Sunday, March 29, 2015

Steve's 42nd Birthday!

Every year for my birthday in July, we make an effort to be on vacation. It’s always been a good excuse to be away and we've managed to stick to the plan! With Steve’s birthday falling in March, we never have the same flexibility with work, Cavs games, NCAA tournament, etc. so we’re limited to planning anything other than several (always awesome) small gatherings with friends and family.

This year, we began celebrating on Steve’s actual birthday, March 4th. We dined together at Players on Madison and enjoyed a very nice meal at a place we've been visiting since we started dating nearly 15 years ago.

On March 5th, we attended a Great Lakes Brewing Company beer dinner at our local Quaker Steak & Lube. Within a one mile walk from our house, we weathered the cold and set out on foot to enjoy a very gluttonous and entertaining meal.

This was the first collaboration dinner between Great Lakes and our local Quaker Steak, so attendance was slim. With only six guests (and two didn’t “care for” beer) we sure had a lot of food and plenty of beer. 

We started off with a Great Lakes seasonal beer, the High Striker: A Belgian Pale Ale. The four beer-drinkers of the group had success with finishing the growler. After all, we couldn’t let it go to waste! Next was our first course, Bavarian soft pretzels and cheese paired with Dortmunder Gold Lager.

Our second course was BBQ wings paired with Conway's Irish Ale. 

Our third course was slow roasted ribs paired with Eliot Ness Amber Lager.

Next was a Quaker Steak Q Burger with Commodore Perry IPA.

Finally was their four layer stout cake paired with Edmund Fitzgerald Porter.

At only $25 per person, this six beer/five course dinner was a total steal and we had a great time. We’re looking forward to the next time they host a similar event nearby and will surely spread the word. I even won an awesome Great Lakes growler after answering a trivia question!

The celebrating continued on Friday when we enjoyed dinner at Cerino’s in Lakewood with Sean, Alex, Louie and Josephine. It was their first night out to dinner with the entire family since Josephine was born, so we didn’t know what to expect! At one-month-old, Josephine slept through dinner and we kept Lou entertained. He particularly enjoyed the bottle openers we received at the beer dinner.


To make this year's birthday celebration even better, I wanted to get away. We hadn’t really taken any time away for ourselves since our trip to Mexico, so Steve’s birthday seemed like a good excuse. Geneva-on-the-Lake, OH is considered Ohio’s wine country and only one hour east of Lakewood. We had visited the area for a weekend for Steve’s 35th birthday and we've talked about returning ever since.

Although there are a handful of bed and breakfasts in the area, The Lodge at Geneva-on-the-Lake is a larger venue that sits on the shores of Lake Erie. Sure, the beaches of Lake Erie don’t quite measure up to the beaches of the Gulf of Mexico, but we’ll take what we can get! There is a restaurant and bar on-site as well as a wine shuttle that takes guests to 4-5 wineries throughout the day. The wine shuttle is the #1 reason we stayed at the Lodge and the #1 reason why we’ll return. The last time we visited, I hired a car service and although it was a very personalized and thorough tour, it was not cheap! The wine shuttle is perfect.

We were visiting during the Grand River Valley Ice Wine Festival, so there were a few events going on that aren’t typical during the winter months. I had read online about a farm to table progressive wine dinner on Friday night and at only $50 per person, I considered it reasonable and adventurous.

The itinerary consisted of a visit to three different area wineries where we enjoyed four courses made with ingredients from local farmers. Each course was then paired with wine. I didn’t take note of the wines we drank, so just know they served two ½ glasses at each winery. We could choose between a pair of dry wines or sweet wines. We opted for the dry wines except for dessert. Ohio is known for their ice wine (surprise, surprise), so we enjoyed an ice wine with dessert.

Our first course took us to Grand River Cellars where we enjoyed a Bok Choy and Brussels sprout salad with a Maple Walnut Vinaigrette (Bissell Farms, Rock Creek) as well as a Beer and Cheddar Soup. (Cellar Rats Brewery, Madison & Middlefield Cheese Co-op).

Next was Debonne Vineyards where we had a pork chop (New Creations Farm, Chardon) topped with a Maple BBQ sauce (Bissell Farms, Rock Creek) along with with roasted potatoes and carrots (Rainbow Farms, Perry) served with fresh Amish dinner rolls (Denmark, OH).

We Finished at South River Vineyards with a dessert consisting of a sugar cookie with vanilla ice cream, cherries and ice wine syrup (Gartman Bakery, Painesville).

On Saturday, we enjoyed breakfast at the hotel before venturing out on the 11:30 am wine shuttle. Our first stop was Kosicek Vineyards.

 The next scheduled stop was South River Vineyards, but since we had visited the night before, we kindly asked the driver to drop us off at the nearby distillery. He happily obliged and Steve and I were able to enjoy a bourbon cocktail in addition to a glass of wine at a neighboring winery that wasn’t on the agenda. Leave it to us to get one more stop on the list!

Our third (fourth for the Schurs!) stop was at Debonne Vineyards, which was another winery we had visited on Friday for dinner. Coincidentally, they also have a brewery on-site. Cellar Rats Brewery has made their presence known in the Cleveland market, so we were happy to try their beer sampler. 

Our last stop was the Winery at Spring Hill. By this time, we had made friends with Thomas and his mom. Thomas had planned this trip for his mom’s 60th birthday, so we enjoyed a glass of wine and cheese plate to celebrate.

That night, we enjoyed one of the best meals in our recent history at Crosswinds Grille. Located in the nearby Lakehouse Inn, we were able to comfortably walk the ½ mile down the road from our hotel. Always a bonus! I had read reviews and pursued the menu prior to our visit. The menu seemed like food Steve and I enjoy, but what really caught my attention was their beef menu. Sourced from a local farm, the Crosswinds butcher gets a whole cow and butchers the cuts of meat for the weekend diners. There is no telling what cuts will be on the menu each evening and all in limited supply.

First we enjoyed their farmer pizza with house cured bacon, sunny side eggs and Lucky Penny chevre.

The main event was their 6 oz filet with smashed purple potatoes and Brussels sprouts. We don’t eat beef very often, but when we do, this is how we want it! We shared both courses and finished the meal with a pair of dirty martinis. Overall, a great day and a great dinner.


 On Sunday we enjoyed breakfast at the hotel before heading out to our last stop. I had bought a Groupon for a tasting and cheese board at Laurello Vineyards, but it wasn't valid during the ice wine festival on Saturday. It actually worked out well and we enjoyed a relaxing lunch and glass of wine in front of the fire while chatting with the owner about farming grapes. 

In the end, I can’t express how nice it was to celebrate Steve’s birthday together, near and far. He is a loving, supportive and kind husband and he deserves all of the special treatment I can give him!

Happy Birthday Stephen Martin!

That’s about it! We are anxiously awaiting the NBA playoffs, which puts all of my trip-planning to a halt. We are booked for two weeks in July at the lovely Ocean Maya Royale in Playa del Carmen, Mexico with our friends Jean Marie and Ron.  In three words…WE CAN'T WAIT!

1 comment:

Jean Marie & Ron said...

WE CAN'T WAIT EITHER!!! OMR here we come!!!