Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Eating in Cle: A review of Charkha

Congratulations Fizzgig, you have won a pair of tickets to CLE Wine Fest this weekend!! Please email me at, with your full name, date of birth, email address, and preferred date of attendance (July 27th or 28th). Don't forget to take ID to the event!!

I was craving Indian food yesterday, so N and I headed over to Charkha on W 9th to give it a shot. Now, I will preface this post by saying that I have VERY high standards when it comes to Indian food. Having grown up eating Indian food at some of the finest Indian restaurants in Mumbai, its completely natural. Most Indian restaurants in Cleveland do not meet these standards, so its all a relative scale.

So far, my top 3 Indian restaurants (and please keep in mind this is personal preference) in Cleveland are:
1. India Garden (Love their Chicken Biryani and naan and their ambiance)
2. India Delight (Chicken Biryani is a close 2nd to India Garden, and their tikka's are pretty good too, but the ambiance is umm, very basic)
3. Cafe Tandoor (I've only been to the East Side location, and while the food is fine, I think the other two are better)

I have NOT yet tried Jaipur Junction, and I've heard that its supposed to be very very good. That's next on my list of places to try.

Anyway, the point of visiting Charkha was to see if it would change the top 3 as it stands right now.  N and I checked out menu and were very excited by two things in particular- the house recommended thali, and the dinner for two. Thali literally means plate, and in an Indian restaurant, a thali includes a sampling of the best dishes of the restaurant, a sorta tasting menu, but all on one, very large plate. The samplings come in individual little bowls, and you typically end up trying somewhere between 6-10 different items.

Unfortunately, the Thali and Charkha didn't include as many items as we wanted to try, so we decided on the Non-vegetarian Dinner for Two.

But first, beverages---

Indian beer

Mango Lassi

The dinner for two came with appetizers: chicken tikka, tandoori chicken and seekh kebabs. The tandoori chicken was not the best I've had, and the presentation was a little odd; typically, kebabs are served with thinly sliced red onions (sometimes these are small pickled bulbs) and limes. This was served with sliced white onions and green peppers.  The portion size was appropriate, but I wish they had brought out the naan with this course instead of with the entree course.

So this was our entree. I REALLY like the presentation in the copper containers. As you can see, it was quite a bit of food; a lamb curry, chicken makhani (translation= butter chicken) and paneer with peas.

I really really liked the lamb curry (middle). The chicken makhani was a little too strong on the tomato flavor (its usually less tomato-y in Mumbai) and the paneer was average.

There was also a dessert course, but N and I were so full that we skipped it completely.

Here was the odd part- typically when you eat at an Indian restaurant, at the end of the meal you are presented with a bowl filled with warm water and lemon, and maybe even rose petals. You're supposed to rinse your fingers in the water and rub the lemon to get any grease and curry smells off your fingers. I don't know if they were thrown off because we didn't do the dessert, but there was no bowl!

Overall, I guess I would rate the experience a B-. As I mentioned before, I have very high standards when it comes to Indian restaurants; the mis-steps in presentation and some taste issues (again, personal preference) combined with a just-ok ambience made sure my top 3 remained intact.

Is it worth checking out? Sure. I would probably go back to try the lunch buffet and give it another shot. Interestingly, there's another Indian restaurant opening across from the casino in a few months... I'm very pleased to see more diverse cuisine downtown, and you can be sure I will be putting the new restaurant to the test as well!!

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Tuesday Tune: Let the Sun Shine

If you haven't entered to win a pair of tickets to the Cleveland Wine Festival this weekend, please do so here

I'm on my way out to celebrate my 29th birthday (ahem), but not before I leave you with this...

to celebrate this sunshine filled day!!!

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Food & Wine AND a Giveaway (for wine lovers!)

This contest has ended. The winner, as decided by, is #1, Fizzgig!  Congratulations Fizzgig! Please email me at, with your full name, date of birth, email address, and preferred date of attendance (July 27th or 28th). Don't forget to take ID to the event!!

A few months ago, I was contacted by Chateau Ste. Michelle gauging my interest in reviewing a cookbook written by John Sarich, Culinary Director of  Chateau Ste. Michelle. I luuuurve Chateau St. Michelle wines and I enjoy cooking, so I figured, why not?

The book is set up sorta like a winery tour of the Pacific Northwest and California, featuring 10 wine estates in tool. Each estate is represented by a chapter giving some background, visitor details, and menus prepared the executive chefs at each of these estates, including wine pairings, obviously. You know the white meat = white wine rule? Well, the book helped bust that myth for me. Turns out that besides lamb, game, and beef, there's pretty much at least one white and one red that can be paired with your food!

