Adventure Time: My DIY "Best of CLE" Weekend with Friends & Faves

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Whaaaaat a weekend! Last week is now a distant memory, but there sure were a lot of memories packed into it. I'm usually a pretty chill weekend person (I go off my sleep meds on Sunday, which means I take sleep more than usual) but last weekend was jam-packed. I ate a ton of delicious but terrible-for-me food; I spent time with a few of my very favorite people; & I checked out a couple of places I'd never been.

This is exactly the way spring weekends ought to be.

While I certainly can't operate at this level of energy & enthusiasm every weekend, you've gotta capitalize on nice weather when you can - especially in Cleveland! Here's a not-so-brief, photo-heavy rundown of all the many places I went, food I ate, & people I saw in the span of 48 hours. 

A Shanghainese Date Night 

I invited Mike to a surprise date night on Friday night, which just means that I picked a restaurant & didn't tell him where we were going until right beforehand. Our destination? LJ Shanghai in Cleveland's Asiatown neighborhood, home of the best soup dumplings in the city (no, really, I wrote about them for Cleveland Magazine!)

Mike had never been, so we ordered a liiiiittle bit of a feast: soup dumplings, of course, plus two kinds of noodles. I don't even know what they were, really, or what was in them, but suffice it to say we weren't disappointed by any of it.

A Quick Caffeine Fix

On Saturday morning, I grabbed a latte from Foyer, a new-ish coffee shop managed by a high school friend of mine. Filled with art from colorful local genius Lady Noel Designs, it is quite the beautiful experience - yes, that's right, a beautiful coffee shop experience. Just look at this place!

Fried Chicken for Brunch

My friend Brittany, who moved to Columbus a few months ago, was back in the CLE for a day, so we headed to brunch at the Ohio City Galley, a sort of cafeteria-style restaurant concept that offers four high-end but casual fining options all in one building - like a very nice cafeteria. 

We both chose to eat at Sauce the City, one of the Galley's four food kiosk options, so we split the chicken & biscuits, the chicken & waffles, & the chipotle street corn - a veritable fried chicken feast, truly. We were seated near a door, so when people came into the Galley, there we were, like a real-life brunch billboard. 

Antiquing in Ohio City

I'm not much for vintage finds, but we'd both wanted to check out the new Helm Collective, a Cleveland Flea vendor that recently opened a brick & mortar shop in Ohio City. Helm was cute, but where we really had success was at All Things for You, a massive, two-story shop next door filled with furniture, home decor, estate sale items, you name it...

Not pictured here are our purchases: Brittany bought a yellow kitchen scale for herself & a pair of brass candlesticks as a gift for a friend; I scored a gorgeous silver platter for just $10, plus a set of four gold-toned goblets for $16 that Mike & I drank out of during the Game of Thrones season premiere the next day. 

A Colorful Photoshoot

When you're with a friend who also has a background in journalism & who likes social media alllllmost as much as you do, why not capitalize on the rare chance to take some Insta-worthy photos? Brittany & I took pics in front of two of my pieces of street art in the CLE - Erin Guido's "I ALWAYS HOPE" door & Joe Lanzilotta's yellow faces, both in Hingetown.

We also tracked down Lady Noel's beautiful new mural near the Masonic Cleveland building. It features the artist's signature bright colors & abstract style, on the side of a building that spans nearly an entire block.

Cooking Class in The Flats

On Saturday night, I met up with my high school friend Marisa, who moved to Cleveland last fall, for The Cleveland Bucket List's first event: a cooking class with Jennifer Thornton of Buttercream & Olive Oil. Jennifer, who spent five years of culinary education in France & even competed on Masterchef France, taught a group of 12 attendees at Prep Kitchen CLE, a shared-use kitchen incubator space on the West Bank of The Flats. 

Together, our group made Nashville hot chicken, buttermilk biscuits, & fried green tomatoes, while drinking local craft beers donated by sponsors & the breweries themselves. At the end of the night, tipsy & proud, we enjoyed the dinner we'd created - & it was so freaking delicious.

Brunch with One of My Besties

I woke up early on Sunday to drive down to my hometown of Cuyahoga Falls, where my friend (& former bridesmaid!) Sammi was in town from Atlanta. We met up for brunch at Blue Door Bakery & Cafe, which is repeatedly named to "Best Brunch in Cleveland" lists, even though it's nearly 50 minutes away from the CLE.

It deserves to be on the lists, man, because this place is damn good. We ordered croissants on the side, & they were legitimately the size of our heads! We both had crepes - sweet for her, savory ham & cheese for me - so we took the croissants home as snacks (read: full meals) for later.

A Spring Fashion Show with Friends 

After brunch, I headed to... another brunch. Business owners Liz & Kristin of the mobile Maplewood Boutique hosted a fashion show & brunch event to show off their new spring collection. After sipping on brunch cocktails, munching on donuts, & schmoozing with other attendees, I got to sit in the front row with fellow bloggers Rachel of It's a Hero & Stacy of Styled by Stacy for the fashion show itself. So cool, right?!

After the show itself (there were dogs in it, people), we shopped Maplewood Boutique's new items. It was so crowded, though, that I skipped the try-on route & went straight for my favorites: accessories. Jewelry doesn't need a dressing room! I purchased a pair of handmade gold-toned earrings, which you can see below. Not in the area? You can also shop Maplewood Boutique online.

Brewery Lunch with Mom

Next up was my final stop of the day: Lock 15 Brewing Co., located in the same building as the fashion show. I was supposed to meet my mom at 2pm, but Rachel & I finished our shopping early, so we headed over there together. Rachel, who has three kids, knows my mom from her days as the head of the children's department at my hometown library, so we all hung out together for a bit.

My mom had wanted to try Lock 15 because she'd heard that their food was great - & she'd heard correctly. Even though I'd eaten, like, two meals by that point, I still ordered the Ghost Pepper Mac n Cheese because who could pass that up? It was made with radiatore & thin pieces of smoked beef brisket, & it was two of my favorite things: cheesy & spicy. I saved most of it for lunch the next day.

My mom absolutely devoured the shrimp & grits, & Rachel smashed her "nachos," too - thick, crunchy kettle chips topped with kielbasa, sauerkraut, pulled pork, beer cheese, & scallions. How Ohio is that? I also ordered their 1913 Pilsner, which was nice & crisp & not too hoppy.

On Sunday afternoon, I finally made it home... & took a serious nap before settling in with those new goblets for the premiere of the last season of Game of Thrones. By that time, I felt like I'd earned a little bit of rest, relaxation, & solitude because, like I said, what a weekend. It was a great one, though, representative of exactly the way I like to spend spring weekend here in the CLE. 

How's the weather in your neck of the woods? Any good weekend plans?

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