher…and I take that as a sign of good, down-home, wholesome freshness! We followed that up with the requisite funnel cake for dessert.

Cleveland Ohio Hessler Street Fair organic grass-fed hamburger cheeseburger

We went on Saturday night to hear roots reggae from Cleveland’s own Carlos Jones. The music was great, the message was positive, the vibe was electric, and the people-watching was interesting, to say the least.

leveland Ohio Hessler Street Fair Carlos Jones reggae music concert

Cleveland Ohio Hessler Street Fair Carlos Jones reggae music concert summer festival

Cleveland Ohio Hessler Street Fair Carlos Jones reggae music concert summer festival

Coming up next weekend: The Tremont Greek Fest, one of my favorites, to officially kick off summer over Memorial Day Weekend.

What are your favorite summer festivals?


Chocolate and Peanut Butter Cupcakes in Cleveland Browns colors

Wanna taste 2 of the 100 Best Cupcake Recipes? At least, according to this cupcake cookbook called “100 Best Cupcake Recipes,” these two easy cupcake recipes are “sensational,” paired in chocolate and peanut butter. But are they good enough for a Cleveland Browns victory?

The challenge: 
Bake some cute football-themed cupcakes for a Cleveland Browns pre-season tailgate party. Look for inspiration in chocolate-frosted footballs, makeshift goalposts, and tedious turf icing topped with mini almond footballs, and decide that Pinterest bakers must have much more time on their hands than I do.

Back to basics: 
Brown and orange. Simplicity will let the flavor speak for itself, right? So I abandon Pinterest and turn to my cookbook shelf for guidance. Dreaming of Reese’s, I land on these two in the cupcake cookbook: Celebration Chocolate Cupcakes and Peanut Butter Cupcakes. (See recipes below)

Game time:
Teams quickly took sides with the cupcake choices in the field. The Celebration Chocolate Cupcakes were easily the crowd favorite at the tailgate…but when I shared some with friends a couple nights later, everyone there preferred Peanut Butter.

Final score:
Peanut Butter and Chocolate Cupcakes are both winners.
Go Browns.

Celebration Chocolate Cupcakes
(Originally for mini cupcakes, but I doubled it 
to make this recipe for a dozen jumbo cupcakes)
1 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup sugar
4 tablespoons cocoa
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup water
6 tablespoons vegetable oil
3 teaspoons white vinegar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare cupcake tins with paper or foil liners.
2. Mix dry ingredients in a medium bowl, then add wet ingredients and beat with whisk or mixer on medium speed until well blended. Fill cupcake tins 3/4 full with batter.
3. Bake 12 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean. Cool completely and frost with…chocolate frosting from a can, if you’re lazy like me.

Chocolate Celebration Cupcakes
from “100 Best Cupcake Recipes”
Publications International Ltd.
Peanut Butter Cupcakes
(Originally frosted with chocolate peanut butter frosting, but I needed orange 
frosting for Browns colors, so I used  vanilla icing with red and yellow dye.)
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup butter, softened
1/3 cup peanut butter
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/4 cups milk

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare cupcake tins with paper or foil liners.
2. Mix first three ingredients in medium bowl. Then, beat butter and peanut butter in another large bowl with mixer at medium speed until smooth. Beat in sugars until mixed, and then beat in eggs and vanilla. Add flour mixture alternately with milk, beginning and ending with dry ingredients. Fill cupcake tins 3/4 full with batter – these do not round off like the chocolate ones do so you can fill them a little fuller.
3. Bake 20 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean. Cool completely and frost.

Patio Days and Thunderstorm Nights

For once, Cleveland’s blustery winter hangover went into hiding long enough for a beautiful Indians Opening Day. Of course, the sunshine would be no help in beating the Yankees, but maybe we can blame that on the storm rolling in?

Meanwhile, I was sitting outside of Chipotle enjoying the first patio meal of the spring. And we only had to duck inside once to dodge a few raindrops.

I never thought I liked Chipotle, but I learned the trick to eating there. I just don’t like those soggy, overstuffed giant burritos that deliver more rice than meat in each bite. Now, I know to order a burrito bowl and four small tortillas on the side, so I can craft my own manageably-sized, appropriately-stuffing-proportioned burritos.

Throw in a couple (not-quite-ice-cold) Coronas, a warm wind off the lake, and the buzz of Downtown Lakewood passing by – and I’m glad we had the patio to ourselves.

It was only appropriate, then, that the first patio day of spring would become the first evening thunderstorm of spring. The rumbling thunder and flashes of lightning were a fitting backdrop to the new episode of Bates Motel on A&E.

Baseball games, patio tacos, and lightning storms – Spring is Here!