Overall, I would say that the book seems suited to special occasion dinners, and by that I mean celebrations, date night, etc, not necessarily everyday food. I really like that each recipe gives you wine pairings (and not each recipe includes wine as an ingredient), so you could plan a TOTALLY FABULOUS dinner party with wine pairings for each course and DAZZLE your guests. Given that the book is west-cost based, there's a good number of seafood receipts for you seafood lovers.

I sampled a couple of recipes: the Oven "Fried" Chicken and the Avocado and Orange Salad, which I paired with the Chateau Ste. Michelle Chardonnay. While I would probably adapt the recipes if I were not serving it with wine, as presented they paired REALLY REALLY well with the wine.  You can see the results of my handiwork here (please excuse the lack of "prettiness", this is why I'm not a food blogger).

Overall, a winning combination! I'm looking forward to trying some more recipes in the upcoming weeks!!

Now, for the SUPER FUN part--- A GIVEAWAY!! This giveaway includes TWO TICKETS to the Cleveland Wine Festival on July 27th or 28th, where you will get to same Chateau Ste. Michelle for yourself (among other wines of course).

Here's what you need to do to enter:
1. Leave me a comment letting me know of your favorite wine (and leave me your contact info if I don't know how to reach you), or
2.  Follow @SteMichelle on Twitter and let me know that you did so in the comments, or
3. Tweet: I entered @cleshopaholic contest to win tickets to @CleWineFest via @SteMichelle

(You get 3 entries if you do all 3 things)

Rules: You must be 21 to enter, and should you win, you must provide your full name, date of birth, email address, and preferred date of attendance (July 27th or 28th).

The contest ends at 7:00 pm on Wednesday July 25th, with the winner announced later Wednesday night. Good luck, and Cheers!!

Disclosure: Chateau Ste. Michelle provided me with the cookbook in exchange for my review. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.  They also provided the two tickets to the Cleveland Wine Festival for the Giveaway. 

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Cleshopaholic travels.... to the wilderness

This past weekend, N and I joined is family for a little getaway in Hocking Hills, Ohio.  If you've never been, Hocking Hills is close to Athens, Ohio, about 3 hours from Cleveland. Its known for its camping and outdoors activity; if you know me in real life, then you know that camping is DEFINITELY not my thing. I like modern comforts. Also, some of Mother Nature's creations (mosquitos and other bugs that bite humans) and I don't really get along. So, with that in mind, we decided to go the cabin route instead. Our home for the long weekend was Pine Hills Lodge, a lovely log cabin with 4 bedrooms and 3 bathrooms, and, most importantly, a hot tub.

The house was really quite lovely; there was plenty of room for everyone, and we could have easily fit in more than 6 adults and 1 child. Unlike a lot of vacation rentals, you didn't have to take bed linens or towels, and the house even had a washer-dryer in the event you needed it.

We had originally planned to go canoeing/kayaking, but the lack of rain has caused the water level is the river to drop quite a bit, which means we would have had to carry the boats in many instances, and so we decided to avoid that excursion. There's also ATV-ing, and zip-lining (which N and I just did in October in Costa Rica) and of course hiking.

We took a day to go hiking, and I actually have proof!!!

No trip is complete without a souvenir, and Hocking Hills has loads and loads of flea markets and antique malls, where we picked up this copper container. We're using it to hold our throws in our living room.

Overall, it was a fun and relaxing trip. I got quite a bit of reading done, which is good news for my next Reading Room post!!

Have you been camping? How about glamping (luxury camping- I could get into this)?

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Listening Now: The July playlist

As I mentioned previously, about once a month, I will post a playlist of songs I'm listening to/working out to... this month's playlist is (song- artist)

1. Shooting the Moon- Mona
2. Little Talks- Of Monsters and Men (I LUUURRVVEE this album)
3. Post Physical-  Pictureplane
4. Passenger- OneRepublic
5. Keepsake- Grace Potter & The Nocturnals (I blogged about her new album recently. If you haven't listened to it yet, you are seriously missing out)
6. DJ, Ease my Mind- Niki & the Dove (the last time I had this as a Tuesday Tune, it wasn't out on iTunes yet, but happy to report it is now!)
7. How We Do (Party)- Rita Ora  (high potential for summer anthem)
8. Hands - Alpine
9. Underdog- You Me At Six
10. Feel the Love- Rudimental (this is another one with high summer-anthem potential)
11. Roulette- Grace Potter & The Nocturnals (clearly, I luuuuurve this album)
12. Hanging On- Ellie Goulding (Allison and I LUUUURVE her; this song is available on her website (thanks Ms. Peltz for the heads up))

Hope you enjoy this month's mix! And you can be sure that some of these songs will be playing at psycle in either Jenn, Hallie, or Emily's classes!