Night on the Town: Pickwick and Frolic

Think crepes are just for breakfast? I did, and boy was I wrong.
Last night I finally had the pleasure of dining at Pickwick and Frolic on East 4th Street, downtown Cleveland, where my boyfriend serves and bartends. For a year, I’ve been listening to him rave about the scallops, so it was about time I put Pickwick’s food to the test, objectively, as someone who doesn’t receive a paycheck from them.
We started with the Caprese Salad, a starter that looks too pretty to eat. Slices of melt-in-your-mouth beets, fresh red and yellow heirloom tomatoes, and crispy-gooey fried mozzarella are layered atop a bed of greens and drizzled with EVOO and a balsamic reduction. The only bad thing is that it’s not big enough — I’d like a whole plateful of the fried mozzarella slices, please.
Then, much faster than I expected, our entrees were delivered. The Pan-Seared Diver Sea Scallops are seared to plump perfection, but what makes them delectable is the lemon-chive Beurre Blanc sauce. Really, I want to drink it. Another nice presentation, too, with the scallops arranged in a ring around a mound of orzo pilaf topped with spinach.
He ordered (and I tasted) the Tuscan Chicken, the closest thing to a French dish on Pickwick’s rustic menu. The meat rests on top of two crepes stuffed with ricotta cheese and lavender, and that’s all topped off with a “rustic floral” tomato concasse sauce. I know, it seems like that game on Sesame Street: “Which of these does not belong?” I never would have thought to pair lavender-cheese crepes with a tomato-based chicken dish, but it works — quite well. It’s a nice, light floral accent to balance out the hearty tomatoes.  
I know I was supposed to be blown away by the scallops — and I was — but it’s those crepes I keep thinking about.
All in all, a terrifically delicious meal in a luxurious environment. Pickwick has a lot to offer, far beyond the excellent food. The Pickwick part is the actual restaurant, and then there’s also Frolic Cabaret, The Champagne Bar, Kevin’s Martini Bar, and Hilarities 4th Street Theatre — all in one building.The establishment suffers from a bit of an identity crisis, with each room claiming its own brand, but it’s in a good way — like if each of your multiple personalities was a beautiful, rich celebrity each with a distinct taste in alcohol and humor. Every room has a retro film noir feel, making it seem like a club that would be better suited for Hollywood than Cleveland. What better way to spend a night on the town than treating yourself to a magnificent dinner followed by a comedy show at Hilarities?
We ended the evening in loge seats for Adam Ferrara’s show. I can’t say that I watch him on either “Rescue Me” (Denis Leary frightens me) or “Top Gear” (I don’t care about cars), but I will say he was quite funny. I felt like I really got to know him during the show because of the personal family stories he told, often pausing for very serious moments to reflect on his father’s death or how much he loves his wife. A good blend of humor and poignancy, and a good way to end a great night.

FREE Large Pizza from Romeo’s

This is why Facebook marketing works:

Don’t want to cook tonight? Then today may be your lucky day! Call your local Romeo’s Pizza at 4pm and give them code FB10. If you are one of the first 5 people to call with this code, then you will get a FREE Large 1 topping Pizza!

 ·  · Share · Yesterday at 9:15am · 

Why no, Romeo, I don’t want to cook tonight, especially if you’re offering free pizza as an alternative. Against my better judgment, I immediately shared the offer with my friends, knowing it would diminish my chances of being one of those five lucky callers. But a free large 1-topping pizza from Romeo’s, valued at about $14 — I just couldn’t keep that deal to myself.
The day went on, and I kind of forgot about the deal. That is, until I stopped to glance at the clock and it read 4:01. I had a brief moment of panic as I scrambled for my phone and dialed the number.
“Hello, Romeo’s in Westlake. Is your order for pick-up or delivery?”
Oh…I had no intention of “ordering” a pizza. I just wanted to win one. So I said, “I don’t know yet — have you given away your five free Facebook pizzas?”
“No, we have not. What would you like as your one topping?”
Score. “Mushrooms.” Double score. “That’s all free, right?”
“Absolutely free. We’ll see you in 15 minutes.”
It’s really that easy to get a free pizza? Bravo, Romeo. Frankly, I don’t know why they need to be giving pizzas away for free. With the best pizza in the area, they can obviously get away with charging $14 for it because of that special sauce.


But the free offer did present a bit of a conundrum: What am I going to do with a large pizza at 4:00 in the afternoon? I can’t save it until I get home from work and miss out on fresh, free pizza. Facebook got me into this situation; Facebook can solve it. Back to the drawing board (my FB wall, in this case) to find some hungry friends.
  • I know that by sharing this I’m diminishing my chances of winning, but this is a great deal!

    Don’t want to cook tonight? Then today may be your lucky day! Call your local Romeo’s Pizza at 4pm and give them code FB10. If you are one of the first 5 people to call with this code, then you will get a FREE Large 1 topping Pizza!

     ·  · Share · Thursday at 11:10am
      • Brooke Bates So I just ordered this free pizza. Who wants to help me eat it?

        Thursday at 4:05pm ·  ·  1

My cubicle at work soon filled up with colleagues and the free Romeo’s 1-topping pizza didn’t last long at all.

And that, folks, is why Facebook marketing works. Thanks, Romeo’s Pizza!

Plant Progress: Day 4

Science tells me there’s been a lot going on underground for the past few days, but today, Day Four, was the first unveiling to the naked eye. The first seed to rise to the challenge: the assorted flowers from my company and an African daisy or two. They’ve sprung little bright green leaves above the ground.
seedling plant garden
Meanwhile, most of the outside is a similar neon shade. The Cleveland trees are finally more leafed than not, and a month of solid rain has cast everything in a clean hue.
Trying to recall Science Fair projects about plants. I did one where I watered plants with different beverages. I can never remember which liquid, between Coke and coffee, killed the plant and which fertilized it as well as Miracle-Gro. Another common one was playing music for plants. I wonder how that turned out.
“Spring has sprung
The grass has ris’
I wonder where the flowers is?”