Friday, July 13, 2012

Reading Room: Awkward Situations for Men

I love reading. Always have. I also read very fast, must to the frustration of a lot of people. I'm ALSO the type of person who (for a mystery book) will flip right to the end and read the last chapter. So sue me.

Now that I've started riding the bus to work, I've been reading a lot more, and am always on the lookout for a good book. My main criteria is this- IT MUST BE WELL WRITTEN. Otherwise, you will just hear me complain non-stop about the awful writing, and no one wants that. On occasion, I will read biographies and mysteries, but my favorite genre is chick-lit (I'm not embarrassed about this- I like to vegetate when I read). Now when I say chick-lit I don't mean boy-meets-girl-sweeps-her-off-her-feet-random-problem-breakup-get-back-together-live-happily-ever-after. No, I'm looking for a smart, sassy female, with a sense of humor, and some funny life situations. That is my ideal sort of book. Since I'm always looking for a good read, I will be blogging about books I'm reading with the hope that you will share some of your favorite books with me too!!

I recently finished Awkward Situations for Men, written by Danny Wallace (who is a very funny host on a British radio show). As the name suggests, Danny finds himself in these awkward situations, which he believes happen mostly to men. Danny lives in London, so the book is set there, and has some British humor, but overall, you don't have to "get" British humor to find this book funny. It is laugh-out-loud hilarious. Literally. I would burst out laughing on the bus ALL THE TIME. Which may be an awkward situation of its own, but that's another story...

PS. If you're in Cleveland this weekend, check out the 7th Annual Luau on the Lake on Saturday at Whiskey Island. I've never been to this event, but I've heard its a blast, and it benefits Shoes and Clothes for Kids so you could be having a great time supporting a great cause!! 

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Summer Solstice 2012

So, I had every intention of doing a Best Dressed of Solstice 2012, like I did last year, but then Chardonnay happened, and what you've got is a bunch of pictures of my friends, who were wearing SUPER cute outfits, but unlike last year, I made absolutely NO effort to approach strangers. Apologies...

There was however, one stand-out trend-- Green was THE COLOR of the night!

 With Danielle 

 Danielle & Wes

 The architects: Brian, N, Wes

 Alexa & Deery- gorgeous in green!

 Charity and I own the same Dolce Vita for Target wedges-- v. high but comfortable!

 Eamon, Suzanne, Charity, and Ben
 Michelle & Frank

 Jen, Danielle, Charity and me

 With N, a few days before our 8 year anniversary!!

 with Reshae

 Michelle and Allison (rawr)

 Sassy Courtney and Charlene- work it ladies!

My one disappointment with the event was that unlike past years, there was no element of surprise- prior years have included fireworks or performance art- I hope the Museum considers bringing it back next year.

So around 1 am, Charity and Ben suggested we join them (and Suzanne and Eamon) at Tick-Tock Tavern, which is very close to home.  Then this happened...

Cheesy fries....

Let's just say the next day required a lot of hydration. Overall, another excellent night in Cleveland! Were you at Solstice? What did you love/wish were different?

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Bubbles & Sparkles- A Stella & Dot Party

Its been a crazy couple of weeks, so I apologize for not being in touch on the blog. BUT, it is summer in Cleveland, so can you really blame me? : )

A few weeks ago, I hosted a Stella & Dot party with the theme "Bubbles & Sparkles," which was, as the name suggests, an excellent excuse to consume bubbles and ooh and aah over shiny things. Our stylist for the evening was Jennifer, and she brought over some lovely pieces from the summer collection; honestly, I probably tried on everything!!!

Here are some pictures from the evening...

 The drinks.... we went through 8 bottles...

 The spread... it was very hot, so I stuck to cold nibbles...

Danielle and Courtney trying on goodies... 

 The sparkles...

 Lisa, Courtney and Janet giving the pieces a try...

 Beautiful ladies on the patio... Alexa, Allison J, Lisa, Tiffany, Sara, Janet and Danielle... there was a lot of very loud chatter and laughter that evening-- LOVE LOVE LOVE evenings with the girls!

And last, but certainly not least, my purchases.... I absolutely ADORE the packaging!!

So, I placed my order on a Thursday, and even though they say its 5-7 business days for delivery, I had my pieces in my hand the following Thursday! Unfortunately, my earrings broke in transit, but a quick email to my stylist Jennifer, and a return authorization was issued immediately! As with exchanges with most companies, they requested that I send back the defective pair before they would send out the new one- I sent them out first thing Tuesday, and I had my new earrings on Thursday!! Talk about fast!! Although I was a little disappointed that I couldn't wear the earrings on day 1, I was very very impressed by level of customer service!

Stella and Dot just released its fall collection this past week, and here are some of my favorites: So what are you coveting this fall?

So what sparkles are you coveting this fall?